« PreviousContinue »
thou afraid of death? ” About the same ravages of the Huns, Goths, Mahometans, time we have a St. Jerome, whose writings Franks, Burgundians, Lombards, Saxons, are of incalculable service. Soon after we Danes, &c.; by the constant interruptions of have a St. Patrick, converting a whole the Moors in the south, by the continuance nation from heathenism, and establishing of the Crusades, by the incursions of the monasteries of men and of women over the Turks in the east. So much so, that, let country, that in subsequent ages became so me ask you, what would have become of renowned for their sanctity, learning, and religion and learning, where would teachers hospitality, as to attract the attention and have been found, where would priests have command the respect of Europe. In Eng- been selected from, if not from those monasland we have St. Augustine and his forty tic institutions that were spread throughout companion monks, carrying out the same the south and west of Europe ? good work, achieving the same beneficial. In Italy we have St. Benedict leaving his results. So much so, that in less than a parents' home while yet a boy, and retiring century we have England sending out its to a desert life, where he soon becomes the monks to convert the nations of Europe, head of many monasteries. Contemporary that up to this time were buried in the with hiin, we have the two brothers, Sts. darkness of paganism. St. Wilfred preached Romanus and Lupicinus, founding the Abbey in Friesland, St. Willibrod to the Frisons, of Condute, in the neighbourhood of Geneva. St. Boniface to central and southern Ger- St. Scholastica, sister of St. Benedict, became many, St. Willihad to the northern, and his the superioress of the religious houses then disciples again to the Danes, St. Ligitred to established for holy women. Subsequently the Swedes, &c. At home we have Vener- we have St. Columbo, an Irish monk, estabable Bede and his contemporaries working lishing monasteries in Scotland; St. Gildas wonders for the instruction and improve- and St. Giles, English monks, St. Columbon ment of their countrymen. We should and Gall, Irish monks, founding monasteries make allowances for the ravages of the in various parts of France, in the sixth and Danes, and the many changes these countries seventh centuries. From these different underwent, which so much checked and centres they spread with more or less retarded learning and religion. I need not success; and in every place achieving those tell you that Europe similarly suffered from grand results, those beneficial effects, I have the convulsions of the Roman empire, the I already amply demonstrated. STANISLAUS.
IS THE BALLOT MORE DESIRABLE THAN OPEN VOTING ?
NEGATIVE ARTICLE.-I. The Controversialist is an arena, into) are agitating the surface of society, a little which principles and theories are brought to lulled for the present, in these “piping times be tested and tried: the scriptural injunction of war," which makes the opportunity well might be our motto, –“ Prove all things, chosen for debating its merits. The game and hold fast that which is good.” We have of politics is like the game of chess: one set a much higher duty, in honestly maintaining of principles or ideas pitted against another and defending our opinions, developing new set; the players using all their adroitness, truths, and laying bare to our mental gaze their cunning, and their subtlety to checkthe roots of old ones, than in the mere exhi- | mate their opponents. Political antagonism bition of our personal prowess as individual is a necessary consequence of free institutions. antagonists in these wordy wars. We ought A naturalist has remarked, " that the male to be less mental pugilists than seekers after species of all animal life have an instinctive imperishable truth.
propensity to fight each other;" but as man The Ballot is one of those ques:ions that becomes more civilized, his animalism merges into spiritualism. Our honoured progeni- considered the record of the man's opinion; tors-hairy savages, who loved to wield the an endorsement of his political ideas; a sort club, or strike with the flint pointed spear, of material consummation of his principles represent the same propensity as the close by a deliberate assertion; attesting his moral shaven moderner, who is ever eager to do agency, by a political act. battle against every opponent, his weapons This we consider a privilege and trust, being spiritual forces. But he, like the involving a weighty responsibility. The fact latter, had bis war-cry, which answered the that he represents the numbers who have ends, not only as a sort of rally cry, but a | not this privilege, is a sufficient reason to shadow of an excuse for fighting at all; just render it of that important responsibility. so have his worthy descendants their war The proportionate number of such votes is cries, having about as much relation to what limited in the masses to but a few. Take they fought for as the heraldic banner with the amount of population in round numbers its mystic emblazonry, which flaunts and at thirty millions, and we have not more flutters over the heads of the warriors in the than a million electors (rather more regisbattle field. The Ballot is nothing but a tered votes, because many electors have a political war cry; divest it of its importance plurality of votes). The individual unit is as political capital to the democratic aspi- the political depositor of the thirty. rant, and it would soon be canvassed upon Having thus briefly laid before the reader its slender merit, to the certain rejection of the nature and extent of the franchise as a its principle by a vast majority of the trust, we have now to consider the way in thinking classes.
