Page images

to him and obey his commands. History tells us, that the whole navy of England were likely to remain staunch unto him; nor is there any reason to imagine, that the army, which was commanded by lord Feversham, would have deserted from him; and it is more than probable, that had king James the Second, even at this time, shewn the smallest degree of energy, fpirit, or rectitude in governing, he would have prevented the greatest part of the nation from joining with the

prince of Orange. The rights and No fort of comparison can be drawn beduties of the king and people tween the rights and duties of a sovereign in reciprocal.

his political capacity, and those of a subject in the natural capacity of an individual; for, as I have before observed, the rights of the sovereign are, in fact, the duties of the subject, and the duties of the fovereign are the rights and liberties of the subject. Now no one can deny that the community have in themselves an indefeasible right of preserving their own rights and liberties, and thesë in our community chiefly consist in the advantages of a limited and efficient monarchy; and if

that be by any means done away or abolish, ed, it necessarily induces an actual diffolution

of that government, by which the community had agreed to be governed.


Anarchy is allowed by all writers to be the principle

of self-preserthe greatest political misfortune, which can

vation supplies befal a state, and the first principle of self- the means of

preventing anpreservation supplies every community with archy. the right and the means of preventing and avoiding it. Attention to this last principle will at one glance develop the necessity, and justify the adoption of the revolution; for at that time the nation was in a state of the most dreadful fermentation, and there could not be a stronger necessity for efficient energy in the executive power of government, in order to allay and counteract the ferment, which threatened the very subversion of the nation. In this critical posture of affairs, every action of the sovereign will be perceived to draw with it the most important consequences; nor can we in passing judgment upon them make any allowances for personal prejudice, or want of judgment, knowledge, resolution, or courage.

I shall not resume the question, whether England or Scotland expressed with more propriety the actual cessation of king James's reign, when the former used the term abdication, and the latter forfeiture of the crown. The actual exercise of the executive powers The ceffation of

the exercise of of the supreme magistrate is absolutely neces- the executive Lary for the actual subsistence of the English disfolution of


power an actual


monarchy; if, therefore, king James the Second did, as far as he could, annihilate or even suspend the operation of the supreme executive powers, it must be allowed that he did all that he could to annihilate, for the time at least, the very existence of the English monarchy. We need therefore only to consider in what state this nation would have been, had it been left but for the space of one month in the situation, in which king James endeavoured to leave it; and we shall from thence be able to form a satisfactory judgment of the rights, which the nation so abandoned had in them to secure their own préservation. He withdrew, in the person of the king, the whole executive power of government; he called in his writs, which were about to be issued for convening a parliament; he dismissed his judges; he threw the great feal of England. into the river; he disbanded the army without pay; and let

loose a lawless armed force upon the nation. The aétions of Now if a supreme executive magistrate, upon absolute aban- whom all subordinate magiftrates depend,

if the administration of justice, if armed force on certain occasions be requisite for preserv: ing our present constitutional form of government, it is self-evident, that a king who has by overt and unequivocal acts attempted to


[ocr errors]

king James an

donment of his sovereignty.

deprive the community of these necessary means of support and preservation, must be allowed to have done whatever he could to dissolve the government, and involve the nation in anarchy and confusion. In this light the warmeit devotee to the house of Stuart cannot surely deny, that king James the Second by these acts ceased, while their effects could last, to be that supreme execu- . tive power, which our constitution requires the king to be. The actual duration of these effects could not by possibility be known to the nation; and therefore as a community, upon the common principle of self-preservation, they had the indefeafible right of adopting such measures, as they thought most conducive to attain that end. For if a government be actually dif- Right of the na

tion to new folved for one hour, by the act of the go- model the governor, the primeval rights of the governed wholy at the to chuse, square, and model their own government, revive in the same extent, as they enjoyed them before the formation of the governnient fo 'dissolved. And upon these principles we must at this day candidly allow, that our ancestors, in 1688, did actually possess the right to make a new limitation of the crown, and to annex a new condition to the tenure of it..




· If we take an impartial view of the whole transaction, we shall necessarily conclude; that our ancestors were satisfied with the general form and tenor of our constitution and government, by their continuing and confirming the greatest part, when an oppor

tunity offered itself of new modelling the ' whole ; and considering that their then act

tual state of anarchy, and the preceding ferment and disturbances in the nation were by the majority of them attributed to their sovereigns profefsing a different religion from their own, it is not furprising, that for the preservation and security of their own, as well as the peace and tranquility of their pofterity, they should have taken the most effectual means of preventing the occasion of any such disasters in future. It was in fact a duty incumbent upon them to do it, under the prepossessions of the majority of the com

munity at that time. What king

If king James the Second, circumstanced have done, not as he was in the year 1688, had put himself

at the head of his army and militia; had he. convened a free parliament; had he paid attention to the advice of his bishops, and the remonstrances of several of his people; and had he summoned all his liege subjects to their allegiance; whatever rebellion might

James should

to have abdicated.

« PreviousContinue »