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THE BOUNDARIES WHICH THE CONSTITUTION HAS SET TO THE ROYAL
In reading the foregoing enumeration of the powers with which the laws of England have entrusted the king, we are
by the constitution, and that his people, who had an original right to the whole by the law of nature, can have the whole indefeasible right to any part; and really have such a right to that part which they have reserved to themselves. In fine, the constitution will be reverenced by him as the law of God and of man: the force of which binds the king as much as the meanest subject; and the reason of which binds much more. A patriot-king is the most powerful of all reformers ; for he is himself a sort of standing miracle, so rarely seen and so little understood, that the sure effects of his appearance will be admiration and love in every honest breast, confusion and terror to every guilty consciencc, but submission and resignation in all. A new people will seem to arise with a new king.”—Ed.
But the same sagacious writer does not pass over the dangers to which a sovereign is exposed by the bad company which it is difficult to prevent appearing at Court, consisting of persons “ too low to be much regarded, and too high to be quite neglected,—the lumber,” as he calls them, “ of every administration—the furniture of every Court. These gilt carved things are seldom answerable for more than the men on a chess-board, who are moved about at will, and on whom the conduct of the game is not to be charged. Some of these every prince must have about him. The pageantry of a Court requires that he should; and this pageantry, like many other despicable things, ought not to be laid aside. But as much sameness as there may appear in the characters of this sort of men, there is one distinction that will be made whenever a good prince succeeds to the throne after an iniquitous administration: the distinction I mean is, between those who have affected to dip themselves deeply in precedent iniquities, and those who have had the virtue to keep aloof from them, or the good luck not to be called to any share in them. And thus much for the first point, that of purging his Court.”—Ed.
With regard to those men whom a sovereign should call to his admi. nistration, he says—“A good prince will no more choose ill men than a wise prince will choose fools. Deception in one case is more easy than in the other, because a knave may be an artful hypocrite, whereas a silly fellow can never impose himself for a man of sense. But in a country like ours,” he observes, “an ordinary degree of discernment will prevent deceptions in making such appointments. The reason is, because every man here who stands forward enough in rank and reputation to be THE EXECUTIVE AND THE PARLIAMENT.
at a loss to reconcile them with the idea of a monarchy, which, we are told, is limited. The king not only unites in himself all the branches of the executive power; he not only disposes, without control, of the whole military power in the state; but he is, moreover, it seems, master of the law itself, since he calls up and dismisses, at his will, the legislative bodies. We find him, therefore, at first sight, invested with all the prerogatives that ever were claimed by the most absolute monarchs; and we are at a loss to find that liberty which the English seem so confident they possess.
But the representatives of the people still have,--and that is saying enough,—they still have in their hands, now that the constitution is fully established, the same powerful weapon which enabled their ancestors to establish it. It is still from their liberality alone that the king can obtain subsidies; and in these days, when everything is rated by pecuniary estimation,—when gold is become the great moving spring of affairs,- it may be safely affirmed, that he who depends on the will of other men, with regard to so important an article, is (whatever his power may be in other respects) in a state of real dependence.*
called to the councils of the king, must have given proof beforehand of his patriotism, as well as of his capacity, if he has either, sufficient to determine his general character.- Ed.
“Of all men, sovereigns should endeavour to avoid appointing cunning persons. Cunning,” says Bolingbroke, “is left-handed or crooked wisdom. A cunning man knows how to pack the cards, a wise man how to play the game better. But a wise man could not play the game without knowing it; nor administer the affairs of the state without sagacity, knowledge, and judgment.”—Ed.
Bolingbroke's advice is admirable :-“To espouse no party, but to govern like the common father of his people, is so essential to the character of a patriot.king, that he who does otherwise forfeits the title. It is the peculiar privilege and glory of this character, that princes who maintain it, and they alone, are so far from the necessity, that they are not exposed to the temptation of governing by a party, which must always end in the government of a faction; the faction of a prince if he has ability, the faction of his ministers if he has not; and either one way or other in the cppression of the people.”—Idea of a Patriot King.- Ed.
to This was not, in practice, the case when De Lolme wrote. The Commons were not by any means the representatives of the people, - twothirds were nominees; and the Commons voted all supplies demanded by the ministry. At an early period, when they impeached Lord Latimer in the reign of Edward III. for high treason, the Commons
This is the case of the king of England. He has, in that capacity, and without the grant of his people, scarcely any revenue. A few hereditary duties on the exportation of wool, which (since the establishment of manufactures) are become tacitly extinguished; a branch of the excise, which, under Charles the Second, was annexed to the Crown as an indemnification for the military services it gave up, and which under George the First, (Second) was fixed at seven thousand pounds; a duty of two shillings on every ton of wine imported; the wrecks of ships of which the owners remained unknown; whales and sturgeons thrown on the coast; swans swimming on public rivers, and a few other feudal relics, now compose the whole appropriated revenue of the king, and are all that remain of the ancient inheritance of the Crown.*
The king of England, therefore, has the prerogative of had acquired both authority and weight, which, although often in abeyance, especially under the Tudors, reappeared and afterwards exercised functions that were founded on the laws of Edward I. and which ought legally to have enabled them to have prevented all the arbitrary and unjust acts of the sovereigns from the reign of Edward III. to the reign of George III. But the kings and their ministers not only managed by corruption or by intimidation to make false elections, but they soon learned to make the knights of the shires and the burgesses subservient to the royal will.--Ed.
