Hide Articles List

16 articles on this Page


[No title]



[No title]




[No title]



ELECTION 02 HENRY AUSTIN BRUCE, ESQ., AT IKER-THYIt. [BY OUR OWN REPORTER.] MERTHYR Election took place on Tuesday last, December 14th. The vacancy caused in the repre- sentation by the recent and most lamented death of Sir JOHN GUEST, Bart., has been supplied by the election of HENRY AUSTIN BRUCE, Esq., of Duffryn, Aberdare, whose reception in Merthyr, on Tuesday, by gentlemen of the greatest respectability, by the trade of the place, and by the inhabitants generally, must have been truly gratifying to him and the members of his family who accompanied him. If any proof were wanting of the high estimation in which this gifted and excellent gentlemen is held by the community for whom he has so successfully, and with such enlightened zeal, exerted himself for several years, and by whom he is intimately known, we would, with perfect confidence, point to tht friendly manner in which they welcomed him upon this occasion-to the respectful attention with which they heard his address to'them throughout, and to the satisfaction which was plainly depicted on the countenances of dense thousands when the Returning Officer made the formal announcement that Mr. BRUCE was duly elected." Soon after ten o'clock large numbers of people were assembled in the open space in front of the market-place, where a commodious hustings had been erected; but the proceedings did not commence till eleven, when Mr. BRUCE, accompanied by Mr. ANTHONY HILL, Mr. BRUCE PRYCE, Rev. J. C. CAMPBELL, Rev. JOHN GRIFFITH (Aberdare), Rev. WILLIAM BRUCE, and a most influential body of professional gentlemen, agents, and tradesmen, (who formed a procession), walked from the Castle Inn to the Vestry Room, on the Glebeland, in which the usual preliminaries were gone through under the management of Mr. OVERTON,, Deputy Returning Omcer,—BENJAMIN MARTIN, Esq., the Returning Officer for the Borough, being in the Chair. At about half-past eleyen the Returning Officer, Mr. BRUCE, Mr. HILL, Mr. OVERTON, and a large party of gentlemen ascended the hustings, and the vast multitude, numbering at à low estimate eight thousand persons, principally workmen, apparently, closed round, forming one of the most compact masses of human beings that we ever saw crowded together. Not the slightest indecorum was committed. We can safely affirm that the respectable conduct of the people upon this occasion reflects credit upon the neighbourhood generally; and Cardiff, Newport, and Monmouth would do well to take a lesson in good manners from Merthyr. We have been present at many public gatherings in Merthyr and Aberdare during the last nine years,-we were at the great political meeting of the industrial classes held in Merthyr on the cele- brated "10th of April," but -.we have invariably, without a single exception, found the workmen of this populous district civil, orderly, and willingly obser- vant of the rules which govern free and fair public discussion. The windows, whence a view of the hustings could be obtained, were crowded with fair occupants. The RETURNING OFFICER said, Gentlemen and Brother Electors, We are met here to elect a burgess to serve in Parliament for the Borough of Merthyr Tydfil, Aberdare, and Vaynor, in the roofA of the late Sir John Guest. I have to request that the meeting will give every elector a fair and impartial hearing. If any gentleman has a candidate to propose it iscjiow the time to do so (hear, hear). I. r Mr. ANTHONY HILL, proprietor of the Plymouth Iron Works, immediately stood forward incl said, that the preliminaries prescribed by law having been gone through at another place, he then presenJfe<T himself before the electors to propose for their election a member for this borough—the borough of Merthyr Tydfil—in the place of their deservedly respected and deeply lamented represen- tative lately deceased (hear, hear). He therefore begged to propose Henry Austin Bruce, Esq., Duffryn, Aberdare, within this borough, as a fit and proper person to repre- sent them in Parliament (applause). Having done so, he (Mr. Hill) had little more to add. It was quite need- less and unnecessary for him to make a single observation in praise of Mr. Bruce. They all knew him. He was known to them in the capacity of a gentleman and a man of honour. He was known to them in his public capacity of magistrate-as one who had invariably made every effort in his power to promote the best interests of the community. It was therefore with great confidence that he proposed Mr. Bruce as a fit representative of the borough in Parliament (cheers). It was intended that Mr. PURCHASE should have seconded the nomination; but on the morning of the election it was discovered that either by accident or design his name had not been included in the list of voters. Mr. DAVID WILLIAMS, of Yniscynon, colliery pro- prietor, seconded Mr. Hill's proposition and in doing so he assured the electors that he had been called upon to discharge a duty which he did not feel himself by any means competent to fulfil. It appeared that it was deemed expedient to select some person from the con- tributory borough of Aberdare as a seconder of the nomination, and who had they filed upon but a poor collier (laughter). It was true that at Aberdare they had been a small community, but they were increasing in wealth and importance and they were not growing in numbers alone, but in the best wealth, namely, in good principles (cheers). Inasmuch as he came forward to second the nomination of Mr. Bruce, they would naturally ask him, upon what principles he did so. They were assembled together as neighbours, and as reformers. 