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resemblance of God himself, and were, by privilege above all the creatures, born to command, and not to obey: and that they lived so, till from the root of Adarn’s transgression falling among themselves to do wrong and violence, and foreseeing that such courses must needs tend to the destruction of them all, they agreed by common league to bind each other from mutual injury, and jointly to defend themselves against any that gave disturbance or opposition to such agreement. Hence came cities, towns, and commonwealths. * And because no faith in all was found sufficiently binding, they saw it needful to ordain some authority that might restrain by force and punishment what was violated against peace and common right.
This authority and power of self-defence and preservation being originally and naturally in every one of them, and unitedly in them all; for ease, for order, and lest each man should be his own partial judge, they communicated and derived either to one, whom for the eminence of his wisdom and integrity they chose above the rest, or to more than one, whom they maintain, on the contrary, that “all men are born slaves ;” and it must be acknowledged that, in most countries, experience is on their side. Upon this proposition, however, Locke makes himself merry in his first book on Government, observing, that “we must believe them upon their own bare words, when they tell us we are all born slaves, and must continue so, there is no remedy for it: life and thraldom we entered upon together, and can never be quit of the one till we part with the other.” Sir Robert Filmer's argument is ingenious. “ Adam,” he says, “ was an absolute monarch, and so are all princes ever since.” But, as we are all descended from Adam, we must all be princes, born with the same right to absolute dominion over each other; and it is some obscure perception of this truth, some secret inkling of their indefeasible rights, that urges so many of Adam's children to contend for empire. However, if princes would be content with the measure of authority possessed by Adam, and seek no other subjects than themselves, there would be few inclined to dispute their pretensions.—ED.
* Aristotle, who, in the first book of his Politics, has many very ingenious speculations on the origin and progress of society, observes, that “the union of various villages forms at length a city (tolis) or commonwealth, that finished fabric of society reaching, as near as may be, the bound of perfectness, self-sufficient and complete, constituted for safety, and productive of happiness." (c. 2.) And Goguet, a learned and sensible, though, in some things, a prejudiced writer, has traced more laboriously, with the help of our modern voyagers and travellers, the various steps by which man rises from a state of barbarism to the enjoyment of just laws and a free government. (Origine des Loix, t. i. p. 14–32.) Plato, in his “ Republic and Laws,” enters into the question in his usual profound and original way. See also Locke on Government, b. ii. c. 8.- ED.
thought of equal deserving: the first was called a king ; the other, magistrates : not to be their lords and masters, (though afterward those names in some places were given voluntarily to such as had been authors of inestimable good to the people,) but to be their deputies and commissioners, to execute, by virtue of their intrusted power, that justice, which else every man by the bond of nature and of covenant must have executed for himself, and for one another. And to him that shall consider well, why among free persons one man by civil right should bear authority and jurisdiction over another, no other end or reason can be imaginable.
These for a while governed well, and with much equity decided all things at their own arbitrement; till the temptation of such a power, left absolute in their hands, perverted them at length to injustice and partiality.* Then did they, who now by trial had found the danger and inconveniencies of committing arbitrary power to any, invent laws, either framed or consented to by all, that should confine and limit the authority of whom they chose to govern them : that so man, of whose failing they had proof, might no more rule over them, but law and reason, abstracted as much as might be from personal errors and frailities. “While, as the magistrate was set above the people, so the law was set above the magistrate.” When this would not serve, but that the law was either not executed, or misapplied, they were constrained from that time, the only remedy left them, to put conditions and take oaths from all kings and magistrates at their first instalment, to do impartial justice by law: who, upon those terms and no other, received allegiance from the people, that is to say, bond or covenant to obey them in execution of those laws, which they, the people, had themselves made or assented to. And this ofttimes with
• In Media, a country afterwards noted for the completeness of its des potism, the people originally enjoyed a certain degree of freedom. Astyages, it seems, was the first prince who, in that ancient monarchy, perverted his government into a tyranny : for when the elder Cyrus, in his boy hood, signified to his mother, Mandane, a desire to remain in Media, in compliance with her sire's wishes, she was troubled with scruples respecting the notions he would be in danger of imbibing.” “Justice,” said she to her son, “is not the same thing in Media as in Persia ; for here your grandfather has rendered himself master of everything, while in Persia justice consists in equality. Your father obeys the laws, like the other citizens ; HE EVEN RECEIVES LAWS FROM THEM; for not his own will, but the law, is the rule of his actions.”—(Cyropæd. i. 3.)-ED.
express warning, that if the king or magistrate proved unfaithful to his trust, the people would be disengaged.* They added also counsellors and parliaments, not to be only at his beck, but, with him or without him, at set times, or at all times, when any danger threatened, to have care of the public safety. Therefore saith Claudius Sesell, a French statesman, “The parliament was set as a bridle to the king;" which I instance rather, not because our English lawyers have not said the same long before, but because that French monarchy is granted by all to be a far more absolute one than ours. That this and the rest of what hath hitherto been spoken is most true, might be copiously made appear through all stories, heathen and Chris. tain ; even of those nations where kings and emperors have sought means to abolish all ancient memory of the people's right by their encroachments and usurpations. But I spare long insertions, appealing to the German, French, Italian, Arragonian, English, and not least the Scottish histories : not forgetting this only by the way, that William the Norman, though a conqueror, and not unsworn at his coronation, was compelled a second time to take oath at St. Alban's ere the people would be brought to yield obedience.
