Imágenes de páginas

much, that Mr Mill, as a logician, that four, or five, or six. And Mr sees the propriety of giving to every Mill urges, why not apply the same householder, and indeed to every rule to the election of our parliaman, the suffrage. We have gone so mentary representatives? Even Mr far that he sees no possibility of our Bright admits that members should stopping short of this. And, watch- represent not mere numbers, but ing the course of political agitation, property also ; for in mapping out he anticipates the triumph, sooner his electoral districts, and allotting or later, of the mob, who will give to delegates to various boroughs, he every man his vote. But he says goes upon a double calculation of that the cure lies in our own hands. wealth and of population. But if We can give every man his logical the principle be worth anything, it demand, provided we give no more is worthy of being carried out to than logic requires. Let every man its legitimate results. If Manhave his vote. There is no reason chester deserves so many members why we should withhold from any more than another city because of its man the right of voting. But, on extraordinary wealth, then

those the other hand, there is no reason householders of Manchester who have why every man should have an equal extraordinary wealth deserve a greatvote. Every man can claim to have er number of votes than those who a share, but he cannot claim to have can only boast of extraordinary poan equal share, in the government of verty. There is very little gained by the country. We are not surprised talking of abstract rights, and pushthat Jones the bricklayer, who pays ing partial theories to their extreme taxes as we do, wishes to have the limit ; but if people will talk of reprivilege of voting for a parliament- forming the constitution on the prinary representative ; but we are very ciple of abstract right, then let us much astonished if we discover that carry out that principle fairly, and he regards the votes of thirty brick- let us avoid, above all things, a onelayers to be of equal importance with sided view of the theory. It is not the votes of thirty men who have we who demand universal suffrage passed through the university, and a concession to abstract right. who pay, it may be, fifty times the We are quite content with the pracamount of taxes to the State for tical liberty which we enjoy, with all which our friends the bricklayers its anomalies and all its compromises. are responsible. If it be a principle But if we are to have universal sufof our constitution, says Mr Mill, frage because of abstract right, then that taxation should go with repre- let us also, by the same law and for sentation, carry out that principle to the same reason, have proportionate its logical conclusion. There is a suffrage. The bricklayer says that logic in this principle which ought he ought to have a voice in the electo sweeten the logic of that other tion of the House of Commons, beprinciple so much dreaded. Let us cause he pays taxes, and contributes not be logical in one direction only; to the expenses of the country. Very let us be wholly logical. If the good ; but let the master - builder, logical consequence of our constitu- who pays fifty or a hundred times tional theory be, that every man the amount of taxes for which the should have å vote, it is also the logi- bricklayer is liable, have, we do cal consequence of that theory that not say fifty or a hundred times his vote should have some adequate as many votes, but four or five relation to the taxes which he pays. times as many. It is neither fair, Nor is this a mere theory ; it is the nor is it the custom of the conpractice of our constitution to some stitution, that numbers, irrespective extent. The rate-payers elect the of property, should impose the taxes, board of guardians for the poor. and regulate the expenses of the In some parts of the country, the country. The hackneyed answers of rate-payers have votes in proportion Mr Bright and his party to such a to the amounts which they pay in conclusion are, that the man of prorates, one rate-payer having but one perty, paying fifty or a hundred times vote, another two, this one three, as much as the poor man, has fifty or


a hundred times as much security for deserve such indifference. If the his possessions; and that over and scheme is not satisfactory, it is at all above his individual vote he has an events the best that has yet been influence on those around him which propounded as a remedy for the evils is equivalent to the enjoyment of with which we are threatened, and several votes. These are transparent it deserves consideration. Why has fallacies, or rather they are argu- it not received that consideration ? ments which cut two ways. They Partly, we believe, because a great are arguments that tell as much many people in this country are against the poor man's claim to the fatalists on the subject of democracy, suffrage, as against the rich man's and imagine that it is as impossible claim to proportionate suffrage. In to resist its encroachments as to stop point of fact, the poor man is denied the waves on the shore. It is supthe franchise on these two amongst posed that there is no use in these other grounds, that he is already vir- expedients for regulating the influtually represented through the influ- ence of mobs.

