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In this treatise it is proposed to investigate the nature of representative government by inquiry into its origin and by examination of its characteristics. It is a species of government which exhibits itself in such different forms, that there is some difficulty in framing an exact and comprehensive definition that would be generally acceptable, but for the immediate purpose it is not necessary to make the attempt. Questions of institutional value, involving discrimination between what is genuine and what is spurious in claims of representative character, will come up for consideration later in the course of this treatise. For the present it is sufficient to remark that the essence of the term is plainly the fact of representation, however it may be arranged. The idea is that the people, while not in person present at the seat of government, are to be considered as present by proxy. The way in which the system


of representation is arranged, the conditions under which it acts, the scope of its authority, all these are matters of great importance in determining the quality and effect of the system, and differences in these respects produce marked variety in representative government as displayed in actual practice; but the character mark of the type may be regarded as being simply the representative intention, however expressed in actual arrangements, whether well or ill.

As thus broadly viewed, it is beyond question that representative government is now the dominant political type. Representative institutions have been set up throughout the Americas, Europe, South Africa, and Australia, and they are now penetrating Asia. They have been adopted by Japan and they have been introduced into China, India, Persia, Turkey and Egypt. Whatever be the actual nature of the political arrangements that are taking shape in those countries, they at least attest the force of the tendency to assimilate political forms to the representative type. Among recent developments in world politics is some arrest of this tendency, but it has not gone far enough to impair the supremacy of the type.

This supremacy is of quite recent occurrence. Its beginnings go scarcely farther back than the middle of the nineteenth century. A peremptory

demand for representative institutions then broke out suddenly all over continental Europe. No great political movement ever made a more abrupt start. It was indeed a veritable explosion of popular feeling, and that explains why it came so suddenly. The way in which material for it had been prepared may be readily understood when the then state of the times is considered. The series of theoretic constitutions produced by the French revolution had left memories of horror and disgust. The various European constitutions framed during the Napoleonic era, although they had features whose value compelled eventual recognition, were essentially impositions of imperial authority and when that was broken they too collapsed. The group of constitutions that had appeared in the revolted American possessions of Spain, on the general lines of the constitution of the United States, had not produced results tending to make the type attractive. Everywhere the liberal experimentation of the age seemed to be a dismal failure, and after all the struggles and sufferings of the people, absolute government had been restored all over Europe. But its prestige was gone. The popular consent on which it rested when it was really powerful and efficient, had been withdrawn, and it now existed only on sufferance until the liberal tendencies of the age could find some new source

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