Imágenes de páginas

upon this principle, that several statesmen of those times advised Cromwell to assume the title of king, together with the ancient style and insignia of royalty. The minds of

many, they contended, would be brought to acquiesce in the authority of a king, who suspected the office, and were offended with the administration, of a protector. Novelty reminded them of usurpation. The adversaries of this design opposed the measure, from the same persuasion of the efficacy of names and forms, jealous lest the veneration paid to these, should add an influence to the new settlement, which might ensnare the liberty of the commonwealth.

3. Government may be too secure. The greatest tyrants have been those whose titles were the most unquestioned. Whenever therefore the opinion of right becomes too predominant and superstitious, it is abated by breaking the custom. Thus the Revolution broke the custom of succession, and thereby moderated, both in the prince and in the people, those lofty notions of hereditary right, which in the one were become a continual incentive to tyranny, and disposed the other to invite servitude, by undue compliances and dangerous concessions.

4. As ignorance of union, and want of communication, appear amongst the principal preservatives of civil authority, it behoves every state to keep its subjects in this want and ignorance, not only by vigilance in guarding against actual confederacies and combinations, but by a timely care to prevent great collections of men of any separate party of religion, or of like occupation or profession, or in any way connected by a participation of interest or passion, from being assembled in the same vicinity. A protestant establishment in this country may have little to fear from its popish subjects, scattered as they are throughout the kingdom, and intermixed with the Protestant inhabitants; which yet might think them a formidable body, if they were gathered together into one county. The most frequent and desperate riots are those which break out amongst men of the same profession, as weavers, miners, sailors. This circumstance makes a mutiny of soldiers more to be dreaded than any other insurrection. Hence also one danger of an overgrown metropolis, and of those great cities and crowded districts into which the inhabitants of trading countries are commonly collected. The worst effect of popular tumults consists in this, that they discover to the insurgents the secret of their own strength, teach them to depend upon it against a future occasion, and both produce and diffuse sentiments of confidence in one another, and assurances of mutual support. Leagues thus formed and strengthened, may overawe or overset the power of any state; and the danger is greater, in proportion as, from the propinquity of habitation and intercourse of employment, the passions and counsels of a party can be circulated with ease and rapidity. It is by these means, and in such situations, that the minds of men are so affected and prepared, that the most dreadful uproars often arise from the slightest provocations.--When the train is laid, a spark will produce the explosion.





The subject of this chapter is sufficiently distinguished from the subject of the last, as the motives which actually produce civil obedience may be, and often are, very different from the reasons which make that obedience a duty.

In order to prove civil obedience to be a moral duty, and an obligation upon the conscience, it hath been usual with many political writers (at the head of whom we find the venerable name of Locke), to state a compact between the citizen and the state, as the ground and cause of the relation between them; which compact, binding the parties for the same general reason that private contracts do, resolves the duty of submission to civil government into the universal obligation of fidelity in the performance of promises. This compact is twofold:

First, An express compact by the primitive founders of the state, who are supposed to have convened for the declared

purpose of settling the terms of their political union, and a future constitution of government. The whole body is supposed, in the first place, to have unanimously consented to be bound by the resolutions of the majority; that majority, in the next place, to have fixed certain fundamental regulations; and then to have constituted, either in one person, or in an assembly (the rule of succession, or appointment, being at the same time determined), a standing legislature, to whom, under these pre-established restrictions, the government of the state was thenceforward committed, and whose laws the several members of the convention were, by their first undertaking, thus personally engaged to obey.—This transaction is sometimes called the social compact, and these supposed original regulations compose what are meant by the constitution, the fundamental laws of the constitution: and form, on one side, the inherent, indefeasible prerogative of the crown; and, on the other, the unalienable, inprescriptible birthright of the subject.

Secondly, A tacit or implied compact, by all succeeding members of the state who, by accepting its protection, consent to be bound by its laws; in like manner as who

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »