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servants of the people, because their power has no other rational end than that of the general advantage; but it is not true that they are, in the ordinary sense (by our constitution, at least) any thing like servants; the essence of whose situation is to obey the commands of some other, and to be removeable at pleasure. But the king of Great Britain obeys no other person; all other persons are individually, and collectively too, under him, and owe to him a legal obedience. The law, which knows neither to flatter nor to insult, calls this high magistrate, not our servant, as this humble Divine calls him, but "our sovereign Lord the King" and we, on our parts, have learned to speak only the primitive language of the law, and not the confused jargon of their Babylo nian pulpits.
As he is not to obey us, but as we are to obey the law in him, our constitution has made no sort of provision towards rendering him, as a servant, in any degree responsible. Our constitution knows nothing of a magistrate like the Justicia of Arragon; nor of any court legally appointed, nor of any process legally settled for submitting the king to the responsibility belonging to all servants. In this he is not distinguished from the commons and the lords; who, in their several public capacities, can never be called to an account for their conduct; although the revolution society chooses to assert, in direct opposition to one of the wisest and most beautiful parts of our constitution, that "a king is no more than the first servant of the public, created by it, and responsible to it."
Ill would our ancestors at the revolution have deserved their fame for wisdom, if they had found no security for their freedom, but in rendering their government feeble in its operations, and precarious in its tenure; if they had been able to contrive no better remedy against arbitrary power than civil confusion. Let these gentlemen state who that representative public is to whom they will affirm the king, as a ser vant, to be responsible. It will be then time enough for me to produce to them the positive statute law which affirms that he is not.
The ceremony of cashiering kings, of which these gentlemen talk so much at their ease, can.rarely, if ever, be performed without force. It then becomes a case of war, and not of constitution. Laws are commanded to hold their tongues among arms; and tribunals fall to the ground with the peace they are no longer able to uphold. The revolution of 1688 was obtained by a just war, in the only case in which any war, and much more a civil war, can be
just. "Justa bella quibus necessaria." The question of dethroning, or, if these gentlemen like the phrase better, "cashiering kings," will always be, as it has always been, an ex traordinary question of state, and wholly ou of the law; a question (like all other questions of state) of dispositions, and of means, and of probable consequences, rather than of positive rights. As it was not made for common abuses, so it is not to be agitated by common minds. The speculative line of demarcation, where obedience ought to end, and resistance must begin, is faint, obscure, and not easily definable. It is not a single act, or a single event, which determines it. Governments must be abused and deranged indeed, before it can be thought of; and the prospect of the future must be as bad as the experience of the past. When things are in that lame etable condition, the nature of the disease is to indicate the remedy to those whom nature has qualified to administer in extremities this critical, ambiguous, bitter potion to a distempered state. Times and occasions, and provocations. will teach their own lessons. The wise will determine from the gravity of the case; the irritable from sensibility to oppression, the high-minded from disdain and indignation at abusive power in unworthy hands; the brave and bold from the love of honourable danger in a generous cause: but, with or without right, a revolution will be the very last resource of the thinking and the good.
The third head of right, asserted by the pulpit of the Old Jewry, namely, the "right to form a government for ourselves," has, at least, as little countenance from any thing done at the revolution, either in precedent or principle, as the two first of their claims. The revolution was made to preserve our ancien. indisputable laws and liberties, and that ancien. constitution of government which is our only security for law and liberty. If you are desi rous of knowing the spirit of our constitution, and the policy which predominated in that great period which has secured it to this hour, pray look for both in our historios, in our records, in our acts of parliament, and journals of parliament, and not in the sermons of the Old Jewry, and the after-dinner toasts of the revolution society. In the former you will find other ideas and another language. Such a claim is as ill-suited to our temper and wishes as it is unsupported by any appearance of authority. The very idea of the fabrication of a new government, is enough to fill us with disgust and horrour. We wished at the period of the revolution, and do now wish, to derive
have since been. made for the preservation of our liberties. In the 1st of William and Mary, in the famous statute, called the Declaration of Right, the two houses utter not a syllable of "a right to frame a government for themselves." You will see, that their whole care was to secure the religion, laws, and liberties, that had been long possessed, and had been lately endangered. "Taking into their most serious consideration the best means for making such an establishment, that their religion, laws, and liberties, might not be in danger of being again subverted," they auspicate all their proceedings, by stating as some of those best means, "in the first place" to do "as their ancestors in like cases have usually done for vindicating their ancient rights and liberties, to declare;”—and then they pray the king and queen, "that it may be declared and enacted, that all and singular the rights and liberties asserted and declared are the true ancient and indubitable rights and liberties of the people of this kingdom."
