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only check upon the power of the Sovereign; or, in other words, the soldiers may do wnat they choose—and their nominal master can do nothing which they do not choose. Such is the state of the worst despotism?. The check upon the royal authority is the same in substance as in the best administered monarchies, viz. the refusal of the consent or cooperation of those who possess for the time the natural power of the community: But, from the unfortunate structure of society, which (in the case supposed) vests this substantial power in a few bands of disciplined ruffians, the check will scarcely ever be interposed for the benefit of the nation, and will merely operate to prevent the king from doing any thing to the prejudice or oppression of the soldiery themselves.
When civilisation has made a little further progress, a number of the leaders of the army. or their descendants, acquire landed property, and associate together, not merely in their military capacity, but as guardians of their new acquisitions and hereditary dignities.— Their soldiers become their vassals in time of peace: and the real power of the State is gradually transferred from the hands of detached and mercenary battalions, to those of a Feudal Nobility. The check on the royal authority comes then to lie in the refusal of this body to co-operate in such of his measures as do not meet with their approbation; and the king can now do nothing to the prejudice of the order of Nobility. The body of the people fare a little better under the operation of this check j—because their interest is much more identified with that of their feudal lords, than with that of a standing army of regular or disorderly forces.
As society advances in refinement, and the arts of peace are developed, men of the lower orders assemble, and fortify themselves in Towns and Cities, and thus come to acquire a power independent of their patrons. Their consent also accordingly becomes necessary to the development of the public authority within their communities; and hence another check to what is called the power of the soverf»gn. And, finally, to pass over some intermediate stages, when society has attained its full measure of civility and intelligence, and is filled fiom top to bottom with wealth and industry, and reflection; when every thing that is done or felt by any one class, is communicated on the instant to all the rest,—and a vast proportion of the whole population takes an interest in the fortunes of the country, and jiossesses a certain Intelligence as to the public conduct of i!s rulers.—then the substantial jcwer of the nation maybe said to be vested m tue Nation at large; or at least in those individuals who can habitually command the good-will and support of the greater part of them ;—and the ultimate check to the power of the sovereign comes to consist in the general unwillingness of The People to comply with those orders, which, if at all united in their resolution, they may now effectually disobey and resist. This check, when applied at all, is likely, of course, to be applied
for the general good: and. though the sams in substance with those which have be« already considered, namely, the réfutai oí those in whom the real power is Tested, to lend it to the monarch lor purposes which they do not approve, is yet infinitely таи beneficial in its operation, in consequence oí the more fortunate position of those lo whom that power now belongs.
Thus we see that Kings have no power of their own; and that, even in the purest de* potisms, they are the mere organs or diretton of that power which they who truly posse» the physical and intellectual force of the Dation may choose to put at their disposal; zr.¿ are at all times, and under every form oí monarchy, entirely under the control of thai only virtual and effective power. There is И bottom, therefore, no such thing, as an unlimited monarchy; or indeed as a monarch-, that is potentially either more or less limiii-o than every other. All kings musí act by tir consent of that order or portion of the nation which can really command all the res:. i:J may generally do whatever these euUtai.til masters do not disapprove of: But at it is their power which is truly exerted in the name of the sovereign, so, it is not so rnoci a necessary consequence as an identical proposition to say, that where they are clearij opposed to the exercise of that power, the king has no means whatever of asserlin; it,slightest authority. This is the universal law indeed of all governments ~, and though :w different constitution of society, in the tarious stages of its progress, may give a different character to the controlling power, lie principles which regulate its operatio.-i arn substantially the same in all. There а к room, therefore, for the question, whether there should be any control on the power of a king, or what that control should be ;. because, as the power really is not the kirf s, but belongs inalienably to the stronger put of the nation itself, whether it derire that strength from discipline, talents, numbers. •:: situation, it is impossible that it shouU I* exercised at his instigation, without the concurrence, or acquiescence at least, of thc<<; ::'. whom it is substantially vested.
