« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
Governments on grounds of Expedience, as the Editor of The Friend has done against founding Morality on the same. Euclid himself could not have defined his words more sternly within the limit of pure Science: for instance, see the 1st. 2d. 3d. and 4th primary Rules. “A Principle is a manifest and simple proposition comprehending a certain Truth. Principles are the proof of every thing: but are not susceptible of external proof, being selfevident. If one Principle be violated, all are shaken. Against him, who denies Principles, all dispute is useless, and reason unintelligible, or disallowed, so far as he denies them. The Laws of Nature are immutable.” Neither could Rousseau himself (or his predecessors, the fifth Monarchy Men) have more nakedly or emphatically identified the foundations of government in the concrete with those of religion and morality in the abstract : see Major Cartwright's Primary Rules from 31 to 39, and from 44 to 83. In these it is affirmed: that the legislative Rights of every Citizen are inherent in his nature; that being natural Rights they must be equal in all men; that a
patural right is that right which a Citizen claims as being a Man, and that it hath no other foundation but his Personality or Reason: that Property can neither encrease or modify any legislative Right; that every one Man shall have one Vote however poor, and for any one Man, however rich, to have any more than one Vote, is against natural Justice, and an evil measure; that it is better for a nation to endure all adversities, than to assent to one evil measure; that to be free is to be governed by Laws, to which we have ourselves assented, either in Person or by Representative, for whose election we have actually voted: that all not having a right of Suffrage are Slaves, and that a vast majority of the People of Great Britain are Slaves! To prove the total coincidence of Major Cartwright's Theory with that which I have stated (and I trust confuted) in the preceding Number, it only remains for me to prove, that the former, equally with the latter, confounds the sufficiency of the conscience to make every person a moral and amenable Being, with the sufficiency of judgment and experience requisite to the
exercise of political Right. A single quotation will place this out of all doubt, which from its length I shall insert in a Note.*
* “ But the equality (observe, that Major Cartwright is here speaking of the natural right to universal Suffrage, and consequently of the universal right of eligibility, as well as of election, independent of character or property)—the equality and dignity of human nature in all men, whether rich or poor, is placed in the highest point of view by St. Paul, when he reprehends the Corinthian believers for their litigations one with another, in the Courts of Law where unbelievers presided; and as an argument of the competency of all men to judge for themselves, be alludes to that elevation in the kingdom of heaven which is promised to every man who shall be virtuous, or in the language of that time, a Saint. Do ye not know, says he, “ that the Saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters ? Know ye not that ye shall judge the angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? If after such authorities, such manifestations of truth as these, any Christian through those prejudices, which are the effects of long habits of injustice and oppression, and teach us to • despise the poor,' shall still think it right to exclude that part of the commonalty, consisting of Tradesmen, Artificers, and Labourers,' or any of them from voting in elections of members to serve in “parliament, I must
Great stress, indeed, is laid on the authority of our ancient Laws, both in this and the other works of our patriotic author; and whatever his system may be, it is impossible not to feel, that the author himself possesses the heart of a genuine Englishman. But still his system can
sincerely lament such a persuasion as a misfortune both to himself and his country. And if any man, (not having given himself the trouble to consider whether or not the Scripture be an authority, but who, nevertheless, is a friend to the rights of mankind) upon grounds of mere prudence, policy, or expediency, shall think it advisable to go against the whole current of our constitutional and law maxims, by which it is self-evident that every man, as being a MAN, created FREE, born to FREEDOM, and, without it, a THING, a SLAVE, a BEAST; and shall contend for drawing a line of exclusion at freeholders of forty pounds a year, or forty shillings a year, or householders, or pot-boilers, so that all who are below that line shall not have a vote in the election of a legislative guardian,—which is taking from a citizen the power even of self-preservation,-such a man, I venture to say, is bolder than he who wrestled with the angel ; for he wrestles with God himself, who established those principles in the eternal laws of nature, never to be violated by any of his Creatures," P. 23–24.
neither be changed nor modified by these appeals: for among the primary maxims, which form the ground-work of it, we are informed not only that Law in the abstract is the perfection of Reason; but that the Law of God and the Law of the Land are all one! What? The Statutes against Witches? Or those bloody Statutes against Papists, the abolition of which gave rise to the infamous Riots in 1780 ? Or (in the author's own opinion) the Statutes of Disfranchisement and for making Parliaments septennial ?—Nay! but (Principle 28) “ an unjust Law is no Law:” and (P. 22.) against the Law of Reason neither prescription, statute, nor custom, may prevail; and if any such be brought against it, they be not prescriptions, statute, nor customs, but things void : and (P. 29.) What the Parliament doth shall be holden for nought, whensoever it shall enact that which is contrary to a natural Right!" We dare not suspect a grave writer of such egregious trifling, as to mean no more by these assertions, than that what is wrong is not right; and if more than this be meant, it must be that the subject is not bound to obey any