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A FULL ACCOUNT OF THE RISE, PROGRESS, AND PRESENT CONSTRUCTION

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OF THOSE ACTS BY WHICH THE LIBERTIES OR RIGHTS OF
The SUBJECT ARE AFFECTED.

BY THOMAS STEPHEN,

AUTHOR of “the history of the REForMATIox in scotland,” &c.

G LAS GO W:
BLACKIE & SON, 8, EAST CLYDE STREET,

AND 5, SOUTH COLLEGE STREET, EDINBURGH;
W. CURRY, JUN., & Co., DUBLIN; AND . SimPKIN & MARSHALL, LONDON.

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THE present work is intended to convey to the reader an account -
of the various fundamental laws, usages, offices, and institutions,
which have arisen in this country in the course of ages, and which
form what is called THE BRitish Constitution. This “time-
honoured” fabric has been more frequently the theme of admiration
than of exposition. It was therefore conceived that a work intended to
explain, in a full and candid manner, the essential parts of its con-
struction, would have many claims on the attention of the public,
both in point of interest and utility. The mixed character of the
British constitution renders a proper understanding of it more diffi-
cult than that of any other government. In its composition, mon-
archy, aristocracy, and democracy are blended; and it differs from
other governments in two important points; first, that much of the
power which usually centres in the crown, in Britain remains in the
hands of the nation; and, secondly, that the disposition of the ex-
ecutive officers to encroach on the rights of the people, is checked
by the constitutional responsibility of each officer. To foreigners,
it has long been an object of admiration: and a reflection on its
many excellencies, so far as the rights and personal liberties of the
subject are concerned, cannot fail, in this country, to excite a feeling
of honourable pride.
The British constitution has grown out of occasions and emer-
gency. It has gradually accommodated itself to change of circum-
stances and of national sentiment; to the fluctuating policy of dif-
ferent ages, and to the contentions and interests of various orders
and parties in the state. “By the constitution of a country,” says
archdeacon Paley, “is meant so much of its law as relates to the

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