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by himself or his representative in Parliament. Sir THOMAS SMITH, who, as your Lordship need not be told, was a great lawyer and a Privy Councillor in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, in a work called “ The Commonwealth of Enyland," has this passage : “ Every Englishman “ is intended to be present in Parliament, either in person, or by pro" curation and attorney, of what pre-eminence, state, or quality soever " he may be, from the prince to the lowest person in England, and the “ consent of Parliament is taken to be every man's consent.” This old lawyer, though he was a Privy Councillor to a Queen who had very high notions of her prerogatives, still called England a “ Commonwealth," and talked not of Monarchy and Legitimacy, which words are become so fashionable now-a-days!
The Book of the Assizes, which, as your Lordship knows, is a book of great authority, says, that “ Laws, to bind all, must be assented to by all.” And how are all to assent to laws, if only a part, and that, too, a very small part, have a voice in choosing those who have power to make the laws.
Fortescue, who wrote in the reign of Henry the Sixth, always talks of the Parliament as the representatives of the whole kingdom, the whole realm, and the like; and never seems to suppose, that any man is excluded from voting.
BLACKSTONE, who was a Court-lawyer, and in modern times too, could not blink this great principle without over-setting the whole of his commentary. He says, in Book I., chap. 2,“ Every man is, in judgment “ of law, party to making an Act of Parliament, being present thereat “ by his representatives.” But, the grand principle, which is the clencher of all that any one has ever written on the subject, is in Book IV., chap. 1. “ The lawfulness of punishing criminals is founded upon " this principle, that the law by which they suffer was made by their “ own consent."
Now, my Lord, what can be urged in answer to this? How is it possible to explain away the meaning of these plain words? How is it possible to root out of men's minds principles like these, if once implanted there? And, is it just, my Lord, to call our principles novel, wild, and visionary, and to accuse us of a wish to throw the country into confusion, because we inculcate these same principles ? Are we “ designing and evil-minded men ?” are we“ deluders and seducers 9" are the Reformers what an impudent man has called them, “ knaves or fools," because they have presumed to attach to plain and definitive words a plain and definitive meaning?
But, it is not the luw of the proposition for Universal Suffrage, which your Lordship appears to dispute; it is the practicability of the thing; and, it would be unreasonable as well as rude in me to treat this objection of your Lordship lightly, seeing that I had such doubts of the practicability of it as to induce me, at a late meeting of Deputies in London, where Major Cartwright presided, to make a motion, proposing to stop at householders, and not to go so far as to embrace every man of twenty one years of age, that being, as your Lordship knows, what is meant by the shorter phrase, “ Universal Suffrage."
Upon the occasion here referred to, I stated all the difficulties, which, after long reflection, had occurred to my mind. I did not see how men who had no settled and visible dwelling in the safety of which they were interested, and which must be well known, could be polled with accuracy
at an election, especially in populous places. I did not see how large crowds of men could be prevented from marching from one parish to another, and thereby voting twice or thrice in the same day, and for five or six different members. In short, I was lost in the mist of confusion which this scene presented to my mind, and I, therefore, proposed to stop at householders, really seeing in the other proposition, that " universal impracticability," which your Lordship appears to perceive.
Some persons in the Meeting agreed with me, but the majority were clearly on the other side, though my objections had, as I thought, not been removed. At last a very sensible and modest man, whose name I am sorry I have forgotten, and who came from Middleton in Lancashire, got up and gave an answer to my objections, in somewhat these words : “Sir, I cannot see all, or any, of the difficulties, which Mr. Cobbett “ believes to exist in the way of taking an election upon the principle of “ Universal Suffrage. I have seen with how much exactness the lists of “all male inhabitants, in every parish, inmates as well as householders, “ bave been made out under the militia-laws, and I see no reason why "regulations, which have been put in force universally for calling us “ forth to bear arms in defence of the country and of the estates and "property of the country, should not be put in force again, and by the “ very same officers, for calling us forth to exercise our right of suffrage "at elections."
This was enough for me. The thing had never struck me before. And, my Lord, what difficulty can there be in making out the lists of all men of twenty-one years of age, in every parish every year, two or three months before the day of election, and of having those lists ready to check the poll on the day of that election ? It would be simply the names and the age that would be to be ascertained. Whereas in the case of the militia-laws, there are, besides these two facts, the circumstances of marriage, of number of children, of parochial settlement, of previous service, of substitution, of pecuniary means, of height, of bodily ability, and other circumstances, all to be inquired into and ascertained. Yet all these are ascertained under the militia-laws, and they become the foundation of proceedings affecting the personal liberty of every man, above eighteen and under fifty years of age. And, if all this could be done, and done so effectually too, shall it be pretended, that correct lists cannot be made out in each parish of all the names of all the male in. habitunts, living in the parish on any given day? It would be even eusier to do this than to take an election by householders; because, it would, in populous places, be very difficult to ascertain, who were, and who were not householders. The man who really rented a house might not be the man who lived in it. Two or three, or more, families might live in the same house. The fact of residence would be accompanied with numerous others all of a doubtful or questionable character in many instances; and, then, it never could be endured, that a pauper householder should have a vote, while the independent single lodger should have none. Houses might be let for a month or a quarter. In short, the difficulties would be far greater than in the other case, the mode of ascertaining all the facts of which are so easily ascertained, being liable to no exception, except the single one of under age.
