HC Deb 30 March 1852 vol 120 cc406-36

then rose to bring forward the Motion of which he had given notice with respect to the Ballot. He said they had before them the prospect of a general election. [A laugh.] He did not know whether his hon. Friends laughed for joy at that prospect, but, at all events, it was a prospect which was full in their view, and in that election all the glaring faults of their electoral system would be brought into play, and when the electors of the country would be exposed to all those inveterate evils which he had from time to time brought before that House with a view to legislation. He was now about to ask the House to give him permission to bring in a Bill to alleviate those evils. They had last year had a great influx of foreigners into this country; persons from all parts of the globe had visited this island; they found us a grave and sedate people, firmly attached to order. But let them visit us a few months from this time, and in place of order they would find most admired disorder; they would find us engaged in a kind of electoral saturnalia, and when they witnessed the riot and confusion, the drunkenness and debauchery, the tyrannic intimidation which accompanied these orgies, they would imagine, not that they had visited a mere maison des fous, but a nation of madmen. And if ever there was an election which bid fair to be marked with those attributes, it was the election which was now about to take place. A rich and powerful party, after a lapse of years, had just obtained power. They had just got the honeyed bowl to their lips; and it depended upon the ensuing general election whether they were to be allowed to drain it to the dregs, or whether it was to be rudely snatched from them almost before they had tasted its sweets. A fearful struggle was, therefore, about to take place. Already the note of preparation had gone forth; herds of low attorneys had crept from the police courts and the low bankruptcy courts, where they had wrung fees from the hands of poverty and vice, and they had become the electoral agents of the rich and powerful. Their agency was a searching inquiry into the misfortunes and liabilities of electors; and the devilish ingenuity with which they created screws to force from the electors a dishonest and unwilling vote, was almost beyond belief. If such was their agency, what was their trade? Their trade, the electors' conscience — their means, the electors' misery—their employers, the House of Lords—the result, the House of Commons. If hon. Gentlemen were bold enough to deny this description, he would refer them to their own knowledge—to the common knowledge of the country— above all, he would refer them to the excellent and intelligent work of Mr. Dod, in which they would find that ninety-eight borough Members were returned to that House through the direct interference of Peers. If further evidence were wanted, he would refer them to the Committee which sat in 1842, on the Motion of Mr. Ward, and which laid before the country an account of the screws used at elections, from thirteen canvassing books taken indifferently from counties and boroughs. If he were charged with exaggeration, he was provided with evidence to put down such a charge in an analysis of the evidence taken before the Committee that sat in 1835, to inquire into the malversations that took place with regard to the franchise. The original evidence extended over 700 folio pages; but the perusal of this analysis alone would lead the House to the conclusion that the enormities committed were not at all exaggerated. They would be led to this conclusion also, that it was not the aristocracy alone who were guilty of such conduct, but that the demo- cracy were to the full as tyrannical as the aristocracy, and that between these two parties the electoral world were found to suffer great hardships. He prayed permission of the House to quote one case, and only one. It was not the case of an intimidated Reformer—it was not the case of a wretched Radical—it was not the case of a despised Dissenter—it was not the case of that dreaded Guido Vaux, a Roman Catholic—but it was the case of a man who would be dear to Protectionist hearts —it was the case of a regular tough Tory, one of the die-hard, never-to-be-convinced sort; and withal, it was the case of an honest man who had been put under the ban of proscription. [The hon. Gentleman then read, amidst much laughter, the case of a Mr. James Gilbert, a licensed victualler and wine-merchant in Birmingham, who had taken an active part in canvassing the town for Mr. Spooner. It was in the form of question and answer, as follows:—] Where do you reside?—At Birmingham. What are you?—I am a licensed victualler and wine-merchant. Did you take an active part in the last election for the borough of Birmingham?—Yes, and canvassed for Richard Spooner, Esq. Was any extensive system of intimidation in practice at that election by which the votes of a considerable number of electors were influenced?—Yes, there was. You are a partisan on the Tory side?—Yes; I have taken a part, and have always been proud to do it. It has been a hobby all through my life; I have done it for forty years. Can you give any instance that came within your own knowledge by which a vote or votes were influenced?—The witness then cited three very strong cases, those of two landlords and a pork-butcher. He was then asked— Do you think the system of political union contributes to the system of exclusive dealing?—Yes; and if there had never been the Political Union, Mr. Richard Spooner would have been now in the House. Do you think that there are many men as strong partisans as you are who would rather not have a vote?—I'm sure I can't say; I never heard them say so; I have heard their wives say so; but a good Tory never flinches. Do you think a good Whig would flinch?—I'm sure I can't say. I never keep company with such gentry. Did the clergymen in, and of the neighbourhood of the town of Birmingham, come in to canvass at or previously to the election?—I never saw one canvass, and I never saw a clergyman of the Church persuasion there all the time. Have you known Dissenting ministers canvass?—I have been informed they have, but I never saw them; particularly one, Mr. East, laid great stress on his congregation. And the Catholic clergymen?—Yes. Did the Dissenting ministers take an active part in the election?—They did, indeed; and one Catholic man was very active. Have master manufacturers much influence over the votes of the operatives?—Yes, very great influence. I have heard of their making speeches to them, and telling them (which is a very great stroke of deceit), this is the reason why we have to pay you such low wages, and if the reform were got we should pay you better wages. He (Mr. H. Berkeley) thought they had heard something like that at their Protectionist meetings:— There are clergymen and manufacturers, probably both Whig and Tory, acting this way?—No; the Tory side never preach up about reform, for it does no good. Though they do not preach about reform, they preach about something else, perhaps, in order to influence votes?—I believe that the chief that they preach is about the Church being in danger. According to your evidence, the man who is not independent in Birmingham, is the tradesman whose custom lies among the populace?—Yes, they are all dependent upon the populace. Mr. Berkeley proceeded: After this reluctant and prejudiced, but honest, witness, had thus testified to the evil, he was questioned as to the remedy:— Do not you think it would be a good thing if men could give their votes without being subjected to lose their custom?—I can never bring my mind to do anything in secret. Do not you think that those who are not able to give their votes openly, without ruin, would be benefited by giving their vote secretly?—It would be a benefit at the time, but if it got wind, it would cause a worse jealousy. Supposing that it never did get wind?—Then it would be a benefit. Supposing that you contrived, as the gentlemen in the clubs in London contrive, to vote so that it can never be known how you voted?— Though I should never be an advocate for that, it would be of vast benefit to me. Do you think that if a man had voted in secret, he could not keep that secret?—I cannot say; I think they would be able to get it out of him, unless he were a man of strong nerve. What, if he knew that his ruin would follow?—I can't say. Would not the welfare of honest men be increased by that secret voting?—It might do away with that violent party spirit after a time, perhaps. That would not be the case for many elections, you mean?—Yes. You think it might after a time?—It might do it away. Do you think it would do that away when there was a contest?—Yes; it is the seeing a man going up to vote, and knowing how it must be, that rouses the spirit. Father and son often will hardly speak to one another. You have suffered yourself severely from your vote?—I have. Do not you think that it is very hard to suffer for an honest vote?—Yes; they have come and said, you have been a Tory long enough; if you will turn to us we will bring you a house full of custom. That is a form of bribery, is it not?—They have said, you will be ruined by sticking to that party. I have said, I have been brought up as a Tory, and I will go to the workhouse as one, sooner than change. Your opinions, in consequence of your being an active partisan and a bold man, are well known; but take the case of a person who has never taken an active part, and is quite nervous about these matters, would it be better for him?—Yes, it would, I believe. If it had been done in that way that nobody knew how they voted, Spooner would have been returned. Therefore, many voted against their opinions?—Yes. Would it not be a great point to have their votes agree with their opinions?—Yes. Do not you think it would have been a great thing for the pork butcher, you just now mentioned, to have been enabled to vote as he wished?—Certainly. Do not you think that it is very hard that an honest man should be injured for conscientiously exercising his will.—Certainly. Now, he (Mr. H. Berkeley) thought that was a tolerably fair specimen of the manner in which elections were conducted at Birmingham nearly twenty years ago. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer declared the other night, in the debate on the national representation, that corruption at elections could not be stopped by law—that it must be done by elevating the tone of the community. Now it struck him that that was rather a novel position, and that if it were correct, the noble Lord the Member for London and other Gentlemen who were legislating to put down bribery, were all going in the wrong direction. But as to elevating the tone of the community, let them see how they had elevated the tone at Birmingham during the last twenty years. His hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham told them a short time since that at every election at Birmingham there were at least one thousand electors who dared not go to the poll. And how many more were there, he would ask, who refused to be on the register altogether, though perfectly qualified to be so? Join the number of those who refused to be on the register with those who, though on the register, refused to vote, and they would see a great curtailment of the franchise at once established, owing to the system of open voting, and that curtailment affecting those best qualified to take a part in the political affairs of their country. At Bath there were 430 electors who dared not go to the poll because, to use their own homely but graphic language, they might shut up shop if they did. And would the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who affected to be anxious for the elevation of the tone of the people, tell him how this was to be accomplished? It struck him that the only way to do it was by education. But, unfortunately, they found that it was men who were superior in their education to any class in any part of the World—the noblemen and the gentlemen of the country—it