1 JANUARY 1831, Page 20


It would be unsatisfactory to notice in detail the defects of a system where there is no compensating good ; we shall therefore give a general outline of the state of Scotch representation, in preference to ex- emplifications of its particular working.

The number of Scotch representatives is 45; of these, 30 are chosen by the 33 counties, 14 by 69 bo- roughs, and 1 by the city of Edinburgh. The number of eletaors is not easily ascertained, as there are few gentlemen of large property that do not possess votes In more counties than one ; and of professional men, such as barristers and attornies, some find it conve- nient to possess votes in four or five counties. The number of electors in the boroughs is neither uni- form, nor, in all cases, fixed. The whole of the voters, both in the counties and boroughs, do not probably much exceed 3000,—or! for every 7.30 souls, assuming the population at two millions and a quarter (it was 2,100,00(1 in 1821). Of the larger Counties, 27 elect each a member ; the remaining 6 elect 3 members, after a fashion which strongly marks the determination of the handful of freeholders in each to make the most of their power. Thus, Kinross for instance, with its dozen, and Clack- mannan with its score of voters, do not join to return a member—which would be the natural arrangement ; but Kinress returns for one Parliament, and Clack- rnannan for the next ; and thus each county secures Its own share of good things without challenge or competition. The qualification of a Scotch free- holder is nominally 400/. Scotch (331.6s. 8d.) of rental; hut es the valuation is nearly two hundred years old, the real qualification has risen from 400/. Scotch to nearly 800/. English. A Scotch freehold always im- plies land, and only land : a freehold estate of houses, is to a Northern ear an expression that conveys no meaning. The Duke of Buccleugh's princely palace would not afford the tithe of a qualification. But although qualifications are derived from land only, they may, from a form of tenure peculiar to Scotland, be separated from thepossession of it. He who has a freehold may sell the estate from which it is derived, and yet retain his right of voting; or he may sell his estate to one man, and his right of voting to another. Thefreeholders are thus divided into landholders and superiors,—or, as they are commonly termed, real and paper. The paper voters, again, are divided Into life-renters, created merely to extend the influ- ence of some great holder of land or of superiority, and proprietors. The proprietors are mostly lawyers, who purchase superiorities as a matter of business, and who are sometimes called the independent elec- tors of the county, because they are open to purchase by any one that u•ants their assistance. A mere su- periority costs from 6001. to 12001., according as the county is well or indifferently stocked with electors. The paper voters are to the real in the proportion of nearly two-thirds. In a sensible and well-written pamphlet on Refortn,* issuing, horresco rtfrrens !prom the workshop of our worthyfriend, Bailie Blackwood, the votes in the county of Renfrew are thus arranged— Real Votes—i. e. proprietors of land 35

Paper Votes proprietors of superiority 32 ....life-renters of superiority 73 In Dunbarton, the number of votes, according to • By Alexander Dunlop, Esq , Advocate.

the same authority, is 69; of these, one individt.al commands 14, and other three have 22; so that four persons, by combining their forces, can at any time carry the election. Nearly all these are paper votes. Votes are fabricated bysplitting of valuations : thus, he who has 40001. Scotch of valued rent, can, if he please, have ten votes, and that without the slight- est risk—he can even insert a clause of return in the deed of transfer, and when the purpose of the elec- tion has been served, demand back the freehold which had been temporarily alienated. Freeholds are also formed by aggregation. In the contest be- tween the Hamilton and Douglas families in 1818, parcels of superiority so small as 101. Scotch were bought up, and out cf a requisite number of these fractions was formed one entire freeholder, who could not, without committing a trespass, put his foot on one of the parcels of ground from which his right was derived.

There are " influences" in the Scotch counties, as in the English,—with this difference, that in England the possession of Roperty in the county is essential, while in Scotland superiority does as well. The Duke of Montrose, who may be said to have nominated the present member for Dunbarton, has very little property in that county. In Lanarkshire, again, where the Hamiltons did not return the last member merely becauseahey had no Lord Archibald to return, the. influence is partly territorial, partly of superiority. In the greater number of instances, indeed, it is of this mixed character. In this way, the Duke of Argyll and his cousin Campbell of Shawfield influence Argyll; the Earl of Hopetoun, Linlithgow •' the Duke of Buccleugh, Selkirk, Peebles, Roxburgh, and Dumfries ; Mr. Manic, Forfar. The young Duke of Buccleugh is a popular landlord in his vast de- mesnes, and most of his tenants have grown grey and warm under the fostering care of his family. Mr. 111aule's rents have, we believe, been so sparingly raised since his accession to the splendid estate of which he has long been the liberal and kind owner, that all his tenants have become rich—or the fault has been their own. Bating the local and limited in- fluence of a few such men, nearly all the boroughs, and, with a few exceptions, the whole of the counties of Scotland, belong to the Minister, or, we should say, to the Ministry, rather than to any individual or set of individuals. No Government that has re- mained long in power has ever found the electors its opponents, and no party that has long remained out of power has ever found them its supporters. The system is one of open and undisguised brthery ; but It is bribery not of money solely, or even chiefly. The return for a vote is made not in a few pounds, which an uncalculating and spendthrift elector pro- ceeds to dissipate in a fortnight's rioting—it; comes lathe shape of an ensigncy for any son Tom, a situa- tion in the Customs for my brother Alexander, or a kirk, it may be, for my nephew James. The payment is one which only "tire powers that be" can make ; and for that reason, the powers that be, whether for good or for evil, have always commanded the elec- tions. So steadily and universally has this influence been acted on, that up to the period when Sir Robert Peel took to himself the patronage of Scotland (since which time Rites been managed with the externals of decency), there was not an officer in that kingdom, from the Lord President of the Court of Session down to the tidewaiter of 301. a year, that did not de- rive his honours from his Own or his friend's influence in some town-council or county.

