Imágenes de páginas

“ The power of the legislature, like every power in human society, is limited by certain and accurate bounds; it may exceed these bounds, and commit absurdities, and even offences The English legislature is just as competent to make a law, by which every Englishman may be banished to the Orkneys, or put to death, as it is to enjoin the people to give up the right of self-defence and preservation, by the use of their limbs or by the use of their arnis.

“ The apprehension that associations will produce commotions and riots, instead of preventing them, must be pretended only; and all the arguments for depriving the people of the right of associating, because they have often assembled for mischievous purposes, are delusive. Cardinal de Retz says, that all numerous assemblies are mobs; and I will add, that all mobs are mischievous. Let the people who might form such assemblies be divided into small bodies, and, though the individuals be not improved, they will act reasonably and well. The design of associations is, to prevent large and tumultuous assemblies; to arrange the people under the eye of government, as accurately as an army, without diminishing their constitutional independence and liberty; to increase the difficulty of misleading them, and to destroy all ideas of appeals to them.

“ Here I beg to be understood, not as aiming at any of the rights of the people; but the idea of an appeal to them has been borrowed from the government of Rome ; in England it is, like the introduction of military force, a thing that negligence or mismanagement may render necessary, but the constitution is perfect without it; no supposition is made of the possibility of having any occasion to make it, and, whenever it is made, the remedy may be as hazardous as any evil it can be designed to remove. A whole nation, like the human body, in order to act with harmony and pleasure, must be divided into small parts, each having its local power, subject to the direction and control of the general will." -p. 38 to 44.

T. C. Savill, Printer, St. Martin's Lane.

[ocr errors][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »