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The interest elections excite in America may disgust Epicurean indifference to such mean concerns, and may offend the delicacy of English travellers, who, passing unmoved through the vulgarity of Wapping and the city, wonder that the American parties are not so refined as those at Almack's. The ballot would have the effect, in a considerable degree, to prevent gross bribery and corruption, by rendering the traffic hazardous and unproductive. But I anticipate no small advantage from the absence of undue influence, destroying all freedom of action and choice in the voter, and which, wherever it is imposed, must excite in the mind the bitter consciousness of a degraded slavery. Better far to have no vote at all than to be compelled to use it at the pleasure of a master. What is it to be a slave, but to be compelled to use the powers, and gifts, and advantages which God has given us, at another's will?
"The election, or suffrage, of the people is most free," says Harrington,* " where it is made, or given, in such a manner that it can neither oblige nor disoblige another; nor through fear of an enemy, or bashfulness towards a friend, impair a man's liberty." And he quotes the testimony of Cicero, in favour of the ballot :--" Grata populo est TABELLA, quæ frontes aperit hominum, mentes tegit, datque eam libertatem, ut quod velint faciant."
'But whether it be by ballot or not (and I do not contend for ballot as indispensable), I am confident there exists no possibility of extending the elective franchise to inhabitant householders, or to any enlarged description of voters, without banishing the present system of election, in populous places, at the county or borough town, or other metropolis, of riot and expence. It would, indeed, correct the mischief to take the votes by parishes or divisions, so that the election should be finished in one day, which, if non-resident voters are excluded, seems quite practicable.'— pp. 100-103.
The author is clearly of opinion that no part of the expences of the election should be thrown upon the candidates; he would even go so far as to revive the old system of allowing wages to members of the House of Commons, to be paid by the places for which they should be returned ! He will not find many persons to agree with him upon this point, although there is no doubt that it is well worthy of consideration. The deputies to the Spanish Cortes were all paid by the state; so are the deputies to the lower French Chamber; the members of the American Congress are also paid by the states which they represent. In England alone the system, which is one of ancient usage amongst us, has grown obsolete.
Mr. Barber Beaumont's pamphlet (3) is a much better production than we had expected to receive from his hands. It is well written, and wholly on the popular, or rather, we might say, the radical side of the question. He gives a frightful picture of the misery of the lower orders. He asserts that in some of the richest parts of England it is doubtful whether a working man is better supplied with the necessaries of life than the mere savage of the wilderness, who wastes three fourths of his hours in idleness, and
Oceana, p. 54.'
occupies the remainder unassisted by skill, machinery, or capital! He demonstrates, in clear and forcible terms, the interest which the poor labourer has in the preservation and increase of property in the hands of the rich, as it is this property which gives him employment; scanty as that employment may be, it would become less by any event which would render the possession of property insecure. At the same time he points out the injuries which are inflicted, especially on the less opulent orders, by the borough-system, which keeps up the heavy burthen of taxation, and augments, beyond all just bounds, the public expenditure, for the benefit of the friends and relatives of those whom the army, the navy, and the colonial, civil, and diplomatic offices maintain. Of the astonishing additions that were made to the national burthens in the reign of George III. alone, the following table which Mr. Beaumont has framed, affords indubitable evidence. It exhibits the amount of the nett produce of the public revenue at the accession of successive sovereigns-that is to say of the produce actually paid into the Exchequer, after deducting the expenses of collection.
'On the accession of James I.....
James II........ 1685..
William and Mary..
1727 .. 6,762,643
1760 .. 1820.. 46,132,634 ... 1830.. 47,139,873'-p.13.
Mr. Beaumont considers that no reform can be productive of any good which does not include an immediate abolition of all unearned pensions and sinecures which have been improvidently granted; the extinction of all useless places, the reduction of extravagant salaries, and the adoption of the cheapest possible mode of conducting the government. Material reductions might, he thinks, be made in the navy and army, and the church should abandon the tithe system. No salaries, he contends, ought to be paid to clergymen higher than those which are now received by curates, and the tithe question ought to be settled upon the principle of a corn rent, reducing the sums now claimed to at least half their nominal amount. The opulent bishopricks ought, he suggests, upon becoming vacant, to be relieved of half their enormous incomes, and the other half be appropriated to the poor. He does not even spare the public funds, the interest upon which ought to be reduced to £3 upon the present value of £100. To this latter measure, however, he would not resort, unless in case the solvency of the government should become doubtful. Upon the whole he calculates that
reductions might be made, under various heads of expenditure, to the amount of twenty-one millions per annum ! Here is a Chancellor of the Exchequer after Joseph Hume's own heart.
These topics, being incidental only to the main question in view, we shall pass them over for the present, leaving them to the reader's own reflection. We are almost surprised, after what has been just stated, not to find Mr. Beaumont an advocate for universal suffrage and annual parliaments. He does not indeed give us any precise practical notion of what his qualification would be. He has hit upon what he calls an "abstract principle," by the application of which the working people and the people of property should each have an equal number of votes. He proposes one representative for every fifty thousand souls; every male inhabitant twenty-one years of age, who is honest, who has not been convicted of vagrancy, who has not been a pauper, a bankrupt, or an insolvent, who is not insane, or unable to read and write, to have a personal vote in what he denominates his first list, and then a number of votes equal to those in the first list to be given by all persons possessed of property, varying from £10 a year to £5,000— no individual to have both a personal vote, and a vote with respect to property. To this systein he would add the ballot and triennial parliaments. If we wish to have a Republic, we see no objection to the adoption of Mr. Barber Beaumont's ideas. They are inconsistent with our present constitution.
