Зображення сторінки

the secondary divisions of each (the counties and horoughs) are rearranged, either on the basis of population or of property, is not peculiar to those who contend for such re-arrangement. It is a difficulty which must attach to all and every form of further change in the representation. The only parties whom this difficulty does not affect, are those who deny the necessity for any further change. With them we hold no controversy; they will have to be driven from their position, by an unmistakeable expression of the national will. We address ourselves exclusively to those who admit the anomalies of the present system; and if we can show to them, that a further change in the representation is unavoidable, ere many years have elapsed, we commend to their consideration the policy and the candour of no longer throwing contempt on the question of re-distribution, by pointing to a difficulty in its application, with which they will have to deal, not less than those whom they would fain put out of court.

We shall not bestow any further notice on the cuckoo objection, that this is not the time to agitate the question of electoral reform, than to say ; that it is always the time to discuss a subject which must, in the nature of things, force itself with increasing power, year by year, on the attention of parliament, and which will have, ere long, to be legislated about in earnest. To shirk discussion now, is to make sure of hasty and crude legislation, when the time for action comes. Nor shall we do more than notice the transparent absurdity of urging the impotence of a legislative majority of land-owners and Conservatives against the power of public opinion, as a reason against re-distribution, by those parties who, in the same breath, object to re-distribution, because it will give greater strength to that legislative majority. If public opinion is omnipotent now, it will be so when the representation is fairly adjusted; they cannot use an argument both ways at once.

Our reasons for believing that parliamentary reform cannot long be deferred, are soon told. There are two classes aggrieved by the present system : the operative classes, and the ten-pound householders of the manufacturing and metropolitan counties. Chartism is only one of the forms in which the former classes manifest their dissatisfaction with their political condition; and therefore the conclusion, that because Chartism, in the persons of some exceedingly foolish or wicked men, having come into contact with the law, has been humbled in the dust, the cry for the suffrage is extinct,-is a most illogical one, and as dangerous as it is illogical. The demand for political power amongst the mass of the people, is at once the expression of their uneasiness and suffering, and the evidence of an intense desire for its attainment, amounting to a passion. Those who, in the seething cauldron of political strife, have observed the workings of ambition, and the life and death struggle for power; and who have seen in the lower struggle for wealth and station, how intensely men's energies and passions can be concentrated on the one object for which brain and sinew are taxed and strained, - may have some conception how fixed, earnest, and indomitable is the will which has marked the suffrage as its goal and reward. The return of prosperity may for a time draw off the attention of the people from this object, but it will only be to return to it with a more fixed and dogged purpose, on the recurrence of another period of calamity and suffering.

The other aggrieved party has a perpetual grievance to think upon, and nurse its wrath about. The authors, and immediate instruments of the grievance, will not suffer it to be out of sight or mind. The privileged representatives of the agricultural counties and boroughs do not fail to use the giant strength' they possess, and they neither do it'wisely nor well.' They not only make their power felt by their votes, but, like Fluellen, they taunt whilst they strike. That a D'Israeli should do this-he of whom 'Punch' said, happily, that if the venom were taken out of his speeches, they would lose all which caused them to be felt,'—is hardly to be wondered at. But since a Premier can gibe those who, in the Commons' House, stand up as the representatives of the people, properly so called, and that, too, at a moment when the country gentlemen were showing how grateful to their noble and aristocratic natures was the coarse invective of one whom they hate, if levelled at those whom they both hate and fear,-neither he nor they need be surprised, if there is a purpose formed, which, through contumely and sarcasm, the cold support of quondam reformers, or worse, their carping criticisms, will be followed up until it is accomplished. Let us not be misunderstood. It is no senti. mental grievance of which the ten-pound householders of the manufacturing counties complain; though they are quite free to acknowledge, that the gibe and the jeer at their representatives, and the miserable imputation on themselves, as the embodiment of a pitiful and sordid selfishness, do not make them feel the less, the political unfairness of their position in the legislature. Their desire to have their just share in the representation has no selfish object; though it may happen, that in the general benefit which they covet that share in order to promote, they may participate.

The middle classes have strong convictions, and strong purposes based on those convictions, which they can only give full effect to in Parliament. One of the tables we have given

