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hereafter to produce similar effects. Immediately after the Reform Bill of 1832 the thirst for that very kind of legislation to which Lord Beaconsfield refers became the master passion of the country, and swallowed up for a time all thoughts of further innovation. Her Majesty's most happy marriage restored the popularity of the Crown, and raised the general tone of society. A generation of material prosperity such as England has not enjoyed since the beginning of the reign of George the Third combined to lull to rest whatever revolutionary tendencies survived the Chartist insurrection, which only showed its teeth again in 1848 to prove that their poison had been drawn. In our own time we have seen foreign affairs play the same part in turning aside the progress of Radicalism as was played by political economy between the first Reform Bill and the second. And even as I write, and while men are already speculating on the great domestic changes to be effected in the coming session, news reaches this country from abroad which may be the harbinger of momentous embarrassments, leaving England little thought to spare for the reconstruction of her political system, and little heart for the struggles of domestic revolution. Yet we know, too, that the men who are most anxious to embark on these enterprises are the men who think least of our Imperial interests, and who, in the alleged necessity for radical reforms at home, would hail only an additional reason for renouncing our responsibilities abroad. Although, therefore, no open and deliberate attack on the English aristocracy may at this moment be impending, and though the House of Lords may be destined for a long time to enjoy the proverbial immunities of threatened men, yet bearing in mind what within the last two months has been the language of eminent persons concerning both the Upper House of Parliament and the aristocratic element in the lower, and at the same time the known aims and aspirations of an influential and energetic political party which exercises considerable authority over the policy of Her Majesty's Government, it may not be inopportune to recall to the world the conditions on which alone any scheme for the destruction of the hereditary chamber can answer the purpose of its authors, and what the consequences must be of only attempting it by halves.
In favour of abolishing the Parliamentary privileges of the Second Estate one reason only is assigned, supposed to be sufficient by itself to prevail against the numerous considerations which suggest the wisdom of retaining them, and that is that the House of Lords is a standing obstruction to all Liberal Ministries and all popular legislation, and that from every measure of reform sent up to it by the House of Commons it does its best to expunge whatever is either useful or essential. Now it will be observed in passing that this argument has no abstract or a priori value; it depends entirely on accidental and transitory conditions, and on assumptions which beg the whole question. The ascendency of Liberalism in this country, supposing it to exist, may have its hour and pass away, and in that case it may appear that the House of Lords has been instrumental in preserving what the people are glad to have retained ; and even on the counter supposition it would still remain to be proved that all Liberal measures are conceived in the true interests of the country. But it is unnecessary to say much on this head, because it has been shown over and over again that the House of Lords can be no permanent obstruction to any measure on which the people have really set their hearts, and that the most it can do is to give them time to know their own minds. Nearly two years ago, when the House of Lords was inveigbed against so bitterly for insisting on the Committee of Inquiry into the working of the Irish Land Act, I pointed out that when questions arise on which the opinion of the country has not been taken, the House of Lords is performing not only a constitutional but a beneficial and highly popular function in reserving them for the final Court of Appeal, and that in this manner it may be said to effect the same object as triennial Parliaments without any of their inconveniences; and on more than one occasion since then I have been encouraged by seeing Lord Salisbury himself giving utterance to the same opinion with all the precision and emphasis in which the matured convictions of a great orator naturally find expression. Speaking at Liverpool on the 13th of April, 1882, he said :
But the existence of a second chamber is justified by the fact that unless you have it, you will be driven to that system, full of inconvenience, full of difficulty, which will tend to disgust men with politics—I mean the system of triennial or of annual Parliaments. A triennial or annual Parliament is the only substitute for a second chamber which in the true interests of the people can be safely adopted. It is the business of the House of Lords to watch orer and to see that no permanent and irrevocable change is made in the institutions of this ancient country until the people have had a thorough opportunity of informing themselves of the proposals which it is sought to carry into effect and of giving a mature and solemn decision on the subject.
And again only the other day at Reading :
But these are mere transitory difficulties. I believe that the dominant position of one party in the House of Commons is a mere transitory phenomenon.
Though no one will maintain more strongly than I do that it is the duty of the House of Lords to watch and to adapt itself to the permanent and deliberate judgment of the people of this country, yet our history warns us that you must not always take the decision of the House of Commons as being the absolute and final declaration of the will of the people of this country.-(October 30, 1883.)
The House of Lords, indeed, so far from obstructing the popular will, in reality secures it from obstruction, and, by taking care that such measures as do not meet with unanimous approval shall be suspended long enough to test the permanence of the feeling on which their advocates rely, insures eventual acquiescence in a settlement which is then recognised as final, and prevents the mischievous effects of continual efforts at reaction. The more we reflect on so obvious and palpable a truth, the more shall we wonder at the language in which
the Upper House of Parliament was recently described by Mr. Shaw Lefevre. Not contented with accusing that assembly of perpetual and deliberate attempts to defeat the wishes of the nation, he went on to proclaim that it was utterly and hopelessly devoid of all politica) capacity. Wild and intemperate abuse of this kind requires no
Even the worst enemies of the House of Lords in their rational moments do homage to the eloquence and the statesmanship which distinguish its debates, and the capacity for business which it displays in dealing with affairs. These alone are sufficient to justify its existence in the absence of proof that it prevents necessary legislation. And no such proof as I have endeavoured to show can by any possibility be adduced ; while, on the other hand, it remains to be seen whether the resisting force possessed by the aristocracy in general, supposing them desirous of exerting it, would not be a good deal stronger without the House of Lords than with it.
