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doctors-who must all concur. Immediately we begin to hear of majority decisions, unknown since the era of Nicæa, a thousand years before. Thus (Héfélé, xi, 399, 402, note) it was decided by a majority to proceed with the general question of altering creeds before discussing the
Filioque' clause. But this facile method was not used for more serious purposes. When long discussions had failed to produce an agreement on the • Filioque' clause, the Latins offered to abide by the decision of the majority of the whole assembly (ib. xi, 425). The answer of the Greeks was that this would be a measure entirely novel and entirely unknown in practice. Finally a formula was agreed upon to which there was only a single dissentient, the Archbishop of Ephesus. Even then the Pope exclaimed, Then we have accomplished nothing' (ib. p. 461).
At Trent, however, in the middle of the sixteenth century, we find the plurality system in full working order, except that it was an order of the Council that no
point of doctrine" could be established if a “considerable" party opposed it, though it had been carried by plurality of votes, but that “some" casting votes were sufficient for a “point of reformation."'* This caused some difficulty
" with regard to the decree on the Eucharist, since twentythree prelates, including the Archbishop of Granada, opposed it. And it caused endless disputes as to what were points of doctrine' and 'reformation 'respectively.
As regards the procedure in less important bodies, such cathedral chapters, we find in Gregory's Decretals, A.D. 1234 (III, xi, 1), that in ecclesiastical corporations the acts of the majority prevail, 'nisi minor pars rationaliter contradicat.' This is founded on one of the decisions of the Lateran Council held (A.D. 1179) under Alexander III (c. 16).
Cum in cunctis ecclesiis, quod pluribus et sanioribus fratribus visum fuerit, incunctanter debeat observari, grave nimis est
* Jurieu, ‘Hist. of the Council of Trent,' p. 394.
* According to Gibert (C.I.C., 1735, i, 92), at Constance in 1415 the Spaniards challenged the right of the English to a whole vote, and thought a half-vote adequate to their numbers. It was proposed alternatively to revert to the system of counting by heads, but the English insisted on following the example of the Israelites, who voted by tribes, and also that of the religious orders, which voted by provinces and districts,
et reprehensione dignissimum, quod per quasdam ecclesias pauci quandoque non tam de ratione quam de propria voluntate ad ordinationem ecclesiasticam procedere non permittunt. Quocirca presenti decreto statuimus, ut (nisi a paucioribus et inferioribus aliquid rationabiliter objectum fuerit et ostensum), appellatione remota prævaleat semper et suum consequatur effectum, quod a majori et saniori parte* capituli fuerit constitutum. Nec constitutionem nostram impediat, si forte aliquis ad conservandam ecclesiæ suæ consuetudinem juramento dicat adstrictum. Nec enim juramenta, sed potius perjuria sunt dicenda, quæ contra utilitatem ecclesiæ et sanctorum patrum veniunt instituta.'
These canons bear testimony to the need which was felt at the moment for precise regulation. Alexander III himself had only assumed the tiara after a furious conflict in the Cardinalate, in the course of which both parties had elected a pope. The very first of these canons regulates the form of papal election for the future, and provides that Si . . . duabus partibus concordantibus tertia pars noluerit concordare, aut sibi alium præsumpserit ordinare, ille pontifex Romanus habeatur, qui a duabus partibus fuerit electus et receptus.' In other words, it recognises a two-thirds majority; and it subjects the other side and their nominee to excommunication and consigns them to the company of Dathan and Abiram. It imposes the same penalty on all those who affect to assume office without a two-thirds majority. But it carefully preserves the general rule that majoris et sanioris partis debet sententia prævalere,' because in general there is a higher authority to which the minority can appeal.f There are other rescripts of Innocent III which seem to show that the majority decision was in practice generally allowed. But the decree of the Council held by Alexander and the famous rescript Capitulo Catalanensi ' 1 of Gregory IX show that the vote of the
* In reading 'majori et seniori parte' Héfélé is certainly wrong. Thus, we have a rescript of Innocent III (1198), in which the refusal of some of the chapter of Rouen to agree with the archbishop and the majority to pay for improvements to the fabric is reproved, and the Pope declares,
ut si quis vestrum tuis, et majoris et sanioris partis capituli, statutis super hoc constitutionibus, duxerit resistendum, obtineat sententia plurimorum.'
+ See also • Decretals,' I, v, 3 (3); I, vi, 21-23, 48. # Ib. 57.
'major pars' was insufficient unless it was also “sanior.'* In the latter case, 17 canons, including Canon A., had elected B.; and 14 had elected A. It was argued that per hoc debebat pars sua sanior reputari, quum, ubi maior numerus est, zelus melior præsumatur.' The other side went into the merits, and said B. was not old enough or learned enough, and that his electors were not so old and learned as those of A.; and therefore A.'s supporters had the 'melior zelus.' Gregory held the election invalid.
