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We take up this subject after some inter- man who loves his country and respects its val; an interval big with events vital to the population, who has not long since felt the issue before usan interval in which the iniquity of the system of the county occuquestion of the present state and future pros- pation franchises, which declares, in every pects of our elective franchise, has occupied case, that the tenant in occupation, no matter the constant and unceasing consideration how much he may contribute to the public alike of the Irish people and of their enemies. burdens or the benefit of his fellowmen, shall The time has been busily employed in many be unenfranchised, unless he can prove that ways, in watching the movements of the he has some certain yearly value (£10 or haters of the nation, and in warding off the £20) over and above the rent and charges ruin with which they endeavoured in the to which he is liable ; liabilities which, we last session of parliament to bear down our have shown, in place of tending to his rights; in struggling to preserve the rem- disfranchisement, ought to establish his nant of electoral power which the present right? Where is the citizen so dull, state of the law leaves us; in determining as any longer to think of submitting to well the position which it behoves us to have the elective right of the inhabitants take in our onward march for the future. of our soil tested by the abominations of
In former numbers, we investigated, in all feudalism, or to place it under the caprice of their details, the defects of, first, our coun- the landlord class, by making " freehold” or ty*, and, secondly, our town franchisest; we “ leasehold,” or any arbitrary standard of traced those defects up to their causes; and tenure the foundation of the voter's qualifiwe exposed the shallowness of the principles cation? Where is the being amongst us so upon which they have been based.
senseless, as to suppose that we can longer In what we so collected, we do not by any endure the galling mockery exhibited in the means presume to say, that we have brought administration of the electoral law at our forward any new views of the subject. The registration courts—“with their quiddits-great bulk of our readers are familiar as we their quillets—their cases-their tenures, can be with the various matters we have and their tricks ?" With their “construcsubmitted to their view. Where is the tions,”—that “the clear yearly value” of a
productive holding is not the clear average * No. I. vol. i. p. 42.
annual balance between the cash received † No. II. ibid. p. 343.
directly for its annual produce, and the
actual and necessary annual cost and charges thein (to those willing to read them,) in of production ?--that a provision, that a full and connected form, for a period of, man may cause a document to be produced, now, about a twelvemonih. means that he must personally appear with In the me intime the atrocious and revoltit? that an enactment, that a right shall be ing bill, produced by Lord Stanley;—pon admitted “ without further proof or oath,” which he lavished so much of his eminent means, that the party must immediately ap- energy, ability, and power, hitherio, happily, pear and make oath ?—that partners are in vain--roused the kingdoin from one end excluded by a clause enfranchising every to the other. We lent our aid to avert the male person who holds and occupies a ho:lse, destruction which he aimed at the Irish warehouse, counting-house, or shop ?—that constituencies. But even the excitement so the same words, in a given sentence, nainely, produced has had time to abate; and it must “all persons now by law entitled to vote, now have abated, if it were at all disproporextend to classes of persons for ever, if you lionate to the injustice which aroused it. apply them to Protestant corporators; but The extinction of the octennial registries to individuals entitled in 1832 only, if you of 1832, in the close of the year just exapply them to Catholic citizens ?—that a pri-pired, now presents a damning comment vate meeting of judges in chamber, mooting upon the fraudulent representations of the points on a modern act of parliament, is, for- supporters of that iniquitous measure. It sooth, “the ancient Court of Exchequer is now plain and patent to the whole world, Chamber ?"--and the like rubbish !
that the Irish constituencies, under the sysNo—we have been making no novel dis- | tem which has been at work, are returned to closures in the expositions we have been an amount utterly insufficient to maintain giving of the state of our elective law. We the independence of the country. have been merely recapitulating the wrongs As the statements of fact in our preceding under which our country bleeds, and with articles were no novelties to the nation—so which all of us are familiar :
the opinions we are now about to submit will We tell you that, which you yourselves do know:
not be found, by any ineans, new or surprisShow you sweet Erin's wounds, poor, poor dumb ing. The fact is, 'The Irish PEOPLE HATE mouths,
It is not for And bid them speak for us.
Universal Suffrage. No; nor
even for But we have thought it right, and our duty, which the further progress of the country
Household Suffrage. Those are schemes, to place the whole truth of the case, as it were upon record, before our readers. We may render worthy of consideration at a have done this, not sparing painful research
future day: No
in Ireland now ad
person in the antique history of the common law vocates either the one or the other.
