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TAIT'S

EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.

MAY, 1857.

THE NEXT

REFORM BILL.

The expectant public must be reasonable to the revolution in any other domestic institution, with untried Parliament. An idea prevails in some deep old roots, would leave the House of Commons quarters that we may bave a new rcform act before safe for a time, but its own dissolution follows its we have ripened barley-suggestive of bad pros. own reform, like a shadow. The Bank Charter, pects for brewers and malsters, because a new and necessarily the currency laws, were noted franchise, on a scale differing widely from the for the consideration of the last Parliament in its present, is not likely to be established during the last session, and they must occupy a month of the current year. The new House of Commons can- first session of the present Parliament, because not get out of the Whitsun holidays into working the questions connected with them cannot be hudorder before the beginning of June. Then a dled over ; and yet they cannot be postponed. number of election petitions must be heard, for The new Parliament therefore will take the doubts are expressed whether a batch of nominal autumn and the winter for consideration before enmembers are to be the real representatives. The larging the constituency. This probability does Estimates and the Mutiny Bill, along with all the not exonerate the supporters of an extension of the private, and several public proposals, from the last franchise from present duty. The first session of Parliament, have to come on, and to go through or the new Parliament should not pass without the be stopped. The Attorney-General of England adoption of such resolutions on the subject as has to carry his bill of vengeance against the might form the basis or the nucleus of the future directors and managers of fraudulent institutions. Reform Bill. The Lord Advocate of Scotland has his educational The Premier has received a hearty and trusting cxperiment booked in his mind for another trial. support from the country to his foreign policy. He Somebody will have, of course, something to do for commences the Parliament of 1857 with a clear Ireland. Lord J. Russell, as formerly, bas to do for majority of seventy, or something more, and an or with the Jews. A colonial difficulty has appeared opposition of whom nearly one-third are loose. unexpectedly regarding Lord Clarendon, the French, The Liberal Conservatives have adopted the quali. and Newfoundland, of wbich we shall hear more fying adjective as a bridge, over which they may in the proper place and time. A large quantity escape to the treasury benches, if they find the of work has to be done more than can be done passage likely to be one of profit. well before the middle of August—without a new The Premier has been charged with aristocratic Reform Bill, which would lead to a new Parlia- tendencies, and absolute repugnance towards de ment ere the clerks of the House clearly knew the mocracy. He began life in bad company, perhaps ; gentlemen who are members of the present Par. but he became soon a disciple or follower of liament

. A Reform Bill, if it be good, will be George Canning, and he has improved slowly ever dangerous to the peace of many representatives ; since. He has never at any time made a wide for they cannot expect to retain their lease of step forward. His life has been one of continuous places long after they have enacted that thereafter progress, and, unlike the late Sir Robert Peel, he they must be elected by a larger class of persons has made neither startling nor sudden changes. than those who sent them into Parliament. A Viscount Palmerston could submit to the House repeal of the entail laws, or the game laws; of of Commons resolutions in favour of a large exthe connexion between the church and state, or a

tension of the franchise, without astonishing any

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person acquainted with bis former proceedings. version, or prevent the repetition of the crime hereSir Robert Peel did astonish many persons on after ? Are they to stone electors and elected to Roman Catholic Emancipation and the Corn Laws. death, as some non-electors tried to do at Kidder. The historians of his political life excuse, but they minster? Are they to intimidate electors as in do not justify, the course which he followed on Balleymena, Coleraine, Sheffield, and Tipperary? those questions. The historians of Viscount Pal. Are they to starve out objectionable voters by exmerston's political course will not have the same clusive dealing? If neither of these schemes be task before them, even if he should, in 1857, commendable, and they are expected to influence submit the plan of a grand reform measure for the public opinion of the electors by calm and 1858.

