Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 5.djvu/262

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THE WORLD'S FAMOUS ORATIONS

There are not many more interesting or impor- tant questions in political discussion than the question whether our cabinet government or your presidential system of government is the better. This is not the place to argue it.

Between 1868 and now — a period of thirty-six years — we have had eight ministries. This would give an average life of four and a half years. Of these eight governments five lasted over five years. Broadly speaking, then, our executive governments have lasted about the length of your fixed term. As for ministers swept away by a gust of passion, I can only recall the overthrow of Lord Palmerston in 1858 for being thought too subservient to France. For my own part I have always thought that by its free play, its comparative fluidity, its rapid flexibility of adaptation, our cabinet system has most to say for itself.

Whether democracy will make for peace, we all have yet to see. So far democracy has done little in Europe to protect us against the turbid whirlpools of a military age. When the evils of rival states, antagonistic races, territorial claims, and all the other formulae of international con- flict are felt to be unbearable and the curse be- comes too great to be any longer borne, a school of teachers will perhaps arise to pick up again the thread of the best writers and wisest rulers on the eve of the revolution. Movement in this region of human things has not all been progress- ive. If we survey the European courts from the

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