THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.
The dignified aspect of the House of Commons is altogether secondary to its efficient use. It is dignified: in a government in which the most prominent parts are good because they are very stately, any prominent part, to be good at all, must be somewhat stately. The human imagination exacts keeping in government as much as in art; it will not be at all influenced by institutions which do not match with those by which it is principally influenced. The House of Commons needs to be impressive, and impressive it is: but its use resides not in its appearance, but in its reality. Its office is not to win power by awing mankind, but to use power in governing mankind.
The main function of the House of Commons is one which we know quite well, though our common constitutional speech does not recognise it. The House of Commons is an electoral chamber; it is the assembly which chooses our president. Washington and his fellow-
- I reprint this chapter substantially as it was first written. It is too soon, as I have explained in the introduction, to say what changes the late Reform Act will make in the House of Commons.