Government by Laws and Sanctions, why necessary.
IF there be, in any region of the universe, an order of moral agents
living in society, whose reason is strong, whose passions and inclinations are
moderate, and whose dispositions are turned to virtue, to such an order of
happy beings, legislation, administration, and police, with the endlessly
various and complicated apparatus of politics, must be in a great measure
superfluous. Did reason govern mankind, there would be little occasion for any
other government, either monarchical, aristocratical, democratical, or mixed.
But man, whom we dignify with the honourable title of Rational, being
much more frequently influenced, in his proceedings, by supposed interest, by
passion, by sensual appetite, by caprice, by any thing, by nothing, than by
reason; it has, in all civilized ages and countries, been found proper to frame
laws and statutes fortified by sanctions, and to establish orders of men
invested with authority to execute those laws, and inflict the deserved
punishments upon the violators of them. By such means only has it been found
possible to preserve the general peace and tranquillity. But, such is the
perverse disposition of man, the most unruly of all animals, that this most
useful institution has been generally debauched into an engine of oppression
and tyranny over those, whom it was expresly and solely established to defend.
And to such a degree has this evil prevailed, that in almost every age and
country, the government has been the principal grievance of the
people, as appears too dreadfully manifest, from the bloody and deformed page
of history. For what is general history, but a view of the abuses of power
committed by those, who have got it into their hands, to the subjugation, and
destruction of the human species, to the ruin of the general peace and
happiness, and turning the Almighty's fair and good world into a butchery of
its inhabitants, for the gratification of the unbounded ambition of a few, who,
in overthrowing the felicity of their fellow-creatures, have confounded their
That government only can be pronounced consistent with the design
of all government, which allows to the governed the liberty of doing what,
consistently with the general good, they may desire to do, and which
only forbids their doing the contrary. Liberty does not exclude restraint; it
only excludes unreasonable restraint. To determine precisely how far
personal liberty is compatible with the general good, and of the
propriety of social conduct in all cases, is a matter of great extent, and
demands the united wisdom of a whole people. And the consent of the
whole people, as far as it can be obtained, is indispensably
necessary to every law, by which the whole people are to be
bound; else the whole people are enslaved to the one, or the few,
who frame the laws for them.
Were a colony to emigrate from their native land, and settle in a new
country, on what would they propose to bestow their chief attention? On
securing the happiness of the whole? or on the aggrandizement of the
governor? If the latter, all mankind would pronounce those colonists void of
common sense. But in every absolute monarchy, the aggrandizement of the
governor is the supreme object; and the happiness of the people is to
yield to it. Were only a handful of friends to form themselves into one of
those little societies we call Clubs; what would be their object? The advantage
of the company, or the power of the chair-man?
Very shrewd was Rumbald's saying in Charles II's. time,
viz. 'He did not imagine, the Almighty intended, that the greatest part of
mankind should come into the world with saddles on their backs, and bridles in
their mouths, and a few ready booted and spurred to ride the rest to death
aBurn, HIST. OWN TIMES, 11. 316.
The People the Fountain of Authority, the Object of Government, and
ALL lawful authority, legislative, and executive, originates from the
people. Power in the people is like light in the sun, native,
original, inherent and unlimited by any thing human. In governors, it may be
compared to the reflected light of the moon; for it is only borrowed,
delegated, and limited by the intention of the people, whose it is, and to whom
governors are to consider themselves as responsible, while the people are
answerable only to God; themselves being the losers, if they pursue a false
scheme of politics. Of which more hereafter.
As the people are the fountain of power, so are they the object of
government, in such manner, that where the people are safe, the ends of
government are answered, and where the people are sufferers by their governors,
those governors have failed of the main design of their institution, and it is
of no importance what other ends they may have answered.
