TOPICS OF THE DA 1 r .
LAST week we urged the expediency of promoting, Political Unions throughout the country. Since then, the most powerful of our contemporaries have taken up the subject. PVC return to it with a deep conviction of its importance.
If we were called On to state the first, second, and third requi- site for a people who were, contending for their liberty, or anxious to retain it, we woull say, Combination, combination, combination. There is no system so bad that firm union among the people will not speedily mend. For peace, combination is not less desirable than for power. .k\'hence come riots ?-whence comet isturhanees ?- Because of the mistaken estimate which the rulers and the people entertain of their respective strength. Adopt a plan by which the wishes of a great nation may be as easily and effectually known as the wishes of a small tribe, and who will withstand its voice? No secret seditions could have place in that state where the universal desire was certain of being gratified ; no covert design of oppression could be cherished where its accomplishment was known to be im- possible. It is essential to any plan of national combination, that it set out with some generally recognized principles ; that it be conducted according to certain definite rules ; that it pursue some commonly approved object. Chance, which, as the poets say, is sometimes kinder than the gods, has at the present crisis supilied Englishmen with these-let us use them joyfully and discreetly. Lei our gene- ral principles be the principles of TH 1311.,T,--01.11. rules its rules- our purpose the attainment end exercise Of its advantae.es. Wre suggest, then, a grevid National union of all thplha,,,,ns i75 the Three Kingdoms who are (nullified to exercise the elective ,franchise, in town or country, antler the Reform Bill. According to the calculationss of Ministers, the number of electors, and the number of the National Union which we propose, will be, in round numbers, 600,000. It is intended by the Bill that not more than 600 electors shall be polled at any one I:oiling-place ; of 600,there- fore, and not more, let each PAROCHIAL Ueziosr consist.
Mr. ATTWOOD boasts, and not without reason, of the organization of the Birminwham Union. But the numbers of that Union, which make fools \vender, make wise men smile. Mr. Arrwoon is no more capable of holding direct communication with one hundred and fifty thousand than with one hundred and fifty millions. Until some me- thod shall be devised for increasing the strength of human lungs, no man, even with the voice of Stentor, can command the attention of above four or five t housand individuals. Men o ord inary speech, who would convince or persuade even a very moderate number of their fellows, must be content to call the reporter and the printer to their aid-to address the eves, not the ears of their audience. Large assemblages, therefore, are at best useless. Moral power they have none ; and their physical power is more frequently advantageous to their enemies than to themselves. But what actual representa- tion cannot effect, delegated representation may. Every PARO- CHIAL UNION of six hundred, whether in town or in country, would have its Chairman ; the Chairman of every ten* contiguous Unions might form a DISTRICT COMMITTEE ; Chairman of every ten such Committees might form a PROVINCIAL COMMIT-. TEE ; and the Chairmen of the ten PROVINCIAL COMMITTEES might form a METROPOLITAN COMMITTEE, which, as fir as it legally might, should serve to concentrate and to enlighten the entire Unions of the kingdom. We should thus have the PA- ROCHIAL Uiviox attending to the local election matters of its parish or its borough ; the DISTRICT COINIMITTEE collecting and communicating all such information as was essential to the district which it superintended ; the PROVINCIAL Column1.En, in a similar manner, would diffuse union and energy through the ten District Committees, and by their means through the hundred Unions ; while the l\IE'rROl'OLITAN ComenTrEs was occupied, as the general commanding in chief, in supporting the weak and informing the strong-in directing, in a word, the whole elective resources of the kingdom to their legitimate object, the choice of wise, grave, and honest legislators. It may be seen at a glance, that this plan precludes all favour- itism and faction, The Chairman of the PAROCHIAL UNION will
be the chosen of six hundred freemen ; he will have no reward for his labours, and his labours will neither be light nor few. No man but a disinterested man would accept, and none but :Oh honest
man could keep such an office. Again, the members ef 1110 Pao- ViNCIAL COMMITTEE, from the nature of their qualification, will be the select of the select, the wisest of the wise ; and the ME- TROPOLITAN COMMITTEE would be constituted of sheaf men as are known for their zeal, their talents, and their worth, to the entire empire.
The only difficulty in the Committees, and more especially. in the Provincial and Metropolitan, would be the distance which some of the members might have to travel to the places of meeting This is a difficulty imposed by the state of the law, which forbids . direct delegation. It, in working the plan, it were found to be formidable, the simple remedy would be to give to the District Committee of the county town the powers of Provincial, and to one of the District Committees of the Metropolis the powers of Me- tropolitan Committee.
• Of course we attach no value to ten, above any other number : for a mere Committee, the only important condition is, that the number should be large enough for discussion, and not too large for business. The Committees would meet in private; the Unions could not meet except publicly, and it would not be fit they should if they could. In all societies, large or small, whatever be the cause or object of their formation, there will be occasion for money. The PARO- CHIAL UNIONS must have their " ways and means," to meet the " supplies," which constant or occasional demands may require. The machinery necessary for such a purpose is extremely simple. In every PAROCHIAL UNION, let one member out of each twenty be a Collector, and let the whole members take that office in turn for six months at a time ; by this means, the duty will fall on indivi- duals once only in ten years. Let the Collector levy once a month the sum of 4d. from each member of his district; and let him pay over the entire sum collected to a Treasurer, chosen annually by the whole Union. Let the meetings of Collectors take place on the first Monday of every month ; the meetings of the PAROCHIAL UNIONS on the first Monday ; those of the DISTRICT COMMIT- TEES on the second Monday ; those of the PROVINCIAL COM- MITTEES on the third Monday; and those of the METROPOLITAN COMMITTEE on the fourth Monday of every quarter; and let ex- traordinary meetings of the Parochial Unions be called on a requisition of any fifty, and of the Committees on the requisition of any five of their members respectively.
