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assemblies of the ancient republics, which consisted of the entire body of citizens, the attendance was uncertain and infrequent, the numbers were large, and no system of political party could be organised amongst the persons who met for the occasion. In Athens, and the Greek democracies generally, the popular assembly was for the most part guided by some powerful leader and orator, whose influence was sometimes beneficial and sometimes mischievous, but who swayed the judgment of the people by his counsels, and gave a practical effect to the principle of authority. At Rome, the great party leaders-by their military successes, their enormous wealth, and consequent means of acquiring popularity-were able to enlist numerous adherents to their cause, and to determine the elections of magistrates and the vote of the popular assembly, but their following was purely personal-the attachment was to Svlla, or Marius, or Cæsar, or Pompey, and not to any public cause; and the system was essentially unlike the party organisation of modern States.1 The same was also the case, to a great extent, with the parties in the Italian republics. Although the Guelfs and Ghibellines, the Bianchi and Neri, &c., professed to have a principle, in a short time they had only a name; and the party divisions were mere struggles for political power under rival leaders.

In the legislative assemblies of modern States, the system of political party is organised in such a manner, as to afford a more effectual assistance to the disposition of the majority, to defer to the opinions of the most competent judges within its own circle. Unlike the numerous and fluctuating assemblies of citizens in the ancient republics, a representative assembly consists of a limited and comparatively small number of persons-whose attendance is more or less regular, and who thus acquire a sort of professional acquaintance with the business and forms of legislation. They are thus able to form themselves into parties and knots of members, who are in the habit of consulting and acting together; they likewise become aware of each other's characters and capacities; and they are. able to estimate fairly the weight due to the opinion of each upon the subject to which it relates. The person whom each party select as their leader guides their proceedings


Speaking of the popular assemblies of the Romans, Cicero says: Concio, quæ ex imperitissimis constat, tamen judicare solet quid intersit inter popularem, id est, assentatorem et levem civem, et inter constantem, severum, et gravem.'--De Amic. c. 25.

by his advice, appears as their organ in the public deliberations, and generally determines their vote by his opinion. If the leaders of the several sections and parties in the assembly are well selected, the inconveniences arising from the naked operation of the numerical principle of decision are powerfully counteracted.

The system of parties in a legislative body leads to preliminary and separate discussions among its members, out of the chamber, upon the questions to be discussed within it, and to a prior settlement of the course which each party is to take. This renders the assembled body less accessible to the influence of speeches delivered in its debates, and prevents it from being carried away by the sudden and vehement impulse of an impassioned appeal to its feelings. A greater ascendancy is thus secured to calm and prudent counsels than in the ancient republics-where the citizens generally came together without any fixed opinion, and were convinced by the speech of the most eloquent demagogue.

To a great extent, however, the proceedings of every legislative assembly are influenced (particularly after the debate) by the public discussions of its members; and, in proportion as the ablest, the wisest, and the most competent to guide its counsels, take a prominent part in its deliberations, the greater is the probability of its decisions being correct, and its policy consistent and steady. It may be observed that the effect of deliberations, in inducing the bulk of the assembly to adopt the opinions of its ablest and wisest members, is materially assisted by the publication of the debates, through reports in the daily newspapers. The arguments advanced on both sides of a question can thus be sifted and compared at leisure by the public, out of doors; the chances of justice being done to a really sound and well-supported argument are increased; the nature of factious and dishonest votes is more generally understood, and the conduct of those who resist good advice is better appreciated. Unquestionably, the success of a representative system of government has been materially facilitated by the invention of printing.

Another check upon the majority of a deliberative assembly is derived from the forms of its proceedings. These forms are generally so arranged, as to secure to the minority the power of stating their objections both to the principle and details of every measure proposed for adoption by the assembly, and of retarding its progress by adverse criticism, and the moving of amendments. The forms of the English House of Commons are avowedly contrived

for the protection of minorities; and they are so effectual for their purpose, as frequently to defeat the will of the great body of the House, and to enable a few members to resist, at least for a time, a measure desired by the majority.

The precise nature of the regulations for conducting the business of a deliberative assembly is not here in question; but it is important to observe, that the securing of due weight to the opinions of the minority, and a limitation of the immediate action of the majority, listening to no compromise, and proceeding straight to its end-is admitted to be a legitimate object of the forms of such a body. Even the permission sometimes given to members of a minority to enter protests, in an authentic form, against the decisions of the majority is, to some extent, a security against improper or hasty decisions. In general, however, (as we shall see presently,) it is desirable that, when the decision has once been made, no steps should be taken for weakening its effect, and that it be considered as the decision of the whole, and not merely of a part of the body.

Another contrivance in the proceedings of a legislative assembly, for obviating the evils of decision by an uninformed majority, and securing due weight to the opinion of a few competent judges, is the reference of subjects to the deliberation and examination of select committees of its members. The members of the body selected for acting on such committees are naturally those who are best qualified, by their experience, knowledge, and mental capacity, to form a right judgment on the matter. The opinion of such a committee, although consisting only of a small fraction of the entire body, generally carries weight with the majority, in proportion as the credit of its members stands high for good sense and intelligence, and for peculiar qualifications in the given case; and also according as they have investigated the subject with diligence and impartiality.

