The Constitution of England
Constitution de l'Angleterre
Автор(и) : Jean-Louis de Lolme
Издател : Liberty Fund, Inc.
Място на издаване : Indianapolis, USA
Година на издаване : 2007
ISBN : 978-0-86597-464-7
Брой страници : 369
Език : английски
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"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.
Originally published in French in Amsterdam in 1771, The Constitution of England was the first book-length analysis of the “separation of powers” proposed in Book XI of Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws, which sketched an institutional distinction between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government.
De Lolme was concerned to show the manner in which the English political system provided an alternative to the republican form of government, one which supplied both a more stable and a more extensive system of political freedom than that enjoyed in republican states. In addition, and as part of this critique, De Lolme examined the political teaching of his fellow Genevan Jean-Jacques Rousseau and repudiated Rousseau’s republican attack on England’s form of representative government.
This edition takes advantage of the work of nineteenth-century editors of De Lolme’s text but provides new annotations to elucidate his numerous references to classical, medieval, and early-modern political practices, along with translations of De Lolme’s citations from sources in Latin and French.
"Thus Liberty perished in France, because it wanted a favourable culture and proper situation. Planted, if I may so express myself, but just beneath the surface, it presently expanded, and sent forth some large shoots; but having taken no root, it was soon plucked up. In England, on the contrary, the seed lying at a great depth, and being covered with an enormous weight, seemed at first to be smothered; but it vegetated with the greater force; it imbibed a more rich and abundant nourishment; its sap and juice became better assimilated, and it penetrated and filled up with its roots the whole body of the soil. It was the excessive power of the King which made England free, because it was this very excess that gave rise to the spirit of union, and of concerted resistance. Possessed of extensive demesnes, the King found himself independent; vested with the most formidable prerogatives, he crushed at pleasure the most powerful Barons in the Realm: it was only by close and numerous confederacies, therefore, that these could resist his tyranny; they even were compelled to associate the People in them, and make them partners of public Liberty."
Jean-Louis de Lolme
Jean-Louis de Lolme (1741–1804) was a Swiss and English political theorist. He was born in Geneva and became an advocate there. Criticism of the political authorities led him to seek refuge in England, where he lived as an author and journalist. Toward the end of his life he returned to Geneva and was elected to the Council of Two Hundred.
His most famous work is the Constitution de l'Angleterre, which appeared in English as The Constitution of England (1771 in French, and later editions in English) In this book, he advocated a constitutional form of government enshrining the principle of balanced government, balancing the one, the few, and the many, or the ideas of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. De Lolme extolled the British government because, in his view (influenced by his own observations and study as well as by the previous writings of Voltaire and Montesquieu), the unwritten constitution of government of Great Britain embodied the ideal of balanced government better than any other government of the time. De Lolme in particular praised the elements of representative democracy in the unwritten English constitution, and urged an extension of the suffrage. He developed and refined his political thinking to a large extent in opposition to the more radical theory of direct democracy advocated by his compatriot, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whom de Lolme accused of being unrealistic. De Lolme is sometimes identified as a probable candidate for being the person behind the pseudonymous political commentator Junius.
De Lolme influenced many of the framers of the American constitution. One founding father who was not present in Philadelphia but whose Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States influenced the delegates there was John Adams, who praised De Lolme's book as one of the best on the subject of constitutionalism ever written. Some have argued that De Lolme's work also influenced the Constitution of Norway.