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more to do than to acquire superior force. Now what kind of right can that be, which vanishes with the power of enforcing it?
If an individual, says Grotius, can alienate his liberty, and become the slave of a master, why may not a whole people collectively alienate theirs, and become subject to a king? This proposition contains some equivocal terms which require explanation; I shall confine myself to that of alienate. Whatever is alienated must be disposed of either by gift or sale. Now a man who becomes the slave of another doch not give himself away, but sells himself, at least for his subsistence : but why should a whole people sell themselves ? So far is a king from furnishing his subjects with subsistence, that they maintain him; and, as our friend Rabelais says, a king doch noč live on a lit. tle. Can subjects be supposed to give away their liberty on condition that the receiver shall take their property along with it? After this I really cannot see what they have left. It may be said, a monarch maintains among his subjects the public tranquility. Be it so: I would gladly know of what they are gainers, if the wars in which his ambition engages them, if his insatiable avarice, or the oppressions of his ministers, are inore destructive than civil dissentions? Of what are they gainers, if even this tranquility be one cause of their misery? A prisoner may live tranquil enough in his dungeon; but will this be suficient to make hiin contented there? When the Greeks were shut up in the care of the Cyclops, they lived there unmolested, in expectation of their turn to be de. voured.—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 alienare 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, inf 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 affirn, 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 froin 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 I PLEASE, AND WHICH YOU ARE TO OBSERVE
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 thein.
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.
In those countries that pretend to freedom, princes are subject to those laws which their peo
. ple 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 inscitution of divine authority, yet its forms, and the persons who administer it, all originate from
BURKE, Thougbts 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: