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than it was to that which subsisted forty years ago. That the House of Commons has become less popular, and more subservient to the Crown than the great principles of the Constitution require, is indeed a proposition, about which there can be little difference of opinion among the ardent and zealous lovers of Liberty. Agreed, however, as the Whigs were, respecting the nature, extent, and danger of the distemper, they differed as they still unfortunately do, about the efficacy and safety of

the most celebrated remedies.

Many of them, persuaded that nothing could counteract the influence of the Crown, but a House of Commons formed on a wider basis, contended for shorter Parliaments, and more popular elections. Others of equal honesty and judgment, were of opinion, that short Parliaments would rather increase, than diminish the influence of the Crown; and that every change in the modes of elections, would prove either insignificant or dangerous. These differences reappeared when the same questions were agitated at the beginning of the French Revolution; though they were soon lost, in the wider differences, respecting measures of immediate practice, which followed. As soon as the Revolutionary war had ceased, which, by dissolving the Whig party, had thrown the Dictatorship into the hands of Mr Pitt, the greater part of those members of that party, who had been most zealous against change, returned to their old friends, and their ancient standard, with an eagerness and satisfaction which perfectly proved that the same steady and disinterested principles continued to actuate the men, and the families, who, for sixty years, had made the only effectual resistance to the power and policy of the Court. But they returned, with their opinions unchanged on the subject of Parliamentary reform, and with new claims on the confidence and attachment of their friends.

No such concurrence in opinion, or numerous support, or probability of success, had attended projects of reform, at their most favourable period, as to render it possible to make them the bond of union of a Parliamentary party. Mr Pitt in power, and Mr Fox in opposition, were, on this subject, alike resisted by the most distinguished of those who supported them on all others. Parliamentary parties, indeed, are generally formed, to support, or oppose, those ordinary measures of Government, in which every man must take a part. They are very much affected, by the spirit in which these measures are carried on,

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See Mr Burke's Thoughts on the Causes of the present Discontents; a work which was, is, and in its general principles, must ever continue to be, the creed of English Whigs.

and by the character, and general principles of those who conduct them. The same laws may be administered, harshly or leniently; narrowly or liberally. Religious liberty may be patronized or discouraged; the Press may be favoured or almost annihilated, without any breach, in either case, of the letter of the law. A government may be pacifick, or ambitious; frugal or prodigal; without passing the limits of its undisputed authority. These important differences, depend almost entirely upon the habits of thinking and acting of those who conduct public affairs.

To take an obvious example. Of two men whose general language regarding the British Constitution may be the same, one, become habitually fearful of popular tumult, long engaged perhaps in active hostility to revolutions originally popular, and haunted by the remembrance of their atrocities and horrors, will consent, on the slightest grounds, to the suspension of the Habeas Corpus:-while another, whose whole habits of thinking and feeling lead him to view that sacred right with the deepest affection and reverence,-accustomed incessantly to contemplate the miseries which have arisen from its absence in other countries, and the enormous abuses which never fail to attend its suspension even in our own,-cannot be brought, without great difficulty, if at all, to take away from the People this most effectual of all the securities which human wisdom has ever devised against oppression.

The whole difference between these two men, consists in habits of thinking and feeling: Yet, on the ascendant enjoyed by the one or the other, the character of the Administration must in a great measure depend. It is therefore on public, and not on ambitious grounds, that English parties are so essentially founded on personal confidence and attachment.-The cause of Reform must now, as heretofore, be left in Parliament to the judgment of individuals. It cannot form an article in the original contract of any party. It is too great a question, to admit of that sacrifice of private judgment, which the principle of party requires, and which may be well warranted, in the ordinary course of questions relating to the choice of men and measures.

It might at first, then, seem that discussions on this subject are, for the present at least, rather matters of ingenious speculation, than connected with the business and interest of the community. We own that we are of a different opinion.-Sixty years ago, the opinion of Parliamentary parties might be said to represent all the opinions of the nation. The case is now materially different. The number of those who take an interest in political affairs, has increased with a rapidity formerly unknown.

The Political Public has become not only far more numerous, but more intelligent, more ardent, more bold, and more active. During the last thirty years, its numbers have been increased, more perhaps than in any equal period since the Reformation, by the diffusion of knowledge, by the pressure of public distress, and by the magnitude of revolutions, sufficient to rouse an attention, which would have slumbered in the noiseless tenor of common events. The course of the late general election, has laid open much of this important change. It would be a mistake to estimate its extent, by the number of members whom it has placed in the House of Commons. In many places, it preserved the old members; in others, no popular candidates were to be found, only because no one had been sanguine enough to expect such a display of popular spirit. In many places it was kept in check by overpowering influence; in some, by respectable character. But no man has canvassed a county in England, who has not felt, that political opinions have penetrated into places where they never before reached. Those who think this an evil, and those who think it a good, are perfectly agreed in the fact.

