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knowledge, was the principal cause of the civil wars between Charles I. and his Parliament. The Court, blind to the changes which had been produced on public opinion, laid claims to higher authority, at the time when the people were eagerly desirous of a better secured liberty. We are told by Lord Clarendon, that · Lord Keeper Coventry knew the temper, genius,
and disposition of the country most exactly, and saw their spirits grow every day more sturdy, inquisitive, and impa
tient, and therefore naturally abhorred all innovations' (on the side of the Crown), which he foresaw would produce ruinous o effects.' Since the Revolution, a far greater diffusion of property and intelligence has produced a new struggle. Class after class, as they rise to consequence, become ambitious of a larger share of that collective power which the body of the Commons gained from the Crown. While the political public was thus augmenting, the Constitution was confined to its former dimensions. It was not, however, till the great impulse given to English industry, in the middle of the eighteenth century, that the disparity between the old system of representation, and the new state of society, became very remarkable. This was very soon followed by the sudden and enormous growth of the manufacturing towns. Then, for the first time, were seen several of the most important places in the kingdom, without any direct share in the national assembly. The new manufacturing interest itself was left without any additional provision for its adequate representation. The original defect of our representative system, which, while it provided for the influence of great property, and secured a regard to the voice of the multitude, did not allot a sufficient share of power to the middle class, became, in this state of things, more apparent and more humiliating.
It has been the object of this deduction to show, that the pro-' posed reform is agreeable to the ancient practice of the Consti-' iution; that the evil has arisen from the rapid progress of society since the interruption of that practice; and that its revival, under wise regulations, would be a sufficient remedy. If these conclusions be just, the safety of this reform cannot be denied. No man who adopts it is bound, by just inference, to support other changes not warranted by the practice of the Constitution. He is not to seek that practice in dark or fabulous periods; he is bound to no principle, but that which has been explicitly and frequently declared by the Legislature itself,—that it is expedient to connect all our great communities with the national representation. In paying up the arrears of a representation, unrevised for a century and a half, it is not proposed VOL. XXXIV. NO. 68.
to make a greater addition to the House of Commons, than Mary Tudor made by her prerogative in five years. A small part of what Edward and Elizabeth did to strengthen the Protestant interest, is suggested as expedient for healing the wounds of the community, and binding numerous classes of men more firmly to the Constitution. It may indeed be objected, under this head of safety, that popular elections would introduce into these towns the usual consequences of mobs and riots. This apprehension of some of the more opulent inhabitants, might formerly have been excusable; but the experience of the last three years may convince them, that the absence of elections has no tendency to preserve their quiet. At any time, indeed, such objections show either weak nerves, or obstinate prejudices against the popular parts of the Constitution. There cannot be a more unreasonable apprehension, than that an elective system, which has for ages been used with advantage and safety in most parts of the kingdom, should suddenly prove dangerous and destructive on its extension to a few more towns.
But though few, who are not determined enemies to all Re. form, will deny the safety of the alteration here proposed, (though it be obvious that it has fixed and visible boundaries, and is wholly unconnected with all projects of indefinite change), it may, and doubtless will be, rejected by many opponents of innovation as unnecessary, and by many zealous reformers as inadequate.
It is said, that the local interests of the unrepresented towns are as fully made known, and as uniformly protected in the House of Commons, as those of other places; that due weight has always been allowed to their sentiments on national questions; and that the prodigious increase of the power of public opinion, has procured, for every portion of the people, that degree of influence on Parliamentary proceedings, which, in former ages, they could have obtained only through the channel of direct representation. The petitions of Birmingham and Manchester, it is contended, are as warmly supported, and as fully considered, as those of Liverpool and Bristol : and the political sentiments of Yorkshire have always been more regarded than those of Cornwall.- Although the representation has continued unchanged, the course of circumstances has given a share of influence on the measures of Parliament, to each class and district, proportioned to its relative importance.
In answer to these arguments, it is not necessary to deny that they have a foundation in truth. It must be admitted, that the habitual regard necessarily paid by the Body of the House of Commons to the whole people, has, in practice, corrected many of the defects of inadequate representation. The influence which the collected opinion of an enlightened nation must possess over a legislative assembly of sufficient numbers, deliberating in public, and originating in any degree from the people, is no doubt a considerable substitute for popular election. It may be added, that opinion is a flexible instrument, which ascertains the real value of the sentiments of each class, according to the nature of the question, and the circumstances of the time, with an exactness and delicacy not to be attained by any permanent distribution of representatives.
These observations are sufficient to show, that the members of a legislative assembly ought not to consider themselves, as delegates from districts, bound by the instructions of their own constituents. They show also the convenience of so framing the election of a certain portion of the members, as to render them less susceptible of local influence, more impartial, more in fact, what all are in law, the representatives of the whole people.
