Appendix on Reform

In a pamphlet published in 1859 I stated at greater length the mode in which the scheme of Reform, stated at the end of the last essay, might be effected. I had intended to have added here some quotations from that pamphlet, but I do not find them very suitable to my purpose. I prefer to cite the following article, stating the same plan, which appeared in the Economist for 24th December, 1864:—

‘A Simple Plan of Reform

‘We last week showed why the Reform question is so difficult. We showed that people must bend their mind to something new; must accept some anomaly; must admit something out of the way. If they do not, sooner or later democracy is inevitable. The great artizan class is augmenting in numbers, growing in intelligence, intensifying in political tastes. It will have before long some recognised place in the national system. The existing ideas, the common ideas, afford it no place but an exclusive place. Solely founded in all the constituencies on a uniform basis of mere number, it inevitably gives in all constituencies a uniform preponderance to the most numerous class. Throw open the door, admit the working class, and they will be everywhere the most numerous. Some new plan, some additional experiment, some uncommon conception is required, unless we wish to have a worse America, in which the lower orders are equally despotic, but are not equally intelligent. We must choose between anomaly and democracy. There is no third alternative.

‘We have then to consider what is the minimum of anomaly which will be sufficient for our preservation. How can we best and easiest, in the most effectual way, the most comprehensible way, the most acceptable way, admit the working classes to some power without giving them the whole power? How can we concede to them a share in the Constitution without sacrificing the whole Constitution to them?

‘We must look carefully at the real world before we try to solve this problem. It is no use upon this subject of all subjects to evade facts, amuse ourselves with theories, spin cobwebs. We are dealing with a plain rough matter of political business, and any misconception of our data, any misconception in our design, will be sure to lead us into grievous error. We must really face the question as it truly stands, or it is of no use facing it at all.

‘But when we look at the Reform movement as it exists in the world, we immediately perceive that this question of the working men is in practice inseparably associated and confused with a very different question. There is another great interest in this country which conceives itself to be ill represented,—which believes that it does not occupy its true place,—which thinks that it is kept down, overshadowed, cast into the shade by other interests unequal to itself in value, feebler in intelligence, lower in vigour, and inferior in political capacity. We mean new commercial wealth. It cannot be denied that much of the wealth created in the last thirty years is dissatisfied with the settlement of the Constitution made thirty years since,—that it is restless and dissatisfied,—that it fancies older, more aristocratic, less energetic classes cast it into the shade. When the distribution of the English representation was originally made, the Southern part of England was not only the most gentle and agreeable, but the most rich and energetic. The ports of Devonshire were celebrated wherever the English navy was known. What are now old and mouldering seaport towns were then active victorious marts, eager with enterprise, and sparkling with the intelligence of the day. England north of the Trent was in old times a less cultivated, a harsher, and less populous region. Naturally, therefore, the duty (the charge was the phrase of those times) was entrusted to the towns which were the most eminent for industry and for wealth. Parliamentary boroughs were placed in the South because it was adapted for Parliamentary boroughs: they were not placed in the North, because it was not adapted. Centuries of change and industry have altered all this. The North is now the industrial region, the vigorous member, the growing part of the Commonwealth, and we are only carrying out the original design of the English representation, if we take from the parts which were then living but are now dead, and add to the parts which had not been born but now live and thrive.

‘No one who observes the Reform agitation closely can fail to see how closely this feeling—this sensation of the insufficient representation of commercial wealth and manufacturing industry—is associated with

  By PanEris using Melati.

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