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original plan of our representation, and to have formed a most essential part of that plan, may reasonably hope, whatever other charges they may encounter, to escape that of a love of innovation. There is another topic, on which Mr. Windham has dwelt at very great length, which appears to us to bear even less on the merits of the question, than this of the antiquity of our constitution. The abuses and corruptions which Mr. Curwen aimed at correcting, ought not, he says, to be charged to the account of ministers or members of Parliament alone. The greater part of them both originate and end with the people themselves, are suggested by their basemessand self-interest, and terminate in their corrupt gain, with very little voluntary sin, and frequently with very little advantage of any sort to ministers or candidates. Now, though it is impossible to forget what Mr. Windham has himself said, of the disgraceful abuses of patronage committed by men in power, for their own individual emolument,” yet we are inclined, upon the whole, to admit the truth of this statement. It is what we have always thought it our duty to point out to the notice of those who can see no guilt but in the envied possessors of dignity and power; and forms, indeed, the very basis of the answer we have repeatedly attempted to give to those Utopian or factious reformers, whose intemperance has done more injury to the cause of reform, than all the sophistry and all the corruption of their opponents. But, though we admit the premises of Mr. Windham's argument, we must utterly deny his conclusions. When we admit, that a part of the people is venal and corrupt, as well as its rulers, we really cannot see that we admit any thing in defence, or even in palliation, of venality and corruption:-Nor can we imagine, how that melancholy and most humiliating fact, can help in the least to make out, that corruption is not an immoral and pernicious practice;—not a malum in se, as Mr. Windham has been pleased to assert, nor even a practice which it would be just and expedient, if it were practicable, to repress and abolish! The only just inference from the fact is, that ministers and members of Parliament are not the only guilty persons in the traffic;-and that all remedies will be inefficient, which are not capable of being applied through the whole range of the malady. It may be a very good retort from the gentle
* “With respect to the abuse of patronage, one of those by which the interests of countries do, in reality, most suffer, I perfectly agree, that it is like. wise one, of which so government, properly so called, that is to say, persons in the highest offices, are as likely to be guilty, and from their opportu. nities, more likely to be guilty, than any others, And nothing, in point of fact, can exceed the greedi. ness, the selfishness, the insatiable voracity, the profligate disregard of all claims from merit or services, that we often see in persons in high official stations, when providing for themselves, their relations or dependants. I am as little disposed as any one to defend them in this conduct. Let it be reprobated in terms as harsh as any one pleases, and much more so thanit commonly is.”—Speech, p. 28.
men within doors to the gentlemen without, and when they are reproached with not having clean hands, it may be very natural for them to ask a sight of those of their accusers. But is this any answer at all, to those who insist upon the infamy and the dangers of corruption in both quarters? Or, is the evil really supposed to be less formidable, because itappears to be very widely extended, aud, to be the fair subject, not only of reproach, but of recrimination? The seat of the malady, and its extent, may indeed vary our opinion as to the nature of the remedy which ought to be administered; but the knowledge that it has pervaded more vital parts than one, certainly should not lead us to think that no remedy whatever is needed, or to consider the symptoms as too slight to require any particular attention. But, though we differ thus radically from Mr. Windham in our estimate of the nature and magnitude of this evil, we have already said, that we are disposed to concur with him in disapproving of the measures which have been lately proposed for their correction. The bill of Mr. Curwen, and all bills that aim only at repressing the ultimate traffic in seats, by pains and penalties to be imposed on those immediately concerned in the transaction, ap: pears to us to begin at the wrong end-and to aim at repressing a result which may be regarded as necessary, so long as the causes which led to it