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successfully for its promotion, and being therefore well adapted as a text-book for the political education of his country
The encouragement given to the previous tentative work has led the present writer to follow it up by the expansion and rearrangement of its materials; influenced, as regards the latter point in the “Personal” section of the volume), in some measure by the suggestion of a competent and courteous critic in the Quarterly Review, who has since given his remarks upon the book a more enduring circulation. As regards expansion, the former work included but a small portion of the material contained in the present ; for the vein was found to be more rich as it was further explored. To deal with it in a manner likely to secure a satisfactory result has required the leisure of many years, the difficulty at length having been to confine the gathered material within moderate limits, while not omitting (it is believed) any important or characteristic fact in either the historical or the biographical branch of the subject.
It is hoped that the work, in its present form, may be of practical value in more than one direction. As Mr. Lowe once pointed out, in a celebrated phrase, I the power of this country is now, more distinctly than at any former time, vested in the electoral body. Every individual citizen exercises a proportion of that power; and, that he may use it wisely, an acquaintance with the history and the working of our Parliamentary institutions is an essential condition. All have not the opportunity of reference to the works requisite for the information; but all may consult such a digest as will be
* He writes : “ Vous avez raconté, dans ses traits plus remarquables, l'histoire d'Angleterre, qui, ancienne ou moderne, est toujours actuelle pour nous, parcequ'elle est toujours la même chose, fatale et grande, l'histoire de la liberté. L'Italie, si grande dans son histoire ancienne et moyenne, si nouvelle dans l'histoire moderne, trouverait bien dans votre livre un recueil précieux d'exemples et de pratique liberale, qui l'aideraient immensement ns son education ile et politique.”—Letter from Sig. Roger Calabrye, avocat à Naples. + “Selected Essays by A. Hayward, Q.C.” London : 1878.
See p. 346.
found here, and the book may therefore claim to possess its educational uses at home. To maintain the standard reached by constant patriotic effort in past times, and so to uphold the dignity and efficacy of the Nation in Council, is a most important object, which it seems as necessary to keep in view at the present day as at any former period. Moreover, to this country the founders of Parliamentary institutions in other lands have been, and are, eagerly looking. Besides nations speaking other tongues, our numerous colonies have their growing Parliaments, all taking the cue from our own, and tracing in its history the foundations of a government at once popular, and regulated by law and order, while
Freedom broadens slowly down
From precedent to precedent. To any of these colonial Assemblies might probably be applied a remark recently made respecting one of them : “It is almost as jealous of any departure from English Parliamentary precedent as could well be the House of Commons itself."*
As to the general subjects of Parliamentary rule and precedent, formally considered, it is scarcely needful to say that no attempt is here made to compete with the claims of such elaborate and exhaustive works as those of Sir T. Erskine May and his predecessors, Elsynge, Hatsell, and the rest. In the following “anecdotal” pages, these matters are necessarily kept less in view than the broad lines of historical fact, personal trait, and oratorical effort or allusion; and in dealing with these, one especial design has been to make the work useful to persons engaged in political and literary pursuits. The occasion of a particular incident, or the use of a certain
* Letter from special correspondent of the Times at Melbourne, March 31, 1880.--Since these lines were written, the subject has been enforced in the House of Commons. Mr. Speaker Brand, on his re-election to the chair in 1880, said, “The power and consequent responsibility of this House are constantly increasing. It is looked up to, not only by our colonial fellow-subjects as the parent of their popular Assemblies, but every nation in the world now treading in the path of Parliamentary Government watches our proceedings with the greatest attention and interest. It is, then, the more incumbent on us to set an example of freedom and order in debate, which constitute the life-blood of Parliamentary Government.”
phrase, is often matter of dispute and requires verification, both in Parliament and out of it. A circumstance which occurred in the session of 1876 will show that the want of a ready means of authenticating such facts and phrases is felt, at times, by persons even of great eminence in active political life. Mr. Gladstone, speaking in the House of Commons of an expression used by a former colleague (the Earl of Clarendon) in an important crisis, said he had been at some pains to find out in “Hansard” what were the actual meaning and connection of that expression (“ drifting into war”), and he gave the correct version. If, however, the right honourable gentleman had had before him the small work of which this is a development, it would have saved him the labour, for the expression would there have been found, among many others of like interest, with the context as given in “Hansard's ” pages.
The process of “mythical accretion” to which Mr. Gladstone referred on that occasion is constantly going on with regard to the celebrated dicta of our public men, and this makes it the more desirable to trace, as has here been done, the original occasion and precise sense of such expressions. Another instance in point will be found on page 334. Mr. Cobden is frequently credited with the saying that we could “crumple up Russia like a sheet of paper.” What he really did say, and the “accretion” which followed, will there be found recorded ; and many similar instances appear in other places. One of the express objects of this book is to prevent, on many occasions in future, the need of such laborious research as that instanced by Mr. Gladstone; and the number of political proverbs and sayings which will be found included here, with an account of the circumstances under which they arose, is very considerable. For many of these, recourse has necessarily been had, not only to the voluminous pages of “ Hansard,” and the similar records, such as they are, of former days, but to the deeper depth of ancient newspaper files, where alone some of the celebrated sayings of distinguished statesmen could be found,—often uttered on “extraparliamentary” and slight occasions, but destined, by some happy conjuncture of thought and phrase, to live as long in memory, or longer, than anything that fell from them in elaborate orations. To these, as well as some other portions of the book, gathered from voluminous histories and lengthy biographies, the words of the elder Disraeli, when speaking of some of his own labours, may not inappropriately be applied :“There are articles in the present work, occupying but a few pages, which could never have been produced had not more time been allotted to the researches they contain than some would allow to a small volume."
It may be thought that anecdotes of a humorous nature occur in the book to an extent not to have been anticipated. They have, however, arisen from the nature of the subject. Humour has always played an important part in the proceedings of the British Parliament, whether it be the greater Parliament of the platform and the polling-booth, or the select body which assembles at St. Stephen's. As a worthy member of the House of Commons once remarked, it “ loves good sense and joking.”* This book, therefore, could not faithfully mirror Parliamentary life, as it attempts to do, unless both qualities were fairly represented.
Reference to authorities is given throughout the work, wherever it seemed likely to be useful to the reader, or of any importance for verification. It is scarcely necessary to add that in many cases the authorities cited indicate only the sources from which the principal facts or reports are derived ; such additions and explanations as may have been requisite to complete the information having, of course, been supplied from other sources.
Of one thing the reader may be assured,—that the work before him has been prepared without undue leaning or partiality in favour of any of the great parties in the State, whether in past or present time. The historical student frequently cares little for the differences of passing politics, seeing rather, in the calmness of private study, that the adversaries and opponents of a particular time have been, in the main, men working with different views towards common objects, and that there has been much on both sides worthy of admiration and respect. The familiar illustration of the knights and the shield is as applicable in political as in any other 'affairs, and it has required many chivalrous men of opposing views to build worthily upon the foundations of the British Parliament. It is believed that all sides alike are here fairly represented; for the historical spirit, as distinguished from that of party, in the main pervades the principal sources of information referred to, and in the collection of material from these quarters there has been no such endeavour as that of Dr. Johnson,* to “take care that the Whig dogs did not get the best of it.”
* P. 490.