The constitutions, or sets as they are called, of the Scottish Boroughs (Scuttle° Burghs) are of endless va- riety; but all of them agree in one particular—the community has no share in them. The Corporation, or Council, consists, in the majority of instances, of two parts—a Merchaut-Council, and a Tracks-Council. The Merchant-Council is always the more numerous of the two, and it is invariably (except in the in- stance of Montrose self-elected ; in a few cases there is a rotation of members, in others the members are capable of indefinite re.election ; in one or two they are elected for life. The Trades. Council are the representatites of the actual operative craftsmen of the burgh, who are freemen by appren- ticeship, by marriage, or purchase. In a few burghs they are chosen without the intervention of the Mer- chants; but in most cases the Trades are not indulged In so dangerous an exercise of liberty. The twelve or twenty freemen of each trade meet at the time ap- pointed for choosing their Deacon or President ; they select three or six of their number, whose names are sent up to the Merchant-Council for their approba- bation ; from this list—the long leet—the Merchant- Council strike off all the independent or troublesome fellows ; thus curtailed of its fair proportions, it is sent down again ; and out of this short lest the repre- sentative of the trade is finally chosen. In the pro cess of making members of Parliament, the Councils, thus constituted, form electoral colleges; there is thus a third step required ; each of the Councils elects a delegate, and the four or five delegates, assembling in the presiding burgh, elect the member. The obvious consequence of this treble process is, that a candidate may have a large majority) of real suffrages in his favour, and yet fail of his election. Thus, suppose the case of four burghs, each of whose Councils contains 20 members—he who can' secure 22 out of the 80, provided he obtain the support of the presiding burgh, will be returned, in opposition to him who has the remaining 58. There is another consequence, equally injurious—a small or corrupt burgh may wholly neu- tralize the efforts at independence of the largest and most respectable. Glasgow contains above 150,000 inhabitants, and, for the most part, a highly respect- able municipality; but that great city has no more political power with its 150,000 than Rutherglen, one of its pitiful suburbs has with its 4,000. The Trades part of the Scotch Corporations, being comparatively open, is that which a candidate com- monly assails. Generally speaking, however, unless favoured by some accidental diversion on the Merchant side, any attempt to open a Scotch burgh is useless. The Merchant side is ordinarily managed by some resident jobber,* who, having once obtained a ma- jority, takes care to retain it, by excluding from the Council all those who are likely to endanger his power. A writer in the IVestroinster Rvicw mentions, that in Lochmaben there are but three persons resident capa- ble of tilling the office of Councillor (exclusive of the Town-Clerk); and they are, a bankrupt spirit-dealer, and a couple of publicans I We recollect the duties of a representative oh' the weavers of a Scotch burgh being performed for seven successive years by a man who, during the whole period, was to all intents and purposes as mad as a March hare, and who died in- sane a few years after. This man was one of Sir George Warrender's constituents ; and perhaps it was from his recollections of so enlightened a specimen of the present system, that Sir George was lately led to declare that the intelligence oh' Scotland was averse from any chauge in it. From our description of the Scotch Burghs, our readers may judge of the hardi- hood of Sir: William Dundas's averment, that he had a constituency of sense thousands—the plain fact being, that he represents nineteen self-elected persons, the Merchant Councillors of Edinburgh, the majority ' of whose names, even, are not known to one in fifty of their fellow citizens.

* The " resident jobber" is sometimes not even a metaber of the council which he manages to his own uses. Be is sometimes seen in the shape of a town- clerk—addicted to pettifogging, greedy of agencies and factorships, dexterous at all dirty work, from the coining of a little parish fib to -the fabricating of a document or the uttering of a professional perjury before a Committee of Parliament.