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In Germany and in France, countries where the monarchs, being possessed of considerable demesnes, were better able to maintain their independence than the princes just mentioned, the nobles waged war against them, sometimes singly and sometimes jointly; and events similar to these have successively happened in Scotland, Spain, and the modern kingdoms of Italy.
In fine, it has only been by means of standing armed forces that the sovereigns of most of the kingdoms we have mentioned have been able, in a course of time, to assert the prerogatives of the crown. And it is only by continuing to keep up such forces, that, like the eastern monarchs, and indeed like all the monarchs that ever existed, they continue to be able to support their authority.
How therefore can the crown of England, without the assistance of any armed force, maintain, as it does, its numerous prerogatives ? How can it, under such circumstances, preserve to itself the whole executive power in the state? For here we must observe, the crown in England does not derive any support from what regular forces it has at its disposal ; and if we doubted this fact, we need only look to the astonishing subordination in which the military is kept to the civil power, to become convinced that an English king is not indebted to his army for the preservation of his authority.t
If we could suppose that the armies of the kings of Spain or of France, for instance, were, through some very extraordinary circumstance, all to vanish in one night, the power of those sovereigns, we must not doubt, would, in six months, be reduced to a mere shadow. They would immediately behold their prerogatives, however formidable they may be at present, invaded and dismembered it and supposing that regular governments continued to exist, they would be reduced to have little more influence in them than
* Henry VIII., the most absolute prince, perhaps, who ever sat upon a throne, kept no standing army.
+ As was the case in the several kingdoms into which the Spanish monarchy was formerly divided ; and, in no very remote times, in France itself.
SECURITY OF THE CROWN.
the doges of Venice or of Genoa possess in the governments of those republics.*
How, therefore,—to repeat the question once more, which is one of the most interesting that can occur in politics, how can the crown in England, without the assistance of any armed force, avoid those dangers to which all other sovereigns are exposed ?
How can it, without any such force, accomplish even incomparably greater works than those sovereigns, with their powerful armies, are, we find, in a condition to perform ? How can it bear that universal effort (unknown in other monarchies), which, we have seen, is continually and openly exerted against it? How can it even continue to resist this effort so powerfully as to preclude all individuals whatever from entertaining any views besides those of setting just and general limitations to the exercise of its authority? How can it enforce the laws upon all subjects, indiscriminately, without injury, or danger to itself ? How can it, in fine, impress the minds of all the great men in the state with so lasting a jealousy of its power, as to necessitate them, even in the exercise of their undoubted rights and privileges, to continue to court and deserve the affection of the rest of the people ?1
* Or than the kings of Sweden were allowed to enjoy, before the last revolution (of 1772) in that country.
+ De Lolme, in this magnificent eulogy, seems to have overlooked the history of England ; for the stability of the Crown has only become firmly secure since the revolution of 1688; and the succession of the present reigning family by the Act of Settlement. Previously, with the exception of the Tudor dynasty, the irregular successions to the English crown, and the fatalities of the kings of England, are remarkable. The first Norman sovereign became king by conquest ; his eldest son was slain in the New Forest; the next heir, Robert, was deposed in Normandy, and imprisoned for life in England by his brother, William Rufus, who also murdered his nephew, the lawful heir. Henry I. and Stephen were both usurpers. John seized the crown, and with his own hand slew his nephew, Arthur of Bretagne, the legitimate heir, Edward II. was barbarously put to death. Richard II. was murdered. Henry IV. was an usurper, and his grandson, Henry VI., was murdered. Edward IV. was an usurper; his brother, the Duke of Clarence, was executed ; and his own sons, Edward V. and the Duke of York, were both murdered by their uncle, Richard III., who usurped the crown, and was killed in battle. The first of the Tudors was not the legitimate prince, although his heirs continued to succeed him until Charles I. was beheaded. James II. was deposed. William III. had no legitimate
Those great men, I shall answer, who even in quiet times prove so formidable to other monarchs, are in England divided into two assemblies; and such, it is necessary to add, are the principles upon which this division is made, that from it result, as necessary consequences, the solidity and the indivisibility of tbe power of the crown.
