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within the grasp of this Crown-appointed board, it is only necessary that one-tenth of the ratepayers should make a demand by petition. As the adult male population does not exceed onefifth of the whole, an entire community may now be coerced by less than two per cent. of the inhabitants, in defiance of the common law, and the standing orders of Parliament. Verily we live in times of great progress. Newspaper readers may perchance have seen in some of the Parliamentary reports, in the latter part of the session, mention made of General Board of Health Bills, respectively numbered 1 and 2. Our daily journals, with their usual care for the public interest, allowed them to pass as matters altogether unworthy of their notice. These measures demand the gravest consideration, for they have made a grievous inroad on the liberties of the people. Certain towns are thereby brought under the despotic rule of the Board of Health merely by the insertion of their names in the schedules to the act; the towns are subject to provisional orders of the Board, which have the force and operation of so many private Acts of Parliament severally applicable to those places. But neither have the provisions which the standing orders of Parliament require in the case of private acts been complied with as to any one of those places, nor have the clauses of any one of those provisional orders been submitted to the consideration of any committee of either House of Parliament! Worse even than this, they give the full force of acts of Parliament to provisions and regulations not included in the acts; in other words, Parliament has ordained that the people must obey some other law, or laws, made by another body. Nero's invisible inscription of the law was not more atrocious than this. The Earl of Lonsdale made an indignant, but unsuccessful, protest in the House of Lords against these most illegal and tyrannic acts, and, will it be credited, not a syllable of his able speech was reported by the newspapers ? Is there an organized conspiracy against our liberties? Happily the true character of this Board is becoming known, and, looking at the agitation which has commenced in different towns, we are not without hope that it may be brought to a strict account next session. With all its mighty promises of sanitary reform, the Board has yet done nothing in fulfilment of its mission but pay salaries and impose taxes. We beg pardonit has succeeded, through its influence in Parliament, in checking all efforts at self-improvement. But for this charlatan Board, the metropolis might now feel assured of a copious supply of water, by the only safe and reliable means of private enterprise. The Procrusteans are now preparing to monopolize all the water and gas supply of the kingdom. Let the public be warned in time; they have no hope of safety from their irresponsible lawmakers, unless they apply early and firmly a large weight of that moral force termed the pressure from without.
From the same stagnant source has sprung that monstrous production, the Metropolitan Interments Act, which, though it stands in bold letters on the statute book, we can hardly believe to be seriously meant as a law. The care which Government and the Board have taken to provide for a large staff of wellpaid officials, however, shows that mischief is meant. Sidney Smith had a theory that Lord Ashley would one day supersede the law of nature, and never stop till he had placed the suckling of all the babies in the hands of the legislature. The witty canon never imagined that under the influence of that noble busy-body her Majesty's Government, by authority of act of parliament, would set up business in the cheap undertaker line. Yet so it is, Carlisle and Company have set up business, and defied competition. Government is now empowered to shut up all the graveyards of the metropolis, and to put down the undertakers. The scandals of the graveyard desecration, which all men admitted and all deplored, are only exceeded by this scandalous measure. The act goes far to abrogate every con: stitutional safeguard to our liberties, reared by the toil and blood of our forefathers. Why did John Hampden and the brave spirits of the seventeenth century struggle against shipmoney? It was a folly of our ancestors ! In the nineteenth century, Parliament tells the Crown, you may, under your sign manual, appoint a power to tax the people at discretion, and without their consent.* Boldly it defies every constitutional
• And be it enacted, that the General Board of Health shall act in the execution of this act; and it shall be lawful for her Majesty, from time to time, by warrant under the royal sign manual, to appoint one member of such Board in addition to the members of such Board which her Majesty may be authorized to appoint under any other act or acts, and at pleasure to remove the member so appointed ; and such Board shall for the purposes of this act be one body politic and corporate, by the name of the “ General Board of Health,” and by that name shall have perpetual succession and a common seal, &c.'- Section 2. Contrast this with the 54th section, which inter alia provides that after interment has been ordered to be discontinued within the district, or any part thereof, in case it appear to the said Board that the fees and sums received by them under this act will be insufficient in any year to defray their expenses, it shall be lawful for the said Board to issue a warrant to the overseers of the poor, by which they shall command them, out of the money collected for the relief of the poor, to pay the amount mentioned in the warrant within forty days of the delivery thereof! If the money in hand is insufficient for the purpose, they are to levy a special rate of one penny in the pound, with the same 'powers, remedies, and privileges,' as for levying money for the relief of the poor, with provisions for the distress and sale of goods, &c. By Section 59, in places where there is no poor-rate the Board are empowered to assess! We entreat the reader to procure and study this act. It may be purchased of the Queen's printer for 18. 14d.
declaration of the people's prerogative, not only of self-government, but of self-taxation. It is a step towards the repeal of the laws of nature ; for it declares the inutility of, and destroys all effort at, self-improvement. Government is secured in a profitable monopoly of the grave. No man can be buried except by act of parliament. Our progress is boundless ; we have outstripped the sumptuary laws of republican Rome. The Æmilia lex only regulated the quantity and quality of meats for the citizen's table, and the Lex Oppia the colour of the ladies' gowns; the Ashleys and Carlisles of England now direct the making of graves and the form of coffins.* Next year we shall probably have a supplementary act, with a pattern for grave-clothes.
