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THE SILENT MEMBER,

NO. IV.

VOTING BY PROXY.

SUPPOSE the people of the island finger sparkles in the sun! And of Tongataboo, in the Pacific ocean, what can be more beautifully conhad advanced to such a degree of trasted than her white, delicate hand, civilisation, that they were ripe for and the squalid, shrivelled. palm political institutions; and suppose, which is extended to receive her that hearing of the pre-eminence of bounty ? And now she steals a glance Great Britain in these matters, they from beneath those jet-black arches, were to send one of their wisest men her eyebrows, to be certain she is for the express purpose of acquiring noticed. It is a piece of acting, ina practical knowledge of all the printended to be seen by all, but admired ciples of the British Constitution. by one. What need the supplicant Might we not imagine such a dia care ? He is benefited. His wants logue as the following to take place are relieved as effectually as if pure between the Tongataboo philosopher, and holy charity had administered and the Englishman, whoever he the alms. might be, who undertook to expound Philosopher. I understand you. the theory and practice of our admi- Where good is done, it is not for man rable system of government?

to look beyond the deed. The mor Philosopher. I comprehend dis tive and the act are linked together tinctly, from your explanations, the in His sight only, who is alone able separate functions, and the combined to unite them. energies, of the three estates of the Englishman. Exactly realm; and the more I reflect upon Philosopher. Still you are a happy them, the more deeply I am impress and an enviable people, to possess ed with that amazing wisdom which such beneficent legislators, who do has perfected so noble a scheme of nothing to complain of upon eartlı, civil polity.

and who, in their account with HeaEnglishman. It has been the pro- ven, may set off value received, gressive work of past ages, and will against any deficiency of just intenremain the admiration of future ones. tions in their balance sheet. But be. · Philosopher. The welfare of that fore we quit this branch of our dig! country is thrice secure, where no course, I must beg of you to explain thing depends upon the will of one a matter which I do not clearly comman, but where the sages of the land prehend. I perceive, in that illusassemble in council to deliberate trious and august assembly of sages, upon all that concerns the public whom you call, in their collective good. I have been a witness of the capacity, the House of Peers, a class laborious zeal with which they dis- of nobles who are known by the title charge this duty; unmindful of all of PROXIES. They seem to be very personal inconvenience, and denying numerous, and to exercise a most imthemselves, night after night, the portant influence in determining the needful rest which nature has ordain- final issue of all great public quesed. In what other nation will you tions, on which occasions only, they find such devotion, such ardent, such take any part in public affairs. I supexalted patriotism?

pose they are the wisest of your wise Englishman (smiling,) The results men: venerable seers, or individuals are pretty nearly as you describe; gifted by nature with extraordinary the causes, I apprehend, somewhat powers of mind, who constitute a sort more complicated. You see that lady of college of arbitrators, their funcwho is in the actof drawing her purse- tions being to listen to all that is urstrings, to bestow her charity upon a ged on both sides, to enquire dispaspoor crippled mendicant who has so sionately into facts, to weigh evidence licited it." I know her. She knows with scrupulous impartiality, to minme; and she knows I am observing gle with none, to know no parties, her. What a graceful attitude! How but as far as human faculties can well that sandal becomés her foot and stretch into the regions of pure, unankle! How the diamond on her mixed truth, to do so, and then, by

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their voices, to give effect to such is older than that which was our fameasures as they believe, in the sa thers, even as that of our fathers numcred depths of their hearts, are found- bered more years than that which ed upon perfect justice.

was their fathers; and still the furEnglishman. Ha! ha! ha! ther we go back to old times, the

Philosopher. What does that laugh nearer we approach to the infancy mean ?

of time itself. I pray you resolve Englishman. You shall know. me this:-Are we to look for the perThat college of arbitrators, as you fection of things in their first begindesignate them, those wisest of the nings? If so, all change since, has wise, those venerable seers, gifted been from good to bad; and the pawith extraordinary powers of mind, lace and the city should be abandonthose disciples of pure, unmixed ed for the mountain cave and the truth, who exercise such an import- deep forest. But it is not so. Do ant influence in determining the final aged men ask counsel of children? issue of all great public questions, Why then should nations, in the vi(and I admit they do exercise this gour of manhood, fetter themselves influence,) those PROXIES to whom with the maxims or practices of their you assign the exalted function of own youth ? Could you summon to giving effect by their voices to such your presence those lawgivers by measures only as they believe, in the whom it was agreed that men should sacred depths of their hearts, are be allowed to approve or reject, founded upon perfect justice, are without knowing what it was they persons who are never present, who approved or rejected, they would never hear one word of what is said give you a reason for it as applicable on either side, but deposit their to themselves, which would make "voices” in the pockets of their you ashamed of it, as part of your friends, to use them at their pleasure. own system. Imagine, for a mo

