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III.: A MERE DEMOCRACY. - 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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A MERE DEMOCRACY.
The third Class of Civil Government is the Democratical.—I mean, a Democracy literally such, unmixt with any other Form: Where therefore all the adult Males [and why the adult Females should be excluded, is impossible to say] are supposed to assemble together, whenever they will, in order to deliberate and vote on all public Affairs, to change and alter, to pull down, and build up, without Controul, and as often as they please.—Consequently, where every adult Individual is to consider himself as his own Legislator, his own Governor, and Director in every Thing.—Happily for Mankind, this wild and visionary Plan of a free and equal Republic is absolutely impracticable in any District of larger Extent than a common Country Parish! And happily again, even there it could not subsist for any Length of Time, but must be transformed either into a petty Sovereignty or Aristocracy, or at least into an Oligarchy, much after the same Manner, and for the same Reasons, that the Business of populous and extensive Parishes here in England, devolves at last into the Hands of a few, and is managed by a select Vestry.
But waving all Considerations respecting the several Changes it may probably undergo;—let us, since so much Stress is laid upon it by our modern Republicans,—let us, I say, consider it in its own Nature, as either abounding, or deficient in the three Qualities afore mentioned, of Power, Wisdom, and Goodness;—Qualities, so essential for the Formation and Establishment of all Civil Governments, that none can subsist without them in one Degree or other.
And 1st as to Power;—Scanty indeed must the Pittance of Power be, which is to result from the Union of 40, 50, or even 100 Savages, issuing forth from their Dens and Caverns, and assembled together for the first Time, in order constitute a Body Politic. We will not now enquire, Who among this Herd of equal and independent Sovereigns had the Right of appointing the Time and Place of Rendezvous for the rest of his brother Sovereigns to meet at and consult together: Nor will we presume so much as to ask, How or Why such a Superiority came to be vested in him alone, or how long this extraordinary exclusive Privilege was to last:—Or what corporal Punishment [it being to be presumed that they could not be fined in their Goods and Chattels, before meum and tuum was established.] Therefore, I say, what corporal Punishment was to be inflicted on those independent Sovereigns, who either would not, or did not obey the Summons. But not to boggle at little Matters, let us suppose all these Difficulties happily got over:—And then the first Question at this first Meeting is, What are they to do? And wherefore were they called together?—Perhaps the very Appearance of such a Body of Savages might be sufficient to fray away a few Eagles, or Vultures, Wolves, or Tygers, if they were too near them: But most certainly it would not be adequate to the Purposes even of a defensive, not to say an offensive War, if this genuine Republic should happen to exist in the Neighbourhood of any State, whose Union was more perfect, and consequently whose Skill and Dexterity were superior to their own. Therefore this Insect Common-wealth, this Grub of a free, equal, and Sovereign Republic would be swallowed up, as soon as hatched, by some devouring political Animal of a firmer Texture, and stronger Stamina;—unless these lately independent Sovereigns would condescend either to fly away to remote Woods and Deserts, or to submit to the Terms which their Conquerors should think fit to impose upon them.
After this Specimen of the Power, it will be unnecessary to say a Word about the Wisdom or Goodness of such a reptile, democratical Institution. But here, methinks, some of the enthusiastic Admirers of Antiquity will be apt to say, “What? Do you compare the famous Republics of Greece and Rome to Insects, Grubs, and Reptiles? Do you dare to say, That either of these were of short Continuance? Or that they were at all remarkable for the Want of Power, Wisdom, or Goodness?”
To this smart Objection I have the following Reply to make:
1st. That neither of the Common Wealths above mentioned, were pure Democracies in the Sense here set forth:—For they had other Magistrates, and other Institutions besides those which were merely popular;—and even in respect to the most popular Part of their Government, they excluded much greater Numbers from enjoying a Share in the Privileges and governing Part of the Constitution than they admitted: So that this whole Objection falls to the Ground.
2dly. The Subjects of these Republican Governments were so far from enjoying greater Liberty than the Subjects of other States, that they were known to be more oppressed, and more enslaved, than any others: So that no Proofs can be drawn from hence concerning the Wisdom and Goodness, that is, the Justice and Benevolence, of such Republics, whatever may be said of their great Power, and despotic Sway.
But 3dly, Granting more than can be required, even granting [what is absolutely false in Fact] that each of these Republics were modelled and administered, according to the Heart’s Desire of a true Disciple of Mr. Locke, had he been then in being.—Still even on this Supposition, there was nothing so inviting in the fundamental Maxims, and distinguishing Practices of either of these Institutions, to make us so much in love with it, as to wish to copy it into our own.
The SPARTAN REPUBLIC.
The fundamental and distinguishing Maxim of Sparta was, to lead a military Life in the City, as well as in the Camp, and never to enjoy any of those Comforts and Conveniences which Peace and Plenty naturally bestow. Consequently, the Police of their * Legislator was, to forbid Improvements of every Kind (excepting in the Science of War) to banish all Trades and Manufactures whatsoever, which related to the Arts of Peace, to prescribe every Part of a learned and ingenuous Education, and more particularly, and above all the rest, to expel the Use of Gold and Silver from the State of Lacedemon. But as these military Heroes must eat, as well as fight, it was contrived that they should have Slaves [the Helotes] for the Purposes of Agriculture, and other menial Offices, whom they used much worse, and with more wanton Cruelty, than the Planters do the Negroes in the West-Indies:—And that is saying a great deal. Now I ask, are these Measures proper to be adopted in Great-Britain? And is this the Plan of a Republic, which some future patriotic Congress is to set up, in order to correct the Evils of our present unhappy Constitution?
The ATHENIAN REPUBLIC.
The distinguishing Practice of Athens, or at least, that which made the Conduct of the Athenians to appear different from that of most other States, was the Use of the Ostracism. Nothing could have been better calculated for gratifying the Caprice and Licentiousness of a Mob, or for indulging the Spleen and Jealousy of a Rival, or for concealing the Wiles and Intrigues of a pretended Patriot, than this very Project. For by Virtue thereof, any Man, even the best and most deserving in the State, was liable to be banished for ten Years, whenever the Citizens should have a public Assembly (which they often had) consisting of 6000 Suffrages and upwards;—and when any one of this Number should write, or cause to be written on a Shell, or a Leaf, the Name of the Person he chose to doom to destruction, then this upright, sagacious, and impartial Sentence immediately took Place: And the accused [if that Person can be called accused, against whom no Crime was alledged] was not permitted to say a Word in his Defence, or to expostulate on the Hardships of his Case, but must go instantly into Banishment, there to remain ’till the ten Years were expired.
By Means of a Condemnation of this Sort. Aristides, who had born some of the highest Offices in the Common-wealth, and who had obtained the Surname of the Just, from his great Integrity and inflexible Honour,—even this Aristides was banished from his native Country, and dearest Connections, and was reduced to such abject Poverty, that his only * Daughter was maintained by public Charity after his Death. The Story of this unhappy Victim to democratical Insolence well deserves to be repeated as a Memento to the present Times.—On a Day of public Assembly he was accosted by a Citizen, whom he did not know, desiring him to write the Name of Aristides on his Shell. Aristides, surprized at such a Request, asked him whether he knew Aristides, and whether he had ever offended him? No, says the other, I should not know him, were I to meet him. But I hear such an universal good Character of him, that I am resolved to banish him, if I can, from the Athenian State. Aristides wrote his Name on the Shell as the Patriot had desired: And as there happened to be no other Names than his then proposed to be proscribed, he was banished of Course, according to the fundamental Law of this celebrated Republic. The Truth is, [and this explains the Matter] Aristides was a remarkably just Man, by much too honest to cajole the Populace, and to gratify their Follies at the Expence of their own Interest; therefore he was not popular; as indeed few honest Men really are: * Whereas Pericles, who laid the Foundation of their Ruin, and deserved Banishment an hundred Times, was the Idol of the Athenians.
Another Instance of the great Sagacity of this People as Politicians, and Benevolence as Men, is observeable in the Methods they took for narrowing and contracting the Foundations of their Republic, instead of making them broader and firmer. For in the Times of their Prosperity, they shut up every Avenue against the rich, or ingenious, the industrious, deserving, or oppressed of other Countries, from partaking in the common Rights of Citizens of Athens. No Invitations, or general Naturalizations were so much as thought of: But on the contrary, the whole Tenor of their Laws ran in a different Strain. [See particularly Potter’s Greek Antiquities, and Taylor on Civil Law] Nay, they contrived to exclude as many as they could, even of their own natural-born Subjects, from enjoying the common Rights and Privileges of Citizens. And as to their Slaves, tho’ almost twenty in number to one free Man, they were excluded of Course. So that in Fact, had this People been always successful in their Wars, and had they made great and extended Conquests, or had their State been of very long Duration, their Republic would have become an hereditary Aristocracy, similar to that of Venice; for it was strongly verging that Way.
Indeed in Times of universal Calamity, when their Losses by Sea and Land were so great that they were in Danger of being annihilated, as a People, then they naturalized Foreigners, and manumitted Slaves. But it was their Necessity that compelled them, and not their Benevolence, Penetration, or Wisdom, which prompted them to adopt such patriotic Measures.
But above all, the Probity and Rectitude of this celebrated People will be displayed in the strongest Light, by setting before the Reader their Mode of dispensing Justice. In order to do this, let us suppose a parallel Case existing in our own Times. The present Livery-Men of London answer very nearly, if not altogether, to the Idea of the antient [Andres Athenaion] the Men of Athens. Let us therefore imagine, that these select Citizens, were the only Legislators in the State;—not only making Laws for themselves and for Great-Britain, but also for Ireland, and for all our Colonies and Settlements abroad. This is something: but what is to come, is still more extraordinary: For we are to suppose farther, That these Law-giving Liverymen, are also the supreme Judges both of Law and Equity, constituting the only sovereign Court of Judicature for all the Provinces of the British State. Hence it becomes necessary for every Suitor to this High Court of Justice,—every Suitor, I say, whether English, Scotch, or Irish, whether Armenian, West, or East-Indian, to slatter and cajole all the Members thereof, as much as he can,—bowing and scraping to the highest, and taking the meanest by the Hand, as he is entering Guildhall to hear the Cause, and to pronounce the final Sentence. The Court being now assembled, let us attend also to some of the Pleadings of the Council on such an Occasion.
Gentlemen of the Livery,
“My Client is a rich and generous Man. If you will decree for him, he shall treat his Judges with splendid Entertainments at Ranelagh, Vauxhall, and Sadler’s Wells, and at other Places of Diversion. Moreover he will give you Tickets to go for several Nights to both the Theatres, &c. &c. &c.
Now what shall we say to such an Oration? The Parallel here supposed, is either just or unjust in the principal Features, for there can be no Medium. I am therefore content, that the learned Reader should sit in Judgment on me relative to this Point. Only let me add, that I would have produced the very Passages from the original Authors, as Vouchers for the general Truth and Justness of the Parallel, [mutatis mutandis,] if I had had the Convenience of Greek Types at the Place where I am printing. One Thing more, I must beg Leave to suggest, namely, that every Man of Learning must be sensible, that, so far from exaggerating Matters,—I have taken the Words of Xenephon concerning the Athenian Polity, in the most advantageous Sense, of which they are capable. For I have allowed him to say, that the supreme Court of Athens was a Court of Appeal from inferior Jurisdictions; whereas his Words, and the Context strongly imply, that the Athenians would not suffer any Court whatever, to exist in any Part of their Empire but their own. Nay, Xenephon expressly declares, that the Allies of the Athenians, or their Auxiliaries, or Fellow Soldiers, or Colonies, or by whatever Name you will please to call them [Symmachoi is the Term in the original] were enslaved by the Athenians by these Means. Many other curious Observations might yet be made; and some of them of Importance to Great-Britain, by Way of Caution.—But surely enough has been said already, to give every true Friend to Liberty an Abhorrence of the Idea of an Athenian Common-Wealth.
The ROMAN REPUBLIC.
Come we now to the Roman State, whose Citizens were the great Masters of the World. But here an unlucky Observation arises at first setting out, viz. That the Roman Citizens, for the most Part, were not Tradesmen: For Trades of all Kinds were held at Rome in sovereign Contempt. Therefore its Tradesmen and Mechanics, its Shop-keepers and Retailers of all Sorts, were almost all either actual Slaves, or Slaves, lately made free, or the very Scum of the People. This was the original State of Things. But in the Time of Cicero, the Condition of Tradesmen, and the Idea affixed to Trade were a good Deal advanced in Reputation. Yet even he represents the Matter in such a Light, as would make, I should think, those consummate Politicians, the learned Liverymen of London, not very desirous of seeing a Return of such Times. *Cicero expresses himself to this Effect: “That according to antient Tradition, and as far as he can learn, Trades and the Gains thereof may be distinguished into the reputable and disreputable, after the following Manner. In the first Place, these Professions must be reckoned infamous, which are odious to Mankind, such as the Business of Toll Gatherers, at the Ports and Gates of Cities, also of Usurers, or Pawn-Brokers. In the next Place, all those Person, should be considered as a base and servile People who work for Hire, or Wages, because they are paid for their Labour, and not for their Skill or Ingenuity. For the very receiving of Wages is a Badge of Servitude. Those also who buy of the Merchants to sell again directly, must be ranked in a dishonourable Class; for they can get nothing thereby unless they cheat and lye abominably; and nothing can be baser than cheating. Moreover all Artificers whatever are a base Order of Men: Indeed it is hardly possible, that a Shop and Work-House should have any Thing of an ingenuous Nature belonging to them: And least of all, are those Professions to be approved of, which are subservient to Luxury, such as the Trades of Fish-mongers, Butchers, Cooks, Pastry-Cooks, and Fishermen: To whom you may add, if you please, Persumers, Dancers, and Tumblers, and the whole Tribe of such, who administer to gaming.
“But those Arts, which require much Study and Knowledge, or are of great Use to Mankind, such as Medicine, Architecture, and teaching the liberal Sciences, these, if exercised by Men of a certain Rank, [that is under the Degree of Patricians] do not dishonour their Profession. As to Merchandize, if in a little low Way, it is mean; but if great and extensive, importing Goods from various Countries, and dealing them out again to various Persons, without Fraud, it is not altogether to be discommended. Nay, if the Persons who follow it, could be satiated, or rather be content with their Profits, not making long Voyages, but returning speedily to their Farms, and landed Estates, they would deserve to be rather commended. But after all, in Things of this Nature, nothing is better, more profitable, more pleasant, or more honourable than the Cultivation of Land.”
What a strange Jumble of Things is here! And how little did this great Man understand the Nature of the Subject, about which he was writing! But leaving our City Patriots to censure Cicero, and to settle the Points of Precedency, and the Punctilios of Honour between the different Companies of Trades, as they shall think proper, I hasten to observe.
2dly. That there is another essential Difference between the Freemen of Rome, and the Freemen of London. For the Freemen of Rome voted very often by Classes, Tribes, or Companies; which I am well persuaded the Freemen or Livery-men of London would consider as a manifest Infringement of their Rights and Privileges. And indeed very little can be said in Defence of such a Practice. For if one Tribe, or Company should have 1000 Voices, and the other not a tenth Part of the Number, it seems very unreasonable, that the larger Tribe should be deprived of nine-tenths of its Suffrages, [which it is in Effect by this Mode of voting] merely because the smaller Tribe had not an equal Number.—However such was the Practice of those Lords of the World, the Citizens of Rome.
A 3d capital Difference between their Case and ours, consisted in their Method of enacting or repealing Laws. For when a Law was propounded to the whole Body of the People in their public Assemblies, to be either confirmed, or repealed, they had not the Choice of mending, or altering any Part, by correcting this, or rejecting that, by adding any thing to it, or substracting from it, but were obliged either to approve all, or refuse all. This was a very great Defect in the Constitution of the Roman Common-wealth, but it was unavoidable in their Situation. For as the People did not send Deputies from certain Districts, or particular Classes, to represent them in the Senate, similar to our Members of Parliament, they could no otherwise transact the Business of the State, in their numerous and tumultuous Assemblies [convened together for a few Hours] than by a simple Affirmation, or Negation. Therefore the only Part, which this Mob of Voters had to act, or could act, in the grand Affair of Legislation, wherein the Majestas Populi Romani was so immediately concerned, was to pronouce a single Yes or No. [The sovereign Council, that is the Body of Citizens, at Geneva, do the same at this Day.] A mighty Matter truly, and greatly to be envied by us Britons!
But 4thly, and above all, the Propensity of the Romans for War, and their Aversion to any lasting Peace, constituted, or ought to constitute the most direct Opposition between their Conduct, and ours. A Nation, whose only Trade was to conquer and subdue, might with some Propriety, or at least with no Inconsistency, seek every Occasion of following their destructive, bloody Occupation. But how a commercial Nation, such as ours, whose continual Aim it should be to increase the Number of its Friends, and to attract Customers from every Part of the Globe, by promoting the mutual Interests of Mankind, and by giving no just Alarms to their Fears and Jealousies:—I say, how such a Nation should entertain that Fondness for War, and should espouse so many Quarrels as the English have eagerly done for almost half a Century last past, is, I own, beyond my Comprehension. Nor can I find, even if we had come off Conquerors in every Engagement, which we had, or* wished to have, whether by Sea or Land, and had triumphed over all the People upon Earth, that these shining Victories would have reduced the Price of our Manufactures, or have rendered them one Jot the better, or cheaper, or fitter to be exported to foreign Markets. In fact, there is something so preposterous, and indeed so ridiculous in the Farce, were any Shop-keeper to try to bully all his Customers in order to compel them to deal with him against their own Interest and Inclination, that one can hardly treat it in a serious Manner. Yet alas! mutato nomine de te Fabula narratur. [See the Case of going to War for the Sake of Trade among my American Tracts, printed for Cadel.] Moreover our affecting the Dominion of the Ocean, in the Manner we do, greatly prejudices all Mankind against us. For the Ocean, and all open Seas, are the bountiful Gifts of Providence, like the Winds and Atmosphere, wherein all the World have a common Right; and ought to enjoy it unmolested.
I have now, I think, cleared off a great deal of those vast Heaps of Rubbish, which lay in my Way; and therefore might proceed to erect a Super-Structure on the Foundation already laid. But there is one Objection still remaining, which though a very false one, and supported by no Proof, is yet of so popular, and plausible a Nature, that it must not be passed over unnoticed.
The OBJECTION is this:
“The People, that is, every individual moral Agent among the People,” [for it must mean this, if it means any Thing, it being impossible to admit some, and refuse others the Right of Voting, with any Face of Justice, where all have an equal, indefeasible Right: Therefore the Objection means, that] “every individual Moral Agent among the People has an unalienable Right to be self-governed, that is to chuse his own Legislator, Governor, and Director. Consequently to take from, or to deny any of them the free Exercise of this natural and fundamental Right, is to act the Tyrant, and to be guilty of the worst Kind of Robbery that can be committed. It is such an atrocious Violation of the just Rights of Mankind, as will authorise every Man to use the most speedy and efficacious Methods in his Power, to assert and recover his native Freedom, by redressing his Wrongs, and punishing the Tyrants and Usurpers.”
Now, if the Case be really such, as is here supposed, all that we have hitherto said, must pass for nothing. And therefore we must first examine into these strange Pretensions of our modern patriotic Objectors, which tend to unhinge all Society, before we can propose any Scheme for regulating the Mode of electing Deputies or Representatives.
There are two Kinds of Rights, and only two belonging to human Nature which are strictly and properly unalienable. These are the Functions of Nature, and the Duties of Religion. And they are in no other Sense unalienable, but because they are inseparable from the Subject to which they belong, and cannot be transferred to another.
A Man, for Instance, must perform his animal Functions for himself alone; there being no such Thing as Eating and Drinking by Means of a Proxy, or Deputation. Neither can one Man discharge the Duties of Religion in another’s Stead: For these are personal Acts, which become null and void the Moment that one Man shall pretend to give, or another undertake to execute a Commission to act for him. In short, no Man can believe for another: Every Man do this for himself. And no Man can substitute another to repent, or obey in his Stead: For the Repentance and Obedience must be his own, otherwise it will not be valid. So far the Cases are clear: Indeed they are self evident.
But will any Man dare to affirm, that the Affairs of Government and Legislation, and all the Concerns of Civil Society relative both to Peace and War, are under the same Predicament, and incapable of being performed by Proxies or Deputations Surely no: Nothing less than Insanity could excuse the uttering of such a Paradox. Indeed the Lockians themselves, to give them their Dues, are conscious that the Cases are not parallel. They are obliged to make this Confession, notwithstanding all their Parade about their unalienable Rights to be self-governed (as Dr. Price phrases it) that is, to elect their own Legislators, Governors, and Directors. For all of them [except honest Rousseau, who is generally consistent, whether in Truth, or Error, and perhaps also except Dr. Priestly;—I say, all of them] scruple not to maintain, that the Minority ought, for the most Part, to be concluded by the Majority; and that it is their Duty to acquiesce under such Determinations, tho’ those Decrees may happen to be very contrary to their own private Judgments. Now this is a Thing impossible to be complied with in the Functions of Animal Life: For no Man can, even if he would, consign over his own Privilege of eating and drinking; or depute another to act in his Stead: In this Respect the Minority cannot compliment the Majority with their unalienable Rights. Moreover as to the Affairs of Religion, and the Performance of moral Duties,—in these Cases also the Rights of Conscience cannot be transferred either from the few to the many, or from the many to the few, by any Covenant or Compact whatsoever: Because they are truly and literally unalienable. Therefore no Majority of Votes can bind in these Cases.—
What then becomes of this boasted Demonstration, this unanswerable Argument, whereby the Lockians have undertaken to prove, That all the Governments and Legislatures upon Earth are so many Robberies and Usurpations, (yea too, and all their Subjects Slaves) such only excepted, if any such there be, as are administered according to the Lockian System?—Why truly, this same Confidence of boasting, when sifted to the Bottom, dwindles into nothing: And the Mountain in Labour is brought forth of a Mouse. However, one Thing must be acknowledged on their Part, That this very Argument of unalienable Rights, weak and trifling as it is, may nevertheless become a formidable Weapon, in the Hands of desperate Catalinarian Men, for establishing a real and cruel Tyranny of their own (according to the Example which the American Rebels have already set) instead of that harmless, imaginary Tyranny, of which they so bitterly complain at present.
Of a limited Monarchy, and mixt Government. Its component Parts, Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Democracy. Of the comparative Influence of each:—On which Side the greatest Danger is now to be apprehended.—The Remedy proposed, and proper Regulations.
HAVING at last, it is to be hoped, got over every material Difficulty, let us return to the main Point, from which we have been detained so long.—Deputies from, or Representatives of the People, though not absolutely necessary to the very Being and Existence of every legitimate Government, might nevertheless be of great Use and Benefit to them all. For though we dare not join with that unhappy Principle which denounces open War, or meditates Conspiracies and Assassinations against all who should presume to govern without an actual Election, Nomination, or Consent of the People;—yet we would by no means derogate from the singular Advantage, which might arise from a proper Choice of Representatives, to act as their Trustees and Guardians. But above all, be it ever acknowledged, and for ever gloried in, that the Election of Persons to represent the People of Great-Britain in Parliament, is a fundamental Part of the British Constitution. Here in Britain, the important Distinctions, so oftenmentioned, of actual Contracts and of Quasi-Contracts, enter into the very Essence of our Government. For every Voter or Elector, by giving his Vote, makes himself an actual Contractor: And every Non-Voter, whether Male or Female, young or old, by living peaceably and securely amongst us, and enjoying the Protection of the State, is a Quasi-Contractor. By means of that actual Contract, which is made between the Representatives in Parliament, and a certain Number of Electors or Voters in every District, the Abuse of delegated Power may be in a great Measure guarded against;—perhaps as effectually as can be expected in the present imperfect State of Things. And by means of that Quasi-Contract, which always subsists between the Governing Powers of a State, and the whole Body of the People, and every Individual thereof; the Evils of democratical Anarchy and Confusion are prevented, and Government itself is rendered an useful, practicable Thing, instead of being either a visionary Scheme, or an Engine of the blind Fury of a mad Populace.
Towards the Beginning of the former Chapter, we set out with the following Enquiry, “How shall the People receive a reasonable Security, that the Powers wherewith their Governors are entrusted, both in making Laws, and in executing them, shall not be misapplied?” And in the Progress of the Work, we examined into those constitutional Principles [Wisdom, Power, and Goodness] on the Exexercise of which, in one Degree or other, all moral and civil Governments must depend.—In the next Place, we took a View of those several Forms, or exterior Modes of Administration, which give distinct Denominations to different Governments, the Monarchical, the Aristocratical, and the Democratical. The chief Defects and Imperfections of each of which were then endeavoured to be pointed out. [And besides this, particular Exceptions were made to the Governments of Sparta, Athens, and Rome, as being altogether improper for our Case and Circumstances, and indeed very repugnant to that Provision for general Safety, and social Happiness, which ought to be the End and Aim of every political Institution.]
From this Survey of Things, it evidently follows, That as neither of the above Forms is desirable in itself, a Government compounded of all three, and partaking of so much of the Nature of each, as shall make every Part be a Check and Counter-balance to the others, [without impeding the Motion of the whole] seems to be the best: It is indeed the fittest to give a reasonable Security to the People, that they shall be well governed. And such a Constitution, Thanks to kind Providence, is that under which we now live;—did we but attend properly to it, by correcting those few Errors, which Time has introduced; and did we but improve every Circumstance belonging to it to the most Advantage.
Now, as the British Government is compounded of three distinct Parts, the Regal, Aristocratical, and Popular; the first Inquiry should be, which of these wants rectifying the most? Or, in other Words, Which of them seems to preponderate so much at present, as to threaten Destruction to the other two?
It hath been a Practice of many Years standing with those Gentlemen who chuse the Road of Opposition, (instead of pursuing other Methods) for obtaining Honours, Places, and Preferments, to alarm and terrify well-meaning People with incessant Cries, that the Constitution is in Danger, through the corrupt Influence of the Crown:—And that they are the only Persons who can save a sinking State.—This was the Watch-Word always made use of during a very long Contest against Sir Robert Walpole. But no sooner were these uncorrupt Patriots got into Power, and had gratified their Ambition and Revenge, than they changed their Note. They then happily discovered, what was hid from their Eyes before, that each of the component Parts of a mixt Government, ought to have a certain Influence on the others;—and that the Influence of the Regal on the Aristocratical and Democratical Branches, was neither more, nor greater than it ought to be. Nay, these new-enlighted quondam Demagogues then deigned to instruct us in their celebrated Treatise, Faction detected by the Evidence of Facts, in how many several Respects the ancient feudal Prerogative had been abridged and curtailed, and how much greater Security we enjoy for the Preservation of our Liberties, than our Fore-Fathers had before us. There is no Doubt to be made, were our present Race of Patriots ever to become victorious, either by the Subversion of the Ministry, or the Subversion of the State, and the Erection of a Common-Wealth, but that they too would wish to mimic their Predecessors in displaying the vast Advantage which their Country have reaped from their Labours for the public Good.—The plain English of which is, That they ought to be well paid. In the mean Time, as this Event is perhaps not so near its Accomplishment as they could wish;—and as neither the Inns nor the Outs are to be relied upon for giving a fair and impartial State of the present Influence of the Crown [neither Side being willing to discover the real Truth:] It is not impossible but that a Person of infinitely less Abilities than those who have undertaken to give an Account of this Matter, may succeed better; because he is enlisted under no Man’s Banners, has no Party to serve, has nothing but the Truth in View, none to fear, and none to flatter.
