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(From Friday's Gazette.)






THE COUNTY FRANCHISE. THE motion of Mr. LOCKE KING, the member for Surrey, for the extension of the franchise by giving the right of voting to all occupiers of tenements of the annual value of --Clo, has been rejected in the people's House, as all ques- tions that can merely plead right in their favour are in- variably at first rejected in that House. Conservatism can always put forth considerable strength. It can always boast that its ranks are swelled by the timid, the igno- rant, the interested, and the blind. Men who agree on no other topic can rally round each other when the many seek privileges which, at present, only the few possess. The majority against Mr. KING'S motion was got by a union of thoseivho, otherwise, have for each other the utmost aversion. But when the question was one which concerned the rights of the unenfranchised—their elevation in political power-for once Messrs. NEWDIGATE and DISRAELI and Lord JOHN RUSSELL voted and spoke side by side. Thus it has always been—thus it will always be-the peopleWa^Be will only find advocates among the people themselves and as they are true, so must their victories be. When the Reform Bill was won, and the rotten-borough system destroyed—when the rights were granted to the Roman Catholics—which our bigotry would deny the ew-it was because the people had given utterance to one mighty and unanimous will. Hence we have no fear for the cause of Reform. The history of the past tells us how our Constitution has pro- gressed, when the times have required it. When the hour arrived the old land-marks have, one after another, been removed the foolish statesman has obstinately, blindly, fought for new, and has actually hastened the destruction of the very Constitution lie sought to preserve. The men who oppose all reform are the men who jeopardise the Con- stitution. It is the chief value and rare merit of such enlightened politicians as the late Sir ROBERT PEEL that they feel that the spirit of the age is more potent than them- selves—that they feel that it is hard for them to kick against the pricks—that they gracefully swim with the stream it would be madness for them to attempt to oppose. The statesman may fret and fume, but he is the servant of the people-he must obey great principles. If he war with human progress—if he have faith not in that, but in his own individual powers, his position will always be attended with difficulty, with danger, and with disgrace. Such is the position of our present Premier. He is aware that he carried the Reform Bill, and his small imagination can go no further; and over that miserable abortion he gloats as a mistr over his gold. The wiser plan would be, the first Reform Bill having been tried in the balance and found wanting, immediately to frame a new one. It is manifest our present system of representation is unequal and absurd. We have sixty-two boroughs with consti- tuencies under 500. There are thirty boroughs with con- stituencies between 500 and 1,000. These boroughs are private property they belong to some wealthy proprietor or ancient peer. Not a voter in them dare call his soul his own. And it is from these small boroughs come the men who swell the majorities by which abuses are perpetuated and reforms delayed. In 1847 the registered electors of the Tower Hamlets were 19,350. At this very time sitting in the House of Commons, and voting on all questions affecting the rights and interests and desiiiiies of the masses of this country, there are eighty-two members representing fifty- eight boroughs, whose united constituencies amount to but 19,282 voters, being sixty-eight fewer than the constituency of the Tower Hamlets. Nor is this the only monstrosity. According to the census of 1841 the population of the Tower Hamlets was 419,730. Ninety-three members of the House of Commons represent boroughs where the united population is 419,259, being 471 less than that of the Tower Hamlets. It is thus the people are misrepresented-for one man re- turned by them, there are dozens returned by their bitterest, enemies. Manchester may speak out against a minister- may reject him, and thus protest against the line of policy he adopts-but he may slip in for some small borough, such as Harwich, and from his place, dressed in a little brief au- thority, may insult and browbeat the men who represent the largest constituencies in the land. This is a state of things, neither desirable nor safe, that calls for reform-that must be reformed, which if Lord JOHN RUSSELL do not seek to redress he must make way for some one who will. The enlargement of the County Frauchise would be one step towards a better state of things. There is no need that a line should be drawn between county and borough voters, or that the qualifications required for the one should be higher than those required for the other. The line, however, that is drawn is about as absurd and ridi- culous as it. could well be. A man may be well educated —at any rate, sufficiently so to exercise the franchise, though he may live in a country house, for which he pays less than fifty pounds a-year. Many professional men are thus excluded, whilst, merely from the accident of living in a borough, the most besotted boor that ever wore shoe leather, if lie pays a rental of ten pounds a-year, may waddle up to the poll and give a plumper for the unflinch- ing advocate of our glorious Constitution in Church and State. The country, it has always been admitted, is favour- able to meditation. COWPER, borrowing from COWLEY, tells US "God made the couutry and man made the town." If there be a line drawn at all it should be in favour of the simple pure dwellers in the country—but we protest against distinction being made. We maintain that a man who pays ten pounds a-year as rent in the country, has as much right to the enjoyment of a vote as the man who pays a similar rent in town. There may be some sense in making the exception that is made in favour of borough members. We, however, fail to perceive it. Nor can it be very apparent to ministers since they seek to do for Ireland what Mr. LOCKE seeks to do for England, and to reduce the: county qualification to a line with that of the borough voters. The same arguments will apply in both cases. If the county votes have decreased in Ireland they have done so in England as well; and surely the amount of intelligence and respectability in England and Wales is equal at least to that which may be found in the Green Isle itself. Ministers, however, think otherwise, and the majority of the House of Commons agree with them. Yet this extension of the suffrage question is not settled —in no such flippant manner can it be settled. Delay will but increase the popular strength. Now Parliament may reject the idea of extending the county franchise with scorn. A time will come when the men who are now foremost in their opposition to it will regret that they did not concede it at once. We shall soon have the Freehold Land Societies at work-we shall soon have honest electors re- turning their own men in opposition to parsons, and squires, and peers-we shall soon have the people's men in the people's House, when possibly not the present suffrage- not household suffrage will be deemed enough and if this be the case-if manhood suffrage be demanded and given- amongst those who have done the most to bring it about will be the majority who negatived Mr. LOCKE'S modest proposal. That decision tells the people they have no hope —that decision shows Ministers are prepared to oppose the most reasonable reforms, and in spite of demonstration, and appeal, and warning, and remonstances-in spite of the lessons of the past-are prepared to oppose all conces- sion till resistance shall have created an antagonism fierce, and irritated, and powerful- before which they must succumb, and against which they must be weak as rotten reeds.