Front Page Titles (by Subject) Editions of The Constitution of England - The Constitution of England; Or, an Account of the English Government
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Editions of The Constitution of England - Jean Louis De Lolme, The Constitution of England; Or, an Account of the English Government 
The Constitution of England; Or, an Account of the English Government, edited and with an Introduction by David Lieberman (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007).
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Editions of The Constitution of England
For the preparation of this edition, Åsa Söderman completed a detailed survey of the principal English editions of The Constitution of England published in De Lolme’s lifetime. Her research revealed for the first time the extensive changes to the text De Lolme made in the ten-year period from 1775 to 1784.
De Lolme’s study was first published as Constitution de l’Angleterre ou État du gouvernement anglais comparé avec la forme républicaine et avec les autres monarchies de l’Europe in Amsterdam in 1771. Later French-language editions appeared in Amsterdam (1774, 1778), London (1785), Geneva (1787, 1788, 1789, 1790), Breslau (1791), and Paris (1819, 1822).
The original 1775 English edition, published in London as The Constitution of England; or, an Account of the English Government; in which it is compared with the Republican Form of Government and occasionally with the Other Monarchies in Europe, comprised more than a translation of the earlier French version. De Lolme reorganized some of the chapter divisions and introduced three substantial chapters to book 2 (chapters 15–17). These additions extended the treatment of England’s constitutional development and legal system and reinforced De Lolme’s central thesis concerning the many beneficial consequences of the crown’s monopoly of executive power.
Three further editions of the English text were published in London during De Lolme’s lifetime (1777, 1781, and 1784), along with pirate printings in Dublin (1776 and 1777). These publications became the vehicle through which De Lolme further revised and expanded his discussion. Major changes to the later French editions (Geneva, 1788, and Breslau, 1791), for example, included translations and insertions of the new material added previously to the English editions. De Lolme updated his study in a variety of ways, responding critically to recent political events, such as the restoration of royal absolutism in Sweden in 1772 (book 2, chapter 17, p. 258, note c) and the French military intervention in Geneva in 1782 (book 2, chapter 5, pp. 174–75, note a), and to important recent publications, such as Adam Smith’s 1776 An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (book 2, chapter 17, pp. 288–89). He was especially diligent in refining the language of the text. No section of the book was overlooked in the effort to clarify the argument through changes of expression and wording.
In addition to these frequent and often minor alterations, De Lolme introduced major revisions to the third (1781) and fourth (1784) editions. He added the dedication and advertisement, as well as two new chapters to book 1 (chapters 10–11), two new chapters to book 2 (chapters 19–20), and substantial new material to book 2, chapter 17 (pp. 267–74). The new chapters in book 1 added significant detail to the treatment of England’s legal institutions. The additions to book 2 greatly extended De Lolme’s contrast between the nature of the monarchic power under the English constitution and the more typical examples of monarchy in continental Europe. (The new chapter 19, for example, largely incorporated material from De Lolme’s 1772 publication A Parallel between the English Constitution and the former Government of Sweden; containing some observations on the late Revolution in that kingdom and Examination of the causes that secure us against both Aristocracy and Absolute Monarchy.) At the same time, these additions rendered the work more repetitive and much less tightly ordered. As De Lolme candidly reported, the new chapters of book 1 on English law “proved much longer than I intended at first” (chapter 11, p. 114), and the unexpected swelling of book 2, chapter 17, had been so great “as almost to make it a kind of a separate Book by itself” (advertisement postscript, p. 16). The 1784 version of De Lolme’s text was used in the subsequent and numerous editions of The Constitution of England published in the late eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries.
In addition to the French and English editions, German translations were published in Amsterdam (1772), Leipzig (1776, 1848), and Altona [Hamburg] (1819). A Spanish translation was published in Ovieda in 1812.
A NOTE ON THE TEXT
This edition of The Constitution of England presents the 1784 version of De Lolme’s text. My principal aim as editor has been to make the work more accessible to a modern reader by clarifying the many (now obscure) historical episodes, political institutions, and practices, and by identifying the classical and modern authorities De Lolme invoked. Editorial annotations to De Lolme’s main text appear as numbered footnotes. Annotations to De Lolme’s original notes are enclosed in double square brackets inserted into the body of the note. Page breaks in the 1784 edition are indicated by the use of angle brackets. (For example, page 112 begins after .) In checking and translating De Lolme’s quotations from classical sources, I have consulted, where available, editions in the Loeb Classical Library. I have been aided by the translations in William Hughes Hughes’s edition of The Constitution of England (London, 1834).
Like many early modern writers, De Lolme was casual in his references to other authors, often trusting memory. Furthermore, he relied on versions of texts that have since been superseded. I have not tried to correct De Lolme’s citations and instead have only noted those instances where the quotations in his text involve significant variation from an original source. Obvious typographical errors in the text have been silently corrected.
Before 1752, England retained the Julian (or “Old Style”) calendar, in which the New Year is taken to begin on March 25. I have adjusted dates so that the New Year starts on January 1. This is awkward when dealing with events relating to the Glorious Revolution, which to contemporaries occurred in 1688 and to moderns in 1689. To deal with these few episodes, I have used the inelegant formula: 1688/89.
My greatest debt is to Knud Haakonssen, who first proposed that this volume be included in the series under his general editorship and who thereafter remained a frequent and much-needed source of guidance, patience, and support. Åsa Söderman’s detailed and exacting survey of the principal early editions of The Constitution of England, discussed more fully in the editorial introduction, provided the critical starting point for the preparation of this edition. Michael Sletcher showed fine generosity in sharing his discovery of a previously unreported publication by De Lolme, also detailed above.
I imposed on the expertise of many friends and scholars to elucidate particular references in De Lolme’s text and am delighted to acknowledge the help of Thomas Brady, Jan deVries, Eliga Gould, Lindsay Farmer, Richard Kagan, Ernest Metzger, Carlos Noreña, James Oldham, and Richard Whatmore. Several graduate students at the Boalt Hall School of Law provided skillful research assistance: Benjamin Bechstedt, Brad Bryan, Tucker Culbertson, and, above all, Pablo Rueda Saiz, whose dedication and contributions were invaluable. As on past occasions, I have benefited from the wonderful resources and staff of several libraries at the University of California at Berkeley: the Bancroft Library, the Robbins Collection, and the Garret W. McEnerney Law Library. I am especially grateful for the expertise and many kindnesses of the Law Library’s associate director, Marci Hoffman.
THE CONSTITUTION OF ENGLAND
In which it is compared, both with the Republican Form of Government, and the other Monarchies in Europe.
By J. L. DE LOLME, Advocate,
Member of the Council of the Two Hundred in the Republic of Geneva.
THE FOURTH EDITION,
Corrected and Enlarged.
Ponderibus librata suis.———
Ovid. Met. L. I. 13.1
Printed for G. Robinson, No 25, Paternoster-Row; and J. Murray, No 32, Fleet-street.
[1. ]“Poised by its own weight,” Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso) Metamorphoses, bk. 1.13.