Front Page Titles (by Subject) PART I.: THE NOTIONS OF Mr. LOCKE, &c. - A Treatise Concerning Civil Government in Three Parts
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PART I.: THE NOTIONS OF Mr. LOCKE, &c. - Josiah Tucker, A Treatise Concerning Civil Government in Three Parts 
A Treatise Concerning Civil Government in Three Parts (London: T. Cadell, 1781).
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THE NOTIONS OF Mr. LOCKE, &c.
The only true Foundation of Civil Government, according to Mr.Lockeand his Disciples:—All Governments whatever being so many Encroachments on, and Violations of, the unalienable Rights of Mankind, if not founded on this Hypothesis.
IN order to shorten this Controversy as much as possible, and to strike every Thing out of it foreign to the Subject, I shall first shew wherein I agree with Mr. Locke and his Followers, and 2dly wherein I differ from them.
First then I agree with him, and his Disciples, that there is a Sense, in which it may be said, that no Man is born the political Subject of another. Insants the Moment they are born, are the natural Subjects of their Parents: They are also entitled by the Law of Nature, as well as by human Laws, to the Protection and Guardianship of that State, within whose Jurisdiction they are born [nay, indeed they are entitled to Protection whilst in Embrio] though they neither did, nor could enter into any Contract with the State for that Purpose. Therefore in this Sense, they-are justly deemed the natural-born Subjects of such a Country. This is the Language of all Laws, and of every Government. But in a metaphysical Sense, a Man cannot be a Subject before he is a Moral Agent; for it is Moral Agency alone, which renders him amenable, or subject to any Law, or Government. However, as he is born with the Instincts and Dispositions of a social Creature, he necessarily becomes a Member of some Society or other, as soon as he has an Opportunity, by the very Impulse of his Nature, if there are any human Beings within his Reach to associate with. But whether this Association must always be formed by Means of an express mutual Compact, Engagement, and Stipulation, or whether it cannot be formed [I mean justly and rightly formed] any other Way, is the important Question now to be determined.
2dly.Let the Mode of entering into this Society be what it may, whether by express Covenant, or otherwise, I perfectly agree with Mr. Locke and his Disciples, that the Government and Direction of such a Society is a Matter of public Trust, and not of private Property:—a Trust to be executed for the Good of the whole, and not for the private Advantage of the Governors and Directors;—any otherwise, than as they themselves will find their own Account in promoting the Prosperity of the Community.
3dly.I very readily allow, that if these Trustees should so far forget the Nature of their Office, as to act directly contrary thereunto in the general Tenor of their Administration;—and if neither humble Petition, nor decent Remonstrance can reclaim, and bring them to a Sense of their Duty;—then Recourse must be had to the only Expedient still remaining, Force of Arms:—And I add further, that the critical Moment for the Application of such a desperate Remedy, seems to be,—when the Evils suffered are grown so great and intolerable, without any reasonable Prospect of Amendment, that, according to the most impartial Calculation, they evidently over-balance those which would be brought on by resisting such evil Governors.
All these Points being previously settled, there can be no Controversy between Mr. Locke’s Disciples and me about the patriarchal Scheme in any of its Branches, or indeed about any Sort of an indefeasible hereditary Right whatever:—Much less about unlimited passive Obedience, and Non-resistance. For I think we are all perfectly agreed, that neither Kings, nor Senators, neither Patrician-Republics, nor Plebean-Republics, neither hereditary, nor elective Governors can, in the Words of the great Poet,
Have any Right divine to govern wrong.
And if Sovereigns have no Right to do wrong, the Subjects must certainly have a Right to prevent them from doing it. For it is clear, that in such a Case the People cannot offend against the righteous Laws of God, or the just Laws of Man, in defending their own Rights.
The Question, therefore, the sole Question now to be decided, is simply this, “Whether that Government is to be justly deemed an Usurpation, which is not founded on the express mutual Compact of all the Parties interested therein, or belonging thereunto?” Usurpation is a Word of a most odious Sound; and Usurpations and Robberies are Things so detestably bad, that no honest, or good Man can wish them Prosperity, or even Existence. It is therefore to be hoped for the Honour of human Nature, and the Good of Mankind, that some Governments or other, besides those of Mr. Locke’s modelling, or approving, may be found in the World, which deserve a better Fate, than that which is due to Robberies and Usurpations.
But let us now hear the Opinion of this great Man himself, and of the most eminent of his Followers, concerning the Origin, and only true Foundation, of Civil Government, according to their System.
QUOTATIONS from Mr.Locke.
Mr. Locke, in his 2d. Treatise concerning Government, Chap. viii. of the Beginning of political Societies, delivers himself in these Words:
“§ 95. Men being, as hath been said, [in the former Chapters] all free, equal, and independent,—no one can be put out of this Estate, and subjected to the political Power of another, without his own Consent: The only Way, whereby any one divests himself of his natural Liberty, and puts on the Bonds of Civil Society, is by agreeing with other Men to join and unite in a Community, for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable Living one among another, in a secure Enjoyment of their Properties, and a greater Security against any that are not of it. This any Number of Men may do, because it injures not the Freedom of the rest: They are left as they were, in the Liberty of a State of Nature. When any Number of Men have so consented to make one Community, or Government, they are thereby presently incorporated, and made one Body politic, wherein the Majority have a Right to act.
“§ 98. And thus, that which begins, and actually concludes any political Society, is nothing but the Consent of a Number of free Men, capable of a Majority to unite, and incorporate into such a Society. And this is that and that only, which did, or could give Beginning to any lawful Government in the World.
“§ 116. ’Tis true, that whatever Engagements or Promises any one has made for himself, he is under the Obligation of them, but cannot by any Compact whatever bind his Children, or Posterity. For his Son, when a Man, being altogether as free as the Father, any Act of the Father can no more give away the Liberty of the Son, than it can of any Body else. He may indeed annex such Conditions to the Land he enjoyed, as a Subject of any Common-Wealth, as may oblige his Son to be of that Community, if he will enjoy those Possessions, which were his Father’s:—Because that Estate being his Father’s Property, he may dispose, or settle it as he pleases.
“§ 119. Every Man being, as hath been shewn, naturally free, and nothing being able to put him into Subjection to any earthly Power, but his own Consent, it is to be considered, what shall be understood to be a sufficient Declaration of a Man’s Consent to make him subject to the Laws of any Government. There is a common Distinction of an express, and a tacit Consent, which will concern our present Case. Nobody doubts, but an express Consent of any Man entering into any Society, makes him a perfect Member of that Society, a Subject of that Government. The Difficulty is, what ought to be looked upon as a tacit Consent, and how far it binds; i. e. how far any one shall be looked on to have consented, and thereby submitted to any Government, where he has made no Expressions of it at all. And to this I say, that every Man, that hath any Possession or Enjoyment of any Part of the Dominions of any Government, doth thereby give his tacit Consent, and is as far forth obliged to Obedience to the Laws of that Government, during such Enjoyment, as any one under it, whether this his Possession be of Land to him, and his Heirs for ever;—or a Lodging only for a Week, or whether it be barely travelling freely on the High Way: And it in Effect reaches as far as the very being of any one within the Territories of that Government.
“§ 120. To understand this the better;—Whosoever therefore from thenceforth by Inheritance, Purchase, Permission, or other-ways, enjoys any Part of the Land so annexed to, and under the Government of that Common-Wealth, must take it with the Condition it is under; that is, of submitting to the Government of the Common-Wealth, under whose Jurisdiction it is, as far forth as any Subject of it.
“§ 121. But since the Government has a direct Jurisdiction only over the Land, and reaches the Possessor of it (before he has actually incorporated himself in the Society) only as he dwells upon, and enjoys that, the Obligation any one is under by Virtue of such Enjoyment, to submit to the Government, begins and ends with the Enjoyment: So that whenever the Owner, who has given nothing but such tacit Consent to the Government, will by Donation, Sale, or otherways quit the said Possession, he is at Liberty to go, and incorporate himself into any other Common-Wealth, or to agree with others, to begin a new one in vacuis locis, in any Part of the World they can find free, and unpossessed.
“§ 122. Butsubmitting to the Laws of any Country, living quietly, and enjoying Privileges and Protection under them, ☞ makes not a Man a Member of that Society:—Nothing can make a Man so, but his ☞ actually entering into it by positive Engagements, and express Promise and Compact.
Of the Ends of Political Society and Government.
“§ 123. If Man in a State of Nature be so free, as hath been said: If he be absolute Lord of his own Person and Possessions, equal to the greatest, and subject to no Body, why will he part with his Freedom, why will he give up this Empire, and subject himself to the Dominion and Controul of any other Power? To which it is obvious to answer, that tho’ in the State of Nature be hath such a Right, yet the Enjoyment of it is very uncertain, and constantly exposed to the Invasion of others. For all being Kings as much as he, every Man his equal, and the greater Part no strict Observers of Equity and Justice, the Enjoyment of the Property he has in this State is very unsase, very insecure. ☞ This makes him willing to quit his Condition; which however free, is full of Fears, and continual Dangers.
“§ 127. Thus Mankind, notwithstanding all the Privileges of the State of Nature, being but in an ill Condition, while they remain in it, are quickly driven into Society.
Of the Extent of the Legislative Power.
“§ 138. The supreme Power [the Legislature] cannot [lawfully, or rightly] take from any Man any Part of his Property without his own Consent.
“§ 140. ’Tis true, Governments cannot be supported without great Charge; and ’tis fit every one who enjoys his Share of the Protection, should pay out of his Estate his Proportion for the Maintenance of it. But still it must be with his own Consent, i. e. with the Consent of the Majority, giving it either by themselves, or by their Representatives chosen by them.
“§ 198. Whoever gets into the Exercise of any Part of the Power [of governing] by other Ways than what the Laws of the Community have prescribed, hath no Right to be obeyed, tho’ the Form of the Common-Wealth be still preserved: Since he is not the Person the Laws have appointed, and consequently not the Person the People have consented to. Nor can such an Usurper, or any deriving from him, ever have a Title ’till the People are both at Liberty to consent, and have actually consented to allow, and confirm him in the Power he hath till then usurped.”
Extracts from Mr.Molyneux’sCase of Ireland being bound by Acts of Parliament in England. Dublin, printed 1698, and dedicated to KingWilliam:And lately reprinted by Mr.Almon,with a long Preface, exciting the Irish to rebel, and promising sull Liberty, and Security to the Papists, if they will join in this good Work.
“Page 18. If a Villain with a Pistol at my Breast, makes me convey my Estate to him, no one will say, that this gives him any Right. And yet just such a Title as this has an unjust Conqueror, who with a Sword at my Throat forces me into Submission; that is, forces me to part with my natural Estate and Birth-right, of being governed only by Laws, to which I give my Consent, and not by his Will,—or the Will of any other.
“P. 26 and 27. From what has been said, I presume it pretty clearly appears, that an unjust Conquest gives no Title at all;—that a just Conquest gives Power only over the Lives, and Liberties of the actual Opposers,—but not over their Posterity and Estates;—and not at all over those that did not concur in the Opposition.
“They that desire a more full Disquisition of this Matter, may find it at large in an incomparable Treatise concerning the true Original, Extent, and End of Civil Government, Chap. xvi. This Discourse is said to be written by my excellent Friend John Locke, Esq.
“Page 113. I shall venture to assert, that the Right of being subject only to such Laws, to which Men give their own Consent, is so inherent in all Mankind, and founded on such immutable Laws of Nature and Reason, that ’tis not to be aliened, or given up by any Body of Men whatever.
“Page 150. All Men are by Nature in a State of Equality, in respect of Jurisdiction or Dominion.—On this Equality of Nature is founded that Right, which all Men claim of being free from all Subjection to positive Laws, ’till by their own Consent, they give up their Freedom by entering into Civil Societies for the common Benefit of all the Members thereof. ☞ And on this Consent depends the Obligation of all human Laws.
“Page 169. I have no other Notion of Slavery; but being bound by a Law, to which I do not consent.
“Page 170. Ifone Law may be imposed without Consent, any other Law whatever may be imposed on us without our Consent. This will naturally introduce taxing us without our Consent. And this as necessarily destroys our Property. I have no other Notion of Property, but a Power of disposing of my Goods as I please, and not as another shall command. Whatever another may rightly take from me, I have certainly no Property in. To tax me without Consent is little better, if at all, than down-right robbing me.
Extracts from Dr.Priestly’sEssay on the first Principles of Government. Second Edition. London, printed for J. Johnson, 1771.
Of the first Principles of Government, and the different Kinds of Liberty.
“Page 6. To begin with first Principles, we must for the Sake of gaining clear Ideas on the Subject, do what almost all political Writers have done before us, that is, We must suppose a Number of People existing, who experience the Inconvenience of living independent and unconnected: Who are exposed without Redress, to Insults and Wrongs of every Kind, and are too weak to procure to themselves many of the Advantages, which they are sensible might easily be compassed by united Strength. These People, if they would engage the Protection of the whole Body, and join their Forces in Enterprizes and Undertakings calculated for their common Good, must voluntarily resign some Part of their natural Liberty, and submit their Conduct to the Direction of the Community: For without these Concessions, such an Alliance, attended with such Advantages, could not be formed.
“Were these People few in Number and living within a small Distance of one another, it might be casy for them to assemble upon every Occasion, in which the whole Body was concerned; and every thing might be determined by the Votes of the Majority. ☞ Provided they had previously agreed that the Votes of a Majority should be decisive. But were the Society numerous, their Habitations remote, and the Occasions on which the whole Body must interpose frequent, it would be absolutely impossible that all the Members of the State should assemble, or give their Attention to public Business. In this Case, though, with Rousseau,it being a giving up of their Liberty, there must be Deputies or Public Officers appointed to act in the Name of the whole Body: And in a State of very great Extent, where all the People could never be assembled, the whole Power of the Community must necessarily, and almost irreversibly, be lodged in the Hands of these Deputies. In England, the King, the hereditary Lords, and the Electors of the House of Commons are these standing Deputies: And the Members of the House of Commons are again the temporary Deputies of this last Order of the State.
Of Political Liberty.
“11. In Countries, where every Member of the Society enjoys an equal Power of arriving at the supreme Offices, and consequently of directing the Strength and the Sentiments of the whole Community, there is a State of the most perfect political Liberty. On the other Hand, in Countries where a Man is, by his Birth or Fortune, excluded from these Offices, or from a Power of voting for proper Persons to fill them; that Man, whatever be the Form of the Government, or whatever Civil Liberty, or Power over his own Actions he may have, has no Power over those of another; he has no Share in the Government, and therefore has no political Liberty at all. Nay his own Conduct, as far as the Society does intersere, is, in all Cases, directed by others.
“It may be said, that no Society on Earth was ever formed in the Manner represented above. I answer, it is true; because all Governments whatever have been, in some Measure, compulsory, tyrannical, and oppressive in their Origin. But the Method I have described must be allowed to be the only equitable and fair Method of forming a Society. And since every Man retains, and can never be deprived of, his natural Right (founded on a Regard to the general Good) of relieving himself from all Oppression, that is, ☞ from every Thing that has been imposed upon him without his own Consent, this must be the only true and proper Foundation of all the Governments subsisting in the World, and that to which the People who compose them ☞ have an unalienable Right to bring them back.
