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sued thereupon, for a whole year; but at last the tribunes, by their perseverance in insisting that the tribes should vote on their three rogations jointly, obtained their ends, and overcame both the opposition of the senate and the reluctance of the people.

In the same manner did the tribunes get themselves made capable of filling all other places of executive power, and public trust, in the republic. But when all their views of that kind were accomplished, the republic did not for all this enjoy more quiet, nor was the interest of the people better attended to, than before. New struggles then arose for actual admission to those places,—for procuring them to relatives or friends,—for governments of provinces, and commands of armies. A few tribunes, indeed, did at times apply themselves seriously, out of real virtue and love of their duty, to remedy the grievances of the people; but their fellow-tribunes, as we may see in history, and the whole body of those men upon whom the people had, at different times, bestowed consulships, ædileships, censorships, and other dignities without number, united together with the utmost vehemence against them; and the real patriots, such as Tiberius Gracchus, Caius Gracchus, and Fulvius, constantly perished in the attempt.

I have been somewhat explicit on the effects produced by the different revolutions that happened in the Roman republic, because its history is much known to us, and we have either in Dionysius of Halicarnassus or in Livy, considerable monuments of the more ancient parts of it. But the history of the Grecian commonwealths would also have supplied us with a number of facts to the same purpose. That revolution, for instance, by which the Pisistratida were driven out of Athens,—that by which the four hundred, and afterwards the thirty, were established, -as well as that by which the latter were in their turn expelled,—all ended in securing the power of a few. The republic of Syracuse, that of Corcyra, of which Thucydides has left us a pretty full account, and that of Florence, of which Machiavel has written the history, also present to us a series of public commotions ended by treaties, in which, as in the Roman republic, the grievances of the people, though ever so loudly complained of in the beginning by those who acted as their defenders, were, in the issue, most carelessly attended to, or even totally disregarded.*

quabant (antiquis stabant) ; et perfecta utraque res esset, ni tribuni se in omnia simul consulere plebem dixissent.”--Tit. Liv. lib. vi. $ 39.

But, if we turn our eyes towards the English history, scenes of a quite different kind will offer to our view; and we shall find, on the contrary, that revolutions in England have always been terminated by making such provisions, and only such, as all orders of the people were really and indiscriminately to enjoy.

Most extraordinary facts, these! and which from all the other circumstances that accompanied them, we see, all along, to have been owing to the impossibility (a point that has been so much insisted upon in former chapters) in which those who possessed the confidence of the people, were, of transferring to themselves any branch of the executive authority, and thus separating their own condition from that of the rest of the people.

Without mentioning the compacts which were made with the first kings of the Norman line, let us only cast our eyes on Magna Charta, which is still the foundation of English liberty. A number of circumstances, which have been described in the former part of this work, concurred at that time to strengthen the regal power to such a degree that no men in the state could entertain a hope of succeeding in any other design than that of setting bounds to it. How great was the union which thence arose among all orders of the people !—what extent, what caution, do we see in the provisions made by the Great Charter! All the objects for which men naturally wish to live in a state of society were settled in its various articles. The judicial authority was regulated. The person and property of the individual were secured. The safety of the merchant and stranger was provided for. The higher class of citizens gave up a number of oppressive privileges which they had long accustomed themselves to look upon as their undoubted rights.t Nay,

* The revolutions which formerly happened in France all ended like those above mentioned. A similar remark may be extended to the history of Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Scotland, &c.

+ All possessors of lands took the engagement to establish in behalf PROGRESS OF THE CONSTITUTION.


the implements of tillage of the bondman, or slave, were also secured to him : and for the first time, perhaps, in the annals of the world, a civil war was terminated by making stipulations in favour of those unfortunate men to whom the avarice and lust of dominion, inherent in human nature, continued, over the greatest part of the earth, to deny the common rights of mankind.

Under Henry the Third great disturbances arose : and they were all terminated by solemn confirmations given to the Great Charter. Under Edward I., Edward II., Edward III., and Richard II., those who were intrusted with the care of the interests of the people lost no opportunity that offered, of strengthening still farther that foundation of public liberty,—of taking all such precautions as might render the Great Charter still more effectual in the event. They had not ceased to be convinced that their cause was the same with that of all the rest of the people.

