Front Page Titles (by Subject) PART II: In which are explained the different forms of government, the ways of acquiring or losing sovereignty, and the reciprocal duties of sovereigns and subjects. - The Principles of Natural and Politic Law
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PART II: In which are explained the different forms of government, the ways of acquiring or losing sovereignty, and the reciprocal duties of sovereigns and subjects. - Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui, The Principles of Natural and Politic Law 
The Principles of Natural and Politic Law, trans. Thomas Nugent, ed. and with an Introduction by Peter Korkman (Indianpolis: Liberty Fund, 2006).
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In which are explained the different forms of government, the ways of acquiring or losing sovereignty, and the reciprocal duties of sovereigns and subjects.
Of the various forms of government.
I. Nations have been sensible, that it was essential to their happiness and safety, to establish some form of government. They have all agreed in this point, that it was necessary to institute a supreme power, to whose will every thing should be ultimately submitted.
II. But, the more the establishment of a supreme power is necessary, the more important is the choice<70> of the person invested with that high dignity. Hence it is that, in regard to this article, nations are extremely divided, having entrusted the supreme power in different hands, according as they judged it most conducive to their safety and happiness; neither have they taken this step without making several systems and restrictions, which may vary greatly. This is the origin of the different forms of government.
III. There are therefore various forms of government, according to the different subjects in whom the sovereignty immediately resides, and according as it is inherent either in a single person, or in a single assembly, more or less compounded; and this is what forms the constitution of the state.
IV. These different forms of government may be reduced to two general classes, namely, to the simple forms, or to those which are compounded or mixed.1
V. There are three simple forms of government; Democracy, Aristocracy, and Monarchy.
VI. Some nations, more diffident than others, have placed the sovereign power in the multitude itself, that is to say, in the heads of families assembled and met in council, and such governments are called Popular or Democratic.
VII. Other nations of a bolder turn, passing to the opposite extreme, have established Monarchy,<71> or the government of a single man. Thus Monarchy is a state in which the supreme power, and all the rights essential to it, reside in a single person, who is called King, Monarch, or Emperor.
VIII. Others have kept a due medium between those two extremes, and lodged the whole sovereign authority in a council composed of select members, and this is termed an Aristocracy, or the government of the Nobles.
IX. Lastly, other nations have been persuaded, that it was necessary, by a mixture of the simple forms, to establish a compound government, and, making a division2 of the sovereignty, to entrust the different parts of it into different hands; to temper, for example, Monarchy with Aristocracy; and at the same time to give the people a share in the sovereignty: this may be executed different ways.
X. In order to have a more particular knowledge of the nature of these different forms of government, we must observe, that as in Democracies the sovereign is a moral person, formed by the reunion of all the heads of families into a single will, there are three things absolutely necessary for the constitution of this form of government.
1°. That there be a certain place, and regulated times for deliberating in common on the public affairs; the members of the sovereign council might assemble at different times, or places, whence factions<72> would arise, which would interrupt the union essential to the state.
2°. It must be established for a rule, that the plurality of suffrages shall pass for the will of the whole; otherwise no affair could be determined, it being impossible that a great number of people should be always of the same opinion. We must therefore esteem it the essential quality of a moral body, that the resolution of the majority shall pass for the will of the whole.
3°. Lastly, it is essential that magistrates should be appointed to convene the people in extraordinary cases, to dispatch ordinary affairs, in their name, and to see that the decrees of the assembly be executed; for since the sovereign council cannot always sit, it is evident that it cannot take the direction of every thing itself.
XI. With regard to Aristocracies, since the sovereignty resides in a council or senate, composed of the principal men of the nation, it is absolutely necessary that the conditions essential to the constitution of a Democracy, and which we have above mentioned, should also concur to establish an Aristocracy.
XII. Further, Aristocracy may be of two kinds, either by birth and hereditary, or elective. The Aristocracy by birth, and hereditary, is that which is confined to a certain number of families, to which birth alone gives right, and which passes from parents to their children, without any choice, and to the<73> exclusion of all others. On the contrary, the elective Aristocracy is that in which a person arrives at the government by election only, and without receiving any right from birth.
XIII. In a word, it may be equally observed of Aristocracies and Democracies, that, whether in a popular state, or in a government of the nobles, every citizen, or every member of the supreme council, has not the supreme power, nor even a part of it; but this power resides either in the general assembly of the people, convened according to the laws, or in the council of the nobles; for it is one thing to have a share in the sovereignty, and another to have the right of suffrage in an assembly invested with the sovereign power.
XIV. As to Monarchy, it is established when the whole body of the people confer the sovereign power on a single person, which is done by an agreement betwixt the king and his subjects, as we have before explained.
XV. There is therefore this essential difference between Monarchy and the two other forms of government, that, in Democracies and Aristocracies, the actual exercise of the sovereign authority depends on the concurrence of certain circumstances of time and place; whereas in a Monarchy, at least when it is simple and absolute, the prince can give his orders at all times, and in all places: It is Rome wherever the Emperor resides.3 <74>
XVI. Another remark, which very naturally occurs on this occasion, is, that in a Monarchy, when the king orders any thing contrary to justice and equity, he is certainly to blame, because in him the civil and natural wills are the same thing. But when the assembly of the people, or a senate, form an unjust resolution, only those citizens or senators, who carried the point, render themselves really accountable, and not those who were of the opposite sentiment.4 Let this suffice for the simple forms of government.
XVII. As to mixed or compound governments, they are established, as we have observed, by the concurrence of the three simple forms, or only of two; when, for example, the king, the nobles, and the people, or only the two latter, share the different parts of the sovereignty between them, so that one administers some parts of it, and the others the remainder. This mixture may be made various ways, as we observe in most republics.
XVIII. It is true, to consider sovereignty in itself, and in the height of plenitude and perfection, all the rights, which it includes, ought to belong to a single person, or to one body, without any partition; so that there be but one supreme will to govern the subject. There cannot, properly speaking, be several sovereigns in a state, who shall act as they please, independently of each other. This is morally impossible, and besides would manifestly tend to the ruin and destruction of society.<75>
XIX. But this union of the supreme power does not hinder the whole body of the nation, in whom this power originally resides, from regulating the government by a fundamental law, in such a manner as to commit the exercise of the different parts of the supreme power to different persons or bodies, who may act independently of each other, in regard to the rights committed to them, but still subordinate to the laws from which those rights are derived.
XX. And provided the fundamental laws, which establish this species of partition in the sovereignty, regulate the respective limits of the different branches of the legislature, so that we may easily see the extent of their jurisdiction; this partition produces neither a plurality of sovereigns, nor an opposition between them, nor any irregularity in the government.5
XXI. In a word, in this case there is, properly speaking, but one sovereign, who in himself is possessed of the fulness of power. There is but one supreme will. This sovereign is the body of the people, formed by the union of all the orders of the state; and this supreme will is the very law, by which the whole body of the nation makes its resolutions known.
XXII. They, who thus share the sovereignty among them, are properly no more than the executors of the law, since it is from the law itself that they hold their power. And as these fundamental<76> laws are real covenants, or what the civilians call pacta conventa, between the different orders of the republic,* by which they mutually stipulate, that each shall have such a particular part of the sovereignty, and that this shall establish the form of government, it is evident that, by these means, each of the contracting parties acquires a right not only of exercising the power granted to it, but also of preserving that original right.
XXIII. Such party cannot even be divested of its right in spite of itself, and by the will of the rest, so long at least as it conducts itself in a manner conformable to the laws, and not manifestly opposite to the public welfare.6
XXIV. In a word, the constitution of those governments can be changed only in the same manner, and by the same methods, by which it was established, that is to say, by the unanimous concurrence of all the contracting parties who have fixed the form of government by the original contract.
XXV. This constitution of the state by no means destroys the union of a moral body composed of several persons, or of several bodies, really distinct in themselves, but joined by a fundamental law in a mutual engagement.7
XXVI. From what has been said on the nature of mixed or compound governments it follows, that in all such states, the sovereignty is limited; for as<77> the different branches are not committed to a single person, but lodged in different hands, the power of those, who have a share in the government, is thereby restrained; and as they are thus a check to each other, this produces such a balance of authority, as secures the public weal, and the liberty of individuals.
XXVII. But with respect to simple governments; in these the sovereignty may be either absolute or limited. Those who are possessed of the sovereignty, exercise it sometimes in an absolute, and sometimes in a limited manner, by fundamental laws, which prescribe bounds to the sovereign, with regard to the manner in which he ought to govern.
XXVIII. On this occasion it is expedient to observe, that all the accidental circumstances, which can modify simple Monarchies or Aristocracies, and which, in some measure, may be said to limit sovereignty, do not, for that reason, change the form of government, which still continues the same. One government may partake somewhat of another, when the manner, in which the sovereign governs, seems to be borrowed from the form of the latter; but it does not, for that reason, change its nature.
XXIX. For example, in a Democratic state, the people may entrust the care of several affairs either to a principal member, or to a senate. In an Aristocracy, there may be a chief magistrate invested with a particular authority, or an assembly of the people to be consulted on some occasions. Or lastly, in a Mo-<78>narchic state, important affairs may be laid before a senate, &c. But these accidental circumstances do by no means change the form of the government; neither is there a partition of the sovereignty on this account; the state still continues purely either Democratic, Aristocratic, or Monarchic.
XXX. In a word, there is a wide difference between exercising a proper power, and acting by a foreign and precarious authority, which may every minute be taken away by him who conferred it. Thus what constitutes the characteristic of mixed or compound commonwealths, and distinguishes them from simple governments, is, that the different orders of the state, who have a share in the sovereignty, possess the rights which they exercise by an equal title, that is to say, in virtue of the fundamental law, and not under the title of commission, as if the one was only the minister or executor of the other’s will. We must therefore be sure to distinguish between the form of government, and the manner of governing.
XXXI. These are the principal observations with respect to the various forms of government. Puffendorf explains himself in a somewhat dif ferent manner, and calls those governments irregular, which we have stiled mixed; and he gives the name of regular to the simple governments.*
XXXII. But this regularity is only in idea; the true rule of practice ought to be that which is most conformable to the end of civil society, supposing<79> men to be in their usual state, and taking the general course of things into the account, according to the experience of all countries and ages. Now on this footing, the states, in which the whole depends on a single will, are so far from being8 happy, that it is certain their subjects have the most frequent reason to lament the loss of their natural independency.
XXXIII. Besides, it is with the body politic, as with the human body; there is a difference between a sound and a cachectic state.
XXXIV. These disorders arise either from the abuse of the sovereign power, or from the bad constitution of the state; and the causes thereof are to be sought for either in the defects of the governors, or in those of the government itself.
XXXV. In Monarchies, the defects of the person are, when the king has not the qualifications necessary for reigning, when he has little or no attachment to the public good, and when he delivers his subjects up as a prey, either to the avarice or ambition of his ministers, &c.
XXXVI. With regard to Aristocracies, the defects of the persons are, when, by intrigue and other sinister methods, they introduce into the council, either wicked men, or such as are incapable of business, while persons of merit are excluded; when factions and cabals are formed; and when the nobles treat the populace as slaves, &c.<80>
XXXVII. In fine, we sometimes see also in Democracies, that their assemblies are disturbed with intestine broils, and merit is oppressed by envy, &c.
XXXVIII. In regard to the defects of government, they are of various kinds. For example, if the laws of the state be not conformable to the natural genius of the people,9 tending to engage in a war a nation, that is not naturally warlike, but inclined to the peaceful arts; or if not, they should be agreeable to the situation and the natural products of the country; thus it is bad conduct, not to promote commerce and manufactures, in a province well situated for that purpose, and abounding with the materials of trade. It is also a defect of government, if the constitution of the state renders the dispatch of affairs very slow or difficult, as in Poland, where the opposition of a single member dissolves the diet.
XXXIX. It is customary to give particular names to these defects in government. Thus the corruption of Monarchy is called Tyranny. Oligarchy is the abuse of Aristocracy; and the abuse of Democracy is called Ochlocracy. But it often happens that these words denote less a defect or disorder in the state, than some particular passion or disgust in those who use them.
XL. To conclude this chapter, we have only to take some notice of those compound forms of government10 which are formed by the union of several particular states. These may be defined an assem-<81>blage of perfect governments strictly united by some particular bond, so that they seem to make but a single body with respect to the affairs which interest them in common, though each preserves its sovereignty full and entire, independently of the others.
