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sections and held together solely by the authority of a leader in his seventy-fifth year and without any visible heir of his power ? Have not the Irish entirely severed themselves from it and taken up a position which renders a reunion with them hopeless? Is not even the Tory party, though as a party of reaction less exposed to disintegration than a party of progress, rent by divergent tendencies towards Conservatism on one side and Tory democracy on the other? Is not everybody at a loss to conceive how, after next election, and when the number of the Parnellites shall have been increased, a party broad and strong enough to support a government is to be formed? The disintegration is not confined to England; it extends to all countries in which Parliamentary institutions prevail. It is extending now to the United States, where the reforming Republicans voted in the Presidential election; and the other day the Liberal party in Belgium suddenly split in two. The consequences everywhere are the fatal instability and weakness of government, the only exception being Germany, where Bismarck holds himself above party, governs on a principle really monarchical, and makes up a majority from any quarter that he can 2 France, with her Chamber full of Sectionalism, cabal and unruly ambition, lives always on the brink of administrative anarchy: industry and commerce never knowing whether next day they will have the shelter of a government over their heads. The Executive in the United States stands on an independent though elective footing; if it depended for its existence from day to day on the factions of Congress, chaos would soon come. Is there any prospect of a return to party union and solidity? As intellects grow more active, idiosyncracies more pronounced, ambitions more numerous and keen, is it likely that divergences will become fewer and that patient submission to party discipline will increase ? Is not the tendency everywhere the opposite way? What permanent claim has party on the allegiance of a moral being 2 What is it but a soft name for faction, the bane of States? Why should a good citizen surrender his conscience to it? Why should good citizens for ever divide themselves into two hostile camps, and wage political war against each other? Is an unpatriotic and anti-social principle to be accepted as the last word of politics? The supply of organic questions' cannot be inexhaustible. When it is exhausted and divisions of principle have disappeared, on what ground of reason or moral motive are parties to rest? Must they not thenceforth become factions pure and simple? Have they not become factions pure and simple, whenever organic questions have ceased to be at issue? Party has been the organ by which in England the Long Revolution has been conducted to its issue, and power has been gradually wrested from the Crown and transferred to the Commons. Hence the belief, shared by the whole of Europe, that party was inseparable from Parliamentary institutions, and that in no other way could free government be carried on. If free government can be carried on in no other way, the prospect is dark, for party is apparently doomed, alike by morality and by the growing tendencies of the age. But there is obviously one other way at least in which free government can be carried on. Instead of making office the prize of a perpetual faction fight, the members of the Executive Council of State may be regularly elected by the Members of the Legislature for a term certain, under such a system with regard to the rotation of vacancies as may at once secure sufficient harmony between the two bodies and a sufficient continuity in the executive government. The responsibility of the Executive for the decisions of the Legislature, and its obligation to resign upon every Legislative defeat, which is a mere accident of English history and devoid of rational foundation, would then cease. The Legislature and the Executive would be at liberty each to do its own work. The Executive would be national, and would receive the general support of the community instead of being an object of organized hostility to half of it; it would be stable instead of being as it is now throughout Europe ephemeral as well as weak. Responsibility on the part of its members instead of being diminished would be increased. It would become individual, whereas now it is only collective, the whole Cabinet and the party majority being bound to support each Minister whatever may be his failure in duty. Personal aptitude might be considered in the elections to the offices, whereas at present little can be considered beyond the necessity of providing for all the leaders, and a good financier or Minister of Marine would not be turned out because he was in the minority on a Franchise Bill. The nations have been so much engaged in taking authority out of bad hands, that they have forgotten that it is a good and necessary thing in itself. Government has become dangerously weak. The greater part of its energy is now expended, not in the work of administration, but in preserving its own existence. Not only is it exposed to the incessant attacks of an Opposition whose business is to traduce and harass it, but it is now hardly able to sustain itself against the irresponsible power of the press, wielded nobody knows by whom, but often under secret influences, which are a great and growing danger in all communities. To keep the popular favour, which is to them the breath of life, the members of the Cabinet have to be always on the stump, reserving to themselves little time for rest or reflection, and the stump orator is rapidly superseding the statesman. This vacillation of policy on the Egyptian question, the consequences of which all have been deploring, has not been so much that of the Government as that of the nation itself worrying and distracting the Government through the press. A country with an Empire and a world-wide diplomacy cannot afford to have an Executive, the policy of which is always shifting with the wind of opinion, and which can exercise no forecast, because it is not sure of its existence for an hour. In India, the danger is not so much from native