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in any other course or method than that of an succession of their crown as among theu hereditary crown, our liberties can be regularly rights, not as among their wrongs; as a beneperpetuated and preserved sacred as our here fit, not as a grievance; as a security for their ditary right. An irregular, convulsive move- liberty, not as a badge of servitude. They ment may be necessary to throw off an irregu- loook on the frame of their commonwealth, lar, convulsive disease. But the course of such as it stands, to be of inestimable value; succession is the healthy habit of the British and they conceive the undisturbed succession constitution. Was it that the legislature wan- of the crown to be a pledge of the stability and ted, at the act for the limitation of the crown perpetuity of all the other members of our con in the Hanoverian line, drawn through the stitution. female descendants of James the First, a due I shall beg leave, before I go any further, to sense of the inconveniences of having two or take notice of some paltry artifices, which the three, or possibly more foreigners in succession abetters of election, as the only lawful title to to the British throne ? No!-they had a due the crown, are ready to employ, in order to sense of the evils which might happen from such render the support of the just principles of our foreign rule, and more than a due sense of them. constitution a task somewhat invidious. These But a more decisive proof cannot be given of sophisters substitute a fictitious cause, and the full conviction of the British nation, that feigned personages, in whose favour they supthe principles of the revolution did not autho- pose you engaged, whenever you defend the rize them to elect kings at their pleasure, and inheritable nature of the crown. It is comwithout any attention to the ancient funda- mon with them to dispute as if they were in a mental principles of our government, than their conflict with some of those exploded fanatics continuing to adopt a plan of hereditary Pro- of slavery, who formerly maintained, what I testant succession in the old line, with all the believe no creature now maintains, “ that the dangers and all the inconveniences of its being crown is held by divine, hereditary, and indea foreign line full before their eyes, and ope- feasible right.”—These old fanatics of single rating with the utmost force upon their minds. arbitrary power dogmatized as if hereditary
A few years ago I should be ashamed to royalty was the only lawful government in the overload a matter, so capable of supporting world, just as our new fanatics of popular itself, by the then unnecessary support of any arbitrary power, maintain that a popular eleo. argument; but this seditious, unconstitutional tion is the sole lawful source of authority doctrine is now publicly taught, avowed, and The old prerogative enthusiasts, it is true, did printed. The dislike I feel to revolutions, the speculate foolishly, and perhaps impiously too signals for which have so often been given as if monarchy had more of a divine sanctios from pulpils; the spirit of change that is gone
than any other mode of government; and as abroad ; the total contempt which prevails if a right to govern by inheritance were ir with you, and may come to prevail with us,
strictness indefeasible in every person, why of all ancient institutions, when set in opposi- should be found in the succession to a throne tion to a present sense of convenience, or to and under every circumstance, which no civi the bent of a present inclination: all these or political right can be. But an absurd opi considerations make it not unadvisable, in my nion concerning the king's hereditary right to opinion, to call back our attention to the true the crown does not prejudice one that is ra forinciples of our own domestic laws; that you, tional, and bottomed upon solid principles o my French friend, should begin to know, and law and policy. If all the absurd theories on that we should continue to cherish them. We lawyers and divines were to vitiate the cojecto ought not, on either side of the water, to suffer in which they are conversant, we should have ourselves to be imposed upon by the counter- no law, and no religion, left in the world. Bu feit wares which some persons, by a double an absurd theory on one side of a question fraud, export to you in illicit bottoms, as raw forms no justification for alleging a false fact, commodities of British growth, though wholly or promulgating mischievour maxims on the alien to our soil, in order afterwards to smug- other. gle them back again into this country, manu- The secon claim of the volution society factured after the newest Paris fashion of an is “a right of cashiering Leir governours for improved liberty.
