Jean-Louis de Lolme (1741-1806) was a political theorist born in Geneva who lived his adult life in London. In his most famous work The English Constitution, De Lolme advocates for constitutional form of government based on Great Britain's system. For many decades, historians considered de Lolme "the principal authority on the subject" (MacDonnell).
De Lolme drew upon other well known political theorists, such as John Locke and the Baron de Montesquieu, but wrote in opposition to Jean-Jacques Rosseau's theory of direct democracy, arguing instead for a representative democracy.
In “Signs of the Times,” Carlyle groups de Lolme with Adam Smith and Jeremy Bentham, philosophers who maintain that “our happiness depends entirely on external circumstances” (Carlyle). Carlyle contrasts the first three men with philosophers including Socrates and Plato, thinkers who emphasize the human's internal state as our source of goodness and motivation. In order to understand the human condition in the current era, Carlyle maintains we must listen to thinkers like de Lolme who keep an eye to the way external circumstances of the time affect the people who live in them. In de Lolme’s case, the circumstances that interest him are the workings of the British government.
Macdonell, G.P. "Lolme, John Louis de (1741–1806)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. 29 March 2009.
"Jean-Louis de Lolme." Wikipedia. 2009. 29 March 2009.
Last modified 30 March 2009