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PARLIAMENTS.

enough to induce the parish to quarrel with the lord of the manor in order to keep him out. The people of Doddington, to quote a well-known instance, do not hate Stanleys and Hornbys, and the rest of the great clan of which Knowsley is the headquarters, enough to veto a nomination merely because it has fallen on one of them. If they do, that is a good reason for not appointing a man who is so weighted by local prejudice. The patron would retain to the full his right of selecting among the eligible, which is all the law gives him now, would have done just as great a favor to his presentee, and would, in nine cases out of ten, have had his choice ratified by a popular election. Of course if he is actually deprived of money — as might be the case in the instance of a hereditary living — he ought to be compensated, but in the majority of cases he would lose so little, that we believe the peers, with their immense ecclesiastical patronage, could be induced to pass the act. Mr. Cross may propose any palliative he pleases, and we do not doubt his capacity to suggest a very clever one, but to this — a strictly limited but efficacious lay veto — it must come at last, if all patronage is not to be entrusted to a patronage commission, under the crown.




From The Saturday Review.

PARLIAMENTS.

The institution of parliaments, or some sort of assembly more or less representative, has made so much progress in the modern world that not to have a parliament is now the exception, and even Turkey has at last come over to the majority, and has adopted that cherished product of Western civilization. In some countries, too, the parliamentary system is working better than the character and traditions of the nations concerned had led observers to expect, and Austria and Italy are for the moment brilliant examples of constitutional government. It must be owned, however, that there are some little clouds passing over the bright parliamentary sky. The kings of Denmark and Bavaria govern in despite of, rather than in accordance with, their parliaments; and the French Assembly, which, as its late president says, deserved so well of France and the republic, has been summarily dismissed by a high-handed exercise of authority. Even at home Parliament does not shine just at present. The confidence of England in parliamentary government is not in the least shaken; but, for the time at least, Parliament does not occupy quite the same place which it once did in public attention and esteem. This is partly owing, no doubt, to the excitement of a war which makes home politics seem tame. But there are other reasons, less flattering to the House of Commons, to account for the growing feeling that the reports of Parliamentary proceedings are among the least interesting contents of a newspaper. In the first place, there is an obtrusive silliness in the conduct of members which, if it produces some amusement, produces more disgust. The time that ought to be devoted to public business is occupied in putting and answering foolish questions. It is not, for example, very edifying to find Mr. Whalley gravely asking, and the chancellor of the exchequer having gravely to answer, what are the mercantile nations which are interested in the Suez Canal being kept open. The way, too, in which business is blocked by an abuse of the forms of the House engenders a feeling of weariness. The House of Commons is perpetually in the ludicrous position of a man who cannot get up because some one has pinned his coat-tails to his seat. On Wednesday eleven members announced their intention to talk out a bill, one of them speaking against time for two hours; and a short time ago a bill was actually talked out by its own supporters. It is not surprising that to read debates should seem a wearisome waste of time when what is said is not meant to convince or refute, but simply to keep pace with the clock. It is also perhaps true that, to some extent, printing is taking the place of speaking. Men prefer being read to being heard. The new custom of writing magazine articles with the names of the writers attached affords politicians a means of publishing every month an exposition of their views which cannot be misreported, which is made at leisure and with no limits of space, and which appeals to the public more effectually than most speeches made in the House. Mr. Gladstone above all men loves this new mode of addressing the world. As soon as one of his interminable magazine articles is published, a mysterious announcement is made that he has another in hand. He began his attack on Sir James Brooke in Parliament, but he publishes it in a magazine. It is not in the House of Commons, but out of it, that he thinks proper to state his real case and dwell on it for the public benefit.