Page:American History Told by Contemporaries, v2.djvu/408

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380
[1763
English Control

houses are now made liable to be entered and searched at pleasure? Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and in general all the cyder counties, are not surely the several counties which are alluded to in the speech. The spirit of concord hath not gone forth among them, but the spirit of liberty has, and a noble opposition has been given to the wicked instruments of oppression. A nation as sensible as the English, will see that a spirit of concord when they are oppressed, means a tame submission to injury, and that a spirit of liberty ought then to arise, and I am sure ever will, in proportion to the weight of the grievance they feel. Every legal attempt of a contrary tendency to the spirit of concord will be deemed a justifiable resistance, warranted by the spirit of the English constitution.

A despotic minister will always endeavour to dazzle his prince with high-flown ideas of the prerogative and honour of the crown, which the minister will make a parade of firmly maintaining. I wish as much as any man in the kingdom to see the honour of the crown maintained in a manner truly becoming Royalty. . . .

The Stuart line has ever been intoxicated with the slavish doctrines of the absolute, independent, unlimited power of the crown. Some of that line were so weakly advised, as to endeavour to reduce them into practice : but the English nation was too spirited to suffer the least encroachment on the antient liberties of this kingdom. The King of England is only the first magistrate of this country ; but is invested by the law with the whole executive power. He is, however, responsible to his people for the due execution of the royal functions, in the choice of ministers, &c. equal with the meanest of his subjects in his particular duty. The personal character of our present amiable sovereign makes us easy and happy that so great a power is lodged in such hands ; but the favourite has given too just cause for him to escape the general odium. The prerogative of the crown is to exert the constitutional powers entrusted to it in a way not of blind favour and partiality, but of wisdom and judgment. This is the spirit of our constitution. The people too have their prerogative, and I hope the fine words of Dryden will be engraven on our hearts :

Freedom is the English Subject's Prerogative.
John Wilkes, Charles Churchill, and others, editors, The North Briton, from No. I to No. XLVI inclusive (London, 1769), No. XLV, [156a-b] passim