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There is no finality in citizenship. It is a living, everexpanding ideal which knows no limit. Hence gradual changes in our laws and institutions are always proceeding in the hope of bringing them into ever closer harmony with that ideal. To enable the reader to note those changes as and when they occur, a few blank pages have been left at the end of the book. An Index has now also been appended.
My sincere thanks are again due to friends upon whose expert knowledge I have been allowed to draw and to whose helpful criticism I owe much in the preparation of this enlargeil edition. In particular I am indebted to RearAdmiral Hugh Sinclair, C.B., and Lt.-Colonel A. J. H. Byrne, who have repeated the kindly services they rendered me ten years ago in reading my MS. Also I tender my best thanks to Lt.-Colonel L. N. Thornton, C.M.G., D.S.O., Director of Military Studies in the University of Cambridge ; Dr. William Garnett, late of the Education Department of the London County Council; George H. Hume, Esq., M.P., Alderman of the London County Council; J. R. Hambridge, Esq., Education Secretary for Beckenham; and to (the late) Sir Laurence Gomme, the learned Clerk to the London County Council, in grateful memory of all the generous help he gave me in past years when writing on London Government.
While thus acknowledging their invaluable assistance, it must be clearly understood that the writer alone is responsible for all errors; any corrections of which will be gladly received.
N.B...CHANGE OF TITLE
Having regard to the enlarged scope of this book it has been deemed advisable by the Publishers to withdraw the possibly misleading designation of“ Primer” which has hitherto been applied to the work, and issile it henceforth under the abbreviated title of “ ENGLISH CITIZENSHIP.”
HIS MAJESTY THE KING
THE LOYAL TOAST WHENEVER and wherever British subjects assemble together at political meetings, whether in the Homeland or in the remotest corner of the Colonies, it is a very usual custom before separating to join together in singing the National Anthem—“ God save the King.”
At every public banquet also, even in the most distant portion of the Empire, it would be looked upon as a strange and discourteous thing were the loyal toast of " The King for any reason omitted. Upon all such hospitable occasions, it is usual for the Chairman to bid the guests fill their glasses, and to propose in a few simple words the health of His Majesty. Every one then rises to his feet and drinks the toast with hearty acclamation. When speaking of this ancient custom let us remember that His late Majesty, King Edward VII., ever thoughtful of his people, caused it to be made known that he would feel himself just as truly honoured were the loyal toast taken in water, thus removing for all time a difficulty felt by many total abstainers.
In rendering our homage to the Sovereign in this quaint and time-honoured fashion, we are not only expressing our allegiance to his person, but we are also emphasising the fact that the Crown is the coping stone of the whole fabric of the Constitution. By the Constitution is meant that elaborate system of institutions, laws, and customs under which we live and by which we are governed. In drinking the health of the King, we are acknowledging him as the head of the State, and therefore its greatest and most important servant.
You have learnt in your histories that the English King
no longer wiélds the despotic powers that he possessed in times long past, but that he occupies the Throne and rules in accordance with the will of the people as expressed in the laws made by Parliament.
AUTOCRACY AND DEMOCRACY
A ruler whose will is law is called an autocrat, and the government of his country is spoken of as an autocracy. Where, however, a country is governed by laws made in an assembly to which the people send representatives, where in short you find “government of the people, for the people, by the people," there you have a pure democracy (from the Greek word demos, meaning the people). Our Government is not a pure democracy, because, although the King is no longer a law-giver, he still has certain powers of which we shall shortly speak. They are not very great. Little by little Parliament has placed checks and limits upon the “prerogative” of the Crown until it may now be said that the King“ reigns but does not rule.” You ought to read in your English History how the long struggle against absolute monarchy was continued for centuries, beginning with the list of concessions, embodied in the Magna Charta, wrung from King John. This document, which has been described as "the Keystone of English Liberty, was the first actual limitation of the Royal Prerogative. Inch by inch the powers, rights, and prerogatives of the Crown have been curtailed, until to-day there remains little but their outward form. It is true that the Acts of Parliament still require the Royal Assent, before they become Law (p. 37). We know, however, that the King never refuses his assent when Parliament desires it. We still also speak of the King "summoning Parliament dissolving" it, but again we know that he does these things upon the advice of his Ministers. And although the King still possesses beyond doubt the right to dismiss Parliament when he pleases, and to declare war upon a foreign nation, and to pardon any criminal, yet we know full well that the Sovereign never exercises these prerogatives except under the advice of his Ministers.
Indeed, much trouble and disorder would arise were the King of his own authority to summon and dissolve Parliament after the abrupt manner of Charles I., or were he to declare war upon some other nation without first consulting his Ministers.