was they who depressed the tone of the community by the practices which they carried on at elections. To tell the electors, under such circumstances, that they must wait for the elevation of the tone of the community, was a mere farce; and he should not be surprised if the honest but rough men who were so treated turned round, and, in the words of Lord Duberley, said, "Fine words butter no parsnips." He hoped, at any rate, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would bestow his advice upon those noblemen and gentlemen who at the last election for South Notts hunted the tenantry out of their haystacks like vermin, and sent them like caged rats to the poll. The case of St. Albans had engaged the attention of the House during the present Session, but there was probably as much corruption in the following boroughs as at St. Albans. He would enumerate a list of boroughs and counties respecting the corruption or intimidation practised in which the clearest evidence had been given, namely, Bridport, Bristol, Birmingham, Coventry, Cambridge, Carlow, Clonmel, Cashel, Denbigh, Exeter, Gloucester, Hereford, Halifax, Ipswich, Leicester, Leominster, Lichfield, Lyme Regis, Marylebone, Norwich, Newry, Ripon, Westminster, Westbury, Youghal. For counties, let him cite Cheshire, Clare, Devon, Denbighshire, Essex, Kerry, Limerick, Meath, Waterford, Wexford, and Warwickshire. And how the elevation of the moral tone of the community was going on might be shown by recent exposures at Sudbury, St. Albans, Aylesbury, Harwich, the Falkirk Burghs, and Gloucestershire. He had hitherto dealt with arguments as they rose from time to time against the ballot. He had now, however unwillingly, to deal with the speech of a right hon. and much valued Friend of his the Member for Perth, in which he gave one reason for his voting for, and another for his voting against, the ballot. The reason for his voting for the ballot was, that though he thought it a bad measure, yet, as there was a number of fictitious votes in Perth which he had in vain tried to get rid of, he voted for the ballot by way of curing the evil. Now, he thought it was a most extraordinary mode of legislation to force a bad measure upon the whole of Great Britain and Ireland in order to cure rascality that was going on at Perth. But then came the argument against the ballot, when the right hon. Gentleman said if they crossed the Channel did they hear no warning voice against the ballot there? Had it established liberty, or protected the freedom of the people, or maintained a free press, or defended or maintained the law? Now, what man of sane mind ever imagined that the ballot would protect freedom beyond giving every man an opportunity of exercising a free and unfettered vote? Who ever thought that the ballot could protect the press or the authorities and constitution of a country from armed autocracy? Who ever thought that the ballot would put down an unscrupulous tyrant with 400,000 neat young gentlemen at his back, all armed to the teeth. But did the right hon. Gentleman forget that the deputies who were put down by the President were elected by the ballot? and that the ballot formed part of that constitution the upsetting of which by the French Ruler has placed all the press of England in mourning? For his part he thought that the working of the ballot in France under the late constitution had been highly in its favour; and the conduct of the neighbouring country, Belgium, afforded a splendid instance of the good working of the ballot. There they found that the aristocracy of birth and of talent, respectability, and landed property, were strongly represented. He said, lastly, that in America the working of the ballot was perfectly satisfactory. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, with that extraordinary ability and ingenuity which marked all his speeches, had dwelt upon the fact of a disturbance at New York during the late election, where open bribery was attempted, the electors were assaulted, and even the ballot-box, that object of wrath to the intimidators and bribers, was smashed to pieces—and, with extreme plausibility, he had laid the fault of all this upon the ballot. He (Mr. H. Berkeley) had resided for six years in America, and he had never seen the elections conducted there but with order and tranquillity. The Americans had always held to him this language—"We scarcely need the ballot, because there is an absence among us of bribery and intimida- tion; you want the ballot in England, because, in consequence of the law of primogeniture and entail, property belongs only to a few persons, and, in consequence, the tyranny of classes is felt." But be asked, how did these disturbances prove the fact that the ballot produced them? Would intimidation and bribery have been more checked by open voting? The truth was that the Governor of New York, in advising the Legislature to adopt some measures to check bribery, did not say one word about the insufficiency of the ballot. In confirmation of that he would read a letter written by an American gentleman. He says— The statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer is no doubt substantially correct, but I have great doubts whether any American will consider that his inferences are the same. That intimidation has been resorted to, and that bribery has been partially successful, is I believe incontestable; but that the taking of the votes by way of ballot had anything to do with the difficulty, is clean out of the question. You will find that the Governor of the State of New York called the attention of the Legislature to the prevention of these disturbances at elections, but not one word was said by him on the subject of the ballot. The destruction of the ballot-box was accounted for I by saying it was held in no great estimation by I the advocates of bribery; but I believe it will be found to have arisen from not having been stationed in a place of safety; and we shall find that our local legislature will pass some stringent law on the subject, and will in future recommend our voting-urns to be located in a place of greater security. But he (Mr. H. Berkeley) said, it was highly probable that they might hear at no distant period that disturbances had arisen, and that the ballot-boxes had been broken—in Carolina and Alabama, for instance, or in Maryland or Virginia—for in those States the ballot-box was the protection of those who wished to do away with slavery. In the ballot-box the enemy of slavery found protection from violence; in the ballot-box the friend to emancipation found security from Lynch law; in the ballot-box the benign principles of Christianity had taken root; and from the ballot-box rushed forth the glorious truth, that of whatever colour our skins may be, our souls before God are of but one hue. When they saw the enemies of the abolition of slavery desiring to put aside the ballot-box in America, and when they saw those who wished to keep Englishmen in a state of serfdom declining to give them the protection of the ballot, it formed a very strong case, and that case entirely for the ballot. He complained that the arguments used against the ballot were merely colourable, and that, instead of opposing the measure because the House doubted its efficacy, they opposed it because they believed it to be perfectly efficacious. He was brought strongly to that conclusion by reading an account of a large Conservative meeting which took place the other day in the city of Bristol. At that meeting there was a very influential body of Conservatives present, and their object was to select a candidate to fill the place of his hon. Friend and colleague, who had expressed his intention to retire. The chair was taken by a Mr. Vining, a gentleman of great respectability; and the sentiments which fell from the worthy chairman were strictly Conservative, but full of candour, and redolent of the most Arcadian simplicity. He (Mr. H. Berkeley) would read a short extract from Mr. Vining's speech, which he had taken from the Bristol Gazette. Mr. Vining thus attacked the vote by ballot, which both of the two candidates for Bristol considered an excellent measure. He said, "What is the use of registration, if a man is to vote by ballot?" and "what is the use of inquiring how a man is going to vote, when he may conceal that vote by ballot?" "Why, a man may register one way, and vote another." Now, perhaps, hon. Members were not quite au fait in that expression. It meant that partisans paid the rates of defaulters, and so secured their being put upon the register, which was a mode of bribery beforehand. "Thus," says Mr. Vining— A man may vote one way, and register another. Suppose you give a man five pounds; he may receive the money, and vote another way. That goes to make a man disguise his real sentiments and meaning. If even I purchase a man I may not be able to know how he is going to vote; he may vote against me after he has said he will vote for me. And then voices were heard to say— That is what we want; you will not then have us under your thumb." "Gentlemen," said Mr. Vining, "I feel the majority of you are in my favour. Now, all I ask is this: Let us co-operate cordially in supporting true Conservative principles, and in promoting the welfare of the State, and our own interests. There was a candid gentleman! Mark the faults found with the ballot: they would ruin his politico-commercial transactions. Poor injured gentleman! When he had bought his man it was quite doubtful whether his live bale of goods would be delivered. He (Mr. H. Berkeley) wished Mr. Vining had extended his remarks to intimidation; they would have been most edifying. He would certainly have told them how he had threatened to turn out his tenant at No. 5, if he did not vote for Mr. A.; and how the rascal might go to the ballot box and vote for that terrible Radical, Mr. B. The fact was, the House refused to trust the people. They believed that their tendencies were democratic. He put it to hon. Members who had such feelings, whether they did not very much resemble a man who supposed that under the foundations of his house there was a subterraneous fire, and that at some future day, by some convulsion of nature, a crater would burst forth in his kitchen? When the noble Lord the Member for London recently moved for leave to bring in his Reform Bill, he said he thought the people deserved some reward for their exemplary conduct; yet the noble Lord was one of those who refused to do the people an act of simple justice. They who had refuaed to trust the people had good reason to know how the people might be trusted on the 10th of April, 1848. On that occasion they appealed to the people pro arts et focis, and they stood on their thresholds armed for their defence. They stood by their firesides, among their household Penates, cherished guests. He asked the House to trust them with the franchise it now denied them. In conclusion, he would say that though he was in favour of the principle of the ballot, he was not equally wedded to its details. All he asked was for a fair trial of the ballot. If the House liked it, let them make the ballot permissive. If they liked it, let them allow a certain number of electors who might demand the ballot to have the ballot. Do not let the House meet him with the statement that the ballot would do this or that in small constituencies. Let that be no bar to the Bill. If they liked the ballot, let them try it in constituencies above a thousand voters. He, therefore, said once more, that he was not wedded to the details, but he was to the principle; and he asked the House to permit him to bring in a Bill to give the electors the protection of the ballot. If the House gave him that permission they would do a great act of abstract justice to the people, who had merited it by the love of order, by the high moral tone of the community, by their reverence for the law, and loyalty to their Queen.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That leave be given to bring in a Bill to cause the Votes of Parliamentary Electors to be taken by way of Ballot.