Such, then, is the abstract and fundamf:.!Jl doctrine as to the true nature of Monarch:»'?.. and indeed of every other species of Folii.oal power: and, abstract as it ie, we cannot help : thinking that it goes far to settle all соь!го! versies as to the rights of sovereigns, and I ought to be kept clearly in mind in proceed ¡ ing to the more practical views of thesuty*'; 1 For, though what we have now said as lo ы actual power belonging to the predominant mass of physical and intellectual force in evtrv community, and the certainty of ¡is ultimate.)' impelling the public authority in the direction of its interests and inclinations, be unquestionably true in itself; it is still of infinite importance to consider what provisions are made by the form of the government, or what is ca/:rJ its Constitution, for the ready operation m those interests and inclinations upon 1я*?в" mediale agents of the public authority. Tail
tLey will operate with full effect in the longnin. whether those provisions be good or bad, or whether there be any such provision formally recognised in the government or not, «e take to be altogether indisputable: But, in the one case, they will operate only after long intervals of suffering,—-and by means of much pilfering; while, on the other, they will be constantly and almost insensibly ш action, aud will correct the first declination of the visible index of public authority, from the natural line of action of the radical power of which it should be the exponent, or rather will prevent any sensible variation or disconformity in their respective movements. The whole difference, indeed, between a good and a lad government, appears to us to consist in this particular, viz. in the greater or the less facility which it affords for the early, the gradual and steady operation of the substantial Power of the community upon its constituted Authorities; while the freedom, again, and Ultimate happiness of the nation depend on tht> decree in which this substantial power is possessed by a greater or a smaller, and a more or less moral and instructed part of the whole society—a matter almost independent of the form or name of the government, and determined in a great degree by the progress which the society itself has made in civilisation and refinement.
Thus, to take the most abominable of all governments—л ferocious despotism, such as that of Morocco—where an Emperor, in concert with a banditti of armed ruffians, butchers, plunders, and oppresses the whole unarmed population,—the check to the monarchical power is complete, even there, in the disobedience or dissatisfaction of the: banditti; although, from the character of that body, it affords but little protection to the community, and, from the want of any contrivance for its early or systematic operation, can scarcely ererbe applied, even for its own objects, but with irreparable injury to both the parties concernea. As there is no arrangement by which the general sense of this lawless soldiery can be collected, upon any proposed ti!"H>:ures of their leader, or the moment ascertained when the degree of his oppression exceeds that of their patience, they never begin to act till his outrages have gone far beyond what was necessary to decide their resistance; and accordingly, he on the one hand, goes on decapitating and torturing, for months after all the individuals, by whose consent alone he »a» enabled to take this amusement, were truly of opinion that it should have been discontinued; and, on the other, receives the intimation at laM, not in the form of a remonstrance, upon which he might amend, bat in the shape of a bow-string, a dose of" poison, or a stroke of the dagger. Thus, from the mere want of any provision for ascertain¡-2 the sentiments of me individualspossessina the actual power of the state, or for communicating them to the individual appointed lo administer it, infinite evils result to both parties. The first suffer intolerable oppreswin? jefore they feel such confidence in their
unanimity ae to interfere at all; and then, they do it at last, in the form of brutal violence and vindictive infliction. Every admonition, in short, given to their elected leader is preceded by their suffering, and followed by Ais death; and every application of the check which nature itself has provided for the abuse of all delegated power, is accompanied by a total dissolution of the government, and the hazard of a long series of revolutionary tumults.