What is generally understood by the Influence of the Crown, must arise either from an open and avowed Exertion of some undoubted Prerogative of the Crown;—or from some secret Artifice, not authorised by Law, and therefore not to be justified, which the Crown is supposed to make use of, in order to obtain some certain End.
If the former is here meant by the Assertion, that the Influence of the Crown has rapidly encreased of late Years;—it is saying in other Words, that the legal or constitutional Prerogative of the Crown has been extended, instead of being curtailed,—has been enlarged instead of being abridged;—and that the Power of the Prince is more absolute and unrestrained, and less confined by Law since the Revolution, than it was before. Will any Man in his sober Senses dare to maintain such a Paradox?—
But if the Term Influence is to be taken in the latter Sense; that is, if by it is meant such clandestine Practices as the Law condemns, and therefore would punish, if legally detected;—this is an Accusation, which must first be proved before Sentence can be past on the Offenders. For tho’ it is very probable, that the best of human Governors have, in all Ages, shewn themselves not much averse to the Use of bad Means for the attaining such Ends as they wish to accomplish, and not otherways attainable;—yet it is much to be questioned, whether the particular Vices of Bribery and Corruption, [I mean in the gross Sense of the Word] have been practiced by the Agents of the Crown, to a greater Extent of late Years than they used to be.—Far therefore from suggesting a Thought, that our present Ministers, any more than their Predecessors, are perfectly immaculate;—I only say, that it has not yet appeared, that they are worse in this Respect than former Ministers;—much less has it been proved, that Bribery and Corruption have of late Years made such a rapid and alarming Progress, as to deserve a peculiar Stigma. My Reasons are the following: First, in the greatest Electioneering Contests, which perhaps this Country ever saw, when every Species of undue Influence was put in Practice, with shameful Notoriety:—Yet it was not so much as attempted to be proved, that the public Treasury had been opened to bribe the Electors in any of those Disputes.—For the Truth of this, I appeal to those, who remember all, or any of the most violent Contests which have been raised within the last 30 Years;—particularly the three great ones at Bristol within that Period,—the great Contest in Oxfordshire, at Northampton,—in Cumberland,—and lately in Glocestershire. In all which there can hardly be a Suspicion, much less a direct Proof, that the Bribery and Corruption, (but too much practiced) whether in Money, or by other Means, were owing to the Sums issued from the Treasury. My second Reason is, That by means of that quick Vicissitude of Things, to which perhaps this Country is more subject than any other, it has often happened, that many of the Outs have come in, and many of the Ins have gone out;—yet no Side, notwithstanding their mutual Rancour, hath impeached the other, when they had the Books of the Treasury in their own Hands, of having been guilty of those Mal-Practices, and of that Bribery and Corruption which are here surmised.—Now this they most probably would have done, had any such Proofs been upon Record;—or even could they have brought any Thing suspicious from the Minutes in the Treasury-Books, of such a Misapplication of public Money.—Thirdly, the Sums generally spent at such contested Elections, is another strong Evidence, that Place-Men and Pensioners are not the principal Actors in these modern Tragedies. A Place-Man [or, if you please, a Pensioner] has perhaps 1000l. or 1500l. or even 2000l. a Year: This is accounted to be his Summum Bonum, his Conscience, his Country, and his God. Now, can it be imagined, that such a Man, who is thus characterized to have no Regard to any Thing but his own Interest, would spend, if he could, 10,000l.—perhaps 20,000l.—nay, 30,000l.—or even more, for obtaining a Seat in Parliament to secure his Place, or his Pension? No: The Supposition is foolish and absurd: It consutes itself. Any Book of Calculations may suffice to inform us, that such precarious Things as Places or Pensions, are not worth a tenth Part of such Purchase-Money.—Lastly, in almost all vehement Electioneering Struggles, where vast Sums are expended, the Ground of the Contest is seldom or never about any national Affair:—But about the important Question,—Who shall be uppermost?—Whether this great Family, or that, in such a County, or such a Borough?—What Party Connection, or Party Colour shall have the Ascendent? And whether this Leader, or that Leader, this Club, or that, in such a County, City, or Borough, shall poll the most Votes?—Points, which concern the Public, or even the Minister for the Time being, just as much as the Big-endians, or Little-endians of the facetious Dean Swift.
Well then; if the great Influence of the Crown, that dangerous Influence, which is every Day encreasing, and ought to be diminished, doth not arise from such Causes as these, at least in any considerable Degree;—from what doth it arise? and how is the Growth of it to be prevented?—The Causes of this encreasing Influence, are the vast Territories abroad, and those ruinous Wars, and immense Expences which they occasion; and ever will occasion whilst we are connected with them, under one Pretence or other. Can any Man make a Doubt of this?—If he doth, let him try, even in Thought and Imagination, to substitute a System for the Government, or Reduction of such remote Countries, which would stand clear of those Evils, which we now feel, and continually deplore. Suppose, for Example, a certain Event, which most probably is approaching with hasty Strides; viz. That the English settled in Bengal, and in the other Provinces of the Indian Empire, should take it into their Heads, that they too have unalienable Rights as well as the Americans;—and that, like them, now they are freed from the Apprehensions of a French Domination, they will no longer receive Laws from a little, paultry Spot in Europe, distant by Sea almost 10,000 Miles. Fired therefore with the glorious Thought of native Freedom, the Birth-right of every Englishman [though not of other Men; for by the by, the most zealous of our English Independents, are the least inclined to make other Men independent: And therefore I say] sired with the glorious Thought of their own Independence, and of Self-Government, they bravely desy not only the Gentlemen and *Ladies of Leaden-Hall Assembly, but also the King, Lords, and Commons of Great-Britain in Parliament assembled. Now here I ask, How is this Rebellion to be suppressed? And who is to have the Appointment, and the Payment of all the Troops, and of all the Squadrons, Transports, &c.; also of the several Officers, Commanders, Contractors, Purveyors, Surveyors, Examiners, Store-keepers, Deputies, Clerks, and of numberless other Beings to be employed for the Suppression of it? The Crown undoubtedly,—for it is the undoubted Prerogative of the Crown,—as the supreme executive Power: Otherwise there will be two Supremes within the same State;—a Solecism this, which even our modern political Refiners have not yet attempted to propose. This being the Case, how will you prevent the Crown from gaining a prodigious Influence by the Creation of such a Multitude of new Appointments, and by the annual Expenditure of of the many Millions which will be wanted for the Payment of them? How will you prevent it, I say, whilst it has such gainful Things to give;—even supposing (which no Man in his Senses can suppose) that not a single Place would be created, nor a Farthing expended, beyond what the Nature of the Case required? Yet, even on this Supposition, and without Jobs or Embezzlements of any Kind, so many lucrative Places and Employments, [all necessarily in the Disposal of the Crown] must create a Dependence, call it by what Name you please, as long as human Nature shall continue to be what it has ever been since Government began. And this is the very Influence which now too much preponderates in our public Councils. Here then the Secret is out at last. The legal and constitutional Prerogative of the Crown is not to be blamed: But our distant, unwieldly Colonies, and our ruinous Wars for their Sakes are the real Causes of all our Complaints.—It is these which involve us in thousands of Distresses, of which we should have been happily ignorant, had it not been for such Connections. They therefore, and they only, are the Authors of our present Misfortunes; and will involve us in still greater, if we shall obstinately persist in retaining these remote, unmanageable Possessions:—☞ For the Governing of which, I will be bold to say, the English Constitution was not calculated, and is not fit. This is so plain a Case, that no Man of Reason will pretend to deny it, or undertake to prove the contrary. How then comes it to pass, that neither Ministers, nor Anti-Ministers have ever assigned the true Cause of those Evils, which we daily feel, and of which we are perpetually complaining?—The Reason is this, Neither Ministers, nor their Opponents ever meant to serve the Public, at the Risque of their own Interest.—The uttering of disagreeable, unpopular Truths might be attended with certain Consequences to themselves which they wish to avoid: And therefore they desire to be excused.
Should, for Example, the Minister for the Time being, have the Honesty and Sincerity openly to declare, that extended Commerce, and extended Territorial Acquisitions are repugnant to each other: That Industry, Probity, and Frugality are much more serviceable to the Promotion of Agriculture and Manufactures than all the Glare of War and military Glory;—and that the Boast of conquering America in Germany, or any where else, was, an improper, idle, Bravado, fitter to raise the Resentment of other Nations, than to serve ourselves. Should, I say, a Minister have the Honesty and Sincerity openly to avow these unpopular Truths, and venture to declare, that the proper Way of diminishing that Influence of the Crown which is really dangerous, would be to diminish our Expences,—by renouncing all foreign Possessions, and cultivating the Arts of Peace in the two fruitful Islands of Great-Britain and Ireland: Should any oftensible Minister have the Courage to utter these honest, unwelcome Truths;—Who would support him?—Who would thank him?—Who would not persecute him.
Again, Were any of our Demagogues to tell their best Friends, the Mob, that Gibraltar and Portmahon are very expensive, and very useless Things;—that the Ocean is the great Common of Nature, which belongs to no Nation, Language, or People, in any exclusive Sense; but ought to be free, like the Air, for the Use of all; and that the keeping up any Pretensions to the contrary, is as impolitic, as it is unjust; serving no other End, but to irritate all the World against as:—Also should he observe, that Colonies of every Sort or Kind are, and ever were, a Drain to, and an Incumbrance on the Mother-Country, requiring perpetual and expensive Nursing in their Infancy;—and becoming headstrong and ungovernable, in Proportion as they grow up,—and never failing to revolt, as soon as they shall find that they do not want our Assistance:—And that even at the best, those commercial Advantages, which are vulgarly supposed to arise from them, are more imaginary than real;—because it is impossible to compel distant Settlements to trade with the parent State, to any great Degree beyond what their own Interest would prompt them to: [And Self-Interest needs no Compulsion.]—Moreover, should any Orator of this Stamp proceed to shew, that since the Laws for governing the Colonies, have from the Beginning proved nugatory and vain, attended with vast Expence, and no proportionable Profit;—therefore should he propose a total Separation, and recommend the shaking them entirely off;—in Consequence of which Multitudes of Places would be abolished, Jobbs and Contracts effectually prevented, Millions of Money saved, universal Industry encouraged, and the Influence of the Crown reduced to that Mediocrity it ought to have:—Should, I say, any of our modern Demagogues dare to recommend these salutary Truths, what would his Brother-Demagogues say to him?—Would they assist him in this good Work?—No; they would not,—though conscious to themselves, that nothing better, or more seasonable, could be recommended.—On the contrary, they would open in full Cry against such an Apostate from the common Cause,—would persecute him in every Shape, and excite the Populace to pour forth the bitterest Execrations against him;—if not to proceed to still greater Extremities.
What Course is he then to take? And how is he to act, in order that he may seem to aim at a national Reformation, and a Redress of Grievances, without intending any Thing real? The public Good requires one Conduct: But Popularity and Party another. Pressed by this Dilemma, it is but too obvious which his Choice would be. Such a Man would warmly recommend a Reform in the K—g’s Kitchen, in his Cellar, in his Houshold Servants, and his Houshold Furniture;—nay, I had almost said, in his Dog-Kennel.—In short, he would propose to save and to retrench in every Article, except that grand one, a Separation from the Colonies, which is worth a thousand of the rest.—So that in order to gratify the perverse Humours of these unhappy Times, Majesty must be sacrificed to a republican Faction, and the Power of the Prince in the Management of his own private Concerns, be reduced to a Condition much more abject than that of any of his Subjects.
As long as the Temper and Intellects of Mankind shall remain in this wretched and disordered State, nothing truly good is likely to be done. We must therefore wait with Patience for better Times; hoping, that kind Providence will inspire one Part of the Community with sounder Understandings, and the other with better Hearts.
§. The Aristocratical Part of the Constitution.
Respecting this Branch very little need be said. For the present Aristocracy is very far from being formidable. Indeed it can hardly be said to have Weight enough in the political Scale, so as to maintain a proper Balance between the two other great Powers of the Constitution.—’Tis true, the Baronage in former Times was a dreadful Engine of Tyranny and Oppression. A few great Lords combining together, often shook the Throne, often trampled on Law and Justice, and oppressed the common People at their Pleasure. But these Times are no more: A Peer of the Realm has no Jurisdiction annexed to his Barony; he is entitled to no Privilege or Prerogative authorising him to treat his Tenants, as Slaves and Vassals; but is as amenable to the regular Courts of Law, as any private Subject. Moreover as to the landed Estates of Peers, they being as divisible into small Shares as the Estates of Commoners; therefore the Power of the Peerage is so far from encreasing, that it is greatly on the Decline, if compared with what we find on Record in former Times.
§. The Democratical Part of the Constitution;—wherein the Power of electing Deputies to represent the People is particularly considered.
That Government was ordained for the Good of the People; and that this is the great Object which ought always to be attended to in every political Institution, are Points, which I shall take for granted. The only Matter worthy our present Inquiry is, How shall this public Good be most effectually promoted? And, if divers Means should be proposed, which is the best?—Deputies from, and Representatives of the People, not only bid the fairest of any others, for this Purpose; but are likewise made an essential Branch of the British Constitution. Therefore the Benefits and Advantages thence arising, are the Subjects which come next to be considered.
The best of human Institutions cannot be supposed to be so absolutely perfect, as to want no Correction or Amendment. Nay, Time, and an Alteration of Circumstances will introduce some Disorders into the best, and point out Desects, which could not be foreseen at first. This is the Case with Respect to the democratical Part of our Government. Disorders undoubtedly there are, and Defects not a few, which call aloud for a Remedy; if any can be found, which will not increase the Discase, instead of curing it, or will not introduce new, and worse Evils, by attempting to remove the old ones.
The Remedies which have been of late Years most warmly proposed, by those Gentlemen, who glory in the Title of being the Disciples of Mr. Locke, are the following:
1st, That there shall be a more equal Representation of the People, respecting their Numbers:
2ndly, That there shall be a more equal Representation of them, respecting their Property.
And 3dly, That these Representatives shall not continue longer than one Year, or at most than three Years, without a new Election.
Let us begin with the first of the Remedies here proposed for the Cure of our political Disorders. This Notion of the Necessity of an equal Representation, is grounded on that Lockian Idea of the unalienable Right of each Individual to be Self-governed; Notions, which I hope, have been sufficiently confuted. However, as Truth will bear to be seen in various Lights, and what is wrong never can become right, I will now pursue this Deception, through a new Disguise, and endeavour to present the Reader with a second Confutation of it.
Therefore in Conformity to the Lockian Plan of equal Representation, I will state the following Case: [A Case sufficiently exact for our present Purpose] Let us suppose that the Island of Great-Britain contains seventy Millions of Acres, and seven Millions of Inhabitants;—and that it is proposed by the Lockian Politicians, [something similar to which is done almost every Day] That these seven Millions of Inhabitants ought to send nearly seven hundred Deputies to represent them in Parliament: So that each Million shall elect an hundred Representatives. So far the Scheme looks plausible; but mark the Consequences:—One Million out of the seven are crowded together, inhabiting a small Spot, perhaps not more than twenty thousand Acres; whilst the remaining six Millions are scattered over the Face of the Country; also several Millions of Acres lie waste, without any Inhabitants at all. Now this central Million, as it may be called, [alias London, Westminster,Southwark, and their Environs] with an hundred Deputies, all of their own electing, and continually under their Influence, and always ready at Hand, will be an over-match for the Rest of the Kingdom in every Contest, and become every Day more and more predominant.—Can any Man doubt of this?—He cannot, if he either knows, what human Nature is in general, when armed with Power;—or can reflect on the many Monopolies and Exclusions, which London in particular hath already obtained both by Sea and Land. For even at present, when London, Westminster, and Southwark, have but eight Representatives, they have encroached on the Liberties and Trade of their Fellow-Subjects in Hundreds of Instances, have had the Appropriation of vast Sums of the public Money, for building of Bridges, &c. &c. and have engrossed several Advantages, which ought to have been left common to all. Now, if the Metropolis has the Balance of Power already so much in its Favour, would you wish to make it preponderate upwards of twelve Times more than it doth?
Again: All over-grown Cities are formidable in another View, and therefore ought not to be encouraged by new Privileges, to grow still more dangerous; for they are, and ever were, the Seats of Faction and Sedition, and the Nurseries of Anarchy and Confusion. A daring, and desperate Leader, in any great Metropolis, at the Head of a numerous Mob, is terrible to the Peace of Society, even in the most despotic Governments:—But in London, where the People are the most licentious upon Earth,—In London, where the Populace are daily taught, that they have an unalienable Right to be self-governed;—and that their Rulers are no other than their Servants:—In London, where nothing is held sacred, but the Will of the People [blasphemously called, the Voice of God] what are you to expect from an Addition of Privilege and Power, but an Encrease of the most daring Outrages, and the Subversion of Law and Government? The audacious Villanies recently committed in June, 1780, are sufficient, one would think, to give any Man a Surfeit of the very Idea of adding still greater Influence and Power to a London Mob.
Once more, If a Man has any Sense of Rectitude and good Morals, or has a Spark of Goodness and Humanity remaining, he cannot wish to entice men into great Cities by fresh Allurements. Such Places are already become the Bane of Mankind in every Sense, in their Healths, their Fortunes, their Morals, Religigion, &c. &c. &c. And it is observable of London in particular, that were no fresh Recruits, Male and Female, to come out of the Country, to supply those Devastations which Vice, Intemperance, Brothels, and the Gallows are continually making, the whole human Species in that City would be soon exhausted: For the Number of Deaths exceed the Births by at least 7000 every Year.—So much as to the 1st Remedy proposed by the Lockians for the Cure of our political Disorders.
The 2d is, That there shall be a more equal Representation of the Inhabitants of this Island respecting their Property.
Mr. Locke himself strongly leans towards the Doctrine of representing Property;—and many of his Followers directly maintain it.—Though the Notion itself is little less than a Contradiction to their favourite grand Principle of unalienable Rights belonging to each Individual, whether poor or rich. For if such Rights do belong to any Beings whatever, they must belong to Person, not to Property. Moreover, according to this Doctrine, every Man, who has no Property, ought to have no Vote, notwithstanding the supposed unalienable Rights of his Nature. And a rich Man, with large and extensive Property, ought to have many Votes in Proportion to his Riches. Consequently the Grand Turk, and every other Despot, who is the only rich Man, being the Proprietor and Lord of all, is justly entitled to every Vote within his Dominions:—Or rather, he is the only rightful Voter, and therefore represents all Property in his own Person. What a Revolution is this! For hence it comes to pass, that the Ottoman Empire, the very Quintessence of Tyranny, is all of a sudden transformed into a mild, just, and equitable Government; exhibiting a most perfect Model of fair Representation.
The last Remedy proposed for the Cure of our political Disorders, is the Frequency of general Elections, which it seems ought to be triennial,—if not annual: And then all would be well. Never did Mountebank Doctor puff off his sophisticated Drugs with more rhetorical Flourishes, than our State Doctors have celebrated the Virtues of their insallible Nostrum of annual or triennial Parliaments. Nay, they have assured the Populace in some of their Harangues, that they have an unalienable Right to require us to swallow this Prescription.—But let us enquire a little before we swallow.—The first Benefit, we are told, which is to accrue from annual General Elections, is, “That we shall be restored to our antient Constitution of annual Parliaments.” What? Doth not the Parliament now meet annually? And hath it ever failed to meet annually since the Revolution? “Oh, no: “It meets, ’tis true: But it is not a new Parliament, [a new House of Commons] which meets; but only a Continuation of the old one; whereas there ought to have been a new House of Commons every Time that there is a new Sessions of Parliament. And the People have an unalienable Right to demand a Restoration of their antient Privileges.”—How doth it appear, that annual General Elections ever were an antient Privilege of the People?—And what Authority do you produce in support of this extraordinary Assertion?—“There was a Law made the 4th of Edward III. C. 14.—which enacts, that Parliaments shall be held once a Year, or more often, if need be: This Law was confirmed in the 36th Year of the same Prince, and still remains unrepealed. Therefore”—Therefore what?—“Therefore, the holding of a Parliament once every Year, or more often if need be,—signifies the same Thing, [in patriotic Language] as that there shall be a General Election of the House of Commons once every Year, or oftener.”.—Surely the candid and impartial Reader doth not expect a formal Consutation of so wild an Argument.—Taking therefore for granted, that the holding of a Parliament, and a General Election of the Commons, are not synonymous Terms, I will endeavour to employ the Reader’s Time and my own to better Purposes, by stating the Fact, from which this strange Notion of the constitutional Right of annual General Election seems to have taken its Rise.—When the Commons of England were excessively poor, and when the Members of the House of Representatives were, almost to a Man, either the Tenants of the Crown, or the Vassals, Dependents, and Retainers of the great Barons [there being hardly such a Person then existing, as what we now call an independent Country Gentleman] two Things were deemed great Favours at that Juncture, which would be looked upon in these Times in a very different Light. The one was, The excusing of the poorer Boroughs (especially the Tenants of the Crown) from sending Members to Parliament: And this was so frequent a Practice, that even the Sheriffs would sometimes make Returns, that this or that Borough was in such a pauper State, as not to be able to bear the Expence of sending Representatives. The other was, That the Elected themselves [for small Cities and Towns Corporate] did not consider the Office of a Member of Parliament in that high and honourable Light in which it stands at present. Men, who have not much to give, and no Favours to bestow, and who stand more in need of the Protection of others, than others do of them, are not much courted and caressed at any Time. * Now this was the very Case with the Representatives in Parliament, I mean for small Cities and Borough-Towns, during all the Reigns of the Plantagenets, and the Tudors; (as shall be more fully made to appear in the ensuing Chapter] therefore many, if not most of such Members, thought it a greater Favour to be excused from serving a burthensome Office, than to be elected to it. As to the Wages they received from their Constituents, every one must know, that at any Time, and according to the most frugal Mode of Living, the Sums received could not be sufficient for defraying the Expences incurred. Hence therefore it was natural for them to consider the Dissolution of the House at the End of every Sessions as a Matter of Grace and Favour; in order that they might have a Chance of not being elected a second Time. So that from this Circumstance we may trace the true Cause, how it came to pass, that at the End of every Sessions of Parliament, the House of Commons was generally dissolved:—I say generally: For there were some Exceptions: And most assuredly the Prince was not then under the Obligation of any positive Statute Law [as he now is] for dissolving it at any particular given Time. It was wholely at his own Option, when to do it. The Irish House of Commons, copied from the English Model, puts this Affair beyond Dispute. For in that Kingdom, when an House of Representatives was elected, at the Accession of a new King, it was to remain undissolved [’till the late octennial Act altered the Case] during the Life of the reigning Prince, if he thought proper:—If not, he might dissolve it as often as he pleased, and command new Elections to be made.—So much as to the boasted constitutional Rights of annual Elections.
However, though our Modern-Patriots have failed most egregiously in this Point; yet, if they can make it appear, that annual or triennial Elections would be productive of more Good than Evil, every real Patriot will wish Success to their Endeavours, whatever may have been their Motives.
And 1st. They assure us, “that annual Elections would put an End to all Bribery and Corruption.” Good News indeed! But are you really sure of that? “We are; for when General Elections were annual, there was no “Bribery.”—Probable enough; and if you intend to reduce the Power of the House of Commons to the like insignificant State it was in during the Reigns of the Plantagenets and the Tudors, that very Insignificance would effectually remove all the Evils of which you now complain. As a Proof of this, take the following Example in modern Times.—The Clergy are no longer taxed by their Representatives in Convocation, but by Laymen in the House of Commons.—And what is the Consequence?—The Election of Convocation-Men is now become one of the most peaceable Things in Nature. No Bribery, no Corruption are even suspected, not a Treat, not an Intrigue is heard of, and Calumny herself is dumb. Now do you really wish to have our State-Diseases cured, and our political Complaints removed after the same Manner? and is this one of those insallible Nostrums, of which such Boastings have been lately made?—However, let us hear what you have further to propose.
2dly.You say “Were Elections to become annual, Bribery would cease; because it would be worth no Man’s while to bribe so often, as every Year.” To this I answer, that there is an Ambiguity in the Phrase worth no Man’s while, which must be first explained: And then the Merits of the Cause will soon appear. Among the many Motives which induce Men to stand Candidates for a Seat in Parliament, some good, and some bad, two of the most predominant are, Avarice, and Ambition. Now, as far as mere Avarice or the Thirst of Gain is concerned, no Man in his sober Senses would think it worth his while to give 20,000l.—or 10,000l.—or 5000l.—or 2000l.—or even 1000l. annually, in Bribes, in order to procure a Place, or a Pension of 1000l.—2000l.—or at the most 3000l.—without any Security of holding it a Day:—I say, no Man in his Senses would think it worth his while to risque such a certain Sum on such an Uncertainty. And so far I agree most cordially with you. But remember that I have already proved [Page 247.] that no Man doth act after this senseless Manner, even at present. But as to Ambition, and Vain-Glory, and the Lust of Power, the Stings of Envy, Hopes of Revenge, Religious Bigotry, and Party-Rage, &c. &c. &c.—are these Evils to be cured by having Recourse to annual Elections? No, no: You cannot suppose any Thing so foolish and absurd. As soon might you undertake to quench Fire with Oil, as to cool and moderate the Passions of Mankind, by keeping them in a perpetual State of Strise, Jealousy, and Rancour. It has ever been the Advice of medical People, to keep sore Places from being fretted;—but it seems, our modern State-Doctors prescribe the Use of continual fretting, as an infallible Means of Cure.
Besides, if Experience is to be our Guide, let the Experience of former Times decide the Question. During the long Contest between the Houses of Lancaster and York, annual Elections were according to this Hypothesis, the constant Practice. Whether that was the Case, or not, is immaterial. If it was, what Good did these annual Elections then produce? And how much of the Fury and Madness of the Combatants did they restrain?—If annual Elections were then set aside, what was their Efficacy, if not used, when most wanted?—That Parliament upon Parliaments were held during those troublesome Times, is an undoubted Fact:—And therefore if annual Elections are such a sovereign Remedy, as here supposed, this was the Time for them to have produced their salutary Effects. Yet alas! the only Effect which we can learn from History, was, That the victorious Side always reversed what the vanquished had enacted, and added new Confiscations, and Attainders of their own.—Could any Thing better have been expected from the annual Revivals of civil Discords?
But above all, if you will view the Matter in a commercial Light, you must acknowledge, that annual, or even triennial Appeals to the whole Mass of the People, [each of whom, it seems, hath an equal and an indefeasible Right to be represented, and to be self-governed, &c.] would bring swift Ruin and Destruction on all our Trade and Manufactures. The Clubs and Combinations of Tradesmen to raise the Price of Goods, and of Journeymen to raise their Wages, have a bad Effect on national Commerce even at present;—judge therefore what would be the Consequences, were every Tradesman, and every Journeyman, to be annually authorised [as he would be in effect] to make his own Terms with the Candidate, before he would promise him his Vote! Most undoubtedly Birmingham and Manchester, Leeds, and Halifax, and many other populous Towns and manufacturing Places would soon be reduced to mere Villages, when blessed with equal Representations, and frequent Elections: And the Trade and Manufactures, the Shipping and Navigation of England would soon migrate into Scotland:—Into Scotland, I say, where the common People have no Concern in County Elections, and not much in most of their Cities and Boroughs; and therefore they suffer but very little from the Drunkenness and Intemperance, the Idleness and Dissipation, and other Vices, which generally prevail in Consequence of contested Elections.