Divisions in the Convocation of Canterbury begin to be noted at about the same time as divisions in the House of Commons, and occur with the same infrequency.t The Book of Common Prayer was unanimously accepted in 1660, and so were the Canons in 1604. The Canons of 1640 were strongly dissented from by the crypto-Roman Bishop (Goodman) of Gloucester. Laud told him he must subscribe them ; on his continued refusal the 'major pars' of the bishops voted for his deprivation. The recalcitrant bishop then hurriedly subscribed, and declined to afford any further particulars as to his mental attitude. Then the rest of the Upper House suspended him with unanimity. It seems that their majority vote of deprivation was regarded as nugatory; for how can you suspend a bishop from his office who has already been deprived of it, unless, indeed, the concurrence of the Lower House were considered necessary to the sentence ? The bare-majority principle was, therefore, not taken at an early date from Rome by way of Convocation; for Convocation only adopted it, so far as we know, late in its history. It could hardly have come from Rome at all. Rome did not recognise it, requiring reasonableness rather than numbers. When it was forced to count heads, it counted them by two to one. Cardinal Jacobatius, the canonist (vi, 2), writing in 1584, expresses this necessity that the major pars' should be sanior.' And, although there was a presumption of sanitas' in the decree of a majority, it was a presumption that was easily displaced.
We have, therefore, two distinct principles in the
* Innocent had repeated the phrase (ib. 42).
+ Gibson (Syn. Angl.' i, 177) alludes to cases of voting in 1532-3; and Warner (* Eccl, Hist. Eng.' ii, 430) mentions one in 1562.
Cardwell, 'Synodalia,' ii, 628.
Canon Law itself : a corporation could be bound by its 'major et sanior pars,' and so perhaps could a provincial council; but a general council, above whom was no authority (except, in later times, the Pope), must decide its own sanity; and this—for eleven centuries dependent on unanimity-was ultimately held to be dependent on the securing of a two-thirds majority. It is curious to note that the same two-thirds majority is required for any alteration in the Canons of the Church of Ireland. Subject to correction, it scarcely seems that either the practice of capitular bodies or the two-thirds majority of Ferrara can have led directly to the bare majority principle as adopted by the House of Commons; or that either practice should have led to it mediately (as Redlich supposes) through being adopted by the magnates, who were often ecclesiastics. A prima facie rule for administering a convent is not a rule which strongly suggests itself for governing a nation. The idea of majority decision (if we need trace it to anything beyond the common ideas of mankind) may well have come from the Church. The idea of majority domination could not possibly have had such an origin.
Apparently the real reason for the growth of the idea of majority domination was a much simpler and more natural one. It is suggested that mental indolence was responsible for the acceptance of majority rule; that people who were accustomed to accept majority decisions in indifferent matters came to believe that they were obliged to accept them in all matters. If you amicably
. agree by 180 to 170 that an outlaw shall sit for Camelford, or that there shall be no fast in the Temple Church on Sunday, you insensibly come to fancy that by 180 to 170 you can abolish the bishops and introduce the millennium. It may be that the autocracy of Henry VIII had something to do with the development. We have seen him reasonably suspected of threatening the Speaker's head, to ensure the passage of a Bill.
A division of opinion which might well have led to compromise in earlier times would lead to ready acquiescence in a majority decision if that were understood to be acceptable to the king. And it is remarkable that at the beginning of his reign we seem to see the last traces of the old process of voting by interests and not by heads. But the main influence seems surely to have been that disposition to take the easiest mental road, which long ago converted our elective monarchy into an hereditary one, and has laid down those extraordinary doctrinal assumptions as to the powers of the Crown and the House of Lords wbich the country is at present trying to bring into correspondence with common sense.
The very absence of all writing or speculation upon the subject strongly suggests that, impossible as it may be to trace the superstition of the necessary despotism of the numerical majority to its dark historical origins, the most rational and direct explanation of its rise is that, like other superstitions, it was cradled in uncritical carelessness, and brought to its modern pitch of luxuriant rankness through indolence. Never deliberately or of set purpose adopted as a political principle, it has drifted into a casual acceptance through loose political thinking. In Europe and America alike, publicists who have resisted the hypnotism of tradition have demonstrated the necessity of consulting separate interests in the body politic. Such diverse churches as those of Rome and Ireland—not to speak of commercial companies and firms-give to minorities their due weight.
It may fairly be concluded that no system based on the dictation of a clique which quocumque modo can secure a numerical majority in a sharp conflict can hope for permanence. Such a system is that created by the Parliament Act. The net result of the events of the past summer has been to substitute the Crown for the House of Lords as the moderating force in English politics; not because the Crown has as yet exercised a moderating force, so far as we can tell, but because there is nothing else left to fulfil the function. It is the only remaining bulwark against revolution; and it is unreasonable to suppose that, in the face of revolution, it will not be invoked. True, the Crown adopted a studiously colourless attitude in face of the Parliament Bill itself. But the Parliament Bill, if it evoked little passion in the country at large in support of it, evoked little in opposition. The House of Lords had exercised its power of veto so timidly that in reality the Act may make little difference. It was concerned with machinery