HC Deb 14 June 1853 vol 128 cc155-229

rose, pursuant to notice, to ask leave to bring in a Bill to give to the electors of Great Britain and Ireland the protection of the ballot. When Lord Aberdeen's Ministry announced to the country their intention to bring forward a measure of reform, he had hoped that the ballot might have been a component part of their scheme, and that they would have deemed it necessary to protect the consciences and the persons, the minds and the bodies of electors at the polling booths. But finding a distinct intimation in the addresses of Lord John Russell and Sir James Graham to their constituents, that they were determined not to have anything to do with that measure, he, under a strong sense of duty, and by the counsel of friends for whose judgment he entertained a great respect, had deemed it necessary to ask permission to legislate on that subject. When he last addressed a House of Commons on that question, it was on the eve of a general election. Lord Derby had determined to throw himself on the country; and perhaps that might have suggested to Mr. Dickens the idea of Lord Doodle throwing himself upon the country in the shape of sovereigns and beer. The emissaries of the two great factions were on the alert. The springs for moving the constituencies were put in order; they had it in evidence that gentlemen high in office—for instance, the Right Hon. Wm. Bcres-ford—had taken counsel with Mr. Frail, of Derby notoriety, no doubt for the purpose of securing purity of election for the great Tory party; at the same time they had ocular demonstration that the Right Hon. Wm. Goodenough Hayter might be seen taking counsel with Mr. Coppock, of St. Albans celebrity, no doubt for the purpose of securing the same inestimable blessing for the Whig party. They had evidence that the masquerade shops had been ransacked; that wigs, whiskers, spectacles, and disguises had been put in requisition—that aliases and alibis were in vogue—and all this to usher in with due solemnity England's great septennial saturnalia, and to do honour to those mighty bacchanalia in which Her Majesty's Cabinet Ministers would seem so greatly to rejoice. At that time he raised his feeble voice to point out to the House the gather- ing storm. He endeavoured to show that England was about to place herself in a position disgraceful to a Christian country in the eyes of Europe. Two hundred years ago, old John Evelyn had made the same complaint, almost in precisely the same words. He spoke of "the confused, debauched, and riotous manner of electing Members qualified to become representatives of a nation," and said that elections more resembled a Pagan bacchanalia than an assembly of sober and Christian men. Was it not a disgraceful fact, that after the lapse of two hundred years, with the march of intellect, the increase of intelligence, the progress of education, and the ceremony, not to say the mockery of a Reform Bill, those very evils still formed the earnest complaint of every honest man, from Dovor to Inverness, from the Cove of Cork to the Giant's Causeway? Some forty years after John Evelyn had made this complaint, another great reformer arose—Daniel Defoe attacked the evils which Evelyn had deplored; and he pointed out the ballot as the remedy. His writings must have taken great effect on the public of that day; for the House of Commons passed a Bill to make the ballot the mode of electing Members of Parliament; but it was rejected by the Lords, who of course refused to lay the axe to the root of their own unconstitutional influence. Well, our great Paganlike bacchanalia had passed over, and left the nation staggering under its effects. A great and fierce party struggle had taken place, in which tyranny with its iron heel had crushed the very germs of liberty from our electoral system; bribery and intimidation had gone hand in hand to complete the work of general demoralisation. When he (Mr. Berkeley) last spoke he warned the House that flocks of low attorneys—the means by which the House of Lords returned their nominees to the House of Commons—were hovering over the land, like the harpies of old, seeking to pounce upon and defile the banquet spread before them. Those flocks of attorneys were now gorged, sated, ruminating upon the past enjoyment of unlimited expenditure and untaxed bills, or repluming themselves for another flight allured by the prospect of an hundred teeming election petitions upstairs, involving the outlay of some 200,000l., of which those gentlemen expected, and no doubt would obtain, the lion's share. Such were some of the consequences of our glorious electoral system that system of which we were so proud, which was so manly, so English—so especially English, that other nations repudiated it. The honest portion of the electors themselves hated and detested it, for it was to them a system of humiliation and disgrace; and at a general election they suffered under what might be appropriately termed a reign of terror. While they hated and detested this system, a majority of the elected were determined to abide by it; thus showing to demonstration that they were not elected by the voice of the electors, but by a power which controlled that voice. The evils of the system were twofold: they consisted in bribery, including treating and intimidation. That House had made many futile attempts to put down bribery; all its efforts had been addressed to that point; no effort had been made to put down intimidation. They compelled their Committees to take an anomalous and inconsistent course; they forced them to turn out of that House Members who were perfectly innocent of bribery themselves, because some agent, either through gross cupidity, or treachery, had either given some venal elector a couple of pounds, or had drenched some beast with a gallon of beer. While thus intent on purity of election, they permitted candidates, their friends, and agents, to drive their tenants to the poll, there to falsify their consciences, and to give a dishonest vote. They permitted customers to compel tradesmen to vote, under pain of ruin. They permitted creditors to drive their debtors to the poll or to prison. They permitted masters to discharge their servants; and thus they permitted a reign of terror to pervade the country from one end to the other. That was straining at the gnat, and swallowing the camel. Intimidation was the giant malady of our electoral system; in comparison with it, bribery was a dwarf complaint. The action of bribery was simple; they purchased a man's conscience, and commanded his vote. Though bribery was indefensible, there might be redeeming features in it. He had known a workman redeem from pawn his box of tools through receiving an election bribe. He had known medical aid furnished to an ailing family through an election bribe. But what redeeming feature was there in intimidation? Its action was complex; its effects were manifold. Its weapon was punishment; and it worked by that far-famed instrument, wholly and solely English in its invention and application, the election screw. Need he tell the House what the election screw was, and how it worked? It was a power which the elector could not resist, short of ruin. It commenced with an inquisition into his private affairs, worthy of a Fouché or a Vidocq, carried on by the election agents; and when, by means of this severe inquisition, his liabilities and misfortunes were laid bare, the power became clear by which he might be acted upon. The working of the system was to twist from the free, manly, and independent Englishman a dishonest vote. Some eight years ago, in seconding Mr. Ward's Motion, he had demonstrated at some length the mischiefs of the election screw, as might be seen in Hansard; and he would state a few instances which he had then gathered from the canvassing books of election agents. These books contained the names of the electors, either printed, lithographed, or in manuscript, with their residences and avocations, against which was left a margin for the experienced agent to enter his remarks. The following were some of them:—"John So-and-so, publican, votes against us. Mem.: Put the screw on him through Mr. So-and-so, the spirit merchant, with whom he is in arrears." "Thomas So-and-So, beershop-keeper, re-fuses to promise. Mem.: Canvass him in company with Mr. So-and-so, the licensing magistrate." "Peter So-and-so, cheese-monger, splits his vote. Mem.: Put the cheesefactor upon him to make him plump." "Abel So-and-so, tailor, votes against us, Mem.: Makes Sir Thomas So-and-so's liveries: apply to Sir Thomas to compel him to split, or not vote at all." He could add instances of this kind ad infinitum, with the names of the parties; and, if he were before an Election Committee, he could call evidence to prove the existence of that election screw to an extent scarcely credible. For one case of bribery, there were 5,000 cases of intimidation. It was ramified throughout every grade of society; every man was brought more or less to screw his neighbour. The Committees took a course that appeared anomalous and ridiculous, if their object was purity of election; for though taking cognisance of bribery and open intimidation, through physical force leading to a breach of the peace, they passed by this screw. Though its operation came before them as a matter of course, yet as a matter of course they must pass over it, for there was no law which they could wield against it. This was remarkably exemplified in the Clitheree Com- mittee. They referred, in their Report, to bribery and physical-force intimidation, but said not a word of that more deadly intimidation which turned the small farmer out of his holding, which ruined the tradesman, or put the debtor in prison. That was passed by; coming under the name of the screw, the Committee did not feel authorised to report upon it. To show how the screw acted at Clitheroe, he would read a letter of one election agent, who hired another election agent for the purpose, and the sole purpose, of putting on this election screw. It was a letter from one William Wheeler, the agent of Mr. Matthew Wilson, the sitting Member, to one Robert Wittam, a farmer, who it appeared was a gentleman that had great influence with poachers and prizefighters; and he had been tampered with to obtain a mob of 300 men to bully and beat the electors; but it seemed he preferred the service of Mr. Wilson, and altogether rejected those overtures. That letter was as follows:— Dear Sir—We are greatly obliged to you for your letter of the 28th of June, and for your kind exertions on the part of Mr. Wilson. Every vote that we can get will be wanted, and therefore I should be glad to hear of any addition to our strength. James Watson, of Brownlow, has not yet promised; and although we expect he will vote for Mr. Wilson, still a word from you will, perhaps, get a definite promise. They are putting on the screw with their tenants in all directions, and we must do the same in self-defence. Have you any other tenants voters? Mr. Sutcliffe Witham has a Joseph Green, who is all right, and a Tomlinson whom I should like you to see; in fact, any one you have any influence over. Of course you must charge me with your personal expenses and loss of time, which I shall be glad to pay.—With thanks, believe me yours truly, W. WHEELER. June 30, 1852, Clitheroe. If these electors were as many buck rabbits, they could not be spoken of more contemptuously, and the mode of handling buck rabbits was very suggestive of the mode in which these gentlemen dealt with the electors. They took a buck rabbit by the ears and transferred him from one hutch to another. The experienced quadruped never kicked nor resisted; by a like kind of process they transferred the tenant at will to the polling booths, and the experienced biped was equally passive. Was this a state of things which an enlightened nation should suffer without attempting to apply a remedy? But against intimidation they had no remedy whatsoever. He defied the most astute Member of that House to point out anything like a remedy for it. There was no remedy but the ballot; and they knew it. They could make no law to prevent a landlord from ejecting a tenant at will when he pleased. The landlord was not obliged to assign his reason for doing it; and they could not make him assign one. They could pass no law to prevent that. They could make no law to prevent a customer from changing his tradesman as often as he pleased; it was utterly impossible to make a law to prevent that. They could make no law to stay the judgment creditor, and prevent him from putting his debtor either into the polling booth or into prison. That was utterly impossible. Through every grade and phase of society they could make no law to compel the employer to keep on the employed. Then, what Act could they pass to prevent this intimidation? The cases he had referred to were those in which the very gist of intimidation consisted. Open voting exposed the voter to the influence of persons who, by the knowledge they so obtained, were able to deal out punishment or reward to the elector. The elective franchise was thus wrested from the class that was legally entitled to it, and was usurped by others, who had no right to it at all, more particularly by Peers of the realm, who were forbidden by law from interfering in elections for Members of Parliament. Secret voting was the only mode of preventing this evil; and he should not trouble the House on the subject of intimidation, further than to add two pithy sentences—one by the best authority of the olden time, the other by the first authority of modern days—"There is no way to stop this evil, it is so engrained in the people, but by the way of balloting," said Daniel Defoe. "There is no way of stopping intimidation, but by making intimidation mechanically impossible," exclaimed George Grote. His complaint was, that, though intimidation was raging through the land like an epidemic, and though they had as certain a remedy for it as vaccination was for the small-pox, they denied to the country the cure. One feature was remarkable in all the speeches of the present Ministry, from Lord Aberdeen downwards—the admission of the deplorable faults of our electoral system. This admission was made at the eleventh hour. Up to this time almost, those faults had been most audaciously denied. Lord Aberdeen said— Some amendment of our representative system is necessary; and, unquestionably, the result of the last election has not been calculated to render any man more enamoured of the present system. His Lordship used that strong expression before the recent disclosures in the Committees. What would he say now? When the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) appeared as a candidate for the suffrages of the electors of London, the people called on him to give them the ballot; and he (Mr. Berkeley) was perfectly charmed at the imbecility of the reason which so great a statesman was compelled to resort to. The gist of what he said was, that there must be perfect equality in our institutions; that we could not admit of secret voting in one, unless we admitted it in all; and he illustrated that position in a very extraordinary manner. He said that as the proceedings of courts of law were open, so should the proceedings of those who elected Members to serve in Parliament. Why, who intimidated a judge? Who corrupted a jury? Who could command, by dint of punishment or reward, the charge of a judge or the verdict of a jury? How could the publicity of judicial proceedings injure either judge or jury? On the other hand, they knew that Parliamentary electors were intimidated, that voters were corrupted, that the decision of the elector was governed by the fear of punishment and the hope of reward, and that the publicity of the proceedings led to the thraldom of the elector. What analogy could there be between those two cases? Who could forget the speeches made by the noble Lord at Perth and Leeds? At Perth the noble Lord had said that it was true Conservatism not to oppose the just demands of the people. Did he not talk of democracy having its rights as well as aristocracy; and how much safer it was to yield those rights rather than to wait until the people forced them? What did the noble Lord say at Leeds?— I believe that the institutions of this country would be entirely impracticable—would entirely fail—would break to pieces in the working of the machinery, if it were not for the good sense, the moderation, and, I may say, the wisdom of the people; but I believe in that good sense, that moderation, that wisdom, we have a security for the future welfare and prosperity of those institutions. But the language of the noble Lord was very different when in opposition and when a member of the Government, for what did he say when he stood for the City of London?—


All the ad- dresses, that to the electors of the City of London included, were delivered in opposition.


thought that the address to the electors of London was made when the noble Lord had joined the present Cabinet.


You are right.