9 He had therefore been asked why he, as a reformer and a .Free-trader, supported Mr. Bruce? He would can- didly answer them, that he believed Mr. Bruce went quite as far as he (Mr. Williams) did in political ad- vancement-with the exception of one question—and that was the ballot (loud cheers). He would freely adiftit that he did regret Mr. Bruce was not an advocate of vote by ballot (applause). But he (Mr. Williams) had been asked why he supported the nominee of the ironmasters! He begged to assure them, in the most decided and emphatic manner, that he was not to the slightest extent influenced by the ironmasters (hear, hear). He supported Mr. Bruce on independent grounds. He could not help that the ironinasters had fixed upon the same candidate as he had (hear, hear). He assured them, and he knew they would believe him, that he had not concerted with any of the iron- masters. He supported Mr. Bruce because he believed him to be a man of really independent principles that he would support progressive principles of reform, and that he would not be swayed by any party (applause). He, therefore, supported Mr. Bruce on account of his principles, and irrespective of any other party who sup- ported him: he stood on his own bottom (hear, hear). Some of them had returned with mines of wealth from the gold fields of California or Australia, but if they had the ballot they would possess a privilege which gold had not the power of purchasing. lIe had a very high opinion of Mr. Bruce's moral character—of his inde- pendence & straightforwardness, and he sincerely hoped that he would soon become a convert to the ballot (cheers). He, therefore, felt great pleasure in seconding the nomination of Mr. Bruce as a fit and proper person to supply the vacancy occasioned by the death of their lamented neighbour, Sir John Guest (loud cheers). Some of the electors loudly called' upon Mr. Williams, who is an accomplished Welsh scholar, to address them in the ancient language of the country; and he did eo with much energy and effect. Mr. WILLIAMS said that inasmuch as they called upon him to address them in Welsh, he would very yvillingly do so. He then briefly recapitulated what he had stated in English. lie supported Mr. Bruce because he had a high opinion of his indepeadent principles. He did not support Mr. Bruce because the ironmasters supported him. And if he thought that Mr. Bruce entertained the same principles as many of those who supported him, Mr. Bruce would not have found him (lIr. Williams) amongst his supporters (cheers). He felt fully convinced in his own mind that Mr. Bruce was a man who would give every subject the fullest and most deliberate consideration, and that his vote would be governed by enlarged and liberal views. As he had be fore stated, he hoped Mr. Bruce would come round to the ballot (and cheers). The RETUUNING OFFICER having asked if any elector had another candidate to propose,rand receiving no reply, declared Mr. Bruce to have been duly elected (prolonged cheering). Mr. BRUCE then advanced to the front of the hustings, and Was received in a most friendly manner by the dense multitude who stood before him. He said,-Geullernen, On assembling so soon after the late election to perform again your duties as electors, there is one thought, I am sure, yvhich presses upon all of you as it presses upon me, that we should not be assembled here to-day but for the loss of one who was the first juid only member for Merthyr,—of one who filled so large a place in the hearts of the people of this borough (tear). Gentlemen, Sir John Guest was born in the borough of Merthyr. For nearly seventy years he lived here. Tor twenty years he was your member; and, gentlemen, he represented you not merely in Parliamclll,- he ",vus not merely the repre- sentative of the liberal opinions."hield; by vou,—but he was eminently the representative of that industry, perse- verance, & integrity, which has failed* the people of Mer- thyr to the high consideration whteh they hold among the manufacturing towns of England (applause). But, gen- tlemen, it is not merely as the architect of a great fortune -it is not merely as one who was in the first rank of the merchant princes of this country—that he will be remem- bered by you he will rest in your memories