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tary reform as the extension of the franchise. Consequently, they may argue, they have precluded the Liberals from vaunting hereafter that it is their hands alone which have placed the coping-stone upon the edifice of popular government. Finally, it is open to the Conservatives to insist that by the judicious action of their leaders they have ended or postponed the agitation against the House of Lords.
From The Fortnightly Review. THE REVOLUTION OF 1884. THE Smoke of battle having cleared off, and the clash of arms subsided, it is possible to ascertain the precise position of the forces recently engaged, and to compute the chief results of the conflict. Which side can claim the preponderating advantage? Are the fruits of victory evenly divided, or has one of the combatants secured a present triumph only at the cost of future defeat? Such are the questions which now rise naturally to the lips of the anxious spectators of the fray, and which, it may be frankly confessed, seem at first to admit of more than one answer. Neither party, it is clear, can vaunt a monopoly of nominal gains. Neither can boast an immunity from losses. Neither emerges from the fray quite scathless. Let an enumeration of the facts show to which camp the balance of fortune in clines.
This summary of the successes of the opposition would be acknowledged by Conservatives themselves to be accurate. Let us now look at the other side of the account, and see what reason the Liberals have for satisfaction. The first entry which meets one here records the one broad, simple fact, that the Franchise Bill has passed. Happen what may, it must come into operation at the earliest possible moment, directly the new registration is complete, a year hence, on the 1st of January, 1886. During the interval which There are certain points that cannot be elapses either there will be no dissolution, in dispute, and for the purpose of estimat- or if there is a dissolution, or if a dising the character and probable conse- solution should be deferred till the bequences of the struggle little more is ginning of next year, and by that time the wanted than to specify these. The To- seats shall not have been redistributed, ries profess to survey the retrospect not the appeal to the country must take without complacency. Some places of place under conditions confessedly ruinous apparent strength have passed into their to the Tories. What does this mean but hands. There are, as they may allege, that the Liberals have in their hands the principles which they have asserted and necessary leverage for securing the settlepretensions which they have resisted. ment of the redistribution question? But Their leaders declared, six months ago, that is not all. The lines on which the that within certain limits they would hold question is to be arranged are infinitely their ground. They may now congratu- more in accordance with Liberal princi. late themselves on having held it. Thus ples than if the Downing Street conferthey can point to the unmistakable fact ences of a month and six weeks ago had that they secured the production of the never been held, while the measure proRedistribution Bill before the Franchise duced is far in advance of anything which Bill was passed; not, indeed, before it the boldest of Liberal governments could was safe, but two or three days before it have dared to propose, in the face of the was actually added to the statute-book. pronounced hostility of the Tories. When, This, if not a great is yet a definite therefore, we look at the ends rather than achievement, and it may freely be put the means, we find that the advantages of down to the credit of the Conservative the so-called compromise are, as far as cause. Again, although the Franchise can be judged, placed exclusively in the Bill has become law precisely in the same shape in which it was originally introduced, the Tories have already gained a voice in the settlement of the provisions of the Seats Bill - a measure that constitutes as integral a portion of Parliamen
Liberal scale. If it could be contended that the policy of the Tories has modified in a Tory sense the Redistribution Bill of the government, as it was known to the world from the draft scheme published in October last, the result would be differ
ent. It is the details and the general | are thirteen Tories, are now returned by tendency of the measure now read a sec-eight of the largest towns in England, a ond time, as compared with the measure hundred and two members, of whom not that one may suppose Mr. Gladstone was more than twenty-five are likely to be originally prepared to introduce, which Tories, will be returned by these same form the real test of the situation. The towns in the future. No pretensions to bill indeed is not a final one, but it brings infallibility are advanced for this calculafinality into no remote prospect, and its tion, but impartial critics will be disposed anomalies stand out in such sharp con- to allow that it is not very wide of the trast to what may be called its principles mark. The gain to Radicalism is enorthat they challenge or ensure removal at mous. It is a gain not only of numbers no distant date. but of proportion. It is more even than this. It points to the augmentation of Radicalism in a ratio of geometrical as well as of arithmetrical progression. The great towns as they now are, constitute the true source and centre of English political opinion. It is from them that Liberal legislation receives its initiative; it is the steady pressure exercised by them that guarantees the political progress of the country. To enlarge the representa. tion of these places is to magnify their authority. Leeds with five and Birming. ham with seven members will not be merely twice or three times as powerful as they are now. The area over which their political force will radiate will be more than proportionately extended, and their political example will be looked to with an attention and followed with a fidelity that cannot be explained by the mere numerical gain they will acquire in the counsels of the nation. They will in other words have, as it has been often said in the past that London has, a prerogative vote, and their action will Representation. regulate that of scores of smaller constituencies.
