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lessens the power of the landed interest. It ought thus to do: and that purchase of seats, which is complained of as the most scandalous abuse in parliament, is one means whereby it effects this desirable object.
If the reformers will show in any age of history, and in any part of the world, or in this country at any former time, a body of representatives better constituted than the British House of Commons -among whom more individual worth and integrity can be found, and more collective wisdom; or who have more truly represented the complicated and various interests of the community, and more thoroughly understood them, then indeed it may be yielded that an alteration would be expedient, if such an alteration were likely to produce an amendment. But in a state of society so infinitely complicated as that wherein we exist, where so many different interests are to be represented, and such various knowledge is required in the collected body, no system of representation could be more suitable than that which circumstances have gradually and insensibly established. Of the revolutionist, secret or avowed, adventurer or fanatic, knave or dupe, (for there are of all kinds, we shall say nothing here but address ourselves to the well-meaning reformer, who has no intention farther than what be openly professes. What alteration would he propose in our county elections -to begin with these as being of most apparent importance. He would neither alter the basis nor the superstructure ;-the means nor the end. He would desire, perhaps, to improve the manner of election, lo extend the qualification for voters in some respects, and limit it in others-things which might be desirable, if in reality they were not very unimportant. It might be well that copyhold estates, as is frequently proposed, should confer the same right as freeholds ;—that the qualification should be raised from forly shillings to as many pounds, or at least to half as many; and that persons leasing lands to a certain amount, or assessed in direct taxes to a given sum, should be entitled to vote. It might be well also if the votes were taken in the respective parishes. Nothing is so easy as to propose slight alterations of this kind; and in times of perfect tranquillity when they are not demanded with insults and menaces of civil war, it is exceedingly probable that such things may be taken into consideration among the numerous plans for promoting the public good, in which parliament, by means of its committees, is continually employed. They might be conceded for the sake of those who fancy them of importance. The representatives would still be what they are and what they ought to be men of large landed property, whose families are as old in the country as the oaks upon their estates, having hereditary claims to the confidence of their constituents, in a word, true English gen.
tlemen, well acquainted with local interests, liable to error like other men, but above all suspicion of sinister motives; perfectly independent, and, unless they are stricken with fatuity, sincerely attached to the existing instilutions of their country. Such are the men whom the counties must always return upon any plan of repre. sentation : unless the frantic scheme of universal suffrage were adopted, which would inevitably and immediately lead to universal anarchy.
As men of family and large estates are the natural representatives of the counties, so are the great towns, with equal fitness, represented by men of eminence in the commercial world, or persons distinguished for ability in the senate, or for their services in the fleets and armies of their country; the first class well known on the spot, and therefore possessing that local influence which wealth and respectability properly confer--the two latter standing upon the high ground of honourable popularity. When county elections are contested, it is usually, as far as the great body of the freeholders are concerned, less a struggle between parties than between families; the colours of the candidates serve as sufficient distinction, and cause enough for as hearty an animosity while it lasts as that between Moor and Christian, or Portuguese and Jew. Unbounded license is given to libels in which truth and decorum are disregarded on both sides, and there is a plentiful expenditure of ale, ribands, and small wit. But in those large towns, where elections, strictly speaking, are popular, the fever is of a more malignant type. Here the contest is between parties, and is frequently carried on in a manner not unlike those private wars which are sometimes waged in London on successive Sundays, between the county of Cork men and the county of Tipperary men, or other tribes of the same nation, till heads and shillelahs enough have been broken on both sides to satisfy the point of honour, or till peace is concluded under the mediation of the constables and the magistrates. These elections are more passionate and infinitely more corrupt than those for the counties—in proportion as influence has less power, direct bribery has more ; nor is there an imaginable device by which it can be performed, nor an imaginable form of deceit and perjury which is not put in practice. In one of the largest cities of England, the man who marries a freeman's daughter becomes free in right of his wife. When that city was contested, it was a common thing for one woman to marry half a dozen men during the election. The parties adjourned from the church to the church-yard, shook hands across a grave, and pronounced a summary form of divorce, by saying now death do us part;' away went the man to give his vote, and the woman remained in readiness to confer the same privilege in different parishes upon as many more husbands as the
committee thonght it prudent to provide ;-receiving her fee for each. In that same city, before the act which limited the duration of elections, (a measure of real reform,) we remember a contest which continued for more than six weks, and not a day past without bludgcon work in the streets. But the ferocious spirit of a mob election has never been manifested so strongly in any other place as at Nottingham; and it has been asserted that the present state of that city, so ruinous to itself
, and so inexpressibly disgracesul to the country, is attributable, in no slight degree, to the manner in which the excesses and outrages of party spirit have been tolerated, and even encouraged at such times.
It is exceedingly proper that the mode of election should be purely popular in some places, and that the populace and the ultraliberty men should return such representatives as Wilkes and Sir Francis Burdell or even Paul, if they will degrade themselves so far :-remembering what Lord Cockrane has been, we will speak of what he is in no other terms than those of undissembled com. passion and regret. As for Mr. Orator Hunt, there is no likelihood that any place should return such a representative-unless Garratt were chartered to choose a member as well as a mayor. It is not undesirable, in ordinary times, that we should hear exaggerated notions of liberty from men of ready language and warm heads, and in perilous seasons the gallery may always be cleared when harangues are made for the manifest purpose of circulating sedition through the country and inflaming discontent. But there is quite enough of this mixture in the House.