This is the history of all Military despotisms, in barbarous and uninstructed communities. When they get on to Feudal aristocracies, matters are a little mended; both by the transference of the actual power to a larger and worthier body, atid by the introduction of some sort of machinery or contrivance, however rude, to insure or facilitate the operation of this power upon the ostensible agents of the government. The person of the Sovereign is now surrounded by some kind of Council or parliament; and threats and remonstrances are addressed to him, with considerable energy, by such of its members as take offence at the measures he proposes. Such, however, is the imperfection of the means devised for these communications, and such the difficulty of collecting the sentiments of those who can make them with effect, that this necessary operation is still performed in a very clumsy and hazardous mariner. These are the times, accordingly, when Barons enter their protests, by openly waging war on their Sovereign, or each other; and, even when they are tolerably agreed among themselves, can think of no better way of controlling or enlightening their monarch, than by marching down in arms to Runnymede, and compelling him, by main force, and in sight of all his people, to sign a charter of their liberties. The evils, in short, are the same in substance as in the sanguinary revolutions of Morocco. The mischief goes to a dangerous length before any remedy is applied; and the remedy itself is a great mischief: Although, from the improved state of intelligence and civilisation, the outrages are not on either side so horrible.
The next stage brings us to commercial and enlightened times, in which the real strength and power of the nation is scattered pretty widely through the whole of its population, and in which, accordingly, the check upon the misapplication of that power must arise from the dissatisfaction of that great body. The check must always exist,—and is sure, sooner or later, to operate with sufficient efficacy; but the safety and the promptitude of its operation depend, in this case as in all the others, upon the nature of the contrivances which the Constitution has provided, first, for collecting and ascertaining the sentiments of that great and miscellaneous aggregate in whom the actual power is now vested; and, secondly, for communicating this in an authentic manner to the executive officers of the government. The most effectual and complete way of effecting this, is undoubtedly by a Parliament, во elected as to represent pretty fairly the views of all the considerable nasses of the people, and so constituted as to have at all times the means, both of suggesting those views to the executive, and of effectually checking or preventing its malversations. Where no such institution exists, the tranquillity of the state will always be exposed to considerable hazard; and the danger of great convulsions will unfortunately become greater, exactly in proportion as the body of the people become more wealthy and intelligent.
Under the form of society, however, of which we are now speaking, there must always be some channels, however narrow and circuitous, by which the sense of the people may be let in to act upon the administrators of their government. The channel of the press, for example, and of general literature—provincial magistracies and assemblies, such as the States and Parliaments of old France—even the ordinary courts of law—the stage — the pulpit—and all Ihe innumerable occasions of considerable assemblages for deliberation on local interests, election to local offices, or for mere solemnity and usage of festivity—which must exist in all large, ancient, and civilised communities, may afford indications of that general sentiment, which must ultimately govern all things; and may serve to admonish observant kings and courtiers how far the true possessors of the national power are likely to sanction any of its proposed applications.— Where those indications, however, are neglected or misconstrued, or where, from other circumstances, institutions that may seem better contrived, fail either to represent the true sense of the ruling part of the community, or to convince the Executive magistrate that they do represent it, there, even in the most civilised and intelligent countries, the most hazardous and tremendous distractions may ensue ;—such distractions as broke the peace, and endangered the liberties of this country in the time of Charles the First—or such as have recently torn in pieces the frame of society in France; and in their consequences still threaten Ihe destiny of the world.
