THE FORMAL EXECUTIVE: THE KING
If the executive branch of the central government in present- day England be considered from the point of view of composition, it must be thought of literally in terms of hundreds of thousands of agents. This fact represents in a sense the marked degree in which, during the course of centuries, what may be called the original and residual aspect of the King's Council has itself undergone differentiation. In reality, the executive, as has been suggested, is at present the most numerous, the most complex, and the most technical of all the divisions of government. Moreover, there continues to exist a close reciprocal relation between structure and function.
In connection with the executive, the intimate connection between structure and function has an important effect on definition. It causes a tendency to exist for each to be defined in terms of the other. Thus, executive functions apparently tend naturally to be defined as the functions performed by executive agents, and executive agents as the agents performing executive functions. It is probably much easier to recognize the unsatisfactory character of such a circular procedure than it is to find a suitable remedy for it. The suggestion presents itself that the epithet executive is to be applied to that which is concerned with enforcing or applying law; but, in practice, this does not altogether cover the case. Exceptions exist that are well established. The "pardoning power" is only one simple illustration. As a matter of fact, here as elsewhere, history would appear to offer considerable assistance. In this context, executive and administrative agents are to be thought of as those in direct line of descent from the King's Council. Originally, they were