are joi to subsist in undiminished vigour. It is like trying to saves valley from being flooded, by building a pal: try dam across the gathered torrents that flow into it. The only effect is, that they will uk timately make their way, by a more destruc. tive channel, to worse devastation. The true policy is to drain the feeding rills at their fountains, or to provide another vent for the stream, before it reaches the declivity by which the flat is commanded. While the spirit of corruption is unchecked, and even fostered in the bosom of the country, the in: terdiction of the common market will only throw the trade into the hands of the more profligate and daring-or give a monopoly to the privileged and protected dealings of Ad. ministration; and the evil will in both ways be aggravated, instead of being relieved. o We cannot now stop to point out the actual evils to which this corruption gives rise; or even to dwell on the means by which wo think it might be made more difficult: though among these we conceive the most efficacious would obviously be to multiply the numbers and, in some cases, to raise the qualification of voters—to take away the right of election from decayed, ho and rotten bo. roughs; and to bestow it on large towns É. sessing various and divided wealth. But, though the increased number of voters will make it more difficult to bribe them, and their greater opulence render them less liable too bribed; still, we confess that the chief benefit which we expect from any provisions of th: sort, is the security which we think they w afford for the improvement, maintenance, an propagation of a F. Spirit among the people —a f ieling of political right, and of individual Interest, among so great a number of persone, a* will make it not only discreditable, but untafe, to invade their liberties, or trespass upon their righto. It is never to be forgotten, that the great and ultimate barrier against oppression, and arbitrary power, must always be raised on public opinion—and on opinion, so valued and so asserted, as to point resolutely to resistance, if it be permanently insulted, or opealy set at defiance. In order to have this public opinion, however, either sufficiently etrong, or sufficiently enlightened, to afford such a security, it is quite necessary that a very largo body of the people be taught to set a value upon the rights which it is qualified to protect,—that their reason, their moral principles, their pride, and habitual feelings, should all be engaged on the side of their political independence,—that their attention «hould be frequently directed to their rights arid their duties, as citizens of a free state,— and their eyes, ears, hearts, and affections familiarized with the spectacles, and themes, and occasions, that remind them of those risrhts and duties. In a commercial country like England, the pursuit of wealth, or of personal comfort, is apt to engross the whole care of the body of the people; and, if property be tolerably secured by law, and a vigilant police repress actual outrage and disorder, they are likely enough to fall into a general forgetfulneía of their political rights; and even to regard as burdensome those political functions, without the due exercise of which the whole frame of our liberties would soon dissolve, and fall to pieces. It is of infinite and incalculable importance, therefore, to spread, as widely as possible, among the people, the feelings ami the love of their political blessings—to exercise them unceasingly in the evolutions of a free constitution—and to train them to those sentiments of pride, and jealousy, and »elf-esteem, which arise naturally from their experience of their own value and importance in the great order of society, and upon which alone the fabric of a free government can ever be safely erected.
We indicate all these things very briefly; both because we cannot now afford room for a more full exposition of them, and because it is not our intention to exhaust this great subject on the present occasion, but rather to place before our readers a few of the leading principles upon which we shall think it our duty to expatiate at other opportunities. We cannot, however, bring even mese preliminary and miscellaneous observations to a close, without taking some notice of a topic which seems, at present, peculiarly in favour with the reasoning enemies of reform ; and to which we cannot reply, without developing, in a more striking manner than we have yet done, the nature of our apprehensions from the intluence of the Crown, and the holders of large properties, and of our expectations of good from the increased spirit and intelligence of the people.
