Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

the correction of the evils that bare sprung parliament, the balance would preponderate up in the representation of the people and too strongly in favour of the democratical the duration of parliaments. The tenor part of the constitution. This might be of them all may be best seen in a short indeed an argument against those who petition from a district of Huntingdonshire, contend for universal suffrage; but it does signed by between thrçe and four huodred not meet the question with those who com persons, chiefly respectable freeholders and plain of an abuse in the representation householders ; and as it does not come which may be remedied, and for which the from a manufacturing district, it may be history of parliament presents several inconsidered as a fair criterion of the senti stances. No one can doubt the propriety ments of the landed interest and persons of its interference with respect to certain in the middle walks of life. It states that boroughs, where very immoral practices the petitioners seeing and deploring the existed, and on which account the number general distress of the country, carvestly of voters was increased froni the adjaceat. entreat the House to take into its most hundreds. If this was allowed to be serious consideration the alarming state of right in certain cases, surely it cannot be the nation, and to use its best endeavours doubted, that if time has swept away the to alleviate the burden of excessive taxa- houses of a place or the number is very tion—to abolish sinecure places and un small, it would be very advantageous to i merited pensions--to remove the nuisance use a similar corrective by giving it yoteri

of rotten boroughs -- and to promote a or enlarging its numbers from tbe auljacent • complete constitutional reform in the re hundreds. The plain matter of fact is, presentation of the people in parlianient." that the chief thing to be desired in, a

The question will be brought to an issue member independence, and this will be soon after the holidays, and a great and best secured, when he is sent to parlia. important question it is. It iarolves in ment not by a single man, but by such a fact the nature of the constitutional go- body of constituents as cannot be under vernment of the country. No one doubts the influence of a single man. The House that this is by King, Lords and Commons. has it in its power to make this correction, The institution of the latter body is gene- and a great deal of the present heat would rally allowed to be good, as experience has be allayed by a judicious and temperate shewn that without some check from the use of it. people, every government, whether mo But the argument on the prosperous narchical, kingly or aristocratical, is liable state of the country under its present sys. to great abuses. To make the House of tem is fallacious. For allowing the prosCommons answer the purpose for which it perity to be real, this did not arise from is designed, it is contended that its members the present constitution of the House of must be free and independent of all con Commons, but from a previous state of trol, but what arises from the opinion of things, wbich the innovation of the bo. their constituents. If they are controlled rough-holders has not been able entirely by either the crown or by powerful indivi- to overthrow. The eril has been graduduals, it is impossible from the nature of ally growing up to its present alarming man that they should bave that due regard beight: and the idea of selling seats in for the general interests of their consti- parlianient, as stalls at a fair, is compatuents, which it is the main iutention of ratively speaking of very late date. And such an institution to protect. It is as- probably, it would not be difficult to prove serted that a control does actually exist, that the alarming expenditure of the nation, which is injurious to the constitution ; for which is now sensibly felt by all parties, by the innovations of time, several boroughs would not bave risen to so great a height sedd menibers to parlianient, who are in if the House of Commons had been that fact only the nonlinees of a few individuals, constant check on the minister, which having the possession of these boroughs. was intended to be one great excellence in Consequently it is possible that measures the institution. This judicious control may be taken which may be very beneficial cannot be exercised vben the parties who to these individuals, but very injurious to ought to employ themselves in it, way be she public at large. Is it right and proper rather considered as the allies of the mithen that the institution should be brought nister than the scrutinizers of his measurer back to its original design, or that it should and the examiners of his accounts. continue as it is, giving farther power to We shall, however, see in a short time the innovations of time, and increasing the the whole question brought to a fair dis, influence of the borough-holders?

cussion. If it should be determined that The chief argument against any amend no change whatever shall be made in the ment, is, that the nation has flourished in representation, that every rotten borough its present state, and that any alteration shall remain exactly as it is, the necessary may be dangerous. In fact, that if the consequence will be that the power of the people were fairly and truly represented in borough-holders will continue to increase,

for tine is producing daily alteration's kingdoni, and se-model it according to iu boroughs, and persons of property will their pleasure. To do this it is evident not be wanting to lay out their money that a prodigious force would be requisite, in judicious purchases, whose value will and it is ditficult to say how it could be be increased by diminishing the number raised, as too many persons are interested of votes that tare been purchased. Syrups in the present state of things to admit of tons of this may be seen in many parts of a change, and much less of a change, England, where a ruinous cottage with a which even to the laborious part of the butgage tenure is preferred to a good community must appear disadvantageous, house, whose inhabitant night not be so What then is the strength of this new submissive to the order of his landlord. party it remains for time to develope. I

It will appear surprising that inany five hundred persons in the l'nited Kingpersons of large landed property should be dom are engaged in it, the nauber will advocates for the present system, and oven be thought extraordinary; and if a bunthose who expend very large sums of dred times that number had taken it up, money to become the representatives of a little could they effect. The plan would county, which sums would parehase with destroy itself by being made generally eåse two or more seats in parliament. But known, and treated with the conteinpt it, many anomalies of this kind arise out of deserves. At the same time it must be the present systein; and it cannot be denied observed that the tenure of land in sereral that many persons of very great eminence. parts of the world is of a much more oband truly patriotical principles are intro- jectionable nature, and that if a nation duced into parliament by means of private were formed upou the Spencean plan, its patroange, who otherwise, if there was history migbe furnish to the politician not a place with less than a thousand votes, many curious facts, and its operations on would scarcely choose to go through the its neighbours would be no less extraortroable of a canvass, or if they did could dinary than those of the banditti by whom create by their perit sufficient interest for Rope was built, and of the people formed their return. But even this is scarcely by the system of Lycurgus. 30 argument against reforn, for talents The bill on seditious meețiogs has ocwill find their way, and there would be no casioned considerable debates, and its prowant of them if the field of popular exer. visions are of a most extraordinary Dature. tion were extended. The present state of In fact, till the whole has passed into an the House has grown out of a variety of act, it will not be possible for the people of circamstances. Person's minds are more England to know in what situation they alive to it now than ever, and if notbing is stand; but according to present appear. done there is danger of the House sinking ances it will be very difficult for then into contenpt, or it will be perpetually agi to act, for haring been accustomed to wted by the renewal of the same question. indulge in a freedom of debate and a