A further support to the minority of a legislative body is afforded by the institution of a double chamber, or what some writers have termed bicamerism.' Whenever the majorities of both chambers are agreed on any question, this effect is not produced; but if they happen to differ, the majority of one chamber may support the minority in the other. If this state of things was permanent, or even frequent, the legislative power See this subject fully discussed in Story's Commentaries on the Const. of the U. S. b. III. c. 8.

would be paralysed, the constitution would not work, and a revolutionary struggle would be the consequence; but if the differences between the two houses are not serious or frequent, and (when they occur) are terminated by amicable compromises, some protection to a minority in one of the houses may for a time he afforded.

From these considerations it results that, although the decision by a majority, both in executive and legislative bodies, is opposed to the principle which we generally follow for obtaining rectitude of judgment, where our course is free, and unfettered by legal rules, nevertheless it is necessary for securing the advantages of corporate action; and that the evils flowing from the plan of counting votes, without reference to their intrinsic value, are counteracted and neutralised, to a great extent, not only by the forms of business contrived for the purpose of controlling the direct and simple action of the numerical principle, but also by the spontaneous homage of the individual members of the body to the principle of authority.

§ 13. In all cases where the act of the majority of any political body is valid, it is highly desirable that the decision, when come to, should be considered as the act of the entire body; that the comparative numbers of the majority and minority should not be adverted to as a ground for impugning the decision; and that the law or other act should be obeyed without any question of its validity, on the ground of the smallness of the majority by which it may have been carried. Decision by a majority is a mode of cutting a knot which cannot be untied; it is, therefore, on every account expedient that the knot should be cut effectually.

For a similar reason, it is fitting that any section of a deliberative body, who may be unable to induce the majority to adopt their propositions, should acquiesce in its decisions, and should continue to attend its meetings, without seceding, on the ground that their advice is disregarded. In every popular assembly there is a minority which is unable to carry its views; and if such minorities were to be discouraged by the rejection of their motions, and to withdraw from their duties, the ultimate success of their opinions could never take place, at least, not in consequence of their exertions. Unless a defeated minority is willing to act upon this principle, the unity of the body is weakened and impaired, and a disruption is produced, similar to that which took place in the

Roman State when the Plebs separated themselves from the rest of the citizens, and seceded to the Mons Sacer.1

§ 14. It is likewise fitting that the members of a majority should bear in mind, that their assent to the propositions of the leaders of the assembly is voluntary; that the advice which is tendered to them by members of their body is merely advice, which they can reject or adopt, as they think fit; and that, when any measure has been sanctioned by the deliberate vote of the assembly, it becomes the act of the entire body, whoever may have been its author and proposer. Unless this principle is kept in view, there is a tendency, when any measure has proved unsuccessful, (either from its own defects, or from untoward circumstances, or from the unskilfulness or neglect of the persons charged with its execution,) to throw the blame upon its originator, and to forget that it was deliberately approved and accepted by the entire body.2

§ 15. It has been remarked above, that with respect to the

1 At the congress of the Achæan League, in 198 B.C., when the proposal of an alliance with the Romans was made, no one would speak. Aristanus the prætor, after urging them to deliver their opinions, concludes his exhortation thus: Ubi semel decretum erit, omnibus id, etiam quibus ante displicuerit, pro bono atque utili fædere defendendum.'-Lıvy, XXXII. 20. Compare Thirlwall, Hist. of Gr. vol. VIII. p. 301. In Polyb. V. 49, and Dion. Hal. A. R. XI. 56, there is likewise the expression of the same principle. Pliny states that, in the proceeding on a complaint of the Bithynians against Varenus, their pro-consul, a question was decided in favour of Varenus by the senate, and was afterwards, on an appeal to the emperor, remitted by him to the senate for their re-consideration. When the point was discussed on this re-hearing, most of the members who had voted against Varenus on the former occasion now voted for him; alleging that they were bound by the act of the majority:-': :-'Singulos enim, integrâ re, dissentire fas esse; peractâ, quod pluribus placuisset, cunctis tuendum.'-Epist. VI. 13. Mr. Grote, Hist. of Gr. vol. IV. p. 478, remarks upon 'the admirable conduct of the five dissentient generals [at Marathon], when out-voted by the decision of the polemarch against them, in co-operating heartily for the success of a policy which they deprecated.' Story, Comm. on the Const. of the U. S. § 833, also speaks of the 'baneful practice of secession.'

2 Xenophon, Rep. Ath. II. § 17, complains that, if any evil consequence results from a measure agreed to by the people, they attribute it to the authors and advisers of the measure, who, they allege, persuaded them to it, contrary to their interest. Machiavel also remarks upon the tendency of the people to visit the failures caused by its own rash and foolish counsels upon the heads of its instruments, Disc. I. 53. He points out, in another place, the disposition of men to judge merely by the result, and the consequent danger of advising either a prince or a people; for if the advice turns out ill, the blame is imputed to the counsellor, even by those who voluntarily adopted it, having the power of rejection. Hence, he recommends every counsellor to give his advice with moderation and calmness, so that the people or prince who adopts it may seem to adopt it voluntarily, and not in consequence of the importunity of the adviser.-III. 35.

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