Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. IV.: On the Abuse of Words, and the Perversion of Language, chargeable on the Lockian System. - A Treatise Concerning Civil Government in Three Parts
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CHAP. IV.: On the Abuse of Words, and the Perversion of Language, chargeable on the Lockian System. - 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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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.
[* ]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.