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History Corner





Stoddard on Parliament: 1911


John L. Stoddard, Lectures On London

(Chicago: George L. Shuman & Co.; 1911), pp. 314, 317.


‘The Parliament of Great Britain is not a gift, but a growth; not a boon granted by a generous ruler, but a development by the people, often unconscious of their work, and building better than they knew.

Nor was it the invention of one individual, or of a conference deliberately appointed for the task.

Its seed, apparently congenital with the Anglo-Saxon race, germinated as far back as the thirteenth century, and bore its first fruit in Magna Charta.

‘[I]t is a suggestive thought to an American or Englishman that only the Anglo-Saxon has succeeded in giving to the idea of democracy permanent growth. . . .

At present both England and America are really working toward the same ends on parallel lines; and since the separation of mother and child, in 1776, Great Britain has been developing the democratic idea almost as rapidly as the United States.

Perhaps the greater reverence felt by Englishmen for conservative forms has kept the elder nation from a few extreme ideas that we shall yet discard, and, possibly, we may hereafter view with more appreciation the splendidly progressive yet conservative way in which Great Britain has contrived to build the ever-broadening power of the people, without, however, trampling under foot some precious privileges born of the antecedent travail of mankind.’



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