misconduct." Perhaps die apprehensions our The people of England will not ape the ancestors entertained of forming such a precofashions they have never tried: nor go back to dent as that “of co siering for misconduct,' those which they have found mischievous on
ause tha, the declaration of the act trial. They look upon the legal hereditary which implied is abdication of King James
was, if it had any fault, rather too guarded, kingdom. In the next great constitutional and too circumstantial.* But all this guard, act, that of the 12th and 13th of King William, and alla this accumulation of circumstances, for the further limitation of the crown, and beta serves to shew the spirit of caution which ter securing the rights and liberties of the subpredominated in the national councils, in a ject, they provided," that no pardon under the situation in which men irritated by oppression, great seal of England should be pleadable to an and elevated by a triumph over it, are apt to impeachment by the commons in parliament.” abandon themselves to violent and extreme The rule laid down for government in the courses: it shews the anxiety of the great men declaration of right, the constant inspection who influenced the conduct of affairs at that of parliament, the practical claim of impeachgreat event, to make the revolution a parent of ment, they thought infinitely a better security settlement, and not a nursery of future revo- not only for their constitucional liberty, but lutions.
against the vices of administration, than the No government could stand a moment, if it reservation of a right so difficult in the praccould be blown down with any thing so loose tice, so uncertain in the issue, and often so and indefinite as an opinion of misconduct." mischievous in the consequences, as that of They who led at the revolution, grounded their cashiering their governours." virtual abdication of King James upon no such Dr. Price in this sermon,* condemns very light and uncertain principle. They charged properly the practice of gross, adulatory ad him with nothing less than a design, confirmed dresses to kings. Instead of this fulsome style, by a multitude of illegal overt acts, to subvert he proposes that his majesty should be told, on the Protestant church and state and their fun- occasions of congratulation, that "he is to condamental, unquestionablo laws and liberties : sider himself as more properly the servant than they charged him with having broken the ori- the sovereign of his people.” For a compliginal contract between king and people. This ment, this new form of address does not seem was more than misconduct. A grave and over- to be very soothing. Those who are servants, ruling necessity obliged them to take the step in name, as well as in effect, do not like to they took, and took with infinite reluctance, as be told of their situation, their duty, and their under that most rigorous of all laws. Their obligations. The slave, in the old play, tells trust the future preservation of the consti- his master, “ Hæc commemoratio est quasi ertution was not in future revolutions. The probatio." It is not pleasant as compliment ; grand policy of all their regulations was to it is not wholesome as instruction. After all, render it almost impracticable for any future if the king were to bring himself to echo this sovereign to compel the states of the kingdom new kind of address, to adopt it in terms, to have again recourse to those violent reme- and even to take the appellation of Servant of dies. They left the crown what, in the eye the People as his royal style, how either he and estimation of law, it had ever been, per- or we should be much mended by it, I cannot sectly irresponsible. In order to lighten the imagine. I have seen very assuming letters, crown still further, they aggravated responsi- signed, Your most obedient, humble servant. bility on ministers of state. By the statute of The proudest domination that ever was endured the first of King William, sess. 2d, called “the on earth took a title of still greater humility act for declaring the rights and liberties of the than that which is now proposed for sovereigns subject, and for settling the succession of the y the Apostle of Liberty. Kings and nations crown," they enacted, that the ministers should
vere trampled upon by the foot of one calling serve the crown on the terms of that declam- himself “ the Servant of Servants;" and mantion. They secured soon after the frequent dates for deposing sovereigns were sealed with meetings of parliament, by which the whole the signet of the Fisherman." government would be under the constant in- I should have considered all this as no more spection and active controul of the popular than a sort of flippant vain discourse, in which, reprezentative and of the magnates of the as in an unsavoury fume, several persons suffer
the spirit of liberty to evaporate, if it were not *"That King James the Second, having en.
plainly in support of the idea, and a part of leavoured to subvert the constitution of the the scheme of "cashiering kings for misconkingdom, by breaking the original coniract duct.” In that light it is worth spme obserbetween king and people, and by ihe advice of je: vation. suits, and other wicked persons, having violated the fundamental laws, and having withdrawn
Kings, in one sense, are undoubtedly the himself out of the kingdom hath abdicated the government, and the throne is thereby vacant."
