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At this dull season of the political year,
and in the absence of all other rumours, the
rumour of New Reform Bill is beginning to
strengthen prodigiously. No one seems to
know exactly what the bill is to be, or who is
asking for it more loudly, or what particular
party is bringing it in. Whether, among
its other extraordinary results, it is destined
to show that Tories are Radicals, and
Radicals Tories, and Whigs nothing in
particularwhether it is to be an artful Bill of
the old sort, which first delights us with
magnificent professions, and then astonishes
us with minute performances; or whether it
is to be a BIll of original character, and of
unparalleled resources in giving practical
advantage to the people at largeseems to be
more than the wisest of our political sages
can tell us. All that we really know about
the matter is, that a new Reform Bill is being
compounded somewhere. What the strength
of the political mixture may be, which of the
State Doctors will serve it out, and what it
will taste like when the British patient gets
it, are mysteries, which no uninitiated mortal
in the country can hope to solve.

Under such circumstances, this would
seem to be the favourable time for every
man who has got anything like an idea of
reform in his mind to bring it out, and
furbish it up as smartly as may be, on the
chance of it being accepted by the competent
authorities, in the shape of a practical
hint. An idea has been, for some little time
past, suggesting itself persistently to our
mindsan idea which is of the social rather
than the political sort, and which is, as we
venture to think, especially fitted to figure in
the new Reform Bill on that very account
an idea which is bold enough to involve
nothing less than a sweeping change in the
national reception of Her Majesty the Queen,
when she pays her next public visit to her
loving and faithful People.

On a topic of this importance we come
frankly to the point at once. Let us assume,
to begin with, that the main interest of the
Queen, when she makes a Royal Progress,
is to see for herself what the character and
the condition of her people actually is. It
follows from this, that the main duty of the
People is to present themselves honestly for
what they really are, and to show all that
belongs to them plainly for what it really
is, when their Sovereign comes among them.
The question we desire to raise on these
premises is, whether this essentially loyal,
useful, and honest purpose is now answered;
and whether the Queen has such full and fair
opportunities afforded to her of knowing her
own people in their own character, and of
seeing all that surrounds them in its true
aspect, as she has both a personal and royal
right to expect.

When, for instance, the Queen visits one
of our great towns, what does the great town
do? Does it not clumsily try, at a considerable
expense, to make itself look as like a
bad travelling circus as possible? Does it
not stick up, in honour of the occasion,
theatrical canvas arches, and absurd flags
that are no flags, and pretended drab statues
in pretended drab niches that are not statues
and not niches, and lamentable dead boughs
that are a ghastly parody on living and growing
trees? Does it not commit every sort of
unpardonable offence against Taste, and
make itself as ridiculously unreal as
possible in the broad, truth-telling daylight?
Why should these things be? Commemorate
the Queen's visit by a holiday, by all means
we have not holidays enough in England
but, for mercy's sake, leave the great
town alone, and let it speak for itself. Let it
say to the Queen, in effect:—"Please, your
Majesty, these are my plain stone-paved
streets, where so many thousand people in
Lancashire and Yorkshire clogs, wake my
echoes as they go to their work at five or six
in the morning. Please your Majesty, these
are my great chimneys, always vomiting
smoke when your Majesty is not here; smoke
which is very ugly to look at and very unpleasant
to smell, but which is also inseparable
from many of the most beautiful and useful
works in your Majesty's kingdom. Please
your Majesty, this concourse of inhabitants,
in clean, plain clothes, that lines both sides of
your way, is a striving, loyal, respectful,
good-humoured, long-suffering specimen of your
Majesty's working subjects. It is my opinion
that I can show your Majesty nothing better
or more interesting than this; and the
scene-painter of my not particularly patronised

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