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right by one of his peculiarities : he disliked above all things to oppose the Crown. At a great crisis, at the erisis of the Corn Laws, what he considered was not what other people were thinking of, – the economical issue under discussion, the welfare of the country hanging in the balance, - but the Queen's ease. He thought the Crown so superior a part in the Constitution that even on vital occasions he looked solely -- or said he looked solely - to the momentary comfort of the present sovereign; he never was comfortable in opposing a conspicuous act of the Crown. It is very likely that if the Duke had still been the president of the House of Lords, they would have permitted the Crown to prevail in its well-chosen scheme; but the Duke was dead, and his authority or some of it — had fallen to a very different person. Lord Lyndhurst had many great qualities; he had a splendid intellect, -as great a faculty of finding truth as any one in his generation : but he had no love of truth. With this great faculty of finding truth, he was a believer in error-in what his own party now admit to be error — all his life through. He could have found the truth as a statesman just as he found it when judge; but he never did find it,- he never looked for it. He was a great partisan, and he applied a capacity of argument and a faculty of intellectual argument rarely equaled to support the tenets of his party.
The proposal to create life peers was proposed by the antagonistic party, was at the moment likely to injure his own party: to him this was a great opportunity. The speech he delivered on that occasion lives in the memory of those who heard it: his eyes did not at that time let him read, so he repeated by memory, and quite accurately, all the blackletter authorities bearing on the question. So great an intellectual effort has rarely been seen in an English assembly; but the result was deplorable. Not by means of his black-letter authorities, but by means of his recognized authority and his vivid impression, he induced the House of Lords to reject the proposition of the Government. Lord Lyndhurst said the Crown could not now create life peers, and so there are no life peers; the House of Lords rejected the inestimable, the unprecedented opportunity of being tacitly reformed. Such a chance does not come twice, The life peers who would have been then introduced would have been among the first men in the country: Lord Macaulay was to have been among the first; Lord Wensleydale — the most learned and not the least logical of our lawyers — to be the very first. Thirty or forty such men, added judiciously and sparingly as years went on, would have given to the House of Lords the very element which as a criticizing chamber it needs so much: it would have given it critics. The most accomplished men in each department might then, without irrelevant considerations of family and of fortune, have been added to the chamber of review; the very element which was wanted to the House of Lords was, as it were by a constitutional Providence, offered to the House of Lords, and they refused it. By what species of effort that error can be repaired, I cannot tell; but unless it is repaired, the intellectual capacity can never be what it would have been, will never be what it ought to be, will never be sufficient for its work.
Another reform ought to have accompanied the creation of life peers : proxies ought to have been abolished. Some time or other the slack attendance of the House of Lords will destroy the House of Lords. There are occasions in which appearances are realities, and this is one of them : the House of Lords on most days looks so unlike what it ought to be that most people will not believe it is what it ought to be. The attendance of considerate peers will for obvious reasons be larger when it can no longer be overpowered by the non-attendance, by the commissioned votes, of inconsiderate peers. The abolition of proxies would have made the House of Lords a real House; the addition of life peers would have made it a good House.
The greater of these changes would have most materially aided the House of Lords in the performance of its subsidiary functions. It always perhaps happens in a great nation that certain bodies of sensible men, posted prominently in its constitution, acquire functions and usefully exercise functions which at the outset no one expected from them, and which do not identify themselves with their original design : this has happened to the House of Lords especially. The most obvious instance is the judicial function. This is a function which no theorist would assign to a second chamber in a new constitution, and which is matter of accident in ours. Gradually, indeed, the unfitness of the second chamber for judicial functions has made itself felt : under our present arrangements this function is not intrusted to the House of Lords, but to a committee of the House of Lords. On one occasion only (the trial of O'Connell) the whole House, or some few in the whole House, wished to vote; and they were told they could not, or they would destroy the judicial prerogative. No one, indeed, would venture really to place the judicial function in the-chance majorities of a fluctuating assembly: it is so by a sleepy theory, it is not so in living fact. As a legal question, too, it is a matter of grave doubt whether there ought to be two supreme courts in this country,—the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and what is in fact, though not in name, the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords. Up to a very recent time one committee might decide that a man was sane as to money, and the other committee might decide that he was insane as to land. This absurdity has been cured; but the error from which it arose has not been cured, — the error of having two supreme courts, to both of which, as time goes on, the same question is sure often enough to be submitted, and each of which is sure every now
and then to decide it differently. I do not reckon the judicial function of the House of Lords as one of its true subsidiary functions: first, because it does not in fact exercise it; next, because I wish to see it in appearance deprived of it. The supreme court of the English people ought to be a great conspicuous tribunal, ought to rule all other courts, ought to have no competitor, ought to bring our law into unity, ought not to be hidden beneath the robes of a legislative assembly.
The real subsidiary functions of the House of Lords are, unlike its judicial functions, very analogous to its substantial nature. The first is the faculty of criticizing the executive. An assembly in which the mass of the members have nothing to lose, where most have nothing to gain, where everyone has a social position firmly fixed, where no one has a constituency, where hardly any one cares for the minister of the day, is the very assembly in which to look for, from which to expect, independent criticism; and in matter of fact, we find it: the criticism of the acts of late administrations by Lord Grey has been admirable. But such criticism, to have its full value, should be many-sided. Every man of great ability puts his own mark on his own criticism; it will be full of thought and feeling, but then it is of idiosyncratic thought and feeling. We want many critics of ability and knowledge in the upper House; not equal to Lord Grey, for they would be hard to find, but like Lord Grey. They should resemble him in impartiality; they should resemble him in clearness; they should most of all resemble him in taking the supplemental view of a subject. There is an actor's view of a subject, which (I speak of mature and discussed action, of cabinet action) is nearly sure to include everything old and new, everything ascertained and determinate; but there is also a bystander's view, which is likely to omit some one or more of these old and certain elements, but also to contain some
new or distant matter which the absorbed and occupied actor could not see. There ought to be many life peers in our secondary chamber capable of giving us this higher criticism. I am afraid we shall not soon see them, but as a first step we should learn to wish for them.
The second subsidiary action of the House of Lords is even more important. Taking the House of Commons not after possible but most unlikely improvements, but in matter of fact and as it stands, it is overwhelmed with work. The task of managing it falls upon the Cabinet, and that task is very hard. Every member of the Cabinet in the Commons has to “attend the House”; to contribute by his votes, if not by his voice, to the management of the House. Even in so small a matter as the education department, Mr. Lowe, a consummate observer, spoke of the desirability of finding a chief “not exposed to the prodigious labor of attending the House of Commons." It is all but necessary that certain members of the Cabinet should be exempt from its toil and untouched by its excitement; but it is also necessary that they should have the power of explaining their views to the nation, of being heard as other people are heard. There are various plans for so doing, which I may discuss a little in speaking of the House of Commons: but so much is evident, — the House of Lords, for its own members, attains this object; it gives them a voice; it gives them what no competing plan does give them, position. The leisured members of the Cabinet speak in the Lords with authority and power. They are not administrators with a right to speech, -clerks (as is sometimes suggested) brought down to lecture a House but not to vote in it, - but they are the equals of those they speak to; they speak as they like, and reply as they choose; they address the House, not with the “bated breath of subordinates, but with the force and dignity of sure rank. Life peers would enable us to use this faculty