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2-332 (Text)

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author,male,Denison, William Thomas,44 addressee,male
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Government English
Imperial Correspondence
Clark, 1977
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2-332-plain.txt — 3 KB

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It will be but just to the Members of the Executive Council, and to myself, that I should explain to your Lordship, the grounds upon which we recommended the adoption of a form of government similar to that at present existing in New South Wales, without attempting to give an opinion as to tile advantages or disadvantages contingent upon the adoption of that particular form.
Without, therefore, wishing or presuming to give an opinion on the general question of the best form of legislative body, I may say that, under the peculiar circumstances of these colonies, I should most strenuously recommend the adoption of a Second or Upper Chamber.
When we consider the elements of which society is here composed, - when we see the low estimate that is placed upon everything which can distinguish a man from his fellows, with the sole exception of wealth, - when we see that even wealth does not lead to distinction, or open the road to any other ambition than that of excelling in habits of self-indulgence, --- it can hardly be subject of surprise that so few are found who rise above the general level, or that those few owe more to the possession of a certain oratorical facility than to their powers of mind or the justness of the opinions which they advocate.
The broad plain of equality, as in America, receives the whole of the community, and though there are many who would gladly avail themselves of any opportunity of raising themselves above the general level, yet here, as in America, any attempt to do so would be frustrated by the jealousy of the remainder of the community.
Your Lordship can hardly form an idea of the character of the population of these colonies.
It is usual to assume that colonies are off-shoots from the parent stock, containing in themselves the germs of all the elements of which society in the mother country is composed.
This can only be said of any colony with many reservations, but it cannot be said of these colonies with any appearance of justice or truth.
There is an essentially democratic spirit which actuates the large mass of the community; and it is with the view to check the development of this spirit, of preventing its coming into operation, that I would suggest the formation of an Upper Chamber.
The members of this, call it senate or what you may, will be raised in some measure above the general level of society, - they will be rendered independent of popular blame or approbation, but, being also free from the suspicion of acting under the control of the Government, they will conciliate popular feeling, and hold a fair position between the Executive and the Legislature. 
I do not presume to enter into any detail of the mode in which such an assembly should be constituted, further than to express an opinion that the Government should have as little as possible to do in the nomination or selection of the members.
There must, of course, be some ex-officio representatives of the Government in the House. The bishops of the Church of England and Rome might sit as representatives of the ecclesiastical bodies; but as the object with which I advocate the establishment of a second chamber, is more that of operating morally upon the body of the community, than of facilitating generally the operations of the Executive Government, I should be loth to recommend the adoption of a plan which might in any way neutralize the beneficial action of such a body upon the mass of the people.
I also think that, in order to render the members perfectly independent of either the Government or the people, they should be appointed or elected for life.
Trusting that your Lordship will not be of opinion that, in offering these suggestions, I have in any way exceeded the limits imposed upon me by my position in this colony.