Punch,  38 (1860), 120.

The New Russell Six-Pounder



Poetry, Drollery


Military Technology, Politics, Invention, Measurement, Government

    Responds to Lord John Russell's introduction of the Reform Bill into the House of Commons on 1 March, proposing a £6 qualification for the franchise for towns. The poem explores the unprecedented scope of the measure as if it were a new piece of artillery. Noting that these are the days of 'social and mechanical' wonders, considers Russell's 'long range electoral' to be an invention that supersedes Charles W Lancaster's gun, William G Armstrong's improvement on Lancaster's weapon, and Joseph Whitworth's precision instruments and gun with double the range of Armstrong's. Punch compares this development of increasingly long-range instruments to the extension of the range of 'franchise canons', beginning with the days of Charles Grey (2nd Earl Grey), when Russell was only allowed to 'let the gun off', to the present when Russell is trying to 'out-do all that's been since projected', including the Chartists' 'five-barrelled gun' and Benjamin Disraeli's 'late ten-pound brass cannon', whose firing 'floored the firing-party'. Draws attention to the fact that, although the gun appears so 'trifling', it has enormous 'propelling power'; its cost will not be paid for by the government (but the public). Believes the gun will eventually 'make startling practice' and launch its shot well beyond 'the far-off post marked "Household Suffrage"', to the pole of 'Universal Suffrage'. Concludes, however, by wondering whether 'such practice' will be achieved by such a long-range invention.

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