which it should be exercised, whether secretly Of course this reasoning is hypothetical, or by an open declaration. We all know necessarily so, on account of the absence of that men generally will act more honourably, facts to prove it either way.
more consistently, with the eyes of the world These preliminary observations are intended upon them than they will when closeted to clear from our judgment any political class alone with their vacillating hearts, when sympathy, whicń might otherwise warp its temporary expedients or selfish interest are free action, and prevent its impartial deci- the tempters. sion. The ballot finds universal advocates. This premise granted, the conclusion is in the advanced section of the liberal school, inevitable, that voters will act under a sense and it is universally condemned by the con- of general opinion with more sincerity and servative element. But our province is not honesty when their moral worth is at stake, like that of the chivalrous Don Quixote, than when they can safely play the hypocrite, who, in his mighty valour, absolutely fought and sacrifice public duty for unworthy mowith the windinills. We do not profess to tives. We are aware that this abstract rearun a tilt at every prejudice of the one class, soning will not satisfy the advocates of the or fight against every chimera or idealism of Ballot; but while taking a stand upon this the other. We have only to prove, by the broad principle, we are quite willing to "le:d true syllogistic method, whether or not the a listening ear” to the peculiar objections of Ballot is more desirable than open voting. the open system; and entertain in prospec
The first consideration which naturally tive fancy the desirability of the secret presents itself is, What is the nature of the system. franchise ? Every Englishman must be What you require, says a high authority, aware that, if he possesses certain qualifica- is protection for the voter in the exercise of tions, constitutional laws enable him to ex- his sacred trust against extraneous pressure. ercise a tangible influence in the governing The strong tyrannize over the weak in such of his country; he is entitled to a vote; and a way that is degrading to the oppressedupon such votes the policy, the history, and compelling an individual to commit, not only the destiny of our country hinges. He political suicide, but political murder. The exercises his vote by right, but he uses it foulest blot upon the working of our constipurely and solely in accordance with his tution is the corrupt and criminal records of principles and opinions, following only the electioneering practices. dictates of his conscience (taking the type The Ballot, they say, would be the panacea of the honest voter). This vote may be of all these ills; it would be impossible to intimidate, and bribery would be rendered | The man takes the latter course, aided by inoperative. The free and independent elec- the protection of the Ballot. The lie haunts tor might walk to the poll, defying all men him, and at some time or other is sure to be to penetrate his decisions—safely buttoned revealed to his accomplices. Private malice, in his pocket; he might be an interesting or love of slander, emboldens the tale-teller; problem in the eyes of the speculator on and the employer would eventually ascertain, human probabilities, but not a tool in the to his victim's cost, the duplicity which had hands of the trafficker in men's consciences. been practised towards him. The Ballot Such reasoning, we will grant, appears would more resemble a trap than a protecplausible, and might carry with it a weight tion. If the individual strongly believed in of conviction, if we contented ourselves with the maxim that “honesty is the best policy," merely taking this surface view —— having the Ballot would be nugatory. The Ballot to consider, how far it would be expedient would afford no real protection to the voter to adopt a false principle to remedy a recog against the influence and power under which nized evil, which, being an accidental pecu- he is placed; as the case of the tradesman liarity, seems to require a sort of bye-law to and patron would be essentially the same as meet the case. That the Ballot would pre- the case cited. vent or even check bribery, we strongly Having briefly alluded to secret voting as doubt: because the individual elector who objectionable upon principle, in the exercise had received his bribe to vote in a certain of the franchise: having also shown that way which the briber required, would be un- it would not be a remedial expediency to awed by the turpitude of his crime, simply check the abuse of that privilege, and that because the world would not be cognizant of its adoption would rather increase than dithe bribery. His sense of public duty and minish the existing corruption, we next come public propriety would be more readily ex- to consider the moral effect which would tinguished when he had not the fear before accrue from its institution. his eyes of sacrificing himself openly to the Would it make men more honest, more shrine of Mammon. There is a tinge of sincere, and more virtuous? The pure and heroism about the murderer who openly high-minded Saxon race, as we learn from attacks his victim, knowing that he brings their earliest traditions, voted and discussed upon himself the certainty of self-immolation. openly, beneath the leafy shades of the GerBut there is not a shade of heroism about man forests, questions of government, and the hired assassin, who strikes in the dark, have ever since manifested the same spirit and escapes from observation in its obscu- of honesty and candour. Would the intrority. And would not the elector, like the duction of secret voting be an honour to that assassin, be more likely to hire himself out race, who can trace back their heroic liberfor vile purposes when the mantle of oblivion ties, genus of free institutions, and open shrouded his crimes, than if they were voting for a thousand years? Have we so blazoned forth to the ears of day?
