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inheritance. Nevertheless, there can of Augustus, is perhaps the nearest be no doubt that, during the period parallel. of which we speak, all the mutual This great alteration did not take relations of all the orders of the State place without strong and constant redid practically undergo an entire change. sistance on the part of the kings of the The letter of the law might be unal- house of Stuart. Till 1642, that retered ; but, at the beginning of the sistance was generally of an open, seventeenth century, the power of the violent, and lawless nature. If the Crown was, in fact, decidedly pre- Commons refused supplies, the sovedominant in the State; and at the end reign levied a benevolence. If the of that century the power of Par- Commons impeached a favourite minisliament, and especially of the Lower ter, the sovereign threw the chiefs of House, had become, in fact, decidedly the Opposition into prison. Of these predominant. At the beginning of efforts to keep down the Parliament by the century, the sovereign perpetually despotic force, without the pretext of violated, with little or no opposition, law, the last, the most celebrated, and the clear privileges of Parliament. At the most wicked was the attempt to the close of the century, the Parliament seize the five members. That attempt had virtually drawn to itself just as was the signal for civil war, and was much as it chose of the prerogative of followed by eighteen years of blood the Crown. The sovereign retained and confusion. the shadow of that authority of which The days of trouble passed by; the the Tudors had held the substance. exiles returned ; the throne was again He had a legislative veto which he set up in its high place; the peerage never ventured to exercise, a power of and the hierarchy recovered their anappointing Ministers, whom an ad- cient splendour. The fundamental laws dress of the Commons could at any which had been recited in the Petition moment force him to discard, a power of Right were again solemnly recogof declaring war which, without Par- nised. The theory of the English constiliamentary support, could not be carried tution was the same on the day when on for a single day. The Houses of the hand of Charles the Second was Parliament were now not merely legis- kissed by the kneeling Houses at Whitelative assemblies, not merely checking hall as on the day when his father set assemblies; they were great Coun- up the royal standard at Nottingham. cils of State, whose voice, when loudly There was a short period of doting and firmly raised, was decisive on all fondness, a hysterica passio of loyal questions of foreign and domestic repentance and love. But emotions of policy. There was no part of the this sort are transitory; and the interests whole system of Government with on which depends the progress of great which they had not power to interfere societies are permanent. The transport by advice equivalent to command; and, of reconciliation was soon over; and if they abstained from intermeddling the old struggle recommenced. with some departments of the executive The old struggle recommenced; but administration, they were withheld not precisely after the old fashion. The from doing so only by their own sovereign was not indeed a man whom moderation, and by the confidence any common warning would have rewhich they reposed in the Ministers of strained from the grossest violations of the Crown. There is perhaps no law. But it was no common warning other instance in history of a change that he had received. All around him so complete in the real constitution of were the recent signs of the vengeance an empire, unaccompanied by any of an oppressed nation, the fields on corresponding change in the theo- which the noblest blood of the island retical constitution. The disguised had been poured forth, the castles transformation of the Roman com- shattered by the cannon of the Parmonwealth into a despotic monar- liamentary armies, the hall where sat chy, under the long administration the stern tribunal to whose bar had been led, through lowering ranks of was constantly sinking, and that of the pikemen, the captive heir of a hundred Commons constantly rising. The meetkings, the stately pilasters before which ings of the Houses were more frequent the great execution had been so fear- than in former reigns; their interferlessly done in the face of heaven andence was more harassing to the Governearth. The restored Prince, admonished ment than in former reigns; they had by the fate of his father, never ventured begun to make peace, to make war, to to attack his Parliaments with open pull down, if they did not set up, and arbitrary violence. It was at one administrations. Already a new class time by means of the Parliament itself, of statesmen had appeared, unheard of at another time by means of the courts before that time, but common ever of law, that he attempted to regain for since. Under the Tudors and the earthe Crown its old predominance. He lier