TRUSTEES OF THE NATION.
[CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.]
OUR list this week must be a short one ; and it will be found to consist principally of " young men of talent," such as, Sir ROBERT PEEL says, ought to be in Parliament, but are prevented by their obscurity from being returned, except as nominees of borough- mongers. One object of Reform is to admit these " valuable young men of talent " into Parliament, as the representatives, not of stupid or profligate borough-owners, but of large numbers of the population, and indirectly of public opinion. "Ah ! but," say some sincere Reformers—some, even, who look to the end of Reform, regarding Reform itself only as a means—" It is ridi- culous to recommend, as fit to become members of Parliament, persons so little known." We answer—the question is, not whether they are known, but whether they deserve to be known. By naming them, we assist in making them known : consequently, supposing always that we name none but "men of talent," how- ever obscure, those who object to some of the names in our lists, on the ground of "obscurity," ought to find their objection partly removed by the very thing of which they complain. The objector reasons in a vicious circle, saying—as these men are obscure, there- fore let them remain obscure; and we break through the circle, say- ing—because they are obscure, make them known. But perhaps our objector would say—let these obscure young men of talent make themselves known. We answer—no ; greediness of noto- riety is not a mark of fitness for the office of law-maker. There are dozens of men, and men of considerable talent too, who never miss an opportunity of making themselves known, but not one of whom we have mentioned, because their eagerness for notoriety marks them as adventurers or charlatans. Considering the base motives which hitherto have generally induced English- men to set up as candidates for Parliament, we are inclined to reckon obscurity, when united with independence and talents, as a strong recommendation; for, in such cases, obscurity is another word for modesty or honourable pride.
The correspondence which our remarks on this subject have brought upon us, leads us to conclude that Englishmen generally have erroneous, or, at least, very indistinct notions of what consti- tutes fitness for the office of national representative in the Legisla- ture; and we are ready to acknowledge that our own opinions in this respect have been—not changed perhaps, but rendered more clear and definite, by contemplating the end of Reform. As hitherto Parliament has been the way to wealth and honours, a notion prevails, that when electors send a man to Parliament, they confer on him a great favour; whereas, if Parliament were con- sidered only in its true character, as the national assembly for making laws, the man who accepted the troublesome and anxious task of watching over the interests of the nation, would bestow a favour on his constituents, by consenting to represent them; and such a revolution in politics would inevitably produce very different notions as to the attri- butes of a good member of Parliament. Let us hope that such a revolution is at hand ! Indeed, there are plain signs of its ap- proach, in the disturbance of opinion on this subject, Which may be observed all over the country. But a much smaller class of persons, who have amused themselves by laying down theories of representative government, would have us believe that the legis- lative deputy would, under a good system, be the mere delegate,— that is, for a particular purpose the servant of his constituents,— bound to assert their opinions and implicitly follow their com- mands on every occasion. If this were true, the wisest of the electors would hold a constant Parliament of their district, would pass resolutions on all subjects of legislation, and would send the greatest fool of the neighbourhood, whose presence at home might be most easily spared, to support their views in the National As- sembly; and of course, as a mere delegate or servant, he would be paid for his services, neither receiving nor conferring any favour. Now, a little reflection on the subject will show, that under a good system, the representative in Parliament would be neither a person whom the electors were desirous to serve, nor a servant of the electors,_ but a trustee of those who seat
him to Parliament, and of the nation at large—one who might be grateful to his immediate constituents for conferring on him so great a distinction, but who must obtain their gratitude for undertaking so onerous a task. In this case, the best and wisest of each community would be chosen, instead of either the most eager and skilful canvasser or the greatest fool. In this case, moreover, capacity for the business of making good laws would be the only recommendation of a candidate,—just as now, when an in- dividual selects a marriage-settlement trustee, or an executor, or a guardian of his children, his choice is determined by the supe- rior aptitude of one amongst those who might accept the office for performing the duties undertaken by accepting it. This analogy might be pursued further. The time is near when Legislative Representation will be the subject of many an elaborate treatise : we trust that the pen of Mr. BAILEY of Sheffield is not worn out.