I am satisfied I am; but it does not much matter whether that is so or not, because all I wish to show is, that there was a discrepancy and a change of tone in the language used by the noble Lord on these different occasions. After extolling the good sense, moderation, and wisdom of the people, the noble Lord said, in fact, to the electors of London, "Oh, but I shall stand by and see the vote torn from good sense, moderation, and wisdom, and usurped by tyranny, oppression, and bigotry." The noble Lord at one moment said, that democracy had its rights, and that they depended on the good sense of the people for the existence of their institutions; but the next moment he refused to give them the free and uncontrolled use of their voices. If the noble Lord would listen to and hear the language of the people, he would find them saying, that in the team of reform the noble Lord was the best collared horse, but the moment he took office, he became restive, he turned "jibber," held back from his collar, and sat down on his breeching. He would now come to the speech which the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, another great pillar of this Ministry of the composite order, delivered at Carlisle. The right hon. Baronet said— No man can view with more disgust than I do the intimidation, bribery, and corrupt practices which have prevailed at elections, and even at the last general election in this country. It is cruel when men have a privilege which they ought to exercise freely and independently, for either landlords or employers to intimidate them by threats, or for customers to declare to tradesmen that if they do not vote in a particular way they shall be deprived of custom. It is unworthy of this free country that any man should be exposed to what I hold to be such tyranny and oppression. The House could imagine the upturned faces of the people when they heard the benign voice of the right hon. Gentleman, and these parental accents. But though the right hon. Gentleman was ready to put a stop to intimidation, he did not believe the ballot would do it. Yet the right hon. Gentleman did not say that anything else would. He had recourse to arguments so weak and untenable, that the right hon. Gentleman must be at his wit's end—and that was at a considerable distance—when he used them. The right hon. Baronet said they could not enact in this free country that every man should give his vote in secret, and that without this the ballot would he found flagrantly inefficient, for if the voter refused to give his vote openly when asked by his landlord to do so, the landlord would assume that his secret vote was given against him, and he would act accordingly. Now on what authority did the right hon. Gentleman assume that they could not pass an Act requiring that every vote should be taken secretly? What free principle of our free institutions did we violate, when we made a law to protect freedom of election? Those men who would be most ready to oppress the voter might indeed find their manliness and feelings dreadfully shocked, hut the electors themselves would rejoice exceedingly if such an Act were passed. The second argument of the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly "stale, flat, and unprofitable." Nothing could be more pharisaical. "I believe," said the right hon. Gentleman, "that with the ballot you would have Flukers and Frails—men of quickness and judgment sent down from the Carlton Club to purchase voters by wholesale in the small constituencies on the principle of no return no pay." He (Mr. Berkeley) would admit that for the sake of argument. But, then, what would be done on the other side? Why, that the Coppocks and Edwards's would be sent down to oppose the Flukers and Frails. The Coppocks would no doubt be armed with a good heavy purse, and the electors, as they did now, would sell themselves to the highest bidder. But the ballot would render the market uncertain, and people would not like to risk their money in that way. Her Majesty's Government were pledged to bring in a large measure of reform. That measure of reform was "looming in the distance"—it was so far off that it could only be seen by Ministerial telescopes. Now they were told that a great extension of the franchise was intended, consequently those small constituencies—miserable pots of bribery those noblemen's pocket boroughs—were to be got rid of: why, if that were the case, it was disingenuous in the extreme on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to use their existence as an argument against the ballot. But if they were not to be got rid of, and the franchise was not to be extended, then the Ministry had deceived the country, and the right hon. Gentleman, as one of them, must be deemed "niddering and mansworn." He might take which horn of the dilemma he pleased. The right hon. Gentleman made a stock in trade of the Flukers and Frails, the Coppocks and Edwards's, et id genus omne. But he regarded these people in the light of a gas, which, by its escape, gave notice of the presence of a corrupting body. Let them get rid of the festering body, and they would then not suffer from the gas. But they kept a great weltering dunghill of corruption, and they found fault with the fungi that grew on its surface, fie would now put in bright and pleasing contrast to these miserable shifts and arguments of Cabinet Ministers the straightforward declaration of the Solicitor General (Sir R. Bethell). That hon. and learned Gentleman told the electors of Aylesbury that "it was not within his power to describe the character or the details of the reform measure which the Ministry was about to introduce; but he must say that the first element of such a measure ought to be the extension of the franchise, and the next the possession of the ballot for the protection of the voter." Whereupon the electors and audience called out, "Three cheers for the ballot!" Such, then, was the opinion of the hon and learned Gentleman, the first counsel in the highest court of judicature in England. Such also was the opinion of Sir John Romilly, the present Master of the Rolls. And such the opinion of Mr. Page Wood, now Vice-Chancellor. It was pleasant to be able to turn to Hansard for their speeches, and to see the contrast between them and the miserable futile break-down arguments of Cabinet Ministers. But he felt bound to meet the latest objections on record to the principle of vote by ballot. The members of the present Cabinet seemed but too glad to creep under the gaberdine of the Times for shelter. The ballot, said the Times, was a question not of philosophy but of fact. It would not prove an efficient protection to the voter, because in these days every man's opinions were known. He (Mr. Berkeley) would admit that the question was one of fact and not of philosophy. But on whose side was the fact, and on whose side was the philosophy, or rather the sophistry? "Does the ballot (it is asked) prevent a man's opinions from being known?" The concealment of a man's opinions depended on himself; but the main and material fact was, that the ballot prevented the roan's vote from being known. He was speaking in the presence of an assembly that protected themselves from the Sir Lucius O' Triggers of society by means of the ballot, and he put it to them to say, if the ballot did not enable them to conceal their votes, and, if they wished it, their opinions also? Well, but the Sir Lucius O'Triggers of politics were more dangerous than the Sir Lucius O' Triggers of society; and was it fair or just, he would ask, in them, with their broad acres and their broad cloth, to seek to conceal their votes and opinions by means of the ballot, and deny the same protection to men who wore fustian, and had no tan acre in the world? Would they answer that question? He had often put it before, but he never yet got an answer. But he denied as a mere matter of fact, that the electors could not conceal their opinions, and that they must necessarily be known. It was said that Englishmen were garrulous, and that their political opinions must leak out, under the influence of drink, or from misplaced confidence in women. Why, there were hundreds of thousands of persons in this country associated together who did keep their secrets inviolate. He was, himself, a member of the Foresters and Odd Fellows Societies; and he had no doubt many of the Members around him were in the same position. He knew there was a vast number of Odd Fellows in the House of Commons. Now he never knew that the secrets of these societies had been betrayed either from garrulity, or drink, or misplaced confidence in women. He had heard the wives of Freemasons declare that there could be no secret in freemasonry, because if there was they would be sure to get it out of them in their soft hours. So much for the general habits of the people. He had been challenged to deal with facts, and he would now produce evidence to show that the political opinions of the electors were not generally known. In these days and under the present electoral system, poor men no more dared to assert their political opinions than they dared to give their votes contrary to the wishes of their landlords. The tenants-at-will, it was said, had no political opinions of their own. They had political opinions of their own, but they dared not express them. The tradesmen of this country had likewise their opinions, but they were obliged to conceal them, or their bread would be endangered. He was sorry to detain the House so long, but on this point he begged their attention to the evidence of Mr. James Matter, given before a Committee in 1835:— You have been a land surveyor?—I have. In what counties?—Brecknock, Shropshire, Yorkshire, Oxfordshire, Middlesex; but my business has called me to many other parts of England. You have had an opportunity of knowing the opinions of farmers on most subjects?—My business has led me very much among that class of men. I wish you to confine yourself entirely to their political relations with their landlords, and with a view to that part of the subject I ask, among what class of tenants do you believe most independence is to be found?—Among those who have a leasehold tenure; but their independence is very much governed by circumstances. What circumstances?—The length of the lease, for instance. I have always remarked that farmers are more inclined to assert their political opinions at the commencement of their tenure than at its conclusion. I presume you mean in cases where they disagree in politics with their landlords?—Yes; and especially if the landlord be a strong politician. There are some landlords who do not interfere. Is that, in your opinion, a large class?—No, on the contrary, for if the landlord have no strong political bias of his own, in nine cases out of ten he interferes with his tenantry from the instigation of some neighbour who has. Do you consider that politics are liable to breed ill-will between landlord and tenant?—I do, especially when the tenants have leases. How? Where they are tenants-at-will?—Much less so, because tenants-at-will have no will, as far as politics are concerned; they know they must vote as their landlords please, and make up their minds to do so. Are there not exceptions to the rule?—There may be, but you will find them very rare. Have you found, generally, that tenants-at-will are contented to be thus governed?—I have observed that the most intelligent among that class, consequently the best agriculturists, are by no means contented; but they cannot help themselves; while those men, whose families have held their farms without being disturbed from generation to generation, are just as well satisfied to pay their votes to their landlords as their rents, and consider it much the same thing. Do you consider this class of men less intelligent?—I do. These are the same sort of men who oppose all improvements, and tell you that their fathers did so before them, and that things went on as well then as they do now. Do you think the tenantry of the country generally would like to vote by ballot?—A vast majority would; but there are a class of them who, I have no doubt, would have as much horror of the ballot as I have known them profess for subsoil drainage, and the drill plough. You have said that you think the majority of farmers- would prefer the ballot, how do you account for the fact that fewer petitions have been presented by that class of men to the House of Commons than any other in favour of it?—The reason appears to me plain. When you say farmers, I take it for granted you mean tenants-at-will. Well, then, a tenant-at-will no more dare sign a petition on a political subject, than he dare vote without the concurrence of his landlord; and the ballot is more dreaded by landlords than any other reform whatever. Then you think tenants-at-will dare not entertain any political opinions?—I do not say that; but I do say that they dare not express them. If a tenant-at-will were to express opinions hostile to those of a strong political landlord—for instance, if he were known to be favourable to the ballot, he would be treated as he treats a tainted sheep, and be drafted from the flock. If they turned over the 900 pages of evidence contained in the book from which he quoted, they would find, by the testimony of Mr. Wilcox and Mr. Fitzgerald, both of them magistrates, and of the late Colonel Bruen, who had been a Member of that House, that the electors of Ireland dared no more to express their political opinions than the tenants-at-will in England. The only difference was, that the Irish land lords did not disguise or mince the matter, but openly proclaimed their right to command the votes of their tenants. And he would show that that feeling was as rampant now in Ireland as it was in 1835. He should show that coercion of the voter existed to an extent which was scarcely credible. Here was the case of Mr. Henry De Burgh, a landlord in the county of Monaghan. Mr. De Burgh writes to the editor of the Daily Express as follows:— Belcamp, St. Dunlough's, Raheny, Aug. 17, 1852. Sir—Perhaps you will make use of the inclosed correspondence to suit the purposes of the day. John Murphy is a tenant on the lands of Skeborn, in the county of Monaghan. I asked him for his vote. He voted against me. I directed the subagent, Mr. Johnson, to enforce all rent justly due and payable, without pressure or hardship. He wrote the letter No. 1; this morning I received from Murphy the letter No. 2; I wrote my reply No. 3. You may make what editorial use of the subject and letters you please. If the landlords of the country (that is, the Conservative) would all do likewise, the priests would soon be considered by their own flocks as the political vampires they unquestionably are. HENRY DE BURGH. Snow Hill, Monaghan, Aug. 5, 1852. Sir—I have this day received instructions from Mr. De Burgh, to call on you for all rent and arrears of rent to be paid on your holdings up to May, 1852, otherwise to take the necessary proceedings for the recovery of it.—Your obedient, JOHN JOHNSON. Mr. John Murphy. P.S. This must be settled next week.—J. J. Skeborn, Aug. 10, 1852. Mr. De Burgh—Sir, inclosed I send you a note I got from Mr. Johnson, which will, I hope, bear my excuse for troubling you. I hope, Sir, you will not persevere, at this unusual season, to press for rent. What I would be able to accomplish in two months, without doing me any injury, would be a heavy loss to press for now, as I have grass taken for two of my cows. I would consequently lose their benefit for the three best months, as butter is 3d. per pound better now than in summer. I will be able to pay you in October all demands. I fondly hope, respected Sir, you will be so kind and indulgent as to grant the time I have requested, and I will pray for your welfare. I have to remark I have all rent paid up to May, 1851.—I am, your respected servant, JOHN MURPHY. Sir—If you favour me with a reply, direct 'in care of Mr. John Leghorn, Clones.' This was the respected master's reply— St. Dunlough's, Raheny, Aug. 16,1852. Sir—Yours of the 10th was forwarded here. Mr. Johnson has acted strictly according to his instructions. You refused your landlord the compliment of your vote. Be it so. Let there be no compliment between us. Vote as you please; but pay up your rents to the day they are usually payable, or I shall make you. No doubt but your political supporters will grant you the favour that I refuse, and enable you to pay your year's rent due on the 1st day of May, 1852.—Your obedient servant, HENRY DE BURGH. Mr. John Murphy, Scarvy, Slones. Then he thought Murphy would have been the better for the ballot. He thought after what he had quoted they might come to the conclusion that the serfdom of the tenant voter was as great in Ireland as it was in England. It was now twenty-one years since the noble Lord made a speech at Torquay on this subject, and he hoped some friend might persuade the noble Lord to abide by that speech. The noble Lord then said— Great as I apprehend the inconvenience of the ballot would be, yet if it come to this, that I must either adopt such a measure, or see the tenantry of England ranged at elections contrary to the feelings of themselves, I should have no doubt; I should at once renounce my previous opinion, and at once adopt the vote by ballot, The noble Lord, no doubt, passed much of his time in the princely mansion of his brother, the Duke of Bedford, of whom he never heard it insinuated that he ever punished a tenant for any vote he gave, or that he ever intimidated any voter from voting according to his conscience. Consequently, the noble Lord might have some excuse at that early period for thinking that the tenants would not be ranged at elections contrary to their feelings. But he must suppose that the noble Lord, like Rip Van Winkle, must have slept for twenty years, if he were not cognisant of the evidence that had been thundered into his ears ever since; and if he did not see and admit that the tenants-at-will were ranged under their separate leaders, and led to vote contrary to their own opinions, and what they believed to be the good of the community. Was it not notorious that the electors of the same estate voted for whig or tory as it changed into the hands of landlords of these respective opinions? That was proved in evidence, and Mr. Ward in particular clearly showed that the fact was so. Who could he deaf to the evidence in the case of the South Nottinghamshire election, where the tenants were ferreted like rats out of hay ricks and corn stacks? Was the noble Lord deaf to all this? Was he deaf to the state of things now existing? He called upon the noble Lord, as an honest man, to deny, if he dared, his conviction of the truth of the representation which he gave of the existing state of things. If he could not, he called on the noble Lord to fulfil his pledge, and to vote for the ballot. It was said that the vote by ballot was a measure of democratic tendency. How could that be so, when the noble Lord told them that it was to the good sense, the moderation, and the wisdom of the people that they owed the continuance of their constitution? What preternatural power was there in the ballot of converting loyal, wise, and moderate men into democrats, socialists, and republicans? Was the privilege of giving an unfettered vote fraught with such consequences? The effect of the ballot would, in his opinion, be the restoration of an usurped right. Its effect would be to carry out the Christian doctrine, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's." As to the ballot converting the English people into socialists and democrats, such a notion appeared to him stark raving madness. He should glance at the proceedings of one election in England, and of another in Ireland, for the purpose of showing that the ballot was the surest, the most constitutional, protection against violence and corruption, and, as a remedy against intimidation, far better and more constitutional than surrounding the polling booth with armed soldiers. The English election which he selected as an illustration was that of Oldham. It appeared from the report that Mr. Fox and Mr. Heald were the candidates for that borough; that Mr. Fox had a majority of the electors in his favour, and that Mr. Heald had a majority of the ruffians. When a right good agent of the Derby or St. Albans breed undertook to return a candidate for a given borough, he first of all tried the efficacy of bribery and corruption, and, if those aids failed, he then in the last resort, hired a mob to thrash the unfriendly electors going to and returning from the poll, and to smash their windows. Now there were certain men who were so unmanly as to object to have their bones broken, so un-English as to object to the upsetting of carriages, so eccentric as to consider the intrusion of a brickbat on the tea table of a family party an unwelcome event. Well, by such aids as these the legitimate majority of Mr. Fox was very very nearly converted into a minority; and his hon. Friend, whom he was happy to see present, would no doubt be ready to confirm his statement, that had it not been for the marvellous firmness of his friends he would have been defeated by a minority. Nor was that case peculiar. They had in evidence that Clitheroe and Blackburn were in exactly the same position as Oldham; in short, this was the common rule of English elections. Now for this state of things the ballot was a certain remedy. Nobody would break a man's bones in order to persuade him to vote in a particular way; nobody would upset a carriage in order to prevent a man from voting; nobody would smash windows if it were impossible to tell how the vote was given; and he maintained that the ballot was the constitutional mode of election. Well, then in Ireland the ballot would have prevented the catastrophe at the Six-mile Bridge. In the first place, no landlords would pile up their tenantry on cars like living bales of goods, and consign them to the next polling booth with the aid of the military, if the ballot were established, because these men might accept their conveyance and then vote in their teeth. No mob would assemble either to rescue a voter from a tyrant landlord, or to ill use him if he were an opponent, seeing that it would be utterly impossible to know which way he was going to vote. It was contrary to common sense to say that under the ballot the peace of the country would be disturbed as it had been during general elections. He challenged any hon. Gentleman to match such places as Oldham and the Six-mile Bridge and Blackburn, or even Clitheroe, in any country where the ballot was established. If they questioned the Belgian, he would tell them that, though great interest was felt in his national elections, peace and order were the rule, and disturbance the exception. If they questioned the Frenchman, he would tell them that nothing could be more orderly than French elections—he would tell them that in the vicinity of the voting urns in France the tradesmen never closed their shops, that the doors were not closed, nor the windows barred, as in English elections, where boroughs appeared to be in a state of siege. Perhaps the Frenchman would tell them, too, that John Bull was so accustomed to his national luxuries of beer, boxing, and bribery, that he would never part with them. If, again, they questioned the American, he would tell them that at his national elections peace was the rule, disorder the exception. He was afraid—he (Mr. Berkeley) did not say it—he was afraid Jonathan would add that John Bull would never get rid of his corrupt electoral system until he had got rid of the corrupting influence of an hereditary Peerage. One word, before he concluded, with regard to the boroughs which contained dockyards. The atrocities perpetrated in these boroughs, in the shape of punishment and reward, were fully and fairly before the public; and Chatham had the unenviable notoriety up to that time of having never returned a Member contrary to the interests of the Government of the day. Now, the only way in which they could prevent the electors of such boroughs from being punished for political virtue, and rewarded for political vice, was by giving them security at the poll. Until that was done, never would merit meet with its desert, nor the stream of patronage flow in the right channel. He should not be doing justice however, if he admitted that the dockyard voters of Chatham were more under the influence of others than the tenant farmers; and he maintained that if they attempted to disfranchise the electors of Chatham, they ought, at the same time, as a matter of justice, to disfranchise the tenant farmers of the county of Kent. It was, then, because he objected to the exercise of this tyranny over electors, that he entreated the House to free the country from its pernicious influence; it was because he would practically carry out the sentiments of the noble Lord, and restore to good sense, wisdom, and moderation the privilege of recording an unfettered vote, that he sought to protect those great qualities of the people at the polling booth. When they heard of democracy, he entreated the House to remember the conduct of the people in 1848, that memorable era when they were found the prompt protectors of their country against Red Republicanism. He would call upon them to remember the conduct of the people at the Great Exhibition, marked as that conduct was by great intelligence and by the love of order—he would call upon them not to forget the conduct of the people at the interment of England's great Captain—marked as their conduct then was by deep reverence and respect for the mighty dead—the aristocrat who lay coffined before them; and then he told them to get rid of their paltry terrors and their aristocratic tremblings at democracy. He called upon that newly elected House of Commons to stand forward and prove themselves worthy of the electors who had sent them there; he call-upon them to restore to the people a great privilege, a chartered right, to which they were as much entitled as they were to enjoy the sun that shone in God's firmament, or the light breezes of spring; and that they might do this he entreated them most respectfully, but most earnestly, to legislate on the subject.