But be that as it may, enough hath surely now been said to prove the Inefficacy of the Remedies hitherto proposed. And if what I have to offer in their Room should be found on Examination to be equally defective, I can only say that these Defects must be charged either on the Nature of the Disease, which will not admit of a Cure,—or on the Incapacity of the Author, who cannot discover one. [For as to Care and Attention in considering, and reconsidering the Subject, nothing has been wanting in that Respect] If therefore the Disease is really incurable, Patience and Resignation is the only Prescription. But if a great Part of the Evils now complained of, might be rectified, and others so far redressed as to be of small Importance,—it is to be hoped that some happy Genius may yet arise, who will propose a Plan more efficacious in itself, and free from those Difficulties, which perhaps may be objected to what I have now to offer.
Having premised thus much. I would now beg Leave to observe, that the following Points appear to me of such Consequence, that every Man, who would propose any Remedy either for removing, or palliating the present Evils, ought to have them constantly in View, as the Scope and End of all his Endeavours.
1st.True Policy requires, that every Part of a compact [middle-sized] State, such as Great-Britain, ought to be well cultivated, and fully settled;—Therefore every Scheme, Plan, or System, which has a contrary Tendency, ought to be discouraged and opposed, as much as possible.
2dly.True Policy requires, that in the well peopling of a Country, Abundance of single Farm-Houses and Cottages, numerous Country Seats, Villages, and Towns, and not a few Cities of a moderate Size are much preserable to large, unwieldy Capitals in, or near the Centre, with Wastes and Deserts, or Districts thinly inhabited, at or near the Extremities:—Consequently every good and really patriotic Scheme should have an Eye towards promoting the former, and checking the Encrease of the latter, as much as the Nature of the Case will permit.
3dly.Though it would be highly absurd, to admit indiscriminately every individual Moral-Agent to be a Voter, yet true Policy requires that the Voters should be so numerous, and their Qualifications respecting Property be so circumstanced, that the actual Voters could not combine against the Non-Voters, without combining against themselves, against their nearest Friends, Acquaintance, and Relations.
4thly.Good Policy also requires, that in the Matter of electing Representatives, or sending Deputies to the great Council of the Nation, the general and particular, the national and personal Interests both of the Electors, and of the Elected, should be made to harmonize as much as possible.
Lastly, it also requires, that the proposed Alterations from the present System, should deviate as little as may be, from the present Forms of Government, and cause no remarkable Changes in the external Police, and long established Customs of the English Nation.
On these Positions, which I hope the candid, and judicious Reader will readily allow, I will venture to proceed in my intended Scheme of Amendment or Improvement.
The QUALIFICATIONS of VOTERS.
Let me therefore previously remark, that the Qualification for voting both as Freemen, and as Freeholders, ought to be raised a little. The public Good, as well as private Happiness, calls aloud for a Reformation in this Point; and none can reasonably object to such a Measure, but those who maintain the absurd, and often confuted Notion of the unalienable Rights of each Individual to be his own Legislator, and his own Director. But, I would beg Leave to observe, that this Qualification ought to be placed in such a Mediocrity of Condition, between the two Extremes of great Riches, and of wretched Poverty, that no sober, diligent, and frugal Man could well fail of raising himself by his Industry, in a Course of Years to the honourable Distinction of a Voter;—and that almost every idle, vicious, and abandoned Spendthrist would be in Danger of sinking beneath, and of being degraded from the Privilege of voting. How different from this is the Case at present!
1st.Then, the Qualification for voting as a Freeholder for the County should still be no more nominally than that of Forty Shillings a Year above all Reprisals. But in order that this Qualification might not be subject to any Fraud or Collusion, it would be necessary to insist that the Voter, or intended Voter should be assessed to the Taxes both of King and Poor, for no less a Valuation of the Premises, than the whole Sum of forty Shillings;—and that he himself ought to be in full Possession of them, and to have paid the Tax or Taxes arising from such Assessments, [Reference being had to the Books of the Collectors] a full Year before he could be entitled to give his Vote. This single Regulation would cut off three-fourths of the bad Votes usually obtruded on Sheriffs at contested Elections;—nay, it would put an End to the whole Trade of splitting Freeholds on such Occasions.
2dly.Though all Persons ought to be free as to the Exercise of any handycraft Trade, or Calling, both in Town and Country [and all Laws, and Bye-Laws to the contrary ought to be repealed] yet none but Residents in Cities and Borough Towns ought to be allowed to vote at Elections as Freemen. And the legal Qualification of a Resident, to entitle him to be considered as a voting Freeman, ought to be the having paid Scot and Lot in such Town or City in his own Person, and for his own Property, [Reference being had to the Collectors Book] for one clear Year, preceding the Time on which he tenders his Vote. Nevertheless all Men, free or not free, resident, or Absentees, who have Freeholds within the Precincts, Liberties, or Boundaries of such Cities, or Borough Towns, ought likewise to be entitled to the Privilege of voting for Representatives in Parliament;—provided that their Freeholds come within the Description of the full Sum of forty Shillings above-mentioned:—It being very evident that the Interest of such Freeholder, generally speaking, is more permanent, and local, than that of a mere Freeman paying Scot and Lot. Now here again, the whole System of electioneering Bribes, and of Borough-Brokage, would in a Manner be annihilated by this single Regulation;—and the remaining Evils be so very few in Comparison, as hardly to deserve our Notice.—So much as to the Qualification of Voters.
The QUALIFICATION of CANDIDATES.
Respecting the Gentlemen to be elected Representatives, their Interest, it is presumed, would best be connected with that of the Public in general, and of their Constituents in particular, by the following Arrangement.
1st.Let the Person offering himself a Candidate for a County, cause to be delivered to the Sheriff, or returning Officer, ten Days at least before the Commencement of the Poll, a List, or Schedule of his landed Qualification:—Shewing, that he has not less than 1,000 Acres of Land in such a Parish, or Parishes, according as the Lands may lie contiguous, or dispersed, within the said County; on which are erected ten Dwelling Houses at least, which are, and which have been for 12 Months last past inhabited by ten distinct Families; and that he himself hath enjoyed the said Estate in his own full Right, and hath been the Landlord of the said Tenants for at least twelve Months preceding, having paid, either by himself, or by them, every Kind of Tax, which hath been legally charged upon the same. Moreover, he should be obliged to cause a printed Copy of the said List or Schedule to be affixed on the Market-House, Sessions-House, Town-Hall, Church Doors, and every other public Building of, and in every Market-Town within the said County:—And should also cause Duplicates of the same to be inserted twice, or oftener, in the Journals or News-Papers of the said County, if any such shall be published;—if not, of some neighbouring County or City, the most read by, and circulated among the Electors.
2dly.The Candidates for Cities, or Boroughs, should be obliged to deliver similar Lists, or Schedules, and to give equally long Notice to their respective returning Officers, and indeed to all the Inhabitants of such Cities, or Boroughs, by causing printed Copies to be affixed on the Market-Houses, and on every public Building whatsoever, ten Days at least before the Poll begins: Nor should the Insertion of such List or Schedules in the public Papers (as related in the former Article) ever be omitted; in order that Freeholders at a Distance, as well as Freemen on the Spot, may be made perfectly well acquainted with the Pretensions, and landed Qualifications of each intended Candidate:—Only respecting the Quantum of the Qualification, it may be necessary, [in order to approach nearer to the present Law] that no more Acres should be required than 500,—and five Dwelling Houses, occupied or inhabited by five distinct Families. But nevertheless, that this Qualification may be a real one, and not pretended, or a borrowed, [which alas! is too often the Case at present] it may be necessary to insist, that no Part of this landed Estate should be thirty Miles distant from the City, or Borough, for which he offers himself a Candidate, so that many of the Inhabitants might be able to detect the Cheats if any should be attempted:—The Miles to be measured along the King’s Highway, and public Roads, and not as the Crow flies. But it is immaterial in what County or Counties the Estate itself should happen to be situated, the Vicinity being the main Point to be regarded.
3dly.The Penalties or Forfeitures for contravening, or not duly performing any of the above Rules and Conditions, should be the following.
[1st.] Thouch it would not be right to debar the accused, before his Guilt is legally proved, the Liberty of standing a Candidate;—yet as soon as the Election was ended, and for nine Months afterwards, it might be lawful for any Person whatever to prosecute him in the King’s-Bench for the [supposed] Breach of this intended Law;—provided, that the Plaintiff previously gave Security for paying 1000l. Damages in the Case of a County Election, and 500l. in that of a City or Borough, to the Defendant, if he did not, according to the Verdict of a Jury, make good his Charge:—But in Case he did, then the Defendant should forfeit the Sum of 1000l. for a County, and 500l. for a City or Borough, with treble Costs to the Plaintiff; and the Onus probandi, that he was actually and bone Fide possessed of such an Estate, and that he had performed all the Conditions required by this intended Law, should rest on the Defendant, because it would always be in his Power to prove his Innocence, if he was falsely accused.
[2dly.] In Case the Defendant should be cast, then, if he was returned Member, his Seat should be declared vacant, ipso facto, and a Writ be made out for a new Election:—But he himself should be rendered incapable of standing a Candidate for that, or for any other County, or Place, for at least three Years to come.
[3dly.] If any Thing else can be supposed yet to be wanting towards putting a total End to the numerous Frauds and Forgeries of unqualified Candidates, [now, alas! so very common] and of their Adherents, Co-adjutors, or Abettors,—It may be thus supplied:—Let every Person who can be proved to have been an Accomplice, or Assistant in making up false Accounts, or publishing the same, (knowing them to be false) respecting the Property of, or Title to the Lands,—the Quantity of Acres which they contain,—the Number of Dwelling Houses erected on them,—the Families actually inhabiting them,—the Length of Time, in which the Candidate may have been in the Possession of them in his own Right;—I say, let every such convicted Accomplice, Agent, or Assistant, be judged by this intended Law to have incurred the same Guilt as a Principal, and be subject to the like Penalties, and Disqualifications in every Respect whatever.
Having laid down these several Regulations for ascertaining the Qualifications both of those, who are to elect, and of the Candidates to be elected; it is humbly conceived, that, were they duly executed, they would prove such a sufficient Guard to the Freedom of Elections, and such a preventive Remedy against almost every Kind of Fraud and Imposition, that more, or greater need not be required. Indeed, it may be questioned, whether in the present State of Things, more or greater would not embarrass the main Design, instead of promoting it. Let us therefore take a View of the whole Plan, as it lies before us.—Supposing, that it was fairly set in Motion, and when all the Parts are co-operating with each other.
But in order to do this, I must premise, that such an important Bill ought not to be attempted to be introduced into Parliament, at or near the Dissolution of an old one, but about the beginning of a new one. Those, who know any Thing of the Spirit of Electioneering, which is ready to burst forth, as a Flood, when a Parliament is drawing near the Time of its Dissolution, and of the vile Arts and Stratagems usually practised on such Occasions, to inflame the Populace with Names, and Noise, and Nonsense, can easily comprehend my Meaning.
This being premised, I am therefore to observe,
First of all, That when such a regulating Bill shall have passed into a Law,—even the lowest of the People, and those, who perhaps might be deprived thereby of their present Privilege of voting [a Privilege alas! which is now their greatest Misfortune] would soon find, that they would be Gainers by it in Reality, instead of Losers;—Gainers, I say, unless the Removal of the Power of doing Mischief to others, and of ruining themselves, can be called a Loss. In fact, all the great Blessings of Society, Life, Liberty, and Property, would be as much ensured to them under this Circumstance, as to any Set of Men whatever.
Nay 2dly, They would also soon find, that the Honor or Privilege of becoming a Britih Voter [it would then indeed be a real Honour, and a great Privilege] lay within their own Reach to obtain;—provided they were so much their own Friends, as to live a Life of Industry, Sobriety, and Frugality for a few Years;—I say, for a few Years; it being almost demonstrable that any common Day-Labourer, or common Mechanic, acting uniformly on a Plan of Industry, and Œconomy, might raise himself [unless particularly unfortunate] to the Degree of a Voter, before he arrived at the middle Stage of Life;—Yes, he might raise himself to it by his own good Conduct, without applying to any one for Interest, or using any Sort of Solicitations.—Now, when the Road to public Prosperity, and to private Happiness, to external Honours, and to internal Virtue, is thus made straight and easy, without any Turnings or Labyrinths whatsoever.—What can any People upon Earth reasonably desire more?
3dly.Those, who should feel themselves either elevated to, or confirmed in the Rank of Voters, by Means of these new Regulations, would prize this Privilege so much the more, and contend for it with the greater Zeal, in Proportion, as they found that it would be an honourable Distinction, not conferred indiseriminately, as at present, on the very Dregs of the People, or the most worthless of Mankind; but bestowed on the more deserving, both as a Reward for their own exemplary Conduct, and also as an Incitement held forth to others to copy after. Men in such a Situation will value that Constitution, which distinguishes them from others, so much to their Credit and Reputation, for the same Reason that they love and value themselves. And the Lockian Doctrine of unalienable Rights will necessarily fall to the Ground.
4thly.When the Time of electing Representatives shall draw near, the Electors for Cities and Towns, as well as for Counties, will be tolerably well secured by these new Regulations from the Solicitations of those bribing Mushroom Candidates, who always mean to sell, having no Chance to succeed, unless they buy. Therefore, generally speaking, neither the Plunderers of the East, nor the Slave-Drivers of the West, nor the Privateering, trading Buccancers of the American Continent, nor our English Newmarket Jockeys, nor London Gamblers, nor Change-Alley Bulls and Bears, &c. &c. will be able to shew their Heads, when such terra firma Qualifications shall be required, before they offer themselves as Candidates. Yet these landed Qualifications are so low and moderate in themselves, and the Time required to be in Possession of them so very reasonable, that no Man in the Neighbourhood, who has any Title to the Character of a Gentleman, would be excluded from being a Candidate, if he pleased.
Hence therefore 5thly, it is very apparent that all Candidates for Boroughs, answering to this Description, would have a real Interest in the Welfare of the Neighbourhood of the Place they intended to represent. A Circumstance this, in which our present System is too often very defective: For when an Adventurer of the former Stamp, (as mentioned in the 3d. Article) whose Wealth lies in far distant Countries, or in the Funds (if indeed it is any where) happens to be elected, he has no personal Motive to concern himself at all in the Prosperity of the Borough, or in the Improvement of the Estates, situated in its Neighbourhood. Nay, indeed it may so happen, that his own private Interest as a Planter, a Monopolizer, a Jobber, or Contractor, &c. &c. may be directly opposite to the true Interest of that Place, or District, which he represents in Parliament: And therefore, if he can attach to his electioneering Views two, or three leading Men of the Borough, either by pecuniary Bribes, or by the Promise of Places to them, their Relations, or Dependents,—his End is answered, and he looks no farther;—unless it be to assist these dirty Tools to oppress and harrass those, their fellow Burgesses, who should dare to oppose them.
5thly. When the general and particular Interest both of the Electors, and Elected, of the Constituents, and of their Representatives, are thus made to con-center, Parliament-Men become in fact, what they are always supposed to be in Theory, and Speculation, both Guardians, and Guarantees: Guardians of the Rights of the People, and of their own Property against the Encroachments or Innovations either of the Crown, or of the Aristocracy—if any should be attempted;—and Guarantees to both the Crown and the Nobility, that the People shall not abuse the Liberty they enjoy, by aiming at too much, so as to overturn the Constitutional Balance; which indeed would sooner or later prove their own Ruin:—For a turbulent, factious Democracy is quickly, and easily converted into the Tyranny of a single Despot.
It has been often said by certain Writers on Politics, that Wealth and Power naturally, and even necessarily infer each other. In a qualified Sense this may prove true, but not universally. It would be true, were none but Persons of some Property in Counties, Cities, and in Borough-Towns, [that is, were substantial Freeholders, and all Persons paying Scot and Lot, and not the lowest of Mankind, though frequently a Majority as to Numbers] were those, I say, and none but these to elect their own Representatives, and to empower them to act in their Stead. In such a Case the Wealth of Individuals thus consederated together under proper Heads to direct and govern the whole, would become its Strength;—And Strength so circumstanced would be only another Name for Wealth.—Suppose, therefore, that in the Vicissitudes of human Affairs, our Body Politic should be threatened with such a violent Shock as would greatly disorder it:—As soon as the Danger was perceived, every Voter or Elector, every Freeman and Freeholder, would immediately unite with their respective Representatives to guard against the approaching Evils, and repel the Blow. All little Divisions and Animosities would then be forgot: The general Solicitude would swallow up every inferior Consideration, and unite all Parties in the common Cause. Suppose again, that thro’ Want of Attention in some, and from a much worse Cause in others, the Blow was actually given; and that the Wound was almost mortal;—yet even then, as long as Life remained, and any Hopes were left, the whole Mass of the [voting] People, as well as their Representatives, would struggle hard to get the better of this dangerous Convulsion, and to restore the Body-Politic to its antient Vigour. These Efforts they would certainly make, because they would then directly feel, that the Loss of such a Constitution as ours, would be their own Loss, and that they themselves could never be of so much Importance, either in their private, or their public Capacity, under any other Form of Government, as they are under the present.
Here therefore, it may be highly necessary to observe, that the democratical Branch of our Constitution has more to fear from its own internal Tendency, than from any external Cause whatever.—I have, I hope, already proved, that neither the Crown nor the Peerage, according to the present State of Things, could either attack or undermine the Liberties of the People, with any Prospect of Success. We may therefore consider ourselves as safe on that Side. But I own, I am not without Apprehensions, that the People themselves are strongly inclined to do those Things, which would in the Event prove a Felo de se. Too many among them are always disposed to think, that because Liberty is a good Thing, therefore they can never have too much of that good Thing.—This fatal Mistake has been the Ruin of every free Government, both in antient, and modern Times; and will, if persisted in, prove the Ruin of ours. The new Regulations here proposed, bid the fairest of any that I know of [consistently I mean, with the Spirit of our Constitution, and a due Regard to real Liberty] to check that strange Propensity so observable in our common People towards Levelling, and Licentiousness, and to give their Minds a better and more reasonable Turn. It is indeed a melancholy Reflection, that in most Cities, and Borough-Towns, and perhaps in Counties, the far greater Number of Voters are such, whose Circumstances lead them to wish for a new Division of Property, because they have little, or nothing to lose, but may have much to get in Times of Confusion, and by a general Scramble. Therefore every Rule of sound Policy, not to say Religion and Morality, suggests the Necessity of raising the Qualification of voting to such a Mediocrity of Condition, as would make it the Interest of the Majority of Electors, to assist in the Support and Preservation of Order and good Government, and not to wish their Overthrow.
7thly and lastly.The new Regulations here proposed, if carried into Execution, would cause every Part of the Kingdom, the Extremities, and intermediate Places. [as well as the Centre, or Seat of Government] to be better represented than they are at present. The Complaint usually brought against Cornwall and Wiltshire, is, that they return too many Members in Proportion to the rest of the Kingdom: Whereas these Counties might justly retort the Accusation, by saying, that though they have nominally more Members than London, Westminster, and Southwark, yet in Reality they have fewer. For most of the Members for the Cornish and Wiltshire Boroughs have their chief Residence in the Metropolis, with Country-Seats perhaps in its Environs:—None of which Villas, generally speaking, are at a greater Distance than 20 or 30 Miles from it:—And what is still worse, most of such Members have not a Foot of Land in, or any where near the Places for which they were elected: So that having no personal Interest in the Premises, they might with much greater Propriety, be stiled the Representatives of London, Westminster, and Southwark, and of the several Districts in that Neighbourhood [where their Estates and Fortunes are supposed to be] than the Representatives of the Boroughs in Wiltshire and Cornwall, where they have no Property at all.
When Men are determined to support a favourite Hypothesis, it is curious to observe, what Pains they take, to make every Thing, however discordant in its Nature, to bend and ply towards their beloved System. The Boroughs of the two Counties just mentioned return more Members to Parliament than any others: This is a Fact which cannot be denied. But how is it to be accounted for?—The Disciples of Mr. Locke, who maintain, that all Persons have an unalienable Right to choose their own Legislators, Governors, and Directors, gravely tell us, that these Boroughs, now fallen into Decay, were once very large, and extremely populous, and the Seats of various extensive Manufactures:—And then the short Inference is, that as the Trade is gone, and the Inhabitants become very few, the Right of sending Members to Parliament ought to be transferred to more populous and flourishing Towns. [Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Halifax, Stroud, Bradford, Trowbridge, and many such like Places, would not think themselves at all obliged to the Author of such a Proposal, and would certainly remonstrate strongly against it] But waving the Matter, let us, if we can, trace the real Origin of this Difference between the State of Representation of the Boroughs in the two Counties of Wilts and Cornwall, if compared with those of other Counties. *Wiltshire was long the Residence of the Kings of the West-Saxons, who in Process of Time conquered all the rest. Now where the Royal Residence was, there of Course would be the chief Domain: For the stated Revenue of our antient Princes, both Saxon and Norman, consisted chiefly in Landed Estates, that is, in Castles, with their Territories, Manors and Honours, and Towns and Villages, held by various Services, some of them military or noble, and others base and servile. Cornwall was in like Manner, and for the same Ends and Purposes the Domains of the Earls and Dukes of Cornwall. Hence therefore it naturally followed, that as the great Tenants of the Crown were obliged to attend in Person at the Courts of their Sovereign [thereby constituting an House of Peers] so the smaller Tenants, and inferior Vassals, were to do the same by, Deputation; which Circumstance gave the first Idea of an House of Commons. Indeed there was a stronger Reason for the Attendance of the Deputies from those Towns and Villages, which belonged to the Crown, if their Poverty did not prevent them;—I say, there was a stronger Reason for their Attendance in some Respects, than for that of others;—because the Quantum of those Acknowments, Services, and Quit-Rents, which they were to pay to their great Landlord, the Crown, as well as their Free-Gifts and Benevolences, if they are disposed to make any, were to be fixed and apportioned at such Meeting. Moreover, when the Duchy of Cornwall escheated to the King, the Tenants, and Borough-Towns, and Villages of the Duke became a Part of the Royal Patrimony; in consequence of which, they were obliged to do the same Suits and Services at the King’s Courts, which they had done before to their ducal Masters, or great feudal Lords. I own indeed, that several of the Cornish Boroughs were not chartered to send Members to the General Parliament of the Realm ’till the Reign of King James I.—But nevertheless they were such Places as were supposed to have sent Deputies to the Courts of the Earls, or Dukes of Cornwall, and therefore were considered as having a Kind of equitable Right to send Members to the General Council of the Nation, now that their own particular Courts were suppressed, or rather swallowed up. Therefore, to return:—
Surely there is nothing forced, or unnatural in this Account of the Matter;—nothing, but what is perfectly analogous to the Customs and Manners of antient Times, and correspondent to the Genius of the Gothic System. Why therefore should we have Recourse to an imaginary Hypothesis of the great Commerce, great Population, and extensive Manufactures of these two single Counties of Wilts and Cornwall, to the Prejudice of all the rest of England, without any Foundation in History for such a Supposition?—Why indeed, when it is farther considered, that such an Hypothesis can answer no other End, than to confirm, by forged Accounts, that false Notion of every Man having an unalienable Right to be self-governed;—a Notion which was not so much as dreamed of in those Times?
There is but one Objection, as far as I can perceive, which can be made to the Account here given of the Reason, why a greater Number of Members are sent by the Wiltshire and Cornish Boroughs, than by the Towns and Villages of other Counties:—And that is this; “Were the Case as here stated, it would be natural to expect from the Analogy of the Thing, that the Dutchy of Lancaster, now united to the Crown, would have furnished Examples similar to those of the Dutchy of Cornwall:—But it doth not.”—This Objection, it must be owned, looks plausible at first Sight:—But the whole Force of it is built on a Mistake.—The Dutchy of Lancaster is, and ever was a scattered Thing, composed out of the forfeited Estates of four great Barons, besides other Accessions, which lay dispersed in almost every County both of England and of Wales. It was therefore impossible, that the same Phœnomenon could have occurred in the one Case, as in the other. Had indeed those forfeited Estates been situated altogether in Lancashire, or in any one single County, there is hardly a Doubt to be made, but that the same, or nearly the same Circumstance would have taken Place, on the Union of that Dutchy with the Crown.—And if it had, what ill Consequences would have ensued,—supposing, I mean, that the Regulations here proposed, had been adopted, as a Part of the System?—For my Part, I can see none:—Nay, I will not scruple to declare, that it would be a much more rational Plan, that the Deputies from Cornwall, or Westmoreland, Cumberland, or Northumberland,—or, if you please, from Sutherland and Caithness, (now these Kingdoms are united) should out-number those of London, Westminster, Southwark, and the adjacent Parts, than that these latter should be more numerous than the former:—Because the Centre and the Residence of the Legislative, and executive Powers;—or in one Word, the Metropolis will never fail to take Care of itself:—Not so, vice versa.
Divers Collateral Circumstances CORROBORATING THE FOREGOING SYSTEM, AND CONFUTING THE LOCKIAN
The general Nature of the Gothic Constitution described, which the barbarous Nations introduced and settled in every Part of Europe, and particularly in England.—Various antiquated Customs and Laws explained relative thereto.—These Laws either not understood, or wilfully misrepresented by our modern Lockians.
THOUGH I have in the preceding Work endeavoured to illustrate several antient Laws and Customs, the Knowledge of which are totally unknown to the Generality of News-Paper Politicians;—yet I find myself under a Kind of Necessity of giving a still more general Sketch of the Out-lines, of our former Gothic Constitution, in order to guard against the Misrepresentations of certain late Publications, circulated and dispersed with incredible Industry;—whose Authors must have had an uncommon Share either of Ignorance or of Disingenuity, intending only to give the Out-lines of the Gothic System, which once universally prevailed. I will endeavour to be as brief, as the Nature of the Subject will permit.
Setting aside the Clergy, whose Office and Character created them a distinct Consideration, there were but three general Classes of Men in this, and in every other Kingdom in Europe;—The Villains,—the Tradesmen,—and the Gentlemen.
The Villains were the lowest Class, but they were by far the most numerous: For there was hardly any Kind of laborious, or servile Work in all Branches of Husbandry performed by any other Class of Men. Nevertheless, they too had their Gradation of Servitude. For some of them were Villains in gross, other Villains regardant Manors [not to mention the Bordarii, Cottarii, &c. &c.] and the Rest were Copy-holders;—of which latter also there were various Kinds, and different Degrees.
The Villains in gross seem to have been on the same Footing with the Negro Slaves at present in the West-Indies. And as one of the chief Articles of Export from England to other Countries [even to Ireland.] during the Times of the Angle-Saxons, was this horrid Trade of selling their Fellow Creatures,—it is probable that such Slaves were Villains in gross.
The next Species were Villains regardant, or appendant to Manors. Being attached to the Soil [Globae ascriptitii.] They could not regularly be separated from it, without their own Consent: Consequently they passed with the Manor from Lord to Lord, as often as the Land changed its Master or Proprietor by Purchase, Donation, Devise, or Descent. However, Slaves they were in every Sense: For their Lord and Masters might use their own Discretion in imposing upon them, what Burdens or Tasks they pleased; and might punish them also very severely, without being accountable to any one;—provided they did not maim or kill them. Moreover these poor Wretches were not capable of acquiring any Property for themselves; for all theirs were their Masters.
The Severity of this Bondage became milder in Process of Time, by the Institution of Copyhold Tenures. The Villains of this Denomination were comparatively happy: because they had certain Portions of Land assigned them, which in some Respects they might call their own, provided they performed the Conditions annexed thereto. These Services were at first so much manual Labour, or so many Days’ Work, according as their Lord should appoint: Also the Copy-holders were generally obliged to furnish him with certain Quantities of Provisions of different Kind, of Corn, Cattle, Poultry, Meal for his Dogs, &c. &c. &c. Moreover there were often added to these Services, various other Stipulations, some of them not amiss, and others very ridiculous and absurd, to say no worse. But all, or most of them, as they took their Rise from the mere Will and Pleasure, or Caprice of the first Granter, became afterwards a Kind of Law to both Parties, that is, both to the Lord, and his Vassal; and were therefore called the Customs of the Manor, and held to be sacred for a long Season. However as the seudal System was evidently more the Work of present Necessity, than of cool and provident Deliberation, these Tenures were softened by little, and little, into more liberal Holdings, according as the Times became more peaceable and settled. The Services were often changed into annual Quit-Rents, and the Herriots, Escheats, Forseitures, Admittances, and Reliefs, were turned into Fines certain, and fixed Sums of Money. Moreover, several of these Holdings were made perpetual, according to the Custom of the Manor: And the Nature or Condition of most of the Rest was so changed, as to differ little from Lands held in Soccage. Indeed Soccage itself was a base, or servile Tenure: For whatever was not military, was base, according to the Ideas which then prevailed. The worst Part of this Institution, and what drew after it real Tyranny on the one Side, and Slavery on the other, was, that the Copy-holder seemed to be without a Remedy, in Case he was oppressed by his Lord: For he had no other Jurisdiction, at least in the first Instance, and in Civil Causes, to appeal to, but the Court Leet, or Court Baron of that very Man, his Steward, Bailiff, &c. who was his Oppressor. Happily at present all these Evils are effectually removed: And indeed the Institution itself, as far as it carries an Idea of Slavery, is vanishing away. For, as no new Copy-holds can now be erected, and as there are so many Ways of turning the old ones into different Holdings [which are putting in Practice every Day] it is probable, that this Kind of Tenure will be extinct. [The whole Manor of Taunton-Dean in Somersetshire, containing so many Thousands of Inhabitants, is Copy-hold of Inheritance under the Bishop of Winchester, and might be turned into distinct Freeholds for a trifling Consideration.] The several Tenures of base Condition [including Borderers, and Cotters, also Copy-hold and Soccage] were once so numerous, as to sustain a far greater Number of Inhabitants, than the noble, or military;—and the Peasantry and Yeomanry of this Kingdom, and perhaps several other Orders of Men, who now figure away in high Life, can trace their Pedigree from no other Origin, than that of Villainage, in one or other of its Branches.—Be it also remembered, that Villains of any Sort, were never considered as Citizens at large, or as Members of the State,—but rather as Goods and Chattels of a superior Kind, belonging to their respective Owners or Proprietors. Nay, Magna Charta itself considered these human Beings in no better Light than as so many Head of Cattle, or other live Stock, upon an Estate; ordaining [see Article the 5th.] That, whilst the Estate of a Minor was in Wardship, the Guardian should make no Destruction or Waste of the Men, or Things belonging to it. Such were the Ideas of Humanity, and its Rights, which then prevailed. In short, Slaves of any Sort were never allowed to vote. They were not represented in Parliament, and they had no Share in the Legislature. Therefore,—Whether Parliaments were to be held annually, or not,—and what was to be the Qualification either of a Freeholder, or of a Freeman, in order to entitle him to vote; was a Question in which they were not concerned; nor was it of any Consequence to them how these Matters were to be determined.—In one Word, the Majority of the Nation, as to Numbers, were not Electori ab Initio. This is Fact.
Under the present Head the following Observations may be ranged, as they tend to throw a general Light on the Subject;—namely, That formerly almost every Lord of a Manor had three Sorts of Lands within the Boundaries of his Lordship. The first Sort was for his own peculiar Use, that is, for the Support of himself and Family, and for the keeping of what was then called great Hospitality. This Lot of Land was generally large and extensive, lying compact, and convenient round his Castle, or Court-House, and not intersected by, or intermixed with the Property of others. The second Sort was for his military Tenants, or Freeholders, who were to pay him annually some small Acknowledgment in Money, or perhaps none at all, the Estate being only subject to Reliefs, Wardships, Heriots, the furnishing of so many Pieces of Armour, warlike Stores, and the like. But all these Tenants were to do Suit and Service at the Court of his Manor-House, according to their respective Holdings; which Attendance was then equivalent, or nearly equivalent to what the calling over the Muster-Roll of Soldiers is at present.—But it is remarkable, that the Estates granted to these Warriors, or second-rate Gentlemen, were not only of less Extent than the former (which is natural enough to suppose) but also greatly interspersed and intermixed with the Estates of other Tenants; so that (excepting the mere Homesteads, or Lands surrounding the Mansion-Houses) the chief Part lay confusedly dispersed in Common Fields, and Common Meadows.—However these were not scattered in any Degree so much as the last Class to be mentioned and the most numerous, viz: The Estates of Copyholders; for these Men had hardly five Acres lying together; on the contrary an Holding of 40, or 50 Acres might be found to be divided into Bits and Scraps, called Langlets, Headlands, Gores, Rudges, Lands, &c. &c. perhaps to the Number of Fourscore, or an Hundred Pieces.—It is difficult to discover what could have been the Policy of such a Contrivance:—For that a Contrivance it was, [and not what happened by mere Chance or Accident] is evident beyond Dispute: The very Universality of it, were there no other Proof, being sufficient to shew, that some End or other was intended to be answered by it.—I acknowledge myself at a Loss to guess what that End could be;—unless it was to keep both Sorts of Tenants the more dependent on their original Lords, by Means of those frequent Appeals, which must be made to his Courts, in order to settle the Disputes, which such an Intermixture of Property, and mutual Encroachments, (some perhaps voluntary, and others involuntary) would necessarily create.—Such a Motive as this for the Institution was certainly a very bad one;—and yet bad as it was, it is hard to assign a better.—[If it was to increase the Fees and Profits of the Court for the Benefit of the Steward, or Court-Keeper, that was certainly a worse.] Be that as it may, Fact it is, that it has cost this Nation already many Scores of Acts of Parliament, and almost as many Thousands of Pounds to undo those Mischiefs which have sprung from this Intermixture of Property, the Confusion of Interests, and the Discord of Inclinations of different Landholders.
ARTIFICERS and TRADESMEN, The Second Class.
As no Trade was honourable among barbarous Nations but the Trade of War, it is therefore highly improbable, that a Gentleman-Soldier should so far degrade himself, as to take to any other Employment, than that of the Sword. Nevertheless there was a Necessity that other Trades, besides that of destroying Mankind, should subsist even in Times of the greatest Simplicity. Villains of different Kinds were to furnish the Warrior with Victuals:—But how was he to be supplied with Raiment, and Dwelling? and who was to serve him with all the Articles whatever of Profit, or of Pleasure, of Use, or of Ostentation belonging to Cloathing and Habitation? Things these, which require many Hands, and infinitely more Skill and Judgment, and much larger Capitals, than are necessary for the bare Preparation of coarse Food.—To get over these Difficulties, both the Prince and his great Lords condescended to invite as many Tradesmen and Artizans as they could collect, or as they thought necessary, to settle in some commodious Spot on their principal Domains, near their Castles and Places of Residence, under their own immediate Patronage and Protection.—And for their greater Security and Encouragement, they granted them Charters, which were originally designed to answer much the same Ends to Artificers in Towns as Copies of Court Rolls were to those poor Dependants, who were called Villains in the Country.—For as the lesser Lords of Manors did not chuse that any should tyrannize over their own Vassals but themselves; so likewise the Magnates, the Proceres Regni, and the Sovereign, took especial Care to guard their Traders and Mechanics from any Insults but their own. At first these Charters of Protection were very sparingly granted, and contained little more than general Promises of Favor and Good Will.—During this Period, these Collections, or little Nests of Pedlars and Artificers, were not considered as Members of the State; for they had no Representatives in the national Councils; and of course had no Share in the Legislature. On the contrary, they were regarded as the private Property of their respective Patrons and Protectors, the King, and the great Barons, who were to answer to the Public for their good Conduct and Behaviour. But a Circumstance arose, which gave them much greater Weight and Importance in the Community, than otherwise they would have acquired, perhaps for Ages.—This remarkable Revolution in their Favour came to pass in the following Manner: When there were no more Countries in Europe for the Northern Barbarians and Free-booters to subdue, these Heroes by Profession would have been greatly at a Loss, how to have employed their Time, had not a certain enthusiastic Monk, whose Name I think, was Peter, hit on an Expedient to employ vast Numbers of them, in the military Line, and assuring them at the same Time, that the more Throats they cut, the greater would be their Reward in Heaven. The Scheme proposed was to undertake Pilgrimages to Jerusalem, and to sight for the Recovery of the Holy Land, out of the Hands of the Infidels. Joyful News indeed! For no sooner had this Fanatic announced his Commission, and got the Pope and some Councils to ratify the Promises of eternal Happiness, than the whole Host of idle Warriors throughout most Parts of Europe were seized with an epidemical Madness to engage in this Holy War [The Cause of God, as it was called]; and to purchase Heaven on such soldier-like Terms. So great was their Phrensy, that they never reflected that in passing from Europe to Palestine they would be under a Necessity of laying in great Quantities of Provivisions, Hay, Straw, &c. in order to form Magazines, and of storing up Medicines for the Use of Hospitals, to accommodate not only the Troops of * God, but also the prodigious Numbers of other Pilgrims [among whom were Swarms of Females of Quality] during so long a March, or so long a Voyage. But furious and frantic, they rushed headlong on the Expedition expecting to be sed and cured by Miracles. The first Host of these pious Mad-Men and Women miserably perished, some few excepted, who brought home with them that loathsome Disease called the Lepresy, and likewise the Knowledge and Experience, that long Marches and long Voyages require many other Things besides enthusiastic Zeal, and brutal Courage.
Therefore whilst the blood-thirstly Zealots, the Monks, were preaching up a Revival of the Crusade, with Crosses in their Hands, the second, and third, and fourth Swarms were collecting together, various Ways and Means were suggested towards raising Money for defraying the enormous Expence of these frantic Expeditions. Among other Expedients, it was conceived, that the emancipating those little Societies of Tradesmen, who were settled in different Parts of the Kingdom, and empowering them to elect their own Magistrates, and to make Bye-Laws for their own internal Government; also exempting them from all arbitrary Impositions. Tolls, or Taxes, would bring good Sums of Money to the King, and to the great Lords, on whose Estates they were settled,—at the same Time, that the Measure itself would be highly acceptable to the Purchasers of such Charters. Therefore it is not improbable, but that William II. Henry I. Stephen, and Henry II. availed themselves, as did likewise some of the greater Barons, of this Mode, this very popular Mode of raising Money. But above all, our glorious Richard I. [that Lion-hearted Man, Cæur de Lion, who went in Person to the Holy War, and who had great Need of this Kind of Merit, to atone for the Want of almost every moral Virtue.] I say, it is not to be doubted, but that Richard I. sold as many Charters as he could find Purchasers. Which Example was most probably followed by John, by Henry III. and the three first Edwards. [Indeed Charters of Exemption were to be had in such Plenty on all Occasions, in those Times, that even private Persons used to purchase them to be freed from being impannelled in Assizes’ Juries, and Inquests: [See 52d of Henry III. Chap. 14.] Nay, I believe, it would be found on Examination, that almost all the old Charters to Cities, or Towns-Corporate, were granted during the Phrensy of the several Crusades, which lasted from the Time of William II. to Edward III. or thereabouts, that is, during the Space of upwards of 200 Years! Astonishing Insatuation! and utterly incredible—had we not Instances of as great, or even greater national Infanity in our own Times, in fighting for Countries still farther off, and of much less intrinsic Value than Palestine or Syria,—yet who knows, but that Providence may in this, as in the former Case, bring much Good out of Evil?—But to return. Certain it is, that in the Reign of Edward I. not a few of these trading Places were grown up into so much Consequence, as to be thought worthy to be summoned to send Representatives to Parliament: Which Summons, as far as appears, was the first they ever had; for there are no * Records extant of their sending Representatives before the 23d of Edward I.—or even of their being required to send them.
However these newly-erected Corporations were so far from esteeming the being obliged to send Deputies to Parliament as an Honour conserred upon them, that the Generality considered it as a sore Burden, from which they wished most heartily to be released. So little had the Idea of unalienable Rights prevailed in those Days! Nay, several Boroughs, after having once obeyed the Sheriff’s Precept, desisted from making Returns for a long Time afterwards, till they were compelled to do it by the 5th of Richard II. Stat. 2d. C. 4. [The Clause respecting the Returns made, or to be made by the Sheriffs, is so much in Point to the Case here before us, that it would be almost unpardonable to omit it, viz. “And if any Sheriff of the Realm be from henceforth negligent in making his Returns of Writs of the Parliament; or that he leave out of the said Returns any Cities or Boroughs, which be bound, and of old Time were wont to come to the Parliament, he shall be amerced, &c.” Be it likewise remembered, that there are Instances of some Boroughs being summoned, and of appearing at first, which nevertheless got themselves released afterwards; which Releases or Exemptions remain valid to this Day; by what Authority, or on what Ground this was done after passing the above Act of Compulsion, is not my Business to enquire. Nay more, when the two famous Acts were made in the Reign of Edward III. for requiring that Parliaments should be held once a Year, or more often, if need be, they [the Boroughs] shewed plainly by their Actions, what were their Sentiments concerning this Privilege; for, according to the Account given in the Appendix just mentioned, not one of those, which had omitted or neglected to make Returns during the two former Reigns, embraced the Opportunity of recovering their unalienable Rights, by complying with the Laws lately made for annual Parliaments;—On the contrary, and—(what is still more extraordinary) some other Boroughs, which had not omitted to make Returns before, chose to be refractory or negligent on the Occasion, till they were compelled.—So that, it is evident, that the Laws, which required even annual Meetings of Parliaments [without saying a Word about annual Elections of Citizens or Burgesses to be present at such parliamentary Meetings] were unpopular at the Time to one Part of the Community, tho’ perhaps very popular to another. They were generally unpopular to Tradesmen, Shopkeepers, and Artificers, because such frequent Meetings put their Corporations to an Expence which many of them could ill bear, and because also they detained some of the principal Inhabitants, chosen to represent the rest, from their proper Trades and Business,—by obliging them to attend on Assemblies, where they had but small Influence, and less Respect. For not only the great Barons beheld them with Disdain, and treated them with Contempt, but also the * Representatives of the lesser Barons, (the Knights of Shires) looked on them as an Order of Men much inferior to themselves. Hence it came to pass, that the Deputies from Towns and Boroughs were very often in great Haste to depart, and to retire to their respective Homes, whilst the Barons and Knights of Shires wished to stay longer, and complete the Schemes they had in Contemplation. The Fact was, to speak the Truth at once, the landed Interest, as it was then erroneously understood, was supposed to be directly opposite to the trading Interest of the Kingdom. For the personal and immediate Interest of the Barons, great and small, was to preserve their own Importance in the State, and their Authority and Jurisdiction over their Vassals and Dependents, in Contradistinction to the regal Power. Whereas Shopkeepers, Traders, and Mechanics, could have had no such Views. Therefore the former were always desirous of having frequent Meetings of Parliament, in order to consult and associate together against the Crown, whom they regarded as their common Enemy: [Magna Charta itself was owing to this very Principle.] Whereas the latter, the Corporate-Towns and Boroughs, which had Reason to esteem the Crown more their Protector than their Oppressor, had no such Motives, either offensive or defensive, for associating together. In one Word, the Crown, and the Law-Courts of the Crown, were then the only Security and Defence which trading Corporations could have had against the Power and Insults of the feudal Baronage.—The great Barons having attempted several Times to bring almost all Causes into their own Courts, to be judged by themselves, or by Deputies, Stewards, Bailiffs, &c. &c.
To confirm what I have here advanced, I will relate two very curious Facts. The first is, that though the Towns and Boroughs had gained their Liberty, and were no longer in a State of Slavery either to King or Barons,—yet they still retained such a Jealousy of the encroaching Nature of the feudal System, and such a Dread of being brought again into Bondage, that many of them caused every new Member of their Body, when he took up his Freedom, to promise upon Oath, that he would not take one who was bound in Blood, to be is Apprentice. This Clause is continued in the Oath of a Freeman of Bristol to this Day, and I think was formerly in that of London, and of several other Places: Though most undoubtedly not one in a Thousand know its antient Meaning, or to what it referred. The Case, of which they are at present so happily ignorant, I will endeavour to explain, because it throws great Light on the Subject now before us. When the trading Towns, and especially the Metropolis, were grown into such Importance as to afford some Sort of Shelter to those miserable and distressed Objects, who were in a State of Slavery, many of them [Male and Female, Villains and Neifs] fled to these Places, as to an Asylum, to be protected from the Tyranny of their cruel Masters. When there, they entered into the Service of such Persons as would employ them, in order to get a Livelihood. And it is very probable that they offered to work or serve on lower Terms than others. In short, the Towns found their Account in this Affair; and therefore espoused the Cause of such Refugees, as far as they dared,—by granting them the Privileges of defending themselves in the Law Courts of these local Jurisdictions.—In these Courts they alledged, when claimed by their Lords, that they were the Servants or Apprentices of such, or such Citizens, or Burgesses, and therefore owed no Submission or Subjection to any others. This Plea, it must be owned, was not strictly justifiable, being little better than a prevaricatory Subtersuge, However, as the Tradesmen were willing that these Fugitives should urge it against their former Masters,—the Barons and great Men got two remarkable Laws to pass, which enabled them to pursue their Slaves, and to seize and take them, as well within the Liberties of Cities and Towns, as without. The first was made the 25th of Edward III. Stat. 4. Chap. 18. and the other, which is still more express, the 9th of Richard II. Chap. 2. The Words of this latter Act are the following,
“Whereas divers Villains and Neiffs, as well of great Lords, as of other People, as well spiritual as temporal, do fly within Cities, Towns, and Places enfranchised, as the City of London, and other like, and seign divers Suits against their Lords, to the Intent to make them free by the Answer of their Lords: It is accorded and assented, that the Lords, nor other, shall not be forebarred of their Villains, because of their Answer in the Law.” Had the Cities and Towns persisted in their Designs of protecting the Fugitives, it is easy to conceive, that this Affair would have embroiled them with every great Lord, and with the whole landed Interest of the Kingdom: For which Conflict they were, by no Means, a Match at that Time of Day. Therefore they gave up the Cause with a good Grace; for they passed a Bye-Law, obliging all the Members of their respective Fraternities, not to harbour or employ any of these poor Runaways for the future;—at least not to employ them in such a Manner, as would give them any Colour or Pretence to demand the Franchise of the Place: For every Man at the Admission to his Freedom, was to swear, that he would take no Person as an Apprentice, who was bound in Blood. By this Regulation, they not only avoided numberless Quarrels with the Lords of Manors, but also preserved the Credit of their own Body, by resusing to mix or incorporate with Persons of a base Condition, or Slaves by Birth.
2dly.The other Anecdote is, that the corporate Towns required every Member at his Admission, to bind himself by an Oath, that he would wear no Man’s Livery, except Mr. Mayor’s, or the Master of his Craft. This is another Regulation, which, if understood according to the modern Practice of wearing Liveries, must appear a most ridiculous Thing, and a very improper Covenant. Nevertheless, at the Time it was made, I will be bold to say, it was a wise, and even a necessary Caution.—But as the right Explanation of this Prohibition will fall more properly under the next Head, I shall defer it for the present, ’till we shall come to an Opportunity of ascertaining its true and original Signification.
Before I conclude this Article, perhaps it may not be amiss to mention a Circumstance or two, which, though not immediately connected with the Subject now before us, yet will give us such a Picture of the Manners and Modes of thinking and acting in antient Times, as may serve to correct many Mistakes, which modern Politicians are too apt to commit, either through Inattention, or through Ignorance,—if not from Motives of a much worse Nature.
It has been observed already, That the Baronage, or Landed Interest, during the feudal System looked down on the Trading with sovereign Contempt, hardly allowing them the Rank of Fellow Subjects,—and very unwilling to suppose, that they were entitled to equal Law and Liberty with themselves. Now, would not any one have inferred from this Treatment that the several Cities and Boroughs of the Kingdom would on their Parts endeavour to form themselves into some Kind of League or Union, like the Hanseatic Cities of Germany, in order to repel the Insults, and defend themselves against the Oppressions of so formidable a Body? Certainly this is a natural Supposition:—Yet the Fact was far otherwise. For the Londoners were continually attempting to engross all the little Trade of the Kingdom to themselves; treating the other trading Corporations with as little Ceremony as if they had been their Slaves and Vassals: And these latter, instead of being the more firmly united, carried on a Kind of Hostility against each other. It was thought lawful at that Time for the Inhabitants of one Town to make Reprisals on those of another, like the Subjects of different States, when at open War. Thus, for Example, if a Tradesman of Glocester was a Debtor to, or had committed an Offence against a Tradesman of Bristol, the Bristolian thought himself warranted to seize on any other Burgess of Glocester by Way of Reprisal, and to oblige him to make Reparation for the Offence or Debt of his Brother-Burgess. [See Cokes Institute, Page 204, and Statutes at large, 27th Edward III. Stat. 2, C. 17.] Now, can any Thing be more repugnant to Order and Government, not to mention Honesty, Industry, and commercial Intercourse than such Proccedings? Yet this was the Case: For, as the Barons were continually plaguing one another with their Robberies and Inroads, their Quarrels, and private Wars; [as I shall fully shew under the next Head] so these tiny Heroes chose to mimic then Betters, by being as mischievous as they could.—In short, the Spirit of Envy and Jealousy was so predominant in these trading Bodies, that they could hardly agree about any Thing, except in their mortal Aversion to Foreigners: In that they were unanimous; as most of their Successors continue to be to this Day. Indeed they also considered their Fellow-Subjects in the Light of Strangers, stiling them such in all their public Acts;—because forsooth they were not of the same Guild, Fraternity, or Corporation with themselves: And the above Quotation shews in what Manner they treated them. But though they used their Fellow-Subjects ill, yet their Conduct was mild and gracious, in Comparison to the Fury with which they persecuted outlandish Strangers: For in respect to them, their Antipathy knew no Bounds. Edward III. was a sagacious Prince, as well as a great Warrior. His Laws for the Extention of Commerce, and Increase of Manufactures, indicate a liberal Mind, much more enlightened than could be expected in those Times of general Darkness. In the 11th Year of his Reign [Anno. 1337] he caused four Statutes to be made for the Encouragement of the Woollen Manufacture, then in its Infancy among the English. In one of which Laws, Foreigners are invited to come in by the Offer of large Privileges. “It is accorded, that all the Cloth-Workers of strange Lands, of whatsoever Country they be, which will come into England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, within the King’s Power, shall come safely and surely, and shall be in the King’s Protection and safe Conduct, to dwell in the same Lands, chusing where they will. And to the Intent the said Cloth-Workers shall have the greater Will to come, and dwell here, our Sovereign Lord the King will grant them Franchises as many, and such as may suffice them.” Yet, notwithstanding this Protection of an express Law, Complaint was made against the Mayor and Bailiffs of Bristol, that they greatly obstructed the Execution of it, by extorting Money from the Undertakers under various Pretences, and by molesting them in different Ways;—the King therefore required them by a special Mandamus, under heavy Penalties, to desist from such Practices for the future. This was about two Years after passing the above excellent Law. [See Rymer’s Fæd. Vol. v. Page 137.] And this, one would have thought, would have been Warning sufficient to the rest of the trading Corporations to desist from such scandalous Practices; but it was not.—For about five Years afterwards, and seven Years from the first passing of the Law, the Freemen of London were so far from being intimidated by the Reprimand sent to Bristol, that they became so much the more outrageous, threatning, that they would knock these Foreigners on the Head, and break their Bones, [de vita, & membris minitantur] if they should dare to exercise their Trades of Cloth-making within the Liberties of the City of London. On which Account the royal Authority was obliged to interpose, by issuing another Mandamus more strict, and penal than the former. [Rymer’s Fæd. Vol. v. Page 429.]
Now from the Behaviour of Tradesmen on this, and similar Occasions, and particularly from the Conduct of the City of London, which always takes the Lead, and which generally obstructs the most public national Good, through narrow monopolizing Views,—let the Reader judge, whether the modern Doctrines of unalienable Rights,—of Self Government,—Self Legislation, &c. &c. &c. are fit Doctrines to be inculcated into large Mobs, and the Mass of Mankind?—And whether the Bulk of ignorant, short-sighted People, Men. Women, and Children, [would not do, both themselves and others, much greater Harm than Good, were they to be left at Liberty to put such Plans into Execution according to their Wishes and Caprices?—But alas! those who know better, and yet inculcate these pernicious Doctrines, have the more to answer for.
GENTLEMEN. The Third, or highest Class.
It has been observed already, that amongst all barbarous Nations, and before Civilization has been sufficiently introduced, there are never found more than three Classes of Men in Civil Life, the Slaves,—Mechanics,—and Warriors. These latter are of Course the Men of Consequence, or the Gentlemen of that Country. For they hold the others under great Subjection, and therefore esteem themselves, and are esteemed, as Persons of a superior Rank.
Now, whether our Saxon Ancestors were utter Strangers to the feudal System, or whether they were in Possession of the Substance, without the Terms of Art belonging to it (which is the more probable Opinion) is a Matter of no Consequence in the present Case. For it is an undoubted Fact, that the Chiestains of the several Tribes of Angles, Jutes, Saxons, &c. &c. seized on vast Tracts of Country, according as they drove the antient Inhabitants before them; and that they afterwards divided these Districts into smaller Shares among their numerous Relations, Followers, and Dependents. It is also equally certain, that Lands, and Jurisdiction originally went together. So that the same Person, who was the Landlord, or the Lord of the Land,—was also the Judge over the Inhabitants of that Land in Times of Peace,—and their Leader in Times of War. For these three Offices, now so separate, were in Times of great Simplicity, and before the Refinement of Government, hardly supposed to be capable of a Separation. The only Distinction necessary to be observed in those Times, was the different Nature of the Tenure, whether it was base, or noble,—servile or military,—by the Soc, or by the Sword. If the Lands in Question were held by antient Soccage, that is, by a servile or ignoble Tenure, the Occupiers were Slaves, and bound to work for their Masters:—But, if by the Service of the Sword, that is, by a military, a frank, or noble Tenure, the Occupiers were the Frankmen of the Realm. Liberi Homines Regni, were Freeholders, Warriors, Gentlemen; whose Duty it was to fight for their Chief. And these Distinctions were thought to be so important, as not only to influence all the Rules of Conduct and Decorum, and to settle the Claims of Rank and Precedency in the Departments of Civil Life;—but also to deserve a Place in the fundamental Constitutions of the Realm. For even in Magna Charta it is enacted, in the 7th Clause, that Heirs shall be married without Disparagement: which Words were understood then to means that all Minors, Male or Female, who were the Wards of the Crown, or the Wards of any great Baron, should not be married to Persons below their Rank. Money was not then the greatest Object: For the greatest Wealth or Fortune with ignoble Birth, was a Degradation; and therefore a Breach of Magna-Charta.—Whereas, to have married the Ward to a Beggar of high Blood, was no legal Objection. In a subsequent Statute, made the 20th of Henry III. C. 6. the Word Disparagement is more particularly explained: It is there made to signify, the causing of a Ward to be married either to a Villain, or to a Burgess: For either of those would be a Disparagement. The same Rules prevail throughout almost every Part of Europe to this Day. In Germany in particular (from whence our Ancestors originally came) if a poor Count of the Empire, not worth a Shilling, should marry a rich Burgher’s Daughter of Amsterdam, worth Half a Million sterling, the Children cannot inherit the Family-Titles, but must be reputed as no other than the Bastards of the Empire, though born in lawful Wedlock. And if a Lady of this high German Quality, tho without a Penny of Fortune, should condescend to give her Hand in Marriage to a rich Merchant or Mechanic, the Friends and Relations of this illustrious Spouse, may prosecute the lowborn, presumptuous Husband, even to Death, if they please, for a Rape,—not indeed of Violence, but of Seduction.—[And this latter Law likewise takes Place in France, with very little Alteration.] However, we find that here in England, the Case was somewhat different even in the most antient Times. For long before the Institution of a Lord Mayor, the principal Citizens of London were stiled Barons, by Way of Eminence and Distinction; so that they were plainly distinguished from common Burgesses; and therefore we may naturally conclude, that an Intermarriage with any of these London Barons was no legal Disparagement. But be that as it may, one Thing is certain, that the Exception here mentioned is so far from invalidating the Observation respecting Mechanics and Tradesmen, that it strongly confirms it.
