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'rities as well as of majorities. Both these controversies are greatly affected by the transcendent fact of the existence of government by party, a subject which in its recent aspects will be shortly discussed by itself.
1. It is inevitable that, considering the enormously wide range of modern political interests, local and national, and the breadth and strength of political sentiments which at certain moments are capable of being roused into action throughout the country, the question should be always presenting itself afresh, as to whether a Member of the House of Commons can and ought to bind himself to reproduce the views of the bulk of his constituents with the literal faithfulness of a deputed delegate or ambassador; or whether, knowing the wishes and feelings of his constituents, and finding them to be in general harmony, and on leading topics even coincident, with his own, he is entitled or bound to approach the task of legislation with a mind and conscience wholly unembarrassed by previous promises, and to revert in thought to that special section of the community which has elected him so far only as he believes the opinions and feelings of that section to be of such weight that they ought not to be left out of accouut in ascertaining and giving effect to the determinations of the general national will.
Nevertheless, the line is so fine between an allegation of opinion bearing on future measures and a distinct promise to act in accordance with that opinion when legislation becomes imminent, that so long as personal relationships continue to connect a Member with a definite section of the population—a principle of the English Constitution which seems likely to last for
some time to come—a Member who votes on an important topic in contravention either of the opinions he was believed to hold at the time of his election, or of the predictions of his action which he held out to his constituents, will be held liable to discredit unless he returns his trust into their hands. Perhaps the earliest, and certainly the most discriminating and philosophic, attempt to exhibit in a systematic shape the kind of reconciliation that ought to be effected between the relations of a Member to his constituents and his relations to the country at large, if the true genius of the English Constitution is to be strictly conformed to, is found in Mr. Burke's speech at Bristol in 1774, already alluded to. 'Certainly,
* gentlemen,' says Mr. Burke, 'it ought to be the hap'piness and glory of a representative to live in the 'strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the 'most unreserved communication with his constituents. 'Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; 'their opinion high respect; their business unremitted 'attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his 'pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and, above all, 'ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his
• own. But, his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, 'his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to 'you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he 'does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law 'and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, 'for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your 'representative owes you, not his industry only, but his 'judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if 'he sacrifices it to your opinion. My worthy colleague 'says, his will ought to be subservient to yours. If that Burke on the Duty of a Member. 51
* be all, the thing is innocent. If government were a 'matter of will upon any side, yours, without question, 'ought to be superior. But government and legisla'tion are matters of reason and judgment, and not of 'inclination; and what sort of reason is that, in which 'the determination precedes the discussion; in which 'one set of men deliberate, and another decide; and
* where those who form the conclusion are perhaps three 'hundred miles distant from those who hear the argu'ments? To deliver an opinion is the right of all men; 'that of constituents is a weighty and respectable 'opinion, which a representative ought always to rejoice 'to hear; and which he ought always most sincerely to 'consider. But authoritative instructions; mandates 'issued, which the member is bound blindly and im'plicitly to obey, to vote, and to argue for, though con'trary to the clearest conviction of his judgment and 'conscience; these are things utterly unknown to the 'laws of this land, and which arise from a fundamental 'mistake of the whole order and tenor of our Constitu'tion. Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors 'from different and hostile interests; which interests 'each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against 'other agents and advocates; but Parliament is a 'deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, 'that of the whole; where not local purposes, not local 'prejudices ought to guide, but the general good, 'resulting from the general reason of the whole. You 'choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen 'him, he is not member of Bristol, but he is a member 'of Parliament. If the local constituent should have 'an interest, or should form a hasty opinion, evidently 'opposite to the real good of the rest of the community, 'the member for that place ought to be as far as any 'other from any endeavour to give it effect.'1
It is clear that if once the extreme notion of delegacy and of the legitimacy of pledges given by candidates becomes prevalent, there are no bounds whatever to the amount of vulgar servility which may be the general consequence. Some very scrupulous candidates—like the late Mr. John Stuart Mill, in his candidature for Westminster—have shrunk even from taking the position of inviting election at the hands of the constituents on behalf of whom they allowed themselves to be put forward. They have held that no kind of personal obligation, even of the nature of gratitude for the conferring of a favour sought, ought to hamper the free action of an elected Member. Mr. Mill, indeed, took the amplest opportunity of acquainting the constituency with his opinions, and of answering questions addressed to him. There is little doubt that his freedom of speech, and his stern refusal to conform in the minutest degree with the known wishes of portions of the constituency, even in reference to indifferent topics, contributed much to his not being re-elected. The opinion held on the subject by Lord Macaulay, at the beginning of his political life, is so forcibly put in one of his lately published letters, that it is worth citing at full length.
'The practice of begging for votes is, as it seems to 'me, absurd, pernicious, and altogether at variance with 'the true principles of representative government. The 'suffrage of an elector ought not to be asked, or to be * given, as a personal favour. It is as much for the
1 Mr. Burke's ' Speech to the Electors of Bristol, on his being declared by the Sheriffs duly elected one of the representatives in Parliament for that city.'
Macaulay on Canvassing. 53
'interest of constituents to choose well, as it can be for 'the interest of a candidate to be chosen. To request
* an honest man to vote according to his conscience is 'superfluous. To request him to vote against his con'science is an insult. The practice of canvassing is 'quite reasonable under a system in which men are 'sent to Parliament to serve themselves. It is the 'height of absurdity under a system under which men 'are sent to Parliament to serve the public.
* While we had only a mock representation, it was 'natural enough that this practice should be carried to 'a great extent. I trust it will soon perish with the 'abuses from which it sprang. I trust that the great 'and intelligent body of people who have obtained the 'elective franchise will see that seats in the House of 'Commons ought not to be given, like rooms in an 'almshouse, to urgency of solicitation; and that a man 'who surrenders his vote to caresses and supplications 'forgets his duty as much as if he sold it for a bank'note. I hope to see the day when an Englishman 'will think it as great an affront to be courted and
* fawned upon in his capacity of elector as in his capa'city of juryman. He would be shocked at the thought 'of finding an unjust verdict because the plaintiff or
* the defendant had been very civil and pressing; and, 'if he would reflect, he would, I think, be equally 'shocked at the thought of voting for a candidate for 'whose public character he felt no esteem, merely 'because that candidate had called upon him, and 'begged very hard, and had shaken his hand very 'warmly. My conduct is before the electors of Leeds. 'My opinions shall on all occasions be stated to them 'with perfect frankness. If they approve that conduct,