תמונות בעמוד

sary once more to alter their mode of election; for the influence of wealth and popular manners, can never be fully excluded, until the election shall be made entirely by lot. I cannot help recommending this proposition to the attentive consideration of those who wish to preserve the public tranquillity, and at the same time to exclude influence entirely from the elections in Britain. Were the qualifications necessary for candidates properly defined, and the law in that respect duly inforced *, I can see po objec

* If, for example, we wished totally to exclude every kind of influence at elections, I thould be glad to know what objections could be made to the following regulations, viz. let a law be made which ordains,

1. That no person can be elected till he has attained the age of 25 years complete. And,

2. Thas no person who has ever lived for ten years at a time out of Britain, or at least out of Europe, can ever be eligible. And

3. Who has had his principal residence in the county where he becomes a candidate, for three years at least, preceding the day of election. And,

4. Who possesses in his own right in landed property, the value of three hundred pounds of real rents, at least, free of deductions, or enjoys an income, if in business, at least of five hundred pounds a-year.

All these facts to be ascertained by a jury of honest men in the vicinage, whyfhall take cogn'since of them at the assizes immedia:ely preceding the election, and whose verdict must be produced to the returning officer before the candidate can be put upon the ballot.

Thus every scrutiny and expensive investigation in:o the legality of claiments would be avoided, and the necefsity of delays precluded.

Let as many candidates, thus qualified, as plea ed, come forward at the time of election. Let one who had been a candidate at some former period, but not at present, be chosen from among those present by lot, as the returning officer. Let a number of small rods, of unequal lengths, but in every other respect, the same be provided, in number the same as that of the candidates ; and another equal number of rods, having the name of one of the candidates written upon each. Let all the rous of one sort be shaken and mixed carelessly together before the meeting, and then so placed that one of the ends may project a litrle beyond a cover, and all ranged equal, the writing on the one set being entirely concealed. Let a man then be provided, who, by an inquest before a jury, shall have been previe

tion to this mode of election but one, viz. that it would but too perfectly effect the purpose proposed. regulation would set the court and the opposition alike

Such a


ously found to be perfectly blind. Let this man draw first a blank rod from one side, the length of which shall be ascertained by measuring it on a rod, within view of the meeting, and the precise length of it called out with an audible voice by the returning officer, and marked by the clerk. Let then another rod be drawn from the opposite side, with the name of the candidate upon it, which shall also be held up in the sight of all presen“, so as to be legible to them ; after which the name shall be publicly announced by the returning officer to the clerk, who shall mark it opposite to the measure of the rod before announced ; and so on, till the whole are finished. The clerk shall then read over the whole deliberately, and with an audible voice, making a pause before every name.

This shall then be presented to the returning officer, who shall declare which of the candidates has obtained the longest or the shortest rod, (as had been previously agreed,) and who is of course to be the member for this time, then signing the paper with the return upon it, send it to the person authorised to receive the

And thus ends the election. If those who plead for a reform at present, are seriously desirous of ob. ta ning the object they profils, a representation tvtally unbiassed by the power of the crown, or any other inffuence, they cannot object to this proposal ; and in that case the great objection to frequent elections, viz. the loss of labour, and the disturbances which then occur, would be entirely done away, so that even annual parliamenis, if thought proper, might be adopted. I do not pretend to say whether this would be the best mode of elections possible; all that is contended for, is, that the influence now so loudly complained of, would be effectually avoided ; so that if the ieformers reject it they must clearly abandon their principle, which will prove that some other object is in view than that which is held out to the public.

It is unnecefsary to observe, that, on this plan, a certain number of the confidential servants of the crown, to be distinctly specified in the bill, fhall be members of parliament, ex officio ; for national business could never be carried on without them : no objection can arise from this circumstance, becau se these would be necessarily confined to such a small proportion of the assembly that their number could have little effect in determining a majority. For the reasons assigned in the text, no person will believe that I could seriously expect that this regulation will ever be adopted in Britain.