As the people are the fountain of power, and object of government, so
are they the last resource, when governors betray their trust. And happy is
that people, who have originally so principled their constitution, that they
themselves can without violence to it, lay hold of its power, wield it as they
please, and turn it, when necessary, against those to whom it was entrusted,
and who have exerted it to the prejudice of its original proprietors. Of all
which more copiously hereafter.
Legem majestatis reduxerat, &c. says Tacitus. The
antient lex majestatis among the Romans was intended against
those who injured the state; and the majesty, in defence of which
it was made, was the majesty of the people. But Tiberius
perverted that salutary law into a protection for tyrants. So our
court-sycophants cry out, on every remonstrance against misgovernment, 'Treason
! The king is betrayed; the nation is ruined,' while nobody but themselves has
the least thought of hurting the king, nor of ruining any thing, but that
which, if let alone, will ruin the nation.
Of Government by Representation.
Government naturally divides itself into legislative and executive. No
degree of wisdom is more than sufficient for the former. For the latter,
nothing but well regulated force is wanted. To compose a system of wise
and good laws is the utmost effort of human sagacity. To carry on the affairs
of a nation, in a long-beaten track, requires only common sense and common
The most natural and simple idea of government is that of the people's
assembling together in their own persons, for consulting, debating,
enacting laws, and forming regulations, according to which all are to conduct
themselves, and by which the general liberty, property, and safety are provided
for. Accordingly this is the plan of government among the Indians in
America, and other simple and uncultivated people; and is described by
Cæsar, Tacitus, &c. as having been that of the antient
Gauls, and Germans.
But such a scheme of government is thought only compatible with a small
dominion. In great and populous countries, it being supposed impossible to
assemble together, in a deliberative capacity, the whole body of the people, or
even all the men of property, so as to avoid confusion, and to obtain the
unconstrained opinion of a majority, it is thought necessary to have recourse
to an adequate and freely elected representation. It may be said, 'Why
might not (in Britain for instance) the inhabitants of single counties
meet together to deliberate on those subjects, which are now debated in
parliament, and afterwards communicate the result of their consultation to a
grand national assembly?' The answer is, This would still be government
by representation; because the national assembly must be the elected
representatives of the people. Of all which more hereafter.
In planning a government by representation, the people ought to provide
against their own annihilation. They ought to establish a regular and
constitutional method of acting by and from themselves, without, or even
in opposition to their representatives, if necessary. Our ancestors
therefore were provident; but not provident enough. They set up parliaments, as
a curb on kings and ministers; but they neglected to reserve to
themselves a regular and constitutional method of exerting their power, in
curbing parliaments, when necessary. Of which I shall have occasion to
treat more fully in the sequel.
Advantages of parliamentary Government, which have recommended it to
THERE is no advantage within the reach of a particular people, that may
not be obtained by parliamentary government in as effectual a manner, as if
every inhabitant of the country were to deliberate and vote in person. But this
supposes parliament free from all indirect influence, and to have no interest
separate from the general good of the commonwealth. In a country, like
Britain, where a parliament is constitutionally the last resort, and
where there lies no regular appeal to the people, the perversion of
parliament from its original intention may prove utter ruin,
as leaving no constitutional means of redress, and compelling the people
to take into their own hands the dangerous work of vindicating their liberties
by force; which, in the concussion of jarring parties, may produce anarchy and
end in tyranny. Of which more hereafter.
Nothing can be imagined more august than a numerous set of wise, free,
and honest men sitting in consultation upon the means for securing the
happiness of a whole people. Such was that most venerable antient assembly of
the Amphictyons, which was the general tribunal of Greece for
judging and deciding all controversies among the several states. So great was
the respect in which the decisions of that council were held, that their
sentences were seldom, or never, disputed, and that grievous wars were often
terminated by their arbitration. The several states of Greece, in number
about twelve, sent each to this grand court one, two, or three delegates,
according to their respective importance a.
