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earth, dependent on no man, accountable to no man. Judge Bracton says, “ Rex est vicarius, et minister Dei in terra : omnis quidem sub eo est, et ipse sub nullo, nisi tantum sub Deo."
The king is called the father of the country, not that he begat his people, or that he must be an older man than all his subjects ; but because Adam, the first king as well as the first man, begat his own subjects, and when the eldest son succeeded to his father's authority he succeeded also to his title of father, and hence the style of father is given to this day to all kings, which points remarkably to the original of government or kingship in the time of man's innocency in Eden, which God first instituted there, both in nature and by positive command. And therefore we owe to our sovereign the same obedience which Adam's children or subjects paid to him ; for God's commands and institutions descend through all ages to the end of time, and government is of the same necessity and obligation now, as it was when it was first imposed by God himself, and it is equally “bis ordinance” now, as it was then.
If government and its succession was ordained by God, then it is as natural that it should succeed in the same track, as for the sun to proceed in his diurnal course ; and consequently, when elective monarchies and republics usurp the place of God's ordinance"—that is an hereditary monarchy or fathership- they are eccentric from, and breaches of the primitive institution ; nevertheless, obedience is due to such when a better right cannot be established, as a bastard is a man, although he be unlawfully begotten, and it would be as much murder to kill a bastard, as to kill one lawfully born ; so a republic is a government though a bastard one, and is to be obeyed till a better right to the government is established.
The king“ is the minister of God for good” to his people, and consequently he is as much bound to exercise his high authority agreeably to the divine will for the benefit of his people, as they are to obey him “in all godly fear, knowing whose authority he hath," namely God's. But whilst the king is a minister for good, he is also " a revenger, to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil ;" therefore if we compare the benefits, which an obedient people derive from their governors, with the evils which a few turbulent men may suffer from the worst governors, we shall find that the general good far outweighs the particular evils beyond all comparison. For if the government is deranged, then every man's hand is let loose upon his neighbour, the strong oppress the weak, and a more general tyranny will follow, than by the greatest severity of any king. It frequently happens, that the most rigid governors are the strictest justiciaries ; and, on the other hand, kings may be so gentle and easy, as to let factions rise and distract the country, which generally occasions more mischief than the worst administration. The evil of too great clemency was exemplified in Charles I. who suffered factions to get beyond control; and rebellious
people always denominate those princes tyrants, whom they destroy, as the ruin and bloodshed of the people always accompanies the destruction of the sovereign, whose reign is consequently called bloody and tyrannical. Hence the severe reigns of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth have been called glorious, because their severity kept down faction and preserved peace. Throughout all history, the mildest and best kings have been always most rebelled against by their subjects. But let kings be as bad as they are often called, still their tyranny must end some time ; in them “ life's copy's not eterne;" and to change our governors at the caprice of the mob, is not worth the expense of blood and treasure which rebellion and usurpation has always cost the nation. The usurpation of Henry IV. cost England a hundred years of carnage and civil war, and which was not composed till the royal line of York regained their inheritance. The usurpation of Cromwell cost the three kingdoms more blood and treasure than all her foreign wars from the Conquest to his time.