as one of the first of the great manufacturers of iron who acknoyv- ledged the responsibility' of property by promoting, to the utmost of his power, the welfare and education of the working-man (applause). He was the first in this district to found a Church. He was foremost in estab- lishing schools, on an immense scale, and did his best to call forth the artistic talent of the people of Merthyr by founding drayving-schools and drawing forth the musical talent of the people, that talent which was lately so greatly admired by our friend and visitor, Mr. Layard and the last public act of his life was one which eminently testi- fied his warm regard for the working classes (hear, hear). I own I felt honoured at having been selected by Sir John Guest to announce to his workmen and the people 01 Dowlais, that in his desire to encourage provident habits, he employed me to make the announcement that he would establish a Savings' Bank, and would become personally responsible for every farthing that would be deposited in it (applause). That was the last public act of his life- an act which will do his memory honour, and cause it to live long in the hearts of the people of Merthyr as that of a just and upright man who had sincerely at heart the welfare of those by whom he was surrounded (applause). —Leaving that subject, Mr; Bruce came to the consi- deration of his political views, upon which, he said, he would be the more explicit as, during the years he had spent among tLem in his position as police magistrate, he had scrupulously avoided all public expression of his political opinions, which must, therefore, be unknown to far the greater part of the electors except as generally put forth in his address. This was the more necessary, as he and they could not but remember that, on former occa- sions, such political interest as his family possessed in the borough had been exerted against their late member. He (Mr. Bruce) observed that he was called in the papers sometimes a Conservative and sometimes a Peelite, and he was informed that the gentleman in mustachios, who came down in such hot haste from the Reform Club, had denounced him as a Derbyite in disguise (laughter). Now, gentlemen, continued Mr. Bruce, I am neither a Conservative, a Peelite, nor a Derbyite, taking those party names in their ordinary sense. I am an inde- pendent man, wishing to enter Parliament free from all party ties, and to form my own opinions on questions as they arise according to the light of my reason and the dictates of my conscience (applause). But let me explain. I do not repudiate the term Con- servative in its largest and broadest sense. If by the term Cotiseryauve is meant that I desire = to maintain the ihstttutloae of the country, but to maintain them by adapting them to the altered circum- stances of society, and the onward march of events and progress of ideas, then I am a Conservative, and so are nineteen-twentieths of the intelligent portion of the com- munity (hear, hear). But if by that term be meant a bigotted adherence to antiquated opinions, that I look fondly and regretfully at the past instead of boldly and hopefully to the future,-if it means I am to remain sta- tionary while the world is moving around me, then I re- pudiate the designation (applause). As to the term Peelite, I hardly know what is meant by the title (hear, hear). No man holds in higher reverence than I do the memory of Sir Robert Peel. I think a more patriotic statesman never existed, nor one who reflected more clearly the spirit of the times in which he lived, and the wants and opinions of his country. His name is for ever con- nected with the extinction of those laws which, in my opinion, pressed cruelly and unjustly on the great body of the people (applause). He faced such a storm of con. tumely and insult as few men have the courage to en- counter. There are many with fortitude enough to face the scaffold or the dungeon, who would have shrunk from the pangs that he endured, from the reproaches and calumnies of alienated friends. He is gone, but history has already done justice to his name. The hundreds may still pursue his memory with charges of treachery and hypocrisy, but the millions bless him, and his name is as a household word, loved and honoured in hearths and homes where plenty and content have replaced want and misery (applause). But though I reverence his name, and should have gladly supported his policy, I can be no fol- lower of his followers. Doubtless, Sir James Graham, Mr. Gladstone, the Duke of Newcastle, and Mr. Sidney Herbert, are men distinguished for abilities and high statesmanlike qualities, and likely to support the cause of popular progress; but they have no coherent or defined system of policy; they do not act together, and no man can tell where they may be found next year. I am, therefore, no Peelite. As to being a Derbyite, I think the best answer to that is that for the last fourteen years; that is, ever since I first studied the