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carried on in the committee rooms, where no strangers or reporters are admitted. Whenever leave has been granted to bring in a bill, it is referred, before discussion, to the standing committee appointed to investigate the class of subjects on which legislation is proposed. If the committee reject the bill, their vote is not final; but the rejected bill is laid upon the table, and it requires a two-thirds' majority to remove it from the table, or, in other words, to resume its consideration. This, of course, is rarely done, and, practically, the framework and substance of every measure is discussed in the committee rooms, not in the open House. The party in power in either House manages the selection of the committees, so that one of the party should always occupy the chairmanship, and that the majority of the members should belong to their own side. It is in the committee rooms that the real work of legislation is done ; and members go into the House, as I have often heard Congress-men declare, to deliver speeches, or write their letters. With all this, with the early hours (generally from noon to five), with the fresh air and easy seats, the position of a member of Congress must be, to my mind, a more comfortable one than that of an English M.P., not to mention the 6001. a year of salary, with the mileage, stationery, and franking perquisites.
CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.
I RECOLLECT talking about the Constitution of the Union, not long after my arrival, with an old diplomatist from one of the Scandinavian kingdoms. He had lived for some fourteen years in the States, and was as shrewd as northern diplomatists generally are. “I suppose,” he said to me, “I have studied the Government “ of this country as much as most men ; and yet, to the “ present day, whenever I disagree with an American on " any question of politics, he always settles the argument “ by telling me that a stranger can never understand the "institutions of his country.” Subsequent experience proved to me that the remark was a just one. Amongst all Americans, even the most intelligent and impartial, there is a settled conviction that, just as the knowledge of the books of Veda is confined to the Brahmins, so the power of interpreting the mysteries of the American Constitution is reserved to the native-born American. Yet, judging à priori, the subject would not seem to be surrounded with extraordinary difficulties. There is no unwritten constitution, as with us. A hundred clauses or so, written in the clearest and most forcible of English, describe and define the powers and limits of the Government. There is no hazy past, no dim tradition about American history; while, as to the manner in which the theory of the government has been reduced into practice, we have the evidence, not only of written records, but of men still living, whose recollections date back almost to the days of the Revolution.
That the American Constitution is very imperfectly understood abroad, I admit freely. That it is so frequently misunderstood I believe to be, in great measure, the fault of the Americans themselves. From the time of Washington to the present hour, every political struggle in the States has been based upon contending interpretations of the Constitution; and a very simple subject has been obscured by the rancour of rival factions. Though the letter of the Constitution has been seldom, if ever, violated, its spirit has been constantly modified, if not disregarded ; and a very casual perusal of its contents shows that the practical development of the system has been very different from what its authors intended it to be. Moreover, there is a tendency in the American mind to surround the founders of the Republic, their acts and their works, with an unreasoning and, I think, an exaggerated respect. As the ablest of living American novelists once said to me, "We are always struggling painfully to
create a past ;” and so, just as over-zealous divines obscure the simplicity of the Bible by trying to find too much in every word, American commentators on the Constitution endeavour to invest it with the attributes of an almost inspired wisdom, and, by so doing, render it unintelligible. That the Constitution was a compromise of wonderful ability, and that, on the whole, it has been attended with extraordinary success, no candid inquirer can venture to deny ; that it was a work of high abstract merit, or of great legislative sagacity, may reasonably be doubted. Having pleaded guilty to this heresy, let me endeavour to give such an outline of the American Constitution as may render my view of it intelligible to the English reader.
How it arose that such differences, existed in customs, laws, and policy, between the different States which formed the original Union, is a question of history, and of obscure Colonial history, into which I need not enter. The broad fact is obvious, that at the time of the Revolution the thirteen States which succeeded in establishing their independence were distinct and independent communities, anxious to extend rather than curtail their individual freedom. It was the pressure of necessity, not any abstract desire for unity, which caused the formation of the first Confederacy. In the words of Justice Storey, the Revolution “had nourished a spirit “ of resistance to all external authority; and (the States) “ having had no experience of the want of some general “ Government to superintend their common affairs and “ interests yielded anything reluctantly, and deemed the “ least practicable delegation of power quite sufficient “ for national purposes."* In accordance with this principle, the Articles of Confederation commenced with the declaration, “ That each State retains its sove“ reignty, freedom, and independence; and every power, “ jurisdiction, and right which is not by this Confedera“ tion, expressly delegated to the United States in Con“ gress assembled.”+ By these articles, Congress, which represented the Central Government, had no executive powers, or, more truly, it had no means granted to it by which it could carry its executive powers into effect. It was owing to this radical defect that the whole system broke down utterly, and the Confederacy would probably have fallen to pieces of itself, had it not been for the wisdom and the energy of the statesmen who conducted the Revolution. It was not in obedience to any popular demand for a more effective union, but by the influence exercised by the founders of the Republic, that the Articles of Confederation were replaced in 1787 by the Constitution of the United States. Most of the component States were indifferent to the idea of a closer union; many of them were absolutely hostile to it. The conditions, then, of the problem, which the authors of the Constitution had to solve, were arduous enough. The