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those systems of positive law thatYes, ; for every thing else; but in have prevailed in their turn. You a trial for life, not my mother ; lest will begin of course with the Roman by mistake she should put a black Law; for the history of which read ball for a white one. Whatever Gravina's elegant work De Ortu et authority there may have been for Progressu Juris Civilis ; then read this anecdote, it contains a very just and study Justinian's Institutes, reproof of the Athenian' mode of without any other comment than giving judgment on life and death, the short one by Vinnius. Long com- by a secret ballot; which, without ments would only confound you, preventing corruption, excludes reand make your head spin round. Dip sponsibility and covers shame. occasionally into the Pandects. But while, under the security o After this, it will be proper to ac- our own admirable constitution, we quire a general idea of feudal law wonder at the defective polity of a and the feudal system, which is so people whom we find so many causes interwoven with almost every con- to admire, it is not a little advanstitution in Europe, that with tageous for the writer of Grecian some knowledge of it, it is impossi- history, that circumstances have ble to understand modern history. been occurring, in a nation calling Read Craig De Feudis, an ad- itself the most polished of the most mirable book for matter and me- polished age of the world, which thod; and dip occasionally into the render all the atrocious, and before Corpus Juris Feudalis, while you scarcely credible, violences of facare reading Giannone's History of tion among the Greeks, not only Naples, one of the ablest and most probable, but almost make them apinstructive books that ever pear moderate. At the same time it written. These writers are not may not be digressing improperly to sufficient to give you a thorough remark, that as what has been pasknowledge of the subjects they treat singin France may tend to illustrate of; but they will give you general Grecian history, and to exculpate notions, general leading principles, the Grecian character from any inand lay the best foundation that can nate atrocity, beyond what is combe laid for the study of any muni. mon among other nations, there occipal law, such as the law of Eng. curs also in Grecian history what land, Scotland, France, &c. &c. máy enable to form a juster estirate
of the French character, than a view
ofthe late enormities, compared only Thoughts on the late revolution in with what has at any time passed in France, and on the
free constitu- our own country, might lead us to tion of England; from the second conceive; and if the inability of wise volume of “ Mitford's History of andworthy men, such as undoubtedGreece," just published.
ly mustexist in France, to hold their
just influence among thepeople, and LUTARCH relates of Alci- prevent those disgraceful proceed
biades, that when, on his recalings, appears itself a disgrace bothto from Sicily, he avoided returning to themselves and to the nation, GreAthens, being asked, "If he could cian history and the extant writnot trust his country?? he repliedings of the ablest Grecian politi
cians, will perhaps furnish their terested in the support of its next fairest apology
superior; for none are excluded For, of so many men of the from the hope of rising ; and, of brightest talents and highest ac all the various ranks, the highest is quirements, as in Greece, turned most interested in the support of all. their thoughts, with the closest at. We cannot consider without wontention, to a subject so universally der, that an order of things, apand deeply interesting, not one parently, the most natural, never seems to have been able even to subsisted in any country but our imagine a form of government which own. might in a great nation reconcile It has not always perhaps been the jarring pretensions arising from duly recollected by speculative pothat variety of rank among men, liticians, that among the ancient without which even small societies republics no such order of citizens cannot subsist. Our own writers, existed as that which in Paris lately through mere familiarity with the assumed despotic power, and, while object, as foreigners from unac the representatives of the nation quaintance with it, have very much were deliberating on the rights of overlooked what, in importance, is man, trampled under foot all rights. perhaps not inferior to any one cir- The functions of that order of citicumstance in the singular constitu- zens were, in Athens, performed by tion of our government. It is not slaves; and without keeping this till since the troubles in France circumstance constantly in mind, began, that a refugee who has been we cannot but be liable to the in situations enabling him to see, grossest error in applying the rules and compelling him to observe, has of ancient policy to modern times. discovered what, but for those Those writers who would infer, troubles, would, perhaps never have that formerly the lower ranks of occurred to his notice, that, no- people in England were not free, where else in the world such har- because the lowest ranks were acmony subsists between the several tually slaves, attempt a fallacy upon ranks of citizens as in England.'* their readers. In treating of Athens,
This harmony is indeed the found- Lacedæmon, or Rome, they would ation, the firm foundation, on which have distinguished, as they ought to the proud superstructure of the do, slaves from citizens. It is unques. British constitution rests. Rankstionable,that,from the Anglo-Saxon vary as much, or perhaps more than conquest downward, the constituelsewhere. But no one rank has tion of this country has been althat gigantic pre-eminence which ways free; and though, in unsettled can enable it to trample upon its times, and especially under the first next inferior. In the scale of sub- Norman kings, law might be overordination, the distance from top to borne by the violence of accidental bottom is great ; but the gradation power, yet both the law, and the is scarcely perceptible, and the con- established mode of administering nection intimate. Each rank is in- the law, never were otherwise than
highly • Lettre au Roi, par M. de Calonne.