“Page 40. The Sum of what hath been advanced upon this Head, is a Maxim, than which nothing is more true, that every Government, in its original Principles, and antecedent to its present Form, is an equal Republic; and consequently, that every Man, when he comes to be sensible of his natural Rights, and to feel his own Importance, will consider himself as fully equal to any other Person whatever. The Consideration of Riches and Power, however acquired, must be entirely set aside, when we come to these first Principles. The very Idea of Property, or Right of any Kind, is founded upon a Regard to the general Good of the Society, under whose Protection it is enjoyed; and nothing is properly a Man’s own, but what general Rules, which have for their Object the Good of the whole, give to him. To whomsoever the Society delegates its Power, it is delegated to them for the more easy Management of public Affairs, and in order to make the more effectual Provision for the Happiness of the whole. Whosoever enjoys Property, or Riches in the State, enjoys them for the Good of the State, as well as for himself: And whenever those Powers, Riches, or Rights of any Kind are abused to the Injury of the whole, that awful and ultimate Tribunal, in which every Citizen hath an equal Voice, may demand the Resignation of them: And in Circumstances, where regular Commissions from this abused Public cannot be had. every Man, who has Power, and who is actuated with the Sentiments of the Public, may assume a public Character, and bravely redress public Wrongs. In such dismal and critical Circumstances, the stifled Voice of an oppressed Country is a loud Call upon every Man, possessed with a Spirit of Patriotism, to exert himself. And whenever that Voice shall be at Liberty, it will ratify and applaud the Action, which it could not formally authorise.
Extracts from Dr.Price’s famous Treatise, Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty, &c. a new Edition, 12mo. corrected by the Author, Price Three-Pence, or One Guinea per Hundred.
Prefaceto theFifth Edition.
“The Principles on which I have argued, form the Foundation of every State, as far as it is free; and are the same with those taught by Mr. Locke.
“Page 1. Our Colonies in North-America appear to be now determined to risque, and suffer every Thing, under the Persuasion, that Great-Britain is attempting to rob them of that Liberty, to which every Member of Society, and all civil Communities, have a natural, and an unalienable Right.
Of the Nature of Liberty in general.
“Page 1. In order to obtain a more distinct and accurate View of the Nature of Liberty as such, it will be useful to consider it under the four following general Divisions.
[It is hard to say, what could have been the Doctor’s Motive for dividing Human Liberty into four Parts; for, in reality, there are either not so many Sorts of Liberty, or a great many more. “Physical Liberty, which is the Foundation of the rest, is, as the Doctor well observes, that Principle of Spontaneity, or Self-Determination, which constitutes us Agents; or which gives us a Command over our Actions, rendering them properly ours, and not Effects of the Operation of any foreign Cause.” Therefore possessing, or enjoying this Power within ourselves, we apply it to various Purposes, according as Duty, Interest, or Inclination call it forth: Consequently if every distinct, or possible Application of it is to be considered as the Exertion of a distinct Species of Liberty, we may be said to have Sorts without Number. But the Doctor himself, as will be seen below, joins Religious and Civil Liberty in the same Class. And he also observes, that there is one general Idea that runs through them all, the Idea of Self-Direction, or Self-Government.]
“First, Physical Liberty,—Secondly, Moral Liberty,—Thirdly, Religious Liberty,—and, Fourthly, Civil Liberty.
“Page 3. As far as in any Instance, the Operation of any Power comes in to restrain the Power of Self-Government, so far Slavery is introduced: Nor do I think that a preciser Idea than this of Liberty, and Slavery, can be given.
Of Civil Liberty, and the Principles of Government.
“Page 4. In every free State every Man is his own Legislator.—All Taxes are free Gifts for public Services.—All Laws are particular Provisions or Regulations established by common Consent for gaining Protection and Safety.
“From hence it is obvious, that Civil Liberty, in its most perfect Degree, can be enjoyed only in small States, where every Member is capable of giving his Suffrage in Person; and of being chosen into public Offices. When a State becomes so numerous, or when the different Parts of it are removed to such Distances from one another, as to render this impracticable, a Diminution of Liberty necessarily arises.—Though all the Members of a State should not be capable of giving their Suffrages on public Measures individually and personally, they may do this by the Appointment of Substitutes or Representatives.
“Page 7. In general, to be free is to be guided by one’s own Will; and to be guided by the Will of another is the Characteristic of Servitude. This is particularly applicable to political Liberty.
Of the Authority of one Country over another.
“Page 15. As no People [either individually, or collectively] can lawfully surrender their religious Liberty, by giving up their Right of judging for themselves in Religion, or by allowing any human Being to prescribe to them, what Faith they shall embrace or what Mode of Worship they shall practice; so neither can any civil Societies [* either individually, or collectively] lawfully surrender their civil Liberty, by giving up to any extraneous Jurisdiction their Power of legislating for themselves, and disposing of their Property. Such a Cession, being inconsistent with the unalienable Rights of Human Nature, would either not bind at all, or bind only the Individuals who made it. This is a Blessing, which no Generation of Men can give up for another; and which, when lost, a People have always a Right to resume.
Observationson the foregoingExtracts.
Thus I have finished my Extracts from Mr. Locke, and some of the most eminent of his Disciples;—Men, whose Writings, (we charitably hope, not intentionally, or maliciously;—though actually) have laid a Foundation for such Disturbances and Dissentions, such mutual Jealousies and Animosities, as Ages to come will not be able to settle, or compose. Many more Passages might have been added from other celebrated Writers on the same Side.; but surely these are full enough to explain their Meaning. And therefore from the following may be collected.
I. That Mankind do not spontaneously, and, as it were, imperceptibly slide into a Distinction of Orders, and a Difference of Ranks, by living and conversing together, as Neighbours and social Beings:—But on the contrary, that they naturally shew an Aversion, and a Repugnance to every Kind of Subordination, ’till dire Necessity compells them to enter into a solemn Compact, and to join their Forces together for the Sake of Self-Preservation. Dr. Priestly, the fairest, the most open, and ingenuous of all Mr. Locke’s Disciples, excepting honest, undissembling Rousseau, has expressed himself so clearly and fully on this Head, that I shall beg Leave to quote his Words again, tho’ I had mentioned them before.
“To begin with first Principles, we must, for the Sake of gaining clear Ideas on the Subject, do what almost all political Writers have done before us, that is, we must suppose a Number of People existing, who experience the Inconvenience of living independent and unconnected; who are exposed without Redress, to Insults and Wrongs of every Kind, and are too weak to procure to themselves many of the Advantages, which they are sensible might easily be compassed by united Strength. These People, if they would engage the Protection of the whole Body, and join their Forces in Enterprizes and Undertakings calculated for their common Good, must voluntarily resign some Part of their natural Liberty, and submit their Conduct to the Direction of the Community: For without these Concessions, an Alliance cannot be formed.”
Here it is very observable, that the Author supposes Government to be so entirely the Work of Art, that Nature had no Share at all in forming it; or rather in predisposing and inclining Mankind to form it. The Instincts of Nature, it seems, had nothing to do in such a complicated Business of Chicane and Artifice, where every Man was for driving the best Bargain he could; and where all in general, both the future Governors and Governed, were to be on the catch as much as possible. For this Author plainly supposes, that his first Race of Men had not any innate Propensity to have lived otherwise, than as so many independent, unconnected Beings, if they could have lived with tolerable Safety in such a State: In short, they did not feel any Instincts within themselves kindly leading them towards associating, or incorporating with each other; though (what is rather strange) Providence had ordained, that this Way of Life was to be so essentially necessary towards their Happiness, that they must be miserable without it:—Nay, they were driven by Necessity, and not drawn by Inclination to seek for any Sort of Civil Government whatever. And what is stranger still, it seems they were sensible, that this Kind of Institution, called Government, to which they had no natural Inclination, but rather an Aversion, and whose good or bad Effects they had not experienced, might easily procure Advantages which they then wanted, and protect them from many Dangers, to which they were continually exposed, in their independent, unconnected State. All these Things, I own, are strange Paradoxes to me: I cannot comprehend them. However, fact it is, that almost all the Writers on the republican Side of the Question, with Mr. Locke at the Head of them, seem to represent Civil Government at the best, rather as a necessary Evil, than a positive Good;—an Evil to which Mankind are obliged to submit, in order to avoid a greater.
But if Mr. Locke and his Followers have not granted much to human Nature in one Respect, they have resolved to make abundant Amends for this Deficiency in another. For tho’ they have not allowed human Nature to have any innate Propensities towards the first Formation of civil Society;—yet they do most strenuously insist, that every Man, every Individual of the human Species hath an unalienable Right to chuse, or refuse, whether he will be a Member of this, or that particular Government, or of none at all.
This was to be my second Observation: And a material one it is. For Mr. Locke and his Followers have extended the Privilege of voting, or of giving actual Consent, in all the Affairs of Government and Legislation, beyond what was ever dreamt of before in this, or in any other civilized Country;—Nay, according to their leading Principles, it ought to be extended still much farther, than even they themselves have done.
Before this new System had made its Appearance among us, the Right of voting was not supposed to be an unalienable Right, which belonged to all Mankind indiscriminately: But it was considered as a Privilege, which was confined to those few Persons who were in Possession of a certain Quantity of Land, to Persons enjoying certain Franchises, (of which there are various Kinds) and to Persons of a certain Condition, Age, and Sex. Perhaps all these Numbers put together may make about the Fortieth Part of the Inhabitants of Great-Britain: They certainly cannot make much more, if an actual Survey and Enumeration were to be made. Whereas the great Mass of the People, who do not come within this Description, are,* and ever have been, excluded by the English Constitution from voting at Elections for Members of Parliament, &c. &c. And heavy Penalties are to be levied on them, if they should attempt to vote. Now, according to the Principles of Mr. Locke and his Followers, all this is totally wrong; for the Right of voting is not annexed to Land, or Franchises, to Condition, Age, or Sex; but to human Nature itself, and to moral Agency: Therefore, whereever human Nature, and moral Agency do exist together, be the Subject rich or poor, old or young, male or female, it must follow from these Principles, that the Right of voting must exist with it: For whosoever is a moral Agent is a Person; and Personality is the only Foundation of the Right of voting. To suppose the contrary, we have been lately told by a Right Reverend Editor of Mr. Locke, is gross Ignorance, or something worse: And to act on such restraining Principles, by depriving the Mass of the People of their Birth-Rights, is downright Robbery and Usurpation.
III. If all Mankind indiscriminately have a Right to vote in any Society, they have, for the very same Reason, a Right to reject the Proceedings of the Government of that Society to which they belong, and to separate from it, whenever they shall think fit. For it has been inculcated into us over and over, that every Man’s Consent ought first to be obtained, before any Law whatever can be deemed to be valid, and of full Force.—We have been also assured, that all, and every Kind of Taxes are merely Free-Gifts: Which therefore no Individual Giver is obliged to pay, unless he has previously consented to the Payment of it. From these Premises it undoubtedly follows, that every individual Member of the State is at full Liberty either to submit, or to refuse Submission to any, and to every Regulation of it, according as he had predetermined in his own Mind. For being his own Legislator, his own Governor, and Director in every Thing, no Man has a Right to prescribe to him, what he ought to do. Others may advise, but he alone is to dictate, respecting his own Actions. For in short, he is to obey no other Will but his own.
These are surely very strange Positions; and yet they are evidently deduceable, and do naturally result from the Extracts given in this Chapter. Nay, there are several others equally paradoxical, and equally repugnant to every Species of Government, which hath ever yet existed in the World. Such Paradoxes therefore deserve a distinct and particular discussion.
Several very gross Errors and Absurdities chargeable on the Lockian System.
The first Species of Error, with its Subdivisions.
THAT Species of false Reasoning, which the Logicians term a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter, or that which proceeds from a few Particulars to general Conclusions is so common in Practice, and steals into the Mind so imperceptibly, that Men can hardly be too much on their Guard against it.—Considered in its own Nature, nothing can be more obvious than that a Proposition, which may be true in a particular Instance, may not be so invariably: And that therefore two such Propositions should never be confounded together, as if they were synonimous.—Yet the Identity of Words and Sounds often leads Men to suppose, unless they are very watchful, that there is also an Identity of Sense. Many Cases might be given to corroborate and illustrate this Observation; but perhaps there is no Instance whatever, which confirms it more strongly than that now before us, the Lockian Principle of the indefeasible Right of private Judgment.
Mr. Locke in his early Days was a Witness to grievous Persecutions inflicted on the Score of Religion. He saw the Rights of private Judgment exposed to continual Vexations: and he saw likewise, that the Interests of the State were not at all concerned in maintaining that rigid, universal Consormity in Religion, for which the Bigots of those Times so fiercely contended;—nay, that the Principles of Humanity, Justice, and Truth, as well as the Suggestions of sound Policy, plainly required a more extended Plan of religious Liberty: All this he clearly saw: And hence he inferred, and very justly, that every Man had a Right not only to think, but even to act for himself, in all such religious Matters as did not oppose, or clash with the Interests of civil Society. And had he stopt there, and gone no farther, all would have been right; nay, he would have truly deserved the Thanks of Mankind for pleading their Cause so well.
But, alas! he extended those Ideas, which were true only in what concerns Religion, to Matters of a mere civil Nature, and even to the Origin of civil Government itself;—as if there had been the same Plea for Liberty of Conscience in disobeying the civil Laws of one’s County, as for not conforming to a Church Establishment, or an Ecclesiastical Institution;—and that the Rights of private Judgment [I mean the open and public Exercise of those Rights] were equally unalienable and indefeasible in both Respects. Indeed it must be confessed, that, had the Cases been truly parallel, a Non-conformist in the one Case ought to have been tolerated equally with a Non-conformist in the other. And I will add, that the whole Merits of the Question depend on the single Point, whether the Cases are parallel, or not.
Thus, for Example, no Man, not even the supreme Magistrate, has a Right to molest me for worshipping God according to the Dictates of my own Conscience, provided I do nothing in that Respect, which can fairly be construed to hurt the Property of another Man, or disturb the Peace of Society. Therefore I may be a Papist, as well as a Protestant in my speculative Opinions, and yet do nothing, which can, when justly interpreted, be accounted to be injurious to others: Nay I will not scruple to declare, that I may be a Jew, or a Mahometan, a Genteo, or a Confucian, and yet be a loyal Subject to my Prince, an honest Man, and an useful Member of the Community. Therefore, if* Toleration were ever to be extended as far as in Reason, and Justice, and good Policy it ought to go, it ought to be so large as to comprehend every religious Sect whatever, whose Doctrines, or rather whose Practice [for ’tis chiefly by Men’s Practice that we ought to determine, whether any Sect deserves to be tolerated, or not;—therefore I say, whose Practice] proves them worthy to enjoy the Protection of the State. And there is a very particular, and a most important Reason to be given, why this Liberty of Conscience in religious Matters ought to be extended as far as ever the Safety of the State will permit: It is, because in the Affairs of Conscience no Man can act, or be supposed to act as Proxy for another; no Man can be a Deputy, Substitute, or Representative in such a Case; but every Man must think, and act personally for himself. This is the Fact; and in this Sense it is very true, that the Rights of private Judgment-are absolutely unalienable:—But why unalienable?—It is because they are untransferable: And therefore every Man must of Necessity, after having used the best Lights and Helps he can obtain, be his own Legislator, (under God) his own Governor, and his own Director in the Affairs of Religion.
