‘Adieu, cursed country of the referendum,’ the Marquis de Puisieux, French ambassador to the Thirteen Cantons, is said to have exclaimed as he left Switzerland in 1708. A year later his successor, the Comte du Luc, wrote to M. de Chamillard, Louis XIV’s minister: ‘The members of the Diet dispersed after interminable discussions. In this country they call it Referendum. I have never seen a nation so incapable of knowing its own mind. It needs more than the patience of a Capuchin to follow them, and I am afraid my Provençal temperament was not made for negotiations with such people.…’ It was to the referendum also that the First Consul referred in 1803 when he pointed out to the Swiss representatives as one of the advantages of federalism the facilities which the members of the Diet enjoyed for putting off foreign powers and gaining time when confronted with their demands by referring them to their respective cantons. This was the referendum employed by the Diet of the twenty-two cantons before 1848, when its members79 made decisions ‘ad referendum’ subject to reference to their canton for ratification. The referendum of contemporary Switzerland is rather different. In a sense it is connected with the expression ‘referre ad populum’ which the Romans employed when they consulted the people assembled in its comitiæ upon laws proposed by the Consul, the Prætor or the Tribune. The present Swiss referendum consists in the submission to the people for approval or rejection of a law or decision voted by the legislative bodies. We have already seen it at work in the sixteenth century in certain Swiss cantons, and again when the Constitution of 1802 was submitted to the people. Its importance has become so great as to warrant consideration at some length.