We have now seen what it was to be a Gentleman, and what was his original Occupation, let him be rich, or poor, a Prince, or a Beggar, in regard to outward Circumstances. His Trade was Fighting: And it would have been a Blot in his Eschutcheon to have taken to any other Employment. But the Misfortune was, That Fighting was not a constant Trade: For there are so many Intervals in it, that a Man who has nothing else to do, and is fit for nothing else, is at a Loss how to employ his Time. Besides, the Number of these Heroes greatly encreased during the Continuance of a long Peace, at the same Time that the Means of subsisting them on their own frank Estates were as much lessened by their Multiplication.—Not to mention, that the younger Brothers of prolific Families, and the Decay of others, through private bad Management, public Misfortunes, and various other Causes, added to the Distresses of this Order of Men, without pointing out any effectual Means for their Relief. In short, till the Pride of Family, and the Notions of Birth and Blood can be, in some Degree, got over, perhaps a more miserable Being cannot exist, than a poor Gentleman,—without any visible honest Means of mending his Condition.
I mentioned under a former Article, [Page 311] that Peter the Hermit found out Employment for great Numbers of those idle free People, by sending them to the Holy Land, to be knocked on the Head. But still, those who stayed at home, on various Accounts,—and those who were born between one Crusade and the other, also the rising Generation, after the Crusades were out of Fashion:—All these had nothing to do, unless they would employ themselves in doing Mischief. And a very little Insight into human Nature may enable us to judge, that Mischief of some Sort or other would become their principal Imployment.—The only Question therefore is, What Sort or Kind it would probably be?—
All the superior Barons, and many of the smaller, had great Royalties, and extensive Jurisdictions, besides Possessions intermixed with each other, and rival Claims. These Things naturally occasioned intestine Quarrels and Disputes; so that when the Grandees of the Realm were not leagued together against their Sovereigns, they were hardly ever free from Broils and Contentions with each other, which were sure to end in Blood. Here then was created a Sort of Necessity of imploying many of these Gentlemen Bravos;—and that too in their own Way. For if any one of the great Barons should entertain a Band of such Desperadoes in his Castles, or about his Person,—his Neighbours, or his Rivals were obliged to do the like, merely from a Principle of Self-Defence or Self-Preservation. So that every Castle, of which there were then such Multitudes, and every great House, especially if trenched or moated round, became of Course little better than a Den of Thieves and Robbers. A modern English Reader may possibly be surprised to hear, that in Times of profound public Peace, such strange Proceedings should be permitted; but strange as they were, they were not only permitted, but countenanced in every Part of Europe, in spite of the sovereign Power, according to the Ideas of those Times. Nay, they were dignified by the Name of Private Wars. Those who wish to see a true and faithful, and at the same Time an elegant, Account of these barbarous Transactions, may consult the preliminary Discourses of Dr. Robertson’s instructive History of Charles V.—But as my Business is confined to England, I shall chuse to borrow my Account from the very Words of English Acts of Parliament, rather than indulge myself in the Pleasure of transcribing Passages from an Author, whom I will dare to pronounce excellent, though a Scotchman.
In the Reigns of Henry III. Edward I. II. III. and IV. Richard II. and Henry IV. V. VI. and VII. many Laws were expressly made either to prevent or suppress such Outrages.—the Opprobrium of Common Sense, as well as the Destruction of all Order and good Government. [And besides these, many other Statutes were enacted, which occasionally referred to the same Affair.] One of the most antient, tho’ not the oldest of all, exhibits such a curious Picture of those blessed Times of Old England, which some of our modern Patriots wish us to prefer to our own, that I shall produce it at full length, and then quote some Passages out of other Statutes, as Comments upon it.
“A Desinition of Conspirators made Anno 23. Edward I. Stat. 2. Anno Dom. 1304. [Pickering’sEdition.]
Who beConspirators,and who beChampertors.
“Conspirators be they that do confeder or bind themselves by Oath, Covenant, or other Alliance, that every of them shall aid and bear the other falsly and maliciously to indite, or falsly to move, or maintain Pleas: And also such as cause Children within Age to appeal [accuse] Men of Felony, whereby they are imprisoned and sore grieved; and such as retain Men in the Country [in the Country is not in the original Norman-French] with Liveries or Fees for to maintain their malicious Enterprises; and this extendeth as well to the Takers, as the Givers. And Stewards and Bailiffs of great Lords, who, by their Seignory, Office, or Power, undertake to bear or maintain Quarrels, Pleas, or Debates that concern other Parties, than such as touch the Estate of their Lords, or themselves. This Ordinance and final Desinition of Conspirators was made and accorded by the King and his Council in his Parliament, the 33d Year of his Reign. And it was further ordained, that Justices assigned to the hearing and determining of Felonies and Trespasses, should have the Transcript hereof.
“Champertors be they that move Pleas and Suits, or cause to be moved either by their own Procurement, or by others, and sue them at their own proper Costs, for to have Part of the Land in Variance, or Part of the Gains.”
It is a Pity, that the very learned and ingenious Commentator on the more ancient Statutes, had not made his Observations upon this, which so much wanted the Assistance of his able Hand; being wrote, (short as it is) in three different Languages, the Beginning in old Norman French, the middle Parts in Law-Latin, and the Conclusion in English; and not without some Difficulties in each. To supply this Defect to the best of my Power, and to make Use of his Authority as far as I can, I would observe in the first Place, that though the poor Gentleman of every Country looked upon Trade with Horror and Disdain;—yet it was no Disparagement to him to serve a rich Brother-Gentleman in the meanest Capacity, especially if he was a great Baron. In that Case it was no Disgrace to wear a Livery, and to serve at Table,—and even to make Beds in the Castles, or great Men’s Houses, and to sweep the Rooms, if they were to be swept at all. The same Customs still prevail in Poland; which is a Country that exhibits a true Picture of what Old England was.—N. B. The Croisade never got much Footing in Poland; therefore the Polish Nobles still remain in Statu quo.
Respecting the giving, taking, and wearing of Liveries and Hats [Chaperons, Kind of Caps or Bonnets; Hats being not then in Use] also Badges, and of using Watch-Words, Signs, or Signals;—these Practices were grown to such an enormous Height, that Multitudes of Statutes were made to prevent, or punish them. For there was hardly a Session of Parliament from the Time of Henry III. to Henry VIII. but Laws were enacted for restraining the Feuds, Robberies, and Oppressions, of the Barons and their Dependants, on the one Side,—and to moderate and check the Excesses and Extortions of the royal Purveyors on the other:—These being the two capital Evils then felt. Respecting the Tyranny of the antient Baronage (the only Evil I am now considering) even Squires as well as others were not ashamed to wear the Liveries of such Leaders, and to glory in every Badge of Distinction, whereby they might be known to be retained as the Bullies of such or such great Men, and to engage in their Quarrels, just or unjust, right or wrong. In fact, the Old English. Hospitality so much boasted of, and so little understood, was for the most Part dedicated to the very Purposes of retaining and feeding, in the great Halls, Numbers of these unhappy People, to be the general Pests of Society, and a Torment to each other. The Histories of those Times, together with the Statutes of the Realm inform us, That they associated, (or, as they called it, confederated together) in great Bodies, parading on Horse-back in Fairs and Markets, and clad in Armour, with Lances or Javelins in their Hands, to the great Terror of all peaceable Subjects;—Nay, that they attended their Lords to Parliament, equipped in the same Military Dress;—and even dared sometimes to present themselves before the Judges of Assize, and to enter the Courts of Justice in a hostile Manner, whilst their Principals sat with the Judges on the Bench, intimidating the Witnesses, and influencing the Juries by Looks and Nods, Signs and Signals. And as one Species of Iniquity generally begets another, it was no unusual Thing with the weaker Party [weaker I mean, in these Kinds of Arguments] to apply to the King in Council for a Commission of Inquiry, Whether the Prosecutor commenced the Suit out of a sincere Desire of obtaining Justice? or from Motives of Revenge, Avarice, or Oppression?* And as the Appellant was allowed to name his own Commissioners, it is no difficult Matter to guess, on which Side these impartial Commissioners would determine. This Method of proceeding was therefore considered as a Kind of previous Question; so that the Logic of the Times was,
But amongst the strangest of these Doings, perhaps nothing would more surprise a modern Reader, than to be told, That Gentlemen of the long Robe made a Part of the Retinue of the great Men of those Days; that they lived in their Houses or Castles, and wore their Liveries. Yet this was the Fact. Their Employment, besides that of being Stewards of the Courts, and keeping the Records, and Title Deeds of the Baron, [who, generally speaking, could himself neither write, nor read] was to find out Flaws in the Titles and Conveyances of some rival Baron,—or (what answered the same End) in the Titles or Claims of some of his Adherents, Partizans, or Dependents. The next Step was to suborn Witnesses, of which, it seems, there was a very great Plenty to be had on all Occasions, and then to undertake the Cause by sharing in the legal Plunder, if they succeeded;—or else by making an absolute Purchase thereof, and taking the Chance of the Suit to themselves.
This accounts for the many severe Prohibitions in the old Statutes against such horrid Abuses of the Law, especially by the * Professors of it. One of the most remarkable of these Prohibitions has never been translated from the Norman-French. It is the 13th of Richard II. Stat. 3. I will endeavour to give the general Sense of one Passage in it, without attempting to explain all the Law-Terms, or making myself answerable for the Justness of the Translation in every technical Part.
“The King to the Sheriff of Kent, Health.” [The like Writ was directed to all the Sheriffs in England.]
“Whereas by the Laws and Customs of our Realm, which we are bound to observe, by our Coronation Oath, all our Liege Subjects within the said Realm, as well poor as rich, ought freely to sue, defend, receive, and obtain Justice and Right, and the Accomplishment and Execution of the same, in all our Courts, and elsewhere, without being disturbed, or oppressed by Maintenance, [see Jacob’s Law-Dictionary for the Explanation of all these Terms] Menace, or by any other Manner;—and whereas also in many of our Parliaments held in Times past, and particularly in the Parliaments lately held at Canterbury and Westminster, grievous Complaints, and great Lamentations have been made, as well by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, as also by our Commons of our said Realm, of the great and outrageous Oppressions and Maintenance committed, to the Damage of us, and our People, in different Parts of the said Realm, by divers Maintainers, Menors, Baratters, Procurers, and Embracers of Quarrels and Enquests, in the perpetrating of which, many are the more emboldened and hardened;—☞ because they are of the Retinue of Lords, and others of our said Realm, by [Means of] Fees, Robes, and other Liveries, stiled the Liveries of Company [Association.] Therefore We ordain and enjoin by the Advice of our great Council (the Parliament) that no Prelate, nor any other of Holy Church, nor Batchelor, nor Squire, nor any other of inferior Rank shall give the Livery, called the Livery of Association: And that no Duke, Earl, Baron, or Banneret shall give such Livery of Association to a Knight or ’Squire,—unless he be retained for Life, as well in Peace as War, by Indenture, without Fraud, or evil Engine:—Or that he be an Officer in his Family, and that he resides in his House:—Neither shall any Duke, Earl, Baron. &c. grant any Livery (whatever) to a Valet, or Yeoman, an Archer, or to any Person of a Degree lower than a Squire, unless he be his menial Servant, or Domestic, making a Part of his * Household.
Thus stood the Case with the higher Ranks in Society: And as Vice and Wickedness are generally contagious, in Process of Time, the very Cities and Boroughs began to ape their Betters in doing Mischief. They too had their Associations, their Liveries, and Retainers. Therefore a Law was made to restrain them,—at least so far as to prevent them from biring themselves out to be the Bullies and Retainers of the Great Barons. They might indeed associate, and parade in Armour and Military Array among themselves, as the proper Garrisons of their own Franchises, but were to proceed no farther (see particularly 7th of Henry IV. C. 14.] Moreover Care was taken by the Magistrates of several of these incorporated Places, and particularly by those of Bristol, that every Person, when he came to take up his Freedom, should engage by an Oath, that he would wear no Man’s Livery (the Livery of Association, Maintenance, or Retaining) except Mr. Mayor’s, or the Master’s of his Company.
But perhaps some may say, “During all this while, there is not a Word about the Complaint and Grievance of the present Day, Bribery and Corruption.” To this I answer, that respecting the Prevalence of Corruption, there surely has been a great deal said,—and also proved: Respecting Bribery there has not. And the Reason is obvious. The most corrupt could not bribe, unless they had the Means;—and even then, they would not, unless there was some End to answer. But, generally speaking, neither of these was the Case in those Times. Indeed, if any Bribery was at all introduced, it is most natural to suppose, that it was among the Cities and Boroughs:—Among them, I say, not to obtain the Election, as at present,—but to avoid being elected. For when none but resident Citizens and Burgesses were eligible by Law,—also when almost every one of these Tradesmen or Mechanics deemed the Office of a Deputy to Parliament a sore Burden, not attended with a proportionable Degree of Honour or Profit to counterbalance it, the likeliest Thing to have happened in such a Case, was for the Persons in Danger of being elected, to make private Applications to the Electors, to be set aside;—or if elected, to the Sheriffs, or Returning Officers to be excused, or omitted, and others to be sent in their Room. Moreover Application was made sometimes to the Crown, for Letters Patent to be exempted [See 29th Henry VI. C. 3.] Abuses of this Nature, we find, did frequently happen: For there are many severe Penalties in the old Statutes against the Partiality of Sheriffs, and Returning Officers for excusing, as well as against the Patents of Exemption granted by the Crown.
The Knights of Shires, the Representatives of Freeholders, or of the lesser Barons, were on a much more honourable Footing. Their very Institution required them to be of the Order of Knighthood, and consequently to be girt with Swords as Milites, or military Men;—by which Circumstance, as well as by their Rank, they were greatly elevated above the Representatives of Tradesmen and Mechanics. Not to mention that their Pay or Wages in some Counties was a considerable Object. Moreover, as they were to be of the honourable Order of Knighthood;—this required a certain Qualification in Land, to be held, not by a base, but by a noble Tenure [See particularly the Statute for Knights, made 1st Edward II. Stat. 1.] which must have amounted, as far as I perceive by comparing different Accounts together, to an Income of about 400l. a Year of modern Rent.—Whereas no such Qualification was ever required from the Representatives of Citizens, and Burgesses. They were eligible, though not worth a Groat. Nay, in Process of Time, when the Requisition of actual Knighthood was a good deal dispensed with, as appears by the 23d of Henry VI. C. 15.—yet still it was thought necessary, that Candidates for Counties should be, if not respectable Knights, at least respectable Squires, and Gentlemen by their Nativity, who were able to take upon them the Order of Knighthood, whenever required so to do: And it was added, that no * Person of the Degree of a Vadlet, [a Varlet, or Serving-Man] much less a Plebeian, or Mechanic, should be permitted to be the Knight of a Shire, or to represent the lesser Barons.
Now taking all these Circumstances together, the Elections of the Representatives of the lesser Barons must have become a most turbulent and bloody Affair, in which, Might would be sure to overcome Right; and the strongest Sword, as in Poland, be the Returning Officer;—or else such a Number of the poorest, and most dependent of these Gentleman-born Electors must be excluded, as would render Elections a reasonable and practicable System. Therefore, as the Evils of Associations, Liveries, and Maintenance were risen to such an alarming Height, as to become more and more intolerable, the Legislature chose the latter; that is, they wisely resolved to strike at the Root at once, by excluding all those diminutive Gentlemen-Barons from voting, who had little or nothing to lose in any Contest, but might have something to get by stirring up Riots and Batteries in every public Meeting, and breaking the Peace of Society. See the 8th of H. VI. C. 7.
But let the Preamble of the Statute speak for itself.
Item “Whereas the Elections of Knights of Shires to come to the Parliament of our Lord the King in many Counties [most Countries] of the Realm of England, have now of late been made by a very great and excessive Number of People dwelling within the said Counties, of the which most Part was of People of small Substance, and of no Value, [no Property] whereof every of them pretended to have a Voice equivalent, as to such Elections to be made, with the most worthy Knights and Squires (that is, Knights and Squires of the greatest Property, les plus Valants) dwelling within the same Counties, whereby Manslaughters, (Murders) Riots, Batteries, and Divisions among the Gentlemen, and other People of the same Counties, shall very probably rise, and be, unless convenient and due Remedy be provided in this Behalf:—Our Lord the King, considering the Premises, hath provided and ordained by the Authority of this Parliament, that the Knights of Shires to be chosen within the Realm of England to come to the Parliaments hereafter to be holden, shall be elected in each County by People abiding and residing therein, of whom each shall have a Frank Tenement of the Value of 40s. a Year at least, (or over and above) Reprisals, or Out-goings.”
These are the Words of the Statute, rendered as literally, as perhaps they well can be, from one Language to another. The Things which deserve our more attentive Regard, are principally these:
1st.The Nature of the Tenure itself: It was to be a frank Tenement; that is, such as was fit for a Frank, a Liber Homo, a Freeman of the Realm, a Gentleman, or a lesser Baron to hold, without Disparagement.—So that the Suit and Service belonging to it (Words which imply, to follow, and to serve) were to be of the noble Kind, and not base or servile; therefore would not have degraded him into the State and Condition of a Villain, or a Slave, by performing them.
2dly.The Value of such a Frank Tenement, is another Consideration.—It was to be 40s. at least, above all Out-goings. Here therefore be it remembered, that originally, eleven Ounces of Silver of Troy-Weight (with a Fraction) together with a certain Quantity of Copper sufficient to harden it, were cut into 20s. now into 62s.—So that a Pound Sterling, and a Pound Troy were then of equal Weight. But in Process of Time, such very dishonest Arts were practised at the Mints, that the just Proportion, between Weight and Currency, could not easily be ascertained. When this Law was made (Anno 1429) I think the Weight of One Shilling was equal, or nearly equal to the Weight of 2s. 6d. of modern Coin: So that 40s. at that Juncture must have been nearly as heavy as 5l. in Silver is now: And if to this you take into Consideration the Difference between past and present Times, respecting bot’ the Rents of Lands, and the Prices of Provisions, surely, it must be allowed, That a Mass of Silver of that Weight was equal to at at least 40l. Value of present Income.—Besides, the Framers of this Law seem to have had in their Eye a certain Proportion proper to be observed between the Gentlemen Electors, and the Knights to be elected. The Qualifications for a Candidate to be elected, (that is, for a respectable Knight girt with a sword, to represent the lesser Barons) was, that he was to be in Possession of a Freehold Estate of at least 20l. a Year in Tale (See the Statute for Knights, 1st of Edward II. Stat. 1.) And probably about 50l. in Weight of present Silver; which we may well suppose was then equal to 400l. a Year of modern Rent. So that the Proportion between the respective Qualifications of the Electors and the Elected, was intended to be as one to ten, or nearly thereabouts: That is, as 40l. to 400l. a Year.
3dly.The Evils proposed to be prevented by these Regulations, are a farther Proof of the Use and Advantage of this Law. The Preamble assures us, that it was made to prevent Murders, Riots, Batteries, and Divisions among Gentlemen, &c. assembled to elect the Knights of Counties, or the Representatives of the lesser Barons residing in such Counties. Motives good, and very commendable! But how could these Evils have been restrained at that Juncture by any other Method, than by that which this Act prescribes? Liveries and Associations every where prevailed; Maintainers and Retainers were the Appellations, by which all the Barons might have been known and described from the highest to the lowest, either as Givers, or Takers. And the whole Class of them had a Right to assemble themselves together, and to give their Votes for Knights of Shires, ’till this Law thinned their Numbers: For none were excluded but Villains, Copy-holders, Burgesses, and Mechanics. In short, the Number of Pauper-Gentlemen-Barons was become so public a Nuisance, continually encreasing, that it called aloud for speedy Reformation. Nay, the very Laws, which both preceded, and followed the present Act in the same Statute [for it is a capitular Statute, composed of various Articles] I say the very Laws both preceding, and subsequent thereto, plainly point out those Evils then intended to be redressed. In the 4th Chapter we read, That notwithstanding the many Laws which had been made (I might say Multitudes of Laws, during the Space of upwards of 300 Years) to prevent the giving of Liveries, forming Conspiracies, or Associations, maintaining of Quarrels, riding in Armour, and the like;—the Evils still remained uncorrected, and were likely to encrease;—therefore it is ordained, “that if any Person after the Feast of Christmas (1429) shall buy or wear for his Clothing any Cloths, or Hats called Liveries, of the Sort, or Suit of any Lord, Lady, Knight, Esq; or other Person, for to have Supportation, Succours, or Maintenance, in any Quarrel, or in any other Manner, if he be thereof duly convict by Examination, or otherwise, before by the Statutes declared, he shall incur the Pain before limitted of them that take Liveries of Lords, or other Persons aforesaid, and moreover shall have a whole Years’ Imprisonment without being let to Bail or Mainprise, for their Falsity, and subtil Imagination in this Part.”
This was a preceding Law;—a subsequent one (Chap. 9.) in the same Statute was to this Effect, That whereas the “Statutes and Ordinances made, and not repealed, of them that make Entries with strong Hand into Lands, Tenements, or other Possessions whatsoever, and them hold with Force;—likewise of them that make Insurrections, Riots, Routs, Ridings [Chivaches] or Assemblies in Disturbance of the Peace of the Common-Law, or in Affray of the People, should be holden and fully executed;”—And, after having recited divers others grievous Complaints, it adds also, Whereas it was a common Practice with those who had forced themselves into the Possession of other Men’s Estates, without just Title of Law, to make over such usurped Possessions by Deeds, or Feoffments, ☞ to Lords, and other puissant Persons;—or even to Persons utterly unknown, whereby the legal Recovery of such Estates or Possessions was rendered the more difficult, tedious, and expensive:—Therefore it enacts, That all the former Laws should be reinforced with new Penalties, and new Provisions. One of the new Provisions was, that for the Recovery of the usurped Possessions, the Justices of Affize, or Justices of the Peace, might direct the Sheriff to impannel a Jury of the Vicinage to enquire into the Truth of the Premises: And every Juror thus to be impannelled was to have Lands or Tenements of the clear yearly Value of at least 40s. or about 40l. of modern Rents, the better to support the Character of a creditable Man. But, N. B. the Act is silent as to the Nature of this Tenure, whether it was to be military, or servile: So that a Villain, a Copy-holder, or a Yeoman, if possessed of an Income of 40s. might have been impannelled on such a Jury, yet he could not have voted as one of the lesser Barons at a County Election, because he held by a base, or servile Tenure. But what Need of multiplying Proofs?—Every Instance serves to shew that the Legislature meant at this Juncture to cooperate with, and render effectual, those good Laws, which had been made from Time to Time against Liveries, Badges, Signs, Signals, Conspiracies, Riots, Ridings, Maintenance, &c. &c. &c.;—Evils, which it was impossible to have prevented by any other Means, than by discarding the numerous beggarly Gentlemen-Barons from having any Thing to do with electioneering Contests, and by vesting the Right of voting in Men of Weight and Property. N. B. The modern Doctrine of unalienable and indefeasible Rights had not then been discovered.—This was reserved for the Honour of the present Age! And great Blessings are likely to attend it! some of which we very lately felt.—One Thing more is necessary to be observed, namely, That during all the Times under our present Consideration, that is, about the Space of 400 Years, and upwards, no Mention is made of any Disturbances at Elections in Cities and Boroughs,—the very Places where the greatest Disorders are now committed:—And the Reason is plain: A Candidate even in our Days for a burdensome, disagreeable Office, attended with no Honour, and less Profit, would be sure to have a peaceable Election.
This was beyond Dispute the Case with almost all Cities and Boroughs in antient Times. Nay, what is still more extraordinary, we learn from Prynne, as quoted by Mr. Cartwright [Page 71 of the People’s Barrier, Note at the Bottom] “That the elected Person was compellable to find Manucaptors, or Sureties, sometimes four, five, or six, for his executing the Office of Representative; and, if he failed, his Goods were distrained.” Can a better Proof be ever given of the Truth of the Facts here insisted on, than what may be drawn from this Quotation? Would any Man wish or desire a stronger?
From a View and Retrospect of all these Things, it is natural for every honest Man to think, that had he lived in those corrupt Days, he would have acted a better, a more consistent, and a more honourable Part. A Thought which ought to be cherished in every virtuous Breast. But at the same Time, let the real Patriot reflect, that we have Abuses in our Days, which approach too nearly to those of our Fore-fathers; and therefore cannot be viewed by an honest Man, but with Horror and Indignation.—’Tis true, our modern Champions do not wear Liveries, or stalk about in Caps of Maintenance: Tis true, we have none at present, who parade in Armour, and ride in Harness at Fairs and Markets, tilting against each other, Badge against Badge, and Colour against Colour. But alas! What we have left off in the Field, we have too much adopted in the Senate. For there we have something, which is too much a Kin to the former Badges, Signs, and Signals:—There we find too much of an East-India Livery:—too much of a West-India,—of an American,—of an Opposition,—of a Ministerial Livery:—And alas! a great deal too little of that, which ought to be the only Badge of a British Senator, The Constitutional Livery of his Country.
Certain Objections and Cavils answered and confuted.
THE Man who embarks in the Cause of Truth, without any Party Views, must be an entire Stranger to the Ways of the World, if he expects to be better treated on that Account.—It is well, if his Treatment will not be worse: For, as his Conduct is a Reproach to both Sides, he will not find any Favour from either: So that his very Impartiality will be considered as his most unpardonable Crime. I was not ignonorant of these Things when I undertook the present Work; nevertheless I wished to persevere in the Pursuit of Truth, in Spite of all Discouragements. Two Antagonists have appeared already; and others have threatened to commence Hostilities, as soon as the Publication of my Work shall enable them to erect their Batteries. I therefore here dedicate one Chapter for the Purpose of replying to the Objections which have been already made, in order that the Reader may have some Sample of what he is to expect from the Productions of such Kind of Adversaries.
The 1st of these isJohn Cartwright,Esq.
An Author, whose indefatigable Zeal and Industry would deserve great Commendation, were they employed to more rational Purposes, and were he less attached to a System which cannot be defended. To do him Justice, his * Integrity and Fair-dealing are more conspicuous than what is discoverable in many of his Brother-Patriots. For in general he misrepresents but little through Wilfulness and Design: What he doth through Ignorance or Inattention, ought to be ascribed to the Errors of the Head, and not to the Corruptions of the Heart. Respecting Lockianism, he is a very just and consistent Writer, advancing nothing but what is fairly deducible from his Master’s Principles. If in doing this he falls into palpable Contradictions, he doth no more, than what his Master did before him. Thus, for Example, he is so inconsistent with himself, that he will not allow that Right to Females of the Human Kind, which he expressly declares in many Places, to be a Right inseparable from Human Nature. “I have demonstrated [says he, Page 127 of the People’s Barrier] that Representation,—[he means the Right of chusing Representatives,]—“depends on Personality alone: And that all Regulations for making it depend on Property, must be capricious, arbitrary, and unconstitutional.” In other Places, he allows, that Women are Persons, and Moral Agents, as well as Men; and that they have Souls to be saved. Yet in spite of all these Concessions, he maintains, that it is absurd to suppose, that Women have those Rights of voting at parliamentary Elections, which belong to, and are, according to him, unalienable from human Personality. But why, good Mr. Cartwright, is this absurd,—I mean, on your Principle?—He is sure it is absurd: And he refers the Dean of Glocester (see Page 46 of Legislative Rights) “to the Scriptures,—to the Laws of Nature, and the common Law of England,—and to the fair Sex themselves, in order to settle this Point.” Authorities fully sufficient, I allow, were they as decisive in this Gentleman’s Favour as he imagines them to be. But that is the Question.
