One other debate in the Commons during this session must be referred to, if it be only to mark the wide interval which separates the Liberal Party of the present day from the Whig leaders at the beginning of the reign. On February 15 Mr. Grote brought forward his annual motion in favour of the Ballot in Parliamentary elections. Hitherto little interest had been attached to the project, owing to the disfavour with which it was regarded by all but extreme Radicals. On this occasion, however, several Ministers and many supporters of the Government were known to have pledged themselves at the polls to the principle of secret voting. Lord John Russell had declared that to carry such a measure would be tantamount to a repeal of the Reform Act of 1832 ; that for the Government to promote it would be a breach of faith to those who had supported the extension of the franchise, and he refused to be any party to " what neither his sense of prudence nor of honour would justify."

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Sir Robert Peel supported the Government in resisting the motion, and it was rejected by a majority of 117 in a House of 513 Members. This was hailed as a moral victory by the supporters of the Ballot. Brougham was jubilant, and told the Lords they must make up their minds to this fresh reform. A few days later he declared in Greville's room that it would become law in five years from that time, and many people regarded it as paving the way to Republican government. On the other hand Greville quotes Charles Villiers, " one of the Radicals with whom I sometimes converse," as declaring that it would prove a Conservative measure, and that better men would be chosen. In effect, it took, not five years, but thirty-four, to reconcile Englishmen to the practice of secret voting ; and Mr. Villiers has lived to see that the protection thereby afforded to the voter has certainly not operated to the exclusion of Conservatives from office. But it would be unphilosophic to argue that what was conceded in 1872 to an experienced and educated electorate, without evil consequences, might have been bestowed with equal safety in 1838, only five years after the great measure of enfranchisement.


Born 1802. Is a grandson of the First Earl of Clarendon, and has represented Wolverhampton in Parliament continuously from 1835 to the present day. He took part, with Cobden and Bright, in the Free Trade movement, and in the passing of the Ballot Act. He and Mr. Gladstone are the only survivors of those who sat in QueenVictoria's first Parliament.


Lord Brougham in 1837 had opposed the Government measures relating to Canada. For some time he stood alone, and it was not until the Bill for Abolishing the Canadian Legislature had made considerable progress that he found himself supported by the Earl of Mansfield and Lord Ellenborough. But though acting together on this occasion, each had his own separate motive and argument, and perhaps there were not three members of the House of Peers who better deserved to be acting singly and without party connection. Lord Brougham is here represented with the Earl of Mansfield on his right arm and Lord Ellenborough on his left.

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