Apply now these Ideas to the Case of Civil Government; and then see, what strange Consequences will arise.
1. In the first Place, if the same Train of Reasoning is to be admitted in both Cases, then it is evident, that none, no, not Women nor Children, ought to be excluded from the Right of voting on every political Question that may occur; unless indeed you can prove beforehand, that those, whom you exclude, have no Conscience at all, and have no Sense whatever of Right and Wrong:—And you must prove likewise that they are incapable of judging in this Respect, not only to the Satisfaction of others (which perhaps would not be difficult) but also of themselves:—which it is humbly apprehended, will be a most arduous Talk: Yet, I say, you must prove it, otherwise you will exclude those from voting, who have just Cause to think, on your State of the Case, that their Right is as unalienable as your own; and you will act diametrically opposite to the grand fundamental Principle of your Founder by excluding them. In short, to use your own Language, you yourself will be an Usurper and a Robber. Therefore draw the Line, if you can, between the promiscuous Admission, or Exclusion of such Voters as these, according to the Lockian System.
2dly.If the Cases are parallel, then the unalienable Rights of private Judgment are not to be set aside by the Determination of any Majority whatever. For as a Plurality of Votes is no Evidence of Infallibility, a Man’s inward Conviction may not be altered by his being overpowered by Numbers. What then is he to do in such a Case? The Answer is obvious: He must follow the Dictates of his own Conscience; and he has an unalienable Right so to do. Well, but Mr. Locke himself acknowledges, that were this to be allowed, that is, were the Minority to be permitted to act contrary to the Sense of the Majority, civil Government itself could not subsist. True: He makes such an acknowledgement: And by so doing he reduces himself to the Dilemma, either of giving up his whole System, that no Man is bound to obey those Laws, which have been imposed upon him without his own Consent;—or he must shew that a Man doth consent, and doth not consent, at the same Time, and in the same Respect. Indeed it is evident, that he found himself greatly perplexed, when he came to touch on this Point; and that he seemed to be like a Man got into a dangerous Pass, full of Precipices, which he wished not to see, in passing through, by not looking about him. Dr. Priestly is more open and ingenuous. He did not attempt to shun the Difficulty, which he saw was unavoidable, but prepared to encounter it, as well as he could.—For after having observed [see the Quotation, P. 14] that every thing in a small Society might be determined by the personal Votes of the Majority present, he prudently adds, “provided they had previously agreed, that the Votes of the Majority should be decisive.” Such a Conduct of the Doctor’s is commendable; though the Argument he made use of is weak and trifling: Weak it is, because, 1st. It is impossible for the Doctor to prove, that previous Meetings were held in every, or perhaps in any State whatever, in which it had been unanimously determined, that the Votes of the Majority should be decisive;—and trifling, because 2dly. were it even possible to prove the Fact, it could be of no Service to the Doctor’s Cause; inasmuch as an unalienable Right is of such a Nature, that it cannot be surrendred to a Majority: And even if this were attempted, “such a Cession, (to adopt the Words of Dr. Price,) would either bind not at all, or bind only the Individuals, who made it.” And so could be of no Continuance. Therefore in every View, it is strictly demonstrable, that according to the Lockian System, nothing less than Unanimity in every Measure can keep such a Society as this from the Danger of breaking to Pieces every Moment; for a single dissentient Voice, like the Veto’s of the republican Tyrants of Poland, is sufficient to throw the whole Constitution of the State into Chaos and Confusion. In short, strange as it may seem, the unalienable Right of one single refractory Member of the Diet destroys, or annuls the unalienable Rights of the whole: Nor is there any other effectual Remedy to be applied in this desperate Disorder, but that of a Sabre held over the Dissentient’s Head, with a Threat of cleaving him down, if he should persist in the Exercise of his unalienable Right. This indeed has been known to have produced Unanimity, when other Motives could not prevail. What insatuated Politics are these! And to what Mazes of Error, and Absurdity, do Men run, when they stray from the Paths of common Sense! But
Thirdly.For the very same Reason, that the Members of a Lockian Republic cannot surrender their unalienable Rights to a Majority, be it small or great, they cannot likewise transfer their unalienable Right of voting to Deputies or Representatives to act and vote for them. For this in Fact comes to the same Thing with the former. They must therefore all vote in Person or not at all. Now this is a direct Inference, which necessarily follows from the foregoing Premises. And it is an Inference, which Dr. Price is so far from disavowing, when applied to the Case of the Americans, that he glories in, and greatly exults upon it. “As no People (says he) [see the Quotation, Page 21] can lawfully surrender their religious Liberty, by giving up their Right of judging for themselves in Religion, or by allowing any human Being to prescribe to them, what Faith they shall embrace, or what Mode of Worship they shall practice; so neither can any civil Societies lawfully surrender their civil Liberty, by giving up to any extraneous Jurisdiction their Power of legislating for themselves, and disposing of their Property. Such a Cession being inconsistent with the unalienable Rights of human Nature would either bind not at all, or bind only the Individuals who made it. This is a Blessing, which no Generation of Men can give up for another; and which, when lost, a People have always a Right to resume.”
The Doctor’s Aim in this Paragraph, we plainly see, was to defend his beloved Americans against the supposed Usurpation of the English over their unalienable Rights. Be it so: But was he aware, that the very same Argument holds equally strong against the Appointment of Assemblies of Representatives in America, and of an House of Commons in England, as against the English Legislature ruling over the American? Was he, I say, aware of this? And yet nothing can be more evident than that the same Argument concludes equally strong in both Cases, if it concludes at all. For Example, “No People, says the Doctor, can lawfully surrender their Religious Liberty, by giving up their Right of judging for themselves in Religion, or by allowing any human Being to prescribe to them, what Faith they shall embrace, or what Mode of Worship they shall practice.” I agree with him most heartily on that Head:—But then I add [and I am sure, what I add in this Case, Dr. Price will readily allow] that no one Individual can depute another to judge for him, what Faith he shall embrace, or what Mode of Worship he shall practice.—And then what is the Consequence? Necessarily this, That if the Cases between Religion and Civil Government be similar, as the Doctor supposes them to be, no one Individual can appoint another to judge for him, what Laws shall be propounded, what Taxes shall be raised, or what is to be done at Home or Abroad, in Peace, or in War:—But every Person, who has this indefeasible, this unalienable, incommunicable, and untransferable Right of voting, judging, and fighting, must vote, judge, and fight for himself.—This I say is a necessary Consequence from the Premises: And I defy the acutest Logician to deduce any other Inference from the above Hypothesis.
Honest, undissembling Rousseau clearly saw, where the Lockian Hypothesis must necessarily end. And as he was a Man who never boggled at Consequences, however extravagant or absurd, he declared with his usual Frankness, that the People could not transfer their indefeasible Right of voting for themselves to any others; and that the very Notion of their choosing Persons to represent them in these Respects, was a Species of Contradiction. According to him, a Transmutation of Persons could not be a greater Impossibility than a Translation of those Rights, which were absolutely incommunicable. And therefore he adds [See his Social Compact, Chap. 15. Of Deputies or Representatives] “The English imagine, they are a free People: They are however mistaken: They are only such during the Election of Members of Parliament. When these are chosen, they become Slaves again.” The Doctors Priestly and Price do not indeed absolutely join Rousseau in condemning the Use of national Representatives; but it is plain, that they admit them with a very ill Grace, and, with great Reluctance. Nay, they are so far consistent with themselves as to declare very freely, that the Admission of them is an Infringement on Liberty, more or less:—even on that Liberty, which they proclaim aloud, every Man has an unalienable Right to resume, as soon as ever he can. Moreover, they accord with Rousseau in another general Position; that true, genuine Liberty can only be enjoyed in a State so very small, [undoubtedly they must mean some paultry Village, consisting of a few thatched Cottages] that the People can personally attend on all Occasions.—Much more might have been added: But surely we have now had enough, and to spare, of this Kind of Reasoning a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter. And the Upshot of the whole is this, That if Men will jumble those Ideas together, which ought to be kept separate, they must fall into palpable Errors, and be guilty of great Absurdities in the Course of their Reasoning.
The second Species of Errors, with its Subdivisions.
Though I have observed before, yet I must repeat again, that according to the Lockian System, civil Government is not natural to Man. It seems, the Seeds of it were not originally implanted in our Constitutions by the Hand of Providence. For had that been the Case, we might reasonably have expected, that they would have sprouted up, and germinated of their own Accord, at least in some Degree; without dating the Origin of Government from the jealous Efforts of political Contrivance, mutual Compacts, and reciprocal Stipulations. We might, I say, have naturally supposed, that Government and Mankind were, in a Manner, coeval; and that they had grown up together from small Beginnings, or a Kind of infant State, ’till they had arrived at a maturer Age; in regard to which we might further have supposed, that they became more, or less polished and improved, according as they had received different Cultures from human Art and Industry. All this, I say, we might have naturally supposed; but all these Suppositions we must entirely lay aside, in order to adopt another Mode of accounting for the Origin of civil Government. For according to the Lockian System, Mankind had no natural Inclination towards any Government whatever: But having found the Evils of Anarchy to be quite intolerable, they resolved at last to submit to the Evil of Government, as the lesser of the two. But in order that they might guard against the Dangers to be feared on this Side, as well as felt on the former, they determined not to part with their precious natural Liberty, ’till Security had been given, that such a Cession should not be turned to their Disadvantage. Therefore they solemnly stipulated, that in case their new Lords and Masters should not please them, they might return again to their dear State of Nature, and begin the Work of Government de novo, if they chose so to do, or remain as they were, all equal, all free, and independent. And thus it came to pass, that they, who were under no Sort of Subjection one Moment, became the Subjects of a regular Government the next: And from being no Ways connected with any Body politic whatever, they were transformed, all on a sudden, by the Magic of the original social Contract into most profound Politicians. The Lockians have not yet vouchsafed to tell us, where any one single Copy of this famous original Contract is to be found,—in what Language it was written,—in whose Hands deposited,—who were the Witnesses,—nor in what Archives we are to search for it. But nevertheless they have taken Care to supply us very amply with Inferences and Deductions resulting from it;—as if it had been a Thing, which had been already proved and admitted, and concerning whose Existence no further Questions ought to be asked. We must therefore, as we cannot be favoured with a Sight of the Contract itself, attend to those Inferences and Deductions, which they say, are derived from it.
The first Inference is, that no Man ought to be deemed a Member of a State Politic, ’till he has enrolled himself among the Number of its Citizens by some express and positive Engagement. “For, says Mr. Locke, [See the Quotation, Page 9.] submitting to the Laws of any Country, living quietly, and enjoying Privileges and Protections under them, makes not a Man a Member of that Society;—nothing can make a Man so, but his actually entering into it by positive Engagement, and express Promise and Compact.” And again: “Whatever Engagements or Promises any one has made for himself, he is under the Obligation of them, but cannot by any Compact whatever bind his Children or Posterity. For his Son, when a Man, being altogether as free as his Father, any Act of the Father can no more give away the Liberty of the Son, than it can of any Body else.” [See the Quotation, Page 9.]
All this is certainly agreeable to the Nature of the original Contract here supposed. For if we can believe the one to have existed, and to have been the only Foundation of Civil Government, we must allow, that the other ought to have followed. Here therefore let us suppose a Case.—A Man, tho’ born in England, and of English Parents, yet, it seems, is not by Birth an Englishman; that is, he is not a Subject of this Realm, ’till he has made himself so, by some express Covenant and Stipulation. This methinks, appears a little strange: But stranger Things will soon follow. For, after having weighed all Circumstances, and considered the Matter pro. and con. he at last consents to become a British Subject, and gets his Name enrolled among the Number of its Citizens. Then he marries, and has a Family; and by living under the Protection of the English Constitution, where every Man is safe in the Enjoyment of the Fruits of his Industry, [not to mention those honourable, and lucrative Imployments he obtained under the Government.] He growsrich and wealthy, leaving seven Sons behind him, all grown up to Man’s Estate: To the six younger he gives ample Fortunes in moveable Goods and Chattles, and to the eldest a large Estate in Land. The Question therefore is, Among what Species of political Beings are these seven Children to be classed? And are they the Subjects of Great-Britain, or are they not, before they have entered into an express Covenant, or Treaty with the State for that Purpose?
According to Mr. Locke’s leading Idea, he ought to say, that they are the Subjects of no Government upon Earth; but that they are all in the original State of Nature, perfectly free from any political Laws or Connection whatever, entire Masters of themselves, and absolutely independent Beings.—Consequently, that they ought to be allowed to do as they pleased relative to Great-Britain [Great-Britain I say, which had enriched their Father, had nursed them up, and protected them from their very Infancy to mature Estate] and that if they chose to forsake her in any particular Period of her Distress, she ought not to stop their Emigration, or to hinder them from carrying all their moveable Goods and rich Effects with them [their Immoveables, no Thanks to them, they could not carry] much less ought she to demand the Assistance either of their Persons, or of their Purses, as a Matter of strict Right, if they should not be disposed to grant it. This I say, is the true Lockian Principle without Exaggeration: And let the impartial World be the Judge, whether it be consistent with common Sense, or common Honesty. Indeed Mr. Locke himself seems to have been aware, that he had carried this Point too far: For he allows, that one of these Sons, suppose the eldest, that is, the Landholder, might be obliged, by the Nature of his Tenure, to defend that State, within which his Lands lay, and to make some Recompence to it for the long Protection and many Blessings he had enjoyed. Yet, that he might never lose Sight of his darling Ideas of Consent, or Contract, he calls the Accepting of the Estate on these Terms, a tacit Consent. And then he adds: “He [the Father] may indeed annex such Conditions to the Land he enjoyed, as a Subject of any Common-Wealth, as may oblige his Son to be of that Community, if he will enjoy those Possessions, which were his Father’s; because the Estate being the Father’s Property, he may dispose, or settle it as he pleases.” And thus Reader, at last we seem to have gotten one of these Sons, the Landholder, back again into the Service of his Country, in order to defend it in Times of Danger. But let us not he too sure: For this Lockian Principle is of such a changeable Nature, and is endowed with so much Versatility, that it will often give us the Slip, when we think we have the firmest hold of it.