degenerated, that we require a cloak for our With regard to intimidation, the Ballot political sins? Has our manhood brought would appear to secure an amount of protec- shame and its effeminacy, that we no longer. tion to the elector. We will suppose the dare walk before men with our colours flying, case of an enfranchised mechanic; his em- as indicating the shape of our opinions and ployer intimates to him that unless he votes the spirit of our principles? Is not the sugat the ensuing election in accordance with gestion of the Ballot worthy of mediæval the latter's wish, he will be discarded and Italy, when the human intellect was so thrown upon his own resources. The man prostituted, that all its energies seemed to promises compliance; but secretly goes in converge in perfecting its cunning; or of the direct opposition. He had three courses modern Jesuitical society, for the duplicity open :-to have voted as his principles dic- and craft of the Italian character has sunk tated, honestly confessing the fact; to have to its dregs and lees, fully embodied and voted against his conscience, and conse- worked up in their ecclesiastical institutions ? quently selling it; to have voted consistently The argument so often used in Parliament with his principles, and committing the against the Ballot, that it is “un-English," crime of falsehood by an opposite promise. I is not the flippant phrase used more for its
convenience than sense, as many imagine. upon prejudice and stubborn hatred of innoThe real Alippancy is with those who ridicule vation; but that it has a deeper significance such a sentiment, without giving it an than it would appear to have on a superficial earnest consideration, assuming that it is glance. nothing but a conservative prejudice. The The primary argument wby the Ballot is Ballot is un-English for these reasons:- not more desirable ihan open voting is,-its
It is contrary to the spirit of the English demoralizing influences, if carried into pracconstitution. The democratic element, the tice. It would give every encouragement to house of the people, is the real legislative dishonesty; lies and false promises would power of the country; it is carried on by receive a premium at every election. Many means of open voting and open debating. a man, with but a slender basis of good prinThe responsibility of every vote and every ciple, is kept on an equipoise of integrity speech falls entirely upon the voter and simply hy the moral props which surround speaker. There is no screen, behind which him; how often would he precipitate himself he can skulk, hiding from public scan the down the gulfs of iniquity, were it not for course he pursues. It is contrary to the the examples of his fellows, which he clings practice of the English in all the ramifica- to, as inferior moral force invariably attaches tions of public duties; we say public duty, itself to superior when there may be a symdistinguishing from such elections for clubs, pathy of principle and opinion joined to an societies, &c., &c., which, having but a per- inequality of stamina! sonal or local action, being merely private Again, your man of weak principle has organizations, carried on for some specific his love of approbation; he has a jealous object, not involving general principles or vigilance to secure his reputation in the eyes national policy.
of the world. The Ballot would deprive him The Ballot is contrary to the spirit of Eng- of that safeguard in the exercise of his land's historic annals. In searching back political right; he would become a prey to the records of the past, we can find no pre- numerous changing influences -a drifting cedent which would justify such an innova- vessel with its sheet anchor gone. tion. But on the other hand we have many | The Ballot would be a decided advantage bright examples of moral heroism, exhibiting to the mercenary-spirited voter—the man to the world the dignity and glory of self | who sets his conscience aside, deeming it too denial, and even martyrdom, purely for prin expensive to exercise it, making the best ciple's sake.
