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feelings. Once obtain that a man should be tolerated, and much more extolled, for putting affronts upon what has usually been held entitled to respect, the respect will soon be gone, and an opening made for the reception of any vicious alteration that may be meditated. This Longbrain knew, and preached it, with a view to his object, to Crabtree, who, without much philosophizing, practised it from taste.
“Once revolutionize the regard to decencies of intercourse in the people," said Longbrain, “and you will soon revolutionize their government. Familiarize them with the abuse, or even only the ridicule of the most sacred characters, and the conquest over their intluence is easy."
Crabtree wanted no prompting; he had indeed long discovered the scent, and acted upon it-having, by libel, lie, and caricature, acquired the admiration and support of all the most remarkable scoundrels, and all the greatest blockheads—and there were not a few of both-in the three kingdoms. To have made many unoffending families in his neighbourhood uneasy from being exposed to disrespect, who had, before he commenced his plan, enjoyed their fair rights to the good opinion of the world, was only a proof of his powers of mind. He, however, stooped but seldom to low game. The higher the object, the greater and more persevering the abuse. This was the rule prescribed ; and the war made upon the character and honour of gentry, clergy, and, of course, peers and kings, became as interminable as bitter. The higher orders were invariably called, in the House of Commons itself, the order of rogues. If the Conservatives wished to uphold the Church, they were compared to Jonathan Wyld, who made use of a methodist parson to preach to a mob, that he might better pick their pockets.
This piece of wit was attended with considerable success to Crabtree, who put it forward, as, while they laughed at it, it enabled him the better himself to pick the pockets of his readers by the sale of his papers. Then again there was no end to hard words, boldly and judiciously applied; andthe higher the rank or importance of the parties, the coarser the scurrility. He became (and for the sake of the people gloried in the character) a very scavenger in abuse. In the House he went to the very verge of parliamentary licence; out of the House, and in his paper, far beyond it.
Any person who differed from him was a lump of stupidity. One statesman, of the very highest name for talents and eloquence, was a bald-pated blackguard. A duke was a dolt; a bishop an atheist; a lord-chancellor an Old Bailey attorney ; Ministers, shave-beggars; and peers could neither read nor write. A Tory was synonymous with a liar, and a prince of the blood was called a blood-squeezer. This last was held so witty and so just, that it made many converts among our wise and virtuous countrymen; and both Whig and Tory looked pale sometimes, to think what a change had been made in the manners of the House.
The system began to work well, and was therefore pursued; all courtesy, much more courtliness, faded fast under the radical star; and by degrees this assembly-once of gentlemen-became as like a pot-house or beargarden as Longbrain himself could desire.
The Duumvirs, indeed, were powerfully aided by many persons with abilities enough, and wickedness enough, to overturn the state, provided they could once overturn the sense of shame which stood with many in the place of virtue; and it must be owned they had every prospect of success.
Such was their progress, that many of the original reformers were appalled, and retired from the precipice that, unforeseen, had opened under their feet. They were immediately attacked, denounced, bespattered, and, because they had acted like honest men, held up to execration for stopping short of the ruin they had been expected to accomplish.
All this, however, was nothing in the opinion of the far-reaching Long. brain, who, true to his doctrine, thought that no real good could be expected while the laws were obeyed, and that they could not be disobeyed without arms to defend the disobedient from punishment. On all occasions, therefore, that offered, he put forth his feelers to ascertain how for they had succeeded in inspiring such a sense of grievance, fancied or real, as would justify the hope of a universal rise.
In this he had not very satisfactory encouragement; for most, even among professed Radicals, were still rather startled at the notion of civil war, more than in words, and among those who hesitated there was a considerable doubt as to the lawfulness of ever taking arms, at least if their necks were not to be insured, if unsuccessful. To this momentous and thorny question the cool head of Longbrain saw that they must now soon come; and, professing peace and obedience, lost no opportunity, in conjunction with his disciple, in discussing the Right of a people to arm itself against the state, or, as he more delicately expressed it, to resist unjust laws.
and rub the elbow at the news
Henry IV, Part I. The doctrine that ended the last section, though not new, was sufficiently difficult, and unfortunately rendered more so, because, from the sovereign to the lowest peace-officer, there had not for years been found a case where any legal authority had been abused or exceeded ; and whoever, therefore, preached the right of resistance, was obliged to take the bull by the horns, and, quitting supposed cases of tyranny, usurpation, and dispensing powers, to lay down the broad proposition that, whenever the subjects of a state chose, and were strong enough, to alter or destroy the constitution, they might do so without being questioned ; and that, however settled or sworn to, the sovereign power might be attacked, changed, or even annihilated, and the nation left in a state of nature, without any government at all, as the will and pleasure of any body of individuals, calling themselves the people, might direct.
