Sidor som bilder

ent, as it seems to us, could not well be devised, to deaden the spirit of a country, and extinguish all the pride and consequence arising from the exercise of political rights ;--an election by lot or raffle, could hardly produce less sympathy or connexion between the representative and his constituents. Some have recommended, that the elective franchise should be extended to copyholders ; but unless this were accompanied by a reduction of the size of the counties, it would only multiply the number of voters, and increase the expense of elections. Others have suggested, that we should raise the qualification of freeholders, and confine the right of suffrage to men of independent circumstances. To this we object, that it would throw the county elections into the hands of the squires, and convert the squires into jobbers. This is our Scotch system of representation; and we know too well the effects of it in our own country, to recommend it with a safe conscience to our neighbours. The yeomanry and small freeholders may be influenced in their votes by the great proprietors, who are their neighbours or their land lords. But it is better that they should be led by kindness and courtesy, than that the county should be delivered over at every election to the minister.

County members stand much in awe of their constituents. Whenever public opinion is strongly expressed on any subject, we commonly find a large proportion of county members swimming with the stream, whatever course it takes. But at other timnes, unless decidedly party men, they are not inaccessible to the influence of the Treasury. They have so many measures to carry, and so many favours to ask for their constituents, that they are under strong temptations to support, in general, the existing government; and the slighter the tenure by which they hold their seats, the more subject are they to this influence. But there are limits to their support of any administration; and, in point of independence, there is no comparison between them, and members returned by ministerial patronage.

2. Towns having more than 500 resident voters. In some of these places, the right of suffrage is vested in the householders ; in others, it is confined to freemen; and, in some again, it is enjoyed by both. The first constitute the most democratical part of our representation; and the members they send to Parliament may be considered the virtual representatives of the lower orders throughout the kingdom. In the two last, the elections are less democratical ; but they might be equally independent, were it not for the votes of non-resident freemen, who are brought to the poll at an immense expense, and are, in general, ready to vote for any candidate, who will indulge them in the riot and idleness of an election. On this subject we have expressed our opinion freely in a former Number, * and conceive it unnecessary to add a word to what we have there stated. The only effectual remedy for this evil is, to make residence a necessary qualification, to enable freemen of a corporation to give their votes at elections. The effect of the present system is to give an influence to money, without regard to character or to principle.

3. Towns having less than 500 resident voters, but not so much reduced in population and consequence, as to have become the undisputed property of an individual. Places of this description are the great source from which jobbers derive their seats, and Government its undue influence in the House of Commons. In a former Number, we have attempted a sketch of the manner in which this infamous traffic is carried on. But the modes of conducting it are various. It is sometimes managed by a Club or Society of the Electors. At other times it is in the hands of the Attorney, or Parson of the place, who act on behalf of their brethren. Sometimes the whole negotiation passes through the Treasury. At other times, his Majesty's government acts merely as a broker between the parties. Where the manager has acquired secure possession of his borough, he is sometimes tempted by a larger price to dispose of his seats to persons in opposition; but the necessity in which he is usually placed, of maintaining his influence by government patronage, renders him in general a faithful servant of administration; and, when ministers are changed, he transfers his allegiance to their successors. There was a borough-monger some years ago, who could return twelve members to the House of Commons; and, but for a misfortune that happened to him in the course of his trade, it was generally understooşl, that he was in a fair way of obtaining a peerage for his services. These illegal practices, however adroitly conducted, are sometimes brought to light, and in the instances of Shoreham and Cricklade, they were so clearly detected, that the boroughs were disfranchised by Act of Parliament, and thrown, the one into the rape of Bramber, and the other into the adjacent hundreds. We should recommend the extension of this principle to all boroughs of this description, where the election has been vacated under the Grenville act, on the ground of bribery and corruption proved against a majority or large proportion of the electors. But, instead of throwing the seats into the adjoining hundreds, we should recommend transferring them to the larger counties, which would at once

* No. 39,

[blocks in formation]

increase the county representation, and ecabe us to remeds the
only delert in car present counts elections. Yorkshire might in
to manner be graduars disced into three or four separate dis-
.; Linco'sisire, Detoptire, and other large counties into
ino, and we accitional scot and lot borouges might be creat-
ni in large usrepresented towns. By this operation, the inde-
per:dence of the House of Commons would be gradually improve
u, at the Gi ih at part of it which is most under the in-
fidence of insisters. The electors of the disfranchised be
rrughs, who were not disaa ined be their participation in acts
o Orivers, might be declared freeholders of the county.

4. Close Burcughs, the members for which are returned by one or two incivi uols, without assistance from government, and without the risk of a contest. Against this description of boroughs, the strongest prejudices in general prevail. We are far from considering them the worst part of our representative system. The members for close boroughs are often the men of greatest talent and indeper.cence in the House. There is one advantage attending their situation, which belongs to no other description of persons. Firmness to oppose the People, is sometimes as necessary a quality, as independence to resist the Crown. But the members for close boroughs are the only persons in the House who stand in awe neither of the Crown nor of the People. County members are in constant dread of their constituents; and though this is on the whole a salutary terror, it prevents them from resisting popular clamour, when the clamour of the people is unfounded and unjust. The proprietors of close boroughs are, in general, party men, and dispose of their seats to persons of the same way of thinking with thei:aselves. This, however, is not universally the case. There are instances where close boroughs are made objects of traffic at the Treasury, by persons who have no party connexion wiih the existing administration. But if the lists of the House of Commons for the bust forty years were consulted, we should find that a large proportion of the steadiest advocates of the people have been members for close boroughs.

