The Constitution of England; Or, an Account of the English Government
The Constitution of England is one of the most distinguished eighteenth-century treatises on English political liberty. In the vein of Charles Louis Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws (1748) and William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765–1769), De Lolme’s account of the English system of government exercised an extensive influence on political debate in Britain, on constitutional design in the United States during the Founding era, and on the growth of liberal political thought throughout the nineteenth century.
The Constitution of England; Or, an Account of the English Government, edited and with an Introduction by David Lieberman (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007).
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
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Table of Contents
- De Lolme’s Life and Early Writings
- The Constitution of England
- Later Writings
- Editions of The Constitution of England
- A NOTE ON THE TEXT
- THE CONSTITUTION OF ENGLAND
- TO THE KING.
- BOOK I
- CHAPTER I: Causes of the liberty of the English Nation.—Reasons of the difference between the Government of England, and that of France.—In England, the great power of the Crown, under the Norman kings, created an union between the Nobility and the People.
- CHAPTER II: A second advantage England had over France:—it formed one undivided State.
- CHAPTER III: The Subject continued.
- CHAPTER IV: Of the Legislative Power.
- CHAPTER V: Of the Executive Power.
- CHAPTER VI: The Boundaries which the Constitution has set to the Royal Prerogative.
- CHAPTER VII: The same Subject continued.
- CHAPTER VIII: New Restrictions.
- CHAPTER IX: Of private Liberty, or the Liberty of Individuals.
- CHAPTER X1: On the Law in regard to Civil matters, that is observed in England.
- CHAPTER XI1: The Subject continued. The Courts of Equity.
- CHAPTER XII: Of Criminal Justice.
- CHAPTER XIII: The Subject continued.
- CHAPTER XIV: The Subject concluded.—Laws relative to Imprisonment.
- BOOK II
- CHAPTER I: Some Advantages peculiar to the English Constitution. 1. The Unity of the Executive Power.
- CHAPTER II: The Subject concluded.—The Executive Power is more easily confined when it is one.
- CHAPTER III: A second Peculiarity.—The Division of the Legislative Power.
- CHAPTER IV: A third Advantage peculiar to the English Government. The Business of proposing Laws, lodged in the Hands of the People.
- CHAPTER V: In which an Inquiry is made, whether it would be an Advantage to public Liberty, that the Laws should be enacted by the Votes of the People at large.
- CHAPTER VI: Advantages that accrue to the People from appointing Representatives.
- CHAPTER VII: The Subject continued—The Advantages that accrue to the People from their appointing Representatives, are very inconsiderable, unless they also entirely trust their Legislative Authority to them.
- CHAPTER VIII: The Subject concluded.—Effects that have resulted, in the English Government, from the People’s Power being completely delegated to their Representatives.
- CHAPTER IX: A farther Disadvantage of Republican Governments.—The People are necessarily betrayed by those in whom they trust.
- CHAPTER X: Fundamental difference between the English Government, and the Governments just described.—In England all Executive Authority is placed out of the hands of those in whom the People trust. Usefulness of the Power of the Crown.
- CHAPTER XI: The Powers which the People themselves exercise.—The Election of Members of Parliament.
- CHAPTER XII: The Subject continued.—Liberty of the Press.
- CHAPTER XIII: The Subject continued.
- CHAPTER XIV: Right of Resistance.
- CHAPTER XV1: Proofs drawn from Facts, of the Truth of the Principles laid down in the present Work.—1. The peculiar Manner in which Revolutions have always been concluded in England.
- CHAPTER XVI1: Second Difference—The Manner after which the Laws for the Liberty of the Subject are executed in England.
- CHAPTER XVII1: A more inward View of the English Government than has hitherto been offered to the Reader in the course of this Work.—Very essential differences between the English Monarchy, as a Monarchy, and all those with which we are acquainted.
- Second Part of the same Chapter.
- CHAPTER XVIII: How far the examples of Nations who have lost their liberty, are applicable to England.
- CHAPTER XIX1: A few additional thoughts on the attempts that at particular times may be made to abridge the power of the Crown, and on some of the dangers by which such attempts may be attended.
- CHAPTER XX1: A few additional Observations on the right of Taxation which is lodged in the hands of the Representatives of the People. What kind of danger this Right may be exposed to.
- CHAPTER XXI: Conclusion.—A few words on the nature of the Divisions that take place in England.
- GUIDE TO FURTHER READING
- De Lolme’s Principal Publications
- Works Cited by De Lolme
- CLASSICAL SOURCES
- MODERN SOURCES