XLI. This assemblage is formed either by the union of two or more distinct states, under one and the same king; as for instance, England, Scotland, and Ireland, before the union lately made between England and Scotland; or when several independent states agree among themselves to form but a single body: such are the united provinces of the Netherlands, and the Swiss cantons.
XLII. The first kind of union may happen, either by marriage, or by succession, or when a people chuse for their king the sovereign of another country; so that those different states come to be united under a prince who governs each in particular by its fundamental laws.
XLIII. As to the compound governments, formed by the perpetual confederacy of several states, it is to be observed, that this is the only method by which several small governments, too weak to maintain themselves separately against their enemies, are enabled to preserve their liberties.11
XLIV. These confederate states engage to each other only to exercise, with common consent, certain parts of the sovereignty, especially those which relate to their mutual defence against foreign enemies.<82> But each of the confederates retains an entire liberty of exercising, as it thinks proper, those parts of the sovereignty, which are not mentioned in the treaty of union, as parts that ought to be exercised in common.
XLV. Lastly, it is absolutely necessary, in confederate states, to ascertain a time and place for assembling when occasion requires, and to invest some member with a power of convening the assembly for extraordinary affairs, and such as will not admit of delay. Or they may establish a perpetual assembly, composed of the deputies of each state, for dispatching common affairs according to the orders of their superiors.
An essay on this question, Which is the best form of government?
I. It is certainly one of the most important questions in politics, and has most exercised the men of genius, to determine the best form of government.
II. Every form of government has its advantages and inconveniencies inseparable from it. It would be in vain to seek for a government absolutely perfect; and however perfect it might appear in speculation, yet it is certain, that in practice, and under the ad-<83>ministration of men, it will ever be attended with some particular defects.
III. But though we cannot arrive at the summit of perfection in this respect, it is nevertheless certain, that there are different degrees, which prudence must determine. That government ought to be accounted the most complete, which best answers the end of its institution, and is attended with fewest inconveniencies. Be this as it may, the examination of this question furnishes very useful instructions both to subjects and sovereigns.
IV. Disputes on this subject are of a very ancient date; and there is nothing more interesting upon the topic, than what we read in the father of history, Herodotus, who relates what passed in the council of the seven chiefs of Persia, when the government was to be re-established after the death of Cambyses, and the punishment of the Magus, who had usurped the throne under the pretext of being Smerdis the son of Cyrus.1
V. Otanes was of opinion, that Persia should be formed into a republic, and spoke nearly in the following strain. “I am not of opinion that we should lodge the government in the hands of a single person. You know to what excess Cambyses proceeded, and to what degree of insolence the Magus arrived: how can the state be well governed in a monarchy, where a single person is permitted to act according to his pleasure?<84> An authority uncontrolled corrupts the most virtuous man, and defeats his best qualities. Envy and insolence flow from riches and prosperity; and all other vices are derived from those two sources.2 Kings hate virtuous men who oppose their unjust designs, but caress the wicked who favour them. A single person cannot see every thing with his own eyes; he often lends a favourable ear to false accusations; he subverts the laws and customs of the country; he attacks the chastity of women, and wantonly puts the innocent to death. When the people have the government in their own hands, the equality among the members prevents all those evils. The magistrates are, in this case, chosen by lot; they render an account of their administration, and they form all their resolutions in common with the people. I am therefore of opinion, that we ought to reject Monarchy and introduce a popular government, because we rather find these advantages in a multitude, than in a single person.” Such was the harangue of Otanes.
VI. But Megabyses spoke in favour of Aristocracy. “I approve (said he) of the opinion of Otanes with respect to exterminating Monarchy, but I believe he is wrong in endeavouring to persuade us to trust the government to the discretion of the people;3 for surely nothing can be imagined more stupid and insolent than the giddy multitude. Why should we reject the power of a single man, to deliver up ourselves to the tyranny of a blind and disorderly populace? If a king sets about<85> an enterprize, he is at least capable of listening to advice; but the people are a blind monster, devoid of reason and capacity. They are strangers to decency, virtue, and their own interests. They do every thing precipitately, without judgment, and without order, resembling a rapid torrent, which cannot be stemmed. If therefore you desire the ruin of the Persians, establish a popular government. As to myself, I am of opinion, that we should make choice of virtuous men, and lodge the government in their hands.” Such was the sentiment of Megabyses.
VII. After him, Darius spoke in the following terms. “I am of opinion, that there is a great deal of good sense in the speech which Megabyses has made against a popular state; but I also think, that he is not entirely in the right, when he prefers the government of a small number to Monarchy. It is certain, that nothing can be imagined better, or more perfect, than the administration of a virtuous man. Besides, when a single man is master, it is more difficult for the enemy to discover his secret counsels and resolutions. When the government is in the hands of many, it is impossible but enmity and hatred must arise among them; for as every one desires his opinion to be followed, they gradually become mutual enemies. Emulation and jealousy divide them, and then their aversions run to excess. From hence arise seditions; from seditions, murders; and from murders, a monarch insensibly becomes necessary. Thus the government at length is sure to fall<86> into the hands of a single person. In a popular state, there must needs be a great store of malice and corruption. It is true, equality does not generate hatred; but it foments friendship among the wicked, who support each other, till some person or other, who by his behaviour has acquired an authority over the multitude, discovers the frauds, and exposes the perfidy of those villains. Such a man shews himself really a monarch; and hence we know that Monarchy is the most natural government, since the seditions of Aristocracy, and the corruption of Democracy, are equal inducements for our uniting the supreme power in the hands of a single person.”
The opinion of Darius was approved, and the government of Persia continued monarchic. We thought this passage of history sufficiently interesting to be related on this occasion.
VIII. To determine this question, we must trace matters to their very source. Liberty, under which we must comprehend all the most valuable enjoyments,4 has two enemies in civil society. The first is licentiousness, and confusion; and the second is oppression arising from tyranny.
IX. The first of those evils arises from liberty itself, when it is not kept within due bounds.
The second is owing to the remedy which mankind have contrived against the former evil, that is, to sovereignty.<87>
X. The height of human felicity and prudence is to know how to guard against those two enemies: the only method is to have a well-constituted government,5 formed with such precautions, as to banish licentiousness, and yet be no way introductive to tyranny.
XI. It is this happy temperament that alone can give us the idea of a good government. It is evident, that the political constitution which avoids those extremes, is so justly adapted for the preservation of order,6 and for providing against the necessities of the people, that it leaves them a sufficient security, that this end shall be perpetually held in view.
XII. But here we shall be asked, Which government is it that approaches nearest to this perfection? Before we answer this question, it is proper to observe, that it is very different from our being asked, Which is the most legitimate government?
XIII. As for the latter question, it is certain, that governments of every kind, which are founded on the free acquiescence of the people, whether express or justified by a long and peaceable possession, are all equally legitimate, so long at least as, by the intention of the sovereign, they tend to promote the happiness of the people: thus no other cause can subvert a government, but an open and actual violence, either in its establishment, or in its exercise; I mean usurpation, or tyranny.<88>
XIV. To return to the principal question, I affirm, that the best government is neither absolute Monarchy, nor that which is entirely popular: the former is too violent,7 encroaches on liberty, and inclines too much to tyranny; the latter is too weak, leaves the people too much to themselves, and tends to confusion and licentiousness.
XV. It were to be wished, for the glory of sovereigns and for the happiness of the people, that we could contest the fact above asserted with respect to absolute governments. We may venture to affirm, that nothing can be compared to an absolute government, in the hands of a wise and virtuous prince. Order, diligence, secrecy,8 expedition, the greatest enterprizes, and the most happy execution, are the certain effects of it. Dignities, honours, rewards and punishments, are all dispensed under it with justice and discernment. So glorious a reign is the era of the golden age.
XVI. But to govern in this manner, a superior genius, perfect virtue, great experience, and uninterrupted application, are necessary. Man, in so high an elevation, is rarely capable of so many accomplishments. The multitude of objects diverts his attention, pride seduces him, pleasure tempts him, and flattery, the bane of the great, does him more injury than all the rest. It is difficult to escape so many snares; and it generally happens, that an absolute prince becomes an easy prey to his passions, and consequently renders his subjects miserable.<89>
XVII. Hence proceeds the disgust of people to absolute governments, and this disgust sometimes is worked up to aversion and hatred. This has also given occasion to politicians to make two important reflections.
The first is, that, in an absolute government, it is rare to see the people interest themselves in its preservation. Oppressed with their burdens, they long for a revolution, which cannot render their situation more uncomfortable.
The second is, that it is the interest of princes to engage the people in the support of their government, and to give them a share therein, by privileges tending to secure their liberty. This is the best expedient to promote the safety of princes at home, together with their power abroad, and their glory in every respect.
XVIII. It has been said of the Romans, that, so long as they fought for their own interests, they were invincible; but, as soon as they became slaves under absolute masters, their courage failed, and they asked for no more than bread and public diversions, panem & circenses.
XIX. On the contrary, in states where the people have some share in the government, every individual interests himself in the public good, because each, according to his quality or merit, partakes of the general success, or feels the loss sustained by the state. This is what renders men active and generous, what inspires them with an ardent love of their country, and with an invincible courage, so as to be proof against the greatest misfortunes.<90>
XX. When Hannibal had gained four victories over the Romans, and killed more than two hundred thousand of that nation, when, much about the same time, the two brave Scipios perished in Spain, not to mention several considerable losses at sea, and in Sicily, who could have thought that Rome could have withstood her enemies? Yet the virtue of her citizens, the love they bore their country, and the interest they had in the government, augmented the strength of that republic in the midst of her calamities, and at last she surmounted every difficulty. Among the Lacedaemonians and Athenians we find several examples to the same point.
XXI. These advantages are not found in absolute governments. We may justly affirm, that it is an essential defect in them not to interest the people in their preservation, that they are too violent,9 tending too much to oppression, and very little to the good of the subject.
XXII. Such are absolute governments: those of the popular kind are no better, and we may say they have no advantage but liberty, and their leaving the people at their option to choose a better.
XXIII. Absolute governments have at least two advantages: the first is, that they have happy intervals when in the hands of good princes: the second is, that they have a greater degree of force, activity, and expedition.
XXIV. But a popular government has none of those<91> advantages; formed by the multitude, it bears a strong resemblance to that many-headed monster. The multitude is a mixture of all kinds of people; it contains a few men of parts, some of whom may have honest intentions; but far the greater number cannot be depended on, as they have nothing to lose, and consequently can hardly be trusted. Besides, a multitude always acts with slowness and confusion. Secrecy and precaution are advantages unknown to them.
XXV. Liberty is not wanting in popular states; nay, they have rather too much of it, since it degenerates into licentiousness. Hence it is that they are ever tottering and weak. Intestine commotions, or foreign attacks, often throw them into consternation: it is their ordinary fate to fall a prey to the ambition of their fellow-citizens, or to foreign usurpation, and thus to pass from the highest liberty to the lowest slavery.
XXVI. This is proved by the experience of different nations. Even at present, Poland is a striking example of the defects of popular government, from the anarchy and disorder which reigns in that republic. It is the sport of its own inhabitants and of foreign nations, and is frequently the seat of intestine war; because, under the appearance of Monarchy, it is indeed too popular a government.10
XXVII. We need only read the histories of Florence and Genoa, to behold a lively exhibition of the misfortunes which republics suffer from the mul-<92>titude, when the latter attempt to govern. The ancient republics, especially Athens, the most considerable in Greece, are capable of setting this truth in a stronger light.
XXVIII. In a word, Rome perished in the hands of the people; and monarchy gave birth to it. The patricians, who composed the senate, by freeing it from the regal dignity, had rendered it mistress of Italy. The people, by the encroachment of the tribunes, gradually usurped the authority of the senate. From that time discipline was relaxed, and gave place to licentiousness. At length the republic was reduced, by the people themselves, to the most abject slavery.
XXIX. It is not therefore to be doubted, but popular governments are the weakest and worst of all others. If we consider the education of the vulgar, their laborious employments, their ignorance and brutality, we must quickly perceive, that they are made to be governed; and that good order, and their own advantage, forbid them to interfere with that province.11
XXX. If therefore neither the government of the multitude, nor the absolute will of a single person, are fit to procure the happiness of a nation,12 it follows, that the best governments are those which are so tempered, as to secure the happiness of the subjects, by avoiding tyranny and licentiousness.
XXXI. There are two ways of finding this temperament.<93>
The first consists in lodging the sovereignty in a council so composed, both as to the number and choice of persons, that there shall be a moral certainty of their having no other interests than those of the community, and of their being always ready to give a faithful account of their conduct. This is what we see happily practised in most republics.
XXXII. The second is, to limit the sovereignty of the prince in monarchic states, by fundamental laws, or to invest the person, who enjoys the honours and title of sovereignty, with only a part of the supreme authority, and to lodge the other in different hands, for example, in a council or parliament. This is what gives birth to limited monarchies.*
XXXIII. With regard to Monarchies, it is proper, for example, that the military and legislative powers, together with that of raising taxes, should be lodged in different hands, to the end that they may not be easily abused. It is easy to conceive, that these restrictions may be made different ways. The general rule, which prudence directs, is to limit the power of the prince, so that no danger may be apprehended from it; but at the same time not to carry things to excess, for fear of weakening the government.
XXXIV. By following this just medium, the people will enjoy the most perfect liberty, since they have all the moral securities that the prince will not abuse his power. The prince, on the other hand,<94> being, as it were, under a necessity of doing his duty, considerably strengthens his authority, and enjoys a high degree of happiness and solid glory; for as the felicity of the people is the end of government, it is also the surest foundation of the throne. See what has been already said on this subject.
XXXV. This species of Monarchy, limited by a mixed government, unites the principal advantages of absolute Monarchy, and of the Aristocratic and popular governments; at the same time it avoids the dangers and inconveniencies peculiar to each. This is the happy temperament which we have been endeavouring to find.
XXXVI. The truth of this remark has been proved by the experience of past ages. Such was the government of Sparta: Lycurgus, knowing that each of the three sorts of simple governments had very great inconveniencies; that Monarchy easily fell into arbitrary power and tyranny; that Aristocracy degenerated into the oppressive government of a few individuals, and Democracy into a wild and lawless dominion, thought it expedient to combine those three governments in that of Sparta, and mix them, as it were, into one, so that they might serve as a remedy and counterpoise to each other. This wise legislator was not deceived, and no republic preserved its laws, customs, and liberty, longer than that of Sparta.
XXXVII. It may be said, that the government of the Romans, under the republic, united in some mea-<95>sure, as that of Sparta, the three species of authority. The consuls held the place of kings, the senate formed the public council, and the people had also some share in the administration.
XXXVIII. If modern examples are wanted, is not England at present a proof of the excellency of mixed governments?13 Is there a nation, every thing considered, that enjoys a higher degree of prosperity or reputation?
XXXIX. The northern nations, which subverted the Roman empire, introduced into the conquered provinces that species of government, which was then called Gothic. They had kings, lords, and commons; and experience shews, that the states, which have retained that species of government, have flourished more than those which have devolved the whole government into the hands of a single person.
XL. As to Aristocratic governments, we must first distinguish Aristocracy by birth, from that which is elective. The former has several advantages, but is also attended with very great inconveniencies. It inspires the nobility with pride, and entertains, between the grandees and the people, division, contempt, and jealousy, which are productive of considerable evils.
XLI. But the latter has all the advantages of the former, without its defects. As there is no privilege of exclusion, and as the door to preferment is open to all the citizens, we find neither pride nor di-<96>vision among them. On the contrary, a general emulation glows in the breasts of all the members, converting every thing to the public good, and contributing infinitely to the preservation of liberty.
XLII. Thus if we suppose an elective Aristocracy, in which the sovereignty is in the hands of a council so numerous, as to comprehend the chief property14 of the republic, and never to have any interest opposite to that of the state. If besides, this council be so small, as to maintain order, harmony and secrecy; if it be chosen from among the wisest, and most virtuous citizens; and lastly, if its authority be limited and kept within rule,15 there can be no doubt but such a government is very well adapted to promote the happiness of a nation.
XLIII. The most difficult point in these governments, is to temper them in such a manner, that, while the people are assured of their liberty, by giving them some share in the government, these assurances shall not be carried too far, so as to make the government approach too near to Democracy: for the preceding reflections sufficiently evince the inconveniencies which would result from this step.
XLIV. Let us therefore conclude, from this inquiry into the different forms of government, that the best are either a limited Monarchy, or an Aristocracy tempered with Democracy, by some privileges in favour of the body of the people.
XLV. It is true, there are always some deductions<97> to be made from the advantages which we have ascribed to those governments; but this is owing to the infirmity of human nature, and not to the establishments. The constitution above described is the most perfect that can be imagined, and if we adulterate it by our vices and follies, this is the fate of all sublunary affairs; and since a choice must be made, the best is that attended with the fewest inconveniencies.
XLVI. In a word, should it still be asked, which government is best? I would answer, that every species of government is not equally proper for every nation, and that, in this point, we must have a regard to the humour and character of the people, and to the extent of the country.
XLVII. Great states can hardly admit of republican governments; hence a monarchy, wisely limited, suits them better. But as to states, of an ordinary extent, the most advantageous government for them, is an elective aristocracy, tempered with some privileges in favour of the body of the people.
Of the different ways of acquiring sovereignty.
I. The only just foundation of all acquisition of sovereignty, is the consent, or will of the people.* But as this consent may be given different<98> ways, according to the different circumstances attending it; hence we distinguish the several ways of acquiring sovereignty.1
II. Sometimes a people are constrained, by force of arms, to submit to the dominion of a conqueror; at other times, the people, of their own accord, confer the supreme authority on some particular person. Sovereignty may therefore be acquired either by force and violence, or in a free and voluntary manner.
III. These different acquisitions of sovereignty may agree in some measure to all sorts of governments; but as they are most remarkable in monarchies, it shall be principally with respect to the latter, that we shall examine this question.
IV. Sovereignty is sometimes acquired by force, or rather is seized by conquest or usurpation.
V. Conquest is the acquisition of sovereignty, by the superiority of a foreign prince’s arms, who reduces the vanquished to submit to his government. Usurpation is properly made by a person naturally submitted to him from whom he wrests the supreme power; but custom often confounds these two terms.2
VI. There are several remarks to be made on conquest, considered as a method of acquiring the sovereignty.<99>
1°. Conquest, in itself, is rather the occasion of acquiring the sovereignty, than the immediate cause of this acquisition. The immediate cause is the consent of the people, either tacit or expressed. Without this consent the state of war always subsists between two enemies, and one is not obliged to obey the other. All that can be said is, that the consent of the vanquished is extorted by the superiority of the conqueror.
VII. 2°. Lawful conquest supposes, that the conqueror has had just reason to wage war against the vanquished. Without this, conquest is by no means, of itself, a just title; for a man cannot acquire a sovereignty over a nation, by bare seizure, as over a thing which belongs to no proprietor. Thus when Alexander waged war against distant nations, who had never heard of his name, certainly such a conquest was no more a lawful title to the sovereignty over those people, than robbery is a lawful manner of becoming rich. The quality and number of the persons do not change the nature of the action, the injury is the same, and the crime equal.
VIII. But if the war be just, the conquest is also the same: for, in the first place, it is a natural consequence of the victory; and the vanquished, who deliver themselves to the conqueror, only purchase their lives by the loss of their liberties. Besides, the vanquished having, through their own fault, engaged in an unjust war, rather than grant the satisfaction they owed, are supposed to have tacitly consented to the conditions which the con-<100>queror should impose on them, provided they were neither unjust nor inhuman.
IX. 3°. But what must we think of unjust conquests, and of submission extorted by mere violence? Can it give a lawful right? I answer, we should distinguish whether the usurper has changed the government from a republic into a monarchy, or dispossessed the lawful monarch. In the latter case, he is obliged to restore the crown to the right owner, or to his heirs, till it can be presumed that they have renounced their pretension; and this is always presumed, when a considerable time is elapsed without their being willing or able to make any effort to recover the crown.3
X. The law of nations therefore admits of a kind of prescription with respect to sovereignty. This is requisite for the interest and tranquillity of societies; a long and quiet possession of the supreme power, must establish the legality of it, otherwise there would never be an end of disputes in regard to kingdoms and their limits; this would be a source of perpetual quarrels, and there would hardly be any such thing as a sovereign lawfully possessed of the supreme authority.
XI. It is, indeed, the duty of the people, in the beginning, to resist the usurper with all their might, and to continue faithful to their prince; but if, in spite of their utmost efforts, their sovereign is defeated, and is no longer able to assert his right,<101> they are obliged to no more, but may lawfully take care of their own preservation.
XII. The people cannot live in a state of anarchy, and as they are not obliged to expose themselves to perpetual wars, in defence of the rights of their former sovereign, their consent may render the right of the usurper lawful;4 and in this case the sovereign dethroned ought to rest contented with the loss of his dominions, and consider it as a misfortune.
XIII. With regard to the former case, when the usurper has changed the republic into a monarchy; if he governs with moderation and equity, it is sufficient that he has reigned peaceably for some time, to afford reason to believe, that the people consent to his dominion, and to efface what was defective in the manner of his acquiring it. This may be very well applied to the reign of Augustus. But if, on the contrary, the prince, who has made himself master of the republic, exercises his power in a tyrannical manner, and oppresses his subjects, they are not then obliged to obey him. In these circumstances the longest possession imports no more than a long continuation of injustice.
Of the election of sovereigns.
XIV. But the most legitimate way of acquiring sovereignty, is founded on the free consent of the people. This is effected either by the way of election, or by the right of succession; for which reason kingdoms are distinguished into elective and hereditary.5 <102>
XV. Election is that act, by which the people design or nominate a certain person, whom they judge capable of succeeding the deceased king, to govern the state; and so soon as this person has accepted the offer of the people, he is invested with the sovereignty.
XVI. We may distinguish two sorts of elections, one entirely free, and the other limited in certain respects; the former when the people can chuse whom they think proper, and the latter when they are obliged, for example, to chuse a person of a certain nation, a particular family, religion, &c. Among the ancient Persians, no man could be king unless he had been instructed by the Magi.*
XVII. The time between the death of the king and the election of his successor, is called an Interregnum.
XVIII. During the Interregnum the state is, as it were, an imperfect body without a head; yet the civil society is not dissolved. The sovereignty then returns to the people, who, till they chuse a new king to exercise it, have it even in their power to change the form of government.6
XIX. But it is a wise precaution, to prevent the troubles of an Interregnum, to nominate beforehand those, who, during that time, are to hold the reins of government. Thus in Poland the archbishop of<103> Gnesna, with the deputies of great and little Poland, are appointed for that purpose.7
XX. The persons, invested with this employment, are called Regents of the kingdom; and the Romans stiled them Interreges. They are temporary, and, as it were, provisional magistrates, who, in the name, and by the authority of the people, exercise the acts of sovereignty, so that they are obliged to give an account of their administration. This may suffice for the way of election.
Of succession to the crown.
XXI. The other manner of acquiring sovereignty, is the right of succession, by which princes, who have once acquired the crown, transmit it to their successors.
XXII. It may seem at first that elective kingdoms have the advantage over those which are hereditary, because, in the former, the subjects may always chuse a prince of merit, and capable of governing. However, experience shews, that, taking all things into the account, the way of succession is more conducive to the welfare of the state.
XXIII. For, 1°. by this method we avoid the vast inconveniencies, both foreign and domestic, which arise from frequent elections. 2°. There is less contention and uncertainty, with respect to the title of the successor. 3°. A prince, whose crown is hereditary, all other circumstances being equal, will<104> take greater care of his kingdom, and spare his subjects more, in hopes to leave the crown to his children, than if he only possessed it for life. 4°. A kingdom, where the succession is regulated, has greater stability and force. It can form mightier projects, and pursue them more vigorously, than if it were elective. 5°. In a word, the person of the prince strikes the people with greater reverence, and they have reason to hope, that the splendor of his descent, and the impressions of his education, will inspire him with the necessary qualities for holding the reins of government.8
XXIV. The order of succession is regulated either by the will of the last king, or by that of the people.
XXV. In kingdoms, truly patrimonial, every king has a right to regulate the succession, and to dispose of the crown as he has a mind; provided the choice he makes of his successor, and the manner in which he settles the state, be not manifestly opposite to the public good, which, even in patrimonial kingdoms, is ever the supreme law.9
XXVI. But if the king, prevented perhaps by death, has not named his successor, it seems natural to follow the laws or customs established in that country, concerning private inheritances, so far at least as the safety of the state will admit.* But it is certain that, in those cases, the most approved and powerful candidate will always carry it.<105>
XXVII. In kingdoms, which are not patrimonial, the people regulate the order of succession: and although they may establish the succession as they please, yet prudence requires they should follow the method most advantageous to the state, best adapted to maintain order and peace, and most expedient to promote the public security.
