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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/366

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

god, and where he continues to be elective, the power of the consultative body is apt to override the royal power, and eventually to suppress it. The first to be named is that of Rome. Originally "the king convoked the senate when he pleased, and laid before it his questions; no senator might declare his opinion unasked; still less might, the senate meet without being summoned." But here, where the king, though regarded as having divine approval, was not held to be of divine descent, and where, though usually nominated by a predecessor, he was sometimes practically elected by the senate and always submitted to the form of popular approval, the consultative body presently became supreme. "The senate had in course of time been converted, from a corporation intended merely to advise the magistrates, into a board commanding the magistrates, and self-governing." Afterward "the right of nominating and canceling senators, originally belonging to the magistrates, was withdrawn from them"; and, finally, "the irremovable character and life-tenure of the members of the ruling order, who obtained seat and vote, was definitely consolidated": the oligarchic constitution became pronounced. The history of Poland yields another example. After unions of simply-governed tribes had produced small states and generated a nobility, and after these small states had been united, there arose a kingship. At first elective, as kingships habitually are, this continued so—never became hereditary. On the occasion of each election out of the royal clan, there was an opportunity of choosing for king one whose character the turbulent nobles thought fittest for their own purposes; and hence it resulted that the power of the kingship decayed. Eventually—

Of the three orders into which the state was divided, the king, though his authority had been anciently despotic, was the least important. His dignity was unaccompanied with power; he was merely the president of the senate, and the chief judge of the republic.

And then there is the instance furnished by Scandinavia, already named in another relation. Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish kings were originally elective; and, though, on sundry occasions, hereditary succession became for a time the usage, there were repeated lapses into the elective form, with the result that predominance was gained by the feudal chieftains and prelates forming the consultative body.

 

The second element in the triune political structure is thus, like the first, developed by militancy. By this the ruler is eventually separated from all below him; and by this the superior few become integrated into a deliberative body separated from the inferior many.

That the council of war, formed of leading warriors who debate in presence of their followers, is the germ out of which the consultative body arises, is implied by the survival of usages which show that a political gathering is originally a gathering of armed men. In har-