Mob-rule is coming ence which he and his numerous certain as the grave, and there is comrades exert upon the society nothing for it but to put off the around them; and that, in return for evil day as long as possible. Let his taxes, he has the benefit of secu- us shut our eyes, and, seeing that rity and law. If the working classes we must die, let us die by inches. A are not content with individual se- more reasonable objection to the curity and virtual representation, scheme of Mr Mill is a sentimental why should the wealthier classes bé dislike on the part of English gentleexpected to rest satisfied with their men to raise the question of equality social influence and their sense of between man and man. It is forsafety? No, says Mr Mill; turn the gotten, however, that it is not the question which way we will, we still gentlemen of England who raise the arrive at the same result. 'If there question. We are unequal by nais logic in Universal, there is logic ture, and our inequalities are recogalso in Proportionate Suffrage ; and nised in the constitution as it stands the one is absolutely required to re- at present. Mr Bright desires not dress the flagrant injustice of the only to do away with these inequaliother. Separate they are wrong; ties, but to reverse them; and so far together they are right.

from attempting to create inequaliNow, with regard to this view, ties which do not at present exist, which has been maintained not only Mr Mill proposes merely to recognise by Mr Mill, but also by the Econo- the actual state of things in a new mist newspaper with great ability, we formula. It is to be remembered that have no hesitation in saying that here we have but a choice of evils. logically it is irrefragable, and that If proportionate suffrage be an evil, practically it would preserve the it is simply proposed as an antidote balance of classes in the poll-books. to the still greater evil of universal If we are asked, however, whether suffrage. We do not advocate Mr we are willing to adopt and advo- Mill's scheme; we demand for it a cate the scheme, this is a very dif- fair hearing, because it is the only ferent question. To the opinion of thoroughgoing attempt that we have no man on any question of poli- seen to grapple with the dangers that tics can we pay more deference than beset the constitution of the country. to Sir E. B. Lytton's; but we find We resist a £6 franchise, but we that in his great speech on reform resist with a sort of despondency, he brushed Mr Mill's scheme aside, knowing that we are drifting surely, without even paying it the compli- though slowly, to the surrender of ment of stating his objections. Not the government to the force of numonly so, but hitherto the scheme has bers. It strikes us as possible that been treated very much as Sir E. B. if the principle of proportionate sufLytton has treated it-it has not frage were once recognised, there even been discussed. Be its merits would be no occasion to enforce it; or demerits what they may, we are that our demagogues would see in the pretty certain that they do not light of it the hopelessness of insistVOL LXXXVIII.-NO. DXXXVII.


[ocr errors]

ing on universal suffrage as a basis command an organisation of a rude for their schemes, and that accord- but powerful character. The grocer ingly they would be content to leave stands behind his counter, the publimatters as they are.

