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had, but it still has much sanctity. No one, or scarcely any one, can argue with a cabinet minister in his own room as well as he would argue with another man in another room: he cannot make his own points as well, he cannot unmake as well the points presented to him. A monarch's room is worse. The best instance is Lord Chatham, the most dictatorial and imperious of English statesmen, and almost the first English statesman who was borne into power against the wishes of the king and against the wishes of the nobility,- the first popular minister. We might have expected a proud tribune of the people to be dictatorial to his sovereign,- to be to the king what he was to all others. On the contrary, he was the slave of his own imagination; there was a kind of mystic enchantment in vicinity to the monarch which divested him of his ordinary nature. “The last peep into the king's closet," said Mr. Burke, "intoxicates him, and will to the end of his life." A wit said that even at the levée he bowed so low that you could see the tip of his hooked nose between his legs. He was in the habit of kneeling at the bedside of George III. while transacting business. Now, no man can argue on his knees : the same superstitious feeling which keeps him in that physical attitude will keep him in a corresponding mental attitude. He will not refute the bad arguments of the king as he will refute another man's bad arguments; he will not state his own best arguments effectively and incisively when he knows that the king would not like to hear' them. In a nearly balanced argument the king must always have the better, and in politics many most important arguments are nearly balanced. Whenever there was much to be said for the king's opinion, it would have its full weight; whatever was said for the minister's opinions would only have a lessened and enfeebled weight.
The king, too, possesses a power, according to theory for extreme use on a critical occasion, but which he can in law use on any occasion,- he can dissolve; he can say to his minister in fact, if not in words, “This Parliament sent you here, but I will see if I cannot get another Parliament to send some one else here.” George III. well understood that it was best to take his stand at times and on points when it was perhaps likely, or at any rate not unlikely, the nation would support him. He always made a minister that he did not like, tremble at the shadow of a possible successor. He had a cunning in such matters like the cunning of insanity. He had conflicts with the ablest men of his time, and he was hardly ever baffled.
He understood how to help a feeble argument by a tacit threat, and how best to address it to a habitual deference.
Perhaps such powers as these are what a wise man would most seek to exercise and least fear to possess. To wish to be a despot, “to hunger after tyranny,” as the Greek phrase had it, marks in our day an uncultivated mind. A person who so wishes cannot have weighed what Butler calls the “doubtfulness things are involved in.” To be sure you are right to impose your will, or to wish to impose it, with violence upon others; to see your own ideas vividly and fixedly, and to be tormented till you can apply them in life and practice; not to like to hear the opinions of others, to be unable to sit down and weigh the truth they have, -- are but crude states of intellect in our present civilization. We know at least that facts are many; that progress is complicated; that burning ideas (such as young men have) are mostly false and always incomplete. The notion of a far-seeing and despotic statesman, who can lay down plans for ages yet unborn, is a fancy generated by the pride of the human intellect, to which facts give no support. The plans of Charlemagne died with him; those of Richelieu were mistaken, those of Napoleon gigantesque and frantic. But a wise and great constitutional monarch attempts no such vanities. His career is not in the air: he labors in the world of sober fact; he deals with schemes which can be effected, schemes which are desirable, schemes which are worth the cost. He says to the ministry his people send to him, to ministry after ministry, “I think so and so: do you see if there is anything in it. I have put down my reasons in a certain memorandum, which I will give you. Probably it does not exhaust the subject, but it will suggest materials for your consideration.”
By years of discussion with ministry after ministry, the best plans of the wisest king would certainly be adopted, and the inferior plans, the impracticable plans, rooted out and rejected. He could not be uselessly beyond his time, for he would have been obliged to convince the representatives — the characteristic men- of his time. He would have the best means of proving that he was right on all new and strange matters; for he would have won to his side, probably, after years of discussion, the chosen agents of the commonplace world, men who were where they were because they had pleased the men of the existing age, who will never be much disposed to new conceptions or profound thoughts. A sagacious and original constitutional monarch might go to his grave in peace if any man could: he would know that his best laws were in harmony with his age; that they suited the people who were to work them, the people who were to be benefited by them. And he would have passed a happy life: he would have passed a life in which he could always get his arguments heard; in which he could always make those who had the responsibility of action think of them before they acted; in which he could know that the schemes which he had set at work in the world were not the casual accidents of an individual idiosyncrasy, which are mostly much wrong, but the likeliest of all things to be right, – the ideas of one very intelligent man at last accepted and acted on by the ordinary intelligent many.
But can we expect such a king—or (for that is the material point) can we expect a lineal series of such kings ? Every one has heard the reply of the Emperor Alexander to Madame de Staël, who favored him with a declamation in praise of beneficent despotism : “Yes, Madame, but it is only a happy accident.” He well knew that the great abilities and the good intentions necessary to make an efficient and good despot never were continuously combined in any line of rulers; he knew that they were far out of reach of hereditary human nature. Can it be said that the characteristic qualities of a constitutional monarch are more within its reach? I am afraid it cannot. We found just now that the characteristic use of a hereditary constitutional monarch at the outset of an administration greatly surpassed the ordinary competence of hereditary faculties : I fear that an impartial investigation will establish the same conclusion as to his uses during the continuance of an administration.
If we look at history, we shall find that it is only during the period of the present reign that in England the duties of a constitutional sovereign have ever been well performed. The first two Georges were ignorant of English affairs, and wholly unable to guide them whether well or ill,- for many years in their time the Prime Minister had, over and above the labor of managing Parliament, to manage the woman - sometimes the queen, sometimes the mistress — who managed the sovereign; George III. interfered unceasingly, but he did harm unceasingly; George IV. and William IV. gave no steady continuing guidance, and were unfit to give it. On the Continent, in first-class countries, constitutional royalty has never lasted out of one generation. Louis Philippe, Victor Emmanuel, and Leopold are the founders of their dynasties : we must not reckon in constitutional monarchy, any more than in despotic monarchy, on the permanence in the descendants of the peculiar genius which founded the race. As far as experience goes, there is no reason to expect a hereditary series of useful limited monarchs.
If we look to theory, there is even less reason to expect it. A monarch is useful when he gives an effectual and beneficial guidance to his ministers. But these ministers are sure to be among the ablest men of their time: they will have had to conduct the business of parliament so as to satisfy it, they will have to speak so as to satisfy it; the two together cannot be done save by a man of very great and varied ability. The exercise of the two gifts is sure to teach a man much of the world; and if it did not, a parliamentary leader has to pass through a magnificent training before he becomes a leader : he has to gain a seat in parliament, to gain the ear of parliament, to gain the confidence of parliament, to gain the confidence of his colleagues. No one can achieve these — no one, still more, can both achieve them and retain them, without a singular ability, nicely trained in the varied detail of life. What chance has a hereditary monarch such as nature forces him to be, such as history shows he is, against men so educated and so born? He can but be an average man to begin with : sometimes he will be clever, but sometimes he will be stupid ; in the long run he will be neither clever nor stupid, - he will be the simple, common man who plods the plain routine of life from the cradle to the grave.
His education will be that of one who has never had to struggle ; who has always felt that he has nothing to gain ; who has had the first dignity given him; who has never seen common life as in truth it is. It is idle to expect an ordinary man born in the purple to have greater genius than an extraordinary man born out of the purple; to expect a man whose place has always been fixed to have a better judgment than one who has lived by his judgment; to expect a man whose career will be the same whether he is discreet