Page:Federalist, Dawson edition, 1863.djvu/512

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
368
The Fœderalist.

which had alluded to the triennial period settled in the time of Charles II., is reduced to a precise meaning, it being expressly enacted, that a new Parliament shall be called within three years after the determination of the former. The last change, from three to seven years, is well known to have been introduced pretty early in the present century, under an alarm for the Hanoverian succession. From these facts it appears, that the greatest frequency of elections which has been deemed necessary in that kingdom, for binding the Representatives to their constituents, does not exceed a triennial return of them. And if we may argue from the degree of liberty retained even under septennial elections, and all the other vicious ingredients in the Parliamentary Constitution, we cannot doubt that a reduction of the period from seven to three years, with the other necessary reforms, would so far extend the influence of the People over their Representatives as to satisfy us, that biennial elections, under the Fœderal system, cannot possibly be dangerous to the requisite dependence of the House of Representatives on their constituents.

Elections in Ireland, till of late, were regulated entirely by the discretion of the crown, and were seldom repeated, except on the accession of a new Prince, or some other contingent event. The Parliament which commenced with George II. was continued throughout his whole reign, a period of about thirty-five years. The only dependence of the Representatives on the People consisted in the right of the latter to supply occasional vacancies, by the election of new members, and in the chance of some event which might produce a general new election. The ability also of the Irish Parliament to maintain the rights of their constituents, so far as the disposition might exist, was extremely shackled by the control of the crown over the subjects of their deliberation. Of late these shackles, if I mistake not, have