said, the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken was rather unfortunate in having alluded to the last election for South Nottinghamshire; for the fact of his (Mr. Barrow's) standing in the House of Commons at that moment was the best possible proof of the absence of intimidation on the occasion to which he referred. He knew, that in part, he owed his success at that election to the assistance of some Gentlemen who were themselves friends of the vote by ballot—not because they sought it for their own sakes, but because they believed it would be a protection to their friends and neighbours. They were well aware of his sentiments with respect to the ballot when they gave him their votes; and he felt perfectly satisfied that they would give him credit for the honesty of his principles at least, in venturing as he did now to declare that he was not a convert to the necessity of the ballot, and that, so far from believing it would deliver the people from a state of serfdom, he believed it would increase bribery and demoralisation to such an extent as would be positively frightful to contemplate. Allusion had been made to the advantage of the ballot in the clubs. But, for his part, he confessed that a large portion of his objections to the ballot were the result of the ill feeling he had witnessed in clubs in cases of blackballing. He had seen so much mischief arise from it, that even in those cases where, through the honour of the scrutineers and members, perfect secrecy was observed, he had come to the conclusion that the system had better be abolished. He was rather surprised to hear the secrecy of the ballot assumed as a matter of necessity. In proof, however, of the fact that it did not secure secrecy, he might refer to that country which had already been referred to so often, and in which the ballot had been in operation for the greatest length of time. He did not believe that secrecy ever had been or ever would be obtained by means of the ballot; for he found that in Massachusetts, one of the oldest States of the American Union, the Legislature appointed a Committee last year with the express object of considering in what manner they could secure secrecy under the ballot. And, surely, with such an example as that before him, he might be allowed to doubt whether that secrecy which was assumed as inseparable from the ballot really did exist. With re- gard to the ballot as a cure for bribery, he thought he heard the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) say not long ago, that he did not believe it would diminish bribery in small constituencies, at least; and if it would not diminish bribery in small constituencies, then he (Mr. Barrow) wanted to know how it was likely to do so in large constituencies because a large constituency was, after all, only an aggregate or mass of small constituencies, and bribery might be carried on in one as well as in the other. Upon this point too, he would again refer to America, where the Legisla-lature of the State of New York had declared that bribery had increased, and was carried to a fearful extent under the ballot, and that it was necessary to take steps for providing a remedy. Being convinced then that neither intimidation nor bribery had diminished under the operation of the ballot, he must frankly admit that he was still opposed to the measure. He believed it would be productive of an amount of hypocrisy and demoralisation perfectly frightful to contemplate; and that the best remedy for the evils complained of would consist in elevating the moral tone of the people, and allowing them to record their independent votes freely and conscientiously in the open light of day, "owning subjection to no human vassalage, save to their Queen and the law."


said, he was quite willing to admit that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down was a remarkable instance of the people having exercised their own will against the influence of the aristocracy. But let the House recollect the circumstances which took place just prior to that election. The tenant-farmers, who felt strongly in favour of protection, and who not trusting, perhaps, the aristocracy of the country, were determined to bring forward some man themselves for the purpose of carrying out that object; and they chose the hon. Gentleman who now represented them, though it did not appear that the hon. Gentleman had done anything, or had a wish to do anything, in furtherance of that object for which he was specially elected by the tenant farmers. When the election to which he had referred took place, the noble Dukes and noble Lords in that county, by their agents, brought up their tenants to the poll just as they would have driven a flock of sheep. ["Oh, oh!"] He said it was a fact, and if they looked in the papers of that day they would see it stated; nay more, the agents of the landed proprietors were present at the poll to see how the tenants voted. But although the yeomen of South Nottinghamshire came forward on that occasion and defeated the aristocracy, that was no reason why voters in other parts of the country should not have the protection of the ballot. It was said that they must elevate the tone and feeling of the people. That was a very fine phrase, always brought forward on these occasions. Why, they knew very well that when an election took place, men of high character, or rather of high station, went round to tradesmen, and said, "You must vote for this person or that." There was scarcely a tradesman in Regent-street or Bond-street who was not canvassed in this way by his customers. Intimidation, however, was by no means confined to the aristocracy. There was an election now going on in the north part of the country; Millowners had been canvassing the small tradesmen, who were almost compelled to vote in favour of the millowners; and what was the result? Why, that the lower classes had banded together, and had gone round to the tradesmen and said, "You shall vote for our candidate." And these persons were in that unfortunate condition that they did not know whether to oblige the millowner or the lower classes. He thought this was a case for the ballot. The hon. Member (Mr. H. Berkeley) had enumerated several boroughs which, he said, were guilty of corruption, and to his (Sir B. Hall's) great surprise, the borough of Marylebone was in that list. The hon. Member had, however, said that corruption existed there many years ago. Now all he (Sir B. Hall) could say was, that he had represented that district of the Metropolis for fifteen years, and he could safely assert that the hon. Member must be in error; and it was a fact that the return of the two Members at the dissolution previous to his own first election for that borough, did not cost more than 300l. It was ridiculous to suppose that bribery could take effect in a constituency of nearly 400,000 people and 20,000 electors; and not all the wealth of the Rothschilds and the Barings combined could effect a return in that constituency by bribery. It was said that the ballot created disorder in America. The disorder did not arise from the ballot, but because the elections were not properly conducted. As a proof of this, he might mention that they had an annual parochial election by ballot in three of the largest parishes in the metropolis, namely, in St. George's, which was rated at 800,000l.; Marylebone, which was rated at 1,000,000l.; and St. Pancras, which was rated at 800,000l. These parishes had a population of 500,000, and the number of ratepayers varied from 15,000 to 19,000 in each. Now, the greatest order, regularity, and tranquillity prevailed at these elections; and though they were not second even to the Parliamentary elections, not a policeman was present. These elections take place annually in the month of May, and it would he well worth while for those Members who doubted the efficiency of the ballot to witness those elections. He would not further take up the time of the House on this subject, particularly as the next Motion on the paper was intimately connected with the present one, and he was anxious that it should be discussed before a dissolution took place, in order that the constituencies of the country might know the feelings and opinions of hon. Members with regard to the three great questions brought forward: the one by his hon. Friend (Mr. Hume); the other that which they were now discussing; and the Motion of the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Locke King), which stood next.


