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one that he was obliged to lay on the table of the House. If I am wrong, let the right honourable gentleman correct me.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer : I spoke of the last absolutely finished copy. The substance of those statistics, as far as regarded the general bases of the measure, had been in our hands for weeks before that time, but was not in a state to be placed on the table of the House until all the columns had been filled in.

Mr. Lowe : Well, Sir, that finished document is what I call a copy. It may be that the Bill was originally drawn for £6 and £12, and that at the last moment £7 and £14 were substituted and that it was regarded as a matter of little consequence what the exact figures were. As to the element of time, I suppose, however, I must not say anything, or the right honourable gentleman will be angry with me. The twelve nights that he gave us for the Franchise Bill are pretty well gone, and we have now got what he never contemplated we should have, a Redistribution Bill as well. I suppose I had better say nothing about the support the Government will have, or I had better veil it in a dead language and say, Idem trecente Juravimus. I would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how he can expect to get the Bill through Committee under those circumstances, bearing in mind that most of the newspapers that lay claim to intelligence and write for educated persons, have begun with rather vague notions of liberality, have written themselves fairly out of them, and that educated opinion is generally adverse to this measure. These, Sir, are the prospects we have before us. We have a measure of the most ill-considered and inadequate nature, which cannot be taken as it is, and which, as I understand it, is based on principles so absolutely subversive and destructive—the grouping, for instance that if we were ever so anxious to aid the Government, we could not accept it. Well, then, Sir, what objection can there be to the advice given to the Government by my honourable friend, the member for Dumfries—no hostile adviser—to put off the question for another year, and give the educated opinion of the country time to decide on this matter? What are the objections to such a course ? There are only two, that I know of. One is, that honourable gentlemen are anxious and very naturally anxious for a settlement. But are there materials for a settlement in the Bill before us? How, for

instance, can you settle the grouping ? If you retain the principle on which the Government act, that of grouping those boroughs that have already members, you may do a little better than they have done, because they seem to have gone gratuitously wrong; but you cannot make an effective measure of it, and one that would stand. I am convinced it would generate far more discontent than it allayed, and create far more inequality than it seeks to remove. Then, the giving constituencies three members, is a principle of the greatest gravity and weight, not only for its actual results, but because it really concedes the principle of electoral districts. That, surely, is a matter not to be lightly disposed of; nor do I see how it can be compromised ; because if the Government gives it up, it must select some other appointment; which can only be done by creating other electoral districts. Then, as regards the franchise; no doubt that we could get through, because it would only be dealing with a figure, and I dare say there are many honourable gentlemen whose opinions are entitled to great weight, who would like a compromise on the franchise. But then you have to consider this, that a compromise on the franchise is a capitulation. Take what I said of the opinions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the honourable member for Birmingham, and the Attorney-General, and it's just as true of £8 as of £7, and of £9 as of £8. If you once give up the notion of standing on the existing settlement, so far as the mere money qualification for the franchise is concerned, whatever other qualifications you may add to it, you give up the whole principle. As the Attorney-General himself sees, you must go down to household suffrage at last-whether any further is a matter on which men may differ, though, for my part, I think you would have to go farther. I must say, therefore, that I can see no materials for a compromise in the borough franchise part of this Bill, and I come therefore to the conclusion that : desirable as it would be, weary as we all are of the subject, and anxious as we all are to get rid of it, there is no place for a compromise. The divergence is too wide, the principles are too weighty, and the time is too short, the information is too defective, the subject is too ill-considered. Well, then, the other objection to a postponement is that, as my right honourable friend, the Secretary of the Colonies, told us, the honour of the Government would not permit them

to take that course. Now I think we have heard too much about the honour of the Government. The honour of the Government obliged them to bring in a Reform Bill in 1860. It was withdrawn under circumstances which I need not allude to, and as soon as it was withdrawn, the honour of the Government went to sleep. It slept for five years. Session after Session, it never so much as winked. As long as Lord Palmerston lived, honour slept soundly, but when Lord Palmerston died, and Lord Russell succeeded by seniority to his place, the “ sleeping beauty" woke up. As long as the Government was kept together by having no Reform Bill, honour did not ask for a Reform Bill; but when, owing to the predilections of Lord Russell, the Government was best kept together by having a Reform Bill, honour became querulous and anxious for a Reform Bill. But that, Sir, is a very peculiar kind of honour. It puts me in mind of Hotspur's description :

' By Heaven, methinks it were an easy leap,
To pluck bright honour from the pale-faced moon,
Or dive into the bottom of the deep,
Where fathom-line could never touch the ground,
And pluck up drowned honour by the locks :
So he that does redeem her thence might wear

