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• table bondage if from jealous motives it asked you to • renounce for its sake every other friendship. It is a • sincere pleasure to the Queen and to myself that your • Majesty should be more known and understood. But the impression which this interchange of courtesies
with Russia may produce, both upon Russia herself 6 and upon the rest of the European public, is quite
another matter, and is well worthy of consideration.' The Prince then goes on minutely to argue in favour of these propositions, with all the care and precision of a diplomatic despatch. He shows what is likely to be the effect of the Emperor's interview with the Grand Duke upon European opinion, French opinion, and English opinion ; and, in view of a conceivable Russian alliance, he points out that such an alliance could have nothing for its basis but an external and purely political motive. "Immediately all Europe sets to work to • reflect, and asks itself what this motive is, confidence
is shaken; England naturally is the first to take the • alarm, which is soon shared equally by the rest of the
world. The Queen and myself personally are con• vinced that your Majesty has no intention of this kind, • and so far as we are concerned, the fresh assurances
on this subject which your Majesty has been pleased • to give in your last letter were superfluous. At the
same time I have thought it well to explain the cause • of the susceptibility of the public and the press, which “in my judgment has its origin in the very idea which ' is at the bottom of our alliance.'
Mr. Martin appends to this letter the following pertinent words : • This letter, before being despatched, ' was submitted in the usual way to the consideration
of the Prime Minister and Lord Clarendon. By them
Lord Clarendon's Opinion.
"it was pronounced "most excellent.” “It ought,” * Lord Clarendon wrote to the Prince, “ to open the 66 Emperor's eyes to the consequences of his adulation "" of Russia, and, above all, to put him on his guard 66 against that extremely well-veneered gentleman the 6" Grand Duke Constantine.””]
| Life of the Prince Consort, vol. iv. p. 32.
SECTION II.—THE CROWN AND ITS MINISTERS.
THERE is no political term which is used more ambiguously than the term Prerogative. The misuse or abuse of the term, if it has not been replete with danger, has certainly been the cause of an indefinite amount of confusion and misunderstanding. The word Prerogative is, in its most general sense, used to express the freedom of independent action which belongs to the Crown; and no distinction is customarily drawn between the personal liberty of the Sovereign, which is only hemmed round and restricted by the action of the Crown's constitutional advisers, and the freedom of action of the Crown, which is only controlled by the competing rights of Parliament. To ascertain the prerogative of the Crown in the former sense would be to determine what were the relations of the Crown to its Ministers, the two being regarded from opposite points of view, and as placed in provisional antithesis the one to the other. So far as the Sovereign could act without consulting the Ministry, or could interfere with their free action, or could exercise an unconstrained volition in choosing or dismissing them, so great, and no greater, would be held to be the measure of the Royal prerogative. But the word Prerogative is also used in the sense of the extent of the right of free action of the Crown and its Ministers, looked upon as acting harmoniously together, which is only indirectly, if at all, subject to the control of Parliament. The Ministers of the Crown are indeed always looked upon as responsible for the due and proper exercise of the prerogative in this latter sense of the term ; and it has been one
Uses of the Term · Prerogative.
main object of constitutional struggle in this country to render the Ministers of the Crown more and more directly and certainly accountable for the mode, time, and degree in which the prerogative is exercised. In some cases, indeed, where the quality or amount of the prerogative is in any degree uncertain, or too much limited for the purpose in hand, an Act of Parliament is passed to clear up the doubts or to supplement the deficient prerogative by conferring on the Crown new and special powers. An instance of this is at hand in the Act which enables the Crown, by its Ministers, to publish Articles of War for the administration of the Army. The limits of the prerogative in this sense are on the whole less shifting, and defined with greater legal precision, than the limits of the prerogative in the other sense. Though the use of the word Prerogative for both purposes is in the highest degree inconvenient, the two senses of the term are really existent and must be separately examined in any exhaustive constitutional inquiry. In the present section the first sense of the term Prerogative will be alone considered, and the immediate subject of investigation will therefore be the relation of the Sovereign to those who may be properly called the Ministers of the Crown. In the next section the consideration of the other use of the term Prerogative will introduce a discussion as to the relation of the Ministers of the Crown to Parliament.
In order to determine the actual relation of the Sovereign to the Ministers of the Crown, as developed by the most recent history, it is necessary to point out that those Ministers, in their organised character as a Cabinet, are a mere accidental historical outgrowth of the older Privy Council; and that they occupy a posi
tion somewhere intermediate between the Houses of Parliament and the Crown, of a kind to which no precedent in former times, and no institution in other countries, supplies any exact analogy. The problem for many centuries before the country was, how to provide an effective administrative Council close to the Sovereign, and yet to secure for Parliament the largest possible amount of control, both over the Council in its corporate capacity, and over every individual member of it. A variety of devices were resorted to in different ages to secure these ends, among which may be noted spasmodic and almost revolutionary appeals to the King to dismiss evil counsellors ;' impositions on the King of specially-named counsellors for temporary purposes, or in order to remedy crying wrongs and abuses; the desultory use of the weapon of impeachment; the more formal effort resorted to in the Act of Settlement to secure responsibility by requiring that all matters ' and things relating to the well-governing of the king• dom, which are properly cognisable in the Privy • Council, by the laws and customs of the realm, should • be transacted there, and all resolutions taken there• upon should be signed by such of the Privy Council
as should advise and consent to the same;' and the persistent remonstrances, in Parliament and in the press, during George III.'s reign, against the irregular counsels believed to be afforded to the Sovereign by those who were designated the King's friends.' But, side by side with the more recent of these expedients, there was growing up the institution of the Cabinet Council, which, with all its defects and occasional jars in the working, seems admirably qualified to attain the end of combining the utmost concentration