friendly reasoning, the superiority of the unenWe perfectly recollect the statement of the franchised public opinion is acknowledged, and Premier in opposing Mr. Locke King's county should be applied direct. It is clear, that is the suffrage measure in the present year ; but it does non-electors have not education to enable them to not alter our opinion that he may and probably will vote well and wisely, they have not education to take the initiative of reform. The circumstances advise in the disposal of other people's votes. of the times neither justify confidence nor despond- This responsibility and trusteeship should be ency. The object needed may be procured if | defined. The writer voted in a constituency of nothing further be done out of doors. More pro- more than twenty thousand electors, for a populabably in that case another delusion may be offered tion exceeding three, and reaching, perhaps, more in place of the substance. And possibly the idea nearly to four hundred thousand persons. Each of the Liberal Conservatives may prevail, under of the electors is responsible thus upon an average that supposition, and the Government may halt, to seventeen individuals,—himself, and sixteen un. rest, and be thankful with their majority.

enfranchised persons. In this constituency not Two possibilities have to be prevented-one, many more than one-half of the electors deigned nothing; another, next to nothing, or worse than to vote. Is the other half, including the anxious nothing. The proceedings at the hustings gene- querist, placed under an additional responsibility rally went far to render either of them improbable. because a large portion of their neighbours neg. The adjournment of legislation on the subject for lected their duty? Further, is the responsibility the present year would not render either of them incurred to all the three hundred thousand indimore possible than they are now, but might conviduals who have no vote, or only to an exact vert them into impossibilities. The candidates proportion of them? Thus the writer could get found among the constituencies a deep impression well through his trouble by taking the babies one that the present mode of election, and the distri. and two and the other children, the nurserymaid bution of elected and electors, require decided and and the housemaid, the mistress and the master; extensive improvement.

making one-half of his wards—bimself inclusive The Derbyites sought refuge in iguorance-not —and account to their satisfaction for his vote. their ignorance, but the common and prevalent | The other half is more difficult ; yet, by ignorance of the country. They talked of education robbing his neighbours of any political interest in as the necessary precursor of power. Education the baker's man, the butcher's boy, the girl who is an indefinite term. Mankind will never be brings the milk, and the girl who takes the sufficiently educated; yet at any time since 1832 clothes; the greengrocer's lad, the oilman's boy, a large number of the unenfranchised have been and the grocer's apprentice, and, probably, the better educated than a large number of the fran- postman-eight more individuals—he could get cbised; and if these gentlemen had proposed an over his trusteeship in a quiet and respectable educational test, they would have been intelligible, way. But if he is doomed to be personally realthough it might have been opposed; but educa- sponsible to three hundred thousand men, women, tion may mean postpostment until every voter can and children, of whom, personally, he scarcely read Hebrew, unless he is able to pay ten pounds knows three hundred, he begs respectfully to per annum, even it be for a beerhouse.

warn Mr. Disraeli that he declines voting for any. Mr. Disraeli objected to the ballot, to electoral body hereafter, and until these people can do for districts, and universal suffrage, under their various themselves. heads, in an elaborate essay delivered from the The trusteeship is a most miserable boas, in bustings, with such eloquence and skill as kept which nobody believes less than Lord John Rusthe Buckinghamshire audience in patience for two sell, who originated the joke, except, perhaps, Mr. hours—not an easy task.

Disraeli, who repeated it with amplifications to his He objects to the ballot because the electors admirers in Bucks. are trustees over the non-electors, and the latter Equal representation was opposed by the leader are tled to know how the former vote. The of the Opposition in the Commons, before his last opponents of the ballot thus appear to be more election, upon imaginary grounds. Bucks, he said, liberal than its supporters, but the appearance is a would be lost in the upper department of the Thames. deceptive mirage. In what manner are the non- The name would disappear from the roll of the electors to examine the administration of the senate. All its honours would be forgotten. trust, and by what steps are they to punish its per. Local associations, local memories, and local pride

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would be brushed out of existence. We would golden image after the bill broking, money exregret that result, agreeing as we do with Mr. changing, Sidonian style, that Disraeli, that Buckinghamshire should be proud of Ill fares the land to hastening ills a prey, its past, and even of its present political history. Where wealth accumulates, and men decay. Great men have been connected with Bucks in

We are getting into hard times. The bold pca. their political capacity. It abounds in old memories that should not be allowed to perish. That santry are being abandoned to the colonies and tho