Henry of Lancaster having laid claim to the crown, the Commons received the law from the victorious party. They settled the crown upon Henry, by the name of Henry the Fourth; and added, to the act of settlement, provisions which the reader may see in the second volume of the Parliamentary History of England. Struck with the wisdom of the conditions demanded by the Commons, the authors of the book just mentioned observe (perhaps with some simplicity) that the Commons of England were no fools at that time. They ought rather to have said—The Commons of England were happy enough to form among themselves an assembly in which every one could propose what matters he pleased, and freely discuss them ;—they had no possibility left of converting either these advantages, or in general the confidence which the people had placed in them, to any private views of their own; they, therefore, without loss of time, endeavoured to stipulate useful conditions with that power by which they saw themselves at every instant exposed to be dissolved and dispersed, and applied their industry to insure the safety of the whole people, as it was the only means they had of procuring their own.

of their tenants and vassals (erga suos) the same liberties which they demanded from the king.

In the long contentions which took place between the Houses of York and Lancaster, the Commons remained spectators of disorders which in those times it was not in their power to prevent; they successively acknowleged the title of the victorious parties: but whether under Edward the Fourth, under Richard the Third, or Henry the Seventh, by whom those quarrels were terminated, they continually availed themselves of the importance of the services which they were able to perform to the new-established sovereign, for obtaining effectual conditions in favour of the whole body of the people.

At the accession of James the First, which, as it placed a new family on the throne of England, may be considered as a kind of revolution, no demands were made by the men who were at the head of the nation, but in favour of general liberty.

After the accession of Charles the First, discontents of a very serious nature began to take place; and they were terminated, in the first instance, by the act called the Petition of Right, which is still looked upon as a most precise and accurate delineation of the rights of the people. *

At the restoration of Charles the Second, the constitution being re-established upon its former principles, the former consequences produced by it began again to take place; and we see at that ara, and indeed during the whole course of that reign, a continued series of precautions taken for securing the general liberty.

Lastly, the great event which took place in the year 1689, affords å striking confirmation of the truth of the observation made in this chapter. At this æra the political wonder again appeared-of a revolution terminated by a series of public acts, in which no interests but those of the

* The disorders which took place in the latter part of the reign of that prince seem, indeed, to contain a complete contradiction to the assertion which is the subject of the present chapter; but they, at the same time, are a no less convincing confirmation of the truth of the principles laid down in the course of this whole work. The abovementioned disorders took rise from that day in which Charles the First gave up the power of dissolving his parliament,—that is, from the day in which the members of that assembly acquired an independent, personal, permanent authority, which they soon began to turn against the people who had raised them to it.



people at large were considered and provided for :-no clause, even the most indirect, was inserted. either to gratify the present ambition, or favour the future vlews, of those who were personally concerned in bringing those acts to a conclusion. Indeed, if anything is capable of conveying to us an adequate idea of the soundness, as well as the peculiarity, of the principles on which the English Government is founded, it is the attentive perusal of the system of public compacts to which the revolution of the year 1689 gave rise, -of the Bill of Rights with all its different clauses, and of the several acts, which, till the accession of the House of Hanover, were made in order to strengthen it.




THE second difference I mean to speak of between the English government and that of other free states, concerns the important object of the execution of the laws. On this article, also, we shall find the advantage to lie on the side of the English government; and, if we make a comparison between the history of those states, and that of England, it will lead us to the following observation, viz. that though in other free states the laws concerning the liberty of the citizens were imperfect, yet the execution of them was still more defective. In England, on the contrary, not only the laws for the security of the subject are very extensive in their provisions, but the manner in which they are executed carries these advantages still farther; and English subjects enjoy no less liberty from the spirit both of justice and mildness, by which all branches of the government are influenced, than from the accuracy of the laws themselves.

The Roman commonwealth will here again supply us with examples to prove the former part of the above assertion. When I said, in the foregoing chapter, that, in times of public commotion, no provisions were made for the body of the people, I meant no provisions that were likely to prove

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