Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/323

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The years 1830-32 were full of political trouble; men's minds were unsettled; progress was the order of the day, and a reform in the election of the members who represented or who were supposed to represent the political opinions of the English constituencies was not only loudly called for, but had (as we have seen) for a very long time past been imperatively demanded. The question was shelved from time to time, but sooner or later it must be settled, and as Liberals and Conservatives alike will be amused and astounded at the state of English parliamentary representation half a century ago, we propose just to glance at matters as they existed in 1830.

The Marquis of Blandford was a somewhat notable character in those days. He had been a violent opponent of the Catholic Relief Bill; but from the moment that measure was carried had become as fiery and reckless a reformer.[1] On the 18th of February, 1830, he proposed that a committee should be chosen by ballot to take a review of all boroughs and cities in the kingdom, and report to the Secretary of State for the Home Department those among them which had fallen into decay, or had in any manner forfeited their right to representation on the principles of the English constitution as anciently recognised by national and parliamentary usage. The Home Secretary was to be bound immedi-

  1. These political changes, as we shall presently see, are by no means uncommon. William Cobbett, for instance, in 1801 supported the principles of Pitt, but in 1805, from a "Church and King" man, he became and continued an ardent liberal.