Of this extent of their doctrine our radical friends were much too accomplished in the science of government not to be aware. Disguise the point as they might, they knew that if they preached the lawfulness of insurrection, to that it must come at last. Temporize, tamper with it, conceal its reach or ultimate consequences, and only show such immediate purposes as might be deemed convenient by those who were to profit by them; still, if subjects have a right to arm against the laws because they do not like them, or under pretence of a necessity, of which they are themselves to be the judges, all the consequences stated above must be the logical result. Any opposing objections that can arise can only spring from ambiguities in the terms used, which must be first cleared away. For example, the meaning of Right itself, the principal word used, and upon which the whole question turns, must be exactly defined and mutually understood. It is not easy, indeed, to frame the metaphysical definition of Right. It is whatever is not wrong, says one. It is what is just, or proper, or fitting, says another. It is a just claim, says a third ; and whatever the law awards you, observes a fourth. None of these definitions, it is plain, will give subjects a right to take arms against an acknowledged government, that proceeds without infraction, according to the luw of the land. But the claimants outnumber those that oppose them! That is denied ; but suppose it admitted : will that justify the proceeding? Is the right of the strongest one of the definitions? And are we again to em battle our houses and keep guard for our safety ? Or, if robbers make successful war upon us, can the success be pleaded in their justification ? The right of conquest was once admitted among civilians : will any Doctor of Laws, though a root-and-branch democrat, now uphold that right? But a just claim is among the definitions; and this might carry the right of insurrection. Yes! but the judge of what is just as a claim cannot be the party making it.
So the important words, Law, and, particularly, SOVEREIGNTY must be left with no ambiguity for ignorance or sophistry to lay hold of. Without this we plunge into a sea of doubt and uncertainty, and may buffet its waves, “ with hearts indeed of controversy," but without a prospect of ever getting to land. To begin with the last of these terms, SOVEREIGNTY. In order to avoid misunderstanding, I have mentioned the thing, not the man supposed to possess it, because there are many sorts of sovereigns; some of themselves supreme, from whom all law and power proceed ; some merely supreme in dignity, to whom obedience is obedience to laws made by others; some irresponsible, therefore inviolable, and of course not triable; others responsible, therefore triable, and therefore punishable. All these, though so different as to character and rights, are called sovereigns, and may be so classed as to name; but it is evident from their vital differences that the same reasoning as to rights cannot universally apply to all of them. We therefore leave them out of the question, and adopt the term signifying the thing not the person. Sovereignty then implies not only the supreme, but the sole power of a state, from which emanate all its laws, energies, and actions, and is therefore wholly indivisible, independent, and uncontrollable. If controllable, it would not be what it purports to be in this definition, but some other and still higher power must control it, which would be a contradiction. The not distinguishing this, but confounding the terms, has often occasioned glaring, and probably very dishonest, sophistries, particularly one of the sainted Paine,
“ Whom rascals love and fools adınire.” With a view to justify rebellion upon occasion, he wishes to prove that the sovereign power is not so sovereign but it may be altered by the people. Hence he instances the case of one of the American States, where, though there is a constitution, and a government, yet every fifteen years the people may assemble and sit in judgment upon it, alter it, and of course adopt another if they please. Who does not see here that the sovereignty he first named is not the real sovereignty of the state, but only a deputed one for fifteen years by the people, who retain the supremacy and right of ultimately judging, though they have consented to suspend it for a given period ? Had Paine been an honest man, he would, in order not to blind the people he professed to enlighten, have supposed the case of the people of this American state assembling to break up their constitution and government within the fifteen years, during which they had parted with their power. Could he have defended, or even explained that, so as to prove it was a right in the people, not a punishable rebellion—the illustration might have been valid.
Sovereignty, therefore, being in itself a thing integral, indivisible, and intangible, it remains to be seen what possible power, except its own, can alter the channel in which it has been made to flow. If, as was held by Paine, the springs whence it began, the sovereignty so fancied is not the sovereignty described, it is not integral, indivisible, and intangible. The only question left, therefore, as to the sovereignty in England, is whereabouts it resides? Is it in the King ?-No! In the Lords ?-No! The Commons ?-No !
The Lords and Commons together ?- No! All three ? - Yes! But those who say yes must for ever, and in every possible case, just or unjust, that can be fancied, give up the notion of a superior or correcting power, be it in the people or in the pope. Those who say no, and that the people have it, must first show who and what are meant by the people, distinct from the three estates of the realm; and if this is discovered, when, where, and how this sovereign controlling power was lodged with them. It is certainly true that the first duke in England, of abilities by no means despicable, but of wisdom most questionable, did once at a feast, and in his cups, warming, no doubt, with his wine as much as his patriotism, propose as a toast, “Our sovereign, the people !" for which he was justly condemned as an insane per. son by all moderate and cool-judging men; in short, all but the rogues who used and the visionaries who admired him. But this great duke (whose family at least, while gathering titles, privileges, and wealth from their sovereigns, never thought of the people as such)-this great duke never even made the attempt to demonstrate what the people really were to whom he attributed this power, much less how they came by it.