subject of Political Economy, and was capable of forming independent opinions, I have been a sincere Free-trader (loud cheers). I trust you will not think the worst of those opinions because they are not hereditary, but the result of private study and my own re- flection (hear, hear). Being, then, a Free-trader, how can I call myself a Derbyite 1 It is true Lord Derby has accepted Free-trade as a political necessity, but I hold that nothing good or great is ever done in this world without sincerity. Now, who can call Lord Derby sin- cere as a Free-trader (hear, hear) 1 It is true that office was thrust upon him by the breaking up of the Whig party and being in office he accepted Free-trade as an inevitable evil. He and the rest of the Government are still, therefore, Protectionists in principle, and only Free- traders by policy (hear, hear). But somebody must govern the country, and as long as he brings forward good measures I see no reason why I should not support them; yet I cannot call myself a supporter of Lord Derby's Government; for I feel that had his party remained in opposition they would still have been Protectionists, and that we are, therefore, separated in principle (hear, hear). It may be said that Sir Robert Peel opposed the Reform Bill, and afterwards accepted it. Very true. But re- member this the moment the Reform Bill was passed he acquiesced in it, and never opposed it again; but Lord Derby and his party vigorously opposed Free-trade policy for five years after the repeal of the Corn Laws, and never till they came into office was that opposition abandoned (hear, hear). It may be said that Sir Robert Peel was not always a Free-trader, and that he was once a Protectionist, and why, therefore, should not Lord Derby and his party change their minds as well as Sir Robert Peel. The fault I find with them is that they have not changed their minds. Sir Robert Peel was a sincere convert. Lord Derby is no convert at all; and I, gentlemen, am therefore no Derbyite. But I have been told since the commencement of the election,—" Make what resolutions of independence you please, you must infallibly be absorbed into one of the two great parties of which Parliament is composed. You may resist a little at first, but such must be your end." Gentlemen, I see no reason why I should thus lose my individuality,-why I should vote in the lump rather than in the detail,—why I should indolently adopt the opinions of others instead of taking counsel from my own reason and conscience. Besides, the House of Commons is already divided into many sections of opinion. You have Derbyites, Peelites, Whigs, Cobdenites, and the Irish Brigade of banded Roipanists. Never, therefore, was there a better oppor- tunity for forming an independent party, whose votes shall be guided not by the interest of faction, but by the merits of the measures proposed.—Mr. Bruce then proceeded to notice some of the results of Free-trade, proving that in spite of great reduction of duties, the increased con- sumption would fully suatain the revenue at its former pitch. In the year 1845, only 2,500,000 quarters of corn had been imported. Since that time, the annual importa- tion had amounted to 10,000,000 quarters. But, in his opinion, a still more incontrovertible test of general plenty than the increased importation of corn was the enormous increase in the consumption of sugar, which had recently been the subject of discussion in Parliament. It is always open to an objector to say that more foreign corn was imported because less corn was grown at home, and the want of statistical information made refutation difficult; but sugar was the poor man's luxury, and, when we find that the consumption, which, from 1810 to 1845, had remained nearly stationary, at the rate of about 200,000 tons a year, sprung, in the five years from 1846 to 1852, under the operation of reduced duties and foreign competition, from 206,000 tons to 382,000 tons, at an annual saving to the people in the cost of JE 10,000,000, no other proof was needed of the impolicy and cruelty of the protective system, or of the increased comfort and prosperity of the working-classes under the existing law (applause). It had been computed that, under the old law, the consumption of sugar by, thfe working-classes yvas at the rate of nine potuids .pen head per annum. In the year 1852, it was at the?