States by their natural admirers and friends. But calamity would not ensue, however, by bringing still the might that slumbers in a peasant's arm” the representation into closer consistence than it is the best defence of the fifty thousand pounds now stands with population, or population and property. We do not want exactitude, which would per annum. Except for the first, the second would require to be amended at next election, in order not be worth many years' purchase, in the present to continue exact. We do not seek the formation the Radical Reformers must take to the old poetry,

unhappy state of the world. So we fancy that of gigantic departments, or districts with ten or and declare that twenty representatives. Indeed, our plan would keep up every electorate now in existence; but A bold peasantry, their country's pride, add to the small, at the expense of the strong,

When once destroyed can never be supplied. until a decent resemblance to a perfect system In our country-and it is really the same, or were attained, although arithmetical perfection is will soon be the same, in Bucks, the peasantry are not possible. The re-assortment of the electoral persecuted by wealth. Wealth clears and closes system should proceed upon the idea of one mem- glens that once were the homes of "fair women ber for each district, or each division of a district; and strong men.” Wealth turns the shcep grazing and thus, although hereafter it might be written bills into deer forests. Wealth has been successof Bucks as was once written of a greater land fully wrought for the conversion of many small divisa est in tres partes ;” still as it was written farms into one. Wealth has given us hundreds then “ Omnis Gallia,” so hereafter men will still of bothies for thousands of cottages.

The plague say “ Omnis Bucks," with all the honours. proceeds, and we are determined to stay it, if

Mr. Disraeli opposed universal suffrage, because possible, or to try. It is our time to become Coua man with only fifty pounds annually cannot have servative, and an extension of the suffrage is the so much interest in the country as a man with a most Conservative measure of our peasantry and revenue of fifty thousand pounds. The member small farmers that can be now adopted. for Bucks even hinted at a mode of voting formed Viscount Palmerston will bring out the form upon the practice of many joint stock companies, and shape of his Reform Bill at an carly date, if in which the number of shares regulates the num. he means to defy alike his foes within and his foes ber of votes. The cases are not equal. The without. The Premier has to contend with enemies shareholders of a joint stock company have their in both quarters. If the new Rcform Bill be to conproperty risked in its transactions. A poor man

A poor man tain a property qualification of any kind, of which risks all in his country. The shareholders of a we affect not to doubt, it will be one attainable by company are engaged therein only for pecuniary all industrious men, or it will be shattered during purposes, with rare exceptions. The legislation the agitation from this day to the meeting of of the country involves greater considerations than Parliament in 1858. We assume that a Bill to ang connected with property. A gentleman pos- change the suffrage decisively cannot pass in this sessed of fifty thousand pounds annually could session—but that a sketch of any plan for next save the means of escape from ruin. His servant year can be supplied. The omission would only out of his earnings might be unable to command give opportunity and strength to Lord John Ruseven the means of flight, and must sink with the sell, and other opponents of the Government ; fill wreck.

the country with surmises; and supply materials Property, moreover, does not increase in real for suspicions of a not uncharitable nature. value upon the multiplication table scale. A man Twenty-five years since, the political sky was red with a home worth fisty pounds bas as much in and stormy. The popular feeling was evinced by terest in its preservation as another whose house passionate resolutions and by political unions. The and furniture have cost five thousand pounds. state was in danger, and under considerable inti. The children of an industrious working man are midation. The Whig party turned the stream as dear to him as those of any noble family among with admirable skill. Their cry—the Bill, the the Normans are to their parents ; and he is as whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill — silenced anxious, for their sake, that peace and prosperity criticism. Then it was impossible to balance inmay be upon the land as any person, however high terests, or to devise divergencies from the four in rank, title, or wealth, may be to perpetuate bis broad lines-ten pounds, five pounds, household position to his posterity.

or universal suffrage. Now the public arc calm Mr. Disraeli must have forgotten altogether and collected, and yet determined to have a change the old quotations of his party. He musť liave in the distribution of electoral influences, and an overlooked when he turned the Bucks hustings enlargement of the elective power. They will not into a little Dura plain, and there set up his be cheated casily into the continuance of conre.

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nient boroughs as political preserves, and they will toms they would be extremely just, reasonable, not be contented with any mode of suffrage that and needful reforms. excludes industrious and intelligent men.

