Page images
PDF
EPUB

1

or by a reference to the parties to the ment and direct legislation are not agreement–i.e., by Referendum. Here, identical. On the contrary, they are, too, the Referendum is reasonable; at according to the great exponent of the all events, there are distinct grounds latter, irreconcilable; there can be no for withdrawing such matters from the representation with true democracy as ordinary course of legislation.

he understands it. In a famous pasI may add as a third condition: when sage in the “Contrat Social" Rousseau the Constitution is—as all Federal Con- says: "Les deputés du peuple ne sont stitutions are the result of an agree- donc ni ne peuvent être ses représentment between States. Here, too, the ants; ils ne sont que ses Commissaires; Referendum is the natural mode of ef- ils ne peuvent rien conclure definitivefecting an amendment in which is a ment. . . . L'idee des représentcontract between independent Powers. ants est moderne; elle nous vient de cet As the commentators on the Australian inique et absurde Gouvernement dans Commonwealth Act remark: "A Fed- lequel l'espéce humaine est dégradée et eral legislation is а mere creation où le nom d'homme est en deshonneur" of the Federal Constitution; it is ("Contrat Social,” III., c. XV.). A sysa mere instrument or servant of a tem of delegates as distinguished from Federal community; it is an agent, representatives may be the ultimate not a master" (Quick and Garran, p. and necessary evolution of democracy; 988).

the sovereignty of the people may ulSo far none of these conditions ex- timately mean that and no less; there ist with us. I take first the second are signs that we are travelling to that point. The Empire, as distinguished end. But it signifies a transformafrom the United Kingdom, has certain tion of the constitutional position of a chapters of a written Constitution. member of Parliament, and in the long Each of the statutes establishing in run of the House of Commons. There Canada, Australia, South Africa, Par- seems no escape from this; either the liaments and Governments is a consti- Referendum will be so rarely employed tutional measure just as much as is the as to be of little account, or there will Constitution of the United States. be a gradual impairment of the power These measures may require to be of the House of Commons. The autoamendel. But for the Referendum in maton M.P.-he who gets his opinions the sense of an appeal to the people of from the whip or his constituents-is, the United Kingdom there is no place. I am told, not unknown. He will be Theoretically the British Parliament avowedly the normal member when the might change these measures. Prac- Referendum is in full operation; in retically they can be changed only by the gard to fundamental questions, those Dominions themselves. So far as the which elevate politics above the petty United Kingdom is concerned all our concerns of life, and which alone make law stands in the same position. Par- them the worthy pursuit of highliament is supreme; the last limitation minded men, it will be their business to it was removed when the concep- not to form opinions, but to take ortion of a law above Parliaments was ders. abandoned.

I add a further query. Those who I take next the first named essen- have urged the adoption of the Refertial condition, which is the most im- endum have not told us why, if the portant of all. Representative govern- Referendum is desirable, is not also

the Initiative; why is it not the more 2 See Mollwain's “Supremacy of Parliament."

desirable of the two? The popular will

[ocr errors]

ever

may be thwarted by lack of legislation Referendum would be a protection just as much as by legislation.

I am

against hurried legislation. not sure that the case for the Initiative Some of these claims-6.9., No. 2is not somewhat stronger than that for carry with them their refutation; at all the Referendum, now that the consti- events, whatever weight they may tutional right of petition is practically have in Switzerland, where no party useless; that the power of the private system similar to ours exists, where member to initiate important legis- Bills are short and simple, where the lation is at an end; that questions principle of a measure can readily be which do not give trouble to Govern- disentangled from a few details, and ments are apt to be overlooked; that approval or disapproval of it can be inmeasures which do not bring fame and telligently expressed by a "Yes" or a popularity to a

an Administration are not "No," they have little bearing upon leg. introduced or not pressed forward and islation in England, which is generally passed; and that the power of minori- complex, full of details, often the result ties is probably more restricted than it of complicated compromises between

was in parliamentary history. opposing parties. Probably the warmWhen one sees measures of great con- est admirer of popular government sequence pushed aside to give place to would not attribute to electors greater those lending themselves to party cries, power of discriminating as to the merthe case for the Initiative seems the its of measures than their representastrongest.

tives. There are large classes of legThe advantages claimed for the Ref- islation of which they are notoriously Jerendum are mainly: (1) Its educational bad or imperfect judges. Probably effect; "It is most favorable to the ad- no recent statutes have done more good, yancement of the education of the peo- physically and morally, to the people ple” (Oswald, “Direct Legislation by than the Public Health Acts. Yet it the People," p. 9). (2) The supposed may well be doubted whether such power of the people of judging of meas- measures would have met with the apures which are to their interest; "The proval of the great body of the electexperience of democracy teaches that a

