9 APRIL 1836, Page 12


THE wrath of the Tories at the appointments of Magistrates under the Municipal Act, proves the high value they set on a partisan bench of Justices as an instrument of political influence. They take it for granted—judging of others by themselves—that the Magistrates selected by the Councils and approved of by the Home Secretary, will become active agents in Government jobbing —the ready tools of the Whig Minister. They recollect what constant and effectual support the old system of government derived from the Magistracy; and they have every-day experience of the help which a Tory bench can afford to them even in their hllen estate of factious Opposition. It is therefore natural that they should behold the recent appointments with both rage and fear. These passions, however, blind them to one obvious consolation the People's Magistrates (for those now appointed will in effect be responsible to the People) are in little danger of cora

mitting the enormities which were safely practised by men who, as Lord ELDON said, might do almost any thing, provided they gave no reason for their acts.

The Tories appear not to take this consolatory view of the recent changes. By their furious attacks on Lord JOHN RUSSELL,

they have betrayed to the Reformers their sense of the extent of the service which that nobleman has rendered to the cause of good local government ; and in this way they have materially contributed to strengthen an Administration which is stable or weak in proportion as it gives satisfaction or umbrage to the Liberals.

The hypocrisy of the pretence upon which Lord JOHN RUSSELL was assailed—namely, an anxious regard for the impartial administration of justice—was exposed by Mr. ROEBUCK in his cutting reply to Sir ROBERT PEEL last week ; and the discussion which has since been carried on in the newspapers on the subject of the Bristol appointments will go far to satisfy Reformers that Lord JOHN exercised a sound discretion in striking the names of certain Tories out of the Bristol Council's list. It is clear that the real claim of Alderman DANIEL and his five rejected companions was their rank Toryism, and former services, not in the administration of justice—not in preserving the peace and good order of the city—but in all the work of electioneering corruption. Apart, however, from the objectionable nature of their politics, and their notorious implication in the profligate system of mismanaging the corporate property so as to ruin the trade of Bristol, the excluded nominees of the Town-Council appear to be in most cases incapacitated from the discharge of active duties, by age or other infirmity. Mr. BARNETT EINGTON, Secretary to the Bristol Reform Association, (in a letter which we did not receive in time for publication in last week's Spectator, but which has subsequently appeared in several journals,) gives the following account of these gentlemen, whose rejection is the pretence for so loud a Tory wail.

" And first, as regards Mr. Ex-Alderman Daniel. When his party chose

to elect him Mayor as a compliment, well knowing that his advanced age would not permit him serving, he declined in the following terms—' I am reluctantly compelled to forego the honour conferred by an office the arduous duties of which I could not at this late period of my life hope to perform either to the advantage of the community or to the satisfaction of my own feelings.' On the election petition against the return of Sir Richard Vyvyan in the year l832, on which occasion Mr. Daniel was examined as a witness, the memory

of Mr. Daniel was so defective as to acts done in his presence, that Sir Richard's counsel, Mr. Harrison, felt it necessary to put Mr. Daniel's advanced age in evidence as an excuse.

" Another rejected nominee, Mr. Walker, on being recently cativa.sed for his vote for an office in the gift of the Corporation, replied by the following note

. Sir—I am rather surprised at your troublito,' me with your circular, as you did nut by your vote think me a lit person to represent the Ward or St. MI:haul's. ' I am, &e. Fee. (Signed) C. L. WALKER. 'February 13, 1836. To Mr. T. Foster, Ste.'

" Three others belonged to that batch of Magistrates who, after suffering the military to leave the city on the Sunday of the riots of 1631, and at the time the place was at the mercy of a band of thieves, kept a body of citizens who had assembled to assist them waiting for several hours, on the plea that they were privately engaged in reading letters of advice, and then suggested by the Town. Clerk that the parties assembled should go home to dinner while the deliberating conclave were making up their minds what to do. Of the conduct of these Magistrates on the Monday mourning after the termination of the active rioting, Major Beckwith gave the following evidence—' I requested that one or two Magistrates would accompany me on horseback, and I promised presently to restore order : they all refused to do so, upon which I put the same question to them individually; they all refused. One stated that it vrould make him unpopular, another that it would cause his shipping to be destroyed, another his property ; in short, they all refused. They also informed hie, that none of them knew how to ride on horseback, except one gentleman ; and they pointed to the tall Mr. Alderman Hilhouse. Mr. Hilhouse said that he had not been on horseback for eighteen years ; and he also remarked, that be would hold any body responsible who said a second time that he could ride. "f lie ' tall Mr. Hilhouse is among the rejected."

