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being the electors. —A man possessed of one thousand pounds per annum, or any other sum, arising from copyhold, leasehold for ninety-nine years, trade, property in the public funds, or even freehold in the city of London, and many other cities and towns having peculiar jurisdictions, is not thereby entitled to vote. Here again a strange distinction is taken between electing and representing, as a copyhold is a sufficient qualification to sit in your honourable. House. A man paying taxes to any amount, how great soever, for his domesticestablishment, does not thereby obtain a right to vote, unless his residence be in some borough where that right is vested in the inhabitants. This exception operates in sixty places, of which twenty-eight do not contain three hundred voters each, and the number of householders in England and Wales (exclusive of Scotland), who pay all taxes, is 714,911, and of householders who pay all taxes, but the house and window taxes, is 284,459, as appears by a return made to your honourable House in 1785; so that even supposing the sixty places above mentioned to contain, one with another, one thousand voters in each, there will remain 939,370 householders who have no voice in the representation, unless they have obtained it by accident or by purchase. Neither their contributions to the public burdens, their peaceable demeanour as good subjects, nor their general respectability and merits as useful citizens, afford them, as the law now stands, the smallest pretensions to participate in the choice of those, who, under the name of their representatives, may dispose of their fortunes and liberties. In Scotland, the grievance arising from the nature of the rights of voting, has a different and still more intolerable operation. In that great and populous division of the kingdom, not only the great mass of the householders, but of the landholders also, are excluded from all participation in the choice of representatives. By the remains of the feudal system in the counties, the vote is severed from the land, and attached to what is called the superiority. In other words, it is taken from the substance, and transferred to the shadow; because, though each of these superiorities must, with very few exceptions, arise from lands of the present annual value of four hundred pounds sterling, yet it is not necessary that the lands should do no more than give a name to the superiority, the possessor of which may retain the right of voting notwith
standing he be divested of the property.
And on the other hand, great landholders have the means afforded them by the same system, of adding to their influence, with
out expense to themselves, by communi
cating to their confidential friends the pri
vilege of electing members to serve in parliament. The process by which this ope
ration is performed is simple. He who wishes to increase the number of his dependent votes, surrenders his charter to the crown, and, parcelling out his estate into as many lots of four hundred pounds per annum, as may be convenient, conveys them to such as he can confide in. To these, new charters are, upon application, granted by the crown, so as to erect each of them into a superiority, which privilege once obtained, the land itself is reconveyed to the original granter; and thus the representatives of the landed interest in Scotland may be chosen by those who have no real or beneficial interest in the land. Such is the situation in which the counties of Scotland are placed. With respect to the burghs, every thing that bears even the semblance of popular choice, has long been done away. The election of members to serve in Parliament is vested in the magistrates and town councils, who, having by various innovations, constituted themselves into self elected bodies, instead of officers freely chosen by the inhabitants at large, have deprived the people of all participation in that privilege, the free exercise of which affords the only security they can possess for the protection of their liberties and property. Tlle fourth and last complaint †. Petitioners is the length of the duration of Parliament. Your honourable House knows, that by the ancient laws and statutes of this kingdom frequent parliaments ought to be held ; and that the sixth of William and Mary, c. 2. (since repealed) speaking while the spirit of the revolution was yet warm, declared, that “frequent and new parliaments tend very much to the happy union and good agreement between king and people; and enacted, that no parliament should last longer than three years. Your Petitioners, without presuming to add to such an authority by any observations of their own, humbly pray that parliaments may not be continued for seven
years. Your Petitioners have thus laid before you the specific ground of complaint,
from which they conceive every evil in the
representation to spring, and on which
they think every abuse and inconvenience
is founded. What those abuses are, and how great that inconvenience is, it becomes your Petitioners to state, as the best means of justifying their present application to your honourable House. Your Petitioners then affirm, that from the combined operation of the defects they have pointed out, arise those scenes of confusion, litigation, and expense, which so disgrace the name, and that extensive system of private patronage which is so repugnant to the spirit of free representation. Your Petitioners entreat of your honourable House to consider the manner in which elections are conducted, and to reflect upon the extreme inconvenience to which electors are exposed, and the intolerable expense to which candidates are subjected. Your honourable House knows that tumults, disorders, outrages, and perjury, are too often the dreadful attendants on contested elections, as at this time carried on. Your honourable House knows that polls are only taken in one fixed place for each county, city, and borough, whether the number of voters be ten or ten thousand, and whether they be resident or dispersed over England. Your honourable House knows that polls, however few the electors, may by law be continued for fifteen days, and even then he subjected to a scrutiny. Your honourable House knows that the management and conduct of polls is committed to returning officers, who, from the very nature of the proceedings, must be invested with extensive and discretionary powers, and who, it appears by every volume of your journals, have but too often exercised those powers with the most gross partiality, and the most scandalous corruption. Of elections, arranged with such little regard to the accommodation of the parties, acknowledged to require such a length of time to complete, and trusted to the superintendence of such suspicious agents, your Petitioners might easily draw out a detail of the expense. But it is unnecessary. The fact is too notorious to require proof, that scarce an instance can be produced where a member has obtained a disputed seat in parliament at a less cost than from two to five thousand pounds; particular cases are not wanting where ten times these sums have been paid; but it is sufficient for your Petitioners to affirm, and to be able to prove it if denied, that such is the expense of a contested return, that he who should become a candidate with even greater funds than the laws