Without corrival all her dignities.” That is, as long as honour gives nothing, she is allowed to sleep, and nobody cares about her ; but when it is a question of wearing“ without corrival all her dignities,” honour becomes a most important and exacting personage, and all considerations of policy and expediency have to be sacrificed to her imperious demands. But then there is another difficulty. The Government have told us that they are bound in this matter. Now,

bound” means contracted, and I want to know with whom they contracted? Was it with the last House of Commons ? But the plaintiff is dead, and has left no executor. Was it with the people at large? Well, wait till the people demand the fulfilment of the contract. But it was with neither the one nor the other, because the Under-Secretary for the Colonies let the cat out of the bag. He said that he himself called upon Earl Russell to redeem their pledge. I suppose he is AttorneyGeneral for the people of England. He called upon the Government to redeem their pledge. Now, one often hears of people in insolvent circumstances, who want an excuse to

become bankrupt, getting a friendly creditor to sue them. And this demand of the honourable gentleman has something of the same appearance. But there has been a little more honour in the case. The Government raised the banner in this House, and said they were determined we should pass the Franchise Bill without having seen the Redistribution Bill. Well, they carried their point, but carried it by that sort of majority, that, though they gained the victory, they scarcely got the honour of the operation, and if there was any doubt about that, I think there was no great accession of honour gained last Monday in the division, when the House really by their vote took the management of the Committee out of the hands of the Executive. All these things do not matter much to ordinary mortals, but to people of a Castilian turn of mind they are very serious. Sir, I have come to the conclusion that there must be two kinds of honour, and the only consolation I can administer to the Government is in the words of Hudibras:

If he that's in battle slain

Be on the bed of honour lain,
Then he that's beaten may be said

To lie on honour's truckle bed.”
Well, Sir, as it seems to be the fashion to give the Government
advice, I will offer them a piece of advice, and I will give them
Falstaff's opinion of honour :

"What is honour ? . . . . . a trim reckoning . . . . I'll none of it. Honour is a mere 'scutcheon, and so ends my catechism.” Sir, I am firmly convinced—and I wish, if possible, to attract the serious attention of the House for a few moments—that it is not the wish of this country to do that which this Bill seeks to do. There is no doubt that the main object of this Bill is to render it impossible for any other Government than a Liberal one to exist in this country for the future. I do not say that this object would appear an illegitimate one in the eyes of heated partisans, and in moments of conflict, for we are all of us naturally impatient of opposition and contradiction, and I dare say such an idea has occurred to many Governments before the present, and to many Parliaments before this; but I do say that it is a short-sighted and foolish idea, because if we could succeed in utterly obliterating and annihilating the power of honourable gentlemen opposite, all we should reap

as the reward of our success would be the annihilation of ourselves. The history of this country—the glorious and happy history of this country-has been a conflict between two aristocratic parties, and if ever one should be destroyed, the other would be left face to face with a party not aristocratic, but purely democratic. The honourable member for Birmingham said with great truth the other day, that if the purely aristocratic and the purely democratic elements should come into conflict, the victory would, in all probability, be on the side of Democracy. The annihilation of one of the aristocratic parties—and I know it is in the minds of many, though, of course, it is not openly avowed—would be a folly like that of a bird which, feeling the resistance the air offers to its flight, imagines how well it would fly if there was no air at all, forgetting that the very air which resists it also supports it, and ministers to it the breath of life, and that if it got quit of that air it would immediately perish. So it is with political parties; they not only oppose, they support, strengthen and invigorate each other, and I shall never, therefore, be a party to any measure, come from whichever side of the House it may, which seeks as to impair and destroy the balance of parties existing in this country, that whichever party were in office should be free from the check of a vigorous opposition, directed by men of the same stamp and position as those to whom they were opposed. I do not believe that is an object of this Bill which the people of this country will approve, nor do I believe that they wish materially to diminish the influence of honourable gentlemen opposite. There are plenty of gentlemen who do wish it, but I do not believe it is the wish of the country, and therefore I believe they would have looked with much greater satisfaction on the principle of grouping, if it had not been so studiously confined to represented boroughs, and if, instead of first swamping the counties with a low franchise, and then offering the illusory boon of three members, it had relieved the county constituencies of considerable portions of the great towns by an efficient Boundaries Bill, and had erected some of the towns which now almost engross the county representation into distinct constituencies. And while passing by that point, let me say that the provisions with regard to boundaries appear to me to be one of the most delusive parts of the whole Bill, because the effect of them is that no suburbs not now

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