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described, (which, even in highly-civilised countries, are not very common,) that no Oriental country has ever arrived at discussion in a public body. The absence of deliberative councils or assemblies in Oriental Kingdoms has arisen, however, in part, from the confirmed habit of adulation, and servile compliance with the wishes of the prince, which their despotic system has established. It is true of every Oriental ruler, what Tacitus says of Vitellius: 'Ita formatis principis auribus, ut aspera quæ utilia, nec quicquam nisi jucundum et læsurum acciperet.'1

The Greeks were, it seems, the first nation who formed a distinct conception of political management by a Body, and carried it into practical effect. Without this arrangement, a free or popular constitution, such as began to exist in their small city communities before the dawn of authentic history, could not have arisen. Originally, in the Grecian States, the assembly of free citizens was merely convened and consulted by the kings at their pleasure, and did not exercise any legal power; but, in process of time, it obtained a potential voice in the constitution, and its decisions acquired the force of law. This principle of corporate action, and of decision by a majority of voices, was not confined, in the Greek republics, to the general assembly of the citizens, but it was extended to courts of justice, and to smaller councils and administrative bodies, such as the Athenian senate and board of generals, the Spartan Gerusia and board of ephors.2

The principle of corporate action in political affairs was borrowed from the Greeks by the republic of Carthage, a colony of the Asiatic Tyrians,3 and also, perhaps, in later times by the

1 Hist. III. 56. Compare the statements as to Artemisia and Coes, in Herod. VIII. 67-9, and IV. 97; also Dohsson, Tableau de l'Empire Othoman, tom. VII. p. 229, with reference to the council of the grand visier: Les membres du conseil sont arrêtés par la crainte de contrarier les intentions du premier ministre. C'est en vain qu'il les exhorte, qu'il les presse de parler, qu'il invoque leur zèle pour le bien de la religion et de l'état; on lui répond qu'il est plein de lumières, qu'il possède la confiance et les pouvoirs du maître de l'empire, que c'est à lui à prononcer, à commander, et que l'obéissance est leur unique partage. S'il insiste, ils inclinent de nouveau la tête, et portent la main sur la bouche et sur le front.'

2 See Note B. at the end of the chapter.

3 It appears from Aristot. Pol. II. 11, that the assembly of citizens at Carthage had both power of debate and decision on questions brought before it by the magistrates. Also, that there was a Gerusia like the Spartan, and a council of 104 members. Compare Bötticher, Geschichte der Carthager, pp. 48-51. These institutions could not have been Phoenician, as Heeren supposes, Ideen, II. 1, p. 115, but were doubtless borrowed from those of the neighbouring Greek republics in Sicily and Italy. In like manner, the influence of Greek ideas and civilisation had reacted from an early

Jews.1 Being common to all the Hellenic commonwealths of Greece, Asia Minor, and Italy, it was adopted by the Romans,2 who, in the development of their empire, gave it all the solidity and definiteness which political and legal institutions acquired in their hands.


The principle of decision by a political body was known both to the Gauls and Germans in their semi-barbarous state; whether as a native institution, or as derived from the imitation of the Greek and Roman usage, is uncertain. But the national assemblies of the Germanic and Gaulish tribes have exercised little influence upon posterity; it is principally through the municipal institutions of the free towns of the middle ages, and partly, also,

period upon the Phoenicians in their own country. See Movers, Die Phönizier, vol. I. pp. 82-3.

The Phoenician cities formed a league, of which Tyre was the leading member; and in it (at least in later times) was held a sort of diet, or federal council, having large powers of deliberation.-DIOD. XVI. 41. Tyre, however, and the other cities, were each under the government of hereditary kings, (Josephus cont. Apion. I. §§ 17, 18; Herod. VIII. 67; Diod. XVI. 42, 43; Arrian, Al. Exp. II. 24 ;) and although the influence of commerce (as Heeren conjectures, Ideen, I. 2, p. 20) may have created wealthy and powerful families, and thus have placed some checks upon the regal power and although they may have acquired from their intercourse with the Greeks some practical notion of a free government, yet, in early times, the constitution of each city was doubtless purely monarchical, after the Oriental model. The detailed account, in Diodorus, XVI. 41-5, of the treachery of Tennes, the Sidonian king, at the time of the revolt against Ochus, shows that the government was, even at that late period, purely monarchical. The silence of Aristotle respecting Tyre, in his Politics, likewise proves that its constitution was not popular, like that of Carthage.

