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CHAP. III.

ON THE DUTIES OF THE SOVEREIGN,

BEFORE

we commence our enquiry into the daties incumbent on Englishmen, either in consequence of their common situation as subjects and fellow-citizens, or of their peculiar stations, professions and employments; it is necessary to advert to the offices of the Chief Magistrate whom the Constitution has placed on the throne. His power of influencing the public happiness is as great as his station is exalted.

The remarks to be made on the duties at tached to royalty, may not improperly be preceded by a statement of the principal advantages resulting to Great Britain from the monarchical branch of the Government.

By lodging the supreme executive power in the hands of a single person, subjected to the superintending control of the Houses of

Parliament,

Parliament, and to the checks arising from ministerial responsibility (a); the Constitution has precluded, as far perhaps as any possible contingency in human affairs can be said to be precluded, those civil conflicts, by which the happiness and liberty of other states have been subverted. The noble, however aspiring; the demagogue, however turbulent ; the general, however renowned for his victories, sees every channel obstructed, by which he might hope to raise himself to dominion over his fellowcitizens. Every ambitious project is extinguished by the absence of all probability of success. The splendid prize of empire is already bestowed by the nation on its chosen Sovereign. In Rome, and other ancient republics, the want of a common superior encouraged popular and military leaders successively to aim at rendering themselves masters of the State ; until the people at length sought a refuge from the miseries brought upon them by the dissensions of the contending chieftains in submission to absolute despotism. The establishment of a limited monarchy, by preventing

(a) Vide supra, p. 38.

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By the same wise arrangement the Constitution has likewise provided against the ruinous effects of quarrels and contests between the Houses of Lords and Coinmons; against the reciprocal encroachments of those houses on the privileges of each other; and against the encroachment of either house on the rights of the people. Like the keystone of an arch, the Monarchy biods together with compressive energy the whole frame of Government; and unites it into a firm and well-cemented fabric, every part of which maintains its proper place. By the power of dissolving Parliament, the Crown is at all times enabled to put an end to any projects which a House of Commons may be pushing into execution in opposition to the national will and the public good. By the power of adding without limit to the Peerage, it is no less qualified to curb

any unjustifiable attempts of the House of Lords. In critical emergencies it will commonly happen that the Sovereign will be sufficiently impelled by con

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fiderations of personal interest to resort to these measures; conscious as he must be, that if either of the Houses were on the point of gaining an unconstitutional ascendancy over the other, he must effectually interpose to maintain the balance, or expect speedily to see the banners of the victor displayed over the ruins of royal authority. He would be equally prompted by fimilar motives, and equally enabled by the prerogatives already mentioned, to break any combination formed by the two Houses for the acquisition of dominion. And if we reflect on the immense revenues of this country, and the enormous patronage resulting from the civil, military, naval, financial, and other establishments; we shall see strong reafon to believe, that if the monarchical branch of the legislature were annihilated, and the dispofal of these revenues and of this patronage were committed to either House, or to both Houses of Parliament; the event, whether of their conflicts or of their

, confederation, would be, that the Government of this kingdom would center in an aristocratic body, armed with inexhauftible resources to secure the perpetuity of its own fway, and despotically to hold the people in subjection.

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From the unity of the Executive Power we may naturally expect freedom from corruption in resolving on measures to be pursued ; secrecy in negotiating treaties, and in concerting military operations; and universally, vigour and dispatch in enforcing the laws at home, and in the conduct of public affairs abroad.

The Constitution likewise ordains, that the British Crown fhall descend in a fixed order of hereditary succession. The wisdom of this determination is incontrovertible. Whatever evils may occasionally arise from the sceptre falling into inefficient and improper hands; they are nothing in comparison with the miseries to which the subjects of an elective monarchy are exposed without intermiffion, from the cabals, foreign as well as domestic, which uniformly take place during the life of each occupier of the throne, and the civil wars which frequently rage upon his death. These miseries are aggravated by the additional confiderations, that the Crown will seldom be placed by the violence of popular party, or by the final decision of the sword, on a head

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