1st.My kind Instructor refers me to the Scriptures:—So far I am obliged to him.—In them he says [Page 27. of the People’s Barrier] it will be found, “that God, as an Example to all other Kings, insists upon the People’s exercising their Right of choosing their first Magistrate (God) and of assenting to the Laws, under which they were to live.” [For it seems,] “God would not take upon him the Civil Government of their State, until the People had elected him, and by their voluntary Assent had joined in enacting the Laws of the Community, &c. &c.” This he assures us is the Doctrine of Scripture.—I do most willingly acknowledge it to be the Lockian Doctrine,—and a necessary Consequence of that rash, inconfideate, Position, ‘That all Governments whatever, antient or modern, good as well as bad, are so many Usurpations, ’till the People shall have given their actual, explicit, and positive Consent, both to the Formation and to the Continuance of them.’ But even to hint at Usurpations of any Sort, when we are speaking of the Formation or Continuance of the Government of the greatest and best of Beings, who filleth all in all:—I say, even to surmise that his Authority over us depends, in any Sense, on our own good Will and Pleasure, or that his Laws are not binding, till we shall have ratified and confirmed them, is a Liberty which I dare not take. Mr. Cartwright must therefore excuse me, if I decline the Discussiion of such a Topic.
2dly.He directs me also to learn from the Scriptures, that the Rights of voting, chusing, or electing Delegates to Parliament, though unalienable in themselves, are all alienated from married Women, and transferred to their Husbands by a positive and express Law. The Wife is commanded to submit herself to her Husband in every Thing; Ergo;—Husband and Wife are in Scripture called one Flesh; Ergo,—(that is, from thence we must infer, else what would become of Mr. Cartwright’s Argument?) that the Husband is appointed in Scripture to vote for his Wife in all public Relations whatever, and to be her Lord and Master in Politics, as well as in domestic Concerns. [See Page 46, of Legislative Rights.]
Were it necessary to shew, that the Gentleman grossly misapplies these Texts of Holy Writ, and that he ascribes to them a Meaning, they were not intended to convey;—it would be a very easy Matter so to do. But I chuse rather to let him confute himself, as the best Way of answering such an Adversary. In this very Page, in which he condescends to correct the Dean of Glocester, for his Ignorance of the Scriptures, he says, that the “Sexes are equal in Dignity with Regard to God, and his Salvation.” By which he plainly means, that Women have an equal Right with the Men to judge for themselves in the Concerns of Religion. For the Rights of believing, of thinking and praying, and of performing all religious Duties, are unalienable Rights, which cannot be transferred from the Wife to the Husband, or executed by any Kind of Deputation.—Consequently in regard to these Points, the Husband cannot be authorised to represent the Wife,—nor is he her Lord and Master in this Sense.—About what then is my shrewd Antagonist now disputing?—If he intends to say, that civil, and religious Rights are Things of a very different Nature, because the former are transferrable, whereas the latter are not:—He would indeed assert a very capital Truth; but it is such a Truth, as destroys the whole Lockian System at once. On the other Hand, were he to maintain. [which he, and Dr. Price really do] that these two Rights are such exact Parallels to each other, “that the Persons who are to judge for themselves with respect to religious Salvation. equally ought to be the Judges of their political Salvation” (which are his own Words, at Page 134, of The People’s Barrier, in order to prove, that the very lowest of Mankind, such as Footmen, Draymen, and Scavengers, whom he there particularises, as having an unalienable Right of voting) he then must allow, whether he will or not, that the Wives of these Footmen, Draymen, and Scavengers have in civil, as well as religious Concerns, the same unalienable Right with their Husbands.—Either therefore the Cases are parallel, or they are not:—Let him take his Choice.
3dly.In respect to Law, and more particularly the Law of the Realm;—if he means to say, that Women (whether married or single) have no legal Right to vote for Members, I say so too: And will add this as a plain Proof, that, in the Eye of the Legislature, the civil, and religious Rights of Mankind are very different Things; and therefore ought not to be confounded together: Which is the capital Error of Mr. Locke, and his Followers.
But 4thly.My greatest Misfortune is yet to come. For the fair Sex are to be appealed to in this Dispute. And they will—my generous Adversary doth not say, What they will do, But at Page 46 above-mentioned, he says, “Were the Rev. Dean to receive no greater Thanks from the Ministry than he is likely to obtain from the fair Sex for such Attempts, poor indeed would be his Reward! Women knew too well what God and Nature require of them, to put in so absurd a Claim for a Share in the Rights of Election.”—What Reward the Ministry intend the Dean of Glocester is to me a Secret. But how great soever they may be, [as I hope they will not be of an unalienable Nature] I do hereby freely and voluntarily make a Transfer of them all to Mr. Cartwright, with my grateful Acknowledgments for his kind Instructions:—I have not the Honour of his personal Acquaintance; but if he should be like the Majority of his Brother Patriots, he may stand in greater Need of ministerial Favours than the Dean of Glocester:—The Dean is a Man, who, with a very moderate Income, [which many People would think rather scanty] can truly say, that he has all he wishes to have, and more than sufficient to supply his Wants. Would to God, that the Majority both of the Inns, and of the Outs could say their Hands on their Hearts, and say the same Things.
As to the Judgment which the fair Sex is to pass upon us, when the Cause is to be brought before their Tribunal.—I own I am rather anxious for the Safety of us both, at such a Juncture. Because, if Mr. Cartwright, after the Example of his Brother-Patriot, Lord G. Gordon, should summon the Wives of Footmen, Draymen, and Scavengers, and all the Ladies of their Acquaintance to meet in St. George’s Fields, then and there to debate the solemn Question, Whether they should surrender up their unalienable indefeasible Rights, or insist on the free Exercise of them, I will not be answerable for the Consequences of such an Assembly of 20,000 patriotic Ladies, warmed with—Zeal for their Rights and Liberties.
One Thing more I have to add on this Subject, and I have done.—During an Experience of upwards of Fifty Years, I have observed, that in every contested Election, the Females of all Ranks, Ages, and Conditions, both in high and in low Life, married or unmarried, those of rigid, and those of easy Virtue,—so far from not concerning themselves at all in such Matters,—have entered into the Spirit of Electioneering with much greater Zeal, and keener Appetites than the Males.—And let Mr. Cartwright himself be the Judge, if he pleases, whether he thinks they would chuse Lovelaces, or Hickmans to be their favourite Representatives, had they the Privilege of voting. [See Richardson’sClarissa for the Explanation of these oppoposite Characters.]
The Cavils of Mr. ProfessorDunbar,of Aberdeen.
WHEN I first undertook the Task of answering Mr. Locke, I thought it necessary to proceed with the greater Caution, as I had so many popular Prejudices to encounter with. Mr. Locke’s Writings on Government had obtained a Reputation and Character little short of political Infallibility; therefore any Man who dared to depart from this Standard of Orthodoxy, was deemed a State-Heretic, and condemned of Course, as an Enemy to the just and unalienable Rights of Mankind. Finding myself oppressed by this Weight of undeserved Censure, I caused the Press to strike off about 50 or 60 Copies of the principal Parts of the present Treatise. My View therein was to consult the Learned and Judicious both far and near, concerning the Plan of the Work, and the Nature of the Undertaking;—likewise to entreat the Benefit of their Corrections and Amendments, in Case they should judge so favourably of this Specimen, as to encourage me to proceed.
Among other respectable Personages to whom I applied on that Occasion, I mention with singular Pleasure and Esteem, the Reverend Dr. Campbell, Principal of Marischal College at Aberdeen; a Gentleman to whom the whole Republic of Letters is greatly indebted; and from whom the Dean of Glocester has received more Assistance, than from all others. I glory in the Declaration; and am much afraid, that the critical Reader will too soon discern those Portions of the Work which received the Benefit of his judicious Corrections and Amendments, from those, which were never sent, because I ceased to take off Copies of the remaining Parts.
When these Papers were at Aberdeen, it is probable, that a Mr. ProfessorDunbar got a Sight of them. A Gentleman, who appears from his late Publication, The History of Mankind, to be capable of making an useful Writer, could he add a little more sound Sense, and logical Consistency to his florid Periods, and high dressed Stile. Be that as it may, the Impatience of this Gentleman, and his patriotic Zeal, were so ungovernable, that he could not stay ’till the Book was published, but hurried his Confutation of the poor Dean of Glocester into Print, before the Dean’s confuted Book was itself published. This is rather a new Case. But, that the Reader may not be deprived of the Benefit so kindly intended by Mr. Professor, I will here beg Leave to quote, first my own Words, and then his Censures upon them, in the Order in which he himself was pleased to place them, that the Reader may make his own Reflections; and if Mr. Professor should be dissatisfied with this Mode of Proceeding,—I must submit to his Displeasure.
The Dean of Glocester [see Page 171 of the present Treatise.]
All that we know of America, relative to the present Subject, seems to be this, That the far greater Part of the Native Indians [Indians I mean, as they were formerly, before their Subjection,—or those at present, who are not in Subjection to any Europeun Power] may be divided into three different Ranks, or Classes, mere Savages,—Half Savages,—and almost civilized. ☞ I do not mention these Distinctions, or Classes, as accurate Definitions, according to logical Rules, but as Descriptions of Men and Manners sufficiently exact for our present Purpose.
Mr. ProfessorDunbar’sCensure on the Preceding [see his Note to his History of Mankind, Page 204.]
“A well known Writer in Politics affects to have Ideas of the State of Mankind so mathematically precise, that he divides the Indians of America into three Classes, mere Savages,—Half Savages,—and almost civilized.”
The Dean of Glocester [see Page 190 of the present Treatise.]
With respect to the first Class of these bad Qualities (their Want of Tenderness, Sympathy, and Affection) all Historians agree, without one Exception, that the Savages in general are very cruel and vindictive, full of Spite and Malice; and that they have little or no Fellow-feeling for the Distresses even of a Brother of the same Tribe,—and none at all, no not a Spark of Benevolence towards the distressed Members of an hostile Tribe. But the Missionaries (of Paraguay) to their eternal Praise be it spoken, have converted these blood-thirsty, unfeeling Animals into a very different Sort of Beings: So that if the Accounts given of them (by Muratori, and others) are true, or even near the Truth, there can hardly be a more humane and benevolent People upon Earth, than the Indian Converts of Paraguay.
Mr. ProfessorDunbar’sCensure on the Preceding.
“The Savages he (the Dean of Glocester) describes, in all respects, as a blood-thirsty, unfeeling Race, destitute of every human Virtue. But Miracles have not yet ceased. The Missionaries of Paraguay, we are told, can transform these infernal Savages into the most benevolent Race under Heaven. A Metamorphosis which, though celebrated by a Dignitary of the Church, will hardly command Belief in this sceptical Age: Yet it serves to support a new Theory of Government, which is founded on a total Debasement of Human Nature, and is now opposed to a Theory that asserts its Honour, and derives from an happier Origin the Image of a free People.”
The Dean of Glocester [see the Preface to the 2d Part of the present Work.]
The Author imagines, that he has confuted the Lockian System in the foregoing Part of this Work. And he is supported in this Opinion by the Judgment of many Persons, not only distinguished for their Learning and good Sense, but also for their zealous Attachment to the civil and religious Liberties of this Country. If this be the Case, that is, if he has really confuted Mr. Locke, he may now, he hopes, with some Propriety, venture to submit to public Consideration, a System of his own; which he is inclined to think, may serve as a Basis for every Species of Government to stand upon.—At the same Time he is well aware, that it doth not follow, that his must be true, because Mr. Locke’s may have been proved to be false: He is also very sensible, that it is much easier to pull down than it is to build up; and that many a Man can demolish the System of another, who cannot desend his own. For these Reasons he is the more desirous of proceeding with due Reserve and Caution;—not expecting that his Plan should be adopted, as soon as proposed,—nor yet supposing, that it will be totally rejected, ☞ before it shall have undergone some Kind of Examination.
Mr. Professor’s Censure on the preceding, is as follows:—
“See a Work by Dean Tucker, Part II. containing, as the Writer modestly declares, the true Basis of Civil Government, [True Basis was the running Title at the Top of the Leaf, which gave Offence] in Opposition to the System of Mr. Locke and his Followers.”
This third Blow of Mr. Professor is so well aimed, and sent with so much Good-Will, that it may be considered as the Executioner’s Coup de Grace, to put the condemned Anti-Lockian out of his Misery. However, as the Malefactor, though executed in his Manuscript-State, might come to Life again under the Shape of an Author in public Print, and by that Means do the more Mischief to the Lockian Cause; Mr. Professor seems to have been desirous of preparing some further Punishment for such a Criminal, as soon as he should revive, and appear in his former Character. With this View it is probable, that he added the following Clause.
“When the Benevolence of this Writer [the Dean of Glocester] is exalted into Charity, when the Spirit of his Religion corrects the Rancour of his Philosophy, he will learn a little more Reverence for the System to which he belongs, and acknowledge in the most untutored Tribes some Glimmerings of Humanity, and some decisive Indications of a moral Nature.”
The Words Benevolence, Charity, Religion, are undoubtedly very good Words. And (as I do not set up for a Judge of fine Writing) perhaps I might likewise allow, that the Period which contains them, is well turned. Nevertheless, what Reference all this can have to the Conduct of the Dean of Glocester in the present Dispute, is a Thing which surpasses my Comprehension. And I do freely acknowledge, that I am myself so far one of the untutored Tribes, notwithstanding the Professor’s great Pains to tutor me, that I have not the least Idea of having transgressed the Bounds of Benevolence, Charity, or Religion, in what I have said concerning the Savages of America. The Relation, it seems, has incurred the high Displeasure of the Professor of Philosophy at Aberdeen.—Be it so.—But did the Dean forge this Relation? No. Did he falsify the Accounts he had received from others? No. Did he misquote, or misrepresent any of his Authors? No. What then was his Offence? And what Provocation has he given to this Lockian Champion?—He has dared to contute the Lockian System.—A most unpardonable Crime indeed! For the Punishment of which, the Rules of Decorum are to be violated, and the Modes of dark Attack to be practiced. Surely, if the Lockian Cause is no otherwise to be defended, it is high Time that such a System should be banished from the Society of Men.
Had this Gentleman cited but one Author of Note, who had given an Account different from those of Dr. Robertson, Muratori, and others, to whom I referred, something like the Shadow of an Excuse might have been framed for the Rancour of his Invective. But as he has not, I will help him to a Writer as full of Romance, and as paradoxical as himself. The JesuitLafitau in his Mæurs des Sauvages, has said more to apologize for the Conduct of the Savages, than any Writer that I have seen. Nevertheless, the general Character which he gives of them, tallies so exactly with the Relation of other Historians, that plain Men of common Sense, like myself, cannot see the Difference. The Jesuit’s Words are these, ‘Leur bonnes Qualités (which he had been enumerating in the preceding Paragraph) ‘sont mélées sand doute de plusieurs defautes: Car ils sont legers et volages, faineans au dela de toute expression, ingrats avec excess, soupçonneux, traitres, vindicatiss, et d’autant plus dangereux qu’ils scavent mieux couvrir, et ils couvrent plus long temps leur resentiments: ils sont cruel a leur ennemis, brutaux dans leur plaisirs, vitieux par ignorance, et par malice.’ (Tom 1, P. 106.)
Such is the Portrait, which their own Apologist has drawn of this unhappy People. But nevertheless, though it is much to be feared, that this is too truly their general Character, yet we will charitably suppose, and do most willingly hope, that many Exceptions are to be found among them. St. Paul in his first Chapter to the Romans, presents us with a Picture of the degenerate Heathens not much unlike this of the benighted Indians. But no Man ever understood the Apostle in that rigid Sense, as if he intended to say, that there was not one single Exception to the Description he had given of Men and Morals, to be found in all Rome.
For my Part, I think it reasonable and right, that Exceptions should be made to all general Characters. Sometimes indeed I am obliged to make them with Regret: This is my present Case.—I have admired and respected the Literati of Scotland for upwards of 30 Years: The present is certainly their shining Period, their Augustan Age. They are now become not only a Credit to themselves, but an Honour to enlightened Europe. And were some of them to attend more to Facts than to Theories, and to pay a greater Regard to the Strength of an Argument, than to the Arrangement of Periods, or the Choice of Words, their Excellence and Usefulness would still be greater.—Unconnected as I am with them, and unbiassed in my Judgment, I pay this free-will Offering to their distinguished Merit.—Nor shall the unprovoked, and unjustifiable Behaviour of one of their Members lessen my Esteem for so illustrious a Body.
An Enquiry how far the Authorities of Great Names, and particularly how far the Opinions ofAristotle, Cicero, Grotius,andHookercan be serviceable to theLockianCause.
HAVING proceeded mostly in the argumentative, or controversial Way in the preceding Parts of this Treatise, it may not be amiss here to alledge the Authority of respectable Writers in Confirmation of what has been already advanced. I know, indeed, that the Gentlemen, with whom I have the Misfortune to differ, disdain the very Thought of paying a Deference to any human Opinion whatever. But I know likewise, that there are not a Set of Men under Heaven, who make more Parade with the Honour of a great Name, than they do, if they are able to quote any Passage from his Writings, only seeming to be favourable to their Cause:—A striking Proof of which will be given in the Course of this Chapter, respecting the great and judicious Mr. Hooker.
Meer Authority, it must be confessed, is not sufficient in many Cases to determine our Assent: But Authority, added to other Arguments, in those peculiar Circumstances, where the Mind is equipoised between opposite Reasonings, ought certainly to turn the Scale. And indeed it generally will; for many of the most capital Affairs in human Life, are often conducted on no other Principle. [Those, who wish to see this important Subject handled more at large, and properly exemplified, may consult my two Letters to the Rev. Dr. Kippis, printed for Rivington.]
The Disciples of Mr. Locke differ from the rest of Mankind, antient and modern, in two essential Points.
They often maintain in express Terms, and the Tenor of their Argument always doth, that Mankind have no natural Biass, no innate Instinct or Propensity towards Civil Society, as an End, or Object. Nay, many of them have not scrupled to declare, That were Men left to follow their own spontaneous Inclination, they would never have incorporated at all; but would have led a Life of absolute Freedom and Independence. Mr. Locke’s own Expression is, That Men are driven into Society.—But why driven? And who drives them? Their own Wants and Fears, he tells us. For, it seems, that after having deliberated on the Matter, pro and can, Men at last resolved to abandon the Charms of native Liberty, in order to guard against those Dangers and Inconveniencies, which they found to be unavoidable in their natural and solitary State. Hence therefore it necessarily follows, according to the Lockian Idea, that Government itself, even in its best Estate, and when best administered, is no other than a necessary Evil, which must be endured, for the Sake of escaping from such other Evils as are still more intolerable.
In Conformity to this leading Principle, they infer very logically, and indeed very justly. [reasoning right from wrong Principles] that no Man, tho’ born within the Confines of some certain State, and all along protected by it, ought to be deemed a Member thereof, ’till he himself hath made an actual Choice; that is, ’till he has voluntarily entered into a solemn Contract with that, or with some other State, by an express, positive, and personal Engagement.—For ’till that is done, he is in fact an independent, unconnected Being, the Subject of no State whatever.
Now, to combat these two erroneous Opinions, which would in Practice be attended with the most fatal Consequences, I might observe, first of all, that all the Notices, which we have from profane History relative to Government, are about the Improvements, or Alterations of those Societies, which were already formed, and not about the original, or impulsive Cause, which first gave them an Existence, and brought them into Being. Minos, Solon, Lycurgus, Numa, and many others, who were justly honoured with the Title of Legislators, were only so in this secondary Sense of the Word: That is, they either improved, or reformed, or new modelled some of those Societies, which already existed in a rude, and imperfect State. But they did not erect new ones among a Set of human Creatures, who were before totally independent of each other;—that is, who were utter Strangers to any Kind of Subordination whatsoever. This is a weighty Matter, and deserves to be well considered. But as it would carry us too far from the Points now immediately before us, if pursued to its full Extent, I shall wave it for the present;—and content myself with producing only four Authorities in Opposition to the Lockian System:—But these four are such, as are worth Thousands of others, the Lockians themselves being Judges, were their Testimonies to be weighed, and not numbered. The four I mean are no less than Aristotle, Cicero, Grotius, and Hooker;—the three first of whom were born, and educated under Republican Governments; and the fourth is the very Person to whom Mr. Locke and his Followers always appeal in disputed Cases.
This first of Men in the Pagan World delivers himself in the second Chapter of his first Book of Politics to the following Effect,—That Man is by Nature a political Animal, much more so than Bees, or any other Animals of the gregarious Tribes;—because he is endowed with the Use both of Speech and Reason:—Of Speech, to make known his Wants, his Feelings, and Intentions;—and of Reason to judge, what is right, and what is wrong, and to discern Good from Evil. Therefore as Nature makes nothing in vain, any Man, who, through Choice, and not from Necessity, is not a Member of some Civil Society, must be supposed to be either much better, or much worse than the common Lot of Human Nature. Consequently, if any Being in a human Shape either has no Propensity for the politico-social Life, or has such a Sufficiency of all Things within himself, as not to want it, that Being is either a God, or a Beast of Prey. For Nature hath implanted in all Men a strong Instinct [Ormé] for this Kind of social Life.
Such is the Substance of Aristotle’s Argument, in a free Translation, when the different Parts of it are brought together, and cleared from some metaphysical Niceties, foreign to the present Subject. On which I must beg the Reader’s Indulgence to make a few Remarks.
In the first Place, it is evident, that this first of Philosophers [as Mr. Hooker, by using a Greek Term (Arch Philosopher) justly calls him] was not here delivering an Opinion, which he thought would ever have been called in Question, or so much as doubted of. He took it for granted, that no Man would be so very absurd as to suppose, that Mankind had not a natural Instinct, Impulse, or Inclination towards forming political Unions or Connections of some Sort or other. Had he suspected that this Point would ever have been controverted, he would certainly have done more ample Justice to his Subject.
For 2dly. Whereas he barely affirms, that Men are Animals much more political in their Nature than Bees, or any of the gregarious Tribes, he might have corroborated his Assertions with such Reasons, as would have been unanswerable. Meer gregarious Animals are not political simply on that Account;—as I have shewn before in the Instances of Sheep, Horses, Cattle, &c. [See Pages 131 and 132.] But gregarious Animals then become political, when they divide their common Labour into separate Shares or Portions, each Individual having a distinct Occupation, and acting within his own Sphere. For such a Police evidently insers a certain Subordination and Government, wherein some are to act in Obedience or Subserviency to others:—Or, to speak still plainer, some are to direct, and others to be directed. Hence it follows, that not only Swarms of Bees, whom Aristotle mentions, but also Ants and Beavers, and every other Tribe of Animals in like Circumstances [if any such there are] must have a Plan or Regulation, or a fixt Mode for the Distribution of Labour;—that is, they must have a general Law, and Constitution of Government settled amongst them.
Now, if this be the Case among the inferior Animals, Aristotle might have observed with great Justice, that the Reasons or Motives for implanting such Instincts in human Animals, as would cause them, not only occasionally to herd together, but to form lasting Connections, are so much the stronger in Proportion to the greater Exigencies of their Condition: For even the natural Wants of Men, Food, Raiment, and Dwelling, are a thousand Times more numerous, and diversified than the natural Wants of either of the Tribes of Animals above-mentioned:—And if to these we should add the artificial, which comprehend all the Elegancies, Comforts, and Conveniences of Life,—(not to mention the infinite Number of fantastic, and imaginary Wants) it must appear next to a Demonstration, that Mankind were formed with much stronger Propensities for Society, than any Tribe of Animals whatever. And Aristotle’s favourite Maxim, that Nature doth nothing in vain, thus returns with more than redoubled Force.
Nay, 3dly. Whereas Aristotle observes, that Mankind are endowed with Language, and Reason,—(Gifts, which he apprehends are appropriated to the human Species, in order to enable them to form political Associations) he might have added another Circumstance, which is still more peculiar to the Human Race:—The Circumstance I mean is the Power of captivating the Passions by Means of public Declamations, or solemn Harangues; for this is a Thing quite distinct from the mere Use of Speech, or of Reason. And it is observable, That when those Geniusses, whom Nature has formed to be great Orators, harangue the lissening Crowds, they are frequently able to enchant their Audience in such a Manner, as to cause them to move and act, to resolve, or to rescind former Resolutions, just as they would have them. Marvellous Talents these! And happily for Mankind, they are not common: For, as in a free State, such as ours, they are more frequently employed in doing Mischief, than in doing Good, we do not so often experience their salutary Effects, as we do their fatal Consequences.—But however that may be, these Talents are so much the Prerogative of Man, that we are not able to discover the least Traces of them either in Herds of Cattle, or Flocks of Sheep, or in any other Animals whatever.
Upon the whole, though Aristotle gave his Opinion after a transient or cursory Manner, and without any previous Study to investigate the Nature of the Subject;—yet it is such an Opinion, as leaves not the least Doubt in any Man’s Mind, how fully he was persuaded, that Mankind were formed by Nature to be political Animals, and that civil Government, of some Form or other, was the State or Condition which was most natural to Man. The next great Man is
This eminent Statesman and Philosopher was much in the same Situation with his Predecessor. For he too was a total Stranger to the Paradoxes of modern Days respecting Government. Therefore his Observations can be but short, being, as it were, occasionally uttered. In his First Book of Offices, §. 44, he had been comparing different Duties or Offices together; and he gave the Preference, very justly, to that Duty, or to that Imployment of a Man’s Time, which was dedicated to the Service of his Country,—and not to mere scientific Speculations, or abstract Theories. He placed the Contrast between Communitas, or the Duty owing to the Community, and Cognitio, or the Manner of entertaining one’s self in private with literary Amusements [Which perhaps was intended as a gentle Reproof to his Friend Atticus.] And then observes, “* That as Bees do not form themselves into Communities for the Sake of making their Honey-Combs; but being naturally united into Communities, called Swarms, they therefore set about this Work: So Men, who are formed with much stronger Instincts [than Bees] for a political Life, use, that is, ought to use, their Powers both of Action, and of Thought [for the public Good.”]
The Construction of the latter Part of this Sentence seems to be a good deal embarrassed; probably because a Word or two are missing. But be that as it may, there is no Manner of Obscurity in the Words, sic homines, ac multo etiam magis Naturâ congregati. For they are as clear as the Day: And it was for their Sakes alone, that the Passage was quoted.
Again, in his Treatise concerning the Boundaries between Good and Evil, towards the Close of the third Book, where he is summing up the principal Dogmata of the Stoics concerning Morals, Politics, Religion, &c. &c. which he highly (and in general very justly) extolls, he expresses himself after this Manner, * “As we also use our Limbs [in Childhood] before we have been able to learn for what Use, or with what Intent they were given us; so we are mutually connected, or joined together by Nature herself into a Civil Community, or Body Politic.”
Once more, In his First Book concerning Laws, §. 9, where he is enumerating the superior Gifts and Advantages, which Nature or Providence has bestowed on Man, he mentions, among others, the Power of Speech, as particularly serviceable in the Formation, and Conservation of human Society. [Orationis vis, quæ conciliatrix est humanæ maxime societatis.]
