Superphysics Superphysics
Essay 16 The Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth

The Ideal System of Government

by David Hume Icon
8 minutes  • 1538 words
Table of contents

Great Britain and Ireland, or any territory of equal extent would be divided into 100 counties. Each county has 100 districts, leading to 10,000 districts.

  • Country A
    • County 1
      • District 1-1
      • District 1-2 ..
      • District 1-100
    • County 2
      • District 2-1
      • District 2-2 ..
      • District 2-100
    • County 3 ..
    • County 100

If the country is smaller, we can reduce the number of counties, but never below 30. If it is bigger, the districts should be enlarged or each county should have more districts. This is better than increasing the number of counties.

All freeholders of 20 pounds per year and householders worth 500 pounds would meet annually and elect a freeholder from their district to be the county representative. This will lead to 100 county representatives, one from each district.

Two days after their election, the representatives meet and vote from their own body:

  • 10 county magistrates
  • 1 senator

This will lead to:

  • 10,000 district representatives (100 reps * 100 counties)
  • 1,100 county magistrates ([10 magistrates * 100 counties] + 100 senators)
  • 100 senators or county representatives (1 senator * 100 counties)

All senators will have the authority of county magistrates and will:

  • meet in the capital,
  • have all executive power of the commonwealth:
    • peace and war
    • giving orders to generals, admirals, and ambassadors

In short, they will have all the prerogatives of a British King, except his negative.

All county magistrates will have the authority of county representatives.

The county representatives will have all the legislative power and will meet in their own counties. The votes on legislation will be decided by the majority. If these are equal, the senate will vote on it.

Every new law must first be debated in the senate [by the executive, like a veto].

  • If the senate rejects it, ten senators can protest and it will be sent down to the counties. The senate will add to the copy of the law their reasons for receiving or rejecting it.
  • It would be troublesome to assemble all the county representatives for every trivial law

The senate can choose to send the law to the magistrates or representatives.

The magistrates can call the representatives and let them vote on the law.

Eight days before the meeting, every representative will receive a copy of the law and the senate’s reasons for the law. They will deliberate on it.

And though the determination be, by the senate, referred to the magistrates, if five representatives of the county order the magistrates to assemble the whole court of representatives, and submit the affair to their determination, they must obey.

Either the county magistrates or representatives may give, to county senator, the copy of a law to be proposed to the senate.

If five counties concur in the same order, the law, though refused by the senate, must come either to the county magistrates or representatives, as is contained in the order of the five counties.

Any 20 counties, by a vote either of their magistrates or representatives, may throw any man out of all public offices for a year. 30 counties for 3 years.

The senate:

  • can remove any members of its own body, not to be re-elected for that year.
  • cannot throw out twice in a year the senator of the same county.

The Magistrates and Council

The power of the old senate continues for three weeks after the annual election of the county representatives. Then all the new senators are shut up in a conclave, like the cardinals.

By an intricate ballot, such as that of Venice or Malta, they choose the following:

  • a protector*, who represents the dignity of the commonwealth, and presides in the senate
  • two secretaries of state
  • a council of state which handles all foreign politics
  • a council of religion** and learning which inspects the universities and clergy
  • a council of trade inspects every thing that may affect commerce
  • a council of laws inspects all the abuses of law by the inferior magistrates and examines what improvements for the municipal law
  • a council of war inspects the militia and its arms and generals
  • a council of the admiralty controls the navy

*Superphysics note: We suggest this in our solution to Afghanistan

*Superphysics note: We suggest a Guardian council

Each council has:

  • five persons
  • six commissioners of the treasury
  • a first commissioner.

All of these must be senators.

The senate also names all the foreign ambassadors who may be senators or not.

The senate may continue any or all of these, but must re-elect them every year.

The protector and two secretaries have session and suffrage in the council of state. The council of state has session and suffrage in all the other councils.

None of these councils can give orders themselves, except where they receive such powers from the senate. In other cases, they must communicate everything to the senate. When the senate is under adjournment, any of the councils may assemble it before the day appointed for its meeting.

The Council of Opposition

If any candidates for senatorship have more votes than 1/3 of the rest, the candidate who has most votes, next to the elected senator, becomes incapable for one year of all public offices, even of being a magistrate or representative. Instead, he gets a seat in the Council of Opposition which can have up to 100 members.

It inspects the public accounts and can accuse any man before the senate.

If the senate acquits the defendant, the Council of Opposition may appeal to the people’s magistrates or representatives who will then meet on the day appointed by the Council of Opposition and choose in each county three persons from which number every senator is excluded.

These, up to 300 people, meet in the capital and bring the person accused to a new trial.

The Council of Opposition may propose any law to the senate. If refused, may appeal to the magistrates or representatives, who examine it in their counties. Every senator thrown out of the senate by a vote of the court, takes his seat in the Council of Opposition.

The Senate

The senate possesses all the judicative authority of the house of Lords – all the appeals from the inferior courts. It appoints the Lord Chancellor, and all the officers of the law.

Every county is a kind of republic within itself. The representatives may make by-laws which have no authority until 3 months after they are voted. A copy of the law is sent to the senate and every other county.

At any time, the senate, or any single county, may annul any by-law of another county.

The Representatives

The representatives have all the authority of the British justices of peace in trials, commitments, etc.

The magistrates have the appointment of all the officers of the revenue in each county. All causes with regard to the revenue are carried ultimately by appeal before the magistrates. They pass the accompts of all the officers But they must have their own accompts examined and passed at the end of the year by the representatives.

The magistrates name rectors or ministers to all the districts.

The Presbyterian government is established The highest ecclesiastical court is an assembly or synod of all the presbyters of the county. The magistrates may take any cause from this court, and determine it themselves. The magistrates may try, and depose or suspend any presbyter.

The Militia

The militia will be similar to that of Switzerland. An army of 20,000 is conscripted annually by rotation, paid and encamped for six weeks in summer.

The magistrates appoint all the colonels and downwards. The senate appoints all upwards.

During war, the general appoints the colonel and downwards and works for 12 months. But after that, it must be confirmed by the magistrates of the county, to which the regiment belongs.

The magistrates may break any officer in the county regiment.

The senate may do the same to any officer in the service. If the magistrates do not think proper to confirm the general’s choice, they may appoint another officer in the place of him they reject.

The Justice System

All crimes are tried within the county by the magistrates and a jury. The senate can stop any trial and bring it before themselves.

Any county may indict any man before the senate for any crime.

The following have 6 months dictatorial powers on extraordinary emergencies:

  • The protector. He can pardon any person condemned by the inferior courts.
  • 2 secretaries
  • the council of state, with any five or more that the senate appoints

In wartime, no army officer in the field can have any civil office in the commonwealth.

The Capital County

The capital may have 4 members in the senate and be divided into 4 counties. Its representatives choose one senator, and 10 magistrates, leading to:

  • 4 senators,
  • 44 magistrates, and 400 representatives.

A tie in the city legislation is broken by the vote of the magistrates.

The magistrates choose the mayor, sheriff, recorder, and other officers of the city.

Only the protector, secretaries, councils, and ambassadors, have salaries.

The first year in every century is set apart for correcting all inequalities, which time may have produced in the representative. This must be done by the legislature.

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