Imágenes de páginas

stitutions is to be noted, as new States have been added one by one, proceeding so far that in the more recent instruments a provision for minute details exists in strong contrast with the older documents. This circumstance is due to a growing distrust, in the States, of the legislatures; delegates in so many cases prove inefficient, corrupt, or in some way falso to their trust, that the people think fit more and more to tie their hands. Undoubtedly this dooponing dissatisfaction with legislaturos, Congress itself as well as those of lower rank, is al circumstance full of ill omen.

If the representativo body is a failure, then is Anglo-Saxon freedom a failure, and tho sooner we recur to the system of Strafford or Richard II, the better. The ideas of those historio figuros are by no means yet obsolete among English-punking men." Is Anglo-Saxon froedom no longer woll adapted to English-speaking mon? What oan bo said about the condition of the primordial coll of our body-politic?

In our human bodies, if the cellular timmue in healthy, the physician is sure all will ultimately go well. Bones may be broken, sinews sprained, a blast of malaria may have the primordim caused an ague, or improper food dyspep- phy, the sia. Various kinds of deep-cated trouble popular moot, may exist, acute and even chronic; but if the primordial cell everywhere is sound, the patient will survive. The proper primordial cell of an Angl

. Saxon body-politic is local self-government by a consensus of individual freemen; in other words, the

Condition of

cell of an Anglo Maxon

1 See Traill: Life of Strafford, 1999, p. 29, etc., and notice of the same in London " Saturday Review," November 9, 19m,

[ocr errors]

the seven great lands that make up Australasia (New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, and New Zealand), together with South Africa, contain as many more; and all possess, or are likely very soon to possess, the same “responsible government” which puts the mother-country so thoroughly into the hands of its citizens. A Crown-appointed governor in each colony represents the Sovereign, and like the Sovereign, though possessed of dignity and irremovable by the people, is quite without real power. A legislative council composed of members, sometimes elected, sometimes appointed by the governor, forms an Upper House, no more potent than the House of Lords. The real power rests with the representatives who sit in the Lower House. As in England, the leaders of the party in the majority form of necessity the ministry. If they lose the support of the majority, at once they fall. An appeal may be made to the country, indeed; but if the country, in the elections which then take place, fails to sustain them by a majority, place must be given to ministers who stand for what the body of the people demand. In Canada alone, as yet, a confederation has come about of the provinces lying from east to west.1 Here each province has its legislature, in all main features like the federal legislature, which convenes at Ottawa. The example of the United States near at

1 For the constitution of Canada, see Appendix E. Sir H. Parkes, premier of New South Wales, says that Canada is to be the model for Australian federation. In the near future three English-speaking federations — the United States, Canada, and Australia — are to dominate the Pacific. — Sir Charles Dilke: Problems of Greater Britain, pp. 58, 59 (1890).


hand (whose precedents, however, are always critically scanned) has brought this about.

In Australia, there has been as yet no effective federation of contiguous colonies, though propinquity, and interests to a large extent common, are making it imperative. Whether federal or otherwise, the self-government in each great dependency is complete. Any power of veto which may in a strict construction of the constitution belong to the governor is never exercised, and has as completely fallen out of use as the veto power of the Sovereign of England. Though some constitutional writers still claim that Parliament is supreme over the colonies, and can annul, if it should choose, any action of a colonial legislature,? no assertion of that supremacy has been made in any conspicuous manner since the unfortunate effort in the reign of George III; and if made, would excite indignation unbounded. As the Crown has gained in ease and popularity what it has lost in power, so the mothercountry, allowing to the full the principles of local self-government, has won her dependencies to her


1 As to local self-government, Sir Charles Dilke speaks with enthusiasm of that of Canada in general, and calls that of the province of Ontario “the best in the whole world.” Here, elected in each village and township, appear a

Reeve and four Councillors," - a complete revival of the ancient name and usage; for the Reeves, each with his four, make up the council of the shire. In Quebec, too, the mayors of the municipalities make up the county councils, though the name “Reeve” does not appear. “Problems of Greater Britain,” p. 66.


* p. 211.

8 “Only when the obligations of the empire to a foreign power are affected, or an imperial statute is infringed, in matters on which the Canadian Parliament has not full jurisdiction, is the supreme authority of England likely to be exercised.” — Bourinot, quoted by Dilke: Problems of Greater Britain, p. 518.

self. As Sir T. E. May remarks:1 “No liberty or franchise prized by Englishmen at home has been withheld from their fellow-countrymen in distant lands. Thus the most considerable dependencies of the British Crown have advanced until an ancient monarchy has become the parent of democratic republics in all parts of the globe. The Constitution of the United States is scarcely so democratic as that of Canada or Australia. The President's fixed tenure of office and large executive powers, the independent position and authority of the Senate, and the control of the Supreme Court are checks upon the democracy of Congress. In these colonies, the nominees of a majority of the democratic assembly, for the time being, are absolute masters of the colonial government. England ventured to tax her colonies and lost them. At last she gave freedom and found national sympathy and contentment. But in the meantime her colonial dependencies have grown into affiliated States. Instead of taxing her colonies, England now has taxed herself heavily for them. She may well be prouder of the vigorous freedom of her prosperous sons than of a hundred provinces subject to the iron rule of British proconsuls. And should the sole remaining ties of kindred, affection, and honor be severed, she will reflect with just exultation, that her dominion ceased, not in oppression and bloodshed, but in the expansive energies of freedom, and the hereditary capacity of her manly offspring for the privileges of self-government.”

1 Constitutional History, II, p. 538, etc. (summarized).

In 1886 occurred in London a memorable scene, which a newspaper of the day thus describes :

“The Queen formally opened the Colonial Exhibition to-day. The weather was beautiful, with brilliant sunshine. Crowds gathered along Colonial Exhithe route taken by her Majesty from bition of 1886. Buckingham Palace and greeted her with enthusiasm. The main hall, in which the opening ceremonies were conducted, was crowded with the elite of London. The large number of foreign princes and diplomats, who attended in court dress, blended with the scores of British officers present in full glittering uniforms, made a magnificent spectacle. The Prince of Wales,

. the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Henry of Battenberg and his wife, Princess Beatrice, and Crown Princess Victoria of Germany led the royal procession throughout the building, and were followed by Lord Hartington, the Marquis of Salisbury, the Earl of Derby, and scores of other noble and distinguished persons.

“A prominent feature of the opening ceremonies was the ode composed for the occasion by Tennyson. This was magnificently rendered by a vast choir of carefully selected voices. The ode was sung just previous to the Queen's formal declaration that the exhibition was open. The third portion of the ode was evidently composed with a view of stimulating international fraternity between the two great English-speaking nations, and is in the following words:

• Britain fought her sons of yore;
Britain failed, and never more,
Careless of our growing kin,
Shall we sin our fathers' sin.
Men that in a narrower day

« AnteriorContinuar »