Here therefore let it be asked,—If a Man hath a Right to annex what Conditions he pleases to the Possession of his Landed Estate after his Decease,—By what Law did he acquire that Right? And who gave him that Authority? Surely in a mere State of Nature he could have had no such Right;—because the Land could be no longer his, than whilst he himself was using and occupying it;—which ’tis plain, he could not do after he was dead. Granting therefore, that in a State of Nature he had a Right, during his Life-Time, to appropriate to himself a certain Portion of Land for his own Sustentation, [which yet *Rousseau with great Shew of Reason positively denies.] Still that Land must revert to the Public, and become common again after his Decease. But if it should be said, that he derived the Right of bequething Land, and of annexing various Conditions to the Bequest, from the positive Laws of civil Society (which is the Truth of the Case, and which Mr. Locke himself is obliged to allow, by stiling this Father, a Subject of some Commonwealth) Then I ask, Why could not the Commonwealth, if is so pleased, exercise the same Right itself, which it had empowered the Father to exercise? Why could not the State oblige the other six Sons, as well as the eldest, to perform the several Offices, and discharge the Duties, civil and military, of loyal Subjects, if the Exigencies of the State should so require? Or if there be any essential Difference between the two Cases of moveable Property, and immoveable, respecting the Duty and Allegiance due to Government;—shew the Difference if you can. In short, what is it, about which we have been so long disputing? For, after all it is plain to a Demonstration, that we must allow at last, what ought to have been allowed at first; viz. That Protection and Allegiance, between Prince and People, are reciprocal Ties, and that the one necessarily infers the other, without the Formality of an express personal Covenant, or positive Stipulation; so that if the Duty of Protection be performed on the one Side, that of Allegiance ought to be observed on the other, and vice versa. An Author, not inferior to Mr. Locke, or any of his Disciples, in the Defence of true Liberty, both Civil and Religious, and who is acknowledged to be an excellent Judge of the English Constitution, thus expresses himself on this important Subject. “Natural Allegiance is founded in the Relation every Man standeth in to the Crown, considered as the Head of that Society whereof he is born a Member; and on the peculiar Privileges he deriveth from that Relation, which are with great Propriety called his Birthright. This Birthright nothing but his own Demerit can deprive him of; it is indefeasible and perpetual. And consequently the Duty of Allegiance which ariseth out of it, and is inseparably connected with it, is in Consideration of Law likewise unalienable and perpetual.” [SeeFoster’sReports. Introduction to the Discourse on High Treason.]
2dly. The Assertion, that Taxes are a Free Gift, and not a Debt due to the Public, is another strange Inference resulting from Mr. Locke’s Idea of an original Contract. Indeed had Government been that vague, unsettled, and precarious Thing, which the Lockian System represents it to be; without any better Foundation to rest upon, than the Breath and Caprice of each Individual;—then it would have been very true, that those, who supported it by their voluntary Contributions, were the Givers, or Donors of their respective Sums. But doth the Idea of such a Benefaction at all accord with the Idea of a Tax? Surely no: For a Tax in the very Nature of it, implies something compulsory, and not discretionary; something, which is not in our own free Choice, but is imposed by an Authority superior to our own: Whereas a mere Gift, or free-will Offering implies just the contrary. However, as I said before, it is not the Inference itself, which is here to blame; for had the Premises been true, the Inference would have been just enough; and therefore we must trace the Error higher up. Here then be it observed, that it can never be true, that Providence hath left Mankind in a State of such total Indifference respecting Government, that it should depend on their own Option, whether they will have any Government, or none at all. I say, this can never be true of the Species in general; whatever particular Exceptions there might be of here and there a wayward Individual, who ought to be regarded as a Monster deviating from the common Course of Nature. In fact; the Instincts and Propensities of Mankind towards social* Life, are in a Manner so irresistible, that I might almost say, Men will as naturally seek to enjoy the Blessings of Society, as they do to obtain their daily Food. In the one Case it is not left to their own Choice, whether they will eat or not eat, drink or not drink (for kind Nature has determined that Point for them); but it is left to themselves to judge and to choose, in many Instances, what Kinds of Food, and of Liquids they will use, how they will have them prepared, and whether they will make a proper, or improper Use of these Destinations of Providence. Just so, or nearly so, in my Opinion, is the State of human Nature respecting Government. For Providence seems to have determined for them, that there shall be a Government of some Sort or other; and then to have left it, for the most Part, to themselves to fix on the Form or Mode, and to regulate the several Appendages belonging to it, according to their own good Liking, Judgment, and Discretion. Now, if this be the Case, that is, if there must be a Government of some Sort, or in some Shape or other; it then necessarily follows, that certain Means must be found out for the Support of such an End. What, therefore, it may be asked, are these Means? And which are the best, the least burthensome, and the most unexceptionable? [For in this Respect likewise, as well as in the former, a great deal is left to the Prudence and Sagacity of Mankind to weigh and consider, and provide for themselves.] The Answer to which Question is the following. That there can be devised but three Ways for the Support of any Government whatever, viz. Personal Service,—Crown Lands,—or public Taxes;—and each of these Methods (such are the Imperfections of human Nature) is attended with Conveniences and Inconveniences not a few.
And (first) as to personal Service.—In the Infancy of a very small State, and before the Arts of Civilization had sufficiently taken Place, personal Service seems to have been the first, and indeed the only Idea, which would occur. For when Men had nothing else to pay, towards that Government which protected them, they must have paid that;—paid it, I mean, as a Matter of Duty, Debt, or Obligation, and not as the Lockians suppose, a free-will Offering, or voluntary Service. But it is easy to see, that such a Tribute as this would soon appear to be very burthensome for the Subject to discharge, and not at all convenient for the Prince to receive. In respect to the Subject, were he to be obliged to leave his own private Affairs, in order to attend the Public on all Occasions, civil, military, legislative, and judicial;—there would be hardly any Time left, which he could call his own: His Fields must lie neglected, his Manufacture and his Shop be deserted, and all Business, both in the Way of Agriculture, and of Commerce, by Land and by Sea, be in a Manner at a Stand. In respect to the Prince, the State, or the Public, such a promiscuous Attendance of Persons of all Ranks, Ages, and Professions would be found to be a very great Nusance, and to be productive of many Evils of various Kinds, without sufficient Benefits to counter-balance them. Add to this, that as the Bounds of the State became extended, the Attendance of Persons living at a great Distance, would become more and more impracticable: So that in every View, this Kind of Tribute, though the Source of all others, must soon be laid aside, and be exchanged for something more useful, and less inconvenient.—Only thus much of this primeval Idea ought always to be retained, that in Times of universal Danger, we must again recur to the original Use of personal Service. For in such a Case, the Principle of Self-Preservation authorizes every State to summon all its Inhabitants capable of bearing Arms, to be ready to appear in its Defence. Nor, I trow, would the Lockian Plea of Exemption in such a Case be regarded in any other Light, than as proceeding either from the Fears of an arrant Coward, or from the Schemes and Conspiracies of a Traitor. In either Light it would certainly meet with its deserved Punishment. Indeed the very Recital of such a Plea carries so strong a Confutation in it, that nothing stronger can be added: “Gentlemen, though I was born and bred in this Country, and have submitted to its Laws, [when that was attended with some Advantage, and no Danger;] and though I have lived quietly, and enjoyed Privileges and Protection under them;—moreover, tho’ the Invader is making great Strides to subdue you, and Hannibal is in a Manner at the Gates;—yet I must at present beg Leave to be excused from opposing him: For as I never did actually enter into any positive Engagement, and express Promise and Compact to defend this Country, I am not legally obliged to defend it. In Fact, I am not a Member of your Society, and therefore you have no Right to press me into its Service.”—Thus much for this Part of the Lockian Scheme, that Taxes, alias personal Services, are free Gifts. And let all Mankind from the highest to the lowest, from the greatest to the meanest Capacities, be the Judges, what Epithets such a Scheme deserves.
Once more; the Case of pressing Sailors for the Sea-Service, is a Confirmation of every Thing which hath been advanced concerning the Necessity of retaining the original Idea of serving the State in Person, and not by Substitutes. For Sailors are a Body of Men, whose Service cannot be performed by any but Sailors; and therefore they are, and, from the Nature of Things, ever must be, liable to serve in Person. Now, were you to call Pressing a free Gift, or the voluntary Offer of personal Service on the Part of the poor Sailor that is pressed, what would the World think of you, but that you were either insane yourself, or that you esteemed all others to be mere Ideots? However, your Plea perhaps may be, that tho’ the personal Service of Sailors at present is, generally speaking, very far from voluntary;—yet it might have been rendered more desireable, and consequently voluntary [rather less-involuntary] were a proper Mode adopted for inviting Sailors to inlist of their own Accord. This I will suppose is your Plea: And the Meaning of it is,—to recommend a national Register for Seamen. Great Things have been said of late Years in Praise of such an Institution; but they have been chiefly said by those, who least understood what is meant and implied by it. I myself once thought it a fine Thing; but ever since the Year 1748 (when I had the first Opportunity of examining it on the Spot) I have been thoroughly convinced, that a Register doth not deserve a tenth Part of the Praises, which our modern Patriotic Pamphleteers, and ignorant News-Writers have bestowed upon it. For it is a very operose and intricate Business, not at all calculated for the Dispatch of Trade, and Freedom of Navigation; moreover, it is loaded, in its Consequences, with such an Expence, as renders Freight in France* excessively dear:—These are the Evils attending it even in Times of Peace; and yet it is of little or no Efficacy in Times of War. For when the Sailors, who have been registered, will not appear to their Summons at their respective Ports, or will not voluntarily surrender themselves up at the Ports where they may happen to be;—the last Resource is Violence and Compulsion. Now I ask, what is there in this boasted Method, which is a Whit preferable to our own? For we always begin with Bounties and Invitations; and seldom or never have Recourse to Pressing, till the gentler Methods are found to sail. So that, after all, we are much on a Par with the French in Times of War, and feel none of the Inconveniencies of their Registers in Times of Peace. The late Alexander Hume, Esq; Member of Parliament for Southwark, spent many Years in framing a Bill for a national Register of Seamen; and as he was a Man of strong natural Parts, and had had long Experience in nautical Affairs, it was natural for him to conclude, that he had succeeded in correcting the many Evils and Imperfections of the French Register. This Bill, I think, was once read in the House of Commons, and ordered to be printed. At Mr. Hume’s Request I got it laid before the Society of Merchant Adventurers in Bristol, in order to have their Opinion; and I received for Answer, that, bad as the Mode of pressing was, both Merchants and Seamen, and all Parties concerned, would prefer it to the Cloggs and Shackles, and various restrictive Clauses contained in the registering Bill of Mr. Hume. It seems, the Idea of a Register is revived again; and great Expectations are founded on some promising Scheme of that Nature. My sincere Wish is, that what has appeared so plausible to several Gentlemen in Theory, may become as favourable to Liberty, as beneficial to Commerce, and as practicable in Fact as they themselves expect, or desire. But in the mean Time, and ’till that happy Period shall arrive, when a sufficient Number of Sailors shall be induced by some inviting Scheme or other [call it a Register, or call it what you please] to enlist of their own Accord;—the Mode of Pressing (there is no Help for it) must be retained.—And need I add, that the Man, who is pressed, is not a Volunteer? Need I go about to prove that he is not his own Legislator? and that he is neither self-governed, nor self-directed?
2dly. A second Mode of supporting Government is by Crown Lands, or large Domains. Now this is another Species of personal Service, together with the Addition of some Part of the Produce of such Lands either to be taken in kind, or to be exchanged for Rent. How such vast Tracts of Country came into the Possession of the respective Regents in Society (which we know was antiently the Case, at least all over Europe) is a Matter not to be easily explained. Probably these immense Estates were principally owing to two very different Causes, viz. The patriarchal Rights,—and the Rights of Conquest. The Patriarchs, or the Progenitors of Nations, it is natural to suppose, took Care to secure vast Tracts of the most commodious Land to their own Use;—and very probably they divided the Remainder, as Mankind encreased and multiplied, among the Subaltern Heads of Families;—subject nevertheless to such Restrictions and Conditions, and to such personal Duties and Services, as were judged to be necessary, whether civil, military, or servile, in the insant State of Society. The Histories of the Beginning of all Clans and Tribes, and Hords of People sprung from the same Original, seem to confirm this Hypothesis. But it ought to be observed, that the strict, patriarchal Plan could not have obtained here in Britain, ever since the Invasion of the Saxons, Danes, and Normans (and possibly of the Romans) whatever it might have done in the more antient Times of the Britons, the primeval Natives of the Country.
Another Origin of Domain Lands is,—That of Conquest: For when a Country was conquered by any of the barbarous Nations, the Commander in Chief, and his Subalterns, alias his Comites, Earls, Thanes, or Generals, divided the Territory into two Shares or Lots:—The one was reserved, and generally speaking it was a very large one, for the Use of the Commander in Chief, in order to support the Dignity of his Station, to entertain his numerous Vassals and Dependants, and likewise to raise, feed, and cloathe a considerable Body of Troops at his own Expence, and out of the Tenants on his own Domain, without calling for further Assistance. The rest of the Country was divided and subdivided among the several Chieftains, according to their respective Ranks and Stations, their military Merit, the Number of their Followers, the Favour of the Prince, and other Circumstances. In this Allotment each Chieftain had, for the most Part, the same Jurisdiction, both civil and military, over his respective Tenants, as the Prince had over those on his own Domain;—each Chieftain had also the same Right to demand the personal Services of those who held under him, whether military, or servile, as the Prince himself:—But each Chiestain was likewise obliged to do Suit and Service at the Court of the Sovereign, and to attend him in his Wars, in the same Manner, and almost in the same Form, as his military Tenants were obliged to do Suit and Service to him. This, therefore, together with Escheats and Forfeitures, Compositions and Confiscations, and the Perquisites arising from Escuage, Reliefs, Heriots, Alienations, Wards and Liveries, Pre-emptions, Purveyances, Prisages, Butlerages, &c. &c. constituted the main Branches of the Gothic Revenues and Prerogatives. Now I ask, is there any one Thing in all this Catalogue, which in the least resembles the Idea of a Free-Gift, and voluntary Donation? On the contrary, is it not evident, that the very best, and most innocent, of these Prerogatives were compulsory in some Degree, and that the most of them were arbitrary and tyrannical in a shocking Degree? In Fact, there hardly ever was a civil Constitution more productive of Slavery and Oppression on the one Extreme,—or of Tumults, Insurrections, and Rebellions on the other, than the Gothic. Indeed it ill deserved the Name of a civil Constitution: For it partook much more of a military, than of a civil Nature; being little better than the Idea of an Encampment, or rather of a Cantonment of Forces extending far and wide, according to the Dimensions of the Country; and subject to such Alterations, as these great Distances and Dispersions made necessary. One Thing is certain, that true civil Liberty was a Stranger to every Country, where the Gothic Constitution was introduced;—and that what was called Liberty in those Days, and what our modern Patriots so much boast of in ours, as the Glory of Old England, was the Liberty which one Baron took of making War on, and plundering the Estates, and murdering the Vassals of another,—and tyrannizing over his own:—And that when Half a Score of these petty Tyrants could band together, and make a common Cause, they were a Match for the King himself, who otherwise would have been a Tyrant over them. Now this was the boasted Liberty of the Gothic Constitution: And because that in France and Spain, Sweden and Denmark, and perhaps in some other Countries, this Power of the Barons of doing Mischief, and of being a Plague to each other, to their own Vassals, and to all around them, has been much curtailed, if not totally abolished;—therefore we are told by very great and grave Historians, that these Countries have lost their Liberties.* Indeed I grant, that the Kings of each of these Countries have risen in Power in Proportion as the Nobles have sunk; but nevertheless I do aver it for a solemn Truth, that the common People have been Gainers likewise. For though they have not acquired as much Liberty, as they ought to have, and what is their Right to have,—yet they have obtained a much greater Degree of it every where, even in Denmark itself, than ever they enjoyed before.