XXVIII. The usual methods are, a succession, simply hereditary, which follows nearly the rules of common inheritances; and the lineal succession, which receives more particular limitations.10
XXIX. The good of the state therefore requires that a succession, simply hereditary, should vary in several things from private inheritances.
1°. The kingdom ought to remain indivisible, and not be shared among several heirs, in the same degree; for, in the first place, this would considerably weaken the state, and render it less proper to resist the attacks of a foreign enemy. Besides, the subjects, having different masters, would no longer be so closely united among themselves: and lastly, this might lay a foundation for intestine wars, as experience has too often evinced.11
XXX. 2°. The crown ought to remain in the posterity of the first possessor, and not to pass to his relations in a collateral line, and much less to those who have only connections of affinity with him. This is, no doubt, the intention of a people who<106> have rendered the crown hereditary in any one family. Thus, unless it is otherwise determined, in default of the descendants of the first possessor, the right of disposing of the kingdom returns to the nation.
XXXI. 3°. Those only ought to be admitted to the succession, who are born of a marriage conformable to the laws of the nation. For this there are several reasons. 1°. This was, no doubt, the intention of the people, when they settled the crown on the descendants of the king. 2°. The people have not the same respect for the king’s natural or base sons, as for his lawful children. 3°. The father of natural children is not known for certain, there being no sure method of ascertaining the father of a child born out of wedlock; and yet it is of the last importance that there should be no doubt about the birth of those who are to reign, in order to avoid the disputes which might embroil the kingdom. Hence it is, that, in several countries, the queen is delivered in public, or in the presence of several persons.
XXXII. 4°. Adopted children, not being of the royal blood, are also excluded from the crown, which ought to revert to the people so soon as the royal line fails.
XXXIII. 5°. Among those who are in the same degree, whether really or by representation, the males are to be preferred to the females, because they are presumed more proper for the command of armies,<107> and for exercising the other functions of government.
XXXIV. 6°. Among several males, or several females in the same degree, the eldest ought to succeed. It is birth which gives this right; for the crown being at the same time indivisible and hereditary, the eldest, in consequence of his birth, has a preference, of which the younger cannot deprive him. But it is just that the eldest should give his brothers a sufficiency to support themselves decently, and in a manner suitable to their rank. What is allotted them for this purpose is distinguished by the name of Appennage.
XXXV. 7°. Lastly, we must observe, that the crown does not pass to the successor in consequence of the pleasure of the deceased king, but by the will of the people, who have settled it on the royal family. Hence it follows, that the inheritance of the particular estate of the king, and that of the crown, are of a quite different nature, and have no connection with each other; so that, strictly speaking, the successor may accept of the crown, and refuse the private inheritance; and, in this case, he is not obliged to pay the debts due upon this particular estate.
XXXVI. But it is certain, that honour and equity hardly permit a prince, who ascends the throne, to use this right, and that, if he has the glory of his royal house at heart, he will, by oeconomy and frugality, be enabled to pay the debts of his predecessor. But this ought not to be done at the expence of the<108> public.12 These are the rules of succession simply hereditary.
XXXVII. But since in this hereditary succession, where the next heir to the deceased king is called to the crown, terrible disputes may happen concerning the degree of proximity, when those who remain are a little distant from the common stem; several nations have established the lineal succession from branch to branch, the rules of which are these following.
1°. All those descended from the royal founder are accounted so many lines or branches, each of which has a right to the crown according to the degree of its proximity.
2°. Among those of this line, who are in the same degree, in the first place sex, and then age, gives the preference.
3°. We must not pass from one line to another, so long as there remains one of the preceding, even though there should be another line of relations nearer to the deceased king. For example:<109>
A king leaves three sons, Lewis, Charles, and Henry. The son of Lewis, who succeeds him, dies without children; Charles leaves a grandson; Henry is still living, and is the uncle of the deceased king; the grand-child of Charles is only his cousin-german: and yet this grand-child will have the crown, as being transmitted to him by his grand-father, whose line has excluded Henry and his descendants, till it be quite extinct.
4°. Every one has therefore a right to succeed in his rank, and transmits this right to his descendants, with the same order of succession, though he has never reigned himself; that is to say, the right of the deceased passes to the living, and that of the living to the deceased.
5°. If the last king has died without issue, we make choice of the nearest line to his, and so on.13
XXXVIII. There are two principal kinds of lineal<110> succession, namely, Cognatic and Agnatic. These names come from the Latin words Cognati and Agnati, the former of which, in the Roman law, signifies the relations on the mother’s side, and the latter those on the father’s side.
XXXIX. The Cognatic lineal succession is that which does not exclude women from the succession, but only calls them after the males in the same line; so that, when only women remain, there is no transition made to another line, but the succession runs back to the female again, in case the males, who were superior or equal to them in other respects, shall happen to fail with all their descendants. This succession is also called Castilian. Hence it follows, that the daughter of the son of the last king, is preferred to the son of the daughter of the same prince, and the daughter of one of his brothers to the son of one of his sisters.
XL. The Agnatic lineal succession is that in which only the male issue of males succeeds, so that women, and all those descending from them, are perpetually excluded. It is also called the French succession. This exclusion of women and their descendants is principally established to hinder the crown from devolving to a foreign race, by the marriage of princesses of the blood royal.
XLI. These are the principal kinds of succession in use, and may be tempered in different manners by the people; but prudence directs us to prefer those which are subject to the least difficulty; and in this respect<111> the lineal succession has the advantage over that which is simply hereditary.
XLII. Several questions, equally curious and important, may be started with regard to the succession of kingdoms. On this subject the reader may consult Grotius.* We shall only examine, who has a right to decide the disputes that may arise between two or more pretenders to a crown?
1°. If the kingdom be patrimonial, and disputes arise after the death of the king, the best method is to refer the cause to arbitrators of the royal family. The welfare and peace of the kingdom recommend this conduct.
2°. But if in kingdoms established by the voluntary act of the people, the dispute arises even in the king’s life-time, he is not a competent judge of it; for then the people must have invested him with the power of regulating the succession according to his own pleasure, which is not to be supposed. It therefore belongs to the people to decide the dispute, either by themselves or by their representatives.
3°. The same holds true, if the dispute does not arise till after the death of the king: in this case it is either necessary to determine which of the pretenders is nearest to the deceased sovereign; and this is a matter of fact which the people only ought to determine, because they are principally interested in it.
4°. Or the point is to know, what degree, or line, ought to have the preference according to the order of succession established by the people; and then it is a matter of right. Now who can deter-<112>mine better this point than the people themselves, who have established the order of succession? Otherwise there would be no method of deciding the dispute but by force of arms, which would be entirely opposite to the good of the society.
XLIII. But to avoid every perplexity of this kind, it would be proper that the people should, by a fundamental law, expressly reserve to themselves the right of judging in the above cases. What has been said is sufficient on the different ways of acquiring sovereignty.
Of the different ways of losing sovereignty.
I. Let us now enquire how sovereignty may be lost; and in this there is no great difficulty, after the principles we have established on the ways of acquiring it.1
II. Sovereignty may be lost by abdication, that is, when the reigning prince renounces the sovereignty, so far as it regards himself. Of this the history even of latter ages furnishes us with remarkable examples.
III. As sovereignty derives its original from a covenant between the king and his subjects; if, for plausible reasons, the king thinks proper to renounce the supreme dignity, the people have not properly a right to constrain him to keep it.<113>
IV. But such an abdication must not be made at an unseasonable juncture: as for instance, when the kingdom is like to sink into a minority, especially if it be threatened with a war; or when the prince, by his bad conduct, has thrown the state into a dangerous convulsion, in which he cannot abandon it without betraying his trust, and ruining his country.
V. But we may safely say, that a prince very rarely finds himself in such circumstances, as should engage him to renounce the crown. However his affairs may be situated, he may ease himself of the drudgery of government, and still retain the superior command. A king ought to die upon the throne; and it is a weakness unworthy of him, to divest himself of his authority. Besides, experience has shewn, that abdication is too frequently attended with unhappy catastrophes.2
VI. It is therefore certain, that a prince may, for himself, renounce the crown, or the right of succession. But there is great difficulty whether he can do it for his children.
VII. To judge rightly of this point, which has embarrassed so many politicians, we must establish the following principles.
1°. Every acquisition of right or power over another, and consequently of sovereignty, supposes the consent of him over whom this right is to be acquired, and the acceptance of him who is to acquire it. Till this acceptance is settled, the intention of the former does not produce, in favour of the latter,<114> an absolute and irrevocable right: It is only a simple designation, which he is at liberty to accept of or not.
VIII. 2°. Let us apply these principles. The princes of the blood royal, who have accepted the will of the people, by which the crown has been conferred on them, have certainly thereby acquired an absolute and irrevocable right, of which they cannot be stripped without their own consent.
IX. 3°. With regard to those who are not yet born, as they have not accepted of the designation of the people, they have not as yet acquired any right. Hence it follows, that, in relation to them, this designation is only an imperfect act, a kind of expectancy, the completion of which intirely depends on the will of the people.
X. 4°. But it may be said, the ancestors of those, who are not yet born, have consented and stipulated for them, and consequently received the engagement of the people in their behalf. But this is rather an argument in favour of renunciation, which it effectually establishes; for as the right of those, who are not yet born, has no other foundation than the concurrence of the will of the people and of their ancestors, it is evident that this right may be taken from them, without injustice, by those very persons, from the single will of whom they hold it.3
XI. 5°. The single will of a prince, without the consent of the nation, cannot effectually exclude his children from the crown to which the people have called them. In like manner, the single will of the<115> people, without the consent of the prince, cannot deprive his children of an expectancy which their father has stipulated with the people in their favour. But if these two wills unite, they may, without doubt, alter what they have established.
XII. 6°. It is true, this renunciation ought not to be made without a cause, and through inconstancy and levity. Under these circumstances it cannot be justified, and the good of the state does not permit, that, without necessity, an alteration should be made in the order of the succession.
XIII. 7°. If, on the other hand, the nation be so situated, that the renunciation of a prince, or a princess, is absolutely necessary to its tranquillity and happiness, then the supreme law of the public good, which has established the order of the succession, requires it should be set aside.
XIV. 8°. Let us add, that it is for the general good of nations, such renunciations be valid, and the parties interested should not attempt to disannul them. For there are times and conjunctures in which they are necessary for the welfare of the state; and if those with whom we are treating, should come to think that the renunciation would afterwards be set aside, they certainly would have nothing to do with us. Now this must be productive of bloody and cruel wars. Grotius decides this question nearly in the same manner. The reader may see what he says of it.* <116>
XV. 9°. Since war or conquest is a method of acquiring sovereignty, as we have seen in the preceding chapter, it is evidently also a means of losing it.
XVI. With regard to tyranny and the deposing of sovereigns, both which are also ways of losing the supreme power, as these two articles bear some relation to the duties of subjects towards their sovereigns, we shall treat of them in the next chapter more particularly, after we have considered those duties.
Of the duties of subjects in general.
I. According to the plan we have laid down, we must here treat of the duties of subjects. Puffendorf has given us a clear and distinct idea of them, in the last chapter of his Duties of a Man and a Citizen.1 We shall follow him step by step.
II. The duties of subjects are either general or particular; and both flow from their state and condition.
III. All subjects have this in common, that they live under the same sovereign and the same government, and that they are members of the same state. From these relations the general duties arise.<117>
IV. But as they have different employments, enjoy different posts in the state, and follow different professions; hence also arise their particular duties.
V. It is also to be observed, that the duties of subjects suppose and include those of man, considered simply as such, and as a member of human society in general.
VI. The general duties of subjects have, for their object, either the governors of the state, or the whole body of the people, viz. their country, or the individuals among their fellow-subjects.2
VII. As to sovereigns and governors of the state, every subject owes them that respect, fidelity, and obedience, which their character demands. Hence it follows, that we ought to be contented with the present government, and to form no cabals nor seditions, but to be attached to the interest of the reigning prince, more than to that of any other person, to pay him honour, to think favourably of him, and to speak with respect of him and his actions. We ought even to have a veneration for the memory of good princes, &c.3
VIII. With respect to the whole body of the state, a good subject makes it his rule to prefer the public welfare to every thing else, bravely to sacrifice his fortune, and his private interests, and even his life, for the preservation of the state; and to employ all his abilities and his industry to advance the honour, and to procure the advantage of his native country.4 <118>
IX. Lastly, the duty of a subject to his fellow-subjects consists in living with them, as much as he possibly can, in peace and strict union, in being mild, complaisant, affable, and obliging to each of them, in creating no trouble by a rude or litigious behaviour, and in bearing no envy or prejudice against the happiness of others, &c.5
X. As to the particular duties of subjects, they are connected with the particular employments which they follow in society. We shall here lay down some general rules in regard to this matter.
