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Queen : and in discoursing of the royal rights and authority, he very properly considers the King. 1. With regard to his title. '2. His royal family. 3. His councils. 4. His Duties. 5. His prerogative. 6. His revenue.
We are sorry that our limits will not allow us to follow the Writer through these divifions, which are treated in a most satisfactory and masterly manner: more especially the chapter relating to the royal revenue. This nice and intricate fubject is rendered intelligible to an ordinary understanding. Nothing can be more accurate, more perspicuous, and at the same time more compendious : and the inference the Writer draws from a view of the antient and modern revenues of the crown, is too excellent to be omitted. He takes notice that the powers of the crown are now to all appearance greatly curtailed and diminished since the reign of king James the first : particularly, by the abolition of the star chamber and high commission courts in the reign of Charles the first, and by the disclaiming of martial law, and the power of levying taxes on the subject, by the same prince: by the disuse of forest laws for a century paft: and by the many excellent provisions enacted under Charles the second; especially, the abolition of military tenures, purveyance, and pre-emption; the habeas cortus act; and the act to prevent the the discontinuance of parliaments for above three years : and, fince the revolution, by the strong and emphatical words in which our liberties are afferted in the bill of rights, and act of settlement; by the act for triennial, since turned into septennial, elections ; by the exclusion of certain officers from the house of commons; by rendering the seats of the judges permanent, and their salaries independent; and by reftraining the king's pardon from operating on paliamentary impeachments. Besides all this, if we consider how the crown is impoverithed and stripped of all it's antient revenues, so that it g catly depends on the liberality of parliament for it's necessary support and maintenance, we may perhaps be led to think, that the ballance is inclined pretty strongly to the popular scale, and that the executive magistrate has neither independence nor power enough left, to form that check upon the lords and commons, which the founders of our conftitution intended.
• But, on the other hand, it is to be considered, that every prince, in the first parliament after his accesion, has by long usage a truly royal addition to his hereditary revenue settled upon him for his life; and has never any occasion to apply to parliamen: forusupplies, but upon some public neceffity of the whole realm. This restores to him that conftitutional independence, wh ch at
his first accellion seems, it must be owned, to be wanting. And , then, with regard to puwer, very find perhaps that the hands
of government are at least sufficiently strengthened; and that an English monarch is now in no danger of being overborne by either the nobility or the people. The instruments of power are not perhaps to open and avowed as they formerly were, and therefore are the less liable to jealous and invidious relections ; but they are not the weaker upon that account. In short, our nationaldebt and taxes (besides the inconveniences before-mentioned) have also in their natural consequences thrown such a weight of power into the executive scale of government, as we cannot think was intended by our patrist ancestors ; who gloriously struggled for the abolition of the then formidable parts of the prerogative; and by an unaccountable want of forelight eftablished this system in their stead. The entire collection and management of so vast a revenue, being placed in the hands of the crown, have given rise to such a multitude of new officers, created by and removeable at the royal plcasure, that they have extended the influence of government to every corner of the nation. Witness the commiltioners, and the multitude of dependents on the customs, in every port of the kingdom ; the commiffioners of excise, and their numerous subalterns, in every inland district; the postmasters, and their servants, planted in every town, and upon every public road; the commissioners of the stamps, and their distributors, which are full as scattered and full as numerous; the officers of the salt duty, which, though a specics of excise and conducted in the same manner, are yet made a distinct corps from the ordinary managers of that revenue; the surveyors of houses and windows; the receivers of the land tax; the managers of lotteries; and the commissioners of hackney coaches; all which are either mediately or immediately appointed by the crown, and removeable at pleasure without any reason asigned: these, it requires but little penetration to fee, must give that power, on which they depend for subfistence, an influence most amazingly extensive. To this may be added the frequent opportunities of conferring particular obligations, by preference in loans, subscriptions, tickets, remittances, and other money-transactions, which will greatly encrease this influence; and that over those persons whose attachment, on account of their wealth, is frequently the most defirable. All this is the natural, though perhaps the unforeseen, consequence of erecting our funds of credit, and to support them, establishing our present perpetual taxes: the whole of which is entirely new since the restoration in 1660; and by far the greatest part since the revolution in 1688. And the fame may be said with regard to the officers in our numerous army, and the places which the army has cre ted. All which put together gives the executive power so persuasive an energy with respect to the persons themselves, and lo prevailing an interest with their friends and families, as will amply make amends for the loss of external prerogative.
But, though this profufion of offices should have no effect on individuals, there is still another newly acquired branch of power; and that is, not the influence only, but the force of a disciplined army: paid indeed ultimately by the people, but immediately by the crown; raised by the crown, officered by the crown, commanded by the crown. They are kept on foot it is true only from year to year, and that by the power of parliament: but during that year they must, by the nature of our constitution, if raised at all, be at the absolute disposal of the crown. And there need but few words to demonstrate how great a trust is thereby repofed in the prince by his people. A trust, that is more than equivalent to a thousand little troublefome prerogatives,
• Add to all this, that, befides the civil list, the immense revenue of seven millions sterling, which is annually paid to the creditors of the publick, or carried to the finking fund, is first deposited in the royal exchequer, and thence iflued out to the respective offices of payment. This revenue the people can never refuse to raise, because it is made perpetual, by act of parliament: which also, when well considered, will appear to be a trust of great delicacy and high importance.