bargain for his vote in the true spirit of Had a system of secret voting and indi- commerce. The facilities he requires would vidual non-responsibility formed part of the be increased, when the infamy of such promachinery of government, it would have ceedings were shrouded in the mystery of marred the efficiency, and imposed the vigour the Ballot. of everything like popular reform. We all Take another class—the honest voter in know from the persecution of one noble straitened circumstances. The possession spirit for the sake of principle, the life-blood of the tempting five or ten pound note seems of millions has been stirred up in its cause. la consummation devoutly to be wished; his
A secret system would have deflowered noble refusal is a sacrifice he makes, not only the political virtue of the people; because, for the cause directly, but for the cause inbeing no basis for political honesty, there directly, in setting so good an example for would be no public consistency, no stability, others to imitate- he receiving an amount and none but shifting bulwarks, changeable of moral support and sympathy as a counter as the dying hues of the dolphin. These influence from their examples. But the are the definitions which explain satisfac- Ballot would change all this; the animated torily to us the un-English nature of the glow of good fellowship which cheered him Ballot.
on would be lost in darkness, and much of The impartial reader of the Controversial- the motive which actuated him in his honest ist must perceive that there is no wish to cause would be taken away. He might think beg the question by this reference to general- he was no worse than his neighbour; and the ities; the object being simply to show that tempting sum induce him to act the hypo“ the Ballot is un-English,” is not founded crite, take the note, while ignoring the fact; still professing to think and sympathise as The evils resulting from the Ballot in the of yore. If this dishonesty-ever before his United States are of a different class from nind's eye, and repeated at regular intervals those of the French. In the former there is Juring his life—would not tend to demo- an intelligent community devoted to a man ralize the man, it is difficult to say what in the upholding of certain fundamental would.
principles of liberty, — possessing not an In the countries where the Ballot has been ignorant peasantry unable to appreciate the tried, the results are far from satisfactory. blessings of freedom, or a class of aristocratic If we take our experimental proofs of its functionaries regardless of all liberty, anxious desirability from the United States and only to secure their prestige and self interFrance, we shall fall into a delusion, purely est. The political evils characterizing the from not knowing its deficiencies, and the United States arise from the virulence of peculiar evils flowing from it. In France party spirit, and the ambition of party comthe Ballot is now nothing but a farce, since binations. With all their glorious free speech, the elections are only sham ones-a form and free press, the machinations of party without a reality. Government nominees work in a dark element, rarely brought are brought forward as candidates for the up in an honest shape to be agitated on office of legislators, and elected, because there the surface, and undergo the ordeal of a is no alternative. The existing evil is des. 'thorough ventilation, such as we favoured potism, but the parent of that evil was islanders are accustomed to. Questions are anarchy. And what fostered that anarchy, only hinted at; the Ballot does all dirty work. that spirit of insubordination, that love of The most profoundly cunning are supposed change, which prevented the consolidation of to know best, they are said to have a few their liberties? Why, the Ballot, which notions, whether it be the annexing of Cuba, divided public spirit into units of dissatis- the conquest of Canada, or the bullying of faction - preventing combination of senti- the feeble republics of the South. The ment, unity of purpose, making the difficulty extraordinary rise and progress of the incommuch greater of blending their common ' prehensible Know-nothings is a manifestation wants and common aspirations into a public of this spirit. There must be something spirit, pledged to a certain policy, and devoted rotten in the state of America to account for to recognized principles.
such paradoxes. We do not say that the If men are afraid to vote openly, and pusil- Ballot is the cause of all these evils, but we lanimously screen themselves behind the Bal- believe it is a formidable auxiliary in foslot, they would naturally shrink from an 'tering and encouraging them, and its expulopen avowal of their views, avoiding every- sion would go far to restore a healthy tone thing like free discussion, which is the basis in the politics of our Yankee cousins. of all freedom; for if you have not a free, It will only remain for us, at the close of the unfettered interchange of thought, free insti- debate, to sum up and gain a verdict against tutions would have but a nominal existence, the Ballot. Meanwhile we shall be happy and would be an easy prey to the first assaults to hear what its advocates have to say in of despotism.
At the sound of some of the names of the Shelley, the atheist; Keats, the dreamer; sons of inspiration, how the human heart is Kirke White, the sacrifice. The mere uttermoved-how the sympathies of the soul ance of such names to the lover and student vibrate, as though swept by the mystic of poetry is like the first notes of exquisite potencies of love, joy, or sorrow!
melodies, long since heard, but never to be Chatterton, the suicide; Byron, the sceptic; forgotten; the first vibrations of which bring