The case is this :itself, and in the multitudinous mazes of the statute law through long ages past, tracing wise law-has subjected the whole country
A new law-we hesitate not to say, a all down to the present day. We have ransacked the stores of the existing practice, as for the benefit of the poor of the land. For
-in its length and its breadth-to taxation is found to prevail, England, and in
the Scotland, as well as amongst ourselves. We
of that taxation the possession have analysed the legal provisions on which of every occupant is valued-rated-taxed. our meagre franchises depend, and we have The valuations, undoubtedly, are as yet inade plain the perversions of the law main- imperfect; but even in the infancy of the tained by the benched actors in the farce of thing they are by far the most nearly perIrish registration.*
fect of any standard of liability yet known Let no man say, then, that in now pro universal—that all other valuations for tax
amongst us. Even as they stand, the ca!l is ceeding to put forward opinions upon this subject, we have formed thein in ignorance
ation shall be modeled upon thein. But of the complicated laws upon which we treat, more—they are capable of-they are open or that we have left the public in the dark,
to-continuous correction and improvement; here or in Britain, as to the facts essential to they are subject to a systein of revision, ground a judgment. Not only have we supervision, and control, both local and given these details—we have submitted central, which cannot fail within a short time
to render them as nearly perfect as any
human return can possibly be made. * We shall not soon forget that our printer upon
The whole nation has had its attention one occasion, with most felicitous blunder, called intently fixed upon this matter; and sees, this (registration) “ rejection.".
as clear as the light, that we have arrived at
the one thing needsul--the perfect means of for the people,-so servilely well, for ascertaining, without trouble --without refer- the Tory aristocracy. That franchise has ence to form-beyond the reach of fraud or not the armour of tenure, neither the juggle, or construction"—a complete self-corer of the ballot; but those are not acting registration of all the bona fide occu- the main causes of its weakness,—it lacks pants of property in our laud; rendering the strength, the support, the sustainment them subject, every man of them, to direct which numbers ever inust inspire, and the local taxation: and, with this, no cajolery, no respect which they ever must command. attempt at argument can, in a free country, re- The Chandos voters in every English sist the just claiin of every such tax-payer county are too many for the sound portion to have his voice and his vote in every pub- of the constituency,—they are too few for lic election holden within his locality. their own mutual protection. Were they
It may be objected, that the system is banded in such force as were the Irish inadequate, as not necessarily affording a forty-shilling freeholders of 1826 and 1828, proper representation of the scientific classes, they might not fail to stand, like them, high in the working classes, and others. But as moral independence and heroic political viryet we are not in possession of the requisite tue. The worst land-despots cannot promeans—a truth-telling, self-correcting, and ceed to oppress, eject, and ruin the tenunimpeachable register of the persons every antry of a whole country side. When, inwhere really and truly entitled to local re- deed, they find an isolated voter without cognition of right in each of those respects; fellows to sustain him, without neighand there can be no reason why, on that bours to sympathise with him—they have account, we should delay in seizing upon means enough at hand to grind and hathat ground-work of right, in respect of rass, distress and destroy him and his £50 actual occupancy
property, which circum- rent,-aye, even although “ tenure” interstances afford us. The old corporations and pose. But numbers are strength :—'tis their guilds may have been in some measure nature prompts us, when we are many, intended to supply the test of franchise for the working classes in towns; but the mal
“ Mutuus ut nos construction and perversion of them from their Affectus, petere auxilium et præstare, juberet ;original intent, their exclusiveness and self
laribus conjungere nostris
Tectum aliud, tutos vicino limine somnos elective quality, had loug unfitted them for
Ut collata daret fiducia; protegere armis such a function,and they have been swept away Lapsum, aut ingenti nutantem vulnere civem." to a merited oblivion, with consent all but universal, and amid the execrations of man- The essential principles of such a frankind. No new machinery, for re-construct- chise, (although by piece-meal only as it ing the elements of industrial life into social were,) are all long since known and recogand local order, has yet been discovered suf- nized amongst us. It needs but a little ficient to answer the end proposed. And in expanding of the mind,-a little removing Ireland, where the regeneration of manu- of the veil of prejudice,-to discover that no factures is yet in its infancy, we can afford to new thing is sought. bide the course of time, which will yet, We have already more than once shown assuredly, both develope and mature the that the Chandos franchise of the English means of attaining those rights, as well as Reform Act consists in this, in its essence. every other just thing.