1°. A subject ought not to aspire after any public employment, nor even to accept of it, when he is sensible that he is not duly qualified for it. 2°. He ought not to accept of more employments than he can discharge. 3°. He should not use unlawful means to obtain public offices. 4°. It is even sometimes a kind of justice not to seek after certain employments, which are not necessary to us, and which may be as well filled by others, for whom they are perhaps more adapted. 5°. He ought to discharge the several functions of the employments he has obtained, with the utmost application, exactness, and fidelity.6
XI. Nothing is more easy than to apply these general maxims to the particular employments of society, and to draw inferences proper to each of them; as for instance, with respect to ministers and counsellors of state, ministers of religion, public professors, magistrates and judges, officers in the army and soldiers, receivers of taxes, ambassadors, &c.<119>
XII. The particular duties of subjects cease with the public charges from whence they arise. But as to the general duties, they subsist so long as a person remains subject to the state. Now a man ceases to be a subject, principally three ways. 1°. When he goes to settle elsewhere. 2°. When he is banished from a country for some crime, and deprived of the rights of a subject. 3°. And lastly, when he is reduced to a necessity of submitting to the dominion of a conqueror.7
XIII. It is a right inherent in all free people, that every man should have the liberty of removing out of the commonwealth, if he thinks proper. In a word, when a person becomes member of a state, he does not thereby renounce the care of himself and his own private affairs. On the contrary, he seeks a powerful protection, under the shelter of which he may procure to himself both the necessaries and conveniencies of life. Thus the subjects of a state cannot be denied the liberty of settling elsewhere, in order to procure those advantages which they do not enjoy in their native country.8
XIV. On this occasion there are however certain maxims of duty and decency, which cannot be dispensed with.
1°. In general, a man ought not to quit his native country without the permission of his sovereign: But his sovereign ought not to refuse it him, without very important reasons.
2°. It would be contrary to the duty of a good subject to abandon his native country at an unseason-<120>able juncture, and when the state has a particular interest that he should stay at home.*
3°. If the laws of the country have determined any thing in this point, we must be determined by them; for we have consented to those laws in becoming members of the state.
XV. The Romans forced no person to continue under their government, and Cicero † highly commends this maxim, calling it the surest foundation of liberty, “which consists in being able to preserve or renounce our right as we think proper.”
XVI. Some propose a question, whether subjects can go out of the state in great companies? In this point Grotius and Puffendorf are of opposite sentiments.‡ As for my own part, I am of opinion that it can hardly happen, that subjects should go out of the state in large companies, except in one or other of these two cases; either when the government is tyrannical, or when a multitude of people cannot subsist in the country; as when manufacturers,<121> for example, or other tradesmen, cannot find the means of making or distributing their commodities. Under these circumstances, the subjects may retire if they will, and they are authorized so to do by virtue of a tacit exception. If the government be tyrannical, it is the duty of the sovereign to change his conduct; for no subject is obliged to live under tyranny.9 If misery forces them to remove, this is also a reasonable exception against the most express engagements, unless the sovereign furnishes them with the means of subsistence. But, except in those cases, were the subjects to remove in great companies, without a cause, and by a kind of general desertion, the sovereign may certainly oppose their removal, if he finds that the state suffers great prejudice by it.
XVII. A man ceases to be a subject of the state when he is for ever banished, in punishment for some crime: for the moment that the state will not acknowledge a man to be one of its members, but drives him from its territories, he is released from his engagements as a subject. The civilians call this punishment a civil death. But it is evident that the state, or sovereign, cannot expel a subject from their territories whenever they please, unless he has deserved it by the commission of some crime.
XVIII. Lastly, a man may cease to be a subject by the superior force of an enemy, by which he is reduced to a necessity of submitting to his dominion: and this necessity is founded on the right which every man has to take care of his own preservation.<122>
Of the inviolable rights of sovereignty, of the deposing of sovereigns, of the abuse of the supreme power, and of tyranny.
I. What we have said in the preceding chapter, concerning the duties of subjects to their sovereigns, admits of no difficulty. We are agreed in general upon the rule, that the person of the sovereign should be sacred and inviolable. But the question is, whether this prerogative of the sovereign be such, that it is never lawful for the people to rise against him, to cast him from the throne, or to change the form of government?1
II. In answer to this question, I observe in the first place, that the nature and end of government lay an indispensable obligation on all subjects not to resist their sovereign, but to respect and obey him, so long as he uses his power with equity and moderation, and does not exceed the limits of his authority.
III. It is this obligation to obedience in the subjects, that constitutes the whole force of civil society and government, and consequently the intire felicity of the state. Whoever therefore rises against the sovereign, or makes an attack upon his person or authority, renders himself manifestly guilty of the greatest crime which a man can commit, since he endeavours to subvert the first foundations of the public felicity, in which that of every individual is included.<123>
IV. But if this maxim be true with respect to individuals, may we also apply it to the whole body of the nation, of whom the sovereign originally holds his authority? If the people think fit to resume, or to change the form of government, why should they not be at liberty to do it? Cannot they who make a king, also depose him?2
V. Let us endeavour to solve this difficulty. I therefore affirm, that the people themselves, that is, the whole body of the nation, have not a right to depose the sovereign, or to change the form of government, without any other reason than their own pleasure, and purely from inconstancy or levity.
VI. In general, the same reasons which establish the necessity of government and supreme authority in society, also prove that the government ought to be stable, and that the people should not have the power of deposing their sovereigns, whenever, through caprice or levity, they are inclined so to act, and when they have no sound reason to change the form of government.
VII. Indeed, it would be subverting all government, to make it depend on the caprice or inconstancy of the people. It would be impossible for the state to be ever settled amidst those revolutions, which would expose it so often to destruction; for we must either grant that the people cannot dispossess their sovereign, and change the form of government;3 or we must give them, in this respect, a liberty without controll.<124>
VIII. An opinion which saps the foundation of all authority, which destroys all power, and consequently all society, cannot be admitted as a principle of reasoning, or of conduct in politics.
IX. The law of congruity or fitness is in this case of the utmost force. What should we say of a minor, who, without any other reason than his caprice, should withdraw from his guardian, or change him at pleasure? The present case is in point the same. It is with reason that politicians compare the people to minors; neither being capable of governing themselves. They must be subject to tuition,4 and this forbids them to withdraw from their authority, or to alter the form of government, without very substantial reasons.
X. Not only the law of congruity forbids the people wantonly to rise against their sovereign or the government; but justice also makes the same prohibition.
XI. Government and sovereignty are established by mutual agreement betwixt the governor and the governed; and justice requires that people should be faithful to their engagements. It is therefore the duty of the subjects to keep their word, and religiously to observe their contract with their sovereign, so long as the latter performs his engagements.
XII. Otherwise the people would do a manifest injustice to the sovereign, in depriving him of a right<125> which he has lawfully acquired, which he has not used to their prejudice, and for the loss of which they cannot indemnify him.
XIII. But what must we think of a sovereign, who, instead of making a good use of his authority, injures his subjects, neglects the interest of the state, subverts the fundamental laws, drains the people by excessive taxes, which he squanders away in foolish and useless expences, &c? Ought the person of such a king to be sacred to the subjects? Ought they patiently to submit to all his extortions? Or, can they withdraw from his authority?5
XIV. To answer this question, which is one of the most delicate in politics, I observe, that disaffected, mutinous, or seditious subjects, often make things, highly innocent, pass for acts of injustice in the sovereign. The people are apt to murmur at the most necessary taxes; others seek to destroy the government, because they have not a share in the administration. In a word, the complaints of subjects oftener denote the bad humour and seditious spirit of those who make them, than real disorders in the government, or injustice in those who govern.
XV. It were indeed to be wished, for the glory of sovereigns, that the complaints of subjects never had juster foundations. But history and experience teach us that they are too often well founded. Under these circumstances, what is the duty of subjects?<126> Ought they patiently to suffer? Or, may they resist their sovereign?
XVI. We must distinguish between the extreme abuse of sovereignty, which degenerates manifestly into tyranny, and tends to the entire ruin of the subjects; and a moderate abuse of it, which may be attributed to human weakness, rather than to an intention of subverting the liberty and happiness of the people.
XVII. In the former case, I think the people6 have a right to resist their sovereign, and even to resume the sovereignty which they have given him, and which he has abused to excess. But if the abuse be only moderate, it is their duty to suffer something, rather than to rise in arms against their sovereign.
XVIII. This distinction is founded on the nature of man, and the nature and end of government. The people must patiently bear the slight injustices of their sovereign, or the moderate abuse of his power, because this is no more than a tribute due to humanity. It is on this condition they have invested him with the supreme authority. Kings are men as well as others, that is to say, liable to be mistaken, and, in some instances, to fail in point of duty. Of this the people cannot be ignorant, and on this footing they have treated with their sovereign.
XIX. If, for the smallest faults, the people had<127> a right to resist or depose their sovereign, no prince could maintain his authority, and the community would be continually distracted; such a situation would be directly contrary both to the end and institution of government, and of sovereignty.
XX. It is therefore right to overlook the lesser faults of sovereigns, and to have a regard to the laborious and exalted office with which they are invested for our preservation. Tacitus beautifully says: “We must endure the luxury and avarice of sovereigns, as we endure the barrenness of a soil, storms, and other inconveniencies of nature. There will be vices as long as there are men; but these are not continual, and are recompensed by the intermixture of better qualities.”*
XXI. But if the sovereign should push things to the last extremity, so that his tyranny becomes insupportable, and it appears evident that he has formed a design to destroy the liberty of his subjects, then they have a right to rise against him, and even to deprive him of the supreme power.7
XXII. This I prove, 1°. by the nature of tyranny, which of itself degrades the sovereign of his dignity. Sovereignty always supposes a beneficent power: we must indeed make some allowance for the weakness<128> inseparable from humanity; but beyond that, and when the people are reduced to the last extremity, there is no difference between tyranny and robbery. The one gives no more right than the other, and we may lawfully oppose force to violence.
XXIII. 2°. Men have established civil society and government for their own good, to extricate themselves from troubles, and to be rescued from the evils of a state of nature. But it is highly evident, that if the people were obliged to suffer every oppression from their sovereigns, and never to resist their encroachments, this would be reducing them to a far more deplorable state, than that from which they wanted to avoid, by the institution of sovereignty. It can never surely be presumed, that this was the intention of mankind.8
XXIV. 3°. Even a people, who have submitted to an absolute government, have not thereby forfeited the right of asserting their liberty, and taking care of their preservation, when they find themselves reduced to the utmost misery. Absolute sovereignty, in itself, is no more than the highest power of doing good; now the highest power of procuring the good of a person, and the absolute power of destroying him at pleasure, have no connection with each other. Let us therefore conclude, that never any nation had an intention to submit their liberties to a sovereign in such a manner, as never to have it in their power to resist him, not even for their own preservation.<129>
XXV. “Suppose,” says Grotius,* “one had asked those who first formed the civil laws, whether they intended to impose on all the subjects the fatal necessity of dying, rather than taking up arms to defend themselves against the unjust violence of their sovereign? I know not whether they would have answered in the affirmative. It is rather reasonable to believe they would have declared, that the people ought not to endure all manner of injuries, except perhaps when matters are so situated, that resistance would infallibly produce very great troubles in the state, or tend to the ruin of many innocent people.”
XXVI. We have already proved,† that no person can renounce his liberty to such a degree as that here mentioned. This would be selling his own life, that of his children, his religion, in a word, every advantage he enjoys, which it is not certainly in any man’s power to do. This may be illustrated by the comparison of a patient and his physician.9
XXVII. If therefore the subjects have a right to resist the manifest tyranny even of an absolute prince, they must, for a stronger reason, have the same power with respect to a prince who has only a limited sovereignty, should he attempt to invade the rights and properties of his people.‡ <130>
XXVIII. We must indeed patiently suffer the caprice and austerity of our masters, as well as the bad humour of our fathers and mothers;10 but, as Seneca says, “Though a person ought to obey a father in all things, yet he is not obliged to obey him when his commands are of such a nature, that he ceases thereby to be a father.”
