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of inspiration, some new pattern of political structure. Such a source was found in the English constitutional system; such a pattern was supplied by English parliamentary institutions.
The first installation of a system modelled on that of England was made after Belgium broke away from Holland in 1830, and declared its national independence as "a constitutional, representative, hereditary monarchy." 1 The constitution adopted by Belgium dates from February 7, 1831. It provides for a cabinet system similar to that of England, with ministers appointed by the Crown but responsible to a national legislature composed of a chamber of deputies and a senate. This constitution has exerted a marked influence upon all European constitutional arrangements since then, but it can not be said that it initiated the general movement in favor of representative government. It was produced under circumstances that made it look like a result of diplomatic chaperonage. The annexation of Belgium to Holland had been an arbitrary arrangement made by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 in entire disregard of national sentiment and historical traditions. The cause of Belgian independence was upheld by England
1 The constitution of Norway dates back to 1814 but in its original form it reflected the principles of the French constitution of 1791, and it did not acquire its present parliamentary character until 1884.
with the concurrence of France, and both powers forcibly intervened to compel Holland to submit. In the choice of a ruler and in making its governmental arrangements the new state acted under the advice of the protecting powers, especially England.
The general movement in favor of representative government dates from the French revolution of February 24, 1848, which turned on parliamentary issues. It had the effect of a call to the peoples of Europe, "now then, all heave together!" So general was the heave that every throne in Europe was shaken by it, and in most cases rulers could save themselves only by granting representative government. The first to capitulate was the king of Sardinia, who conceded parliamentary institutions to his subjects on March 4, 1848. As the kingdom of Italy was eventually formed by the union of other Italian states with Sardinia, the statute of 1848 became the national constitution of Italy. Some sort of constitution of representative government was adopted by most of the states of Europe as a result of the agitations begun in that year. What is known in European history as "the Year of Revolutions"-1848, marks the beginning of the movement towards representative government which has gone all over the world.
Antiquarian research animated by patriotic
zeal has in various times and places discovered grounds for claims of the existence of older forms of representative government than those noted in the foregoing. According to some writers representative government existed in Switzerland in ancient times, but such forms as are discernible in the available records seem more akin to the feudal system than to representative government of the existing type. Also in Holland, a quasirepresentative character has been claimed for some ancient institutions, and the same claim has been made in behalf of Hungary. The feudal system was based on the idea of separate classes or estates each of which had its own political functions, and action by an estate through its deputies on sufficient occasion was familiar to the political thought of Europe, but this was something quite distinct from the idea of a national control over authority which is the characteristic principle of representative government. doubtless the case that ancient institutions have influenced the development of representative government in Europe, but it is historically manifest that the distinct type was first formed in England and that the English example was the master influence in propagating the type. It has been said of the English parliament that it is "the mother of parliaments." That claim appears to be well founded.
It is a remarkable circumstance that while representative government was making its rapid rise in the world, little was definitely known of its history, although there was much speculation on the subject. It was pretty generally agreed that England was the place in which it first showed itself in such a way as to attract general notice, but whence it came and how England got it were matters about which there was much dispute. The various theories which have been advanced seem to fall into one or the other of these two classes:
1. That representative government is a development which took place in the Middle Ages, through modification of royal administration by the events of English history.
2. That representative government is a modern restoration of ancient right, whose institutional embodiment was the Teutonic assembly of freemen. This institution was carried into England by the Anglo-Saxons, where it became the germ from which representative government was eventually developed.
The first of these views was that generally held by historians up to the middle of the nineteenth century, when the second one came into such extensive vogue as to take practically complete possession of historical literature. It still pervades popular history and its characteristic ex
pressions have become proverbial, as in such phrases as "Anglo-Saxon principles," "AngloSaxon freedom," but exact scholarship is now returning to the older view.
Questions of this character are ordinarily supposed to have only an antiquarian interest without much practical importance, but this is a mistake. The question which of these two views is correct has really a very important bearing upon practical politics, although it might be rather difficult to explain it. But however that may be, the plan of this treatise requires a thorough examination of the merits of the case, and it so happens that the details form a very curious chapter of literary history possessing an interest of its own. Probably there can be no stronger instance than it affords of the ability of people to believe what they want to believe and make the facts appear what they wish them to be.