Down to the period of the reformation, and even until the abdication of James II., the kings arrogated and acted upon maxims of high royal prerogatives; the aristocracy stood on their vested hereditary privileges ; the ecclesiastics claimed assumptions which defied all civil government, and all laws but their canon; and the Commons alone, who were not corrupted or falsely returned to Parliament, asserted the natural rights of civil and political justice, of intellectual and religious freedom.-Ed.
The people, for whom all government ought justly to be instituted, being less instructed, more numerous, but not united, and ignorant of their strength and numbers, were held in bondage and in poverty: they were in reality the slaves of the three other powers. In an age of superstition, the church, not christianity, was triumphant. When the king was feeble, the aristocracy were turbulent and in the ascendant; when the king was a man of strong will, clear sagacity, powerful intellect, and undoubted bravery, the monarchy was paramount. -Ed.
It is fortunate that the Crown has the power to hold the meetings of the Clergy in convocation in abeyance ; for were they, in the present state of religious feeling, and considering the great number of her Majesty's subjects who are dissenters, to assemble as a legislative or working convocation, we believe their meetings in that capacity would be attended with dangerous consequences.--Ed.
* These hereditary and undignified revenues have all been abolished, and an ample civil list voted for life at the beginning of each reign.-Ed. RESTRICTIONS ON THE PREROGATIVE.
commanding armies and equipping fleets; but without the concurrence of his parliament he cannot maintain them. He can bestow places and employments; but without his parliaments he cannot pay for the salaries attending on them. He can declare war; but without his parliament it is impossible for him to carry it on. In a word, the royal prerogative, destitute as it is of the power of imposing taxes, is like a vast body, which cannot of itself accomplish its motions: or, if you please, it is like a ship completely equipped, but from which the parliament can at pleasure draw off the water, and leave it aground,—and also set it afloat again, by granting subsidies.
And indeed we see, that since the establishment of this right of the representatives of the people to grant or refuse subsidies to the crown, their other privileges have been continually increasing. Though these representatives were not, in the beginning, admitted into parliament but upon the most disadvantageous terms, yet they soon found means, by joining petitions to their money-bills, to have a share in framing those laws by which they were in future to be governed : and this method of proceeding, which at first was only tolerated by the king, they afterwards converted into an express right, by declaring, under Henry the Fourth, that they would not thenceforward come to any resolutions with regard to subsidies, before the king had given a precise answer to their petitions.
In subsequent times we see the Commons constantly successful, by their exertion of the same privileges, in their endeavours to lop off the despotic powers which still made a part of the regal prerogative. Whenever abuses of power had taken place, which they were seriously determined to correct, they made grievances and supplies (to use the expression of Sir Thomas Wentworth) go hand in hand together ; which always produced the redress of them. And in general, when a bill, in consequence of its being judged by the Commons essential to the public welfare, has been joined by them to a money-bill, it has seldem failed to pass in that agreeable company.*
* In mentioning the forcible use which the Commons have at times made of their power of granting subsidies, by joining provisions of a
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED,
But this force of the prerogative of the Commons, and the facility with which it may be exerted, however necessary for the first establishment of the constitution, might prove too considerable at present, when it is requisite only to support it. There might be the danger, that, if the parliament should ever exert their privilege to its full extent, the prince, reduced to despair, might resort to fatal extremities ; or that the constitution, which subsists only by virtue of its equilibrium, might in the end be subverted.
Indeed, this is a case which the prudence of parliament has foreseen. They have, in this respect, imposed laws upon themselves : and, without touching the prerogative itself, they have moderated the exercise of it. A custom has for a long time prevailed, at the beginning of every reign, and in the kind of overflowing of affection which takes place between a king and his first parliament, to grant the king a revenue for his life: a provision which, with respect to the great exertions of his power, does not abridge the influence of the Commons, but yet puts him in a condition to support the dignity of the crown, and affords him, who is the first magistrate in the nation, that independence which the laws insure also to those magistrates who are particularly intrusted with the administration of justice.*
different nature to bills that had grants for their object, I only mean to show the great efficiency of that power, which was the subject of this chapter, without pretending to say any thing as to the propriety of the neasure. The House of Lords have even found it necessary (which confirms what is said here) to form, as it were, a confederacy among themselves, for the security of their legislative authority, against the unbounded use which the Commons might make of their power of taxation ; and it has been made a standing order of their House, to reject any bill whatsoever to which a money-bill has been tacked.
* The twelve judges. Their commissions, which in former times were often given them durante bene placito, now must always “be made quamdiu se bene gesserint, and their salaries ascertained; but, upon an address of both Houses, it may be lawful to remove them.” — Stat. 13, Will. III. c. 2. In the first year of the reign of his present (late]