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veft, by recognition, in their majefties, all the legal prerogatives of the crown, declaring " that in them they are most fully, rightfully, and intirely in"vefted, incorporated, united and annexed." In the claufe which follows, for preventing questions, by reafon of any pretended titles to the crown, they declare (obferving alfo in this the traditionary language, along with the traditionary policy of the nation, and repeating as from a rubric the language of the preceding acts of Elizabeth and James) that on the preferving .. a certainty in the SUCCESSION thereof, the unity, peace, and tranquillity of this nation "doth, under God, wholly depend."

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They knew that a doubtful title of fucceffion would but too much resemble an election; and that an election would be utterly deftructive of the "unity, peace, and tranquillity of this nation," which they thought to be confiderations of fome moment. To provide for thefe objects, and therefore to exclude for ever the Old Jewry doctrine of "a right to choose our own governors," they follow with a clause, containing a moft folemn pledge, taken from the preceding act of Queen Elizabeth, as folemn a pledge as ever was or can be given in favour of an hereditary fucceffion, and as folemn a renunciation as could be made of the principles by this fociety imputed to them. "The lords fpiritual and tem

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poral, and commons, do, in the name of all the people aforefaid, moft humbly and faithfully fubmit themselves, their heirs and pofterities for ever; and do faithfully promife, that they will ftand to, maintain, and defend their faid majefties, and alfo the limitation of the crown, herein fpecified and contained, to the utmost of their powers," &c. &c.

So far is it from being true, that we acquired a right by the revolution to elect our kings, that if we had poffeffed it before, the English nation did at

that

that time moft folemnly renounce and abdicate it, for themfelves, and for all their pofterity for ever. Thefe gentlemen may value themfelves as much as they please on their whig principles; but I never defire to be thought a better whig than Lord Somers; or to understand the principles of the revolution better than thofe by whom it was brought about; or to read in the declaration of right any myfteries unknown to thofe whofe penetrating ftyle has engraved in our ordinances, and in our hearts, the words and fpirit of that immortal law.

It is true that, aided with the powers derived from force and opportunity, the nation was at that time, in fome fenfe, free to take what course it pleafed for filling the throne; but only free to do fo upon the fame grounds on which they might have wholly abolished their monarchy, and every other part of their constitution. However they did not think fuch bold changes within their commillion. It is indeed difficult, perhaps impoffible, to give limits to the mere abftract competence of the fupreme power, fuch as was exercifed by parliament' at that time; but the limits of a moral competence, fubjecting, even in powers more indifputably fovereign, occafional will to permanent reafon, and to the fteady maxims of faith, juftice, and fixed fundamental policy, are perfectly intelligible, and perfectly binding upon those who exercife any authority, under any name, or under any title, in the ftate. The house of lords, for inftance, is not morally competent to diffolve the houfe of commons; no, nor even to diffolve itself, nor to abdicate, if it would, its portion in the legislature of the kingdom. Though a king may abdicate for his own perfon, he cannot abdicate for the monarchy. By as ftrong, or by a stronger reason, the house of commons cannot renounce its Thare of authority. The engagement and pact of fociety, which generally goes by

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the name of the conftitution, forbids fuch invafion and fuch furrender. The conftituent parts of a state are obliged to hold their public faith with each other, and with all thofe who derive any ferious interest under their engagements, as much as the whole ftate is bound to keep its faith with feparate communities. Otherwife competence and power would foon be confounded, and no law be left but the will of a prevailing force. On this principle the fucceffion of the crown has always been what it now is, an hereditary fucceflion by law in the old line it was a fucceffion by the common law; in the new by the ftatute law, operating on the principles of the common law, not changing the substance, but regulating the mode, and defcribing the perfons. Both thefe defcriptions of law are of the fame force, and are derived from an equal authority, emanating from the common agreement and original compact of the ftate, communi fponfione reipublica, and as fuch are equally binding on king, and people too, as long as the terms are obferved, and they continue the fame body politic.

It is far from impoffible to reconcile, if we do not fuffer ourselves to be entangled in the mazes of me taphyfic fophiftry, the ufe both of a fixed rule and an occafional deviation; the facredness of an hereditary principle of fucceffion in our government, with a power of change in its application in cafes of extreme emergency. Even in that extremity (if we take the measure of our rights by our exercise of them at the revolution) the change is to be confined to the peccant part only; to the part which produced the neceffary deviation; and even then it is to be effected without a decompofition of the whole civil and political mass, for the purpose of originating a new civil order out of the firft elements of fociety.

A state without the means of fome change is with

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means of its confervation. might even rifque the lofs of that part of the conftitution which it wifhed the most religiously to preserve. The two principles of confervation and correction operated ftrongly at the two critical periods of the restoration and revolution, when England found itfelf without a king. At both those periods the nation had loft the bond of union in their ancient edifice; they did not, however, diffolve the whole fabric. On the contrary, in both cafes they regenerated the deficient part of the old conftitution through the parts which were not impaired. They kept these old parts exactly as they were, that the part recovered might be fuited to them. They acted by the antient organized ftates in the shape of their old organization, and not by the organic molecule of a difbanded people. At no time, perhaps, did the fovereign legiflature manifeft a more tender regard to that fundamental principle of British constitutional policy, than at the time of the revolution, when it deviated from the direct line of hereditary fucceffion. The crown was carried fomewhat out of the line in which it had before moved; but the new line was derived from the fame ftock. It was ftill a line of hereditary descent; ftill an hereditary descent in the fame blood, though an hereditary defcent qualified with proteftantifm. When the legislature altered the direction, but kept the principle, they fhewed that they held it inviolable.

On this principle, the law of inheritance had admitted fome amendment in the old time, and long before the æra of the revolution. Some time after the conqueft great queftions arose upon the legal principles of hereditary defcent. It became a matter of doubt, whether the heir per capita or the heir per ftirpes was to fucceed; but whether the heir per capita gave way when the heirdom per ftirpes took place, or VOL. III.

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the catholic heir when the proteftant was preferred, the inheritable principle furvived with a fort of immortality through all tranfmigrations-maltofque per. annos ftat fortuna domus et avi numerantur avorum. This is the fpirit of our conftitution, not only in its fettled courfe, but in all its revolutions. Whoever came in, or however he came in, whether he obtained the crown by law, or by force, the hereditary fucceffion was either continued or adopted.

The gentlemen of the fociety for revolutions fee nothing in that of 1688 but the deviation from the conftitution; and they take the deviation from the principle for the principle. They have little regard to the obvious confequences of their doctrine, though they must fee, that it leaves pofitive authority in very few of the pofitive inftitutions of this country. Wher fuch an unwarrantable maxim is once established, that no throne is lawful but the elective, no one act of the princes who preceded their æra of fictitious election can be valid. Do these theorists mean to imitate fome of their predeceffors, who dragged the bodies of our antient fovereigns out of the quiet of their tombs ? Do they mean to attaint and difable backwards all the kings that have reigned before the revolution, and confequently to ftain the throne of England with the blot of a continual ufurpation? Do they mean to invalidate, annul, or to call into queftion, together with the titles of the whole line of our kings, that great body of our ftatute law which pafged under those whom they treat as ufurpers ? to annul laws of ineftimable value' to our liberties of as great value at least as any which have paffed at or fince the period of the revolution? If kings, who did not owe their crown to the choice of their people, had no title to make laws, what will become of the ftatute de tallagio non concendendo ?-of the petition of right ?-of the act of habeas corpus ? Do these new doctors of the rights of

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