XXIX. But it is here to be observed, that when we say the people have a right to resist a tyrant, or even to depose him, we ought not, by the word people, to understand the vile populace or dregs of a country, nor the cabal of a small number of seditious persons, but the greatest and most judicious part of the subjects of all orders in the kingdom. The tyranny, as we have also observed, must be notorious, and accompanied with the highest evidence.11
XXX. We may likewise affirm, that, strictly speaking, the subjects are not obliged to wait till the prince has entirely rivetted their chains, and till he has put it out of their power to resist him. It is high time to think of their safety, and to take proper measures against their sovereign, when they find that all his actions manifestly tend to oppress them, and that he is marching boldly on to the ruin of the state.
XXXI. These are truths of the last importance. It is highly proper they should be known, not only for the safety and happiness of nations, but also for the advantage of good and wise kings.<131>
XXXII. They, who are well acquainted with the frailty of human nature, are always diffident of themselves; and wishing only to discharge their duty, are contented to have bounds set to their authority, and by such means to be hindered from doing what they ought to avoid. Taught by reason and experience, that the people love peace and good government, they will never be afraid of a general insurrection, so long as they take care to govern with moderation, and hinder their officers from committing injustice.
XXXIII. However, the abettors of despotic power and passive obedience, start several difficulties on this subject.
First Objection. A revolt against the supreme power includes a contradiction; for if this power is supreme, there is none superior to it. By whom then shall it be judged? If the sovereignty still inheres in the people, they have not transferred their right; and if they have transferred it, they are no longer masters of it.
Answer. This difficulty supposes the point in question, namely, that the people have divested themselves so far of their liberty, that they have given full power to the sovereign to treat them as he pleases, without having in any case reserved to themselves the power of resisting him. This is what no people ever did, nor ever could do. There is therefore no contradiction in the present case. A power given for a certain end, is limited by that very end. The supreme power acknowledges none above itself, so long as the sovereign has not forfeit-<132>ed his dignity. But if he has degenerated into a tyrant, he can no longer claim a right which he has forfeited by his own misconduct.
XXXIV. Second Objection. But who shall judge, whether the prince performs his duty, or whether he governs tyrannically? Can the people be judges in their own cause?
Answer. It certainly belongs to those who have given any person a power, which he had not of himself, to judge whether he uses it agreeably to the end for which it was conferred on him.12
XXXV. Third Objection. We cannot, without imprudence, grant this right of judging to the people. Political affairs are not adapted to the capacity of the vulgar, but are sometimes of so delicate a nature, that even persons of the best sense cannot form a right judgment of them.
Answer. In dubious cases, the presumption ought ever to be in favour of the sovereign, and obedience is the duty of subjects. They ought even to bear a moderate abuse of sovereignty. But in cases of manifest tyranny, every one is in a condition to judge whether he is highly injured or not.13
XXXVI. Fourth Objection. But do we not expose the state to perpetual revolutions, to anarchy, and to certain ruin, by making the supreme authority depend on the opinion of the people, and by granting them the liberty to rise on particular occasions against their sovereign?<133>
Answer. This objection would be of some force, if we pretended that the people had a right to oppose their sovereign, or to change the form of government, through levity or caprice, or even for a moderate abuse of the supreme power. But no inconveniency will ensue, while the subjects only use this right with all the precautions, and in the circumstances above supposed. Besides, experience teaches us that it is very difficult to prevail on a nation to change a government to which they have been accustomed. We are apt to overlook not only slight, but even very considerable mistakes in our governors.14
XXXVII. Our hypothesis does not tend more than any other, to excite disturbances in a state; for a people, oppressed by a tyrannic government, will rebel as frequently as those who live under established laws.15 Let the abettors of despotic power cry up their prince as much as they please, let them say the most magnificent things of his sacred person, yet the people, reduced to the last misery, will trample these specious reasons under foot, as soon as they can do it with any appearance of success.
XXXVIII. In fine, though the subjects might abuse the liberty which we grant them, yet less inconveniency would arise from this, than from allowing all to the sovereign, so as to let a whole nation perish, rather than grant it the power of checking the iniquity of its governors.<134>
Of the duty1of sovereigns.
I. There is a sort of commerce, or reciprocal return of the duties of the subjects to the sovereign, and of his to them. Having treated of the former, it remains that we take a view of the latter.
II. From what has been hitherto explained concerning the nature of sovereignty, its end, extent and boundaries, the duty of sovereigns may easily be gathered. But since this is an affair of the last importance, it is necessary to say something more particular on it, and to collect the principal heads of it as it were into one view.
III. The higher a sovereign is raised above the level of other men, the more important are his duties: if he can do a great deal of good, he can also do a great deal of mischief. It is on the good or evil conduct of princes that the happiness or misery of a whole nation or people depends. How happy is the situation, which, on all instances, furnishes occasions of doing good to so many thousands! But at the same time, how dangerous is the post which exposes every moment to the injuring of millions! Besides, the good which princes do, sometimes extends to the most remote ages; as the evils they commit are multiplied to latest posterity. This sufficiently discovers the importance of their duties.<135>
IV. In order to have a proper knowledge of the duty of sovereigns, we need only attentively consider the nature and end of civil societies, and the exercise of the different parts of sovereignty.
V. 1°. The first general duty of princes, is carefully to inform themselves of every thing that falls under the complete discharge of their trust: for a person cannot well acquit himself in that which he has not first rightly learnt.2
VI. It is a great mistake to imagine that the knowledge of government is an easy affair; on the contrary, nothing is more difficult, if princes would discharge their duty.3 Whatever talents or genius they may have received from nature, this is an employment that requires the whole man. The general rules of governing well are few in number; but the difficulty is to make a just application of them to times and circumstances; and this demands the greatest efforts of diligence and human prudence.
VII. 2°. When a prince is once convinced of the obligation he is under to inform himself exactly of all that is necessary for the discharge of his trust, and of the difficulty of getting this information, he will begin with removing every obstacle which may oppose it. And first it is absolutely necessary, that princes should retrench their pleasures and useless diversions, so far as these may be a hinderance to the knowledge and practice of their duty. Then they ought to endeavour to have wise, prudent and experienced<136> persons about them; and, on the contrary, to remove flatterers, buffoons, and others, whose whole merit consists in things that are frivolous and unworthy the attention of a sovereign. Princes ought not to choose for favourites those who are most proper to divert them, but such as are most capable of governing the state.
VIII. Above all things, they cannot guard too much against flattery. No human condition has so great an occasion4 for true and faithful advice, as that of kings. And yet princes, corrupted by flattery, take every thing, that is free and ingenuous, to be harsh and austere. They are become so delicate, that every thing, which is not adulation, offends them: But nothing ought they to be so greatly afraid of as this very adulation, since there are no miseries into which they may not be hurried by its poisonous insinuation. On the contrary, the prince is happy, even if he has but a single subject, who is so generous as to speak the truth to him; such a man is the treasure of the state. Prudent sovereigns, who have their true interests at heart, ought continually to imagine that court sycophants only regard themselves and not their master; whereas a sincere counsellor, as it were, forgets himself, and thinks only on the advantage of his master.
IX. 3°. Princes ought to use all possible application to understand the constitution of the state, and the natural temper of their subjects. They ought not in this respect to be contented with a general and superficial knowledge. They should enter into par-<137>ticulars, and carefully examine into the constitution of the state, into its establishment and power, whether it be old or of late date, successive or elective, acquired by legal methods or by arms; they should also see how far this jurisdiction reaches, what neighbours are about them, what allies, and what strength and what conveniences the state is provided with. For according to these considerations the scepter must be swayed, and the rider must take care to keep a stiffer or slacker rein.
X. 4°. Sovereigns ought also to endeavour to excel in such virtues as are most necessary to support the weight of so important a charge, and to regulate their outward behaviour in a manner worthy of their rank and dignity.
XI. We have already shewn that virtue in general consists in that strength of mind, which enables us not only to consult right reason on all occasions, but also to follow her counsels with ease, and effectually to resist every thing capable of giving us a contrary biass. This single idea of virtue is sufficient to shew how necessary it is to all men. But none have more duties to fulfil, none are more exposed to temptation, than sovereigns; and none of course have a greater necessity for the assistance of virtue. Besides, virtue in princes has this advantage, that it is the surest method of inspiring their subjects with the like principles. For this purpose they need only shew the way. The example of the prince has a greater force than the law.5 It is, as it were, a living law, of more efficacy than precept. But to descend to particulars.<138>
XII. The virtues most necessary to sovereigns are, 1°. Piety, which is certainly the foundation of all other virtues; but it must be a solid and rational piety, free from superstition and bigotry. In the high situation of sovereigns, the only motive, which can most surely induce them to the discharge of their duty, is the fear of God. Without that, they will soon run into every vice which their passions dictate; and the people will become the innocent victims of their pride, ambition, avarice and cruelty. On the contrary, we may expect every thing that is good from a prince, who fears and respects God, as a supreme Being on whom he depends, and to whom he must one day give an account of his administration. Nothing can be so powerful a motive as this to engage princes to perform their duty, nothing can so well cure them of that dangerous mistake, that being above other men, they may act as absolute lords, as if they were not to render an account of their conduct, and be judged in their turn, after having passed sentence on others.
XIII. 2°. The love of Equity and Justice. The principal end a prince was made for, is to take care that every one should have his right.6 This ought to engage him to study not only the science of those great civilians who ascend to the first principles of law, which regulate human society, and are the basis, as it were, of government and politics; but also that part of the law, which descends to the affairs of particular persons. This branch is generally left for the gentlemen of the long robe, and not admitted into the education of princes, though they are every day to<139> pass judgment upon the fortunes, liberties, lives, honour and reputation of their subjects. Princes are continually talked to of valour and liberality; but if justice does not regulate these two qualities, they degenerate into the most odious vices: Without justice, valour does nothing but destroy; and liberality is only a foolish profuseness. Justice keeps all in order, and contains within bounds him who distributes it, as well as those to whom it is distributed.
XIV. 3°. Valour. But it must be set in motion by justice, and conducted by prudence. A prince should expose his person to the greatest perils as often as it is necessary. He dishonours himself more by being afraid of danger in time of war, than by never taking the field. The courage of him who commands others, ought not to be dubious; but neither ought he to run headlong into danger. Valour can no longer be a virtue than as it is guided by prudence, otherwise it is a stupid contempt of life, and a brutal ardour. Inconsiderate valour is always insecure. He, who is not master of himself in dangers, is rather fierce than brave; if he does not fly, he is at least confounded. He loses that presence of mind which would be necessary for him to give proper orders, to take advantage of opportunities, and to rout the enemy. The true way of finding glory, is calmly to wait for the favourable occasion. Virtue is the more revered, as she shews herself plain, modest, and averse to pride and ostentation. In proportion as the necessity of exposing yourself to danger augments, your foresight and courage ought also to increase.<140>
XV. 4°. Another virtue, very necessary in princes, is to be extremely reserved in discovering their thoughts and designs. This is evidently necessary to those who are concerned in government: It includes a wise diffidence, and an innocent dissimulation.
XVI. 5°. A prince must, above all things, accustom himself to moderate his desires. For as he has the power of gratifying them, if he once gives way to them, he will run to the greatest excess, and by destroying his subjects, will at last complete his own ruin. In order to form himself to this moderation, nothing is more proper than to accustom himself to patience. This is the most necessary of all virtues for those who are to command. A man must be patient to become master of himself and others. Impatience, which seems to be a vigorous exertion of the soul, is only a weakness and inability of suffering pain. He who cannot wait and suffer, is like a person that cannot keep a secret. Both want resolution to contain themselves. The more power an impatient man has, the more fatal his impatience will be to him. He will not wait; he gives himself no time to judge; he forces every thing to please himself; he tears off the boughs, to gather the fruit before it is ripe; he breaks down the gates, rather than stay till they are opened to him.
XVII. 6°. Goodness and Clemency are also virtues very necessary to a prince: His office is to do good, and it is for this end the supreme power is lodged in his hand. It is also principally by this that he ought to distinguish himself.<141>
XVIII. 7°. Liberality, well understood and well applied, is so much the more essential to a prince, as avarice is a disgrace to a person to whom it costs almost nothing to be liberal. To take it exactly, a king, as a king, has nothing properly his own; for he owes his very self to others. But on the other hand, no person ought to be more careful in regulating the exercise of this noble virtue. It requires great circumspection, and supposes, in the prince, a just discernment and a good taste to know how to bestow and dispense favours on proper persons. He ought, above all things, to use this virtue for rewarding merit and virtue.
