Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER VIII: The Subject concluded.—Effects that have resulted, in the English Government, from the People's Power being completely delegated to their Representatives. - The Constitution of England; Or, an Account of the English Government
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CHAPTER VIII: The Subject concluded.—Effects that have resulted, in the English Government, from the People’s Power being completely delegated to their Representatives. - 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.—Effects that have resulted, in the English Government, from the People’s Power being completely delegated to their Representatives.
But when the People have entirely trusted their power to a moderate number of persons, affairs immediately take a widely different turn. Those who govern are from that moment obliged to leave off all those stratagems which had hitherto ensured their success. Instead of those Assemblies which they affected to despise, and were perpetually comparing to storms, or to the current of the Euripus(a) , and in regard to which they accordingly thought themselves at liberty to pass over the rules of Justice, they now find that they have to deal with Men who are their equals in point of education and knowledge, and their inferiors only in point of rank and form. They, in consequence, soon find it necessary to adopt quite different methods; and, above all, become very careful not to talk to them any more about the sacred chickens, the white or black days, and the Sibylline books.1 —As they see their new adversaries expect to have a proper regard paid to them, that single circumstance inspires them with it:—as they see them act in a regular manner, observe constant rules, in a word proceed with form, they come to look upon them with respect, from the very same reason which makes them themselves to be reverenced by the People.
The Representatives of the People, on the other hand, do not fail soon to procure for themselves every advantage that may enable them effectually to use the powers with which they have been intrusted, and to adopt every rule of proceeding that may make their resolutions to be truly the result of reflection and deliberation. Thus it was that the Representatives of the English Nation, soon after their first establishment, became formed into a separate Assembly: they afterwards obtained the liberty of appointing a President:—soon after, they insisted upon their being consulted on the last form of the Acts to which they had given rise:—lastly, they insisted on thenceforth framing them themselves.
In order to prevent any possibility of surprize in the course of their proceedings, it is a settled rule with them, that every proposition, or bill, must be read three times, at different prefixed days, before it can receive a final sanction: and before each reading of the bill, as well as at its first introduction, an express resolution must be taken to continue it under consideration. If the bill be rejected, in any one of those several operations, it must be dropped, and cannot be proposed again during the same Session (a) .
The Commons have been, above all, jealous of the freedom of speech in their assembly. They have expressly stipulated, as we have above mentioned, that none of their words or speeches should be questioned in any place out of their House. In fine, in order to keep their deliberations free from every kind of influence, they have denied their President the right to give his vote, or even his opinion:—they moreover have settled it as a rule, not only that the King could not send to them any express proposals about laws, or other subjects, but even that his name should never be mentioned in the deliberations (a) .
But that circumstance which, of all others, constitutes the superior excellence of a Government in which the People act only through their Representatives, that is, by means of an assembly formed of a moderate number of persons, and in which it is possible for every Member to propose new subjects, and to argue and to canvass the questions that arise, is that such a Constitution is the only one that is capable of the immense advantage, and of which I do not know if I have been able to convey an adequate idea to the reader when I mentioned it before (b) , I mean that of putting into the hands of the People the moving springs of the Legislative authority.
In a Constitution where the People at large exercise the function of enacting the Laws, as it is only to those persons towards whom the Citizens are accustomed to turn their eyes, that is to the very Men who govern, that the Assembly have either time or inclination to listen, they acquire, at length, as has constantly been the case in all Republics, the exclusive right of proposing, if they please, when they please, in what manner they please. A prerogative this, of such extent, that it would suffice to put an assembly formed of Men of the greatest parts, at the mercy of a few dunces, and renders completely illusory the boasted power of the People. Nay more, as this prerogative is thus placed in the very hands of the adversaries of the People, it forces the People to remain exposed to their attacks, in a condition perpetually passive, and takes from them the only legal means by which they might effectually oppose their usurpations.
To express the whole in a few words. A representative Constitution places the remedy in the hands of those who feel the disorder; but a popular Constitution places the remedy in the hands of those who cause it; and it is necessarily productive, in the event, of the misfortune—of the political calamity, of trusting the care and the means of repressing the invasions of power, to the Men who have the enjoyment of power.
[(a) ]Tully makes no end of his similes on this subject. Quod enim fretum, quem Euripum, tot motus, tantas & tam varias habere putatis agitationes fluctuum, quantas perturbationes & quantos aestus habet ratio Comitiorum? See Orat. pro Muraenâ. [[“Euripus” referred to the channel of water that separated Boeotia, on the Attic shore, from the island of Euboea. De Lolme quotes Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Muraenâ (On behalf of Muraenâ). The passage reads: “Can you think of any strait, any channel, that has the currents and variety of rough patches and changes of tide strong enough to match the upsets of the ebb and flow that accompany the working of elections?”—Concio, says he in another place, quae ex imperitissimis constat, &c. De Amicitiâ, § 25. Marcus Tullius Cicero, De amicitiâ (On friendship), 25. The full passage reads: “A public assembly, though composed of very ignorant men, can, nevertheless, usually see the difference between a demagogue—that is, a smooth-tongued, shallow citizen—and one who has stability, sincerity, and weight.”]]
[1. ]De Lolme refers to several techniques used by Rome’s governors to decide public matters in a manner that avoided reasoned explanations or regular procedures. Rome’s armies consulted the feeding habits of “sacred chickens” and other birds to divine their fortunes in future battles. “White or black days” is an apparent reference to days on which public records, such as the praetor’s edicts, were or were not publicly displayed on the “alba” or white tablets. The “Sibylline books” were collections of Greek oracular prophesies which, according to legend, were acquired for Rome by Tarquin II, who ruled as king from 535 b.c.e. to 510 b.c.e., and were later consulted in times of grave crisis.
[(a) ]It is moreover a settled rule in the House of Commons, that no Member is to speak more than once in the same day. When the number and nature of the clauses of a Bill require that it should be discussed in a freer manner, a Committee is appointed for that purpose, who are to make their report afterwards to the House. When the subject is of importance, this Committee is formed of the whole House, which still continues to sit in the same place, but in a less solemn manner, and under another President, who is called the Chairman of the Committee. In order to form the House again, the mace is replaced on the Table, and the Speaker goes again into his chair.
[(a) ]If any person were to mention in his speech, what the King wishes should be, would be glad to see, &c. he would be immediately called to order, for attempting to influence the debate.
[(b) ]See chap. iv. of this Book.