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that an inferior power should prescribe to a superior, or any, but the supreme, make laws, according as the power of making laws is placed, such is the form of the commonwealth.”

The supremacy, or sovereignty of all po- Legislative litical power, is the legislative power in a ftate; and the first and fundamental positive law of all commonwealths, is the establishing of the legisative power. This, in fact, is the act of the community's vesting their own right or power in their delegates or trustees : and the English community had certainly the fame right, as every other community, upon uniting in society, to make this delegation, or create this trust in whatever manner they chose; in other words, they were perfectly free to adopt a democratical, an aristocratica, or an hereditary, or an elective monarchical form of government. This was, as I have before proved, a freedom given by God to each community ; fingula species regiminis funt de jure gentium ; but the choice being once made, or these delegates and trustees having been once nominated and appointed, the submission of the people to them is jure divina. *« This legislative is not only the supreme

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power of the commonwealth, but sacred and unalterable in the hands, where the commu. nity have once placed it; not can any edict of any body else, in what form foever conceived, or by what power soever backed, have the force and obligation of a law, which has not its fanction from that legislative, which the public has chosen and appointed ; and fo, in a constituted commonwealth, there can be but one supreme power, which is the legislative, to which all the rest are and must be subordinate."

This nation or community, have for many centuries chofen, and the majority, at this hour continue to chuse a form of government partaking of the democratical, aristocratical, and monarchical; for * « these three species of go vernment have all of them their several perfecțions and imperfections : democracies are usually the best calculated to direct the end of a law; aristocracies to invent the means, by which that end shall be obtained; and monarchies to carry those means into execution; and the ancients, as was observed, had, in general, no idea of any other permanent form of governa ment, but these three ; for though Cicero ť

* Blakist. Introd. to his Comm. p. 50, in the quarto cdition. † In his Fragments de Rep. c. ii.


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mixed governo

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our own.

declares himself of opinion, elle optimè con- The ideas of
ftitutam rempublicam, quæ ex tribus generibus concerning a
illis, regali, optimo, et populari fit modicè con- ment.
fufa ;" yet Tacitus treats this notion of a
mixed government, formed out of them all,
and partaking of the advantages of each, as a
visionary whim, and one, that if effected could
never be lasting or fecure *.

“ But, happily for us of this island, the Exemplified in
British conftitution has long remained, and
I trust will long continue, a standing excep-
tion to the truth of this observation. For,
as with us the executive power of the laws
is lodged in a single person, they have all the
advantages of strength and dispatch, that are
to be found in the most absolute monarchy ;
and, as the legislature of the kingdom is en-
trusted to three distinct powers entirely in.
dependent of each other ; first, the king;
secondly, the lords spiritual and temporal,
which is an aristocratical assembly of persons
selected for their piety, their birth, their wis-
dom, their valour, or their property; and,
thirdly, the house of commons, freely chosen
by the people, from among themselves, which

• Cunctas nationes et urbes, populus, aut primores, aut finguli regunt: delecta ex his et constituta reipublicæ forma laudari faciliùs, quam evenire ; vel, fi evenit haud diuturna effe poteft. Ann. 1. 4.


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makes it a kind of democracy; as this aga gregate body, actuated by different springs, and attentive to different interests, composes the British parliament, and has the fupreme disposal of every thing, there can no inconvenience be attempted by either of the three branches, but will be withstood by one of the other two; each branch being armed with a negative power, fufficient to repel any innovation, which it shall think inexpedient or dangerous. Here then is lodged the fovereignty of the British constitution; and lodged as beneficially as is possible for fociety.”

It is not only allowed by our own authors, which is very natural, but also by all foreign writers, who have treated

the constitution and laws of England, that the mixed form of our government gives it a decided preference over every other government ancient or modern. The first part then of our conftitution, which comes under my confideration, is the investiture or deposit of the fupreme legislative power, with the fiduciary delegates of the community; and when I do this, I recede in no degree from the principles I have already laid down; nor am I conscious or apprehensive, that they tend to the utter fubversion, not only of all government, in all modes, and to all stable securities to ra


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tional freedom, but to all the rules and principles of morality itself. On the contrary, from them alone can I trace a principle of coercion and. The foregoing coaction over the multitude. But before I duce coercion

over the people, enter minutely upon each separate branch of the legislature, it will be requisite to form a just and precise idea of the nature and general effects of this commission, or gift of power to them all jointly: we have, I hope, proved, that it was done by the consent and approbation of the community; and I have not as yet met with any writer, who has attempted to prove, that the hereditary peers of this realm, or a given number of elected commoners poffefs any particle of legislative authority, independently of the community. Many indeed have, by deducing the royal power and prerogative immediately from Almighty God, attempted to place the king above and wholly independent of the community. The proper place for examining this doctrine will be, in considering the rights, powers, and prerogatives of the king : I shall, however, for the present presume, what I hope hereafter to prove, that as the law makes and qualifies the king, and the nation of community makes the laws, so the king cannot be wholly above nor independent of the laws or the community,


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