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our rivalship with her in the arts of wise conciliation. France has not left herself without other friendships than that of England–England should not leave herself without other friendships than that of France. It is her more immediate object to remove all differences between herself and the United States of America; to heal the sores which yet rankle in the mind of the Germanic peoples; and while quietly engaged in this task, so to mature and consolidate her own maritime power, that, while she invites friendship, she does not supplicate for assistance. Our strength, defensive or aggressive, is in our navy. No pains and no cost are too great to render that navy perfect. If England ever be conquered, it must be at sea. Misfortune enough to our commerce and our honour if conquered there. As to invasion of our soil, we do not think M. Esquiros takes too flattering a view of our security when he sums up the review of our warlike defences to this effect, Any Continental nation, no matter which, that wished to come into collision with Great Britain, ought to think twice of it. . . . . She will find before her the ships that have hitherto covered the coast with an impenetrable bulwark; behind the ships the soldiers; behind the soldiers a country in arms.?
It is not to be denied that the incapacity of recent administrations has left much for their successors to do. The most pressing of all reforms is that in the Board of Admiralty, with all its collateral departments. We believe that in this branch of our service a reform must be bold and complete. Nor shall we have much faith in the efficacy of any reform here, so long as extravagance and jobbing are sheltered under the multiplied responsibilities of that machine for bad government which we call a Board.
There is another requisite for the recovery and maintenance of our national power as essential to our national safety, which depends less on the wisdom of the government than the good sense of the governed, viz., the preservation of the essential idiosyncrasies in our national form of polity, in which discerning foreigners admire the mould of the national character. It is among the fundamental propositions of Aristotle that nations have in them a certain entity--an individual organization of life, and they continue to flourish only so long as they retain the political and social conditions to which such organization is congenial. That which constitutes the vitality of one State may entail the dissolution of another. When Sparta established for a time her peculiar oligarchy in democratic Athens, Athens herself ceased to exist, and only again recovered life when she expelled the oligarchy which her rival identified with the stability of freedom and the discipline of manhood.
On the other hand, when Dorian states, of which Sparta was the master type, accepted the democracy of Athens, they became rapidly enervated and corrupt.
In examining the works which furnish the thesis for our remarks, nothing has struck us more forcibly than the general concurrence of three observers—all singularly acute and each landing on our shores with differing political prepossessions—as to the main causes which conduce to the formation of our national character and the solidity of our national greatness. “With what care,' exclaims M. Esquiros (after tracing the varied and gradual development of the English race), with what care and what a chain of events Nature labours to form peoples destined to exercise an influence upon civilization!..... Simple races manifest faculties equally simple and limited; on the other hand, the more races are mingled, the more does the national character abound in shades which by their very opposition tend to ramify the resources of civilization. You have then before you the imposing spectacle of variety in unity: the English is a composite nation, and hence its strength.' M. Esquiros does not fail to see that as is the nation so is its political constitution. That constitution, as yet, is variety in unity-it is a composite constitution; hence its harmony with the people, and hence it has hitherto united an unequalled amount of practical liberty with a scrupulous attachment to order. The English constitution,' says M. Esquiros, 'with its limits and counterpoises, is an image of the same tendency to balance liberties by dividing the antagonism of powers.' The great question of domestic policy that has risen to importance in the present day is, how far this composite constitution, in harmony with this composite nation, and this division of the antagonism of powers on which depends the union of order and liberty, of social progress and political stability, are to be abandoned or maintained. The question has been forced upon us in a way singularly unfavourable to our confidence in those who have most noisily raised it. That hereditary respect for law which has been so conspicuous an element of our character—that moral force invested in the person of a solitary policeman which excites the amaze and admiration of M. Louis Blanc—have been notably manifested by the counsellors of the Reform League in their violent seizure of Hyde Park! And for the first time, at least in our generation, the brute force of numbers against the authority of law, to a decision of which they were amicably invited, has been vindicated even less by the eloquence of a popular leader like Mr. Bright than by the yet more eloquent silence of a statesman aspiring to the highest office of the State, like Mr. Gladstone. There are other bribes than those of gold.
Our Demosthenes could not have been afflicted with a more unseasonable suppression of speech if he had swallowed the cup of Harpalus.
Let us look boldly and fairly at the question of fresh Parliamentary reform. This journal has never favoured any scheme for disturbing prematurely the settlement effected with so much difficulty in 1832. And all measures involving (as did the Bill of last session) the ultimate transfer of power to a single class manipulated by the chiefs of a single party shall ever receive our opposition. But in the Reform question itself—that is to say, in the consideration whether it is possible to improve the representation of the people in Parliament - there is nothing to which the party called Conservative are either by principle or by policy necessarily opposed. The Reform Bill of 1832 was not their Bill—its effect was to throw the Government into the hands of the Whigs; and it is only when, by singular maladministration, the Whigs have lost control over the bulk of their own followers, that the Conservatives have had a brief interval of power.
