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cratic body, chosen from the successful of vice upon every subject from higher mathethe land.
matics and abstruse law, down to the shoeSeventy of the peers were ennobled on ing of a horse or the splicing of a cable. account of distinction in the practice of the Why the English themselves or, at any law alone.
rate, certain of their number, wish to abolThe Dukes of Leeds trace back to a ish this assembly of the picked brains and cloth-worker; the Earls of Radnor to a ability in every walk in life, from literature Turkey merchant; the Earls of Craven to and chemistry to beer-brewing and railroad a tailor; the families of Dartmouth, Ducie, building, I, as an American, cannot underPomfret, Tankerville, Dormer, Romney, stand. It is the culmination of the essential Dudley, Fitzwilliam, Cowper, Leigh, Darn- philosophy of Saxondom. This is what the ley, Hill, Normanby, all sprang from Lon- race has been at for two thousand years, don shops and counting-houses, and that not to be too much governed by, but to pernot so very long ago.
mit to govern, those who have proved themAshburton, Carrington, Belper, Over- selves most capable of doing so. stone, Mount Stephen, Hindlip, Burton, The average number of barons sumBattersea, Glenesk, Aldenham, Cheyles- moned to Parliament by Edward II was 74; mere, Lister, Avebury, Burnham, Bid- the average of the reign of Edward III was dulph, Northcliffe, Numburnholme, Win- 43. At the beginning of the reign of Henry terstoke, Rothschild, Brassey, Revelstoke, IV the lay members of the House of Lords Strathcona and Mount Royal, Michelham, consisted of 4 dukes, i marquis, 10 earls, and others, too many to mention, have and 34 barons. Henry VIII only assemtaken their places among the peers by force bled 51 peers in his Parliament; while only of long purses gained in trade.
82 sat in the first Parliament of Tames I: Lord Belper, for example, created in and 117 in the first Parliament of Charles I. 1856, is the grandson of Jedediah Strutt, At the end of the reign of Charles II there who was the son of a small farmer, and were but 176 names on the roll of the Lords. made wonderful ribbed stockings.
The roll was increased to 192 peerages
before the death of William III; to 209 Wealth however got, in England makes Lords of mechanics, gentlemen of rakes.
before the death of Anne; to 216 before the Antiquity and birth are needless here:
death of George I; to 229 before the death 'Tis impudence and money makes the peer. of George II; to 339 at the death of George
III; to 396 before the death of George IV; Great families of yesterday we show;
to 456 at the death of William IV; to 512 And lords whose parents were the Lord knows
in 1881; to 541 in 1892; and the total numwho.
ber at the present time (1908) including The Saxon system still prevails. Those Spiritual and Law Lords is 853, 200 of who push themselves to the front, those whom have been created since 1882, and who accumulate a residue of power in the nearly half of them since 1830. shape of leisure, are called upon to govern Ah, but some one answers, suppose these so that the others need not be bothered by men govern badly, or suppose they cease to such matters. It has been harder in some represent the nation, or suppose the sons of ages than in others for the man, unassisted these men are not of the calibre of their by birth, to rise. But there has been no time fathers. The last supposition is easily anin England when it has been wholly im- swered. We have seen already what a possible. As a consequence of this, there is mushroom assembly it is from the point of probably no body of men in the world view of ancient lineage. They are by no who combine such a variety of experience means all gentlemen, in the technical sense and knowledge amongst them as the of that word; and by no means without exHouse of Lords. There are one or more ception worthy. But that only adds the representatives of every branch of human necessary human factor of fallibility. industry and professional skill.