can behind his bar, and gossips with Unfortunately, Conservatives stand his customers on all the topics of the at a considerable disadvantage, as day. The shop is more than a shop, compared with Radicals, in the pro- it is a free-and-easy club. These secution of their schemes. They shopkeepers and publicans lead a a abominate agitation; they despise public life ; have a great number of stump oratory; and their strength persons around them who regard so lies in deep feeling rather than them as centres, and who, when a in noisy shouts, that people are apt general election takes place, are quite at times to mistake the force of the content to see the choice of a candiConservative party. Never was this date practically depend upon their more clearly seen than at present. exertions. To a very large extent The Conservative feeling of the coun- this influence is perfectly legitimate. try is expressed in silence and in The shopkeeper and the publican, as apathy, while the Liberal birds are popular characters, are perfectly enchattering very noisily; and were we titled to whatever influence they can to judge by mere words, the latter command in consequence of an exhave all the argument and all the tended connection. At the same time wisdom on their side. They get up a it is a miserable thing that in so many meeting, at which young men from large towns the elections should be the discussion - forum talk by the completely in their hands, and that hour; they have it reported next their organisation should be the only day in all their papers ; and it pass- organisation at work. We do not es muster as an expression of popu- blame them in the least. We blame lar opinion-a most important de-ourselves. Why are we not better monstration. We trust that, what- organised? Why should not the ever be the consequences, the Tory lawyer and the physician, of whom party will never descend to such con- we have spoken, have a community temptible arts; but we have some- of effort as well as of opinion? They times thought that they yield too want the natural system of organisamuch in this way to their adversar. tion which the shopkeeper and the ies. When Mr Disraeli complained bar-keeper enjoy-but why should that the middle classes in this coun- they not recompense themselves by try have not the habit of organisa- an artificial system of organisation ? tion for which the lower classes are Why should they be a series of disdistinguished, he referred especially connected units contending at the to the upper stratum of the middle polling-booths with highly disciplinclasses that section of them in ed forces, and thoroughly amalgamwhich Conservative feeling is strong ated publicans ? Not until they acest. A lawyer and a physician live quire this art of organising themnext door to each other in the same selves, can the Conservative feeling, square. They never meet; they do strong as it is in the country, find that not know each other; they do not full expression in the House of Repreeven know each other's names, it may sentatives to which it is fairly entitled. be; they certainly do not know that Taking matters as they stand, they think alike on political ques- however, we think that we may tions, and have strong Conservative congratulate our friends on the growsympathies. These men, and men ing strength of their position, as exlike them, have at present no means hibited both in the number of their of organising themselves into a poli- adherents, and in the currency of tical federation. They have their opinions. And we do not doubt public life, because the social life that those differences in the Tory which they cultivate is one of ex- camp to which Lord John Russell clusiveness and privacy. But round maliciously alluded, and which he the corner, in the next street, will attempted to magnify, may, in the be found á middle class of a very act of being ventilated, lead to greater different order, who have at their unity 'and strength. That Mr Dis

[ocr errors]


raeli does not command the allegi- has ever refused to statesmen the ance of every member of his party, right of changing an opinion. AnyLord John Russell professes to regard thing more shameless than the docas something very extraordinary, and trine of the Peelite school, as exon the strength of that fact inno- pressed not long ago by Sir James cently wonders whether the member Graham, when he said that everyfor Buckinghamshire is to be accepted, thing is changing-that the wind after all, as the leader of his party in shifts, that the weather-vane wheels the House of Commons. We should round, and that therefore political like to know where is the party in opinions must turn about too-we which perfect unanimity is to be do not know; and Mr Disraeli has found? There has always been a certainly refused to sanction such incertain amount of disaffection in consistency. The inconsistency also every political confederation. Can- of Peel, who did not merely change ning had to complain of it ; Peel had his opinions, but changed them in to complain of it; Disraeli has to violation of a pledge coming complain of it also. On the whole, into office to carry out one line however, the discipline of the Tory of policy, and remaining there to party is admirable ; is in striking carry out the very opposite - he contrast to that of the Whig

camp; reprobated in the stro est terms. and we doubt not that Mr Disraeli But no one can accuse him of such is perfectly satisfied with the confi- changes. That he has always been dence which he enjoys. It should be consistent with himself we do not remembered that his rise to power say; he would be more than mortal was peculiar, and would justify an if he were. Only on this question of impartial observer in expecting a principle we have two remarks to much stronger dissent from his autho- make, which we commend to the atrity than that which actually exists. tention of those who are running him He rose into power when the party down. The first is, that there is not was at war itself; when sharp words a statesman living who has more lawere flung about on every side; boriously and more continuously than when ridicule and recrimination were Mr Disraeli striven to arrive at great all too freely used. Who can won- principles. Any one who will careder that, joining in the strife with fully go through Mr Disraeli's works, more than usual spirit, he should will be perfectly astonished at his have made many enemies-implac- restless anxiety to get at the eleable as they are powerful ? But over mental truths of government and of and above this, the very success of his British politics. He puts forward efforts raised him into authority over a thousand suggestions, and specuthe heads of men who were gradually lates on ten thousand facts. Someworking their way upwards, and times his suggestions are valuable, who looked forward with reason to sometimes exceedingly crude. With leading the Tory party sooner or some we agree, at some we smile, later. He has had to endure the some we throw into the fire. But implacable jealousy of these men, in going through volume after volume, addition to the implacable hate of we confess to a feeling of profound those whom he ridiculed; and the respect for the industry, for the marvel is that, having to contend thought, for the ambition which against such influences, Mr Disraeli have led him to probe with intense has been able to maintain his posi- curiosity all the great truths that lie tion at all.

