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bates on all the subjects, he is left with. ble than ordinary men to keep whatout a single opinion of his own on any ever ideals they may have fresh and subject. A sixth will own that what green within them? Does the stress of has most astonished him is to note how public life broaden a man's view or quickly the hope of rendering any real make him more one-sided ? Do those public service has deserted him, and who take part in it find that they are with what contentment he has lapsed gradually losing their feeling for literinto the ruck of the rank and file, ature and art, that they are crushing rarely speaking, always voting as the out of themselves the finer pleasures Whips tell him, disillusioned, unambi- of the imagination, that they are parttious, marvelling mildly at the futility ing with their relish for the quieter, of things, a mere placid, if also an in- simpler things of life? dispensable, cog in the machine.
These are the questions that a lookIt is not in short, as a rule, from er-on at the Parliamentary game would M.P.s themselves that one is able to like to have answered. But he will obtain much light on the general ques- find for the most part that he will tion of the influence of public life upon have to depend on his own powers of character. Most of them are conscious observation and deduction to resolve that the inside and the outside views them, and that he will get little assistof Parliament are very different things, ance from M.P.s themselves. My own and that the strain of trying night after experience is that most men who ennight to catch the Speaker's eye, the ter Parliament acquire a sort of dual mental and moral turmoil stirred up by nature, the political side of which is the first application of “party disci- less pleasing than the other and more pline," the growing sense of aimlessness private side. A Legislature, like any as the division lobbies are endlessly other body of men, is bound to evolve tramped, the hopeless recognition that its own code of ethics and its own peParliament is too unwieldly to do its culiar way of looking at things. But work, and the ensuing wonder that any when you find a man voting for meassensible man should be wasting bis ures of which you know he disapproves, time, health, and money on so unprofit and opposing others which in the freeable a treadmill, make up a staggering dom of personal talk he will heartily and quite unsuspected load of disabil- applaud; when you see him repeatedly ities. But very few of them put to subordinating private convictions to themselves the sort of questions that party loyalty, throwing over ante-elecan outsider would like to have an- tion pledges without an apparent pang, swered. Does public life, for instance, and inclining insensibly towards the take the bloom off a man's spirit? Does purely tactical view of all things politit narrow and coarsen him? Does it ical-it is sometimes difficult to remem. increase or diminish his moral cour- ber that his conduct argues no real deage? Do the endless compromises terioration of character and may be which are the first condition of the justified by an appeal to those higher party game tend to weaken the love of expediencies that alone make the party truth in those who play it?
system workable. sonal success come to mean more to I should say there are four distinct them than the public good ? When ways in which the House of Commons their desire to tell the truth conflicts is apt to influence a man. First, it is with their desire to say what will be liable to foster the vicious mental habagreeable to their audience, which its of exaggeration, and therefore of in. wins? Are politicians more or less lia. sincerity. Indeed I bardly know any
politicians who deal quite honestly with themselves and their audiences, who do nothing to popularize clap-trap, who preserve a true sense of proportion, and whose speeches are a real index to their minds. Secondly, it encourages a feeling of irresponsibility. "No doctor," wrote the late Mr. Lecky, "would prescribe for the slightest malady; no lawyer would advise in the easiest case; no wise man would act in the simplest transactions of private business, or would even give an opinion to his neigh bor at a dinner party, without more knowledge of the subject than that on which a member of Parliament is often obliged to vote. Thirdly, public life demands from its successful practitioners a pernicious facility. In that respect
it is worse even than journalism, worse by the margin that makes the tongue a more unruly instrument than the pen. Very few men, I fancy, engage for long in politics without finding themselves more or less spoiled for serious intellectual exercise. And finally, I wish some candid M.P. would let us know whether a Parliamentary career does not tend to narrow a man's range and by its mêre power of absorption to leave him stunted, vacant, and jaded, and very largely incapable of interesting himself in outside pursuits. I should not like to dogmatize on the point, but it is a commonplace of observation that political distinction is often perfectly compatible with a vast degree of stupidity and narrowness.
BACK TO NATURE.
Showing the good that may come out of the apparent evil of thes recurring strikes.
There is a saying-and the facts confirm it—
Ill blows the blast that suits not someone's case;
And I, who am by now a sort of hermit,
Bless the unlikely means of so much grace
The Gosling and the Tillett,
And all who make the worker chuck his billet.
For I have learned from these, our country's masters,
In one short year of intermittent strife,
How out of so-called national disasters
A thoughtful man may pluck the Simple Life,
And put himself in tune
With natural objects, like the sun or moon.
Until they called a strike upon the railways
And get to see quite plain
Things that escaped me in a stuffy train.