The adult males in a Town Meeting in Strange as it may seem, there is no as- Hingham, Massachusetts, for example, sembly where a man could go-granted could trace back to male ancestors, who atthat all the peers were present—where he tended that same Town Meeting an hunwould be more certain of getting sound ad- dred years before, in greater numbers, in proportion to their total number, than could as a solution of government with as little the members of the House of Lords to an- government as possible, and that, by those cestors who had sat in that same Chamber. with the leisure and capacity to do it, that Nor is it easy to see wherein they fail to it deserves attentive study. represent the nation, since they come from These people, who have governed more of every and all classes; nor why they should the world, and a far larger population, than govern badly, since they are chosen only any other people since time began, deserve after proving themselves to be of superior respectful consideration for their methods ability, and sound judgment. It is true in, and their philosophy of, government. that a son may not turn out to have the Any socialistic sneering, or republican ribsame ability as his father, but if the son of aldry, on the subject of the British system a Rothschild has ability enough to keep the of government, must necessarily react upon money his father made, he must, in these the foolish one who indulges in them. The days of liquid securities, be a man of no ready answer is: We are taking charge of small ability. Those who are weaklings do one in every five square miles, and one in not last long in the hurly-burly of the mod- every five inhabitants of the globe; if you ern world. We have seen how very few can do it better, why do you not do it? peers are the male descendants of houses It is a notable feature of the history of dating back any distance. God and nature this great governing people, that they have turn out the incompetents almost as quickly had little desire to take part in the governas would the electorate. The chances of ing themselves. The gathering of the wise any living man having a male descendant men, the assembly, in short, at which the able to keep what was left him, and also able nation sat in council, was open to all, but by to get more, and beget more, an hundred a natural process was reduced to the atyears after his time, are very small indeed. tendance of those who could afford the
Indeed this system, evolved from sound time and the money to go. By an easy step Saxon sense, has done more than anything those who had the time and the money else to produce that wholeness in the Eng- gradually became the great ones of the lish social body which is a salient feature of land. English life. There are, ‘or at any raté William the Conqueror only imitated the have been, until very lately, fewer disquiet- example of his predecessors in calling toing social and political segregations due to gether the wise and the great of the nation class distinctions in England than in any to consider the customs, and thence to deother nation in the world.
termine the laws, of the Kingdom. Grandsons, and younger sons, of peers It was from Simon de Montfort who led drift back into the upper middle class, and the freemen against the barons grown too remain there unless they rise by their own proud, conquered them, and summoned a exertions; while there is a continual ab- Parliament by directing the sheriffs to resorption of the strong, the competent, and turn two knights for each county, and two the successful, into the peerage. This burgesses for each borough in the kingmixes up and leavens all classes. Noble dom; and there you have the beginning of sons become commoners, noble common- Parliament. They were not clamoring to ers become peers.
govern, but they found themselves forced This is what explains the existence of the to take a hand lest the barons should grow House of Lords in so democratic a country to think governing their right. as England. It exists because it is the most The statute of a generation later than democratic institution in England, and be- this time, and which still remains on the cause in the long run it has been recognized statute book, begins by declaring that no as an assembly whose opinion is as nearly tax or aid shall be taken without the goodas possible the opinion of a concensus of the will and assent of archbishops, bishops, competent.
earls, barons, knights, burgesses, and other But here again we must bear in mind that freemen of the land. we are neither defending nor attacking. The profound and real difference beThis upper chamber so nearly represents tween the philosophy of democracy and the what these early Saxons were, perhaps not philosophy of aristocracy is that the former in its details aware of, striving to produce emphasizes the identity of men, and the latter the diversity of men. The one makes came, for the small governing class to democracies, the other makes monarchies. usurp all power. And yet with practically But men are all alike, and they are all un- no voice in the government, this has never like, and either proposition carried to its been accomplished, for it has always been extreme defeats itself; in the former liberty prevented by the people themselves. becomes license, and in the latter order be- It should be remembered that long afcomes despotism. The pendulum swings ter the development of government into a back and forth between the two extremes, House of Lords and a House of Commons, and down to this day the English have suc- these two bodies were controlled by a very ceeded in reconciling the claims of both few men. It is said that as late as 1793, out philosophies, and of keeping the peace be- of 513 members of Parliament, 309 of them tween them. Their gift of the solution of owed their election to the nomination either the problem of government to mankind of the Treasury, or of some 162 individuals rivals the great gift of Art by the Greeks, who controlled the voters. and of Law by the Romans.
The House of Commons of 1801, includBut even to this day these common-sense ing the Irish and Scotch members, conpeople care nothing for the fiction, for the sisted of 658 members, and of these 425 trappings of government. Even now Acts were returned either on the nomination, or of Parliament begin: “Be it enacted by the on the recommendation of 252 patrons. King's most excellent Majesty, by and with T hus has England been governed peradvice and consent of the Lords spiritual sistently by the few. Nor has this been and temporal, and Commons in this pres- against the wishes of the many. We have ent Parliament assembled.” The King seen how, time after time, the many have knows, and the Lords spiritual and tem- demanded, and conquered for themselves, poral know, and the Commons know, that what they considered to be for their welfare the King does not make the laws, or enforce and their happiness; but constant personal the laws, but they are all equally willing to participation in government has not been have him appear to do so. They have no deemed a necessity of personal freedom, taste for ostentatious participation in gov- but rather, indeed, a drag upon it. I am erning even now. They would still rather inclined to look upon this as the most immind their own business, though there are, portant factor in their wonderful growth as alas, signs nowadays that they are losing a nation. somewhat their Saxon heritage in thisIn 1832 the borough franchise was conrespect.
