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power the Crown has in the control of public affairs, and what limits there are to its authority since the introduction of parliamentary government. And here let me tell you at once that such a subject must necessarily be a dry one. Had I to talk to you about the non-political position of our gracious Sovereign, and to give you a biographical sketch of her Majesty, illustrated by different anecdotes of her kindness and benevolence, or to contrast her conduct with that of many of the other Sovereigns who have preceded her, my task would be perhaps a more interesting one. But I come among you to-night, not as an artist who wishes to portray a pleasing picture of royalty, but as an anatomist who has to dissect its rights and privileges, and lay bare all that concerns its political system.
Now I have no doubt you all fancy that you know a good deal about the duties of a Sovereign of England. You hear of her Majesty moving about from one palace to another—now at London, then at Windsor; now at Osborne, and then again at Balmoral. You have seen her driving down to Westminster in royal state to open Parliament, with soldiers escorting her, officers in splendid uniforms waiting on her, and a loyal crowd cheering NOT EXEMPT FROM WORK.
“God save the Queen!” And then you read of her giving state balls and dinners, holding drawingrooms and levees, or else being present at the inauguration of some great event, the observed of all observers, with everything that can flatter human vanity and gratify human ambition surrounding her, and you think what a brilliant and splendid life the Queen's must be. And so it is; but you look upon the brilliant side of it only. You seem to forget that her Majesty has many very important duties to perform, and that the royal life is not one eternal freedom from care, anxiety, and hard work. You forget this; and so, when you wish to typify happiness—and by happiness you mean idlenessyou say, as “happy as a queen.” Well, my friends, I hope I shall be able to disabuse your minds of this notion, and to show you that to be a king or queen of these realms is not entirely a life of brilliant idleness. And if there are any among you who are accustomed to view with disrespect the position of her Majesty, and to hold derogatory ideas regarding her power and influence-looking upon her as a mere state puppet, and as only a tool in the hands of her ministers — I ask them to listen to me patiently for a little while, and then to see whether they can consistently support such views, and promulgate them as constitutional facts.
But before I can tell you anything of the Queen, I must let you know something about the position she occupies in relation to the British Constitution. Now what is the British Constitution? You hear its name thundered forth on the hustings, at meetings, at debates, and perhaps you talk about it yourselves without understanding very well its meaning. What, then, is this British Constitution? I will try to explain it to you. The political writers of antiquity recognised only three regular forms of government- namely, a Democracy in which the sovereign power is vested in the people, as is the case in the United States; Aristocracy, in which the supreme power is confined to a few members of the community distinguished by birth or wealth, as was formerly the case in Venice; and Monarchy, in which sovereign authority is wielded by a single person, as is the case in Russia, Turkey, &c. These three species of government have all of them their various good and bad points. Democracies are usually best calculated to direct the end of a law, aristocracies to invent the means by which that law is to be obtained, and monarchies to carry those means into execution. The British Constitu
THE BRITISH CONSTITUTION.
tion, however, conforms to none of the above definitions, but is a mixed government formed out of them all, and partaking of the advantages of each. This mixed government we call a limited monarchy —that is, a monarchy in which the Crown is not absolute, but must rule according to the usages of the Constitution, and in subjection to the laws of the realm. This form of government is one peculiarly suited to the character and temperament of the British people. A democracy, however popular among certain classes of our nation at first, would soon lose its authority, from the want of that social influence which is so dear to the English in general. No government in England would long continue popular whose members were taken entirely from the sons of the people. On the other hand, a government purely aristocratic would be one little calculated to further the interests of the nation at large, from the nature of its exclusive policy; whilst an absolute monarchy, as the history of England plainly shows, has ever been detested by the people as contrary to the very spirit of our Constitution, for Englishmen are subjects and not slaves. But a government like ours, in which the executive power is lodged in the Sovereign, while the legislative power is intrusted to the Three Estates of the realm,* unites in itself the chief elements of democracy, aristocracy, and absolute monarchy, and hence is the most perfect plan of government that could possibly be adopted, for in no other form could we find a more impartial system of administration. Were the supreme power placed in any one of the three branches separately, we should be exposed to the faults of either absolute monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy. On the other hand, were the supreme power intrusted to any two of these three branches to the exclusion of the third, we should be none the less liable to evils, though of a different kind. If, for instance, all power were confined to the Sovereign and the House of Lords, our laws might be providently made and well executed, but they would not, in all probability, have always the good of the people in view. Again, were the supreme power vested in the Sovereign and the House of Commons, we should want that “ circumspection and mediatory caution ” which the wisdom of the Peers secures, and which have in many critical cases been exerted to protect the powers