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to lower that of counties to the same standard ; to
l; transfer fifteen seats, but not to disfranchise any constituency wholly; and to extend the suffrage in boroughs by educational, lodger, savings bank, and other "fancy franchises." The fate of this measure is well known. Lord John Russell carried a factious resolution, which prevented a discussion of the Bill on its own merits on the second reading, and caused another general election. The great objection, however, to the Conservative Reform Bill, was its stopping short at the £10 franchise ; its fixing that as the lowest standard of an occupation franchise, and reducing the counties to the same standard, with the idea of making the Bill a final and permanent settlement, so far as mere occupation and the privilege of voting were connected. And nothing proves the salutary precaution of fixing that as the lowest standard, better than the hostility kindled thereby among the various democratic factions. Mr. John Bright himself admitted that such a plan would oppose an infinitely stronger barrier to future democratic innovations than a £5 or £6 borough franchise. And as all Reform bills are merely regarded in the light of instalments, such, at all events, as come short of Complete Suffrage or Chartism, is it to be wondered at, that the idea of fixing the occupation franchise at £10, and never again tampering with it, excited the irrepressible wrath of all those, who had for years looked forward to universal or manhood suffrage, the ballot, electoral districts, triennial or annual parliaments, and the payment of representatives, as to the only panacea for popular grievances in this kingdom?
Having thus committed themselves to Democracy in civil matters by leading on the Radicals against Lord Derby's Reform Bill, the Whigs began to drift before the same gale on ecclesiastical questions also. It was in 1859 that Sir J. Trelawny's Bill achieved its greatest success, the second reading being carried by no less than seventy-four votes, in a House of 410 members. On this occasion, Lord Palmerston acted as he had done since 1856–he abstained from voting; and Lord John Russell followed the example, but for the first time. By the time of the general election, however, Lord John Russell's lifelong convictions on church-rates, all his emphatic and repeated protests against unconditional abolition, had vanished before the chance of a new coalition with Dissent and Democracy, and a return to power. It was on the City hustings that he first threw overboard the Jonah of church-rates. This was the form of his recantation :-"Being of opinion that the maintenance of the present law is not good for the country, that it produces much heartburning, that in the view of Dissenters it is objectionable on the ground of conscience, and that they have a dislike to the payment of these rates, I am of opinion that, providing means can be found for such voluntary collections as may be useful, churchrates ought to be abolished altogether.” But in the county of Huntingdon his renegadism was more rampant, and more shameless. “A gentleman,” he exclaimed, “ seemed to be of opinion that I am not in favour of abolition of church-rates. I tell you I am.” Surely the gentleman's mistake was a pardonable one after the emphatic protestations of Lord John to the contrary, not only in 1836, 1853, and 1854, but only the year before, in 1858. The case of Lord John was that of the apostle, whose speech bewrayed him, and whose denial stood in need of cursing and swearing, and then could hardly gain credence. The Willis's Rooms Compact, indeed, proved fatal to church-rates. There at length an alliance had been patched up between all the sections of Liberalism. The mighty rivals, Lord Palmerston and Lord John Russell, were reconciled to each other, and to the Democrats, whilst the latter in turn-Mr. Bright, Mr. Cobden, Mr. Baines, Mr. Berkeley, &c.-were for the moment conciliated by the promise that the next Liberal Ministry should be constructed on a much wider basis, so as to make room for a fair quota of aspiring Democrats. Two other sops were thrown out to the Cerberus of Democracy—the pledge of a Reform Bill, which should satisfy its greedy maw, and the surrender of church-rates—another instance of that indissoluble union existing between democratic encroachments in State and in Church. When, therefore, Sir J. Trelawny re-introduced his Abolition Bill in the second session of 1859, and immediately subsequent to the accession of Lord Palmerston's Ministry, not only Lord Palmerston and Lord John Russell, but the Cabinet as a whole, deserted the Church, and gave to Sir J. Trelawny their unconditional support. To Lord Palmerston's Ministry, therefore, appertains the sole honour and credit of having been the first and the only Ministry in its corporate capacity, to abandon church-rates unconditionally and totally, and thus, according to Lord John Russell himself, to compromise not only the principle and position of the Established Church, but the safety and stability of the aristocracy and monarchy as well.
In justice to themselves, I cannot refrain from laying before my readers the reasons alleged in justification of such perfidy by the principals in the act. Lord Palmerston said, “I think I have never before voted for a Bill of this description" (Sir J. Trelawny's); but “I shall give my deliberate vote
in support of the Bill before the House. If it had been possible to continue that system, under which that object (maintenance of churches) is accomplished by a rate, I should have preferred that that system should be adhered to, but I cannot set my individual preferences against the force of public opinion.” Sir G. C. Lewis said :—“As it seems true that in attempting to maintain the existing system of church-rates, we shall only be continuing a fruitless struggle, I am prepared to give my vote for the second reading of the Bill.” Lord John Russell said
- -“ The right honourable gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) says, that if we maintain that church-rates are utterly unjust and intolerable, we shall be justified in voting for the second reading of the present Bill. I make no such assertion, nor do I understand that my noble friend (Lord Palmerston) has made any such assertion. I do not think there is injustice in church-rates. We say, looking at the state of public feeling out of doors, and looking at the feeling of this House, that it will be better and safer for the Church to rely upon the voluntary offerings of the people, than to continue a compulsory rate, which is disliked by almost all classes of the community.” But what is public opinion and public feeling? Contrast this theory of public opinion on church-rates as measured by the division