&te of-twenty- three pounds per head per annum (applause), The next point be should notice was one of great interest to the working-classes of Merthyr, namely, the extension of the suffrage (hear, hear). Other classes might be considered as adequately represented, but doubts existed whether the same might be said of the working-classes. By the Reform Bill, it was intended, by the operation of the ten- pound houseHold- ch»u*e, to admit tb the franchise a con- siderable number of the upper classes of workmen. He had carefully examined the register of Merthyr. It con- tained about 950 voters, none of whom could strictly be called workmen, unless included under the qualification of keepers of ale or beerhouses. Of these, there were no less than 260, being considerably more than one-fourth of the electors; so that, practically, the only access by the workman to the franchise was through the portals of a beerhouse or the bedizened doorway of a gin-palace (hear, hear). The desire for the franchise by the working. classes was, in his opinion, natural and honour- able, and might be made the means of elevating their character by indulging their wishes as far as was consistent with safety to the Constitution..He objected, indeed, to their admission in such masses as would swamp and override the other and more wealthy and educated classes of society that would be pure class legislation it would virtually invest the working-classes with the whole power of the state (hear, hear). But he was anxious to open the franchise to all such workmen as really and fairly deserve iI, and who had proved by their conduct that they were worthy of being entrusted with it. This, he thought, might be done by extending it to all workmen who were depositors in Savings' Banks to the amount of JE50 or thereabouts. Such men would have proved, by their providence and self-denial, that their admission to the franchise would not only not endanger the State, but would give it strength and stability. He was sure that the working-men whom he was then addressing would feel the necessity of the restriction he proposed upon the number of voters. His conduct towards the yvorking- classes had been no sham—no pretence—as suggested by a wretched placard which had disgraced the walls of their town. Ever since he had lived among them, he had laboured to elevate the working-classes, by encourage- ments—by reproaches--by every argument in his power to convince them that they were not what they might be,—that, as compared with other parts of England, their wages were high, their means of savin" abundant, and that, were they but steady and provident, their condition yvould be far other than yvhat it now was (cries of "No, no.") You say (continued Mr. Bruce) that wages are too low. A 'Voice So they are (cheers). Mr. BRUCE: I hope they will soon be higher. As far as I am concerned they cannot be too lih'h. What I want to see is a proper use of them (applause). If you were to earn 4s. a-day instead of 3s., and one shilling went to the beer-house, what the better would you be 1 [Indications of assent ] You know very well that I wish you well, and that I think high wages, properly managed, necessary to the elevation of the yvorking classes (applause). How can the Dorsetshire labourer, whose yvages are hardly sufficient to enable him to keep soul and body together, and to supply his family with scanty food—how can he be expected to IIpply any time or thought to self-improvement, or to spend any money on the education of his children t But you at Merthyr are far better off; and, as far as I am concerned, it is my wish to see wages as high as can be without in- fringing oa capital. If you infringe on capital you ruin the source whence employment is afforcled and yvages paid. I have already told you that I think the possession of £ 50 a proper qualification for the franchise but, in some cases, an industrious, deserving man may have had a large family, or been overtaken by misfortune, and so have been prevented from saving that sum. He may, however, by his diligence and talent. have attained the positionofforemanor Overman to him, too, I would yvillingly extend the franchise. The position he had attained by his industry "8ud good cojiduct yvould be a security for the proper exercise of the trust re-posed in him.—In allusion to an exclamation from the crowd Mr. Bruce s,iid,-A friend of mine there seems dissatisfied (laughter). I cannot hope to please everybody. It is enough if by fair and liberal arguments I can succeed ill satisfying the majority of my constituents. I now come to a subject to yviiich I have observed that many of the electors attach a very high importance — I mean the ballot (hear, hear). I entreat a continuance of that attention and candid hearing which you have hitherto given me (cheers). You want the ballot because the electors, and especially the poorer ones, are exposed to two great dangers—bribery and intimidation. In my opinion there is no great difference between these two offences. No doubt in society men who admiuister a bribe are thought more meanly of than those who report to intimidation or perseclltioll; but it seems to me that there is little moral difference bet.veen forcing a man by threats to vote against his conviction, or tempting him with money to betray his trust. I detest bribery—I detest intimidation (cheers). I openly aud plaiuly assert that no men so effectually promote the cause of the ballot as those who thus interfere with the conduct of the voter (loud cheers). But in endeavouring to avoid these evils we must be careful not to fall into grea:er; and iu considering the ballot we must well weigh these two points,-its influence on the moral character of the people, and the probability of its giving that security to the voter which is expected from it (hear, hear). You may think that the ballot is an unmixed good—that there is no harm or danger concealed in it, and that with its protection you could give your vote in perfect safety. Now, gentlemen, in the first place I say that to be an elector is to fill a post of great dignity, to be exercised for the public good and every man has a right to know how every other elector votes-whether he exercises his trust in accordance with his expressed opinions or other- wise. The ballot would release him from this wholesome check. All our proceedings in this country are public. As a magistrate I have often felt the great advantage of publicity; and that often an angry or peevish disposition was checked by the presence of bystanders. All the judges of the land give their decisions openly, however unpopular or distasteful they may be. Members of Par- liament cannot conceal their votes; and the open voting of the House of Peers subjects them powerfully to the influence of public opinion. All posts of trust and dig- nity are exposed to more or less danger, and there is no reason why the elector should escape his share of it. It is not many years since an Irish Judge was dragged out 6t his carriage and murdered, in the streets of Dublin, because he had delivered an unpopular sentence. The greatest of English Judges, Lord Mansfield, had his house gutted and burnt fir a similar reason. And I myself saw the Duke (f Wellington take refuge in Lincoln's Inn-square, fiom the violence or an in- furiated mob, because he had voted, us he always did, according, to his conscience (heaf, hear)4 fsotf, is to the moral effect of the ballot. We all know that the ballot is not wanted for gentlemen. It may often be unpleasant to them to vote against their intimate friends, lut they have no reason to fear intimidation or per- secution. The two classes who cry out for the ballot are the shopkeepers and workmen. Let us take the case of the shopkeeper first, and let us suppose the ballot to be in operation. If he wishes to conceal the manner in which he proposes to exercise his vote he must not only keep a careful silence, abstaining entirely, as few shopkeepers would like to do, from all political discussion at the very moment when he is most deeply interested in politics, but he must have re- course to such shifts, and subterfuges, and equivocations, in his attempt to avoid detection as cannot but greatly affect his moral character. He will be exposed to the continued solicitations of the candidates or their friends. No power of dissimulation will shelter him from dis- covery, while his attempts at evasion must inevitably sink him in his self-esteem. His only escape from danger will be by telling the candidate he most fears that he will vote for him, even though he should be determined to vote against him-that is, in plain language, by telling a lie (hear, hear). The workman's position is somewhat different. Let us suppose the ballot in operation in Merthyr; and that Mr. Bruce and Mr. James are the rival candidates. The employer would intimate to the workman that his candidate was Mr. Bruce-that he hoped he would support him. Now, to use a favourite division, three courses are open to him. First, he may say to his master, You have been a good friend to me. I do not care much about politics. I will give my vote to your candidate." No doubt that man is not acting up to the theory of the franchise. He is giving his vote on personal rather than on political grounds but I ask you to be candid and to dismiss all sham and pretence, and to tell me whether nine votes out of ten are not given on personal grounds' I do not think that under any cir- cumstanoes I could attempt to punish a man who was in my power for giving his vote against me; and I am sure that my neighbours know this well, yet I am confident that there are twenty or thirty voters living in my imme- diate neighbourhood who would on all occasions support me, or my friend, without enquiring or caring what his or my politics were. I believe the larger part of them have no politics at all. Half of them do not know at this moment who is the Prime Minister; and I am positive that many of them never even heard of Lord Derby, but they would vote for me because they think I am a good neighbour (applause). We talk about the weather or the crops, the price of corn or the price of iron, but not a word is ever said about politics. They do not know what my politics are, nor do they care my interest with them is purely personal. Now all this is doubtless very wrong and very unconstitutional; but we all know that it is a common case, to change which we must change human nature, or very much-iexiend the amount oT poli- tical knowledge. But, secondly, let us suppose that the voter has strong political