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heard1. The result has been that the Constitution has never had any period of comparative peace in which its working could be fairly tested. If it has not worked as smoothly as that of the Free State, this may be due not merely to inherent defects but to the strain which civil and foreign wars have placed upon it. The Legislature, however, has not played the leading part. President Burgers, who held office from 1872 till 1877, was, like President M. W. Pretorius before him, practically more powerful than the Volksraad; and since 1881 President Kruger, who has been thrice re-elected, has been the ruling force in the politics of the country. By his influence over the people, by his constant presence and speeches in the Volksraad, he threw its leaders entirely into the shade, and probably exerted more actual power than the chief magistrate of any other republic, though there was scarcely any other chief magistrate whose legal authority was confined within such narrow limits. So much may foreign troubles or economic and social facts, and so much do the qualities of individual men, affect and modify and prevail over the formal rules and constitutional machinery of government. The Legislature therefore
1 When these immigrants from all parts of the world swarmed into the country, admission to the franchise was made more difficult, because the conservative section of the citizens naturally feared that the newcomers, many of whom did not intend to make the country their home, might, if they forthwith acquired voting power, soon secure a majority and overturn the existing system of the republic, including the official use of the Dutch language and the relations of Church and State. These non-burgher immigrants have been absurdly described as 'helots.' A closer parallel to them is to be found not in the semi-serfs of Sparta but in the class of resident aliens known at Athens as metics (μéтoko). But they were indeed far better off than that class, since they enjoyed full civic rights in all matters of private law, wanting only the right of sharing in the government.
has not had in the Transvaal that career of encroachment upon and triumph over the other authorities in the State which might have been predicted for it. Its turn might have come when external relations were tranquil and domestic controversies arose. When foreign affairs occupy men's minds, and call for rapid decision as well as for continuity of policy, the Legislature is apt to be, in all countries, dwarfed by the Executive.
Since the foregoing sketch of these remarkable experiments in the construction of Frames of Government was written (in 1896), both the Dutch republics have become involved in a deplorable war with England, which has lasted for many months, and still continues at the time of this writing. It has brought misery and desolation upon South Africa, and not least upon that singularly happy, prosperous, peaceful and well-governed community, the Orange Free State. While the flames are still raging, no one can conjecture in what form these two constitutions will emerge from the furnace, or whether indeed they will survive at all. In the midst of so terrible a catastrophe, a catastrophe unredeemed by any prospect of benefit to any of the combatants, and one whose results must be fateful in many ways for the future of South Africa, and possibly also of Britain, the destruction or transformation of constitutions seems but a small matter. But had these two republics been suffered to continue the normal course of their constitutional development, that development would have been full of interest.
It might even have conveyed valuable instruction or suggested useful examples to other small commonwealths, for in the scheme of these Constitutions, and especially in that of the Free State, there are some merits not to be found either in the American or in the British system. These simple Free State farmers were wiser in their simplicity than some of the philosophers who have at divers times planned frames of government for nascent communities. But though Wisdom is justified of all her children, she cannot secure that her children shall survive the shock of arms.
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE
COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA
AUSTRALIA is the first instance in history of a whole continent whose inhabitants are all (if we exclude the vanishing aborigines) of one race and all owe one allegiance. Thus it has supplied the only instance in which a political constitution has been, or could have been, framed for a whole continent. It is moreover one of the very few cases in history in which a number of communities politically unconnected (save by their common allegiance to a distant Crown) who had felt themselves to be practically a nation have suddenly transformed themselves into a National State, formally recognizing their unity and expressing it in the national institutions which they proceeded to create. There could hardly be a more striking illustration of the speed with which events have been moving during the last and the present age than the fact that Australia, or New Holland as it was then called, was, except as to part of its coasts, marked as a Terra Incognita upon our maps so late as the beginning of the eighteenth century, that the first British settlement was not planted in it at Sydney (not far from Captain Cook's Botany
Bay) till 1788, that responsible government was not conferred upon the oldest colony, New South Wales, until 1855, nor upon West Australia till 1890.
Besides the interest with which every one must see the birth of a new nation, occupying a vast and rich territory, the student of political science finds further matter for inquiry and reflection in the enactment of an elaborate constitution for the Commonwealth of Australia. Every creation of a new scheme of government is a precious addition to the political resources of mankind. It represents a survey and scrutiny of the constitutional experience of the past. It embodies an experiment full of instruction for the future. The statesmen of the Convention which framed this latest addition to the world's stock of Instruments of Government had passed in review all previous experiments, had found in them examples to follow and other examples to shun, had drawn from them the best essence of the teachings they were fitted to impart. When the Convention prepared its highly finished scheme of polity, it delivered its judgement upon the work of all who had gone before, while contributing to the materials which will be available for all who come hereafter to the work of building up a State.
Nearly all the precedents which the Australian Convention had at its disposal belong to very recent times, in fact to the last century and a half. Though federal governments are ancient-the oldest apparently is that formed by the cities of Lycia in the fourth century B. C.— the ancient federations scarcely got beyond the form of leagues of small republics for the purpose of common military defence. Such leagues never quite grew into