said, that there were 214 boroughs, with 161,500 voters, which returned 329 Members to that House, being a majority of the entire number. The two great parties who contended for power in this country were so nicely balanced, that it depended on the amount of money spent at elections which of them held the reins of Government. The Committee of 1835 stated in their Report that bribery, corruption, intimidation, and coercion prevailed to an enormous extent at the preceding election. The Committee of 1841 stated in their Report that 8,300l. was spent at the Harwich election, though only 178 persons voted: and that 16,000l. was spent in Nottingham, though only 673 persons voted. The remedy for this state of things was the ballot. He had been in America, and was present during the election of General Harrison, which was conducted with the greatest propriety; and notwithstanding the observations of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Barrow), he defied the hon. Gentleman to produce an instance where any of the thirty-one States of the American Union had complained of the ill working of the system. The people of America had this advantage of the ballot, for whilst the cost of Government in this country was 26,000,000l., in America it was only 6,500,000l. These were facts which proved incontestably the value of the ballot.


said, it had been the practice, when great innovations were proposed in the institutions of the country, to introduce an imaginary foreigner to the contemplation of things as they existed. The noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell), when he proposed the Reform Bill, introduced this fictitious gentleman into the country, and conducted him round to Old Sarum, Gatton, and East Retford; and, as the hon. Gentleman who brought on the present Motion, in accord-snce with custom, had introduced this distinguished foreigner during the general elections, he (Mr. B. Cochrane) thought that if a foreigner came amongst us to be initiated into the mysteries of our elections, he would certainly need a cicerone, and under all the circumstances, he imagined that the best cicerone he could have would be Mr. Coppock. But now, to come to the real question, what would hon. Gentlemen say if they had what he might call reciprocity of the ballot? What would be said if they, the Members of the House of Commons, were to give their votes by ballot? He had heard of such a thing as pledges which some of the constituencies were in the habit of exacting—strong and binding — from the candidate upon the hustings, as to the course which he meant to follow. Whatever the distinguished foreigner might think of such pledges, in case the system of secret voting were introduced into the House, he rather thought the people would not be disposed to concur in the views expressed by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. H. Berkeley) of the advantages of the ballot. The hon. Gentleman, upon this subject, referred to America—so often referred to, on many subjects, by the Gentlemen on the other side of the House. He wished now to point out one great difference between the use of the ballot in America and this country, which had hitherto escaped observation; he wished to remind them that America was a republic, and we had the happiness to live under a Constitutional Monarchy. If the hon. Gentlemen opposite wished to see the result of the difference as it affected the Parliaments of the two countries, and who eulogised the American system so much, he would recommend the perusal of what appeared in the papers the other day relative to a pleasant conversation which had lately occurred in Congress between a Mr. Brown and a Mr. Wilcox—not the hon. Member for Southampton. He would not go through the details of the scene, but it was concluded by Mr. Brown calling Mr. Wilcox "a vagabond," and swearing that "he would knock his head of." But another circumstance deserving attention with regard to America, was, that in order to nave permission to propose any essential change in the Constitution, it was necessary to obtain the consent of a majority of two-thirds of the States; and that, even when proposed, yet, in order to its being carried into effect, a majority of three-fourths of the States was required; whereas all that was necessary in this country was a bare majority. But, when they referred to Prance, he asked the Gentlemen of the Manchester school whether they were satisfied with the result of universal suffrage in that country, or with the proceedings of the 2nd of December, and the Constitution proposed for that country? If they were satisfied with the operation of universal suffrage and the ballot in that country, they must remember that they had been established there ever since 1793. But if he were to describe the effects of the ballot on those who wish to use it, he would seek no other than the language of a right hon. Gentleman, he meant the right hon. Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham). He would quote his opinion, not, indeed, his present opinion, but his former opinion of the ballot when the subject was brought on by Mr. Ward, in 1842. The right hon. Gentleman said— The whole system of secret voting was inconsistent with the English character. If he be an honest man and a firm friend, he will not want the ballot—if he skulks, he will not avail himself of it. The only persons to whom the ballot would be valuable, would be dirty and hypocritical cowards." [3 Hansard, lxiv. 404.] He thought he had heard of the right hon. Gentleman at Carlisle, very lately, when he made a speech not precisely in favour of the ballot, but of a nature such as convinced him he saw the dawn of a different opinion upon this important question. Well; the right hon. Gentlemen went on— Those dirty, hypocritical cowards—men whose faces belie their purpose—men who pretend to be your friends only to deceive and betray you—who flatter you with vain hopes of support which they have no intention to realise—men who talk of intimidation, but seek the opportunity of gratifying their sordid envy, their revenge, and that bitter hatred which, combined with their cowardice, mark them as the most contemptible of man- kind. Those are the men who demand a measure that is a mere recipe— To lend to lies the confidence of truth. [3 Hansard, lxiv. 404.] One could not possibly improve upon that language, and he confessed his objections to the ballot were precisely those of the right hon. Gentleman. They could not prevent, they might as well think of preventing, the east wind blowing at this time of the year, as of preventing the influence of the proprietors over their tenants; yet, by introducing the ballot, they might succeed in making them false and hypocritical; men who made a show openly of voting otherwise than they did, and, consequently were "contemptible cowards." He would also remind the House of the opinion of a right hon. Gentleman who was one of its ornaments, but was now no more, yet he must say he quoted his opinion with awe. The late Mr. Sheil, in 1842, in speaking upon the question, after admitting that men would go to the poll and break their promise, said of that conduct, it was yet a principle to be upheld under the circumstances. That was the doctrine of Mr. Sheil, and he must confess he could go no such length with him. But if that was the effect of the ballot, let them consider what a principle they were introducing into the country, what an amount of demoralisation—on the ground of which he ventured to charge the proposal as one that was most vicious. Yet they were going to introduce it to give men an opportunity of making promises and of breaking them. But why, he asked, was the subject not introduced by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London into his late Reform Bill? He confessed he was not convinced in his own mind that the noble Lord would not yet support it; and he was upheld in that view of his intellect and consistency by a friend of the noble Lord's Government, who in a late publication had described the Whigs out of power as demagogues, and in power as oligarchs. He looked upon this as one of the most objectionable measures that could be brought forward. It was no use going back to discuss theories, and point out anomalies which were to be found in all the writings of all the Socialists, from Robespierre downwards. He preferred pointing to history, both as it referred to this country and to other countries, such as France, and when he found that no one could compare this country with that without feeling a doubt upon such a question as this, that doubt led him to arrest, if possible, the progress of this popular Motion, which, if carried into effect, would be of the greatest detriment to the best interests of this country.


