« AnteriorContinua »
mocracy, without its confusion; the wisdom and moderation of an aristocracy, in fome respects, without its severity in cthers; and the vigour of a monarchy without its tyranny; and it admirably provides for the distinct exercise of the judicial authority. Hence, it presents a plan of power, which produces more true freedom, than perhaps has yet been enjoyed by any community, in any pe
The rights, which attended this donation or investiture of power, I shall endeavour more particularly to illustrate, when I separately consider each branch of the legiflature, I shall first however, beg leave to premise fome leading observations, concerning the revolution and its principles and effects. As a member of the contented majority of this community or nation, I must from henceforth view and consider the supreme legislative power completely vested in our parliament, and in them am I to seek
the unalienable rights of the people, whom The right of
they completely represent; for in them the to alter the 50- sovereignty of power to alter, change, amend,
and improve the constitution and government of the community indefeasibly resides. Whatever mental objections I may conceive against the truth of this proposition, as 2
member of the community I am bounden, under the penalties of high treason (and the community have a right to bind me) to keep my opinion to myself: for *“ if any person High treason to shall, by writing or printing, maintain and deny it. affirm, that the kings or queens of this realm, with and by the authority of parliament, are not able to make laws and statutes of fufficient validity to limit the crown, and the descent, inheritance, and government thereof, every such person shall be guilty of high treason.” This act is as coercive upon me at this moment, as it was binding upon all my predecessors, who were living at the time of its passing into a law. The act neither gives nor declares any new rights, but emphatically imports such a reverential and awful conviction, that the supreme or sovereign right and power of forming and changing our government, ever did and ever must refide in the people, that makes it treasonable (not to think) but to express a thought to the con
4th Ann, C. viü. and 6th Ann, c. vii.
С НА Р.
C H A P.
OF THE REVOLUTION, AND OF ITS PRINCIPLES
HE avowal of the principles, which
I have already endeavoured to establith, induces the mortifying necessity of arguing upon the revolution, in a manner different from that great personage, whose talents and virtues are the ornament and glory of the present age :
* « They threw a politic well wrought veil over every circumstance tending to weaken the rights, which, in the meliorated order of succession, they meant to perpetuate, or which might furnish a precedent for any future departure from what they had then settled for ever." No wonder that the malcontents of the present day, when not permitted to attribute effects to their real causes, should fly into any extra
vagancy, which can be proposed to them. Mischief of de- Unlimited is the mischief of not avowing, or
of denying or dissembling true principles. I principles.
neither see the policy, nor admit of the ne
nying or dir. sembling true
• Mr. Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, p. 25.
cessity cessity of putting extreme cases to elucidate the truth of our constitutional doctrine ; but, though I make the largest allowances for the indelicacy, the indiscretion, the imprudence, the insolence, or the malice of this practice, ftill do I fee less evil in the consequences, than in one attempt to deny or dissemble the truth of the first principles of civil government.
Since this nation or community has de- Acts of parlizposed its sovereign power with parliamentary ads of the per deputies or representatives, there can be no ple of England, act of parliament, which is not the act of the people of England ; nor can there be an act of the people of England, which is not an act of the parliament of England; whatever, therefore, may be faid of the one, may also with strictness be said of the other. If therefore this sense and meaning be properly attended to, little offence, or even difpleasure, can be taken at most of the propofitions, that have been lately hazarded by the different leaders or fomenters of the discontented minority. Thus, if we come truly and impartially to consider the three rights, which Dr. Price reminded his audience, at the Old Jewry, were gained by the revolution, we shall find nothing false in his politicotheologic assertion, but that we gained
Xave ito new rights to the community.
The revolution) then by the revolution ; for the revolution
gave no rights to the community, which the community did not before poffess; but, by affording an opportunity of calling these rights into action, like all other practical examples, it threw light upon the principles, from which the rights themselves originated.
The first of these is, the right to liberty of conscience in religious matters. I have before said, and, I hope, to the conviction of
my readers, that this is a right poffefsed by every
individual in such a transcendent and inPrice's propofi. defeasible manner, that he essentially holds tions are to be
ic independently of the community. The second is the right of resisting power when abused. Having before shewn, I hope also to the conviction of my readers, that all political power given or delegated by the community, is a trust, and consequently limited within certain bounds, it is evident and clear, that the community cannot be bound to submit to any excess of power, which they themselves have not affented to. This afsent is formally given by every one, who continues to remain a member of that community, which delegated the power to the parliament; and it is this assent, that constitutes the original compact between the governors and governed. The actual limitation of any