Philosopher. Impossible! ment, that such a privilege as you

Englishman. Most true, notwith- have described, did not exist, but that standing. The constitution accords to-morrow, one of your peers were a privilege to Peers of Parliament, to propose it should be conferred on which is not granted to the other his order. Would he not be overbranch of the legislature, that of ha- whelmed with ridicule? Or, if the ving their votes registered for or proposition were so urged, that it against a question in their absence, must be gravely discussed, would it with the same validity and effect as not be with one feeling of reprobaif they were present; so that a noble tion ? “ What?" it would be asked, may be fox-hunting, laid up with the “shall we consent to strip ourselves gout, travelling abroad, or dischar- of all claim to confidence and respect ginga lucrative office in some of our in the eyes of our countrymen ? Shall foreign possessions, without being we seek a privilege which we could thereby incapacitated from exerci not exercise without disgrace to oursing a direct influence in the nation- selves, and insult and injury to them? al councils at home.

Shall we dare say to the people, that Philosopher. How! Does your their rights and interests, their liberconstitution sanction such an ab- ties, their welfare, of which we are the surdity ?

hereditary guardians, and with which Englishman. It never struck me our own are indispensably blended, as an absurdity till this moment. are so worthless in our estimation, The practice is coeval, I believe, with that we will not bestow upon them the constitution itself.

the same degree of attention we do Philosopher. Alas! what a veil in purchasing a house, or settling time throws over deformity! The the liveries of our household serthings that are, we reverence, be- vants ? Shall we proclaim, that while cause they stand before us covered in the most ordinary transactions of with the dust of antiquity; when, if private life, which concern ourselves, they were now to do, we should we employ our best judgment in deblush to ordain them so. We vene- termining upon them, and delegate rate what is old; but it is by a per to no second self the power to act verse misapplication of the term in for us, in what concerns the nation, all that relates to living man and his in all that relates to the well-being concerns. The age which is our own of the people, we will see, and hear,

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and understand, through the eyes, of all, save this, that a bargain has
and ears, and minds, of others been struck between us, and that I
What is this but to deliver the peo- abide by it to the uttermost condi-
ple, and all that most nearly concerns tion ;-he, I say, who does this—and
them, into the hands of forty or fifty every absent peer who leases out his
senators ? and will not the people vote by proxy, does in effect do it-
murmur, and require that the peer- commits an act of self-abasement, of
age itself should be remodelled; that public wrong, and of legislative
ribbons, and garters, and trifles, and mockery, which, it might be thought,
descent, should not carry with them only required to be thus stated, tó
the prerogative of being legislators, be for ever abolished.
but that the capacity to think, and : Let us look for a moment how the
the disposition to exercise the capa- system operates. On the 25th Fe-
city, should be the superior qualifi- bruary, Earl Stanhope brought for-
cation?” My friend, you would laugh ward his motion for the House resol-
at the man who should propose to ving itself into a committee to con-
make love by proxy, to eat by proxy, sider of the internal state of the coun-
to be married by proxy, or to inherit try. It was no mere party question,
a fortune by proxy; yet, because cus but one raised upon the petitions of
tom hras thrown her mantle over it, the people, who complained of un-
you cannot see the equally gross ab- paralleled distress, and implored the
surdity, and the infinitely greater evil, legislature to enquire into its causes,
of statesmen governing by proxy.

with a view to devise, if possible,
I know not how the arguments of some mode of relief. When the House
my Tongataboo philosopher could be divided, after a debate of nine hours,
overthrown. They might be neu the numbers stood thus :
tralized a little, perhaps, by the con-

Contents. sideration that it comes to the same end, whether men vote upon a ques

Present, 15—Proxies, 10, 25

Non-contents. tion without knowing any thing about

118

Present, 67-Proxies, 51, it, or whether, after knowing every thing, they vote at the nod of a mi

