Page images
PDF
EPUB

CH A P. IX.

OF THE SUPREME EXECUTIVE POWER.

The executive power.

I

executive power

Am now come to speak of the first branch

of the legislative power of this realm, which the constitution has made the supreme

of the state, and which it has vested in a single person, that is to say, in that person, male or female, to whom the crown by the rule of hereditary succession shall descend. * It rarely happens, that we have the satisfaction of finding a legislative exposition of any part of our constitution; when. ever that happens, I feel myself emphatically bounden to submit it to my readers ; for by the principles already laid down and established, the act of the majority of the commu. nity concludes every individual of the com. munity; the act of the representatives of the nation is the act of the nation itself; the

* I have already fully fewn the very effential alteration made in the rule of fucceffion at the revolution; the old line was discontinued, and the condition of being proteftant was annexed to the capacity of succeeding. Subject to this deviation and condition, the present rule of defcent remains the same, as it was originally settled by the coaftitution.

three

[ocr errors]

three estates or branches of the legislature, which complete the parliament, make the full representation of the nation; and, therefore it can be nothing short of high-treason against the state, to disavow, contradict, or resist this legislative authority, expressed in an act of parliament. A new fact in the events of kingdoms often draws forth an explicit, declaration from the legislature of certain fundamental principles, rules, and rights, which before had subsisted upon no otherauthority, than the universal unqualified admillion and submission of the community. So upon the accession of queen Mary to the crown of England, in the year 1553, it was thought proper to make a full, clear, and explicit declaration of the rule and nature of the hereditary descent of the crown of England, as established by the constitution of the realm.

* “ Forasmuch as the imperial crown of the crown of this realm, with all dignities, honours, pre- fcendible to fex rogatives, authorities, jurisdictions, and preheminences thereunto annexed, united, and belonging, by the divine providence of Almighty God, is most lawfully, justly, and rightly descended and come unto the queen's

males.

[blocks in formation]

highness that now is, being the very true and undoubted heir and inheritrix thereof, and invested in her most royal person, according unto the laws of this realm ; and by force and virtue of the fame, all regal power, dignity, honour, authority, prerogative, pre. heminence, and jurisdictions doth appertain, and of right ought to appertain and belong unto her highness, as unto the sovereign, supreme governor and queen of this realm, and of the dominions thereof, in as full, large, and ample manner as it hath done heretofore to any other her most noble progenitors, kings of this realm ; nevertheless, the most ancient statutes of this realm, being made by kings then reigning, do not only attribute and refer all prerogative, preheminence, power and jurisdiction royal unto the name of king, but also give, afsign, and appoint the correction and punishment of all offenders against the regality and dignity of the crown, and the laws of this realm, unto the king ; by occasion whereof the malicious and ignorant persons may be hereafter induced and persuaded unto this error and folly, to think that her highness could ne should have, enjoy, and use such like authority, power, preheminence, prerogative, and jurisdiction, nor do ne execute and use all things con

cerning

cerning the said statutes, and take the benefit and privilege of the same, nor correct and punish offenders against her most royal perfon, and the regality and dignity of the crown of this realm, and the dominions thereof, as the kings of this realm, her most noble progenitors, have heretofore done, enjoyed, used, and exercised,

“ For the avoiding and clear extinguishment of which said error or doubt, and for a plain declaration of the laws of this realm in that behalf;

" Be it declared and enacted by the authority of this present parliament, that the law of this realm is, and ever hath been, and ought to be understood, that the kingly or regal office of this realm, and all dignities, prerogative royal, power, preheminences, privileges, authorities, and jurisdictions thereunto annexed, united, or belonging, being vested either in male or female, are and be, and ought to be as fully, wholly, absolutely, and entirely deemed, judged, accepted, invested, and taken in the one as in the other."

I blush to overcharge such plain matter with arguments and proofs; but I trust, that the liberality of those, who themselves stand not in need of them, will countenance and

encourage

encourage every attempt to enlighten others who

may. Dr. Price has said truly, * Our first concern, as lovers of our country, must be to enlighten it; and is it not because they are kept in darkness, and want knowledge, that mankind submit to be treated as if they were a herd of cattle? Enlighten them, and you will elevate them. This is wholesome doctrine, and if rightly applied, will produce much good. But I wish daily experience did not fatally convince us, how grossly it is misap: plied and abused. I presume not absolutely to determine, that the effects of the scholars imbibing these precepts, are strictly attributable to the intention of the teacher in inculcating them. No error or abuse was ever attempted to be supported, but under the cover of some uncontrovertible general po.

fition. Thus protected, the malcontents of tents under press the day are taught voraciously to catch at

every novelty, that can throw difrepute and disaffection upon our present establishment in church and state, with the intent to weaken, if they cannot diffolve, the bond of their union and submission to it. Every novelist, every theorist, is now a politician, informing, instructing, illuminating mankind; and

The malcon

tions catch at every noveíry.

* Price, ubi fupra.

seldom

« PreviousContinue »