It is a wise maxim in English law, that “the king can do no wrong:” not that he is personally impeccable, but because he derives his authority from God alone, as the laws of England acknowledge; and, therefore, that excellent maxim means only that he is not accountable to his subjects for his public actions; but his ministers or counsellors are responsible for the advice they may give him: and under God, this is our greatest security; for if the king could be controlled or coerced, then he would be no longer sovereign, for whoever had the power to coerce or control him would be in fact the sovereign ; but his councillors being responsible with their lives and fortunes, are put under the necessity of giving good and just counsel. Judge Bracton says, " that the king does no wrong, neither will he amend that wrong either on petition or remonstrance ;” and he decides that “ sufficit ei pro poena, that it is sufficient punishment to him (the king,) that he is to expect God to be an avenger, for he has no superior on earth," which was Bracton's opinion of this maxim. The maladministration of the king cannot be of such mischievous effects to the people as their own anarchy; and in the case of a personal incapacity in the prince to administer the government, such as infancy, lunacy, or any other cause, the three estates of parliament appoint a regent, who governs in his name and by the authority of the incapable prince. When Uzziah was struck with leprosy, so that he was cut off from all society and lived “in a several house,” his eldest son Jotham “ was over the king's house, judging the people of the land,” but did not succeed to the crown till his father's death, (2 Chron. xxvi. 21, 23.) And after Nebuchadnezzar bad been turned into a beast for seven years, when his reason was restored, “ his lords and his councillors sought unto him, and he was established in his kingdom,” (Dan. iv. 36.) The line of succession was not broken, nor the people discharged from their allegiance, on account of the madness of
their prince, and it is the general supposition that the case of Nebuchadnezzar was madness. The confession of Faith of the legal church of Scotland, asserts “ that difference of religion, or even infidelity, does not take away the right of a king to his crown.”
The king's prerogatives are of three kinds, such as regard his royal character, his royal authority, and his royal income or revenue. The term royal dignity implies, not only those powers and emoluments which he possesses jure coronæ, but likewise other attributes of a transcendent nature, which elevate him above all other men, so that he has no superior upon earth. Some of these prerogatives, especially those that relate to justice and peace, are so essential to sovereignty that they are for ever inherent in the crown, and are equally inseparable from it as the sun-beams from the sun.
And every British king, as he is Debitor justitiæ to his people, so is he in conscience, obliged to defend and maintain all the rights of the crown in possession, and to endeavour the recovery of those, of which the crown may have been stript. On the other side, it is equally his duty to protect the just liberties of his subjects, according to the golden rule of the pious Charles I. that “ The king's prerogative is to defend the people's liberties, and the people's liberties to strengthen the king's prerogative."
As sovereign, he is “the Lord's anointed,” “the minister of God," and as such, inferior to no man, dependent on no man, and accountable to no man on earth, as the laws fully recognise : the crown belongs to him alone, without any partners, and is under no subjection to any one. The statute of 16th Rich. II. c. 25, asserts “ that the crown of England hath been so free at all times, that it hath been in no earthly subjection, but immediately subject to God, in all things touching the regality of the same crown, and to none other ;"_" whereas by sundry divers old authentie histories and chronicles, it is manifestly declared and expressed that this realm of England, is an empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one supreme head and king, having the dignity and royal estate of the imperial crown of the same :” 24th Hen. VIII. also 1 Eliz., then surely, to neither a foreign nor domestic tribunal ; for if the pope, as he formerly claimed, had any supremacy, then the king would not be "supreme," and so there would be an end of British independence, equally as if a domestic tribunal could try, or coerce him, which would immediately put an end to the government. “Such,” says an excellent writer, * was the effect of the mock trial of king Charles I. That unhappy prince, firmly, consistently, and constitutionally denied the authority of the court that condemned him. But in vain did he plead his own rights and the rights of bis people, before a tribunal erected by domestic violence, which, trampling upon all laws, human and Divine, completely overturned the constitution. If, indeed, the king invade the rights of the subject, either by private
injuries, or public oppressions, the law has provided a remedy in both
Should any person, for instance, have any just demand on the king, in point of property, he must petition him in his court of Chancery, where his lord chancellor will administer right as a matter of grace, though not upon compulsion. So likewise in cases of ordinary public oppression, as, politically speaking, he can do no wrong, impeachments and indictments will lie against those evil councillors and wicked ministers, without whose bad advice and criminal assistance he could not misuse his power, or act in contradiction to the known laws of the land."
