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This argument would
prove, were it valid, much more than they who allege it apprehend or desire. It would prove the inherent injuftice not only of hereditary Government, but of all Government. Generations of
similar as the individuals who compose them may be to the leaves (f) of the forest in short-lived glory, are not like them swept away together by the fudden desolation of autumn, and replaced by a new fuccession bursting at once into life in the spring. According to the fixed order of nature, they decay, and are renewed, by a gradual and almost imperceptible change; the parent disappears, but his offspring already supplies his place: death seizes
Government, but solely against the language of some of the Acts of Parliament by which it is established in this kingdom, it must be admitted that a reply would have been difficult. Statutes which describe the people of a country
“ most humbly and faithfully submitting themselves, “ their heirs and posterity for ever,” to any particular family; or as “ binding themselves, their heirs and posterity, to that « family, its heirs and posterity,” or to any particular form of government whatever, " to the end of time;" profess to dispose of the rights of succeeding generations, which are beyond the reach of their control; and afford an example of language equally extravagant and nugatory. (f) Οιη περ φυλλων γενεη, τοιησε και ανδρων. ΗοΜ. C4
dual ed ?
dual in his turn, but in the inidst of his ravages the fociety continues to exist in undeclining vigour. It would follow then from the principle on which the injustice of hereditary power is attempted to be proved, that on the very first moment after the establishment of any Constitution, when a single individual of the country, who at the time of its being established was a child under the control of his parent, should at
, tain to years of discretion, and become entitled to the common rights of men, the injustice of the Governinent would commence. To him the Government, had it been settled but a week or a day, would be hereditary; “it would opeo
rate to preclude his consent, and would be a
despotism.” Not necessarily so, it may perhaps be replied; the young man might freely consent to accept the form of government with which he would see all around him satisfied. Undoubtedly he might; but does not this concession furnish a complete answer to the charge of injustice urged against the institution of hereditary power ? Does it not point out the way by which the justice of our own Government, though hereditary, is rendered incontestable, on the very principle on which it is question
ed? Consent given by every native of Great Britain in his turn, when he arrives at the age of discretion, to the government which he finds adopted by his countrymen ; and expressed by his continuing in the land, and voluntarily accepting the protection of the State, with entire consciousness that it is afforded to him only on the reciprocal condition of obedience to the laws ; constitutes him fully and justly a British subject. No compulsion was used or threatened; the act was entirely his own. Had he been averse to acquiesce in the Constitution fancioned by his countrymen, the world was before him, and he was at liberty (8) to depart. He is not subject to the Government because his ancestors obeyed it; but because he has voluntarily engaged to obey it himself.
(8) There is at present no act of parliament in force prohibiting any person whatever from going out of the kingdom at his own discretion; the last statute to that effect having been repealed in the reign of James I. Blackstone's Comm. both edition, vol. i. p. 266. And “ by the com
mon law every man may go out of the realm for what“ ever cause he pleaseth without obtaining the king's leave,
provided that he is under no injunction of staying at “ home ; which liberty was expressly declared in king
The true state of the matter is this. The inftitution of any particular form of government, hereditary or otherwise, lays before each succeeding member of the community a considerable inducement to accept it, from the very circumftance of its being established, and from the inconveniences which would attend a removal to another country. The more excellent the Constitution, the stronger will the inducement be; but compliance with it is a voluntary act. Similar inducements are inseparably connected with every human institution, whether public, private, or domestic. And he who on that ground charges his ancestors with injustice in thus setting before him an heredi. tary Government, might with equal reason complain, that by the eredion of houses and the introduction of agriculture they had “ de
" John's Great Charter.” Blackstone, vol. i. p. 265. And though “because every man ought of right to defend the
king and his realm, therefore the king at his pleasure
may command him by his writ that he go not out of “ the realm without licence;" (Blackstone, ibid.) no man will think it probable that individuals difatisfied with the established Constitution of their country will ever be con. strained to stay that they may be employed in defending it.
spotically precluded him” from living in a cave and feeding on acorns.
2. Political wisdom requires the existence of a legislative body; and that some efficient part of the Legislature be appointed by the people, and ultimately speak their sense.
If there be no legislative body, the government is the despotism of an individual. If there be a legislative body wholly appointed by an individual, he is still despotic, though cir. cuitously. If the legislative body be hereditary, or self-appointed, where there is no monarch, it is a despotic aristocracy; where there is a monarch, it becomes exclusively despotic by enslaving him, or partaker of a joint delpotism by confederating with him.
These evils are precluded by afligning to the people, as is the case in Great Britain, the appointment of one branch of the Legislature, formed in such a manner as that it shall finally speak their sense, whenever that sense is decided and permanent; and armed with sufficient powers ultimately to ensure success, under those circuinstances, to its determination.