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lative body to deliberate. The time will come, when the preparations for defence, exceeding the ordinary estimates, the necessity for making still greater preparations must be notified to the legislative body, and it is my purpose to state to you what are its rights in that case.
But how! you will say, shall not the legislative body be at all times possessed of the power of
preventing the commencement of the state of war? No: for that would be like asking, whether there be any method of preventing a neighbouring nation from attacking us; and what method should you take?
Would you make no preparations ? you will not repel hostilities, but endure them. The state of war will remain the same.
Will you charge the legislative body with the care of making defensive preparations ? you will not there. by prevent the attack; and how would you reconcile such action of the legislative body, with that of the executive power? Will
you compel the executive power, to notify to you its most inconsiderable preparations, its most unimportant measures? you will, by so doing, violate every rule of prudence. The enemy acquainted with all your precautions, all your measures, will make sport of them; you will render preparations nugatory : it were better not to order them. Will
you limit the extent of the preparations? But can you do so, with respect to all the points of contact, which connect you with Europe, India, America, the whole globe ? But must not your preparations be proportioned to those made by the neighbouring states? But may not hostilities as well commence between two ships as between two squadrons ? But will you not be obliged to grant, every year, a certain sum, for unexpected armaments? Must not that sum be according to the extent of your coasts, to the importance of your commerce, to the distance of your transmarine possessions, to the strength exerted by your enemies? Nevertheless, gentlemen, I feel as forcibly as any one, how necessary it is to take care, that our
vigilance be not surprised by such difficulties : for it is of moment, that there should exist some check upon the executive power, to prevent it from abusing even the right of watching over our security; from wasting immense sums in useless armaments; from levying forces for itself, under pretence of leading them against an enemy; from exciting, by too great an apparatus of defence, the jealousy or the fear of our neighbours. Undoubtedly we must guard against these evils; but the natural course of events shows us how the legislative body may repress abuses of this kind; for on the one hand, should there be a necessity for armaments more considerable, than the war extraordinaries are equal to, the executive power may not undertake them, without being duly authorized; and the right will remain with you, of insisting upon a negotiation of peace, of refusing the supplies de manded. On the other hand, will not the immediate notification, which the executive power shall be obliged to make respecting the state of war, whether impending or commenced, leave you all the means imaginable of watching over publick liberty ?
Here, gentlemen, I take in the third case of which I have spoken, that of a war to be undertaken, for the recovery or the conservation of a possession or a right; a case which belongs to the description of war definite. It seems at first view, that, in such a hypothesis, the legislative body would have to delibe. rate even with respect to the preparations : but endeavour to apply this case, endeavour to realize this hy. pothesis. Is any right usurped or contested? The executive power, charged with what relates to foreign connexions, attempts, at first, to recover the right by negotiation. Should this step prove unsuccessful, and the right be of importance, “still leave to the executive power the right of preparing for defence; oblige it to notify to the representatives of the nation, the usurpation complained of, the right which is claimed, in the same manner as it shall be obliged to notify a war impending or commenced. You will by these means establish a uniform course of procedure, in eye
ry case; and I am now going to demonstrate, that it is sufficient that the co-operation of the legislative power commence, at the time of the notification of which I have just spoken, in order perfectly to reconcile the interest of the nation with the maintenance of the publick force.
Hostilities, then, are either commenced or impending. In that case, what are the duties of the executive power ? What are the rights of the legislature ?
I have just been declaring them; the executive power is to notify, without delay, the state of the war, either as existing, or as approaching, or as necessary; to make known its causes, to ask for supplies, to reassemble the legislative body, if it be not already assembled.
The legislative body in its turn hath four sorts of measures to take. The first is to inquire whether, hostilities being commenced, our ministers or some agent of the executive power, have not been the culpable aggressors. In such a case, the author of the aggression should be impeached as guilty of high treason against the nation. Make such a law, and you will confine your wars to the sole exercise of the right of just defence; and you will have done more for publick liberty, than if, in order to attribute the exclusive right of war to the representative body you should lose the advantages derivable from royalty.
The second measure is, to approve, to determine upon the war, if it be necessary, to disapprove it, if it be useless or unjust; to require the king to set on foot a negotiation for peace, and to compel him to that measure, by refusing the supplies, and in this, gentlemen, consists the true right of the legislative body. Here the powers are not confounded, the forms of the different branches of the government are not violated, and the national interest is preserved. But further, gentlemen; when I propose bation or disapprobation' of the war, by the legislative body, while I refuse it the exclusive right of deliberating on war and peace, do not imagine that,
by so doing, I am eluding the question, or exhibiting the same subject of debate in a different form. The exercise of the right of making peace and war, is neither simply an action, nor yet merely an operation of the will; on the contrary, it is connected with both these principles : it requires the concurrence of the two powers; and the whole theory of this question consists only in assigning, to the legislative body and to the executive power respectively, the kind of cooperation which from its nature, is most proper for it. To give the legislative body the exclusive deliberation upon peace and war, a right which, in ancient times, was enjoyed by the Roman senate, a right enjoyed in modern days by the states of Sweden, by the diet of Poland, by the confederation of Holland, were transforming the king of France into a stadtholder, or a consul ; it were selecting from the two delegates of the nation, that delegate which, however unceasingly purified by the choice of the people, by the continual renovation of the elections, nevertheless cannot solely and exclusively deliberate, with any degree of useful. ness, upon an occasion of that nature.
On the contrary, to confer upon the legislative power the right of deliberating in the shape of approbation, disapprobation, requisition of peace, prosecution of a guilty minister, refusal of supplies, is allowing it to cooperate in the exercise of a national right, by the means which are suited to the nature of such a body.
This difference, then, is very remarkable, and leads to the desired end, by preserving the two powers in their entire perfection; whereas otherwise, you would lie under the pernicious necessity of making an exclusive choice, between two delegates which ought to proceed hand in hand.
The third measure of the legislative body, consists in a continuation of the means which I point out, and the right of which means I assign to it.
The first of these means is, to admit of no recess, as long as the war continues.
The second, to prolong the session, in the case of an impending war.
The third, to assemble the national guard of the kingdom, in such numbers as shall be deemed necessary, whenever the king shall carry on a war in per
The fourth (even after having approved the war) to require, as often as it shall be deemed expedient, the executive power to negotiate a peace. I
pause for a moment upon the two means last mentioned, as they display in perfection the system which I
propose. On account of the possible danger, in appropriating the deliberations on war directly and exclusively to the legislative body, some maintain that the right of war and peace appertains to the monarch alone : they affect even to doubt, that the nation can lawfully dispose of this right, although she hath had the power of delegating the sovereignty. What? is it, indeed, a matter of no importance in their eyes, to place beside the constitution an unlimited authority, always able to overwhelm it? Do they wish to cherish this constitution? Would they render it immortal like justice and reason?
On the other hand, because the cooperation of the monarch, in exercising the right of making peace and war, may be attended with danger (and, in fact, it is the case) others give it as their opinion, that we ought to deprive him of even the right of cooperation. Now, are they not in this, desiring an impossibility, unless you take away from the king the
preparations for peace and war? Are they not desiring what is unconstitutional, since your decrees have allowed the king a sort of cooperation, even in acts which are purely legislative? For my part, I am establishing the counterpoise of the dangers, which may arise from the royal power, in the constitution itself, in the balancing both powers, in the concur. rence of the two delegates of the nation, in the internal force which you will derive from that national guard (the only counterpoise suited to a representative government) against an army stationed on the frontiers. Congratulate yourselves, gentlemen, on