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the laws an in

ment is known by its energy, and that is
nothing more, than the efficacy and facility,
with which the executive power can enforce
the laws. The laws are the direct emana-
tions of the sovereignty of the whole; the
consent of every individual of the commu-
nity is formally included in each of the laws;
and the contempt and violation of them is
therefore more properly insulting to the na-
tion, who have made the laws, than to the

magistrates, whose duty it is to execute them. Contempt of The law is the unanimous will of the whole jury to the na- community; for the conclusion of the whole by cion.

the act of the majority does away the pre-
sumptive possibility of a diffenting individual.
In this great truth is engendered the peculiar
vigour of our constitution. Because our laws
are framed, totius regni assensu, as Fortescue
observes; therefore is the whole kingdom
indispensably bound to the observance of
them. From this affent of each individual
arises a right and interest, which the commu-
nity possesses collectively and individually, in
the actual performance of the covenant and
engagement, which at the passing of every
law each individual enters into for the per-
formance and observance of it. Although
the government itself is said to be founded in
the original compact between the governors


cause every one


and governed; yet the subsistence of the go- Our laws bind

ing upon each vernment depends not only upon the conti- individual, benuation of that original contract, but in this arents to their mutual and reciprocal covenant, engagement, or contract of every individual to abide by and enforce his own voluntary act and deed; for it is a first principle of our constitutional policy, that every law of England is the free, unbiaffed, and deliberate act of every English



It is but to such a political government as This reason apours, that these, I may almost say, metaphy- bitrary gofical truths can be applied; they have no foundation in the first principle of the civil law, quod principi placuit, legis babet vigorem. As the will of the prince is not under the controul of the people, they have no participation in the act imposed upon them; and its coercive obligation can be urged against the people upon no other ground, than that of a fervile, timid, or compulsive acquiescence in the arbitrary dictates of an uncontroulable power. The operative coercion and energy of a British act of parliament can never be so clearly seen, as when viewed in antithesis to the despotic mandates of an arbitrary monarch. If we could bring ourselves even to conceive a contract or compact between a people and an absolute despotic fovereign,


H h 3


The constitu.

yet as the whole legislative power rests solely in him, it neceffarily and essentially precludes the very possibility of any mutual and reciprocal covenane, engagement, or contract of the individuals with each other; and this is the vivifying sap, that pervades every fibre of our constitution.

Into what an extravagant error do not they fall, who attempt to justify by the spirit of the English constitution the opposition and resistance of individuals to the establish

ment of its government? For if there can tion of England exist upon earth a government of human force fubordi- institution, that emphatically and effentially nation.

condemns and precludes such anomalous efforts of the discontented members of a community to disturb or subvert the establishment of the whole fociety, it is the conftitution of Great Britain. In arbitrary regal governments, where the will of the fovereign makes the law, the aggrieved subject is immediately challenged by the oppressive mandate of his sovereign to protect his own natural rights by personal resistance. There is no intervening lenitive between his judgment and his feelings; the mental condemnation of an unreasonable command is as quickly suc.ceeded by the impulse to resist it, as the report succeeds the Aash of a discharged mus.


quet. Nothing short of the strictest passive obedience and non-resistance can ensure to an arbitrary sovereign the universal submission of his subjects. In regal governments was the doctrine of this doctrine engendered, foftered, and reared ; and non-ref.j.ince and when our kings wished or attempted to in arbitrary 80erect themselves into regal arbitrary fove- vernments. reigns, they attempted at the same time to transplant it into this country; but the soil and climate of a political government, such as ours happily is, were little congenial with the nature of the plant. In the unnatural heat of exceffive prerogative under the Tudors and Stuarts it was forced into a puny exotic Thoot, that drooped, withered, and decayed, when exposed to the natural foil and open free air of the English constitution,

Few or none of my readers are ignorant The fatal effe as of the fatal effects, which have proceeded establim there

of attempting to from the rancorous differences and disputes upon this doctrine, that formerly divided and disgraced our unhappy country. It has stained with blood and infamy the field, the judicature, the senate, and the church. Of this, as of most other party differences in this country, it

may most truly be said, * « The heat of honeft men being once raised, and the cooler

* Yorke's Confid. on the Law of Forfeiture, p. 3.





passions of artful men dissembled by a fpe-
cious zeal for public good, the calm voice of
reason and the law finds no attention; and
perfons of lefs understanding, incited by ex-
ample, add greatly to the weight of that cla-

mour, which for a time has ever been too The impoffibi- strong for argument.” Thus if we consider obedience and . but coolly and impartially what is and ever in our govern- was the real doctrine of paffive obedience

and non-refiftance, we shall find, that it could
never by possibility have been applicable to,
or practicable in the English government ;
for in the political form of our government,
no king could ever issue commands, nor de-
mand obeissance in any thing, which exceeded
or contradicted the law of the land, * « The
consequences of such a frame of

are obvious. That the laws are the rule to
both, the common measure of the power of
the crown, and of the obedience of the
fubject.” The constitution can know no
obedience, where there is no power to com-
mand; but there is no power given by our
constitution to the king to command beyond
the law; and therefore the conftitution can
never have had in contemplation such passive

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+ Mr. Lechmere's first Speech in Dr. Sacheverel's Taal.


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