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DEMOCRACY LIMITED AND UNLIMITED.
country is so large and our resources so great ; that the bounty of nature has compensated for the waste and improvidence of men ; that we are caused no anxiety, and are put to no charges by hostile neighbors; and that we could not help but do well under almost any system of government.
Our Constitution does not deserve the disparagement thus implied. It is itself as much the product of all the circumstances which touched our ancestors as they were themselves. Its framers adapted it to their country and themselves, as they would have adapted a bridge to the stream it was to span and to the service they required of it. The experience of a century tests the quality of our Constitution no less than that of our people. If the people have done tolerably well, they have done so with the help of the Constitution, not in spite of it.
Mr. Bryce cannot refrain from trying to peer into the future. Rash as the attempt may seem to be, it is quickly pardoned, for we all share more or less in the same curiosity. He cheers us with his happy augury, and we accept his pleasant prediction of continuing prosperity and security. As we go with him we cannot refrain from trying to peer into the future of Great Britain. The United States will probably long preserve her Constitution without material change. Great Britain discloses signs of also becoming a Democracy, but unlike the United States, a Democracy without a written constitution.
If we pass by the ten amendments adopted in compliance with the request of several states which accompanied their ratification of the Constitution, we see that the Constitution has never since been amended except to remedy such of its workings as excited general alarm. We may thence reasonably infer that it will not hereafter be amended except in like cases. The United States, it may be believed, will continue to be a Democracy limited by fundamental law, which will not be changed except for the better.
When we speak of the government and institutions of Great Britain, we generally regard them as lifted above democratic touch and control, and as vested in the safe keeping of the ablest and best of the land. The masses of the people are
not brought prominently into view; they are put aside as the passive objects of the care of the government, and in no important sense its directors or participators in its direction. Hence a comparison of the public men of the two nations is, in a large degree, a comparison between the best of all in one country and the average of all in the other. Such a comparison is not a fair test of the merits of the two systems of government, though the system of each produces the public servants it exhibits to the world.
Whoever undertakes to forecast the future of Great Britain must take into account the fact that it has recently so changed its constitution as to permit it to become a Democracy unlimited by fundamental law. By the Act of 1884, for the “ Representation of the People,” suffrage was made well nigh universal. There is now one elector to about every six of the entire population. Practically, therefore, the masses have the power to control the election of members of Parliament. Without any constitutional check over Parliament, the masses need only to assert their power, to bring the king. dom under their control. They do not yet know their power. They did not know it in the United States until Jefferson began their instruction and Jackson completed it. Will there be no Jefferson and Jackson in Great Britain? It is not difficult to suppose that there will be a Parliament chosen by the masses and of them. But will not the House of Lords remain as a conservative force? The encroachments of Democracy may not be swift or violent, as in the French Revolution ; it will comport with the British temper to make them tentatively and gradually. Conservative restraints may be pressed, a little here and there, no further than they will be yielded, rather than provoke a rupture. Separate periods of time may need to be compared to ascertain the sum of the almost imperceptible changes. It is possible that the sum will swell until the House of Lords and every vestige of royalty will be swept away.
That there will be henceforth a tendency, never retrograding, towards Democracy in Great Britain, it seems safe to as
Happy will it be for the kingdom and for mankind if British
Democracy, somewhere in its progress, shall imitate American prudence, and in the sober season of dispassionate wisdom, impose written constitutional checks upon its own excesses and injustice, and intrust the keeping of the charter to the hands of the people, above and beyond control or change by those who make or administer the laws. For well nigh seven centuries the people have preserved Magna Charta against the encroachments of royal power. Royal power has no Magna Charta to protect itself. The people need a Magna Charta to protect themselves from themselves. None can make it or preserve it so well as themselves. The United States bears witness to Great Britain, and to the world, that an intelligent people can make a good Constitution and preserve it even against the assaults of their own rashness. Possibly Great Britain will yet profit by the example set by the people, who, escaping from her household, voluntarily submitted themselves to a system which preserves to them the best of the laws their mother country administered. If so, then he who in some post-Victorian age shall compare the people of the two countries and their systems and institutions will not inquire which country produces the larger number of great statesmen, but under which government are the happiness and equality of all the people best secured and respected. May rivalry with such a test of supremacy continue forever.
If constitutional checks shall not be interposed and respected, Macaulay's traveller from New Zealand may yet take his stand on the broken arch of London Bridge, not to sketch the ruins of St. Paul's, but to contemplate the ruins of a monarchy wrought by an unchecked Democracy.
ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION AND PERPETUAL UNION
BETWEEN THE STATES.
SHALL COME, WE THE UNDERSIGNED NAMES, SEND GREETING. Whereas the Delegates of the United States of America in Congress assembled did on the 15th day of November in the Year of our Lord 1777, and in the Second Year of the Independence of America agree to certain articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts-bay, Rhode-island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, South-Carolina, and Georgia, in the words following,
“ ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION AND PERPETUAL UNION BETWEEN
THE STATES OF NEW-HAMPSHIRE, MASSACHUSETTS-BAY, RHODE-
VIRGINIA, NORTH CAROLINA, SOUTH-CAROLINA, AND GEORGIA.
ARTICLE II. Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the united states, in congress assembled.
ARTICLE III. The said states hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defence, the security of their Liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretence whatever.
ARTICLE IV. The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different states in this