Both those convulsions, it appears to us, arose from nothing else than the want of some proper or adequate contrivance for ascertaining the sentiments of those holding the actual strength of the nation,—and for conveying those sentiments, with the full evidence of their authenticity, to the actual administrators of their affairs. And the two cases, we take it. were more nearly alike than has generallybeen imagined ; for though the House of Commons had an existence long before the time of King Charles, it had not previously been recognised as the vehicle of commanding opinions, nor the proper organ of that great body to whom the actual power of the State had been recently and insensibly transferred. The Court still considered the effectual power to reside in the feudal aristocracy, by the greater part of which it was supported; and, when the Parliament, or rather the House of Commons, spoke in name of the People of England, thought it might safely disregard the admonitions of a body which had not hitherto advanced any such authoritative claims to at
tention. It refused, therefore, to acknowledge this body as the organ of the supreme power of the State; and was only undeceived when it fell before its actual exertion. In Fran« again, the error, though more radical, иг»? of the very same nature. The administrate of the government was conducted, up to the very eve of the Revolution, upon the same principles as when the Nobles were етггт thing, and the People nothing ;—though the people, in the mean time, had actually become far more than a match for the nobÜKv; wealth, in intelligence, and in the know!-;.-of their own importance. The Con-titntxs. however, provided no means for the peac-ilibut authoritative intimation of this change to the official rulers ; or for the gradual development of the new power which had thne beta generated in the community; and the coc«equence was, that its more indirect indication! were overlooked, and nothing yielded to its accumulating pressure, till it overturned the throne,—and overwhelmed with it* wasteful flood the whole ancient institutions of the country. If there hail been any provision m the structure of the government, by which the increasing power of the lower order? hai li* •. enabled to make itself distinctly felt, ar •bear upon the constituted authorities, as gradually as it was generated, the great calamities which have befallen that nation might hart been entirely avoided,—the condition of tbe monarchy might have insensibly accommodated itself to the change in the condition oí the people,—and a most beneficial alters'.• might have taken place in its administrât»-1, without any shock or convulsion in auy ¡"'• of the community. For want of some scfh provision, however, the Court was heU in :• norance of the actual power of the people. '.J it burst in thunder on their heads. The pentup vapours disploded with the force (' з' earthquake; and those very elements that would have increased the beauty and strength of the constitution by their harmonious combination, crumbled its whole fabric mm r : -. by their sudden and untempered collisica. The bloody revolutions of the Seras!» were acted over again in the heart of tho n'•'• polished and enlightened nation of Euro-- — and from the very same cause—the want of» channel for conveying, constantly and temperately and effectually, the sense of there «he possess power, to those whose office it was to direct its application ;—and the outrage vu only the greater and more extensive, thai the body among whom this power wa» diffused was larger, and the period of its nnsnsptt:*1 accumulation of longer duration.
The great point, then, is to insure a fr-f. an authoritative, and an uninterrupted communication between the ostensible aJm.r* trators of the national power and its acnal constituents and depositories; and th? ch.-'f distinction between a good and а bad jrnvrment consists in the degree in which it aa> -tthe means of such a communication, main end of government, to be sure i?. '¿*¡ wise laws should be enacted and enfonwl but such is the condition of human
that the hazards of sanguinary contentions about the exercise of power, is a much greater and more imminent evil than a considerable obstruction in the making or execution of the laws; and the best government therefore is, not that which promises to make the best laws, and to enforce them most vigorously, but that which guards best against the tremendous conflicts to which all administrations of government, and all exercise of political power is so apt to give rise. It happens, fortunately indeed, that the same arrangements which most effectually insure the peace of society against those disorders, are also, on the whole, the best calculated for the purposes of wise and efficient legislation. But we do not hesitate to look upon their negative or preventive virtues as of a far higher cast than their positive and active ones; and to consider a representative legislature as incomparably of more value, when it truly enables the efficient force of the nation to control and direct the executive, than when it merely enacts wholesome statutes in its legislative capacity. The result of the whole then is, that in a civilised and enlightened country, the actual power of the State resides in the great body ft the people, and especially among the more wealthy and intelligent in all the different ranks of which it consists; and consequently, that the administration of a government can never be either safe or happy, unless it be conformable to the wishes and sentiments of that great body; while there is little chance of its answering either of these conditions, unless the forms of the Constitution provide »me means for the regular, constant, and authentic expression of their sentiments,—to which, when so expressed, it is the undoubted duty, as well as the obvious interest of the executive to conform. A Parliament, therefore, which really and truly represents the »ense and opinions—we mean the general and mature sense, not the occasional prejudices and fleeting passions—of the efficient body "f the people, and which watches over and effectually controls every important act of the executive magistrate, is necessary, in a country like this, for tho tranquillity of the government, and the ultimate safety of the Monarchy itself,—much more even than for the enactment of laws; and, in proportion as it varies from this description, or relaxes in this control, will the peace of the country and the «ecurity of the government be endangered.