in seconding the Motion, said that if it were difficult to find any new argument in favour of the adoption of the ballot, it must be still more difficult to urge any new arguments against it. It was curious to see how exactly the language used by Mr. Grote, when he brought the question forward in 1838, applied to the present occasion. Mr. Grote then said— No one can deny that bribery and intimidation are serious evils; as little can any one deny that bribery and intimidation infect at this moment almost every vein and artery of our elective system, and that the securities which we possess against them are impotent and contemptible. That a remedy against such mischiefs is urgently needed, stands confessed and obvious to every one; and what second remedy, what other measure of any promise or efficiency, has ever been proposed even by those whose aversion to the ballot is most unconquerable? Admitting, even, that my reasonings carry with them nothing stronger than a considerable probability—admitting that my proposition presents only a fair chance of success, yet what is the alternative? Why, the alternative is, that bribery and intimidation must remain as they are now, epidemic evils permanently entailed upon us beyond all reach of cure. And I submit that this is a conclusion far too discouraging to be admitted by any reasonable man, or by any sincere patriot, while the expedient of the ballot remains untried."—[3 Hansard, xl. 1132–33.] When we looked at what had occurred at the last elections, we must feel convinced that nothing had been done to remedy the evil, and that the ballot ought to be tried. In the course of the same debate the noble Lord the Member for the City of London said, "I am sure it may be said, that if we acknowledge the evil, to a great extent we are bound to find a remedy." After these words, and after the practices which had been proved to have taken place at the last election, the noble Lord, in his own words, was "bound to find a remedy;" but he (Sir J. Shelley) feared he had such an inherent dislike to the very word "ballot," that he would not resort to it. He hoped, however, that the noble Lord would; for he should be deeply grieved and disappointed if he came to the conclusion that the only remedy yet suggested for the evils which had been proved, should not be tried. At all events, if the noble Lord would not support the present proposition, he trusted he might give his assistance to some other. Probably he might support that of his hon. Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Sir W. Clay), who wished the votes for the election of Members of Parliament to be taken in the same manner as those for the election of poor-law guardians. But at any rate, let not the noble Lord again tell the House that the ballot was un-English; for that was an argument utterly untenable. He (Sir J. Shelley) had the honour to represent a constituency which was much too large to have the screw put upon it. Hitherto, the electors, from their numbers, had been enabled to resist the screw, and to elect the men of their choice; yet he was satisfied that even in their case it was necessary that they should have the protection of giving their votes by ballot. With regard to some fashionable parts of Westminster—such as Regent Street, Bond Street, and the like—it was well known that the people were influenced by fine ladies driving about in carriages, and in this way the screw was put on. It was impossible but that some impression was made; and he believed that those ladies themselves, after the experience they had at the last election, would be very glad to see the introduction of vote by ballot, for it would do away with the necessity of their going about looking after votes. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, who appeared at this moment to be represented only by the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. E. Ball), need not be afraid of the ballot. He was himself a country gentleman, and a proof that it was possible to find a great constituency who would elect one of their own body. In the debate to which he had already alluded, the hon. Baronet the Member for Hertfordshire (Sir E. B. Lytton) advocated the ballot with great force and earnestness; and let hon. Gentlemen opposite listen to his observations:— It is said that it will weaken the influence of property. Now, there are two kinds of influence—legitimate influence and unlawful and improper influence. The improper and unlawful influence the ballot will undoubtedly destroy; wherever one man trembles at the frown of another—wherever money is used to corrupt poverty—wherever pro- perty is intended to overrule the conscience—there, indeed, will the ballot step in, and there will the poor man and the rich man be on equal terms. But wherever a great proprietor is more beloved than feared—wherever his virtues are made more apparent by the pedestal on which they stand—there the ballot box will not steal from him a single vote, or take an atom from the legitimate influence of his station. On the contrary, it will always be found that the more the constituency forces the aristocracy to cultivate the favour of the people, the greater will be the moral influence of the aristocracy, and the more you will find them rising to the head of affairs."—[Hansard, xl. 1180.] He hoped that this opinion, so well expressed by the hon. Baronet, would have its influence upon country Gentlemen opposite, and that they would not pay so bad a compliment to their order as to believe that if the electors had the power of voting according to their consciences, there would not be just as many hon. Gentlemen of that class returned to that House as there were at present. There was no subject in which he felt more deeply interested than this, nor any upon which he should give a more cordial vote. He was anxious, therefore, to ascertain the views of Her Majesty's Government upon it. Composed as that Government was, he wished to hear the opinions of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark (Sir W. Molesworth), who hitherto had always advocated this cause. Certainly, looking at all that had occurred in the late elections, and it being admitted that some remedy was required, he expected, with some confidence, that those Members of the Government who had advocated the ballot would give their support to this Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That leave be given to bring in a Bill to protect the Electors of Great Britain and Ireland, by causing the Votes at all Parliamentary Elections to be taken by way of Ballot.


said, he should not have risen to engage in this debate had it not been for the allusion made to him by the hon. Baronet the Member for Westminster. He congratulated Westminster on having found a new glory in the hon. Baronet; and hoped the constituency would forget the grace, the dignity, and the majesty of its old glory—Sir Francis Burdett—in its new pride. He had, indeed, forgotten that the question of the ballot was to be brought under the notice of the House to-night, otherwise be would have been prepared for the discussion. Much that he had heard from the preceding speakers was certainly unnecessary. Everybody, for in- stance, was convinced that corruption existed. If any doubt at all had existed on that subject, it must have been removed by the Reports of the Committees of that House. There was an immensity of corruption in the election of Members. But what did this fact prove? Why, it only proved in his (Mr. Ball's) mind the failure of the Reform Bill, urged on by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), as well as the futility of the statements of the hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. Cobden), in the course of his agitation against the corn laws. Each of these events was promised to restore the greatest purity of election in one way or in another; but, nevertheless, the corruption that existed was greater than ever. He should vote against the Motion, not because he did not desire a change—not because he was not disgusted with the bribery that prevailed—not because he was not shocked at the corruption which prevailed, but because he believed the ballot was not the remedy for these evils, and because he believed that it would not materially remove the corruption. It was very unfortunate for him that he had so entirely forgotten what was the subject of the debate, or he would have prepared himself with arguments against the introduction of the ballot. But still he was enabled to offer one or two suggestions to hon. Gentlemen as to the manner in which they should act under present circumstances. The ballot would not be a security against bribery. A few persons might be brought over, and the election turned by their means. Could not the candidate tell his agent to go with these few to the poll, and not to separate from them till he had seen them vote? If the agent did this, it would be impossible for the voters to deceive the candidate. There was, therefore, no security in the ballot. But he could suggest to the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), if he wished to destroy corruption, and to remedy existing irregularities, a more simple and efficient mode than had yet been offered to the House. Let the noble Lord give to all county electors a vote in the election of all the boroughs within the county, in addition to their vote for county Members. Let him go into all the boroughs, and say to the electors, "You shall have a right to vote for all the county Members;" and let him also go into the counties and say to the electors, "You shall have a vote for all the borough Members." Would any Gentleman deny that by such means a con- stituency would be created so large that it would be impossible to corrupt it? He would illustrate his views by the case of the county of Norfolk. There were four boroughs in that county, Norwich, Yarmouth, Thetford, and Lynn, each of which returned two Members; the two divisions, East and West, returning two each. The whole county, therefore, returned twelve Members. The voters in Norwich and Yarmouth should have votes for Thetford and Lynn; and those in Thetford and Lynn for Norwich and Yarmouth; and they again for the two divisions of the county. Thus a very large constituency would be created; and he honestly believed that under such a system corruption and intimidation would be impossible. Who were to be the electors? He would not make the elective franchise consist in a 40s. freehold; but he would have officers appointed in every county, and register offices in every district. The officers should say to any man twenty-one years of age, "If you like to have a vote, you may register it in the office;" and upon the payment of a sum of money the man should possess the elective franchise. Under such a system none could complain of being deprived of the franchise. Then, what should be done with the money? Why, after the money had been so paid, and a receipt given for it, he would have it divided among the Members elected. The right hon. Gentleman in the Chair, was he not paid for his valuable services? Were not the Judges paid? Were not Her Majesty's Ministers paid? The officers of the House, were they not paid? Why should Members of Parliament, then, be the only persons who were not to be paid? Instead of its being a degradation, as some hon. Gentlemen appeared to think, he should feel it an extreme honour. He should feel it an extreme honour to have it said that, without seeking or wishing for it, the electors had, from motives of respect, and from the confidence they felt in him, sent him to represent them in the House of Commons; and he should feel it also a creditable thing for the people to say, "We will not have a man open to the corruption of a Minister of State, spending thousands to get into the House of Commons, and looking to the Ministry for some place that may return him his money." With respect to what had been said about tenant farmers, he wanted to know how it was—if the hon. Gentleman (Mr. H. Berkeley) had stated correctly that tenants had no opin- ions, or no power to exercise them, he wanted to know how it was that he (Mr. Ball) had the honour of addressing that House that night? How had he come there? Was he the nominee of any great man? Had he hereditary possessions or great wealth, that might command the votes of the constituency? He had never expected such an honour—he had no inherent claim to it; hut it was because the tenantry had the power of choice; and because they chose to exercise it, that he was a Member of that House. He, therefore, thought that he was in his own person the best, the fullest refutation of the charges that had been brought against the tenantry of England. He felt persuaded in his own mind that if the view he had suggested was adopted by the noble Lord, with such improvements as his own experience might suggest, it would be the basis of a scheme which, while it delivered the constituency from corruption, and at the same time delivered the Members of that House from the fearful exposures that had lately been made, and the terrible ordeal they had had to pass through, would tell more in favour of purity of election than if they adopted the ballot, which, believing that it would not answer the purpose that was expected from it, he must oppose.


said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had not addressed a single remark to that question which formed the prominent topic in the speech of the hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. H. Berkeley). For himself, he never supposed that the ballot would prevent that species of corruption which was known as bribery. But he also looked upon intimidation as corruption, and corruption in its foulest and most loathsome shape, and he could not but see in the ballot a remedy against the specific evil of intimidation. He was at a loss to know whether the antagonists of the ballot would take the ground of saying that intimidation was no evil, or that the ballot was not a remedy for it. That intimidation was an evil, no one, he thought, would be bold enough to deny. That there was a legitimate influence attached to property, he would be the last person to deny; but intimidation, he contended, was calculated to shake the influence of all property, because it brought the feeling of respect for property into collision with other and more powerful antagonistic feelings; and, therefore, he thought that the man who wished well to the proper influence of property would take care to dissociate it from that which must be viewed by every one as an improper use of that influence. With regard to another question—whether intimidation existed—he believed it would be admitted by every one who had attended to the late disclosures that intimidation prevailed, in a greater or less degree, in all the different districts of the country, and particularly in the small towns, rendering the honest exercise of the franchise by a voter extremely perilous, and in some cases almost impossible. He asked whether they, as legislators, had a right to place any man in a situation where the discharge of his duty in voting according to his conscience was sure to bring with it his ruin? It was vain to deny that such cases were constantly occurring. He did not mean to say that this question—unlike all other questions that occupied the attention of reflecting men—was one where all the evil was on the one side, and all the good on the other. He admitted that the system of publicity in voting had its advantages, and the only question was whether those advantages were not counterbalanced by greater evils existing on the other side. His opinion was that the balance of the evil, which caused the voter to shrink from the discharge of his duty, far outweighed the evils that were likely to arise from the system of secret voting. He admitted that the constituency undoubtedly had a right to know how their representatives voted; but it was quite a different question when an elector came to vote for a candidate. In such a case he held that no earthly power had a right to come and ask the voter why he voted for one candidate rather than the other. The question of how a man was to give his vote was one between his conscience and himself, and he would discharge it the better the more perfectly he fulfilled his own conscientious convictions. He did not say that the ballot would make a dishonest voter honest, but it would take away much of the temptation to dishonesty, so that he would be left as he was before, with the difference, that, as no confidence could be placed in him, his dishonesty would be less likely to be called into action, because under the ballot it would be impossible for any one to know whether or not a corrupt bargain had been fulfilled. But take the case of the honest voter—of the man who was pressed between ruin on the one side, and the discharge of a sacred duty on the other—and see if, in his case, the advantages of the ballot would not weigh strongly. In the case of the dishonest voter, the probability would always be that he would betray his employer, and, therefore, no confidence could be reposed in him. Would any man say that it was not desirable to take away that confidence? The dishonest voter could not be trusted to fulfil his promise; he was not bound to fulfil his promise; it might as well be argued that a man was bound to fulfil a promise to assassinate, or to bear false witness. The crime lay in making the promise. It was contrary to every principle of morality, it was contrary to the opinion of every writer on ethics, it was contrary to all right feeling, to say that a man who had made an immoral promise was bound to carry it into effect. In the case of the dishonest voter, therefore, the argument in favour of the ballot was strong; in the case of the honest voter it was perfectly unanswerable. It was so in this country, but in Ireland it came with a tenfold stronger effect. In one of the counties in Ireland, where he had sat on an election petition, the most disgusting scenes had taken place. One of the landlords openly avowed that he considered he had a right to the votes of his tenants; and when one tenant, who was ejected for voting contrary to the landlord's wishes, appealed to his benevolence, the answer was—that the tenant must take the consequences, that the contumacious way in which he had acted richly deserved punishment, and that the agent had done no more than his duty. It ought not to be omitted from consideration that the ballot originally formed a part of the Reform Bill, and that it was afterwards abandoned only because it was thought that the change brought about by the Reform Bill would render it unnecessary. But he appealed to all the evidence they now had before them, whether that was not a great mistake. It was clear, that, far from checking corruption, one effect of the Reform Bill had been to make the channel fouler and deeper than it was before— Cum flueret lutulentus erat quod tollere velles. With regard to intimidation, he challenged any one to say that they did not think the ballot would put a stop to it; and if they did not say that, then he thought the antagonists of the ballot would be driven to the alternative, that they would not take that step which they admitted would stop intimidation. The only other answer they could make must be, that in stopping inti- midation they feared they might be developing some greater evil. Now, he wanted to know what greater evil they could imagine than to be placed in a situation where even men of strong understanding, of great education, and of exalted moral feeling, were hardly able to resist the prospect of ruin which was before them if they did their duty? But this was exercised at every election, not upon the class he had mentioned, but upon the tradesmen in small towns; and exercised, too, in such a way as to make legislation impossible. They could not go to a gentleman and say, "You employed a certain tailor last year to make liveries for your servants—why have you employed another man this year?" It had been suggested that a man might bribe a whole district; but then it was forgotten how impossible it was for such wholesale bribery to escape detection. If any other plan were proposed to meet this evil, he was ready to listen to it; but in the total absence of any other scheme, it was hard to reject the only one which tended to check that which no one denied was every year increasing in the extent of its immorality. It was impossible to deny that this was a growing evil—that it was a gangrene, which ate into the vitals of the State. Year by year it was extending its pernicious influence, and no other scheme had been proposed to check it than that which they now had before them. He need not remind them that the ballot had antiquity to recommend it. Cicero calls it, Vindicem tacilœ libertatis; and the greatest orator that ever lived eulogised the man who gave the ballot as a wise lawgiver, and said that the man who did wrong would certainly offend God, and could not he sure that he would oblige his neighbour. Let them, then, give to the poor trader that protection which he desired against the fearful conflict between conscience and ruin. On all these considerations, therefore, he would give his warm support to the Motion of the hon. Member for Bristol.


said, he did not think that human legislation could apply a remedy to all the existing evils of the electoral system; but he advocated the ballot because he knew that the present system was a bad one, and could not be maintained, as it tended to demoralise society and destroy the independence of the electors. It tended to promote perjury in this country; and if any one doubted the fact of wide-spread immorality being the result of the system he would refer them to the Reports of the Select Committees of that House. He considered the question was not whether the ballot was a good, wise, and politic measure, but whether the electoral body of this kingdom was in such a position as to exercise the franchise freely and independently, and so as to make that House what it ought to be—the true reflex of public opinion. He held that the House of Commons did not reflect public opinion truly, and, therefore, he held that it was the duty of the House to make a change immediately. The present system was a curse to the country—he would also say, a curse to his own constituency. It had been said that voters, country or town, were persecuted, the one by their customers, the other by their landlord; but he considered that the landlord persecution was by far the worst of the two. There ought to be some alteration in the relation between landlord and tenant. He would, with the permission of the House, read an extract of a letter from a clergyman in the north of Ireland which would exhibit the miserable manner the poor voters were oppressed by agents in Ireland. It was not from a Catholic priest, but from a Protestant clergyman, and, therefore, he hoped it would have due weight in that House. The writer stated that there was a tenant who rented a small portion of land at the exorbitant rent of 36s. per acre. The tenant fell into arrear—the agent refused to take less than the whole rent, and the entire family were evicted, and thrust houseless and shelterless on the world. The aged mother of the man—a model of Christian piety—was carried out by bailiffs, and driven in a cart during inclement weather to another county. After having got rid of the old woman in the best way he could, the agent was written to by the clergyman, asking him to allow the family to retain the shelter they had secured in a roofless house for a time, and not to turn them out without warning, pledging his word as a Christian minister that possession would be given at a week's notice; but his intercession had no avail. This tenant was charged 36s. an acre, while the next tenant was only called on to pay 25s. an acre, though the poor evicted tenant had built the house from whence he was so ruthlessly driven, and it cost him three times as much as the rent due by him at the time of his eviction. If, for political reasons, tenants could be driven from their homes and left to perish, was it not time to apply a remedy? He knew the generosity of Englishmen too well to believe they would allow people to be driven from their homes for political reasons, and, though it was the pitiful practice of the English press to pooh, pooh the Irish people, on the ground that at one time they were rebels, at another because they were brawlers in that House, he might remind the House that there was not a single measure of importance to the welfare of this country which had not been carried by the Irish Liberal Members, even at the sacrifice of their own interests. To all measures for the reform of the commercial code, the Irish Liberal Members had given their support. It was through the support of the Irish Liberal Members that nearly all the recent liberal measures had been carried. It was mainly through the instrumentality of the Irish Members that the corn laws were carried, though by so doing Ireland was made to suffer greatly, a circumstance admitted even by Sir Robert Peel himself. It was the Irish people who, through their Members, had been the means of giving the English people the comfort and happiness they now enjoyed, by assisting them to remove the restrictive laws on commerce. Indeed, the people of England owed the people of Ireland a great debt of gratitude, which, he hoped, they would bear in mind. He would point out some of the evils of the present system. He was satisfied that persecution was carried on to a great extent in Ireland, and that the Irish people had not the opportunity of saying independently who should represent them, and who should not. He would speak of things which he was sure the people of England would not sanction. At the late general election last year, a notice was served on an Irish tenant who voted for a Member of that House. The man did not owe a penny of rent, but he was nevertheless displaced from his holding, because he dared to think for himself, and to vote according to his conscience. He held in his hand the notice for 1l. 18s. 10d., that was all the sum demanded, and that was the sum for which the notice was served upon him. Was not that persecution? Another notice on another man was for 9l. 15s., and it was for rent only four months due. This was done immediately after the election was over, because the man chose to exercise a constitutional right, and to vote in the way his conscience dictated. He could cite hundreds of such cases to prove that the people of Ireland were now in the position in which the constitution intended they should be. The necessity of the measure had been admitted by the most distinguished Members of that House for many years past, and it had been hoped that a remedy would be found in the progress of public opinion. Recent events had shown how little public opinion had operated to prevent bribery, and he thought that they were, therefore, bound to come to the conclusion that the ballot alone would remedy the evil. The ballot had been called un-English; but would to God that bribery and corruption were un-English, and that intimidation and persecution were un-Irish!—then we might hope to see the House of Commons, what it ought to be, the true reflex of public opinion.