The reader may perceive that I have led him, in the course of this work, much beyond the line within which writers on the subject of government have confined themselves; or rather, that I have followed a track entirely different from that which those writers have pursued. But as the observation just made, on the stability of the power of the crown in England, and the cause of it, is new in its kind, so do the principles from which its truth is to be demonstrated totally differ from what is commonly looked upon as the foundation of the science of politics. To lay those principles here before the reader, in a manner completely satisfactory to him, would lead us into philosophical discussions on what really constitutes the basis of governments and power amongst mankind, both extremely long, and in a great measure foreign to the subject of this book. I shall therefore content myself with proving the above observations by facts; which is more after all. than political writers usually undertake to do with regard to their speculations.
As I chiefly proposed to show that the extensive liberty the English enjoy is the result of the peculiar frame of their government, and occasionally to compare the same
right to the throne, but was crowned in virtue of a solemn contract with the nation. Anne was not the legitimate heir to the crown, but was enthroned by the national will, to the exclusion of her brother, who was not a Protestant. George I. was raised to the throne, not as the most immediate heir, but as the nearest protestant prince. And now, with Lord Bolingbroke, we may say :-“ Let the illustrious and royal house that hath been called to the government of these kingdoms, govern them till time shall be no more. But let the spirit as well as the letter of the Constitution they are entrusted to preserve, be, as it ought to be, and as we promise ourselves it will be, the sole rule of their government and the sole support of their power; and whatever happens in the various course of human contingencies, whatever be the fate of particular persons, of houses or families, let the liberties of Great Britain be immortal.” -Ed.
UNION OF THE EXECUTIVE POWER.
with the republican form, I even had at first intended to confine myself to that circumstance, which both constitutes the essential difference between those two forms of government, and is the immediate cause of English liberty, -I mean the having placed all the executive authority in the state out of the hands of those in whom the people trust. With regard to the remote cause of that same ţiberty, that is to say, the stability of the power of the crown, the singular solidity, without the assistance of any armed force, by which this executive authority is so secured, I should perhaps have been silent, had I not found it absolutely necessary to mention the fact in this place, in order to obviate the objections which the more reflecting part of readers might otherwise have made, both to several of the observations before offered to them, and to a few others which are soon to follow. · Besides, I shall confess here, I have been several times under apprehensions, in the course of this work, that the generality of readers, misled by the similarity of names, might put too extensive a construction upon what I said with regard to the usefulness of the power of the crown in England ;—that they might accuse or suspect me, for instance, of attributing the superior advantages of the English mode of government over the republican form, merely to its approaching nearer to the nature of the monarchies established in the other parts of Europe, and of looking upon every kind of monarchy as preferable in itself to a republican government;-an opinion which I do not by any means, or in any degree, entertain : I have too much affection, or if you please) prepossession, in favour of that form of government under which I was born ; and, as I am sensible of its defects, so do I know how to set a value upon the advantages by which it compensates for them.
I therefore have, as it were, made haste to avail myself of the first opportunity of explaining my meaning on this subject,- of indicating that the power of the crown in England stands upon foundations entirely different from those on which the same power rests in other countries,and of engaging the reader to observe (which for the present will suffice), that, as the English monarchy differs, in
its nature and main foundations, from every other, so all that is said here of its advantages is peculiar and confined to it.
But to come to the proofs (derived from facts) of the solidity accruing to the power of the crown in England, from the co-existence of the two assemblies which concur to form the English parliament, I shall first point out to the reader several open acts of these two houses, by which they have by turns effectually defeated the attacks of each other upon its prerogative.
Without looking farther back for examples than the reign of Charles the Second, we see that the House of Commons had, in that reign, begun to adopt the method of adding (or tacking, as it is commonly expressed) such bills as they wanted more particularly to have passed, to their money bills.* This forcible use of their undoubted privilege of granting money, if it had been suffered to grow into common practice, would have totally destroyed the equilibrium that ought to subsist between them and the crown. But the Lords took upon themselves the task of maintaining that equilibrium; they complained with great warmth of the several precedents that were made by the Commons, of the practice we mention; they insisted that bills should be framed “ in the old and decent way of parliament ;' and at last made it a standing order of their House, to reject, upon the sight of them, all bills that are tacked to money bills. · Again, about the thirty-first year of the same reign, a strong party prevailed in the House of Commons; and their efforts were not entirely confined, if we may credit the historians of those times, to serving their constituents faithfully, and providing for the welfare of the state. Among other bills which they proposed in their House, they carried one to exclude from the crown the immediate heir to it; an affair this, of a very high nature; and with regard to which it may well be questioned whether the legislative
* This practice is of much earlier date than the reign of Charles II.; we find it as far back as the reign of Edward II. ; and it was facetiously remarked, " that such petitions always passed in such good company," gd,