· Upon the whole therefore I think it is clear, that, whatever may have become of the nominal, the real power of the crown has not been too far weakened by any transactions in the last century. Much is indeed given up; but much is also acquired. The. stern commands of prerogative have yielded to the milder voice of influence; the slavilh and exploded doctrine of non-resistance has given way to a military eltablishment by law; and to the disuse of parliaments has succeeded a parliamentary trust of an immense perpetual revenue. When, indeed, by the free operation of the linking fund, our national debts shall be leffened; when the posture of foreign affairs, and the universal introduction of a well planned and national militia, will suffer our formidable army to be thinned and regulated ; and when (in con-, sequence of all) our taxes shall be gradually reduced ; this adventitious power of the crown will Nowly and imperceptible diminish, as it slowly and imperceptibly rose. But, till that shall, happen, it will be our especial duty, as good subjects and good, Englishmen, to reverence the crown, and yet guard against corrupt and servile influence from those who are intrusted with it's, authority; to be loyal, yet free ; obedient, and yet independent: and, above every thing, to hope that we may long, very long, continue to be governed by a lovereign, who, in all those public, acts that have personally proceeded from himself, hath mani, feited the highest veneration for the free constitution of Britain ; hath already in more than one instance remarkably strengthened it's outworks; and will therefore never harbour a thought, or
adopt a persuasion, in any the remotest degree detrimental to public liberty.'
The ensuing chapter, respects the rights and dates of lubordinate magistrates, and having treated of pericns as they ftand in the public relations of magistrates, he proceeds to confider such persons as fall under the denomination of the people (in which body the subordinate magistrates are inclujed) and explains their rights and duties in all their various relations.
Having already transgressed our bounds, we must, for these explanations, refer the Reader to the work itself; which, from the extracts herein given, he will no doubt be curious to peruse.
We cannot conclude without observing that Mr. Blackstone is perhaps the first who has treated of the body of law in a liberal, clegant, and conftitutional manner. A vein of good' sense and moderation runs through every page, and he shews himself equally free from that servile attachment to prerogative which is generally imputed to lawyers, especially such as are fervants of the crown, without giving loose to that undistinguishing factious zeal for liberty, which too often wears the mark of patriotism. Upon the whole he has acquitted himself as a found lawyer, an able Writer, a good subject, and a worthy citizen.
The Freedom of Spech ard !Vriting upon Public Affairs, considered.
N the whole compass of political subjects, there is no question
undertaken to confider. Freedom of speech and writing on public affairs, is the true ftandard of the state of public liberty ; and may not improperly be called the political barometer. Under the absolute and despotic forms of government, where the will of the prince is the fupreme law, and the people have no concern in the bufiness of legislation, it is extremely low, or rather hath no existence at all. In aristocratic and oligarchic governments it rises but to a small and inconfiderable degree, and for the very fame reason, in proportion, that it is never to be found in monarchies. It is in popular governments alone, where the people have power in enacting laws, granting fuppies, debating on public measures, and judging of the conduct e their gorerners, that this valuable and manly species of freedom isever be met with in any confiderable extent. Where lub
remediately interested in the administration of affairs ; Binay tea the dructure of their government they are frequently
called together to consult for the common good, and feel their own importance in approving and supporting, or in condemning and rejecting any particular, measures, we may expect to find the free and independent fenator bravely oppofing the pernicious schemes of a wicked and corrupt minister; or in a more public manner, from the press, calling upon his fellow-citizens to unite their influence in opposing the destructive, and countenancing the wise and falutary measures that are proposed. And wherever, in a free government, we observe an attempt to suppress or bear down this species of freedom; where every man is not protected in the fullest manner in the exercise of it; but the people are intimidated by the infamy of corporal punishment, fines, imprisonment, banishment, &c. it is then the public jealousy ought to be awakened; it is then the wicked sons of ambition and tyranny are meditating the destruction of every thing dear and valuable to us as men. That this liberty may be abused to the most ungenerous and unworthy purposes will not be denied, and so have the best bleflings and most valuable privileges which kind heaven hath bestowed on the children of men; and were we to be at once deprived of every blessing we abuse, it is easy to see what must have been our condition long ago: but the benevolent and righteous governor of the world judgeth not as men judge; he continueth our milimproved privileges; and in imitation of his wisdom and goodness should our earthly governors continue to protect us in those liberties, which are too often abused indeed; but cannot be taken away without the introduction of greater evils; and of which moreover, though abused, it is an unjust and wicked extension of their power to attempt to deprive us.
The manner in which the work before us is conducted will appear from the following analyfis of it.
Our Author sets out with observing the excellence of truth, and the difficulty of discovering it; from whence he rightly infers the necessity of a free use of the means of discovering it, which are speech and writing. As power is progressive, restraint on the latter would foon extend to the supprefsion of the former : and he well observes, the more injurious the designs and actions of men are, the greater will be their solicitude to prevent a free examination of them.
This general introduction is followed by an enumeration of the laws against libels under the Roman emperors; from whence he pasies to an account of the revival of the civil law in Europe, which he imputes not so much to its utility and excellence, as to its being favourable to the power of princes anzi ecclefiaftics, of which he gives several inftances from the Digest and Juftinian's Institutes : he thinks therefore that we ought to revere the Rev. May, 1766.