Skip to main content

Full text of "Political Science Of The State"

See other formats

wisdom and stability, but more energy and political fanati-
cism than the thinly settled country, where men living apart
act less on each other, and think for themselves. It can be
shown, I believe, that in great crises of national commotion,
when the great interests of a country have been at stake,
the country-people when once aroused are the surest, strong-
est defenders of the land. Such was the case in the war of
the revolution and in the great struggle of the present time
against secession in this country.
The number of representatives in the lower house cannot
be fixed with precision. If they are quite few there is more
danger of influence by bribes. If they are quite numerous
there are greater dangers. The larger the body collected
together within the reach of one voice, the more it comes
under the sway of excitement, or it will be apt not to feel
a due responsibility because it is divided up ; for danger of fac-
tions and want of coherence increase with numbers. A house
of several thousand representatives would be unmanagea-
ble. This was one of the vices of the ancient and mediaeval
city-states, as we have seen; and under constitutional forms
the same evils must prevail to a certain extent. The difficulty
of hearing in a large or badly contrived hall would have an
effect on laws and debates. An assembly unwieldy through
its numbers, where every one is responsible, could hardly per-
form the office of deliberation. Everything would need to
be done by committees and by a few prominent leaders.
What is the right number experience must decide. The
British house of commons, consisting of more than six hun-
dred, is altogether too large to secure the proper discharge
of duty on the part of all. Hence the responsibility of being
present and watching business is the less felt, and very often
but a handful of members are present.
In what was said ( 221) of minority representation, it ap-
peared that, for its introduction under some of the schemes
proposed, voters must look beyond their own district for their
candidates. This is a practice hardly known in the United
States, and may be said to be undemocratic, for in a democ-
VOL. II.20