Another political attribute of the king is his absolute perfection. The ancient and fundamental maxim, “ that the king can do no wrong," does not mean that he is not subject to the same passions and infirmities as other men ; but that the constitution has prescribed no mode by which he can be personally amenable for any wrong that he may actually commit. And, in fact, the inviolability of the king is essentially necessary, not for his own private gratification, as the ignorant are too apt to suppose, but for the preservation of the liberty of his subjects. The king, like the sun, shines not so much to exhibit his own splendour, as to animate all around him. He is the centre of attraction, around which the different bodies in the political system revolve, and by whose influence they are preserved in their proper places and order. The king is not capable, politically, of even thinking wrong. For should he make any grant, for instance, contrary to reason, or prejudicial to the state, or to any individual, the law will not impute any blame to him, but suppose that he was misled and ill advised, and thereupon such grant is rendered void. The two houses of parliament, however, have a constitutional right of remonstrating and complaining to the king, even of those acts of royalty which are properly his own. This is often done in canvassing the messages to each house, signed by the king, and in deliberating on his speeches from the throne. Yet to preserve decency and the freedom of debate, the members usually consider these speeches and messages, as the composition of the ministers of state, and therefore have always thought themselves at liberty to examine any proposition in them with freedom. This privilege, however, of examining the personal acts of the sovereign, belongs exclusively to the two houses of parliament, and is even there to be exercised with all due respect.
In further pursuance of this principle, the law also determines that in the king there can be no negligence, and therefore no delay will bar his right: for the law intends that the king is always busied for the public good, and therefore has not leisure to assert his right within the time limited to subjects. In the king also there can be no stain or corruption of blood; for if the heir to the crown were attained of treason or felony, and afterwards the crown should descend to him, this would ipso faclo, purge
the altainder. Neither can the king in judgment of law, as king, ever be a minor or under age ; and, therefore, his royal grants and assents to acts of parliament are good, though he has not in his natural capacity attained the legal age of twenty-one. The very necessity of appointing a protector, guardian, or regent, is sufficient to demonstrate the truth of that maxim of common law, that there is no minority in the king : and therefore that he lath no legal guardian.
Perpetuity is another kingly attribute. The king never dies. Because on the natural death of the sovereign the crown descends to his heir, without any interregnum or interval whatever, who becomes immediately the overeign : and the source and fountain of all political power, throughout the kingdom, as all magistrates, and men in authority, derive their power, privileges, and authority from him. In the exercise of his royal prerogatives, the king is absolute and irresistible, and accountable to no man; nevertheless, his advisers may be called to a severe account for their bad advice. In his intercourse with other nations, his public acts are the acts of the whole community, he being the head and chief of the nation ; whatever is done without his concurrence and authority, being mere private acts, are of no authority. He alone can empower and send ambassadors, who represent
and are entitled to the same courtesy and respect as himself.
He alone can make treaties, leagues, and alliances with foreign powers, and these are binding on the whole nation ; his ministers, by whose advice and instrumentality he makes those treaties, being an. swerable for their evil counsel. The whole power of the sword is in the king alone, he alone declares war, and makes peace; his advisers being still answerable for their advice.
At home his prerogative is exercised, in allowing or rejecting all acts of parliament which he considers proper or improper to be passed into a law. It is incorrect to say that the king has only a negative voice, all the negatives in the world could never make an affirmative ; it is true be seldom exercises his negative, but he always exercises an affirmative, when he consents to enact what his councillors in parliament advise him to make a law. Notwithstanding the many and important concessions of the crown to parliament, it has never conceded the power of the sword, which is wholly lodged in the king: he is generalissimo of all the naval and military array of the kingdom, and by his prerogative he raises and regulates the fleets and armies. The danger of trusting the power of the sword in the hands of parliament, was exemplified in the reign of the first Charles, and to remedy this, and annex it irrevocably to the crown, the statute 13 Ch. II. was enacted, which declares that “ Forasmuch as within all his majesty's realms and dominions, the sole, supreme government, command and disposition of the militia, and of all forces by sea and land, and of all forts and places of strength, is, and by the laws of England ever