1 The Sanhedrim, or Synedrion, in the Jewish commonwealth, was a body consisting of seventy-two members, whose functions were chiefly judicial. How its decisions were formed does not appear. It is first expressly mentioned at the time of Antipater and Herod, or, at the earliest, in the time of the Seleucida. If it decided by a majority, (which is not probable,) its constitution had doubtless been influenced by the contagion of Greek notions.

2 Dionysius states that, according to the institution of Romulus, it was the province of the king to convene the senate, to assemble the people, to preside over their deliberations, and to carry into effect the decision of the majority.-A. R. II. 14. He adds, that the king gave only a single vote in the senate, and that the majority decided; which institution Romulus borrowed from Lacedæmon. See also what is stated of Lucius Junius Brutus, in VII. 36, 39.

Concerning the Roman mode of voting, see Dict. of Gr. and R. Ant. in Suffragium. In the Roman law, a board or political body was termed a collegium. A collegium was either a subordinate body under the State, as the collegium augurum, or a fraternity, guild, &c., for a semi-public or political purpose. A similar body was also called universitas. Both these words are now, in English, limited to places of education.

3 See Note C. at the end of the chapter.

through the councils of the church,' that corporate action has descended from the Romans to the civilised nations of the modern world, and has become one of the most familiar ideas and habits of our political existence."

§ 3. The principle of corporate action is, perhaps, the most important improvement which, since the dawn of civilisation, has been introduced into practical politics, and it is the chief instrument of a popular constitution; but, like other political refinements, it is accompanied with many serious difficulties in the working. The complexity of the mechanism sometimes deranges and impedes its action.

In the case of judicial and administrative bodies, the plurality of members 3 tends to insure a more careful and deliberate consideration of the question to be decided, on account of the diversity of opinions which are likely to be brought to bear upon it, as well as of the variety of appropriate knowledge and information, and of individual character and disposition.

The number of counsellors concurring in the decision, and responsible for it, is a considerable security against precipitate,

The expression to vote was borrowed from the practice of the councils of the church, according to Sarpi, 1. II. c. 30. (Courayer, tom. I. p. 212.)

2 As to the nature of a persona moralis, compounded of several individual persons, but acting as a corporation or political body, see Puffendorf, Law ‹ƒ N. and N. I. 1, §§ 13, 14. Compare Note D. at the end of the chapter.

3 Ancient writers, both sacred and profane, concur in recommending plurality of counsellors. Thus, Proverbs, XI. 14: 'In the multitude of counsellors there is safety.' XVI. 22: Without counsel, purposes are disappointed; but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.' So Apollon. Rhod. IV. 1336: toλéwv dé tE μÑTIS apelwv. Pliny the Younger says, in reference to the influence of an assembly upon the speaker who addresses it: 'In numero ipso est quoddam magnum collatumque consilium; quibusque singulis judicii parum, omnibus plurimum.'-Epist. VII. 17, § 10. Compare, however, the remarks above, in ch. 6, § 8.

Things will have their first or second agitation: if they be not tossed upon the arguments of counsel, they will be tossed upon the waves of fortune, and be full of inconstancy, doing and undoing, like the reeling of a drunken man.'-BACON's Essay on Counsel.

Βουλὴν ἄπαντος πραγμάτος προλάμβανε,

is a verse attributed to Menander, Sentent. Sing. v. 70.

Deliberandum est diu, quod statuendum est semel,—
Deliberare utilia, mora tutissima est,

are two proverbial verses of Publius Syrus, v. 166-7. But all such maxims as these must be taken with the limitation, that the deliberation ought to be long and full, where the case admits of delay, and there is no need of prompt action, as in military affairs. No one would call a council to deliberate what was to be done to save a burning house or a sinking ship.


uninformed, and incautious judgments, founded upon partial data. 'We are all (says Locke) short-sighted, and very often see but one side of the matter; our views are not extended to all that has a connection with it. From this defect I think no man is free. We see but in part, and we know but in part, and therefore it is no wonder we conclude not right from our partial views. This might instruct the proudest esteemer of his own parts how useful it is to talk and consult with others, even such as come short of him in capacity, quickness, and penetration; for since no one sees all, and we generally have different prospects of the same thing, according to our different, as I may say, positions to it; it is not inconsistent to think, nor beneath any man to try, whether another may not have notions of things which have escaped him, and which his reason would make use of if they came into his mind.' 1 Hence, when a plan, prepared by one or two persons, is submitted to a consultative body for discussion, the advantage of a number of counsellors is particularly seen, in the amendment of details, in the removal of partial blemishes, and the improvement of subordinate parts. Here numbers do not confuse, if the unity of the original plan is preserved. The number of counsellors also prevents the decision from being determined by the caprices, and the personal friendships or dislikes, of an individual. With respect to an executive body it is likewise often important, that deliberations respecting the application to practice of any general enactment should be assisted by that knowledge of public feeling and expectation on the subject, and of the circumstances of different localities, which is afforded by a plurality of counsellors.3 The decisions of an executive body may, therefore, be expected to carry more weight, to command more respect, and to be more in accordance

On the Conduct of the Understanding, § 3.