The Panætolium of the antient Aetolians seems to
have been an assembly very much upon the plan of our house of commons. This
convention met annually, or oftener, if necessity required. Representatives
were sent to this assembly from all quarters, with instructions, from which
they were not to deviate. In this Panætolium resided the whole
majesty of the state. In it laws were made and repealed, alliances formed and
renounced, peace and war declared, magistrates appointed, particularly the
strategoV, or chief commander, for every year,
aUbb. EMM. 11. 277.
b Ibid. 11. 251.
The antient Achaia was a confederacy of states, like our modern
Holland, or Swisserlandc. Each of those little states
had its possessions, territories, and boundaries; each had its senate, or
assembly, its magistrates and judges; and every state sent deputies to the
general convention, and had equal weight in all determinations a.
And most of the neighbouring states, which, moved by fear of danger, acceded to
this confederacy, had reason to felicitate themselves.
c Ibid. 11. 228.
aUbb. EMM. 11. 230.
The government of the antient commonwealths of Italy, before the
Roman was formed, was much upon a. free or parliamentary plan.
The Israelitish government was of the free, or parliamentary
kind. The people's demanding a change of the form of their government into
monarchical, was directly opposite to their constitution, and to the divine
intention. Which, by the bye, shews the absurdity of the doctrine of regal
government's being of divine original. Of which more elsewhere.
The republic of Lycia was a confederacy of towns, which they
ranged into three classes according to their respective importance. To the
cities of the first rank they allowed three votes each in the general council;
to those of the second two, and to those of the third one. 'For reason taught
them, that they, who have the most at stake, ought to have the greatest weight
in all consultations concerning the common good b.' Sparta,
as modelled by the good and wise Lycurgus, was a republican, or
parliamentary government, though of a mixed kind; for there were kings, a
senate elected by the people, and an assembly of the people, the consent of
which last was necessary to the establishment of a law, says
Plutarchc. Tou de plhqouV
aqroisqentoV, k. t. l. Nor was this mixture
an objection against the Spartan government's being of the free, or
parliamentary kind. The Theban, the Dutch, the English,
and other free, or parliamentary governments have all been of the mixed sort,
having admitted kings, or stadtholders, or other chiefs. There has indeed
hardly ever been known a pure commonwealth; though many an unmixed monarchy, or
tyranny. The English republic, which was demolished by the villainous
Cromwel, was one of the most unmixed, that ever was known. It was a true
government by representation; of which more hereafter. In the mean while, now I
am mentioning republican government, I take this opportunity of entering an
express caveat against all accusations of a desire to establish republican
principles. I do not think a friend to this nation is obliged to promote a
change in the constitution. The present form of government by king, lords, and
commons, if it could be restored to its true spirit and efficiency, might be
made to yield all the liberty, and all the happiness, of which a great and good
people are capable in this world. Therefore I do not think it worth while to
hazard any considerable commotion for the sake merely of changing the
constitution from limited monarchy to republican government, though I hardly
know the risque it would not be worth while to run for the sake of changing our
government from corrupt to incorrupt. But to return.
b Ibid. 11. 300.
c VIT. LYCURG. sub init.
Athens, as reformed by Solon, was a free, or parliamentary
state, consisting of a senate of 400 elected by the people, besides the court
of Areopagus. The poorest of the people had a right of speaking and
voting in the ekklhsia, or assembly of the people, or, if you please, house of
commons. The people indeed possessed, by this means, a degree of power above
the reach of such as the vulgar were in those antient unimproved ages, before
the art of printing bad made knowledge universal as in our times. The errors in
the Athenian state were in the first concoction. Had Solon been
concerned in the original framing of it, that state would have been
longer-lived. He confessed, that all he could do was, To give the
Athenians the best laws their degeneracy could bear a.