The suspension of the Habeas Corpus liberty which has raised them to the Act has taken place, and a vumber of pes- degree of eninence they possess in the sons are in consequence of it now in a political word, they will not easily be state of confinement. It is to be hoped brought to curb their tongues, and to that those who have been placed there on pace in the tramnels prescribed for account of the Spencean plan may be them. Liberty is a blessing beyond all brought to trial, as the nation will then others, it is the parent of erery thing see what foundation there was of danger great and good. Like other blessings it from tbat quarter. Very few person's pro.' may be abused, but if in correcting tlic bably are acquainted either with the au evils the sacred principles of liberty ars thor or bis plan, and indeed the writer crushed, an inroad is made on the spirit never saw the latter till some time after of the people which will gradually be en his last report was before the public. The larged till such a nation becomes the fact is that if the plan had been published contempt of its neighbours. Experience in the same manner as that of Sir Thomas has shew'n us how great nations have More's in his Utopia, it might like that sunk into insignificance. This country have found its way into the closets of the may bare performed the task assigned to studious, and bave excited very little ge it by Providence; and if liberty is not neral attention. From the notice taken held in the bigh estimatioò in which it of it by the present administration, we was in former periods of our history, the must be led to presume that certain per- abridgment of it will be little felt. It must potis have really undertaken to realize it. be remembered, however, that with loss of But if that is actually the case, a madder liberty we lose all the sources of our plan perhaps never entered into the mind wealth, and this may make even thư most of man; for it supposes that these persons fearful of the supposed dangers of the imagined that they could overthrow the present crisis careful how they trencb' too whole tenure of landed property in this much upon it.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[graphic]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

-Memoir of the late Rev. W. Vidler. respect and friendship. He continued

(Concluded from p. 186.): to carry on business in the Strand by N 1798,- Mr. N. Scarlett, who was biniself for a few years, till he was

[ocr errors]

garion, pablished a new translation of cess to relinquish it. His failure, the New Testament, with Notes, in however, did not cure him of his selfwhich work Mr. Vidler took an confidence as a tradesman, for by a active part. The chief peculiarity of whimsical contradiction of character, this Version is its being accommon whilst be entertained a very humble dated to the universal hypothesis ; the opinion of himself as a Christian words dion and Æonian being in teacher, be was accustomed to set a variably used instead of world, age very high value upon his fitness for and everlasting, whenever the Greek business. His last attempt as a tradeswords from which those terms are man was in Holborn, where he suca derived are found in the original. ceeded to the bookseller's shop which The work possessed all the recom- had been established, and in 1804 mcodations which it could derive from vacated, by Mr. Marsoin. Here he its external forn and embellishment, was weighed down from the first and met with favourable notice from by incumbrances which had been long the Monthly 'and Critical Reviews, growing, and after an ineffectual strugbut it will be scarcely numbered here- gle for two years retreated froin the after anongst improved versions. cares of business with the loss of every

This literary connection between thing, except his conscious integrity Mr. Scarlett and Mr. Vidler led to a and the sympathy and confidence of partnership in trade. Mr. Scarlett his friends, confessing at last that he was then carrying on the bookselling knew less of mankind than he once, business in the Strand. Mr. Vidler thought.t was tempted to join him by flattering prospects that were never realized. Kingswood school, under the patronage of Some of his friends made considerable Mr. John Wesley, and afterwards at efforts in order to ensure his wishes; Merchant Taylors' school. He was apthough others warned him from the prenticed to a shipwrigbt, but leaving that beginning of the risk which he in- employment he became an eininent aco curred. A little time convinced him countaut, and originated the “ Come that he had been careless in his esti- mercial Almanack." Besides the Version males and sanguine in his expecta- of the New Testament, taken notice of tions, and the partnership was disc above, be published, in 1801, a small solved, with great loss to Mr. Vidler, rolumne in quarto, entitled “A Scenic though on a ground which was highly

Arrangement of Isaiab's Prophecy relating honourable to him, namely, his re

to the Fall of Babylou." At the time of

his decease, which took place Nov. 18, fusing froin scruples of conscience to

1802, he had written and methodically join Mr. Scarleti, in the publication arranged a curious work called which he had for some time been con

Millenial Age," intended to be publisted ducting of a collection of plays en in twelve numbers, quarto, embellished titled The British Theatre." Note with superb engravings by artists of the withstanding this separation and dis- first eminence. appointment, Mr. Vidler never spoke of The failure of Mr. Vidler's successive of Mr. Scarlett * but in terms of experiments in trade was not owing to any

want of industry, much less of attention * Mr. Scarlete was educated first at and civility: he was remarkably obligins

[ocr errors]

VOL. XIL

« ZurückWeiter »