opinions, and is determined to act conscientiously, and to take a different side from his master. Here, no doubt, he runs the risk of discharge or persecution. This, doubtless, is an evil, but it is, as I said before, such an evil as accompanies every public trust; yet I believe the amount of persecution thus practised to be greatly exaggerated. A ten-pound elector is likely to be a good workman; and a good workman is as necessary to his master as his master is to him. And although, no doubt, he might suffer from being dismissed, this sort of political martyr generally finds some compensa- tion. I acknowledge, however, the hardship and the evil; but show the system in which the good is exempt from evil (hear, hear)! The third course open to a voter who objects to his master's candidate is to deceive him,-to pro- mise to vote for him, but in fact to vote against him. But effectually to deceive his master he must not only tell a lie, but for days together he must act a continual lie (hear, hear). He must associate with voters on the other side. He must raise his voice and fling up his cap for the candidate he opposes. He marches to the poll with his secret enemies. He must watch his lips in the con- tinual terror of betraying himself; and up to the last moment of giving his vote he must act the part of a coward and a hypocrite (hear, hear). Nor does the deceit end here. We know that when elections are over, the triumph of the candidate is often celebrated by a dinner, where he drinks the health and shouts the name of the candidate he detests, and walks home for ever a disho- noured and degraded being. Yet even then he is not safe. The secret of his voting is sure to ooze out. He talks of it to his wife (laughter), and she to her neighbours and sooner or later the truth inevitably becomes known, and, therefore, I say that the ballot is as inef- fectual in practice as it is immoral in tendency (hear, hear). But you may say the ballot is practised in America. The people of America are not a mean-spirited, cowardly people: they are manly, independent, and fearless as any nation upon earth. But here, gentlemen, is the common mistake. In the more respectable States of America the ballot is not a method of secret voting. The elector votes as openly as he does here. A gentleman well known in these parts for his able reports on the con- dition of the working-classes, who, I may say by the way, is now engaged in preparing an act against Truck, which I hope will prove an effectual bar to that oppressive system, I mean Mr. Seymour Tremenheere, went last year to America to examine into various institutions, and to see how the working-classes were getting on there. He was present at an election in Boston, and saw the whole process, which was as open as in this country without the slightest attempt at concealment. [Mr. Bruce described the mode followed.] He afterwards attended a meeting in their famous Faneuil Hall, at which 5000 persons were present, at which the subject of secret voting was discussed. No sentiment produced louder cheers than the assertion that he who did not dare to exercise his vote openly was unworthy of having a vote at all. The broad ground was taken that a vote was a solemn trust, over the proper performance of which all were interested in keeping a vigilant eye; and great in- dignation was expressed that the manly voter who did not fear to exercise his trust openly should be confounded with the timid one who endeavoured to conceal it (hear, hear). But the most striking experience in America as to the immoral tendency of secret voting is that mentioned in the Travels of Sir Chas. Lyell, a writer of the extreme liberal school. Sir Charles enquired of a senator of the State of Mississippi how it was that his State could have been so dishonest as to repudiate the payment of their public debt. The answer of the senator was, that the great majority of people in the State affected in conversation to condemn repudiation, but that they did that in secret which they would have been ashamed to do openly. Per- haps some of you do nut know what repudiation means. I dare say you know that a new state is added almost every year to the American Repuhlic. Emigrants flock there with little money, but plenty of land and in order to make railroads and canals, they borrow money of other states or counties, on the security of their state. This money, so borrowed, the people of Mississippi spent in public works, and then refused to pay it on the ground that their former Senate, or Parliament, could not bind them. This disgraceful and dishonest system of repudia- tion, which was in fact no better than stealing, was prac- tised by several states in America. In all of these states, without exception, Ballot was in force. In no state did repudiation occur where open voting was practised (loud cries of hear, hear"). I will conclude my string of American authorities by one of the highest weight. Among American Statesmen, next to