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sions in the army. Till an Act passed only three years since the Queen used to sign all military commissions, and she still signs all fresh commissions. The inevitable and natural consequence is that such commissions were, and to some extent still are, in arrears by thousands. Men have often been known to receive their commissions for the first time years after they have left the service. If the Queen had been an ordinary officer she would long since have complained, and long since have been relieved of this slavish labour. A cynical statesman is said to have defended it on the ground "that you may have a fool for a sovereign, and then it would be desirable he should have plenty of occupation in which he can do no harm." But it is in truth childish to heap formal duties of business upon a person who has of necessity so many formal duties of society. It is a remnant of the old days, when George III. would know everything, however trivial and assent to everything, however insignificant. These abours of routine may be dismissed from the discussions. It is not by them that the sovereign acquires his authority either for evil or for good.
The best mode of testing what we owe to the Queen is to make a vigorous effort of the imagination, and see how we should get on without her. Let us strip cabinet government of all its accessories, let us reduce it to its two necessary constituents—a representative assembly (a House of Commons) and a cabinet appointed by that assembly—and examine how we should manage with them only. We are so little accustomed to analyse the constitution; we are so used to ascribe the whole effect of the
constitution to the whole constitution, that a great many
government, if it is not to degrade itself to presidential
resources-must not rely on these old world débris.
Many modes might be suggested by which ba parlia960ownale! ment might do in appearance what our parliament does
in reality, viz., appoint a premier. But I prefer to select
Let us suppose the House of Commons-existing alone
This mode of election would throw the whole choice into the hands of party organisation, just as our present mode does, except in so far as the Crown interferes with it; no outsider would ever be appointed, because the immense number of votes which every great party brings into the field would far outnumber every casual and petty minority. The premier should not be appointed for a fixed time, but during good behaviour or the pleasure of parliament. Mutatis mutandis, subject to the differences now to be investigated, what goes on now would go on
then. The premier then, as now, must resign upon a Yvote of want of confidence, but the volition of parliament
would then be the overt and single force in the selection
of a successor, whereas it is now the predominant though latent force.
It will help the discussion very much if we divide it into three parts. The whole course of a representative government has three stages—first, when a ministry is appointed; next, during its continuance; last, when it ends. Let us consider what is the exact use of the Queen at each of these stages, and how our present form of government differs in each, whether for good or for evil from that simpler form of cabinet government which might exist without her.
At the beginning of an administration there would not be much difference between the royal and unroyal species of cabinet governments when there were only two great parties in the State, and when the greater of those parties was thoroughly agreed within itself who should be its parliamentary leader, and who therefore should he A pre
its premier. The sovereign must now accept that recognised leader; and if the choice were directly made by the House of Commons, the House must also choose him ; its supreme section, acting compactly and harmoniously, would sway its decisions without substantial resistance, and perhaps without even apparent competition. dominant party, rent by no intestine demarcation, would be despotic. In such a case cabinet government would go on without friction whether there was a Queen or whether there was no Queen. The best sovereign could then achieve no good, and the worst effect no harm.
But the difficulties are far greater when the predominant party is not agreed who should be its leader. In the royal form of cabinet government the sovereign then has sometimes a substantial selection; in the unroyal, who would choose ? There must be a meeting at “ Willis's Rooms ;" there must be that sort of interior despotism of the majority over the minority within the party, by which Lord John Russell in 1859 was made to resign his pretensions to the supreme government, and to be content to serve as a subordinate to Lord Palmerston. The tacit compression which a party anxious for office would exercise over leaders who divided its strength, would be used and must be used. Whether such a party would always choose precisely the best man may well be doubted. In a party once divided it is very difficult to secure unanimity in favour of the very person whom a disinterested bystander would recommend. All manner of jealousies and enmities are immediately awakened, and it is always difficult, often impossible, to get them
to sleep again. But though such a party might not select the very best leader, they have the strongest motives to select a very good leader. The maintenance of their rule depends on it. Under a presidential constitution the preliminary caucuses which choose the president need not care as to the ultimate fitness of the man they choose. They are solely concerned with his attractiveness as a candidate; they need not regard his efficiency as a ruler. If they elect a man of weak judgment, he will reign his stated term; even though he show the best judgment, at the end of that term there will be by constitutional destiny another election. But under a ministerial government there is no such fixed destiny. The government is a removable government. its tenure depends upon its conduct. If a party in power were so foolish as to choose a weak man for its head, it would cease to be in power. Its judgment is its life. Suppose in 1859 that the Whig party had determined to set aside both Earl Russell and Lord Palmerston and to choose for its head an incapable nonentity, the Whig party would probably have been exiled from office at the Schleswig-Holstein difficulty. The nation would have deserted them, and Parliament would have deserted them, too; neither would have endured to see a secret negotiation, on which depended the portentous alternative of war or peace, in the hands of a person who was thought to be weak—who had been promoted because of his mediocrity-whom his own friends did not respect. A ministerial government, too, is carried on in the face of day. Its life is in debate. A president may be a