But then comes Mr. Leckie, and a number of loyal gentlemen, from Sicily, or other places, exclaiming that this is mere treason and republicanism,—and asking whether the king is to have no will or voice of his own ?—what is to become of the balance of the Constitution if he is to be reduced to a mere cypher added to the end of every ministerial majority1!— »ml how, ¡f the office is thus divested of all real power, it can ever fulfil the purposes for which we ourselves have preferred Monarchy to all other constitutions I We shall endeavour to answer these questions ;—and after the preceding full exposition of our premises, we think they may be answered very briefly.
In the first place, then, it does not appear to us that it can be seriously maintained that any national or salutary purpose can ever be served by recognising the private will or voice of the King as an individual, as an element in the political government, especially in an Hereditary monarchy. The person upon whom that splendid lot may fall, not having been selected for the office on account of any proof or presumption of his fitness for it. but being called to it as it were by mere accident, may be fairly presumed to have less talent or capacity t'han any one of the individuals who have made their own way to a place of influence or authority in his councils; and his voice or opinion therefore, considered naturally and in itself, must be of less value or intrinsic authority than that of any other person in high office under him: Ana when it is farther considered that this Sovereign may be very young or very old—almost an idiot—almost a madman—and altogether a dotard, while he is still in the full possession and the lawful exercise of the whole authority of his station, it must seem perfectly extravagant to maintain that it can be of advantage to the nation, that his individual wishes or opinions should be the measure or the condition of any one act of legislation or national policy.—Assuredly it is not for his wisdom or his patriotism, and much less for hie own delight and gratification, that an hereditary monarch is placed upon the throne of a free people; and this obvious consideration alone might lead us at once to the true end and purpose of royalty.
But the letter and theory of the Englieh Constitution recognise the individual will of the Sovereign, just as little as reason and common sense can require it, as an integral element in that constitution. It declares that the King as an individual can do no wrong, and can be made accountable for nothing— but that his ministers and advisers shall be responsible for all his acts without any exception—or at least with the single exception of the act of naming those advisers. In every one act of his peculiar and official Prerogative, in which, if in any thing, his individual and private will must be understood to have been exerted, the Constitution sees only the will and the act of his ministers. The King:s speech —the speech pronounced by his own lips, and as his voluntary act in the face of the whole nation—is the speech of the minister; and as such, is openly canvassed, and condemned if need be, by the houses of Parliament, in the ordinary course of their duty. The King's personal answers to addresses—hie declarations of peace or war—the honours he personally confers—the bills he personally passes or rejects—are all considered by the Constitution as the acts only of his counsellors. It is not only the undoubted right, but the unquestionable duty of the Houses of Parliament, to consider of their propriety—to complain of them if they think them inexpedient—to get them rescinded if they admit of such a correction: and at all events to prosecute, impeach, and punish those advisers—to whom, and not to the Sovereign in whose name they run, they are exclusively attributed. This great doctrine, then, of ministerial responsibility, answers the first question of Mr. Leckie and his adherents, as lo the enormity of subjecting the personal -pill and opinion of the Sovereign at all times to the control of those who represent the efficient power of the community. Mr. Leckie himself, it is to be observed, is for leaving this grand feature of ministerial responsibility, even when he is for dispensing with the attendance of Parliaments;—though, to be sure, among his other omissions, he nas forgotten to tell us by whom, and in what manner, it could be enforced, after the abolition of those troublesome assemblies.
