Page images

Prince, in whofe good or ill Conduct the Happinefs or Mifery of a whole Nation is included; whereas it is of fmall Confequence to the Publick, farther than Examples, how any private Perfon manages his Property.


BUT granting that the Right of a Lineal Succeffor to a Crown were upon the fame Foot with the Property of a Subject, ftill it may at any time be transferred by the Legislative Power, The Suas other Properties frequently are. preme Power in a State can do no wrong, because whatever that doth, is the Action of all; And when the Lawyers apply this Maxim to the King, they must understand it only in that Senfe as he is Adminiftrator of the Supreme Power, otherwife it is not univerfally true, but may be -controuled in feveral Inftances eafy to produce.

AND these are the Topicks we muft proceed upon to juftify our Exclufion of the young Pretender in France; that of his fufpected Birth, being meerly Popular, and therefore not made ufe lof, as I remember, fince the Revolution, in any Speech, Vote, or Proclamation where there was loccafion to mention him. 30:



As to the Abdication of King: James, which the Advocates on that fide look upon to have been forcible and unjuft, and confequently void in it felf, I think a Man may obferve every Article of the English Church, without being in much Pain about it. "Tis not unlikely that all Doors were laid open for his Departure, and perhaps not without the Privity of the Prince of Orange, as reafonably concluding, that the Kingdom might better be fettled in his Abfence; But to affirm he had any Caufe to apprehend the fame Treatment with his Father, is an improbable



[ocr errors]

Scandal flung upon the Nation by a few bigotted French Scriblers, or the invidious Affertion of a Ruined Party at home, in the Bitterness of their Souls. Not one material Circumftance agreeing with thofe in 1648; and the greatest part of the Nation having preferved the utmost Horror for that ignominious Murder: But whe ther his Removal were caufed by his own Fears or other Mens Artifices, 'tis manifeft to me, that fuppofing the Throne to be Vacant, which was the Foot they went upon, the Body of the People was thereupon left at Liberty to chufe what Form of Government they pleased, by them felves or their Reprefentatives.

THE only Difficulty of any weight against the Proceedings at the Revolution, is an obvious Objection, to which the Writers upon that Subject have not yet given a direct or fufficient Anfwer, as if they were in pain at fome Confequences which they apprehended thofe of the contrary Opinion might draw from it. I will repeat this Objection as it was offered to me. fome time ago, with all its Advantages, by a very Pious, Learned, and worthy Gentleman of the Non-juring Party.

THE Force of his Argument turned upon this; That the Laws made by the Supreme Power, cannot otherwife than by the Supreme Power be annulled: This confifting in England of a King, Lords and Commons, whereof each have a Negative Voice, no Two of them can Repeal or Enact a Law without Confent of the Third much lefs any one of them be entirely excluded from its Part of the Legiflature by a Vote of the other Two. That all thefe Maxims were openly violated at the Revolution; where an Affembly

G 3

[ocr errors]

fembly of the Nobles and People not fummoned by the King's Writ (which was then an effential Part of theConftitution) and confequently no lawful Meeting, did meerly upon their own Autho rity, declare the King to have abdicated, the Throne vacant, and gave the Crown by a Vote to a Nephew, when there were three Children to Inherit, though by the fundamental Laws of the Realm the next Heir is immediately to Succeed. Neither does it appear how a Prince's Abdication can make any other fort of Vacancy in the Throne, than would be caufed by his Death, fince he cannot abdicate for his Children (who claim their Right of Succeffion by Act of Parliament) otherwife than by his own Confent in form to a Bill from the Two Houfes.

AND this is the Difficulty that feems chiefly to flick with the most reafonable of thofe, who from a meer Scruple of Confcience refufe to joyn with us upon the Revolution-Principle; but for the reft are, I believe, as far from lov. ing Arbitrary Government, as any others can be, who are born under a free Conftitution, and are allowed to have the leaft Share of common good Senfe.

IN this Objection there are two Queftions included; Firft, Whether upon the foot of our Conftitution as it flood in the Reign of the Fate King James; a King of England may be depofed? The Second is, whether the People of England, convened by their own Authority, after the King had withdrawn himself in the manner he did, had Power to alter the Succeffion?

As for the Firft; It is a Point I fhall not presume to determine, and fhall therefore only


[ocr errors]

fay, that to any Man who holds the Negative, I would demand the Liberty of putting the Cafe as ftrongly as I pleafe. I will fuppofe a Prince limited by Laws like ours, yet running into a thousand Caprices of Cruelty like Nero or Caligula. I will fuppofe him to murder his Mother and his Wife, to commit Incest, to Ravish Matrons, to blow up the Senate, and burn his Metropolis, Openly to renounce God and Chrift, and worship the Devil. Thefe and the like Exorbitances are in the Power of a Single Perfon to commit without the Advice of a Ministry, or Affiftance of an Army. And if fuch a King, as I have defcribed, cannot be Deposed but by his own Confent in Parliament; I do not well fee how he can be refifted, or what can be meant by a limited Monarchy, Or what fignifies the Peoples Confent in making and repealing Laws, if the Person who adminifters hath no Tye but Confcience, and is answerable to none but God. I defire no ftronger Proof that an Opinion must be falle, than to find very great Abfurdities annexed to it; and there cannot be greater than in the prefent Cafe; For it is not a bare Speculation that Kings may run into such Enormities as are above-mentioned; the Practice may be proved by Examples not only drawn from the first Cafars or later Emperors, but many modern Princes of Europe; fuch as Peter the Cruel, Philip the Second of Spain, John Bafilovits of Mufcory, and in our own Nation, King John, Richard the Third, and Henry the Eighth. But there cannot be equal Abfurdities fuppofed in maintaining the contrary Opinion, because it is certain, that Princes have it in their Power to keep a Majority on their fide by any toleraG4


ble Administration; till provoked by continual Oppreffion, no Man indeed can then anfwer where the Madness of the People will top.

As to the fecond Part of the objection; Whether the People of England convened by their own Authority, upon King James's precipitate Departure, had Power to alter the Succeffion?

IN Answer to this, I think it is manifeft from the Practice of the Wifeft Nations, and who feem to have had the trueft Notions of Freedom, that when a Prince was laid afide for Maleadministration, the Nobles and People, if they thought neceffary for the Publick Weal, did refume the Adminiftration of the Supreme Power (the Power it felf having been always in them) and did not only alter the Succeffion, but often the very Form of Government too; Because they believed there was no natural Right in oneMan to Govern another, but that all was by Inftitution, Force, or Confent. Thus, the Cities of Greece, when they drove out their Tyranncal Kings, either chofe others from a new Family, or abolifhed the Kingly Government, and became. Free States. Thus the Romans, upon the expulfion of Tarquin, found it was inconvenient for them to be fubject any longer to the Pride, the Luft, the Cruelty and Arbitrary Will of Single: Perfons, and therefore by general Confent entirely altered the whole Frame of their Government. Nor do I find the Proceedings of either, in this Point, to have been condemned by any. Hiftorian of the fucceeding Ages.

Bur a great deal hath been already said by: other Writers upon this invidious and beaten Subject; therefore I fhall let it fall, tho' the: Point is commonly mistaken, efpecially by the


[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »