"ONCE IN THE Hace-YEAR."—These words, in the last copy of
the Reform Bill, have produced a wonderful sensation in the country and in the newspapers of the week. Some of the Reformers have been weeping from grief, the Anti-Reformers from joy ; the more blunt friends of the Ministry could tind DO better excuse than ignorance, or the treachery of scene false friend, who had got hold of the Bill, and sought to mar its purpose ; and the courtly were not without obvious misgivings while they boldly proclaimed the whole affair to be no MOPE than a verbal error. The paragraph which has made so great a noise appears in the shape of a proviso to the 21st clause. It runs thus- " Provided always, that no tenant so occupying such premises as aforesaid at a yearly rent of nut less than ten pounds, shall by reason thereof acquire a vote in the election for any city or borough, if such rent shall be payable more frequently than once in every holfgeor. or if by any agreement cm contrivance, or by virtue of any local act of Parliament or otherwise, the landlord shall be liable to the payment of the rates for the relief of the poor in respect of such premises : Provided, never- theless, that where, by virtue of any local act of Parliament, the landlord shall be liable to the payment of such rates, it shall be lawful for any such tenant to claim to pay such rates, and upon his actually paying the same, to acquire the right of voting as if his landlord had not been so liable fur such rates."
It was obvious that such a proviso must go far to effect one of two thmgs,—either it would, in England, strike out from the list of electors nine-tenths of those to whom it was understood the franchise was meant to be extended ; or it would produce a complete alteration in the arrange- ments of landlord and tenant, and quarter-day would be quarter-day no more. Had Ministers been so monstrously stupid and wicked as their opponents supposed, the latter effect would doubtless have been produced, —that is, supposing the Bill to be carried with this clause unaltered, which, however, was impossible. But Ministers have no such intention. They intended only to secure real tenancy, and to exclude simulation. On Wednesday, Lord John Russell having been applied to by Mr. Wa- son, the member for Ipswich, for some explanation on the subject, re- turned the following answer :
" Whitehall, 29th June. " Sir—In answer to your letter respecting the clause in the Reform Bill which
requires the payment of rent half-yearly, I have to assure you. that the only object In view was to secure a yearly tenancy of a I0/. house, according to the term ' yearly rent' in the original Bill. When the Bill gOl'A hitt) Committee, I shall propose such an amendment of the clause as shall he found to defeat the evasion of the original clause, and at the same time correct the error of the present wording. • j remain your obedient servant, J. RUSSELL. " To W. Rigby Wason, Esq. M.P." This settles the question, so far as the Ministers are concerned.
The feeling in the country—for the feeling in town has been infinitely less intense, probably because the faith of the public in the good inten- tions of Government was stronger—may be estimated by the following extract of a letter from Manchester, which appeared in yesterday's ?Imes.
"Tens of thousands, who hoped in a few months to be freely exercising the elec- tive right, will, if that excluding provision be not itself excluded, become fierce andenergetic opposers of the Bill. I heard one gentleman say to-day—' I have felt It my duty to exercise all my influence in every quarter to make the people, even those of them who were not to have votes, satisfied with the Bill; but if this'arbi- trary provision be allowed to remain, I shall equally feel it my duty to become an active agitator against it. What ! shall it be left to the owner of the hoosd I rent, to sag whether I shall er shall aottave a 'cacti The cry here has been' thcBUI, And nothing less than the Bill,' and the leading Reformers bad satisfied the tower classes, notwithstanding Hunt's efforts to make them dissatisfied, by pled; ng them - selves, that if the Bill was rendered in any degree leAs popular Man as at lint live- posed, they would come forward and protest against such change. In fulliiment of their pledge they have determined on calling a public meeting, and it is probable that their protest will be in the House of Commons before the second reading of the Bill."
This was on Tuesday: a second nete, dated Wednesday, adds-
" The whole town is lit a ferment. The Ultra.Reforiners are exclaiming, that the exclusion is a scheme cunningly devised by the Whigs to render the Reform mea-
sure useless; Moderate Reformers are regretting. that upon imperfect consideration or false information Ministers should have permitted a clause to be inserted which nmst, to a certainty, be withdrawn ; and the Tories :ire taunting the Mb-rats gene-
rally with the result of their cry for 'the Bill, and nothing but the Bill.' A party of wealthy and Mfluential individuals are !tow in conference with the Borong,hreeve; determined that, if he will not call a meeting in the Town•hall, one shall be held to-. morrow in the Manor Court Room."
We would draw just one moral from all this, and we wish the °ppm,. nents of Reform to lay it to heart. If this one little word,—which,, much as it would have injured, could not defeat the Bill, for, as we-
have said, an arrangement with the landlord would have cured it, even- had Ministers withheld the ready remedy,—if this one little word have- excited such a tempest, what would be the result of throwing oust the Bill altogether ? We need not dwell on this consideration—members of Parliament will understand its force..