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All we desire is to see the principles, which are unquestionably both just and practical, received as they deserve, and applied with the necessary variations prescribed by diversities of situation. It may not be possible to effect-it may not be desirable to attempt-doing as much for the poor on a large, as Mr Fellenberg has done upon a small scale: But he has clearly shown how much may be performed for their improvement, not only without extravagant cost, but with a profit exactly proportioned to the benefit bestowed upon the objects of his care.

ART. VIII. Plan of Parliamentary Reform, in the Form of a Catechism; with Reasons for each Article: With an Introduction, showing the Necessity of Radical, and the Inadequacy of Moderate Reform. By JEREMY BENTHAM, Esq. 8vo. London. R. Hunter, 1817.


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D ISPUTES concerning the right of suffrage were longer unknown, and have formed a more inconsiderable subject of political discussion in England, than in any other Free State. In governments altogether republican, the right of choosing lawgivers, or of making laws, and the distribution of political privileges among various Magistrates and Councils, form the prin cipal subject of contest between the several orders which compose the Commonwealth. But in England, which Montesquieu called a Republic disguised as a Monarchy,' these contests were prevented, by the general jealousy directed against the dangerous, though necessary power of the Crown. The peculiar nature of our Constitution for a long time engaged the whole force of the Friends of Liberty in struggles against an enemy of a singular kind, whom it was necessary always to watch, very often to resist, and yet never to destroy.-From Henry III. to George III. the grand question depending between the Crown and the People, has continued to be, whether the Government should be Parliamentary, or administered according to the judgment of one or more individuals, not amenable to justice, and often not answerable to public opinion, for their counsels and measures? This question is, in other words, whether Monieu's description of our constitution be just,-whether it is ministered on the principles of Popular Government,

to the maxims of an uncontrolled Monarchy? The ced, has assumed various forms. Sometimes the veParliaments was threatened; the Crown sometimes d on their legislative power, but more frequently sought

for pecuniary resources independent of parliamentary grant.These contests were, however, occasional: But one regal pretension never ceased; the kings of England always endeavoured to maintain their right to follow their own judgment, or that of private advisers, in the choice of ministers and measures; whilst the Parliament, seconded by the People, with equal. constancy maintained that the prerogatives of the Crown, both in the choice of its servants, and in every other public act, was to be exercised by the advice of the Great Council which conveyed to the Throne the deliberate opinion of the Nation. This question arose in the most ancient times of our government. It was agitated for ages before those extravagant doctrines of Divine Right, Passive Obedience, and Indefeasible Inheritance, which flourished under the House of Stuart.


The original dispute has survived these absurdities. It now forms the indelible distinction between Whigs and Tories, and must continue to keep up similar parties as long as the British Constitution exists. In the course of this contest, the power the Purse was the only pacific means, by which the House of Commons could establish or defend their authority as lawgivers, and their weight as counsellors of the Crown: and hence it has arisen that almost all our great disputes have immediately turned upon questions of pecuniary supply. On this ground, all the battles of Liberty have been fought, from the grant of the Great Charter to the declaration of American Independence.

It was not till after the victory of the Parliament over Charles the First, that symptoms of dissatisfaction with the constitution of the House of Commons began to manifest themselves. Complaints of the state of the representation, and projects for its amendment, were then employed by the agitators of the Parliamentary Army as a means of depriving the House of Commons of the popularity which was its main security against the Military Body. It was on the 20th of January 1649, a few days before the death of the King, that the first plan of Parliamentary Reform was laid before the House of Commons, by some officers of the army, under the alluring title of An Agreement of the People.' It was composed by General Ire ton, a memorable person, of eminent capacity for civil as well as military affairs, and who did not declare for a republic until he was persuaded that Charles had no intention but to regain by art what he had lost in fight.'*-In this paper it was proposed that the Commonwealth should be governed by a Re

*Hutchinson, 293.-For his determination to resist the ambition of his father-in-law, Cromwell, see the same excellent work, 325.

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presentative Assembly of four hundred persons, biennially elected, by all housekeepers assessed to the poor-not being servants or receiving wages. The smaller boroughs (with some capricious exceptions) were to be thrown into the counties. The cities and more considerable towns, together with the unrepresented towns of Manchester and Leeds, were to have separate representatives.

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This was the first plan of Moderate reform:-and it was speedily succeeded by one of a different description. On the 1st of May 1649, the Levellers, who were charged with designs for equalizing property, published, but did not present to Parliament, their scheme of Parliamentary Reform, by which all men of the age of twenty-one years, not receiving alms or being servants, were, according to natural right, to have a voice in the election of Members of a Parliament to be annually chosen.' Thus arose the two systems; of which, the latter is the Radical Reform of our times, and the former proposes the most extensive of those changes, which are now comprehended under the name of Moderate Reform.