Stuarts, it was generally by courtly began with great advantages. The arts, or by official skill and know. Parliament of 1661 was called while ledge, that a politician raised himself the nation was still full of joy and to power. From the time of Charles the tenderness. The great majority of the Second down to our own days a different House of Commons were zealous royal- species of talent, parliamentary talent, ists. All the means of influence which has been the most valuable of all the the patronage of the Crown afforded qualifications of an English statesman. were used without limit. Bribery was It has stood in the place of all other reduced to a system. The King, when acquirements. It has covered ignorance, he could spare money from his pleasures weakness, rashness, the most fatal for nothing else, could spare it for pur- maladministration. A great negotiator poses of corruption. While the defence is nothing when compared with a great of the coasts was neglected, while ships debater; and a Minister who can make rotted, while arsenals lay empty, while a successful speech need trouble himself turbulent crowds of unpaid seamen little about an unsuccessful expedition. swarmed in the streets of the seaports, This is the talent which has made judges something could still be scraped toge- without law, and diplomatists without ther in the Treasury for the members French, which has sent to the Admiralty of the House of Commons. The gold men who did not know the stern of a of France was largely employed for the ship from her bowsprit, and to the India same purpose. Yet it was found, as Board men who did not know the indeed might have been foreseen, that difference between a rupee and a there is a natural limit to the effect pagoda, which made a foreign secretary which can be produced by means like of Mr. Pitt, who, as George the Second these. There is one thing which the said, had never opened Vattel, and most corrupt senates are unwilling to which was very near making a Chansell, and that is the power which makes cellor of the Exchequer of Mr. Sheridan, them worth buying. The same selfish who could not work a sum in long motives which induced them to take a division. This was the sort of talent price for a particular vote induce them which raised Clifford from obscurity to to oppose every measure of which the the head of affairs. To this talent effect would be to lower the importance, Osborne, by birth a simple country and consequently the price, of their gentleman, owed his white staff, his votes. About the income of their garter, and his dukedom. The encroachpower, so to speak, they are quite ready ment of the power of the Parliament to make bargains. But they are not on the power of the Crown resembled a easily persuaded to part with any fatality, or the operation of some great fragment of the principal. It is curious law of nature. The will of the indito observe how, during the long con- vidual on the throne, or of the inditinuance of this Parliament, the Pen- viduals in the two Houses, seemed to sionary Parliament, as it was nick- go for nothing. The King might be named by contemporaries, though every eager to encroach ; yet something circumstance seemed to be favourable constantly drove him back. The Parto the Crown, the power of the Crown liament might be loyal, even servile; yet something constantly urged them bottom.” This is a single instance. forward.
Others might easily be given. These things were done in the green The bigotry, the strong passions, the tree. What then was likely to be done haughty and disdainful temper, which in the dry ? The Popish Plot and the made Clarendon's great abilities a general election came together, and source of almost unmixed evil to himfound a people predisposed to the most self and to the public, had no place in violent excitation. The composition of the character of Temple. To Temple, the House of Commons was changed. however, as well as to Clarendon, the The Legislature was filled with men rapid change which was taking place who leaned to Republicanism in poli- in the real working of the Constitution tics, and to Presbyterianism in religion. gave great disquiet ; particularly as They no sooner met than they com- Temple had never sat in the English menced an attack on the Government Parliament, and therefore regarded it which, if successful, must have made with none of the predilection which them supreme in the State.
men naturally feel for a body to which Where was this to end? To us who they belong, and for a theatre on which have seen the solution the question their own talents have been advantagepresents few difficulties. But to a ously displayed. statesman of the age of Charles the To wrest by force from the House of Second, to a statesman who wished, Commons its newly acquired powers without depriving the Parliament of was impossible; nor was Temple a man its privileges, to maintain the monarch to recommend such a stroke, even if it in his old supremacy, it must have had been possible. But was it possible appeared very perplexing.
