THE COURT OF ALDERMEN AND THE WARD OF PORTSOKEN.
WE observe, in the Oxford Herald, a paragraph intimating that it is the intention of the Court of Aldermen to receive the member for Oxford, Mr. HUGHES HUGHES, as the choice of the electors of Portsoken, and to reject Mr. SCALES. The paragraph adds, that this decision, followed by a legal process in the Court of King's Bench, of which the issue is assumed to be the same as in the former application, will put an end to the disputes which have so long prevailed in the Ward. This is a broad hint to the Aldermen, and we doubt not many of them are prepared to act their part the pacification of the Ward, by the means pointed out, is a very different matter. Whether the decision of Lord TENTERDEN, which recognized in the Court of Aldermen a power of rejecting any candidate for the magistracy of the City that the householders of a ward legally qualified have returned, was a good or a bad legal ,judgment, it was at least sanctioned by analogy. The House of Lords claims and exercises the power of admitting or rejecting new Peers. The House of Commons, a delegated and temporary assembly, claims the same right ; and so far as respects the legality of con- flicting elections, it is in the constant habit of exercising it. Once, and once only within the memory of living man, the House wished to proceed a step farther; and, curiously enough, that well- known instance, in which the rights of the electors and of their representatives were fairly at issue, had respect to a member of the .Court of Aldermen.
In the case of WILKES, to which we allude, the Houge of Corn- Mons having expelled that gentleman because of certain allegations of immorality, the electors of Middlesex—who thought, and we believe most truly, that it was not the moral but the political con- duetcof their member Which offended the majority of the House-- unanimously ro.eleetethisn. The House expelled him .once more,. and the electors once more elected him. In the third instance of expulsion and attempted re-election, a person who is damned to infamous notoriety as the contemptible instrument of a tyrannical faction—one LUTTRELL, at the time a member of Parliament—was persuaded to vacate his seat and to canvass the electors, in the same fashion as Mr. HUGHES HUGHES, through the medium of his friends, canvassed the householders of Portsoken; and, as has been the case with MY. HUGHES, this fellow LUTTRELL found a. handful of the electors mean enough to vote for him. The House of Commons chuckled at the prospect of beating JOHN WiLims and cheating the people of Middlesex : they declared LUTTRELL duly elected ; and then, as the Oxford Herald does now, their apo- logists took credit for an act which was to settle for ever the unfortunate disputes which had so long prevailed among the elec- tors.
The celebrated JOHNSON.WaS persuaded to lend his great abili- ties to defend the decision of the House. According to his showing, the only hardship imposed upon the electors of Middlesex was, that they were not allowed to select a candidate for senatorial honours from the cells of Newgate, where WILKES was at the time confined, on a charge of libel. By the People, however, the ques- tion was put in a somewhat different form : with them, the point for consideration seemed to be, not whether they should choose this man or that man, but whether the choice should be with them or with the House of Commons. We need not pursue the history of WILKES'S case : it is well known that every resolution that had. been passed for his exclusion was erased from the Journals, and that the issue was a solemn decision, by which, while the right of expulsion for misconduct-was left undisputed, the reception of the candidate who had the greatest number of legal votes was acknow- ledged to be the peremptory duty of the House.
The cases of Mr. SCALES and of WILKES have numerous points of resemblance; and not only the cases, but the conduct of the body which claims, as the House of Commons did, the right of putting their choice above the choice of their fellow-citizens. The osten- sible exception taken to Mr. SCALES is a moral one—for the legal objection to his apprenticeship is too contemptible to require no- tice—such also was the exception taken to WILKES; but the real exception, in this case as in that, was the sturdy politics of the candidate. The same course has been followed; only the Alder- men have been so lucky as to find a HUGHES to serve their pur- pose with rather more readiness than the House of Commons found a LUTTRELL. The same success has awaited both attempts to set the representatives above the constituency : LUTTRELL secured a minority, so has HUGHES. The crowning step—the reception of the unsuccessful candidate—remains; but if we may believe the Oxford Herald, it will not long remain unaccomplished. Here, however, the parallel fails. It is true the House of Commons had the power to be unjust, but to their power and their injustice there were certain limits. The dissolution, of necessity, brought both to an end, and put both LUTTRELL and LUTTRELL'S abettors on their country. The Court of Aldermen has no period of dissolution. Those who may vote the reception of Mr. HUGHES are not only themselves secure, but the reception of Mr. HUGHES secures hint for life from the punishment of removal, to which, were the Court, like the Commons, a temporary body, he would not fail to be sub- jected. The injustice which is contemplated is seriously aggra- vated in consequence of its being in its nature irremediable. The tool of the Aldermen once received, he is thenceforth irremoveable either by the Court or by the Ward. It is not a question of prefer- ence between WILLIAM HEWAT the attorney, or WimAnt HUGHES HUGHES the barrister, and MICHAEL SCALES the butcher, but whether the Ward of Portsoken is, during the life of the former, to be denied the rights which every ward of the City as well as themselves has hitherto exercised freely and fully.
There is another important consideration. We have seen, on a. late occasion, that there is in the Court of Aldermen a party—call it Anti-Reform, or Aristocratic, or what we may—whose will is de cidedly opposed to the will of the Livery. In the nature of things, this party must die out, if the Wards are fairly dealt by—if the majo- rity there have the weight which it ought to have. But, let it be settled. that the Court of Aldermen may give to the minority of a ward the weight which is due to the majority, and it is obvious that the anti- popular faction of the Court may continue strong enough to put down the voice of the Livery, and even in the course of a very few elec- tions, dexterously managed, it may greatly add to its numbers and its power. " Where there is a will, there is a way." The City of London will never lack twenty-four men who have heads stupid enough and hearts perverted enough to oppose the twenty thousand of their constituents; there will never be any lack of plausible ob- jections against a popular candidate; nor will those who are an- xious to put down the popular voice ever lack tools enow to enable them to carry their designs into practice. If the Liverymen would. retain their rights against the most destructive assault to which they have ever been subjected since the issuing of the quo war- ranto of CHARLES the Second, let them, dropping all contention about the merits or demerits of the man,—whicliare now but as dust in the balance,—come forward one and all to compel the re - ception of Mr. SCALES, or at least to compel the rejection of Mr. HUGHES. Let the Aldermen, if they will, have recourse to a new election ; but do not let them attempt to destroy the very principle of election, by receiving a candidate chosen by the minority, in op- position to one who is chosen by the majority of the electors.