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time in a shape more unpleasant than the former. A government has been fabricated for that great province; the right honourable gentleman says, that therefore you ought not to examine into its conduct. Heavens! what an argument is this! We are not to examine into the conduct of the direction, because it is an old government : we are not to examine into this board of control, because it is a new one. Then we are only to examine into the conduct of those who have no conduct to account for. Unfortunately the basis of this new government has been laid on old condemned delinquents, and its superstructure is raised out of prosecutors turned into protectors. The event has been such as might be expected. But if it had been otherwise constituted; had it been constituted even as I wished, and as the mover of this question had planned, the better part of the proposed establishment was in the publicity of its proceedings; in its perpetual responsibility to parliament. Without this check, what is our government at home, even awed, as every European government is, by an audience formed of the other states of Europe, by the applause or condemnation of the discerning and critical company before which it acts ? But if the scene on the other side the globe, which tempts, invites, almost compels to tyranny and rapine, be not inspected with the eye of a severe and unremitting vigilance, shame and destruction must
For one, the worst event of this day, though it may deject, shall not break or subdue me. The call upon us is authoritative. Let who will shrink back, I shall be found at my post. Baffled, discountenanced, subdued, discredited, as the cause of justice and humanity is, it will be only the dearer to me.
Whoever therefore shall at any time bring before you any thing towards the relief of our distressed fellow-citizens in India, and towards a subversion of the present most corrupt and oppressive system for its government, in me shall find a weak, I am afraid, but a steady, earnest, and faithful assistant,
SPEECH OF M. DE MIRABEAU
ON THE ROYAL ASSENT.
DURING the memorable deliberations of the National Assembly of France, on the organization of the new government, much attention seems to have been directed to that part of the constitution which regarded the share of legislative authority to be invest. ed in the monarch. After a wide range of loose de. clamation on the subject, the debate became restricted to the consideration of the single question: “Whether a law should be enacted by the mere authority of the legislative body without the sanction of the king ?” Each side of the proposition was ingeniously argued, and obstinately maintained. At length, however, it was determined by a large majority : “ That the king should have the power of suspending any decree for two successive legislatures; but if a third should per. sist in enacting it, then it was to have the force of a law without the royal assent.”
In support of the absolute veto of the king, the annexed spirited harangue was pronounced by M. De Mirabeau, the elder, which the assembly ordered to be printed.
GENTLEMEN, IN the best organized monarchies, the royal authority is always an object of fear to the best citizens : he whom the law places over all, easily becomes the rival of the law. "Sufficiently powerful to protect the
constitution, he is frequently tempted to destroy it. The uniform progress of regal authority every where, hath taught us but too well the necessity of watching it. This distrust, salutary in itself, leads us naturally to desire to restrain a power so formidable. In spite of ourselves, a secret terrour prevents us from approaching the means with which the supreme head of the nation must be armed, to the end that he may perform the functions which are assigned to him.
However, if we coolly consider the principles and the nature of monarchical government, erected upon the basis of the people's sovereignty; if we attentively examine the circumstances which occasion its formation, we shall find that the monarch ought to be considered rather as the protector of the people, than as the enemy of their prosperity.
Two powers are necessary to the existence and to the functions of the body politick; that of willing, and that of acting. By the first, society enacts the lau's which are to lead her to the end proposed, which is, incontrovertibly, the good of the whole. By the second, those laws are executed; and the publick force enables society to triumph over the obstacles, which that executive power might meet in the opposition arising from the private interest of individuals.
In a great nation, these two powers cannot be exercised by itself; hence the necessity for representatives of the people, to exercise the faculty of willing, or the legislative power; hence also the necessity for another kind of representatives, to exercise the faculty of acting, or the executive power.
The more considerable the nation is, the more does it import that this latter power should be active; hence the necessity of one' sole and supreme chief, of a monarchical government in extensive states, where convulsions, dismemberments would be extremely to be apprehended, if there did not exist a force sufficient to unite the several parts, and turn their activity towards one common centre.
These two powers are equally necessary, equally precious to the nation. This, however, is worthy
of remark; that the executive power, acting continually upon the people, is more immediately connected with it; that, charged as this power is with the care of maintaining the equilibrium, of counteracting the partialities, the preferences towards which the smaller number continually tends, to the prejudice of the greater, it is of importance to that people, that that power should constantly possess effectual means of supporting itself.
These means consist in the right conferred on the supreme head of the nation, of examining the acts of the legislative power, and of granting or refusing them the sacred stamp of law.
Called upon by the very nature of his institution, to be at once the executor of the law, and the protector of the people, the monarch might be compelled to turn the publick force against the people, if his intervention was not requisite for completing the acts of legislation, by declaring them conformable to the will of the community.
This prerogative of the monarch is particularly essential in every state, where the people, incapable of exercising, in any shape, the legislative power, is obliged to intrust it to representatives.
Ås, from the nature of things, it must necessarily happen, that, in the election of representatives, the choice will not be directed to the most worthy, but to those whom situation, fortune, and particular circumstances seem to mark out as persons who can willingly sacrifice their time to the business of the publick, there will always result from the election of those representatives of the people, a kind of virtual aristocracy, which, incessantly tending to acquire a legal consistence, will become alike hostile to the monarch, with whom it will wish to put itself on an equality, and to the people, whom it will constantly endeavour to abase.
Hence that alliance, so natural and so necessary, between the prince and the people against every spe, cies of aristocracy; and as this alliance is founded upon their having the same interests, the same appre
hensions, they must have the same object, and consequently the same will.
İf, on one hand, the greatness of the prince depends on the prosperity of the people, on the other, the happiness of the people rests chiefly upon the tutelary power of the prince.
It is not, therefore, for his particular advantage that the monarch interferes in legislation, but for the interest of the people; and in this sense it is, that we can and ought to say, that the royal sanction is not the prerogative of the monarch, but the property,
the domain of the nation.
I have hitherto supposed an order of things to which we are making great strides, I mean an organized and constituted monarchy; but, as we are not yet arrived at such an order of things, I must explain myself clearly. It is my opinion, that' the right of suspending, and even of putting a stop to the action of the legislatve body, ought to belong to the king when the constitution shall be settled, and the sole question be the preservation of it. But this right of stopping, this veto, must not be exercised, when the question is concerning the formation of the constitution, I do not see how you could dispute the people's right of giving itself a constitution, by which it chooses to be governed henceforward.
Let this point, therefore, be the sole object of our inquiry, whether, in the constitution which we are about to form, the royal sanction ought to enter as an ingredient in the legislature. Undoubtedly, to him
who siezes only the surface, strong objections will present themselves against the idea of a veto, exercised by any individual whatsoever, in opposition to the wishes of the representatives of the people. When we suppose the national assembly, composed of its true elements, presenting to the prince the fruits of its deliberations, offering up to him the result of the most free and most enlightened discussion, the produce of all the knowledge and information it could gather together, that, one would think, is all that human prudence requires