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being born under that establishment which was built upon this foundation, and obliged by every tie, religious as well as civil, to maintain it.

But, while we rest this fundamental transaction, in point of authority, upon grounds the least liable to cavil, we are bound both in justice and gratitude to add, that it was conducted with a temper and moderation which naturally arose from its equity; that, however it might in some respects go beyond the letter of our ancient laws, (the reason of which will more fully appear hereafter 2,) it was agreeable to the spirit of our constituțion, and the rights of human nature; and that though in other points (owing to the peculiar circumstances of things and persons) it was not altogether so perfect as might have been wished, yet from thence a new æra commenced, in which the bounds of prerogative and liberty have been better defined, the principles of government more thoroughly examined and understood, and the rights of the subject more explicitly guarded by legal provisions, than in any other period of the English history. In particular it is worthy observation that the convention, in this [213] their judgment, avoided with great wisdom the wild extremes into which the visionary theories of some zealous republicans would have led them. They held that this misconduct of king James amounted to an endeavour to 'subvert the constitution ; and not to an actual subversion, or total dissolution, of the government, according to the principles of Mr. Lockea; which would have reduced the society almost to a state of nature ; would have levelled all distinctions of honor, rank, offices, and property ; would have annihilated the sovereign power, and in consequence have repealed all positive laws; and would have left the people at liberty to have erected a new system of state upon a new foundation of polity. They therefore very prudently voted it to amount to no more than an abdication of the government, and a consequent vacancy of the throne ; whereby the government was allowed to subsist, though the executive magistrate was z See chap. 7.

a on Goy. p. 2. c. 19.

gone, and the kingly office to remain, though king James was no longer king b. And thus the constitution was kept entire; which upon every sound principle of government must otherwise have fallen to pieces, had so principal and constituent a part as the royal authority been abolished, or even suspended.

This single postulatum, the vacancy of the throne, being once established, the rest that was then done followed almost of course. For, if the throne be at any time vacant ; (which may happen by other means besides that of abdication; as if all the blood royal should fail, without any successor appointed by parliament ;) if, I say, a vacancy by any means whatsoever should happen, the right of disposing of this vacancy seems naturally to result to the lords and commons, the trustees and representatives of the nation (4). For there are no other hands in which it can so properly be intrusted; and there is a necessity of its being intrusted somewhere, else the whole frame of government must be dissolved and perish. The lords and commons having therefore determined this main fundamental article, that there was a vacancy of the throne, they

proceeded to fill up that vacancy in such manner [214] as they judged the most proper. And this was

• done by their declaration of 12 February 1688°, in the following manner : “ that William and Mary, prince and · “princess of Orange, be, and be declared king and queen, to “hold the crown and royal dignity during their lives, « and the life of the survivor of them; and that the sole and * full exercise of the regal power be only in, and executed

b Law of forfeit, 118, 119.

c Com. Journ. 12 Feb. 1688.

(4) The preamble to the bill of rights expressly declares, that “the “ lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, assembled at Westminoster lawfully, fully and freely represent all the estates of the people of “this realm.” The lords are not less the trustees and guardians of their country, than the members of the house of commons. It was justly said, when the royal prerogatives were suspended during his majesty's illness, “ that the two houses of parliament were the organs “ by which the people expressed their will."

« by, the said prince of Orange, in the names of the said “ prince and princess, during their joint lives : and after their “ deceases the said crown and royal dignity to be to the heirs “ of the body of the said princess; and for default of such “ issue to the princess Anne of Denmark and the heirs of

her body; and for default of such issue to the heirs of the “ body of the said prince of Orange.”

PERHAPS, upon the principles before established, the con. vention might (if they pleased) have vested the regal dignity in a family entirely new, and strangers to the royal blood : but they were too well acquainted with the benefits of hereditary succession, and the influence which it has by custom over the minds of the people, to depart any farther from the ancient line than temporary necessity and self-preservation required. They therefore settled the crown, first on king William and queen Mary, king James's eldest daughter, for their joint lives : then on the survivor of them; and then on the issue of queen Mary : upon failure of such issue, it was limited to the princess Anne, king James's second daughter, and her issue; and lastly, on failure of that to the issue of king William, who was the grandson of Charles the first, and nephew as well as son-in-law of king James the second, being the son of Mary his eldest sister. This settlement included all the protestant posterity of king Charles I, except such other issue as king James might at any time have, which was totally omitted, through fear of a popish succession. And this order of succession took effect accordingly.