They would have been repelled people can be more easily misled when by the multiplied provisions interferthere is a question of persons than ing with personal liberty. The Refwhen there is a question of things” erendum might occasionally prevent (Oswald, "Direct Legislation by the hurried legislation; it might also occaPeople," p. 8). (3) The Referendum is sionally be the instrument of parties. the only means, it is said, of keeping But if it acted as a restraint upon prethe Legislature in touch with the peo- cipitate legislation, at what a price ple. (4) The separation of measures would this be purchased! If there from men; "It (the Referendum) sep- were withdrawn from the House of arates public issues from men and gets Commons the last word as to constithe people into the habit of consider- tutional legislation-i.e., as to legislaing the advisability of laws upon their tion affecting the Crown, the composimerits" (Pierce, "Federal Usurpation,” tion and powers of the two Houses of p. 104). (5) The Referendum would Parliament, the electorate and the comcorrect the anomalies of our electoral ponent parts of the Empire what system; each voter would have one would be left for Parliament? Bevote; each vote would have one value; sides, who is to determine what are a vote in Ireland would not count for constitutional questions? Not the more than a vote in London. (6) The Government of the day, an interested 15

ors.

sees

а

party. If a body of judges, they would the true distinction between representbe invested with dangerous or invidi- ative government and the rule of the ous powers in excess of those of the many, direct and unqualified. The Supreme Court of the United States; the former has been described as a method latter construe a written document; the of eliciting the collective will, the true former would be free to launch out on will of the community. Guizot, the the wide sea of constitutional law. historian of representative governWhatever element of truth may be ment,

in it method bý in these claims for the Referendum, which prominence is given to the most of them would be met by short best elements scattered through Parliaments, by reforms in electoral society: "Les organiser en pouvoir de distribution, and by some measure se- fait, c'est à dire de concentrer, de paring the representation of minorities. réaliser la raison publique, la morale I will not dwell upon all the many dis- publique, et de les appeler au pouvoir." advantages incident to the Referendum These are dark sayings, refinements -.9., the expense of the system, the not in touch with facts, abstractions difficulty of amending measures which which often conceal the advocacy or had been once approved. I mention defence of class interest. The essence only one vital objection. What is now of the representative system, stated in, the problem of political problems, the simple words according with facts, is difficult conciliation to be made, if pos- trust by the many in the worthiest sible, here and wherever democracy available. It is this trust which gives exists? To maintain it while eliminat- to representative government what is ing its dangers; to combine the power best in aristocracy without its drawof the people with the just influence of backs. It is this trust, used on the knowledge; to unite free political life whole honestly and wisely, which has with discipline and self-restraint; to so far confuted the oldest and most find protection not only against oppres- common accusations against democsion, which is now rare, but also racy; and such hope as exists that the against ignorance, which is always evils incident to democracy may be common. The Referendum is no so- more and more avoided depends upon lution of this problem; it might make the continuance of a system under the combination to be desired rarer and which the many repose confidence in more difficult.

a select few. And this element the to the writings of publicists there Referendum and Initiative would has been much refined dscussion as to weaken. The Contemporary Review.

John Maodonell.

MRS. SMITH.

I had lived in London long enough, with no break but that of a brief yearly holiday and such short absences as I was able to steal from work for shooting with my friends. In winter I made a point of a day's hunting on a Saturday, and hunting by train is tiring and unsatisfactory. London will always have its charms for me. I

know it and love it. I can find my way about it in the densest November fog. I feel at home in a thousand odd corners of it. I have been blessed with many friendships made and cemented there. And yet I began to feel that I wanted to make my home in the

3 Guizot, “Histoire des Origines du Gouvernement Representatif," II., 150.

country, more especially since it seemed otherwise years ago, and he became a likely to be a bachelor home till the London clubman. end. I have seen too many old Lon- Now, surely in the country there don club bachelors to wish to fossilize would be less risk of such a dreary into one myself. Only the other day esit. Some kindly neighbor would I saw in “The Times" the death of one know my house and know that I lived of them. I had known him pretty there, and would hear that I was dying well for twenty

years, and liked and come and see me. So the news him; but I had not heard he was would spread a little in my backwater, ill, and I went to the lodging- and the other denizens would surely house in Bury Street where he had come and ask about me, and perhaps lived. The landlord of the house come in and see me. And if I had a opened the door to me himself, and I couple of servants they might attach asked sympathetically about my old themselves to me, and perhaps let my acquaintance.

surviving relations, if I have any, "Was any one with him at the end?" know-and so on. Yes, the country is I said.