2 Reason is of two parts, invention and judgment :

Judgment is most perfect in an assembly.

Invention is most perfect in one man.

In one man,

judgment wants the strength which is in a multitude of counsellors. In a multitude of counsellors, invention is none at all.'

HARRINGTON'S Political Aphorisms, Nos. 111-17,

p. 522.

3 And though it were confessed that reason would be better discovered and stated, and conclusions easier made, by a few than by a greater number, yet when the execution depends on the many, and the general interpretation so much depends on the success, and the success on the interpretation, we see those counsels most prosperous, whereof the considerations and deliberations have been measured by that standard which is most publicly acknowledged and received.'-CLARENDON, Hist. of Reb. b. VII. vol. IV. p. 287, ed. 1 mo.

with general sentiment, than those of a single functionary, and thus to meet with more ready obedience from the community.

On the other hand, joint deliberation and consultation, and the process of reconciling discordant opinions by compromises and modifications of plans, lead to slowness, irresolution, vacillation, and inaction. Hence, in war, where rapidity of decision, and energy as well as unity of action, are indispensable for success, it is preferable to vest the chief command in a single person, and not in a plurality of generals. Councils of war are proverbially said

1 Clarendon, Hist. of Reb. b. III. (vol. I. p. 319), after dwelling on the too great facility in admitting persons into the king's privy council, proceeds thus:-'By this means the number hath been increased, which in itself breeds great inconveniences, since a less number are fitter both for counsel and despatch in matters of the greatest moment, that depend upon a quick execution, than a greater number of men equally honest and wise; and for that and other reasons of unaptness and incompetency, committees of dexterous men have been appointed out of the table to do the business of the table. . . . And though it hath been, and will be, always necessary to admit to those counsels some men of great power, who will not take the pains to have great parts, yet the number of the whole should not be too great, and the capacities and qualities of the most should be fit for business-that is, either for judgment and despatch, or for one of them at least—and integrity above all.'

Hence the proverb: Deliberando sæpe perit occasio.'-PUBL. SYRus, v. 165.

A person is sometimes admitted into a consultative body, in order to neutralise his opposition, by advising with him in the first instance. A character such as that described by Tacitus is, unfortunately, not very uncommon: 'Consilii quamvis egregii, quod non ipse adferret, inimicus, et adversus peritos pervicax.'—Hist. I. 26.


Accordingly, Homer, who looked on a king chiefly as a commander in war,


οὐκ ἀγαθὸν πολυκοιρανίη· εἷς κοίρανος ἔστω,
εἷς βασιλεύς.

Riad, II. 204.

Compare the advice of Hermocrates to the Syracusans concerning their fifteen generals, Thucyd. VI. 72, and the proverbial verse :—

πολλοὶ στρατηγοὶ Καρίαν ἀπώλεσαν.


In the year 309 U.c., the consuls, T. Quinctius and Agrippa Furius, being sent on an expedition against the Æqui, the latter consented that the entire command should be entrusted to his colleague. Livy, describing this event, says: 'In exercitu Romano quum duo consules essent potestate pari; quod saluberrimum in administratione magnarum rerum est, summa imperii, concedente Agrippa, penes collegaṁ erat.'—III. 70. Again, in 329 u.c., three tribunes, with consular power, were sent against the Fidenates and Veientines, and their dissensions caused the expedition to fail, on which Livy remarks: Tres, delectu habito, profecti sunt Veios, documentoque fuere, quam plurium imperium bello inutile esset. Tendendo ad sua quisque consilia, quum aliud ali videretur, aperuerunt ad occasionem locum hosti.'-IV. 31. See the comment of Machiavelli, Disc. III. 15, upon these passages. He concludes thus: 'Il che è contrario a quello che oggi fanno queste nostre repubbliche e principi, di mandare ne’luoghi, per ministrarli meglio, più d'un commissario e più d'un capo, il che fa una inestimabile

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