fined to householders whose houses were In the past they have taken a hand in worth not less than £10 a year, and the governing only when their governors over- county franchise was enlarged by the adstepped the bounds, and attempted to gov- mission of copyholders, leaseholders, and ern with the physical and financial aid, but of tenants whose holding was of the clear without the consent of the governed. Then, annual value of £50. Then and there, over and over again, against barons or King, and for the first time in the history of the or whomsoever it might be, they have risen nation, England was practically governed and demanded to be governed as little as by the middle class. need be, but accordng to their ancient cus- In 1867 this was followed by a still more tom of personal liberty for each one. sweeping reform, and by the Act of that
One hears occasionally in the inebriation year, every freeholder whose freehold was of exuberance which vents itself in song, of the value of forty shillings a year; every that: Britons never shall be slaves. It is copyholder and leaseholder, of the annual well known, of course, that Britons have value of five pounds; and every housebeen slaves, and worn the collar of a Ro- holder whose rent was not less than twelve man master, but the Saxons, their success- pounds a year, was entitled to vote for the ors, never have been slaves. This is inter- county. Every householder in a borough, esting because practically down to 1867, or and every lodger who paid ten pounds a forty years ago, the English government yearfor his lodging and had been resident for has been in a very few hands indeed. more than twelve months, was entitled to
The temptation must have been constant vote for the borough member. This is to all ever since the Romans left and the Saxons intents and purposes male adult suffrage.
Nevertheless, up to the election of mem- of her capital for sale to all comers as her bers to this present Parliament, when an principal stock in trade. She is like a unusual number of labor members were pretty woman who will sell anything for elected, Parliament has been composed of security and comfort. This lesson has not an overwhelming majority chosen from the been lost upon the Englishman, dull as leisure classes.
he is. Pitt once said that an Englishman with Fox, Liverpool, and Lord John Russell, an income of ten thousand pounds a year all entered Parliament before they were of had a right to be a peer. The English age, though this was technically a breach of voter still, to a large extent, takes the same the law, which required that a member view. He seems to hold that those have the should be of age, a male, and of some best claim to go to Parliament who have the wealth. So closely indeed have these peoleisure and wealth to enable them to go ple clung to their tradition about the land, conveniently. Even now when a danger- that many, no doubt, will be surprised to ously large number of people,—some say learn that it was only at the beginning of thirty millions—are always on the verge of the reign of the late Queen Victoria that one starvation, the voter is but little touched by could become a member of Parliament that despair of the individual in his own without being the possessor of a certain manhood, reduced to a system known as amount of landed property. He must be Socialism. He still believes in his gentry as a landlord, in short. most to be trusted, and best qualified to He might have thousands invested in segovern. He has a rooted distrust of those curities of all kinds, that mattered not; he who wish to be paid to govern. He has not must be a landholder. They came to Engceased to look upon the business of gov- land to be free landholders, and when erning as a duty, not a trade.