Sir, in listening to the speech which the hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. H. Berkeley) addressed to the House to-night, I was struck by one peculiarity, differing, I think, from his previous speeches on this subject, which appeared to me to imply a consciousness on his part that, however plausible the theory of the ballot may be for the purpose of suppressing intimidation, with regard to bribery it must prove totally inoperative. The hon. Gentleman based his case on intimidation, and for that purpose he went back a very considerable period. I think the principal evidence which he produced of the evils of intimidation—which no man can deny, and to the exercise of which no man is more opposed than I am—was derived from evidence given before a Committee of this House which sat not in 1853, but in 1835; and he accuses the noble Lord the Member for the City of London with having slept the sleep of Rip Van Winkle, because somewhere about the same time my noble Friend stated that if the evils of intimidation were not diminished, it might call for the introduction of the ballot. I say it is the hon. Member himself who has slept the sleep of Rip Van Winkle, if he has not succeeded in appreciating the effect of public opinion in repressing the evils of intimidation on the part of the landlords over their tenants, and of customers against their tradesmen. I recollect the time—though I do not mean to say I was then in this House—when the late Duke of Newcastle undoubtedly put forward the theory, that every one has a right to do what he likes with his own, and he applied it so far as to claim the right to deal as he liked with the consciences of other people. ["No no!"] Hon. Gentlemen say "No;" but I think the course then pursued by that noble Duke led to the inference that he conceived the rights of property extended, not only over goods and chattels, but over those who, by his permission, made use of them. The noble Duke, no doubt, acted up to what he conceived to be his duty; but what I say is this, that depend upon it there is now no man living who will come forward with such a statement in order to justify such proceedings. And what is the inference I draw from that? Why, that the state of public feeling is very much altered. A man feels now that he would shock public opinion and damage his own character if he attempted to put forward such a doctrine, or practically enforce it, by interfering with the exercise of the elective franchise on the part even of his servants. I need not give an instance on this subject, because every Gentleman present must be aware of the alteration effected by the pressure of public opinion. The hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. E. Ball) quoted himself as an instance of the tenants having exercised pretty well their own choice, and asked, if they had not their choice, if they could not exercise their will in opposition to their landlords, how came he in this House? There is another instance in the hon. Gentleman opposite, the hon. Member for South Nottinghamshire (Mr. Barrow). He contested that division of the county with the noble Viscount (Viscount Newark) now his Colleague, solely on the question of which should obtain the mastery, the landlords or the tenants, for both candidates professed the same principles, and the tenants returned the hon. Member in the teeth of all opposition. [An Hon. MEMBER: Those are exceptions.] An hon. Member says these are exceptions, but of course many exceptions tend to invalidate a rule. However, I will quote another exception. I quote myself. I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster, that at the elections last summer in the county I have the honour to represent, the great mass of the tenants voted against me, and amongst them those connected with the property with which, by near relationship, I am connected. They are tenants-at-will—some of them men of no very large substance, but independent men—and it would be thought a degree of impertinence if a landlord told his tenant he must quit because he voted in a particular manner. Public opinion restrains a man even if he is inclined to turn out his tenant for such a cause. It is thought good fortune, rather, if the tenants do not turn him out. The hon. Gentleman, feeling that intimidation was his chief ground, thought that bribery was rather an awkward subject, as I shall be able to show to the House, and he actually began to apologise for bribery. He said, what is very true, that it is a very seductive thing, and it had some redeeming qualities, and the redeeming qualities were these—he could give many touching instances of men having received bribes, redeeming a box of tools, or relieving the necessities of a fellow-workman—


I said it was indefensible, but it had redeeming qualities, while intimidation has not.


The hon. Member says bribery has redeeming qualities, while intimidation has not. The redeeming quality appears to be this, that if you get money dishonestly, but spend it for a good purpose, it throws a sort of halo round the transaction, and bribery under such circumstances is no longer a bad thing. Is it true that intimidation is the gigantic evil of our elective system? I appeal to the experience of every Gentleman who hears me, whether within the last twenty years intimidation has not been diminishing, and bribery has not been increasing? Since the Reform Bill the practice of intimidation has notoriously decreased. The expression of public opinion is stronger than Acts of Parliament, stronger than the denunciations of the hon. Gentleman, and has had its effects on intimidation; but on bribery it has has none. Need I ask the House to recollect the disgraceful cases we have had this Session, and which prove to us that as we have advanced in the last twenty years, this plague spot has spread in our elective system—bribery has become organised, more general, and apparently, not only the candidates, but the electors, consider it a very venial offence, which is not to be deprecated, provided it is not found out. The hon. Gentleman says we want the ballot, in consequence of the effect it would have in Ireland. Ireland suffers from a great degree of intimidation. Will the ballot in Ireland have the effect of preventing intimidation? I think not. The hon. and learned Member for Leominster (Mr. J. Phillimore) seys, "You object to bribery, you object to intimidation, and you object to the remedy." Now I do object to all three. I object to bribery, I object to intimidation, and I utterly deny that the ballot is the proper remedy, especially in Ireland. In that country there are two great political parties who are divided by a test different from that which exists in this country. In Ireland the test of political party is a religious one. Would the ballot prevent intimidation if one party is known to be Orange and the other Roman Catholic? It is impossible to suppose that a man giving his vote in secret could conceal how he votes, for it would be ascertained what was his religion, and, therefore, what were his politics. The struggle in Ireland is between priest and landlord. The relations between priest and people are very peculiar. The relations between landlord and tenant are very ordinary. I do not care which it favours, but unless it prevents the improper influence of both, the remedy must entirely fail. The hon. Member for Bristol asks us to put an end to a system worthy only of Fouché and Vidoeq; but he has little thought of what will be the effects of the remedy he proposes. When in times of party strife tyrannical landlords and customers are determined to find out how men vote, and the ballot is established, there will, indeed, be established with it a system of espionage of the worst kind. Supposing the ballot to be perfectly secret, the possibility of which I utterly deny, there will be minute inquiries as to political associations and political opinions, and according to those associations and those opinions judgment will be formed of the way in which men vote. I am not afraid of intimidation, because I think public opinion will ultimately be too strong for it. But, I ask, will this system of ballot be effective for the prevention of bribery? The hon. Gentleman made merry at the expense of my right hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham), and quoted a portion of his speech for the purpose. In spite of the ridicule, I am going to adopt the whole of that argument—if you want to aggravate bribery, use the ballot. What prevents bribery? Perjury, fear of detection, and the uncertainty of success. When a man is calculating upon obtaining a seat by bribery, he thinks, "I may spend my money, and get nothing for it; I may bribe a great many, and yet be second on the poll." By the introduction of the ballot, the whole danger would be removed, for, of course, the candidate goes on the principle of "play or pay," "if I win, so much a head;" if I am beaten, nothing. "The ballot has other advantages, if a man wants to buy a constituency At present, with a 5l. note, the candidate only buys an unwilling voter; but with the 5l. depending on the result of the election, the voter would canvass his friends, and become an agent and partisan. How will it operate on the voter? Why, the voter is now sometimes deterred by the fear of detection; hut with this additional mantle of darkness thrown over his proceedings, he will have a security which is at present denied to him. What is the mode in which bribery is found out in a borough? The first thing which attracts attention is, that a certain number of men, anxious to judge fully of the merits of the candidates, wailed to the last, and voted in a body just ten minutes before the close of the poll. The next observation is, that Brown or Smith, who had all his life been yellow or blue, had voted the other way. Curiosity is awakened, investigation ensues: persons are put upon the clue of his proceedings, until bribery is brought home to him. Under a system of secrecy nothing would be known of these things. There would be no indications of corrupt motives. No one would know how anybody voted. No one's suspicions would be awakened, and there would be none of those investigations which take place upstairs, to the great satisfaction of the public virtue, and the serious inconvenience, sometimes, of hon. Members. I say, if that be so, if the ballot gives the candidate the chance of buying a seat without the risk of losing his money, and gives the voter power to sell his vote without detection—instead of tending to diminish bribery, its introduction would, on the contrary, give every inducement to the candidate to bribe, and to the voter every security to be bribed. The hon. Gentleman says, "at your clubs you blackball your dearest friends just as you choose; you are perfectly irresponsible under the system of ballot, and you have no right to refuse to a poor man the same privilege you enjoy yourselves." In the first place, I hold there is no analogy between the two. One is political, the other social. The object of the ballot in clubs is to enable you to act upon predilections and aversions which you cannot perhaps justify, and dare not care to avow, and it rests upon the ground that everybody has a right to choose with whom he will associate. Beyond that there is no principle involved. It is the right you claim of selecting your associates and friends without giving any public reason, or without being able to give any reason or justification of the aversions and prejudices which you may entertain. That is exactly why the ballot is useful in clubs, and why you should prevent its use in the exercise of public functions. You want every man to feel the weight of responsibility which falls upon the exercise of public functions. It is absurd to imagine that there is no responsibility in giving a vote for a Member of Parliament. It is the fountain head of all political power. Talk of the rights of democracy!—there are also the duties of democracy; and if the democracy, as the hon. Gentleman calls them—if voters are to exercise their franchise, they must exercise it as a trust for the benefit of the public, and under the responsibility of public opinion. If it he not a trust—if it he not exercised for the benefit of the public—why prevent the voter from selling his vote—why not let him take it and dispose of it in the dearest market? There is no reason in the theory of the hon. Gentleman; and I submit that a vote for Members of the Legislature is a public trust, that it is the fountain head of all political power, and that it is specially important to preserve it untainted, in order to maintain the purity of the whole system. The hon. Gentleman says that the people confound democracy and the ballot, and he explained it by saying that the ballot and universal suffrage were so united together that they were generally spoken of in the same sentence—


I never said so.


Then I have been so unfortunate as to draw an inference from the premises of the hon. Gentleman. The moment you have secret voting, those who have no votes lose the opportunity of exercising influence on those who have, and there would naturally arise a clamour for extended suffrage. So I think there is much more truth than appears to the hon. Gentleman in the close alliance between universal suffrage and the ballot. But the hon. Gentleman quoted cases in foreign countries, which he says are arguments and proofs of how the ballot will work in this country. The hon. Gentleman need not have gone so far even as France to see how it works. The ballot is not confined to clubs in this country. It is used in an important parish in this metro- polis for the selection of vestrymen under Sir John Hobhouse's Act—the parish of Marylebone. The constituency electing Members of Parliament for Marylebone is 20,000; and as that is confined to 10l. houses, I shall not be far from the mark if I take the constituency which elects the vestry at something about 25,000. These 25,000 persons vote in select vestry by ballot. As I understand, the elections for vestrymen differ in Marylebone in no respect from ordinary political elections. There is as much vehemence on both sides in favour of the respective candidates: there is great acrimony, very hot party spirit, and the most entire openness of proceedings. I believe that there is no secrecy whatever. Everybody's vote is accurately known. If anybody is to be persecuted, deprived of custom, or threatened, that happens in Marylebone under a system of secret voting, exactly as it happens—and it is to be lamented that it should happen—under the system of open voting in other places. Does secret voting insure secrecy in any other country? America has been quoted; but I never knew a person who had been in America who bore out that theory. All writers on the subject speak of the vote by ballot in America as open and most ostentatious, and used more as an expeditious method of taking the votes of vast numbers of population. No attempt is made at concealing political feelings and predilections on the part of the voters; but it is said that false votes are smuggled in; and I have read of a case in America of a candidate, whose known and stanch supporters numbered half the constituency, being beaten by a majority greater than the whole constituency taken together. Instead of buying hundreds of votes," said the same writer, "the candidate has only to buy one or two judges with whom the election ultimately rests. How are the judges making false returns to be detected? A scrutiny of the box will afford no evidence. The writer then suggests a number of precautions to prevent the abstracting of tickets and the replacing them by an equal number of a different colour; and the Governor of the State of New York, in a recent message, said— The alarming increase of bribery in popular elections demands attention. The preservation of our liberties depends on the purity of the elective franchise, and its independent exercise by the citizens, and I trust such measures will be adopted as shall effectually protect the ballot box from all corrupting influences. We are asked to adopt this change—a change which, in my belief, will tend to demoralise the constituencies; hut, having gained his present object, at some subsequent period we shall be having the hon. Member for Bristol bringing forward Motions, not to protect the voter, but to protect the ballot box, which he has induced us to take. With respect to the ballot in America—but of course I am subject to correction about this—[Mr. BRIGHT: Hear, hear!]—the hon. Member had better wait to hear how I qualify it.


I differ on what you have already said.


If the hon. Gentleman differs on what I have said, he will have the opportunity of setting me right. I am not certain, but my impression is, that there is but one State in the Union where there is compulsory secret voting. If there be not compulsory secret voting, the whole system of the ballot of course is a sham. In a country like the United States, it affords an easy and rapid means of taking a vast number of votes without reference to secrecy; but so distasteful is compulsory secret voting to the great majority of the people there, that it exists only in one State, and when it was was attempted to be introduced into other places, it was strongly and successfully opposed. The hon. Gentleman says, of course we shall have it compulsory. I should like to know how you are to prevent a man who acts in the face of day, proud of his undeviating consistency, braving the frowns of wealth, and resisting the blandishments of power, going up to the lot box and declaring how he votes. It is not in the nature of the English character to skulk behind a mask, in doing that of which, far from being ashamed, he is justly proud, because it is his duty. You must all remember the inimitable description of Sidney Smith. If the forms of the House permitted, I should be inclined to propose that it be read by the clerk at the table. It is infinitely better than anything anybody else ever said upon the subject. He very justly asks how in practice can you secure any secrecy whatever? A man must do more than conceal his vote. He must conceal his opinion. He must hurrah at the wrong speech, eat the wrong dinner, break the wrong heads; do everything to convince the public that he is acting in the interests of the opposite candidate. The hon. Gentleman says the English are not a garrulous people, and, therefore, he thinks they will be apt to conceal the acts they perform in the execution of a public duty, I, who am half an Irishman, would remind him that taciturnity is not the forte of the Irish. They generally divulge what are the secret longings of their souls towards particular candidates. But even if in England a man were to obtain that degree of perfection in the concealment of his opinions to enable him to become a model voter, I think he would become so confirmed a hypocrite, that it is very doubtful if a man so trained, and successfully trained, would be fit to exercise the franchise at all. In viewing this question we cannot keep out of sight the consideration—supposing it possible to gain in this way the perfect secrecy which you anticipate—what effect will that perfect secrecy have on our national character and our national institutions. And we must remember that what happens among us in this House happens similarly, though on a smaller scale, in the circles below. Men, diffident of their own judgment, and mistrusting their own powers, frequently form their opinions upon the opinions of those in whose character and ability they place confidence; but how, if everything is to be secret and concealed, can a man have this advantage? How is the man who had not a great confidence in his own opinion to be guided? And how is a public opinion to be formed among a constituency if every man's private opinion is to be concealed? Why, it goes to the very root of our whole system, the tendency and the intention of which are to develop individual opinion, to give free action to every mind, to give free expression to every thought? It was quite different from that which we saw existing in France, where the common phrase as to the duty of the people was, Il faut écraser Vindividu. But that is not the English rule; and I say that if you introduce this system, you introduce a retrograde system—you are introducing a system contrary to the real spirit of free institutions, to that spirit which we have inherited from those Saxon times which seem to have had a greater development of liberty than even our own. I say, too, that if ever you succeed in adapting the English character to this measure, so that the English people really avail themselves of it, and consent to exercise their rights or their duties under the veil of secrecy, you will have demoralised the English character, and done a great deal to sap the foundations on which our liberty stands I do not speak thus from any immediate fear of consequences—foom any belief that wealth will lose its influence, that station will lose its influence, that public virtue will lose its influence, as the result of the institution of the ballot. I mean none of these things. I doubt very much whether, in the aggregate, the ballot would produce any sensible difference in the returns. Intimidation, for instance, is of two kinds—by the mob from below—by the landlords from above. I do not know which is likely to be ultimately predominant; but probably the influence of intimidation by large masses would in the end be stronger than would that of one man acting individually, and acting on a system which had less and less force every day, as society advanced and condemned it. It is not, then, on any result which the adoption of the ballot might gain to one party or another that I object to this measure, but because I think that by it, instead of educating the lower class for political duties, you will be destroying their self-respect, their manliness, and even their willingness, if need be, to suffer for conscience' sake; you will be striking a blow at one of the best qualities in the national character, which has been created by a long course of habit and opinion—by the exercise of public functions, whether in humble or lofty station, in a manner requiring honesty and independence. You will be striking at a quality which has given to the national character a stability that could not have been created by any system such as that now proposed—which gives to every person acting in a public capacity the means of concealing not only his vote, but his opinions. For these reasons I shall give my decided opposition to the Motion of the hon. Member.


