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Great Britain. I think the absolute reverse of all this is the truth.
In Great Britain the political institutions of the country are indefinite, unwritten, unfixed, without a positive stand-point any where, shifting from day to day; consisting, in form, of Kings, Lords, and Commons,
without any visible lines of limitation between them, and resolved to-day into an omnipotent Parliament, one branch of which, the House of Commons, arrogates to itself the character of a constituent national convention to impose on King and Lords any change in the national institutions it sees fit, and assuming to itself the function, by means of a quasi committee of its body, to control absolutely, the administration, both foreign and domestic, of Great Britain.
This quasi committee of the House of Commons, to be sure,
has associated with it another quasi com. mittee of the House of Lords: which, all together, formerly called Ministers of the Crown, now take to themselves, in the very text of treaties as well as in domestic affairs, the revolutionary title of the British Government."
But, while the theoretical power of the Crown is nominally exercised by a joint committee of both Houses of Parliament, it is vested, in fact, in the committee of the House of Commons, which, upon all occasions, whether of ordinary administrative matters or of the frequently recurring radical changes in the political institutions of the country, constantly and loudly defies and overbears the House of Lords..
any simple-minded person in the United States happens to cherish those romantic illusions respecting the constitution of England which he may have acquired from perusal of the Commentaries of Sir William Blackstone, he has but to turn over the leaves of some volume of Hansard's Debates in Parliament, or peruse authoritative disquisitions on the subject, like those of May and of Bagehot, to discover that, in knowledge and reading at least, he has not yet emerged from the mythical epoch of the political history of England. : Now, the submergence of the power of the Crown in Parliament, and of that of Parliament in the House of Commons, and the commitment of all these powers to transitory nominees of the House of Commons, are facts which, combined, have produced the result that government in England is at the mercy of every gust of popular passion, every storm of misdirected public opinion, every devious impulse of demagogic agitation,-nothing correspondent to which exists in the United States
Mr. Gladstone is Prime Minister of Great Britain, —that is to say, of three hundred millions of men, ag. gregated into various States of Europe, Africa, America, Asia, and Australasia. But he holds all this
pow. er at the mere will of a majority of the House of Com
He must consult their wishes and their prej. udices in every act of his political life. If he con ceives a great idea, he can not make any thing of it until after he shall have driven it into the heads of three or four hundred country gentlemen, which are
not always easily perforable either by eloquence or by reason. And during the progress of all great measures, including especially foreign negotiations, which require to be left undisturbed in their progress from germination to maturity, he is subject to be goaded almost to madness every day by vicious interpellations, not only on the part of members of the Opposition, but even his own supporters in the House of Commons.
How different is the spectacle of government in the United States! Here, the President,—that is, the Prime Minister of the sovereign people,-is placed in power for a fixed period of time, during which he is politically independent of faction, and can look at the temporary passions of the hour with calmness, so as to judge them at their true value, and accept or reject their voice according to the dictates of public duty and the command of his conscience. Neither he nor any of the members of his Cabinet are subject to be badgered by factious or unreasonable personal interrogation in either house of Congress.
Moreover, the House of Representatives does not presume to set itself up as the superior either of the President or of the Senate. Nor is the Senate in the condition of being terrified from the discharge of its duty by threats on the part of the President or of the House of Representatives to subjugate its free will at any moment by thrusting into it a batch of twenty new administration Senators. Least of all does the House of Representatives presume to possess and exercise the powers of a constituent national convention,
to change in its discretion the constitution, of the IA United States.
Thus it was that, in the matter of the discussion of this Treaty, Mr. Gladstone and the other Ministers were tossed to and fro on the surging waves of public opinion, and pestered from day to day in Parliament, while solicitously engaged in reflecting how best to keep faith with the United States and at the same time do no prejudice to Great Britain. If, at that period, the Ministers said in debate any thing unwise, any thing not strictly true or just,—Mr. Glad. stone did, but Lord Granville did not, let it not be remembered against them personally, but charged to the uncontrollable difficulties of their position, and the signal defectiveness and intrinsic weakness of the organic institutions of Great Britain.
During all that period of earnest discussion on both sides of the ocean, it was to me, as an American, matter of the highest thankfulness and gratulation and patriotic pride, to see the Government of the United States, President, Secretary of State, Cabinet, Congress --continue in the even tenor of their public duty, calm, unruffled, self-possessed, as the stars in heaven. The Executive of the United States is, it is true, by its very nature, a thoughtful and self-contained power. Congress, on the other hand, is the field of debate and the place where popular passions come into evidence, as the winds in the cave of Æolus. But, on this occasion, no more debate occurred in either House than that least possible expression of opinion, which was necessary to show accord with the
Executive. Even the Opposition, to its honor be it said, conducted itself with commendable reserve and consideration. How different from all this was the spectacle exhibited by the British Parliament!
ENGLISH MISCONCEPTION OF AMERICAN SENTIMENT.
I contradict, with equal positiveness, the suggestion that demagogic agitation in the United States feeds itself largely on alleged hatred of Great Britain. I think topics of international reproach are more conmon in England than here. The steady current of emigration from England, Scotland, and Ireland to the United States, and especially at the present time from England, is not a grateful subject of contemplation in Great Britain. England perceives, but not with perfect contentedness, that the British race in America bids fair soon to exceed in numbers and in power the British race in Europe. And, above all, the gradually increasing force of those factions or parties in Great Britain, which demand progressive enlargement of the basis of suffrage, equal distribution of representation, vote by ballot, the separation of Church and State, subdivision of the great properties in land, cessation of hereditary judicial and political power, intellectual and social elevation of the disinherited classes, -I say such parties or factions, in appealing to the institutions of the United States as a model, provoke criticism of those institutions on the part of the existing depositaries of property and political power. Owing to these, and other causes which might be indicated, it seems to me that the United