Indeed in his Oration for P. Sextius he has a Passage, which seems (and perhaps only seems) to contradict these two Quotations. The Passage is to the following Purport:—
*Which of you, my Lords Judges, needs be told, that, according to the natural Progression of Things, there was a Period, not characterised by an Obedience either to the Law of Nature, or to Civil Jurisdiction, when Men ran wild in the Woods, subsisting by Rapine and Plunder, and having nothing which they could call their own, but what the strongest could either snatch from, or keep from the weakest? Therefore those who excelled in Wisdom and Virtue, having observed a certain Docility, and innate Disposition in human Nature, gathered these wandering Savages together, and brought them out of their former Ferocity, to have a Regard for Justice, and the Duties of a social Life. Hence a Concern for the public Good may date its Origin; hence those little Congregations, which afterwards grew up into civil Communities, or Bodies politic; and hence also Men were not afraid to build their Huts nearer to each other, which afterwards became Towns and Cities, and were surrounded with Walls, under the Sanction both of divine, and human Law.
Now, though it must be acknowledged, that this Passage seems to clash with the three preceding, yet the following Considerations may perhaps reconcile the seeming Contradiction.
First then, it may be observed, that no great Stress ought to be laid on what is here advanced; because it is the Orator, and not the Philosopher, the meer Pleader at the Bar, and not the moral Instructor, or faithful Historian, who is here speaking. And Cicero’s avowed Principles, as an Academic, (indeed perhaps they are the Principles of all Pleaders, and in all Courts whatever) led him to study Plausibilities, [Verisimilia] more than Truths, in order to make the best of his Client’s Cause.
2dly. The latter Part of this Paragraph weakens the Authority of the former. For if there ever was such a Time as above described, when every Savage was independent of, or unconnected with, the rest, subsisting like a Beast of Prey on Rapine and Plunder; it is inconceivable, how so much Docility and good Disposition as Cicero mentions, should be discoverable in an Animal so very unsocial, fierce, and cruel;—especially, if the pretended Discoverer was himself (according to the Hypothesis) no other than a Brother-Savage of the very same Sort.—The Truth therefore seems to have been this: On the Dispersion of Mankind, which, according to the Scripture-Account, came to pass after the Attempt to build the Tower of Babel, it is very probable, that the Multitude were scattered abroad far and wide, by breaking themselves into very small Societies, if not single Families. For not only the sacred Historian, who is likewise the most antient of Writers, favours this Conjecture, but also the local Traditions of almost every Country seem to corroborate it. These little Nests of Men, or single Families, afterwards so encreased and multiplied, as to become large Clans, Tribes, or Hordes; each of whom had an internal Form of Government of some Sort or other, probably of the patriarchal Kind, distinct from the rest, and peculiar to itself:—A Government, which answered all the general Ends of being a Terror to evil Doers, and for the Praise of them that did well. And if ever there was such a Time, as the Golden Age, this was the Period for it,—I mean, as far as their own internal Modes of Living were concerned. Horace is also of the same Opinion;
But nevertheless, as the People of these several Clans, Tribes, or Hordes, raised also the Necessaries of Life within their own Districts, and had no Intercourse or Communication with other Countries, unless by Accident, or in order to carry on some bad Design,—they very soon mutually conceived both a Contempt for, a Jealousy of, and an Aversion to each other (The same is but too prevalent among the common People of most Countries to this very Hour) So that Stranger and Enemy became convertible Terms. It was therefore deemed lawful, and not only lawful but honourable for one People to make Incursions into the Territories of their Neighbours, and to commit those Violences and Depredations, which Cicero mentions;—only with this Difference, that the Pillages, which he complains of, as the Outrages of Individuals against Individuals, were (at least for the most Part) the Hostilities of one Tribe against another. For, like the Pirates or Banditti, or the roving Arabs both of antient and of modern Times, they observed the Rules of Justice, Equity, and Humanity among themselves at the same Time that they robbed, and plundered, and perhaps massacred those unhappy Strangers, who became the Victims of their Power.
Now this State of the Case reconciles Cicero with himself; and, what is still better, with the Truth of History, and with Matter of Fact. Therefore the Orator’s Observation seems to be a very just one, that such Men as excelled in Wisdom and Sagacity, and were eminent also for Goodness of Heart, endeavoured to reconcile these jarring Tribes, by explaining to them the Folly and Absurdity of their Conduct, and by exposing the horrid Nature of their Crimes, in thus violating that natural Sense of Justice, and those very Instincts of Humanity, which they themselves mutually recognized, and revered in each other. And one would hope, for the Honour of our common Humanity, that such good Men, and real Patriots, did frequently so far succeed, as to persuade many of the Heads and Leaders of these hostile Bands to lay aside their ill-grounded Antipathies, to look on each other as Friends and Brothers, and to acknowledge the Ties of Nature in a wider Extent. Hence therefore it was possible, indeed it was very probable, that the original narrow Circles of Civil Polity became so widened and extended, as to comprehend many lesser ones within their Bounds. For by these Means, every Tribe, Clan, or Hord, might so far join, or coalcsce with others, as to have one common Interest, one common Head, or Government, in the greater Concerns of State, and yet retain its own Peculiarities, its own Customs, and Traditions in other lesser Matters. Now this will account (which perhaps no other System can do) for the vast Variety of different Laws and Customs that prevail in different Parts of the same Common-wealth, the same Kingdom, or Empire throughout the World.
Upon the whole, take Cicero in what Light you please, and it must follow from his Principles, than an Inclination for Government is natural to Men. For in the three Instances, where he is instructing us in the true Principles of Morality and Philosophy, he directly asserts it: And in the fourth, where, in the Exuberance of his Eloquence, he deviates a little from the right Path, he affords us such a Clue, as might easily serve to bring him back, and to make the latter Part of his Assertion harmonise with the former. So much as to the first Head, in Opposition to the Lockians.—We come now to the second grand Point, Whether Children are the natural-born Subjects of that State, to which their Parents were subject at the Time of their Birth? Or whether they are such perfectly independent, unconnected Beings, as to belong to no State whatever, ’till their own free and unconstrained Choice hath fixt their political Relation? This is a Point, which cannot admit of a long Discussion.—For not only Aristotle and Cicero, but the Antients to a Man, Greeks and Romans, were so far from favouring the Lockian Notion, that they carried the contrary Doctrine of an implicit Veneration for the Institutes, Rites, and Customs of their Ancestors to very great Excesses. They bred up their Children from their Infancy, with such enthusiastic Conceits concerning the Goodness, the Superiority, and even Sacredness of what their Fore-fathers had ordained, and established, both in civil and religious Concerns, that it was deemed a Kind of Impiety or Sacrilege, to set up any thing else in Opposition to them. Happy therefore was that Youth, who should expose his Life in their Defence: And Dulce et decorum est pro patriâ mori, or Expressions of the same Import, whether in Greek or Latin, were Maxims to be inculcated on all Occasions. Hence that contracted Love for their own Country, its Customs, and Constitutions, which caused them not only to despise, but even to detest almost all others; and consequently to persecute them when in their Power.—And hence also, that false and spurious Patriotism, which in many Instances, blotted out the very Ideas of Justice and Humanity, towards the rest of the Human Species. But as this is a Subject of a most important Nature, opening the Way to many others, both in religious, as well as civil Concerns, and highly deserving a more thorough Discussion, than can here be given it, I must refer it to some others, who have more Leisure, and greater Abilities, than I can pretend to, to do Justice to it.
Pass we on therefore at present to another great Authority, namely
This learned Writer, and experienced Statesman is my third Republican Voucher. In the Prolegomena, to his celebrated Work, De Jure Belli ac Pacis [A Work which cannot be too much admired, notwithstanding a sew Slips and Imperfections.] He tells us, that he was entering upon an important Task, wherein he was to explain and vindicate the Rights of War and Peace;—Rights, which derive their Obligation [not from actual Compact, but] partly from the Voice of Nature,—partly from the Commands of God.—partly from the Nature of moral Duties,—and partly from the tacit or implied Consent of Mankind: He then delivers himself after the following Manner:—“Not a few there are who doubt, whether any such Law of Nature [prior to some Compact. Regulation, or Agreement] can possibly exist, especially in Time of War; and others, who positively deny the Existence of it:” Some of these he particularly mentions, and then refers us to many others, as acting according to the same mistaken Principles.
* “Seeing therefore, says he, it would be in vaintocompose a Treatise about Natural Right, or the Law of Nature, if no such Right, or Law exists, it will be incumbent on us in the first Place, and in order to protect and defend the ensuing Work, briesly to consute this most pernicious Error. And that we may not contend with a Multitude of anonymous Adversaries, let us assign some Person, or other, as the Advocate for, or the Patron of such an Opinion. And who so proper, as Carneades, the Academic, or rather the Sceptic? for he carried the Maxims of his disputatious Sect so far, as to maintain that the Powers of Eloquence ought to be employed as much in the Defence of Falshood, as of Truth. Therefore when he undertook to oppose the general Idea of Justice, especially of that Branch of of it now before us, he found no Argument more plausible than the following: That Men had from Time to Time made various Laws relating to Morals, meerly from a Principle of Self-Interest, or Convenience;—and had changed such Laws as often as these Circumstances had varied. Consequently there was no such Thing as an invariable Rule, or Standard for Morals, because Men, like all other Animals, are guided by Nature to gratify their own Appetites:—If so, there can be no Justice in opposing Nature;—or if there be, it must be the Height of Folly, to promote the Happiness of another, at the Expence of our own.
“But this philosophic Delusion is by no Means to be admitted. For though Man is indeed an Animal as well as others:—Yet he is an Animal of a superior Class in the Scale of Being;—and placed at a much greater Distance from other Tribes of Animals, than they are from each other. In Proof of this, many Actions or Qualities might be mentioned, as the distinguishing Prerogatives of the Human Race: Among others, that Appetite for Society, or for a political State, which is so peculiarly human. For this Inclination is of a particular Sort [not like the Instincts of other Animals, barely to herd or flock together, but] to live in a regular and peaceable Community with those of his own Species, according to the Nature of a rational Creature, &c. &c.”
The first Head of this Enquiry being thus established beyond the Possibility of Doubt, namely, that, according to the Testimony of Grotius, Mankind are naturally inclined [not to live unconnected with, or independent of each other, but] to join in a social State, and to partake of the Blessings of a Body Politic:—Let us now proceed to the second Point of Inquiry, Whether it was his Opinion, that Men are under any Obligation to obey those civil Laws, to which they never gave, and in most Cases never could have given, their personal Consent, or positive Approbation?—Now this is in fact to ask the Question, Whether Grotius wrote such a Book, or not?—For every Page, and every Line of his Treatise, concerning the Rights of War and Peace, tend either mediately, or immediately to establish this momentous Truth. And he demonstrates in various Parts of his Book, that private Subjects, young as well as old, are bound in Duty to pay a prompt and willing Obedience to all the Laws of that State, under which they live, and by which they are protected, except in those unhappy Cases (if any such should happen) where the Laws of the State are manifestly and directly repugnant to the Laws of Nature, and of God.
Thus therefore it appears, that the Authority of the three most eminent Writers, that perhaps ever lived, all born and bred in Republics, Aristotle, Cicero, and Grotius;—[of whom the Poet who wrote the Epitaph upon upon Milton, might likewise have justly said,
Thus, I say, it appears, that their Authority is as opposite to the Lockian System of Government, as the Sentiments of any Writer whatsoever.
It remains now, that we attend to what Mr. Hooker has said on the same Subjects. This excellent Man has obtained the Epithet of judicious by a Kind of universal Consent;—a Consent, by the by, tacitly given, never voted, or ballotted for in any Respect whatever. But waving that Point, he certainly deserved those Honours in every Sense, which the grateful Public have bestowed upon him. For his superior Judgment appeared not only in what he professedly treated of and largely expatiated upon, but also in what he more briefly hinted at, and did not so amply express: Would to God, that one of his Cautions contained in his second Book, had been better attended to!—That Caution, I mean, which was levelled at a very weak Notion entertained by too many Protestants at the Beginning of the Reformation, concerning the Use of the Bible. For they conceived it to be a Book, which was intended to furnish them with every Plan, every System, every Mode, and Species of Reformation, which their distempered Fancies wished to introduce both into Church and State. Full of this absurd and dangerous Persuasion, they found, or thought they found, all their own crude and visionary Reveries authorized by the Word of God. Consequently having Divine Right on their Side, what could they do less than contend for it even unto Death, by appealing to the God of Battle for the Justice of their Cause? They did appeal; and in the Contest they deluged their Country with Seas of Blood, by fighting and fighting so long, ’till at last they reared up a bloody Tyrant, to serve them in the same Manner as they had served others.—It is well, if the modern Doctrine of unalienable Rights, which seems to be a Kind of a Successor to the former, be not attended with the like fatal Consequences.
But to return,—
The first Lockian Error mentioned at the Beginning of this Chapter, is, that Mankind are driven into Society, as having no natural Inclination of their own to become the Members of a civil State. Now, what says the judicious Hooker concerning the natural Disposition of Mankind in this Respect? He says, [Book I. Sect. 10, Page 17,] that they have a natural Disposition; and a strong one too; so very strong, as to become one of the great Foundations on which Civil Society was originally built, and is now supported. “Two Foundations there are which bear up public Societies; the one a natural Inclination, whereby all Men desire sociable Life and Fellowship; the other an Order expressly, or secretly agreed upon, touching the Manner of their Union in living together.”
Can any Words express my own Sentiments more clearly and emphatically than those? Or can any Testimony more strongly corroborate the whole System of my Book? I own, when I first entered upon this Work, relying on the Testimony of Mr. Locke, and others, I took for granted that Mr. Hooker was not favourable to my Opinion: This I signified in a short Note at the Bottom of the Page of that printed Specimen, which I dispersed among my Friends—Aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus. But, having found Cause to distrust the Truth of certain Assertions, though uttered with amazing Confidence, I began to suspect, that too much Art and Colouring had been used in the present Case; and I was confirmed in the Suspicion, by the Consideration, that as the whole Scope and Tenor of Mr Hooker’s Writings were to consure the Republican Rant, and to chastise the factious Behaviour of Cartwright and Travers, it was not credible that such a Man as he, one of the best Reasoners in the World, should be so far overseen as to favour the very Schemes he was confuting and condemning. For these Reasons I determined for the future to see with my own Eyes, and to trust no longer to such Guides; and my earnest Request to every Reader is to do the same by me.
2dly. Another grand Principle of the Lockian System, and a necessary Consequence of the former, is—That no Man ought to be reputed the Subject of any State (tho’ born and protected by it) ’till he has acknowledged his Subjection by some particular, positive, and express Engagement. Now this comes to the same Thing with that other Lockian Declaration,—That Laws cannot bind us without our own Consent, either given in Person, or by some Representative, or Proxy, chosen by us for that Purpose.
In Contradiction to these Positions, hear Mr. Hooker. He has already said in the former Quotation, that one of the Foundations which bear up public Societies, is an Order [or Rule, a Plan, or Constitution] either expressly, or secretly agreed upon, touching the Manner of Man’s Union in living together. Now here I ask, What is this express Agreement but the same with my actual Contract? And what is Mr. Hooker’ssecret Agreement but my Quasi-Contract in other Words? Find out a Difference if you can.—But further: In the same 10th Section (Page 19 of Fol. Edit. 1723) is this remarkable Paragraph;
“Approbation not only they give, who personally declare their Assent, by Voice, Sign, or Act, but also when others do it in their Names by Right, originally at least, derived from them as in Parliaments, Councils, and the like Assemblies, although we be not personally ourselves present, notwithstanding our Assent is [present] by Reason of other Agents there in our Behalf. And what we do by others no Reason [can be assigned] but that it should stand as our Deed no less effectually to bind us than if ourselves had done it in Person. ☞ In many Things Assent is given, they that give it not imagining they do so, because the Manner of their assenting is not apparent. As for Example, when an absolute Monarch commandeth his Subjects that which seemeth good in his own Discretion, hath not his Edict the Force of a Law, whether they approve, or dislike it? Again, that which hath been received long since, and is by Custom now established, we keep as a Law, which we may not transgress; yet what Consent was ever thereunto sought, or required at our Hands? Of this Point therefore we are to note, that sithence [seeing] Men naturally have no full and perfect Power to command whole political Multitudes of Men; therefore utterly [altogether] without our Consent, [expressed or implied] we could in such Sort be at no Man’s Commandment living. And to be commanded we do consent [that is, we consent to be commanded] when that Society whereof we are Part, hath at any Time before consented, without revoking the same after by the like universal Agreement. Wherefore as any Man’s Deed past is good as long as he himself continueth it; ☞ so the Act of a public Society of Men done 500 Years since, standeth theirs who presently are [who are at present] of the same Society, because Corporations are immortal: We were then alive in our Predecessors, and they their Successors do live still. Laws therefore human of what Kind soever are available by Consent, [either expressed or implied.”]
I have ventured to add a few Words within Crotchets [NA] by Way of Explanation. Let the Reader judge whether the Sense doth not require some of these Additions, in order to acommodate the Author’s Stile to modern Ears;—and whether the least Injury has been done to his true Sense and Meaning in any of the rest. In short, this whole Paragraph is so full an Illustration of, and doth so effectually corroborate, all that I have said concerning the Nature of an actual Contract and of a Quasi Contract, and of the peculiar Uses and Advantages attending each of them,—That I am in no Pain on that Account.—Nay, I repeat it again, let the keenest of my Adversaries discover, if he can, wherein Mr. Hooker’s Opinion, in these Respects, differs from mine.
But further, I had said throughout my Work, That Civil Government was so natural to Man, that hardly an Instance could be given of a People, Hord, Tribe, or Clan living together for any Length of Time, without a Civil Institution of some Sort or other. Mr. Locke and his Followers do not controvert this Assertion, as far as relates to all the Regions of Europe, Asia, and Africa: At least, I never found that they did. But they say, that there are a few Exceptions to this general Rule among some of the Savages in the more interior Parts of America: Savages who live, especially in Times of Peace, without any Degree of Civil Rule, or Power, or Subordination. Whether this be the Case or not, is very immaterial to determine; because I have assigned Reasons at large from Page 181, to Page 200 of the present Treatise, why such Exceptions (if indeed any such there be) are no Prejudice to the general Rule. But as drowning Persons will catch at a Straw, so it has happened with our Disputants in the present Case. Mr. Hooker, they tell us, befriends their Cause; and helps them in Time of Need. For he says in the same Section of the 1st Book,—“That there is no Impossibility in Nature, considered in itself, but that Man might have lived without any public Regimen.”—Therefore they infer, that what is not naturally impossible is perhaps probable:—And what is perhaps probable, is very probable:—And what is very probable, must be a Matter of Fact. Most curious Reasoning this! And worthy of such a Cause!
But the Misfortune is, that this very Matter of Fact, on which so much is built, is not only controverted, but absolutely denied. For Lafitau, who says he was five Years a Missionary among the Savages of North America, and had had a personal Acquaintance with many, and even a Friendship with some of them, positively denies the Charge, and is very angry with those, who surmise any thing so much to the Disadvantage of the native Indians. His Words are these:—“On n’a pas fait une moindre Injustice aux Sauvages de l’Amerique, en les faisant passer pour des Barbares sans Loix et sans Police, qu’en disant, qu’ils n’avoient aucun Sentiment de Religion, et qu’on n’en trouvoit chez eux aucun Vestige,” &c.—See the whole Chapter Du Gouvernment Politique Tom I. p. 456.
Now, whether Father Lafitau is right, or wrong in these Assertions, is of no Consequence to the present Argument. If he is right, then the whole Lockian Objection to the Universality of Civil Government falls at once to the Ground. But if he is wrong, surely one single Exception to the Practice of all the Nations, and in all the Ages of the World, (and for which very probable Reasons have been assigned) ought to be considered in no other Light, than as some monstrous Production; which in every other Case is never esteemed to be an Objection of Weight against the regular, standing, permanent Course of Nature. Either Way therefore the Conclusion is much the same: And Mr. Professor Dunbar, Mr. Cartwright, &c. &c. &c. may take their Choice.
In the mean Time it is of much more Importance, to the Friends of Truth, to find that the judicious Hooker has been rescued out of the Hands of our modern Republicans, and restored to his own proper Province, the Defence both of Church and State. He certainly was no Favourer of the debasing Doctrine of absolute and unlimitted passive Obedience, and Non-resistance. And if that is sufficient to denominate a Man, a Lockian, I too must humbly request to be enrolled among their Number. For I maintain the Right of resisting in certain Cases of extreme Necessity, as warmly as any modern Patriot whatever. But be it ever remembered, that when Mr. Hooker avoided one Extreme, he did not run into the other. On the contrary, he rightly distinguished between Liberty and Licentiousness, keeping at an equal Distance from the Machinations of factious Demagogues, and the servile Submission of cringing Slaves. In short, though the Terms Whigg and Tory were not then in Use, yet his Principles and Writings were of such a Nature, that he might have been characterised (as soon as the Meaning of those Terms was known) as a true Friend to a limitted Monarchy, and a Constitutional, (though not a Republican) Whigg.
The Doctrine of Scripture relative to the Obedience due from Subjects to their Sovereigns; together with the Grounds of, and Reasons for the Duty.
IT is evident, that all those Circumstances, on which relative Duties are founded, must be prior, in the Order of Things, to the Duties resulting from them. It is no less evident, that such Relations or Connections ought to be Matters of public Notoriety, before their respective Duties can be enjoined, and enforced. The Relations between Parent and Child, between Husband and Wife, Master and Servant, Sovereign and Subject, must not only exist,—but the Existence of them ought to be publickly known, before the several Duties of Honour, Fidelity, and Obedience on the one Hand,—and of Protection, affectionate Regard, and providential Care on the other, can be pressed on the Consciences of Mankind with due Force. For the Holy Scriptures do not inform us, who are Parents, and who are Children,—who are Husbands, Masters, or Sovereigns,—nor yet, who are Wives, Servants, or Subjects:—No; this is not their Province, and it would be absurd to expect such Information from them:—But, after these several Relations are become sufficiently known from other Sources of Intelligence, then the Holy Scriptures proceed to inculcate the Duties respectively belonging to each Relation, with proper Motives.
There is, indeed, one Exception, and but one, as far as I can perceive, to this general Observation. It became an excepted Case, because it was plainly a Deviation from the common Course of Things.—The Circumstance I refer to, was that peculiar Relation, which subsisted between the Children of Israel and their Prince, Jehovah. For after the Lord God of Israel had brought his People out of Egypt, by a mighty Hand, and a stretched out Arm, it pleased him to bind them to himself by a peculiar Covenant, condescending to be their temporal King and Governor, and exalting them to the Honour of being his immediate and political Subjects. Now as this was a supernatural Connection, it could have been made known to them only by Means of a supernatural Revelation.
However, thus it came to pass, that the political Constitution of the Sons of Jacob differed from the Polity of all other States upon the Face of the Earth. Consequently, as their State, or Kingdom, under their King Jehovah, was very literally of Divine Appointment, the Israelites first, and the Jews afterwards could say, with strict Justice, as well as with great Propriety, that they had received a political Constitution, and a temporal Kingdom, ordained of God: Which no other Nation could say, besides themselves, in the same Sense.
But alas! whilst this Theocracy, or Divine Government lasted, we do not find, that the Subjects of it were more loyal, dutiful, and submissive than those, who lived under other Forms.—On the contrary, the Scriptures are every where filled with Relations of the Perverseness, Ingratitude, Rebellions, and Apostacies of this very People.—Yet, when this Theocracy had ceased, and when they were reduced to a Level with the rest of Mankind, respecting the Nature of their Government, then they became sensible of their Error,—though indeed not from the best of Motives; and then they most earnestly wished (certainly not with the purest Intentions) for a Return or Restoration of that very Government, which they had so frequently despised, and offended,—Hence therefore they became so very impatient in their Subjection to any other Power, and were continually longing, and attempting to free themselves from every foreign Yoke.
This appears, as from the general Expectation, which every where prevailed among them, that their Messiah was shortly to appear (to whose triumphant Standard the whole Jewish Nation intended to resort);—as also from the particular Emulations, and mutual Jealousies of the Apostles themselves,—ever contending, which of them should be the greatest, that is, which should be the most in Favour with their victorious Prince. Nay, it was this very Persuasion of a temporal Messiah, which induced the Pharisees to join with the Herodians (whom they mortally hated) to put certain ensnaring Questions to our Lord. Matt. Chap. xxii. 15, 22. “Then went the Pharisees, and took Counsel, how they might entangle him in his Talk. And they sent out unto him their Disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, We know that thou art true, and teachest the Way of God in Truth, neither carest thou for any Man; for thou regardest not the Person of Men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou, Is it lawful to give Tribute unto Cæsar, or not, [shall we give or shall we not give? says another Evangelist] but Jesus perceived their Wickedness and said, Shew me the Tribute-Money, and they brought unto him a Penny” [A Piece of Money somewhat larger than our Sixpence] “And he saith unto them, whose is this Image and Superscription? They say unto him, Cæsar’s. Then saith he unto them, render therefore unto Cæsar, the Things which are Cæsar’s; and unto God, the Things that are God’s. When they had heard these Words, they marvelled, and left him and went their Way.” St. Luke also farther informs us, “That they could not take hold of his Words before the People, and that they marvelled at his Answer and held their Peace.”
Indeed to hold their Peace, in their Situation, was the wisest Thing the Pharisees could do: For had they proceeded to have raised Objections to the Sentence which our Lord had pronounced, concerning the Payment of Taxes, they would have fallen into the very Pit they had dug for him. Had they acknowledged the Lawfulness of paying Tribute unto Cæsar, they would have lost their Popularity and Credit with the Multitude, who expected the Appearance of a temporal Prince to conquer Cæsar; and had they maintained the Unlawfulness of such a Compliance, the Herodians themselves would have been the first to have impeached their Loyalty, and to have informed the Roman Governor of their seditious Conduct: Therefore they marvelled and held their Peace.
Again, when our Lord was brought to his Trial before Pilate, the Roman Governor the same Question was revived, only under somewhat of a different Form. St. John informs us, that Pilate asked him, whether he was a King? and particularly whether he was the King of the Jews?—Meaning thereby, whether he was that great Personage, whom the whole Nation of the Jews had so eagerly expected, and for whose Cause they were all ready to revolt. To which Question our Lord replied, “My Kingdom is not of this World: If my Kingdom were of this World, then would my Servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: But now is my Kingdom not from hence.” [See John xviii. 36.] This Answer was sufficient to convince the Governor, that he had nothing to apprehend from Jesus, as a dangerous Enemy to the State: And most certain he was, that the Jews were not at all disposed to make an Insurrection in his Favour. Therefore he seemed to be quite satisfied as to the only Point, which he wished to know, concerning the Messiah of the Jews.
After our Lord’s Resurrection, the drooping Hopes, and continual Longings of the Apostles after a temporal Kingdom revived again. For having found, that their Master was brought to Life, contrary to all their Expectations, they from hence concluded, that the Scene of Power was at last going to begin, and that an astonishing Display of Prodigies and Wonders would soon take Place. “Therefore when they were come together, they asked him saying, Lord wilt thou at this Time restore the Kingdom to Israel?” To which he returned an Answer, by no Means satisfactory as to the Point of their Inquiry, and yet sufficiently explicit to intimate to them, that there were certain Secrets in the Dispensations of Providence relative to a future Kingdom of the Messiah, which it was their Duty at present not to pry into; because they were not proper for them to know. “He said unto them, it is not for you to know the Times and the Seasons, which the Father hath put in his own Power. But ye shall receive Power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: And ye shall be Witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the uttermost Part of the Earth.”—Acts I. 6, 7, and 8 Verses.
