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students, and have not the time to spare for the perusal of bulky and prolix works. At the same time, I have endeavoured to make my statements as accurate as possible, and to give my authorities fully and correctly. That I have avoided errors altogether I cannot venture to anticipate; I can only hope that they may be few, and apologise for them beforehand.
KING'S COLLEGe, Cambridge.
The Theory of Representative Government held by the Aristo-
The Change in the Relation of the Lords to the Commons.
The Key to the Policy of the Lords
DURING the course of the last sixty years a revolution has been effected in the government of England. The power has been transferred from the control of a compact and vigorous aristocracy to that of a democracy which in fact, though not in outward form, is more complete and more uncontrolled than any at present existing in any first-class State. So rapid has the transition been, and at the same time so quiet, that we have hardly realised that it has been taking place. There has been no violence, no overt change of principle; all that has been done has been done in the name, and under the forms, of the same constitution that supported a monarchy in the sixteenth and an aristocracy in the eighteenth century. Yet the transformation is fundamental, as we are just
With astonishment we
beginning to perceive. awake and rub our eyes, asking ourselves whither we have been tending and where we are likely to end. Such a question hardly admits of a reply that should be at once simple and adequate, nor is it the purpose of the following pages to attempt one. All that is proposed is to bring into relief a certain aspect of the case which appears to be of immediate importance; to show that while the transition in question has been achieved with the consent and even at the initiation of the governing class, yet in accomplishing it they not only have not avowed but have explicitly repudiated the democratic creed; that thus they have become the instruments of a revolution which they did not intend and which they cannot interpret; but that the interpretation which they have never seized has been given from the first, as it is being given now, by the majority into whose hands they have resigned the power. From these conditions arises the problem of present politics which will be considered in the concluding chapter.
The first step in the transition of which we are to trace the course is the Reform Act of 1832. Because it was the first, it was the most vigorously opposed and therefore the most vigorously supported. But though it evoked in its defence a violent popular agitation, it was not forced upon the aristocracy by the people; it was deliberately and voluntarily introduced by one section of the govern