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most extensive philanthropy, of great learning, and of undoubted capacity; but who, inflamed with a romantic and impracticable idea of Liberty, were eagerly aiming to grasp a fleeting shadow, while they were in actual possession of the subftance.
The grand enquiry, in short, is this : Does that renowned constitution of government under which we live, or does it not, secure to us the full and permanent enjoyment of those rights which we may justly claim in a state of civil fociety? Dr. Price, without hesitation, will answer in the negative; “for the “ persons to whom the trust of government is com“ mitted are chosen for long terms; they are chosen " by a part of the people only; they are subject to
no control from their constituents; and there is
an higher will, on which even these mock repre“ fentatives depend: fo that the very idea of
Liberty is lost, and it is an abuse of language to “ retain the term.” Let Dr. Price, however, de . claim as long and as loudly as he pleafes, it still remains an incontestible fact, that from the æra of the Revolution, when the key-stone was put to this “ Arch of Empire,” Lberty, both civil and religious, has been enjoyed by the inhabitants of these kingdoms, in a degree far fuperior to any thing known, or even imagined, in any former age or country. Under this government no facrifice has been made, in any instance, of our fundamental rights; but, on the contrary, since that period they have re. ceived several very fignal and important confirmations; nor do I discern the most distant fymptom of danger at present. If I chose to oppofe fpeculation to speculation, I would say, that the term of delegation seems to be a well-chosen medium; it is neither so long as to tempt the representative body to forget its dependence on their constituents; nor so short as, by frequent re-elections, to involve the kingdom in a perpetual scene of tumult and discord. I would say, that if the representative body is chosen by a part of the nation only, that part is sufficiently numerous to secure an insen, parable union of interests between the representa tives and the people at large, which is the only real use of representation. I would say, if the representatives, when chosen, were subject to no control from their constituents, that such entire freedom from control was absolutely necef. sary to give dignity and efficiency to their proceedings; and that a body so chofen, was incomparably better qualified to judge what meafures would most conduce to the public interests than the constituents themselves, and would be influenced by the very fame motives to advance thofe interests to the utmost of their power; and that an appeal to the people upon every political question that might arise, would be productive of every species of faction, anarchy, and confusion. And as to the higher will, on which the representative body is supposed to depend,' if it refers to the in
ceived fluence less
fluence of the executive magistrate, I should not scruple to say, that, according to that theory of hu. man nature on which every theory of Government ought to be founded, it seems to me absolutely essential to the firm and permanent duration of the constitutional authority of that magistrate, that he should poffefs a certain degree of influence over the legislative body. The constitution has indeed wisely given him a negative upon their resolutions; but whoever imagines, that, by virtue of that branch of his prerogative alone, he would be able to withstand the continual efforts by which a natural love of power would infallibly and insensibly incite that formidable body to assail or undermine his authority, is but little acquainted with either theory or fact. Interest must be opposed to interest ; and the sole disposal of the honours and emoluments of the state, for this amongst other wise and important reasons, is placed in the hands of the supreme magistrate, that he may
be enabled to check the irregular or exorbitant ambition of the legislative assemblies, by opposing the private interest of the individuals who compose it, to the public and collective interest of the whole body: and though it is impossible in this, as in a thousand other cases, to draw a precise line, and to say, with respect to the regal influence, thus far it ought to extend, and no farther; yet nothing can be more obvious, than that a total abolition of that influence would amount to nothing
less than an absolute subversion of the conftitution.
I hope, however, I am in no danger of being misunderstood. I am far from asserting, that the constitution has arrived at its ultimate point of perfection; but I own, I have an inveterate dislike to improvements merely speculative and theoretical. If a grievance can be proved to exist, let the most effectual remedy which human wisdom and prudence can suggest be applied to it;-and in this manner the constitution has, in fact, been gradually and insensibly formed; but . of apprehensions and surmises, there is no end. We all know what the constitution is at present, and we all feel the beneficial effects resulting from it; but if innovations are continually made, in consequence of the specious speculations of bold projectors, who can say what it may at length be?
The plans a&ually proposed by some men of this class for strengthening and confirming what they are pleased to dignify with the name of Liberty, and the bulwarks and barriers which they would erect for her defence, seem to me to the full as romantic and visionary as the wall of brass with which it is pretended that. Friar Bacon, by his magical power, proposed to guard the coasts of Britain. For my part, I own, I am better satisfied with those wooden walls by which we are at prefent defended, and with those fecurities, however