XIX. But liberality has its bounds, even in the most opulent princes. The state may be compared to a family. The want of foresight, profusion of treasure, and the voluptuous inclination of princes, who are the masters of it, do more mischief than the most skilful ministers can repair.
XX. To reimburse his treasures, squandered away without necessity, and often in criminal excesses, he must have recourse to expedients which are fatal to the subjects and the state. He loses the hearts of the people, and causes murmurs and discontents, which are ever dangerous, and of which an enemy may take advantage. These are inconveniencies that even common sense might point out, if the strong propensity to pleasure, and the intoxication of power, did not often extinguish the light of reason in princes. To what cruelty and injustice did not the extravagant profusions of Nero carry him? A prudent oeconomy,<142> on the contrary, supplies the deficiencies of the revenue, maintains families and states, and preserves them in a flourishing condition. By oeconomy princes not only have money in time of need, but also possess the hearts of their subjects, who freely open their purses upon any unforeseen emergency, when they see that the prince has been sparing in his expences; the contrary happens when he has squandered away his treasures.
XXI. This is a general idea of the virtues most necessary to a sovereign, besides those which are common to him with private people, and of which some are included even in those we have been mentioning. Cicero follows almost the same ideas in the enumeration he makes of the royal virtues.*
XXII. It is by the assistance of these virtues, of which we here have given an idea, that sovereigns are enabled to apply themselves with success to the functions of government, and to fulfil the different duties of it. Let us say something more particular on the actual exercise of those duties.
XXIII. There is a general rule which includes all the duties of a sovereign, and by which he may easily judge how to proceed under every circumstance. Let the safety of the people be the supreme law. This ought to be the chief end of all his actions. The supreme authority has been conferred<143> upon him with this view;7 and the fulfilling of it is the foundation of his right and power. The prince is properly the servant of the public. He ought, as it were, to forget himself, in order to think only on the advantage and good of those whom he governs. He ought not to look upon any thing as useful to himself, which is not so to the state. This was the idea of the heathen philosophers. They defined a good prince, one who endeavours to render his subjects happy; and a tyrant, on the contrary, one who aims only at his own private advantage.
XXIV. The very interest of the sovereign demands, that he should direct all his actions to the public good. By such a conduct he wins the hearts of his subjects, and lays the foundation of solid happiness and true glory.8
XXV. Where the government is most despotic, there sovereigns are least powerful. They ruin every thing, and are the sole possessors of the whole country; but then the state languishes, because it is exhausted of men and money; and this first loss is the greatest and most irreparable. His subjects seem to adore him, and to tremble at his very looks: But see what will be the consequence upon the least revolution; then we find that this monstrous power, pushed to excess, cannot long endure, because it has no resource in the hearts of the people. On the first blow, the idol tumbles down and is trampled under foot. The king, who, in his prosperity, found not a man who durst tell him the truth, shall not find one, in his adversity, that will vouchsafe either to ex-<144>cuse, or defend him against his enemies. It is therefore equally essential to the happiness of the people and of sovereigns, that the latter should follow no other rule in their manner of governing, than that of the public welfare.
XXVI. It is not difficult, from this general rule, to deduce those of a more particular nature. The functions of the government relate either to the domestic interests of the state, or to its foreign concerns.
XXVII. As for the domestic interests of the state, the first care of the sovereign ought to be, 1°. to form his subjects to good manners. For this purpose the duty of supreme rulers is, not only to prescribe good laws, by which every one may know how he ought to behave, in order to promote the public good; but especially to establish the most perfect manner of public instruction, and of the education of youth. This is the only method of making the subjects conform to the laws both by reason and custom, rather than through fear of punishment.9
XXVIII. The first care of a prince therefore ought to be to erect public schools for the education of children, and for training them betimes10 to wisdom and virtue. Children are the hope and strength of a nation. It is too late to correct them when they are spoiled. It is infinitely better to prevent the evil, than to be obliged to punish it. The king, who is the father of all his people, is more particularly the father of all the youth, who are, as it were, the flower of the whole nation. And as it is in the<145> flower, that fruits are prepared, so it is one of the principal duties of the sovereign to take care of the education of youth, and the instruction of his subjects,11 to plant the principles of virtue early in their minds, and to maintain and confirm them in that happy disposition. It is not laws and ordinances, but good morals, that properly regulate the state.
Those who have had a bad education, make no scruple to violate the best political constitutions;12 whereas they who have been properly trained up, chearfully conform to all good institutions. In fine, nothing is more conducive to so good an end in states, than to inspire the people in the earlier part of life with the principles of the Christian religion, purged from all human invention. For this religion includes the most perfect scheme of morality, the maxims of which are13 extremely well adapted for promoting the happiness of society.
XXIX. 2°. The sovereign ought to establish good laws for the settling of such affairs, as the subjects have most frequent occasion to transact with each other. These laws ought to be just, equitable, clear, without ambiguity and contradiction, useful, accommodated to the condition and the genius of the<146> people, at least so far as the good of the state will permit, that, by their means, differences may be easily determined: But they are not to be multiplied without necessity.14
XXX. I said, that laws ought to be accommodated to the condition and genius of the people; and for this reason I have before observed, that the sovereign ought to be thoroughly instructed in this article; otherwise one of these two inconveniencies must happen, either that the laws are not observed, and then it becomes necessary to punish an infinite number of people, while the state reaps no advantage from it; or that the authority of the laws is despised, and then the state is on the brink of destruction.
XXXI. I mentioned also, that laws ought not to be multiplied without necessity; for this would only tend to lay snares for the subject, and expose him to inevitable punishments, without any advantage to the society. In fine, it is of great importance to regulate what relates to the administration and ordinary forms of justice, so that every subject may have it in his power to recover his right, without losing much time, or being at a great expence.
XXXII. 3°. It would be of no use to make good laws, if people were suffered to violate them with impunity. Sovereigns ought therefore to see them properly executed, and to punish the delinquents without exception of persons, according to the quality and degree of the offence. It is even sometimes proper to punish severely at first. There are circum-<147>stances in which it is clemency to make such early examples, as shall stop the course of iniquity. But what is chiefly necessary, and what justice and the public good absolutely require, is, that the severity of the laws be exercised not only upon the subjects of moderate fortune and condition, but also upon the wealthy and powerful. It would be unjust that reputation, nobility, and riches, should authorize any one to insult those who are destitute of these advantages. The populace are often reduced by oppression to despair, and their fury at last throws the state into convulsions.15
XXXIII. 4°. Since men first joined in civil societies to skreen themselves from the injuries and malice of others, and to procure all the sweets and pleasures which can render life commodious and happy; the sovereign is obliged to hinder the subjects from wronging each other, to maintain order and peace in the community by a strict execution of the laws, to the end that his subjects may obtain the advantages which mankind can reasonably propose to themselves by joining in society. When the subjects are not kept within rule, their perpetual intercourse easily furnishes them with opportunities of injuring one another. But nothing is more contrary to the nature and end of civil government, than to permit subjects to do themselves justice, and, by their own private force, to revenge the injuries they think they have suffered. We shall here add a beautiful passage from Mr. de la Bruiere upon this subject.* <148> “What would it avail me, or any of my fellow-subjects, that my sovereign was successful and crowned with glory, that my country was powerful and the terror of neighbouring nations, if I were forced to lead a melancholy and miserable life under the burthen of oppression and indigence? If, while I was secured from the incursions of a foreign enemy, I found myself exposed at home to the sword of an assassin, and was less in danger of being robbed or massacred in the darkest nights, and in a thick forest, than in the public streets? If safety, cleanliness, and good order, had not rendered living in towns so pleasant, and had not only furnished them with the necessaries, but moreover with all the sweets and conveniencies of life? If, being weak and defenceless, I were encroached upon in the country, by every neighbouring great man? If so good a provision had not been made to protect me against his injustice? If I had not at hand so many, and such excellent masters, to educate my children in those arts and sciences which will one day make their fortune? If the conveniency of commerce had not made good substantial stuffs for my cloathing, and wholesome food for my nourishment, both plentiful and cheap? If, to conclude, the care of my sovereign had not given me reason to be as well contented with my fortune, as his princely virtues must needs make him with his?”16
XXXIV. 5°. Since a prince can neither see nor do every thing himself, he must have the assistance of ministers: But these, as they derive their whole<149> authority from their master, all the good or evil they do is finally imputed to him. It is therefore the duty of sovereigns to chuse persons of integrity and ability for the employments with which they entrust them. They ought often to examine their conduct, and to punish or recompense them, according to their merits. In fine, they ought never to refuse to lend a patient ear to the humble remonstrances and complaints of their subjects, when they are oppressed and trampled on by ministers and subordinate magistrates.17
XXXV. 6°. With regard to subsidies and taxes, since the subjects are not obliged to pay them, but as they are necessary to defray the expences of the state, in war or peace; the sovereign ought to exact no more than the public necessities, or the signal advantage of the state, shall require. He ought also to see that the subjects be incommoded as little as possible by the taxes laid upon them. There should be a just proportion in the tax of every individual, and there must be no exception or immunity which may turn to the disadvantage of others. The money collected ought to be laid out in the necessities of the state, and not wasted in luxury, debauchery, foolish largesses, or vain magnificence. Lastly, the expences ought to be proportioned to the revenue.18
XXXVI. 7°. It is the duty of a sovereign to draw no farther supplies from his subjects than he really stands in need of:19 The wealth of the subjects forms the strength of the state, and the advantage of fami-<150>lies and individuals. A prince therefore ought to neglect nothing that can contribute to the preservation and increase of the riches of his people. For this purpose he should see that they draw all the profit they can from their lands and waters, and keep themselves always employed in some industrious exercise or other. He ought to further and promote the mechanic arts, and give all possible encouragement to commerce. It is likewise his duty to bring his subjects to a frugal method of living by good sumptuary laws, which may forbid superfluous expences, and especially those by which the wealth of the natives is translated to foreigners.
XXXVII. 8°. Lastly, it is equally the interest and duty of a supreme governor, to guard against factions and cabals, from whence seditions and civil wars easily arise. But, above all, he ought to take care that none of his subjects place a greater dependance, even under the pretext of religion, on any other power, either within or without the realm, than on his lawful sovereign. This in general is the law of the public good in regard to the domestic interests, or internal tranquillity of the state.
XXXVIII. As to foreign concerns, the principal duties of the king are,
1°. To live in peace with his neighbours as much as he possibly can.
2°. To conduct himself with prudence in regard to the alliances and treaties he makes with other powers.
3°. To adhere faithfully to the treaties he has made.<151>
4°. Not to suffer the courage of his subjects to be enervated, but, on the contrary, to maintain and augment it by good discipline.
5°. In due and seasonable time to make the preparations necessary to put himself in a posture of defence.
6°. Not to undertake any unjust or rash war.
7°. Lastly, even in times of peace to be very attentive to the designs and motions of his neighbours.20
XXXIX. We shall say no more of the duties of sovereigns. It is sufficient at present to have pointed out the general principles, and collected the chief heads: what we have to say hereafter concerning the different parts of sovereignty, will give the reader a more distinct idea of the particular duties attending it.
The End of the Second Part.<152>
[1. ]This distinction is discussed in DNG VII.5 §§12–13, where Pufendorf explains his preference for the terms “regular”/“irregular.” Burlamaqui’s discussion of the three simple forms of government summarizes DNG VII.5 §4 onward.
[2. ]Read: “… of making a kind of division of the sovereignty …” (“une espèce de partage”).
[3. ]For Pufendorf, this is a reason for preferring monarchy to other forms of government; see DNG VII.5 §9.
[4. ]This point and the distinction between natural and civil will were made by Hobbes, quoted by Pufendorf in DNG VII.5 §9 in fine. Barbeyrac and Burlamaqui used “volonté physique” for the former.
[5. ]In the following paragraphs, Burlamaqui strives to prove this claim, which is contrary to Pufendorf ’s view. To show that a mixed state does not need to be an irregular state, Burlamaqui must argue that the sovereign power remains essentially undivided even when, as in Geneva, the sovereign power is exercised by two distinct instances (or even three: Geneva was ruled in the eighteenth century by the small council of twenty-five, the council of two hundred, and the general council of all citizens).
