Imatges de pÓgina

The representatives are so intermixed with the constituents, and the constituents with the rest of the people, that they cannot, without a partiality too flagrant to be endured, impose any burthen upon the subject, in which they do not share themselves; nor scarcely can they adopt an advantageous regulation, in which their own interests will not participate of the advantage.

The proceedings and debates of parliament, and the parliamentary conduct of each representative, are known by the people at large.

The representative is so far dependent upon the constituent, and political importance upon public favour, that a member of parliament cannot more effectually recommend himself to eminence and advancement in the state, than by contriving and patronizing laws of public utility.

When intelligence of the condition, wants, and occasions of the people, is thus collected from every quarter, when such a variety of invention, and so


understandings, are set at work upon the subject, it may be presumed, that the most eligible expedient, remedy or improvement, will occur to some one or other :


and when a wise counsel, or beneficial regulation is once fuggefted, it may be expected, from the disposition of an assembly so constituted as the British House of Commons is, that it cannot fail of receiving the approbation of a majority,

To prevent those destructive contentions for the supreme power, which are sure to take place where the members of the state do not live under an acknowledged head, and a known rule of succession ; to preserve the people in tranquillity at home, by a speedy and vigorous execution of the laws ; to protect their interest abroad, by strength and energy in military operations, by those advantages of decision, secrecy, and dispatch, which belong to the resolutions of monarchical councils ;-for these purposes, the constitution has committed the executive government to the administration and limited authority of an hereditary king.

In the defence of the empire; in the maintenance of its power, dignity, and privileges, with foreign nations ; in the advancement of its trade by treaties and conventions; and in the providing for the general administration of municipal justice, by a proper choice and appointment of magistrates, the inclination of the king and of the people usually coincides: in this part,



therefore, of the regal office, the constitution entrusts the prerogative with ample powers.

The dangers principally to be apprehended from regal government, relate to the two articles taxation and punishment. In every form of government, from which the people are excluded, it is the interest of the governors to get as much, and of the governed to give as little as they can: the power also of punishment, in the hands of an arbitrary prince, oftentimes becomes an engine of extortion, jealousy, and revenge. Wisely, therefore, hath the British constitution guarded the fafety of the people, in these two points, by the most studious precautions.

Upon that of taxation, every law which, by the remotest construction, may be deemed to levy money upon the property of the subject, must originate, that is, must first be proposed and assented to, in the House of Commons: by which regulation, accompanying the weight which that assembly possesses in all its functions, the levying of taxes is almost exclusively reserved to the popular part of the constitution, who, it is presumed, will not tax themselves, nor their fellow subjects, without being first convinced of the necessity of the aids which they grant.


The application also of the public supplies, is watched with the same circumspection as the assessment. Many taxes are annual ; the produce of others is mortgaged, or appropriated to specific services; the expenditure of all of them is accounted for in the House of Commons; as computations of the charge of the purpose, for which they are wanted, are previously submitted to the fame tribunal.

In the infliction of punishment, the power of the crown, and of the magistrate appointed by the crown, is confined by the most precise limitations: the guilt of the offender must be pronounced by twelve men of his own order, indifferently chosen out of the county where the offence was committed : the punishment, or the limits to which the punishment may be extended, are ascertained, and affixed to the crime, by laws which knew not the person of the criminal.

And whereas arbitrary or clandestine confinement is the injury most to be dreaded from the strong hand of the executive government, * because it deprives the prisoner at once of

pro. tection and defence, and delivers him into the power, and to the malicious or interested designs, of his enemies; the constitution has pro

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vided against this danger with double solicitude. The ancient writ of habeas corpus, the habeas corpus act of Charles the Second, and the practice and determinations of our sovereign courts of justice founded upon these laws, afford a complete remedy for every conceivable case of illegal imprisonment *.

Treason being that charge, under colour of which the destruction of an obnoxious india vidual is often sought ; and government being at all times more immediately a party in the prosecution ; the law, beside the generat care with which it watches over the safety of the accused, in this case, sensible of the unequal contest in which the subject is engaged, has assisted his




* Upon complaint in writing by, or on behalf of any person in confinement, to any of the four courts of Westminfter Hall, in term time, or to the Lord Chancellor, or one of the Judges, in the vacation, and upon a probable reasons being suggested to question the legality of the detention, a writ is issued, to the person in whose custody the complainant is alleged to be, commanding him within a certain limited and short time to produce the body of the prisoner, and the authority under which he is detained. Upon the return of the writ, ftrict and instantaneous obedience to which is enforced by very severe penalties, if no lawful cause of imprifonment appear, the court or judge, before whom the prisoner is brought, is authorized and bound to discharge him ; even


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