With no respect for the rights of the people in the matter of taxation, it was not to be expected that Parliament would show much regard for economy of expenditure. It has been reckless in provisions for compensation. There is to be compensation to cemetery companies ; compensation to incumbents, clerks, and sextons; compensation in respect of non-parochial burialgrounds, as also for fees payable for parochial purposes ; in short, there is no end to compensation, and prospective plunder. The provision respecting the Burial Service and Incumbents Compensation Fund,' is a nice example of the way in which our loud-mouthed liberal reformers deal with the public purse. To compensate incumbents, the Board is to pay for loss of fees the sum of 6s. 2d., where a body is buried in a ground provided by this act, and a sum not exceeding one shilling when it is a pauper's funeral. This fund is to pay the salaries of the chaplains, and an annuity to the incumbent of every parish, where interment is discontinued under this act. It is solemnly ordained that a hundred successors of the Apostles shall fatten like ghouls on the graves of paupers. This is only the beginning of our new social reforms. The act is a metropolitan act; next session we may expect one for the United Kingdom. And where were the people of England while their irresponsible delegates were thus robbing thern and fixing a grinding monopoly in traffic of the dead? Shut up in measureless content or hounding on the fast men of legislation to the work of liberty destruction. For not worse encroachments than these on the rights of the people, Charles the First lost his head, and his son was driven from the throne, In passing one of the routine Poor Law Continuance Acts,
• The said Board may make regulations, from time to time, as to the depth and formation of graves and places of interment, the nature of the coffins to be received in the burial-grounds, the time and mode of removing bodies, and generally as to all matters connected with the good order of such burialgrounds.' - Section 23.
the Poor Law Commissioner informed Parliament that it is his intention to bring forward a measure next session on the law of settlement. The hint should not be lost by the public. Under this head we have to mention an unconstitutional act passed under the care of Mr. Halsey, for charging rates on small tenements on landlords. It contains, of course, a plausible preamble, embodying every good wish for the welfare and better lodgment of the humbler classes ; but the only result will be to convert rating from the healthy system of direct to indirect taxation. The landlords will, of course, not fail to charge the rates in the quarterly bills. Truly infinitesimal is the amount of wisdom with which the world is now-a-days governed !
Mr. Milner Gibson's project for the establishment of a series of county boards analogous to the borough councils, to fix and control the county rates, was brought forward as a bill, and referred to a select committee. We shall probably hear more of it next year. One of the best points urged in favour of the measure came from a Tory member. Mr. Frewen remarked that the constitution restrains peers, in their legislative capacity, from interfering with money bills; yet our county taxation is imposed and managed by an irresponsible magistracy appointed through the lords-lieutenant, who are, for the most part, peers. This is one of the most desirable of constitutional reforms; but not on the empirical principle of Mr. Gibson's measure. It must be constitutional renovation ; not reform, in the modern sense of that much-abused word. The subject is, however, too large and important to be summarily discussed.
The treatment of criminals received some discussion. The Convict Prison Bill provides for the separate confinement of convicts for eighteen months prior to exile, on the system so much censured lately by Mr. Carlyle. Early in the session Mr. Adderley proposed a repeal of the acts which give the determination of the places to which convicts should be sent to the Privy Council. He wisely and calmly urged that the direct control should be placed in the hands of Parliament. The Attorney-General of the day exhibited his profound constitutional learning by declaring that it was an attack on the royal prerogative, and the House rejected the measure by 110 to 78. Of course it could not consistently act otherwise, and pursue its system of delegating all its power to Crown commissioners.
The Government proposal for the reform of the administration of the Woods and Forests is postponed till next session. Some jobbing or self-seeking is meditated, under the plea of better management. The House of Commons refused even to listen to a proposal to inquire into the extravagant mismanagement of the affairs of the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster. Parliament, which deals just as it pleases with the property of the people, of course had no right to ask anything concerning lands in which that mysterious abstraction, the Crown, has an interest !
There is a considerable group of routine acts relating to the army and navy. Thanks to the massacres of Rajah Brooke, we have got partially rid—by the Pirates' Head-money Act—of the disgraceful practice of paying blood-money to the slayers of pirates. We have no sympathy for sea-attorneys, as Byron says; but we object to pay bribes to our navy to do its duty. But this is the Government principle. Virtue and the sense of duty are so rare and small in public officers, that we must prompt them by bribes. Mr. Hume's proposed inquiry into the Borneo slaughter was, as a matter of course, signally rejected. The rajah—the great moral conqueror of the age—the hero of Exeter-hall, has done more for the exposure of the ‘Borneo humbug' than all the motions that could occupy the House from Easter to Whitsuntide. The mighty man has fallen from his heroship to the vulgar level of the Hudsons. Rajah Brooke, by his own letter, puts Exeterhall to shame ; antimony monopoly and a baronetcy he admits were the moving causes, not moral glory or conquest.Oh, what a falling off was there, my countrymen ! In connexion with naval administration, Parliament has insisted on a tardy act of justice to the assistant-surgeons, in giving them proper accommodation at sea. The indignity with which these valuable officers have been treated, is accounted for by the fact, that they do not spring from the aristocracy.
Social schemes and motions were plentiful as Whig promises. The adjustment of the factory question, stirred up by Mr. Baron Parke's judgment on the relay system, was taken up by Lord Ashley with the gravest declarations against compromise. But his lordship, with all the ease of a practised expediency doctor, came into the views of the Government. The mighty war has terminated by a compromise. Labour is to be for sixty instead of fifty-eight hours per week. We have seen nothing to alter the opinion long held by sound thinkers, that legislative interference of this character was not only unprincipled, but useless ; but, if there is to be legislation, it is only consistent and decent that the enactments should be real. The projects of the babysuckling class do not seem quite so numerous as in past years. Still, the list before us, and the attendant speechification, is somewhat appalling. The journeymen bakers of the metropolis were again plaintiffs at the bar of the House. Doubtless, their lot is a hard one ; but why do not they trust like the drapers' assistants, who have so successfully trusted in the generosity of the public; or, like the journeymen tailors, look to their own exerti