who had stayed some time in England, of the way affairs were managed there. It was a political necessity (so he assured us, and we believed him, though we had never discovered it till that moment) that there should be two Parties, in every affair and on every subject. In Politics, the two Parties, which you had found it necessary to institute, were called, he told us, "Whigs" and "Tories".'
`That must have been some time ago?' I remarked.
`It was some time ago,' he admitted. `And this was the way the affairs of the British Nation were managed. (You will correct me if I misrepresent it. I do but repeat what our traveler told us.) These two Parties-- which were in chronic hostility to each other--took turns in conducting the Government; and the Party, that happened not to be in power, was called the "Opposition", I believe?'
`That is the right name,' I said. `There have always been, so long as we have had a Parliament at all, two Parties, one "in", and one "out".'
`Well, the function of the "Ins" (if I may so call them) was to do the best they could for the national welfare-- in such things as making war or peace, commercial treaties, and so forth?'
`Undoubtedly,' I said.
`And the function of the "Outs" was (so our traveler assured us, though we were very incredulous at first) to prevent the "Ins" from succeeding in any of these things?'
`To criticize and to amend their proceedings,' I corrected him. `It would be unpatriotic to hinder the Government in doing what was for the good of the Nation! We have always held a Patriot to be the greatest of heroes, and an unpatriotic spirit to be one of the worst of human ills!'
`Excuse me for a moment,' the old gentleman courteously replied, taking out his pocket-book. `I have
a few memoranda here, of a correspondence I had with our tourist, and, if you will allow me, I'll just
refresh my memory--although I quite agree with you--it is, as you say, one of the worst of human ills--'
And, here Mein Herr began singing again.
But oh, the worst of human ills
Once more I started into wakefulness, and realized that Mein Herr was not the singer. He was still consulting his memoranda.
`It is exactly what my friend told me,' he resumed, after conning over various papers. `"Unpatriotic" is the very word I had used, in writing to him, and "hinder" is the very word he used in his reply! Allow me to read you a portion of his letter:
`"I can assure you," he writes, "that, unpatriotic as you may think it, the recognized function of the "Opposition" is to hinder in every manner not forbidden by the Law, the action of the Government. This process is called "Legitimate Obstruction": and the greatest triumph the "Opposition" can ever enjoy, is when they
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