I hear the song of birds in dewy thickets;
I smell the morning sweetness of the earth; Also I save the money on my tickets
And incidentally reduce my girth;
And wish the strikers' blow
Then came the miners' move. This fresh diversion
Taught me to face bid with active skia. To seek for ardor
And how a well-drilled soul
Next came the tailors' turn, and off they toddled;
And, as I go to-day in outworn weeds,
Can never satisfy the spirit's needs;
That, by the heavenly plan,
And now the transport-navvies play at skittles,
And prices soar, and I must seal my throat To frozen ox and other carnal victuals
On which it was my daily use to bloat;
I sign a non-Wef pledge,
So is, a changed man, I have ceased from nozzling
The softer luxuries it is because
The men who make our sumptuary laws,
Laying their high embargoes
Yes, if I live (on herbs) the life ascetic,
Like nomad fakirs, with my limbs half nude, Without a hearth and wholly sympathetic
With Nature in her most primeval mood,
My thanks are due to these, From whom I learned to tramp and starve and freeze. Punch
THE MACHINE IN AMERICAN POLITICS.
A recent remark of ours that the over-elaboration of the mere machinery of American politics has done much to impair the efficiency of American statesmanship, appears to have been widely, sometimes favorably, usually unfavorably, commented upon in the United States. It is curious that more Americans do not recognize, what to a foreign and friendly observer seems very clear, that one of the prime defects of their political system is precisely this excessive multiplication of arbitrary devices and the habit of regarding them as an end in themselves, The whole American Constitution is in a way an ingenious conspiracy for doing nothing; the energy which under the British or Cabinet form of government is devoted solely to legislation being largely frittered away in the United States in friction between the various authorities that were created to check and balance, and have come in fact almost to neutralize, one another. Americans, again, have always been too apt to regard the suffrage as the essence of democracy. So long as they were free to vote at recurring periods for a multitude of short-term officers, they have persuaded themselves that little more was needed to fulfil the amplest ideal of popular government. They have always had a tendency to deify the ballot-box, to think more of success at the polls than of efficiency in office, to regard the problems of government as solved when they had selected one set of candidates to office in preference to another set, to spend their energies on choosing their representatives and then to forget to watch over them, to pay too much attention to who is to do the work and too little to how it is being done, and to sleep with the comfortable assurance of a public duty adequately performed from
the eve of one election-day to the dawn of the next. They have never properly realized that democracy is criticism, is control, is an alert and informed public opinion, and is not really machinery at all. Whenever anything gone wrong, their instinct has been
right by some purely superficial readjustment, some legislative expedient, some amendment of the external accessories of government. For every evil, no matter what its nature or origin, they either have recourse to the Statute-book or else proceed to exalt the executive at the expense of the legislative power in order to safeguard democracy against itself.
In all other relations of life, a di. rect and trenchant people, the Americans delight in being tortuous and roundabout in their politics. Their motto seems to be that two or three elections should always be made to do the work of one. A burden has thus beun laid upon universal zuffrage that the average, busy, well-intentioned, but not over-zealous citizen is quite unable to support, and that has in fact been taken off his shoulders by organized hosts of professional politicians. The entire nominating system, from the "primary" meeting to the District or State Convention, and thence to the National Convention, has fallen into the hands of the Bosses through the sheer necessities of the case. The ordinary man cannot or will not spare the time to attend to it; and though in theory it strictly conforms to democratic principles, and though not a step is taken that could not claim the sanction of "the will of the majority," in practice it is controlled from beginning to end by men who make politics a means of liveli. hood, and who manipulate its complexities in their own interests.
in the hope of restoring a direct influ- have fought one another for the party
BOOKS AND AUTHORS.
W. P. Ker, who contributes a volume on “English Literature Medieval" to the Home University Library, is professor of English Literature at University College, London, and has already published more extended works in this field of research, including a vol. ume on Epic and Romance, and one of Essays on Medieval Literature. He approaches the difficult task, therefore, of compressing into a single small volume a sketch of English literature from the story of “Beowulf" to the writings of Chaucer with an especially ample equipment and a well-grounded enthusiasm. The result is a compact and illuminating sketch of the least-known period of English literature. Henry Holt & ('o.
“The Jonathan Papers," by Elizabeth Woodbridge make as delightful a book of essays as ore would wish to find. The introductory chapter makes clear the author's point of view. She says that if Pippa had been a New Englander she would have spent the forenoon of her "day" cleaning the cellar, the afternoon cleaning the attic, and only gone out for a little walk after the supper dishes were done, because she thought she “ought" to have a little exercise in the open air! The essayist speaks feelingly on the subject of pleasures as pleasures, and the bulk of the book is made of descriptions of delightful outdoor pleasures. The descriptions are not dull, like most nature writing, the style is flexible, and