3 FEBRUARY 1866, Page 15



SIR,—You have been lately attacking a good deal the democrats or, as you call them, the advocates of the rule of "mere num- bers." While agreeing with you partly in your principles and in some of your objections to their present tactics, I must ask leave to say a few words in opposition to your favourite anti-demo- cratic scheme of Liberal voting. If, as you in common with all Liberals believe, the working classes, and indeed the whole com- munity, do grow better, and yet more if a reformed Parliament will be likely to spread education further and (to use the social slang on the subject) "lower," why introduce a scheme which must presuppose that some classes of the community will always be below a certain point of intelligence and education? For if there were any chance of their rising to a sufficient point of edu- cation to be entrusted with the full rights of citizens, what would become of the extra votes that implied their inferiority ? I confess to feeling very jealous of any intellectual aristocracy that has to be supported by special political machinery. It seems to me that the object of political machinery is to give free play to all opinions, free representation to all interests, but not to give preponderances to any.t History, it seems to me, is in the teeth of your theories, from the time when Pericles was the ruler of Athens by the mere force of genius, to the time when Cobden carried the Repeal of the Corn Laws in the face of the power of the monopolists. The latter is perhaps as striking an instance in point as you could find ; with- out the Reform Bill, Cobden's theories would never perhaps have + [Such is precisely our own Tie I!, WA it has been repeatedly ezpresseit—Eo. Bputator.] had a fair hearing, but the Reform Bill left the Protectionists in a majority, and it was by the force of facts and arguments, not of political machinery, that he carried the day. That we should have some educational test seems very desirable, but it should be one that all working men should be able by a little self-sacrifice and industry to take. Any scheme which would keep men below a cer- tain point of ignorance now, in a minority for ever, seems to be to mark that "distrust of th3 people" which our great leader has described as the mark of Toryism. Mr. Mill himself has said, in the very book in which he advocates his scheme, that "a man who has a conviction is in social power worth ten who have only inter- ests," and these convictions will triumph not by, but in spite of,

political arrangements.—Yours faithfully, Joss Bum..