MR. JOSEPH PARKES,
Of Birmingham, is a solicitor, who has for some time past distinguished himself for his skill in conducting Parliamentary business, for his acute- ness in detecting what may justly be termed corporation-robbery (though not in Sir CHARLES'S sense), and for the zeal and earnestness with which, on a great number of occasions, he has advanced the cause of the people and advocated their interests. Mr. PARKES was a friend and favourite of Dr. PARR; who probably ingrafted in him the spirit of Liberalism,— sinless, indeed, be inherited it from his father, who, as an eminent wool- merchant at Warwick, was well known to, an d distinguished by, many of the patriots of the school of Fox. As a representative of the people, Mr. JOSEPH PARKES would be valuable for the sake of his uncompromising integrity, his honest straightforwardness, the earnestness of his advocacy, and the great activity and almost ubiquity 'which distinguishes his exertions in any cause he may heartily espouse. He has an entire sympathy with the people properly so called ; he has no sinister ambition; and sincerely contemns all honours except when they How from the legitimate source, and are the reward of true well-doing. Mr. PARKES is a literary and legal antiquary ; and though, from the nature of his avocations, his re- searches have necessarily been of a desultory nature, he has made some curious discoveries in the history both of law and literature : as an in- stance of which, may be pointed out several parts of his sketch of the history of the Court of Chancery, and the curious passages he was enabled to bring forth at a Birmingham meeting respecting the history of the Ballot. It is not improbable that Mr. PARKES would refuse to become a member of Parliament,— conceiving, perhaps, that his duty lay in the line of his profession, and feeling, perhaps, as a young man, that he had private interests to attend to before he could wholly give himself up to the public : be this as it may, we are certain, that if any set of electors— such, for instance, as those of his native town of Warwick—want a re- presentative, they can do no wiser thing than invite Mr. PARKES to take care of their interests in the Reformed House. Our readers will find in this very paper, a characteristic specimen of his shrewdness, firmness, and tact for public business, in our brief account of the last county meet- ing at Warwick. MR. J. A. ROEBUCK,
A barrister, but, like most of the other barristers we may name, wholly untainted by professional prejudices. It should also be borne in mind,
that many youns, men of fortune on entering college, and many literary
men to whom, being resident in London, it is no inconvenience to keep terms, get called to the bar without ever dreaming of law as a study.
Mr. ROEBUCK has written largely for the Westminster Review, and is, we
are informed, the author of the excellent article in the last number on the Useful Knowledge Society, and also of the Life of Mahomet, published
by that Society. He is one of the few really effective members of the Parliamentary Candidate Society ; and is moreover well practised in public speaking—a very useful, though we are far from considering it an essential, qualification.
MR. CHARLES AUSTIN,
A barrister in good practice on the Norfolk Circuit, brother of Professor AUSTIN, and equally distinguished for ability and information. When at Cambridge, he was suspected of holding rather sceptical opinions ; and great was the surprise and extreme the horror of the big-wigs, when, after declaring a certain paper to be entitled to the prize for the best essay on the Truths of Christianity, they discovered it to be the produc- tion of the supposed sceptic.* He has written for the Parliamentary Review, and is particularly distinguished for his profound knowledge of political economy. Ma. A. HAYWARD, Editor of The Law Magazine—one of the most accomplished jurists of the day. He has written elaborate accounts of the Judicial System and Pro- cedure of France, comparing them, step by step, with our own ; and has just announced a translation of the well-known German work (by SA - VIGNY) "On the Fitness of our Times for Legislation"—we hope he will next write another "On the Unfitness of our Legislators." He has ably advocated every measure of legal reform proposed within the last three years, with the exception of Codification and Local Courts; and he speaks as well as he writes.
MR. C. P. COOPER, Author of Lettres sur in hancellerie, &c. (a work well known on the Continent), and Parliamentary Proceedings as to Pie Court of Chancery, &c. would be also invaluable as a legal Reformer. The estimation in which he is held abroad may be learnt from the fact, that one of the last acts of BENJAMIN CONSTANT'S life was to send him a corrected copy of his Eloge on ROMILLY for publication in this country. He is generally understood to be the confidential adviser of the present Chancellor in matters of legal Reform. He, also, is opposed to Codification.
MR. GEORGE CORNEWALL LEWIS AND MR. HENRY TUFFNELL,
Translators of MutLea. We place these gentlemen together because their labours have been joint. They are both writers in the Foreign Quarterly Review, on subjects of foreign and domestic polity, and both of liberal opinions. Mr. LEWIS is the eldest son of Mr. FRANKLAND LEWIS. Mr. TUFFNELL is a maa of good fortune, and son-in-law to Mr. WILMOT HORTON.
MR. FREDERICK CALVERT,
Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, son of the late Sir HENRY CALVERT. This gentleman has recently written, we are told, an able pamphlet on the Poor-Laws,—a subject on which sound information is particularly de- sirable. He speaks remarkably well. • MR. J. H. LLOYD.
This gentleman went to Oxford with a neglected education. He told • At Cambridge, each essay bears a mark referring to a sealed paper containing Mx name of the writer. The unsuccessful candidates remain unknown. his tutor—" I despise the studies of the place, but I shall take honours. first, because they are profitable ; secondly, because I shall be thrn at. liberty to express my contempt." Four years afterwards, he was • &Men fir.st-class man, and Fellow of Brazennose. He is a barrister in r5,1„g practice, and has written admirably on the principles of 1% eraintil Law. He speaks very well, and is a liberal and well-informed politicia MR. M. T. BAINES,
Son of the editor of the Leeds Mercury,—of his father's principles, well informed on all subjects, and a remarkably elegant speaker. He is, by profession, a barrister.
MR. W. A. MACKINNON,
Author of the well-known work "On Public Opinion," &c.; whose mental powers, therefore, it is unnecessary to dwell upon ; but it may be as well to add, that he is a man of independent fortune, liberal principles, great industry, and an able public speaker. He was formerly of St. John's, Cambridge.
MR. HENRY HALLAM,
Author of the History of the Middle Ages, and the Constitutional History of England ; also a writer of many of the best articles in the Edinburgh Review. Every man of education in these realms must have heard of him at any rate, and must know that his qualifications for a representative assembly are of a very high order.
[To be continued.]