The argument to which we allude, proceeds upon the concession, that the patronage of
Government, and the wealth employed to obtain political influence, have increased very greatly within the last fifty years; and consists almost entirely in the assertion, that this increase, great as it undoubtedly is, yet has not kept pace with the general increase which has taken place, in the кате period, in the wealth, weight, and influence of the people; so that, in point of fact, the power of the Crown and Borough proprietors, although absolutely greater, is proportionally less than it was at the commencement of the present reign; and ought to be augmented, rather than diminished, if our object be to preserve the ancient balance of the constitution! We must do Mr. Windham the justice to say, that he does not make much use of this argument: but it forms the grand reserve of Mr. Rose's battle; and, we think, is more frequently and triumphantly brought forward than any other, by those who now affect to justify abuses by argumentation. The first answer we make to it, consists in denying the fact upon which it proceeds: at least in the sense in which it must be asserted, in order to afford any shadow of colour to the conclusion. There is, undoubtedly, far more wealth in the country than there was fifty yearsago ; but there is not more independence. There are not more men whose incomes exceed what they conceive tobe their necessary expenditure ;—not nearly so many w ho consider themselves as nearly rich enough, and who would therefore look on themselves as without apology for doing any thing against their duty or their opinions, tor the sake of profit to themselves: on the contrary, it is notorious, and not to be disputed, that our luxury, and habits of expense, have increased considerably faster than the riches by which they should be supported—that men, in general, have now far less to spare than they had when their incomes were smaller—and that if our condition may, in one sense, be said to be a condition of opulence, it is, still more indisputably, a condition of needy opulence. It is perfectly plain, however, that it is not the absolute amount of wealth existing in a nation, that can ever contribute to render it politically independent of patronage, or intractable to the persuasive voice of a munificent and discerning ruler, but the general state of content and satisfaction which results from its wealth being proportioned to its occasions of expense. It neither is, accordingly, nor ever was, among the poor, but among the expensive arid extravagant, that corruption looks for her surest and most profitable game; nor can her influence ever be anywhere so great, as in a country where almost all those to whom she can think it important to address herself, are straitened for money, and eager for preferment —dissatisfied with their condition a« to fortune —and, whatever may be the amount of their possessions, practically needy, and impatient of their embarrassments. This is the case with the greater part even of those who actually possess the riches for which this coun try is so distinguished. But the effect of their prosperity has been, to draw a far greater proportion of the people within the sphere ot selfish ambition— to diffuse those habits of expense which give corruption her chief hold and purchase, among multitudes who are spectators only of the splendour in which they cannot participate, and are infected with the cravings and aspirations of the objects of their envy, even before they come to be placed in their circumstances. Such needy adventurers are constantly generated by me rapid' progress of wealth and luxury; and are sure to seek and court that corruption which is obliged to seek and court, though with too great a probability of success, those whose condition they miscalculate, and labour to attain. Such a state of things, therefore, is far more favourable to the exercise of the corrupt influence of government and wealthy ambition, than a state of greater poverty and moderation; and the same limited means of seduction will go infinitely farther among a people in the one situation than in the other. The same temptations that were repelled by the simple poverty of Fabricius, would, in all probability, have bought half the golden satraps of the Persian monarch, or swayed the counsels of wealthy and venal Rome, in the splendid days of Catiline and Cirsu.
This, therefore, is our first answer; and it is so complete, we think, as not to require any other for the mere purpose of confutation. But the argument is founded upon so strange and so dangerous a misapprehension of the true state of the case, that we think it our duty to unfold the whole fallacy upon which it proceeds; and to show what very opposite consequences are really to be drawn from the circumstances that have been so imperfectly conceived, or so perversely viewed, by those who contend for increasing the patronage of the Government as a balance to the increasing conseqnence of the People.
There is a foundation, in fact, for some part of this proposition; but a foundation that has been strangely misunderstood by those whn have sought to build upon it so revolting a conclusion. The people lias increased in consequence, in power, and in political importance. Over all Europe, we verily believe, that they are everywhere growing too strong for their governments; and that, if these governments are to be preserved, some measures must be taken to accommodate them to this great chaiiire in the condition and interior structure of society. But this increase of consequence is not owing to their having grown richer; and still less is it to be provided against, by increasing the means of corruption in the hands of their rulers. This requires, and really deserves, a little more explanation.
All political societies may be considered as divided into three great classes or orders. In the first place, the governors, or those who are employed, or hope to be employed by the governors,—and who therefore either have, or expect to have, profit or advantage of some sort from the government, or from subordinate patrons. In the second place, those who are in opposition to the government, who feel the burdens and restraints which it imposes, are
jealous of the honours and emolumente it enjoys or distributes, and grudge the елре: ~ and submission which it requires, iindt-r ¿ apprehension, that the good it accomplish«} is not worth so great a sacrifice. And. thirdly and finally, those who may be counted (or nothing in all political arrangements — «Lo are ignorant, indifferent, and quiescent—v,i.> submit to all things without grumbling or satisfaction—and are contented to cons¡«V.v ¿! existing institutions as a part of the order of nature to which it is their duty to accommodate themselves.