shows that, even under the present scale of the franchise (the ten pound qualification), there is a mass of 108,108 householders, representing a rental of £15,243,813, who have no voice in the borough representation of England, alone. We ask if it is at all likely that such a body will rest content with its present condition of political nibility and powerlessness ? The demand for enfranchisement, in the form of a re-distribution of the representation, is the natural consequence of that mental activity and that strong feeling on great questions of national polity, which so pre-eminently distinguish the present period; and whether that demand be met by the cold refusal of co-operation, from those who have hitherto aided in the cause of progressive reform, or the scornful resistance of such as hold an unjust share of legislative power, it will have its end and aim! As Mr. Mackay well puts it, “The nation will have the substance of representation, or, as Mr. Cabden, in his peculiar and apt phraseology, has it, 'The nation will have the reality and not the sham of representation. The attempt to baulk its purpose is as useless as Mrs. Partington's contest with the tide ; nay, its uselessness and impotence is better described by a simile we lately met with, it is just like 'baling out the ocean with a pitchfork. The impotence of the resistance, too, will be the more apparent and palpable with each succeeding vear. Great as are the anomalies and inequalities of the representation, they are every day be. coming greater. The ratios of increase in the agricultural and the manufacturing counties are widely discrepant. Since 1801, the agricultural counties have increased 60 per cent. in popula. tion; whilst the manufacturing have increased 120. Nor are the ratios of increase in wealth less in contrast. Comparing the rental of real property assessed to the income tax in 1815 and in 1843, the ratio of increase in the agricultural counties is 42, and in the manufacturing, 102. Supposing the rates of increase to continue unchanged until 1871, the ratio of representation, determined either by property or population, will be as 10-representatives for the thirty agricultural counties—to 6 —representatives for the manufacturing. On the present scale, the respective ratios are as 13 to 3. The resistance to a wrong is not usually lessened in energy by the increase of that wrong; and a wrong which is, as we have shown, so accurately measured now, is not likely to be met with a diminished vigour of resist. ance, when its dimensions are seen to augment in a rapidly increasing ratio. A little wrong may be submitted to, as a less evil than agitation ; but a great one, whilst it provokes a more burning resentment, and is therefore the more likely to be resisted, is in a fair way of being redressed when the strength of the aggrieved object of it is day by day augmenting. The middle classes are in this position, and they know it. They know, too, that when the demand for the suffrage next comes from the operative classes, the two objects of an extended suffrage and an equal distribution of representative power will go to. gether, and they will bide their time.'

Brief Notices.

The Learned Societies and Printing Clubs of the United Kingdom; being

an Account of their Respective Origin, Ilistory, Objects, and Constitution : with full Details respecting Membership, Fees, published Works, and Transactions, Notices of their Periods and Places of Meeting, etc. And a General Introduction, and a Classified Index, compiled from Official Documents. By the Rev. A. Hume, LL.D., F.S.A. 12mo.

pp. 307. London: Longman and Co. The title of this volume fully explains its objects, and the learned are greatly indebted to Dr. Hume for the labour expended on its preparation. The history and constitution of those societies, whether scientific or literary, which are formed for the advancement of vari. ous branches of human knowledge, are legitimate subjects of curiosity. All intelligent men desire to know something respecting them, and yet it has been hitherto difficult to obtain authentic information. So far as I know,' says Dr. Hume, there has never been, hitherto, any means of obtaining that knowledge, except through the documents privately printed; for which, even among the learned, not one man in a hundred knows how or where to apply. Those only who have made the effort, bave any adequate conception of the difficulties connected with such inquiries, or of the value of such a manual as Dr. Hume has supplied. He has been at considerable pains to verify his statements, and with this view has wisely availed himself of original documents, and in all cases where it was practicable, has submitted his account to the correction of official personages. His introductory remarks supply many useful suggestions, and we shall be glad to find that his labour is duly appreciated by those for whose benefit it is designed. To his list of Printing Clubs should háve been added the Hansard Knolly's Society, the first volume of which appeared in the early part of 1846. It is entitled, Tracts on Liberty of Conscience and Persecution, 1614–1661, and is one of the most valuable publications of our day. The Ecclesiastical History Society is a subsequent organization, and is entitled to be noticed in a future edition.

A Bridal Gift. By the Editor of “A Parting Gift to a Christian

Friend.' Seventh Edition. Liverpool : D. Marples. London:

Hamilton and Co. This is one of the most beautiful gems which the English press has produced. It is ‘got up' with exquisite taste; and is altogether a perfect specimen of typography and of elegant embellishment. It is impossible to speak too highly of the skill witb which Mr. Marples has executed his work, and we trust that the public will do credit to their own discernment, by affording him the benefit of a liberal patronage. Six editions of the work in a less expensive form, consisting of upwards of eleven thousand copies, have already been disposed of, and we do not doubt that this enlarged and embellished edition will find an equally cordial reception. The literary contents of the volume are in happy keeping with its other features. The work is intended as an elegant little present to those who have recently entered on the state of holy matrimony.' It has been judged that, at such a moment, when the congratulations of friendship are usually warm and heart-felt, many would gladly avail themselves of a Manual, as the vehicle through which they may express their kindly feelings towards the newly-wedded pair. We commend alike the object and the manner of its execution, and shall be glad to introduce this most tasteful and beautiful little volume into the drawing-rooms and boudoirs of all our readers.


Bibliotheca Londinensis : a Classified Index to the Literature of Great

Britain, during Thirty Years. Arranged from and serving as a Key to the London Catalogue of Books, 1814–1846, which contains the Title, Size, Price, and Publishers' Name of each Work. 8vo. London:

Thomas Hodgson. IMMENSE labour must have been expended on this volume, which contains a classified list of all the works announced in the London Catalogue,' from 1814 to 1846 inclusive. The want of such an index has long been feit. Learned men engaged in a particular course of study, and authors working in the several departments of history, literature, or science, have earnestly coveted it, but have scarcely ventured to expect that their desire would be gratified. Every per. son engaged in such matters, must he aware of the trouble and perplexity which attend a reference to many catalogues, each, it may be, extending over a brief period only. In the present volume all this is saved, and an ease and facility of reference are obtained which those only can duly estimate who have submitted to the drudgery, and felt the insecurity of the older method. It bas, therefore, our hearty good wishes, and we strongly recommend it to all bookish men. To every one connected with literature, it will save much valuable time, in searching after all the works written by different authors on the same subject; whilst to those who buy books, it shews at one glance the selections they can make, without being subject, from an imperfect memory, to purchase what is subsequently found useless.'

« НазадПродовжити »