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The end of our finess and end of this office was to exercise
and administer the regal power in guiding
I must here again entreat my readers, to keep in view the different distinctions I have before noticed between the natural and the political capacity of the king, between the immediate and mediate appointment of God,
and also between the legislative and the ex-
bound equally though in his political capacity of one of by the laws a
· his subjects. the constituent parts of the parliament, that is, with regard to the share allotted to him in the legislative authority, the king is undoubtedly sovereign, and only needs alledge his will, when he gives or refuses his assent to the bills presented to him; yet, in the exercise of his powers of government he is no more than a magistrate, and the laws, whether those, that existed before him, or those, to which by his assent he has given being, must direct his conduct, and bind him equally with his subjects. .“ The first prerogative of the king, in his capacity of supreme magistrate, has for its object the administration of jystice. -1°. He is the source of all judicial power He is the source
and adminisin the state; he is the chief of all the courts trator of all
justice. of law, and the judges are only his substitutes; every thing is transacted in his name; the
* De Lolme's Constit. of England, c. vi, p. 71, &
tions in his name.
of mercy, and
the source of honor.
judgments must be with his feal, and are
executed by his officers. All proseella « 2°. By a fiction of the law, he is looked
upon as the universal proprietor of the kingdom; he is in consequence deemed directly concerned in all offences; and for that reafon prosecutions are to be carried on in his
name in the courts of law. He is the fource « 3o. He can pardon offences, that is, recan pardon of. mit the punishment that has been awarded
in consequence of his prosecution.
« The second prerogative of the king is, to be the fountain of honour ; that is, the distributor of titles and dignities; he creates the peers of the realm, as well as bestows the different degrees of inferior nobility: he moreover disposes of the different offices,
either in the courts of law, or elsewhere. Superintendant “ The king is the superintendant of com
merce; he has the prerogative of regulating weights and measures; he alone can coin money, and can give a currency to foreign
coin. Head of the “ He is the supreme head of the church *. church of Eng
In this capacity h appoints the bishops and the two archbishops; and he alone can convene the assembly of the clergy. This al
* i.e. Of the civil establishment of the church of England, as before more fully explained.
of all sea and
fembly is formed in England on the model Convocation of the parliament; the bishops form the up- a. per house; deputies from the dioceses, and from the several chapters, form the lower house: the affent of the king is likewise necessary to the validity of their acts or canons; and the king can prorogue or diffolve the convocation.
“ He is in right of his crown the ge- Generalidime neraliffimo of all sea or land forces whatever; land forces. he alone can levy troops, equip fleets, build fortresses, and fill all the posts in them.
“ He is, with regard to foreign nations, He is the fole the representative and the depository of all of the nation in the power and collective majesty of the na- cerns. tion; he sends and receives ambassadors; he contracts alliances; and has the prerogative
of declaring war, and of making peace on · whatever conditions he thinks proper. « In fine, what seems to carry so many His inability to
do wrong. powers to the height is, its being a fundamental maxim, that the king can do no wrong; which does not signify, however, that the king has not the power of doing ill, or, as it was pretended by certain persons in former times, that every thing he did was lawful; but only that he is above, the reach of all His persona courts of law whatever, and that his person inviolable. is facred and inviolable."
Amongst those, who may honour these sheets with a perusal, some may be unwilling to submit to a bare exposition of these constitutional prerogatives or rights of the crown; for their fatisfaction I shall resort to the most ancient and respectable authors of antiquity, who will be allowed at least to have
known, what was looked upon and holden False preten. to be the law of their days; though the reafrons of modern illuminators to son, ground, and propriety of the law have the knowledge of our constitu. only been revealed to the illuminating theotion and laws.
rists of the prefent generation. "Between five and fix hundred years ago, at the very time when our ancestors, in their love and zeal for the liberties of the constitution, bequeathed to us their rights in their famous charter under Henry III. Bracton, as he tells us of himself *, for the information at least of posterity, applied his mind with much attention and labour to scrutinize, disclose, and
arrange in order the actions, opinions, and Our ancestors judgments of his worthy ancestors. At no
period can I trace any vestiges of that exreasons and principles of:
treme darkness and ignorance, which Drs. our constitu
* Ad instructionem faltem minorum, ego Henricus de Bracton, animum erexi, ad vetera judicia justorum perscrutanda diligenter, non fine vigiliis & labore, facta ipforum confilia & refponfa, & quidquid inde notatu dignum inveni, in unam fummam redigendo, &c. page 1.