But to pursue this Subject no further:—Be it observed, that the Crown Lands or Royal Domains in antient Times were so very extensive, as to contain a fifth Part of the Lands of England, and that the several Rents, and Profits, and Services arising from them, and from the other Branches of the feudal System, were judged to be fully sufficient, without further Aid, to answer all the common Expences of Government* . Nay, it has been computed, that had all the Lands of antient Demesne borne a Rack-Rent according to the present Standard, the Sum total would have been not much short of 6,000,000l. Sterling. And what seems to confirm this Calculation is, that it is pretty well known, that the Estates belonging to what is called the Duchy of Lancaster [which were little more than the consiscated Estates of four great Barons] would not have been much short of 1,000,000l. Sterling of annual Rent;—supposing, that the several Manors, Hundreds, Parishes, Precincts, Streets, and Houses in London, and throughout England and Wales, which formerly did belong to the Duchy of Lancaster; [many of which now claim those Privileges, and Exemptions, which the Dukes and Earls of Lancaster once granted to their Tenants;]—I say, supposing that all these Estates were at present in the Hands of one Person, and that he were to receive a Rent for each proportionably to the present Standard,—then, and in that Case, it has been computed, that the Amount of the whole would be little less than 1,000,000l. Sterling.
But be this Calculation erroneous, or not, the Fact is certain, that even as low down as the Reign of Edward the Fourth, the Crown-Lands, together with the feudal hereditary Revenue, were judged to be adequate to the common Expences of Government. Indeed, this is not much to be wondered at, when we consider, that the Charges of the Navy, together with the several Appendages of Docks, Yards, Magazines, Fortifications, Victualing and Admiralty Offices, &c. &c. (so expensive at present) scarcely had an Existence in those Days: and that the military Tenures then supplied the Place of a standing Army. Therefore, as the Crown could support itself, without the Aid of Parliament, it is obvious to any reflecting Mind, that the real and rational Liberty of the Subject could hardly have been enjoyed during all that long Period:—I say, the real and rational, to distinguish it from the mad, fanatical Liberty of a PolishVeto, which our modern Republicans seem to wish to introduce among us. In short, when the hereditary Revenue of the Prince, and his hereditary Prerogatives, were so excessively great, as to set him above Controul, by making him independent of the Parliament,—what Remedy was to be applied, in Case he abused his Power?—None that I can think of but that one, which is almost as bad as the Disease, and to the common People it was certainly worse;—the Remedy I mean, was that of the great Barons forming a League against him.—I have not scrupled to say, that such a Remedy was worse to the common People than the Disease itself: For there cannot be a clearer, and a more evident Proposition, than that it is far better to be a Subject under the absolute Monarchies of France or Denmark, than to be a Vassal to a Grandee of Poland, or, what is nearly the same Thing, a Slave to a Planter in Jamaica. [But more of this hereafter.]
However as Providence is always bringing Good out of Evil, so it happened, that partly thro’ the Prosusion of our former Princes, and partly through the Contempt which Queen Elizabeth had entertained of her Successor. James the First the Crown-Lands were so dissipated and alienated (notwithstanding the common Law Maxim of Nullum Tempus occurrit Regi) that it was impossible for Government even with the utmost Oeconomy, to subsist on the small Pittance of these Lands still remaining. This was the Case when the Stuart Family mounted the Throne. And James the First, by his thoughtless, and childish Extravagance soon made bad to become worse. What then was to be done in such a Situation?—Two Things, and only two, seem to have occurred. The first was, to command the Parliament to supply the Place of the former Domain by some Kind of Tax; and in Case the Parliament should refuse, then to have Recourse to the Prerogative itself for raising Money without their Consent: The second was, to yield to the Times with a good Grace, and to sue for that as a Favour which, in a certain Sense, could not be strictly and legally demanded as a Right. Unhappily for them, they chose the former Method, which begat a long civil War, and ended at last in the total Expulsion of the Family.
Now as this brings us to the Revolution, I will here observe, that it may likewise suggest to our Thoughts, a
3d.Mode of supporting civil Government, viz. by Means of Taxes. For tho’ Taxes were in Being Ages before, yet the proper Uses and Advantages of them never began to be understood till after that Period: Nor indeed are they yet understood so well, and so thoroughly, as the Nature of such a Subject, and its great Importance really deserve.
Two Uses may be made of Taxes, a Primary, and a Secondary; the primary Use is to support Government, and to defray the several Expences military and civil incurred, or to be incurred thereby: The Secondary is to provide for these Expences in such a Manner, as shall render the Subjects in general the more industrious, and consequently the richer, and not the poorer by such a Mode of Taxation, And I do aver, that every judicious Tax tends to promote the latter of these Uses, as well as the former; as shall be distinctly shewn in its proper Place. Now as we have already exposed the great Inconveniences, and the many Dangers attending the Allotments of Crown Lands, or public Domains for the Support of Government;—and as we have likewise sufficiently proved, that the requiring of personal Services is a still greater Hardship, and a much forer Infringement on personal Liberty; What have we yet left, but Taxes, Duties, or Impositions to descant upon? For in Fact we have no other Choice remaining:—And therefore if we will, or must submit to have Government at all, we must submit to have Taxes;—there being no other Resource.
But say the Lockians, Taxes are the Free-Gift of the People:—Nay, they are the Free-Gift of each Individual among the People: “For even the Supreme Power [the Legislature] cannot [lawfully or justly] take from any Man any Part of his Property without his own Consent.” This is Mr. Locke’s own Declaration. And Mr. Molineux corroborates it by another still stronger, viz. “To tax me without my own Consent is little better, if at all, than down-right robbing me.” In short all the Lockians hold one and the same Language on this Head: And therefore you must take their favourite Maxim for granted, or you will incur their high Displeasure: “You are an Advocate for Despotism, if you do not acquiesce in this Maxim: You attempt to defend what is down-right Robbery; you are a ministerial Hireling, a dirtty Tool, &c. &c.”
Now, as there is no answering such Arguments as these, I shall very contentedly let them pass: in order to proceed to some others, which really deserve to be properly stated, and clearly explained.
Therefore in the first Place, we must distinguish between Power and Right: For without this we do nothing. The People in their collective, as well as every Individual in his private Capacity, may have the Power of doing many things, which ought not to be done. Power therefore doth not in all Cases confer Right. This I lay down as a fundamental Maxim: And if I am wrong in this, I shall be wrong in all the rest. In the next Place I observe, that a free Gift implies in the very Idea of it, a Matter of mere Favour, and not a Matter of strict Right:—Consequently the with-holding of a Favour is not the with-holding of a Right. Being advanced thus far, I have yet to add, that Government itself may be considered in a two-fold View: 1st. As it is in its own Nature, abstracted from the Consideration of this, or that particular Set of Administrators, or of this, or that particular Mode or Form of administering it: And 2dly, as it comprehends the latter as well as the former, being relative to some certain Person or Persons presiding in the State, and to some particular Mode or Form of Government. And then I do assert, that Taxes never ought to be considered as Free-Gifts, or Acts of mere Favour, or voluntary Generosity respecting the former;—because Mankind have no Right to say, we will have no Government at all; and therefore we will have no Taxes for the Support of it: But respecting the latter, they may have a Right to say, in certain Cases, and on particular Emergencies, we will have this, and not that Man to reign over us;—or we do prefer this Form or Mode of Government, and do reject that. Therefore at the original Settling of such a Constiution, they may have a Right to consider such special Designations, a particular Free Gifts, or spontaneous Options.
But left I should be misunderstood by the careless and inattentive, or be misrepresented by the malevolent on this Head, I will endeavour to illustrate the Subject by a familiar Example, taken from the Case of the Americans themselves, and to consute my Opponents by their own Arguments.
Here then I will wave my Opinion, that the Americans are, and indeed that they ever were, as far as they dared to shew themselves, a most ungrateful, ungovernable, and rebellious People;—I say, I will wave this Notion, and for the present adopt theirs; viz. That the Cruelties and Oppressions, the Miseries and Slavery, which the poor, plundered, ruined and famished Americans had long suffered under the tyrannical Yoke of the English, were at last become so many, so great, and intolerable, that it was high Time to throw off such a galling Yoke, and assert their native Freedom. Well: They have thrown off the English Yoke, and have set up what they are pleased to call American Independency. [Would to God they had done so fifty Years ago.] But in what Manner did they set up this Independence? And what did they do on this Occasion?—Did they, for Example, attempt to live in an absolutely independent State, without Order, or Controul, or Subordination of any Sort? No: Did they even pretend to say, that they had a Right to live after that Manner, if they saw fit? No; They did not. On the contrary, their own Conduct plainly intimated, that they thought themselves bound to have some Government, or other:—And therefore, the only Point which they had to determine [for they did not pretend to determine any other] was, Who should govern, Americans or Englishmen?—And after what Manner?—Now their Conduct in this Affair clears up all the Difficulty at once, by shewing, that in one Respect. Taxes are a Debt due to the Public for the Support of Government,—and that in another, they are the free Gifts of the People towards a particular Set of Men, to whom they have entrusted the Administration of the Common-Wealth. For though Government was to be supported, and Taxes to be raised, as the best and most eligible Means of supporting it;—yet it did not follow from thence, that Messrs. Hancock and Adams, Washington and Laurens, &c. &c. &c. were, by an unalienable hereditary Right, or indeed by any legal Right whatever, [’till after they were chosen] to be the Administrators, or Conductors of it. In one Word, from this View of Things, it evidently follows, that Government itself, or in its own Nature, is indefeasible: Though the several Forms of it may undergo various Changes and Alterations, and the old Administrators of it may be set aside, and others chosen in their Room, according as certain pressing Exigencies, or very great Emergencies shall require.
And what has been observed relative to the present Revolution in America, is also applicable [supposing the Americans to have Right, as well as Power on their Side] to the Case of the Revolution here in England, in 1688. For in that Case, as well as in this, there was evidently a Line drawn, and a Distinction made, between the Indefectibility of Government, and the Defectibility of the Governors;—Inasmuch as the Convention-Parliament never presumed to start the Question,—Whether there should be any Government, or none at all.—Probably because Mr. Locke’s System, or rather the Consequences of his System, had not then so far prevailed over the Understanding of Mankind, as to extinguish the Feelings of Common Sense.
But nevertheless, tho’ the Lockians are, I should think, fairly beaten out of this Hold, which they used to consider as one of their strongest,—they will not, I am persuaded, give up the Cause for lost, seeing they have one Fortress more to retire to, which is built on the express Words of all Acts of Parliament, where Taxes are to be laid, and Money to be raised on the People. The Stile of such Acts being the following. We give and grant; or Words of a like Import.
Now in order to go to the Bottom of this Affair, we must return to the Case of Crown Lands, or Royal Domains. For when these, together with the feudal, hereditary Revenues, were sufficient to answer all the ordinary Expences of Government, what Right or Pretence could the Prince have, in a common Way, to ask for more?—And if more was granted him, in what Shape, or under what Denomination, could it be granted but as a Free-Gift?—that is, as a Matter of Favour, and not of Right? Indeed the very Uses, for which these public Benevolences were asked, and to which they were generally applied, is a plain Proof, that they were not understood by either the Givers, or the royal Receiver, as intended to defray the ordinary Charges of Government, but to make Provision for some extraordinary Festivities or Rejoicings:—such as a royal Tilt or Tournament, a Repetition of the Ceremony of Coronation [a favourite Entertainment in those Days;] the making of the King’s eldest Son a Knight, the Marriage of a Daughter; &c. &c.;—all of them Matters of public Festivity and Diversion, in which Spectacles the great Families of the Kingdom bore a principal Part,—and therefore made the less Objection against such Kinds of Free-Gifts.
Hence therefore the Propriety of the Expression give and grant, considered with a View to such Things as these;—or indeed to any others, which are of a similar Nature, where the Parade, and external Grandeur of Government, and not the Vitals or Essentials of it, are concerned.
However the Language give and grant being once introduced, continued to be the Stile of Parliament ever after.—So that in fact, it hath come to pass in this, as well as in many other Cases, that certain Words and Phrases, Usages or Customs, which owed their Originals to particular Causes, have been retained long after the Causes themselves have ceased, and been forgotten,—to the great Confusion of Ideas, and Increase of Error.
In short, if Stile alone is to govern our Opinions, then we must conclude, that the King of Great-Britain, is also King of France: An Inference this, which I think no Man in his Senses can make at present; whatever might have been the Case formerly.—And if the Stile give and grant, can revoke at Pleasure the public Faith solemnly pledged, by turning Matters of strict Debt into Matters of mere Favour, then our Lockian Politicians have discovered a more expeditious Method of discharging the National Debt, than any of our plodding Projectors had thought of before. For it is only to tell the public Creditors, that the Parliament will give and grant no longer, and then.—What?—Then these Creditors can have no Right to complain of any Injury or Injustice done them:—Because they ought to have known, that all Taxes are absolutely free Gifts: And therefore it was a Matter of mere Indulgence, (for which they ought to have been very thankful) to have these Gifts and Grants continued to them as long as they were. This happy Discovery will, no Doubt, administer great Consolation to all the national Creditors, both Foreigners and Natives, who have vested their Property, on the Security of Parliament, in our public Funds. And therefore I would humbly recommend it to Dr. Price, and his Friends, the American Congress, to try to borrow Money on these Terms, towards defraying the Expence of their glorious War.
But to pursue such Absurdities no farther, be it observed in general, that the Root, from which these Evils spring, is that strange Notion so stiffly maintained by all the Lockians,—That the Father’s being a Subject to any Government lays no Sort of Obligation on the Son to be a Subject likewise; notwithstanding that he was born under its Jurisdiction, bred and educated under its Protection, and had enjoyed all its Privileges and Advantages from his helpless Infancy ’till he arrived at Man’s Estate: Yet, for all this, it seems the State has no Right to consider such a Person as a Subject:—She has no just Pretensious to suppose that he is bound in Duty and Conscience to be obedient to her Laws, to assist her with his Person, or his Purse, or to bear any Part of her Burdens.—On the contrary, she ought to allow, that he has a just, and an unalienable Right to refuse to contribute a single Farthing towards any of these Things, unless he had actually given his previous Consent thereunto. And if you should be curious to know, how such an extravagant Notion as this ever came to enter into the Heads of Men of sober Sense, it is, because they esteem civil Government, even in its best Estate, to be a Kind of unnatural Restraint on the native Freedom of Man:—It is an Evil which he must bear, because he cannot help himself;—but yet which he is continually endeavouring to shake off in order to become totally free and independent.
So much as to the primary Use of Taxes: And the Reader must now determine for himself, whether he will consider them,—I mean, in all Cases essential to Government,—to be real Debts due to the Public, as a Compensation for the Enjoyment of its Benefits and Protection,—or to be mere Free-Gifts and voluntary Donations, which every Man has a Right to chuse, or to refuse to pay, as it seemeth best.
Thesecondary Use of Taxes comes next to be spoken to: But in respect to this I must be very brief, partly on account of having been obliged to be so copious and disfusive in regard to the former Article; and partly because this is itself a Digression from the main Subject, tho’ an useful one. Suffice it therefore for the present just to observe, that I set out on the Strength of two Propositions, which necessarily infer each other, viz. That the Hand of the diligent maketh rich,—and that the Hand of the idle maketh poor. Therefore all Taxes whatever are to be denominated either good or bad, in Proportion as they promote Industry, or discourage it. Now were a Survey to be taken of our present System of Taxation, according to this Rule, it would be found, that many of our Taxes are very good ones,—that some are indifferent, partaking of a Kind of neutral State,—and that very few are really bad ones. Whereas formerly the very Reverse was the true State of the Case; which might easily be made to appear to the Satisfaction of any reasonable, impartial Man, by comparing the whole System of Taxes. Article by Article, as it stands in the present Year 1780,—and as it stood at any Period whatever during the Life-Time of Mr. Locke.—or during the golden Days of good Queen Bess, including her Monopolies.—or indeed at any Time, or during any Reign, antecedent to the 8th of Geo. 1. C. 15:—That samous commercial Statute, for which the Authors of it [Sir Robert Walpole and his Brother] received the most ungrateful Returns from a Set of Mock-Patriots, and from a deluded commercial Nation.