P. 22, 23, 24.
servants of the people, because their power las just. “Justa bella quibus necessaria.” The no other rational end than that of the general question of dethroning, or, if these gentlemen advantage; but it is not true that they are, in like the phrase better, "cashiering kings," tl10 ordinary sense (by our constitution, at will always be, as it has always been, an ex least) any thing like servants; the essence of traordinary question of state, and wholly ou whose situation is to obey the commands of of the law; a question (like all other questions come other, and to be removeable at pleasure. of state) of dispositions, and of means, and of But the king of Great Britain obeys no other probable consequences, rather than of positivo person; all other persons are individually, and righis. As it was not made for common collectively too, under him, and owe to him abuses, so it is not to be agitated by common a legal obedience. The law, which knows minds. The speculative line of demarcation, neither to flatter nor to insult, calls this high where obedience ought to end, and resistance magistrate, not our servant, as this humble must begin, is faint, obscure, and not easily Divine calls him, but “our sovereign Lord the definable. It is not a single act, or a single King;" and we, on our parts, have learned to event, which determines it. Gorernments speak only the primitive language of the law, must be abused and deranged indeed, Lrfore it and not the confuscd jargon of their Babylon can be thought of; and the prospect of the nian pulpits.
future must be as bad as the experience of the As he is not to obey us, but as we are to past. When things are in that lamentable obey the law in him, our constitution has made condition, the nature of the disease is to indino sort of provision towards rendering him, as cate the remedy to those whom nature has a servant, in any degree responsible. Our con-. qualified to administer in extremities liiis cristitution knows nothing of a inagistrate like the tical, ambiguous, bitter potion to a distem pered Justicia of Arragon; nor of any court legally state. Times and occasions, and provocations. appointed, nor of any process legally settled will teach their own lessons. The wise will for submiuing the king to the responsibility determine from the gravity of the case; the belonging to all servants. In this he is not irritable from sensibility to oppression, the distinguished from the commons and the lords; high-minded from disdain and indignation at who, in their several public capacities, can abusive power in unworthy hands; the brave never be called to an account for their con- and bold from the love of honourable vlinger in duct; although the revolution society chooses a generous cause: but, with or without right, to assert, in direct opposition to one of the a revolution will be the very last resource of wisest and most beautiful parts of our consti- the thinking and the good. tution, that "a king is no more than the first The third head of right, asserted by the servant of the public, created by it, and respon- pulpit of the Old Jewry, namely, the "right to sible to it."
form a government for ourselves," has, at Ill would our ancestors at the revolution have least, as little countenance from any thing done deserved their fame for wisdom, if they had at the revolution, either in precedent or prinfound no security for their freedom, but in ren- ciple, as the two first of their claims. "The dering their government seeble in its operations, revolution was made to preserve our ancien. and precarious in its tenure; if they had been indisputable laws and liberties, and that ancien. able to contrire no better remedy against arbi- constitution of government which is our only trary power than civil confusion. Let these security for law and liberty. If you are desi gentlemen stato who that representative public rous of knowing the spirit of our constitution, is to whom they will affirm the king, as a sera and the policy which predominatod in that vant, to be responsible. It will be then time great period which has secured it to this hour, cnough for me to produce to them the positivo pray look for both in our historios, in our restatute law which affirms that he is not. cords, in our acts of parliament, and journals
The ceremony of cashiering kings, of which of parliament, and not in the sermons of the those gentlemen talk so much at their ease, Old Jewry, and the after-dinner toasts of the can.rarely, if ever, be performed without force. revolution society. In the former you will It then becomes a case of war, and not of con- find other ideas and another language. Such slitution. Laws are commanded to hold their a claim is as ill-suited to our tepper and wishes longues among arms; and tribunals fall to the as it is imsupported by any appearance of ground with the peace they are no longer able authority. The very idea of the fabrication io uphold. The revolution of 1688 was ob- of a new government, is enough to fill us with tained by a just war, in the only case in which disgust and horrour. We wished at the pericui any war, and much more a civil war, can be of the revolution, and do now wish, to dcrise