Money and faction bear about an equal share in great popular elections; it is in the small open boroughs where bribery and corruption have full play ; where guineas during the golden age were served out of a punch-bowl; and where the voters paid their apo. thecaries' bill according to received custom after an election, from the thirty pounds which were the price of a vote. The law has provided pains and penalties against such practices; and why should government be reproached with a *corruption which exists wholly and exclusively among the people themselves ? It is a transaction between Mr. Goldworthy the giver, and Mr. Freeman Bull the taker, of whom the former may be a staunch whig, and the latter a staunch patriot and honest Englishman, though the one is ready to pay thirty pounds for a vote, and the other to sell it at that price; and Mr. Goldworthy is just as likely to be found in the list of the opposition, or of the reformers, as of the ministerial members. There are indeed very few who sanction the silly question of
As far as any good can be derived from counteracting false and pernicious doc. trines by exposing them, it could not be done better than by circulating Mr. Windbum's masterly speech upon this subject. VOL. XVI. NO, XXXI.
Reform ; but few as they are, the number would be lessened, if those among them who have come into parliament by means which that question attempts to stigmatize, were to abstain from voting upon it. Undoubtedly such practices are scandalous, as being legally and therefore morally wrong; but it is false that any evil to the legislature arises from them. When Mr. Curwen brought in his bill for more effectually preventing them, his main argument was that the bill would introduce a larger proportion of the landed interest into the House : that it would be an advantage to exclude all other influence from 'elections, except that of government, will not be admitted by the other branches of the community.
A laudable and useful ambition leads into parliament the opulent merchant and manufacturer; the lawyer high in his profession; the man who has returned with affluence from the East or West Indies, and is conversant with the customs, wants, and interests of our conquests and colonies ; the military and naval officer, who in the course of their services have acquired a competent knowledge of affairs upon which the legislature must often be employed. It is for the advantage of the republic also that from a like ambition, men liberally educated, but more richly endowed with the gifts of nature than of fortune, should sometimes prefer the service of the state to that of the army or navy, or of the three professions, as an honourable path to distinction. These persons possess no landed or local interests; they owe their seats therefore to some one into whose hands such interests through the changes of time and circumstances have devolved, and with whom they coincide in political opinions. Agreeing thus upon the general principle, it is not likely that any difference should arise upon a great question ; if it should, the member vacates his seat; and whether he who accepts a seat upon this implied condition, be not as unshackled, as independent, as conscientious, and as honourable a member, as the man who keeps away from the discussion of a question upon which his own opinion differs from that of the populace whose favour he courts, is a question which a child may answer. Others there are who have made a direct purchase of their seats, and these may thus far be said to be the most independent men in the House, as the mobrepresentatives are undoubtedly the least so. In one or other of these ways the House obtains some of its most useful, most dis. tinguished, and most intelligent members.
The Ultra Whigs differ widely in the means of reform which they propose; the object however in which
they generally agree, is that of rendering all elections popular. The principle that the representative must obey the instructions of his constituents, which many of the reformers profess, would follow as a necessary consequence; and the moment that principle is established, chaos is come again.
anarchy begins, or more truly an ochlocracy, a mob-government, which is as much worse than anarchy, as the vilesi ruffians of a civilized country are more wicked than rude savages.
But supposing it were possible to avoid the great and broad bottomless ocean-sea-full of evils,' which popular reform would let in upon us, what is the good which it is expected to produce ?what are the proposed advantages for which we are to hazard the blessings we possess? First in the list the Common Council reckon the abolition of all useless places, pensions, and sinecures. Supposing the whole abolished, to what might the public relief, or in other words, the diminution of taxes, amount ?- not to a yearly tax of twopence-halfpenny a head upon the population! So groundless and so senseless is the clamour which would take away from the sovereign the power of reward, and from the government that of paying the public services. And the consequence would be, that every person who was not born to a large estate, would be excluded from political life, and the government must fall exclusively into the hands of the rich. These things may sometimes be unworthily bestowed, and some of them may be unreasonably great, though be it remembered that those which are so (the tellerships) expire with the lives of the present holders. But their existence is indispensable to the very frame of government. Those persons who tell the credulous and deluded people that taxes are levied for the good of administration, and who represent our statesmen as living and fattening upon the public spoil, must either be grossly ignorant, or wicked enough to employ arguments which they know to be false. The emoluments of office almost in every department of the state, and especially in all the highest, are notoriously inadequate to the expenditure which the situation requires. Mr. Pitt
, who was no gambler, no prodigal, and too much a man of business to have expensive habits of any kind, died in debt, and the nation dischargeil his debts, not less as a mark of respect, than as an act of justice. But as it is impossible from the emoluments of office to make a provision for retirement, no man of talents, who is not likewise a man of fortune, could afford to accept of office, unless some reasonable chance (and it is no more than a chance) of permanent provision were held out; and this is done in the cheapest manner by the existence of sinecures. Mr. Perceval, for instance, could not have abandoned his profession to take that part in political affairs which has secured for him so high a place in the affections of his countrymen and in the history of his country, if a sinecure had not been given him to indemnify him in case he should be driven from office, an event which might so probably have occurred in the struggle of parties. In this instance there was an immediate possession; but in general the