said, there was no Member of that House who gave the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol credit for more singleness of purpose or more honesty of conviction in bringing forward this Motion than he did, and if he could bring himself to believe that its being carried would produce the effect which the hon. Gentleman thought, he, for one, would most willingly support him; but, taking a considerable interest in the question, he had consulted the opinions of some of the most eminent men who had written and spoken upon the subject, both for and against, and he must say that the result of that investigation had confirmed the opinion he had originally formed, that the ballot would be most injurious in almost every phase of its operation: that, instead of being what its supporters argued—a public benefit—it would unquestionably be a serious detriment. One of the principal arguments which had been urged in support of the ballot was, that it would do away with intimidation. He had no doubt as to the possibility of devising some means by which the votes of the electors might be taken with the most perfect secrecy by means of the ballot, but it was then that he thought the difficulties would commence. He could conceive no reason why the secret should not ooze out, and every reason why it should. To begin with—he did not think it very likely that a man who had such a proper sense of his duty towards his country, whose political convictions were so honest and so paramount that they would induce him to vote against his landlord or his benefactor, or whoever the person might be to whom he was under obligation, would be so accomplished an actor, and so consummate a hypocrite, that he would be able to keep the secret to himself; nor did he think it likely that a man, capable of such singular self-denial, would condescend to take shelter under the wing of the ballot, and continue to receive favours at the hands of the man by whom he might think he had reason to be influenced, knowing the whole time that he had deceived him—that he had broken every implied promise, and violated every moral pledge he had ever made him. He thought it infinitely more probable that a man whose vote would be swayed by feelings of pique or spite, or some other motive equally paltry and unworthy, would avail himself of the concealment of the ballot. To such persons he had no wish to afford any protection. He would expose them to public shame rather than screen them by private ballot. But what said a great authority as to the probability of the ballot securing secrecy? Lord Brougham, when a Member of that House, in speaking of the ballot, thus observed:— In all cases where there had been a contest, there would, of course, be conversation respecting it. The persons who had voted would talk upon the subject in their private walks, going to church, after church, and, above all, in the alehouse. Who then could tell him that such a person would be so much upon his guard as not to excite the slightest suspicion as to the manner in which he had voted? To observe such profound secrecy he must say nothing whatever to his wife—nothing whatever to his children—nothing to his dearest friend—nothing to his pot-companion. No, he must be dumb as the tankard they bad just emptied between them. Another great objection to the ballot, in his mind, was, that if it was to be secret, it would have the effect of very greatly diminishing, if not entirely doing away with, what he considered one of the greatest blessings and privileges the people of England could enjoy—he meant the free canvass of public men, and free discussion of public measures; for it appeared to him that, if we were to continue publicly to canvass men and discuss their deeds, as he hoped we long might, a man's vote would be equally well known whether it were given by means of ballot, or whether it were taken vivâ voce, or, if not as well known, what was probably worse, strongly suspected. He did not apprehend there could be two opinions that the ballot, without the most profound secrecy, would be a complete farce; and if it was to be admitted, on the one hand, that it would prove a cloak for independence, which, however, was no independence that did not scorn disguise, it could not be denied, on the other, that it would be a hotbed for suspicion, and a school for deceit. Another and a very popular argument which had been brought forward, and more particularly that evening, was, that it would put a stop to bribery. He thought that the bribery which had existed at the last general election, was nothing more or less than a scandal upon any civilised community, and he thought it impossible to exaggerate or overestimate the advantage which any measure calculated in any way to put a stop to it would confer upon the country at large; but he anticipated no such result from the ballot. He did not think it would do away with the desire or the ambition of a candidate to obtain a seat in that House; nor did he think that it would cure or eradicate that venality which had been proved to exist in the boroughs of Cambridge, Hull, and, he regretted to say, many others. Then, if it would not prevent venality from accepting the boon which moneyed ambition would offer, he did not think it would prove a cure for bribery; and, without wishing to say one word which was disrespectful towards electioneering agents as a body, he thought that, as the case now stood, they had quite voice enough in the return of Members for boroughs, but that if the ballot were once the law of the land it would place far greater power in their hands. It was far from him to say that they would abuse that power; but what he did gay was this, that if they were so disposed he could see no reason to prevent them from making an arrangement with a candidate that he should pay so much if he were returned, and nothing if he wore not, and from entering into a similar agreement with a certain number of the electors—men who it was known were open to corrupt influence. He did not think, therefore, it would necessarily put a stop to bribery, but that we should be so much worse off then than we were now—that we should know that corruption existed in a constituency without the possibility of detecting the guilty agent, for we could then no longer institute Election Committees or Commissions of Inquiry, seeing that with them the secrecy of the ballot would of course vanish. While he was upon this subject he was anxious to read to the House a short extract from an opinion in which he concurred, and which was expressed by an ancestor of his, who held Liberal opinions, and who was designated in a book lately edited by the noble Lord the Member for London as the "reforming Duke of Richmond." That individual said— The idea of the ballot can have arisen but to avoid some improper influence, and I conceive it much more noble directly to check that influence, than indirectly to evade it by concealment or deceit. I am convinced that in things like this trivial circumstances tend greatly to form the national character, and I think it most consistent with the character of an Englishman that all his actions should be open and avowed, and that he should not be afraid of declaring in the face of his country whom he wishes to intrust with his interests. With the permission of the House, he (Lord Lennox) would say a few words as to the effect of the ballot upon the character of the people. It was undoubtedly a matter of importance to consider, before passing a law of that description, not only what its probable, but also what its possible, effect would be upon the character of the people. He believed it was pretty generally admitted that in countries which had free governments and representative institutions, the temper, the habits, and the character of the people were in some degree derived from the laws and institutions under which they lived. The English character had hitherto mainly been a manly, upright, and straightforward character—a character, in his opinion, well suited and adapted to the dignity of liberty. Then, he thought it well to consider whether, it was wise, of whether it was politic, to introduce a law like the ballot, the very essence of which was meanness and servility; and he could not but think that the habit of opinions concealed, equivocation substituted, private judgment destroyed, wholesale hypocrisy legalised—the natural effects of the ballot—Would give the people a disregard for the value of truth, and, at best, a regard only for the outward semblance of integrity. It was for these reasons, because he believed the ballot would neither do away with intimidation nor put a stop to bribery, and because he believed it would annihilate free discussion, decree deceit, and sanction dissimulation, that he should, without hesitation, vote against the Motion of the hon. Member for Bristol.


said, he recollected that about nine years ago he had brought forward a Motion in that House, to which he had given more than usual time and attention, and which subsequent discussion and experience had shown to have been founded on true policy. He recollected that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. Herbert), who was in the Cabinet, and the Colleague of older and shrewder heads, was put forward to oppose that Motion, but upon which he had since avowed a total change of opinion. He must say, with all candour, that though the right hon. Gentleman must hare had considerable experience since then, he had hardly gained the wisdom by it that he might, for he was now again doing that which he did then for older and more sagacious Colleagues. The right hon. Gentleman was now taking up the defence of a cause which had been as thoroughly demolished by reason and argument as was the cause of protection in 1844; and he (Mr. Cobden) ventured to record his opinion that the right hon. Gentleman would live to make as manly a disavowal—after he had seen the result of the ballot—of the opinions he had expressed that night. He (Mr. Cobden) said that this question had been settled by reason and argument as triumphantly as anything ever was decided in that House. If they were discussing the ballot simply as a question affecting a body of men all of whom were on a social equality, there would not he one argument why the ballot should not be adopted; for, hide it as they might, conceal it from themselves if they could, the fact was they opposed the ballot because they always entered into a discussion of it with a latent idea that it was the right of somebody to know how somebody else voted. But if a body of men—if 500 individuals—were placed in one apartment, and they Wished to know honestly the opinion of the majority of their number;—if no one had right or power, or pretension, to exercise any undue influence whatever, or any mastery over them, except what he derived from argument and reason, they would not find one of those 500 men that could say why the ballot should not be adopted. The right hon. Gentleman had given them some arguments with which he would pro-deed to deal. In the first place, he had erroneously assumed an assertion by those who preceded him, that the ballot would be totally effective to put down bribery. That was not admitted, but this was—that while the ballot would put an end to intimidation, it would be a very potent obstruction to bribery. But the right hon. Gentleman went further, and said that bribery might be an increasing evil, but that intimidation, owing to the operation of public opinion, was decreasing with the lapse of time. The right hon. Gentleman also compared the present period with that of 1832 and 1833, and said we had very much improved the state of things in this respect since then, for popular opinion had to a Certain extent put down intimidation. But he denied it. What had been done was, that the counties, in a vast majority of cases, had succumbed to intimidation, and had become so subservient to proprietary and territorial influence, that they had ceased to make any struggle for their independence. Talk of intimidation having diminished!—was it not a recognised principle in county canvassing that it was insulting to a large proprietor to canvass his tenants without having first obtained his permission? Would anybody deny that? They had heard of a case in which a rupture between two landlords had arisen out of a difficulty of this kind, and in which they had talked of a duel in consequence of this electoral poaching on their territory. The counties, before the Reform Bill, were the strongholds of liberal opinions in this country; there were Members for the counties who took their stand on that side of the House in defence of old principles of constitutional freedom; and it was they mainly who had carried the Reform Bill itself. Why, then, had such a complete change taken place? Now you might go into any county, see who the proprietors were, and find that the representation was told off in the Interest of those great families whose power gate them a control over votes, and enabled them to swamp the freeholders—the ancient independent stronghold of the freedom of this country, Where they had tried the experiment of a contest, there was no scarcity of intimidation. In North and South Northumberland, Herefordshire, and Surrey, the few cases in which they had had any contest, there Was certainly no proof that intimidation had decreased. The right hon. Member for Morpeth (Sir G. Grey), When standing on the hustings had spoken of the ballot, expressing an opinion that the arguments for and against it Were alike exaggerated, but declaring that its greatest practical advocates were such men as he had come across in his canvass. He was called upon to "name," and met the cry with an assertion that he might almost say their name was legion; and now he called that right hon. Gentleman, who on the hustings had spoken thus, into the witness box to speak to the character of the county electors. He could quote far stronger evidence, relating to Herefordshire, West Surrey, and other contests for counties at the late election, to prove the amount of intimidation which had taken place; but, if, in the half dozen instances where such contests occurred, they found that that terrible amount of intimidation existed, need they be astonished that the counties had passed out of the electoral pale, that they had ceased to exist for all purposes of useful discussion and manly political contention, and that they had sunk down into total subserviency? Let them go to a country where county contests had been the rule—to Ireland. What had been the case there? Had they seen any falling-off in the horrible amount of intimidation practised there, by priests on the one side, and landlords on the other? He began cutting out of newspapers, at the time of the election, extracts recording these proceedings, hut he gave it up in despair, for it was impossible to make any selection of acts of intimidation and violence, so common were they in Ireland. There was violence by the mob, violence by the priests, and violence by the landlords, so much so that he saw, by the United Service Gazette, that 32,000 soldiers and policemen were kept in activity during the election, and that they had visited 182 polling booths during the contests. Was that a state of things to be passed over, or to be remedied? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. Herbert) said they could not remedy this in Ireland, unless they passed such a measure as would shield the voters from both priests and landlords, and that both Catholics and Protestants must be equally protected. He (Mr. Cobden) wanted to protect the voter against any coercive influence that should compel him to vote against his own judgment. If he was to understand from the right hon. Gentleman that the ballot would not shield any Roman Catholic voter against the influence of the priest, because that influence would be exercised in secret, he (Mr. Cobden) maintained that the priest exercised an influence over the man's mind which, however some of them might deplore it, neither they nor he had any right to interfere with. He did not ask them to protect the man against an influence voluntarily accepted by him, for he denied their right to prevent the man taking counsel from those whom he believed better able to advise him than he was to guide himself; but he said—place the man in such a position that he might either follow or disobey the advice and instructions of those who undertook to guide him. As regarded the interference of landlords, no one could doubt that in a vast multitude of cases their influence had been exercised to the great detriment of the tenant, and the injury of his family. If they might believe hon. Gentlemen on the other side—and there was an explosion from the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) last night, from which it appeared that there was undue influence exercised by the priests, and they had warrant for believing this in the facts before them. He had read of Roman Catholics who had voted against the wishes of the priests for the Protestant candidate, having their seats torn up in the chapel by their co-religionists. That was a species of intimidation calculated to make a person vote against his own convictions. If they shielded the voter effectually against the undue influence of the landlord, they might by the same measure, perhaps, protect him from the influence of the priest; and if that was their object, let them try the ballot. The right hon. Gentleman also told them that the ballot would not remedy the evil of bribery, since bribery would be practised wholesale—that a Parliamentary agent would go down to a borough, and tell the voters that if they returned so and so they would have so much to divide amongst them; but unless he were returned they would receive nothing. The answer to that was, in the first place, that reformers did not intend to have such little rotten manageable boroughs as could be bought. It might be perfectly true that such a plan would succeed at Wilton or Shoreham; but he put it to the right hon. Gentleman if a Parliamentary agent would undertake to go down to such a borough as Birmingham, Manchester, or Leeds, where there was a constituency of 15,000 or 20,000, and buy them up wholesale? He thought that with 26,000,000 of people to be represented by 658 Members, if they were to have a representative system such as would bear the light of day, they could not have any small constituencies. They could not have the people fairly represented in that House unless they had all large constituencies, and when they had these, he defied the right hon. Gentleman, or anybody else, to devise a plan by which he could buy a constituency of 7,000 or 8,000 persons wholesale. This had not been done under the present system with open voting, and he thought it would not be done with the ballot. The right hon. Gentleman had touched on the system of balloting in clubs and private societies, but did not very happily account for the motives which induced people to have recourse to it when he said that the motives were such as they dared not avow. Why not? If any improper candidate were proposed in a club to which he (Mr. Cobden) belonged, he would not hesitate to vote against the person at once, even if he were to do so openly. But the fact was that it would be inconvenient to vote openly, and therefore, to shield themselves from a slight inconvenience, they adopted a privilege which they would not allow others to enjoy. But balloting was not confined to clubs; there was the East India Company, who voted by ballot, and he did not find any provision in the new Bill to prevent that practice. There was an hon. Gentleman there who represented Devonshire, and who could tell them that, twenty years ago, the Devonshire magistrates, finding it to be extremely inconvenient to them to be obliged to vote openly in electing a Chairman of quarter-sessions, adopted the plan of voting by ballot. Again, in Sussex, the county to which he (Mr. Cobden) belonged, some time ago, a high constable was to be appointed by the magistrates to command the new Constabulary force; there was great competition for the situation, and six candidates appeared, and in order to have an unbiassed decision, and not to be influenced by the importunities of their friends, they resolved at the instance of his hon. Friend behind him, to adopt the ballot in their own do-fence. If these things were done by the magistrates of Devonshire and Sussex, why should there be anything so un-English in the practice? In fact, the ballot was more used in England than in any other country in the world, in every case except where the mass of the unprivileged people really wanted it. He could scarcely take up a newspaper without stumbling upon something indicating the universality of the ballot. In the course of his reading the other day, he fell upon an account of a great archery meeting in Breconshire. There was a glowing penny-a-line description of the ladies and of the general proceedings, and he found these words added, "Sir Joseph Bailey, Mr. and Mrs. Greenfield, Colonel and Mrs. Pierce, and Mr. Powell, were balloted for and elected members of the society;" and the account wound up with the announcement that "at the witching hour of the night the entertainment was perfect in all its parts." The Royal Society, and others be could mention, resorted to the ballot; but he would not weary the House by referring to them. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the working of the ballot in America as not being secret, and went on to assume that they contemplated making it so secret in England that the people would not submit to it, because it would prevent men from stating what their opinions were. He was sure that no advocate for the ballot had ever contemplated any such tyranny, and that when the hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. H. Berkeley) got his Bill passed, as he would some day, any man who had a mind might go to the poll with a card on his hat, bearing the name of the candidate for whom he intended to vote, or might shout his favourite's name as loudly as he pleased. All they contemplated was such a provision as would enable a man to vote without anybody else knowing how he did vote. Those who chose to be canvassers, or open and avowed partisans, might be so; but the number of persons who took a part of this kind in public contests and elections was very small. The right hon. Gentleman then told them that the ballot was not popular in America; but he could assure the right hon. Gentleman, from some little acquaintance with that country, that any politician who proposed to abolish it in any State of the Union where it existed would be looked upon as little better than a political madman. It was the cardinal article of their political faith; and there never had been an instance of a State which had adopted the ballot having departed from it, but the tendency had been constantly the other way; and he believed that at present there were but one or two slave States, Virginia and another, in which it had not been adopted. It was not mere bribery and corruption they had to deal with; the right hon. Gentleman had studiously evaded what he (Mr. Cobden) considered the great blot upon our electoral system—the blackguardism and brutality of our contests. What did we see at Oldham—where it was stated by the chairman of his hon. Friend's (Mr. Fox's) committee, the day after the announcement of the numbers was made, that his supporters would not have been able to vote at all if they had not come to the poll by by-lanes, some of them even going by train to Manchester and returning, in order that they might seem not to be going to the poll at all? Then there was Blackburn, where for some days intimidation and violence were kept up in the town, besieging people's houses, breaking their windows, and in one case two guns discharged, and some shots lodged in the face of an individual. Was that an English, was it a desirable, state of things for this country? He ventured to say that the scenes witnessed at Blackburn only during the last election surpassed in atrocity all that had occurred on a similar occasion throughout the American Union. He confessed his great hope from the ballot was this—that it would change the character of our elections, put an end to the use of bands, flags, and the like, and to the nuisance of open houses for drinking. If they had vote by ballot, he believed the electors might go to the poll as quietly as they went to church on Sundays. The right hon. Gentleman stood now in a very different position from that which he occupied nine years ago, when he (Mr. Cobden) had to meet the right hon. Gentleman on another question, speaking in the name of a united Cabinet. The right hon. Gentleman seemed, even when denouncing secret voting as calculated to inflict countless evils on the State, to speak with a secret consciousness that he was in the presence of at least one Member of the Cabinet who was as hearty a supporter of the ballot as he (Mr. Cobden) himself, whilst the Attorney Ge- neral, the Solicitor General, and other Members of the Ministry—-the Judge Advocate also—were prepared to vote for it. The Members of Government should be prudent enough to take into account who the parties were who generally supported them in the division; if the so-called followers of the Government were left to vote with them on this question, they would very soon settle it. This was a very serious question for Her Majesty's Ministers, for the question of the ballot was, he firmly believed, of all others, that which the electoral body took the deepest interest in. If they looked at the composition of their own party, and the opinions of the Members representing the largest constituencies, they would find almost every Member who represented a large and powerful constituency voting for the ballot. If Her Majesty's Ministers were determined to resist the ballot, he should like to ascertain what other remedy they proposed for the existing evils of the electoral system. Committees were appointed, and Commissioners sent forth into the country, and inquiries made into that which every one perfectly well understood; but they wanted the remedy, Everything would be tried except the real remedy: as in the case of the corn-law agitation, every remedy but the right one was suggested. There was a remedy, which had been recommended by the profoundest thinkers of the age—by Bentham and Grote. Would they give it a trial? If not, why not? A very large borough was likely soon to he declared vacant by a decision of that House why not consent that the ballot should be tried at the election for that great borough? He would not have it first tried in a small pocket borough with 200 or 300 electors: that would not be a fair experiment. Were they afraid of the mischief that could be done by venturing to have a solitary election on the principle adopted in all their clubs, in the India House, and in social meetings -a system of voting which was carried on successfully and with increased favour in America, Belgium, Switzerland, and France? Were Ministers resolved, in spite of the world's experience, of classical authority, and of all the recommendations of the system, not to give it a trial? Then what did they drive the country to? Must there be a ballot league, as there had been an anti-corn-law league? He thought—he hoped they had grown wiser. He had been encouraged, by the success of the Budget, especially of its keystone, the succession tax, to hope that the time had come when questions like this would be fairly decided by argument that at any rate, the Legislature would consent to try an experiment, without compelling the country to resort to associations and agitation, He would suggest another experiment. Pass an Act to make the ballot permissive. He had such faith in the principle that he would offer the most handsome terms. Let them pass an Act which should enable any constituency that chose to adopt the ballot, to try the experiment; and having come to that decision, that they should, on notifying the same to the Home Secretary, elect their Members by ballot during that Parliament, retaining the power to return again to open voting if they did not like the ballot. That met the argument that the people did not want the ballot. He could only say, in conclusion, as we were threatened with a Reform Bill—he said threatened, for a Reform Bill that did not embrace the ballot was a threat—that he would rather postpone an extension of the franchise at all, than run the risk of spreading the virus of intimidation and corruption which now prevailed, amongst another section of society, by opening the door to the 5l, householders. He would rather remain as we were than admit a more dependent class of people to be operated upon by the same corrupting and debasing influences that acted upon the present constituencies. If the Government were not prepared to grant the ballot with the Reform Bill, it would be better to postpone the Reform Bill, and let the country demand the ballot.


