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of the king's convocation. The commons declared, that James having attempted to overturn the constitution of the kingdom by breaking the original contract between the king and people, and having, by the advice of Jesuits and other wicked persons, violated the fundamental laws and withdrawn himself out of the kingdom, had abdicated the government, and that the throne was thereby vacant. This vote, the terms of which, rather than the substance of it, occasioned some debate in the house of peers, was at last passed by a considerable majority.
The most important question remained: how was the government to be settled? A variety of different opinions ultimately resolved into two distinct proposals: either that a regent should be appointed, or the crown settled upon the king's eldest daughter Mary, the princess of Orange, and in case of her issue failing, upon the Princess Anne. The stadtholder, while these matters were in agitation, conducted himself with infinite prudence and good policy. He entered into no intrigues with either of the houses of parliament, but during their whole deliberations preserved a total silence. At length, when it was resolved that the crown should be settled in the way of one of these alternatives, he assembled some of the chief nobility, and announced that, having been invited into the kingdom to restore its liberties, he had now happily effected that purpose; that it behoved not him to interfere in the determinations of the legislature with regard to the settlement of the crown; but that, being informed as to the two alternatives which were proposed, he thought it
his duty to declare that in executing either of these plans he could give no assistance; that he was determined to decline the office of a regent, and that he would rather remain a private person than enjoy a crown which must depend upon the life of another.
The sister princesses themselves seconded these views of the stadtholder; and the principal parties being thus agreed, a bill was proposed and passed by the convention, settling the crown on the prince and princess of Orange-the former to have the sole administration of the government; the princess Anne to succeed after their death; her posterity after those of the princess of Orange, but before those of the prince by any other wife.
To this settlement of the crown the Convention added a declaration, fixing the nature of the constitution with respect to the rights of the subject and the royal prerogative. Of this declaration the following are the most essential articles. The king cannot suspend the laws nor the execution of them without the consent of parliament. He can neither erect an ecclesiastical nor any other tribunal by his own sole act. He cannot levy money without a parliamentary grant, nor beyond the terms for which it shall be granted. It is declared the right of the subjects to petition the crown, for which they can neither be imprisoned nor prosecuted. Protestant subjects may keep such arms for their defence as are allowed by law. No standing army can be kept up in time of peace but by consent of parliament. The elections of members of parliament must be free and uninfluenced, and there must be
a freedom of parliamentary debate. Excessive bails, exorbitant fines, and too severe punishments are prohibited. The juries on trials for high treason must be members of the communities; and to remedy abuses, it is necessary that parliaments be frequently assembled. A new form was published instead of the old oath of supremacy, which declares that no prince, prelate, state, or foreign sovereign, hath, or ought to have, any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, in the kingdom.
In Scotland the revolution was not, as in England, effected by a coalition of the Whigs and Tories. There was an entire separation of these opposite parties. A Convention was summoned at Edinburgh, where the Tories, finding themselves greatly inferior in numbers, withdrew from the essembly, which then proceeded to pass a decisive vote that James, by mal-administration and abuse of power, had forfeited all title to the crown; they therefore made a tender of the royal dignity to the prince and princess of Orange.
Such was the final settlement of the British government at the great era of the revolution of 1688.
ON THE CONSTITUTION OF ENGLAND:-Historical sketch of, up to the Revolution-the Legislative Power-Constitution of the House of Commons-House of Peers-The Executive Power-Powers of the Crown now limited-Habeas Corpus Act-Trial by Jury-Liberty of the Press.
It has been customary for our political writers, in order to give the greater weight to their theories of government, to trace the origin of the British constitution to a most remote period of antiquity. The opinion of Montesquieu is well known, who derives our constitution from the woods of Germany, and finds among those rude nations in their military assemblies the model of the British parliament; but if every assembly of a people is the model of a parliament: I see no reason why we may not derive it as well from the Spartans, the Athenians, or Romans, as from the Germans. It is sufficient measure of antiquity if we can trace our constitution even as far back as the Norman conquest.
The Anglo-Saxon Wittenagemot, as has been observed, contained, indeed, the rude model of a parliament; at least of a great council: for there are no grounds for believing that there was any thing in that assembly approaching to a representation of the people.
William the Conqueror subverted the ancient fabric of the Saxon government; he dismissed
the former occupiers of lands to distribute them among his Normans; and he established at once a system best suited to maintain his own power— the feudal government, till then unknown in Britain. In the continental nations of Europe, the feudal system arose by slow degrees. The authority of the crown was limited by the power of the barons, and the king had scarcely anything more than a nominal superiority over his nobles. It was very different in England: the feudal system was introduced at once, by a monarch whose power was absolute. He totally extinguished the ancient liberties of the people; he divided England into 60,215 military fiefs, all held of the crown, the possessors of which were obliged, under pain of forfeiture, to take up arms and repair to his standard on the first signal. The feudal system in France was only a number of parts, without any reciprocal adherence: in England it was a compound of parts, united by the strongest tieswhere the regal authority, by its immense weight, consolidated the whole into one compact indissoluble body; and from that remarkable difference we may account for the great difference of their constitutions. In France, the several provinces had no principle of union. The people found themselves oppressed by the great feudal lords, and often raised insurrections, and made frequent struggles for freedom; but these struggles, being partial, were of no consequence to the general liberty of the kingdom. In England, again, all found themselves oppressed by the enormous weight of the crown. It was a common grievance, and broke out at times into a violent struggle for