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should not expire by lapse of time, but should continue until dissolved; because it may, by possibility, expire at an inconvenient or critical time, and because fixing the period when a general election shall take place is a matter of discretion and policy. But to this there is the unanswerable objection, that the crown might acquire a dangerous influence over the House of Commons by continuing the parliament for a very long time. A medium must then be discovered between the unlimited continuance of parliaments at the pleasure of the crown, and their too brief duration. Perhaps the present limit of seven years will be found upon the whole to be wise and expedient; but we may certainly say with Ulpian, Evidens esse ntilitas debet, ut recedatur ab eojure quod diu oequum visum est.
OF THE EXECUTIVE POWER. OF THE QUEEN AND
Having sufficiently considered the legislative power of the state, we must now proceed to the supreme executive power, which is vested by our laws in a single person, the king or queen; for, whichever may be the sex of the person to whom the crown descends, that person is immediately invested with all the ensigns, rights, and prerogatives of the sovereignty of these realms, as it is declared by the stat . 1 Mary, st. 3. c. i.1
We shall in this and the ensuing chapters consider the king or queen of England under six views :— 1. With regard to the title to the throne. 2. The royal family. 3. The councils of the sovereign. 4. The duties of the crown. 5. The royal prerogative. 6. The revenues of the crown.
And, first, with regard to the queen's title to the throne.
"The grand fundamental maxim," says Blackstone, "upon which the/us corona, or right of succession to the throne of these realms depends, I take to be this, that the cvown is hereditary, and this in a manner peculiar to itself; but that the right of inheritance may from time to time be changed or limited by act of parliament, under tefcieA limitations the crown still continues hereditary. And
1 Blackst. Com. b. i. c. iii. p. 190. See Reeves, Hist, of Com. Law, for some curious particulars respecting the causes of this statute king passed. Vol. iv. p. 418, 449.
this proposition it will be the business of this chapter to prove in all its branches: first, that the crown is hereditary; secondly, that it is hereditary in a manner peculiar to itself; thirdly, that this inheritance is subject to limitation by parliament; lastly, that when it is so limited, it is hereditary in the new proprietor.
"1. First, it is in general hereditary, or descendible to the next heir, on the death or demise of the last proprietor. All regal governments must be either hereditary or elective; and, as I believe there is no instance wherein the crown of England has been asserted to be elective, except by the regicides at the infamous and unparalleled trial of king Charles I., it must of consequence be hereditary. Yet, while I assert an hereditary, 1 by no means intend a jure divino title to the throne. Such a title may be allowed to have subsisted under the theocratic establishments of the children of Israel in Palestine, but it never yet subsisted in any other country, save only so far as kingdoms, like other human fabrics, are subject to the general and ordinary dispensations of Providence. Nor, indeed, have & jure divino and an hereditary right any necessary connexion with each other, as some have very weakly imagined. The titles of David and Jehu were equally jure divino as those of either Solomon or Ahab; and yet David slew the sons of his predecessor, and Jehu his predecessor himself. And when our kings have the same warrant as they had, whether it be to sit on the throne of their fathers, or to destroy the house of the preceding sovereign, they will then, and not before, possess the crown of England by a right like theirs, immediately derived from Heaven. The hereditary right, which the laws of England acknowledge, owes its origin to the founders of our constitution, and to them only. They might perhaps, if they had thought proper, have made it an elective monarchy; but they rather chose, and upon good reason, to establish originally a succession by inheritance. This has been acquiesced in by general consent, and ripened by degrees into common law,—the very same title which every private man has to his own estate. Lands are not naturally descendible, anymore than thrones; but the law has thought proper, for the benefit and peace of the public, to establish hereditary succession in the one as well as the other. It must be owned, an elective monarchy seems to be the most obvious, and best suited of any to the rational principles of government and the freedom of human nature; and accordingly we find from history, that in the infancy and first rudiments of almost every state, the leader, chief magistrate, or prince, hath usually been elective. And if the individuals who compose that state could always continue true to first principles, uninfluenced by passion or prejudice, unassailed by corruption, and unawed by violence, elective succession were as much to be desired in a kingdom as in other inferior communities. The beat, the wisest, and the bravest man would then be sure of receiving that crown which his endowments have merited; and the sense of an unbiassed majority would be dutifully acquiesced in by the few who were of different opinions. But history and observation will inform us, that elections of every kind (in the present state of human nature) are too frequently brought about by influence, partiality, and artifice; and, even where the case is otherwise, these practices will be often suspected, and as constantly charged upon the successful, by a splenetic disappointed minority. This is an evil to which all societies are liable, as well those of a private and domestic kind as the great community of the public, which regulates and includes the rest. But in the former there is this advantage, that such suspicions, if false, proceed no further than jealousies and murmurs, which time will effectually suppress; and if true, the injustice may be remedied by legal means, by an appeal to those tribunals to which every member of society has (by becoming such) virtually engaged to submit. Whereas, in the great and independent society which every nation composes, there is no superior resort but to the law of nature; no method to redress the infringements of that law but the actual exertion of private force. As therefore between two nations, complaining of mutual injuries, the quarrel can only be decided by the law of arms, so in one and the same nation, when the fundamental principles of their common union are supposed to be invaded, and more especially when the appointment of their chief magistrate is said to be unduly made, the only tribunal to which the complainants can appeal is that of the God of battles; the only process by which the appeal can be carried on is that of a civil and intestine war. An hereditary succession to the crown is therefore now established in this and most other countries, in order to prevent that periodical bloodshed and misery which the history of ancient imperial Rome, and the more modern experience of Poland and Germany, may shew us are the consequences of elective kingdoms.
"2. But, secondly, as to the particular mode of inheritance, it in general corresponds with the feudal path of descents chalked out by the common law in the succession of landed estates, yet with one or two material exceptions. Like estates, the crown will descend lineally to the issue of the reigning monarch; as it did from king John to Richard II., through a regular pedigree of six lineal generations. As in common descents, the preference of males to females, and the right of primogeniture among the males, are strictly adhered to. Thus Edward V. sue