said, that he had last year given a silent adhesion to a Motion in favour of the ballot, and he now rejoiced to have an opportunity of offering a few remarks in support of the present Motion. Since Mr. Grote first brought forward this Motion in the House of Commons, up to the present day, we had had powerful arguments in support of that measure which the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) had so ably advocated. He (Sir R. Peel) supported the ballot, not from any love of reform, pot from any desire to upset or unsettle the institutions of the country, but because it appeared to him calculated to promote the liberty and independence of the people-Vote by ballot seemed to him well calculated to promote purity of principle, while it must also tend to insure freedom of elec- tion. He believed that the greatest possible publicity should always accompany the political acts of a constitutional Government; but that, on the other hand, the greatest possible secrecy should always accompany the sovereign expression of public opinion in the exercise of the elective franchise. Therefore it was that he thought that this measure, which would tend to elevate the public mind, to free it from the influence of political animosities, and to render it no longer liable to the heat of political passions, should meet with the regard and attention of that House. Out of doors the balance of public opinion indisputably inclined to this free, this easy, this honourable system; and as the balance of public opinion out of doors inclined that way, so he firmly believed that on that night the majority of the House of Commons must equally incline in its favour. [Laughter.] Well, if it did not that night, its success was a mere matter of time. And it must be a source of great gratification to those amongst them who were faithful to their political convictions to look forward to the accomplishment of their political views, and to remark that on each successive occasion when this measure was submitted to the House, there was a rapidly diminishing majority against it. This was a clear proof to him, and to everybody else who had any sense, of the progress that this question was making in the minds of hon. Gentlemen. The hon. Member for the West Riding said, quite correctly, that the representatives of all the great towns were in favour of the ballot. Go to any large town, any great borough, any great concentration of population, like Birmingham, and he would venture to declare that he was only echoing the sentiments of thousands out of doors, when he said that public opinion out of doors looked forward to the ballot as a measure that must ultimately remove the great stumbling-block of political iniquity. He would appeal to that House whether there was ever a more fitting opportunity than the present for submitting to them a measure like the ballot, after the scenes of bribery and corruption which had unhappily prevailed at the last general election. He did not mean to act as the apologist of any one in that House or elsewhere; but he must say that it appeared to him most unfair and ungenerous to endeavour to throw the blame of the proceedings which took place on that occasion, that is to say, the last general election, upon the followers of Lord Derby's Administra- tion. That was evidently what was attempted to be done; while the real fact of the matter was that both parties were equally in the wrong. Out of the first thirteen seats declared vacant during the present Session for bribery and corruption, six were occupied by what were called Liberals, and seven by what were called Derbyites; a tolerably equal division, he thought, of thirteen. If he were asked for proof of the evil which existed under the present system, he would not take them to the dockyards, to those poor hardworking artisans that the noble Lord the Member for London thought he could have crushed, but he would take them to Hull and to Harwich, to Clitheroe, and to Tavistock. Let them think of the prevaricating householder of the borough of Tavistock! He did not know who was the principal proprietor of that borough; but this he did know, that if the noble Lord really had the audacity to introduce a Bill to disfranchise the dockyard artisans, and left unscathed the borough of Tavistock, he thought he was guilty of conduct that merited the reprobation of that House. Let them, then, go to the Fountain Inn, at Canterbury, or think of Mr. Morris, and the "Waggon and Horses," and the reasonable quantity of beer that he was told to distribute to the people of Blackburn. Think of Harwich, and reflect upon Mr. Nathan, who, we are told, to use his own expression, in the Reports of the Election Committee, "did not know exactly what he was after." Did not these cases call for some political action? Why, the ballot would strike this evil to the root; and, therefore, he, for one, would give his hearty and cordial assent to it. But he was anxious, from the position which he accidentally held, to be perfectly understood as to the support which he gave to the ballot. He supported the ballot from no mere love of reform, nor did he want to see it affect—nor did he think it would affect—the legitimate influence of property. If any one would take the trouble to prove to him that it would have that effect—as some hon. Gentleman on that (the Opposition) side of the House thought—he should oppose it as earnestly as he was now endeavouring vigorously to support it. But he did not believe that it would have this effect; and he was sorry to see two Gentlemen for whom he had so great a respect—the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cob-den) and the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) so frequently throwing a stone at the legitimate influence of property. [Both Mr. Bright and Mr. Cob-den intimated dissent.'] At all events the hon. Member for the West Riding had done so, and he would prove it. About three weeks ago that hon. Member mentioned the case of the borough of Bridgnorth, and in connexion with it the name of Mr. Whitmore; and he said, "Here is a case for the ballot." Now, the influence of Mr. Whitmore, which the hon. Member condemned, was evidently founded upon the affections and esteem of the neighbourhood in which he resided; and his exercise of it was evidently merely the result of his sense of the responsibility which his property entailed; and if he did not exercise that influence, he (Sir R. Peel) should think he did not sufficiently well fulfil the duties of the station he occupied. Therefore it was that he wished to maintain the legitimate influence of property; and that he did not wish to throw a stone at its influence. He knew perfectly well that the ballot must pass into law; it might not be that night or even the next year, but in three or four years it must pass. Of course there might be, as there had been after all great radical changes in the economy of Government—as, for instance, after the Reform Bill—great convulsions in the country. But these would subside, and calm and quiet would succeed, and the legitimate influence of property would assume its proper sway. For the people of this country were far too sharp and acute not to be able to discern the wide difference that existed between the permanent advantages they derived from the legitimate influence of property, and the questionable results which followed the noisy turbulence of mob orators and adventurers. He had, therefore, no fear that the legitimate influence of property would be destroyed. He must, however, maintain that secrecy of voting was freedom of voting. Of course in this country there were very rare opportunities of testing this assertion; but what had transpired in the Election Committees upstairs showed at any rate that publicity had interfered with the freedom of voting. His right hon. Friend the Secretary at War, and also other hon. Members, had alluded to the case of foreign countries. Well, he would do so, too, and he would refer to what had occurred only the other day in Spain and Tuscany, just to show the value of the ballot even in those despotic countries. And if it was valuable there, surely it would be equally advantageous in this far more favoured country. When in Spain, the other day, the Government of Bravo Murillo was upset, and was succeeded by that of General Roncali, the latter was anxious to continue the same violent proceedings as his predecessor. He dissolved the Cortes, and sent them back to the country—bribed the electors—packed the Chamber. So far all was easy. But then, to overcome the opposition of the Senate, he elected forty-five senators all at once; quite on the system originally proposed for the carrying of the Reform Bill, but which did not answer here. However, having elected these senators, he thought he was secure; but what was the result? There were four secretaries to be elected, who, by exercising considerable authority in the Senate, held great political influence in that body, and having vote by ballot in the senate, the opponents of Government were elected in every instance, in opposition to the Government candidates. It was quite clear that if the ballot had not existed, the Government of Roncali would at this moment be carrying on the most iniquitous system there. Well, in Florence, the other day, Prince Lichtenstein proposed a member of the Windischgratz family as a member of a club or réunion there. Now, as the Au3trians were naturally enough hated in Italy, this young man, probably very amiable in himself, was blackballed. The consequence was that Prince Lichtenstein, like all military sabreurs, was furious; he called out the military, occupied all the important posts of the city, threatened to interfere with the popular amusements, and called a meeting of the club, to which he said—"The ballot is all nonsense, the ballot is not freedom, let us have publicity." Of course, with the sword hanging over their heads, the members of the club could not do otherwise than assent, and the result was that the candidate who was the day before blackballed was then unanimously elected. Now these, he must say, were two very remarkable cases, and afforded striking proofs of the efficiency of the ballot. He could not, however, allude to the subject of the ballot without referring to the noble Lord the Member for the City of London. The noble Lord held a distintinguished position in the opinion of his countrymen as a reformer. He heard him with the greatest surprise say the other night—but these, he supposed, were only his "private" sentiments—"We are not going to govern this country by checking the progress of democracy. What we are going to do is to make democracy conservative." He (Sir R. Peel) never heard such sentiments expressed in the House of Commons. To talk of endeavouring to make democracy conservative in a country where the aristocratic influence had reigned dominant in society for upwards of 150 years, did appear most monstrous to him. He remembered some time ago having heard the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Disraeli) say that the noble Lord was the subordinate of a subordinate. Let him, however, correct the right hon. Gentleman, and assure him that the noble Lord was nothing whatever of the kind. He had the distinguished authority of the Earl of Aberdeen for stating that he had no subordinates at all. Now, really he must say that when the Prime Minister of any country said that he bad no subordinates at all, he must have a very moderate opinion of his own political position. Here was a noble Lord who one day attacked the religious feelings and sympathies, and insulted the loyalty of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, and they were then told that these were only his private opinions, though he was the leader of the House of Commons, and that they were not shared by the Earl of Aberdeen and all his Colleagues. The same noble Lord then proposed to trample upon the birthright of the dockyard artisans, and rob them of their political inheritance, by recommending their disfranchisement in a Bill now before the House, though be (Sir R. Peel) knew he never would dare to submit a measure of that kind to the House of Commons—and this was the man who talked about making democracy conservative. On the first opportunity he had of doing anything to elevate the condition of his fellow-countrymen, he endeavoured to rob them of their political rights, and when he found himself restrained by his Colleagues, as he would have been by the House, what did he do? Why, the noble Lord quoted what he called a very sensible opinion of Lord Melbourne, evidently with the intention of throwing it in the teeth of the Earl of Aberdeen, to the effect that if the Members of the Government only agree about the course to be pursued, the opinions by which they arrive at that course do not matter. One would really think from this that the noble Lord and the rest of the Government were of one opinion about everything. He would beg the House just to look at the opinions of the Cabinet upon this very question of the ballot. There was the right hon. Member for Southwark (Sir W. Molesworth), the glorious Radical of Southwark, who looked upon the ballot as the anchor of salvation to this country; and he (Sir R. Peel) thought he was perfectly right. Then there was the right hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham), who was now sitting with great complacency onder the influence of the gentle breezes that fanned the Admiralty flag, who looked upon the ballot as a kind of Cape Horn of politics, a kind of Ultima Thule of political navigation. Well, then there was the Solicitor General, the Jew Member for Aylesbury; but, subject to the weathercock of personal interests, his political opinions were worth but little. Then there were those few hon. Gentlemen whom the country regretted so much to see separated from their legitimate connexions, now that no adequate cause existed for that separation. He did not know how they would vote; but there was, at any rate, one hon. Member of whom he did not know which way he would vote, and that was the gallant Captain, the eccentric Member for Middlesex (Mr. B. Osborne). There was the hon. and gallant Captain the eccentric Member for Middlesex, whom, at all events, in unrestricted confidence, he should have the satisfaction of meeting in the lobby on that occasion; and as men's minds were now occupied with Constantinople and Turkey, so he hoped that on this question of the ballot, the hon. and gallant Gentleman and himself would meet in the Dardanelles of that House, and manifest the existence between them of a perfect entente cordiale—such as was said to exist between France and England on the Turkish question. But he repeated that the course likely to be taken on this subject by the different Members of the Government would be no great proof of unanimity, even as to the votes they would give, setting aside unanimity as to their reasons for those votes. Now, he asked the House, although he occupied a very humble position in it, seriously to look at the inefficiency of their legislation as regarded the corrupt practices at elections, and to contemplate the evils which during the last twenty years had made such rapid strides, and which evils the ballot would assuredly curtail, if not entirely eradicate. Let them recollect that in the Parliament of 1841 there were eight convictions for bribery—in the Parliament of 1847 fourteen elections were declared void for bribery and corruption; whilst in the present Parliament, of the first sixteen seats which were attacked by petition for bribery and corruption, only three had been able successfully to resist those attacks; and how many since had fallen, and been found by their agents guilty of bribery, he had not accurately ascertained. There were still several cases before Election Committees under similar charges. Then there was the powerful borough of Aylesbury, which was twice under the last Parliament convicted of bribery. He knew not if the morality of that borough had improved since it had had the good fortune to be represented by the present Solicitor General; but this he must say, that if they only looked to the laxity of the hon. and learned Gentleman's principles, it might not be necessary to ask the question. But take the case of the Wigton burghs—a remarkable instance for the application of the ballot. The votes for Sir John M' Taggart were 140, and for Mr. Caird 139. A petition was presented, and dropped, for this reason, that Mr. Caird could not withstand the influence of Lord Stair, and all the array of eleven lawyers who were staring him in the face. Mr. Caird also said that he could not bear the expense of a scrutiny; and he (Sir R. Peel) said it was monstrous that if bribery could be proved—and he did not now say that it could—that because of the expense, this corruption should be allowed to go unexposed. Then there was Blackburn and Chatham, which had been enfranchised by the Reform Bill, and both of them had been found guilty of bribery. And what was the sum total of all that had been done during the last twenty years to stem this torrent of corruption? In 1839 Sir Robert Peel's Act was passed respecting the constitution of Election Committees; in 1841 a further Act was passed on the subject of agency in matters of bribery; and, in addition to that, they had had the disfranchisement of Sudbury and St. Albans. That, he believed, was all that been done during the Inst twenty years for the punishment of this vice; and he asked—had they not got at least the chance of the ballot, and had he not a right to urge that Parliament should give it a trial? He asked all those hon. Members who were dissatisfied with the present system, therefore, to support him, and to rally round this popular standard. They might not be triumphant that night in that House, but they might be victorious out of doors; and if any hon. Members were now halting between the two opinions, let him take the liberty of asking them to reflect upon the inefficiency of all their existing legislation on this subject—to consider the expense attending, and the consequences resulting from, the present system of Election Committees, as exhibited in the case he had just mentioned of the Wigton burghs; and, above all, let them think of the demoralisation engendered by this wholesale system of bribery, corruption, and intimidation. Let them figure to themselves what remained to be done to improve and elevate the public mind, and to raise it to a just conception of the duties entailed by the working of our free institutions. He asked them to weigh well all these considerations, and he felt convinced that many hon. Members who might hitherto have refused to sanction this measure would become as cordial supporters of it as he was himself—a measure which, without weakening the legitimate influence of property, would enable the constituencies to exercise their franchise with independence and freedom of conscience, and must, in his mind, materially promote the interests of all classes in the community. At all events, whatever might be the result of this discussion, whether the Motion were successful, or whether they were to be beaten that night, he knew that the time had passed when the ballot could be met, as it had been met before, with illiterate sneers and contemptuous taunts. The friends of the ballot courted inquiry, because they felt confident that the more its principle, which was that of independent and conscientious voting, was examined, the more favourable would be the result to the opinions they advocated. He would, therefore, ask Parliament to interfere; and by investigation and inquiry into the present system of electoral legislation, and into the methods for correction of its abuses, he recognised the safest guarantee for final and complete success.


