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imposing superfluous restrictions 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 benevolence 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 salutary laws.
CHAP. VI. OF DIFFERENT FORMS OF GOVERNMENT. As a series of appeals must be finite, there 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 sovereign, 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 representation, constitute the legislature.
The separate advantages of MONARCHY are unity of counsel, activity, decision, secrecy, dispatch ; the military strength and energy which result from these qualities of government; the exclusion of popular and aristocratical contentions; the preventing, by a known rule of succession, of all competition for the supreme power; and thereby repressing the hopes, intrigues, and dangerous ambition of aspiring citizens.
The mischiefs, or rather the dangers, of MONARCHY are tyranny, expense, 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 consequent 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 succeed 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 dissensions 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 partial to the separate interest of the law makers.
The advantages of a REPUBLIC are liberty, or exemption from needless restrictions ; equal laws; regulations adapted to the wants and circumstances of the people; public spirit, frugality, averseness to war; the opportunities which democratic assemblies afford to men of every description, of producing their abilities and counsels to public observation, and the exciting thereby, and calling forth to the service of the commonwealth the faculties of its best citizens.
The evils of a REPUBLIC are dissension, tumults, faction; the attempts of powerful citizens to possess Ple form of the
themselves of the empire; the confusion, rage, and clamour, which are the inevitable consequences of assembling multitudes, and of propounding questions of state to the discussion of the people; the delay and disclosure of public counsels and designs; and the imbecility of measures retarded by the necessity of obtaining the consent of numbers : lastly, the oppression of the provinces which are not admitted to a participation in the legislative power.
A mixed government is composed by the combination of two or more of the simple forms of government above described ;—and in whatever proportion each form enters into the constitution of a government, in the same proportion may both the advantages and evils, which we have attributed to that form, be expected; that is, those are the uses to be maintained and cultivated in each part of the constitution, and these are the dangers to be provided against in each. Thus, if secrecy and dispatch be truly enumerated amongst the separate excellencies of regal government, then a mixed government, which retains monarchy in one part of its constitution, should be careful that the other estates of the empire do not, by an officious and inquisitive interference with the executive functions, which are, or ought to be, reserved to the administration of the prince, interpose delays, or divulge what it is expedient to conceal. On the other hand, if profusion, exaction, military domination, and needless wars be justly accounted natural properties of monarchy, in its simple unqualified form; then are these the objects to which, in a mixed government, the aristocratic and popular parts of the constitution ought to direct their vigilance; the dangers against which they should raise and fortify their barriers; these are departments of sovereignty, over which a power of inspection and control ought to be deposited with the people.
The same observation may be repeated of all the other advantages and inconveniencies which have
been ascribed to the several simple forms of government; and affords a rule whereby to direct the construction, improvements, and administration of mixed government, -subjected however to this remark, that a quality sometimes results from the conjunction of two simple forms of government, which belongs not to the separate existence of either. Thus corruption, which has no place in absolute monarchy, and little in a pure republic, is sure to gain admission into a constitution which divides the supreme power between an executive magistrate and a popular council.
. An hereditary MONARCHY is universally to be preferred to an elective monarchy. The confession of every writer on the subject of civil government, the experience of ages, the example of Poland, and of the papal dominions, seem to place this amongst the few indubitable maxims which the science of politics admits of. A crown is too splendid a prize to be conferred upon merit: the passions or interests of the electors exclude all consideration of the qualities of the competitors. The same observation holds concerning the appointment to any office which is attended with a great share of power or emolument. Nothing is gained by a popular choice, worth the dissensions, tumults, and interruption of regular industry, with which it is inseparably attended. Add to this, that a king who owes his elevation to the event of a contest, or to any other cause than a fixed rule of succession, will be apt to regard one part of his subjects as the associates of his fortune, and the other as conquered foes. Nor should it be forgotten, amongst the advantages of an hereditary monarchy, that, as plans of national improvement and reform are seldom brought to maturity by the exertions of a single reign, a nation cannot attain to the degree of happiness and prosperity to which it is capable of being carried, unless a uniformity of counsels, a consistency of public measures and designs, be continued through a succession of ages. This benefit may be expected