Majority,

93 nister, or by the compact of a party; in both cases, alike regardless of the Here, then, were sixty-one peers, votes they ought to give, and of the (nearly one-half of the whole declavotes they would give, if neither mi red votes,) who, without hearing any nister nor party interposed. Still, one reason assigned for or against the there is a marked, undisguised pro motion, without knowing in a regustitution of principle in the one case, lar and constitutional manner what which does not glare so hideously were the complaints of the people, upon us in the other. The peer, who, with what justice they were urged, in his place, votes with the minister, or with what justice they are disremay be supposed by a great stretch garded, took upon themselves, neof charitable interpretation, in some vertheless, to record their silent opicases, I allow) to be convinced of nions (if, indeed, they had any opithe expediency or justice of the mea nions at all upon the question.) Ten sure he supports; it is possible he of these omniscient sages were for may be sincere, as well as consistent; granting enquiry; and so far as there and when : inconsistent, that he may must always be a prima facie equity be honourably converted from for- in allowing those who complain to mer heresies. But he who pins his have the benefit of investigation, so vote upon the minister's sleeve;-who far, it may be said, they were less says to him, Do what you please; I obviously reprehensible than the 51 am your ready, obsequious, unrea who intuitively saw that it would be soning slave; use me whenever you most improper, or that it was perfectwant me, and for whatever purpose ly unnecessary, to have any enquiry. you want me; count me as one in On the 18th of February, the Duke every division, be it upon the dirtiest of Richmond, in a speech which projob, the most atrocious injustice, or duced a powerful effect--(not in the the vilest sacrifice of national ho- House, but upon the country)-as nour that ever disgraced a cabinet; well from its range of research, and unknowing, unenquiring, unsatisfied the facts consequently accumulated,

VOL. XXVIII. NO, CLXVIII.

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as from the reasonings with which proceedings which took place off the
these facts were elucidated and ap island of Terceira. These resolu-
plied, attempted to shew the abso tions involved a consideration of the
lute necessity, the positive duty, of laws of nations; and whether they
appointing a select committee to were rightly or wrongly brought for-
enquire into the condition of the la- ward, could be known only by hear-
bouring classes, and also relative to ing how they were framed, and how
those taxes which pressed more im- supported by circumstances. But
mediately on the productive classes the omniscients and intuitives deci-
of the country.” A debate of eight ded that every thing was as it should
hours ensued, in the course of which be at Terceira, with the same unerr-
Earl Bathurst, that great man and ing wisdom that they decided there
honest politician Lord Eldon, the was no occasion to enquire into the
Earl of Winchelsea, Lord Holland, distresses of the people. The follow,
the Marquis of Lansdowne, and the ing was the division.
Duke of Wellington, among others,

Contents,
stated their views of the expediency
prinexpediency of the proposed com-

Present, 21-Proxies, 10, . 31

Non-contents, mittee. Upon the division the num.

126 bers ran thus :

Present, 61-Proxies, 65, .

I have selected these three ques
Contents.
Present, 39-Proxies, 22, 61

tions, first, because, up to the present
Non-contents.

moment, they furnish the only diviPresent, 69-Proxies, 72, . 141

sions upon which the strength of the

ministry has been exerted; and, se. Here the omniscients and the in- condly, because such an exposition tuitives multiply upon us in a fearful speaks home to the understanding ratio-an advance from 61 to 94; the better than the most forcible arguDifference being but fourteen in fa ments. It is strange that this extra. vour of those present! Let it be ordinary privilege has never been adsoberly considered for five minutes, verted to with reference to that which that a motion, affecting the vital inte constitutes its extraordinary characrests of the country, is brought be- ter, its solemn burlesque upon legisfore the House of Lords; that, in the lative deliberation. Nor let it be forfiction of Parliamentary language, gotten, that the ministerial majorities, the sense of the House is taken upon by which enquiry into grievances, it; that202 members of the House are real or alleged, is so peremptorily represented as gravely and anxiously stifled, and by which measures of and solemnly deliberating upon this realor alleged mischief are so promptmotion, but that, in point of fact, 94 ly carried, consist of a much larger of that number are mere paper Lords, proportion of these proxies than the deposited in the pockets of the re minorities. The system is bad and maining 108—and what man will be odious both ways; but it has at least hardy enough to undertake the a tendency to work more injuriously fence of such a system ?

this way, except, indeed, we comOn the 23d of March, the Marquis pound the matter, by considering, of Clanricarde moved sundry reso. that if there were no proxies, there lutions, part of them declaratory of would still be majorities; though admitted facts, respecting the arri even then I should say, “ Assume a val in this country of the Queen virtue if you have it not,” and give of Portugal, her recognition by his us the decency of apparent delibeMajesty, and the departure of the ration, and of supposed conviction, Portuguese constitutionalists; and instead of the open demonstration of part of them condemnatory of the an utter disregard of both.