Experience plainly tells us (and therefore we must cease to wonder) that the Generality even of intelligent People, do not reason at all, or at least will not reason to the Purpose concerning the Tendency of Taxes: That is, they will not enquire, whether they tend to promote Idleness or Industry, to transform Drones into Bees, or Bees into Drones. In Fact, that which they mostly attend to, is the Quantity of Money, or the Sum Total produced by any given Tax. If the Sum should be a great one, then they generally pronounce that they are sadly oppressed, and most heavily taxed, and complain most bitterly of their Rulers: In regard to which, they are sure that Mock-Patriots and seditious News-Writers will echo back their Complaints from every Quarter. But if the Sum produced should be a very small one, then they think, that they are not quite so heavily taxed; and therefore they are not altogether so profuse in their Lamentations. Now, nothing can be more sallacious than such Conclusions: Inasmuch as it is strictly demonstrable, that a Tax, which would hardly produce 100,000l. a Year to the Revenue, might yet be more oppressive, more impoverishing, and a much greater Stab to Industry of every Kind, than others which produce ten Millions. For the Nature of Taxes is such, that they may be compared to the pruning of Fruit-Trees; an Operation, which all will allow to be not only useful, but in some Sense necessary. Now if this should be judiciously performed, the Trees will be much healthier, and bear abundantly the better; but if ignorantly and unskilfully done, the Trees will bear nothing, or next to nothing, and perhaps will sicken, and die away.
Here therefore let us put a Case:—Suppose, that all the numerous Taxes at this Day subsilling, were to be repealed, and that only one Tax was to be laid on in their Room, viz. A Tax of 20l. a Day on every Plow, when at Work, [or on every Machine performing the Office of a Plow] and the like Sum on every Cart, or Waggon, or any other Machine drawing, or carrying Goods, or Merchandize of any Kind:—And then I ask, What would be the Consequence?—Plainly this; That such a Tax would produce but a very Trifle to the Revenue; because it would stop Labour and Industry to such a Degree, that our Farms in the Country would be deserted,—Grass and Weeds would grow in the Streets of our Towns and Cities;—and the whole Kingdom would in a Manner become a Desert.—Yet the few Beggars who were left in such a desolate Country, would have it to say, that they paid but one single Tax; nay, that they could get drunk on Spirituous Liquors [as small Stills would be set up every where, being light of Carriage, and paying no Tax] Therefore they would have it to say, that they could get drunk for a Halspenny, and perhaps dead-drunk for a Penny. Happy Times these! whereas their enslaved, oppressed, exhausted, and impoverished Forefathers in the Year 1780, paid several Hundred different Taxes! And, what was harder still, they could not enjoy the Blessing of getting drunk under the exorbitant Price of 6d.—Such were the Miseries and Calamities, which poor Old England then suffered under the Pressure of a Multitude of Taxes, and of ministerial Excises!!! And now, Reader, having ended this long Article concerning Taxes, I cannot help exclaiming at the Close of it, in the Words, which I have heard the late Earl of Chesterfield several Times repeat. How much easier is it to deceive Mankind, than to undeceive them! But to return.
A third capital Error chargeable on the Lockian Sect, (and to be ranked under this Class of Errors) is that dreadful Notion, propagated by them with a Kind of enthusiastic Ardor, that their System of Government is the only true one, in the Nature of Things:—And that all others, not built on this Foundation, are, in Deed and Truth, so many detestable Robberies, and barefaced Usurpations of the unalienable Rights of Mankind. Now this is in Fact proclaiming War against all the Governments upon Earth, and exciting their Subjects to rebel. And indeed these new-fangled Republicans do not appear to be shocked at the Imputation of such horrid Consequences, but on the contrary, they admit them with a Kind of Pleasure, and seem to glory in such Deeds. The Extracts from their Writings already given, are so decisive on this head, that there can be no Need of any further Proof, or Illustration.
But that which seems the most unaccountable in this whole Proceeding is, that they have adopted almost every Thing into their own System, which is exceptionable in Sir Robert Filmer’s, and against which they have raised such tragical Exclamations.
Thus for Example, Sir Robert, and all the Patrons of an indeseasible, hereditary Right, declare with one Voice, that no Length of Time can bar the Title of the right Heir. For whenever he shall see a fit Opportunity of setting up his Claim, every Subject is bound in Duty and Conscience to renounce their Allegiance to the reigning Prince, and to resort to the Standard of the Lord’s Anointed:—Just so, mutatis mutandis, is the Stile and Declaration of the Lockians: The People are the only right Heirs; or rather, they are the only Persons who have a Right to appoint right Heirs; and no Length of Prescription can bar their Title. For every Settlement of a State, monarchical, or even republican, whose Title is not derived from a popular Election, or doth not exist at present by Virtue of some express, and previous Contract, is a manifest Usurpation of their unalienable Rights; and therefore ought to be subverted and destroyed as soon as possible;—moreover the Authors of so daring an Attempt on the Liberties of a free People deserve to be punished with exemplary Vengeance, and to have their Goods and Estates confiscated for the Benefit of the Public, alias, to reward the Patriots. Now if any one should ask, what that is, which constitutes the People in this Case? or who are those Persons that are invested, jure divino, with these extraordinary Powers, these King-creating, and King-deposing Prerogatives?—The Answer I own, in Point of Theory, is attended with very perplexing Difficulties:—But in respect to Practice, and as referring to a Matter of Fact, it is the easiest Thing imaginable. For the Persons, or the People in this Case, are no other than the first Mob that can be got together, provided they are strong enough to undertake, and execute the work; if not, the next Mob, or the next to that, and so on, ad insinitum. For this is a Subject, which, it seems, ought never to be lost Sight of by a true-born Patriot: Though he may allow that the Efforts of the People for regaining their native Rights, may be delayed for a while, or may be dissembled, and postponed till he and his Friends shall find a more convenient Season for executing their laudable Designs.
Again: The Notion of Kings de Facto, and Kings de Jure, that Opprobrium of the Jacobites, is also revived by the Lockians. For whosoever dares to reign without, or in Opposition to the Lockian Title, is only a King de Facto:—The rightful King, or the King de Jure, being yet in petto, and not to be brought forth, ’till the People can assemble together to assert, and exercise their unalienable Rights with Safety.
Moreover the persecuting and intolerant Spirit of the System of Sir Robert Filmer, and of the Jacobites, is another very just Reproach to it: And none inveighed more bitterly, or more justly against it on this Account, than Mr. Locke himself, and his Disciples.—Yet such is the Inconsistency of these Men;—that they tell us so plainly, that we cannot mistake their meaning, that they would allow no Government on the Face of the Earth to subsist on any other Title, but their own, had they a Power equal to their Will in these Cases. For says Dr. Priestly; [and all the Rest join in the same Sentiments] “This [the Lockian, or popular Title] must be the only true and proper Foundation of all Governments subsisting in the World; and that to which the People have an unalienable Right to bring them back.”—“This is a Blessing, says Dr. Price, which no Generation of Men can give up for another; and which, when lost, the People have always a Right to resume.” So that nothing less will content these Men than the universal Establishment of their own Principles, and the Renunciation or Abjuration of all others. Yet these are the Champions who stand up for Liberty of Conscience, and are the only Friends to reconciling Measures, to universal Toleration, to Peace on Earth, and Good-Will among Men.
Once more: All Laws made, or to be made by the Authority of Usurpers, alias of Kings de Facto, are, according to the Doctrine of Sir Robert Filmer and the Jacobites, absolutely null and void; ’till they shall have received the Sanction and Confirmation of the rightful King. And so say the Lockians in respect to their sale rightful King,—the People. For here again they have told us so often, that we cannot forget it, that no Law can be valid, unless the people have authorized the making of it:—Nay, they have gone so far as to declare, that the very Essence of Slavery doth consist in being governed by Laws, to which the Governed have not previously consented. This being the Case, you see plainly, that the Consideration, whether the Law be good or bad in itself; whether it is a Law that is wanted or not wanted; and whether it tends to promote the Liberty of the Subject, or to restrain it, is at present entirely beside the Question:—For the sole Point here to be determined, is simply this.—Had the Makers of such a Law any Right to make it, according to the Lockian Ideas of Right and Wrong? If they had no such Right, they must be pronounced to be Usurpers, be the Law in itself whatever it may; and therefore as they are Usurpers, their Doom is fixed; inasmuch as they cannot expect Mercy for their daring Attempts to alienate the unalienable Rights of Mankind.
Before this Lockian System had been broached, or at least before it had made many Proselytes among us, it used to be considered as no bad Maxim in Politics,—“Not to be very inquisitive concerning the original Title of the reigning Powers.” For if the State was actually at Peace, and if every Man sat, or might sit under his own Vine, and his own Fig-Tree; or in plainer English, if the essential Ends of Government were answered both by the Protection of good Subjects, and by the Punishment of bad ones, and also by the Defence of the Community from external Violence;—then it was thought, that this was a sufficient Reason for considering such Powers as ordained of God.—And if ordained of God, the People ought to obey them, under Peril of Damnation.—But now it seems, the World is grown much wiser: For the first Question to be asked is, What is your Title, to be the Governor, or Chief Magistrate of this Country? And what Proofs do you bring that you have received your Authority from the People, without Fraud on the one Hand, or Violence on the other? Answer me this, before you can expect, that I should submit to obey you.
Few Governors, I believe, would like to be catechized after this Manner by their Subjects: And fewer still would be able to answer these Questions to the Satisfaction of a Lockian Patriot.—Nay, we have been expresly told by one of the chief among them, Dr. Priestly, that there is not a Government on the Face of the Globe, which can stand the Test of such an Enquiry. “For, says he, all Governments whatever have been, in some Measure, compulsory, tyrannical, and oppressive in their Origin.” Now this being the Case, why will not these benevolent, political Philosophers, crect a Government of their own, for the Good of Mankind;—a Government on their own Plan, and perfectly agrecable to the Lockian Principles; which shall therefore be a Pattern for the Rest of the World to copy after? Nay, why are they always sowing Discords and Diffentions among us, instead of establishing a free, and equal, and harmonious Republic among themselves? Most certainly Great-Britain is not the proper Spot for exhibiting Specimens of this Sort: Because, to say the Truth, we have had, and we have selt, too many of these political Experiments already, during the last Century, to wish to have them revived again.—But America!—Yes, the interior Parts of America is the Country of all others, the fittest for putting every fond Imagination of their Hearts in Practice. For if Fame says true, and if Mr. Locke himself is to be credited, there is as yet no Government at all in the inland Parts of those immense Regions: Nor have even the Congress extended their gentle Sway beyond the Lakes Erie and Ontario, if they have gone so far. Thither, therefore, let all our Republican Patriots speedily repair: Time is precious, and the Cause invites: A Passport will undoubtedly be granted them, as soon as applied for: And ample Leave will be obtained to exchange the Slavery of this Country for the Freedom of America. Thither, therefore, let them all retire: For there they will live (according to the Prediction of Dr. Price) undisturbed by Bishops, Nobles, or Kings; and there likewise they will enjoy all the Blessings which can attend that happy State, where every Member of Society will be his own Law-giver, his own Governor, Judge, and Director.
An Enquiry how far either the Revolution in England,—or the Reduction of Ireland,—or the present Proceedings of the Congress in America, can or may be justified according to the leading Principles of Mr.Locke,and his Followers.
Of theRevolutionin England.
IT is allowed on all Hands, and it has been the continual Boast of the Friends and Admirers of Mr. Locke, that he wrote his Essay on Government with a View to justify the Revolution. We have therefore a Right to expect, that his fundamental, political Maxims tend immediately and directly to vindicate this necessary Measure. How great therefore will be our Disappointment, if the quite contrary should appear!
The grand Objections against King James the Second were, that his Government was tyrannical, and his Proceedings illegal;—that he assumed Powers which the Constitution had expressly denied him;—that he had repeatedly broken his solemn Coronation-Oath, and forfeited his Royal Word;—and that, in short, his Actions proved him to be an Enemy both to Civil Liberty, and to the Protestant Religion.
Now grant these Objections to be well founded (which I think no Man at this Day, even the warmest Friend of the Stuart Family, will pretend to deny;) and the Inference is plain, that such a Prince deserved to be deposed, and that the Nation did very right in deposing him.—So far therefore we are all agreed: For Mr. Locke’s Principles serve admirably well for the Purposes of Demolition in any Case whatever, as far as mere Demolition is concerned. But alas! after we have pulled down, how are we to build up? For something of this Kind must certainly be done, and that speedily. The Nation was then in a State of Anarchy and Confusion, without Law, or Government: The Legislative Power could not assemble, according to the prescribed antient Forms of the Constitution: Nor could the Executive legally act for want of being authorised so to do. In such a Situation the Principle of Self-Defence would naturally suggest to a Nation in general, and to every reasonable Man in particular,—to do the best they could without Loss of Time, and not to stand upon mere legal Punctilios, where the Essentials of the Constitution, and the Happiness of Millions were at Stake: Moreover common Prudence and sound Policy would likewise suggest, that as few Innovation of the antient Form of Government should be introduced, and as many of its Laws and Ordinances be retained, as the Good of the whole, and the public Safety would permit. This, I say, seems to be a fair, and honest, and upright Mode of Proceedure;—a Mode which all impartial Men would allow to be reasonable, and every Lover of his Country would approve and justify:—And in short, this was the very Proceedure adopted at the Revolution.
Now, let us see, what Methods ought to have been taken according to the System of Mr. Locke;—and whether his Plan, and the Revolution Plan, co-incide with each other.
By the Desertion, or Abdication, or Forfeiture, or Deposition of King James [take which Term you please] the Government was dissolved, and no new one was yet appointed. So far we are again agreed. But says a Lockian (if he will reason consistently with his own Principles) this Dissolution of Government set the Nation free from all Ties and Obligations: So that they were no longer the Subjects of a Government, which itself did not exist: And if they were not the Subjects of an annihilated Government, they could be under no Obligation to any other. They were therefore actually returned back to a State of Nature;—that happy State, wherein there is a perfect Equality of Rights of all Kinds whatever; and where no one Man can pretend to have a better Claim than another either to Lands, or Legislations, to Power or Pre-eminence of any Kind. Admirable! Cataline himself could not have wished for a more ample Scope.—not only for paying all his own Debts, and those of his Followers,—but also for coming in for a considerable Share in the general Scramble, on a new Division of Property. Nay, his Speech in Sallust seems to indicate, as if he had some such Notion in his Head, had his Genius been sertile enough to have drawn it out into Form, and to have methodized it into a System.