You will observe, that from magna charta to the declaration of right, it has been the uniform policy of our constitution to claim and assert our liberties, as an entailed inheritance derived to us from our forefathers, and to be transmitted to our posterity; as an estate specially belonging to the people of this kingdom, without any reference whatever to any other more general or prior right. By this means our constitution preserves an unity in so great a diversity of its parts. We have an inheritable crown; an inheritable peerage; and a house of commons and a people inheriting privileges, franchises, and liberties, from a long line of ancestors.
all we possess as an inheritance from our forefathers. Upon that body and stock of inheritance we have taken care not to inoculate any scion alien to the nature of the original plant. All the reformations we have hitherto made, have proceeded upon the principle of reference to antiquity; and I hope, nay I am persuaded, that all those which possibly may be made hereafter, will be carefully formed upon analogical precedent, authority, and example.
Our oldest reformation is that of Magna Charta. You will see that Sir Edward Coke, that great oracle of our law, and indeed all the great men who follow him, to Blackstone,* are industrious to prove the pedigree of our liberties. They endeavour to prove, that the ancient charter, the Magna Charta of king John, was connected with another positive charter from Henry I. and that both the one and the other were nothing more than a reaffirmance of the still more ancient standing law of the kingdom. In the matter of fact, for the greater part, these authors appear to be in the right; perhaps not always: but if the lawyers mistake in some particulars, it proves my position still the more strongly; because it demonstrates the powerful prepossession towards antiquity, with which the minds of all our lawyers and legislators, and of all the people whom they wish to influence, have been always filled; and the stationary policy of this kingdom in considering their most sacred rights and franchises as an inheritance.
In the famous law of the 3d of Charles I. called the Petition of Right, the parliament says to the king, "Your subjects have inherited this freedom," claiming their franchises not on abstract principles "as the rights of men," but as the rights of Englishmen, and as a patrimony derived from their forefathers. Selden, and the other profoundly learned men, who drew this petition of right, were as well acquainted, at least, with all the general theories concerning the "rights of men," as any of the discourses in our pulpits, or on your tribune; full as well as Dr. Price, or as the Abbé Sieyes. But, for reasons worthy of that practical wisdom which superseded their theoretic science, they preferred this positive, recorded, hereditary title to all which can be dear to the man and the citizen, to that vague speculative right, which exposed their sure inheritance to be scrambled for and torn to pieces by every wild litigious spirit.
The same policy pervades all the laws which
* See Blackstone's Magna Charta, printed at Oxford, 1759.
The policy appears to me to be the result of profound reflection; or rather the happy effect of following nature, which is wisdom without reflection, and above it. A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors. Besides, the people of England well know, that the idea of inheritance furnishes a sure principle of conservation, and a sure principle of transmission; without at all excluding a principle of improvement. It leaves acquisition free; but it secures what it acquires. Whatever advantages are obtained by a state proceeding on these maxims, are locked fast as in a sort of family settlement; grasped as in a kind of mortmain for ever. By a constitutional policy, working after the pattern of nature, we receive, we hold, we transmit
* 1 W. and M.
