« PreviousContinue »
which we trample under our feet, but which nevertheless supports and feeds us.
Let the powers of the Nation consider themselves therefore as powers of Heaven, which in some other respects they pretend to be; but let them recollect at the same time, that notwithstanding the privileges which they enjoy of moving in their particular sphere, and of approaching that of the sun, they are not the less on that account adapted to the sphere of the People, seeing the sun himself, with all his splendour, exists in the Heavens only for the harmonies of the Earth and of the smallest plants on her surface.
I shall put up prayers therefore for the harmony of the four Orders which at this day compose the Nation, beginning with him who is the prime mover in it.
WISHES FOR THE KING.
MANY writers of high reputation consider the national power in a Monarchy, as divided into two; into a legislative power and an executive power; they assign the former to the Nation, and the latter to the King.
This division appears to me defective, for it omits a third power essential to every good Go vernment, the moderating power, which in Monarchy belongs exclusively to the Sovereign. , Here the King is not the simple Commissioner of the Nation merely, a Doge or a Stadtholder : he. is a Monarch invested with the charge of direct- ; ing the public operations. The Clergy, the No. bility, and even the People, only see and regulate each, one in particular; detached parts of the Mo
parchy, of which they are members only; the King is the heart of it, and is alone capable of knowing and of putting in motion the combined whole. The three bodies of which Monarchy is composed are continually re-acting one against auother, so that left to themselves, it would speedily come to pass that one of them must oppress the other two, or be oppressed by them, without it's being possible for the King, who would have the executive power only, to do any thing else but become the agent of the strongest party, that is of oppression. The Sovereign mușt therefore have besides the moderating power, that is to say, the power of maintaining the equilibrium, not only between those bodies, but to unite their force ex, ternally in opposition to foreign powers, whose en: terprizes he alone is in a condition to know. It is the moderating power which constitutes the 2017 narch,
The writers to whom I alluded, have had a per: ception of the necessity of this power, in the King, and have made it a question whether it ought to consist in a simple veto, as in England, or in a certain number of deliberate voices, to be reserved to him as his royal prerogative.
The veto is an inert power capable of defeeting the best concerted projects. The King on the contrary ought to be vested with a power of activity capable of giving them energy and suc : cess. The heart in the human frame, is never in a state of inaction; the same ought to be the case of the Sovereign in a Monarchy. As to deliberative voices to be reserved to the
King, it is extremely difficult to determine their number, I will take the liberty to suggest a few reflections on the subject. The number of voices in the National Assembly is about twelve hundred, of which six hundred belong to the Clergy and Nobility, and six hundred to the Commonalty. Now, if the six hundred votes of the two first Orders were equal in weight to the six hundred of the Commons, as they are in number, there would be an exact equilibrium between them, and nothing more would be necessary to the Sovereign but his own single voice to make the balance incline which way be pleased : What do I say? The voice of the King which disposes of all employments, possesses of it's own Nature such a preponderancy, that it alone would bear down all the rest, as happens in despotic States, unless it too had a coun terbalance.
It is useless therefore to multiply the voice of the King in the National Assembly, in order to give him weight; it is sufficient that it be reserved to him: but it is highly necessary to reform the national balance itself, to render it susceptible of equilibrium. Though it's arm may be equal in length, it's scales are by no means so in respect of weight. It may be affirmed that the scale of the Clergy and Nobility is of gold, whereas that of the People is of straw. The former is so filled with mitres, ribbands, dignities, governments, magistracies, survivances already given away, though they originally belong to the Royal authority or even to the People, that the balance has always leaned to that side, in defiance of the efforts made
by some of our:Kings to re-adjust it. This scale accordingly preponderates not only by it's proper weight, but by that of the royal power, which it has attracted to itself; so that in order to restore the scale of the People to an equilibrium, it would be necessary that the King should either render it heavier by transferring to it a certain proportion of dignities and employments, or by increasing the length of it's arm, in multiplying the voices of the Representatives of the People in the National Assemblies. The plebeian lever thus becoming the longer of the two, it will require very little effort on the part of the Prince to give it inclination, and the moderating power will act in the Monarchy in the same manner as the moveable weight along the greater lever of the Roman balance. It was only by the number of their own voices that the People of Rome balanced the weight of the senatorial voices. In the British Parliament, the number of the members of the Upper House does not exceed two hundred and forty-five, whereas that of the members of the House of Commons amounts to five hundred and fifty-eight, that is to more than double. Without an equivalent proportion, the plebeian scale will never be able to acquire it's equilibrium, till the six hundred voices which compose it shall be supported by the voices of the twenty-four millions of men whom they represent: in that case, though it's scale may be light, it's arm becoming infinitely long, it's re-action will be rendered infinitely pow. erful. This moment of revolution will be the proper one for the King to resume his moderating power, in order to the re-establishment of the monarchical balance.
The royal influence will then resemble that of the Sun, who balances in the Heayens the Globes which revolve around him.
I have oftener than once expressed a desire that the King would make a progress once every year over the estates of his kingdom from one extremity to the otler, as the Sun visits by turns every year the two poles of the world. My wishes seem to be on the point of accomplishment. The movement will indeed be different, but the effect will be the same. It will ngt be the motion of the King toward the People ; but that of the People toward their King. This political system is simplified like the astronomical, in which it is supposed, with a high degree of probability, that it is not the Sun which revolves round the Earth, but the Earth which revolves on her axis and in her orbit round the Sun, presenting to him by turns her icy poles.
This order seems to me still better adapted to the functions of a King, who after all is only a man, and who ought not only to diffuse his light over his people, but who in his turn stands in need of receiving illumination from them. The King will accordingly derive information from the National Assembly, of what is passing in the provincial assemblies, of what is transacting in the Assemblies of the cities; and from those of the cities, of what is going on in the villages.
The men like the affairs of the State will circulate under his eyes; for the meanest peasant may be eli . gible as deputy from the assembly of his village to that of the city in whose district it is situated, from