[* ]See part i. chap. vii. No. 35, &c. [in this second volume, i.e., The Principles of Politic Law, (henceforth PPL ).]
[6. ]The translator omits some words here. Burlamaqui holds that the party cannot be divested of its right “by the sole will of the others, so long at least as it wields this right in a manner that accords with the laws, or that is not manifestly or totally contrary to the public welfare.” The translation loses sight of both the fact that the party in question (Burlamaqui is here thinking of the small council) can indeed be divested of its power by the will of the rest, although not at any time and in any way whatsoever (not by the “sole” will, as it were, of the rest), and of the fact that this can happen only when the party’s actions are not only against the law but also manifestly or totally against the welfare of the people.
[7. ]The translation omits some words. The sentence should begin: “This economy of government, this constitution of the state. …” The end of the sentence should read: “… but joined together by a reciprocal agreement, by a fundamental law, which makes them into one whole.”
[* ]See Law of nature and nations, book vii. chap. v. [Apart from the important discussion of mixed governments, most of this chapter is quite close to Pufendorf ’s text.]
[8. ]Read: “so far from being the most happy, that …”
[9. ]Read: “if they tend, for example, to engage in a war …” and later “if its laws are not agreeable to the situation and the qualities of the country, one does badly, for example . …” This is not a particularly well-built sentence in the original, but it remains coherent as a list of different examples of bad government.
[10. ]The original has “états” (“states”) rather than “governments.” Further down in this paragraph, the translator omits “in other respects” (“d’ailleurs”) from the sentence “though each preserves its sovereignty full and entire in other respects, independently of the others.”
[11. ]“… preserve their liberty” (“liberté”).
[1. ]There is a reference to Herodotus’s account of this discussion in DNG VII.5 §22, where Pufendorf provides a very brief discussion of the best form of government. In the present chapter Burlamaqui does not follow Pufendorf but provides a justification of the Genevan (mixed) system.
[2. ]The translator omits the end of the sentence: “… when one is master over all things.”
[3. ]Here the translator gives “people” for “multitude” and “giddy multitude” for “rabble” (“populace”).
[4. ]The translator gives “enjoyment” for Burlamaqui’s simple “goods” (“biens”).
[5. ]Read: “… a sovereign in the true sense of the word, a government formed with such precautions, …”
[6. ]Read: “… preservation of order internally and externally, that it leaves at the same time to the people sufficient guarantees, that this end …”
[7. ]Burlamaqui writes “… the former is too harsh [fort], encroaches too heavily on liberty …”
[8. ]The translator omits one characteristic in Burlamaqui’s list of the wonders of absolute government: subordination.
[9. ]For “violent” read “harsh” or “hard” (“fort”).
[10. ]The example of Poland is discussed in Barbeyrac in DHC II.8 §10 note 5 but without any emphatic rejection of democratic or “popular” government.
[11. ]Read: “… forbid them from taking upon themselves that task.”
[12. ]For “nation” read “people” (“peuple”).
[* ]See part i. chap. vii. § 26, &c. [PPL.]
[13. ]Read: “… governments, and of limited monarchy?”
[14. ]The translation is interpretative here. Burlamaqui writes: “a council sufficiently numerous to comprehend the most important interests of the nation, & never to have interests opposed to these.” The translator could be right that Burlamaqui is thinking mainly of economic interests.
[15. ]The translator omits “… by reserving to the people some portion of the sovereignty, …”
[* ]On this subject, see part i. chap. vi. [PPL.]
[1. ]The first three paragraphs are based on DHC II.10 §1, the fourth repeats §2, the fifth repeats §3.
[2. ]This paragraph and the three following are based on DNG VII.7 §3; see also DHC II.10 §2.
[3. ]This and the four following paragraphs are from DNG VII.7 §4.
[4. ]Read: “… they may by their consent render the right of the usurper lawful …” If they do give their consent, then the usurper not only may but in fact does become lawful, on Burlamaqui’s principles. The people have a right to give their consent to the usurper’s rule in order to avoid “perpetual wars.”
[5. ]For this and the next paragraph, see DHC II.10 §3 and DNG VII.7 §6.
[* ]See Cic. de Divin. lib. i. cap. iv.
[6. ]Burlamaqui is less ambiguous about the power returning to the people than Pufendorf in DNG VII.7 §7, the paragraph on which Burlamaqui draws here.
[7. ]This paragraph and the next are from DNG VII.7 §8.
[8. ]From DNG VII.7 §12 in fine.
[9. ]From DHC II.10 §6. Burlamaqui adds the clause concerning public good.
[* ]See the Law of nature and nations, book vii. chap. vii. § 11.
[10. ]From DHC II.10 §8.
[11. ]From DHC II.10 §9 and DNG VII.7 §12. The latter paragraph furnishes the material for the next eight paragraphs as well.
[12. ]The translator omits the word “treasury” from “public treasury.” The paragraph itself is based on Grotius in DGP II.7 §19, a passage referred to by Barbeyrac in note 6 to DNG VII.7 §12.
[13. ]This and the next three paragraphs are from DNG VII.7 §13.
[* ]The Right of war and peace, book ii. chap. vii. § 25, &c. [Burlamaqui also draws on Barbeyrac’s note 4 to DGP II.7 §27.]
[1. ]For the first four paragraphs, see DGP II.7 §25 and Barbeyrac’s notes 1 and 2 to the same.
[2. ]“… an unhappy and miserable end” (“… une fin de vie triste & misérable”).
[3. ]The argument is from DGP II.4 §10.
[* ]Book ii. chap. vii. § 26. and book ii. chap. iv. § 10. [The text in Burlamaqui’s paragraph is from Barbeyrac’s footnote 2 to DGP II.7 §26.]
[1. ]It is DHC II.18. Paragraphs 2, 3, and 4 are from the first paragraph of that chapter. Barbeyrac provides a short version of the chapter, with commentary, in DNG VII.8 §10 note 3.
[2. ]From DHC II.18 §2.
[3. ]From DHC II.18 §3 with the exception of the last remark, that we ought to venerate the memory of good princes, which is from Barbeyrac in DNG VII.8 §10 note 3.
[4. ]This is DHC II.18 §4.
[5. ]This is DHC II.18 §5.
[6. ]Based on DHC II.18 §6, but Burlamaqui does not follow Pufendorf and Barbeyrac in enumerating the duties incumbent on different kinds of state functionaries, a topic that he mentions in the following paragraph.
[7. ]From DHC II.18 §15.
[8. ]For this paragraph, see DHC II.18 §15 note 1 and DNG VIII.11 §6.
[* ]See Grotius on the Right of war and peace, book ii. chap. v. § 24.
[† ]O excellent and divine laws, enacted by our ancestors in the beginning of the Roman empire———Let no man change his city against his will, nor let him be compelled to stay in it. These are the surest foundations of our liberty, that every one should have it in his power either to preserve or relinquish his right. Orat. pro L. Corn. Balb. cap. 13. adde Leg. 12. § 9. Digest. de cap. diminut. & postlim. lib. 49. tit. 15.
[‡ ]See Grotius, ubi supra, and Puffendorf on the Law of nature and nations, book viii. chap. xi. § 4.
[9. ]Read: “… for no subject has consented to living under tyranny.”
[1. ]This is the theme in DNG VII.8, especially from §5 onward.
[2. ]This and the three following paragraphs are based on DNG VII.8 §6.
[3. ]The translator omits “without considerable and important reasons,” thus giving the sentence a meaning quite different from the original.
[4. ]Instead of “… they must be subject to tuition, …” read: “… they must give themselves masters, …”
[5. ]For this and the next paragraph, see DNG VII.8 §6.
[6. ]The translator omits “always.”
[* ]Quomodo sterilitatem, aut nimios imbres, et caetera naturae mala, ita luxum vel avaritiam dominantium tolerate. Vitia erunt, donec homines; sed neque haec continua, et meliorum interventu pensantur. Hist. lib. iv. cap. lxxiv. N. 4. [The quote is from DNG VII.8 §5. Many of Burlamaqui’s quotations from ancient and other sources are from Grotius or Pufendorf, or from Barbeyrac’s footnotes.]
[7. ]This and the following paragraph are from DNG VII.8 §6.
[8. ]This point was made by Barbeyrac, for example, in DNG II.2 §2 note 17.
[* ]Book i. chap. iv. § 7. N. 2.
[† ]Part i. chap. vii. N. 22, &c. [PPL.]
[9. ]From Barbeyrac’s Lockean footnote 2 to DNG VII.8 §6. The comparison is from a long quote from Algernon Sidney in the same note.
[‡ ]Grotius on the Right of war and peace, book i. chap. iv. § 8.
[10. ]This is from DNG VII.8 §5.
[11. ]This paragraph and the following are from Barbeyrac in note 1 to DNG VII.8 §6.
[12. ]This is Locke’s argument, quoted by Barbeyrac in DNG VII.8 §6 note 1. Burlamaqui’s arguments against absolute monarchy rely heavily on this footnote throughout.
[13. ]Pufendorf in DNG VII.8 §6.
[14. ]This is from Barbeyrac, whose Lockean footnote 1 contrasts with Pufendorf ’s expressions in the main text of the DNG VII.8 §6.
[15. ]The translator omits the end of the sentence: “… that he does not want violated.” The text is word for word from Barbeyrac’s Locke quotation in DNG VII.8 §6 note 1.
[1. ]The translator transforms the original’s duties into a singular duty. Note also that there is no chapter 7 in the translation: the same is true of the French original. This chapter is on the whole a striking example of how Burlamaqui sometimes takes his text word for word from Barbeyrac’s French edition of Pufendorf. In this lengthy chapter, almost nothing can be attributed to Burlamaqui himself.
[2. ]This and the next six paragraphs are from DNG VII.9 §2, including note 3, which forms the basis for Burlamaqui’s eighth paragraph. See also DHC II.11 §2.
[3. ]The translator omits “with dignity” here.
[4. ]The translator replaces “need” (“besoin”) with “occasion.”
[5. ]A similar remark is made in DNG VII.9 §2 and §4 in fine. The list of the sovereign’s virtues in Burlamaqui’s paragraphs 12 to 21 (including the quote from Cicero) is from Barbeyrac in DNG VII.9 §2 note 8.
[6. ]“… in order to ensure that each is rendered what belongs to him” (“ce qui lui appartient”). In the next sentence, Burlamaqui writes about “the science of those great jurisconsults who ascend to the primary justice [à la première Justice] that regulates human society and determines the principles of government and of politics.”
[* ]Fortem, justum, severum, gravem, magnanimum, largum, beneficum, liberalem dici, hae sunt regiae laudes. Orat. pro rege Dejotaro, cap. 9.
[7. ]The translator omits “only” here. This paragraph is from DNG VII.9 §3.
[8. ]This and the next paragraph are from DNG VII.9 §3 note 2.
[9. ]This and the next paragraph are from DNG VII.9 §4 and from note 1 to that paragraph.
[10. ]Read: “from early on” (“de bonne heure”).
[11. ]The translator gives “subject” for Burlamaqui’s “citizen.” The gardening metaphor is from Plato and is presented by Barbeyrac in DNG VII.9 §4 note 1. The Horace quote is in DNG VII.9 §4 note 2.
[* ]Horat. lib. iii. Od. 24. v. 35, 36.
[12. ]Read : “… to violate the most precise laws …” (“les loix les plus précises”) and add “… institutions, as if by themselves” (“comme d’eux-mêmes”).
[13. ]Add “in themselves.” This addition shows how Burlamaqui understands the moral maxims of the Christian religion to provide good guidance even when we abstract from their religious function. Burlamaqui’s text abbreviates Pufendorf and omits the argument that the purified (i.e., protestant) Christian religion is the true path to salvation.
[14. ]This paragraph and the two following are from DNG VII.9 §5.
[15. ]Based on VII.9 §6.
[* ]Characters and manners of the present age, chap. x. of the sovereign.
[16. ]From DNG VII.9 §8. The quote from de la Bruyère is from Barbeyrac, note 1 to the paragraph in question.
[17. ]From DNG VII.9 §9.
[18. ]From DNG VII.9 §10.
[19. ]Read: “The sovereign can draw the funds that he has need of only from the goods of his subjects: The wealth …” The paragraph is from DNG VII.9 §11. The next paragraph is from §12.
[20. ]This paragraph is based on DNG VII.9 §13.