[ocr errors]

at defiance. It would equally frustrate the views of whigs and of tories,--of aristocrates and democrates, it would diminish the emoluments of lawyers, and dis.. appoint the rapacity of voters. Who then is to support such a proposal ? All the active interested turbulent spirits. of the nation would cordially unite to execrate it. It could be relished only by quiet, peaceable, honest men ; but such men choose to remain in the bosom of their own families, enjoying the blessings of tranquillity, while all the others are up in arms against it.

Our author in the course of his work makes some quotations, from Dodington's diary, a book too little known; for of all the publications that ever issued from the prefs in Britain, this one contains the fullest developement of the farce of government. In that work are produced many authentic proofs of the most popular ministers recommending in par. liament the dissipating of national wealth, under pretexts. that they knew to be false, and opposition even concurring in these measures, knowing them to be false, rather than run the risk of disobliging certain persons. The same thing has occurred during the political life of persons now on the stage. Yet as long as ministers fhall have places and money to bestow, they will continue to be idolized by their party; and as long as others expect to get into place, they will take care not to touch upon certain topics that they think too tender to be publicly investigated by them.

Let us not deceive ourselves. In the political world, the love of plunder is the universal pafsion. Its infil, ence is there as universal, as that of gravitation in the physical world. It is this which, like affinities in chemistry, is the cause of all those wonderful combinations and separations, which keep the universe in a perpetual state of hostilities and ferment; it is this all powerful agent which sets reason at defiance, and overturns in a moment her sovereign decrees. By its irresistible influences

we see Britain founding fresh colonies, at the very moment that reason, supported by the most decisive experience, has convinced every thinking person in the nation that we made a most valuable acquisition, when we lost our American colonies. By its induence we see the British arms employed to extend our empire, as

we vainly call it, in the east, at the very time that we are professedly execrating war and conquest.

When ecouomy is the favourite topic of the day, we are lavishing our treasures in enterprises, from year to year, that can have no other tendency but to generate fresh wars,

and accu“ mulated expences to an indefinite extent.

All these things the love of plunder can perform; it can do more, it can cause the most extensive monopoly in trade that ever existed, be cherished in the heart of a nation which boasts of its freedom, and execrates monopolies in trade. Under the influence of this all powerful agent, prosecutions against delinquents are commenced; by its influence also they are suspended ; individuals are allowed to raise the price of articles, of universal consumption, almost to what height they please, by a careful exclusion of all others from coming into a fair competition with them. We thould never have done, were we to enumerate the hundredth part of the things that can be effected by this domineering and irresistible agent, that has so long extended its ravages in the world.

The writer of the pamphlet under consideration, has traced, with a bold outline, some of its effects in the higher departments of society; but he has in a great measure lost sight of it among the lower orders of people, where its influence is as extensive, and where rages

with unlimited sway, as among their superiors. He proves, that some princes are extravagant, ministers prodigal, and parliaments venal; from all which many will probably


infer, that princes are pernicious, ministers destructive, and parliaments useless. But unless it could be proved, that the electors are less venal than the elected ; that the lower orders of people are less corrupted than the higher; that the illiterate have more knowledge than the learned ; and that personal property will be more anxiously preserved inviolate by those who have little to lose, than by those who have much at stake, we shall be obliged to admit that, notwithstanding all the weakness, extravagance, and follies of the higher ranks, it is by no means clear that we should be gainers by transferring power from their hands into the hands of others, who would in all human probability be weaker, more extravagant, fuolish, and wicked than the others. Indeed the experience of all past times fully proves, that, among a people whose morals are already lax, whose manners are corrupted by luxury, and whose conduct is not influenced by the ties of religion, the people would not probably, but certainly, be more corrupted and base than their superiors. Witness the shocking scenes at present acting in France, which it is impossible to mention without horror. Scenes which, for atrocity, have no parallel in history.; but which, in kind, more nearly resemble the transactions of the Roman Pretorian bands than any other. To give power to such persons, is to kindle a fire that consumes, and which can only be extinguished by the destruction of the whole mafs.

While we remain in this world, evils must subsist ; and under every arrangement of things, wickedness must still abound. If therefore we were to reject every government that is imperfect, we would annihilate the whole ; and every man would, of course, pillage, rob, or murder at pleasure, another who was weaker than himself. That government is surely the most perfect, which is so con

« הקודםהמשך »