require him to swear to as his qualification to sit in your honourable House, must either relinquish his pretensions on the appearance of opposition, or so reduce his sortune in the contest, that he could not take his seat without perjury. The revision of the original polls before the committees of your honourable House, upon appeals from the decisions of the returning officers, affords a fresh source of vexation and expense to all parties. Your honourable House knows, that the complicated rights of voting, and the shameful practices which disgrace election proceedings, have so loaded your table with Petitions for judgment and redress, that one half of the usual duration of a parliament has scarcely been sufficient to settle who is entitled to sit for the other half; and it was not till within the last two months that your honourable House had an opportunity of discovering, that the two gentlemen, who sat and voted near three years as the representatives of the borough of Stockbridge, had procured themselves to be elected by the most scandalous bribery; and that the two gentlemen, who sat and voted during as long a period for the borough of Great Grimsby, had not been elected at all. In truth, all the mischiess of the present system of representation are ascertained by the difficulties which even the zeal and wisdom of your honourable House experience in attending to the variety of complaints brought before you. Though your committee sit five hours every day from the time of their appointment, they generally are unable to come to a decision in less than a fortuight, and very frequently are detained from thirty to forty days. The Westminster case in 1789, will even furnish your honourable House with an instance, where, after deliberating sorty-five days, a committee gravely resolved, that, “From an attentive consideration of the circumstances relating to the cause, a final decision of the business before them could not take place in the course of the session, and that not improbably the whole of the parliament” (having at that time near two years longer to sit) “might be consumed in a tedious and expensivelitigation;” and they recommended it to the Petitioners to withdraw their Petition, which, after a fruitless perseverance of above three months, they were actually obliged to submit to. Your Petitioners will only upon this subject farther add, that the expense to each of the parties who have been either plaintiff or defendant in yardet, with two battalions of the 61st, stopped the enemy's pursuit, and caused the Russians to repass the ravine, who had crossed it in pursuing the battalion of the 108th.--Whilst these things were passing on the right, I gave orders to General Frederick, who defended the debouche of the great road with much vigour, to cause one battalion of the 108th and some companies of the 85th, to pass the defile and charge the enemy's cannon. This movement, which was executed with great precision, and directed by Colonel Achard, of the 108th regiment, had a great effect on the motions of the enemy's left, which found itself obliged to make a retrograde movement. The battalion commanded by Colonel Achard had taken prisoners one of the enemy's battalions, but which was afterwards delivered. The Colonel was wounded by a ball across his arm, and could not sustain himself on the heights which he had occupied. The enemy had caused a considerable body to advance, formed in a close column, again to undertake forcing the defile of the bridge. This found itself in the direction of the Chef D'Escadron Polmey, who had stopped it by a very lively fire, and caused it to sustain a great loss. The enemy's number in dead, which at this point was very considerable, was thereby doubled. The action was continued with great heat on both sides, and with a great inferiority on our side. The other troops were in reserve on our right, where it was to be presumed that the enemy would bring forward his force, and more especially his numerous cavalry. Towards six o'clock in the evening all my reconnoitring parties on the right not having seen the enemy, the troops which had been there kept in reserve, and in particular the 111th, were directed to take the great road. General Frederick received orders to renew his attack. A battalion of the 35th, which since evening had been placed at the extremity of the right wing, and one of the 61st, attacked the left of the enemy. The two attacks were attended with success. The enemy drew back his artillery, and his troops followed the movement at all points. The 111th regiment and the 61st of the 5th division, led by General Compans, were charged to pursue the enemy as far as Novosieleke; the night put an end to the pursuit at this place. I owe the greatest eulogiums to the conduct of the troops, and particularly to that of the 85th regiment. Not one soldier ever quitted his post to con
duct the wounded, and both the young soldiers and the old ones have shewn the greatest valour. The ancient soldiers have given their youthful comrades the honourable testimonial of not having any conscripts more in their regiments. The loss of the enemy has been great. They left more than 1,200 dead on the field of battle, exclusive of leaving 4,000 wounded, 7 or 800 of whom have remained in our hands. Our loss, according to the state of the corps, amounts to 900 men killed, wounded, and made prisoners. I reiterate the eulogies . which I owe to the conduct of General Frederick, to all the Officers of the General Staff, who have paid well in their persons. One of them, Aid-de-Camp to General Haxo, was killed. I take advantage of this occasion to beg your Highness would request his Majesty to grant recompenses to several of them, and herewith join the state of them to that of the officers, sub-officers, and privates of the 4th and 5th divisions, who have merited to be cited with distinction. I solicit your Highness to lay these statements before his Majesty, and to request his favour in their behalf. I am, &c. &c.