They differ on all essential points from those promulgated by the 'Freeholder, and Landholder of Scotland' (4). This gentleman, of course, considers that the great basis of representation ought to be the land. The only foundation for the right of voting,' he maintains, ought to be the possession of land indefeasibly our own.' Thus he excludes leaseholders, and also, we suppose, copyholders. He considers that instead of enlarging the elective franchise, they ought, on the contrary, to be narrowed, and that such a process is the only one that can secure us against the horrors of venality. He admits that the borough elections, wherever they take place, are bad in principle; they can only be purified, he thinks, by raising the qualification of the voters! The ballot he looks upon as a cloak for hypocrisy and corruption. He would disfranchise Gatton and all decayed boroughs, and transfer the members to the unrepresented towns. The latter being the only concession that he makes to the spirit of the age, it would be a waste of time to pay any attention to his speculations.
The letter (5) to Lord Althorp supports the popular side. The author proclaims that whether we look at the government of the parishes of the counties, or of the united kingdom, error and corruption appear every where; and that the only way to set about obtaining a proper remedy is to begin with the reformation of parliament. In order to attain a good basis of operation he would divide Great Britain and Ireland into provinces, shires, wards and
parishes, according to a scale of population; he would give to these divisions the power of governing themselves in all local concerns, and of eleeting members to the Imperial Parliament according to certain regulations which he is to set forth in a future letter. His leading idea seems to be to form a number of federal states in the two divisions of the kingdom, upon the plan of the American union. Perhaps, as applied to Ireland alone, his propositions are not altogether so extravagant as they may in the first instance
Even the Rev. Richard Warner (6) speaks of parliamentary reform as a measure essentially necessary, but fraught with delicacy as to its modifications, and with difficulty in its execution.' He however proposes no plan, his great object being to solicit such a reduction of reut and tithe and of the use of machinery, as shall enable the farmer to live comfortably, and to pay better wages to a greater number of labourers than he can, or need now employ.
Whatever plan may ultimately be decided upon amid all these conflicting opinions, we trust that it will embrace some real concessions to the people, and enable them to look up to a reformed House of Commons with confidence and respect. That is the great object to be attained; to the accomplishment of it the people have a right derived to them from the constitution of the country. If universal suffrage could be rationally supposed capable of securing such a House, they would have a right to the exercise of universal suffrage. We think that it would tend to the very reverse; that it would return a House of Commons whose first measure would be the violation of faith with the public creditor (than which we know of nothing more disgraceful or more detrimental to the best interests of the nation); that this would, as a necessary consequence, be followed by a general distribution of landed property, and the overthrow of the monarchy. Without reckoning other evils, the prospect of these alone is enough to warn us against universal suffrage. The franchise then must be limited-by what? Unquestionably by property, indicated by assessment in towns and boroughs, and by freehold, copyhold, and beneficial leasehold in counties. This would seem to us to be the basis of any change which should take place. The decayed boroughs should be abolished, where the franchise cannot be extended to neighbouring hundreds, producing at least five hundred voters; and where they cannot produce double that number, the representation should be reduced to one member. The members taken from the small boroughs should be transferred to the important unrepresented towns, and to the populous towns already sending members to Parliament, until the whole of the disposable number should be absorbed in fair relative proportions. The counties ought not to come in for any share of that number, they being already adequately represented. Neither in counties, towns, nor boroughs, should the candidates be liable for any expences whatever; the oath against bribery should be taken by the
candidates as well as the electors; the votes should be received in such divisional sections as would enable them all to be given in one day, and with these regulations it seems to us perfectly immaterial whether the Ballot were imposed or not. To these alterations we would add the limitation of Parliaments to five years. Three years form too short a period, and seven too long; we would prefer the
ART. X.-The Incognito; or Sins and Peccadillos. By Don T. De Trueba, Author of "Romance of History, Spain," "The Castilian," &c. &c. In three volumes. 8vo. London: Whittaker and Co. 1831.
IN this work Mr. De Trueba has endeavoured to supply a great desideratum in the "novel" department of literature. With the exception of Gil Blas and Don Quixote, and one or two minor compositions, little known in this country, there are very few productions to be met with, which paint the past, and none at all which represent the living manners of Spain. The tales of Zayas are the only writings of this class which we have encountered. They are however exclusively of an amorous description, and are so extravagant, artificial, and withal so uninteresting, that we do not suppose that even one of them has ever been translated into any foreign language. It is true that since the days of Le Sage, the manners of Spain have changed less than those of any country ;so limited indeed has that variation been, that several of his scenes might be supposed to have been but very recently transferred to paper from their prototypes on the stage of life. The costume is still the same as it was in his time; the religion has in no degree, altered; education has made greater progress in the peninsula than many persons suppose, but it has had no influence as yet upon the national customs. These are much the same as they ever were, and it is not at all unlikely that they will long continue so, shut out as Spain is from the civilized world by her Pyrennees, and by seas which she is no longer able to traverse.
But although these observations may be true to a great extent, it would still be agreeable to us to know that the Spain of 1830 continues closely to resemble the Spain of three or four hundred years ago. The philosopher would find in this identity a moral phenomenon, which can however be explained by obvious natural causes. The historian and the politician would derive from it matter for useful reflection, and we do not know that the mere hunter after that butterfly-amusement, would feel at all disappointed if he should discover, that the beaux and the belles, the mothers and the daughters, the sages and the dandies, the muleteers, banditti, rogues and vagabonds of the present day, dance to the same guitar which enlivened their ancestors, pray as they prayed, intrigued as they intrigued, reasoned and revelled, sung and slew,