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Full text of "Political Science Of The State"

DEPARTMENTS  OF  GOVERNMENT IN A STATE.       313
«that no set of persons should be able, even temporarily, to
make their sic volo prevail, without asking any one else for
his consent. A majority . . . composed of the same persons
habitually acting together . . . easily becomes despotic and
overweening, if released from the necessity of considering
whether its acts will be concurred in by another constituted
authority." The remark has often been made, I believe, in
this country, that a legislature where one political party is
very weak will often show a much more intolerant and auda-
cious spirit, and give rise to worse legislation than where
there is a considerable and an able minority to watch them.
They become an oligarchy, if not opposed. It would be
something the same, if a legislative chamber had no other to
control it The chance, too, of corruption is less.
Mr. Mill remarks further, that two chambers foster " con-
ciliation, a readiness to compromise, a willingness to concede
something to opponents, and to shape measures so as to be
as little offensive as possible to persons of opposite views;
and of this salutary habit, the mutual give and take (as it has
been called) between two houses is a perpetual school—use-
ful as such even now, and its utility would probably be even
more felt in a more democratic constitution of the legisla-
ture." This remark has some justice in it, but needs, we
think, to be qualified. A legislature, with an aristocratic
house of lords or chamber of peers, will resort to continual
compromises in order to make any headway, for there will
always be, or seem to be, an opposition of interests between
the constituencies of the two. Hence, there must be perpet-
ual concessions; or much legislation once begun must be
abandoned. In such a case the aristocratic chamber—if the
weaker of the two, as it naturally will be—must in the end
yield. The remarkable history of the reform bills in 1832
reads a lesson which was repeated by the abolition of the
corn-laws in 1846. In the first case after long resistance, the
house of lords yielded so far that a number of foes of the bill
announced their intention of staying away from the final vote,
rather than to have a majority produced by the exercise of