our government and our privileges, in the same manner in which we enjoy and transmit our property and our lives. The institutions of policy, the goods of fortune, the gifts of Providence, are handed down, to us and from us, in the same course and order. Our political system is placed in a just correspondence and symmetry with the order of the world, and with the mode of existence decreed to a permanent body composed of transitory parts; wherein, by the disposition of a stupendous wisdom, moulding together the great mysterious incorporation of the human race, the whole, at one time, is never old, or middle-aged, or young, but in a condition of unchangeable constancy, moves on through the varied tenour of perpetual decay, fall, renovation, and progression. Thus, by preserving the method of nature in the conduct of the state, in what we improve we are never wholly new; in what we retain, we are never wholly obsolete. By adhering in this manner and on those principles to our forefathers, we are guided not by the superstition of antiquarians, but by the spirit of philosophic analogy. In this choice of inheritance we have given to our frame of polity the image of a relation in blood; binding up the constitution of our country with our dearest domestic ties; adopting our fundamental laws into the bosom of cur family affections; keeping inseparable, and cherishing with the warmth of all their combined and mutually reflected charities, our state, our hearths, our sepulchres, and our altars.
Through the same plan of a conformity to nature in our artificial institutions, and by calling in the aid of her unerring and powerful instincts, to fortify the fallible and feeble contrivances of our reason, we have derived seve ral other, and those no small benefits, from considering our liberties in the light of an inheritance. Always acting as if in the presence of canonized forefathers, the spirit of freedom, leading in itself to misrule and excess, is tempered with an awful gravity. This idea of a liberal descent inspires us with a sense of habitual native dignity, which prevents that up start insolence almost inevitably adhering to and disgracing those who are the first acquirers of any distinction. By this means our liberty becomes a noble freedom. It carries an imposing and majestic aspect. It has a pedigree and illustrating ancestors. It has its bearings and its ensigns armorial. It has its gallery of portraits; its monumental inscriptions; its records, evidences, and titles. We procure reverence to our civil institutions on the principle upon which nature teaches us to revere individual men; on account of their
age; and on account of those from whom hey are descended. All your sophisters cannot produce any thing better adapted to preserve a rational and manly freedom than the course that we have pursued, who have chosen our nature rather than our speculations, our breasts rather than our inventions, for the great conservatories and magazines of our rights and privileges.
You might, if you pleased, have profited of our example, and have given to your recovered freedom a correspondent dignity. Your privileges, though discontinued, were not lost to memory. Your constitution, it is true, whilst you were out of possession, suffered waste and dilapidation; but you possessed in some parts the walls, and in all the foundations of a noble and venerable castle. You might have repaired those walls; you might have built on those old foundations. Your constitution was suspended before it was perfected; but you had the elements of a constitution very nearly as good as could be wished. In your old states you possessed that variety of parts corresponding with the various descriptions of which your community was happily composed; you had all that combination, and all that opposition of interests, you had that action and counteraction which, in the natural and in the political world, from the reciprocal struggle of discordant powers, draws out the harmony of the universe. These opposed and conflicting interests, which you considered as so great a blemish in your old and in our present constitution, interpose a salutary check to all precipitate resolutions. They render deliberation a matter not of choice, but of necessity; they make all change a subject of compromise, which naturally begets moderation; they produce temperaments, preventing the sore evil of harsh, crude, unqualified reformations; and rendering all the headlong exertions of arbitrary power, in the few or in the many, for ever impracticable. Through that diversity of members and interests, general liberty had as many securities as there were separate views in the several orders; whilst, by pressing down the whole by the weight of a real monarchy, the separate parts would have been prevented from warping and starting from their allotted places.
