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but I allow nothing to be a trifle which ministers to the harmless gratification of multitudes ; nor any order of men to be insignificant, whose number bears a respectable proportion to the sum of the whole community.

We have been accustomed to an opinion, that a REPUBLICAN form of government suits only with the affairs of a small state : which opinion is founded in the consideration, that unless the people, in every district of the empire, be admitted to a share in the national representation, the government is not, as to them, a republic; that elections, where the constituents are numerous, and dispersed through a wide extent of country, are conducted with difficulty, or rather, indeed, managed by the intrigues and combinations of a few, who are situated near the place of election, each voter considering his single suffrage as too minute a portion of the general interest to deserve his care or attendance, much less to be worth any opposition to influence and application ; that whilst we contract the representation within a compass small enough to admit of orderly debate, the interest of the constituent becomes too small, of the representative too great. It is difficult also to maintain any connexion between them, He who represents two hundred thousand, is necessarily a stranger to the greatest part of those who elect him; and when his interest amongst them ceases to depend upon an acquaintance with their persons and character, or a care or knowledge of their affairs; when such a representative finds the treasures and honours of a great empire at the disposal of a few, and himself one of the few; there is little reason to hope that he will not prefer to his public duty those temptations of pers şonal aggrandisement which his situation offers, and which the price of his vote will always purchase. All appeal to the people is, precluded by the impossibility of collecting a sufficient proportion of their force and numbers. The factions and the unanimity of the senate are equally dangerous. Add to these considerations, thạt in a democratic constitution, the mechanism is too complicated, and the motions too slow, for the opera tions of a great empire ; whose defence and government require execution and dispatch, in proportion to the magnitude, extent, and variety, of its concerns. There is weight, no doubt, in these reasons; but much of the objection seems to be done away by the con

trivance of a federal republic, which, distrig buting the country into districts of a commodious extent, and leaving to each district its internal legislation, reserves to a convention of the states the adjustment of their relative claims; the levying, direction, and government, of the common force of the confederacy; the requisition of subsidies for the support of this force ; the making of

peace and war; the entering into treaties; the regulation of foreign commerce ; the equalisas. tion of duties upon imports, so as to preventi the defrauding of the revenue of one province by smuggling articles of taxation from the borders of another; and, likewise so, as to guard against undue partialities in the encouragement of trade. To what limits such a republic might, without inconveniency, ene large its dominions, by assuming neighboure ing provinces into the confederation; or how far it is capable of uniting the liberty of a small commonwealth with the safety of a powerful empire ; or whether, amongst coordinate powers, dissensions and jealousieswould not be likely to arise, which, for want ofi a common superior, might proceed to fatal extremities; are questions, upon which the records of mankind do not authorise usi to decide with tolerable certainty. The experiment is about to be tried in America upon a large scale.

CHAPTER VII.

OF THE BRITISH CONSTITUTION.

By the CONSTITUTION of a country, is meant so much of its law, as relates to the designation and form of the legislature; the rights and functions of the several parts of the legislative body; the construction, office, and jurisdiction, of courts of justice. The constitution is one principal division, section, or title, of the code of public laws; distinguished from the rest only by the superior importance of the subject of which it treats. Therefore the terms constitutional and unconstitutional, mean legal and illegal. The distinction and the ideas, which these terms denote, are founded in the same authority with the law of the land upon any other subject; and to be ascertained by the same inquiries. In England, the system of public jurisprudence is made up of acts of parliament, of decisions of courts of law, and of immemorial usages ; consequently, these are the principles of which the English constitution itself consists, the sources from which all our knowledge of its nature and limitations is to be deduced, and the authorities to which all appeal ought to be made, and by which

every constitutional doubt and question can alone be decided. This plain and intelligible definition is the more necessary to be preserved in our thoughts, as some writers upon the subject absurdly confound what is constitutional with what is expedient ; pronouncing forthwith a measure to be unconstitutional, which they adjudge in any respect to be detrimental or dangerous : whilst others, again, ascribe a kind of transcendent authority, or mysterious sanctity, to the constitution, as if it were founded in some higher original than that which gives force and obligation to the ordinary laws and statutes of the realm, or were inviolable on any other account than its intrinsic utility. An act of parliament in England can never be unconstitutional, in the strict and proper acceptation of the term ; in a lower sense it may, viz. when it militates with the spirit, contradicts the analogy, or

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