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tion, so as almost to make it a kind of separate book by itself. The reader will now find, that, in several remarkable new instances, it proves the fact of the peculiar stability of the executive power of the British crown, and exhibits a much more complete delineation of the advantages that result from that stability in favour of public liberty.
These advantages may be enumerated in the following order: 1. The numerous restraints the governing authority is able to bear, and the extensive freedom it can afford to allow the subject at its own expense. 2. The liberty of speaking and writing, carried to the great extent it is in England. 3. The unbounded freedom of the debates in the legislature. 4. The power to bear the constant union of all orders of subjects against its prerogatives. 5. The freedom allowed to all individuals to take an active part in government concerns. 6. The strict impartiality with which justice is dealt to all subjects, without any respect whatever of persons. 7. The lenity of the criminal law, both in regard to the mildness of punishments and the frequent remission of them. 8. The strict compliance of the governing authority with the letter of the law. 9. The needlessness of an armed force to support itself by, and, as a consequence, the singular subjection of the military to the civil power.
The above-mentioned advantages are peculiar to the English government. To attempt to imitate them, or transfer them to other countries, with that degree of extent to wh they are carried in England, without at the same time transferring the whole order and conjunction of circumstances in the English government, would prove unsuccessful attempts. Several articles of English liberty already appear impracti cable to be preserved in the new American commonwealths. The Irish nation have of late succeeded in imitating several very important regulations in the English government, and are very desirous to render the assimilation complete; yet, it is possible, they will find many inconveniences arise from their endeavours, which do not take place in England, notwithstanding the very great general similarity of circumstances in the two kingdoms in many respects; and even also, we might add, notwithstanding the respectable power and weight the crown derives from its British dominions,
both for defending its prerogative in Ireland, and preventing anarchy: I say, the similarity in many respects between the two kingdoms; for this resemblance may perhaps fail in regard to some important points: however, this is a subject about which I shall not attempt to say any thing, not having the necessary information.
The last chapter in the work, concerning the nature of the "divisions that take place in this country," I have left in every English edition as I wrote it at first in French. With respect to the exact manner of the debates in parliament, mentioned in that chapter, I cannot well say more at present than I did at that time, as I never had an opportunity to hear the debates in either house. In regard to the divisions in general to which the spirit of party gives rise, I did perhaps the bulk of the people somewhat more honour than they really deserve, when I represented them as being free from any violent dispositions in that respect: I have since found that, like the bulk of mankind in all countries, they suffer themselves to be influenced by vehement prepossessions for this or that side of public questions, commonly in proportion as their knowledge of the subject is imperfect. It is, however, a fact, that political prepossessions and party spirit are not productive, in this country, of those dangerous consequences which might be feared from the warmth with which they are sometimes manifested. But this subject, or in general the subjects of the political quarrels and divisions in this country, is not an article one may venture to meddle with in a single chapter; I have therefore let this subsist, without touching it.
I shall however observe, before I conclude, that an accidental circumstance in the English government prevents the party spirit, by which the public are usually influenced, from producing those lasting and rancorous divisions in the community which have pestered so many other free states, making of the same nation, as it were, two distinct people, in a kind of constant warfare with each other. The circumstance I mean is, the frequent reconciliations (commonly to quarrel again afterward) that take place between the leaders of parties, by which the most violent and ignorant class of their partisans are bewildered, and made to lose
the scent. By the frequent coalitions between Whig and Tory leaders, even that party distinction, the most famous in the English history, has now become useless; the meaning of the words has thereby been rendered so perplexed that nobody can any longer give a tolerable definition of them; and those persons who now and then aim at gaining popularity by claiming the merit of belonging to either party, are scarcely understood. The late coalition between two certain leaders has done away, and prevented from settling, that violent party spirit to which the administration of lord Bute had given rise, and which the American disputes had carried still farther. Though this coalition has met with much obloquy, I take the liberty to rank myself in the number of its advocates, so far as the circumstance here mentioned.
CONSTITUTION OF ENGLAND.
THE spirit of philosophy which peculiarly distinguishes the present age, after having corrected a number of errors fatal to society, seems now to be directed towards the principles of society itself; and we see prejudices vanish which are difficult to overcome, in proportion as it is dangerous to attack them.* This rising freedom of sentiment, the necessary forerunner of political freedom, led me to imagine that it would not be unacceptable to the public to be made acquainted with the principles of
* As every popular notion which may contribute to the support of an arbitrary government is at all times vigilantly protected by the whole strength of it, political prejudices are last of all, if ever, shaken off by a nation subjected to such a government. A great change in this respect, however, has of late taken place in France, where this book was first published; and opinions are now discussed there, and tenets avowed, which, in the time of Louis the Fourteenth, would have appeared downright blasphemy: it is to this an allusion is made above.
a constitution on which the eye of curiosity seems now to be universally turned, and which, though celebrated as a model of perfection, is yet but little known to its admirers.
I am aware that it will be deemed presumptuous in a man, who has passed the greatest part of his life out of England, to attempt a delineation of the English government; a system which is supposed to be so complicated as not to be understood or developed, but by those who have been initiated in the mysteries of it from their infancy.
But, though a foreigner in England, yet, as a native of a free country, I am no stranger to those circumstances which constitute or characterize liberty. Even the great disproportion between the republic of which I am a member (and in which I formed my principles) and the British empire, has perhaps only contributed to facilitate my political inquiries.
As the mathematician, the better to discover the proportions he investigates, begins with freeing his equation from coefficients, or such other quantities as only perplex without properly constituting it; so it may be advantageous to the inquirer, after the causes that produce the equilibrium of a government, to have previously studied them, disengaged from the apparatus of fleets, armies, foreign trade, distant and extensive dominions; in a word, from all those brilliant circumstances which so greatly affect the external appearance of a powerful society, but have no essential connexion with the real principles of it.
It is upon the passions of mankind, that is, upon causes which are unalterable, that the action of