These three princes therefore, king William, queen Mary, and queen Anne, did not take the crown by hereditary right or descent, but by way of donation or purchase as the lawyers call it; by which they mean any method of [215] acquiring an estate otherwise than by descent. The new settlement did not merely consist in excluding king James, and the person pretended to be prince of Wales, and then suffering the crown to descend in the old hereditary channel: for the usual course of descent was in some instances

VOL. I. 37

broken through ; and yet the convention still kept it in their eye, and paid a great, though not total, regard to it. Let us see how the succession would have stood, if no abdication had happened, and king James had left no other issue than his two daughters queen Mary and queen Anne. It would have stood thus : queen Mary and her issue ; queen Anne and her issue ; king William and his issue. But we may remember, that queen Mary was only nominally queen, jointly with her husband king William, who alone had the regal power; and king William was personally preferred to queen Anne, though his issue was postponed to hers. Clearly therefore these princes were successively in possession of the crown by a title different from the usual course of descent.

It was towards the end of king William's reign, when all hopes of any surviving issue from any of these princes died with the duke of Gloucester, that the king and parliament thought it necessary again to exert their power of limiting and appointing the succession, in order to prevent another vacancy of the throne : which must have ensued upon their deaths, as no farther provision was made at the revolution, than for the issue of queen Mary, queen Anne, and king William, The parliament had previously by the statute of 1 W. & M. st. 2. c. 2. enacted, that every person who should be reconciled to, or hold communion with, the see of Rome, should profess the popish religion, or should marry a papist, should be excluded and for ever incapable to inherit, possess, or enjoy the crown; and that in such case the people should be absolved from their allegiance, and the crown should descend to such persons, being protestants, as would have inherited the same, in case the person so reconciled, holding communion, professing, or marrying, were naturally dead.

To act therefore consistently with themselves, and [216] at the same time pay as much regard to the old here

ditary line as their former resolutions would admit, they turned their eyes on the princess Sophia, electress and dutchess dowager of Hanover, the most accomplished princess

of her agec. For, upon the impending extinction of the protestant posterity of Charles the first, the old law of regal descent directed them to recur to the descendants of James the first; and the princess Sophia, being the youngest daughter of Elizabeth queen of Bohemia, who was the daughter of James the first, was the nearest of the ancient blood royal, who was not incapacitated by professing the popish religion. On her therefore, and the heirs of her body, being protestants, the remainder of the crown, expectant on the death of king William and queen Anne without issue, was settled by statute 12 and 13 W. III. c. 2. And at the same time it was enacted, that whosoever should hereafter come to the possession of the crown should join in the communion of the church of England as by law established.

This is the last limitation of the crown that has been made by parliament: and these several actual limitations, from the time of Henry IV. to the present, do clearly prove the power of the king and parliament to new-model or alter the succession. And indeed it is now again made highly penal to dispute it : for by the statute 6 Ann. c. 7. it is enacted, that if any person maliciously, advisedly, and directly, shall maintain, by writing or printing, that the kings of this realm with the authority of parliament are not able to make laws to bind the crown and the descent thereof, he shall be guilty of high treason; or if he maintains the same by only preaching, teaching, or advised speaking, he shall incur the penalties of a praemunire.

The princess Sophia dying before queen Anne, the inherit. ance thus limited descended on her son and heir king George the first; and, having on the death of the queen taken effect in his person, from him it descended to his late majesty king George the second ; and from him to his grandson and heir, our present gracious sovereign, king George the third.

Hence it is easy to collect, that the title to the crown is

e Sandfori in his genealogical history, pube lished A. D. 1677, speaking (page 535) of the prineesses Elizabeth, Louisa, and Sophia, daughters of the queen of Bohemia, says, the

first was reputed the most learned, the second the greatest artist, and the last one of the most accomplished ladies in Europes

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