It has no feudal or other qualifications of It will not do to argue that a franchise, tenure; but it is objectionable in the two “ without the protection of tenure," as it is main points of its difference, first,-a necescalled, cannot be admitted until vote by bal- sity that the occupier should be subject to lot is first obtained. In a state where indi- rent; and secondly,-a necessary amount viduals, here and there only, can make it ap- of qualification, which, by rendering the pear that they have all the other requisites constituency narrow, makes them depenof an aristocratic franchise, such as afflicts dent. us, it is true that it would not be safe to re- The town franchises under the Reform move the protection such as it is, which Acts, in all the cities and boroughs in Engfixed tenure may furnish-without giving land, Scotland, and Ireland, sending memsome such substitute as the ballot. It is bers to parliament, embrace this printherefore that in England, the high fran- ciple; they require no tenure in the occuchise of £50 occupying yearly rent-payers, pants of the houses and shops. But they adopted there at the proposition of Lord have not the simple principle that the rate Chandos in 1832,-works so slavishly ill makes the voter, -there must be the set value,-the opinion whether or not the set certain measure of our burthens,-one to value is proved,--the doubt whether the which all direct taxation in Ireland is either tenant is of the description prescribed, and actually reduced, or just about to be adapted, the puzzles about all the other vexatious -it is no longer fitting that we should halt niceties in registration which we have de- between two opinions as to the use to be scribed.
made of it; we can no longer hesitate to The municipal franchises now at length declare that this must be assumed as the conceded in all the three countries, come true criterion, -establishing the right to still nearer to the mark, -in England, close- vote. ly and generally,—in Ireland, owing to the The tendency of things has long been persecuting hatred of the English aristoc- towards this point, and to it they must come. racy against our name and nation, distantly In the House of Commons it is not merely and sparingly. But no calm thinker can that men, who on all occasions unflinchingly look upon these distinctions as any thing support popular views, are for it,- men of but temporary. The rights of citizenship both sides, who claim credit for moderate cannot be for ever confined to the inhabi- vieros rather, hade openly and boldly adtotants of our towns merely; and there has been cated and pressed forward the principle,a progress in events during the last ten we name Sir Jephson Norreys on the Whig, years, which, though it may have seemed and Mr. Lucas on the Tory side. tedious to us who have lived through The paltriness of the Reform Act and the them, and panted as we watched impatiently miserable administration of the registration the seeming-slow accomplishment of our courts have digusted the minds of men of wishes; yet, upon a retrospect, first,—of plain sense; and the doubly-refined pettywhat was gained against feudalism over the fogging of Lord Stanley's bill has proved oppression and monopolies of the privileged too revolting for many even of those whom during the two hundred years that went the feeling of party formally banded togebefore; and then, of the gains within those ther in its support, -nay, there is reason to last ten years,—this, our progress, cannot be believe that Sir Robert Peel himself is seviewed otherwise than as a glorious triumph, cretly convinced that “to this favour we inspiriting the heart with the hope of future must come;" to be sure he has no wish victories decisive, popular, and peaceful. that the question should be touched, or the
In Ireland we have a still earlier recogni- matter precipitated ; but it is impossible tion of a general town franchise than even not to see that to Lord Stanley's measure he England possesses, in the act of 1828, (9 afforded no more countenance than party Geo. IV. c. 82) for the lighting, cleansing, decency compelled. and improving of our country towns,—the We are at a loss, then, at nothing more basis of which is local rating, and which than the proceedings of some among ourhas only failed of complete success because selves, who, after investigating and demonthe rate prescribed happened to be the odi-strating over again what the country is long ous vestry tax; but for which, we have now and thoroughly convinced of, viz :-the gross reason to hope that we shall immediately insufficiency of our laws of franchise and see substituted the rate for the relief of the registration-have gone to work, seriously,
to propose an infinite number of small im It cannot be objected that, by adopting provements and minute alterations for the the poor rate, paupers will be enfranchised. purpose of “amending" a system radically The law which founds the rate provides defective in its construction. They might as against it,—such persons are exempt, and well attempt to render the Castle of Dublin are not to be ru“ed. The test then will be or the Tower of London as strong as the complete, both in its comprehensiveness, in- fortress of Ehrenbreitstein, by reparations of cluding all genuine rate-payers, and in its the walls and embattlements of the windows. accuracy, excluding all fictitious claimants. These things may serve purposes to which
“Whoso enjoys the advantage let him also they are proper. It will do well enough to bear the burthen,” is an old maxim of the amend them for the preservation of the rights law, and upon it rests the equity of all tax- of landlords and reversioners, whose existence ation. But the converse is not less the is in their tenure, and whose privileges are maxim of the ancient law, (1 Co. 99, a.) only discernable through an artificial medium, qui sentit onus, sentire debet et commodum; adapted to the discovery of their feudal quaand this is an equity upon which the right lities. But the occupation franchise of a to representation is irresistable. As soon people is not of this description,-its bul. as we have gained then, as we now have, a warks are to be based upon broad founda
tions, and the rock of its honour must be gistries, compared with ours, are everywhere raised on a great scale, fortress, mani. considerable ; therefore,—though we do not fest, enduring, impregnable.