kinder then. It knows more than one “Oh dear, no, sir; just the nurse in wants it to know sometimes, but that the nursing home we had to take him makes for sympathy in the long run, to. She said he went hoff very nicely. perhaps. I went up the next morning, and his I took a small house in the hunting cousin, Mr. Blackwell, came next day. country where I was wont to go, and We buried him this morning at Kensal where my horses were standing, and I Green, poor old gentleman. Thirty- furnished it and rebuilt the stables and three years he lived here, sir. I bought moved in. him with the lease—he had only a bed- This was all tolerably easy, and there room--had all his meals at the club. is no trouble about managing stables That's all he had"--turning and point- and stablemen. ing to a portmanteau, a bag, and a But my domestic troubles in the hat-box, lying together in the passage. other department of my household *We're sending them on to Mr. Black- were really rather overwhelming at well's in Leicestershire to-night." And first. All my female relatives had he laughed a little, not unkindly, at taken the deepest interest in the questhe meagre show the battered old lug- tion of my establishment. It was gage made.

quite clear I couldn't “keep house" myWell, I turned away with a shud- self—I didn't know tapioca from sago, der. It mustn't come to this with and don't know it now--and I hadn't

Yet how easily it might! Here the remotest idea how many pounds of was a man who, twenty years before, meat or butter "went to" each person had crowds of friends, was welcome in the establishment per week, nor everywhere, had good looks, good could I remember it for twenty-four breeding, to commend him-and yet it Lours when I was told. came to this, a hired bed and a hired One said I must have a "general," nurse at the end. Where was the and she advertised at her own charges woman he had loved and lost, whose in her own local paper for a "general” arm should have been round him, for me. Another declared that "genwhose lips should have been on his erals" were unsatisfactory, and that I tired forehead?

must have a “cook-housekeeper.” AnPerhaps she read it in "The Times" other said I absolutely must have a ---perhaps she missed it. She chose man and wife, and get rid of Clarke.

me.

Well, I begau rather badly. My re- rison town I had settled-by the kindlations had all written voluminous let- ness of my military friends, or at my ters on the subject, but not one of club in London. And then I found them had found me the woman she Kate Cleary. She was a "general.” A was seeking for me, and described with poor fellow I knew had married on such insistence and graphic power. two-pence a-year and no expectations, The less able they seemed to find me and his pretty little wife had died and any one, the better able they were to left him stranded with a baby and a describe the ideal I must strive for, nurse and a small flat in Kensington and must on no account exchange for and a “general.” His mother took the any other, even if I starved and failed baby and the nurse, and I took the to get my bed made in the meantime. general-at his urgent request. He

So when it was getting near the time said she was a treasure, and had been for moving in, I went to an agency one of the comforts of his short marnear my lodging and took the first ried life. woman they recommended to me. She I don't know why, but my bachelor seemed a pleasant sort of person, and establishment didn't seem to suit her. the agent said she had a good char- She was Irish and a Roman Catholic, acter, and she came. I wrote to each and I think Clarke must have aired of ny advisers, and said I hoped I some offensive heretical doctrines at had found just the person she had been tea the evening she came, or have su anxious for me to have; and I in- spoken disrespectfully of the Pope of vited them all to come and stay with Rome. She sent me up a beastly dinme later on and see for themselves. ner, and I have a suspicion that Clarke

I had to put off their visits. I had made discourteous remarks about it quite a good dinner the first evening I when it became his supper in the went down to my new house. Mrs. kitchen later in the evening. Kate Woolley had arrived earlier in the day. Cleary resigned the next day, and Before dinner she sent me a message totally declined to stay even for the through Clarke to say that there was usual month. I dined out once or no sherry to cook with. . I didn't know twice again, and then I went up to one cooked with sherry, but Clarke said London for a day or two to think it it was usual in “good houses," so I sent

over.

And there I found Mrs. Smith. him to the kitchen with a bottle, and I was dining with some friends of he came back and said Maraschino mine, and described my situation in would be necessary for the ice. So I such affecting terms to an old friend sent Maraschino. My relations all whom I had taken in to dinner, that said afterwards that was unwise. she declared she must sacrifice someAnyhow, breakfast was very unpunc- thing herself to help me, and that if I tual next morning, and I had reason to would like to have her housemaid, who complain of other matters, and Mrs. had been with various members of her Woolley left in tears, invoking alter- family, in various capacities, for years nate blessings and curses on me and and years, and was an excellent cook, my house, and escorted to the station she felt sure I should never regret it. by Clarke and my groom, who gave She was quite frank about it all, and her a bottle of soda-water for her re- told me Mrs. Smith had been with her freshment on the journey to her home and her family so long that they recogand handed her ticket to the guard. nized their obligation to pension her

I dined for several nights at the before many years were past, and mess-it was on the outskirts of a gar- would certainly do it, whether she

« PreviousContinue »