disaffection as from British agitation, which the Company managed to exclude, but which, since India has been driven into the vortex of British politics, a party Government has no power to control. Those who are as far as is the writer of this paper from being Imperialists, must see, nevertheless, that while the Empire exists it creates a special necessity for a strong and undemagogic Government, and that on any hypothesis, a disruption, or general dissolution from a collapse of the central authority, is not the thing to be desired. The Radicals themselves are saying that what the country now wants is a strong government, by which, however, people often mean a government strongly imbued with their own ideas. England ought not to be very much in love with the party system at this moment, for it has well-nigh laid her, with all her greatness. and her glory, at the feet of Messrs. Healy and Biggar. Faction and nothing but faction has brought her to the verge of a dismemberment, which, by carving a hostile Republic out of her side, would reduce her to a second-rate Power, and condemn her to play a subordinate instead of a leading part in the march of European civilization. “England has lost heart” is the exulting cry of Mr. Parnell. She has lost heart because she is betrayed by faction, seeking under highly philanthropic and philosophic pretences to climb into power by bartering the unity of the nation for the Irish vote. With a truly national government she would soon be herself again. There is another point which, while time for consideration remains to them, British statesmen will surely do well to consider. It would seem paradoxical to say that England, the parent of constitutional government, has no constitution; but it will be admitted at once that she has no legal constitution, at least that her legal constitution is not actual. Actually she has nothing but a balance of power, or rather the power no longer balanced of the House of Commons, which if the Crown attempted to govern would stop the supplies, and if the Lords attempted to vote would force the Crown to coerce them by a swamping creation, or incite the people to terrify them into submission. The term “Constitutional,” though it seems full of mysterious and august meaning, has never really denoted anything but the limit of practical force. If it has been unconstitutional for the Lords to amend a money Bill, but constitutional for them to reject a Bill respecting a tax, as in the noted case of the paper duty, the reason was that the rejection was final, whereas the amended Bill would go back to the Commons, who would throw it out. But while the Commons have annihilated the power of the Crown, and reduced that of the Lords almost to a cipher, they
remain themselves liable to dissolution at the will of the party leader into whose hands that prerogative has come, and who can thus suspend at any moment the existence of the supreme government, reduce its members to private citizens, and, if they resist, deal with them as common rioters through the police. In the ordinary course of things the existence of the supreme government is suspended, and an interregnum ensues, whenever the regular Parliamentary term expires. This is hardly the sort of ship with which it is wise to put out on the wide waters of democracy. England, like other nations under the elective system, needs a written constitution, defining all powers and duties, guarding against any usurpation, and entrusted to the keeping of a court of law. Traditions and understandings, which may be maintained and serve their purpose so long as the government is in the hands of a family group of statesmen walking in the ancestral paths, will not command the same respect in a far different order of things. The written constitution is the political Bible of the United States, and without it all would soon be usurpation and confusion. A written constitution in no way interferes with the freedom of development which is the supposed privilege of the unwritten. It only provides that development shall proceed in the way of regular and legal amendment, and not in that of violent collision and intimidation by street parades. The system of constitutional amendment works perfectly well in the United States. The power might be safely reposed in the people at large. Men who are not competent to vote on the complex question of the general policy of the country, and at the same time, on the merits of the candidate, are competent to vote on a single question submitted by itself, and with regard to which, moreover, there is little danger of corruption or illicit influence. But the nation at large ought, by petition sufficiently signed or in some other way, to have the power of initiating constitutional amendments or compelling their submission by the Government as well as of rejecting them when submitted. Elective rulers, once installed in power, are no more willing to part with it than kings. Such a body as the American House of Representatives, though it might become a sheer political nuisance, would never take the first step in reform. There ought to be a power of enforcing change, when the necessity for it has become apparent to the nation, without having recourse to a violent revolution, or even to intimidation such as is being used in default of a better means to wrest the veto from the House of Lords. These are the views of one who has long been convinced that the day of hereditary institutions had closed, that the day of elective institutions had fully come, that the appointed task of political science was to study the liabilities, weaknesses and dangers of the elective system with a view to their correction or prevention, and that the mission of the Liberal party in England was to conduct the critical transition and guide Europe in accomplishing it without revolution. If such views are condemned as Conservative by Radicals, and as Republican by Conservatives, neither charge can well be repelled. They certainly cannot be congenial to any who exult in the prospect of a socialistic revolution. But the upshot of all that has been here said is that Democracy must be organized and regulated. Unorganized and unregulated, it will probably end in confusion.