It being thus manifest, that the power of kings and magistrates is nothing else but what is only derivative, transferred, and committed to them in trust from the people to the common good of them all, in whom the power yet remains fundamentally, and cannot be taken from them, without a violation of their natural birthright; and seeing that from hence Aristotle, and the best of political writers, have defined a king, “himn who governs to the good and profit of his people, and not for his own ends;" it follows from necessary causes, that the titles of sovereign lord, natural lord, and the
* Precisely the same doctrine is maintained by Locke, and is acknowledged ever since 1688, by the constitution of these realms.It can never be supposed to be the will of the society, that the legislative should have a power to destroy that which every one designs to secure by entering into society, and for which the people submitted themselves to legislators of their own making. Whenever the legislators endeavour to take away, and de stroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God hath provided for all men against force and violence." (Locke on Government, b. ii. ch. 19.)-ED.
like, are either arrogancies or flatteries, not admitted by emperors and kings of best note, and disliked by the church both of Jews (Isa. xxvi. 13) and ancient Christians, as appears by Tertullian and others. Although generally the people of Asia, and with them the Jews also, * especially since the time they chose a king against the advice and counsel of God, are noted by wise authors much inclinable to slavery.
Secondly, that to say, as is usual, the king hath as good right to his crown and dignity as any man to his inheritance, is to make the subject no better than the king's slave, his chattel, or his possession that may be bought and sold: and doubtless, if hereditary title were sufficiently inquired, the best foundation of it would be found but either in courtesy or convenience. But suppose it to be of right hereditary, what can be more just and legal, if a subject for certain crimes be to forfeit by law from himself and posterity all his inheritance to the king, than that a king, for crimes proportional, should forfeit all his title and inheritance to the people ? Unless the people must be thought created all for him, he not for them, and they all in one body inferior to him single ; which were a kind of treason against the dignity of mankind to affirm.t. · Thirdly, it follows, that to say kings are accountable to
* In the splendid discourse of Etienne de la Beotie. “ De la Servitude Volontaire,” this slavish disposition of the Jews is adverted to with singular energy of scorn, “Doubtless,” he says, “there is no people upon earth, who, were the choice within their power, whether they would be governed by one man, or by law and reason, would not prefer the latter ; unless, indeed, the children of Israel, who, without constraint or necessity, made unto themselves a tyrant; for which reason I never read their history without having my indignation roused, until I almost became inhuman enough to rejoice at the multitude of evils with which their kings overwhelmed them.” See the whole discourse appended to “ Montaigne's Essais," t. ix. p. 312389. Edit. de Coste, London, 1769.-ED.
✓ James I., who, until he of Sans Souci disputed the title with him, was esteemed the Solomon of the North, agreed, on this point, with Milton; for, in his speech to the parliament in 1603, he maintains “that the special and greatest point of difference that is between a rightful king and an usurping tyrant, is this, that whereas the proud and ambitious tyrant doth think his kingdom and people are only ordained for satisfaction of his desires and unreasonable appetites; the righteous and just king doth by the contrary acknowledge himself to be ordained for the procuring of the wealth and property of the people.” He makes no allusion indeed to freedom, valuable beyond all “ wealth and property ;" but the spread of knowledge was then narrow, and few minds were emancipated from the political ignorance of the darker ages.-ED.
none but God, is the overturning of all law and government. For if they may refuse to give account, then all covenants made with them at coronation, all oaths * are in vain, and mere mockeries; all laws which they swear to keep, made to no purpose : for if the king fear not God, (as how many of them do not, we hold then our lives and estates by the tenure of his mere grace and mercy, as from a god, not a mortal magistrate; a position that none but court-parasites or men besotted would maintain! Aristotle, therefore, whom we commonly allow for one of the best interpreters of nature and morality, writes in the fourth of his Politics, chap. x. that “ monarchy unaccountable is the worst sort of tyranny, and least of all to be endured by free-born men.”
And surely no Christian prince, not drunk with high mind, and prouder than those pagan Cæsars that deified themselves, would arrogate so unreasonably above human condition, or derogate so basely from a whole nation of men, his brethren, as if for him only subsisting, and to serve his glory, valuing them in comparison of his own brute will and pleasure no more than so many beasts, or vermin under his feet, not to be reasoned with, but to be trod on; among whom there might be found so many thousand men for wisdom, virtue, nobleness of mind, and all other respects but the fortune of his dignity, far above him. Yet some would persuade us that this absurd opinion was King David's, because in the 51st Psalm he cries out to God, “ Against thee only have I sinned;" as if David had imagined, that to murder Uriah and adulterate his wife had been no sin against his neighbour, whenas that law of Moses was to the king expressly, (Deut xvii.,) not to think
* The same James, whose speech we have quoted above, again, in 1609, made the following admission in Parliament: 16 The king binds himself by .a double oath, to the observation of the fundamental laws of his kingdom. Tacitly, as by being a king, and so bound to protect as well the people, as the laws of his kingdom, and expressly by his oath at his coronation; so as every just king, in a settled kingdom, is bound to observe that paction made to his people, by his laws, in framing his government agreeable thereto, .. Therefore a king governing in a settled kingdom, leaves to be a king, and degenerates into a tyrant, as soon as he leaves off to rule according to his laws.” And again : “ All kings that are not tyrants, or perjured, will be glad to bound themselves within the limits of their laws. And they that persuade them the contrary, are vipers and pests both against them and the commonwealth.” Here he paints, as if from the life, the advisers and court parasites that surrounded his unhappy son.-ED.