Mr. HiLtiousE has written a letter to the Standard, referring to a declaration of Sir THOPJAS DENMAN on the trial of the Mayor of' Bristol, to the effect that Major BECKWITH admitted himself mistaken as to the person who used the "particular expressions" imputed to Mr. HiLnousE. So it would appear, that Mr. IliaHouse lacked the excuse for neglect of duty which his brother Magistrates took advantage of—he could ride, but refused to mount his horse : certainly this does not better his claim to be retained in the list of Justices of the Peace under a reformed system. The conduct of the Bristol Corporate Magistrates during the riots in 1831, is sufficient of' itself to stamp the whole body with discredit; but it is not merely on account of their cowardice and selfishness on that occasion that we think Lord JOHN RUSSELL 1, acted discreetly in rejecting the unhappy six. The mismanagement of the public property by the late Bristol Corporation, as the Morning Chronicle reminds us this week, was notorious and excessive. They drove away the foreign trade of the port by the imposition of local dues three times as heavy as the corresponding charges in Gloucester and Hull, and nearly double those of Liverpool and London. The funds left for charitable purposes were perverted to electioneering ends, and a system of corruption was organized which rendered Bristol one of the most demoralized places in England. The Poor-rates were raised 50 per cent, beyond the average of the rest of the country, and none flourished in Bristol except gormandizing Aldermen and their " tail." All this mismanagement and depravity prevailed during the ascendancy of Mr. Alderman DANIEL and his friends, whom the Tories are endeavouring to set up as models of purity and patriotism. Had Lord JOHN RUSSELL consented to ratify the choice of the Council, he would have been justly chargeable with delinquency. As we mentioned last week, the Tory majority ma the Bristol Council was wrongfully obtained ; and if the wishes of the reputable inhabitants were to have weight with his Majesty's Government, it was incumbent on the Home Secretary to weed the list of Justices sent up to him. Sir ROBERT PEEL and Sir RICHARD VYVYAN were led into several false statements in the debate on the Municipal Magis tracy. Mr. KINGTON positively denies that the Tories and Libe

rals entered into an agreement, which it is said the latter prevailed on Lord JOHN RUSSELL to violate, for the selection of twelve men from each party. The fact is, that divisions took place on four names, and three Liberals of unexceptionable character and qualifications were rejected by the Tory majority of the Council. Moreover, if there had been any such agreement, it was violated by the Tory party ; for, says Mr. KtrsccroN,

" it has leaked out here, that the Tory pally has done all it could to obtain the exclusion of two Liberal names from the list ; one of them placed at the head of the poll by the largest and most important ward in the borough, and unanimously approved of by the Council; the other a gentleman of high scientific attainment, and the energy of whose character is the sure guarantee of an active discharge of the duties of the office by him. So much for the implied charge of the violation of faith !"

Here we may leave the Bristol ease, selected by the Opposition as that which offered them the best means of getting up a clamour against Ministers. It is not worth while to enter into the particulars of the Guildford. Rochester, and Wigaa cases. The general charge against Lord JOHN RUSSELL is, that he did not follow the recommendations of Tory Councils in the appointment of Magistrates, while he uniformly sanctioned the choice of the Liberals. But Lord JOHN never laid himself under any obligation to adopt implicitly the lists of the Council to the utter exclusion of his own judgment. The Tories were resolved that the appointment of Magistrates should finally rest with the Crown—that the Home Secretary should me his discretion in their selection. Well, Lord JOHN RUSSELL has acted on the authority imposed upon him : he has in many instances altered the lists sent up to him by the Councils ; and now the Tories are in a fever of rage and disappointment that he did not exert his power for the promotion of Toryism and the disgust of the friends of Government. No, gentlemen—you were the persons w ho invested the Secretary of State with the authority which he has used to your annoy once and discomfiture"; and it is pleasant to see the consequences of your factious folly recoil upon yourselves. If, however, the Secretary of State had acted uniformly on the rule of accepting the Council nomination as final, would the defeated minority even then have been satisfied ? It is not to be believed: for on that principle there would have been scarcely a Tory on the bench in Leeds, Liverpool, or Norwich; whereas Lord JOHN, in clemency to the defeated, has sprinkled a few Tories among the Liberal majority in these and many other places. Strike a balance, and, unless our memory deceives us, the Tories have gained, ratite); than lost, by the exchange. Lord JOHN RUSSELL can have no great love of Tories ; but he is not quite so eager to mortify and prostrate them as the vast majority of the resident tax-paying population of our Municipal boroughs have recently proved themselves.

In making Magistrates, as in all other appointments, the first question for public bodies and individuals in authority to ask should be," is the candidate honest and capable ?" The next inquiry should embrace his presumed willingness to cooperate heartily with those into whose employment he wishes to enter. If he is hostile to the men or the party whom he ought to serve,—if his political opinions and conduct are such as to prevent confidential communication on the part of the Executive,—then, be he ever so honest and ever so capable, lie must be in a great degree disqualified for the occupancy of any office under Government. This should be the general rule in making appointments. Lord JOHN RUSSELL seems to have followed it in the case of the Municipal Justices; and for this reason he is assailed by men who would have ridiculed him as an imbecile if he had done otherwise.