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liberty was attacked even in its first principles, had recourse to that remedy which reason and nature point out to the people, when he who ought to be the guardian of the laws becomes their destroyer; they withdrew the allegiance which they had sworn to James, and thought themselves absolved from their oath to a king who himself disregarded the oath he had made to his people.
But, instead of a revolution like that which dethroned Charles the First, which was effected by a great effusion of blood, and threw the state into a general and terrible convulsion, the dethronement of James proved a matter of short and easy operation. In consequence of the progressive information of the people, and the certainty of the principles which now directed the nation, the whole were unanimous. All the ties by which the people were bound to the throne were broken, as it were, by one single shock; and James, who, the moment before, was a monarch surrounded by subjects, became at once a simple individual in the midst
of the nation.
That which contributes, above all, to distinguish this event as singular in the annals of mankind, is the moderation, I may even say, the legality which accompanied it. As if to
dethrone a king, who sought to set himself above the laws, had been a natural consequence of, and provided for by, the principles of government, every thing remained in its place; the throne was declared vacant, and a new line of succession was established.
Nor was this all; care was had to repair the breaches that had been made in the constitution, as well as to prevent new ones; and advantage was taken of the rare opportunity of entering into an original and express compact between king and people.
An oath was required of the new king, more precise than had been taken by his predecessors and it was consecrated as a perpetual formula of such oaths. It was determined, that to impose taxes without the consent of parliament, as well as to keep up a standing army in time of peace, are contrary to law. The power, which the crown had constantly claimed, of dispensing with the laws, was abolished. It was enacted, that the subject of whatever rank or degree, had a right to present petitions to the king. Lastly, the key
The lords and commons, previous to the coronation of king William and Queen Mary, had framed a bill which contained a declaration of the rights which they claimed in behalf of the people, and was in consequence called the
stone was put to the arch, by the final establishment of the liberty of the press.*
The revolution of 1689 is therefore the third grand æra in the history of the constitution of England. The Great Charter had marked out the limits within which the royal authority ought to be confined; some outworks were raised in the reign of Edward the First; but it was at the revolution that the circumvallation was completed.
It was at this æra that the true principles of civil society were fully established. By the expulsion of a king who had violated his oath, the doctrine of resistance, that ultimate resource of an oppressed people, was confirmed beyond a doubt. By the exclusion given to a family hereditarily despotic, it was finally determined that nations are not the property of kings.
Bill of Rights. This bill contained the articles above, as well as some others; and having received afterwards the royal assent, became an act of parliament under the title. of An Act declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject, and settling the Succession of the Crown.-A. 1 William and Mary, Sess. 2, cap. 2.
* The liberty of the press was, properly speaking, established only four years afterwards, in consequence of the refusal which the parliament made at that time to continue any longer the restrictions which had before been set upon it.
The principles of passive obedience, the divine and indefeasible right of kings,—in a word, the whole scaffolding of false and superstitious notions, by which the royal authority had till then been supported, fell to the ground; and in the room of it were substituted the more solid and durable foundations of the love of order, and a sense of the necessity of civil government among mankind.
Of the Legislative Power.
IN almost all the states of Europe, the will of the prince holds the place of law; and custom has so confounded the matter of right with the matter of fact, that their lawyers generally represent the legislative authority as essentially attached to the character of king; and the plenitude of his power seems to them necessarily to flow from the very definition of his title.
The English, placed in more favourable circumstances, have judged differently: they could not believe that the destiny of mankind ought to depend on a play of words, and on
scholastic subtilties; they have therefore annexed no other idea to the word king or roy, a word known also to their laws, than that which the Latins annexed to the word rex, and the northern nations to cyning.
In limiting therefore the power of their king, they have acted more consistently with the etymology of the word; they have acted also more consistently with reason, in not leaving the laws to the disposal of the person who is already invested with the public power of the state, that is, of the person who lies under the greatest and most important temptations to set himself above them.
The basis of the English constitution, the capital principle on which all others depend, is, that the legislative power belongs to parliament alone; that is to say, the power of establishing laws, and of abrogating, changing, or explaining them.
The constituent parts of parliament are, the King, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons.
The House of Commons, otherwise the assembly of the representatives of the nation, is composed of the deputies of the different counties, each of which sends two; of the deputies of certain towns, of which London