said, he would promise to be very brief on a subject which had been more nearly exhausted in argument than any proposition which had ever been brought before that House. It was an undoubted historical fact that Mr. Grote, in the course of his remarks on the ballot, brought to it an amount of logical power and mental acumen which gave to his advocacy the character of an intellectual triumph. He did not intend, therefore, to expose the fallacies of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. He did not intend to point out to him the difference between a Member of Parliament who came there voluntarily to represent the opinions of others, having his votes made public—and the votes of the electors who nominated him, being made public: that had been abundantly proved before. Nor should he go into the discussion of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer's thousand-time refuted objection, that if you gave the ballot to a limited constituency, you constituted that constituency an oligarchy. That had been met with this unanswerable argument: if you think that the unenfranchised are fit to lead the enfranchised, and to dictate how they shall vote, then give the unenfranchised votes themselves. Those who urged this objection, were the very people who would not do that In the intellectual mode of dealing with it, this question had been triumphantly settled; but, he thought, there were moral aspects of the question which might be better argued then, than they could be when Mr. Grote dealt with it seventeen years ago. They had had opportunities of witnessing the efficacy of the ballot in the elections of a neighbouring country, carried on under the most exciting circumstances, and these showed what an immense gain the ballot would be to this country, by putting an end to the frightful demoralisation and violence which were seen at almost every one of our own elections. Now, he said, the example of France at their own door, upon this view of the question—it was only a very limited view of the question, but it was its moral aspect—the example of France was conclusive. They had had 6,000,000 of people in France all voting in one day, they had had three or four general elections all over France with universal suf- frage, and under the most exciting circumstances, and he said, without the slightest fear of contradiction, that there had been less of tumult, of violence, and of discord at the polling in France—[Ironical cheers] —yes, he repeated it, but hon. Gentlemen, probably, had not read the newspapers. These general elections in France, he said, had been carried on without a tumult at any of the polling places. Now, he asked the House to consider what had been the condition of things in our own country? Why, if he went back only for a year or two, he could point out half-a-dozen little polling places where very different scenes had been witnessed. Take, for instance, the Isle of Wight, where the last county election resulted in the death of a respectable individual. He went to Boston, and what did he see there? An hon. Gentleman imprisoned by the mob in his own house, and not able to get to his dinner. At Harwich, again, the hustings were pulled down; and the other day, at Enniskillen, where there were only about 150 voters to poll, the police had to charge the mob with drawn sabres. These were only a few specimens of what occurred at the elections of even the smallest constituencies. They had been directed to the working of the ballot in the United States, and mention had been made of America—a tumult in New York. What did the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer say when he mentioned that fact? Why, that a newspaper of New York—not the Courier and Enquirer, a newspaper read by the wealthy classes, but the New York Tribune, which was read by the masses—the very paper, too, from which he quoted—was so horrified at the fact of there being any violence or tumult, that it declared that those who thus interfered with the most sacred rights of American citizens ought to be shot down down like dogs. Was that the kind of language which such proceedings called forth here? Why, Boston and Harwich were laughed at, Enniskillen did not excite a remark, and, instead of having one governor to censure his fellow-citizens for having committed such outrages, they had a hundred Acts of Parliament to put down bribery; and at that moment they had a Bill passing through the House, the object of which was to erect a distinct tribunal for the trial of future cases of corruption. Against all this they had only the isolated fact which he had mentioned. Now he said that the effect of the ballot would be this. It would repress all those outward demonstrations of opinion which led to these collisions in public meetings; it would put an end to their flags and banners, and ribbons and brass bands, and general disorder. He ventured to say that that was the view of the question which was now sinking into the public mind. And the reason why the ballot had gained ground in this country during the last few years was this—the friends of order, the lovers of temperance, those who wished to see moral power prevail over brute force—had come to the conclusion that in the ballot they would find a remedy for the evils and abuses which had so long disgraced our elections, particularly on the nomination day and the polling day. But another question was raised now, namely, whether the ballot would be effectual? It was stated that in New York it had not been effectual. It was true that in America, in former times at least, such was the equal condition of the great body of the people, that every little pressure was put by one person on another in order to coerce him to vote in conformity with his wishes, and that the people were very indifferent as to whether their votes were concealed or not. But he could tell the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) that a very effectual remedy had been provided for this defect in the mode of voting. Two years ago the Legislature of Massachusetts—not only one of the oldest, but in every respect one of the most moral, intelligent, and religious communities in the United States, or in the whole world—appointed a Committee to devise means for making the ballot more effectual. Did the Committee contemplate giving up the ballot in order to adopt open voting? No. He held in his hand the Report of the Committee, and also the text of the Act of the Legislature for carrying into effect the recommendation of the Committee. It was observed that the right of suffrage was the most sacred of all political rights, and should be most carefully guarded—if a juryman required to be free from all abuses, and to act without favour, fear, or affection—the same thing was requisite in the case of the voter, and the ballot was the surest safeguard of public liberty. The plan recommended by the Committee was this: That the Government should provide adhesive envelopes of a certain form for all the electors; that those envelopes should be given to the electors on application at the proper offices; that the voter, after writing or taking a printed ticket, with the names of the can- didates for whom he wished to vote, should place it in the envelope, seal the envelope, and deposit the envelope in the box in the presence of officers appointed for the purpose. Now, this was a perfect security for secrecy, if the voter wished to be secret, and it was at the same time a perfect security against fraud. All the officers had to do was to see that the voter placed one envelope in the ballot box. If he deposited more than one, or if there were any attempt at fraud, it would be discovered when the votes were counted, and that vote would be cancelled. No one need be under the apprehension that such a system would not be effectual; and he admitted that in this country it would be absolutely necessary to take precautions. It was formerly a part of the law of Massachusetts that the electors should deposit their votes openly. The consequence was, that any one who liked could see for whom parties voted, and could tell how the poll was going on. It was found, too, that under that system, many parties were able to coerce their servants, or others who were dependent upon them; and no doubt that would be the case in this country if the same mode of voting were adopted. In fact, he held in his hand a proof furnished by a distinguished statesman of the present day, who held a most important post, that the landlords of this country were not very scrupulous about exercising their power, and they could do so in spite of the ballot unless care were taken to render it effectual, He would read an extract from a speech delivered by the Earl of Derby, then Lord Stanley, in that House, on the 2nd of June, 1835, showing what was the idea of a landlord in this country as to the right to coerce his tenant. Lord Stanley said— If we had the ballot, I would say, as an English landlord, I would not only see whether the elector dependent on me voted, but I would see him put the ticket into the balloting urn. I do not mean to say that this would be a desirable course of proceeding, or a course which ought to be adopted by landlords, unless forced to it by expediency; but I, as a landlord, should be driven to that expediency, if the ballot were employed, in order to satisfy myself."—[3 Hansard, xxviii. 458.] Now he (Mr. Cobden) must say that he thought a more unabashed act of despotism than that—a more scandalous outrage on the rights of citizens, there could not be. That a landlord, forsooth, because he inherited certain acres upon which men of skill and intelligence were employed in producing what was essential to human existence—that he should coerce these men, probably as intelligent as himself, as honest as himself, as competent as himself to exercise the suffrage, appeared to him most extraordinary; and yet, in spite of this declaration, the Earl of Derby was at that moment at the head of the farmer's friends. The system adopted in Massachusetts would, however, protect the farmers from the prying eyes of the Earl of Derby or any other landlord. He must say that he had seen other sentiments of the Earl of Derby which in themselves would justify the adoption of the ballot. On another occasion the noble Lord distinctly told them that he considered the tenantry to be the political capital of the landlord. [Cheers.] Yes, he begged hon. Gentlemen opposite to listen to this, and let them answer it if they could. It was the business of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to answer it, for the sake of the character of his leader. On the 22nd of February, 1841, Lord Stanley, speaking on the Parliamentary Voters Bill, said— It is a matter of pride and satisfaction to the landlords of England that their tenants usually feel a desire to comply with the landlords' wishes. I neither seek to deny nor to apologise for it, while I condemn the exorbitant or undue exercise of the power; for if it were pushed to the extreme, it is known that when any man attempted to estimate the probable result of a county election, it is ascertained by calculating the number of large landed proprietors in the county, and weighing the number of occupiers under them."—[3 Hansard, lvi. 806.] Well, but did the House think it right that a body of men, numbering upwards of 100,000, and carrying on the operations of farming, should be altogether deprived of their political rights, and that in making them electors, the Legislature should, in fact, be giving a bundle of faggot votes to the landlords? If any hon. Gentlemen opposite had any faith in the farmers, they ought to be the first to protect them against such compulsion. Now, he would tell the House candidly that he did not think they would find a body of electors in this country who would be willing to subject themselves to the humiliating farce, fraud, and deception of being supposed to possess political power, while, in fact, they were not free to exercise it. If the farmers were so lost to all sense of British pride that they would consent to occupy that position, he would tell them candidly that the operatives of this country would not do so. He was now going to mention a fact, which was, he thought, as honourable to the operatives of this country as anything he had ever heard. On the occasion of the introduction of the late Reform Bill, a considerable amount of discussion arose in the manufacturing districts. It was proposed to create a franchise of 5l. Now, they all knew that in the manufacturing towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire that would extend the franchise threefold, and would give a vote to a very large proportion of the operatives employed in the mills and in other establishments in those counties. Well, this naturally caused, as he had said, considerable discussion amongst that class of persons. But what was the result? A crowded public meeting was held in Stockport, and those who were present passed an unanimous vote, that if they could not have the protection of the ballot, they would not have the franchise. They did so on this principle—[Cheers from the Ministerial benches]—well, nothing puzzled him so much sometimes as to understand what was the triumph which hon. Gentlemen opposite obtained when they cheered so much—he thought these parties were quite right, and for this reason, that what he had just been saying of landlords might probably be suspected to be true with regard to a good many millowners. Well, but he stood there—he had said this in the face of a large body of millowners in Manchester—he stood there to protect people who had votes against influence of all kinds — against all undue and coercive influence, whether it was that of landowners, that of mill-owners, that of customers, that of priests, or that of mobs; in all cases he was for protecting the voter. These operatives were right in saying, as they did, that if they only gave them the vote, parties might go to Bolton or to Stockport, find out the tall chimnies, and allot the votes to the owners, as was done by the Earl of Derby in the case of land. There were employed in these manufactories men off all descriptions of opinions, both political and religious. A candidate comes forward who has been an advocate of the Bill against Papal aggression, who denounces the Maynooth grant, and stands upon the No-Popery cry. Well, there are some honest Roman Catholics working in a mill belonging to an anti-Popery gentleman—he insists that all his men shall vote for the No-Popery candidate—the man then risks the loss of his employment, and the bread of his children, unless he violates the dearest rights of his conscience. Another man may be one of that numerous and respectable body in Lancashire and I Yorkshire, the teetotallers. There may be some of these men working in a mill of a man who has no objection to gin, and who is supporting a candidate who deluges the borough with drink, and who insists upon his workpeople supporting a man whom they believe to be demoralising the community, and outraging what they consider to be the best interests and rights of their fellow-workmen. They say, "Before we will be subject to coercion like that, we will refuse to have a vote;" and I honour them for it. And this is a difficulty that the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) will encounter, not merely in Stockport, but there will be the same in Blackburn, in Halifax, Huddersfield, Bolton, and Wigan, and all towns of that description. It will not be experienced so much in Manchester or Leeds, because there you have a large middle class of shopkeepers, and there is a mercantile community. But in the description of manufacturing towns to which I have referred, to give the franchise without giving the ballot would be an unmitigated curse to a part of the population. And as at present advised, looking to that view of the question, he would vote against any extension of the franchise, such as had been proposed, unless he thought it was certain to lead to the ballot. Let not hon. Gentlemen opposite commit themselves on this question. They were now going through that terrible process of acting against all they had been saying and voting for years, as recorded in Hansard against them. For two months they had now been compelled to act in opposition to all they had been saying on the question of protection during their lifetime; and within a few months more they would be obliged to renounce as heretical what they had hitherto held as a prime article of their political creed. Argument had already decided this question: let the Government not commit themselves against it. The moral aspect of the question would carry it; and then they would be in the same dilemma as they were now with regard to protection. Let them only wait till the general election, if they dared dissolve on the bread question, but he strongly suspected they were trying to shuffle out of it. He would not believe that they would dissolve Parliament on the bread question till he saw the writs issued; and he understood something had been said in the other House that night, showing that they had not got to the end of their evasions and trickery yet. But he hoped there was spirit enough in that House—if not, he was sure there was in the country—to bring them to book on that question. What awaited them? Suppose they were to dissolve on this most exciting question—this question of the cupboard, the bread-basket, the sugar-basin—there would be no tumult in Manchester, or Glasgow, or Birmingham, or the West Riding of Yorkshire, with its 1,200,000 inhabitants, and its 800,000 of rural population. ["Hear, hear!"] For the Chancellor of the Exchequer had informed the House a few days ago that he represented 800,000 of the rural population. But in those points where the two opinions came into collision, there would be such scenes as had never taken place at any former election. The result would be, they should come up to Parliament with a certain prospect of a short-lived Parliament; and immediately on their assembling, that would take place which had been pointed out by Mr. Grote as always occurring after an election—there would be thousands of petitions for the ballot, whilst the wounds were green, and the sufferings of the people were fresh in their memory. The whole reform party would throw itself on this question; they would never leave it; and no Government would be able to carry on that did not adopt that proposition. Let hon. Members, therefore, not put themselves in a false position. He would advise them not to do it, especially the young men. Old men only changed upon compulsion; but he entreated hon. Gentlemen, if they could not give an honest vote on this occasion, to avoid voting at all. This would soon be like the protection question, one on which there would be very little difference of opinion.


