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knew, neither they nor their friends would ever be likely to suffer.
If, through the unforeseen operation of some new regulation made to restrain the royal prerogative, or through some sudden public revolution, any particular bodies or classes of individuals were ever to acquire a personal independent share in the exercise of the governing authority, we should behold the public virtue and patriotism of the legislators and great men immediately cease with its cause, and aristocracy, as it were, watchfull of the opportunity, burst out at once, and spread itself over the kingdom.
The men who are now the ministers, but then the partners of the crown, would instantly set themselves above the reach of the law, and soon after ensure the same privilege to their several supporters or dependants.
Personal and independent power becoming the only kind of security of which men would now show themselves ambitious, the Habeas Corpus act, and in general all those laws which subjects of every rank regard with veneration, and to which they look up for protection and safety, would be spoken of with contempt, and mentioned as remedies fit only for peasants and cits :-it even would not be long
before they would be set aside, as obstructing the wise and salutary steps of the senate.
The pretensions of an equality of right in all subjects of whatever rank and order, to their property and to personal safety would soon be looked upon as an old-fashioned doctrine, which the judge himself would ridicule from the bench. And the liberty of the press now so universally and warmly vindicated, would, without loss of time, be cried down and suppressed, as only serving to keep up the insolence and pride of a refractory people.
And let us not believe that the mistaken people, whose representatives we now behold making such a firm stand against the indivisible power of the crown, would, amidst the general devastation of every thing they hold dear, easily find men equally disposed to repress the encroaching, while attainable, power of a senate and body of nobles.
The time would be no more when the people, upon whatever men they should fix their choice, would be sure to find them ready sincerely to join in the support of every important branch of public liberty.
Present or expected personal power, and independence on the laws, being now the consequence of the trust of the people ---wherever
they should apply for servants, they would only meet with betrayers. Corrupting, as it were, every thing they should touch, they could confer no favour upon an individual but to destroy his public virtue: and (to repeat the words used in a former chapter) “ their raising
a man would only be immediately inspiring “ him with views directly opposite to their
own, and sending him to increase the num“ber of their enemies."
All these considerations strongly point out the very great caution which is necessary to be used in the difficult business of laying new restraints on the governing authority. Let therefore the less informed part of the people, whose zeal requires to be kept up by visible objects (look if they choose) upon the crown as the only seat of the evils they are exposed to; mistaken notions on their part are less dangerous than political indifference; and they are more easily directed than roused :but, at the same time, let the more enlightened part of the nation constantly remember, that the constitution only subsists by virtue of a proper equilibrium, -by a discriminating line being drawn between power and liberty.
Made wise by the examples of several other nations, by those which the history of this
very country affords, let the people in the heat of their struggles in the defence of liberty, always take heed, only to reach, never to overshoot, the mark,-only to repress, never to transfer and diffuse power.
Amidst the alarms that may at particular times arise from the really awful authority of the crown, let it, on one hand be remembered, that even the power of the Tudors was opposed and subdued,-and, on the other, let it be looked upon as a fundamental maxim, that, whenever the prospect of personal independence on the governing authority shall offer to the view of the members of the legis. lature, or in general of those men to whom the people must trust, even hope itself is destroyed. The Hollander, in the midst of a storm, though trusting to the experienced strength of the mounds that protect him, shudders, no doubt, at the sight of the foaming element that surrounds him; but they all gave themselves over for lost, when they thought the worm had penetrated into their dykes. *
* Such new forms as may prove destructive of the real substance of a government may be unwarily adopted, in the same manner as the superstitious notions and practices described in my work, intituled Memorials of Human Superstition, may be introduced into a religion, só as en. tirely to subvert the true spirit of it.
A few additional Observations on the Right of Tara
tion, which is lodged in the Hands of the Representatives of the People. What kind of Danger
this Right may be exposed to. The generality of men, or at least of politicians, seem to consider the right of taxing themselves, enjoyed by the English nation as being no more than the means of securing their property against the attempts of the crown; while they overlook the nobler and more extensive efficiency of that privilege.
The right to grant subsidies to the crown, possessed by the people of England, is the safeguard of all their other liberties, religious and civil; it is a regular mean conferred on them by the constitution, of influencing the motion of the executive power : and it forms the tie by which the latter is bound to them. In short, this privilege is a sure pledge in their hands, that their sovereign, who can dismiss their representatives at his pleasure, will never entertain thoughts of ruling without the assistance of these.
If, through unforeseen events, the crown could attain to be independent on the people