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depend upon the strength of the Reform phalanx in the House of Commons, and that strength can only be acquired and preserved by attention to registration !
Let us contrast for a moment the relative strength of the antipopular party and the Reformers in the first reformed parliament, with the strength of the same parties now; and then ask ourselves to what is the extraordinary change to be ascribed ?
The number of Liberals and Tories returned by the counties, cities, boroughs, and Universities of the United Kingdom, to the parliament of 1833, were:
Thus matters stood in 1833. * In 1840 we find 321 Tories, and but 336 Reformers in the House of Commons ! Now after making due allowance for the excitement occasioned by the new acquisition of the franchise, to what can this extraordinary and painful reverse be owing, unless to the fact that registration has been neglected by the Reformers, and has been attended to with the most untiring assiduity by the Tories ?
It is often asserted, that this result has been produced by re· action;' but this plainly is an error, for re-action is no more in the nature of the thing than an opposite aberration of the pendulum-which will vibrate alternately to the right and to the left
The following is a statement of the number of registered electors in 1832 :
Electors, Members. 40 English counties
144 185 do boroughs
327 12 Welsh counties
30 76 do boroughs
76 32 Irish counties
64 34 do boroughs
so long as it continues in motion. There may be, and there has been a falling off in the zeal of the people in attention to the matter of registration; but this is not sufficient to account for the altered position of parties on which we are commenting The truth is, that the fact before us is the result of a well arranged plan of retrogression carried on by a process slow but sure. The Tories found that that which could not be carried by open assault, might by degrees be undermined. They resolved to concentrate their whole force upon the registration courts. They well knew what timely, patient, and unremitting efforts in that quarter, would ultimately effect. They saw that there lay the only road to return to power; and they nailed their flag to the mast with the motto, “The battle is to be fought in the registration courts.'
Blackwood's Magazine so far back as May, 1835, boldly predicted that perseverance would in the end be rewarded by triumph; and then developed the plan of operations, which slows that the Tories never relied upon a reaction’ in favor of Tory principles, but staked every thing on skill in the registration courts, to outmanæuvre the Reform party.
A considerable proportion of the present voters,' says Blackwood, not at all mincing the matter, are utterly inaccessible to reason or argument, totally incapable of forming a rational opinion on any political subject, and therefore the ready and certain prey of the demagogues, whom such a state of things necessarily and continually keeps in activity. These men can never be convinced; from their occupation and habits they are necessarily democratical, and will ever continue so. They must be outvoted or the constitution is lost.'
vol. xxxviii. p. 813.
Here is a confession of the consummation desired; as well as an acknowledgment that there was at that time no hope of returning to the old system by means of reaction in favor of Tory principles. The method to be adopted is then developed :
• The mode in which this is to be done is obvious; and here it is that the persevering efforts of property can best overcome the prodi. gious ascendency which the Reform Bill in the outset gave to the reckless and destitute classes of the community. It is IN THE REGISTRATION COURTS THAT THE BATTLE OF THE CONSTITUTION (meaning always of the Tories ') is to be FOUGHT AND WON. It is by a continued, persevering, and skilful exertion there that education, worth, and property are to regain their ascendency over anarchy, vice, and democracy. The many victories gained by the Conservatives during the last contest, were chiefly owing to the efforts that had previously been made in this department. The forces of anarchy, strong and often irresistible in a moment of general excitement or on the eve of an
election, are unequal in general to a steady, persevering effort for a course of years in keeping up a majority on the roll. It is there that property and information can most easily regain its just and necessary ascendant over mere numbers. Let, therefore, the Conservatives unite in associations in every city, borough, and county in the kingdom, to subscribe for the purpose of purging the election rolls of the multitudes of disqualified Radicals who are now there, and placing on it persons of property and education on whose principles they can rely. By a proper organization in this way it is astonishing what may
be done ; in most places, excepting the great cities which may be set aside as in general irreclaimable, one member at least of sound principles might be secured. It is thus, and thus only, that the balance of society can be restored in these islands. Let no one grudge TROUBLE or EXPENSE in such an attempt. It is the battle of property, which is there to be fought; it is the cause of religion, truth, and freedom which is there to be won.'