After the defeat of the revolts which followed the manifesto of the Levellers, the execution of their ringleaders, and the imprisonment of Overton and Lillburne, their project was speedily disregarded, and soon totally forgotten. The plan of Ireton was the groundwork on which the Parliament founded that system. of representation, of which their dispersion by military force seems to have prevented the completion. Its principle was adopted by Cromwell's Parliament in 1654, but modified by the admission of many of the former boroughs and of the unrepresented town of Halifax.-The Parliaments were to be triennial:-Every man who had a real or personal estate of 2001. was to vote in counties, in addition to the forty-shilling freeholders; and the ancient rights were preserved in cities and towns. His second Parliament were elected according to this system, which they did not alter.

It is somewhat remarkable, that in the thirty succeeding years of agitation and change, this subject should have so little occupied the attention of the great political writers, who, to the discredit of our age, are now unreasonably and ungratefully undervalued. The favourite plan of Milton was, that the Commonwealth should be ruled by a Senate chosen by the People

Mr Hume says, that' an estate of 200l. was necessary to entitle any one to vote.' That this is a mistake, appears from the Resolution of that very independent House of Commons, 27th November 1654.

for life. He is very solicitous to provide against a licen• tious and unbridled Democracy, which in the ancient Republics ruined themselves by their own excessive power.' The propersities of the ingenious Harrington were also somewhat aristocrat cal. There is something,' he says, in the making and ruling a Commonwealth, which (though there be great divines, great lawyers, and great men in all professions) seems to be peculiar only to the genius of a Gentleman.' Whether Sydney preferred a republic to an honest and liberal administration of the English Government, is a question which cannot be decided by his resistance to Kings of Stuart character or principles. It is at least evident that democracy was not the object of his choice; and in his admirable writings we discover strong marks of the feelings, and even prejudices, of his noble descent. The passage in which Mr Locke regrets the state of the representation, affords the most decisive evidence that he contended for, or rather suggested, nothing more than the expediency of a moderate reform; and that he rejected those practical inferences, since drawn from the general language in which both he and Sydney had maintained the sacred rights of nations to resist and expel tyrants,

That passage is a strong authority in favour of moderate ParHamentary Reform. The grievances which he complains of, are, unpeopled boroughs, and unrepresented populous towns: and his means of reformation consist in the revival of the Royal prerogative, of bestowing representation on such towns, as have become considerable.-Whether the great philosopher was consistent with himself, in not patronizing more extensive changes, may be a debateable question, That he did not, is most certain, The radical reformers cannot appeal to his writings, without destroying their authority, by showing that one part of them is inconsistent with another.

The subject of representation was almost unnoticed at the Revolution; and though, after that glorious triumph, the public jealousy, formerly confined to prerogative, began with great reason to be directed to the subserviency of Parliament, yet, during the fifty years which followed, the expedients proposed for the reduction of the growing influence of the Crown, were chiefly either an abridgement of the duration of Parliaments, or the exclusion of all or of some Placemen from the House of Commons, Carte, the Jacobite historian, inveighs against the representation of the smaller boroughs, and proposes to allow the freeholders of the hundreds to vote in them; both to pro

* Locke on Civil Government, B. 2. chap. 13. sec. 157.

mote the ascendancy of the smaller landholders who then formed the strength of his party, and as one of the weapons with which Jacobites, in republican disguise, assailed the Government established at the Revolution. Two sentences of Hume and Blackstone comprehend all that we recollect on this subject before the death of George II.

The dispute with America about the connexion of Taxation and Representation, gave a new importance to these questions, and for the first time rendered them the subject of public discussion. Lord Chatham's famous speech in 1770, which proposed to infuse a new portion of health into the Constitution, by an addition to county members, was the first suggestion of a specific reform made by a statesman in a place of authority.Towards the end of the American war, the Government became generally unpopular; and its discredit was justly shared by a compliant Parliament. The waste of blood and treasure; the disgrace of our arms; the debility and distraction of our councils, were generally, and not without reason, imputed to the restoration of Toryism, and the unconstitutional principles which had prevailed from the beginning of the reign. Associa tions for retrenchment and economical reform were adopted in the principal counties of England; and on them, in many places, were grafted associations for Parliamentary Reform.

Projects of moderate reform were approved by Mr Fox, and introduced into Parliament by Mr Pitt,-where they were rejected by small majorities. They were at that time much more popular than at any antecedent or subsequent period, and were probably supported by a majority of those classes, among whom the integrity and intelligence of the nation are chiefly to be found.

Then, however, as now, the Whig party were divided on this important question,-though they all agreed that the Government ought to be Parliamentary, and that Parliament ought to be, in its feelings and principles, Popular. They had all concurred in the famous resolution of Mr Dunning in 1780, That the influence of the Crown has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished. '

The interest, and charges on the national debt, have, since the period of that resolution, been multiplied fourfold. The military, naval, colonial, and fiscal establishments have been augmented beyond any former example. Whether these augmentations are to be regarded as proofs of the subserviency of Parliament, or only as sources of new influence to the Crown, it equally follows, that the principle of Mr Dunning's resolution is more strongly applicable to the present state of the kingdom,

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