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principle of natural justice, without any consent or compact, sufficient of itself to gain a title. A dispute that savours too much of nice and scholastic refinement! However, both sides agree in this, that occupancy is the thing by which the title was in fact originally gained; every man seizing to his own continued use, such'spots of ground as he found most agreeable to his own convenience, provided he found them unoccupied by any one else.
OF THE CONSTITUTION OF ENGLAND. The supreme executive power of Great Britain and Ireland is vested by our constitution in a single person, king or queen; for it is indifferent to which sex the crown descends; and the person entitled to it, whether male or female, is immediately intrusted with all the ensigns, rights, and prerogatives, of sovereign power.
The principal duties of the king are expressed in his oath at the coronation, which is administered by one of the archbishops or bishops of the realm, in the presence of the people. This coronation oath is conceived in the following terms :
The archbishop, or bishop, shall say—'Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the people of this kingdom of England, and the dominions thereunto belonging, according to the statutes in parliament agreed on, and the laws and customs of the same ?'-The king or queen shall say, 'I solemnly promise so to do.'
Archbishop, or bishop.-- Will you, to your
power, cause law and justice, in mercy, to be executed in all your judgments ?'-King or queen. I will.'
Archbishop, or bishop.-Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the Gospel, and the protestant reformed religion established by the law? And will you preserve unto the bishops and clergy of this realm, and to the churches committed to their charges, all such rights and privileges as by the law do or shall appertain unto them, or any of them? - King or queen. “All this I promise to do.'
After this, the king or queen, laying his or her band upon the holy Gospel, shall say, "The things which I have here before promised, I will perform and keep : so help me God!' and then kiss the book,
This is the form of the coronation oath, as it is now prescribed by our laws: and we may observe, that in the king's part in this original contract are expressed all the duties that a monarch can owe his people; viz. to govern according to law; to execute judgment in mercy; and to maintain the established religion.
The laws are made by the joint concurrence of the king, the lords, and the commons; and without their joint concurrence cannot be altered or dispensed with.
The house of lords consists of the lords spiritual, that is to say, of two archbishops and twenty-four bishops, with four bishops from Ireland. The lords temporal consist of all the peers of the realın; the bishops not being in strictness held to be such, but merely lords of parliament. Some of the
peers sit by descent, as do all ancient peers; some by creation, as do all the new-made ones; others, since the unions with Scotland and Ireland, by election, which is the case of the sixteen peers who represent the body of the Scotch nobility, and the twenty-eight Irish peers who represent the Irish nobility. The number of peers is indefinite, and may be increased at will by the power of the crown.
The house of commons consists of the representatives of the people chosen every seven years, or on a dissolution by the crown.
The counties are represented by knights, elected by the proprietors of lands; the cities and boroughs are represented by citizens and burgesses, chosen by the mercantile part, or supposed trading interest, of the nation. The number of English representatives is 513, of Scotch 45, and of Irish 100; in all 658..
These are the constituent parts of parliament: the king, the lords spiritual and temporal, and the commons; parts, of which each is so necessary, that the consent of all three is required to make any new law that shall bind the subject. Whatever is enacted for law by one, or by two only, of the three, is no statute; and no regard is due to it unless in matters relating to their own privileges.
WHAT IS LIBERTY? Dors liberty consist in the power of doing what we please? No: for if every body had this power, there could be no liberty at all, because our life
and property would be at the disposal of every man who was able and willing to take them from us. In a free country, every violation of law is an attack upon the public liberty. The laws of God and our country are our best and only security against oppression; and therefore liberty can exist amongst us no longer than while those laws are obeyed. Milton, who loved liberty as much, I believe, as any man ever did, has truly observed, when speaking of it, that who loves that, must first be wise and good.' See his twelfth sonnet.
Does liberty consist in our being governed by laws of our own making? I know not how many political writers have laid this down as a first principle, and a self-evident maxim: and yet, if Britain be a free government, this maxim is grossly absurd. Who are they who can be said to be governed by laws of their own making? I know of no such persons; I never heard or read of any such, except, perhaps, among pirates and other banditti, who, trampling on all laws, divine and human, refuse to be governed in any other way than by their own licentious regulations. The greatest part of the laws by which we are governed were made long ago : I should be glad to know how a man co-operates in making a law before he is born. But are we not instrumental in making those laws which are made in our own time? Granting that we are, which is by no means the case, these are not the only laws by which we are governed : we must obey the common law of the land, which is of immemorial standing, as well as the statutes made in the last session of parliament.
The British laws are enacted by the king, lords, and commons, who may amount in all to about eight hundred persons: the inhabitants of Great Britain, who must obey these laws, are computed at eight millions. In Britain, therefore, not to mention the rest of the empire, are more than seven millions of persons, who are governed by laws which they neither make, nor can alter: and even the king, lords, and commons, are themselves governed by laws which were made before they were born. Nay more: if the majority of the lords and commons agree to a bill, which afterwards receives the royal assent, that bill is a law, though the minority vote against it; and the minority in both houses might comprehend three hundred and eighty persons : so that a law to bind the whole British nation might, according to the principles of our constitution, be made, even contrary to the will of three hundred and eighty meinbers of the legislature.-Nay, further; in the house of commons, forty members, in ordinary cases of legislation, make a house, or quorum; the majority is twenty-one, which, deducted from five hundred and fifty-eight, the number of members in that house, leaves five hundred and thirty-seven: so that a bill might pass the house of commons, if the house happened to be very thin, contrary to the will of five hundred and thirty-seven members of that house; and yet, if such a bill were afterwards ratified by the lords, and assented to by the king, it would be a law.-Surely, if we are a free people, liberty must be something that does not consist in our being governed by laws of our own making.