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Great Britain actually performed?

He did not pedantically eschew illustrative material. But he never wholly lost sight of his main subject and was rarely faithless to his method.

What was that method? It can perhaps best be understood from a judgement which, in one of his essays, he passes on the author of an unsuccessful political biography,' namely that he 'did not look closely and for himself at real political life'. Bagehot was not infallible. But he did practise his own precepts; he did look closely and for himself at real political life. Hence his ceaseless endeavours to discover how public business was in fact transacted, as distinguished from the way in which its transaction was officially described; hence the contempt with which this master of political writing regarded what he called the 'literary' view of constitutional procedure.

The political life at which he 'looked closely and for himself' was of great interest. At home the generation of statesmen who fought over the first Reform Bill was dead or dying. Grey, Melbourne, Wellington, Peel, Aberdeen had gone. Palmerston died (in office) while Bagehot was writing. Derby and Russell were about to leave the political stage; Disraeli and Gladstone were about to fill it. The Reform Bill of 1867, which began the new era, was passed immediately after the collected essays were first published, and about five years before the Introduction was written which constituted the only change in the edition of 1872.

In foreign affairs the first of the three Bismarckian ! Macknight's Life of Bolingbroke.

wars which made the German Empire was over; the second took place while he was writing; the third, followed by the change in France from the Imperial to the Republican régime, occurred shortly before the appearance of the second edition.

In the United States the Civil War was finished, and the constitutional disputes following on the murder of Lincoln were fresh in every one's recollection.

It was in this historical setting that Bagehot wrote his essays, and the fact is of some importance. It not only explains the allusions to passing events in Britain with which he enlivens his pages, but explains why almost all his foreign illustrations were drawn from America and not from Europe. In 1866 the only great nation which had experience of free institutions outside Great Britain was America. United Italy was in its infancy. France was under Napoleon III. Austria and Russia were Empires of the continental type; Imperial Germany was in the making. But no one denied that the United States had for nearly three generations flourished exceedingly under free institutions largely of their own devising. It was natural therefore that he should look across the Atlantic if he desired to find a parallel, and perhaps a contrast, to the constitution he had undertaken to discuss.

For purposes of illustration he could not, I suppose, have done better. For the part of the British constitution which most interested him, and on which, as I think, he did his best work, was the one most obscured by 'literary' treatment, and least like anything to be found in the United States. Its

real character could best be understood not through a study of its origins, but by comparing and, if need be, contrasting it, with its great contemporary across the sea. This he called the Presidential system; the British practice he described as the Cabinet system; and if his readers desire to understand his conceptions of the latter, they cannot do better than observe where and how the two most obviously differ.

I will venture to offer them a very summary comparison of my own.

Under the Presidential system the effective head of the national administration is elected for a fixed term. He is (practically) irremovable. Even if he is proved to be inefficient, even if he becomes unpopular, even if his policy is unacceptable to the majority of his countrymen, he and his methods must be endured till the moment comes for a new election.

He is aided by Ministers who, however able or distinguished, have no independent political status, have probably had no congressional training, and are by law precluded from obtaining any during their term of office.

Under the Cabinet system everything is different. The head of the administration, commonly called the Prime Minister (though he has no statutory position), is selected for the place on the ground that he is the statesman best qualified to secure the support of a majority in the House of Commons. He retains it only so long as that support is forthcoming. He is the head of his Party. He must be a member of one or other of the two Houses of Parlia

ment; and he must be competent to 'lead' the House to which he belongs. While the Cabinet Ministers of a President are merely his officials, the Prime Minister is primus inter pares in a Cabinet of which (according to peace-time practice) every member must, like himself, have had some parliamentary experience, and gained some parliamentary reputation.

The President's powers are defined by the Constitution, and for their exercise (within the law) he is responsible to no man. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet, on the other hand, are restrained by no written constitution; but they are faced by critics and rivals whose position, though entirely unofficial, is as 'constitutional' as their own; they are subject to a perpetual stream of unfriendly questions to which they must make public reply; and they may at any moment be dismissed from power by a hostile vote.

From these points of view the position of a President is far stronger than that of a Prime Minister; for he cannot be expelled from office, and his powers cannot be curtailed. But there is another side to the picture. His prerogatives, though unassailable, are narrowly limited. He commands all the forces of the Republic, but he cannot legislate. He can appoint whom he will to office, but the Senate must approve. If his policy involves the smallest doses either of legislation or taxation (and what large policy does not?) it rests with Congress to supply them; and Congress may be hostile. He may pursue any foreign policy he pleases, and negotiate what treaties he thinks fit. But after his negotia

tions have been successfully carried through they will be entirely barren unless two-thirds of the Senate are prepared to agree with him,—and again the Senate may be hostile.

Now the position of a Prime Minister, so much weaker intrinsically than that of a President, is often stronger where co-operation is required, because he belongs essentially to a co-operative system, ‚—a system in which nothing is self-supporting, in which all the working parts are interdependent. He and his Cabinet must co-operate or there would be no Government. His Government and the House of Commons' majority which supports it must co-operate, or the Government must resign. Moreover, these needs are not unilateral; they are mutual. The party majority which refuse to support their leaders not only hamper a policy which (be it good or bad) is that of their Government, but they probably injure their own electoral prospects. Leaders who refuse to work together not only weaken their Cabinet and their Party, but probably do little to strengthen their own political position. An administration whose policy unduly strains the loyalty of any large section of its supporters is obviously making things easy for its opponents.

It would seem, then, that Cabinet Government after the British model is more closely knit than Presidential Government after the American model, -and this not because America is a federal country while Britain is a unitary one, but because the great men who founded the Republic deliberately preferred a system in which the task of conducting national affairs was entrusted to three independent

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