Now here is the plan which the Tories laid down in 1835; and here at once is discovered the secret of that success of which we hear so much. It is seen at a glance that the altered state of parties is owing mainly, if not solely, to the fact that the Tories have acted upon this plan, uniformly and pertinaciously ; while the Liberals have been indifferent and remiss on the subject. Can we employ any stronger argument than this to press upon the friends of civil and religious liberty the transcendent moment of registration? Can any thing demonstrate more forcibly, that the husk which is so thoughtlessly thrown aside contains a kernel of most precious fruit? We desire to arouse the people of Great Britain on this subject : for we are firmly impressed with the belief that there is no other way to recover lost strength than by attention to the matter of registration. We are anxious to awaken them to an adequate sense of the importance of the register: because we are satisfied, if the Liberals do their duty in this department, that they will be able, not only to curb and control, but to master their opponents. Fas est ab hoste doceri : attend to the registry! and the might of the people will return once more; the hair upon Samson's head will begin to grow : attend to the registry! and you will see the designs of those defeated who are anxious to carry back the nation to the slavery of Egypt, from which it hath made its exodus, and prevent their entrance to the promised possessions,—moral and mental elevation, safe progression, and rational freedom. Attend to the registry! and you take a guarantee that equal laws shall be extended to all subjects of this realm, and that they shall be governed on the principles of peace, justice, retrenchment, and reform. Attend to the registry! and the Tories are kept from power!
It will be our duty before we close, to offer some remarks on
the existing machinery employed by the Tory party for effecting registration, accompanied with some suggestions naturally arising from the contemplation of it; but before we turn to this part of the case, we must draw attention to three prominent facts, instructive in themselves, and indicative of the policy and tendencies of the retrogressive or Tory party.
First. It has been their effort, by the organization of a regular system for sustaining objections against Liberal voters, and for the creation of fictitious voters in their own interest, to weaken the Reform party and strengthen their own hands.
Second. Finding their strength increased by their vigilant attention to the details of registration, they propose to take a step further, and obtain the sanction of law to the creation of fresh obstacles in the way of registration in Ireland; great attention being paid to the matter there by the liberal community, and, as a consequence there being a strong and decisive majority against Toryism.
Third. It is avowedly the design of the Tories, after having depreciated and mutilated the Irish system of registration, to sink the English system to the level to which the former may be degraded, on the plea of giving equal laws' and equal institutions to both countries.
RETROGRESSION is the object of the Tory party, and should they succeed in their attempt upon the Irish franchise, as they have already succeeded in their registration experiments, they will without doubt endeavor to narrow the franchise in England and Scotland. Notwithstanding the disguises used to conceal this purpose, and the many denials given to the assertion of Lord John Russell, that the object of the party was by slow degrees to diminish and destroy the franchise, we have sufficient warrant for charging the Tories with this deep laid design. An observation was made in the course of a recent debate, by Sir Edward Sugden, which, although it appears to have escaped without remark, is pregnant with much meaning, and affords a correct index to the inclinations of Her Majesty's opposition. Having expressed his approbation of Lord Stanley's bill, the right hon. member for Studley Park, with all possible suavity, made the following declaration : "He would be contented to accept the same registration for England that was to be enforced in Ireland, and to see the same rigid test applied to the list of voters in this country, that was proposed to be put to the Irish lists."*
Now here is an admission from Sir Edward Sugden as to the truth of the fact which the Tories are so industrious in denying. First contract the franchise in Ireland, and then for the sake of
* See Debate on the Irish Registration Bill, June 20.
uniformity, introduce into England the system established in the sister country! The Tories will readily enough, in such a case as this, give equal laws' to both countries; but they will not raise Ireland to the level of England; they will first depreciate the Irish franchise, and then sink the English franchise to that depreciated level! Such is Tory condescension.
For the present Lord Stanley has been defeated, and has abandoned his bill till next session. But this is only a matter of expediency. The noble lord and his party have merely consented to a delay, and not changed their course of action. Their plan has been decided on; and nothing but the determination and energetic counter-working of Reformers will drive them from it. We readily believe Lord Stanley when he declares that it is his intention to renew the attack upon the Irish registration system
Now everything depends upon the question whether the electors-whether the great mass of the people who are interested in the good government of the country, will improve the late discussions to their own advantage. Are they more alive to the advantages of attention to registration? Do they comprehend more perfectly the anti-popular scheme of the Tories to neutralize the power which the Reform Bill gave the people, and grasp
it once more themselves ? If so, they must betake themselves energetically to work, and remember that the battle is to be fought and won in the registration courts.'
The ground on which the Tories have rested their late desperate attack upon the Irish system of registration is, that under its provisions fictitious votes' are readily manufactured. It is alleged, also, that PERSONATION prevails to a great extent; and we are informed by a leading Tory publication, that · Upon this ‘principle a man has stood in all possible degrees of relationship to himself: he has personated his uncle, his grandfather : he has been his own father, his own dutiful son: in fact, according • to the vast variety of possible combinations, men have piously discharged the duties of so many departed kinsmen, that at last they have found themselves unable to say in what precise de“gree of relationship they might stand to themselves.'
And how do they propose to remedy the evil of personation ? Marry by making registration more difficult. Can anything possibly be more absurd than this? That one man personates another who had been fully qualified and legally registered cannot be laid to the charge of the system of registration. The utmost that the most perfect system of registration can effect is to bestow the franchise upon those only who are legally qualified; but it cannot provide against frauds committed after registration, in the name of those who are properly registered. It is quite obvious that no enactments directed against the placing of names on