« AnteriorContinuar »
corruption, endeavour to grasp themselves, or ptit into the hands of any other, an absolute power over the lives, liberties, and estates of the people; by this breach of trust they forfeit the power
the people had put into their hands for quite contrary ends, and it devolves to the people, who have a right to resume their original liberty, and by the establishment of a new legislative, (such as they shall think fit) provide for their own safety and security, which is the end for which they are in society. What I have said here concerning the legislative in general, holds true also, concerning the supreme executor, who acts contrary to his trust, WHEN HE EITHER EMPLOYS THE FORCE, TREASURE, AND OFFICES OF THE SOCIETY, TO CORRUPT THE REPRESENTATIVES, AND GAIN
PURPOSES ; OR OPENLY PREENGAGES THE ELECTORS, AND
TO THEIR CHOICE SUCH WHOM HE HAS BY SO
LICITATIONS, THREATS, PROMISES, OR OTHERWISE, WON TO HIS DESIGNS; AND EMPLOYS
Civil Government, b. ii. ch. 19. No society can at the time of its establishment put into the hands of a man the power of disposing of the property, the lives, and the liberty of the citizens at his pleasure. All arbitrary power is an usurpation against which a people may at all times revolt.-The laws that are sacred, are such as are conformable to the public interest : every ordonance contrary to it, is not a law but a legal abuse.
Helvetius. De l'Homme. Sect. i.r. cb.ix note (12.) When men fall under despotism, they are bound to make efforts to shake it ofl'; and those efforts are, at that period, the only property the unfortunate people have left. The height of misery is, not to be able to free ourselves from it, and to suffer without daring to complain. Where is the man barbarous and stupid enough to give the name of peace to the silence and forced tranquility of slavery? It is indeed peace, but it is the peace of the tomb.
Ib. Sect. ix. cb. 8. Since the king or magistrate holds his authority off the people, for their good, and not his own, then
may the people, as oft as they shall judge it for the best, either chuse him or reject him, retain him or depose him, though no tyrant, merely by the liberty and right of free-born men to be governed as seems to them best.
And Ludovicus Pius, hiniself an emperor, and son of Charles the Great, being made judge (Du Hailan is my author) between Milegast king of the Vultzes and his subjects who had deposed him, gave his verdict for the subjects. Here the right of electing whom they please is by the impartial testiinony of an emperor in the people.
Prose Works. vol. ii. p. 533• 537. The community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish government in such manner as shall be by that community judged most conducive to the public weal.
That those who are employed in the legislative and executive business of the state may be restrained from oppression, the people have a right, at such periods as they may think proper, to reduce their public officers to a private station, and supply the vacancies by certain and regular electons.
Pennsylvania Declaration of Rights. . TERE (such] smooth, ensnaring terms rightly explained to the people, and the controversy
of nog.resistance set in a just light, we should have Wer es many thousands of hands to some late ad
I would fain know what free-holder in in gland would have subscribed the following address, had it been offered him; or whether her Majesty, who values the rights of her subjects as much as her own prerogative, would not have been very much offended at it? And yet I will appeal to the reader, if this has not been the sense of many addresses, when taken out of several artificial qualifying expressions, and exposed in their true and genuine light.
MADAM, “ It is with unspeakable grief of heart, that we “ hear a set of men daily preaching up among us “ that pernicious and damnable doctrine of self“ preservation ; and boldly affirming, as well in their public writings, as in their private discourses, that
“ it is lawful to resist a tyrant, and take up arms
66 in defence of their lives and liberties. We have ." the utmost horror and detestation of these dia“ bolical principles, that may
your people “ to rise up in vindication of their rights and “ freedoms, whenever a wicked prince shall make ". use of his royal authority to subvert them. “ We are astonished at the bold and impious attempts
of those nien, who, under the reign of “ the best of sovereigns, would avow such dan
gerous tenets as may secure them under the worst. We are resolved to beat down and discountenance these seditious notions, as being “ altogether republican, jesuitical, and conform“ able to the practice of our rebellious forefathers; “ who in all ages, at an infinite expence of blood « and treasure, asserted their rights and proper" ties, and consulted the good of their posterity
by resistance, arms, and pitched battles, to the
great trouble and disquiet of their lawful prince. “ We do therefore, in the most humble and duti“ ful manner, solemnly protest and declare, that
we will never resist a sovereign that shall think “ fit to destroy our Magna Charta, or invade “ those rights and liberties which those traitors “ procured for us; but will venture our lives and ““ fortunes against such of our fellow subjects, “ who think they may stand up in defence of 65 them.”
It happens very unluckily that there is something so supple and insinuating in this absurd unnatural doctrine, as makes it extremely agreeable
to a prince's ear: for which reason the publishers of it have always been the favourites of weak kings. Even those who have no inclination to do hurt to others, says the famous satirist, would have the power of doing it if they pleased. Honest men who tell their sovereigns what they expect from them, and what obedience they shall always be ready to pay to them, are not upon an equal footing with such base and abject flatterers; and are therefore always in danger of being the last in the royal fayour.
Wbig Examiner, No. v. ABSURD prejudices have perverted human reason, and even stified that instinct which teaches animals to resist oppression and tyranny. Multitudes of the human race really believe themselves to be the property of a small number of men who oppress them. Such is the fatal progress of that original error, which imposture has either produced or kept up in the mind of man. May true knowledge revive those rights of reasonable beings, which to be recovered need only to be felt! Sages of the earth, philosophers of every nation, it is your's alone to make laws by pointing out these rights to your fellow citizens. Take the glorious resolution to instruct your fellow creatures, and be assured that if truth is longer in diffusing and establishing itself than error, yet its empire is more solid and lasting. Error passes away; but truth remains. Mankind, allured by the expectation of happiness, the road to which you will show them,