Thus much of the particular cry against the House of Lords which has been raised from time to time by the Radical party ever since the reconstruction of the House of Commons. In a debate in the Upper House on some ecclesiastical appointment a few years ago it was objected by a Liberal peer that the clergyman selected was a person of extreme opinions. Which simply means,' said Lord Salisbury in reply, ' that he doesn't agree with the noble lord. So with the House of Lords and its critics. The Radicals complain that it is an obstacle in the way of good government, which simply means' that it does not generally agree with the Radicals. The fallacy which pervades such accusations is by this time, we hope, tolerably clear. We have next to consider the influence of the House of Lords on the aristocracy itself, and the part which it plays in bringing them into harmony with public opinion.
I do not anticipate much difference of opinion on this head. The value of the political education afforded by Parliamentary institutions is universally recognised ; and the political aptitude exhibited by the English aristocracy, which has so often served both themselves and their country at a crisis, is the natural fruit of that participation in public affairs which is secured to them by means of the House of Lords. Their education very often commences in the House of Commons, and the untitled aristocracy have no other than what is afforded by that assembly.
But for reasons which I am about to mention it is pre-eminently important that all the heads of those great territorial families which constitute the Peerage should receive this education, which all cannot do in the House of Commons, and that all should remain subject to its effects as long as possible, instead of being excluded from its benefits as soon as they succeed to their titles. Inpáo Kel Sidao Kópavos, as Johnson says, should be the wish of every man. It should be the nightly prayer of every man in the position of an English peer.
By being entrusted with the work of legislation a man is brought face to face with practical realities and possibilities; by being confronted with political antagonists he is made to understand that all who differ from him are not necessarily knaves and fools ; by being compelled to defer to others, and by being obliged to conceal his mortification, he acquires what in politics answers to good breeding in society, that consideration for the feelings and opinions of all with whom we come in contact, more useful very often than far more brilliant qualifications, and that power of self-control and self-possession which help us at once to bear success with moderation, and defeat with dignity. We may say in fine that participation in political affairs, as it teaches a man to understand his own country, to comprehend his own position, and to appreciate the difficulties with which the art of government is surrounded, is a safeguard against most of those terrible mistakes on the part of privileged orders which efface in a moment the traditions and associations of centuries, and precipitate revolutions which but yesterday were ridiculed as impossible.
The above positions will, I should conceive, be admitted to be truisms. If it is important that every man in a free country should receive some kind of political education, it is more important than all that those should receive it who are possessed of the enormous wealth and influence of the English aristocracy. Yet I am inclined to doubt whether by the great majority of men who ever think about the matter the inferences which flow directly from the above premisses, obvious as one would suppose them to be, are often taken into account. Let us consider for a moment what the English aristocracy would be without the advantages conferred on them by the possession of an hereditary House of Parliament. They do not abide much in towns. They live less among their equals than professional and commercial men. As their station links them to the past, they are indisposed to change, exhibiting a perpetual conflict between the natural antipathy which recoils from democratic progress and the acquired sagacity which warns them when it is necessary to acknowledge it. None of these qualities or circumstances are bad in themselves. Rural life, exempt from all the bustle and excitement of crowded cities; the position of a great proprietor, responsible for the welfare and happiness of many hundreds of dependents, and charged with the fulfilment of numerous important public duties; reverence for the past, dislike of innovation, the pride of birth, the habit of authority-may all combine to form characters of the noblest type, and of a kind to do the State great service, if secured from the extremes to which they are severally liable. A member of the House of Lords, living always in the public eye, engaged constantly in political struggles in which he is often doomed to be worsted, and under the necessity of listening to what his opponents have to urge upon him, contracts the habit of consulting public opinion; is obliged to recognise the existence of outside forces as strong as, often stronger than, himself; and is compelled to acquire something more than a superficial acquaintance with all the leading questions of the day. More than this, whatever he has to say against the policy or the measures of the Government, he says openly before all men, in a place where he must weigh his words, where he is sure to be contradicted, and where, however indignant, he must express himself with civility and discretion. The wholesome effects of this consciousness of supervision, of this selfimposed restraint, of the modesty inspired by constant contact with his equals, and the enlargement of mind which comes of intercourse with his superiors, he carries back with him to his paternal halls, and exhibits, as may be expected, in every relation of life. Immense possessions and immense power, both direct and indirect, in the hands of such a man as this, are no curse, but a blessing, to the community. It is not by men so trained that those rash and hasty acts of violence which beget revolutions are committed. The mere fact that he is a member of a Parliamentary assembly in which he can be called to account for every word spoken or every action done in public outside its walls teaches him caution and circumspection, and prevents him very often from using all the power he possesses even to promote his own principles. In other words, the existence of the House of Lords is a guarantee for the moderation of the aristocracy, for which, were it once to be abolished, no substitute could be found. The natural impulses of the territorial class are rather curbed than quickened by it. And from the strictly party point of view it is rather a source of weakness than of strength to the Conservative party.
But now let us suppose all these conditions reversed: the House of Lords abolished, the Peers deprived of the privilege which they now enjoy of discussing public questions in common, and each individual thrown back upon the influence which he possesses in his own immediate neighbourhood for the promotion of his political opinions; how will matters stand then ? Shall we not find that, while unchecked by that sense of responsibility which attaches to the exercise of a public and constitutional function, he has at the same time lost the benefit of that political education which the discipline of Parliament supplies; that, with more freedom of action, he is less qualified to use it; that, withdrawn from a position in which the weight of public opinion was constantly forced on his attention, he is under greater temptation to exaggerate his own; and that in the absence of free discussion he has become both impatient of compromise and incredulous of failure ? For is not this the kind of man who is sure to be produced by the union of strong political interests with imperfect opportunities or none at all of hearing them questioned or examined: in a station of life to which unpleasant truths which depend on oral communication seldom penetrate; surrounded by inferiors