Let us, however, take the bill as it is. If we do this, and if we examine it by the light which an ordinary knowledge of English popular feeling in town and country throws upon it, we shall perceive that it portends nothing less than a revolution. The first noticeable feature in it is the increased representation it confers on the large towns of the United Kingdom, and the increase which this representation warrants us in anticipating in the number of Liberals sent by these constituencies to Parliament. London, which has now a total of twenty-two members, and which returns eight Tories, will have fifty-nine members, of whom statistics would seem to show that not more than a sixth, or, in other words ten members, are likely to be Tories. If we look at the seven other largest towns of England and Scotland we shall arrive at something in the nature of the following result, which may, for the purposes of convenience, be best exhibited in a tabulated shape:
Total No. of
Total 13 25 Including therefore the metropolis in the above list, it may be reckoned that whereas forty-one members, among whom
The second feature in the measure is the creation of single-member districts. These cannot but serve still further to accentuate the democratic influence exercised by the large provincial capitals as well as by the metropolis itself. Prominent amongst the results which the existence of these constituences will yield is the reduction in the cost of elections. This will induce many Radicals who would not venture a contest on a larger scale to come forward. It will seem a less perilous, as it will certainly be a less costly enterprise to fight a ward than to fight an entire borough. The member
thus returned will be in closer connection a fortuitous combination of heterogeneous with, and will be more directly amenable groups. There is absolutely nothing to to, his constituents than is the case at justify this prediction. We have to think present. If, therefore, the large towns not of what might be at Westminster, but show themselves on the whole Radical, of what will be in the constituencies, we may be quite certain that the individ- where the only division recognized is that ual Radicals who represent them will be into Liberals and Conservatives, Radicals of a more emphatic and exacting kind and Tories. The Athenian legislator enthan those with whom the House of Com- acted that those who remained neutral mons has, save in rare instances, made during any civil disturbance should be the acquaintance. There is yet another punished. Neutrality recommends itself aspect in which the operation of the sin as little to the British elector in these days gle-member constituencies must be re- of universal household suffrage as it did garded. Granted that in some cases this to Solon, and the visionary figment of a system will secure all that is practicable third party rests upon no other foundation in the way of minority representation, and than the purely hypothetical leaning tothat it will give us an occasional member wards neutrality with which the average returned in the interests of villadom or Englishman is absurdly credited. plutocracy pure and simple; in others For these reasons it is safe to assume and this will be the rule- they will re- that the sequel of the Redistribution Bill move the possibility which has hitherto must be, while emphasizing its influence, existed of arranging, even where the ma- to intensify the Liberalism or the Radijority of the voters may have been of a calism of the great towns of the United decidedly Radical complexion, for the re- Kingdom. What is the prospect in the turn of one Moderate in conjunction with counties? That the Conservatives may one Radical. There will be no room for be the masters of many of the singlethose convenient understandings, those member constituencies into which the amicable Parliamentary bargains, under a counties will be divided, no one doubts. régime of single-member districts, in On the other hand, the principle on which which ultimately a majority that in the county representation is to be arranged, long run is likely to be Radical, is repre- the allocation of certain towns to certain sented. Dual and multiple constituencies districts as their centres and sponsors, have always been the chosen opportuni- will be of distinct advantage to Liberalties of the armchair politician. But the ism, which is likely to gain far more than buffers on which timid Liberalism has Conservatism from this qualified fusion hitherto relied against advanced Liberal- of the urban and rural elements of the ism will henceforth disappear. In every English people. Add to this that in some case, or almost every case, the buttons purely rural districts, where the condition will be taken off the foils, and the duel of the agricultural laborers is worst, it will be confined to the real principals. In will not be found impossible to run a boroughs and in counties, in every single working man's candidate who, ex hypomember constituency throughout the king-thesi, will be hostile to the vested interests dom, parties will become more highly and privileges of landlordism, and it is organized and the struggle will be propor- plain that even in the counties the chances tionately more severe. It has been said of the Liberal party will have greatly im that, as a consequence of the Redistribu- proved. But, it may be replied, the countion Bill, the House of Commons will be ties and the rural population will remain transformed into an assembly in which in the long run what they now are, the the traditional lines of demarcation be strongholds of Conservatism. In villages tween two parties in the State are inter- and hamlets matters move slowly. Quieta sected by such a multitude of minor dis- non movere is the motto engraved on the tinctions and subdivisions as to be no heart of the rustic, who is deaf to the longer recognizable, and that Parliamen- allurements of the agitator and proof tary majorities will only be procurable by against the incitements of the demagogue.