The MARshal PR ince D'Eckmuhl.
Report of the General Staff of the Austrian Army.
The enemy, forced into the defile of Kasibrad, marched the whole of the night, between the 10th and 11th, towards Horodetzka; he was joined on his retreat by the troops which he had drawn from Kobryn, . as likewise by the detachment of Knorring, and after having passed the defile of Horo
detska, he placed himself on the heights
beyond that place. The right flank and the front of this position were covered by a morass, which was impassable for more than a thousand paces in breadth, and left only two points open to get at the enemy; that is the dike, which at Horodetzka forms the post road. This post is near to that of Podubno, its left touched this last village, and he had cut up, by his artillery, the entrance. to the two defiles. On the 11th I marched to Horodetzka, and occupied the head of the defile: the 7th corps, reinforced by two regiments of cavalry and two batteries upon Czaba. They reconnoitred the enemy. The reports of prisoners and deserters state their force at 50,000. They certainly were at least 35,000, with 60 pieces of cannon. Tormasow commanded in person. General Regnier, who was
charged with reconnoitring the left of the enemy, found that they had neglected to occupy Podubno, and that their left wing was content with observing a wood through which the road passes from Szewszen to Kobryn, in place of leaning upon that town. He made haste in taking advantage of this double fault, in taking possession of Podubno, with a division of chasseurs; and it was agreed between us, that he should debouch with the 7th corps, and reinforcements which I had assigned him, by the wood to attack and turn the enemy's left, whilst I should support his movements by feigned attacks upon Horodetzka and Podubno. At the same time, Sieginthal's division, previously detached to Malitz, leaving a battalion and some cavalry to observe that part, to protect our rear, and conceal our march from the enemy, rejoined the corps d'armée, and was placed in reserve of the 7th near Szabra. On the 12th, we remarked at break of day, that the enemy, from whom none of our movements could be concealed, because they occupied the commanding heights, had placed the greater part of their forces opposite the debouche of Podubno, and whilst the 7th corps, to which was joined Lelienburg's brigade, commenced its movements towards the wood upon its left, and hastily formed with the second line a parallel flank to the debouches from that wood. About ten in the morning, the 7th corps reached the skirts of the wood, and rapidly advanced to gain the ground necessary for deploying, which it effected in the greatest order under a continual and dreadful fire from the enemy, who, on his part, did not cease to reinforce and extend their flank, that it touched our right, which took from us all hope of turning it, reducing all our efforts to repulse their reiterated attacks, and driving them back upon their centre. —The battle quickly became general at Floraditzva, Pudubno, and upon all the right. It was contested with great slaughter; the enemy redoubled their efforts and made several very brisk attacks to drive us into the wood; they were constantly repulsed with loss; I seized the critical moment, when their attack upon our right was briskest, to pass over the marsh, which they considered impracticable, a battalion of Colloredo, above and on the right of Podubno. This battalion effected its passage in front, up to their knees in mire, scaled the opposite heights, and impetuously attacked the enemy who were on its summit. This unexpected attack on the
flank facilitated that of our right, which, quickly reinforced by the 2d battalion of Colloredo, was not long in repulsing the enemy to the height of Podubno. They nevertheless attempted, at the extremity of the left, a last effort, and made with a mass of cavalry, very superior, a dernier attack upon that of our right, which firmly expected it, and whilst the Austrian cavalry took them in flank, Polentz's Saxon brigade charged them in front, and instantly drove them behind their infantry. Night put an end to the battle; the enemy took advantage
of it to file off his artillery and main part
of his troops upon Kobryn, and abandoned
to us the field of battle; another hour's
day-light, they would have lost their com
munication and been drove upon the
marshes. On the 13th I pursued, with
all the cavalry and light artillery, the ene
my's van-guard, composed of from 7 to
8,000 cavalry, and dismounted chasseurs,
with some artillery. We found upon the
field of battle a great number of dead and
dying, and notwithstanding the celerity of our pursuit, we could not reach the rear
guard till near the village of Strichou,
where it made a demonstration of defending
itself; but they were instantly overthrown,
and owed their salvation alone to the marshes, which in these countries intersect in a parallel direction from place to place their roads, and form so many defiles, that
it is impossible to come near them. About one o'clock we arrived at Kobryn; the enemy had deployed a numerous cavalry before that town; some discharges of artillery were sufficient to drive them away. On retiring, they set fire to the bridge of Muchaven; our tiralleurs arrived in sufficient time to preserve it. Bianchi’s division occupies Kobryn; the 7th corps is encamped on the right; the Austrians on the left of that town, behind the Muchaven; the enemy are in full retreat towards Ratno and its marches. The different reports not having reached me, I cannot very exactly estimate the enemy's loss. It at least amounts to 3,000 men killed and wounded, and 500 prisoners; that on our side consists of 1,000 men killed or wounded.
