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vested with coercive authority under the crown, could bear the odium of carrying into effect. There are principles of natural justice, which (while municipal laws, as the work of human contrivers, are subject to natural decrepitude and death,) are immutable and everlasting, as written by the finger of God, upon the tablet of every man's heart. To this code, a last appeal lies, as antecedent to all positive laws, and deriving authority from the assent of all mankind; or acquiring from this assent, the name and efficacy of law, according to the maxim; “omni autem in re, consensio omnium gentium, lex naturæ putanda est.” To its maxims the framers of all laws are obliged to render homage, in squaring their institutions according to its principles, or justifying them by its decisions, without which they would be calculated, as merely arbitrary or capricious dicta, to fall into disuse.* I shall collect the suffrages of those writers who are the great oracles of sively, that the right of deposing princes emanated, for which some ambitious Popes have become responsible, from abusing it to promote their secular views; nothing can be more certain, than that they recognised the temporal supremacy of kings. Thus, in a canon of Innocent IIJ. it is observed on the supremacy; Decret. Lib. IV. tit. xvii. can. 13. “ Insuper quum rex superiorem in temporalibus minime recognoscat.” &c. In another of the same Pope, on Fiefs ; Decret. II. i. 17. “ Non enim intendimus judicare de Feudo, cujus ad ipsum (Regem Francorum] spectat judicium,” &c. Again, Alexander III. of possessions; Decret. IV. xvii. 7. “ Nos attendentes, qnod ad regem pertinet, non ad Ecclesiam, de talibus possessionibus judicare, ne vedeamur juri Regis Anglorum detrahere, qui ipsorum judicium ad se adserit pertinere,” &c. .
* Beccar. dei delit. e delle pene. § ii. p. 13. “ Non è da sperarsi alcun vantagio durevole dalla politica morale, s'ella non sia fondata su i sentimenti indelibili dell'uomo. Qualunque legge devii da questi, incontrerà sempre una resistenza contraria, che vince alla fine ; in quella maniera che una forza law, as well natural as positive : with one voice, they proclaim, that this galling bondage cannot be perpetuated, without an infraction of every fundamental principle of law, and social plea of nature.
By the learned delineator of Natural Religion the following principles are assumed; as uncontrovertibly true :*
1“ The end of society is the common welfare and good of the people associated. 2. A society into which men enter for this end, supposes some rules and laws, according to which they agree all to be governed, with a power of altering or adding to them as occasion shall require.
3. These laws and determinations must be such as are not inconsistent with natural justice.”. The ingenious investigator of the system of Natural Law, inculcates the same principles in his golden maxim ; t
“Le salut du peuple est la suprème loi.” And one of the most ardent of his admirers, and ablest disciples, gives this comment upon the same text. I
“Le leggi sono le condizioni, colle quali uomini indipendenti ed isolati si unirono in società, stanci di vivere in un continuo stato di guerra, e di godere una libertà resa inutile dall'incertezza de conservarla"; essi ne sacrificarono una parte per goderne il restante con sicureza e tranquillità. La somma di tutte queste porzioni di libertà, sacrificati al bene di ciascheduno, forma la sovranità di una nazione: ed il Sovrano è il legitimo depositario ed amministratore di quelle.” Nor do the ablest writers on National Law inculcate a different doctrine upon this subject. benchè minima, che sia continuamente applicata, vince qualunque violento moto communicato ad un corpo.”
* Woolast. Relig. of Nat. Delin. VII. ï. p. 145. .
"L'Etat est obligé de defendre et de conserver tous ses membres; et le Prince doit la même assistance à ses sujets. S'ils refusent ou négligent de secourir un peuple qui se trouve dans un danger imminent, ce peuple abandonné devient absolument le mâitre de pourvoir à sa sureté et à son salut, de la manière qui lui conviendra le mieux, sans aucun égard pour ceux qui lui ont manqué les premiers.” The compilers of the Roman Civil Law have not often manifested an attachment to the same principles; the following passage, which has imbibed some tincture of the prejudices of their education is placed by them, near the opening of the Insti:
“ Libertas quidem....est naturalis facultas ejus, quod cuique facere libet, nisi si quid vi aut jure prohibetur.” The last place may be assigned to a writer of the highest authority on our Municipal Law;t whose language, when the unlucky interposition of the penal statutes does not pervert it from its purpose, is consonant to the dictates of nature and reason.