But evidently as these Conclusions slow from Mr. Locke’s fundamental Maxims, I do by no Means allow myself to suppose, that either he or any of his Followers, with whom I have now Concern, would grant, that these Conclusions are justly and fairly drawn. On the contrary, I do verily believe, that they thought they were serving the Cause of rational Liberty, when they were advancing such Positions, as, if carried into Execution, would unavoidably introduce the most shocking Scenes of Despotism on the one Hand, and of Slavery on the other. [Just as a rank Antinomian wildly imagines, that he is consulting the Glory of God and the Good of Mankind whilst he is instilling such Doctrines, as necessarily derogate from the Supreme Being, by making him the Author of Sin; and as necessarily turn human Creatures into ravenous Beasts to bite and devour one another, by destroying all moral Obligation.]
Therefore I observe, that though all these shocking Consequences are justly chargeable on the Principles of a Lockian, yet I do not charge the Man, the Individual, with the Guilt of them, provided he declare his Abhorrence of such Inferences. Now, taking it for granted that he would disavow them, were the Question asked, I will charitably suppose, that if Mr. Locke and his Followers, had the Management of an Event similar to that of the Revolution in 1688, they would not dissolve the Bands of Society any farther, than was just necessary for compassing their Ends of a free and general Election, according to their peculiar Ideas of Freedom, and of the unalienable Right of human Nature. I will therefore suppose also, that they would permit Men to enjoy unmolested their hereditary Honours and hereditary Estates, and Property of all Kinds, notwithstanding that their Principles necessarily tend to level every thing without Distinction, and to bring us back to a State of Nature: Nay, I will suppose, that they would admit a Majority of the Voters present to include not only the Minority present, but also the great Majority, who might happen to be absent:—Though the Lockian Principles have in themselves a very different Tendency; as I have fully made to appear in the preceding Chapter. However, granting all this with a liberal Hand; and granting also for Argument’s Sake, that it is consistent with this modern System of unalienable Rights, to exclude every Male under twenty-one Years of Age, and Females of every Age, from the unalienable Right of voting:—And then we have still remaining all the Males in England of twenty-one Years of Age and upwards, to compose an Assembly of Legislators, Electors, and Directors, according to the Lockian System. A goodly Number truly! All Voters by the unalienable Rights of Nature! All equal, free, and independent! This being the Case, the first Step to be taken is, to summon all these adult male Voters throughout the Kingdom to meet at some certain Place, in order to consult about erecting a new Government, after pulling down the old one: Here therefore I make a Pause;—and ask a Question, Was this done at the Revolution? No. Was it attempted to be done? No. Were there any Meetings appointed in different Parts of the Kingdom, from whence Deputies could be sent up to represent these Meetings, and to act in their Name? No. Was there then, [tho’ that at best is a very preposterous Mode of Representation, according to Mr. Locke, yet] was there a previous general Election of Members of Parliament, in order that there might be at least a new Parliament to elect a new King? No, not even that, according to any legal, or constitutional Forms.—What then was that great national Vote which established the Revolution?—A few Scores of Noblemen, and a few Hundreds of Gentlemen, together with some of the Aldermen and Common Council of London, met at Westminster, [but without any Commission from the Body of the People authorising them to meet] and requested (thereby empowering) the Prince and Princess of Orange to assume the Royal Prerogative, and to summon a new Parliament. They summoned one accordingly, which was called the Convention Parliament: This Assembly put the Crown on their Heads [the Power of which they had exercised before] The Crown, I say, not only of England, but also of Ireland, and of all the English Dominions throughout every Part of the Globe, and this too, not only without asking the Consent, but even without acquainting the People of those other Countries with their Intentions. Now if this Transaction can be said to be carried on agreeably to Mr. Locke’s Plan, or if it can be justified by his Principles, I own myself the worst Judge of Reason and Argument, and of a plain Matter of Fact, that ever scribbled on Paper. Nay, I appeal to all the World, whether the whole Business of this famous Revolution, from whence nevertheless we have derived so many national Blessings, ought not to be looked upon as a vile Usurpation, and be chargeable with the Guilt of robbing the good People of England, of Ireland, and of all the Colonies of their unalienable Rights, if Mr. Locke’s Principles of Government are the only true and just ones. But I ask further, Was the Convention itself unanimous in its Decisions? No, very far from it. On the contrary, it is a well-known Fact, that the Members of it [I mean a Majority of the Members] would never have voted the Crown to the Prince of Orange, had it not been for his threatening Message, that he would leave them to the Resentment of King James, unless they complied with such a Demand. So that even a Majority of this very Convention would have acted otherwise than they did, had they remained unawed, and uninfluenced. And thus, Reader, it is demonstrated to thee, that this samous Convention [and in them the whole Nation] was self-governed, and self-directed, according to the Lockian Principle, in establishing the glorious Revolution!
The Reduction of Ireland about the Year 1690 is another capital Affair, which is to receive Sentence either of Justification, or Condemnation, at Mr. Locke’s Tribunal. For if Ireland was reduced, and the Constitution thereof peaceably settled according to the Lockian Plan, the Founder of this Sect and his Followers have certainly a good deal to glory in. But if the very Reverse should prove to have been the Case, what shall we say?—And with what Front could Mr. Molineux, the Friend of Mr. Locke, dedicate his Book on the Independency of Ireland to King William, if King William’s own Conduct in the Reduction of that Kingdom was altogether repugnant to the Principles of his Book? Now it unfortunately happens, that all the Lockians have precluded themselves from making Use of the very best Arguments, which could be brought in Justification of this memorable Event:—I say, they have precluded themselves, by chusing to rest the Merits of their Cause on one single Point,—The Universality of Consent;—that is to say, the Consent of the People,—at least of the major Part of them, expressly obtained, and freely given. For they have solemnly declared over and over, and do continue to declare, that no Title whatever in the reigning Powers can be valid, if this be wanting. Mr. Molineux’s own Words will best speak his Sentiments, and those of his Party on this Occasion; which therefore I shall beg Leave to repeat.
“I shall venture to assert, that the Right of being subject only to such Laws, to which Men give their own Consent, is so inherent in all Mankind, and founded on such immutable Laws of Nature and Reason, that ’tis not to be aliened, or given up by any Body of Men whatever.” And a little lower: “I have no Notion of Slavery, but being bound by a Law, to which I do not consent.—If one Law may be imposed without Consent, any other Law whatever may be imposed on us without our Consent. This will naturally introduce Taxing us without our Consent. And this as necessarily destroys our Property. I have no other Notion of Property, but a Power of disposing of my Goods, as I please, and not as another shall command. Whatever another may rightfully take from me, I have certainly no Property in. To tax me without Consent is little better, if at all, than down-right robbing me.”
And now, Reader, having just observed, that this Mr. Molineux of Ireland was to all Intents and Purposes, the Precursor of the Congress of America, let us consider what Right had King William to invade Ireland at first, and what Pretensions could be have afterwards for establishing a Protestant Constitution in that Popish Country, according to the Principles of Messrs. Locke and Molineux.
King James the Second fled from England, and, after having made some Stay in France, landed in Ireland, and was received by the whole Body of the Irish Nation with open Arms. A few Protestants in the North made some Opposition; and at last, being driven to Despair, they made a most surprizing Resistance, under the Conduct of the Rev. Mr Walker, Governor of Londonderry. But it is their Number, as haying an unalienable Right to vote,—and not their Courage or Valour, as Heroes, which is the subject Matter of our present Inquiry. Now in respect to this, the Protestants were vastly the Minority of the Natives, and are so still, according to every Mode of Computation. Why therefore if the Votes or Consents of a Majority are to decide the Question,—Why, I say, did these few Protestants resist at all?—Or if a Lockian will not submit to be governed by this Rule of a Majority concluding the Minority [for sometimes he will, and at other Times he will not] Why did not the Handful of Protestants desire Leave to retire peaceably into some other Country, instead of committing Hostilities in that? Nay more, why did they send to England for Succours, to drive out King James, and establish King William? For surely according to the Lockian Hypothesis, that every Man ought to be governed only by Laws of his own appointing,—the great Majority of the Irish Nation had at least as good a Right to refuse Obedience to King William, as the Minority had to refuse it to King James. But notwithstanding all this, King William sailed with a large Reinforcemement of Troops to Ireland; he landed, and he conquered; and in a short Space of Time the Peace of the Country was settled by the Capitulation and Treaty of Limeric.
Now in order to reconcile the Reduction of Ireland to the Lockian Standard of Right and Wrong, of just Government, and of Usurpation, we must believe first of all, that this Handful of Protestants, who appeared in Arms at Inniskillen and Londonderry, were the great Majority of the Irish Nation: And when we have digested this Pill, we must believe further that all Things were quite inverted, or in other Words, That the few Natives of Ireland, who were Papists [not more perhaps than ten to one Protestant] we must believe, I say, that these few Papist all voluntarily consented to be governed by the many, who were Protestants: And having proceeded thus far in our Credulity, we must not hesitate at swallowing the rest, viz. That the Papists of Ireland sent an Embassy to invite King William to come over, and offered to swear Fealty and Allegiance to him at the Battle of the Boyne;—yea, and that all the Laws successively made afterwards for disarming them, for taking their Estates from them, for banishing them, for exciting their own Children to rebel against them, and for subjecting them to Fines and Imprisonments, and to Pains and Penalties in Thousands of Instances;—we must believe, I say, that all these Laws were made with the whole Assent, and Consent, Will, and Agreement of the Papists of Ireland. O Genius of Popish Legends, confess thou art fairly outdone by Protestant Patriots! O Purgatory of St. Patrick, hide thy diminished Head!
The Cafe of the presentCongressin America.
It has been observed at the Beginning of this Treatise, that the Lockian System is an universal Demolisher of all Civil Governments, but not the Builder of any. And it has been distinctly shewn, that this Observation has been sound to be remarkably verified in two memorable Instances, [those very Instances which were pretended to correspond the most with the Plan of Mr. Locke] the Revolution in England, and the Reduction of Ireland. Come we now therefore to a 3d Instance, the Revolt of the Colonies in North America.
When it is seriously enquired, what were the chief Grievances which the Colonies had to complain of against the Mother Country, the Answer is, and must be, that she governed, or attempted to govern them in such a Manner as was not agreeable to the Lockian System. For the imposing Laws on them of any Kind, whether good or bad in themselves, and whether for the Purposes of Taxation, or for other Purposes, without their own Consent, is, according to this hypothesis, a most intolerable Grievance! a Robbery! and an Usurpation on the unalienable Rights of Mankind. Nay, we are repeatedly told, that the very Essence of Slavery consists in the being obliged to submit to be governed by such Laws as these. Therefore if you want to know the very Root and Foundation of the present American Rebellion, it is this very Principle: And the Fact is so far from being denied, that it is gloried in by Dr. Price, and others their warmest Advocates. In short, the brave Americans were resolved not to be Slaves; but Slaves, it seems, they must have been (according to the Lockian Idea) had they acknowledged the Right of the Mother Country, even in a single Instance, to make Laws to bind them without their Consent:—I say, even in a single Instance; for the Lockian Mode of Reasoning is, that there is no Difference between being vested with discretionary Power, and with despotic Power. “Inasmuch as, if a Government has any Right to rule me without my Consent in some Cases, it has a Right to rule me in every Case; consequently it has a Right to levy every Kind of Tax, good or bad, reasonable, or exorbitant upon me, and to inflict all Sorts of Punishments whatever.”
But Dr. Price himself, the great Champion of the Americans, has so expressly applied this Train of Reasoning to the American Cause, that I think myself happy in co-inciding with him in Sentiments on this Occasion. “Our Colonies in North America, faith the Doctor, appear to be now* determined to risque, and suffer every Thing under the Persuasion, that Great-Britain is attempting to rob them of that Liberty, to which every Member of Society, and all civil Communities have a natural, and unalienable Right.”
Here therefore the Case is plain: For every Member of Society, as well as the Community at large, hath, according to Dr. Price, not only a natural, but an unalienable Right to be self-governed, and self-directed. Be it so: And then comes the important Question, “Is this the Case at present with every Member of Society in North-America, now groaning under the Dominion of the Congress?” And as Dr. Price has taken such Pains to extoll the American Mode of Government to the Skies,—a most happy Mode, without Bishops, without Nobles, without Kings! I wish he would return a plain Answer to the plain Question here propounded. In Honour and Conscience he is certainly called upon so to do. But tho’ the Doctor loves to set Controversies on Foot, we learn from his own Words, that he loves his Ease too well, to clear up the Objections arising from them. Consequently being deprived of the Doctor’s Assistance, unless he should think proper to change his declared Resolution, we must do the best we can without him.
Here therefore be it observed, that without taking any Advantage from the Arguments that may be deduced from the tarring and feathering of their numerous Mobs; and without insisting on the burning and plundering of the Houses, and destroying the Property of the Loyalists by the American Republicans, even before they had openly thrown off the Masque, and set up for Independence;—I say, without bringing these Instances as Proofs that they would not grant that Liberty to others, for which they so strenuously contended for themselves;—let us come to that very Period, when they had established various Civil Governments in their respective Provinces, and had new-modelled their several Constitutions according to their own good Liking:—I ask therefore, Was any one of these Civil Governments at first formed, or is it now administered, and conducted according to the Lockian Plan? And did, or doth any of their Congresses, general or provincial, admit of that fundamental Maxim of Mr. Locke, that every Man has an unalienable Right to obey no other Laws, but those of his own making? No; no;—so far from it, that there are dreadful Fines and Confiscations, Imprisonments, and even Death made use of, as the only effectual Means for obtaining that Unanimity of Sentiment so much boasted of by these new-sangled Republicans, and so little practiced. In one Word, let the impartial World be the Judge, whether the Americans, in all their Contests for Liberty, have even once made use of Mr. Locke’s System for any other Purpose, but that of pulling down, and destroying; and whether, when they came to erect a new Edifice of their own on the Ruins of the former,—they have not abandoned Messrs. Locke, Molineux, Priestly, and Price, with all their visionary Schemes of universal Freedom, and Liberty of Choice.
On the Abuse of Words, and the Perversion of Language, chargeable on the Lockian System.
THE Importance of this Subject requires a distinct Chapter; but it need not be a long one; for the chief Point here to be attended to, is to six and explain the Meaning of certain Terms and Phrases, and to guard against Misrepresentation or Mistake.
It is observeable, that in every Government, from that of a petty Schoolmaster to that of a mighty Monarch, the respective Rulers must be invested with two Sorts of Power;—the one is that which may be fixed and limited by written and positive Laws; but the other, being unlimitable in its Nature, must be left to the Discretion of the Agent. The Order and Course of Things require the Use of both these Kinds of Power in every Instance where Authority, properly so called, is to be exercised. In respect to the first of these, it is unnecessary at present to consider it in any separate, or independent View; because it is not the Subject now immediately before us. But with regard to the second, it is the very Thing here to be attended to; and by explaining the Nature of this, we shall eventually explain the other.
