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of the best of the artizans, who are a select and intellectual class, but of the common order of workpeople, —and the merely pretended members for that class, whom I may call the members for the public-houses. In all big towns in which there is electioneering these houses are the centres of illicit corruption and illicit management. There are pretty good records of what that corruption and management are, but there is no need to describe them here. Everybody will understand what sort of things I mean, and the kind of unprincipled members that are returned by them. Our new Parliament, therefore, would be made up of two sorts of representatives from the town lowest class, and one sort of representatives from the agricultural lowest class. The genuine representatives of the country would be men of one marked sort, and the genuine representatives for the county men of another marked sort, but very opposite: one would have the prejudices of town artizans, and the other the prejudices of county magistrates. Each class would speak a language of its own; each would be unintelligible to the other; and the only thriving class would be the immoral representatives, who were chosen by corrupt machination, and who would probably get a good profit on the capital they laid out in that corruption. If it be true that a parliamentary government is possible only when the overwhelming majority of the representatives are men essentially moderate, of no marked varieties, free from class prejudices, this ultra-democratic Parliament could not maintain that government, for its members would be remarkable for two sorts of moral violence and one sort of immoral.
I do not for a moment rank the scheme of Mr. Hare with the scheme of the ultra-democrats. One can hardly help having a feeling of romance about it. The world seems growing young when grave old lawyers and mature philosophers propose a scheme promising so much. It is from these classes that young men suffer commonly the chilling demonstration that their fine plans are opposed to rooted obstacles, that they are repetitions of other plans which failed long ago, and that we must be content with the very moderate results of tried machinery. But Mr. Hare and Mr. Mill offer as the effect of their new scheme results as large and improvements as interesting as a young enthusiast ever promised to himself in his happiest mood. "I do not give any weight to the supposed impracticability of Mr. Hare's scheme because it is new. Of course it cannot be put in practice till it is old. A great change of this sort happily cannot be sudden; a free people cannot be confused by new institutions which they do not understand, for they will not adopt them till they understand them. But if Mr. Hare's plan would accomplish what its friends say, or half what they say, it would be worth working for, if it were not adopted till the year 1966. We ought incessantly to popularise the principle by writing; and what is better than writing, small preliminary bits of experiment. There is so much that is wearisome and detestable in all other election machineries, that I well understand, and wish I could share, the sense of relief with which the believers in this scheme throw aside all their trammels, and look to an almost ideal future, when this captivating plan is carried.
Mr. Hare's scheme cannot be satisfactorily discussed in the elaborate form in which he presents it. No common person readily apprehends all the details in which, with loving care, he has embodied it. He was so anxious to prove what could be done, that he has confused most people as to what it is. I have heard a man say, "He never could remember it two days running." But the difficulty which I feel is fundamental, and wholly independent of detail.
There are two modes in which constituencies may be made. First, the law may make them, as in England and almost everywhere: the law may say such and such qualifications shall give a vote for constituency X; those who have that qualification shall be constituency X. These are what we may call compulsory constituencies, and we know all about them. Or, secondly, the law may leave the electors themselves to make them. The law may say all the adult males of a country shall vote, or those males who can read and write, or those who have £50 a year, or any persons any way defined, and then leave those voters to group themselves as they like. Suppose there were 658,000 voters to elect the House of Commons; it is possible for the legislature to say, "We do not care how you combine. On a given day let each set of persons give notice in what group they mean to vote; if every voter gives notice, and every one looks to make the most of his vote, each group will have just 1,000. But the law shall not make this necessary—it shall take the 658 most numerous groups, no matter whether they have 2,000, or 1,000, or 900, or 800 votes,—the most numerous groups, whatever their number may be; and these shall be the constituencies of the nation." These are voluntary constituencies, if I may so call them; the simplest kind of voluntary constituencies. Mr. Hare proposes a far more complex kind; but to show the merits and demerits of the voluntary principle the simplest form is much the best.
The temptation to that principle is very plain. Under the compulsory form of constituency the votes of the minorities are thrown away. In the city of London, now, there are many Tories, but all the members are Whigs; every London Tory, therefore, is by law and principle misrepresented: his city sends to Parliament not the member whom he wished to have, but the member he wished not to have. But upon the voluntary system the London Tories, who are far more than 1,000 in number, may combine; they may make a constituency, and return a member. In many existing constituencies the disfranchisement of minorities is hopeless and chronic . I have myself had a vote for an agricultural county for twenty years, and I am a Liberal. But two Tories have always been returned, and all my life will be returned. As matters now stand, my vote is of no use. But if I could combine with 1,000 other Liberals in that and other Conservative counties, we might choose a Liberal member.
Again, this plan gets rid of all our difficulties as to the size of constituencies. It is said to be unreasonable that Liverpool should return only the same number of members as King's Lynn or Lyme Regis; but upon the voluntary plan, Liverpool could come down to King's Lynn. The Liberal minority in King's Lynn could communicate with the Liberal minority in Liverpool, and make up 1,000; and so everywhere. The numbers of popular places would gain what is called their legitimate advantage; they would, when constituencies are voluntarily made, be able to make, and be willing to make, the greatest number of constituencies.
Again, the admirers of a great man could make a worthy constituency for him. As it is, Mr. Mill was returned by the electors of Westminster; and they have never, since they had members, done themselves so great an honour. But what did the electors of Westminster know of Mr. Mill? What fraction of his mind could be imagined by any per-centage of