3 APRIL 1847, Page 1


THE novelty of the parliament is Lord Morpeth's Sana-

tory Reform Bill. It proposes to establish a central Commission, to be called the Board of Health and Public Works; consisting of three paid Commissioners, a member of the Government, unpaid, and the First Commissioner of Woods and Forests. Powers will be conferred on the Town-Councils, where there are Town-Councils; and where there are none, bodies of somewhat similar constitution will be created for the purposes of the act. By means of such - machinery, drainage, the constant supply of water, and other things necessary. to the health of the community, will be enforced. On a general view the measure appears to be excellent. The plan of granting extraordinary powers to private companies for public purposes has not quite succeeded in parish affairs : water companies, for instance, take large privileges, but do not make a due return in the way of copious, unintermitting, and unadulterated supplies of water. You are at their mercy ; you cannot go elsewhere ; the consumption of their wares depends _very partially on commercial principles, so that the consumer - has very little influence with them : they exact their rates as peremptorily as the Crown its taxes ; and they give you, too often, an intermitting supply of nasty and unwholesome water, more interesting to the entomologist than agreeable to the thirsty. The prospect of being rescued from dependence on these bodies with public functions and private interests is not unwel- come. The very largeness of the measure, however, is a ground of alarm, lest 11/inisters should lack the courage or strength to carry it. Lord Lincoln—assuming a position that exposes him to unfavourable constructions—forebodes resistance from the Me- tropolis ; and no sooner is the scheme promulgated than there is a talk of adverse "interests." All improvement supersedes some interest"—that which is vested in the machinery used for the unimproved process ; but it so happens that the " interests " involved in the operation of this bill are those connected with parish administration, closely allied to active parish lawyers, and therefore to election-mongers. We observe that the very soundof Lord Morpeth's bill causes dismay to some Members who desire to keep up appearances in the way of " Reform," but stand in fear of some local " interest " which is vested in the shrimp-soup supplied for water or in bad scavenging, or which swells its im- portance by- administering the patronage belonging to Commis- sionerships of Sewers. It will take all Lord Morpeth's genuine earnestness to counteract the habitual servility of his party to these influences.

The progress of the question, however, has been of a kind to animate and reassure the working social reformer. Tardy as it has been absolutely, it has been comparatively rapid. It is only sixteen years ago since Dr. Southwood Smith first advocated a sanatory measure in his treatise on fever, only ten since Mr. Chadwick brinight the machinery of the Poor-law Commission to bear on the investigation; and if it has required incessant labour and many sacrifices, the benevolent physiologist has succeeded so well that whfit was simply the thought of his brain sixteen years ago, is now the vaunted project of both "the two great parties in the 'state." It is much, in spite of every loss, to have the honour of prescribing for a nation ; much for a nation to possess men who can unite this breadth of icientific view with the force of character to give to their conceptions substance and practical working.

In the further discussion of Mr. Maule's scheme of limited en- listment for the Army, a question has been much mooted, with- out the slightest advance to a solution : does the Duke of Wel- [LATEST EDITION.]

lington give the scheme his sanction, or not? Ministers decline to say, professing to stand upon a punctilio as to confidential coun- sel to the Sovereign : their antagonists retort that they dare not say, because they would have to confess the Field-Marshal's dis- approval : the Duke himself is silent ; but that proves nothing in a man whose actions are so precise and predetermined : thus the question is not to be solved. Meanwhile, the opposition is hesi- tating, feeble,. and unsuccessful. The new Irish Poor-law has succeeded in passing through the Committee improved rather than weakened. Divers Members, acting in a good faith that befits the occasion, have suggested real amendments ; which Ministers have as frankly adopted. Mr. Poulett Scrope tried to enlarge the scope of the measure; but could not wean the House of Commons from its implicit reliance on• the responsible Ministers. Mr. Smith O'Brien tried to extend the incidence of the burden, so as to ease the landlords without taking money from the poor ; but he did not persuade the House that his alterations would make the bill more effectual. Lord George Bentinck tried to exonerate the landlord altogether, at the expense of the occupier; a notion which the House scouted. - In the course of these discussions, Lord George inflicted the most damaging blow that he has yet dealt on himself: he proposed to substitute for the temporary modes of relief four hun- dred new workhouses, which he said would save four millions sterling per annum ; and in advocating his new arithmetical juggle, he roundly accused Ministers of concealing, if they did not deliberately promote, the mortality in Ireland. This extra- vagant sally of vulgar eloquence was quietly rebuked by Mr. Labouchere. It would have amused the House more if it had been less disgusting. We owe it to Lord Brougham to notice that he has repudiated the inference which seemed to lurk in an imperfect report of his words and has declared that he retains his old opinions as to the abolition of arrest for debt. We are glad to find that the infer- ence was a total mistake on our part ; so glad, that we have no heart to complain of the somewhat redundant warmth of his denial. The Count of Montemolin's Minister ad interim, Mr. Peter Borthwick, has had an interesting conversation with Queen Vic- toria's Minister, Lord Palmerston, on Spanish affairs. Mr. Borth- wick proclaims that when Don Carlos Luis shall ascend the throne, he will govern his beloved people with impartiality and clemency. " Restored" Sovereigns are not apt to keep promises of the kind; but in the present instance, Spaniards will observe that they have Mr. Borthwick's guarantee. Lord Palmerston highly applauds the Count's mild manner of keeping up civil war, but hints that perhaps civil war is in itself objectionable hinting so politely, however, as not to preclude any future good understanding between the two colloquists, Queen Victoria's Secretary and the Count's Prime Minister.