The next question relates to the theoretical balance of the Constitution, which they say implies that the will and the power of the Monarch is to be a separate and independent element in the government. We have not left ourselves room now to answer this at large; nor indeed do we think it necessary; and accordingly we shall make but two remarks in regard to it, and that in the most summary manner. The first is, that the powers ascribed to the Sovereign, in the theory of the Constitution, are not supposed to be vested in him as an insulated and independent individual— but in him as guided and consubstantiated with his responsible counsellors—that the King, in that balance, means not the person of the reigning prince, but the department of the Executive government—the whole body of ministers and their dependants—to whom, for the sake of convenience and dispatch, the initiative of many important measures is entrusted; and who are only entitled or enabled to carry on business, under burden of their responsibility to Parliament, and in reliance on its ultimate support. The second remark is, that the balance of the Constitution, in so far as it has any real existence, will be found to subsist almost entirely in the House of Commons, which possesses exclusively both the power of impeachment, and the power of granting supplies; and has besides, the most natural ami immediate communication with that great body of the Nation, in whom the power of control over all the branches of the Legislature is ultimately vested. The Executive, therefore, has its chief Ministers in that House, and exerts in that place all the influence which is attached to its situation. If it is successfully opposed there, it would for the most part be infinitely dangerous for it to think of resisting in any other quarter. But if it were to exercise its legal prerogative, by refusing a series of favourite bills, or disregarding an unanimous address of the Commons, the natural consequence would be, that the Commons would retort^ by exercising their legal privilege of withholding the supplies; and as things could not go on fora moment on such a footing, the King must either submit at discretion, or again bethink himself of raising his royal standard against that of a Parliamentary army. The general view, indeed, which we have taken above of the true nature of that which is called the power of the Monarch, is enough to mow, that it can only be
upon the тегу unlikely, but not tmpombV supposition, that the nominal representative of the people are really more estranged from their true sentiments than the minister«of the Crown, that it can ever be safe or allowable for the latter to refuse immediate сотрЬгме with the will of those representatives.
There remains then but one other question, viz. Whether we are really for reducir^ :ь? King to the condition of a mere tool in :[.<• hands of a ministerial majority, without any real power or influence whatsoever ; aul « Lether, upon this supposition, there can be a: v use in the institution of monarchy—as ¡lie minister, on this view of things, must b? regarded as the real sovereign, and his office :s still open to competition, as the reward of ja:.gerous and disorderly ambition? Now, the a:.swer to this is a denial of the assumption up :. which the question is raised. TheKinfr. цт:. our view of his office—which it has been Sct. is exactly that taken by the Constitutor,— would still hold, indisputably, the first place in the State, and possess a substantial po-.u-. not only superior to that which any mir.itf> г could ever obtain under him, but sufficient м repress the pretensions of any one who. u;¡.i'~: any other form of government; migir. ':•• tempted to aspire to the sovereignty. TV King of England, it will be remembered. 1*1 perpetual member of the cabinet—and perpetually the First Member of it. No dispprobation of its measures, whether expreß! by votes of the Houses, or addresses from :w people, can turn Aim out of his situation: a:..: he nas also the power of nominating ils ctb-.-r members; not indeed the power of maiiiu.ring them in their offices against the sense of the nation—but the power of trying tkt apériment, and puttins it on the country to ¡ai<" the painful and difficult step of insisting ¡:¡ their removal. If he have any portico of ministerial talents, therefore, he must h.ive. in the first place, all the power that couM a'tach to a Perpetual Minister—with all tbe peculiar influence that is inseparable from thí splendour of his official station: and, ш ihe second place, he has the actual power, if nrt absolutely to make or unmake all the otbr members of his cabinet at his pleasure, at 1rs*! to choose, at his own discretion, атопг a.! who are not upon very strong grounds envptionable to the country at large.
Holding it to be quite clear, then, that tiw private and individual will of the eovereipi и not to be recognised as a separate element ¡r. the actual legislation, or administrative &*• emment of the country, and that it mus! .л all cases give way to the mature sense efth* nation, we shall still find, that his place •> conspicuously and beyond all question !» First in the State, and that it is invest«) vi'.b quite as much substantial power as is netnary to maintain all other offices in a condition ot subordination. To see this clearly. ¡м/л'Л •'• is only necessary to consider, a little in détail, what is the ordinary operation of the rfpl power, and on what occasions the neopf«rv checks to which we have alluded come in ta control it. The King, then, as the