ment of opinion which can sway two thirds of each House of Congress and the people of three fourths of the States. Mr. Bagehot has pointed out that one consequence of the existence of this next to immovable machinery “is that the most obvious evils cannot be quickly remedied,” and “that a clumsy working and curious technicality mark the politics of a rough-and-ready people. The practical arguments and legal disquisitions in America,” continues he, “are often like those of trustee carrying out a misdrawn will, the sense of what they mean is good, but it can never be worked out fully or defended simply, so hampered is it by the old words of an old testament.” But much the greater consequence is that we have resorted, almost unconscious of the political significance of what we did, to extra-constitutional means of modifying the federal system where it has proved to be too refined by balances of divided authority to suit practical uses,—to be out of square with the main principle of its foundation, namely, government by the people through their representatives in Congress.
Our method of choosing Presidents is a notable illustration of these remarks. The difference between the actual and the constitutional modes is the difference between an ideal non-
- English Constitution, chap. viii., p. 293.