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He cannot be elected under thirty-five years of age; and he must be
a native of the country.

In a comparison of these cases with the Government of England, the
difference when applied to the latter amounts to an absurdity. In
England the person who exercises prerogative is often a foreigner;
always half a foreigner, and always married to a foreigner. He is
never in full natural or political connection with the country, is not
responsible for anything, and becomes of age at eighteen years; yet
such a person is permitted to form foreign alliances, without even the
knowledge of the nation, and to make war and peace without its consent.

But this is not all. Though such a person cannot dispose of the
government in the manner of a testator, he dictates the marriage
connections, which, in effect, accomplish a great part of the same end.
He cannot directly bequeath half the government to Prussia, but he can
form a marriage partnership that will produce almost the same thing.
Under such circumstances, it is happy for England that she is not
situated on the Continent, or she might, like Holland, fall under
the dictatorship of Prussia. Holland, by marriage, is as effectually
governed by Prussia, as if the old tyranny of bequeathing the government
had been the means.

The presidency in America (or, as it is sometimes called, the executive)
is the only office from which a foreigner is excluded, and in England it
is the only one to which he is admitted. A foreigner cannot be a member
of Parliament, but he may be what is called a king. If there is any
reason for excluding foreigners, it ought to be from those offices where
mischief can most be acted, and where, by uniting every bias of interest
and attachment, the trust is best secured. But as nations proceed in
the great business of forming constitutions, they will examine with
more precision into the nature and business of that department which is
called the executive. What the legislative and judicial departments are
every one can see; but with respect to what, in Europe, is called
the executive, as distinct from those two, it is either a political
superfluity or a chaos of unknown things.

Some kind of official department, to which reports shall be made from
the different parts of a nation, or from abroad, to be laid before the
national representatives, is all that is necessary; but there is no
consistency in calling this the executive; neither can it be considered
in any other light than as inferior to the legislative. The sovereign
authority in any country is the power of making laws, and everything
else is an official department.

Next to the arrangement of the principles and the organization of the
several parts of a constitution, is the provision to be made for
the support of the persons to whom the nation shall confide the
administration of the constitutional powers.

A nation can have no right to the time and services of any person at his
own expense, whom it may choose to employ or entrust in any department
whatever; neither can any reason be given for making provision for the
support of any one part of a government and not for the other.

But admitting that the honour of being entrusted with any part of a
government is to be considered a sufficient reward, it ought to be so to
every person alike. If the members of the legislature of any country
are to serve at their own expense that which is called the executive,
whether monarchical or by any other name, ought to serve in like manner.
It is inconsistent to pay the one, and accept the service of the other
gratis.

In America, every department in the government is decently provided for;
but no one is extravagantly paid. Every member of Congress, and of
the Assemblies, is allowed a sufficiency for his expenses. Whereas in
England, a most prodigal provision is made for the support of one part
of the Government, and none for the other, the consequence of which is
that the one is furnished with the means of corruption and the other is
put into the condition of being corrupted. Less than a fourth part of
such expense, applied as it is in America, would remedy a great part of
the corruption.

Another reform in the American constitution is the exploding all oaths
of personality. The oath of allegiance in America is to the nation only.
The putting any individual as a figure for a nation is improper.
The happiness of a nation is the superior object, and therefore the
intention of an oath of allegiance ought not to be obscured by being
figuratively taken, to, or in the name of, any person. The oath, called
the civic oath, in France, viz., "the nation, the law, and the king," is
improper. If taken at all, it ought to be as in America, to the nation
only. The law may or may not be good; but, in this place, it can have no
other meaning, than as being conducive to the happiness of a nation, and
therefore is included in it. The remainder of the oath is improper, on
the ground, that all personal oaths ought to be abolished. They are the
remains of tyranny on one part and slavery on the other; and the name of
the Creator ought not to be introduced to witness the degradation of
his creation; or if taken, as is already mentioned, as figurative of the
nation, it is in this place redundant. But whatever apology may be made
for oaths at the first establishment of a government, they ought not to
be permitted afterwards. If a government requires the support of oaths,
it is a sign that it is not worth supporting, and ought not to be
supported. Make government what it ought to be, and it will support
itself.

To conclude this part of the subject:--One of the greatest improvements
that have been made for the perpetual security and progress of
constitutional liberty, is the provision which the new constitutions
make for occasionally revising, altering, and amending them.

The principle upon which Mr. Burke formed his political creed, that of
"binding and controlling posterity to the end of time, and of renouncing
and abdicating the rights of all posterity, for ever," is now become too
detestable to be made a subject of debate; and therefore, I pass it over
with no other notice than exposing it.

Government is but now beginning to be known. Hitherto it has been the
mere exercise of power, which forbade all effectual enquiry into rights,
and grounded itself wholly on possession. While the enemy of liberty was
its judge, the progress of its principles must have been small indeed.

The constitutions of America, and also that of France, have either
affixed a period for their revision, or laid down the mode by which
improvement shall be made. It is perhaps impossible to establish
anything that combines principles with opinions and practice, which the
progress of circumstances, through a length of years, will not in some
measure derange, or render inconsistent; and, therefore, to prevent
inconveniences accumulating, till they discourage reformations or
provoke revolutions, it is best to provide the means of regulating them
as they occur. The Rights of Man are the rights of all generations of
men, and cannot be monopolised by any. That which is worth following,
will be followed for the sake of its worth, and it is in this that
its security lies, and not in any conditions with which it may be
encumbered. When a man leaves property to his heirs, he does not connect
it with an obligation that they shall accept it. Why, then, should we
do otherwise with respect to constitutions? The best constitution that
could now be devised, consistent with the condition of the present
moment, may be far short of that excellence which a few years may
afford. There is a morning of reason rising upon man on the subject
of government, that has not appeared before. As the barbarism of the
present old governments expires, the moral conditions of nations with
respect to each other will be changed. Man will not be brought up with
the savage idea of considering his species as his enemy, because
the accident of birth gave the individuals existence in countries
distinguished by different names; and as constitutions have always some
relation to external as well as to domestic circumstances, the means of
benefitting by every change, foreign or domestic, should be a part
of every constitution. We already see an alteration in the national
disposition of England and France towards each other, which, when we
look back to only a few years, is itself a Revolution. Who could have
foreseen, or who could have believed, that a French National Assembly
would ever have been a popular toast in England, or that a friendly
alliance of the two nations should become the wish of either? It shows
that man, were he not corrupted by governments, is naturally the friend
of man, and that human nature is not of itself vicious. That spirit
of jealousy and ferocity, which the governments of the two countries
inspired, and which they rendered subservient to the purpose of
taxation, is now yielding to the dictates of reason, interest, and
humanity. The trade of courts is beginning to be understood, and the
affectation of mystery, with all the artificial sorcery by which
they imposed upon mankind, is on the decline. It has received its
death-wound; and though it may linger, it will expire. Government ought
to be as much open to improvement as anything which appertains to man,
instead of which it has been monopolised from age to age, by the most
ignorant and vicious of the human race. Need we any other proof of their
wretched management, than the excess of debts and taxes with which every
nation groans, and the quarrels into which they have precipitated the
world? Just emerging from such a barbarous condition, it is too soon to
determine to what extent of improvement government may yet be carried.
For what we can foresee, all Europe may form but one great Republic, and
man be free of the whole.




CHAPTER V. WAYS AND MEANS OF IMPROVING THE CONDITION OF EUROPE

INTERSPERSED WITH MISCELLANEOUS OBSERVATIONS

In contemplating a subject that embraces with equatorial magnitude the
whole region of humanity it is impossible to confine the pursuit in one
single direction.



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