Washington and Franklin, none stands higher in reputation than Mr. Randolph, on whom chiefly fell the task of drawing up the constitution of America. About twenty years after the in- dependence of America was achieved, Mr. Randolph, being in England, was asked whether the Ballot pre- vailed in his state of Virginia. I scarcely believe," he answered, "we have such a fool in all Virginia, as to mention even the vote by Ballot; and I do not hesitate to say that the adoption of the Ballot would make any nation a nation of scoundrels if it did not find them so" (much cheering). These, gentlemen, are my reasons for being opposed to the Ballot. I think it a dangerous ex- periment, more than doubtful in efficacy, and of certain immoral tendency (hear, hear). Mr. Bruce was listened to with marked and respectful attention but at this stage of the proceedings the anxiety of the more distant portions of the crowd to approach the hustings produced some confusion; and Mr. Bruce concluded by sajing,— Gentlemen,—It was my intention to have addressed you on various other subjects; but as a great many peo- ple cannot hear at all, and prevent those who are near me from hearing, I shall now couclude my remarks and in offering you my most hearty thanks for your kind atten- tion, and fur the high honour you have this day conferred upon me, let me venture to express a hope that you will continue to me, as your member, that confidence and moral support which you invariably vouchsafed to me as a magistrate (loud cheers). Mr. Henry Thomas, cooper, an elector who has long been identified with the cause of The People's Charter," as it is called, addressed the meeting in sup- port of Chartist opinions, and put a questiou to Mr. BRUCE respecting the suffrage, which elicited from him a reply to the tifect that the object of the franchise was not to give a vote to the greatest number of indivi- duals, but to secure the return of (558 good members (hear, hear). The better the class of electors, the better the elected was likely to be (cheers). All electors, there- fore, should be persons of intelligence and good cha- racter. The ten pound qualification may be a clumsy device for securing this end, but at any rate the possession of a certain amount of property not only gave an indivi- dual a stake in the country, but generally secured a cer- tain amount of education (hear, hear). Mr. Gould, another strenuous advocate of Chartisrn, next addressed the meeting, and spoke of wages, the price of iron, and other subjects. He asked the work- men whether they were better off under Free-trade than they were under Protection and he asked Mr. Bruce whether, if the workmen were to send a petition to Parlia- ament for having a court of arbitration for settling dis- putes respecting wages and other matters between mas- ter and workman, he would undertake to present it and to support its prayer ? Mr. BHL'CU, in reply, said that all experience proved that the interference of the Legislature, ou the subject of yvages, did more harm than good. The attempt had been rnade, and especially in one memorable iustance, i namely, the Spitallields Act, where the wages werciixed S at a certain amount. The consequence was that the silk trade left Spitalflelds for Norwich and other places, where ¡ the Act was not in operation, and where Parliament had not interfered beyond its province in the regulation of wages. The fact was that yvages depended more on the supply of labour than on anything else. When iabourwaa abundant wages were low: when scarce yvages became high (hear, hear). Wages yvere not im- mediately dependent on the price of iron, but only in- directly so. When the price of iron yvas high the demand generally had increased, and with demand the demand also for workmen and so yvages went up (hear, hear). Nor did yvages depend on the price of food, although Mr. Gould, whom he (Mr. Bruce) did not know before to be a Protectionist—(laughter)—seemed to think that wages fell with the price of food (hear, hear). There is no doubt that but for the low price of food, during the last three or four years, the sufferings of the workmen of Merthyrwoutd have been considerable (hear, hear). The low rate of yvages, during the period referred to, had been caused NOT by the fall in the price of food but by the low price of iron, caused by overproduction conse- quent on the railway mania. Mr. Bruce was decidedly opposed to Universal Suffrage, the consequence of which would be subversive of good government. Reference was made to the letter which we gave in our last number (copied from the Times) on the subject of the dissipated habits of some classes of workmen during periods of high wages. The proceedings concluded with a vote of thanks to the Returning Officer, which was moved by Mr. Henry Thomas, seconded by Mr. Bruce, and carried unani- mously. The Returning Officer briefly returned thanks. Three cheers were given for Mr. Bruce and for the Ballot.

[No title]



Family Notices


[No title]