Imatges de pÓgina

ferred upon the crown the nomination to all employments in the public service, the authors of this arrangement were led to it, by the obvious propriety of leaving to a master the choice of his servants; and by the manifest inconveniency of engaging the national council, upon every vacancy,

in those personal contests which attend elections to places of honour and emolument. Our ancestors did not observe that this disposition added an influence to the regal office, which, as the number and value of public employments increased, would supersede in a great measure the forms, and change the character of the ancient constitution. They knew not, what the experience and reflection of modern ages has discovered, that patronage universally is power; that he who possesses in a sufficient degree the means of gratifying the desires of mankind after wealth and distinction, by whatever checks and forms his authority may be limited or disguised, will direct the management of public affairs. Whatever be the mechanism of the political engine, he will guide the motion. These instances are adduced in order to illustrate the proposition which we laid down, that, in politics, the most important and permanent effects have, for the most part, been incidental, and unforeseen: and this 0 3



proposition we inculcate, for the sake of the caution which it teaches, that changes ought not to be adventured upon without a comprehensive discernment of the consequences-without a knowledge, as well of the remote tendency, as of the immediate design. The courage

of a statesman should resemble that of a commander, who, however regardless of personal danger, never forgets, that with his own he commits the lives and fortunes of a multitude; and who does not consider it as any proof of zeal or valour, to take the safety of other men upon the success of a perilous or desperate enterprise.

There is one end of civil government peculiar to a good constitution, namely, the happiness of its subjects; there is another end essential to a good government, but common to it with many bad ones—its own preservation. Observing that the best form of government would be defective, which did not provide for its own permanency, in our political reasonings we consider all such provisions as expedient; and are content to accept as a sufficient ground for a measure, or law, that it is necessary or conducive to the prefervation of the constitution. Yet, in truth, such provisions are absolutely expedient, and such an excuse final, only whilst the constitution is worth




preserving ; that is, until it can be exchanged for a better. I premise this distinction, because many things in the English, as in every

confti. tution, are to be vindicated and accounted for, solely from their tendency to maintain the government in its present state, and the several parts of it in possession of the powers which the conftitution has assigned to them; and because I would wish it to be remarked that such a confie deration is always subordinate to another-the value and usefulness of the constitution itself.

The Government of England, which has been sometimes called a mixed government, fometimes a limited monarchy, is formed by a combination of the three regular fpecies of government; the monarchy, reliding in the King;' the aristocracy, in the House of Lords; and the republic, being represented by the House of Commons. The perfection intended by such a scheme of government is, to unite the advantages of the several simple forms, and to exclude the inconveniencies. To what degree this purpose is attained or attainable in the British constitution ; wherein it is lost sight of or neglected ; and by what means it may in any part be promoted with better success, the reader will be enabled to judge, by a separate recollection of these advantages and




inconveniences, as enumerated in the preceding chapter, and a distinct application of each to the political condition of this country; We will present our remarks upon the subject in a brief account of the expedients by which the British constitution provides,

ist, For the interest of its subjects.
2dly, For its own preservation.

The contrivances for the first of these purposes are the following:

In order to promote the establishment of falutary public laws, every citizen of the state is capable of becoming a member of the fenate; and every senator possesses the right of propounding to the deliberation of the legislature whatever law he pleases.

Every district of the empire enjoys the privilege of choosing representatives, informed of the interests and circumstances and desires of their constituents, and entitled by their situation to communicate that information to the national council. The meanest subject has some one whom he can call upon to bring forward his complaints and requests to public attention.

By annexing the right of voting for members of the House of Commons to different qualifications in different places, each order and profeffion of men in the community become virtually represented ; that is, men of all orders and professions, statesmen, courtiers, country gentlemen, lawyers, merchants, manufacturers, soldiers, failors, interested in the prosperity, and experienced in the occupation of their respective professions, obtain seats in parliament.

The elections, at the same time, are so cannected with the influence of landed property as to afford a certainty that a considerable number of men of great estates will be returned to parliament; and are also so modified, that men the most eminent and successful in their respective professions, are the most likely, by their riches or the weight of their stations, to prevail in these competitions.

The number, fortune, and quality of the members ; the variety of interests and characters amongst them ; above all, the temporary duration of their power, and the change of men which every new election produces, are so many securities to the public, as well against the subjection of their judgments to any external dictation, as against the formation of a junto in their own body, fufficiently powerful to govern their decifions.



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