mean to say that the people of England or Some may nibble at the proposition and of Scotland have not much to complain of say, " this is a system yet untried in Britain; in the state of their franchise and registrawhy do you not propose it for England, or for tion laws,-yet, their case forms by no Scotland ? or at all events, why not wait un- means so great a grievance; and accordingly, til it be tried there first, where some sort with some exceptions, the cry for a new of a poor-law has been so much longer in reform has not yet been raised amongst operation; where it may therefore with more them to any intolerable height. propriety be sooner put in experiment ? and But what is the comparative state of then, if it be found to answer there, it may Ireland ? A nominal peerage of two hunbe transplanted hither, and its working tried dred men,-more than one-third of these in our soil."
having no connection whatever with the counThe answer is plain and cogent. The try, save by name, or some empty title, differences between the two countries require and more than two-thirds of the remainder it more urgently for Ireland, and demand, having either no residence on the properties that if it be tried in one country before its they hold,-or seldom visiting them,-occaintroduction into the other, Ireland should sionally, and by necessity,—and then, even, be that country.
with an undisguised distaste. The noblesse Britain, compared with Ireland, is essen- and baronetage, and the hereditary gentry, tially an aristocratic country. It is thickly for the most part, like the great lords, inhabited by a wealthy and powerful nobility, absentees,-few, where they are even to be -a numerous and wide spread noblesse and found, and when found, far between.
In baronetage,- an ancient and indigenous, their visitings, they mix little, or not at all, seignorial and estated hereditary gentry in society; and where they have any small Except in the large manufacturing towns following in their association, it is destithis high-born and gorgeous aristocracy, as tute of “wealth, worth, talent, learning, and it pervades, so it inĂuences and commands respectability.” And amongst whom are the whole frame of society, drawing within those few hundreds to be found ? Amongst the sphere of the action of its own wealth, a population of millions, with whom they rank, intellect, talent, and respectability,” have not, and wish not to have any bond of the great mass of the "wealth and rank," and sympathy. much of the "intellect, talent, and respecta- The practice of feudal donation after bility" of the other orders of society. At conquest, upon the Anglo-Norman invasions first sight these appear to form no part of of the Irish territory; and afterwards, the the association, but they are every where system of forfeitures and wholesale patentmore or less absorbed into it. To these, grants upon forfeiture, down to the end of the the existing system of registration is per- seventeenth century,—made, (nearly withfectly genial. Their claims are undispu- out exception,) to a race alien to this counted, their influence is paramount.
try,-laid the foundation of this state of Besides, in places where the power and things. The policy of the great proprieauthority of those“ higher orders” are more tors, (no matter what their incumbrances circumscribed, the state of the franchise and embarrassments,) never to sell, but ever has given to the people less occasion for to lease their lands at rack rents, and, by discontent. Their forty-shilling freeholders enforcing payment of rent, to obtain the never have been disfranchised. Their £50 means of fighting and struggling with crerent-payers have been admitted. Joint ditors,--sometimes baffling them,—sometenants,-tenants in common, and in part-times beating them out,-enabled those firstnership, never have been excluded. Part- class monopolizers to preserve amongst ners in towns vote, without stint or linnit themselves the dominion of the soil, to an on account of joint trading. Successive oc- extent unknown in any other country in cupation of different houses, shops, or ware- western Europe. But at the union of 1800, houses, in the same elective district, is as the dissociation was completed. The measufficient as a continuing in one identical sure of imperial policy then carried, cut the spot. The law has numerous provisions for slender ties which still, for some purposes, placing and continuing men's names on the served to hold the inheritors of the soil in register of voters without trouble, cost, or connection with their estates and the men risk to themselves,-nay, sometinies without who peopled them. Those who had not their seeking; and, in consequence, their re- been of the old absentees then began, one