If then the Whigs, not contented with the results of their own Reform Bill, and entertaining the same doubts which we entertain of their own pretensions to the exclusive government of the country, insist upon a new amendment of the representative system, it does not appear to us that it is the true policy of the Conservative party to refuse all innovation in an electoral system, by which their opponents sought to make their tenure of office an article of the British constitution. And the Conservatives have sufficiently shown in recent debate the superior knowledge of their leaders in the difficult and complicated details, a mastery of which is essential to any fair redistribution of power between differing opinions and rival interests ; so that it was not without evident truth that Mr. Disraeli asserted, in an address to his constituents, that in the consideration of Parliamentary Reform there was no difficulty special to the Conservatives. The difficulty that does exist is inherent in the question itself, and will be felt, almost in an equal degree, by the real political thinkers of every party; nay, it is perhaps the most strikingly exhibited in the essays of philosophers, who, going to the length of manhood suffrage, are then appalled by the logical consequences which would result from that principle of voting, recognize the obvious truth that in proportion as the Constitution approaches to what is called universal suffrage it must realize the practical disfranchisement of all classes except the most numerous, and are compelled with Mr. Hare and Mr. Mill to resort to expedients as futile as they are ingenious,
in order to preserve some voice in the State to minorities in point of population, but majorities in point of wealth and education.
The Reform Act of 1832, with all its defects, among which may be reckoned a too unscrupulous preference to Whig interests in the selected retention of the smaller boroughs, was a very solid block of legislative masonry, and sufficiently symmetrical in its proportions to render it no easy task to improve or enlarge it without marring the whole plan of its architecture. Its object and its effect was to give to the urban populations, as against the rural, a large and indeed an overpowering representative majority in the House of Commons. But, according to relative property and relative numbers, the rural districts then (as they are even now) were entitled, by political equity, to an amount of representation larger than that so lavishly bestowed on towns; the Whig framers of the Reform Act had no insignificant stake in the interests of the soil and the preservation of that portion of our complicated aristocracy which constitutes the great landed proprietors; and so it came to pass that that fair share of representation to which by numbers and by property the agricultural populations were entitled * in any redistribution of political power, though not directly conceded to counties, was indirectly transmitted to agricultural boroughs, in which it was presumed that local sympathies and interests would afford a certain modified counterpoise to the more purely democratic tendencies which are the immemorial attribute of urban populations. At the same time though the counties themselves were left to a very inadequate representation of their wealth and numbers, a principle essential to justice was conceded; as the constituencies of boroughs were not to be swamped by rural voters in their neighbourhood, so the constituencies of counties were not to be swamped by the electors that properly belong to towns ; and as the occupiers of the soil stake in the soil all their intellect, capital, and industry, so, by the Chandos Clause, the occupiers of the soil at the rental of 501. were admitted to the franchise. Thus our readers will observe that, by the Reform Act of 1832, a certain balance of power was effected between urban and rural populations, rude, imperfect, indirect, but still constructed with some notion of justice and some care for that stability which belongs to the representation of real property. The Act gave
* We are puzzled to conceive by what arguments any one can persuade himself that the representation of counties is a dead' representation. Is not the agricultural wealth of the country enormous, and is it not rapidly increasing through the progress of the science of agriculture, and the enterprise and activity of landlords and tenants, who are daily adding to the permanent value of the soil, and are quite as truly public benefactors as our manufacturers and merchants ?
a preponderant power to the towns, and therefore to popular opinion; it secured to the Whigs, as the hereditary representatives of popular opinion, a marked and decisive preference in the administration of affairs. But that preference did not amount to a positive monopoly of power; it left to the party now called Conservative a disadvantageous, but still a possible rivalry ; and, were such rivalry not possible, it must be clear to erery political thinker that the security for good government would be gone. Maladministration in every department begins, and is confirmed, the moment the maladministrators can say, • Blame us as you please, but you cannot supplant us. Attempt it, and, though from transient circumstances we let you in for six months or a year, we have still the brute force of numbers. We can gather around us a majority whenever we please to take the trouble.' In this way a Venetian Council of Ten, dr an English majority of three hundred and sixty, equally becomes the type of an oligarchy aloof from competition.
The balance of power as between rural and urban populations, which the Reform Bill of 1832 designed to effect, was first broken to the prejudice of the rural by the creation of faggot votes. The old forty-shilling freeholder in counties was an elector whose interests and sympathies were identified with the locality to which his vote was assigned ; but, during the agitation of the anti-Corn Law League, and indeed, though partially, prior to that angry time, companies professing political convictions, and aimning at pecuniary profits, sprung up, proffering a forty-shilling freehold in counties near to the metropolis and other large towns, upon easy terms, to every artisan who would vote in antagonism to the opinion espoused by the native constituency or district, in which he had not a single interest in the exercise of his industry, nor a single sympathy in hereditary associations or affections. This practice was wholly opposed to the theory of the original Whig reformers. The Reform proposed by Lord Grey (then Mr. Grey), in 1797, was (to use the words of the proposer) constructed upon the principle that agriculture, as a great national interest, should be represented by those who had some concern in it'-a principle with which Mr. Fox, speaking in favour of the motion, declared his cordial agreement.
Now, if in any reconstruction of the parliamentary representation the numbers and property of the rural districts are to be so wholly erased from the scheme, that-while the manifestly undue proportion of representatives as between towns and counties is to be left unredressed, and an immense parliamentary majority is to be conceded to the comparatively inferior amount of population