said, he was unwilling to give a silent vote upon the subject under the consideration of the House; but, looking at the lateness of the hour, and considering the full manner in which the subject had already been discussed, he should confine his observations to a very small compass. It had been stated that on former occasions the arguments on this subject had all been on one side; and the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) seemed to speak as if he were unable to find a foeman worthy of his steel. Now, what he meant to say, was, that whatever might have been the ease on former occasions, there could be no doubt on the present in which way the balance turned; and the speech of his right hon. Friend the Secretary at War had left so little for him to say that he would limit his observations to one view of the subject, but that view was one which had always pressed most strongly upon himself. The grounds upon which the opposition to this measure was founded, seemed to be different, and hon. Gentlemen opposite, who had opposed it, had done so on account of its democratic tendency; while, on the other hand, it had been urged that it was a measure which ought to receive the support of the Liberal party. But it seemed to him that the proposal contained a principle not only not in accordance with, but antagonistic to, the principles of a free government. It was not very difficult to see one principle in it repugnant to free institutions, and if he had read but little of the history of this country, or but little studied the opinions of her liberal statesmen, he should have, nevertheless, seen in the proposal a principle adverse to the liberal maxim that the influence of popular and public opinion was the only security for the exercise of constitutional rights. The hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) had referred to instances of the advantage of the ballot which had occurred in Spain and Tuscany; but it rather appeared to him that if this secret voting were held up, as now, as a test of a man's liberal opinions, it would not be convenient to such Governments as those of Spain and Tuscany. This secret voting, he contended, was perfectly fitted for the despotic atmosphere of Spain, but was entirely repugnant to a popular constitution such as ours. The hon. Member for the West Riding had expressed his opinion that no man had a right to know how any other man had voted at an election for a Member of Parliament. He did not concur in that opinion, for he thought that even if the establishment of vote by ballot were to take place-even if it did prevent intimidation, it would, at the same time, remove the proper check which public opinion exercised over every man's vote. If a man had a vote only for his own benefit, he would, admit that the argument which he had advanced against the introduction of the ballot bad failed; but he maintained that a vote at an election was as sacred a trust as a vote in that House, and ought to be exercised for the public good; and, if so, it was only safe for the public interest that every vote given should be subject to the influence of public opinion. The fallacy of the arguments used by hon. Gentlemen who supported this measure, was, that they had looked only at the evil, and not at the remedy which they proposed to apply to it; but it seemed to him that if the principle were established, it would not only be an alteration in the manner of taking the votes at an election, but it would be introducing a new element into the constitution, which would extend much further, and would influence very materially the whole of the electoral system. This being the general view which he entertained of this question, he would not weary the House by going into the question as to whether the ballot would or would not diminish the evil complained of; but he should have liked, on the one hand, to show that these evils were to be met in a very different way; and, on the other hand, to call the attention of the House to the manner in which hon. Members in favour of the mea-sure had disagreed as to the real evil. The hon. Member who brought forward the measure had even intimated that there were redeeming points about bribery, at least he said there were some good excuses for it. Now, he could not agree in that opinion. Then they had intimidation urged as a reason for the ballot, though the right hon. Secretary at War had disposed of that abjection; and the hon. Member for the West Riding said it was rioting and tumultuous proceedings at elections to which he principally objected. In his opinion, secret voting would not prevent bribery, but, on the contrary, would increase the evils complained of. [Cries of "Oh!"] If it did not prevent them, it certainly must increase them. For this reason, the hon. Gentleman, in stating the account as to how the ballot would prevent corrupt influence being exercised on voters, had said nothing whatever of the pure honest voters who were made and kept honest by the influence of public opinion. Secret voting would not remove bribery, but it would loosen all those ties by which men were bound together, and by which, notwithstanding the corruption which existed in many elections, the general healthfulness of the electoral body had been preserved, and which had made that House the best exemplification of the representative ays- tem the world had ever seen. How were they to preserve public spirit if they established secret voting? No one knew better than the hon. Member for the West Riding, that though they had the ballot in America, there was no such thing there as secret voting. If we adopted secret voting in this country, what would become of our committees, of our public meetings, where men were banded together for one common object in public matters? Every man would distrust his neighbour. Suppose there was a canvass in which all the promised voters were taken down on each side; and suppose that the result of the voting differed altogether from the canvass, each man would believe that his neighbour had deceived him; and if they had the best possible administrator of the ballot box presiding, it would be difficult to persuade men that some foul play had not been practised. The real objection which he had to the ballot was, that it was a weapon taken from the armoury of arbitrary power; and its tendency was to shut out that which was really one of the purest elements of our constitution. The whole principle of secret voting was repugnant, he would repeat, to the institutions of a free country; and he agreed with the opinion expressed by Mr. Fox, that it was not the laws of a country which were written in books, but the boldness of men's minds which impelled them in a time of public emergency to public discussion. We had Been nations on the Continent trying to set up the empty fabric of our constitution; but they could not do it, because they had been unable to infuse into it the spirit of the people. It was the public spirit of our nation which circulated from the lowest to the highest—from the Monarch on her throne, to the peasant in his cot—that was the lifeblood of our constitution. Check but its progress—obstruct but its free flow—and you might keep up the empty skeleton of the constitution; but it would be beyond the power of all laws or arguments to resuscitate the public spirit of a nation when it had once expired. They would never advance the interests of a nation by calling upon men to exercise the most important function with which a citizen of a civilised State could be charged, in impenetrable darkness; and they might be assured that they could never turn a knave into an honest man by making it impossible to distinguish an honest man from the knave.


who rose amidst calls for a division, said, that he was aware what hour of the night it was, and he was willing either to go on or adjourn. But in the present state of public business, and at that late period of the Session, the House would probably be disposed to sit a little later than usual. The subject was worthy a fair and full discussion; and he was glad to find that on the present, the Government met it more earnestly than on former occasions, from which he augured that they would either concede the question, or were prepared to buckle on their armour and contend against it. He admitted that the advocates of the measure were bound to prove that the case was one which required a remedy, and that the remedy they proposed was the one applicable to the case. The general arguments by which the proposition before the House was met were comprised under three heads, namely, that the evil they complained of was not so great as they charged it to be—that the ballot would not cure it, or, if it did cure it, the cure would be as had as the disease itself. He could state more fully what the hon. Member for Tamworth (Sir R. Peel) probably had not the means of stating, namely, the total number of seats that had been vacated during the Session. It appeared that sixteen Members had been unseated, for bribery; four for treating only, seven for bribery and treating combined, one for an illegal engagement to pay money to get possession of a seat, and there had been two unseated for intimidation and riot—that was the Irish case—making altogether thirty Members that had been unseated for the occurrence of circumstances connected with their election, which the application of the ballot, in his opinion, would very much tend to remove, if it would not altogether remove, them. He had considered what had taken place since the Reform Bill, and he found that after every election there had been an immense number of petitions. In 1833 there were thirty-three petitions; in 1835, thirty; in 1838, sixty; in 1841, forty-three; in 1847, forty; and in 1853, sixty-seven petitions. There had been since the Reform Bill 315 petitions; and the average of the six general elections he had quoted was not less than forty-seven. It needed no argument to show that, under these circumstances, the House stood in a position of considerable humiliation before the country and the world. And it was difficult to say whether the House or the constituencies lost more of character. They had boroughs under the control of one patron, as Stamford; they had large boroughs under the control of the Government of the day, such as Chatham; and they had even large cities, such as Westminster, where it was notorious that many electors abstained from voting on account of the extreme pressure put upon them by men towards whom they stood in some relation of obligation. But Ireland was perhaps just now more notorious in this respect than England. He would invite the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War to go with him to an Irish northern county, and he could show him that the spirit of the Duke of Newcastle was not dead, but lived as much in the Marquess of Londonderry as ever it had done in that noble Duke himself. They were battling for the purification of the electoral system, and therefore he would offer no evidence except that which was perfectly true and undeniable. He would read to the House extracts from the correspondence of the Marquess of Londonderry in reference to the last election for the county of Down. It was well known that previous to the last dissolution of Parliament, Lord Castlereagh had received orders from his father—[Cries of "No, no."] The rumour that he had received such orders was general; but he (Mr. Bright) did not think the circumstance was necessary for his argument, and therefore he should not pursue it further, but would call attention to a letter that was written on the 7th of February, 1852, by the Marquess of Londonderry to "My dear David," being, he (Mr. Bright) believed, the nephew of the noble Marquess, Mr. Ker. In that letter he stated that Lord Castlereagh felt himself pledged to Sharman Crawford—that it was quite impossible, in consequence of the strong opposition of the writer to the tenant league, that he could poll his voters even for a son, when there was so wide a difference in their opinions and views; that after the immense treasure that had been expended by the family on the county seat, he could not reconcile it to his own position during his life, to resign the representation even to Lord Castlereagh; and he therefore offered to Mr. Ker, as his eldest nephew, the first refusal of his interest, and stated that if Mr. Ker should resolve to stand as an independent candidate, he would seek the most eligible candidate he could procure to occupy the family seat. There was also a letter from the son of the Marquess of Londonderry to "Dear David," in which he stated that he wrote by the desire of his father, and added, "he wishes to hear explicitly from you whether you accept the offer he made, bonâ fide, of coming in for the county of Down as his Member, and by his money." The definition of "his Member" is well understood, where not alone interest, but money, is given. Then came a letter from Mr. Ker, and another from the Marquess of Londonderry, the result of which showed that they differed in their understanding of the terms "patron and nominee." That was a case which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War must admit was a fair parallel to the case of the Duke of Newcastle; and the argument of the right hon. Gentleman that what the Duke of Newcastle had done was unknown in these days, was entirely overthrown by that correspondence. It should be also recollected that that correspondence had reference to a county with 7,000 or 8,000 electors, and not to a small borough with a few electors. That county was thus written of by a Member of the other House of Parliament, who, according to the constitution, had no right whatever to meddle in the election of Members of that House—


rose to order, and begged to say, in the absence of his hon. Colleague, that the correspondence which was read by the hon. Gentleman had nothing at all to do with the present representation of the county of Down.


said, he was rejoiced to say that Mr. Ker had not been driven out of the field by treatment of the kind he had described. He stood for the county; and, so far as he was concerned in this correspondence, he (Mr. Bright) would be glad to see a similar termination to every such attack. He had also a letter, which the hon. and gallant Member for Dungannon (Capt. Knox) was represented to have written to the tenants on the estate of his father, with regard to the county Down election. He said that as a contest was to take place in the county, he called upon the tenants to give their vote and interest to Lord Edwin Hill and Mr. Ker, and that as the tenantry had been always treated with consideration, they ought not to support the tenant-right candidate, Mr. Sharman Crauford, "whose vanity had got the better of his common sense." There was also a letter from Major Waring, who said that as a general election was about to take place, and as the interest of the tenants and of the landlord was insepara- ble—["Hear, hear!"] Yes, but the tenant was always required to go with the landlord—as the interest of the tenants and the landlord was inseparable, he thought it to be his duty to make known his intentions to them, and if they were disposed to act with him, he would be obliged. That was remarkably civil, he must say. He then stated that he intended to give his interest to Lord Edwin Hill, who was a tried friend to the country, but did not intend to promise his second vote to any other person for the present; and concluded by saying that if his tenants were inclined to support him in this course, they were required to make their intentions known through his agent's office as soon as possible. Then there was a letter from Mr. Blakeney, a barrister, which showed at least the ferocious spirit that unhappily prevailed in Ireland during the last election. It was dated Dublin, May 22, 1853, and was addressed to Mr. John Rooney, the land agent, and it stated that "if any tenant should vote for such a band of murderers as the Tenant League—if any of them should become so misguided, let them mark my displeasure. Now they have notice, let them choose between me and the assassins." In the county of Down the tenants of the Rev, Mr. Ford, who was living in exile in consequence of his pecuniary embarrassments, were called together into a farm-yard by his agent and son, who managed his electioneering business, and there they were insulted and bullied, for the purpose of driving them from the support which they had already promised to Mr. Sharman Crawford. There were cases in which afterwards these tenants were visited with every description of harassing annoyance which the landlord and agent could possibly bring on them. He (Mr. Bright) derived his information on these points from the report of a barrister, a public writer of some eminence, who after the last election went to Ireland, and made a minute investigation into the circumstances of the elections in the counties of Down and Monaghan. The hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. F. Berkeley) had already read the correspondence of a gentleman in Monaghan, which was disgraceful to any man who lived a citizen of a free country. Here was another case. Lord Blayney's agent wrote to the tenants, informing them that it was his particular wish that they should vote for Messrs. Foster and Leslie, and expressing an expectation that the tenants would have no hesitation in doing so. He added that he should be greatly disappoint' ed if any of them voted for Dr. Gray, who was a stranger in the county. Some of the tenants wrote to Lord Blayney himself, and he returned a very proper reply, repudiating any wish to influence his tenants; but notwithstanding this, the agent was guilty of such conduct towards the tenants as it was the duty of that House to shelter them from. It was true that Dr. Gray was a stranger in the county, but nevertheless he polled 1,410 plumpers, while his opponents had only 1,010 and 968 respectively. Now, take the borough of Lisburn. They had heard a great deal lately of Catholic priests interfering in elections in Ireland. He was not fond of priests who interfered with elections; but no man could travel through Ireland and be ignorant of this—that the influence of the priests over the Catholic tenantry was directed to keep them from submitting to the opposite pressure which was put upon them by the landlords. He (Mr. Bright) held in his hand a letter, written by a clergyman of the Church of England, who was the agent of the Marquess of Headfort, in which the writer, addressing the tenantry, stated that his Lordship took the most anxious interest in the return of a particular candidate for the borough of Lisburn—that the occasion would be a means of showing to him whom he might regard as his friends in his future relations with the borough. It appeared that twenty-seven persons who voted for the opposite candidate had since received notice to quit; six of them had been evicted; seven persons who did not vote at all had had notice to quit; and some who did not make a sufficiently great resistance to the obnoxious candidate, had brought down on themselves the vengeance of the agent. Now he (Mr. Bright) would appeal to every Irish Member whether they could not, if they pleased, rise and make exactly similar statements to those which he had made? If it were not so, he could only say that public opinion in this country was remarkably deceived in regard to this question. But was the ballot a remedy for all this? He would ask whether the Marquess of Londonderry would have written those letters if he knew that his tenants could go up to the poll and vote by secret ballot? Would the agent in the county of Monaghan have made himself—not, as now, condemnable for his tyranny, but—ridiculous for his folly, by writing such letters, if the ballot had been established? He would now take the boroughs in their own coun- try. In Canterbury, bribery was carried on by colour tickets; in Cambridge, 10l. was paid for a vote; in Derby, 3l. But in all these cases the money was paid after the vote had been given, or under circumstances which insured the delivery of the goods. Even in these guilty transactions men would not pay their money until the compact for which they paid it had been fulfilled. Now, the ballot would prevent all this. Take the case also of the city of Durham. He (Mr. Bright) knew something about the place, for he had stood two contests there. The expenses of the first were paid by a cheque for 65l.; the second was an affair of a week or ten days, and cost more; but they were both the purest contests that had taken place in Durham for the last fifty years. In the first case he had succeeded in unseating Lord Dungannon, who had paid 1l. a head to his voters; but besides that, the Marquess of Londonderry had a sort of mania for obtaining political influence in the city; and the noble Lord, be had heard since, had seventy or eighty men employed in his mines within seven miles distance of the city, to enable them to vote at the elections. Anybody, in fact, who could vote was a fair man to obtain employment in the Marquess of Londonderry's collieries, and these men were brought up to vote at the elections in waggon loads at the time, and having performed their work of voting for his Lordship's candidate, they go back to their employment in the mines. He had no interest in saying anything against the Marquess of Londonderry, because on his first return for the city there happened to be a quarrel between the noble Lord and his Member, and some of his Lordship's men were allowed to vote for him; but it was the system he complained of. It was a ruinous system that had cost some families half their fortunes, and others the whole. It was a disgrace to the country; and it was for that reason that he now thought it his duty to bring these matters before the House. He came now to a particular point in this question, which he hoped the House would allow him to go into in detail, because it related to the manner in which the ballot had worked in America, about which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Wiltshire (Mr. S. Herbert) appeared to be under some misapprehension. Now, let the House bear in mind that in the United States they had more elections than we have. They had elections—general election's—throughout thirty-three States; yet such being the check of the ballot, that charges of bribery and corruption were, he believed, altogether unknown in the country. A few-nights ago he was speaking upon this subject to a distinguished man connected with the United States, who had, in fact, held the office of Attorney General in that country. [A laugh.] He was at a loss to conceive what excited the laugh of the hon. Member for Somersetshire; but he forgot that the hon. Gentleman generally was in a good humour at that hour of the night. But let the House bear with him for a moment on this point as the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War, and the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, had both endeavoured to persuade the House that it would be something detrimental to the British character to adopt the ballot. It, however, had not done 80 in America, according to the authority he had just stated. In the State of Massachusetts, where the people were intelligent, well conducted, well educated, and highly moral, the ballot was established as far back as 1634; and to show its utility to the people in 1688, General Andrews was sent over by James II., who was anxious to destroy the liberties of Massachusetts, to get rid of the ballot. But the attempt failed, and the ballot had continued securing freedom of election to the people ever since. The secret ballot, which Was the most effectual system of voting, had not then been discovered. In order to show the House what had been done since that time, he would read extracts from two letters which he had received from Massachusetts. One was from Mr. Nason, a Member of the House of Representatives, dated January, 1852. It was to the effect that the system of voting in Massachusetts was perfectly secret, a self-sealing envelope being provided to receive the voter's ticket, this envelope being of uniform size, and a heavy penalty being attached to any counterfeit. It was further stated that this secret ballot was highly prized by all classes of society, more especially the poorer class in the manufacturing towns. In a letter from Mr. Walker, the last Secretary of State for Massachusetts, dated February 18, 1853, the writer stated that having been made Secretary of State in 1850, it became his duty to see that the new ballot law was carried into effect; that the Whigs being unfavourable to the alteration, he was very anxious as to the result; that the new law was found to work well, there being no embarrassments, no fraud, and no intimidation under it; that it had been adopted in Rhode Island, and was agitated in other States, and that the Governor of New Hampshire had recommended the secret ballot to the Legislature of that State. Some time after receiving this letter, he (Mr. Bright) saw a paragraph in the Leeds Mercury, to the effect that this secret ballot system had been altered, and in fact repealed. He immediately wrote to Mr. Walker on the subject, and he had received an answer, dated April 11, 1853, it which it was stated that in 1852 some additions were made to the law, to render it more perfect, and that in the fall of the year all the national and State elections were made under it without any difficulty; also that the Whigs had sustained a "Waterloo defeat" in consequence of having "made war on the new ballot law." Here [exhibiting a paper] was a specimen of the envelope used in Massachusetts, having upon it the stamp of that State. Here [exhibiting another paper] was the ticket for the names of the candidates. The ticket, after being filled up by the voter, was dropped into the urn; and it was impossible for any one but the voter himself to tell how the vote was given. There was no possibility of fraud. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. Herbert) had spoken of the ballot boxes being liable to be seized; but they must be the stupidest people in the world if they could devise no mechanical contrivances as a precaution against everything of that kind. He believed that the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, and the majority of that House, wished to put an end to the evils of the present system. He wished them, then, to adopt a system which had worked well in another country. He solemnly declared that he thought the dignity of that House was at present lowered, and the character of representative institutions damaged, not only in this country, but throughout the world; and if they did not wish to appear hypocrites in the face of the country and of the world, it became hon. Members either to point out a remedy as good as that of the hon. Member's for Bristol, or to vote for the introduction of this Bill in order that it might be sent to the other House of Parliament.


said, in reference to what the hon. Member for Manchester had stated as to his father's tenants, he would challenge the hon. Member to prove his assertions—namely, that those tenants were visited by any annoyance, or were harassed on account of their votes.


said, he must deny in toto what the hon. Member for Manchester had stated in regard to the Rev. William Ford being an exile, or driven away from some cause, as he had insinuated.


explained. He said, that the Rev. Mr. Ford was reported to have been absent from home in consequence of pecuniary embarrassments.


said, that with regard to the Rev. Mr. Ford, he was a gentleman in possession of property to the amount of about 7,000l. a year, and a more honourable man and a better land-land never existed. With regard to the gentleman bringing his tenants into a court yard, and ordering them to vote for him (Lord E. Hill) and his Colleague Mr. Ker, the statement was utterly untrue. He would suggest to the hon. Member the propriety in future of getting up his facts a little better. With regard to the Marquess of Londonderry, he thought that the delicacy of the House was somewhat shocked by the observations which were made by the hon. Member. He could state that the Marquess of Londonderry wished to bring forward some other candidate besides Mr. Ker, for his Lordship did not like Mr. Ker. His Lordship, therefore, brought forward Mr. Stewart; but Mr. Ker and himself (Lord E. Hill) were returned in spite of the Marquess of Londonderry. So far it appeared that the ballot was not necessary for the county of Down. In respect to Major Waring, he was a strong Protestant, and was called a King William's man. [Mr. BRIGHT: I did not know that fact.] Then the hon. Member knows it now. He stated it as a fact, that the Catholic priests exercised more power in the elections in Ireland than any of the landlords under heaven in Ireland. He (Lord E. Hill) was himself denounced from the altar by the priests. He would also inform the hon. Member that Mr. Sharman Crawford was prosecuted for libel by the Rev. Mr. Ford, and twenty-five other landlords of Down. What was the result? Why, that Mr. Crawford cried peccavi, made an ample apology, and paid all the costs of the proceedings at law.