You had all these advantages in your ancient states; but you chose to act as if you had never been moulded into civil society, and had every thing to begin anew. You began ill, because you began by despising every thing that belonged to you. You set up your trade without a capital. If the last generations of your country appeared without much lustre ir your eyes, you might have passed them by
and derived your claims from a more early to overlay it; you would have had a liberal order race of ancestors. Under a pious predilection of commons, to emulate and to recruit that for those ancestors, your imaginations would nobility; you would have had a protected, have realized in them a standard of virtue and satisfied, laborious, and obedient people, laught wisdom, beyond the vulgar practice of the to seek and to recognize the happiness that is hour : and you would have risen with the to be found by virtue in all conditions ; in example to whose imitation you aspired. which consists the true moral equality of manRespecting your forefathers, you would have kind, and not in that monstrous fiction, which, been taught to respect yourselves. You by inspiring false ideas and vain expectations would not have chosen to consider the French into men destined to travel in the obscure walk as a people of yesterday, as a nation of low- of laborious life, serves only to aggravate and born servile wretches until the emancipating imbitter that real inequality, which it never year of 1789. In order to furnish, at the can remove; and which the order of civil life expense of your honour, an excuse to your establishes as much for the benefit of those apologists here for several enormities of yours, whom it must leave in an humble state, as you would not have been content to be repre- those whom it is able to exalt to a condition sented as a gang of Maroon slaves, suddenly more splendid, but not more happy. You had broke loose from the house of bondage, and a smooth and easy career of felicity and glory therefore to be pardoned for your abuse of the laid open to you, beyond any thing recorded in liberty to which you were not accustomed, and the history of the world; but you have shewe were ill fitted.
Would it not, my worthy that difficulty is good for man. friend, have been wiser to have you thought, Compute your gains : see what is got by what I, for one, always thought you, a gene- those extravagant and presumptuous specularous and gallant nation, long misled to your tions which have taught your leaders to despise disadvantage by your high and romantic senti- all their predecessors, and all their contempo ments of fidelity, honour, and loyalty; that raries, and even to despise themselves, until events had been unfavourable to you, but that the moment in which they became truly desyou were not enslaved through any illiberal or picable. By following those false lights, servile disposition; that in your most devoted France has bought undisguised calamities at submission, you were actuated by a principle a higher price than any nation has purchased of public spirit, and that it was your country the most unequivocal blessings! France has you worshipped, in the person of your king? bought poverty by crime! France has not Had you made it to be understood, that in the sacrificed her virtue to her interest ; but she has delusion of this amiable errour you had gone abandoned her interest, that she might prostitute further than your wise ancestors ; that you were
her virtue. All other nations have begun the resolved to resume your ancient privileges, whilst fabric of a new government, or the reformation you preserved the spirit of your ancient and of an old, by establishing originally, or by enyour recent loyalty and honour; or, if diffident forcing with greater exactness some rites or other of yourselves, and not clearly discerning the of religion. All other people have laid the foundaalmost obliterated constitution of your ances. tions of civil freedom in severer manners, and a tors, you had looked to your neighbours in this system of a more austere and masculine morali. land, who had kept alive the ancient principles ty. France, when she let looso the reigns of regal and models of the old common law of Europe, authority, doubled the licence of a ferocious dismeliorated and adapted to its present state-by_soluteness in manners, and of an insolent irrefollowing wise examples you would have given ligion in opinions and practices; and has new examples of wisdom to the world. You extended through all ranks of life, as if she would have rendered the cause of liberty were communicating some privilege, or laying venerable in the eyes of every worthy mind in open some secluded benefit, all the unhappy every nation. You would have shamed des- corruptions that usually were the disease of potism from the earth, by shewing that free- wealth and power. This is one of the new dom was not only reconcileable, but as, when principles of equality in France. well disciplined, it is, auxiliary to law. You France, by the perfidy of her leaders, has would have had an unoppressive but a produc- utterly disgraced the tone of lenient council in tive revenue. You would have hada flourishing the cabinets of princes, and disarmed it of its commerce to feed it. You would have had a free most potent topics. She has sanctified the constitution ; a potent monarchy; a disciplined dark suspicious maxims of tyrannous distrust; army; a reformed and venerated clergy; a miti- and taught kings to tremble at (what will heregated but spirited nobility, to lead vour virtue, not after be called) the delusive prausibilities, of
