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direct me to investigate and discuss the va. riety and nature of different political establishments, by which communities have carried into execution their inherent rights of modelling their own forms of government. But my intention is not to lay before the public a full and elaborate essay upon government, but to submit to the consideration and judgment of my countrymen, such principles, grounds, and reasons, as will evince the political necessity of submitting to, and supporting our prefent constitutional establishment, and of counteracting the wishes, efforts, and attempts of our secret and open enemies to discredit, weaken, and subvert it.
I have before said, and I again repeat, that our constitution is founded upon the Rights of Man. I have attempted to trace their nature and origin, as well as our right to exercise them ; it remains for me to consider, how we are affected by the actual execution or exercise of these rights in our own commu. nity, which brings me to the consideration of the constitution and government of Great Britain,
CHA P. IH.
OF THE GENERAL CONSTITUTION AND GO
VERNMENT OF GREAT BRITAIN.
A FTER the adoption of the principles, Our conftitu.
1 which I have already endeavoured to upon principlo. establish, it would evidently.exceed the intent and purport of this publication, to enter into historical researches, in order to trace the antiquity, and delineate the gradual and progressive improvements of our constitution; for it is not to be supposed, that the community of this isand passed, uno faltu, from their first agreement to enter into society, immediately into a constitution and government of that perfection, which distinguishes the constitution and governinent, that we now happily enjoy. Could we even clear the dark pages of those remote histories from doubt and uncertainty, the information might gratify the curiosity of the mind, but would þring no conviction to the understanding, Principle alone is the true compass, by which we can steer steadily and safely through the greacherous perils of this sea of politics,
If any of my countrymen have been deluded, by these modern pseudo-evangelists, into their practical lessons, * “ to consider the world as new to them, as to the first man, that existed, and their natural rights in it of the fame kind; † that there is no political Adam, who has a power or right to bind all posterity for ever; I that the rights of the living cannot be willed away, and controuled, and contracted for by, the manuscript assumed authority of the dead, there being no authority in the dead over the freedom and rights of the living; and that, therefore, || we are not to refer to musty records and mouldy parchments for the rights of the living; and consequently, s that they are in error, who reason by precedent drawn from antiquity respecting the Rights of Man,” I shall certainly make little impression upon them by the quotation of any written, historical, philosophical, or even leginative authority whatever. I must, however, in justice, remind these docile disciples of modern liberty of the lenient palliative, which their demagogue has thrown into his instructions, lest they may swallow the envenomed
t p. 134
* Payne's Rights of Man, p. 46. I p. 10. Hp. 15.
draught too hastily, without the application What gives
** binding effect of the corrective solvent. *" It requires to laws. but a very small glance of thought to perceive, that although laws made in one generation often continue in force through succeeding generations, yet that they continue to derive their force from the consent of the living. A law not repealed continues in force, not because it cannot be repealed, but because it is not repealed, and the non-repealing passes for consent.” These written authorities, or, in the fashionable phrase, these affumed ufurpations of the dead over the living, may be referred to by those, who will derive from them the satisfaction of example, illus, tration, and reason.
In order - to humour these neophitęs to The truth of modern liberty, I shall follow and argue upon to be proved their own avowed principles and doctrines ; quity. and I certainly so far go with them, that I do not admit, that the truth of any principle can be proved merely from its antiquity, or that every right can be established merely by its length of possession. † “ For as time can make nothing lawful or just, that is not so of itself (though men are unwilling to change
from its anti
* Payne's Rights of Man, p. 13.
that, which has pleased their ancestors, unless they discover great inconveniences in it) that, which a people does rightly establish for their own good, is of as much force the first day, as continuance can ever give to it; and, therefore, in matters of the greatest importance, wise and good men do not so much enquire, what has been, as what is good, and ought to be; for that, which of itself is evil, by continuance is made worse, and upon the first opportunity is juftly to be abolished.” Without, therefore, attempting to trace the origin, progress, and establishment of our constitution and government, through the intricate mazes of historical darkness, confusion, and uncertainty, I shall keep constantly in view the principles of civil liberty, which I have already laid down, and thereby endeavour to establish, in application to them, the force and energy of our present form of conftitution
and government. The fi: ft dele. It is because the fovereignty of civil or politiIn this illandi by cal power originates from the people, and con
stantly and unalienably resides in the people, that we find, from the earliest credible accounts of our ancestors, that the political community of this isand first delegated their power to an individual, by the actual election of the representative body or common council of the
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