Queen Victoria came to the throne that was Some instinct tells him, for no one would still their ideal of what a man fit to assist in accuse the British voter of being either a governing should be. philosopher, or of being unusually intelli- As late as the middle of the eighteenth gent even, that the solution of the problem century England was almost entirely rural. of his lack of wealth does not lie in the fact The greater number of the towns were that his gentry have too much. To take merely country towns. Perhaps the secret another man's coat does not take with it the of the independence, and the homogeneity ability to keep that coat against all comers, of the population is to be found in this any more than to exchange gloves with the multitude of men who firmly believed in man who has just knocked you out in a the land, were permanently settled upon sparring bout would enable you in turn to the land, and whose claim to personal digknock him out. That easy solution of in- nity and political and social distinction equality, that because somebody else has rested upon the possession of the land. more, therefore it is that I have less, has We have heard in our own day, in Amernot fooled the Englishman as yet. He has ica, often repeated, the cry: Back to the only to look across the channel to see the land! Nowhere will one find stronger arresults of that philosophy. When he looks guments to support such advice than in the he sees a nation that has so belittled its history of the Saxons in England. One men that they can only prevent being swal- might choose as the three requisites of a lowed up by their enemies by lending their people that should prosper and conquer, hard-earned gold to Russia, an autocracy that they should believe in God, live on the with which, of course, an honest republic land, and let their leaders govern. could have nothing in common, and by It is only in comparatively recent times accepting the friendship of England, a that England has ceased to be a nation of monarchy, because England wishes a buf- farmers. In the middle of the fourteenth fer-state between herself and Germany. century the population of England and
In a hundred years England has grown Wales was probably about 2,300,000; at great, while since the Revolution France the end of the seventeenth century somehas diminished to the stature of an epicene thing over 5,000,000; and in 1831, 14,amongst nations, trafficking in her ideals 000,000. and in her honor, and advertising the virtue The expansion of England into an Em
pire grows as naturally and as surely out of volved in each and every one of these conthis love of theirs for the land and liberty, flicts. No one can defend for a moment, the as the first settlement of England by the terrible hypocrisy of the race, in their insistSaxons grew out of this same desire. ence upon the right of their traders to de
Their Saxon plain was crowded. The bauch the Chinese, by the sale of opium Jutes led by descendants of the warlike against the wishes of the Chinese authoriand roving Odin, needed companions in ties. Imagine the horror of the Englisharms, and these Saxons followed them on man should a neighbor nation insist upon one of their excursions to England.
the right to sell cocaine in England whether Finding that the Saxons settled peace- he liked it or not, and give as a reason that ably and industriously on the land, and a certain colony derived a large revenue acted as a buffer-state between their own from the sale of cocaine, which would be settlement and the roving Britons, they in- cut off if England refused to allow its sale duced still more Saxons to come over, and in her territories. This is exactly what more came, and then more and more, until happened in China. The British colony of they became the predominant factor in the Hong Kong is a monument to England's settlement of the country.
infamous selfishness where her trade is They were not, as is generally supposed, concerned. Hong Kong was taken from and as is often erroneously stated, of the the Chinese as an indemnity for daring to fighting, marauding, restless breed of the pi- make war upon England's opium trade. ratical races, which from time to time rav- The war with America was due to selfishaged the coasts of both what is now England ness, coupled with forgetfulness. The Engand what is now France.
lishman went to America, almost exactly as In spite of their many wars, the English, the Saxon went to England. He went for as were their peasant ancestors the Saxons, land and liberty. The settlers were agriare not a warlike people. Si res poscat, culturists, who founded free estates and writes Tacitus. If it is worth while they drove off the warring, nomadic tribes, just fight. But they fought not as did the as the Saxons drove off the Britons. These fiercer tribes, merely for the love of fight- American settlers were of the same class ing. Read their history and you find-and as those they left behind them. Let us get it greatly alters certain preconceived opin- it out of our heads and keep it out, that ions—that they were not, and are not, a England is an aristocracy. It is not and war-loving, or a quarrelsome race. never has been. It has not and never has
It is often said that England is always had a Noblesse. At once, indeed, almost fighting somewhere. When one considers before they set foot on land, the wiser and the enormous area of land, and the varied wealthier among them, are set up in aupopulations she controls, it is not surpris- thority over them, not to rule them, but to ing that she should have constant trouble govern for them. Here we have the same on her hands. On the other hand, if one institutions again, and the same dogged ininvestigates these wars, big and little, they sistence upon liberty to till the soil in peace. all fall under one general head: the pro- But when England, forgetting her own tection of her subjects in the possession of history, and her own blood, set out to rule the land.
and to tax without representation these The two wars with China were to protect people, she was precipitating exactly the her landowners in India who trafficked in same kinds of conflict as had taken place opium with the Chinese. The war in the between John and the Barons; between Crimea was against Russia, looming up as Simon de Montfort and the Barons; and her rival in India. The support of the between Charles and the Parliament. The Allies against Napoleon was a necessary result was foredoomed. The Saxons can commercial expedient to save her shipping only live in one way, and that is by ruling and her commerce. The war with Amer- themselves. As the greatest representative ica was again, at first, a question of com- of the Saxon race of the last two hundred mercial significance alone. The war in years put it: A government of the people, Africa was plainly enough for the uphold- for the people, by the people. Their coning of the status of her citizens against the fidence in this form of government has reDutch. There is a superb selfishness in- sulted in forcing its adoption upon all peo