« ПретходнаНастави »
express and solemn stipulation; which is the legal measure of their power and rule of their conduct. The consequence which some have attempted to deduce from these most certain premises we abominate and reject, as wicked and illegitimate, --namely, that "our kings are the servants of the people; and that it is the right of the people to cashier them for misconduct." Our ancestors are slandered - their wisdom is insulted their virtue is defamed, when these seditious maxims are set forth as the principles on which the great business of the Revolution was conducted, or as the groundwork on which that noblest production of human reason the wonderful, fabric of the British constitution stands.
Our constitution hath indeed effectually secured the monarch's performance of his engagements, not by that clumsy contrivance of republican wit, the establishment of a court of judicature with authority to try his conduct and to punish his delinquency, not by that coarser expedient of modern levellers, a reference to the judgment and the sentence of the multitude
wise judgment, I ween, and righteous sentence! but by two peculiar provisions of a deep and subtle policy, — the one in the form, the other in the principles of government; which, in their joint operation, render the transgression of the covenant on the part of the monarch little less than a moral impossibility. The one is the judicious partition of the legislative authority between the King and the two houses of Parliament; the other, the responsibility attaching upon the advisers and official servants of the Crown. By the first, the nobles and the representatives of the commons are severally armed with a power of constitutional resistance, to oppose to prerogative overstepping its just bounds, by the exercise of their own rights and their own privileges; which power of the estates of Parliament with the necessity takes away the pretence for any spontaneous interference of the private citizen, otherwise than by the use of the elective franchise and of the right of petition for the redress of grievances: By the second, those who might be willing to be the instruments of despotism are deterred by the dangers which await the
service. Having thus excluded all probability of the event of a systematic abuse of royal power, or a dangerous exorbitance of prerogative, our constitution exempts her kings from the degrading necessity of being accountable to the subject: She invests them with the high attribute of political impeccability; she declares, that wrong, in his public capacity, a king of Great Britain cannot do; and thus unites the most perfect security of the subject's liberty with the most absolute inviolability of the sacred person of the sovereign.
Such is the British constitution, its basis, religion; its end, liberty; its principal means and safeguard of liberty, the majesty of the sovereign. In support of it the king is not more interested than the peasant.
It was a signal instance of God's mercy, not imputing to the people of this land the atrocious deed of a desperate faction, was a signal instance of God's mercy, that the goodly fabric was not crushed in the middle of the last century, ere it had at
tained its finished perfection, by the phrensy of that fanatical banditti which took the life of the First Charles. In the madness and confusion which followed the shedding of that blood, our history holds forth an edifying example of the effects that are ever to be expected — in that example, it gives warning of the effects that ever are intended, by the dissemination of those infernal maxims, that kings are the servants of the people, punishable by their masters. The same lesson is confirmed by the horrible example which the present hour exhibits, in the unparalleled misery of a neighbouring nation, once great in learning, arts, and arms; now torn by contending factions- her government demolished her altars overthrown-her firstborn despoiled of their birthright - her nobles degraded — her best citizens exiled her riches sacred and profane given up to the pillage of sacrilege and rapine- atheists directing her councils desperadoes conducting her armies -wars of unjust and chimerical ambition consuming her youth-her granaries exhausted her fields uncultivated famine threatening her multitudes - her
streets swarming with assassins, filled with violence, deluged with blood!
Is the picture frightful? is the misery extreme-the guilt horrid? Alas! these things were but the prelude of the tragedy: Public justice poisoned in its source, profaned in the abuse of its most solemn forms to the foulest purposes, a monarch deliberately murdered a monarch, whose only crime it was that he inherited a sceptre the thirtysecond of his illustrious stock, butchered on a public scaffold, after the mockery of arraignment, trial, sentence butchered without the merciful formalities of the vilest malefactor's execution - the sad privilege of a last farewell to the surrounding populace refused - not the pause of a moment allowed for devotion-honourable inter
ment denied to the corpse, the royal widow's anguish imbittered by the rigour of a close imprisonment; with hope indeed, at no great distance, of release, of such release as hath been given to her lord!
This foul murder, and these barbarities, have filled the measure of the guilt and in