Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER II: The Subject concluded.—The Executive Power is more easily confined when it is one. - The Constitution of England; Or, an Account of the English Government
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CHAPTER II: The Subject concluded.—The Executive Power is more easily confined when it is one. - 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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The Subject concluded.—The Executive Power is more easily confined when it is one.
Another great advantage, and which one would not at first expect, in this unity of the public power in England,—in this union, and, if I may so express myself, in this coacervation, of all the branches of the Executive authority, is the greater facility it affords of restraining it.
In those States where the execution of the laws is intrusted to several different hands, and to each with different titles and prerogatives, such division, and the changeableness of measures which must be the consequence of it, constantly hide the true cause of the evils of the State: in the endless fluctuation of things, no political principles have time to fix among the People: and public mis-fortunes happen, without ever leaving behind them any useful lesson.
At sometimes military Tribunes, and at others, Consuls, bear an absolute sway;—sometimes Patricians usurp every thing, and at other times, those who are called Nobles (a) ;—sometimes the People are oppressed by Decemvirs, and at others by Dictators.1
Tyranny, in such States, does not always beat down the fences that are set around it; but it leaps over them. When men think it confined to one place, it starts up again in another;—it mocks the efforts of the People, not because it is invincible, but because it is unknown;—seized by the arm of a Hercules, it escapes with the changes of a Proteus.2
But the indivisibility of the Public power in England has constantly kept the views and efforts of the People directed to one and the same object; and the permanence of that power has also given a permanence and a regularity to the precautions they have taken to restrain it.
Constantly turned towards that ancient fortress, the Royal power, they have made it, for seven centuries, the object of their fear; with a watchful jealousy they have considered all its parts—they have observed all its outlets—they have even pierced the earth to explore its secret avenues, and subterraneous works.
United in their views by the greatness of the danger, they regularly formed their attacks. They established their works, first at a distance; then brought them successively nearer; and, in short, raised none but what served afterwards as a foundation or defence to others.
After the great Charter was established, forty successive confirmations strengthened it. The Act called the Petition of Right, and that passed in the sixteenth year of Charles the First, then followed: some years after, the Habeas Corpus Act was established; and the Bill of Rights made at length its appearance.3 In fine, whatever the circumstances may have been, they always had, in their efforts, that inestimable advantage of knowing with certainty the general seat of the evils they had to defend themselves against; and each calamity, each particular eruption, by pointing out some weak place, has ever gained a new bulwark to public Liberty.
To say all in three words; the Executive power in England is formidable, but then it is for ever the same; its resources are vast, but their nature is at length known; it has been made the indivisible and inalienable attribute of one person alone, but then all other persons, of whatever rank or degree, become really interested to restrain it within its proper bounds (a) .
[(a) ]The capacity of being admitted to all places of public trust, at length gained by the Plebeians, having rendered useless the old distinction between them and the Patricians, a coalition was then effected between the great Plebeians, or Commoners, who got into these places, and the ancient Patricians: hence a new Class of Men arose, who were called Nobiles and Nobilitas. These are the words by which Livy, after that period, constantly distinguishes those Men and families who were at the head of the State. [[Titus Livius (Livy) (59 b.c.e.–17 c.e.), whose classic history of the early Roman Republic, Ab urbe condita (From the founding of the city) served for De Lolme, as for many early modern writers, as a major source of information and insight concerning republican political systems as well as Roman history. The political effects of the competition between Rome’s patrician and plebeian ranks formed one of Livy’s central themes, examined at length in books 3–4 and 6–7.]]
[1. ]De Lolme invokes several institutions of republican Rome to which he refers routinely in later discussion. Two consuls were elected annually by a citizen assembly (comitia centuriata) and served as the chief civil and military magistrates. In later political theory, the office was commonly treated as a monarchic element of Rome’s constitution. Military tribunes were appointed for each of Rome’s military legions and exercised general command of the army. (De Lolme elsewhere refers to the office of plebeian tribunes [tribuni plebis], who protected the property and interests of Rome’s plebeian citizens and had authority to veto any act or decree of the Senate or other magistrates.) The nobles (nobiles) were an elite group of plebeian families whose descendants came to dominate important political offices including, especially, the office of consul. Decemvirs occupied the ten-person board (decemvirate) of the mid-fifth century b.c.e., which produced and authorized the law of the Twelve Tables. During their period in office, the other established Roman magistracies were suspended. Dictators were Roman magistrates who were invested with extraordinary powers and appointed in times of emergency to command the army or perform other specific tasks. The authority of the dictator was limited to a brief period of time and (in theory) ended with the emergency that led to the appointment.
[2. ]In Greek mythology, Proteus was a sea god who could change form at will. Two of his sons, Polygonos and Telegonos, were killed by Hercules.
[3. ]De Lolme refers to parliamentary measures adopted in 1215 (Magna Carta), 1628 (Petition of Right), 1679 (Habeas Corpus Act), and 1688/89 (Bill of Rights), whose significance he discussed above, book 1, especially chapters 2–3.
[(a) ]This last advantage of the greatness and indivisibility of the Executive power, viz. the obligation it lays upon the greatest Men in the State, sincerely to unite in a common cause with the people, will be more amply discussed hereafter, when a more particular comparison between the English Government and the Republican form, shall be offered to the Reader.