all we possess as an inheritance from our fore- have since been made for the preservation of fathers. Upon that body and stock of inheri- our liberties. In the 1st of William and Mary, tance we have taken care not to inoculate any in the famous statute, called the Declaration scion alien to the nature of the original plant. of Right, the two houses utter not a syllable of All the reformations we have hitherto mado, a right to frame a government for themhave proceeded upon the principle of reference selves.” You will see, that their whole care to antiquity; and I hope, nay I am persuaded, was to secure the religion, laws, and liberties, that all those which possibly may be made that had been long possessed, and had been hereafter, will be carefully formed upon analo- lately endangered. "Taking into their most gical precedent, authority, and example. serious consideration the best means for making
Our oldest reformation is that of Magna such an establishment, that their religion, laws, Charta. You will see that Sir Edward Coke, and liberties, might not be in danger of being that great oracle of our law, and indeed all the again subverted,"* they auspicate all their greal men who follow him, to Blackstone, * proceedings, by stating as some of those best are industrious to prove the pedigree of our means, " in the first place" to do “as their liberties. They endeavour to prove, that the ancestors in like cases have usually done for ancient charter, the M Charta of king vindic their ancient rights and liberties, John, was connected with another positive to declare;"—and then they pray the king and charter from Henry I. and that both the one queen, “ that it may be declareil and enacted, and the other were nothing more than a re- that all and singular the rights and liberties affirmance of the still more ancient standing asserted and declared are the true ancient and law of the kingdom. In the matter of fact, for indubitable rights and liberties of the people of the greater part, these authors appear to be in this kingdom.” the right; perhaps not always: but if the law- · You will observe, that from magna charta to yers mistake in some particulars, it proves my the declaration of right, it has been the uniform position still the more strongly; because it policy of our constitution to claim and assert demonstrates the powerful prepossession to- our liberties, as an entailed inheritance derived wards antiquity, with which the minds of all our to us from our forefathers, and to be transmitted lawyers and legislators, and of all the people to our posterity; as an estate specially belonwhom they wish to influence, have been always ging to the people of this kingdom, without any filled; and the stationary policy of this king- reference whatever to any other more general dom in considering their most sacred rights or prior right. By this means our constitution and franchises as an inheritance.
preserves an unity in so great a diversity of In the famous law of the 3d of Charles I. its parts. We have an inheritable crown; an called the Petition of Right, the parliament inheritable peerage; and a house of commons says to the king, “ Your subjects have inherited and a people inheriting privileges, franchises, this freedom," claiming their franchises not and liberties, from a long line of ancestors. on abstract principles" as the rights of men,” The policy appears to me to be the result of but as the rights of Englishmen, and as a pa- profound reflection; or rather the happy effect trimony derived from their forefathers. Selden, of following nature, which is wisdom without and the other profoundly learned men, who reflection, and above it. A spirit of innovadrew this petition of right, were as well ac- tion is generally the result of a selfish temper quainted, at least, with all the general theories and confined views. People will not look forconcerning the “rights of men,” as any of the ward to posterity, who never look backward to discourses in our pulpits, or on your tribune; their ancestors. Besides, the people of Engfull as well as Dr. Price, or as the Abbé Sieyes. land well know, that the idea of inheritance But, for reasons worthy of that practical wis- furnishes a sure principle of conservation, and dom which superseded their theoretic science, 4 sure principle of transmission ; without at they preferred this positive, recorded, heredilary all excluding a principle of improvement. It title to all which can be dear to the man and leaves acquisition free; but it secures what it the citizen, to that vague speculative right, acquires. Whatever adrantages are obtained which exposed their sure inheritance to be by a state proceeding on these maxims, are scrambled for and torn to pieces by every wild locked fast as in a sort of family settlement; litigious spirit.
grasped as in a kind of mortmain for ever. By The same paicy pervades all the laws which a constitutional policy, working after the pat
tern of nature, we receive, we hold, we transmit * Sce Blackstone's Magna Charta, printed at Oxford, 1759.