'Athens consisted, says Harrington b, of the senate of
the bean proposing, of the church or assembly of the people resolving, and too
often debating, which was the ruin of it; as also of the senate of the
Areopagites, the 9 archons, with divers other magistrates,
executing. Lacedæmon consisted of the senate proposing, of the
church or congregation of the people resolving only, and never debating, which
was the long life of it; and of the two kings, the court of the ephori,
with diverse other magistrates, executing. Carthage consisted of the
senate proposing, and sometimes resolving; of the people resolving, and
sometimes debating too; for which fault she was reprehended by Aristotle,
and she had her suffetes, and her hundred men, with other
magistrates, executing. Rome consisted of the senate proposing, the
concio or people resolving, and too often debating, which caused her
storms; as also of the consuls, censors, ædiles, tribunes, prætors,
quæstors, and other magistrates, executing. Venice consists of the
senate or pregati proposing, and sometimes resolving too; of the great
council, or assembly of the people, in whom the result is constitutively, as
also of the doge, the signory, the censors, the dieci, the quazancies, and
other magistrates, executing. The proceeding of the commonwealths of
Switzerland and Holland is of a like nature, though after a more
obscure manner: for the soverainties, whether cantons, provinces, or cities,
which are the people, send their deputies commissioned and instructed by
themselves (wherein they reserve the result in their own power) to the
provincial or general convention or senate, when the deputies debate, but have
no other power of result than what was conferred upon them by the people, or is
farther conferred by the same upon farther occasion. And for the executive part
they have magistrates or judges in every canton, province, or city, besides
those which are more public and relate to the league, as for adjusting
controversies between one canton, province, or city, and another; or the like
between such persons as are not of the same canton, province, or city.'
aPlut. VIT. SOLON.
b OCEANA, 51.
Thebes, in Bœotia, antiently a monarchy, was
afterwards changed to a republic, and was a free or parliamentary government in
the times of Pelopidas and Epaminondas, who raised it to great
eminence among the states of those times, and at whose demise it sunk again
into its former obscurity a.
aJustin. VIT. PELOP. et EPAMIN. Plut. in
Carthage was undoubtedly a free, or parliamentary state, without
a king; though I do not know, that we have a particular account of its
constitution from any antient author, Greek, or Latin; for of the
country itself we have not so much as the name of a writer. We read of their
having a senate, and of a fatal division among the people by the Hannonian
faction, which ruined Hannibal's schemes, and prevented his making a
total conquest of Rome after the battle of Connæ
a See the Roman Historians of that period.
The Roman government down to Julius Cæsar was
parliamentary. Their senate may be compared to our house of peers, as the
senators sat for life, and in their own right. And though the Romans had
nothing of representation comparable to our house of commons, supposing our
house of commons incorrupt and independent; yet representation, or giving the
people their weight in government, was what they intended by their tribunes of
the people, and by dividing the people into curiæ, comitia,
tribes, &c. The Roman republic was but half-formed, and the formed
part was the least valuable. We read often of the tribunes sending the consuls
to prison; and, we find the senate depriving the tribunes of their office
b. This shews the Roman republic to have been miserably
ill-balanced, when the senate was sometimes above the tribunes, and the
tribunes sometimes above the consuls. Romulus had originally divided the
people into three tribes, and each of these into ten curia. He chose one
senator himself, and ordered each of the tribes, and curia to choose
three, which amounted to 100 in all. None but patricians could be senators.
Thus 99 of the 100 senators owed their seats to the people. When the 100
Sabines were added, they were all patricians, and all chosen by the
people. When Tarquinius Priscus, to ingratiate himself with the people
at his accession, chose 100 senators out of their body; he ennobled them first.
