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and fixed property in the towns-the Legislature adds to the number of spurious forty-shilling faggot freeholders, who, exercising their industry in Spitalfields, St. Giles's, and Marylebone, vote as electors in the agricultural districts of Essex, and Surrey, and Hertfordshire, all the inhabitants of towns in each county who do not rent an acre of land, and, paying a rent of 147. for a town house, regard the farmer as a brainless clod and the squire as a lowminded tyrant;-if, in a word, the representation of land as an essential element in the representation of this composite England is to disappear, or be left wholly, in certain districts, to the countervailing money and influence of colossal proprietors—the Reform Bill of 1832 is not amended, it is destroyed. Under the pretence of extending the franchise, a new distribution of power is effected, in which whatever belongs to the fair share of Conservative opinion is reduced to the lowest possible fraction.
The main objection of the Conservatives to the Reform Bill proposed by Earl Russell's Government was not as against its magnitude, but as against its unfairness-not that it widened too much the scope of represented opinion, but that, in reality, it narrowed that scope by carefully abstracting from it the opinions cherished by that vast portion of the community which is known by the denomination of Conservatives. The boasted moderation of the measure consisted in hitting upon just such an apportionment and allotment of suffrage as might most eliminate the Conservative element. When the county franchise was fixed at 147. instead of 104., as proposed by the Reform Bill introduced by Lord Derby's Cabinet, it was because the 147. franchise was more favourable than the 107. to the predominance of town voters, and less favourable to the increase of voters in rural villages. In extending the suffrage of the working class the urban working men were admitted as generally predisposed to democratic doctrines; but the rural working men were excluded as generally predisposed to Conservative sympathies. We doubt whether a representative system based even upon manhood suffrage and fair electoral districts would not return a larger number of Conservative members than a measure constructed upon the principle of augmenting the votes of working men in towns and denying votes to working men in the agricultural districts. And our objection to manhood suffrage is less that it favours democracy, than that, in old and luxurious communities, it favours the Cæsarism which ends in absolute rule. No political observer can deny that the limited suffrage which prevailed in France under Louis Philippe was more favourable to constitutional government than the manhood suffrage which abridges all the normal powers of a representative chamber
in order to concentrate the forces of the state upon the able autocrat in whom the multitude seeks a protection against itself. And it is by a similar resort to universal suffrage that the daring genius of Count Bismarck seeks to counterbalance the liberal tendencies of the German middle class, and to establish in the North of Germany the deep foundations of a military empire.
We do not pretend to conjecture whether or not Lord Derby's Government will undertake, next session, the arduous experiment of a new Reform Bill. As we have said, a Conservative Cabinet is at least as capable as any to be formed out of rival parties to grapple with the difficulties that beset the question; provided only, but provided always, they be met by the House of Commons, and the more temperate and intelligent of the working class and their leaders out of doors, in a spirit congenial to the English reputation for good sense and love of fair play. If, as we are assured by a writer in a very able journal, which stands somewhat aloof from the mere passion of party,* the Liberals are resolved not to accept any measure of Reform proposed by a Conservative Government-if on calm and full examination, not only of the details of the subject itself, but of their probabilities of support from members or constituencies out of their own ranks, Her Majesty's present advisers should decline the task, the decision would cause no surprise, and perhaps among thinking men no disappointment. The difficulty has been increased for every party by the disgust which the movement organised by the leaders of the Reform League has excited amongst all intelligent citizens not comprised in that noisy and arrogant association. Thanks to Mr. Beales and his. thoughtless followers, it is made to appear no longer a question between the existing representation and a franchise so expanded as to comprehend a wider range of the working class, but rather a question between the mixed Constitution of England and the rude democracy of Manhood Suffrage with Vote by Ballot. There are times,' says Mignet, in his History of the French Revolution,' 'when the most unpopular of all parties is the party that calls itself popular.' It seems to have been the object of Mr. Beales to excel Mr. Bright in the art of rendering Parliamentary Reform unpopular with the great majority of those who have something to lose. No agitation equally clamorous was ever before so significantly divested of aid from men of social position and political renown. The agitators seek to borrow an importance wanting to themselves from the countenance which a Statesman
so eminent as Mr. Gladstone has erratically lent to the agitation. If at one moment he thought to make an instrument of a Democratic league, he has deceived himself and has become theirs. By that kind of intellectual self-confidence which is not uncommon with brilliant orators-which intoxicated a Mirabeau and destroyed a Vergniaud-he has imagined that it is enough to ride on the whirlwind in order to direct the storm. Aspiring, not unnaturally, considering his long official experience, his gift of eloquence, and his intellectual acquirements, to the highest post in the councils of a constitutional sovereign, Mr. Gladstone has allowed himself to be lauded as a revolutionary leader, endowed with the impossible power of reconciling the irreconcilable differences between men who agree in destroying what is established, and diverge the moment they are called upon to reconstruct. Hard enough task it might be, for a practical statesman and leader of the Liberal ranks of the House of Commons to amalgamate in one sentiment of confidence the polished patricians of Brookes's and the mutinous Gracchi of the Reform Club; hard task enough, by the subtle chemistry of Sorbonnian logic, to compound into one healing commixture the theories of the Episcopalian and the designs of the Puritan! But such a task is too light for a genius that exults in the perplexities which baffle ordinary reason. Placing himself side by side with Mr. Bright-flanked here by Mr. Beales, and there by Mr. Mill-to Mr. Beales he is the prototype of Pym, to Mr. Mill the prototype of Vane; here the British Constitution enlarged into the Democracy of flesh and blood; there the British Constitution an obsolete chimera, and Democracy saved from the instincts of flesh and blood by a webwork of metaphysical crotchets.