During the general election, many other schemes Ten years since, we pointed to means of recou- have been mentioned, and some of them are of ciling those who tremble at the name of universal small importance. The old scheme of household suffrage, with the representation of the “bold voting has been named. Payment of direct rates peasantry" and the “ skilled artizans." All men and taxes has been proposed. Either of the two will admit in theory that all other men should have is a broad, deep line-intelligible on that account. some influence in the formation of laws that they The last proceeds upon the idea that the Legislaare expected to obey, and in the imposition of ture looks after our money, and that a representataxes, which they are expected to pay. Any num- tive is merely a bore, through which the repreber of men delay the practical application of this sented may be taxed. That, of course, is a great theory only for the benefit of certain other indivi- mistake. The Legislature has more interesting duals, whom they treat as minors, or for the safety privileges than to tax us, while we all feel that to of society. Many individuals exist to whom the be a very interesting operation. In this country, suffrage would be personally useless ; but if we moreover, many families—even families of respectawait until the nation be in a thoroughly perfect bility-are not householders, but lodgers; and state, before we enable the people to help them- many householders pay no direct taxes, but one selves out of ignorance, the surther discussion of sum for their accommodation, including rent and this subject may be adjourned for a few generations. taxes. Races of mankind exist who must be guided by The persons who seek to connect the "extenothers for a time. At present, they have no sion of the franchise" with the property of the desire for democratic and sell.government. The country, could not adopt a better plan than one serfs of Russia are, we believe, qnite delighted suggested ten years since in this magazine. Any with their bondage. This race, and others simi- other course short of the widest suffrage will leave larly situated, are different from our own, and us exposed to renewed agitations, when the nation require different treatment, but we may be assured should be doing" instead of hunting after the that as a vation begins to value self-government, means of " doing.” The qualifications which will its concession must commence.

command general assent and respect must be A numerous class of politicians like concession. attainable by all who value their possession. They are bit-by-bit men-slow and sure ; but so A five pound franchise in borouglis, and a ten very slow that their progress is sure to be almost pound franchise in counties, are not rational, for imperceptible. They plot at present a twenty- the simple reason that rents are higher relatively pounds franchise for counties as a compromise ; in boroughs than in counties. Still thesc lines and the addition of two or tbree parishes to small might form the foundation of a satisfactory systowns, for the production of constituencies with tem, placing upon them as additional qualifications, decent dimensions. That is the first sketch of a receipts for income-tax, and the officials connected Reform Bill.

with the tax offices could register all these voters. Thic second on the cards is the same thing re.. The nation will act wisely by encouraging the acpeated with deeper colours, five pounds in the cumulation of money in its own securities; and, borouglas, ten pounds in the counties, and a therefore, a given and not a large sum, held in greater upmaking of parts of counties into bo-them for a fixed period, and so long as it is held, roughs, or the clustering of several English bo-should qualify. In other words, the creditors of roughs after the manner of Scotch and Welsh. the nation for fifty pounds and upwards should This is the great Conservative measure of the vote on the strength of their citizenship and their Middle Liberals- the very wise men of the party. claiın. Various dashes are put into this sketch by indivi- The national interest will always be promoted by duals, with brilliant effect in some instances. Thus the numerous friendly and other associations for an several gentlemen want a larger representation of accumulative purpose, if their affairs be conducted the learned bodies—of the Universities and if with adequate honesty and skill. Therefore it might they would achieve vo better result for mankind be proper to give votes to persons holding a simi. than the votes of the present literati, we are con- lar property to that already mentioned-fifty tent not to increase our calamities. Others pro- pounds—in their stocks. The privilege could only pose to turn income tax receipts into qualifications be afforded to the members of societies which for voting ; a judicious proposal which Mr. Glad submitted to a thorough audit by Government stone would render nugatory in 1860, by repealing accountants. The measure would secure a proper the income-tax-a proposition far too good to be audit, a matter greatly required, if it were proper, true.

and not after the manner characterised by one of · Next we have the incidents that is to the auditors of the Royal British Bank in his ow! say, the extension to some part of the three King. proceeding, as a farce. The public could ouly doms of qualifications inoperative in other parts, know by that means whether the fifty pounds of as the forty-shilling freeholds to Scotland, where stock represented follies and frauds, or substance. with the alterations necessary to meet local cus- Then the nation has an evident interest in the