Biraeing, near Kobryn, Aug. 13, 1812. Reports from the Staff of the 7th Corps.
REPORT OF AUG, 11. The 7th corps set out from Pruszany at noon, to pass the defile of Kosebrod after the Austrian divisions which marched upon
Petitions tried before your honourable House in the present session, has, upon an average, amounted to above one hundred pounds per day; and that the Attorneys' bills in one cause, the trial of which in point of form only lasted two days, and in point of fact only six hours, amounted to very near twelve hundred pounds. And this your Petitioners are ready to prove. Your Petitioners must now beg leave to call the attention of your honourable House to the greatest evil produced by these defects in the representation of which they complain, namely, the extent of Private PARLIAMENTAR Y PATRoN AGE ; an abuse which obviously tends to exclude the great mass of the people from any substantial influence in the election of the House of Commons, and which in its progress threatens to usurp the sovereignty of the country, to the equal danger of the king, of the lords, and of the commons.—The patronage of which your Petitioners complain, is of two kinds: That which arises from the unequal distribution of the elective franchise, and the peculiar rights of voting by which certain places return members to serve in parliaments; and that which arises from the expense attending contested elections, and the consequent degree of power acquired by wealth. By these two means, a weight of parliamentary influence has been obtained by certain individuals, forbidden by the spirit of the laws, and in its consequences most dangerous to the liberties of the people of Great Britain. The operation of the first species of patronage is direct, and subject to positive proof. Eighty-four individuals do, by their own immediate authority, send one hundred and fifty-seven of your honourable members to parliament. And this your Petitioners are ready, if the fact be disputed, to prove, and to name the members and the patrons. The second species of patronage cannot be shewn with equal accuracy, though it is felt with equal force.—Your Petitioners are convinced, that in addition to the one hundred and fifty-seven honourable members above mentioned, one hundred and fifty more, making in the whole three hundred and seven, are returned to your honourable House, not by the collective voice of those whom they appear to represent, but by the recommendation of seventy powerful individuals, added to the eighty-four before mentioned, and making the total number of patrons altogether only one hundred and fifty-four, who return a decided majority of your honourable House.—If your honourable
House will accept as evidence the common report and general belief of the counties, cities, and boroughs, which return the members alluded to, your Petitioners are ready to name them, and to prove the fact; or if the members in question can be made parties to the inquiry, your Petitioners will name them, and be governed by the testimony which they themselves shall publicly give. But if neither of these proofs be thought consistent with the proceedings of your honourable House, then your Petitioners can only assert their belief of the fact, which they hereby do in the most solemn manner, and on the most deliberate conviction. Your Petitioners entreat your honourable House to believe that, in complaining of this species of influence, it is not their intention or desire to decry or to condemn that just and natural attachment, which they, who are enabled by their fortune, and inclined by their disposition, to apply great means to honourable and benevolent ends, will always ensure to themselves. . What your Petitioners complain of is, that property, whether well or ill employed, has equal power; that the present system of representation gives to it a degree of weight which renders it independent of character; which enables it to excite fear as well as to procure respect, and which confines the choice of electors, within the ranks of opulence, because, though it cannot make riches the sole object of their affection and confidence, it can and does throw obstacles, almost insurmountable, in the way of every man who is not rich; and thereby secures to a select few the capability of becoming candidates themselves, or supporting the pretensions of others. . Of this your Petitioners complain loudly, because they conceive it to be highly unjust, that while the language of the law requires from a candidate no greater estate, as a qualification, than a few hundred pounds per annum, the operation of the law should disqualify every man whose rental is not extended to thousands; and that, at the same time that the legislature appears to give the electors a choice from amongst those who possess a moderate and independent competence, it should virtually compel them to choose from amongst those who themselves abound in wealth, or are supported by the wealth of others. Your Petitioners are the more alarmed at the progress of private patronage, because it is rapidly leading to consequences which menace the very existence of the constitution. At the commencement of every session