highly and even singularly favour- also be not a little important to other able to the freedom and property of nations if any such there are, who even the lowest citizens. *
would form a constitution on the Nor is it, I apprehend, as some model of ours, or who would impolitical writers have asserted, of prove the constitution they possess no importance to trace the freedom after our example. Nor will it beless of the constitution of this country important to those who, without any beyond the civil wars of the last good foundation to buildon and withcentury: For the purpose indeed out any valuable experience within of establishing the right of the their own country, propose to raise, British people to freedom, it is ut- with the airy materials of theory, a terly unnecessary. But toward a constitution more perfect than the clear comprehension of the consti- most perfect that has yet existed tution itself; toward a certain upon earth. For want of attenknowledge of the broad and deep tion to the breadth and antique foundation on which it rests ; to- firmness of the basis on which our ward a ready and just perception of envied and truly enviable governthe manner in which it may be af- ment rests, the singular manner in fected through the various changes which the materials of the superto which all human things are liable, structure are adapted to each other, and some of which we have already and how they are held together by seen ; extension of dominion, influx their natural fitness to coalesce, the of riches, increase of population, complexion of Europe seems to increase of revenue, immoderate threaten many new and memorable debt, and the possible reduction of lessons in politics : lessons for every that debt; toward this, an acquaint- order that can exist in a state seance with the history of our con- parately, and lessons for nations stitution, from the earliest times, is united. Happy, then, those who, of great importance.
gathering wisdom from the sufferIf, then, it is to ourselves import- ings and dangers of others, can ant to know the history of our con
avoid the miseries which many
will stitution from earliest times, it will probably feel.t
* It seems to deserve a notice which, I think, it has not yet met with, that the monarchs to whom our constitution is most indebted, Alfred, Henry II. and Edward I. were conquerors. It is certainly a most unworthy slander upon those uncommon great men, as well as upon the parliaments, from Edward I. till the time when Fortescue wrote, under Henry VI. to assert, as often has been done, that England had no valuable constitution, and no true freedom, till the opposition to the Stuarts, or, till the expulsion of the Stuarts, procured them.
† As M. de Calonne's letter, above referred to, though printed, was never published, it may not be superfluous to give here, in its original language, the passage where the observation noticed occurs.
“ J'ignorois, lorsque j'ai commencé cette lettre, à quel point la division éclatoit déjà entre la noblesse et le tiers-état, dans les différentes provinces de votre royaume : depuis que je l'ai appris, j'en frémis. Vu la situation, où les choses ont été amenées, il n'y a pas lieu d'espérer que la concorde puisse se rétablir d'elle-même, et sans qu'on ait extirpé les germes de dissention qu'on n'a que trop fomentés. Il faut donc y pourvoir par quelque moyen nouveau, puissant, et efficace. Celui que je propose est éprouvé. C'est par lui qu'il existe en Anlgeterre, entre les grands et le peuple, plus d'accord, qu'il
Observations respecting the history To the last century, on the
Cowper, esq. ; from “ Memoirs comparative merit of the ancients of the Manchester Literary and moderns, has at length subsided. Society," vol. 3.
The few late attempts, by some of
n'y en a, je pense, dans aucune autre nation ; nulle part ailleurs l'esprit public n'est aussi marqué ; nulle part l'intérêt n'a plus d'empire pour réunir tous les états.
" Or il est constant que rien n'y contribue davantage que l'institution d'une chambre haute et d'une chambre basse dans le parlement, ainsi que leur composition respective, les distinctions qui les separent, et les rapports qui les unissent. Plus on éturdie cet ensemble, plus on trouve à l'admirer : Les lords qui forment le chambre haute, et qui tous sont titrés (ce sont les seuls qui le soient en Angleterre,) partagent dans une même association, sans préjudice néanmoins à leurs qualifications diverses, l'honneur de la pairie ; et c'est, sans contredit, le premier corps de l'état. Leur prérogative n'est jaunais contestée ni enviée par les communes, qui ont parmi leurs membres, leurs cadets, les frères, les parens, de ces mêmes lords at des plus grandes maisons du royaume. C'est ce mélange, cette transfusion, si je le puis dire, de la plus haute noblesse dans le corps representatif du peuple, qui entretient l'harmonie entre l'un et l'autre, et qui resserre le næud de leur union; c'est ce qui fait que les deux chambres fraternisent sans se confondre, qu'elles se contrebalancent sans se rivaliser, que l'une empêche l'autre d'empiéter, et que toutes deux concourent également au maintien de la prérogative royale, et à la conservation des droits nationaux.” Lettre addressée au roi, par M. de Calonne, le 9 Fevrier, 1789, p. 67, 68 &c.
