Page:The House of Lords and the nation.djvu/11

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7
Preface.

of our day! It might as well be said inconsistent with the moving principles of human nature; for it is in that hereditary principle that the appeal to many of men's highest instincts lies. A man toils not for himself, but for his son; for him he spends his life, and strength, and energy, as on him he pours out his affections; and the son, in his turn, when he succeeds to his father's place, succeeds not to his wealth and property alone, but to that which is the best part of his inheritance, to his fair fame and credit. That fair fame is the pledge of his future conduct and the earnest of good service to the State. It may be said, in Lord Bacon's words, that the Peers, if true to themselves and their duties, are "thrice servants—servants of the Sovereign or State, servants of fame, and servants of business."

But it is also on this hereditary principle that the independence of the House of Lords is founded. Take it away, and I know not what substitute can be found. Nomination? It has been repeatedly tried in our Colonies, but no colonial statesman would recommend it, except as the next best substitute for our English system, which is of course impossible there. Election? It has also been tried and it has been found even less satisfactory in its operation than nomination. A constitution analogous to that of the Senate of the United States? It is admitted that the materials do not exist in this country.

Whilst, then, I say now, as I have often said before, that I would refuse consideration to no wise or well considered proposal which would give strength or greater efficiency to our second chamber, it needs little knowledge of human nature, of History or statesmanship, to understand that they, who lightly discard the principle of hereditary descent, may find that they have cast aside that which even under the freest and most popular institutions may have a value little dreamed of by modern Liberals. Surrounded by the traditions of historic antiquity—no small merit in days of change—it maintains a visible connection between past and present England; and it adds dignity to an ancient monarchy, stability to the forms