Om Triennial parliaments, we have only a few words to offer. We doubt whether frequent elections are favourable to the independence of the House of Commons. We fear the tendency of short Parliaments is to increase the power of government, by breaking down and destroying all independent opposition. Let no one imagine that by penal laws, or other devices, he can prevent the expense of elections. Wbile a seat in the House of Cominons is an object of desire, it will be an object of expense. But the pecuniary cost on such occasions is, in general, greatest

tional the su freehc ject su

In of co

tuu Parlia and v the sa 30. E


det ser Vi dor


interi gardi fessed




the m

those plained tempt tion in Trustw



the side of Opposition. The friends of Ministry have the aid d influence of government patronage in support of their preasions; and the more frequently elections are repeated, the weater is the amount of this advantage over their opponents.ort Parliaments, it must be owned, would lessen the terrors a dissolution, which, after the examples of 1784 and 1807, ast have great effect in destroying the spirit and independence the House of Commons. The advisers of these two meaes may be justly reckoned among the men who, in our times, ve done the most irreparable injury to the constitutional liberof their country.

While the preceding sheets have been passing through the press, some addial authorities have occurred to us in support of the argument stated above, that suitors of the county courts, and original electors of knights of the shire, were holders of all descriptions, whether holding in chief of the King, or of a subsuperior. n the rolls of Parliament (1. 15.), there is a grant of Richard I. to the Bishop Coventry, and his successors in that see,-“ ut omnes homines sui-in perpenum liberi sint et quieti—de sectis Shir’ & Hundr’. ” Among the Placita in iamento 19. Edw. I. (Rolls, I. 69.), there is a case between William Martin William de Valenciis, which proves that subtenants owed suit and presence in ame courts; and there is a question between the Crown and William de Breouse Edw. I. (Rolls, I. 148.], which proves the same.

r. V. The Narrative of ROBERT ADAMS, a Sailor, who was recked on the Western Coast of Africa in the Year 1810; was etained three Years in Slavery by the Arabs of the Great Deort; and Resided several months in the City of Tombuctoo. Vith a Map, Notes, and an Appendix. 4to. pp. 272. Lonon, Murray. 1816. E have more than once had occasion to suggest, that the

accounts received from persons accidentally led to visit the rior of Africa, might possibly afford that information reling its great towns and rivers, which the enterprize of proed travellers has hitherto failed to procure; and we have ed, that the regular journeys of the caravans for commerpurposes, might furnish an opportunity of sending some can of intelligence from the neighbourhood of the coast, to most inland parts, and of learning through him the state of e distant and interesting regions. It still remains unexned, why no such means of investigation have ever been atted. There must surely be negroes of sufficient informain the colony of Sierra Leone, if no Moor should be found worthy for the proposed undertaking. To join one of the -L. XXVI. NO. 52.


ment, extending over every part of the country, and embracing an immense number of persons in its operation.

That this power (which, as it now exists, is of very recent origin), has been abused, we have too much reason to believe; and, what in its practical effect is nearly the same, that it is supposed to be abused for election purposes, has been proved before the House of Commons. The remedy we should propose, would be, to take this power from the Treasury, and to vest it in a single ma. gistrate, responsible to Parliament for his conduct.

But the great source of influence to the Government of this country, is the immense patronage it enjoys. Of this, a great portion is fortunately destroyed by the return of peace; and the further reduction of our establishments, which the state of our finances imperiously requires, must still further diminish what is left. Enough, however, will remain to give the Ministers of the Crown, whoever they are, an influence in the country, and in the House of Commons, far beyond the weight due to their personal merits, or to their services. The reduction of useless places is of value, chiefly as a means of diminishing the influence of the Crown ; and as it coincides with the popular cry for economy, it is of all reforms the one most likely to be carried into effect. But it deserves also to be considered, whether the influence of Ministers, from patronage, might not be lessened by dividing it; by transferring part of it to bodies, more or less independent of Government, and by sharing what remains more equally among Ministers themselves. Of the good effects of this division of patronage, we have an example in the East India Company; one of the advantages of which, is to prevent the whole patronage of India from being vested in the hands of Ministers. How far local and provincial patronage might be trusted to Justices at Quarter-Sessions, to Lord-Lieutenants of counties, or even to the Freeholders of the county, are points worthy of consideration. It might also deserve reflection, how far the patronage of the permanent Boards--such as the Customs and Excise-might not be augmented at the expense of the Treasury, which, of all departments of the State, is the most dangerous to the independence of Parliament, because it has the

greatest patronage in its bands, and uses it most systematically for increasing the influence of Government. It may be laid down as a principle, that the more equally patronage is divided among the servants of the Crown, the less tendency it has to create an undue influence in their favour. Every man has relations, friends, dependents, to provide for; and, so far as his patronage iş used for these purposes, it is harmless. Įt is the remainder,

« FöregåendeFortsätt »