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there were any subjects of complaint against us before your Government, we do not doubt that the Prince Regent, Lord Liverpool, and so many estimable men who form it, would know very well how to appreciate them. They know the respect due to the holy ministration which we fulfil; and even had we to apprehend persecution, we should adhere to our maxim, “ Do your duty, come what may."
I have the honor to be,
(Signed) COUNT BERTRAND.
Fais ce que dois; advienne que pourra.
1. ON DIFFERENT OPINIONS CONCERNING THE
By G. DYER, A. B.
FORMERLY OF EMMANUEL COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
Ce n'est point à moi à examiner si les Anglois jouissent actuellement de cette liberté, ou non. Il me suffit de dire qu'elle est établie par leurs loix, et je n'en cherche pas davantage. Montesquieu De l’Esprit des Loix. It is sot my business to examine, whether the English actually enjoy this liberty, or not. It is sufficient for me to say, that it is established by their laws, and I inquire no farther. Montesquieu's Spirit of Laws.
Nam non nisi optinis legibus populum regere licet, etiam ut dicit Philosophus; Natura deprecatur optima-Non sunt hæc tantis celata mysteriis, ut deliberatione egeant ingenti. Fortescue de Laudibus Legum Angliæ, cap. vii. For a people should not be governed, but by the best Laws, even as the Philosopher saith, Nature seeketh the things which are best. These things are not concealed in so great mysteries, as to require great deliberation. Fortescue on the Prais of the Laws of England, ch. vii.
FOURTH EDITION, WITH ADDITIONS.
The First and Second Letters were printed in No. XXIII.
DEFECTS IN THE ENGLISH CONSTITUTION.
Having proposed to treat, in the following letter, on the Defects of the English Constitution, I must request the reader to keep in view the definitions contained in the last; for to those definitions I shall occasionally revert. Let us then first consider the defects of the definitions.
The reader has seen, that ancient writers, and even some of the best political writers of our own country, are defective here, owing often to imperfect and inadequate ideas of the true basis of all political authority. He must be, therefore, content to let the principles of such writers serve the purpose of definitions, where their definitions are not sufficiently comprehensive in principles. Let us then attend to the definitions given by the more modern writers, to whom an allusion was made in our last.
When Dr. Johnson says, " to constitute is to give formal existence, to make any thing what it is,” he is guilty of a solecism, indeed of an Irishism :-what is, already is made; and to talk of making a thing which is already, is going beyond the sailor's definition of the word disembogue : "I disembogue you, you disembogue mé; now do you understand me?" A man may make that chair to be a stool, by turning it into a stool; but if he makes that chair to be a chair, he must unmake it, and make it over again. When Johnson says, further, "a constitution is an established form of government, a system of laws and customs," he misleads us, and by throwing us too soon on government, diverts us from fundamentals, which give government all their authority, and which are, or ought to be, the very soul of constitutions. Mr. Paine's definition, that a constitution is a thing antecedent to government, the political bible, is correct, as referrible to the American constitutions; but is too permanent and unmanageable for so complicate, só variable a machine, I must be permitted to call it so, as
the English constitution. Mr. Robinson's definition' is correct, as far as civil constitution goes; so is Major Cartwright's;2 but defective, in my opinion, in not taking in ecclesiastical ; for the British constitution is a constitution of state and church.
The following statement will show the ground of this opinion. When it was enacted, that the church of England should be no longer under the Pope, Lord Cromwell was made King's Vicegerent for ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and he accordingly sent out injunctions to the clergy, in 1593; which injunctions, though at first opposed, were afterwards accepted, by the clergy in convocation, and at all events, Henry contrived, previously, to have an act of parliament, and upon this authority he acted, in claiming the supremacy of the church of England ;3 and though with respect to the canons put forth by James the First, but which were never sanctioned by parliament, it has been doubted whether they have a binding quality on the nation at large, they are generally understood to bind the clergy; for of the legality of the King's title, as supreme head of the established church, there can exist no doubt. I therefore think it correct to speak of this constitution, as a constitution of church and state ; and a definition formed on Mr. Rotheram's 4 idea of a strong arch of government rising from different foundations, but bending towards each other as they rise, and meeting in a centre, would be correct in comprehending the civil and ecclesiastical union, and, in elegant words, might be like Judge Blackstone's admired similitude of a pyramid; it would be, notwithstanding, erroneous, for it would suppose the church to be essential and fundamental in the constitution; which I do not admit.
When Lord Fortescue and other lawyers tell us, that our
body of laws” is our constitution; and others, that our constitution is in our statute-book, they tell us some truth ; but let us count their words, and not be too hasty in conceding; for statutes do really exist which are unfavorable to the rights of Britons, and contrary to the spirit of the English constitution; and lawyers have been too busy as legislators: statutes these, which are the dirty patches on a clean surtout, the rubbish about a beautiful building, the rottenness, which generates ugliness and maggots in a beautiful blooming peach.
i Political Catechisni.
Reform, Mock Reform, and Constitutional Reform.
I call it Judge Blackstone's, because it is generally considered his, though I have met with it in a writer, I forget who, much antecedent to him. Mr. Rotheram's simile, if I mistake not, is in Nathaniel Bacon.
6 Preface to Records.
Blackstone's pyramid (which may serve the purpose of a definition) rising from a broad foundation, and diminishing to a point as it rises, will apply to the constitutions of the American states, or to any other, where there resides a mixture of the three powers, with as much force as to the English. The equilateral triangle, with a crown at top, the similitude adopted by some politicians, is applicable enough to a king and three estates, but does not seem to accord with the present, the real, state of the English constitution.
Were I disposed to attempt another definition of the word, in reference to our constitution, I perhaps might define it, ‘Thesettling of original rules, and parliamentary laws consistent with those rules, for the government of state and church ;' but, as I presume not to offer a new model of a constitution, while I shall attempt to point out, though I hope with due respect, some defects in the present, so I attempt not a new definition, though I think all the above incomplete. I shall only say, that no definition, which did not comprehend principles for present rule and future direction, which did not provide for the distinct offices of the three estates, which did not make room for all churches in the nation, in whatever form existing, and the introduction of laws, founded on constitutional fundamental maxims ; which did not, in short, in some measure provide for those varieties which arise from change of circumstances, and the alterations of time,--that no definition, but such an one, would be complete. Some indeed suppose, among whom, if I mistake not, was the late Mr. Charles Fox, that a certain instability or fleetingness (though I do not use their word) is an excellency in the English constitution; and such will rest satisfied with something short of a perfect definition. But of definitions enough : let us return to the Constitution.
Though the following principles are not all, totidem verbis, exhibited in any written code, like those in the American, Polish, and some of the French constitutions, yet they pervade our political theories, and, being seised as bearing points in our best constitutional writers, I consider them as essential to English liberties. I am not speaking of their defects, but let us take them along with us while we proceed.
All free states inake their own laws;_all, that are deemed such, admit, or suppose, this fundamental principle ;--in all the different changes of the English government, the people, or some persons in their name, have asserted this fundamental right.-Even William the Norman is said to have been called the Conqueror improperly: he was called Conquestor, say some,-quod Angliam conquisivit,'
Guliel. I. Conquestor dicitur, quia Angliam conquisivit, i.e. acquisivit, non quod subegit.-Vide Spelmanni Glossar. sub voce Conquestus. See