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“To secure the advantages of government with the least possible inconvenience to the governed," is not a bad criterion of Statesmanship, but it is not the system which prevails in the present day. There is an incessant interference with the governed ; and the legislation of every recurring session imposes some new restriction on human freedom. This constitutes only one of the problems submitted for consideration in the following pages, but it involves a principle which should be closely watched.
"Est il donc, entre nous, rien de plus despotique
OF CONSTITUTIONAL SOVEREIGNTY.
The vague rumours which have been lately buzzed about in reference to some undue exercise of the royal prerogative, and to the introduction of personal government in the management of foreign affairs, naturally direct attention to the present position in this country of a constitutional sovereign.
Constitutional kingship, or, as it was commonly called, limited monarchy, is a trivance of modern growth, although the rudiments of the system may be traced in the early history of many European states.
What should be the limits of a limited monarchy, is a question on which opposite opinions have been pronounced with some bitterness.
These opinions are founded on two different theories which can never be completely reconciled.
The regal government in European countries was not originally established on any uniform or systematic plan. It seems to have been the result of two antagonistic principles ; one derived from the Roman law, which invested the sovereign with the whole power of the state; the other transmitted from the usages of northern nations, who regarded their king as their leader in time of war, and as the president of the assembled freemen in time of peace.
The maxims of the lawyers and the precepts of the clergy supported the absolute authority of the sovereign against the unwritten usages and traditions of the freemen; but as the freemen were armed, they were able to resist any encroachment of the regal power by which they felt themselves aggrieved.
At a later period these two antagonistic