Page:The House of Lords and the nation.djvu/18

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14
Recent Constitutions.

"Although," he says, "practice alone can show the whole advantage that may be derived from the system of two Houses, it must be a striking fact to every inquirer in distant countries, that not only has the system of two Houses historically developed itself in England, but it has been adopted by the United States in all the thirty-one States, as well as the six now existing territories, and by all the British Colonies where local Legislatures exist. We may mention even the African State of Liberia. The bi-cameral system accompanies the Anglican race like the common law, while no one attempt at introducing the uni-cameral system in larger countries has succeeded. France, Spain, Naples, Portugal—in all these countries it has been tried, and everywhere it has failed.[1] The idea of one House flows from that of the unity of power, so popular in France. The bi-cameral system is called by the advocates of democratic unity of power an aristocratic institution. This is an utter mistake. In reality, it is a truly popular principle to insist on the protection of a Legislature divided into two Houses."

Recent constitutionsSince the Professor penned these lines in his great work on "Civil Liberty and Self-Government," the bi-cameral system, as he calls it, has been further adopted in the Austrian Reichsrath, the Hungarian Diet, the Italian Parliament and the Imperial German Parliament, and in the Federal Assembly of the Dominion of Canada. The French also have wisely taken warning from the rapid fate of their First and Second Republics, to which the system of having only one Chamber no doubt largely contributed, and have in their present Third Republic constituted two Houses, a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies. It requires no small stock of credulity to believe that all the nations, beginning with the United States of America, which have thus copied the composition of our own Parliament, have been in error in doing so. And he must be a man of no little arrogance and self-conceit who presumes to set up his own opinion in favour of a single-chambered Legislature against the verdict of history and against the conclusions of Lieber, Kent, and Story, and other great American writers, and the weighty European authorities who maintain that Representative Government cannot permanently be carried on without a Second Chamber, that the bi-cameral system is an essential guarantee for the maintenance of order and liberty, and that a single legislative assembly invariably brings misery upon a State by its instability, its violence, and its impassioned temerity. It really does not appear necessary to spend further time in proving that
  1. The Professor might have added the instance of our own country, in which, as we have seen, Cromwell himself found it ultimately necessary to revive a Second Chamber after trying in vain to govern without one.