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those to which he has given his consent, were it practicable, is no otherwise necessary to the enjoyment of civil liberty, than as it affords a probable security against the dictation of laws, imposing fuperfluous reftri&ions upon his private will. This remark is applicable to the rest. The diversity of these definitions will not surprise us, when we consider that there is no contrariety or opposition amongst them whatever; for by how many different provisions and precautions civil liberty is fenced and protected, so many different accounts of liberty itself, all sufficiently consistent with truth and with each other, may, according to this mode of explaining the term, be framed and adopted.

Truth cannot be offended by a definition, but propriety may. In which view those definitions of liberty ought to be rejected, which by making that essential to civil freedom which is unattainable in experience, inflame expectations that can never be gratified, and disturb the public content

with complaints, which no wisdom or benevo·lence of government can remove.

It will not be thought extraordinary, that an idea, which occurs so much oftener as the subject of panegyric and careless declamation, than of just reasoning or correct knowledge, should be


attended with uncertainty and confusion; or that it should be found impossible to contrive a definition, which may include the numerous, unsettled, and ever varying significations, which the term is made to stand for, and at the same time accord with the condition and experience of social life.

Of the two ideas that have been stated of civil liberty, whichever we assume, and whatever reasoning we found upon them, concerning its extent, nature, value and preservation, this is the conclusion—that that people, government, and constitution, is the freest, which makes the best provision for the enacting of expedient and falutary laws.

C H A P.



A S a series of appeals must be finite, there 1 1 necessarily exists in every government a power from which the constitution has provided no appeal; and which power, for that reason, may be termed absolute, omnipotent, uncontrollable, arbitrary, despotic; and is alike so in all countries.

The person, or assembly, in whom this power resides, is called the fovereign, or the supreme power of the state.

Since to the same power universally appertains the office of establishing public laws, it is called also the legislature of the state.

A government receives its denomination from the form of the legislature; which form is likewise what we commonly mean by the constitution of a country.

Political writers enumerate three principal forms of government, which, however, are to be


regarded rather as the simple forms, by some combination and intermixture of which all actual governments are composed, than as any where existing in a pure and elementary state. These forms are,

I. Despotism, or absolute MONARCHY, where the legislature is in a single person.

II. An ARISTOCRACY, where the legislature is in a select assembly, the members of which, either fill up by election the vacancies in their own body, or succeed to their places in it by inheritance, property, tenure of certain lands, or in respect of some personal right, or qualification.

III. A REPUBLIC, or democracy, where the people at large, either collectively or by reprefentation, constitute the legislature.

The separate advantages of MONARCHY, are unity of council, activity, decision, secrecy, difpatch ; the military strength and energy which result from these qualities of government; the exclufion of popular and aristocratical contentions ; the preventing, by a known rule of succession, of all competition for the fupreme power ; and thereby repressing the hopes, intrigues, and dangerous ambition of aspiring citizens.


The mischiefs, or rather the dangers of moNARCHY, are tyranny, expence, exaction, military domination ; unnecessary wars waged to gratify the passions of an individual; risk of the character of the reigning prince'; ignorance in the governors of the interests and accommodation of the people, and a confequent deficiency of salutary regulations; want of constancy and uniformity in the rules of government, and, proceeding from thence, insecurity of person and property. · The separate advantage of an ARISTOCRACY consists in the wisdom which may be expected from experience and education-a permanent council naturally possesses experience; and the members, who fucceed to their places in it by inheritance, will, probably, be trained and educated with a view to the stations, which they are destined by their birth to occupy.

The mischiefs of an ARISTOCRACY are, disfenfions in the ruling orders of the state, which, from the want of a common superior, are liable to proceed to the most desperate extremities; oppression of the lower orders by the privileges of the higher, and by laws pare tial to the separate interests of the law makers.


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