When the Founder of a School [and the same Observation, mutalis mutandis, would hold good for Things in a much higher Sphere;—I say therefore] when the Founder of a School is about to establish Rules and Constitutions for the Discipline, and good Government thereof;—he finds himself able to establish certain Statutes and Ordinances in respect to some Things, but unable in respect to others. He can, for Example, fix the Salary of the Master by a positive Law;—he can limit the Hours of School, and the Hours of Recreation;—he can ordain, if he think proper, what Authors shall be read in his School, and may prescribe likewise a Regimen of Diet to be observed by the Youths, who shall be maintained on his Foundation;—with a few other Things of the like Nature. But much farther than this he cannot go, were he ever so desirous. He cannot, for Instance, lay down Rules aforehand, how many Periods or Paragraphs each Youth is to learn at each Lesson, or how many Lines or Verses he is to get by Heart on a Repetition Day; and in Cases of Neglect, or Misdemeanor, he cannot determine the Force or Momentum, with which the Ferula or Rod is to fall on the offending Culprit;—nor yet can he prescribe, or limit the Tone of Voice, or Looks, or Gestures of Displeasure, or Words of Reprimand, which are to be used on such Occasions. For as all these Affairs are not, and cannot be, subject to any fixt Regulations, the Master must be vested with a discretionary, alias an unlimited Power in respect to such Things. [Need I add, that the very Institution of a School is (according to the Lockian System), a Contradiction to the social Compact? Because, if every one is to be accounted a Slave, who is obliged to submit to Laws not of his own making,—or to Governors not of his own chusing, then School-Boys and Slaves are synonymous Terms: Hard Measures these! And what Inroads are the Doctrines of Passive Obedience, and Non-Resistance daily making in our English Schools on English Liberty! But to return] The Powers of this Magistrate, [the School-Master] being thus shewn to be partly circumscribed, and partly indefinite;—I here ask, Doth his indefinite Power thereby become infinite? Or is he vested with arbitrary and despotic Power, because he is entrusted with that which is discretionary? Surely no: And the very putting such a Question, one would think, is sufficient to confute every Lockian Cavil on this Head. * Yet, strange to tell, the whole Weight of their Arguments rests on this single Point. For [according to them] if you admit discretionary Power, you must admit it to be arbitrary: If you allow the Power of your Magistrate to be in any Case indefinite, you must allow it to be infinite. Now it so happens, that Experience and common Sense, no bad Judges to appeal to, entirely confute these confident Assertions. For were the Master of any School to treat his Scholars with wanton Cruelty, to beat them unmercifully, or to inflict any unnecessary Severity upon them,—all the World would soon distinguish such Abuses of Power from necessary Chastisement, and moderate Correction; and they would not hesitate in giving their Opinion, that such a Wretch deserved the severest Punishment. So much easier it is, to discern the Use of Things from the Abuses of them, after the Fact has happened, than it is to make Laws in all Cases aforehand for the Prevention of Abuses.
The King and both Houses of Parliament, that is, the supreme Legislature of this Country, have a general, unlimited Right to make Laws for binding the People, in all Cases whatsoever. They have this Right, because it is impossible to define exactly in what particular Instances) they ought not to be entrusted with such a Right, or how far their Power ought to extend in every Case, and every Circumstance, which might occur, and where it ought to be stopped. I say, it is impossible to define these Points before-hand, or to draw the Line between Trust, and Distrust in these Respects. Yet can any Man in his Senses pretend to say, that the King and the Parliament would be justifiable, or even excusable, were they to abuse this discretionary Power of making Laws in all Cases whatsoever;—I mean wilfully and designedly abuse it, so as to enslave the People by cruel, unjust, and tyrannical Laws? Surely no: For even Sir Robert Filmer, and the Jacobites, do not say that such Rulers are at all excusable;—nay, they expressly say the contrary; and are as ready at denouncing Hell and Damnation against such wicked Tyrants, as the Lockians themselves:—Indeed they protest against any Punishment whatever being inflicted on Tyrants, especially on royal Tyrants, during the present Life, by the Hands of Men: For which ill-judged Tenderness, and mistaken Points of Conscience, they are highly to blame: And therefore their Tenets of absolute and unlimited Passive Obedience and Non-Resistance are deservedly had in Detestation: But nevertheless they make no wrong Judgment concerning the Nature of, and the Punishment due to, the Crimes of Tyranny; tho’ they are so weak as to maintain, that this Punishment ought to be deferred, ’till the Criminals themselves are removed into another World, when the Punishment due to such Offences can be no Terror to those Evil-Doers who survive, and who therefore ought to be deterred by such Examples from attempting to do the like.
UPON the whole, if this new political System of Mr. Locke and his Followers hath not received a full and ample Confutation in the preceding Sheets, I must ingenuously acknowledge, that nothing could have prevented it, but the Inability or Incapacity of the Author. For surely a more pernicious Set of Opinions than the Lockian.—[I mean, with regard to the Peace and Tranquility of the present Life] could hardly be broached by Man. And it is but small Consolation to reflect, that probably the original Author, and several of his Disciples never meant to draw Conclusions so horrid in their Nature, and so full of wanton Treason and Rebellion, as the Congresses have actually drawn from it in America, and as the Republican Factions are daily endeavouring to draw from it here in England, had they Power equal to their Will.
Moreover what greatly aggravates the Crime of every Attempt of this Nature, and renders it utterly inexcusable, is, that there is no Manner of Need of having Recourse to such Measures, or to such Principles, for the Sake of confuting either the patriarchal Scheme of Sir R. Filmer, or the absolutely passive Obedience Creed of the Jacobites; Insomuch as both these erroneous Systems may be, at least, as fully and effectually confuted without Mr. Locke’s Principles, as with them. Nay, if the Lockians had been content with their own Set of Opinions, and had left others undisturbed in the quiet Enjoyment of theirs, something might have been pleaded in their Favour. For though one may easily see, that theirs is an impracticble Scheme in any Society whatever, great or small; yet, if they think otherwise, and are firmly persuaded that the Affair is of such Importance as to merit a fair and open Trial;—Let a fair Trial be given it; and let those unpeopled Regions of America, those vacua loca, mentioned by Mr. Locke, be the Theatre for exhibiting this curious Phœnomenon, a Lockian Republic! Where all Taxes are to be Free-Gifts! and every Man is to obey no farther, and no otherwise, than he himself chuses to obey! In such a Case, inconsiderable as I am, I will venture to promise [or to use the Language of an Arch-Patriot, I will pledge myself to the Public] that all the Sons and Daughters of genuine Freedom shall be at Liberty to remove thither as soon as they please;—and that Thousands and Tens of Thousands of their Fellow-Citizens will be heartily glad of their Departure.
But if not content with this Liberty for themselves, they will be indefatigable in disturbing the Repose of others, and will incessantly excite the Subjects of every State to rebel, under the shameful Pretence, that their Governors are Usurpers of their unalienable Rights;—they must expect to have their Sophistry detected, and themselves exposed in their proper Colours. Indeed, happy it is for them;—happy it is for us all [notwithstanding some petty Inconveniencies] that we live in such an Age, and such a Country, where Men may dare to say and do such Things with Impunity. I own, the very Contemplation of this Circumstance always gives me Pleasure: For rejoice to find, that on every Comparison between the Liberty pretended to be enjoyed under the patriotic Congress in America, and the Slavery, which it seems, we daily suffer here in England, every Instance is a Demonstration that English Slavery is infinitely preferable to American Liberty: So that in short, while I find, that here in England, a Man may say or do, may write or print, a thousand Things with the utmost Security, for which his Liberty and Property, and even his Life itself would be in the most imminent Danger, were he to do the like in America, I want no other Proofs, that Englishmen are still a Nation of Freemen, and not of Slaves. Sorry I am, that any of my Fellow-Subjects should misapply so great a Blessing as Liberty is, both civil and religious: But at the same Time, I am sincerely glad, that they themselves are such undeniable Evidences of the Existence of Liberty among us, by the Security they enjoy in their manifold Abuses of it. May they grow wiser and better every Day; But may we, on our Parts, never attempt to weed out these Tares from among the Wheat, lest by so doing, we should root out the Wheat also.
[* ]I have added the Words individually, or collectively, as being Terms absolutely necessary for making the Cases of Religious, and Civil Liberty to tally with each other, according to the Doctor’s System. In the Concerns of Religion, every Man must act for himself, and not by a Deputy: He has a Conscience of his own, which he cannot delegate to, or entrust with any Proxy or Representative whatsoever. If therefore the Cases are parallel, as the Doctor supposes them, there can be no such Thing allowed as Representatives in Parliament; but every Voter must attend in Person,—This is an important Point; therefore more of this hereafter.
[* ]See an express Dissertation towards the Close of this Work on the three Orders of Men formerly in England, Slaves,—Tradesmen,—and Gentlemen.
[* ]Matters of strict Right are undoubtedly very different from Matter merely prudential: and in the Reason of Things a Line ought always to be drawn between them. Every peaceable and useful Subject has a Right to the Protection of the State under which he lives, in order to enjoy the Fruits of his Industry: And it would be an Act of flagrant Injustice to debar him of that Protection either in whole, or in Part. But he cannot have the same just Pretensions to demand to be created a Magistrate or Judge, or to be raised to Posts of Honour, Power, or Profit of any Kind; because these Offices do not belong to him of Right, in the mere Capacity of a Subject. Therefore as they are Matters of a prudential Nature, they must be disposed of according to the Discretion of the ruling Powers in every State, and not according to the Ambition, or Expectation of the Candidates. There may be many Things, in respect of Capacity, Education, outward Circumstances, Party-Attachments, &c. &c. which may disqualify from certain Office: those, who, in other Respects, are useful Subjects, and therefore entitled to Protection. It belongs ultimately to the Prudence of the Legislature to settle the Boundaries.
[* ]Discours sur la Question, proposée par l’Academie de Dijon; Quelle est l’Origine de l’Inegalitè parmi les Hommes; et si elle est cutorisee par la Loi naturelle?—Second Partie. Le Premier, qui ayant enclos un Terrein, s’avisa dire, Ceci est a moi, et trouva des Gens assez simples pour le croire, sut le vrai Fondateur de la Societè civile. Que de Crimes, de Guerres, de Meutres, que de Miseres, et d’Horreurs n’eut point epargnès au Genre Humain celui qui arrachant les Pieux, ou comblant les Fossé, eut criè a ses semblables; Gardez vous d’ecouter cet Imposteur. Vous etes perdues, si vous oubliez, que les Fruits sont a tous, et que la terre n’est a personne.
[* ]It will be distinctly shewn in the first Chapter of the second Part, that a social State among such Creatures as Men must necessarily produce a Government of some Kind or other.
[* ]This Circumstance of the Dearness of the French Freight [more than 30 per Cent. dearer than the English] renders the Conduct of the French Court, in supporting the Independency of America, and granting a Freedom of Navigation (at least in part) between Old France, the French Islands, and the American Continent, one of the most impolitic Measures that ever that Nation adopted. For, as the very Fortè of the Americans consists in the Cheapness of their Navigation, and as they are a People more addicted to Chicane of every Kind, to Quirks and Quibbles in the Law, and have greater Invention that Way, than any People upon Earth (even according to the Confession of their best Friends); they, with the Assistance of their new Allies, the French Planters of Martinico, Guadaloupe, &c. all united in one common Interest, will evade the restraining Laws of Old France, in Spite of every Effort of a French Ministry to the contrary. This, I will venture to predict, will be the Consequence in Process of Time. And then the Americans will engross almost the whole of that Carrying-Trade to themselves, which used to be the best Nursery of Seamen for the French Navy. What Infatuation is this? But I forbear—The silly groundless Notion, that the Seperation of America would be the Ruin of England, hath done more to advance the real Interests of England, than we could, or, at least, would have done for ourselves. May we profit by these Blunders of others, and see our own real Interests, before it be too late!
[* ]Of a like Nature is that other Assertion of our modern Patriots, that in former Times, there was no such Thing as a Standing-Army; but that this is a modern Invention, to enslave Mankind. Indeed, if they meant to say, that the Term itself was not in use in former Times, they are right; for the Word Standing-Armies is of modern Date. But if they wish to propagate a Notion, (which they certainly do) that the Thing itself, the Substance, was not in Being ’till very lately, they are guilty of a wilful Misrepresentation; for they do know, that the Gothic Constitution necessarily created a Standing-Army in Fact, tho’ not in Name, in every Kingdom, wherever it prevailed. They know also, that the essential Difference between antient and modern Standing-Armies consists in this, that ours are paid in Money, and the Gothic Troops were paid in Land: And that consequently their Forces were much more dispersed, much worse disciplined, much more subject to the Wills and Caprice of their respective Generals and subaltern Officers, alias the Barons, and Lords of Manors; and, in short, in every View much more unfavourable to civil Liberty than ours are.—Not many Miles distant from the Place where I now write, the two great Barons, Lord Berkeley and Lord Lisle, fought a bloody Battle on Nibley Common, Anno. 1470 [SeeAtkyns’s Hist. Glocestershire, Page 577] with 400 Men on a Side, raised in less than 48 Hours, from among their respective Vassals and Dependants. The famous Battle of Chevy Chace, is still a more extraordinary Circumstance, according to the antient Song: For in that we are told, that Earl Percy had made a Vow, that he would be the Aggressor in breaking the Peace between the two Kingdoms, by hunting in a Wood that belonged to the House of Douglas. Yet rash and unjustifiable as such a Vow was, the Event shews, that his Pleasure alone was a sufficient Reason for the very Flower of his Vassals and Dependants to attend him in that frantic bravading Expedition. Now here I ask, Were any two modern great Men, any two Dukes, Earls, or Barons, or any two Generals, or Colonels, in the Army, to have a Quarrel with, and to send Challenges to each other (as we are assured was the Case between the Lords Berkeley and Lisle, and the Earls Percy and Douglas) would they be able to prevail on any of their Tenants to take up Arms in such a Quarrel? and could they engage, I do not say a Regiment on a Side, but even a single Troop, or Company, to draw a Sword, or fire a Musket in their Defence? Surely no: Yet we are told, that these were the Days in which our brave Fore-fathers enjoyed that glorious Liberty of thinking and acting for themselves, which we, their degenerate Sons, have lost!
[* ]See a very ingenious and instructive Pamphlet, intituled. The Rights of the British Legislature to tax the American Colonies vindicated, printed for T. Becket. I differ from this Author in nothing very materially, but in his Calculation of the present Rental of England, which he seems to me to have set a great deal too low. Had he attended to the vast Improvements in Agriculture throughout England and Wales, partly by Skill and good Husbandry, partly by the Enclosure of common Fields, and by the enclosing and cultivating of above a Million of Acres of Commons, Wastes, Forests, Chases, Mountains, Moors, Fens, Marsnes, &c. &c. And above all by the prodigious Encrease of Buildings in London, Bristol, Bath, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, and in almost every manufacturing Town and District whatever, for these last 40 Years: I say, had he duly attended to the Advance of Rents on these, and on other Accounts, he would have found that the Rack-Rental of England and Wales, independently of Scotland, cannot be so little as 30,000,000l. a Year; a Fifth of which is 6,000,000l.
[* ]Happy would it have been for Great Britain, had the Colonies come to this Determination 50 or 60 Years ago; for then we should have avoided two most expensive and bloody Wars, and, to speak the honest Truth, very unjust ones, entered into for their Sakes. But better late, than never. America ever was a Mill-Stone hanging on the Neck of this Country; and is we would not cast it off, the Americans have done it for us.
[* ]Dr. Price and the Congress ground all their Outcries against the declaratory Law, for binding the Colonies in all Cases whatsoever, on this very Plea, weak and illogical as it is.