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fubfisting of the present illustrious race of Princes, who born and educated in this country would glory in the name of Briton. It may be asked, What probability is there that such an event should ever take place? I answer, the probability is not so distant or ideal as may be generally imagined, considering the great increase of the Royal Family since the accession of his present Majesty; for were the marriage of the Prince of Wales to take place, and were daughters only to arise from such marriage, according to the present law of fucceflion the eldest daughter of his Royal Highness, in whatever part
part of the world she might be settled, or to what Prince or private subject foever she might be united, without an express act of exclusion, would become Queen of England. It is easy to imagine a variety of similar cases, by which the imperial Crown of these realms might be transmitted from family to family, as private estates are feen to do every day under the operation of the fame general law of inheritance. In order to establish an effectual remedy for this great political defect in our constitution, I would humbly propose a revival of the wife and falutary Act of Henry IV. a new Act of Settlement, limiting the fucceflion of the Crowns of Great Britain and Ireland to the heirs male of his Majesty now reigning; and this must be allowed to be a juncture peculiarly favourable to such limitation, as it is not in any degree probable that the Princesses of
the Royal House now living can receive any
in. jury from it; and he must be a very scrupulous politician indeed who should found an objection against a measure fo beneficial, upon the loss which
be eventually fustained in consequence of it by persons yet unborn. Indeed, my recollection does not suggest to me any objections which have even a colour of plausibility; but as weak arguments are entitled to fome degree of regard, when more forcible ones are not to be found, it may perhaps be worth while to bestow a moment's attention upon these that follow, which are the best I am able to frame in this case.
Ist, It may be said, that as the monarchy has subsisted so long, and flourished so greatly under the present form, it would be rash and unadvisable to make important innovations upon speculative considerations; at least, as there is no immediate prospect of danger, there can be no immediate necesity for alteration. In answer to this vague and general objection I do not hesitate to acknowledge, that the monarchy has long subfifted and flourished, notwithstanding that great defect in its constitution which I have pointed out; but what then? Are we entitled to infer from this acknowledgment that the defect in question has been productive of no inconvenience to the State? far from it. We know that the long and bloody contests between the two great rival Houses
of York and Lancaster originated from this source. We know that since the termination of those fatal divisions, we have at various times, and in divers instances, been exposed to the most imminent danger by an absurd attachment to the fame antiquated and impolitic maxim. We know that by an obstinate adherence to it, the Crown may, in the space of a very
be transferred from the present Royal Family into the possession of a Prince who may be an utter stranger to our laws, language and constitution, in which case the native Princes of the House of Brunswick would no doubt become the objects of his perpetual jealousy, hatred and persecution; and these surely are sufficient grounds for adopting a regulation, which appears equally favourable to the grandeur of the monarch, and the felicity of the people. “ But “ there is no immediate danger, therefore no im“ pediate necessity.” What! are we to wait till the danger becomes imminent, and perhaps irrefistible, before we attempt to apply the remedy? Does the physician delay the application of the medicine till the very moment that he expects the return of the paroxysm? In political as in private life the feelings cannot be set in opposition to the understanding, without experiencing a very sensible inconvenience; if, according to the dilatory maxims of these cautious politicians, we were to abstain from applying a remedy till the danger became near and pressing, and a bill of exclusion, or
some measure equally violent, was then to be proposed, it is evident that the feelings of the people would be powerfully interested in favour of the particular individual against whom that particular measure should be directed ; and it would certainly be regarded as a species of personal injustice, to which the most important confiderations relative to the public welfare would learcely be thought to give a sufficient fanction.
But, 2dly, It may possibly be objected by fome, that the perpetuation of the royal dignity in the same family must have a tendency to impress upon the minds of the people a superftitious awe and veneration for the person of the monarch, and ultimately to revive and fofter the long exploded notions of indefeasible right, paflive obedience, non-resistance, and that long train of absurdities which seems naturally to flow from the idea fo readily embraced by the vulgar, that the person of the chief magistrate is in some peculiar sense sacred and inviolable. I answer, that though I am disposed to pay every degree of respect to an objection which appears to arife from a jealous attachment to the cause of liberty, this apprehension feems to me fo very far fetched and fanciful, that it can scarcely be deemed entitled to a serious answer. Would the objector really be willing to incur all the inconveniencies so obviously resulting from a transfer of the Crown to a new and foreign family, for the possible advantage of fortifying the minds of the people against Tory prejudices? If so, he is a bold speculatist indeed. But what probability, or possibility I might say, is there, that arbitrary principles can ever become prevalent, whilst this kingdom con. tinues under the government of a race of Princes who must necessarily found their authority upon the basis of civil and religious liberty? The Revolution is an event which can never be forgotten in the annals of English history; and as long as the memory of it is preserved, so long must it be felt and acknowledged, that the genius of our constitution is irreconcilably at variance with the spirit of despotism. It is well known to be an established maxim of our Government, that the King can do no wrong; and a wiser maxim no Government ever adopted. Now, arguing upon the principles which an over-anxious caution might suggest, how easy would it be pompously to declaim against the political abfurdity and dangerous tendency of this maxim! yet we see that it is regarded as a mere political fiction, that no inconvenience in fact results from it; but on the contrary, that it is productive of very signal advantages. So if an uninterrupted succession of princes of the present illustrious family were to fill the British throne for centuries to come, there is no room to apprehend that the doctrine of an indefeasible hereditary right would receive the least countenance from it. Public utility would