In rude and early ages, this last drr.'ci'.mcludes by far the greater part of the people: but. as society advances, and intellect begiis to develope itself, a greater and a greater ;•• reportion is withdrawn from it, and joined iv the two other divisions. These draft«, however, are not made indiscriminately, or ;;. equal numbers, to the two remaining ог^г-: but tend to throw a preponderating weti'. either into the scale of the government, or into that of its opponents, accordina to ifc character of that government, and the nature of the circumstances by which thpy Ы-been roused from their neutrality. The diffusion of knowledge, the improvements of education, and the gradual descent arid eipansion of those maxims of individual orp> litical wisdom that are successively е?й1lished by reflection and experience, nece^rily raise up more and more of the mass oí the population from that state of brutish acquiescence and incurious ignorance in «h;c£ they originally slumbered. ' They begin to feel their relation to the government nn>r which they live: and, guided by those fe«!ings, and the analogies of their private aterests and affections, they begin to form cr to borrow, Opinions upon the merit or deiner.: of the institutions and administration, to th' effects of wli ch they are subjected; and '•'> conceive Sentiments either hostile or friemtiv to .such hii-iitntions and administration. II the government be mild and equitable—if its uncli'itakings are prosperous, its impositions easy, and its patronage just and ir.ij^rliai—the greater part of those who are tU< successively awakened into a state of po'il'\.¿ capacity will be enrolled among it» snpporters: and strengthen it against the fact <'-• ambitious, and disappointed person?, «:.'¡ alone will be found in opposition to it. Б;.: if, on the other hand, this disclosure of intellectual and political sensibility occur at a period when the government is capricloo* 11 oppressive—when its plans are disastrous— its exactions burdensome—its tone repulsive —and its distribution of favours mo«t corn.;' and unjust;—it will infallibly hap¡vn, tbt the greater part of those who are thus caU¿ into political existence, will take part ягнГ;*! it, and be disposed to exert themselves foril« correction, or utter subversion.
The last supposition, we think, is that wh;rh has been realised in the history of Europ;1 W the last thirty years: and when we say thai the people has almost every where grown ttw strong for their rulers, we mean only tc s»Ti that, in that period, there has been a prodigious development in the understanding and intelligence of the great mass of the population' and that this makes them much less willing than formerly to submit to the folly and corruption of most of their ancient governments. The old instinctive feelings of loyalty and implicit obedience, have pretty generally given way to shrewd calculations as to their own interests, their own powers, and the rights which arise out of these powers. They see now, pretty quickly, both the weaknesses and the vices of their rulers; and, having learned to refer their own sufferings or privations, with considerable sagacity, to their blunders and injustice, they begin tacitly to inquire, what right they have to a sovereignty, of which they make so bad a use— and how they could protect themselves, if all who hate and despise them were to unite to take it from them. Sentiments of this sort, we are well assured, have been prevalent over all the enlightened parts of Europe for the last thirty years, and are every day gaining strength and popularity. Kings and nobles, and ministers and agents of government, are no longer looked upon with veneration and awe,—but rather with a mixture of contempt and jealousy. Their errors and vices are canvassed, among all ranks of persons, with extreme freedom and severity. The corruptions by which they seek to fortify themselves, are regarded with indignation and vindictive abhorrence; and the excuses with which they palliate them, with disgust and derision. Their deceptions are almost universally seen through; and their incapacity detected am! despised, by an unprecedented portion of of the whole population which they govern.
It is in this sense, as we conceive it, that the people throughout civilised Europe have grown too strong for their rulers; and lhat .'«ii« alteration in the balance or administration of their governments, has become necessary for their preservation. They have become Im strong, — not in wealth — out in intellect, activity, and available numbers; and the tranquillity of their governments has been endangered, not from their want of pecuniary inliuence, but from their want of moral respectability and intellectual vigour.
