« ElőzőTovább »
St. Dunstan's House,
(All rights reserved.]
DR. TODD, the author of the well-known work on Parliamentary Government in England, a condensed edition of which is now offered to the public in these volumes, is a remarkable instance of a man who, from small beginnings, and with few advantages, succeeded in combining long and valuable official service with literary labours of the highest value. Born in London in the early years of the reign of George IV., he was brought, a mere child of eight, to the colony of Canada. Thenceforward he received no education except that which he derived from his own studies; yet he qualified himself in this way to be chosen for the post of Assistant-Librarian of Upper Canada. When Upper and Lower Canada were united, he was continued in the same office by the Legislature of the United Provinces, and, in 1856, was promoted to the post of Chief Librarian. The library owed much to its librarian. A small and modest collection of less than 1000 volumes was developed, under his management, into a noble library. Twice destroyed by fire, the grant for restoring it was expended under his directions, and to his skill and judgment—to quote the words of an obituary notice in the Ottawa Citizen—"may be justly laid the main foundation of the present magnificent collection of 108,000 volumes.” But the official labours which he thus discharged formed only a small portion of his service to the colony. In his own words, taken from the preface to the first volume of the first edition of this work, published in 1866–
“ More than twenty-five years ago, when in the service of the House of Assembly of Upper Canada, as an assistant in the Provincial Library, I was induced to compile a manual of parliamentary practice for the use of the Legislature. The valuable treatise of Sir Erskine May, on the Usage of Parliament, had not then appeared ; and no work then published was sufficiently elementary and comprehensive to be of any service to our colonial legislators in the performance of their parliamentary duties. My little volume, although the crude and imperfect production of a very young man, was received with much favour by the Canadian Parliament. At the first meeting of the Legislature of United Canada, in 1841, the book was formally adopted for the use of members, and the cost of its production defrayed out of the public funds.
"It was in the same year, and immediately after the union of the two Canadas, that responsible government' was first applied to our colonial Constitution. In carrying out this new, and hitherto untried, scheme of colonial government, many difficult and complex questions arose, especially in regard to the relations which should subsist between the popular chamber and the ministers of the crown. Upon these questions, my known addiction to parliamentary studies, together with my official position as one of the librarians of the Legislative Assembly, caused me to be frequently consulted. I speedily became aware that then, as now, no work previously written on the British Constitution undertook to supply the particular information required to elucidate the working of responsible' or 'parliamentary' government. For, all preceding writers on this subject have confined themselves to the presentation of an outside view, or general outline, of the political system of England. There is nowhere to be found a practical treatment of the questions involved in the mutual relations between the crown and parliament, or any adequate account of the growth, development, and present functions of the
Cabinet Council. In the words of Lord Macaulay (History of England, iv. 437), ‘No writer has yet attempted to trace the progress of this institution, an institution indispensable to the harmonious working of our other institutions.
“My own researches in this field enabled me to accumulate a mass of information which has proved of much utility in the settlement of many points arising out of responsible government. I was frequently urged, by persons whose opinions were entitled to respect, to digest and arrange my collections in a methodical shape. The fact that the greater part of my notes had been collected when engaged in the investigation of questions not of mere local or temporary significance, but capable of general application, led me to think that, if the result were embodied in the form of a treatise on parliamentary government as administered in Great Britain, it might prove of practical value both in England and her colonies; and that in the constitutional states of continental Europe it might serve to make more clearly known the peculiar features of that form of government, which has been so often admired, but never successfully imitated. I therefore determined to avail myself of the resources of the well-stored library under my charge, and attempt the compilation of a work which, while trenching as little as possible on ground already worthily occupied by former writers, should aim at supplying information upon branches of constitutional knowledge hitherto overlooked.
“I proposed at first to prepare, more especially for colonial use, a manual which should include a dissertation upon the peculiar features of 'Responsible Government' in the colonies. But I decided, after much reflection on the subject, to change my plan, and to confine myself to the exposition of parliamentary government in England. I arrived at this conclusion, firstly, from a conviction that the safest guide to the colonies, whose institutions are professedly modelled upon those of the mother-country, will be found in a detailed account