Sunday, June 21, 2009

18Mar1867, Household Suffrage

LONDON, March 18th, 1867.
Susan and I went to the House of C. before prayers (with which I was not edified : such an inaudible mumble, and nobody pretending to follow ; yet the crowd of members standing up together and keeping entire silence was striking). Dizzy made a painful, laboured speech, bringing forward his badissimus bill : Household Suffrage, with actual personal, as distinguished from compounded, rate-paying, and a marvellous scheme called "duality of votes," which Uncle W., who followed in a more vehement, bitter onslaught than I have ever heard him make, called "a gigantic engine of fraud." Household Suffrage pure and simple would perhaps have been accepted by the Liberals, though many of them do not think the country ripe for it ; but Dizzy dursn't do that as a leader of the Conservatives ! and now they are nevertheless, many of them, as discontented as possible : Sir W. Heathcote and others spoke against the Bill, and it is supposed not to have a chance. Never shall I forget the fire and scorn and vehemence of Uncle W.'s speech : he glared from one side to the other, gesticulated with both arms, often spoke with a kind of bitter laugh, stumbled over the formal phraseology of the House, in his violent feeling ; but the whole gave such an overwhelming notion of righteous indignation stirred up by moral convictions that there was no effect of temper about it.

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