Sir, after the speeches which have been made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary at War, and by my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate, I should hardly have thought it necessary to say anything upon this subject, had not my personal conduct been misrepresented, unintentionally no doubt, by the hon. Gentleman who brought forward this Motion. That hon. Gentleman thought fit to represent, that while I held very popular language in opposition, I had, when in office, changed my course upon this subject, and taken a different view of it. Now the fact is, that the speech which the hon. Gentleman alluded to was made in the month of July last, previous to my election for the City of London. I had spoken in this House against the ballot a few weeks before, and when I was asked at a large meeting in Guildhall what course I should take upon this question, I stated I should vote against the ballot, and I gave my reasons to that numerous assembly, which meets in Guildhall upon such occasions, against the secret voting that the hon. Gentleman now proposes. It was not, therefore, as the hon. Gentleman supposes, when I accepted office, but at the time of the last election, that I stated my intention of voting, as I have constantly done, against this secret mode of voting. Sir, it appears to me—and I stated that principle to my constituents at the time—that the foundation upon which the question rests is a foundation entirely contrary to that on which the hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) raises his argument upon the present occasion. The hon. Gentleman says that no man has a right to inquire how another man votes. The principle which I stated was, that this is a public trust, and that every man who exercises that public trust, exercises it subject to the opinion and judgment of all his fellow-citizens. Sir, be it remarked that the hon. Gentleman proposes no change with regard to the suffrage—


I beg the noble Lord's pardon, but I go much further than that.


I mean the hon. Gentleman who has brought this Motion forward. That hon Gentleman has proposed this Motion as a change by itself. My hon. Friend the Member for Montrose, as we all know, complains of the very limited number who have the right to vote, and proposes the ballot in connexion with some other measure; but, by the proposition before the House, the hon. Member for Bristol proposes that those who have the right to vote, shall exercise that right without any of their fellow-citizens knowing how it is exercised. Now I say this is contrary to the principle which prevails with regard to all our other institutions, and is contrary also to the general principles of the constitution. I have heard it said—I have seen it written—that to declare that every person shall have the right of judging of the manner in which this trust is exercised, is, in fact, saying that they are themselves qualified to vote. Sir, I hold that that argument has no force in it, because we might as well say that no one can criticise the conduct of a judge, or the verdict of a jury, unless he is qualified to sit as that judge, or to give the verdict of that jury; or we might with equal justice say that no one is qualified to criticise any work unless he is himself qualified to write it. In fact it seems to me that, until the suffrage is made to extend to every one, the people of this country have the right of exercising their judgments upon the mode in which the votes of individuals are given; and I hold the fair and legitimate exercise of public opinion to be a most wholesome check in our electoral system. But, Sir, I hold, besides this, that the enactment of a secret mode of voting would, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate has justly argued, be hostile to the spirit of liberty in this country. The spirit of liberty has grown in this country by the patriotism, by the boldness, and by the courage with which men have stood forward and shown themselves ready to make sacrifices on behalf of their opinions, and of the Government which they wished to establish. From the day when Sir John Elliott allowed himself to be imprisoned—an imprisonment which resulted in his death—to the day when Sydney was willing to be condemned, and, with unquickened pulse, braved the verdict of an adverse and a packed jury, men were ready to sacrifice their lives, and were willing at any cost to establish the principles of liberty which they espoused. But, Sir, if you depart from these principles—if you say that men are to exercise secretly any of the public trusts of this country, and that they shall be safe and harmless whatever may be their conduct—you do that which endangers liberty, and you introduce a spirit directly opposite, a spirit of skulking from the responsibility attached to such a trust. I will not now go into the argument with regard to foreign Governments: with one exception, to which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) has alluded—and it is certainly worthy of remark, because we have often heard that the example of the United States of America, no doubt a great and free country, was one which we ought to imitate—we cannot find this secret mode of voting anywhere established in any system of government. Now, Sir, if it shall appear that some of the American States themselves have great doubts with respect to this institution—have great doubts with regard to the value of secret voting—then I think that is an argument for us to pause, at least, before we adopt a plan which they have been for a long time trying, but upon which they do not appear to have decided favourably. The hon, Gentleman the Member for Manchester has, I believe, truly stated that in the State of Massachusetts the ballot has been for a long time established; but the law which established the ballot said that the name of the voter was to be written upon a paper, open and Unfolded. There was no secrecy whatever about the vote that was thus given. It was a mode of voting different from ours, hut a mode which did not imply secrecy, which did not practically carry secrecy with it, and therefore in principle resembled our mode of voting rather than the secrecy which it is proposed to establish. About a couple of years ago the party which had a majority thought there were such abuses and such intimidations that it was necessary to establish secret voting. A great party opposed this change. It was carried; hut within one year after it was carried, there was a majority of 107 votes—the ayes being 114 to 7—against it. The hon. Gentleman says there has since been a convention, and a majority of that convention is in favour of this secret plan, and will make it a part of the constitution of the State. That may be, but we have no security with regard to it. What we know is, that after the secret ballot, which is the ballot that the hon. Gentleman proposes to establish, had been tried for a year in that noble and free State of Massachusetts, it was abandoned by a large majority; and that majority I may say contains some of the most distinguished men, and was supported by the opinions of some of the most patriotic, most learned, and most eminent men in the State. Well then, Sir, all I argue from this is, not that the State of Massachusetts may not finally establish secret ballot, but that at least it is a matter of consideration among them, and that one party at least, having this year a majority in the Legislature, refused to agree in that secret ballot, and decided it should be abolished. My right hon. Friend the Secretary at War has stated that the Governor of New York has declared openly that bribery and corruption are making great advances in that State, and that it is an evil which requires to be checked by new laws. Why, Sir, can any man any longer state that for bribery and intimidation he has a perfect and infallible remedy in the ballot, when you have such accounts from the United States of America, where it was said to have been successful? All I say is, not that America will finally have recourse to open voting—although an old patriot of America, Mr. John Randolph, said that secret voting if it did not find a nation scoundrels would make them scoundrels—not that the United States may not for awhile think of adopting some law for secret voting; hut what I. believe is that they will not persist in that law, and that, as hitherto, the practice in the whole of the States will eventually be one of open voting. Well, then, if that is the case—if in fact we have no example either in ancient or modern times of this mode of secret voting being successful—the only instance of its partial success being in the Republic of Venice, where it led to the establishment of a despotism—if that is the case, I say at least let us pause—let us feel that we have some sure foundation, and that this is an efficient remedy—and, in the meantime, let us retain a mode of voting which has been consistent and compatible with all that is noble, all that is manly, and all that is free in our institutions.


moved the adjournment of the debate.


said, he must appeal to the noble Lord not to persist in his Motion for adjournment.


said, he hoped the noble Lord would persist in it. The question was one of vast importance, and Members representing large constituencies should have an opportunity of expressing their sentiments.

Motion made and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."

The House divided:—Ayes 65; Noes 329: Majority 264.

Main Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 172; Noes 232: Majority 60.

List of the AYES.
Adair, H. E. Glyn, G. C.
Aglionby, H. A. Goderich, Visct.
Alcock, T. Goodman, Sir G.
Anderson, Sir J. Greene, J.
Atherton, W. Gregson, S.
Ball, J. Grenfell, C. W.
Barnes, T. Greville, Col. F.
Bass, M. T. Hadfield, G.
Bell, J. Hall, Sir B.
Berkeley, hon. C. F. Hastie, A.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Hastie, A.
Bethell, Sir R. Headlam, T. E.
Biddulph, R. M. Hindley, C.
Biggs, W. Hutchins, E. J.
Blackett, J. F. B. Hutt, W.
Blake, M. J. Ingham, R.
Bland, L. H. Jackson, W.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Keating, R.
Bowyer, G. Keating, H. S.
Boyle, hon. Col. Kennedy, T.
Brady, J. Keogh, W.
Bright, J. Kershaw, J.
Brocklehurst, J. King, hon. P. J. L.
Brookman, E. D. Kingscote, R. N. F.
Brotherton, J. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Brown, W. Kirk, W.
Butler, C. S. Laing, S.
Byng, hon. G. H. C. Langston, J. H.
Caulfield, Col. J. M. Langton, H. G.
Challis, Ald. Laslett, W.
Chambers, M. Layard, A. H.
Chaplin, W. J. Lee, W.
Cheetham, J. Locke, J.
Clay, Sir W. Loveden, P.
Cobbett, J. M. M'Cann, J.
Cobden, R. MacGregor, J.
Cookburn, Sir A. J. E. M'Taggart, Sir J.
Coffin, W. Magan, W. H.
Collier, R. P. Mangles, R. D.
Corbally, M. E. Marjoribanks, D. C.
Cowan, C. Marshall, W.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Massey, W. N.
Crook, J. Meagher, T.
Crossley, F. Miall, E.
Dashwood, Sir G. H. Milligan, R.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Milner, W. M. E.
Divett, E. Mitchell, T. A.
Duffy, C. G. Moffatt, G.
Duke, Sir J. Molesworth, rt. hn. Sir W.
Duncan, G. Moore, G. H.
Duncombe, T. Morris, D.
Ellice, E. Murphy, F. S.
Esmonde, J. Murrough, J. P.
Ewart, W. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Fagan, W. O'Brien, P.
Fergus, J. O'Connell, M.
Ferguson, Col. O'Flaherty, A.
Ferguson, J. Osborne, R.
Fitzgerald, J. D. Paget, Lord A.
Forster, C. Paget, Lord G.
Forster, J. Peehell, Sir G. B.
Fortescue, C. Peel, Sir R.
Fox, R. M. Pellatt, A.
Fox, W. J. Phillimore, J. G.
Freestun, Col. Phinn, T.
Gardner, R. Pigot, F.
Geach, C. Pilkington J.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Pinney, W.
Pollard-Usquhart, W. Sullivan, M.
Ponsonby, hon. A. G. J. Swift, R.
Potter, R. Talbot, C. R. M.
Price, W. P. Tancred, H. W.
Ramsden, Sir J. W. Thicknesse, R. A.
Ricardo, O. Thompson, G.
Robartes, T. J. A. Thornely, T.
Scholefield, W. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Scobell, Capt. Vivian, J. H.
Scrope, G. P. Vivian, H. H.
Scully, F. Wall, C. B.
Scully, V. Walmsley, Sir J.
Seymour, W. D. Wickham, H. W.
Shafto, R. D. Wilkinson, W. A.
Shee, W. Willcox, B. M.
Sheridan, R. B. Williams, W.
Smith, J. B.
Stanley, hon. W. O. TELLERS.
Strutt, rt. hon. E. Berkeley, H.
Stuart, Lord D. Shelley, Sir J.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Davies, D. A. S.
A'Court, C. H. W. Davison, R.
Annesley, Earl of Denison, E.
Anson, Visct. Denison, J. E.
Archdall, Capt. M. Dent, J. D.
Bagge, W. Dod, J. W.
Bailey, C. Drumlanrig, Visct.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.
Ball, E. Duff, G. S.
Baring, H. B. Duff, J.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Duncombe, hon. W. E.
Baring, T. Dundas, G.
Barrington, Visct. Dunne, Col.
Barrow, W. H. Du Pre, C. G.
Beaumont, W. B. East, Sir J. B.
Beckett, W. Egerton, Sir P.
Bennet, P. Egerton, W. T.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Egerton, E. C.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Elliot, hon. J. E.
Blair, Col. Elmley, Visct.
Boldero, Col. Emlyn, Visct.
Bramston, T. W. Euston, Earl of
Brisco, M. Evelyn, W. J.
Bruce, Lord E. Farnham, E. B.
Bruce, C. L. C. Farcer, J.
Bruce, H. A. Ferguson, Sir R.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Filmer, Sir E.
Burroughes, H. N. Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.
Butt, I. Floyer, J.
Cabbell, B. B. Follett, B. S.
Cairns, H. M. Forbes, W.
Campbell, Sir A. I. Forester, rt. hon. Col.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Forster, Sir G.
Carnac, Sir J. R. Franklyn, G. W.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Frewen, C. H.
Charteris, hon. F. Fuller, A. E.
Chelsea, Visct. Gallwey, Sir W. P.
Child, S. Gaskell, J. M.
Clinton, Lord R. George, J.
Clive, hon. R. H. Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E.
Cobbold, J. C. Goddard, A. L.
Cocks, T. S. Gore, W. O.
Codrington, Sir W. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Coles, H. B. Greenall, G.
Colvile, C. R. Greene, T.
Compton, H. C. Grogan, E.
Conolly, T. Gwyn, H.
Corry, rt. hon. H. L. Halford, Sir H.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Halsey, T. P.
Crowder, R. B. Hamilton, Lord C.
Hanbury, hon. C. S. B. Parker, R. T.
Hanmer, Sir J. Peel, F.
Harcourt, G. G. Percy, hon. J. W.
Harcourt, Col. Philipps, J. H.
Hardinge, hon. C. S. Phillimore, R. J.
Hawkins, W. W. Portal, M.
Hayter, rt. hon. W. G. Portman, hon. W. H. B.
Heard, J. I. Powlett, Lord W.
Heathcote, G. H. Pritchard, J.
Heneage, G. H. W. Pugh, D.
Heneage, G. F. Robertson, P. F.
Herbert, H. A. Rolt, P.
Herbert, rt. hon. S. Rumbold, C. E.
Hervey, Lord A. Russell, Lord J.
Hildyard, R. C. Russell, F. C. H.
Hill, Lord A. E. Russell, F. W.
Hogg, Sir J. W. Sandars, G.
Hotham, Lord Sawle, C. B. G.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Seymer, H. K.
Hughes, W. B. Shelburne, Earl of
Inglis, Sir R. H. Smith, M. T.
Irton, S. Smyth, R. J.
Jermyn, Earl Smollett, A.
Jones, Capt. Somerset, Capt.
Jones, D. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Kendall, N. Spooner, R.
Kerrison, Sir E. C. Stafford, A.
King, J. K. Stafford, Marq. of
Knatehhull, W. F. Stanhope, J. B.
Knight, F. W. Stephenson, R.
Knightley, R. Stirling, W.
Knox, hon. W. S. Stuart, H.
Lacon, Sir E. Sturt, H. G.
Langton, W. G. Taylor, Col.
Legh, G. C. Thesiger, Sir F.
Lewisham, Visct. Tollemache, J.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.
Lovaine, Lord Turner, C.
Mackie, J. Tyler, Sir G.
M'Gregor, J. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Manners, Lord G. Vance, J.
Manners, Lord J. Vane, Lord H.
Maxwell, hon. J. P. Vernon, G. E. H.
Meux, Sir H. Villiers, hon. F.
Miles, W. Vivian, J. E.
Michell, W. Vyvyan, Sir R. R.
Moncreiff, J. Waddington, H. S.
Montgomery, H. L. Walcott, Adm.
Montgomery, Sir G. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Moore, R. S. Walter, J.
Morgan, O. Wellesley, Lord C.
Mostyn, hon. E. M. L. West, F. R.
Mulgrave, Earl of Whitbread, S.
Mullings, J. R. Whiteside, J.
Mundy, W. Whitmore, H.
Naas, Lord Wigram, L. T.
Napier, rt. hon. J. Wilson, J.
Neeld, J. Wodehouse, E.
Newdegate, C. N. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Newport, Visct. Woodd, B. T.
Noel, hon. G. J. Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
North, Col. Wyndham, W.
Oakes, J. H. P. Wynne, W. W. E.
Owen, Sir J. Young, rt. hon. Sir J.
Pakenham, E.
Palmer, R. TELLERS.
Palmer, R. Buller, Sir J. T.
Palmerston, Visct. Lennox, Lord A.