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supplies without which every wheel in the system must come to a standstill. The Commons hold the purse. One of the chief matters, therefore, in the annual business of the House, is the consideration of the “Budget.” The minister in charge of the finances of the realm is termed the Chancellor of the Exchequer. His most arduous duty is the preparation of estimates of expenditure for the coming year, and plans for taxation whereby the necessary amount may be raised. When this Budget is ready, the House receives and considers it in a “Committee of Supply.” This is a Committee of the whole House, formed for the purpose of securing the utmost freedom of question and discussion, which would otherwise be hampered by strict parliamentary rules. The Speaker leaves his seat, the Mace is carried away, some member is made Chairman, and discussion runs on with little heed to the formality of rules. In this Committee is settled the amount Commons will grant the Crown, and the ends to which it is to be applied. This done, the same body resolves itself into a Committee of Ways and Means, to determine in like manner how the money shall be raised. When this Committee has closed its deliberations, it rises, the Speaker resumes his place, and the Chairman of the Committees reports to the House the conclusions reached, which are then embodied in a motion and passed by the House in its formal capacity. When a “Money Bill” has duly passed all its stages in the Commons, it is sent to the Lords, who have no power to alter or amend it, though they may reject it— if they dare. Furthermore, such a bill does not go up to the Queen along with others through the hands of the Lords, but is returned to the Commons, and at the end of the session is presented to her by the Speaker in person, as the gift of the people alone. And on such an occasion the Queen never fails to thank the Commons for their generosity.
In the preparation of the foregoing sketch the author has consulted among others the following works, and would recommend them to the student for further study or reference:
A Primer of the English Constitution and Government, by Sheldon Amos (Longmans, Green & Co., N.Y.) — a compact topical statement, with good Index and Appendices.
The English Constitution, by Walter Bagehot (Chapman, Hall & Co., London)
- a brilliant and popular discussion of its excellences and defects. The State, by Woodrow Wilson (D. C. Heath & Co., Boston) - specially valu
able as a topical digest and manual of the structure and organization of
all the great constitutional governments of the modern world. The Law of the Constitution, a series of lectures by A. V. Dicey (Macmillan &
Co.)- giving with utmost logical clearness the lawyer's view of the English Constitution, and explaining some of its principal maxims.
EDMUND BURKE was born in Dublin, Ireland, in January, 1729. His father was an attorney with a fair practice, and looked forward to the same profession for his son. The boy received his education first in a private school; then in Trinity College, Dublin, — where he took the bachelor's degree in his nineteenth year; and last of all, in the Middle Temple, London. His studies gained him at the time no special academic honors, and never brought him to the actual practice of the law; yet in them, and especially in the wide and profound reading which accompanied them, was laid the foundation of his future greatness.
Burke's first public venture was in literature. In 1756 appeared his Vindication of Natural Society a clever bit of irony and his Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful, an essay which at once attracted attention both in England and upon the Continent. Meantime, however, he had discovered the true bent of his genius, and was diligently studying the governmental problems of England. The first fruit of this study appeared in 1757, in his Account of English Settlements in America. From about this time also dates his long friendship with Dr. Johnson and the members of his famous Literary Club.
His political career began in 1765, when he became private secretary to Lord Rockingham, the head of the new Whig Ministry. A little later he was returned to Parliament as member for Wendover, taking his seat in time to distinguish himself in the debates which preceded the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766. His career in Parliament lasted without break from this time until 1794, when, broken in health and spirits, he withdrew from public life. His death occurred not long after, in 1797.
A passion for order and a passion for justice, some one has said, were the master-motives of Burke's thought and life. Both these passions led him directly into that field of human activity where they find their noblest play, the field of practical government. During his lifetime three mighty questions successively confronted the government of England: (1) How shall a great nation deal with colonies of its own proud blood and free traditions? (2) How shall such a nation treat subject provinces of alien race and temper? (3) How shall it meet the fierce spirit of change and revolution at its very doors? They were the questions of America, of India, and of France. Into their discussion Burke threw himself with all the ardor and force of his great nature. In his utterance upon the first of these questions Burke was undoubtedly at his best. It is not merely that this topic is one which naturally attracts American readers. It is not merely that his arguments have still a living interest in their application to great questions which confront England in our own day. Burke brought to it a fresher, truer insight, a judgment more sane, a temper more serene and genial, than he was able to command later, after years spent in unavailing struggle and bitter conflict. Furthermore, this question raised no schism within himself. His passion for the established order and his passion for justice both led him to the same conclusion.
When the American Colonies were forever lost, Burke turned his attention to the government of England's East Indian possessions. A series of brilliant speeches in Parliament led up to his crowning effort upon this subject, the speech at the trial of Warren Hastings, in 1787. Burke's grasp of facts is now more masterful, and his oratory more splendid than ever; but the noble effect is somewhat marred by a shrillness of tone, an excitement of personal feeling, and a fierceness of invective from which his earlier utterances were free.
In 1789 came the crash of the French Revolution. Burke's horror at the overthrow of long-established order was so great as to leave no room for calm consideration of justice as between oppressor and oppressed. With fiercer and fiercer outcry from this time onward he urged England to espouse the cause of the old tyranny, and to put down the Revolution.
SPEECH ON CONCILIATION WITH THE COLONIES.
At the opening of the year 1775 the harsh treatment which the Colonies were receiving from England had forced them to combine for mutual support against further aggression. The Contimental Congress had already assembled. Lexington and Bunker Hill were not far off. It was becoming a matter of grave importance to the English government to break up this formidable union, and to bring the Colonies once more to deal separately and singly with England. At this juncture Lord North, the Prime Minister, unexpectedly announced what he was pleased to term a measure for “conciliating the differences with America.” He proposed to exempt from further taxation any Colony which, after providing for the maintenańce of its own government, should guarantee to the mother-country an amount satisfactory to her as being, “according to the condition, circumstances, and situation of such Colony,” its proportionate contribution toward the common defence. This transparent scheme deceived no one, – it was really a plan to divide and conquer. To the friends of the Colonies, however, it was no small thing that the Ministry, after a long policy of coercion, should not merely accept, but of its own accord announce, the principle of conciliation. Burke seized the opportunity to propose conciliation which might really be effective.
PAGE 1, 1. the austerity of the Chair means, of course, “ the dignity and seriousness of this assembly.’ The parliamentary fiction which regards not merely the dignity, but the personality, of the House as embodied in its Speaker, is an old-time device to banish from public deliberations the fierceness and the confusion of personal encounters. To it we owe our common rule of debate that all remarks must be addressed to the Chair, and that no mention be made by name of any person in the assembly. This rule was, no doubt, more rigidly observed in Burke's day than it is at present. But the literalness with which Burke at times carries out the fiction, though meant as pleasan