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unmolested, in expectation of their turn to be devoured. To say that a man can give himself away, is to talk unintelligibly and absurdly; such an act must necessarily be illegal and void, were it for no other reason, than that it argues insanity of mind in the agent. To say the same thing of a whole nation, is to suppose a whole nation can be at once out of their senses: but were it so, such madness could not confer right. Were it possible also for a man to alienate himself, he could not, in the same manner, dispose of his children, who, as human beings, are born free: their freedom is their own, and nobody has any right to dispose of it but themselves. It is requisite therefore, in order to render an arbitrary government lawful, that every new generation should be at liberty to admit or reject its authority, in which case it would no longer be an arbitrary government.
To renounce one's liberty, is to renounce one's very being as a man; it is to renounce not only the rights but the duties of humanity. And what possible indemnification can be made to the man who thus gives up his all? Such a renunciation is incompatible with our very nature; for to deprive us of the liberty of the will is to take away all morality from our actions.
Again, Grotius and others have deduced the origin of this pretended right from the superiority obtained in war. The conqueror, say they, having a right to put the vanquished to death, the latter may equitably purchase his life at the expence of his liberty; such an agreement being the
more lawful, as it conduces to the mutual advantage of both parties. Let us suppose that this shocking right of general massacre existed, still I affirm, that a slave made so by the fortune of war, or a conquered people so reduced to slavery, lie under no other obligations than to obey him so long as he has the power to compel them to it. In accepting of an equivalent for their lives, the victor confers on them no favour. Instead of killing them uselessly, he has only varied the mode of their destruction to his own advantage. So far therefore from his having acquired over them any additional authority, the state of war subsists between them as before; their relation to each other is the evident effect of it; and his exertion of the rights of war, is a proof that no treaty of peace has succeeded. Will it be said, they have made a convention. Be it so: this convention is a mere truce, and is so far from putting an end to the state of war, that it necessarily implies its continuation.
Thus, in whatever light we consider this affair, the right of making men slaves is null and void, not only because it is unjust, but because it is absurd and insignificant. The terms, slavery and justice, are contradictory, and reciprocally exclusive of each other. The proposal must be equally ridiculous, whether made by one individual to another, or by an individual to a whole people: I ENTER INTO AN AGREEMENT WITH YOU, ALTOGETHER AT YOUR OWN CHARGE, AND SOLELY FOR MY PROFIT, WHICH I WILL OBSERVE AS LONG AS
AS I PLEASE, AND WHICH YOU ARE TO OBSERVE
ROUSSEAU. Du Contrat Social, liv. i. ch. 1, 2, 3, and 4.
ALL power being originally inherent in, and consequently derived from, the people, therefore all officers of government, whether legislative or executive, are their trustees and servants, and at all
times accountable to them.
Government is, or ought to be instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community, and not for the particular emolument or advantage of any single man, family, or set of men, who are part only of that community.
Pennsylvania Declaration of Rights.
THE principles declared at the revolution, and asserted and insisted upon by Judge Foster, and every good writer since, make the crown not to be descendable property, like a pigstye or a laystall, but a descendable trust for millions and ages yet unborn; and they contend that, on this account, the hereditary succession cannot be considered as a right.In fact, the people have rights, but kings and princes have none. The people stand in need of neither charters nor precedents to prove theirs, or professional men to interpret either. They are born with every man in every country, and exist in all countries alike, the despotic as well as the free, though they may not be equally easy to be recovered in all. Kings have at times different
interests, and great calamities have followed their differences; but the people can have but one interest throughout the world.
LORD LANSDOWNE. Par. Register, vol. xxvi. p. 61-2. In those countries that pretend to freedom, princes are subject to those laws which their people have chosen; they are bound to protect their subjects in liberty, property, and religion; to receive their petitions, and redress their grievances; so that the prince is, in the opinion of wise men, only the greatest servant of the nation; not only a servant to the public in general, but, in some sort, to every man in it.
SWIFT. Sermon on Mutual Subjection.
THE king is the representative of the people; so are the lords; so are the judges. They are all trustees for the people, as well as the commons, because no power is given for the sole sake of the holder, and although government is certainly an institution of divine authority, yet its forms, and the persons who administer it, all originate from the people.
Burke. Thoughts on the Discontents, p. 66.
KINGS who have weak understandings, bad hearts, and strong prejudices, and all these, as it often happens, inflamed by their passions, and rendered incurable by their self conceit and presump:
tion; such kings are apt to imagine, and they conduct themselves so as to make many of their subjects imagine, that the king and the people in free governments are rival powers, who stand in competition with one another, who have different interests, and must of course have different views : that the rights and privileges of the people are so many spoils taken from the rights and prerogative of the crown; and that the rules and laws, made for the exercise and security of the former, are so many diminutions of their dignity, and restraints on their power. A patriot king will see all this in a far different and niuch truer light. He will make one and but one distinction between his rights and those of the people: he will look on his to be a trust, and theirs a property; and that his people who had an original right to the whole by the law of nature, can have the sole indefeasible right to any part.
As well might we say that a ship is built, and loaded, and manned, for the sake of any particular pilot, instead of acknowledging that the pilot is made for the sake of the ship, her lading, and her crew, who are always the owners in the political vessel, as to say that kingdoms were instituted for kings, not kings for kingdoms. To carry our illusion higher, majesty is not an inherent, but a reflected right.
I have read in one of the historians of the latter Roman empire, that Sapores was crowned in his mother's womb. His father 'left her with child :