that the House of Commons might be Clarendon had, when Minister, strug-induced to let those powers drop ? Was gled honestly, perhaps, but, as was his it possible that, as a great revolution wont, obstinately, proudly, and offen- had been effected without any change sively, against the growing power of in the outward form of the Government, the Commons. He was for allowing so a great counter-revolution might be them their old authority, and not one effected in the same manner ? Was it atom more. He would never have possible that the Crown and the Parclaimed for the Crown a right to levy liament might be placed in nearly the taxes from the people without the same relative position in which they consent of Parliament. But when the had stood in the reign of Elizabeth, and Parliament, in the first Dutch war, that this might be done without one most properly insisted on knowing sword drawn, without one execution, how it was that the money which they and with the general acquiescence of had voted had produced so little effect, the nation ? and began to inquire through what The English people—it was probably hands it had passed, and on what ser- thus that Temple argued will not bear vices it had been expended, Clarendon to be governed by the unchecked power considered this as a monstrous innova- of the sovereign, nor ought they to be tion. He told the King, as he himself so governed. At present there is no says, “that he could not be too indul-check but the Parliament. The limits gent in the defence of the privileges of which separate the power of checking Parlianient, and that he hoped he those who govern from the power of would never violate any of them ; but governing are not easily to be defined. he desired him to be equally solicitous The Parliament, therefore, supported to prevent the excesses in Parliament, by the nation, is rapidly drawing to and not to suffer them to extend their itself all the powers of Government. jurisdiction to cases they have nothing If it were possible to frame some other to do with ; and that to restrain them check on the power of the Crown, some within their proper bounds and limits check which might be less galling to is as necessary as it is to preserve them the Sovereign than that by which he from being invaded; and that this was is now constantly tormented, and yet such a new encroachment as had no which might appear to the people to be a tolerable security against malad- at once perfectly reasonable when we ministration, Parliaments would proba-consider the Council as a body inbly meddle less; and they would be tended to restrain the Crown as well less supported by public opinion in as to exercise the powers of the Crown, their meddling. That the King's hands to perform some of the functions may not be rudely tied by others, he of a Parliament as well as the funcmust consent to tie them lightly him- tions of a Cabinet. We see, too, why self. That the executive administra- Temple dwelt so much on the private tion may not be usurped by the check. wealth of the members, why he instiing body, something of the character of tuted a comparison between their united a checking body must be given to the incomes and the united incomes of the body which conducts the executive ad members of the House of Commons. ministration. The Parliament is now Such a parallel would have been idle arrogating to itself every day a larger in the case of a mere Cabinet. It is exshare of the functions of the Privy tremely significant in the case of a body Council. We must stop the evil by intended to supersede the House of Comgiving to the Privy Council something mons in some very important functions. of the constitution of a Parliament. We can hardly help thinking that the Let the nation see that all the King's notion of this Parliament on a small measures are directed by a Cabinet com- scale was suggested to Temple by what posed of representatives of every order he had himself seen in the United Proin the State, by a Cabinet which con- vinces. The original Assembly of the tains, not placemen alone, but inde- States-General consisted, as he tells us, pendent and popular noblemen and of above eight hundred persons. But gentlemen who have large estates and this great body was represented by a no salaries, and who are not likely to smaller Council of about thirty, which sacrifice the public welfare in which bore the name and exercised the powers they have a deep stake, and the credit of the States-General. At last the which they have obtained with the real States altogether ceased to meet; country, to the pleasure of a Court and their power, though still a part of from which they receive nothing. When the theory of the Constitution, became the ordinary administration is in such obsolete in practice. We do not, of hands as these, the people will be quite course, imagine that Temple either excontent to see the Parliament become, pected or wished that Parliaments what it formerly was, an extraordinary should be thus disused; but he did ex-' check. They will be quite willing that pect, we think, that something like what the House of Commons should meet only had happened in Holland would happen once in three years for a short session, in England, and that a large portion of and should take as little part in matters the functions lately assumed by Parliaof state as it did a hundred years ago. ment would be quietly transferred to
Thus we believe that Temple rea- the miniature Parliament which he pro. soned: for on this hypothesis his scheme posed to create. is intelligible ; and on any other hypo- Had this plan, with some modificathesis his scheme appears to us, as it tions, been tried at an earlier period, does to Mr. Courtenay, exceedingly in a more composed state of the public absurd and unmeaning. This Council mind, and by a better sovereign, we was strictly what Barillon called it, an are by no means certain that it might Assembly of States. There are the not have effected the purpose for which representatives of all the great sections it was designed. The restraint imof the community, of the Church, of posed on the King by the Council of the law, of the Peerage, of the Com- thirty, whom he had himself chosen, mons. The exclusion of one half of would have been feeble indeed when the counsellors from office under the compared with the restraint imposed Crown, an exclusion which is quite by Parliament. But it would have absurd when we consider the Council been more constant. It would have merely as an executive board, becomes acted every year, and all the year round; VOL. II.