We need not say that we consider it as a good. But whether it will, in the first instance, be productive of unmixt advantage to public liberty, will, we think, very much depend on the opinions permanently adopted by the majority of the people, respecting some general questions, and especially those connected with Parliamentary Reform. If these opinions should be irreconcileably repugnant to those of the educated and proprietary classes; if they should be such, as to preclude negociation, and render compromise impossible; if their plans of reform should be considered, by the experienced and instructed, as the road to inevitable destruction, the result will certainly be, not only to throw discredit upon all measures of reformation, but to endanger our ancient and hereditary liberties. We shall not only not improve the Constitution; but we shall hardly preserve it. In most other circumstances, it might be apprehended, that so wide a schism in society, such an impassable gulph opened between its different classes, would lead to a violent subversion of government. This, however, is not the evil which we think in this country most probable: But if such a principle as Universal Suffrage should once prevail among the laborious classes, a permanent animosity between opinion and property must be the consequence. Property, which has more influence in this country than it ever had in any other, will commonly prevail. A sullen submission is likely, however, to be interrupted by occasional acts of violence, more than enough to increase the fears and suspicions of the proprietors, until the Government,

at their entreaty, shall successively remove every restraint on authority, and all those safeguards of Liberty, which it has taken us six centuries to establish.

Human affairs, it is true, seldom follow that regular course which would be previously pointed out by probable reasoning. Unforeseen circumstances open new channels, and stop up the old. Opinions, too obstinate to be confuted, are insensibly worn out. But though we cannot foresee events, we may, and must, both argue and act upon tendencies. Though, therefore, the evils likely to arise from the prevalence of pernicious opinions will, we trust, be far less than they seem to us capable of producing, their tendency will at least justify us, in occasionally applying some part of our Review to the consideration of this subject.

As we address ourselves to reasonable minds, in the hope of removing or preventing error, we shall endeavour to do so, in a perfectly dispassionate tone. Of Universal Suffrage itself we must speak frankly,-firmly believing, that the adherence of any considerable body of the people to it, as a measure of Reform, tends to make reformation impossible, and liberty itself odious and terrible; to raise up a subject of difference between the higher and lower classes, about which no concessions, and no treaty are practicable; and ultimately to drive the nation to seek refuge in absolute government. We must freely say what we think we shall be able to prove;-but towards its partisans, we shall use no weapons, but those of argument.

With regret we see among their number ingenious and enlightened men, though none indeed who have had political experience. The name of Mr Bentham, prefixed to this article, will be sufficient to preserve our calmness. We highly honour his talents and character; and we should be utterly inexcusable, if we were not warned against intemperance and personality, by the example which a philosopher has unfortunately afforded in the volume before us. We feel the less reluctance to select Mr Bentham on this occasion, because his plan of reform is in truth no other than that of Major Cartwright, translated out of the pure and plain English, which is the good Major's only valuable quality as a writer, into the peculiar language of Mr Bentham, which his most judicious friends do not consider as his strongest part.

There are many passages, especially of his earlier writings, distinguished by significant and forcible language-by a diction at once nervous and precise-which conveys to the minds of his readers his opinions and sentiments, with the effect of true eloquence. But probably from the long habit of writing what he

had no intention immediately to publish, he appears to use words rather as remembrancers for his own use, than as the means of signifying his thoughts to others. The effect has been, a profusion of needless and uncouth terms of art, which may indeed give his writings an air of discovery, in the eyes of those to whom speculation is new, but which, for that reason among others, create more than a due prejudice against them, among the great majority of men of sense.

In discussion with him, we have the advantage of agreeing in a common principle. Like him, we consider utility as the test of every political institution: He is a greater enemy than we are, to those notions of natural right, which usually form so large a part of discussions on Reform. We are therefore delivered from the necessity of making any remarks on that part of the subject. The falsehood of the doctrine which represents Annual Parliaments and Universal Suffrage as the ancient legal right of the people of England, has already been proved by historical demonstration. At all events, the dispute must finally be decided by the principle of Utility for though men should have a right to Universal Suffrage, it is evident that they ought to wave its exercise, if it cannot be exerted without mischief to themselves; and though our ancient laws should have established Universal Suffrage, it is equally certain that it ought not to be revived, if its revival would be injurious to society.

Before we enter on the argument, we wish to wave all advantage, which may be supposed to be possessed by those who defend established principles against untried projects. We shall compare different plans of representation, as if they were for the first time presented to the judgment and choice of a nation, borrowing no aid from the established system, but the experience with which it has supplied us. For that reason, we forbear to employ those arguments which have been founded on the supposed tendency of Universal Suffrage, to destroy the regal and aristocratical parts of the Constitution. The question which we are desirous of considering is, whether it would be conducive to the liberties of the people.

What mode of representation is most likely to secure the liberty, and consequently the happiness, of a community circumstanced like the people of Great Britain?-On the elementary part of this great question, it will be sufficient to remind the reader of a few undisputed truths.-The object of Government, is security against wrong. Most civilized governments, tolerably secure their subjects against wrong from each other. But to secure them, by laws, against wrong from the Government itself, is a problem of a far more difficult sort, which few nations have at

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