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IV. He is the supreme head of the church. In this capacity he appoints the bishops, and the two archbishops; and he alone can convene the assembly of the clergy. This assembly is formed, in England, on the model of the parliament; the bishops form the upper house : deputies from the dioceses, and from the several chapters, form the lower house : the assent of the king is likewise necessary to the validity of their acts or canons: and the king can prorogue or dissolve, the convocation.
V. He is, in right of his crown, the generalissimo of all sea or land forces whatever ; he alone can levy troops, equip fleets, build fortresses, and fill all the posts in them.
VI. He is, with regard to foreign nations, the representative and the depository of all the power and collective majesty of the nation : he sends and receives ambassadors ; he contracts alliances; and has the prerogative of declaring war, and of making peace, on whatever conditions he thinks proper.
VII. In fine, what seems to carry so many powers to the height, is, its being a fundamental maxim, that THE KING CAN DO NO WRONG: which does not signify, however, that the king has not the power of doing ill, or, as it
was pretended by certain persons in former times, that every thing he did was lawful; but only that he is above the reach of all courts of law whatever, and that his person is sacred and inviolable.
The Boundaries which the Constitution has set to the
IN reading the foregoing enumeration of the powers with which the laws of England have intrusted the king, we are at a loss to reconcile them with the idea of a monarchy, which, we are told, is limited. The king not only unites in himself all the branches of the executive power; he not only disposes, without control, of the whole military power in the state ;- but he is, moreover, it seems, master of the law itself, since he calls
and dismisses, at his will, the legislative bodies. We find him, therefore, at first sight, invested with all the prerogatives that ever were claimed by the most absolute monarchs : and we are at a loss to find that liberty which the English seem so confident they possess.
But the representatives of the people still have,--and that is saying enough,--they still have in their hands, now that the constitution is fully established, the same powerful weapon which enabled their ancestors to establish it. It is still from their liberality alone that the king can obtain subsidies ; and in these days, when every thing is rated by pecuniary estimation --when gold is become the great moving spring of affairs,—it may be safely affirmed, that he who depends on the will of other men, with regard to so important an article, is (whatever his power may be in other respects) in a state of real dependence.
This is the case of the king of England. He has, in that capacity, and without the grant of his people, scarcely any revenue. A few hereditary duties on the exportation of wool, which (since the establishment of manufactures) are become tacitly extinguished ; a branch of the excise, which, under Charles the Second, was annexed to the crown as an indemnification for the military services it gave up, and which, under George the Second, was fixed at seven thousand pounds; a duty of two shillings on every ton of wine imported; the wrecks of ships of which the owners remain unknown: whales and sturgeons thrown on
the coast ; swans swimming on public rivers ; and a few other feudal relics, now compose the whole appropriated revenue of the king, and are all that remain of the ancient inheritance of the crown.
The king of England, therefore, has the prerogative of commanding armies, and equipping fleets ; but without the concurrence of bis parliament he cannot maintain them. He can bestow places and employments; but without his parliament he cannot pay the salaries attending on them. He can declare war; but without bis parliament it is impossible for him to carry it on. In a word, the royal prerogative, destitute as it is of the power of imposing taxes, is like a vast body, which cannot of itself accomplish its motions; or, if you please, it is like a ship completely equipped, but from which the parliament can at pleasure draw off the water, and leave it aground,-and also set it afloat again, by granting subsidies.
And indeed we see, that, since the establishment of this right of the representatives of the people, to grant or refuse subsidies to the crown, their other privileges have been continually increasing. Though these representatives were not, in the beginning, admitted into parliament but upon the most disadvanta
geous terms, yet they soon found means, by joining petitions to their money-bills, to have a share in framing those laws by which they were in future to be governed ; and this method of proceeding, which at first was only tolerated by the king, they afterwards converted into an express ' right, by declaring, under Henry the Fourth, that they would not, thenceforward, come to any resolutions with regard to subsidies, before the king had given a precise answer to their petitions.
In subsequent times we see the commons constantly successful, by their exertions of the same privilege, in their endeavours to lop off the despotic powers which still made a part of the regal prerogative. Whenever abuses of power had taken place, which they were seriously determined to correct, they made grievances and supplies (to use the expression of Sir Thomas Wentworth) go hand in hand together; which always produced the redress of them. And in general, when a bill in consequence of its being judged by the commons essential to the public welfare, has been joined by them to a money-bill, it has seldom failed to pass in that agreeable company.
* In mentioning the forcible use which the commons have at times made of their power of granting subsidies,