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progress of life assurance to a reasonable extent. a great benefit would result from that course; beLarge policies upon individual lives are gambling cause Companies whose policies did not qualify speculations, unless in peculiar circumstances. would either be old and rich, but, like Cæsar's wife, Female insurance is not generally necessary, unless above suspicion- -or they would lose public esteem, in the case of a life on which means are suspended. and live, if they lived at all, with a nota bene upon These points, however, cannot be regulated by any their proposals. stereotyped rule, although, for illustration, the We throw out these suggestions as practical notorious cases of Palmer were obviously specula- replies to Mr. Disraeli's arguments concerning protire. A healthy system of life assurance should perty, and as a means of linking labour to the be general—if possible universal over male lives. property of the country, with the consciousness Thefore, we said ten years since, as we now say, that any scheme of political reform which does that life assurance policies should qualify those not afford a representation to industry in all its who hold them to vote after the premium for two departments should not, and will not, remove agi. or three years has been paid upon them. A tation; and that any exceptions of a qualifying minimum amount would be struck, which should nature to a general principle, must take the shape not exceed one hundred pounds; but in the case of advantages, attainable and desirable, by the of agricultural labourers, and several badly paid great body of the people—must be such as it would classes of artisans, fifty pounds would be sufficient, be a reproach not to win, if they are to be final A similar rule might be adopted ia favour of per- in their character, and twine the people around sons advanced in years, and whose payments would and into the constitution of the country-making be much over ihe average.

them to feel that its affairs are under tbeir own The last franchise would operate slowly. Even management : that its might is wielded by them : if parties were allowed to pay at once the amount that its power is their power : its resources their of three years' premiums, very few would use the resources : its laws the laws that they adopt, and, permission. Therefore it would be a gradual therefore, must obey : its prosperity their pride : scheme; but one that would, in its course, bring and work all classes out of antagonism, wearing many social advantages in addition to those of a off the rugged edges of distinctions that must al. political nature.

ways exist–into one strong current–baving one In this case again, the policies of Companies object deeper and stronger than of old, but with whose affairs were regularly submitted to the audit fewer rapids and rocks, and something less of foam of a public accountant could only qualify; and and fury in its course.

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Tag " Testimony of the Rocks" is a posthu- | mason gave to scientific circles, at a future day, mous volume. The arrangements for its publica- his “old red sand stone." tion were almost completed, the prefatory notes Mr. Miller was a man of apparently great phy, were prepared, and the dedication to a personal sical strength ; and he was able to follow days of friend was written before the author's death. The hard labour by evenings of hard and solitary readcircumstances connected with that sad event were ing. He thus became acquainted with the classic briefly noticed in a former number of this publica- works in the English language, and gradually his tion, immediately after its occurrence. Hugh own style was moulded on the best models. He Miller was a native of Cromarty, in the north of travelled, in connexion with his trade, over a conScotland. His family were engaged in those siderable part of Scotland, and he became aclaborious duties by which the great majority of quainted intimately with its scenery and its tradiour people live. He was deprived early of his tions. The first work published by him, under the father's guidance and help, and his education and title of " Legends of the North of Scotland,” support devolved almost entirely upon his mother evinced imaginative powers which might have made and her relatives. He wrote an autobiography, hin popular in fictitious narrative; but he did not at least of his schoolboy days, in which he lays no pursue that vein. His labour among the quarries claim to precocity of intellect. His career at and the rocks of his country brought under his school was not very brilliant, and the schools eyes fragments of an early world—the remains he attended were not calculated to elicit a genius of that pre-Adamite period of which he was dethat was hidden perhaps beneath a thick crust. stined to be an able and popular illustrator. The At a subsequent period he chose, or was thrown respect shown to Hugh Miller during his youth, into, a very laborious profession; and yet his ap- in the little town where his personal history was prenticeship and subsequent experience as a stone known to every family, is the best commentary on

* I vol. Edinburgh : Constable and Co., and Shepherd and Elliot.

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