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V.

THE REFORM BILL

Under William IV. the great movement for parliamentary reform, to which we referred already, came to a crisis.

The system of representation in Parliament had gradually become corrupted to such an extent that the representative principle could hardly be said to prevail in actual practice as far the British people were concerned. Numbers of localities were represented in Parliament because in former centuries they had possessed some importance. Since then, the number of their inhabitants might have shrunk, they might even have practically disappeared, but still they had their two members of Parliament. In reality these boroughs, "pocket boroughs", "rotten boroughs", had fallen under the influence of some powerful aristocratie landowner, who practically nominated the members. On the other hand, towns that were of no importance in the Middle Ages, but had suddenly, owing to the Industrial Revolution in most cases, become thriving and populous communities, like Manchester and Birmingham, were not represented at all.

Our first fragment (a) gives some idea of the sense of grievance with which the reformers looked upon the state of affairs that the Tories sought to preserve so tenaciously. It is part of a speech delivered in 1831 by the Rev. Sydney Smith. This man (1771—1845), a clergyman of the Church of England, was famous as a wit and as a political speaker and writer. In 1802 he founded the Edinburgh Review. His staunch advocacy of Whig principles long hindered his preferment, but in 1831 Lord Grey made him a canon of St. Paul's.

For the previous year had seen the end of the long Tory domination, and a Whig Government had been formed under Lord Grey (1764—1845), a member of one of the old aristocratie families which were so powerful in the counsels of the Whig party. He presented to Parliament the famous Reform Bill, the object of which was to redistribute parliamentary representation on a more rational plan. "Sixty boroughs with less

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