But, if we may judge by the recent speech of Mr. Gladstone at Salisbury, we are not without hope that he is sensible of the perilous dilemma into which he has permitted himself to be drawn; and, if only for the sake of his own fame, we should hail his reascension from the level of demagogues to his native eminence in the ranks of statesmen. In that speech he denounces with such sober good sense the chronic agitation for organic change, and intimates with such apparent sincerity his desire to judge fairly, and without reference to party animosities, any measure for Parliamentary Reform proposed by Lord Derby's Government, that we should look with hope towards a settlement of this vexed question in the only way by which it can be speedily and safely settled-viz., conciliatory agreement between the chiefs of rival parties-if we could but feel sure that the Mr. Gladstone of to-morrow will be consistent with the Mr. Glad
stone of to-day. Never was there a more striking example of that tendency to perpetual transformation in material bodies, by which, in the verses of Ovid, Pythagoras seeks to reconcile his startled listener to the doctrine of Metempsychosis :' requieque sine ullâ Corpora vertuntur; nec quid fuimusve sumusve
Certainly it is our earnest desire that Lord Derby's Government may introduce no measure of Reform, if they see no fair chance of its success, either with the present Parliament or in an appeal to the country. An unsuccessful measure, propounded by Conservatives, is exposed to this perilous hazard-that every concession made, in the way of a conciliatory compromise between parties, is accepted as a surrender of principle and stripped of all the counterpoises which the scheme, as a whole, may comprehend. In the Reform Bill introduced by Lord Derby's former Government, the 507. county franchise was reduced to 107.; but it was on two conditions:-1st, the ultimate extinction of a certain class of county voters, which had sprung up in boroughs; and 2ndly, the preservation of the borough franchise itself, at the 101. house-rental, which still left to the middle class that predominance over classes above or below it which is most favourable to the stability of free institutions. A wise legislator,' says Aristotle, will constantly endeavour to comprehend in his scheme of polity men of the middle rank, and to render them, if not more powerful than both the extremes, at least superior to either; because, when this takes place, the Government is likely to prove durable.' The conditions on which Lord Derby's Government conceded the reduction of the county franchise were rejected; but the concession, pur et simple, has been ever since taken for granted. There is no weapon more dangerous in the hands of an opponent than the olive-branch he accepts only to shape into his own shaft, and tip with his own iron.
Apart from the question of organic change in the Constitution, we share a very general opinion that there are other reforms much more urgently required, to the due consideration of which the present Parliament should address itself in a calmer state of mind than it is likely to possess if tormented by schemes for its future construction, and haunted by fears of its immediate dissolution. And we own our desire that, before they volunteer an undertaking so grave in itself and proffering advantages so doubtful as that of Parliamentary reform, her Majesty's present advisers may at least be allowed the time sufficient to test their capacity for the general administration
of affairs. In securing to them this reasonable trial against a repetition of the cynical alliance between place-hunters abhorring mob-leaders and mob-leaders despising place-hunters, no doubt they demand, and we trust they will receive, the cordial support of all who call themselves Conservatives. The issues at stake are, for Conservatives, so important that all the minor differences incident to every combination of educated freemen must be merged in the paramount interest of preserving the Constitution of England from experiments never to be hazarded on a political body except when its disease is desperate or its life is worthless. But we have too high an opinion of the strong sense and of the pervasive, though quiet, patriotism which have hitherto been our natural characteristics not to hope that the present Cabinet will find a far wider area of support than that occupied by its professed partisans. For the option placed before practical politicians is no longer that between two constitutional parties. It has become a question whether we are to exchange the original genius of this ancient monarchy for a miserable copy of democratic America. We respect the scruples of honour which deter public men from quitting a party when the party itself has quitted their opinions. But if history abounds in examples of such not ignoble waverers, it no less abounds in warnings against the fatal fault they commit when, as between party and conviction, they hesitate too long, and only decide when they have lost the power to save their country from the disasters they foresaw, or their own high names from the damaged reputation which posterity accords to men who cannot make up their minds in time.
In claiming for Lord Derby's present Government that fair play which was denied to his last, we make no unwarranted appeal to the common sense of our countrymen. It is admitted, on all hands, that in most of our official departments, the members of the recent Cabinet have signally failed in the exhibition of the qualities that belong to successful administrators; yet there never was a period in which the vital interests of the country more demanded capable administrators, at once prudent and vigorous. If we look at home to the department of the Poor Law Board, and the many and complicated matters which come before the Board of Trade; if we look to the amendments required in our military equipment and organization, or the necessity for change in the constitution of the Admiralty imposed on us by the duties of self-defence; if we cast our eyes abroad, and see how much is to be done in order to regain not only the position, but the safeguards, which it is the concurrent opinion of all circles in Europe and America that the blunders of Earl Russell have largely diminished and gravely endangered,