and before the Revolution the sessions ance and is more unmanageable than of Parliament were short and the re-established power. The House of Comcesses long. The advice of the Coun- mons gave infinitely more trouble to cil would probably have prevented any the Ministers of Charles the Second very monstrous and scandalous mea- than to any Ministers of later times; sures; and would consequently have for, in the time of Charles the Second, prevented the discontents which follow the House was checking Ministers in such measures, and the salutary laws whom it did not confide. Now that its which are the fruit of such discontents. ascendency is fully established, it either We believe, for example, that the second confides in Ministers or turns them out. Dutch war would never have been ap- This is undoubtedly a far better state of proved by such a Council as that which things than that which Temple wished Temple proposed. We are quite cer- to introduce. The modern Cabinet is tain that the shutting up of the Exche- a far better Executive Council than his. quer would never even have been men. The worst House of Commons that has tioned in such a Council. The people, sate since the Revolution was a far more pleased to think that Lord Russell, Lord efficient check on misgovernment than Cavendish, and Mr. Powle, unplaced his fifteen independent counsellors would and unpensioned, were daily represent-have been. Yet, every thing considered, ing their grievances and defending their it seems to us that his plan was the rights in the Royal presence, would not work of an observant, ingenious, and have pined quite so much for the meet- fertile mind. ing of Parliaments. The Parliament, On this occasion, as on every occasion when it met, would have found fewer on which he came prominently forward, and less glaring abuses to attack. There Temple had the rare good fortune to would have been less misgovernment please the public as well as the Soveand less reform. We should not have reign. The general exultation was great been cursed with the Cabal, or blessed when it was known that the old Counwith the Habeas Corpus Act. In the cil, made up of the most odious tools mean time the Council, considered as an of power, was dismissed, that small inexecutive Council, would, unless some terior committees, rendered odious by at least of its powers had been dele- the recent memory of the Cabal, were gated to a smaller body, have been to be disused, and that the King would feeble, dilatory, divided, unfit for every adopt no measure till it had been disthing which requires secrecy and des- cussed and approved by a body, of patch, and peculiarly unfit for the ad- which one half consisted of independent ministration of war.
gentlemen and noblemen, and in which The Revolution put an end, in a very such persons as Russell, Cavendish, and different way, to the long contest be- Temple himself had seats. Town and tween the King and the Parliament. country were in a ferment of joy. The From that time, the House of Com- bells were rung; bonfires were lighted; mons has been predominant in the and the acclamations of England were State. The Cabinet has really been, echoed by the Dutch, who considered from that time, a committee nominated the influence obtained by Temple as a by the Crown out of the prevailing party certain omen of good for Europe. It in Parliament. Though the minority is, indeed, much to the honour of his in the Commons are constantly propos- sagacity that every one of his great ing to condemn executive measures, or measures should, in such times, have to call for papers which may enable pleased every party which he had any the House to sit in judgment on such interest in pleasing. This was the case measures, these propositions are scarcely with the Triple Alliance, with the treaty ever carried ; and, if a proposition of which concluded the second Dutch war, this kind is carried against the Govern- with the marriage of the Prince of ment, a change of Ministry almost ne- Orange, and, finally, with the institution cessarily follows. Growing and strug- of this new Council. gling power always gives more annoy- / The only people who grumbled were