The Ancient Library
 

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46 CAUSES OF CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE. [CH. II.

themselves pretended to fix, and many of them at a time when constitutional changes had already begun in Greece. Hence there is a radical distinction to be drawn between the old - constitutions of prehistoric origin, con­secrated by prescription, and the governments, invented in a later age, founded on the deliberate principles of a law­giver or instituted in imitation of the laws of some other state. The ' historical constitutions,' gradually and spon­taneously developed, had a far greater chance of per­manence than the ' constitutions of recent invention'.' Governments like those of Sparta and Crete owed a great deal of the credit which they enjoyed with the Greeks to their stability. New ideas had not proved able to break their continuity; status and custom had not given place to contract and progress2. But in other states the course of civilisation and the alteration of political conditions had brought in the age of discussion; social forces had been given free play, constitutional changes were frequent and produced the diversity of governments, which formed a striking contrast to the uniformity of type in the early states.

§ 14. The Causes determining the form of a Constitution.

All constitutions are the result either of spontaneous growth or of deliberate invention: in either case they must be adapted to the community in which they exist. Forms of government are not equally applicable to all states; and it is only their relative fitness that preserves

1 On the 'historical' and the 'a priori constitutions' see Maine, Popular Government p. 172.

2 See Bagehot, Physici and Polities, paiiim.

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