Such is the true state of the evil; and the cure, according to the English opponents of reform, is to increase the patronage of the Crown! The remote and original cause of the danger, is the improved intelligence and more perfect intercourse of the people,—a cause which it is not lawful to wish removed, and which, at any rate, the proposed remedy bas no tendency to remove. The immediate and proximate cause, is the abuse of patronage and the corruptions practised by the government and their wealthy supporters:—and the cure that is seriously recommended, is to increase that corruption !—to add to the weight "I the burdens under which the people is sinkins,—and to multiply the examples of partiality, profusion, and profligacy, by which they are revolted!
An absurdity so extravagant, however, could
not have suggested ¡teelf, even to the person» by whom it has been so triumphantly recom mended, unless it had been palliated by some colour of plausibility: And their error (which really does not seem very unnatural for men of their description) seems to have consisted merely in supposing that all those who were discontented in the country, weretlisappointed candidates for place and profit; and that the whole clamour which had been raised against the misgovernment of the modern world, originated in a violent desire to participate in the emoluments of that misgovernment. Upon this supposition, it must no doubt be admitted that their remedy was most judiciously devised. All the discontent was among those who wished to be bribed—all the clamour among those who were impatient for preferment. Increase the patronage of the Crown therefore—make more sinecures, more jobs, more nominal and» real posts of emolument and honour,—and you will allay the discontent, and still the clamour, which are now '•' frighting our isle from her propriety !;J
This, to be sure, is very plausible and ingenious—as well as highly creditable to the honour of the nation, and the moral experience of its contrivers. But the fact, unfortunately, is not as it is here assumed. There are two sets of persons to be managed and appeased! and the misfortune is, that what might gratify the one would only exasperate the discontents of the other. The one wants unmerited honours, and unearned emoluments—a further abuse of patronage—a more shameful misapplication of the means of the nation. The other wants a correction of abuses—an abridgment of patronage—a diminution of the public burdens—a more just distribution of its trusts, dignities, and rewards. This last party is still, we are happy to think, by far the strongest, and the most formidable: For it is daily recruited out of the mass of the population, over which reason is daily extending her dominion; and depends, for its ultimate success, upon nothing less than the irresistible progress of intelligence—of a true and enlightened sense ot interest—and a feeling of inherent right, united to undoubted power. It is difficult, then, lo doubt of its ultimate triumph; and it must appear to be infinitely foolish to think of opposing its progress, by measures which are so obviously calculated to add to its strength. By increasing the patronage or influence of the Crown, a few more venal spirits maybe attracted, by the precarious tie of a dishonest interest, to withstand all attempts at reform, and to clamour in behalf of all existing practices arid institutions. But, for every worthless auxiliary that is thus recruited for the defence of established abuses, is it not evident that there will be a thousand new enemiee called forth, by the additional abuse exemplified in the new patronage that is created, and the new scene of corruption that is exhibited, in exchanging this patronage for this dishonourable support "!—For a nation to endeavour to strengthen itself against the attempts of reformers by a deliberate augmentation of its corruptions, is not more роБtic, than for a spendthrift to think of relieving himself of his debts, by borrowing at usurious interest to §. what is demanded, and thus increasing the burden which he affects to be throwing off. The only formidable discontent, in short, that now subsists in the country, is that of those who are reasonably discontented; and the only part of the people whose growing strength ...}} looks menacingly on the government, is that which has been alienated by what it believes to be its corruptions, and enabled, by its own improving intelligence, to unmask its deceptions, and to discover the secret of its selfishness and incapacity. The great object of its jealousy, is the enormous influence of the Crown, and the monstrous abuses of patronage to which that influence gives occasion. It is, therefore, of all infatuations, the wildest and most desperate, to hold out that the progress of this discontent makes it proper to give the Crown more influence, and that it can only be effectually conciliated, by putting more o in the way of abuse ! In stating the evils and dangers of corruption and profligacy in a government, we must always keep it in view, that such a