It is also most true that another very great champion of what he also called the people, told them that it was only a matter of prudence whether or not they should obey the laws; not, as was evident, because the laws had not been made through the regular channel; not because they were enacted by usurpers; but merely because they might not be pleasing to them, the people. In stating it thus, in order to do full justice to the great but dangerous individual who preached this insurrectionary doctrine, I give him the full benefit of the word PEOPLE. I take it as meaning a whole people, though (as was answered by an heroic woman when the same abused word was used by the murderers of Charles) they were not a tenth part of them who listened to him. But supposing they were the whole, where was the right to be found in the map of the constitution ? Where was the writer, where the lawyer, where the senator before him, that ever made the discovery of this hidden reserved sovereignty in we know not what hands or classes, that had the power to disobey, and therefore set aside laws (whatever they were) that had been regularly enacted ? See what oversights may be committed by the most enlightened understandings, when common-sense has departed from them, and loyalty and real patriotism are lost in ambition ! One of the most crying usurpations of James—that which chiefly induced the revolt of his subjects, and the loss of his crown, was his endeavour to set himself above the laws by dispensing with them. What was the doctrine of Fox, but that the people might do so, though the king might not? Yet nowhere that I know of could he, or did he, show that this power—by law at least-was, in the people, ever vested, ever had existed, or ever could be exercised. What he meant was, we must suppose, that, if they did not like the laws, they had a right to run the risk of their necks, if they pleased, by disobeying them; and if this made them sovereigns, sovereigns they were. What did James do more? Yet in him the pretended right was properly resisted, because it was usurped. Is the right of the people less usurped, because by the people and not the king? All this could not escape the common-sense of the time, and Mr. Fox was asked, some little time afterwards, by one of the clearest heads in the House (one whose ambition was of a far higher degree than to be the leader of a mob instead of a nation), whether the period was arrived when he was prepared to unfurl the standard of rebellion? The question was a pregnant one, and was felt from one end of the empire to the other, in a way disastrous to the insurrectionary principle. On this occasion the future Speaker showed all the promise that he afterwards realized in the chair, of consummate and accurate knowledge of the science of law and government; and Mr. Fox was found to intrench himself in certain general and, at best, vague and indefinite theories of what were miscalled rights, if supposed to be recognised by any law but that of personal feeling; and this, is allowed to enter into any code, as an acknowledged rule of action, farewell
Feb.-VOL, XLIX. NO. CXCIV.
to all order, protection, or real liberty, and welcome anarchy and the right of the strongest !
I am quite aware that this reasoning allows nothing, and notices nothing, of cases which have arisen, and may arise again, of the most atrocious oppression, cruelty, murder, and infamous outrage in sovereigns, which have driven subjects to revolt, and ended in revolution.
Instances might be multiplied of this, and Englishmen are not the persons to condemn such cases. But these are, at the very best, excrescences, anomalies, and cannot be foreseen or provided against. Each case therefore must be sui generis, and obey the hazard and circumstances of the time when it arises; for no sovereignty can contain a provision for its own dissolution, because there must be a judge to say when the crisis has arrived, and that judge will then be sovereign over the sovereign, which is a contradiction.
Thus it was between the Ephori and kings at Sparta, and the tribunes and consuls at Rome. That, wherever there is a tribunal to try a sovereign, the sovereign must be anything but independent, appears in this, that when a person is liable to be tried, he is liable also to be accused, though innocent; and, in that case, can never be sure of his sovereignty a single moment.
Half a dozen Longbrains, Crabtrees, or other agitators, might keep the whole sovereignty of England, king, lords, and commons, separately or collectirely, on their trial for ever, and thus the whole functions of the government might be for ever paralyzed.
Hence, as has been said, though cases of outrage may be supposed in a sovereign, they cannot be provided against by the constitution. What then shall we say to outrages (for such they may be) enacted by the law ? Let us suppose, for example, that the Lex Mercheta extending all over the United Kingdom, as a reward for his services, should be revived by Act of Parliament, in favour of a certain Irish agitator and his family for ever. Would this,-could this be submitted to ? Would there not be an armed revolt, and would not that revolt be justifiable? The answer is, that it would, but not by the law; for if there has been no provision for it under the constitution, there can be no redress, and the remedy must be not in the execution of the law, but the infraction of it.
Such a proposition, however, could hardly be gravely sanctioned through legislative formal enactments, in any man's imagination who had not parted with his senses. Then how would it be justifiable? I know not, except by reason, which, as every man has a reason of his own, leaves the matter so indefinite, and so little precise, that no rule can be laid down upon it beforehand. Every man, therefore, must determine upon it according to his own feelings, and at his own peril; and to legislate upon these would be as impossible as it would be to interpret a law, which laid down that the people need not obey enactments that were unreasonable.
To make ourselves the better understood, let us suppose the most ex. treme of all cases, that the legislature should formally destroy the constitution, by giving the king's proclamation (as was once actually done) the authority of an Act of Parliament; or, as was equally done, by forbidding the king to dissolve the Commons, except by their own consent* Here, if anywhere, one would suppose, there would be a reasonable ground of disobedience; and, if enforced, of civil war. Yet, if the cases were not expressly provided against by the law, but only left to vague and indefinite implications of reason, (however sound,) could any man who chose to arm against the Parliament, plead a right to do so, from anything but his own will? Grant even such a wild provision as the following, to be inserted in a Lill of rights :
:-“When any of the subjects shall be aggrieved by any law * I have mentioned the last, to show that if kings can usurp, so may the people.