The very great advantage to a free constitution, of having an hereditary first magistrate the depositary of the supreme executive power, so distinguished by superior rank, as to exclude all idea of competition, has been very well explained by M. de Lolme; but the benefit of that singular amalgamation of various rank among the people, which prevails in England, has, I think, nowhere been duly noticed. In no court of Europe, I believe, is rank so exactly regulated among the higher orders, as in England, and yet there is no rank perfectly insulated ; all are in some way implicated with those about them To begin even with the heir apparent ; as a subject, he communicates in rank with all other subjects. The king's younger sons rank next to the elder, but their rank is liable to reduction: their elder brother's younger sons will rank before them. The archbishops, and the chancellor, and the great officers of state, rank above dukes, not of royal blood, but their rank is that of office only: the dukes, in family rank, are commonly much above the archbishops and chancellor. Thus far our rule, I believe, differs little from that of other European courts : what follows is peculiar to ourselves. The peers, all equal in legal, differ in ceremonial rank. The sons of peers of the higher orders rank above the peers themselves of the lower orders ; but, superior thus in ceremonial rank, they are in legal rank inferior. For the sons of all peers, even of the blood royal, being commoners, while in ceremonial rank they may be above many of the peers, in legal rank they are only peers with the commoners. This implication of the peerage with the body of the people, is the advantageous circumstance which has particularly struck M. de Calonne. But there is another thing, which perhaps not less strongly marks the wise moderation of our ancestors, to whom we owe the present order of things. No distinction between subjects can be really more essential than the being or not being members of the legislative body; yet the rank of a member of parliament is known neither to the law, nor to the ceremonial of the country. Among untitled commoners, indeed, there is no distinction of rank that can be very exactly defined; and yet a distinction always subsists in public opinion, decided partly, and perhaps sometimes too much, by wealth, partly by consideration given to birth, connections, or character, which, upon the whole, perhaps more than under any other government, preserves the subordination necessary to the well-being of large societies.
our writers,* to reinstate Plato and vater seems to have excited a con, Aristotle at the head of the ranks siderable degree of attention on the of science, have been coolly 're- continent, the society, perhaps, will ceived ; and the moderns in general not be displeased, if I lay before have acquiesced in their own pre- them such literary observations reeminence. There seems, indeed, specting the progress of physiog. some reason for this decision in our
nomy as my reading has suggested. favour: and it will be readily ac- There has been some dispute knowledged that, within a century respecting the etymology of the or two, we have greatly extended term, somederiving it from ouors and the bounds of knowledge, by con- γιγνωσκω to know; others from φυσις tenting ourselves with slow but sure and ywuwy an index; others from advances, and by relying upon fact quois and youn a mark : according and experiment in preference to to these last derivations, physiogconjecture and hypothesis. I can- nomy will be a knowledge of nanot help thinking, however, that al. ture from the indices or marks of it. though we have shown many of the This extended signification to which ancient systems to be merely the the etymology of the word leads, creatures of imagination, we have I have noticed, because I think it is in some cases concluded much too remotely connected with the dochastily; and unreasonably denied trine of signatures. the existence of that knowledge, For the same reason it may
be which we have not been at the worth while to mention the conpains of acquiring
troversies respecting the definition These observations seem to me of physiognomy, The ancients to be sufficiently applicable to the seem to have confined physiognomy science of physiognomy; a science to man, or at least to animated nawhich, though practised by Pytha. ture. Thus Aristotle,tt Nunc au: goras, t defended by Socrates, I ap- tem dicam ex quibus generibus signa proved by Plato,g and treated by accipiantur: et sint omnia ; ex motibus Aristotle, || is hardly mentioned at enim physiognomizant et ex figuris et present but in conjunction with ma- coloribus, et ex moribus apparentibus gic, alchemy, and judicial astro- in fucie, et ex levitate, et ex voce, et logy. Without any pretensions, ex carne, et ex partibus, et ex figuro however, to a knowledge of phy- totius corporis. So Cicero, Hosiognomy, as a science, myself, I minum mores naturasque, ex corpore, have always regarded it in a light oculis, vultu, fronte, pernoscere. To more respectable; and as the re- the same purpose Aulus Gellius, cently-published work of M. La. Id verbum significat mores naturasque
Harris, Monboddo. + Auli Gelli, lib. i. cap. 9. Cic. de Fat. v. et Tusc. Quæst.
f in Timæo. || Physiognom. Aristotle's Physiognomy has been suspected as spurious, but without sufficient reason. Diogenes Laert. quotes it, lib. v.
** Vossius Etymolog. et Martini Lexicon sub voce.
tt. Physiognomic. cap. ii. anxavde yeray Ta onjuisia. &c. To save the room that the originals and translations of all the passages quoted would occupy, I have given the Latin versions only of the Greek quotations.
** De Fato, v. $9 Lib i. cap. 9. VOL. XXXIII.