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at the revolu
judge of civil
ture to be ruled and governed. The field was then open to redress every past griev. ance, and to introduce whatever innovation they thought requisite or conducive to the full enjoyment of their rights and liberties. The minds of the generation then living were perhaps better formed for judging of the effects of civil liberty, than any preceding or subsequent generation whatever.
The subversion of monarchy by the death Persons living of king Charles I. ; the experience of retion especially publicanism in the protectorate ; the revival qualified to
of monarchy in the restoration of king Liberty.
Charles II. under fresh conditions and limitations of the royal prerogative, after the nation had been gorged and surfeited with the tyrannical licentiousness of democracy; the abandonment, dereliction, resignation, abdication, or forfeiture of the regal trust and executive power of government by king James II. were facts so recent, that their combined force would then, if ever, work their full impression upon the minds of those, who had experienced the whole variety of these changes. Thus the bishop of Worcester introduces - ferjeant Maynard, converfing with Mr. Somers and bishop Burnet, immediately after the coronation of king
William William and queen Mary, on the 11th of April 1689; *“ Bear with me, said he, my young friends. Age, you know, hath its privilege ; and it may be, I use it fomewhat unreasonably. But I, who have seen the prize of liberty contending for through half a century, to find it obtained at last by a method so sure, and yet so unexpected, do you think it possible, that I should contain myself on such an occasion? Oh, if ye had lived with me in those days, when such mighty struggles were made for public freedom, when so many wise counsels miscarried, and so many generous enterprizes concluded but in the confirmation of lawless tyranny ;
if I say, ye had lived in those days, and now at length were able to contrast with me, to the tragedies that were then acted, this safe, this bloodless, this complete deliverance, I am miftaken, if the youngest of you could reprove me for this joy, which makes me think I can never say enough on so delightful a subject.” The result of these impressions upon our Our ancestors
wisely preservancestors, who framed the bill of rights, and ed what they who new modelled the fucceffion and tenure cient form of
government. of the crown, was to readopt as much of the old form of government, as was con
could of the an
# Hurd's Dial, Moral and Political, vol. ii. p. 94, 95.
fistent with that perfection of liberty, which they then meant to establish and transmit, as the most valuable inheritance to their pofterity for ever; most wisely keeping in view that seasonable and just adage of Tacitus, Arcanum novi statüs, imago antiqui: “ the se, cret of setting up a new government, is to retain the figure (or form) of the old one.” Hence I think no one will deny, that a firm acquiescence in that form of government established at the revolution, and a strong reluctance to break in upon it by any
fort of inr:ovation are not only laudable, but Parliament has even conftitutional. We have neverthelefs will alter what feen, as occasions have required, very fa
lutary and beneficial regulations made by parliament fince that time, to check, moderate, and ascertain the rights, privileges, and prerogatives of each separate branch of the legislature. And we look up to parliament in full confidence, that they will, in the fame spirit of patriotism, continue for ever to prune luxuriances, supply defects, and correct abuses, as in the frailty of all human institutions they may be found to arise.
Though the public be in the habit of respecting and revering the innovations made in the constitution at the revolution, as facred and immutable, yet if degrees of deference
they think proper.
of our government more respectable than
are admissible for different parts of our con-
* Mr. Paley's Principles of Moral and Political Phi. lofophy, p. 426, as quoted by Dr. Priestley, in his Fourth Letter to Mr. Burke, p. 42.
vernment to be
more deference and respect than other laws, Frequent changes of go
it is either the advantage of the present avoided.
conftitution of government (which reafon must be of different force in different countries) or, because in all countries, it is of importance, that the form and usage of
governing be acknowledged and understood, as well by the governors as the governed, and because the seldomer it is changed, the more it will be respected by both sides."
The practice of every human inftitution must essentially be less perfect, than the theory of it. And daily experience thews, how much more easy it is to invent objections, and start difficulties, than to administer relief, and cure evils. There can be but two general grounds, upon which the discontented declaimers of the day complain of the inadequate, partial, and corrupt representation of this nation in parliament ; either that we have swerved from the original usages and institutions of our ancestors, or that the system of representation has never as yet been brought to that degree of perfection, to which their speculative ideas have
carried it. This latter ground of complaint The present fyftem of re
will be softened in proportion as the propresentation comparatively gressive improvements of our constitution complete. Jhall be traced from the times and circum