mora politicians. Sovereigns will consider those who advise them to place an unlimited confidence in their people, as subverters of their thrones; as traitors who aim at their destruction, by leading their easy good-nature, under specious pretences, to admit combinations of bold and faithless men into a participa tion of their power. This alone (if there were nothing else) is an irreparable calamity to you and to mankind. Remember that your parliament of Paris told your king, that in calling the states together, he had nothing to fear but the prodigal excess of their zeal in providing for the support of the throne. It is right that these men should hide their heads. It is right that they should bear their part in the ruin which their counsel has brought on their sovereign and their country. Such sanguine declarations tend to lull authority asleep; to encourage it rashly to engage in perilous adventures of untried policy; to neglect those provisions, preparations and precautions, which distinguish benevolence from imbecility; and without which no man can answer for the salutary effect of any abstract plan of government or of freedom. For want of these, they have seen the medicine of the state corrupted into its poison. They have seen the French rebel against a mild and lawful monarch, with more fury, outrage, and insult, than ever any people has been known to rise against the most illegal usurper, or the most sanguinary tyrant. Their resistance was made to concession; their revolt was from protection; their blow was aimed at a hand holding out graces, favours, and immunities.
This was unnatural. The rest is in order. They have found their punishment in their success. Laws overturned; tribunals subverted; industry without vigour; commerce expiring; the revenue unpaid, yet the people impoverished; a church pillaged, and a state not relieved; civil and military anarchy made the constitution of the kingdom; every thing human and divine sacrificed to the idol of public credit, and national bankruptcy the consequence; and to crown all, the paper securities of new, precarious, tottering power, the discredited paper securities of impoverished fraud, and beggared rapine, heki out as a currency for the support of an empire, in lieu of the two great recognized species that represent the lasting conventional credit of mankind, which disappeared and hid themselves in the earth from whence they came, when the principle of property, whose creatures and representatives they are, was systematically subverted.
Were all these dreadful things necessary? were they the inevitable results of the despe
rate struggle of determined patriots, compellee to wade through blood and tumult, to the quiet shore of a tranquil and prosperous liberty? No! nothing like it. The fresh ruins of France, which shock our feelings wherever we can turn our eyes, are not the devastation of civil war; they are the sad but instructive monuments of rash and ignorant counsel in time of profound peace. They are the display of inconsiderate and presumptuous, because unresisted and irresistible authority. The persons who have thus squandered away the precious treasure of their crimes, the persons who have made this prodigal and wild waste of public evils (the last stake reserved for the ultimate ransom of the state) have met in their progress with little, or rather with no opposition at all. Their whole march was more like a triumphal procession than the progress of a war. Their pioneers have gone before them, and demolished and laid every thing level at their feet. Not one drop of their blood have they shed in the cause of the country they have ruined. They have made no sacrifice to their projects of greater conse quence than their shoe-buckles, whilst they were imprisoning their king, murdering their fellow-citizens, and bathing in tears, and plunging in poverty and distress, thousands of worthy men and worthy families. Their cruelty has not even been the base result of fear. It has been the effect of their sense of perfect safety, in authorizing treasons, robberies, rapes, assassinations, slaughters, and burnings, throughout their harassed land. But the cause of all was plain from the beginning
This unforced choice, this fond election of evil, would appear perfectly unaccountable, if we did not consider the composition of the national assembly: I do not mean its formal constitution, which as it now stands is exceptionable enough, but the materials of which, in a great measure, it is composed, which is of ten thousand times greater consequence than all the formalities in the world. If we were to know nothing of this assembly but by its title and function, no colours could paint to the imagination any thing more venerable. In that light the mind of an inquirer, subdued by such an awful image as that of the virtue and wisdom of a whole people collected into one focus, would pause and hesitate in condemn. ing things even of the very worst aspect. Instead of blameable, they would appear only mysterious. But no name, no power, no function, no artificial institution whatsoever, can make the men of whom any system of authority is composed, any other than God