at the root of British history. Often In these facts we have quite when he is wrong theoretically, his enough to account for any difference imaginative sympathies keep him which may exist between Mr Dis- practically right, and all through his raeli and some members of his party, life his political instincts have in the without fabricating an explanation main been sound. That immediately by denying to him the possession after the passing of the Reform Bili, of fixed principles, and by accus- which he regarded as a great revoluing him of veering about as Peel tion, his intellectual being should have did. We deny that Mr Disraeli been profoundly stirred, and that he


should have groped wildly about for he headed a party without princifirst principles, is scarcely wonderful. ples, and that he hoped to govern That a man who has thought so much, by a confederation bound together and studied so hard and so incessantly purely by personal influences. Mr to arrive at the primary dogmas of Disraeli talks so strongly on this the constitution, should reject much subject, that we are apt to forget his that at one time seemed to him to be previous statements, and leap to the true, is very natural. It has been the conclusion that he regards principles grand object of his life to get at first as everything, party as nothing. So principles, and this, be it remembered, all through the novel, he harps now in a period of political infidelity, when on the wonderful spell exerted by statesmen are not celebrated for hav. individual character, now on the ing fixed principles on any subject worthlessness of anything but dogwhatever. It is rather hard to say mas, again on the magic of party of such a man-of a man who has associations, and yet again on the exhibited all through his career a inexorable necessity of principles passionate desire to get at first truths above all things. Here we conclude --that he has no beliefs and no prin- that party ought to override principles, and simply because he dug out ciple; there that principle ought a good deal of dross with his gold, to obliterate party. The uncandid and has had the good sense to see reader will of course say that these that much of what glittered like the are contradictions. More just critiprecious metal was utterly to be re- cism will at once admit that each is jected.

a half truth exaggerated in the exThe other remark we proposed to pression, and that if Mr Disraeli make has reference to Mr Disraeli’s contradicts himself in the form of style, which, if not properly under the words, he is perfectly consistent stood, may create a false impression in reality. It is easy to put the two of the man. That style has not a sentiments together and show their few of the excellences and some of perfect consistency, when each occurs the faults, of the Oriental character. about fifty times in the course of the It is generally forcible, often brilliant, same novel; but when they happen sometimes perfect, but it is not al- to be expressed in separate speeches, ways exact. Mr Disraeli has not people who are lazy, people who have much sympathy with the scholastic bad memories, and especially people mind; and with all his great gifts and who are a little prejudiced, only see acquirements, he has not that pecu- contradiction, falsehood, and reckliar cultivation which comes of study lessness. In a speech' given at a at a university. So long as he is Conservative banquet in honour of dwelling on facts, he is accurate the progress which the party had enough; it is when he comes to the made, Mr Disraeli spoke with great expression of an opinion that we have emphasis of the value of party into remember how far this opinion is fluences. He magnified party at the limited and modified by other opin- expense of principle, as it appeared to ions previously expressed. If any some. People at ouce jump to the conone will open Coningsby, it will be clusion—"Here is a man who has no found that the author of that bril- principles — he holds principles as liant novel insists in the strongest second to party: it is disgusting that terms on the enormous influence of the Tories should be led by a statesthe personal on human affairs, and man who, in the very moment of his on the importance of party; we party's triumph, can utter such a therefore leap to the conclusion that barefaced statement.” Were we to personal attachments and party ties point out other passages to them in are supposed by him to deserve which Mr Disraeli magnifies printhe first place in the considera- ciple at the expense of party, and tion of a statesman as an element seems to argue that we ought all to of power. When we read further, be independent of each other, and we find, however, that he harps stick only to our individual opinions, on a very different string. His these very persons would probably great accntation against Peel is that say, “What contradictions! He re

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »