Imatges de pÓgina


Our duties to magiftrates, and theirs to us.

vation of a learned French author, * who
indeed generally both thought and wrote in
the spirit of genuine freedom ; and who hath
not scrupled to profess, even in the very bo-
fom of his native country, that the English
is the only nation in the world, where poli-
tical or civil liberty is the direct end of its

My object hitherto has chiefly been the
investigation and discussion of our civil rights;
but as these rights are in many senses rela-
tive in respect to the community at large,
and the magistrates appointed by them, so
they necessarily involve certain relative duties
to them, which it will be my remaining talk
to consider ; for the whole fociety collec-
tively, and each member of it individually,
have both rights and duties mutual and re-
ciprocal. The rights of the community are
the submissive duties of its members; the
rights of the members are the protecting du-
ties of the community.

• Mont, Spir. of Laws, 9. 5.

C H A P.

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T may appear singular, that I should Reasons for

considering attempt to explain and enforce the duties these offences, of individuals towards the society, by considering their breach and violation of them. Were this the point, from which I had originally started the subject, I should certainly have pursued another course; but as what has been already offered will I hope satisfy that class of my readers, who admit of the obligation to observe and comply with these duties virtutis amore, so I feel it incumbent

upon me to throw this obligation into a new light; for the conviction of those, who cannot otherwise than formidine pæna be induced to submit unto it.

Nothing is more true, than that the basis and whole superstructure of our constitution is formed of true liberty; which consists in the preservation of order for the protection of society, not in the abandoned licenciousness of confusion and anarchy. The liberty of a The liberty of a

nation proporhation is ever proportioned to the perfection tioned to the

energy of its of its government; the perfection of govern- goverwenent Hh2



the laws an in

ment is known by its energy, and that is
nothing more, than the efficacy and facility,
with which the executive power can enforce
the laws. The laws are the direct emana-
tions of the sovereignty of the whole; the
consent of every individual of the commu-
nity is formally included in each of the laws;
and the contempt and violation of them is
therefore more properly insulting to the na-
tion, who have made the laws, than to the

magistrates, whose duty it is to execute them. Contempt of The law is the unanimous will of the whole jury to the na- community; for the conclusion of the whole by cion.

the act of the majority does away the pre-
sumptive possibility of a diffenting individual.
In this great truth is engendered the peculiar
vigour of our constitution. Because our laws
are framed, totius regni assensu, as Fortescue
observes; therefore is the whole kingdom
indispensably bound to the observance of
them. From this affent of each individual
arises a right and interest, which the commu-
nity possesses collectively and individually, in
the actual performance of the covenant and
engagement, which at the passing of every
law each individual enters into for the per-
formance and observance of it. Although
the government itself is said to be founded in
the original compact between the governors


cause every one


and governed; yet the subsistence of the go- Our laws bind

ing upon each vernment depends not only upon the conti- individual, benuation of that original contract, but in this arents to their mutual and reciprocal covenant, engagement, or contract of every individual to abide by and enforce his own voluntary act and deed; for it is a first principle of our constitutional policy, that every law of England is the free, unbiaffed, and deliberate act of every English



It is but to such a political government as This reason apours, that these, I may almost say, metaphy- bitrary gofical truths can be applied; they have no foundation in the first principle of the civil law, quod principi placuit, legis babet vigorem. As the will of the prince is not under the controul of the people, they have no participation in the act imposed upon them; and its coercive obligation can be urged against the people upon no other ground, than that of a fervile, timid, or compulsive acquiescence in the arbitrary dictates of an uncontroulable power. The operative coercion and energy of a British act of parliament can never be so clearly seen, as when viewed in antithesis to the despotic mandates of an arbitrary monarch. If we could bring ourselves even to conceive a contract or compact between a people and an absolute despotic fovereign,


H h 3


The constitu.

to en

yet as the whole legislative power rests solely in him, it neceffarily and essentially precludes the very possibility of any mutual and reciprocal covenane, engagement, or contract of the individuals with each other; and this is the vivifying sap, that pervades every fibre of our constitution.

Into what an extravagant error do not they fall, who attempt to justify by the spirit of the English constitution the opposition and resistance of individuals to the establish

ment of its government? For if there can tion of England exist upon earth a government of human force fubordi- institution, that emphatically and effentially nation.

condemns and precludes such anomalous efforts of the discontented members of a community to disturb or subvert the establishment of the whole fociety, it is the conftitution of Great Britain. In arbitrary regal governments, where the will of the fovereign makes the law, the aggrieved subject is immediately challenged by the oppressive mandate of his sovereign to protect his own natural rights by personal resistance. There is no intervening lenitive between his judgment and his feelings; the mental condemnation of an unreasonable command is as quickly suc.ceeded by the impulse to resist it, as the report succeeds the Aash of a discharged mus.


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