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measures, it happens that men never can exactly tell the present state of public affairs. The power thus given away has already become very great, before those for whom it was given so much as suspect it; and he himself who enjoys that power does not know its full extent: but then, on the first opportunity that offers, he suddenly pierces through the cloud which hid the summit from him, and at once seats himself upon it.
The people, on the other hand, no sooner recover sight of him, than they see their favourite now become their master, and discover the evil, only to find that it is past remedy.
As this power thus surreptitiously acquired, is destitute of the support both of the law and of the ancient course of things, and is even but indifferently respected by those who have subjected themselves to it, it cannot be maintained but by abusing it. The people at length succeed in forming somewhere a centre of union; they agree in the choice of a leader ; this leader in his turn rises; in his turn also he betrays his engagements ; power produces its wonted effects; and the protector becomes a tyrant.
This is not all: the same causes which have given one master to the state, give it two,
give it three. All those rival powers endeavour to swallow up each other : the state becomes a scene of endless quarrels and broils, and is in a continual convulsion.
If amidst such disorders the people retained their freedom, the evil must indeed be very great, to take away all the advantages of it; but they are slaves, and yet have not what in other countries makes amends for political servitude ; I mean tranquillity.
In order to prove all these things, if proofs were deemed necessary, I would only refer the reader to what every one knows of Pisistratus and Megacles, of Marius and Sylla, of Cæsar and Pompey. However I cannot avoid translating a part of the speech which a citizen of Florence addressed once to the senate; the reader will find in it a kind of abridged story of all republics ; at least of those which, by the share allowed to the people in the government, deserved that name, and which, besides, attained a certain degree of extent and power.
“ That nothing human may be perpetual " and stable, it is the will of heaven that, in “all states whatsoever, there should arise cer“ tain destructive families, who are the bane “ and ruin of them. Of this our own republic
" affords as many and more deplorable exam
ples than any other, as it owes its misfortunes “ not only to one, but to several such families. es We had at first the Buondelmonti and the “ Huberti. We had afterwards the Donati " and the Cerchi : and at present (shameful " and ridiculous conduct !) we are waging
war among ourselves for the Ricci and the " Albizzi.
" When in former times the Ghibelins were
suppressed, every one expected that the “ Guelfs, being then satisfied, would have “ chosen to live in tranquillity ; yet, but a little “ time had elapsed, when they again divided " themselves into the factions of the whites and “ the blacks. When the whites were suppressed,
new parties arose, and new troubles followed. " Sometimes battles were fought in favour of “ the exiles; and at other times, quarrels “ broke out between the nobility and the peo“ple. And as if resolved to give away to “ others what we ourselves neither could nor “would peaceably enjoy, we committed the “ care of our liberty sometimes to king Robert, “and at other times to his brother, and at
length to the duke of Athens ; never set“ tling or resting in any kind of government,
“as not knowing either how to enjoy liberty, " or support servitude.”*
The English constitution has prevented the possibility of misfortunes of this kind. diminishing the power, or rather actual exercise of the power of the people, f and making them share in the legislature only by their representatives, the irresistible violence has been avoided of those numerous and general assemblies, which, on whatever side they throw their weight, bear down every thing. Besides, as the power of the people, when they have any kind of
and know how to use it, is at all times really formidable, the constitution has set a counterpoise to it; and the royal authority is this counterpoise.
In order to render it equal to such a task, the constitution has, in the first place, conferred on the king, as we have seen before the exclusive prerogative of calling and dismissing the legislative bodies, and of putting a negative on their resolutions.
Secondly, it has also placed on the side of the king the whole executive power in the nation.
* See the history of Florence, by Machiavel, lib. iii. + We shall see in the sequel, that this diminution of the exercise of the power of the people has been attended with a great increase of their liberty.
Lastly, in order to effect still nearer an equilibrium, the constitution bas invested the man whom it has made the sole head of the state, with all the personal privileges, all the pomp, all the majesty, of which human dignities are capable. In the language of the law, the king is sovereign lord, and the people are his subjects ;-he is universal proprietor of the kingdom ;-he bestows all the dignities and places ; and he is not to be addressed but with the expressions and outward ceremony of almost eastern humility. Besides, his person is sacred and inviolable ; and any attempt whatsoever against it is, in the eye of the law, a crime equal to that of an attack upon the whole state.
In a word, since, to have too exactly completed the equilibrium between the power of the people, and that of the crown, would have been to sacrifice the end to the means, that is, to have endangered liberty with a view to strengthen the government, the deficiency which ought to remain on the side of the crown, has at least been, in appearance, made up, by conferring on the king all that sort of strength that may result from the opinion and reverence of the people; and amidst the agitations which are the unavoidable attendants of liberty, the