said, he would only detain the House a short time. The hon. Member for Bridport (Mr. B. Cochrane) had referred to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech, in which he had referred to what had occurred in New York between two representatives at Washington. The hon. Gentleman did not see he was playing with edge tools. There were a great many points in that hon. Gentleman's speech which ought to be set right, if the House would allow him only five minutes more. He represented a constituency which sighed—which longed for the ballot. And, therefore, in fairness, the House ought to give him a few minutes. He would remind the hon. Member for Bridport, who had east reflections on the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham), that "they should not throw stones who lived in glass houses." If he was not misinformed, that hon. Gentleman had on one occasion advocated the ballot on the hustings.


Sir, the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden), in arguing this question with his usual ability, has rested his support of the ballot on two grounds. The hon. Member did not condescend to discuss the question in its political bearings, but invited us to look at it in its moral aspect; and, viewing in it that light, he contended that the introduction of the ballot would prevent certain evils, and elevate and improve the moral condition of the people. Now, I think, Sir, I shall he able to show that the ballot, instead of preventing the evils to which the hon. Member has referred, might possibly leave them as they are, but would more probably augment them; and that, instead of advancing morality, it would be very detrimental to it. Before entering upon this part of the subject I will take the liberty of referring to two observations which fell from the hon. Member in the course of his speech. The hon. Member declared that the extension of the franchise, for which he is so anxious, would be an unmitigated evil, unless it were accompanied by the ballot. I trust the Members of this House will bear this declaration in mind when they come to give their votes upon the next question which will be submitted to their consideration. It is for leave to bring in a Bill "to make the franchise and procedure at elections in the counties in England and Wales the same as in the boroughs, by giving the right of voting to all occupiers of tenements of the annual value of 10l." Seeing, then, that in the opinion of the hon. Member the extension of the franchise without the ballot would be an unmitigated evil, if the House, as I trust it will, should reject the present Motion, I think I am entitled to claim the vote of the hon. Member against the Motion of his hon. Friend which follows. The other passage of the hon. Member's speech to which I am about to refer, I cannot pass over so lightly, and indeed he must permit me to say that it was not worthy of him, because it was not an accurate representation of the words of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. The words which the hon. Member used were very remarkable; he said, that the noble Lord at the head of the Government had made use of the expression, that the landlords of England looked on their tenantry as political cattle. [Mr. COBDEN: No, I did not.] I believe I am not misstating what the hon. Member said. [Mr. COBDEN: I read a quotation from the Earl of Derby's speech.] I believe the words which the hon. Member attributed to the Earl of Derby were, that the tenants of England were the political cattle of their landlords.


I did not say so. The right hon. Gentleman is only wasting his own time and ours in arguing on an unfounded hypothesis. I quoted the Earl of Derby's words from Hansard, and I said, after some other remarks interspersed, that he claimed the tenants as his political capital.