But the useful influence of public opinion, will not be weaker under the amended representation than it is at present. There will still remain many defects for it to supply, and many irregularities to correct. Can a prudent friend of the Establishment really think that it is consistent with wise policy, to exclude men from the appearance of power, because they have gained a great deal of the reality? Democratical ascendency exists in its most dangerous form, when numerous bodies have acquired great strength from circumstances, and derived no political power from the Constitution. The holder of a legal franchise becomes attached to the Government. A man who possesses importance, without a franchise, is apt to imagine that he has grown strong, in spite of adverse laws. Our ancient policy did not trust the preservation of order and liberty to those general pripciples of morality which, in all countries, influence the conduct of good citizens; it bound all classes, by ties of pride and attachment, to a system which bestowed important privileges on all. As every new class arose, it was fastened to the Government by these constitutional links. This policy left no class politically powerful, who did not visibly draw their power from the Constitution.
The elective franchise, when considered with respect to the whole community, is indeed chiefly valuable, as a security for good government. But, in relation to individuals, it may be regarded as an honorary distinction,—the object of their natural and legitimate ambition, which they pursue with eagerness, and exercise with pleasure. Its refusal without necessity mortifies or irritates. Those feelings are still more natural, to intelligent
and wealthy cominunities, than to individuals, and the politician must not censure them. In their natural state, and under skilful management, they are among the strongest holds of a political system on the affections of a people. In a great represented town, almost every man may reasonably expect to be an elector: many may hold office in their town—some may hope to represent it in Parliament. In the lowest of these stations, there is room for the display of talent, for the acquirement of popularity ;-there is scope for fair ambition. At the return of an election, almost every man becomes of some importance. It may to some sound trifling to observe, that all these exertions and pursuits are attended with pleasure, and that the whole of those pleasures are far from an imperceptible item in the account of national enjoyment.
But it ought, at least, to be remembered, that the holders of such privileges are attached to them, zealous in their defence, and not fond of sharing them with new partners. They all, therefore, feel an interest in preserving the Government, on which their privileges depend ;—they are garrisons, placed by the Constitution in these towns, to preserve their quiet and ensure their fidelity. The unrepresented towns are destitute of these advantages.--There, there are no regular channels into which political activity may flow,- no lawful objects of local ambition. There are no gradations of employment, through which the humble politician may be raised by the good will of his neighbours. His ambition is driven to seek illicit enjoyments by the severity of hostile laws. There is no wardmote, or common council, in which he can seek distinction no election, in the tumults of which his turbulence has a periodical vent. The poor have nothing to bestow by their suffrages, so that the rich are not obliged to pay them even occasional court. That Bristol and Liverpool have of late been more quiet than Manchester and Leeds, may indeed be ascribed as much to the nature of their industry, as to their political situation. Something, however, must be attributed to the latter cause. The represented towns were better secured against turbulence, and the unrepresented were more exposed to it. In manufacturing towns, the want of representation is attended with another great evil, very much connected with the former. The same causes which foster a dangerous disposition to disorder and violence, prevent the formation of a magistracy which might restrain them. In the country of England, where the legal power of Justices of the Peace is usually engrafted on the natural authority of a landholder, and where, though an officer of the Crown nominates them, character and property generally direct his nomination, the administration of the ordinary magistracy is peculiarly easy and happy. In the manufacturing districts, there are few resident landholders. The master manufacturers employ such multitudes of workmen as no longer to retain that influence which they possess where manufactures subsist on a smaller scale. The frequency of the disputes between them and their workmen, has in some places excluded the masters from the commission of the peace. There are no means of governing such towns but a municipal constitution, by which they may elect their own magistrates. They are in circumstances in which there is no natural source of authority but popular election. But such a municipal constitution cannot be well disjoined from Parliamentary representation. They are successfully combined in the ordinary course of our Government; and a little reflexion will discover, that the connexion is not casual. Men of ability and activity undertake the laborious office of magistrates, in order to recommend themselves to the favour of their fellow-citizens, and to obtain objects of political ambition. They are paid in importance, instead of being lowered in the eyes of their fellow-citizens, by receiving salaries. Their political consequence, and the dignity of some of the objects to which they may aspire, insensibly strengthen the authority of their magistracies; and the mayor or alderman is more easily obeyed, because he may rise to represent his town in Parliament.
But the main ground of political expediency for this change is, that it furnishes the only means of counteracting the growing influence of the Crown in the House of Commons. This inAuence may indeed be directly reduced; but it arises out of a great variety of offices and establishments, of which the abolition or reduction may sometimes be difficult, and the reestablishment, or even increase of which, may under other circumstances become necessary. Direct reduction, therefore, is not alone sufficient: and the only simple and permanent means of balancing the Parliamentary influence of the Crown, is to increase that of the people. Formerly, the great proprietors were able to keep the Monarchy in check; but the increasing influence of the Crown on one hand, and the growing independence of the people on the other, have in this important particular materially changed the state of our society. The Crown and the multitude have risen—the influence of the great proprietors has sunk. They are no longer sure of being followed by the people, or capable of making head against the Crown, without popular support.
If the influence of the Crown were conducive to the safety of the Monarchy, it might be doubted whether this be the moment for reducing that influence, or providing securities against
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