Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/595

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.



SEPTEMBER. 1881.



THE DEVELOPMENT OF POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS.
By HERBERT SPENCER.
IX.—REPRESENTATIVE BODIES.

AMID the varieties and complexities of political organization, it has proved not impossible to discern the ways in which simple political heads and compound political heads are evolved; and how, under certain conditions, the two become united as ruler and consultative body. But, to see how a representative body arises, proves to be more difficult; for both process and product are more variable. Less specific results must content us.

As hitherto, so again, we must go back to the beginning to take up the clew. Out of that earliest stage of the savage horde in which there is no supremacy beyond that of the man whose strength, or courage, or cunning, gives him predominance, the first step is to the practice of election—deliberate choice of a leader in war. About the conducting of elections in rude tribes travelers are silent: probably the methods used are various. But we have accounts of elections as they were made by European peoples during early times. In ancient Scandinavia, the chief of a province, chosen by the assembled people, was thereupon "elevated amid the clash of arms and the shouts of the multitude"; and among the ancient Germans he was carried on a shield. Recalling, as this ceremony does, the chairing of a newly elected member of Parliament up to recent times, and reminding us that originally among ourselves election was by show of hands, we are taught that the choice of a representative was once identical with the choice of a chief. Our House of Commons had its roots in local gatherings like those in which uncivilized tribes select head warriors.

Besides conscious selection, there occurs among rude peoples selec-