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THE JEWS RELIEF BILL

We are a droll people. Last year, the country, beseeching the legisthe tables of both Houses of Par- lature not to pass the bill for grantliament groaned under the weight of ing political power to the Roman petitions from all classes of the Catholics. The petitions were repeople, and from every corner of ceived with all possible respect, read

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with all possible decorum, discusso in a “ bondman's key," to approach
ed with all possible solemnity, and the honourable House with acres of
the bill was passed into a law with parchment and oceans of ink, for the
all possible contempt of the petitions sake of asserting a privilege, the
and the petitioners. This year, nu whole and exclusive benefit of which
merous petitions are presented to consists in its assertion; like certain
both Houses of Parliament, implo- forms, that are still kept up when the
ring the legislature to grant re purposes for which they were origi-
lief to the Jews from the civil and nally instituted are gone to decay,
political disabilities under which making of an ancient ceremony a
they labour; not one petition, I be modern mummery. Should this time
lieve--not one solitary petition-has come, it will be followed, in the first
been brought forward in opposition, instance, by a state of sullen apathy
and the measure actually before the or quiescence—the sure precursor of
House for giving effect to the prayer a national feeling, that the period had
of these petitions is rejected! It is arrived when the people must look
said, the only sure way of making a after their rulers.
pig go the way you wish, is to pull With respect to the Jews, it is a
him by the tail in an opposite direc question upon the lips of every ra.
tion. It would certainly seem, that tional man—“Why should we play
to petition Parliament for a thing, is the squeamish hypocrite, and after
the infallible mode of not getting it, having gulped down the camel

, make
as it is no less an infallible mode of such wry faces at swallowing the
getting it, vehemently to protest gnat?" We have built a bridge broad
against having it. Upon the whole, enough to allow of the passage of se-
indeed, the last and present session ven or eight millions of Catholics and
may be considered as singularly pro- Unitarians into the citadel of the con-
pitious with regard to ascertaining stitution, and we refuse to make it a
the exact value of that invaluable few inches wider to accommodate
right, as Mr O'Connell might say, thirty thousand Jews! It is like the
The Duke of Wellington (it was be- prudery of a prostitute, who limits
fore he was a minister) once called the number of her bedfellows, fixing
the petitions of the people “ a mere the boundary of virtue between ten
farce.” He would not, perhaps, call and a round dozen; or rather, like
them so now, content with the power that same prostitute, admitting every
of proving them no better. It can denomination of Christians to her
not be long, I should think, before embraces, but, in the spirit of my,
the people themselves will be of his Lord Darlington's political chastity,
Grace's opinion; before they will denying her favours to “ Turks,
disdain, with “ bated breath,” and Jews, and Infidels.”* It is rank af

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* The genial influence of a “ Tory administration acting upon Whig principles,"
has had an extraordinary effect upon his Lordship. He has spoken again! Not
only, therefore, has he spoken twice in seventeen years upon questions of importance,
but twice in one session. He speaks so much to the purpose, that I hope, now he has
begun, he will go on. “ Although a friend to liberty in general, and to Parliamentary
reform, I shall oppose this motion, as I consider it uncalled for.” And mark at
what personal hazard he opposes it. “ I shall do so notwithstanding a warning I re-
ceived from a friend the other day, whom I met in the street, and who asked me, if
I voted against this measure, how I could ever hope to borrow money among the
Jews ? But I replied, that the Jew would be just as ready to lend me money as
before, since it was for his own sake, and not for that of the borrower, that he
afforded the accommodation ; and I quoted the passage in the Merchant of Venice, in
which, when Shylock says,

• Fair sir, you spat on me on Wednesday last;
You spurn'd me such a day; another time

You called me dog,'
and so on, Antonio replies-

• I am as like to call thee so again,
To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too.
If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not
As to thy friends, (for when did friendship tako

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