Let us now recapitulate--
Electors in Great Britain and Ireland, say. 600,000 Parochial Unions, each consisting of 600 electors 1,000 District Committees, each consisting of 10 chairmen of the Parochial Unions Provincial Committees, each consisting of 10 chair- men of District Committees 10 Metropolitan Committee, consisting of the chair- men of the ten Provincial Committees . For Finances we should have- 1000 Unions, with an income each of 1201. per annum. IA 20,000 Deduct for ordinary and extraordinary expenses.... 40,000 Remains to form a fund applicable to general pur- poses £30,000
The funds of each Union will, in the first place, be most use- fully directed to the proper keeping of the registry, on the accu- racy of which so much of the virtue of the Bill will depend. What- ever expedients may be devised for checking any sinister attempt on the part of overseers or barristers or returning officers, to ob- struct the free current of election, there is none that human wit can inulgine equal to the constant supervision of the entire body of electors, backed by ample means of giving that supervision prompt effect. Another great object of the funds, the electors being ascertained by the registry, will be to extend to each the most ample facilities of giving his vote. A third great object of these funds will be the erection of poll- ing-booths—the hiring of clerks—the defraying of all those ex- penses which, though separately small, are great enough in their aggregate to weigh down any man of moderate fortune, and which no man, either of moderate or large fortune, can be expected to incur without some more pressing motive than a mere desire to act as the holiest deputy of his countrymen. In all these particulars, the Unions will operate directly in the suppression of corruption and bribery among electors, which are so greatly fostered by the exclusion of candidates of moderate for- tune, the necessary consequence of expensive elections ; and they will effect a great deal of good indirectly, by the facilities which they hold out to canvassing ; for it is obvious, that in a county
consisting of 6,000 electors, by the simple machinery of Unions, a candidate of activity may become almost personally acquainted
with the whole in the course of a few days. But we need not dilate un the advantages of Unions, which are sufficiently known and acknowledged ; we would rather proceed to notice the ob- jections to the formation of such a general Union as we propose. We shall not attempt to reason with the Anti-Reformers, be- cause the virtues of our plan are, in their eyes, so many objec- tions ; and if we would conciliate them, we must at once take out of it all which gives it a claim to our consideration. Neither will we reason with the fears of timid Reformers, because we are sure that one month's experience will do more to convince them that lime plan is strictly conservative, than any argument in commen- dation of it that we can employ. There are, however, two objec- tions that we must endeavour to obviate :
I. 1Ve shall be told that, according to the laws against affiliated and corresponding societies, the plan cannot be carried into eact :
2. That its basis is too narrow, inasmuch as, deducting all the Anti-Retbrmers on the one hand, and all the Anti-Unionists emeng the Reformers on the other, there will not remain in the country at large a sufficient number out of which to perfect it. To the first objection—which is the more formidable, we answer, that we have foreseen, and we think sufficiently provided against it. That the Parochial Unions are perfectly legal, no one can doubt ; the only question is, do the Committees come under the letter of the prohibitory law ? We say, no. The Parochial Unions, be it observed, will not nominate delegates to the District Com-
mittees, nor will these to the Provincial, nor the Provincial to the metropolitan. The District Committee will be foamed of Chair- men of the Parochial Unions ; but the chairmanship will be merely a qualification. The District Committee will be nominally as independent of the Parochial Unions lof whose Chairmen it is made up, as each of them is of the rest. There is tiler:fare no rinciple of affiliation in such societies. Again, of their. cor- Pespondence—the Metropolitan Committee will not- address
Since the above was committed to paper, it has been announced that a Metropolitan General Union is about to be formed; for which purpose, a meeting is to he held at the Crown and Anchor on Monday, when Sir FRANCIS BURDETT is to preside. We hope the meeting will see the necessity of adopting sonic such plan as the above. A Union comprehending, or pretending to comprehend, the Reformers of one-tenth part of London, is a practical absurdity; i and if it were formed, the magnitude of the mass would make it impossible to be moved.
other Unions similarly constituted ; it will address the electors of the empire,—which any man or set of men may lawfully do; the Provincial Committees will address the electors of the county ; the District Committees the electors of the district ; the Parochial Unions those of the parish. And all these several addresses, those of the Parochial Unions excepted, will be no more than so many printed circulars, such as without challenge or impropriety it is competent for any man or set of men to make. When we take into consideration that the grand object of uniting is the maintenance of the law—that the means of effecting this will be open to the inspection of all men, for a nation can have no secrets—above all, when we consider that the Union will not in- clude a small fraction of the property and respectability of the empire, but almost if not altogether the whole of it, —the idea of illegality vanishes.
To the next objection—that the basis of the Union is not wide enough, we answer, wherever this is found to be the case, let it be extended, so as to include all the householders of the parish as well as the actual electors. We do not say that in every case this might not be desirable, for it would give to the householders at large an interest in a system where their influence was felt though their votes were not.
A good deal has been said lately about forming a National Guard. We shall not pronounce decidedly on the necessity of
such a force,—though, if the Bill be long delayed, or if any foolish attempt be made to tamper with its essentials, we shall very likely be driven, in self-defence, to its adoption. Ali we would press on
the public at the present moment is this—that the scheme of a National Union offers all that is essential to a National Guard, except the arms, which Government, when it pleases, can bestow.