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real fear of serious harm. Our present practice, as has been explained, only works because of the good sense of those by whom it is worked, and the new practice would have to rely on a similar good sense and practicality too. The House of Lords must deal with the assent to treaties as they do with the assent to laws; they must defer to the voice of the country and the authority of the Commons, even in cases where their own judgment might guide them otherwise. In very vital treaties probably, being Englishmen, they would be of the same mind as the rest of Englishmen. If in such cases they showed a reluctance to act as the people wished, they would have the same lesson taught them as on vital and exciting questions of domestic legislation, and the case is not so likely to happen, for on these internal and organic questions the interest and the feeling of the Peers is often presumably opposed to that of other classes they may be anxious not to relinquish the very power which other classes are anxious to acquire; but in foreign policy there is no similar antagonism of interest - a peer and a non-peer have presumably in that matter the same interest and the same wishes.

Probably, if it were considered to be desirable to give to Parliament a more direct control over questions of foreign policy than it possesses now, the better way would be not to require a formal vote to the treaty clause by clause. This would entail too much time, and would lead to unnecessary

changes in minor details. It would be enough to let the treaty be laid upon the table of both Houses, say for fourteen days, and to acquire validity unless objected to by one House or other before that interval had expired.


That is all which I think I need say on the domestic events which have changed, or suggested changes, in the English Constitution since this book was written. But there are also some foreign events which have illustrated it, and of these I should like to say a few words.

Naturally, the most striking of these illustrative changes comes from France. Since 1789 France has always been trying political experiments, from which others may profit much, though as yet she herself has profited little. She is now trying one singularly illustrative of the English Constitution. When the first edition of this book was published I had great difficulty in persuading many people that it was possible for a non-monarchical state, for the real chief of the practical Executive - the Premier as we should call him - to be nominated and to be removable by the vote of the National Assembly. The United States and its copies were the only present and familiar Republics, and in these the system was exactly opposite. The Executive was there appointed by the people as the Legislative was too. No conspicuous example of any other sort

of Republic then existed. But now France has given an example - M. Thiers is (with one exception) just the chef du pouvoir exécutif that I endeavored more than once in this book to describe. He is appointed by and is removable by the Assembly. He comes down and speaks in it just as our Premier does; he is responsible for managing it just as our Premier is. No one can any longer doubt the possibility of a republic in which the Executive and the Legislative authorities were united and fixed; no one can assert such union to be the incommunicable attribute of a Constitutional Monarchy.

But, unfortunately, we can as yet only infer from this experiment that such a constitution is possible; we cannot as yet say whether it will be bad or good. The circumstances are very peculiar, and that in three ways. First, the trial of a specially Parliamentary Republic, of a Republic where Parliament appoints the Minister, is made in a nation which has, to say the least of it, no peculiar aptitude for Parliamentary Government; which has possibly a peculiar inaptitude for it. In the last but one of these essays I have tried to describe one of the mental conditions of Parliamentary Government, which I call "rationality," by which I do not mean reasoning power, but rather the power of hearing the reasons of others, of comparing them quietly with one's own reasons, and then being guided by the result. But a French Assembly is not easy to reason with. Every Assembly is divided into parties and into sections of parties,

and in France each party, almost every section of a party, begins not to clamor but to scream, and to scream as only Frenchmen can, as soon as it hears anything which it particularly dislikes. With an Assembly in this temper, real discussion is impossible, and Parliamentary Government is impossible too, because the Parliament can neither choose men nor measures. Ths French assemblies under the Restored Monarchy seem to have been quieter, probably because being elected from a limited constituency they did not contain so many sections of opinion; they had fewer irritants and fewer species of irritability. But the assemblies of the '48 Republic were disorderly in the extreme. I saw the last myself, and can certify that steady discussion upon a critical point was not possible in it. There was not an audience willing to hear. The Assembly now sitting at Versailles is undoubtedly also, at times, most tumultuous, and a Parliamentary Government in which it governs must be under a peculiar difficulty because as a sovereign it is unstable, capricious, and unruly.

The difficulty is the greater because there is no check, or little, from the French nation upon the Assembly. The French, as a nation, do not care for or appreciate Parliamentary Government. I have endeavored to explain how difficult it is for inexperienced mankind to take to such a government; how much more natural, that is, how much more easy to uneducated men is loyalty to a monarch. A nation

which does not expect good from a Parliament cannot check or punish a Parliament. France expects, I fear, too little from her Parliaments ever to get what she ought. Now that the suffrage is universal, the average intellect and the average culture of the constituent bodies are excessively low; and even such mind and culture as there is has long been enslaved to authority: the French peasant cares more for standing well with his present préfet than for anything else whatever; he is far too ignorant to check and watch his Parliament, and far too timid to think of doing either, if the executive authority nearest to him did not like it. The experiment of a strictly Parliamentary Republic of a Republic where the Parliament appoints the Executive — is being tried in France at an extreme disadvantage, because in France a Parliament is unusually likely to be bad, and unusually likely also to be free enough to show its badness.

Secondly, the present polity of France is not a copy of the whole effective part of the British Constitution, but only of a part of it. By our Constitution nominally the Queen, but really the Prime Minister, has the power of dissolving the Assembly. But M. Thiers has no such power; and therefore, under ordinary circumstances, I believe, the policy would soon become unmanageable. The result would be, as I have tried to explain, that the Assembly would be always changing its Ministry, that having no reason to fear the penalty which that

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