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Word for the Wise September 19, 2006 Broadcast Topic: Broughams and boroughs

Today we mark the 1778 birth of British journalist, statesman, and jurist Henry Peter Brougham. Brougham's name lives on in the lexicon because of his invention: he designed the brougham, a light closed carriage with inside seats for either two or four passengers and with four wheels capable of turning sharply. (来源:专业英语学习网站 http://www.EnglishCN.com)

We turn from Brougham's invention to his legacy as a reformer. In 1810, after years of diplomacy and political work, Brougham was offered a seat in Camelford, a rotten borough. He later won election to Winchelsea, another rotten borough. A notably active Member of Parliament (originally, a member of the House of Commons), Brougham pushed the Reform Act of 1832, which eliminated dozens of rotten boroughs, including the two which had given him a seat. (By then, however, Lord Chancellor Brougham was Baron Brougham, and no longer a commoner.)

So what is a rotten borough? An election district with many fewer inhabitants than other election districts with the same voting power. It keeps company with the pocket borough, an English parliamentary constituency controlled by (or in the pocket of) a single person or family, and also the close borough, with its restricted electorate and self-perpetuating council.

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