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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 liberalty educatod, 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 mavý, or of the three professions, as an honourable path to distinction. These persous 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 m 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 chistinguished, 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 vilest 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 sineeures' 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 ivadequate 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 discharged 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 inmediate possession; but in general the
prospect of succeeding to one wlien it may become vacant suffices ; and in no other way could men of talents be tempted so frugally into the service of the state. Whether it would be an improvement upon the government to have it administered only by the rich, is a question which needs no discussion.
"A delusive paper currency' is enumerated by the Lord Mayor and Common Council, in their unfortunate petition, as one cause of our grievances.' What! is the ghost of Bullion abroad?buried as it was “ full fathom five' beneath reams of forgotten disquisitions, colder and heavier than any marble monument, what conjuror hath raised it from the grave? No fitter person could ·be called upon to lay a ghost than the Rector of Lincoln, who could talk Greek to it if necessary. He truly tells us, that the difficulty does not consist in there being too much, but too little money; that the sudden subtraction of so much
paper currency has been a direct and obvious cause of the stagnation of industry; and he recommends an increase of the circulating medium to a great amount as the first measure necessary for meeting the exigency of the times.
The main objects then which it is proposed to effect by Parliamentary Reform are these: the abolition either of all influence in elections, (which is just as possible as it would be to abolish the east wind, or annul the law of gravitation by act of parliament;) or of all monied influence, (which would take away all counterpoise from the landed interest in the legislature;) the abolition of pensions and sinecures, whereby every man who is not born to a large fortune would be excluded from state affairs, and the government must necessarily become an oligarchy of the rich; and a further subtraction of currency, (too much having already been subtracted). As far as a Reform iu Parliament could effect any of these objects, (supposing it were possible that it should stop here,) it would aggravate every ill which it pretends to cure; and instead of relieving the distress of any one branch of the community bring infinite distress upon
all. How indeed is it possible that it could relieve them? Could it increase the consumption of iron, and thereby set the foundries at work, and give activity to the collieries! Could it compel the continental nations to purchase more of our goods, and encourage English manufacturers while their own are starving? If experience has failed to teach our manufacturers and merchants the ruinous folly of making the supply exceed the demand, and glutting those markets where they have no competition, would a Reform in Parliament make them wiser? Could it repair the ruin which has been extended over the whole continent by Buonaparte's frantic tyranny, and enable those customers who vow are in want of necessaries theinselves to purchase from us those
superfluities wherein, in better days, they were accustomed to indulge? Can it regulate the seasons, and ensure the growth of corn? --when we know to our cost how utterly unable it is to regu-late even its price!
But the petitioners tell us that a Reform in Parliament will. calm the apprehensions of the people, and allay their irritated feelings! Their apprehensions! Of what are they apprehensive? Are their liberties threatened? Is Parliament, then, about to be suspended or disused, and ship-money levied by virtue of the prero-, gative? Do they apprehend that arbitrary power is to be established by ' that base engine of our profligate statesmen, the standing army, and the bayonets of the Hanoveriaus? Or do they apprehend that there is a design to bring back popery, and that the beautiful works of art with which England has recently been enriched, not from the plunder, but by the gratitude of Italy, may prove to be. saints in disguise, to be installed each upon his altar as soon as the plot is perfect ! Of this danger, at least, the Ultra Whigs stand iu no fear.--Of what then are they apprehensive? This is a question for which the Caledonian Oracle has happily already uttered a response. That high' and veracious authority affirms that there exists among us.
a servile tribe' composed of enemies of liberty,''cold-blooded sycophants of a court,'' vulgar politicians,' impostors,' and persons of extreme bad faith, all of whom the said Oracle designates by, the apt and convenient name of Quietists, because they assert that the British people are at this time living under a free government, and that their freedom is in no danger, an opinion which, if it continues, to use the very oracular words, bids fair to naturalize among us even now the worst abuses of foreign despotisms.'-Indeed! We have heard of nothing so alarming since the conspiracy between Dr. Bell and the Archbishop of Canterbury was revealed from the same infallible shrine. Yes, the Orạcle tells us that it is our duty to keep alive a jealousy of royal encroachments:'-—that confidence in our rulers is as foolish as it is unworthy of a free people. We may rest assu
sured,' it says, * that a sovereign will be too apt to exchange his duty for the very easiest and basest of employments—the sacrifice of all a nation's interests to his own. It tells us that we have seen the Crown calling upon
Parliament to support the expenses of the war, and withdrawing from Parliamentary controul and from all participation, the whole profits of the victory.' It says, this servile tribe (the Quietists) have contrived to borrow the authority of Mr. Burke for their bad cause, and to persuade the unthinking mass of mankind that they act in concert with that great man in their warfare (the warfare of the Quietists) against the rights of the people, and their mockery of the champions of the constitution. But it is fit to be remarked how unfairly he is
called in to their assistance.' If that great man could speak from the grave, with what a voice of thunder would he give the lie to this impostor who tells us that our danger at this time is from the Crown, not from the spirit of revolution and anarchy; and that he, were he living, would throw his weight into the popular scale ! * At home and abroad,' the Oracle tells us, we are in profound peace;' and it adds, now then let us, instead of crouching before domestic oppression, bethink us in good earnest of repairing in that constitution which our triumphs have saved, the breaches which the struggle itself has occasioned.' Who but must smile to find the Oracle, which Philippized during the contest, confessing now that the country has been saved by that triumph which the cowardly counsels of the tripod would have rendered impossible!
But are we in such perfect peace at home as is thus gravely asserted ?- If so, with what reason is it, that one set of City Resolutioners contemplate with the deepest dismay and agony the too probable issue of such a state of things'—that others menace us with anarchy and the horrors of civil war, as the inevitable result if Parliamentary Reform be further neglected-that tavern-orators and mob-orators tell us 'a crisis is at hand,' and that the demagogues, in their weekly and daily diatribes, are stimulating the people to bring into practice what the Oracle at this precise time, with its usual felicity, calls the sacred principle of Resistance ? A provincial paper is before us, in which every mechanic in the county who has legs to carry him, is invited to a general meeting to embrace the glorious opportunity of manfully asserting his rights in a peaceable and constitutional manner, and to hoist the flag of general distress.' And the petitioners of the Common Council assert that nothing but Parliamentary Reform will allay the irritated feelings of the people. By the people, of course, the discontented faction is meant--the deceivers and the deceived-according to that figure of speech by which a part is put for the wholea political synecdoche. Upon the propriety of concession to a faction in this temper, Burleigh has left us his opinion, when in reference to the factions of his days, he asked Elizabeth whether she would suffer them to be strong to make them the better content, or discontent them by making them weaker,---for what the mixture of strength and discontent engenders,' sayy the veteran statesman, there needs no syllogism to prove.'
The Oracle would be satisfied with a simple change of situation between the Ins and the Outs. How much would satisfy the petitioners of all classes, the London citizens who prepare their own grievances, and the poor deluded mechanics in the country who receive them ready-made in one of Major Cartwright's three hundred circulars,-it would be difficult to say; nor can they themselves