Now in all these Conversations, which our Lord had both with the Jews, and with his own Apostles,—with those who considered him as a vile Impostor, and those who believed him to be the true Messiah, and that very King of the Jews so long expected [so that they need not look for another.]—I say, in all these several Conversations, set on Foot not only from different, but from opposite Motives,—not a Word is hinted about national Grievances, or national Complaints of any Kind. For the Question about the Payment of Tribute was not, Whether it was an unreasonable Tax, immoderate, or oppressive,—whether it was unequally laid, or would be squandered away, or improperly applied [the usual Topics in our Days] but whether they ought to pay any Tax at all, much or little, to a Government, against whose Title they objected, as founded on Violence and Usurpation. In answer to which, the Words of our Lord are as express and determinate as Words can be.—“If you allow, that Cæsar is now the Master of your Country (which you plainly do, by submitting to the Circulation of his Coin, an evident Proof of his sovereign Power!) you must allow, that he has a Right to some Tribute or other in that Coin, which bears his own Image and Superscription. He is now in actual Possession; his Government is peaceably established; it is the Government under which you live, and under which you are protected. Render therefore to Cæsar the Things that are Cæsar’s: For this is a sufficient Warrant for, and Justification of your Conduct; by what Means soever he may have acquired the sovereign Dominion over you.”
Almost 30 Years after the Resurrection of our Lord, the same Controversy concerning the Legality, or rather the Validity of Cæsar’s Title, broke out a fresh. The Jews could not bear the Thought of submitting with Patience to a Title, whose only Recommendation was actual and peaceable Possession. The Judaizing Christians were of course of the same Way of Thinking. And there is no Doubt to be made, but that the other Christian Converts, and indeed that the whole Roman Empire, Jews, Christians, and Pagans, were no Strangers to the Manner, by which the first Cæsars mounted the Throne, and subverted the antient Constitution.
Under these Circumstances, it became of the utmost Consequence to the Christian Cause, to have it determined, what Part the Christian Converts, and more especially its Teachers and Professors, were to take. And I will add, that in every Age of Christianity to the present Hour, it is of the utmost Importance to know, that the Religion of the Gospel is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of Mercy, and good Fruits, without Partiality, and without Hypocrisy.” Consequently its Professors and Teachers should ever represent it, as a Religion peculiarly calculated, not to disturb the Repose and Happiness of Mankind, but on the contrary, to cement them together, and to promote Unity, Peace, and Love, where ever it can.—And surely, as far as the mere Titles of the reigning Powers are concerned, this it can, and therefore this it actually doth, do. “Render therefore to Cæsar the Things that are Cæsar’s.”
As to public Grievances, and well founded national Complaints,—what would have been the Gospel Doctrine concerning the Extent of passive Obedience, or that Degree of patient Submission, which ought to be paid to the higher Powers, in Case they were to be notoriously guilty in the Abuse of their Trust: This Question was never started: Therefore the Gospel of Christ is totally silent on that Head. And perhaps it would always he the better, and the safer Course, to leave these Points, as the Gospel has lest them, totally undecided.—I say, it would be the better and the safer Course; because, as Obedience is a general Duty, and Disobedience or Resistance only an excepted Case, on some extraordinary Emergence, the natural Sense and Feelings of Mankind are seldom or ever wanting to apprize them in any Point where a Duty is to be relaxed. Nay, it is well if they are not too quick-sighted, and more officious than they ought to be in suggesting Exceptions, and Dispensations.
It is true, the Precepts in Scripture, which require Obedience to the higher Powers, urge such Motives, as by a natural Construction may imply, that where such Motives are wanting, there lies no Obligation to obey. And I freely grant, that such an Inference may be fairly made: But nevertheless the Scriptures are silent about it: They make no such Inference, but leave the Relaxation of this Duty to those whom it may concern. Thus, for Example, the Reasons for obeying the civil Magistrate, as alledged by St. Paul, are, “Because he is a Terror to Evil-Doers, and for the Praise of them that do well; because he is the Minister of God for Good, attending continually on this very Thing: For which Purpose he beareth not the Sword in vain, being a Revenger to execute Wrath on them that do Evil.” Now this being supposed as the Basis of his Administration, the Duty of Obedience follows of Course: And therefore the Apostle adds, in the very next Verse: “Wherefore we must needs be subject, not only for Wrath, but also for Conscience Sake.”
On this Principle it is, that Kings and Magistrates are reputed God’s Vicegerents: On this Principle it is that their Authority is derived from him: And consequently that their Subjects cannot even fearGod, in the Manner they ought to do, without honouring his Ministers and Representatives here on Earth.
But supposing that these Vicegerents should act contrary to their Commission: Supposing that they should no longer conduct themselves, as the Ministers of God for Good: In such a Case, what is to be done? I answer, it is very apparent from the Terms of their Commission, That they are no longer entitled to the Obedience of the Subject, as a Point of Duty and Conscience. But nothing farther can be inferred from the mere Words of Scripture; all the rest being left to Men’s natural Feelings, and Discretion to do the best they can in such an unhappy Situation: Only we should always bear in Mind this necessary Caution, that tho’ we are free, “we ought not to use our Liberty as a Cloak for Maliciousness, but to behave as the Servants of God.”
And as the Holy Scriptures are thus averse to the giving any Countenance to popular Tumults and Insurrections,—it is very observable, that the English Constitution acts with the like Caution and Reserve. For the boundary Line between Resistance and Obedience is no more marked out by the Laws of England, than it is in the Gospel of Christ:—Cases and Exceptions there undoubtedly are, in which it would be right not to obey, and even to repel Force by Force. But nevertheless the English Constitution doth not point out those Cases, for fear Mankind should make a bad Use of such an Interpretation;—for fear crafty and designing Men should mislead the giddy Populace to deem that to be legal Liberty, which in Truth and Reality is no better than a rampant Licentiousness, and lawless Anarchy;—and which therefore must, in the Course of Things, end in the Despotism and Tyranny of some cunning, bold Usurper. [See my Vol. of Sermons, Pages 321, 324, printed for Rivington.]
There is but one Difficulty of Consequence, as far as I can see, which attends this Scripture Doctrine [or perhaps, as some would say, this Interpretation of a Scripture Doctrine] concern-the Obedience due to our civil Governors; a Difficulty in my poor Judgement much more plausible than real.
The Objection may thus be urged: According to the present Hypothesis, a vile Usurper, if once established in quiet and peaceable Possession, and behaving well in his public Capacity, hath as good a Title to the Loyalty, and Obedience of the Subject, as the most lawful Prince, though invested with the best hereditary Right, or even elected by the general Voice of the People.—It is admitted that this Consequence must follow from the Premises; nor are we afraid to meet it in its full Force. For Julius Cæsar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero, were all Usurpers, yet every one of them was, in Effect, declared by the Scriptures to be the Ordinance of God; as far, I mean, as the Duty of Allegiance and Subjection was concerned.
This Matter wants some Illustration; and to set it in a clear and just Light, the following Considerations ought to be attended to: That civil Government is natural to Man;—and that political Subordinations of some Kind, or under some Form or other, must necessarily take Place:—Moreover, let the Contenders for Empire be whosoever they will, and their Titles (real or pretended) whatsoever they may (that is, whether founded on Consent, Election, Descent or Conquest):—Still the actual Possession of Government is no other than an Office held in Trust for the Good of the Governed. Consequently such an Office, or Trusteeship, must be subject to all those Vicissitudes, Casualties, or Accidents, to which every other public Charge is necessarily exposed. Now, were a Guardian, a Tutor, a Steward, or any other fiduciary Agent to be rendered incapable of executing his Trust, whether by the afflicting Hand of God, or thro’ the Wickedness of Man, it is obvious to common Sense, that [supposing the Office ☞ necessary to be continued] recourse must be had to other Persons, and to other Agents to fill up the Vacancy.—Apply now this Reasoning, mutatis mutandis, to the Case of Sovereigns and their Subjects.—Government there must be: This Point is assumed as a self-evident Principle, from which no Departure can be made. And Power, Wisdom, and Goodness are such necessary Qualifications, for the Exercise of Government, at least in some Degree, that no public Regimen, much less a good one, can subsist without a Mixture, or Combination of them. Suppose therefore that Wisdom, through some unhappy Defect, should be wanting, [and that instead thereof gross Idiotism or Infanity should supervene] this is so total a Disqualification, that all the World will unanimously agree in declaring such unhappy Persons to be entirely unfit to govern; and therefore they must be governed, have Guardians appointed for themselves. Suppose also that Goodness, the next essential Article, be wanting;—if notoriously wanting, and to a very great Degree, a like Sentence of Deprivation ought to be pronounced against such unworthy Governors, who forfeit all Pretensions to be continued in an Office, the End and Design of which they manifestly pervert. Lastly, suppose that Power be wanting: This, we will allow, may sometimes be a Misfortune; and not a Fault. But nevertheless the Want of Power in the Sovereign to protect, must extinguish the reciprocal Duty of Allegiance in the Subject, as much as the Want of Wisdom, or of Goodness. Cases indeed may be put, proper to excite Compassion, and draw forth Pity; but they cannot alter the Nature of Things. For after all, the Affair must come to this.—That if the higher Powers in any Country, whose Administration answers to the apostolic Description of being a Terror to evil Doers, and for the Praise of them that do well;—if, I say, such Powers should be in Danger of being removed, deposed, or subdued, either through the Machinations of some internal Faction, or by the Arms of a Rival, or the Invasion of a foreign Enemy,—then, the first and immediate Duty of every good, and conscientious Subject is, to succour and assist them to the utmost of his Ability, and never to give the least Encouragement to the Adversary. This, most undoubtedly, is the first and immediate Duty of every Subject. But suppose that, after the most faithful Discharge of his Duty in these Respects, the foreign, or domestic Enemy should nevertheless so far prevail, as to be established in quiet and peaceable Possession, What is the next Duty? The next, one would think, is so clearly set forth in the Writings of the New Testament, that it would be impossible to mistake it: “Let every Soul be subject to the higher Powers, the Powers that be: For if Cæsar is become the Master of your Country, and if he protects you in the Enjoyment of your Life and Property, render to Cæsar the Things that are Cæsar’s; and learn from these Circumstances to become his good and faithful Subjects for the future, without Equivocation, or Reserve. The Guilt of such a Revolution doth not fall upon you: For you did every Thing in your Power to have prevented it. Therefore you are no more responsible for the Injuries or Injustice thereby occasioned, whatever they may be, than you are for the Consequences of any other successful Villainy, which Providence hath permitted, and doth daily permit, in the Course of human Affairs. The Claims you make on this new Government, are only the Preservation of Life, Liberty, and Property. These are just Claims, which you have a Right to make, let who will be the ruling Powers: Because Government itself was instituted on purpose, to preserve them.” In one Word, you have a Right to be Quasi-Contractors, “if not actual Contractors, whatever Government shall prevail.”
However, if this Casuistry should not be deemed satisfactory, or if any one hath a Mind to criticise upon it, let him try, if he can, to substitute a better. “Cæsar is the actual and peaceable Possessor of the Throne. This is the Point to be supposed, and allowed: But it is also consessed, that his Title is sounded in Bloodshed and Usurpation. What therefore is a private Person to do in such a Case?” He hath but three Things to chuse: That is, he must either resuse to yield to the Conqueror, and obstinately resolve to accept of no Protection and no Quarter from him;—or he must submit in Appearance, with an Intention nevertheless to rise up and rebel as soon as an Opportunity shall offer:—Or lastly, he must submit in Sincerity, and conscientiously resolve to be faithful and obedient to the Power which presides over, and protects him. Let us therefore now see, which of these deserves the Preference.—The first, I believe, is what no Man, in his Senses, would espouse, or dare to recommend either as humane, just or practicable.—The Second is the Doctrine of the Jacobites on the one Extreme, and of our modern Republicans on the other: For these two Extremes meet at last in the same Point. The Jacobite maintains an unalienable and indeseasible Right in one single Family, and indeed in one single Person of that Family:—The Republican extends this wild Paradox, so as to comprehend every Individual, and the whole human Species: So that both these Factions, if they are consistent with their own Principles, must be the natural and irreconcileable Enemies to every Government but their own. For according to their Ideas of their respective unalienable Rights, all Cessions, all Promises, Oaths, Declarations, Abjurations, &c. &c. are void, and null of Course, when either the right Heir on the one Side, shall appear; or when the People shall have an Opportunity on the other of assembling to assert their unalienable Birth-rights, and to chuse their own Governors and Legislators.—What Scenes, first of Hypocrisy, Perfidy, and Treachery!—and afterwards of Bloodshed, Massacres, and Horror, are these two Systems, the Jacobitical and the Republican, capable of producing, were they left to operate unrestrained, and uncontrolled!
Thirdly, There is but one Choice more to make, namely, That every Individual, if in the Situation above described, ought to be subject in Christian Sincerity, without Guile, or Fraud, to the higher Powers, the Powers for the Time being; notwithstanding any Defect of Title imputed to them.—Of this third Choice therefore I shall say the less, as every Part of the foregoing Treatise has a Reference thereto.—Only let me be permitted to remind my Readers at the Close of the whole, that notwithstanding any little Cavils and Objections which may be made against this Doctrine,—It is the only Scheme that ever was, or ever can be reduced to practice;—And it is also the Law of the Land.
[* ]Quere,—Whether this famous Legislator was not guilty of a gross Equivocation in the very Act of making his social Contract with the People of Lacedemon? It is said, that he bound them by an Oath to observe his Laws and Regulations, till he should return from a Voyage to Crete, where he then purposed to go. He went, but never returned: And lest they should bring back his Bones after his Death, and thereby suppose themselves released from the Obligation he had laid them under, he ordered his Body to be thrown into the Sea. Few Moralists, I believe, would judge such a fraudulent Contract as this, to be good and valid. And no Court of Equity upon Earth would pronounce such a palpable Deception to be binding in any other Case. The learned Reader is requested to consult Xenophon’s Account of the Policy of the Lacedemonians in the Original. He will there find, that many of the Institutions of Lycurgus were very whimsical and absurd, (notwithstanding Xenophon’s Endeavours to gloss them over) that some of them were very criminal, others obscene, that few were worthy to be adopted into that benevolent and liberal Plan of Government, where true national Liberty was to be the Basis.
[* ]Plutarch doth not mention this Circumstance of the Daughter of Aristides, exactly after this Manner, but other Authors do.
[* ]The most unpopular Man in all France in his Day, was the Duke de Sully; the most popular the Duke de Guise: The most unpopular Ministers in England, were the Earl of Clarendon, and Sir Robert Walpole, during their respective Administrations; the former a true, a steady, and equal Friend to a limitted Monarchy, and the just civil Rights of the People; and the latter the best commercial Minister this Country ever had, and the greatest Promoter of its real Interests:—The most popular in their Turns, were Mr. Pulteney, and Mr. Pitt.Sed Opinionum Commenta delet Dies.
[* ]Jam de artificiis & quæstibus, qui liberales habendi, qui fordidi fint, hæc fere accepimus. Primum improbantur ei quæstus, qui in odia hominum incurrunt; ut portitorum, ut fœneratorum. Illiberales autem, & sordidi quæstus mercenariorum, omniumque, quorum operæ, non quorum artes emuntur. Est enim illis ipsa merces auctoramentum Servitutis. Sordidi etiam putandi, qui mercantur a Mercatoribus, quod statim vendant; nihil enim proficiunt, nisi admodum mentiantur. Nec vero quidquam turpius est Vanitate. Opificesq; omnes in sordida arte versantur. Nec enim quidquam ingenuum potest habere officina. Minimæque artes hæ probandæ, quæ ministræ sunt voluptatum, cetarii, lanii, coqui, fartores, piscatores. Adde huc, si placet, unguentarios, saltatores, totumque ludum talarium. Quibus autem artibus aut prudentia major inest, aut non mediocris utilitas quæritur, ut medicina, ut architectura, ut doctrina rerum honestarum, hæ sunt iis, quorum ordini conveniunt, honestæ. Mercatura autem, si tenuis est, sordida putanda est: Sin magna, et copiosa, multa undique apportans, multisque sine Vanitate impartiens, non est admodum vituperanda. Atque etiam si satiata quæstu, vel contenta potius, ut sæpe ex alto in portum, sic ex ipso portu se in agros, possessionesque contulerit, videtur jure optimo posse laudari. Omnium autem rerum, ex quibus aliquid acquiritur, nihil est agricultura melius, nihil uberius, nihil duleius, nihil homine, nihil libero dignius.—Vide Ciceronem de Officiis, Liber 1. § 42.
[* ]One Time the People were very clamorous for assisting the Queen of Hungary; and nothing else could content them.—Then the Tide turned, and they were equally clamorous to assist the King of Prussia. At one Time that miserable Island Corsica was the favourite Object, at another a Set of Rocks, absolutely barren, in the midst of a most inhospitable Sea, and in a most wretched Climate, called Falkland Island, engrossed their Attention. In short, any Thing, and every Thing, excepting that one Thing the most needful for a Commercial State, To study to be quiet, and do our own Business.
[* ]The Ladies have Votes at the East-India House.—Let the Lockians give a Reason consistently with their Principles, if they can,—Why Women are debarred from voting for Directors in Parliament, and yet allowed to vote for Directors at the India House.
[* ]An Observation of the very learned and Hon. Daines Barrington, Esq; corroborates what is here advanced. In his useful Annotations on ancient Statutes, Page 417, of 3d. Edition, he remarks, That “Henry [the VII.] had the Merit either from Reasons of Policy, or perhaps more humane Motives, to render the lower Class of People less dependent upon the rich and powerful.” And adds at Page 419, “This Protection of the inferior Classes of his Subjects, produced, as a natural Consequence, a greater Freedom and Independency in the lower House of Parliament. Sir Thomas More opposed a Subsidy with Success, in the last Year of this King’s Reign; which is, perhaps, ☞ the first Instance of Opposition to a Measure of the Crown by a Member of the House of Commons.”
[* ]Somersetshire was originally much under the same Predicament with Wiltshire, being a Western County, where the Kings of the West Saxons had great Demesnes. William the Conqueror gave large Possessions in this County to some of his Favourites, and Followers, and particularly to William Malet, to whom he granted several Towns, which were called after the Name of Malet, such as Shipton-Malet, Curry-Malet, &c. The other Towns and Villages in Demesne, namely, Axbridge, Charde, Dunster, Langport, Monterate, Stoke-Curry, Watchet, and Were, sent their Deputies to Parliament in very early Times: But in Proportion, as these Estates were aliened from the Crown, or as the Inhabitants could get themselves excused from that heavy Burden and Expence, they sent no longer. The same Observation will extend to several Towns and Villages in Devonshire [and to some Places in other Counties] such as Lidford, Bradnick, Crediton, Fremington, Modbury, South-Moulton, and Torrington;—all which returned Members during the Reigns of one or more of the three first Edwards;—but not afterwards. Dr. Brady’s Rule for distinguishing Towns of antient Demesne from those which were not, is here worth inserting, “That wherever the Mayor, Bailiffs, or Burgesses are chosen by a Jury in a Court-Baron, or at the Leet; or what the Return of Parliament Members have been, or are now made, by the Lord or Lady of the Manor, or their Steward, such Towns are Towns in antient Demesne.”—For a further Confirmation of these Points, see Squire’sEnquiry into the Foundation of the English Constitution, &c. Dedicated to the Duke of Newcastle,London, 1753.
[* ]Gestae Dei apud Francos was the Title of a famous Treatise recording the Exploits of those holy Murderers, the Croises.
[* ]The Authority I make Use of, on this Occasion, is the Appendix, No. 2, to the Enquiry into the Foundation of the Constitution above mentioned. The Title of the Appendix is, An Accounts of all the Cities, Towns, and Boroughs in England and Wales, which have been ever summoned to send Members to Parliament, with the Date of their first Returns: Extracted chiefly from the three Vols. of Dr. Brown Willis’sNotitia Parliamentaria.—Many Vouchers from Brady and Madox are likewise produced in the Notes annexed.
[* ]The Stile of Parliament as low down as the Reign of Edward III. plainly proves, that there was a Distinction then existing in Point of Dignity and Honour, between the Knights of Shires and the more Citizens and Burgesses chosen to represent their respective trading Societies. Statutes made at Westminster Anno 10. Edward III. Stat. 1. Anno Dom. 1336. Because our Lord the King, Edward III. after the Conquest (which sovereignly desireth the Maintenance of his Peace, and Safeguard of his People) hath perceived as the Complaint of the Prelates, Earls, Lords, Barons,—and also as the shewing of the Knights of the Shires,—and his Commons, &c.—hath ordained and established by the Assent of the said Prelates, Earls, Barons, and other Nobles of his Realm,—and at the Request of the said Knights and Commons, &c. &c.—By the Words of this Preamble, it is evident to a Demonstration, that the Representatives of the lesser Barons [the Freeholders of Counties] were of a superior Rank, and not to be confounded, as they are now, in the same Class with the Representatives of Cities and Boroughs. Before the Admission of Citizens and Burgesses, the greater Barons, and the Deputies from the lesser, sat in the same Room.—But the Deputies from the trading Places never did. In short, the one were Knights Milites, Soldiers, or Gentlemen,—the others more Commoners, that is, common People, Tradesmen, or Mechanics; who were only one Step above the Villains or Slaves.
[* ]Many Examples of this Nature occur in Rymer’s Fæd.
[* ]Perhaps there never existed a greater Contrast between the Proceedings in the Courts of Law in antient Times, and in those of the present. It is really a Matter of Astonishment (and surely ought to be of Thanksgiving) that such pure Streams should flow from so very impure a Fountain.
[* ]As this Translation is not warranted to be technically, but only substantially just, I would here observe once for all, after the judicious Mr. Barrington, that the common Translation, printed in a Column opposite to the Original in the Statute-Books, is miserably defective and incorrect. In a very short Paragraph from a Statute, which I am going to quote, there are two very capital Mistakes in almost as many Lines. The Words of the first are these, Notables Chevilers, et Notables Esquiers, which are rendered notable Knights, and notable Esquires: Whereas the Sense itself, as well as the original Language, requires, that they should be translated, respectable Knights, and respectable Esquires, that is, Men of Eminence and Property in their Country. In this Sense, the Duke de Sully says in his Memoirs, that when he was the Baron de Rhoni he assisted at an Assembly of the Notables of Britanny. The other Sense is perfectly ludicrous. Falstaff was a very notable Knight in that Sense: But surely he was not a respectable one. Apropos; the Humours of Falstaff,extravagant as they may now appear, were the Humours of those Times. He was not the first Knight by a great many, whose Profession it was, to enroll a Band of poor ragged Gentlemen Adventurers, and to rob on the Highways. The other Mistake is a capital Omission, Gentil-hommes del Nativitée, that is, Gentlemen by Birth, or Gentlemen born; whereas the Words del Nativitée is totally left out in the Translation, as if of no Consequence, though the Sense of the Passage, and the Contrast of what follows, lay a particular Stress upon it. Here I will also note a remarkable Change in the Signification of some Words in our Language. We now say, I signed my Name, meaning thereby, I wrote my Name: Whereas it originally signified, when very few People, even of the Grandees, could write a Letter, I made a Mark or Sign [generally the Sign of the Cross] for my Name. Those that were such Scholars, as to be able to write, frequently added, Ego A. B. prepria manu [Editor: illegible word].
[* ]The Vadlet, Varlet, Valet, or Serving-Man mentioned in this Statute of Henry VI. seems to explain the whole Drist and Intention of the Law. Evidently there was some shameful Abuse about that Time committed in the Choice of a Knight of a Shire, which this Statute was intended to correct. And the most probable Account is the following: When some great Baron, such as an Earl of Warwick, of Lancaster, Glocester, Northumberland, Norfolk, &c. &c. had perhaps more than Half a County his own Property, and when the Freeholders of most Part of the rest were in Dependance on him, wearing his Livery on all public Occasions; he might nominate whom he pleased to represent the County. For none dared to oppose him openly, or contest the Election. If therefore the Great Baron had a Favourite Valet to recommend, he must be obeyed, and the favourite be elected. But most undoubtedly the Knights of the other Counties could not be pleased with being classed in such Company. Therefore, they caused a general Law to be made, requiring that for the future the Candidate should be not only a Gentleman born, which it was no uncommon Thing for a Valet to be at that time of Day, but also a respectable Gentleman, a Man of Character and Fortune, even such an one as was able to support the Expence of Knighthood, if required. This effectually disqualified all Vadlets, Varlets, or Valets from being Candidates for Knights of Shires, Some Anecdotes concerning the insolent Behaviour of the great Nobility towards the inferior Gentry in former Times render this Conjecture very probable. And hence also a much better Reason may be assigned for the Anxiety which the House of Commons, have expressed of old, as well as in modern Times against any Peer of the Realm interfering in the Election of their Members, I say a much better Reason than that which is usually given.
[* ]Mr. Cartwright’s Quotations from the Dean of Glocester, are from Works already printed, and published. This was fair and honourable. He did not have Recourse to a Manuscript, or, what was the same Thing, to a Copy printed for the Use of a few select Friends, and their Acquaintance, in order to obtain the Benefit of such Correction;—to which an Advertisement was prefixt, that the Press was no other than an expeditious Amanuensis.—Mr. Cartwright, I dare believe, would have acted a Part very different, on such an Occasion, from what Mr. Professor Dunhar, of Aberdeen, has thought proper to do in his late Publication: The History of Mankind.
[* ]Ut apum examina non fingendorum favorum causâ congregantur, sed, cum congregabilia naturâ sint, singunt, savos; sic homines, ac multo etiam magis naturâ congregati, adhibent agendi, cogitandique solertiam.
[* ]Quemadmodum etiam membris utimur, priusquam didimus cujus ca utilitatis causâ habeamus; sic inter nos naturâ ad civilem communitatem conjuncti, et consociati sumus.
[* ]Quis vestrûm, judices, ignorat, ita naturam rerum tulisse, ut quodam tempore homines nondum neque naturali, neque civili jure descripto, fusi per agros, ac dispersi vagarentur, tantumque haberent, quantum manu, ac viribus per cædem ac vulnera aut eripere, aut retinere potuissent? qui igitur primi virtute et consilio præstanti extiterunt, ii perspecto genere humano docilitatis, atque ingenii dissipatos unum in locum congregarunt, eosque ex feritate illa ad justitiam, atque mansuetudinem transduxerunt. Tum res ad communem utilitatem, quas publicas appellamus, tum conventicula hominum, quæ postea civitates nominatæ sunt, tum domicilia conjuncta, quas urbes dicimus, invento divino et humano jure mœnibus sepserunt.
[* ]Cum vero frustra de Jure suscipiatur disputatio; si ipsum jus nullum, et ad commendandum, et ad præmuniendum opus nostrum pertinebit, hunc gravissimum errorem breviter refelli. Cæterum ne cum turba nobis res sit, demus ei advocatum. Et quem potius quam Carneadem, qui ad id pervenerat, quod academiæ suæ summum erat, ut pro falso, non minus quam pro vero vires eloquentiæ possit intendere? Is ergo cum suscipisset justitiæ, hujus precipuæ de qua nunc agimus oppugnationem, nullum invenit argumentum validius isto: Jura sibi homines utilitate sanxisse varia pro moribus, et apud cosdem pro temporibus sæpe mutata: Jus autem naturale esse nullum: Omnes enim et homines, et alios animantes ad utilitates suas natura ducente ferri: Proinde aut nullam esse justitiam, aut si aliqua, summam esse stultitiam, quoniam sibi noceat alienis commodis consulens.