IW. and M.
our government and our privileges, in the same age; and on account of those from whom hey manner in which we enjoy and transmit our are descended. All your sophisters cannot property and our lives. The institutions of produce any thing better adapted to preserve a policy, the goods of fortune, the gifts of Provi- rational and manly freedom than the course that dence, are handed down, to us and from us, we have pursued, who have chosen our nature in the same course and order. Our political rather than our speculations, our breasts rather system is placed in a just correspondence and than our inventions, for the great conservatories symmetry with the order of the world, and with and magazines of our rights and privileges. the mode of existence decreed to a permanent You might, if you pleased, have profited of body composed of transitory parts; wherein, our example, and have given to your recovered by the disposition of a stupendous wisdom, freedom a correspondent dignity. Your privi. moulling together the great mysterious incor- leges, though discontinued, were not lost to poration of the human race, the whole, at one memory. Your constitution, it is true, whilst time, is never old, or middle-aged, or young, you were out of possession, suffered waste and but in a condition of unchangeable constancy, dilapidation ; but you possessed in some parts moves on through the varied tenour of perpetual the walls, and in all the foundations of a noble decay, fall, renovation, and progression. Thus, and venerable castle. . You might have reby preserving the method of nature in the con- paired those walls: you might have built on duct of the state, in what we improve we are those old foundations. Your constitution was never wholly new; in what we retain, we are suspended before it was perfected; but you had never wholly obsolete. By adhering in this the elements of a constitution very nearly as manner and on those principles to our forefa- good as could be wished. In your old states thers, we are guided not by the superstition of you possessed that variety of parts corresponantiquarians, but by the spirit of philosophic ding with the various descriptions of which your analogy. In this choice of inheritance we have community was happily composed ; you had given to our frame of polity the image of a re- all that combination, and all that opposition of lation in blood; binding up the constitution of interests, you had that action and counteraction our country with our dearest domestic ties; which, in the natural ::nd in the political world, adopting our fundamental laws into the bosom from the reciprocal struggle of discordant of cur family affections; keeping inseparable, powers, draws out the harmony of the universe. and cherishing with the warmth of all their These opposed and conflicting interests, which combined and mutually reflected charities, our you considered as so great a blemish in your state, our hearths, our sepulchres, and our altars. old and in our present constitution, interpose a
Through the same plan of a conformity to salutary check to all precipitate resolutions. natur« in our artificial institutions, and by They render deliberation a matter not of choice, calling in the aid of her unerring and powerful but of necessity; they make all change a subinstincts, to fortify the fallible and feeble con- ject of compromise, which naturally begets trivances of our reason, we have derived seve moderation; they produce temperaments, preral other, and those no small benefits, from venting the sore evil of harsh, crude, unqualified considering our liberties in the light of an inhe- reformations; and rendering all the headlong ritance. Always acting as if in the presence exertions of arbitrary power, in the few or in of canonized forefathers, the spirit of freedom, the many, for ever impracticable. Through leading in itself to misrule and excess, is tem- that diversity of members and interests, general pered with an awful gravity. This idea of a liberty had as many securities as there were liberal descent inspires us with a sense of ha- separate views in the several orders; whilst, bitual native dignity, which prevents that up by pressing down the whole by the weight of start insolence almost inevitably adhering to a real monarchy, the separate parts would have and disgracing those who are the first acqui- been prevented from warping and starting from rers of any distinction. By this means our their allotted places. liberty becomes a noble freedom. It carries You had all these advantages in your ancient an imposing and majestic aspect. It has a states ; but you chose to act as if you had pedigree and illustrating ancestors. It has never been moulded into civil society, and had its bearings and its ensigns armorial. It has every thing to begin anew. You began ill, ils gallery of portraits; its monumental in because you began by despising every thing scriptions; ils records, evidences, and titles. that belonged to you. You set up your trade We procure reverence to our civil instimions without a capital. If the last generations of on the principle upon which nature teaches us your country appeared without much lustre ir to revere individual men; on account of their your eves, you might have passed them by