I should be very sorry to misrepresent the hon. Member. [Mr. COBDEN: "Capital" is an American phrase.] The hon. Member shall not put me out by these interruptions. That the hon. Member used the words I have stated, and in the manner I have stated, I firmly believe, because they were taken down at the time. If not, let him retract them. The hon. Member unquestionably went on to quote the exact language used by the noble Lord at the head of the Government; but does that language contain the expression attributed to the noble Lord by the hon. Member? On the contrary, it pointed to this, that the occupying tenantry of counties and the landlords of counties entertained feelings of mutual regard and goodwill towards each other, and in that way landlords exercised influence over their tenants. That was the effect of the passage quoted by the hon. Member, and it contained nothing to justify him in asserting that the Earl of Derby said, or ever intended to say, that the farmers of England were the political capital of their landlords. Having corrected what I think an unfortunate misrepresentation, I will now advert to the two principal arguments of the hon. Member in favour of the proposition before the House. The hon. Member said that the ballot would prevent bribery, and also the influence exercised by employers over the employed, and landlords over tenants. I deny in toto that the ballot would have those effects, and for these reasons: In the first place, it is admitted that the ballot can only produce these results by means of absolute secrecy. Now, when hon. Members assimilate the ballot used in political elections with the ballot used in private clubs, they forget that in the one case the voters having personal considerations to deal with, conceal the manner in which they vote, while, in the other case, that of the political election, men's political opinions are usually well known, and it would be impossible therefore that the requisite secrecy could be observed. That, I think, is a complete answer to the statement, that undue influence would be prevented by the use of the ballot. We all know that much canvassing takes place before an election as to this or that person's political opinions. The feelings and intentions of voters would be collected at public-houses, clubs, and other associations. It is said that if a shopkeeper does not vote as his customers wish him, he is deprived of their custom, and that if a farmer votes against the desire of his landlord, he is ejected from his farm; but introduce the ballot, and the only difference would be, that, instead of these things taking place in consequence of what is known, they will take place on suspicion. Again, it is said that the ballot will prevent bribery. The example given by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other night of the working of the ballot in New York, is, to my mind a conclusive answer to that assertion. [An Hon. MEMBER: No!] The hon. Member who says "No" could not have been in the House when the hon. Mover, in his able and temperate speech, read a letter from an American gentleman, which began by admitting that the observations of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer were substantially correct.


The statement of facts, not the inferences drawn from them.


The hon. Member's American correspondent admits the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement of facts to be correct, but denies his inference. Then I put aside the inference drawn by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as well as that drawn by the American, and I leave the House of Commons to draw its own inference from the statement of facts admitted to be correct. The New York case appears to me a complete answer to the assumption that the ballot would prevent bribery. Then, if it will not prevent bribery, I ask those who maintain that inviolable secrecy can be maintained under the system, how can bribery be punished—how can it be detected? Suppose an election to run very close, and to be determined by one or two votes, if corruption be practised ever so extensively on this occasion, how will you be able to detect and punish it if votes be taken by means of the ballot? Look at the elections recently in France under the ballot, where so many votes were enumerated—more than could actually be given—that it was wittily remarked by an able writer in this country—that that was the first practical illustration of two negatives making an affirmative. Supposing the ballot were introduced, how could you obtain proof of frauds committed, and how could you do justice to the party who ought to be the representative, should the election run close, and should votes have been given fraudulently against him? But I own that there is another reason, in a moral aspect, which makes me more anxious to resist the introduction of the ballot. Now, I broadly contend that in this country, whenever a person is empowered to exercise any trust whatever, he ought to exercise it under the influence and control of public opinion. There is no reason why the voter should be more irresponsible than the representative to that high tribunal. Nay, more, the regresentative has as much right to ask what are the opinions of the constituents he represents as the constituents have the right to ask in what way the representative exercises his duty within these walls in pursuance of the choice those constituents have made. I think, too, that the observations which fell from the hon. Member for Bridport (Mr. B. Cochrane), quoting the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham), are not entirely to be forgotten; and, though those observations are somewhat stronger than any I am inclined to use-though I should not be tempted to state that everybody must be a scoundrel and hypocrite when he exercises the franchise by the ballot, yet I say that this practice may have, in a moral aspect, a material influence on the character of the people, for the opportunity of concealment will give the opportunity for fraud, and for the indulgence of malicious and revengeful feelings, which could not be attended with advantage to the country. Hon. Gentlemen who were in this House at a former period, when great debates took place on this subject, may recollect the pointed quotation made by the late Sir Robert Peel, when he adverted to the effect of the ballot on the people of Rome. He quoted that admirable passage from Pliny descriptive of the Roman voter, who had lost all sense of dignity and all consciousness of right or wrong when exercising the franchise contrary to the pledge he had given or intimated:—Tabellas poposcit, stilum, ac-cepit, fidem abjecit, caput demisit, neminem veretur, se contemnit. In a moral aspect, I maintain that the ballot would be found seriously detrimental to the character of the people of this country; and my firm belief is that, though by the introduction of the ballot you may by possibility prevent some undue influence of bad over good, yet you will not allow that legitimate influence to have the operation which it ought always to have—the influence of good over bad.


thought it was high time that our representative system ought to be placed upon a more just basis, in order that the democracy might be relieved from the burthens imposed upon them by the aristocracy. Hon. Gentleman spoke of that House being the representative of the people of England, but it was no such thing; it was merely a representative of the landowners, landlords, millowners, and rich men, who did not represent the people. Whenever a man went to the hustings to give his vote, he felt what a gross deception he was obliged to endure; he knew that he could not freely exercise the franchise; he was compelled to vote for red or white as some rich man might dictate. In times past he (Lord D. Stuart) was opposed to the ballot, and, in fact, had voted against it in that House. That was immediately after the Reform Bill. He thought it only just that that Bill should be fairly tried before they decided on the introduction of the ballot system of voting. At that time (1833–34) an address was submitted to those whom he had the honour to represent, advocating in the strongest terms the necessity for an immediate enactment of the ballot and triennial Parliaments, and to that address was appended the name of Benjamin Disraeli. It was of course quite open to the right hon. Gentleman to change his opinions, as indeed he (Lord D. Stuart) had himself done upon this subject, but they had come to very opposite conclusions upon the question. Probably at that time the right hon. Gentleman was sowing his wild oats, a species of grain which he (Lord D. Stuart) supposed was to pay no duty. Now, after a long experience of the workings of the Reform Bill, he (Lord D. Stuart) found that bribery and intimidation still prevailed at the elections in this country. Some remedy, therefore, ought to be proposed. He believed the ballot would be found to be such. It was said that bribery and corruption could not be prevented by the ballot. Most likely not; but if it would go a great way in that direction, it would prove to be as efficacious as some of our laws against burglary or other crimes. If the right hon. Gentleman's arguments were good for anything, we should be acting wisely if we discharged our police force, because they did not succeed in effectually removing robbery and other crime. Was it not worth while to try to check or mitigate the evils of bribery, corruption, and intimidation? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said the other night that an extension of education was the most effectual way to prevent bribery and corruption at elections; but he (Lord D. Stuart) might make the same objection to that plan which the right hon. Gentleman did to that of the ballot, namely, that it could not effectually, although it might in great measure, remove the evils complained of. If the ballot were adopted, he believed it would tend to elevate the community more than any other measure which could be adopted. There could be no doubt but that the ballot was now the favourite question of the people; and the settled and determined demand of the nation must, in a free country like this, be complied with. He believed the ballot was founded upon truth and justice, and felt satisfied that, so far from promoting demoralisation, it would promote morality among the upper as well as among the lower classes. He would sit down, expressing a sentiment which had been enunciated by the noble Earl at the head of the Government on a former occasion:— God forbid (said the noble Earl) I should not have sufficient trust in the wisdom of the country, judging not from the mob, but from the opinion of the nation, to prevent me from repairing our institutions, and declaring against the necessity of a change which few men deny—from complying with the demands of the people—which there was danger in delaying compliance with, and which must finally succeed.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 144; Noes 246: Majority 102.