The number of the senators probably continued to be about 300 till the time of
Sylla, 530 years from Tarquinius Priscus. Sylla probably
increased the number (by bringing in men for his purpose) to above 400. But
these additional senators were still chosen by the people. Cæsar,
to strengthen his party, increased the senate to 900, introducing all sorts of
men, as new-made citizens, half-barbarous Gauls, soldiers, and sons of
freed-men. It would be ridiculous to think of the people's having any hand in
this transaction. For in Cæsar's time the army ruled all. And
lastly the triumvirs increased the senate to above 1000. In the imperial times
it is of no consequence what the number of the senate was; because all power
was then engrossed by the emperors, and the senate was an empty name; that
mighty senate, of which Cineas, Pyrrhus's embassador, said, it seemed to
him an assembly of kings; that senate, which was for ages the scourge of
tyrants, was then become a mere ergastulum of slaves, the drudges, the
flatterers, and supporters of tyrants.
b ANT. UNIV. HIST. XIII. p. 143.
After Coriolanus's time, A. U. C. 263, the plebeians
became eligible, without being ennobled, into the senate. And those
magistrates, who were called curule, had the privilege, during a certain
time, of giving their votes in the senate, though they were not senators.
The Roman senators voted either by a general Aye or No, sitting
in their places, or by separately declaring each his sententia, as the
censors called their names; or by dividing, those for the question going
to one side of the house, and those against it to the other, which they called,
ire pedibus in sententiam tuam, &c. and those senators, who only
divided, without giving their reasons, were called senatores pedarii
aDion. Halic. Dion. Cass. Liv. Appian, Vell. Patere.
The Roman republic was indeed never finished. For the caprice of
the multitude was left to operate at random. So that every popular demagogue
had it in his power to spirit up the multitude to whatever pitch of madness
might suit his ambitious, or interested views. Nor was the general sense of the
Roman people known by the fluctuating violence of the mob of the
capital, who were often deceived, and often influenced, by largesses of corn,
or by shews of gladiators; but who had more weight in the government, than the
consuls, senate, and all the citizens of Italy and the other Roman
dominions. The error consisted in the want of a regular subdivision, and
representation of the people. The body of the people of property ought to have
in their own hands the government of themselves. But the multitude in one great
and debauched city ought not to be considered as the body of the people. The
tribunitial power was too great. The appeals to the people at large, and their
voting at large, was what first opened a door for the contests of Sylla
and Marius, and of Cæsar and Pompey, which
The great error in the Roman republic was, That the people, or
plebeians were not represented, but voted in a collective body; which
occasioned continual tumult and confusion. They assembled in innumerable
multitudes, and forced their tribunes upon whatever their licentious fancy
dictated. They had no reading; consequently were very ignorant; and often chose
the worst measure, when the senators, if left to themselves, would have chosen
much better for them.
The Gauls to Pharamond's time, who died A. D. 428,
managed all affairs in the assembly of the people, where they set up and
dethroned their kings at their pleasure.
The power of the French kings was antiently restrained within
very narrow limits. Liberty was the same in France, as in all the
Gothic states. The power was in the assembly of the states. The frequent
calling of general assemblies was thought inconvenient. Therefore they had
standing committees, which gave rise to the parliaments of France, The
parliament of Paris first attended the king, then was fixed to Paris,
for convenience. They formerly judged the peers and great men of the
kingdom, over whom the king had no power, because they were to be tried by
their peers. All the great officers of state took their oaths in parliament;
not bound personally to the king, but in his political capacity. Laws had no
force, unless they registered them. The efficiency of all those checks is now
lost. No assembly of the states now heard of. Parliaments arc only the shadow
of what they were. Their tyrant has the liberties of the subject entirely at
his mercy; imprisons whom he pleases; sets up what judges he pleases, to try
whom he pleases, and convict them of what crime he pleases. The great officers
take the oaths to him, and are responsible to him, and not at all, as formerly,
to the people. This is the work of Richelieu a.
a MOD. UNIV. HIST. XLIII. p. 413.
Advices from France, Jan. 1773, signify, that the princes of the
blood have yielded to the court, and that the parliaments of France will
be abolished to the very name: the thing has long been lost. This
abolition has accordingly taken place since.
The three estates of France, in their times of freedom, were, 1.