“The absolute rights of man, considered as a free agent, endowed with discernment to know good from evil, and with power of choosing those measures which appear to him to be most desirable, are usually summed up in one general appellation, and denominated the natural liberty of mankind. This natural liberty consists properly in a power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, unless by the law of nature; being a right inherent in us by birth, and one of the gifts of God to man at his creation, when he endued him with the faculty of free-will. But every man, when he enters into society, gives up a part of his natural liberty, as the price of so valuable a purchase; and, in consideration of receiving the advantages of mutual commerce,
* Instit. Lib. I. tit. iii. 1.
+ Blackst. Comment, B. I. ch. i.
obliges himself to conform to those laws, which the community has thought proper to establish. .... Political therefore, or civil, liberty, which is that of a member of society, is no other than natural liberty so far restrained by human laws(and no farther) as is necessary and expedient for the general advantage of the public.”
As the subject of allegiance and of pains and penalties is intimately connected with this discussion; I shall need no apology for subjoining the following authorities : * for eloquence cannot paint in language more true and touching, the grievances of that injured class which I advocate, than is contained in the following simple assertion of the common rights; to which nature entitles the meanest subject, and pleads even for the culprit under sentence of the law.
“Natural allegiance is such as is due from all men born within the king's dominions immediately upon their birth, they are under the king's protection; at a time too, when (during their infancy) they are incapable of protecting themselves. Natural allegiance is therefore a debt of gratitude; which cannot be forfeited, cancelled, or altered, by any change of time, place, or circumstance, nor by any thing but the united concurrence of the legislature.”
"Fu dunque la necessità , che costrinse gli uomini a ceder parte della propria libertà, egli è dunque certo, che ciasiuno non ne vuol mettere nel pubblico deposito, che la minima porzione possibile, quella sola che basti ad indurre gli altri a difenderlo. L'aggregato di queste minime porzioni possibili forma il diritto di punire. Tutto il diritto di più è abuso, e non giustizia ; è fatto, non già diritto. Le pene che oltrepassano la necessità di conservare il diposito della salute pubblica, sono inginste di lor natura, e tanto più giuste sono le pene, quanta più sacra ed inviolabile è la sicurezza, e maggiore la libertà, che il sovrano conserva ai sudditi."
* Blackst, ibid. x, Beccar. ibid. p. 15.
Let a retrospect be now taken of the authorities, which I have here accumulated from different sources. After enjoying the cheerful and refreshing effects of these splendid passages, which breathe the purest spirit of liberty; let us again survey the varied means of terror, coercion, and infliction, which our penal legislators have tortured their ingenuity to contrive for suffering humanity;—from the damps and gloom of the dungeon, to all the sickening horrors in which the place of execution is arrayed. When we have again considered the pledge of fealty and attachment, which the victim over whose head they are suspended in terror, offers to the government, by which he is proscribed ; and claims no boon but that the instrument which must disgrace, though it cannot punish him, may be withdrawn: we shall be then qualified to judge of the merits of a queson which ignorance, prejudice, and bigotry deem themselves alone qualified to decide.
But it will be objected, and on the authority of the preceding passages, that in the very essence of law is implied a surrender of our natural right; and from the structure of our constitution as essentially protestant, by concession to the claims of the R. Catholics, the bulwarks by which it has been fenced for ages, must be betrayed into the hands of those, who are its enemies, upon principles which must be insurmountable, as founded in religious prejudice. . To take the most extensive view of the question, in this light, the danger with which it may be thought the Constitution is menaced may be considered, in regard to the impression likely to be made upon it, from an external and foreign source, and from an internal or domestic. Objections present themselves in both quarters; as there is