Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter ix: The Qualifications of Civil Government 47 - The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature
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chapter ix: The Qualifications of Civil Government 47 - Samuel von Pufendorf, The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature 
The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature, trans. Andrew Tooke, ed. Ian Hunter and David Saunders, with Two Discourses and a Commentary by Jean Barbeyrac, trans. David Saunders (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003).
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The Qualifications of Civil Government47
I.Supreme Authority L. N. N. l. 7. c. 6.It is always one Prerogative of the Government by which any Community is directed, in every Form of Commonwealth whatsoever, to be invested with the supreme Authority:* Whereby it has the Regulating of all Things according to its own Judgment and Discretion, and acts without Dependence upon any other Person † as Superiour, that can pretend to annul or countermand its Orders.
II.Unaccountable. L. N. N. l. 7. c. 6. §2.For the same Reason, a Government so constituted remains unaccountable to all the World; there being no Authority above it to punish it, or to examine whether its Proceedings are right or no.
III.Above the Laws. L. N. N. l. 7. c. 6. §3.And a third Qualification of like Nature with the former, is, That inasmuch as all civil Laws, of human Authority, derive both their Beginning and their Continuance from the Favour of the Government; it is impossible they should directly oblige the very Power that makes them; because the same Power would in Consequence be superiour to it self. Yet it is a happy Prospect, and a singular Advantage to the Laws, when a Prince conforms himself, of his own Pleasure, as Occasion serves, to practise the same Things that he commands his Subjects.
IV.Obedience due to it. L. N. N. l. 7. c. 8.There is also a peculiar Veneration to be paid to the supreme Government under which we live; not only in obeying it in its just Commands, wherein it is a Crime to disobey, but in induring its Severities with the like Patience as the Rigour of some Parents is submitted to by dutiful Children. Wherefore, when a Prince proceeds to offer the most heinous Injuries imaginable to his People, let them rather undergo it, or every one seek his Safety by Flight, than draw their Swords upon the Father of their Country.
V.An absolute Monarchy. L. N. N. l. 7. c. 6. §7.We find, in Monarchies and Aristocracies especially, that the Government is sometime Absolute and sometime Limited. An Absolute Monarch is one, who having no prescrib’d Form of Laws and Statutes perpetually to go by, in the Method of his Administration, proceeds intirely according to his own Will and Pleasure, as the Condition of Affairs and the publick Good in his Judgment seem to require.
VI.A limited Monarchy L. N. N. l. 7. c. 6. §9.But because a single Person may be subject to be mistaken in his Judgment, as well as to be seduced into evil Courses in the Injoyment of so vast a Liberty; it is thought convenient by some States, * to circumscribe the Exercise of this Power within the Limits of certain Laws, which are proposed to the Prince at his Succession to be the future Rule of his Government. And particularly when any extraordinary Concern arises, involving in it the Interest of the whole Kingdom, for which there can be no Provision extant in the Constitution foregoing; They then oblige him to ingage in nothing without the previous Advice and Consent of the People, or their Representatives in Parliament; the better to prevent the Danger of his swerving from the Interest of the Kingdom.48
VII.Right and Manner of holding. L. N. N. l. 7. c. 6. §14.We see likewise a Difference in the Right and Manner of holding some Kingdoms, from what it is in others. For those Princes especially who have acquired Dominions by Conquest, and made a People their own by Force of Arms, can divide, alienate, and transfer their Regalities49 at Pleasure in the manner of a Patrimonial Estate. Others that are advanced by the Voice of the People, tho’ they live in full Possession of the Government during their Reigns, yet have no Pretensions to such a Power. But as they attain’d to the Succession, so they leave it to be determin’d, either by the ancient Custom, or the fundamental Laws of the Kingdom: * For which Reason they are compared by some to Usufructuaries, or Life-Renters.
[47.]Originally: “On the characteristics of civil authority” (De affectionibus imperii civilis). The central attributes of the sovereign authority are that it is supreme, unaccountable, above the law, and venerable.
[*] Grotius de Jure Belli & Pacis, lib. 1. cap. 3. §6, &c.
[†] This Restriction must be carefully observ’d; for tho’ in a limited Monarchy, the Sovereign can’t enact a Law without the Advice and Consent of his People represented in Parliament, yet notwithstanding, this Authority of the People is not equal, much less superiour, to that of the Prince: The Author’s Account of the Nature of supreme Authority is imperfect; it ought to have comprehended distinctly what is equally agreeable to a limited and to an Absolute Sovereignty. [Barbeyrac’s note (I.1, p. 298). In fact, Pufendorf discusses the distinction between absolute and limited sovereignty in sections V and VI. It is indeed difficult to see how a sovereign bound by basic (parliamentary) laws may be considered “supreme,” unless of course monarch and parliament are considered jointly to be the sovereign authority, or unless the monarch is given the sole capacity to judge when he is acting in accordance with these laws.]
[*] Grotius de Jure Belli & Pacis, l. 1. c. 3. §14. &c.
[48.]It remains ambiguous here whether Pufendorf regards the king or “the king in parliament” as sovereign. Note that “Representatives in Parliament” is Tooke’s Anglicization of Pufendorf’s “deputies in assembly” (deputatis in comitia convocatis).
[*] Grotius de Jure Belli & Pacis, l. 1. c. 3. §11. & l. 2. c. 7. §12.