The clergy (they will always be uppermost.) 2. The nobility. 3. The deputies of
According to the original system of the Franks, every free
subject was entituled to some share in government, either in person, or by
a MOD. UNIV. HIST. XXIII. 396.
Frequent conventions of the states of Denmark, when that country
was free, were a fundamental article of the Danish constitution. They
consulted concerning matters of government, laws, peace and war, taxes, and
promotions to offices b.
b Ibid. XXXII. 18.
The Swedish government has always been upon a parliamentary, or
free plan. In that country, till the revolution in 1772, four estates made the
laws, viz. 1000 noblesse, 100 ecclesiastics (just 100 too many)
150 citizens, and about 250 peasants c. They had no nobility
before A. D. 1560. Voltaire observes, that Charles XI. was
the first absolute prince in Sweden, and Charles XII. his
grandson, the last.
cVolt. ESS. SUR l'HIST. IV. 241.
'In Sweden, the supreme power is vested, not in the king, but the
senate, which is no other than a committee of twelve chosen out of the estates,
or parliament of the kingdom, to controul the king in all actions, which they
dClutterbuck's Speech, Tind. CONTIN. VIII.
'The Bolognese, A, D. 1200, had lively ideas of the Roman
republic. They had consuls, whose powers were like those of Rome;
and many inferior magistrates, whom they seldom suffered to continue in power
above a year a.' In a time of public danger they continued them
several years, if they thought them wise and faithful b.
a MOD. UNIV. HIST. XXXVII. 3.
b Ibid. 14.
Marseilles, like Holland, was a free republic planted by a
set of brave people flying from slavery c.
cCas. BELL. GALL. V.
Grotius d celebrates the Dutch, for that, like
the antient Romans, they have always been against kingly government.
That in the times of Cæsar, the commands of the people had as much
power over the principes, or elected chiefs, as theirs over the people,
Non minus in ipsos juris, &c.eGrotius quotes
Tacitus f, who observes, that all the Germans were for
liberty, and that by liberty the Romans meant republican government, is
evident from Tacitus's expression, Urbem Romam a principio,
&c. Rome was originally under kingly government.
Liberty' (in opposition to monarchy) 'and the consular power were
established by Brutus;' and from Lucan g, 'Libertas
ultra Tanaim, &c. Liberty' (after the decisive battle) 'fled beyond the
Don and the Rhine; and what is now possessed by the German
and Scythian, so often obtained at the expence of our blood, is
denied to us.'
d DE ANTIQU. REIP. BATAV. cap. 11.
eUbb. EMM. 11. 285.
f DE MORIB. GERM.
g PHARS. VII.
The Spanish cortes were much the same as our parliaments,
composed of prelates, matters of the military orders, nobles, and
representatives sent from the cities, and towns (no mention of counties). No
act could pass unless they were unanimous as our juries. And the acts
must be confirmed by the king. They were assembled by summons from the king and
privy council, and dissolved by order of the president of the council. But a
committee of eight sat still. They have been rarely called since 1647. Their
last sitting was in 1713. They were laid aside by Charles V. because
they would grant no money, and because he found he could raise money without
them. The Visigoths governed in Spain about 350 years,
terminating about A. D. 700. During that period, Spain was very
respectable. Her government was free; her church more pure than others, from
popish superstition, rejecting the pope's supremacy. Her monarchs, elective and
limited, as in almost all the Gothic states, commanded the army, called
general councils, proposed the subjects to be considered, gave their sanction
to laws, gave out edicts merely executive, coined money, gave employments,
conferred honours; but all under correction of the general council, who could
set aside any of the king's acts a. All the northern nations had
such a mixed form of government, in which no money could be raised, nor laws
made, or repealed, but with their consent. Spain is now under absolute
government, occasioned by the timidity of the Castilians, who finally
gave up the cause of liberty on a defeat in war, between them and
Charles V. which lasted only two years (the Dutch fought for
liberty 70 years). Charles told the cortes, he wanted them to grant him
supplies first, and then he would pass their bills. The wretched
Castilians gave up the point, and voted their tyrant, whom they ought to
have destroyed, almost half a million sterling. Such is the inertia of
a MOD. UNIV. HIST. XIX. 480, 482, 484, 486.
aa MOD. UNIV. HIST. XLIII. 365.