And, my Lord, what is so easy as to take an election with all the names of the voters ready prepared, and arranged in alphabetical order, and posted up before hand at the church-doors ? There could arise no disa
putes at the hustings. There could be no contests about good votes or bad votes. There would be nobody bribed, because no purse would suf. fice for the purpose. There would be none of those scenes of wickedness which now disgrace elections. The time of the members and of the House would no: be wasted in the deciding on election contests. All would be fair, regular, and effectual, and the laws could not fail to be held in veneration, when every man should feel that he himself had had a voice in making them.
The equity of extending the suffrage to every grown-up man is, 1 think, equally clear. Every man pays tares. I take the calculation of Mr. Preston, because I would avoid the charge of exaggeration. He states, in his pamphlet, that every labourer, who earns 181, a year, pays 101. of it in taxes. It is very certain, that every man pays a large portion of his wages away in taxes; and, as I never have heard it pretended, that the ancient law of the land did not make suffrage go hand in hand with taxation, it appears to me impossible to dery, that every man has, agreeably to that principle, a right to vote for Members of Parliament.
And then, my Lord, there is the military duty. Every man able to bear arms, has been made liable to serve as a soldier ; to submit to martial Jaw; to submit to military discipline; to leave his home, his parents, his wife, and, in some cases, his children ; to quit his trade or calling; and, if it were necessary, to risk his life. These are not slight sacrifices, my Lord, and you well know to what an extent they have been made by the people of England, Ireland, and Scotland. And for what did they make these sacrifices ? For the defence of their country and of the property in the country. Is it too much, then, to allow those who were called upon to make those great sacrifices to have a voice in choosing their representatives in Parliament ? Is it safe to trust them with arms in their hands to defend the property of the country, and not safe to trust the sound of their voices in the choosing of those who are to make laws affecting their own lives ?
Thus, then, my Lord, we have not only law but reason to offer your lordship in support of what we pray for ; and, is it not right to answer us, before abusing us as if we were incendiaries and almost traitors ? Be. sides, it is nothing new that we propose. The same was proposed by the late Duke of Richmond nearly forty years ago. And, so serious and so much in earnest was he upon the subject, that he actually brought a bill into Parliament to make a Reform upon the principles of annual elections and universal suffrage, of which Bill the following were the 'Title and PREAMBLE :
“A BILL ENTITULED, " AN ACT for declaring and restoring the natural, undeniable and equal Right of
“ ALL THE COMMONS of Great Britain (infants, persons of insane mind, “ and criminals incapacitated by law, only excepted) TO VOTE IN the Election “ of their Representatives in Parliament: For regulating the manner of such “ Élections : For restoring ANNUAL PARLIAMENTS: For giving an here. “ ditary Seat to the Sixteen Peers which shall be elected for Scotland: And, for " establishing more equitable Regulations concerning the Peerage of Scotland.
« PREAMBLE “WHEREAS, the LIFE, LIBERTY, AND PROPERTY, of every man is or " may be affected by the law of the land in which he lires, and every man is “ bound to pay obedience to the same. " " AND WHEREAS, by the Constitution of this kingdom, the RIGHT OF * MAKING laws is vested in three estates of Kings, Lords, and Commons, in
" Parliament assembled, and the consent of all the three said estates, compre"bending the whole community, is necessary to make laws wbich bind the whole "community.
" AND WHEREAS the House of Commons represents ALL THE COMMONS “ot the realm, and the consent of the House of Commons binds the consent of "all the Commons of the realm, in all cases on which the legislature is compe"tent to decide.
“AND WHEREAS NO MAN is, or can be, actually represented who hath not a “ Vote in the election of his Representative.
" AND WHEREAS it is the RIGHT of EVERY COMMONER of this realm " (infants, persons of insane mind, and criminals incapacitated by law, only ex“cepted) to have a vote in the election of the Representative who is to give his “ consent to the making of laws by which he is to be bound.
"AND WHEREAS the number of persons who are suffered to vote for electing " the members of the House of Commons, do not at this time amount to one“sixth part of the whole Commons of this realm, whereby far the greater part of " the said Commons are deprived of their right to elect their Representatives; "and the consent of the majority of the whole community to the passing of “ laws is given by persons whom they have not delegated for such purpose ; and " the majority of the said community are governed by laws made by a very U small part of the said community, and to which the said majority have not in " fact consented by themselves, or by their Representatives.
" AND WHEREAS the state of election of members of the House of Commons, " bath, in process of time, so grossly deviated froin its simple and natural prin: "ciple of representation and equality, that in several places the members are " returned by the property of one man; that the smallest boroughs send as “ many members as the largest counties; and that a majority of the repre. "sentatives of the whole nation are chosen by a number of voters not exceeding " twelte thousand.
