Billeder på siden

To counterbalance this increased influence, which might destroy the due equipoise of the several constituent portions of the Legislature, it seems most desirable, most in accordance with the spirit of our constitution and the progress of civilisation, that the power of the Crown in Britain should be preserved in its full integrity and purity. The writer feels strongly on this question, and is most anxious to be clearly understood. In his view of the constitution, the sovereign has, and ought to have, more weight than mere theorists usually admit. The theorists tell us that the sovereign has no will except in the choice of his ministers. Without entering into a disquisition on these nice points, we may venture to assert, that in the best and freshest times of the constitution the sovereign had more power than this theory would give him. The sovereign after some years ought to know more of the working of the machine of government than any person in the country. The centre of all business gravitates on the person wearing the crown, who is aware of precedent, and acquainted with motive, of which an individual minister, however able and well informed, may be ignorant. The elevated situation of the monarch enables the person wearing the crown to take large and general views, particularly of individual character, above any personal interests in one line of policy more than another. The sovereign can have no object in a choice of measures but the quiet of the government and the

good of the people, with whom the personal ease and happiness of the Crown are inseparably interwoven. Theorists may say what they please; but the sovereign of these realms, so placed, must have a real and substantial and constitutional influence. The monarch, it is said, can do little or nothing without the minister, but, in a healthy state of the constitution, can prevent much that the ministers might be inclined to do, and this is one of the important duties of the sovereign in the machine of the State. The knowledge of men, manners, and customs, can with ordinary good sense be more easily obtained by one at the head of the State, and in whom all business centres, than is generally thought; all this is so much ballast, keeping the vessel of the State steady in its bearing, by counteracting the levity of popular ministers, and of others forced by peculiar circumstances alone into public councils.* That constant ground-swell of murmuring and discontent, created either by the toil and hardships to which the majority of mankind are liable, or by the restlessness and ambition of others, and the periodical tempests of democratic insanity fed by popular clamour, to which Great Britain, and probably every country under the influence of civilisation, is liable, render it necessary that the regal prerogative should be firmly upheld. Even in those countries of Europe where the monarchical power is

*See Quarterly Review.

most uncontrolled, a very great amelioration has taken place, and is daily visible in the temper and conduct of the sovereigns towards the people under their care.

In our case, where the laws have so clearly defined the rights of the crown, let us take special care that those rights are neither disregarded, nor insidiously set aside. Our religion, our strength, our glory, and our property, have been frequently saved from revolutionary convulsion, and we have been conducted to our present state of civilisation, by the character and constitutional authority of a wise and conscientious sovereign.




The House of Lords sanctioned by the Voice of the Country.Admission to it a high and distinguished Reward for Services to the State. Its Importance as one of the Branches of the Legislature. - Influence of Personal Property. - Antiquity of the Separation of the People into Classes. Advantages and Faults of Aristocratical Government.

THE House of Lords is a body sanctioned by the voice of the country; and the few privileges it may have are of no moment, and are granted to enable that assembly to carry on the business of the nation as one of the constituted branches of the legislature. Admission to this body is a high and distinguished reward for merit or professional services rendered to the State, without expense to the country, and often gives distinction to wealth; in fact, its members have no privileges of any moment, except one common to both branches of the legislature, which, from their property, would seldom or never be required. The House of Lords, at present, is very dissimilar to the assembly

*Freedom from arrest.

of barons of old; it is highly important at the present time, not only as one of the branches of the legislature, and as the highest judicial tribunal in the country, but as a court in which any hasty Acts, sometimes emanating from the other House, can be matured and digested. In so doing, the House of Lords has for many years shown its attention to the public voice. Even so far back as Mr. Fox's India Bill, it concurred with public opinion, and was ready to correct the acts of the other House, whenever those acts were not considered sufficiently matured, or when they were not sanctioned by the community.

In a review of the proceedings and votes of this part of the legislature, the greatest attention to the welfare of the community is discernible, particularly of late years. By the constant flow into the peerage of individuals on account of their property, merit, or public services, it does not remain an exclusive body, and creates no jealousy or hostile sentiment in any portion of the people. When we reflect on the immense mass of power and property belonging to the middle class of this country; when the diminution of the upper class is also considered, as will have appeared from the statement in an earlier part of these remarks, it is obvious that the House of Lords cannot be made too numerous in regard to persons of property, as being on all occasions a fence round the throne, although it is notorious at the present moment how strongly

« ForrigeFortsæt »