The cortes of Portugal have long since sold to the crown their
part in the legislature. Their government, which was once free and
parliamentary, is now unmixed despotism, and their cortes like the parliaments
of Franceb. The ceremony of giving Don Alonzo I. of
Portugal the kingdom, by the public approbation of the people, A. D.
1140, exhibited a glorious spirit in both king and people c.
b Ibid. 389.
c Ibid. XXII. 25.
The Helvetic confederacy is the most considerable republican or
parliamentary government, after the Venetian d. The Swiss
cantons are not, properly speaking, a republic, but an union of several
republics. But they have a common assembly, in which all matters interesting to
the whole community are debated; whatever is there determined by the majority,
binds the whole; they all agree in making peace, and declaring war; and the
laws and customs, which prevail throughout the Swiss cantons, are
(excepting the difference in religion between the protestant and popish
provinces) nearly the same e. There are, indeed, some differences
both in constitution and administration. But so are there differences between
the three kingdoms, and the numerous colonies, which compose the British
dominion; nay there are differences between the customs in the several
counties of England. All this shews, contrary to a common prejudice,
that the largest dominions, as well as the smallest, may be administred in the
republican form with as much success as in the monarchical. The Roman
republic took in a much greater extent of dominion than many modern kingdoms
put together; and was, with all its imperfections, as well administered, to say
the least, as most monarchies have been. But this is matter of speculation
dSimleri, HELV. DESCR. p. 25.
e Ibid. 27.
The diet of Poland is constitutionally composed of king, senate,
bishops, and deputies of the landholders of every palatinate. Every owner of
three acres of land has a vote for a member. And the majority carries every
point. But in the general diet, unanimity is necessary. Every palatinate
(without regard to the towns in it) sends three members. The indigent gentry
are always directed by some person of superior fortune, influence, or ability.
The diet of Poland consists of an upper and lower house. The upper house
contains the senate, the superior clergy, and the great officers; the lower the
representatives of the palatinates a. An edict by king
Jagellon, who reigned in the 16th century, found contrary to his
coronation oath, was hewn in pieces before his face by the Polish sabres
b. The Polish nobility will not give up the privilege of
electing their kings, though they always elect the hereditary successor
c. By this they impress their kings with the idea of obligation to
their subjects; and at the same time, the heir to the crown is properly
a MOD. UNIV. HIST. XXXIV. 10.
b Ibid. 523.
cStanisl. Krzistanowic, POLON. DESCR. p. 27.
When liberty began to dawn (says Voltaire) a about
A. D. 1300, the states general of France, the parliament of
England, the states of Arragon and Hungary, and the diets
of the German empire were all nearly on the same foot, as to the
privileges and consequence of the third estate. [We have seen some difference
arise since the above period. Let Britain take care, lest she come into
the condition, into which those states are fallen.]
a ESS. SUR. l'HIST. 11. 189.
France (says the same author) b was once governed as
England is now. The kings assembled the states. In the year 1355, they
made their king John sign a charter much like the Magna Charta of
b Ibid. 128.
There was scarce an absolute prince in Europe, about the 13th
century. But the nobles were tyrants, and the feudal tenures universal
c. In short, to use the words of the great Alg. Sidney
d, 'In Germany, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Poland,
Hungary, Bohemia, Scotland, England, and generally all the nations, that
have lived under the gothic polity, this supreme power has been in their
general assemblies under the name of diets, cortes, senates, parliaments,
c MOD. UNIV. HIST. XLIII. 521.
d ON GOV. p. 378.