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FrRevol_201-250.indd 46 3/16/12 1:06 PM CHAPTER XV Ofthe RoyalAuthority As It Was Established by the Constituent Assembly. It was already a very dangerous matter for the public tranquillity to break all at once the strength that resided in the two privileged orders of the state. But had the means given to the executive power been sufficient, it would have been practicable to replace, if I may so express myself, fictitious by real institutions. But the Assembly, ever distrustful of the intentions ofthe courtiers, framed the royal authority against the King instead of making it a vehicle for the public good. Government was shackled to such a degree that its agents, though responsible for everything, could act in nothing. The ministry had scarcely a messenger at their disposal; and M. Necker, in his examination ofthe constitution ofI 79I,1 has shown that in no republic, including even the petty Swiss cantons, was the executive power so limited in its constitutional action as the King of France. The apparent splendor and actual inefficiency of the Crown threw the ministers , and the King himself, into a state of anxiety that was perpetually increasing. It is certainly not necessary that a population of twenty-five million should exist for one man; but it is equally unnecessary that one man should be miserable even under the pretext of giving happiness to twenty-five million; for injustice ofany kind, whether it reaches the throne r. See Necker's arguments on the role of executive power in D upouvoir executzfdans les grands itats, especially pt. II, chap. xv, 549-57, 575-78. Necker also discussed the Assembly 's skepticism toward the executive power in De !a R evolution franfaise, pt. II, 288-97. On the role and limits of the executive power, also see Burke, Reflections, 309-16. A comprehensive analysis of Necker's views on this topic can be found in Grange, Les idees de Necker, 279-93. FrRevol_201-250.indd 47 3/16/12 1:06 PM cHAPTER X v. Royal Authority as Established by Assembly or the cottage, prevents the possibility of a free, that is, of an equitable, government. A prince who would not content himselfwith the power granted to the King of England would not be worthy of reigning; but, in the French constitution, the situation ofthe King and his ministers was insupportable. The country suffered from it still more than the sovereign; and yet the Assembly would neither remove the King from the throne nor renounce its temporary mistrust, at the time that the formation of a durable system was under discussion. The eminent men of the popular party, unable to extricate themselves from this uncertainty, always mixed in their decrees a portion ofevil with good. The establishment of provincial assemblies had long been desired; but the Constituent Assembly combined them in such a manner as to exclude the ministers altogether from this portion of the administration.2 A salutary dread of all those wars so often undertaken for the quarrels of kings had guided the Constituent Assembly in the mode oforganizing the military force; but it had put so many obstacles to the influence of the executive power in this respect that the army would have been unfit to serve out of the country, so apprehensive were they of its becoming instrumental to oppression at home. The reform of criminal jurisprudence and the establishment of juries brought down blessings on the name of the Constituent Assembly; but it decreed that the judges should owe their appointment to the people instead of the King, and that they should be re-elected every three years. Yet the example of England and the dictates ofenlightened reflection concur to show that judges, under whatever government , ought not to be removable, and that in a monarchical state it is fit that their nomination should belong to the Crown. The people are much 2. The Constitution of 1791 provided for an unprecedented extension of the practice of popular election of local officials. According to chapter IV, section 2 , "Internal Administration ," the administrators ofevery department enjoyed a certain independence from central power. They were "elected at stated times by the people to perform administrative duties under the supervision and authority of the king." (Documentary Survey ofthe French Revolution, 252) The original text of the Constitution can be found in Les Constitutions et les principales loispolitiques de la France depuis z:;89, r- 32. For more information, see Taine, The French Revolution, vol...


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