« EdellinenJatka »
The subject of the following pages has, for some years past, become involved in so many different questions, and subject to such various opinions, that it would be difficult for an intelligent stranger, who visited this country, with a view of making himself acquainted with the nature and spirit of our polity, to form any clear and distinct ideas of it. Delolme and Blackstone have rather given us panegyrics on the government, than described the real springs which actuate the complicated machine; each has drawn an abstract theory of what its operations should be, rather than a real picture of what they are. In reading those works one might suppose this government had been framed by some superior intelligence, and calculated by the same pover for the use of man: no allowance is there made for human frailties, or vices, for selfishness, corruption, faction, and ambition ; the theoretical balance is set up, and they tell us all turps on its pivot.
As soon, however, 'as we begin to examine the machine of the government practically, all the strongly marked features delineated by these writers gradually fade away, and welifind ourselvės surrounded by all the cabal and selfish views, to which human institutions are and must continue liable, as long as-man remains as he has been formed by the power wbich produced him.8.1947" blaeta
Every possible system of government has been already tried imsone time or place, and it has been found that each has its peculiar defects. To get rid of the inconveniences of one tsystem;9 by establishing another, is only to fly from evils- we are accustomed to struggle with, in order to introduce others, which we are not prepared to combat, and the history of all revolutions is only an elucidation of thás principle: all we can do is to palliate those evits which press hard upon us, by modifying the laws we live runderca if we attempt to go on a new principle, we have our work to begin again, and new mischiefs to prostide against, which,jasa we cannot foresee, we cannot be sure of 1 A. ** alreadtv.ca Eight of zuibro de 16.0344??
preventing. It has been the practice of former writers, to describe the superiority and excellence of the British government over that of other states; and it must be confessed, that there is so much to praise, that it is no wonder that men should be so transported with the subject as to shut their eyes to its imperfections.
The flattery which has resounded, from all parts of Europe, in the ears of Englishmen, has had its share in supporting this fallacy; and the British constitution has been considered as the perfection of human institutions. The design of this work is not to run counter to those favorable impressions, nor to endeavour to prove the reverse of what has been so triumphantly advanced. Its object is merely to poiot out the inconveniences to which the system is liable; to trace, if possible, their causes ; and, so far from recommending any supposed infallible remedy, rather to put men on their guard against the dreams of theorists, who, under pretence of making us quite perfect, would plunge us into confusion, from which we can never emerge but by the dreadful tranquillity of military despotism. We have already once run this career; and the restoration of kingly government was welcomed as a blessing even by the dupes of those visionary schemes which had destroyed it.-But if we agaiu precipitate ourselves into the same abyss, can we be sure that the tragedy will end in the same manner? Can we calculate on the return of a second Monk? mani with just talent enough to profit by the crisis, and wholly void of all ambition, or even spirit to play a high part. The fallacy of such a hope has been seen in France. Much as this country is indebted to its Parliaments for the blessings it enjoys; much as that council has been the bulwark of British liberty; still we ought not to blind ourselves to the evil consequences of carrying our admiration too far. We should never lose sight of this axiom, that the House of Commons are to be constdered as the defenders of our privileges, not as our masters. It is to the crown we owe allegiance, and while every attempt to violate the freedom of individuals is abandoned by the latter, we ought to moderate our extreme jealousy of that, in which consists the supreme power of the state ; lest, by depriving it of its influence, we by degrees transfer a power, which we cavhot annihilate, into other hands. On this subject, more will be said in the sequel.
'The alarming increase of the power and influence of the crown is a subject so popular, and on which so many have exerted their eloquence by prating in parliament, that it may seebr strange to many readers, when they come to see, that, according to this view, the evils we suffer
result rather from the very opposite cause. The ardent lovers of freedom will perhaps be startled, when they are told, that, if ever we lose our liberties, it will more probably arise from those who are placed as the defenders of them, than from any other quarter.
It may be gathered, from the history of all balanced constitutions, that each order of the state seeks, from the nature of man, to extend the limits of its authority. To a certain point, this strife is salutary to the state : beyond it, those evils wbich we endeavour to shut out, on one point, overwhelm us on the other. It is equally dangerous to the freedom and happiness of the state, that any order should exceed its due bounds. Kings have become despots; aristocracies have trampled on the people; but no tyrants were ever more dreadful than the French representatives of late years, and the House of Commons in the time of Charles the first.
On many occasions, a jealousy of the crown may be laudable : on others, it'may cause the very evil we most dreaded. : It must ever be remembered, that all deliberative assemblies consist of individuals ; of course, they contain within themselves all those defects to which individuals are subject. Let the violent advocates for Parliamentary reforin and universal suffrage urge what they please, they will he cruelly disappointed, if they expect ever to convene an assembly of men perfectly wise and virtuous; and should the experiwent faib, the fatal conséquences may be easily foreseen.
Parliamentary reform is at best but a dangerous experiment, unless, at the same time, 't lie royal prerogative be strengthened; and this need not be done at the expense of individual freedom. Should either of these events take place, wisdom requires, that the concomitant abuses.lowhich each may be liable,' be duly guarded against. VIDA refbrmik Parliament would be so prejudicial to the interests of powerfuttilipiddal, that, if ever it be attempted, it will most proba*Ay suceded by halves only, or else be carried through with so little
dahito herbstitute a republican form, of all others the most tyrannical, and of
course the worst suited to this ev'imiryol 0.11 0749.) 3 dos of Iti vorraption did cabat arise from the present faétious construction
of our polityslane which is calculated rather to stífle, than to encouragg alligent and public spirit,the same inisehief would in a far greater dogade result frogilan Jeniogconveystem of paaliainentary reform.
In this conjuncture, which may one day boeur, the crown will need all its firmness to resist the attempts.which may be made to overthrow, it; and ministers will need all their wisdom and prudence, as well as