Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/758

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the character and objects of which could not otherwise escape the most "vulgar" eye.

We have an example of the tendencies of the system in the Australian colonies, if Australian journals may be believed. Whatever land-questions or other questions of an organic kind or of permanent importance there were, having been settled, and no basis for parties left, party government it seems in those countries is weltering in cabal, senseless faction-fighting, and all the concomitant evils. The worst arts and the worst men inevitably acquire an increasing ascendency in public life. Changes of ministry, brought about for the most part by mere personal intrigue, are of constant occurrence. Government is almost as unstable as in Mexico, and though the mode in which the revolutions are effected is less violent, they are perhaps not much less injurious to the political character of the people, or less likely to produce a complete disintegration of authority in the end.

Imitation of England has led the political world a strange dance. The Chinese shipwrights, when desired to build a vessel in place of one which had been disabled by dry-rot, produced an exact copy, dry rot and all. Montesquieu fancied that the grand secret of English liberty lay in the separation of the executive and the judicial power from the legislative. With their union in the same hands liberty would end. This theory found general acceptance; yet at the very time when Montesquieu made this profound observation, the legislature had in fact got into its hands the executive, which it appointed by the vote of its majority, and the judiciary, which was appointed by the executive. But the effect of the notion is visible in the provisions of the American Constitution; and the consequence is an occasional dead-lock, arising from a conflict between the legislature and the executive, as in the case of President Johnson, who was impeached to force him into harmony with Congress. Again, the House of Lords has been taken for a Senate, and the check imposed by its mature and deliberate wisdom on the rashness of the more popular House has been supposed to be the grand safeguard of British legislation. The House of Lords is not a Senate, nor a second Chamber, in the sense in which the term is practically employed by the architects of new constitutions. It is an estate of the realm: it is a privileged order having an interest of its own separate from that of the nation at large, and defending its own interests, which are necessarily those of privilege, and therefore of reaction, by resisting every measure of political change as long as it is safe to do so. Of its revising precipitate legislation in an impartial sense no instance can be found. But other nations try to reproduce it in the form of a second Chamber, and they find, one after another, that, compose your second Chamber and appoint its members as you will, the result is either a nullity or a collision between the two Houses, in which the more popular House will probably prevail.