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mind untarnished. Far more honourable than Napoleon's usurped imperial diadem, are the laurel wreath and the ducal coronet that grace the brow of England's veteran patriot-her beloved and revered WELLINGTON. In this respect, so admirable are our institutions, that while every motive is held out to the great and good to serve their country, there is really no temptation to play the part of a traitor and a military usurper.
In the commonwealth there is a natural gradation of interests, from the sovereign to the humblest man that subsists by his daily toil. But if it be asked what class, in proportion to its numbers, has the strongest interest in the national welfare? we reply, the aristocracy. The labourer may emigrate, the merchant too may convey his wealth and carry on his trade abroad, and the landed proprietor may sell his estate, and quit his native land; but the nobleman, both by his title and his family possessions, is strongly attached to his country. Therefore the nobility are peculiarly the natural guardians of the state. From their elevated position, and by their strong interest in its weal or woe, they are quick to discern approaching evils; and whether they come from foreign enemies, from arbitrary acts of the crown, from the ambition of powerful subjects, or the violence of the people, the peers are ready to sound the alarm, and to ward off the danger. What then shall be said of the miserable sophism, that because the house of lords is not elected by the people, therefore it has no sympathy with the nation at large. Have not the peers and the people both an interest in the welfare of the country ? and is not the interest of the house of lords, in proportion to its numbers, far greater than that of any other class ? But further, the sons of peers are commoners. By the intermarriages of the nobility and gentry, the two classes are intermingled. And so throughout English society, there
are various degrees linked together; while in America there is an almost homogeneous mass, acted upon by sudden commotion, without interruption, barrier, or controul. In England, what agitates the people, affects indeed the hereditary, and also the natural aristocracy of the country; namely, the aristocracy of wealth, talent, and learning : but all are not agitated in the same manner and to the same extent. In America, the nation is all people. In England it consists of various orders united, sympathizing, vet not identical. The higher and more privileged in their own persons, and the subordinate, either by themselves or their representatives, share in the local or general government. Those that rule are accustomed also to obey. The highest is not above the laws, whose just and humane arrangements afford protection and provision for the poorest. There is neither the arbitrary master nor the abject slave. The admirable tendency of our institutions and customs is to preserve all in their proper places, to allow great activity and freedom, but to prevent injustice and violence. The constitution of society in this country we deem to be in unison with the material structure and moral government of the universe, in which “one star differeth from another star in glory;" and from the highest to the lowest of created things, there are diversities of being and of power; the mutually dependent parts of one grand harmonious system.
The house of lords is not indeed formed at the hustings; yet it has a national origin, although by a slower and more refined process than popular election ;-by a process which may be illustrated by the production of the topmost boughs of a tree, that yield the fairest blossoms and the choicest fruit. Because their growth was gradual, not the less perfect is their union with the parent stem. And so the peers have union and sympathy with the nation, whence they sprung, by the gradual growth and efflorescence of its greatness and
We believe that the house of lords is unrivalled by any other legislative assembly in the world, in dignity, in talent, in calm deliberative wisdom. From the house of commons it must be expected that the nation will principally receive those impulses by which it moves onward through successive stages of advancing civilization. But the house of lords gives to that progress a safe direction, checks its velocity, tempers its rashness, moderates the innovating spirit of the times, and moulds the fresh workmanship of the legislator of the day into better agreement with the ancient and venerable fabric of our laws and constitution. That which President Adams desired for his country, Englishmen already enjoy—they have a senate “deeply and strongly rooted, strong enough to bear up against all popular storms and passions.” If the house of lords were to yield to clamour, and to refrain from the exercise of its proper functions,—as some men, wise in their own conceit, have suggested,-an essential organ of the constitution would become weak and ineffectual, and the balance of its admirable mechanism would be destroyed. If the people were to elect a house of commons, ignorant or regardless of the past course of legislation, who should endeavour to subvert our laws and institutions by frequent and unconstitutional changes, the house of lords would arrest the ruinous course of affairs, until haply the nation should return to better and wiser counsels.
Marlborough, Chatham, Cornwallis, Mansfield, Nelson, Wellington,—the very names of the nobility, what eventful times, what scenes of greatness and of glory do they summon up to our remembrance! The people possibly might forget, or be so infatuated as to despise, the most memorable occurrences, the most instructive lessons of British history; but never can the peers for
get, whose titles, heraldic ensigns, and family records, are so many proud memorials of renown. When called to deliberate, at some dangerous and signal crisis, as constitutional guardians not only of their own privileges, but also of the throne, the church, the common welfare, the national glory, have the peers ever deserted their country in the hour of peril ? Although anarchy, with stormy billows, should rise and swell around the vessel of the state, would not they, animated by the spirit of their sires, either perish with her in the waves, or bring her back to her accustomed course and haven in safety, having taken their fixed, their hereditary resolve, “ We will never change the constitution and the laws of England !”
THE EXECUTIVE POWER.
The President of the United States—The British Sovereign
- Their ministers-Elections - Elective and hereditary monarchy—The veto-Mutual relations of the executive and the legislature in both countries - How far these have been affected in England by the Reform bill-Opinions of American statesmen respecting the British constitution.
Each state of the union having a separate legislature, the sovereignty is divided between the states and the federal government. The President of the United States is only the executive organ of the federal government, to which the state legislatures, as we have seen, are not uniformly submissive. But the British Sovereign wields the executive power of the whole nation; and the vigour which is necessary to rule an empire, situated in every quarter of the globe, is unimpaired by the insubordination of conflicting authorities.
The President may convoke Congress on extraordinary occasions, but cannot dissolve it. Ordinarily it meets, adjourns, and is dissolved, without his interposition.
The British Sovereign summons, prorogues, and dissolves parliament; a privilege designed to protect the monarchy, and to prevent the legislature from