“Now FOR REMEDY of such partial and unequal representation, and of the " many mischiefs which have arisen therefrom ; and for restoring, asserting, and "maintaining the RIGHTS OF THE COMMONS of this realm, be it declared and “ enacted, and it is hereby declared and enacted, by the King's most excellent “ Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and " Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the "authority of the same: That every commoner of this realm (excepting only "infants, persons of insane mind, and criminals incapacitated by law), hath a "natural, unalienable, and equal right to vote in the election of his Representative “ in Parliament.
“AND WHEREAs it was accorded by statute in the fourth year of the reign of “ King Edward the Third, ‘that a Parliament should be holden every year once, "and more often if need be;' which statute was confirmed by another statute, " passed in the 36th year of the reign of the said King Edward the Third ; and " the practice in ancient times was for writs to issue for the election of a new " Parliament every year.
"AND WHEREAS FREQUENT ELECTIONS are indispensably necessary to "enable the Commons to alter and amend the choice of their representatives as " they may see occasion; and such elections ought to be as frequent as may be " consistent with the use of a representative body; and the ancient practice of " annual elections is well calculated for such purpose.
“AND WHEREAS Triennial and Septennial Parliaments, by rendering the ex“ercise of the right of election less frequent, tend to make the Representatives " less dependent on their Constituents, than they always ought to be; and also “ deprivo the Commons for many years after they come of age, of their franchise " of electing their own representatives; Be it declared and enacted by the " authority aforesaid, That the ELECTION of members to serve in the House of “ Commons ought to be ANNUAL.”
Now, my Lord, the late Duke of Richmond was a man of great talent, wisdom, and of uncommon industry, attention, and knowledge of the customs, manners and dispositions of the people of this country. He had been a soldier, a ministor, a member of Parliament; he was a Lord. Lieutenant of a county ; as a magistrate and a country gentlemen, as a
patron of the industrious and a friend of the distressed; in all these capacities and qualities he was surpassed by very few men that ever lived. This nobleman, whose death was the deaih of his neighbourhood, co-operated with that very Major CARTWRrght, of whom your Lordship has spoken so justly, and against whose spotless reputation so many vipers are sending forth their venom. This nobleman what was he? Was le an “evil-minded and designing man ?” Was he a deluder, or was he one of the “ seduced ?" Was he one of those “poor creatures," as the insolent PERRY calls the million of petitioners for Annual Parliaments and Universal Suffrage? The Duke of Richmond is of himself a great autho. rity as to the law of the case, and what can be more full and clear than his Grace's title and preamble ? Is it not, then, a little too much, my Lord, to treat all those, who now hold the same opinions, as being either“ poor, ignorant, deceived creatures ;” or as “designing and evil-minded men,” who wish to stir up confusion and produce bloodshed ? Did the Duke of Richmond wish to produce confusion and bloodshed ? Did he desire to see revolution and destruction ?
The Duke is himself a high authority; but, if your Lordship will be pleased to refer to the works of Mr. Granville Sharp, Mr. Baron Maseres. or to another work, lately published by ALLMAN, Prince-street, Hanover square, entitled, “ Common Consent, the Basis of the Constitution of England ; or Parliamentary Reform tried by the tests of Law and Reason,” your Lordship will find it proved, that the right of every freeman (that is to say, every man not a bondman) to vote for Members of Parliament, and the right to annual new Parliaments, are birthrights of Englishmen, however contemptuously the idea may be treated by Mr. PERRY, under the title of speeches of Mr. BROUGHAM. The publications, here alluded to, that is to say, publications put forth by Mr. PERRY, purporting to be speeches recently delivered by Mr. BROUGHAM, and levelled immediately at LORD COCHRANE, have contained more bitter attacks on the Reformers than have come from any other quarter. This gentleman has been made to represent Annual Parliaments and Universul Suffrage as the wildest of nonsense; as “ little nostrums and big blunders ;" as mischievous in themselves, and as mischievously intended ; as put forth by bad men, and sucked in by foolish men.
After this, my Lord, and after many direct personal attacks on Lord Cochrane, in the way above-mentioned, what has been the surprise in London, and what will it be all over the country, at hearing, that Mr. BROUGHAM himself, under his own hand-writing, did most decidedly pledge himself to these very“ little nostrums and big blunders!” But. let me clearly state to your Lordship the cireumstances under which this decided pledge was given.
About five or six years ago, Mr. BROUGHAM, in a paper which was printed, declared himself hostile to Annual Parliaments and Universal Suffrage. But in the month of June, 1814, just at the time when Lord Cochrane was expected to be expelled from the House of Commons, and of course, when a vacancy for Westminster was expected to take place, there were certain individuals, who had formed the design of introducing Mr. BROUGHAM to fill his Lordship’s place. But there were other persons, who were resolved to oppose the attempt, unless Mr. BROUGHAM would explicitly declare for Annual Parliaments and for suffrageco-extensive with tatution; and one gentleman, in particular, Mr. PLACE of Charing cross, wrote to the friends of Mr. Brougham this determination. Imme