List of the AYES.
Adair, H. E. Anstey, T. C.
Alcock, T. Armstrong, R. B.
Barron, Sir H. W. Marshall, J. G.
Bass, M. T. Martin, J.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Milner, W. M. E.
Bernal, R. Mitchell, T. A.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Moffatt, G.
Boyle, hon. Col. Molesworth, Sir W.
Bright, J. Moore, G. H.
Brocklehurst, J. Morris, D.
Brown, W. Muntz, G. F.
Clay, J. Murphy, F. S.
Clay, Sir W. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Clifford, H. M. Nugent, Sir P.
Cobden, R. O'Brien, Sir T.
Cockburn, Sir A. J. E. O'Connell, M. J.
Cogan, W. H. F. O'Flaherty, A.
Collins, W. Osborne, R.
Corbally, M. E. Paget, Lord C.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Paget, Lord G.
Dawes, E. Pechell, Sir G. B.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Peel, Sir R.
Devereux, J. T. Perfect, R.
D'Eyneourt, rt. hon. C.T. Pigott, F.
Divett, E. Pilkington, J.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Reynolds, J.
Duncan, Visct. Ricardo, O.
Duncan, G. Rice, E. R.
Duncombe, T. Romilly, Col.
Ellis, J. Sadleir, J.
Enfield, Visct. Salwey, Col.
Evans, Sir De L. Scholefield, W.
Evans, W. Scobell, Capt.
Ewart, W. Scrope, G. P.
Ferguson, Col. Scully, F.
Fox, R. M. Scully, V.
Fox, W. J. Shafto, R. D.
Freestun, Col. Smith, J. A.
Geach, C. Smith, J. B.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Somers, J. P.
Giyn, G. C. Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W.
Grace, O. D. J. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Granger, T. C. Stansfleld, W. R. C.
Greene, J. Strickland, Sir G.
Grenfell, C. P. Struct, rt. hon. E.
Hardcastle, J. A. Stuart, Lord D.
Harris, R. Stuart, Lord J.
Hastie, A. Sullivan, M.
Hastie, A. Talbot, J. H.
Henry, A. Tancred, H. W.
Heywood, J. Tennent, R. J.
Heyworth, L. Thicknesse, R. A.
Higgins, G. G. O. Thompson, Col.
Hill, Lord M. Thompson, G.
Hindley, C. Thornely, T.
Hobhouse, T. B. Trelawny, J. S.
Hume, J. Tufnell, rt. hon. H.
Humphery, Ald. Tynte, Col. C. J. K.
Hutchins, E. J. Villiers, hon. C.
Jackson, W. Vivian, J. H.
Johnstone, J. Wakley, T.
Keating, R. Walmsley, Sir J.
Keogh, W. Wawn, J. T.
Kershaw, J. Wilcox, B. M.
King, hon. P. J. L. Williams, J.
Laneston, J. H. Williams, W.
Lawless, hon. C. Willyams, H.
Locke, J. Wilson, M.
Lushington, C. Wood, Sir W. P.
M'Gregor, J. Wyld, J.
Maher, N. V.
Meagher, T. TELLERS.
Mahon, The O'Gorman Berkeley, H.
Mangles, R. D. Hall, Sir B.
List of the NOES.
Adderley, C. B. Duncombe, hon. A.
Archdall, Capt. M. Duncombe, hon. O.
Arkwright, G. Duncombe, hon. W. E.
Bagot, hon. W. Dunne, Col.
Baillie, H. J. Du Pre, C. G.
Baird, J. East, Sir J. B.
Baldock, E. H. Edwards, H.
Baldwin, C. B. Egerton, Sir P.
Bankes, rt. hon. G. Egerton, W. T.
Baring, T. Elliot, hon. J. E.
Barrington, Visct. Estcourt, J. B. B.
Barrow, W. H. Evelyn, W. J
Beckett, W. Farnham, E. B.
Bennet, P. Farrer, J.
Bentinck, Lord H. Fellowes, E.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Birch, Sir T. B. Filmer, Sir E.
Blandford, Marq. of FitzPatriok, rt. hon. J. W.
Boldero, H. G. Foley, J. H. H.
Booth, Sir R. G. Forbes, W.
Bowles, Adm. Fox, S. W. L.
Bramston, T. W. Fuller, A. E.
Bremridge, R. Gallwey, Sir W. P.
Bridges, Sir B. W. Galway, Visct.
Brisco, M. Gaskell, J. M.
Broadwood, H. Gilpin, Col.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Bruce, C. L. C. Goddard, A. L.
Buck, L. W. Gooch, Sir E. S.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Gore, W. R. O.
Bunbury, W. M. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Burghley, Lord Granby, Marq. of
Campbell, Sir A. I. Greenall, G.
Cardwell, E. Greene, T.
Carew, W. H. P. Grogan, E.
Castlereagh, Visct, Grosvenor, Earl
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Guernsey, Lord
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Gwyn, H.
Cayley, E. S. Hale, R. B.
Chandos, Marq. of Halford, Sir H.
Chaplin, W. J. Hall, Col.
Charteris, hon. F. Hallewell, E. G.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Hamilton, G. A.
Child, S. Hamilton, J. H.
Christopher, rt. hon. R. A. Hamilton, Lord C.
Christy, S. Hardinge, hon. C. S.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Harris, hon. Capt.
Clive, hon. R. H. Hatchell, rt. hon. J.
Clive, H. B. Hayes, Sir E.
Cobbold, J. C. Heald, J.
Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B. Heathcote, Sir G. J.
Cocks, T. S. Heneage, G. H. W.
Codrington, Sir W. Heneage, E.
Collins, T. Henley, rt. hon. J. W.
Compton, H. C. Herbert, H. A.
Conolly, T. Herries, rt. hon. J. C.
Cotton, hon. W. H. S. Hervey, Lord A.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Hildyard, R. C.
Cubitt, Ald. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Currie, H. Hill, Lord E.
Davies, D. A. S. Hope, Sir J.
Deedes, W. Hope, H. T.
Denison, J. E. Hotham, Lord
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. Hudson, G.
Dod, J. W. Hughes, W. B.
Douro, Marq. of Hutt, W.
Drummond, H. H. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Jermyn, Earl
Duff, G. S. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Duff, J. Jones, Capt.
Knox, Col. Rushout, Capt
Knox, hon. W. S. Russell, Lord J.
Langton, W. H. P. G. St. George, C.
Lennard, T. B. Scott, hon. F.
Lennox, Lord A. G. Seymer, H. K.
Lennox, Lord H. G. Seymer, Lord
Lewisham, Visct. Sibthorp, Col.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Smith, M. T.
Littleton, hon. E. R. Smollett, A.
Lockhart, W. Somerton, Visct.
Long, W. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Lopes, Sir B. Spooner, R.
Lowther, hon. Col. Stafford, A.
Lowther, H. Stanford, J. F.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Stanley, E.
Mackie, J. Stanton, W. H.
Mahon, Visct. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Manners, Lord C. S. Stewart, A.
Manners, Lord G. Stuart, H.
Manners, Lord J. Stuart, J.
March, Earl of Sturt, H. G.
Martin, C. W. Taylor, Col.
Masterman, J. Tennent, Sir J. E.
Matheson, Col. Thesiger, Sir F.
Maunsell, T. P. Thompson, Ald.
Maxwell, hon. J. P. Townley, R. G.
Miles, P. W. S. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Miles, W. Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.
Moncreif, J. Tyler, Sir G.
Moody, C. A. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Morgan, O. Verner, Sir W.
Mostyn, hon. E. M. L. Vesey, hon. T.
Mullings, J. R. Villiers, Visct.
Mundy, W. Vivian, J. E.
Naas, Lord Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Napier, J. Waddington H. S.
Newdegate, C. N. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Newport, Visct. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Noel, hon. G. J. Walter, J.
O'Brien, Sir L. Watkins, Col. L.
Ossulston, Lord Wegg-Prosser, F. R.
Packe, C. W. Wellesley, Lord C.
Palmer, R. Whiteside, J.
Palmerston, Visct. Wigram, L. T.
Patten, J. W. Williams, T. P.
Peel, Col. Wodehouse, E.
Peel, F. Worcester, Marq. of
Pennant, hon. Col. Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
Plowden, W. H. C. Wynn, H. W. W.
Portal, M. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Pugh, D. Young, Sir J.
Reid, Gen.
Renton, J. C. TELLERS.
Richards, R. Mackenzie, W. F.
Rumbold, C. E. Bateson, T.

The House adjourned at a quarter after Twelve o'clock.