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power of taxation : they even suffered it to assume to itself the power, not only of dispensing with the laws, but also of abrogating them. *
In a word, as the necessary consequence of the communicability of power, a circumstance essentially inherent in the republican form of government, it is impossible for it ever to be restrained within certain rules. Those who are in a condition to control it, from that very circumstance become its defenders. Though they may have risen, as we may suppose, from the humblest stations, and such as seemed totally to preclude them from all ambitious views,
* There are frequent instances of the consuls taking away from the Capitol the tables of the laws passed under their predecessors. Nor was this, as we might at first be tempted to believe, an act of violence which success alone could justify; it was a consequence of the acknowledged power enjoyed by the senate, cujus erat gravissimum judicium de jure legum, as we may see in several places in Tully. Nay, the augurs themselves, as this author informs us, enjoyed the same privilege. “If laws have not “ been laid before the people in the legal form, they (the
augurs) may set them aside; as was done with respect " to the Lex Tatia, by the decree of the college, and to “the Leges Livia, by the advice of Philip, who was con“ sul and augur.” Legem, si non jure rogata est, tollere possunt ; ut Tatiam, decreto collegii, ut Livias, consilio Philippi, corsulis et auguris.-See De Legib. lib. ii. 12.
they have no sooner reached a certain degree of eminence, than they begin to aim higher. Their endeavours had at first no other object, as they professed, and perhaps with sincerity, than to see the laws impartially executed : their only view now is to set themselves above them; and seeing themselves raised to the level of a class of men who possess all the power and enjoy all the advantages in the state, they make haste to associate themselves with them.*
Personal power and independence on the laws being, in such states, the immediate con
* Which always proves an easy thing. It is in commonwealths the particular care of that class of men who are at the head of the state, to keep a watchful eye over the people, in order to draw over to their own party any man who happens to acquire a considerable influence among them; and this they are (and indeed must be) the more attentive to do, in proportion as the nature of the government is more democratical.
The constitution of Rome had even made express provisions on that subject. Not only the censors could at once remove any citizen into what tribe they pleased, and even into the senate (and we may easily believe that they made a political use of this privilege); but it was moreover a settled rule, that all persons who had been promoted to any public office by the people, such as the consulship, the ædileship, or tribuneship, became, ipso facto, members of the senate.-See Middleton's Dissertation on the Roman Senate.
sequence of the favour of the people, they are under an unavoidable necessity of being betrayed. Corrupting, as it were, every thing they touch, they cannot show a preference to a man, but they thereby attack his virtue ; they cannot raise him, without immediately losing him and weakening their own cause ; nay, they inspire him with views directly opposite to their own, and send him to join and increase the number of their enemies.
Thus, at Rome, after the feeble barrier which excluded the people from offices of power and dignity had been thrown down, the great plebeians, whom the votes of the people began to raise to those offices, were immediately received into the senate, as has been just now observed. From that period, their families began to form, in conjunction with the ancient patrician families, a new combination, or political association of persons; and as this combination was formed of no particular class of citizens, but of all those who had influence enough to gain admittance into it, a single overgrown head was
head was now to be seen in the republic, which, consisting of all who had either wealth or power of any kind, and disposing at will of the laws and the power
of the people,* soon lost all regard to moderation and decency.
Every constitution, therefore, whatever may be its form, which does not provide for inconveniences of the kind here mentioned, is a constitution essentially imperfect. It is in man himself that the source of the evils to be remedied lies ; general precautions therefore can alone prevent them. If it be a fatal error entirely to rely on the justice and equity of those who govern, it is an error no less dangerous to imagine, that, while virtue and moderation are the constant companions of those who oppose the abuses of power, all ambition, all thirst after dominion, have retired to the other party.
Though wise men, led astray by the power of names, and the heat of political contentions, may sometimes lose sight of what ought to be their real aim, they nevertheless know that it is not against the Appii, the Coruncanii, the Cethegi, but against all those who can influ
* It was, in several respects, a misfortune for the people of Rome, whatever may have been said to the contrary, by the writers on this subject, that the distinction between the patricians and the plebeians was ever abolished; though, to say the truth, this was an event which could not be prevented.
ence the execution of the laws, that precautions ought to be taken ;-that it is not the consul, the prætor, the archon, the minister, the king, whom we ought to dread, nor the tribune, or the representative of the people, on whom we ought implicitly to rely : but that all those persons, without distinction, ought to be the objects of our jealousy, who by any methods and under any names whatsoever, have acquired the means of turning against each individual the collective strength of all, and have so ordered things around themselves, that whoever attempts to resist them, is sure to find himself engaged alone against a thousand.
Fundamental Difference between the English Govern
ment and the Governments just described. - In England all Executive Authority is placed out of the Hands of those in whom the People trust.Usefulness of the Power of the Crown.
In what manner then has the English constitution contrived to find a remedy for evils which, from the very nature of men and things, seem to be irremediable ? How has it found