system can never be universally palatable, even among the basest and most depraved people of which history has preserved any memorial. If this were otherwise indeed—if a whole nation were utterly and entirely venal and corrupt, and each willing to wait his time of dishonourable promotion, things might go on with sufficient smoothness at least; and as such a nation would not be worth mending, on the one hand, so there would, in fact, be much less need, on the other, for that untoward operation. The supposition, however, is obviously impossible; and, in such a country at least as England, it may perhaps be truly stated, as the most alarming consequence of corruption that, if allowed to go on without any effectual check, it will infallibly generate such a spirit of discontent, as necessarily to bring on some dreadful convulsion, and overturn the very foundations of the constitution. It is thus fraught with a double evil to a country enjoying a free government. In the first place, it gradually corrodes and destroys much that is truly valuable in its constitution; and, secondly, it insures its ultimate subversion by the tremendous crash of an insurrection or revolution. It first makes the government oppressive and intolerable; and then it oversets it altogether by a necessary, but dreadful calamity. These two evils may appear to be opposite to each other; and it is certain, that, though brought on by the same course of conduct, they cannot be inflicted by the same set of persons. Those who are the slaves and the ministers of corruption, assuredly are not those who are minded to crush it, with a visiting vengeance, under the ruins of the social order; and it is in forgetting that there are two sets of persons to be conciliated in all such questions, that the portentous fallacy which we are considering mainly consists. The govern
and venal, while there is still spirit and virtue enough left, when the measure of provocation is full, to inflict a signal and sanguinary vengeance, and utterly to overthrow the fabric which has been defiled by this traffic of iniquity. , And there may be great spirit, and strength, and capacity of heroic resentment in a nation, which will yet allow its institutions to be, for a long time, perverted, its legislature to be polluted, ..f the baser part of its population to be corrupted, before it be roused to that desperate effort, in which its peace aud happiness are sure to suffer along with the guilt which brings down the thunder. In such an age of the world as the present, however, it may be looked upon as absolutely certain, that if the guilt be persisted in, the vengeance will follow; and that all reasonable discontent will accumulate and gain strength, as reason and experience advance; till, at the last, it works its own reparation, and sweeps the osfence from the earth, with the force and the fury of a whirlwind. n such a view of the moral destiny of nations, there is something elevating as well as terrible. Yet, the terror preponderates, for those who are to witness the catastrophe; and all reason, as well as all humanity, urges us to use every effort to avoid the crisis and the shock, by a timely reformation, and an earnest and sincere attempt to conciliate the hostile elements of our society, by mutual concession and indulgence.—It is for this reason, chiefly, that we feel such extreme solicitude for a legislative reform of our system of representa. tion,-in some degree as a pledge of the wik lingness of the government to admit of reform where it is requisite; but chiefly, no doubt, as in itself most likely to stay the flood of ve: nality and corruption-to reclaim a part of those who had begun to yield to its seductions,—and to reconcile those to the government and constitution of their country, who had begun to look upon it with a mingle feeling of contempt, hostility, and despair. That such a reform as we have contemplated would go far to produce those happy effects, we think must appear evident to all who agree with us as to the nature and origin of the evils from which we suffer, and the dangers to which we are exposed. One of its immediate and therefore chief advantages, however, will consist in its relieving and abating the spirit of discontent which is generated by the spectacle of our present condition; both by giving it scope and vent, and by the vast facilities it must afford to future labours of regeneration. By the extension of the elective franchise, many of those who are most hostile to the existing system, because, under it, they are ex: cluded from all share of power or politica importance, will have a part assigned them, both more safe, more honourable, and more active, than merely murmuring, or meditating vengeance against such a scheme of exclusion. The influence of such men will be usefully exerted in exciting a popular spirit; and in exposing the base and dishonest practices that may still interfere with the freedom of ele.
ment may be o corrupt, and a very considerable part of the nation may be debased
tion. By some alteration in the borough