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Burke. It was by the government being
hereditary, that the liberties of the people were endangered. Charles I.
and James II. are instances of this truth; yet neither of them went so
far as to hold the Nation in contempt.

As it is sometimes of advantage to the people of one country to hear
what those of other countries have to say respecting it, it is possible
that the people of France may learn something from Mr. Burke's book, and
that the people of England may also learn something from the answers
it will occasion. When Nations fall out about freedom, a wide field of
debate is opened. The argument commences with the rights of war, without
its evils, and as knowledge is the object contended for, the party that
sustains the defeat obtains the prize.

Mr. Burke talks about what he calls an hereditary crown, as if it
were some production of Nature; or as if, like Time, it had a power to
operate, not only independently, but in spite of man; or as if it were a
thing or a subject universally consented to. Alas! it has none of
those properties, but is the reverse of them all. It is a thing in
imagination, the propriety of which is more than doubted, and the
legality of which in a few years will be denied.

But, to arrange this matter in a clearer view than what general
expression can heads under which (what is called) an hereditary crown,
or more properly speaking, an hereditary succession to the Government of
a Nation, can be considered; which are:

First, The right of a particular Family to establish itself.

Secondly, The right of a Nation to establish a particular Family.

With respect to the first of these heads, that of a Family establishing
itself with hereditary powers on its own authority, and independent of
the consent of a Nation, all men will concur in calling it despotism;
and it would be trespassing on their understanding to attempt to prove
it.

But the second head, that of a Nation establishing a particular Family
with hereditary powers, does not present itself as despotism on the
first reflection; but if men will permit it a second reflection to take
place, and carry that reflection forward but one remove out of their own
persons to that of their offspring, they will then see that hereditary
succession becomes in its consequences the same despotism to others,
which they reprobated for themselves. It operates to preclude the
consent of the succeeding generations; and the preclusion of consent is
despotism. When the person who at any time shall be in possession of
a Government, or those who stand in succession to him, shall say to a
Nation, I hold this power in "contempt" of you, it signifies not on what
authority he pretends to say it. It is no relief, but an aggravation to
a person in slavery, to reflect that he was sold by his parent; and as
that which heightens the criminality of an act cannot be produced to
prove the legality of it, hereditary succession cannot be established as
a legal thing.

In order to arrive at a more perfect decision on this head, it will be
proper to consider the generation which undertakes to establish a Family
with hereditary powers, apart and separate from the generations which
are to follow; and also to consider the character in which the first
generation acts with respect to succeeding generations.

The generation which first selects a person, and puts him at the head of
its Government, either with the title of King, or any other distinction,
acts on its own choice, be it wise or foolish, as a free agent for
itself The person so set up is not hereditary, but selected and
appointed; and the generation who sets him up, does not live under a
hereditary government, but under a government of its own choice and
establishment. Were the generation who sets him up, and the person so
set up, to live for ever, it never could become hereditary succession;
and of consequence hereditary succession can only follow on the death of
the first parties.

As, therefore, hereditary succession is out of the question with respect
to the first generation, we have now to consider the character in which
that generation acts with respect to the commencing generation, and to
all succeeding ones.

It assumes a character, to which it has neither right nor title. It
changes itself from a Legislator to a Testator, and effects to make
its Will, which is to have operation after the demise of the makers, to
bequeath the Government; and it not only attempts to bequeath, but to
establish on the succeeding generation, a new and different form of
Government under which itself lived. Itself, as already observed, lived
not under a hereditary Government but under a Government of its own
choice and establishment; and it now attempts, by virtue of a will and
testament (and which it has not authority to make), to take from the
commencing generation, and all future ones, the rights and free agency
by which itself acted.

But, exclusive of the right which any generation has to act collectively
as a testator, the objects to which it applies itself in this case, are
not within the compass of any law, or of any will or testament.

The rights of men in society, are neither devisable or transferable, nor
annihilable, but are descendable only, and it is not in the power of any
generation to intercept finally, and cut off the descent. If the present
generation, or any other, are disposed to be slaves, it does not lessen
the right of the succeeding generation to be free. Wrongs cannot have
a legal descent. When Mr. Burke attempts to maintain that the English
nation did at the Revolution of 1688, most solemnly renounce and
abdicate their rights for themselves, and for all their posterity for
ever, he speaks a language that merits not reply, and which can
only excite contempt for his prostitute principles, or pity for his
ignorance.

In whatever light hereditary succession, as growing out of the will
and testament of some former generation, presents itself, it is an
absurdity. A cannot make a will to take from B the property of B,
and give it to C; yet this is the manner in which (what is called)
hereditary succession by law operates. A certain former generation made
a will, to take away the rights of the commencing generation, and all
future ones, and convey those rights to a third person, who afterwards
comes forward, and tells them, in Mr. Burke's language, that they have
no rights, that their rights are already bequeathed to him and that
he will govern in contempt of them. From such principles, and such
ignorance, good Lord deliver the world!

But, after all, what is this metaphor called a crown, or rather what
is monarchy? Is it a thing, or is it a name, or is it a fraud? Is it a
"contrivance of human wisdom," or of human craft to obtain money from a
nation under specious pretences? Is it a thing necessary to a nation?
If it is, in what does that necessity consist, what service does it
perform, what is its business, and what are its merits? Does the virtue
consist in the metaphor, or in the man? Doth the goldsmith that makes
the crown, make the virtue also? Doth it operate like Fortunatus's
wishing-cap, or Harlequin's wooden sword? Doth it make a man a conjurer?
In fine, what is it? It appears to be something going much out of
fashion, falling into ridicule, and rejected in some countries, both as
unnecessary and expensive. In America it is considered as an absurdity;
and in France it has so far declined, that the goodness of the man,
and the respect for his personal character, are the only things that
preserve the appearance of its existence.

If government be what Mr. Burke describes it, "a contrivance of human
wisdom" I might ask him, if wisdom was at such a low ebb in England,
that it was become necessary to import it from Holland and from Hanover?
But I will do the country the justice to say, that was not the case; and
even if it was it mistook the cargo. The wisdom of every country, when
properly exerted, is sufficient for all its purposes; and there
could exist no more real occasion in England to have sent for a Dutch
Stadtholder, or a German Elector, than there was in America to have done
a similar thing. If a country does not understand its own affairs,
how is a foreigner to understand them, who knows neither its laws, its
manners, nor its language? If there existed a man so transcendently wise
above all others, that his wisdom was necessary to instruct a nation,
some reason might be offered for monarchy; but when we cast our eyes
about a country, and observe how every part understands its own affairs;
and when we look around the world, and see that of all men in it, the
race of kings are the most insignificant in capacity, our reason cannot
fail to ask us--What are those men kept for?

If there is anything in monarchy which we people of America do not
understand, I wish Mr. Burke would be so kind as to inform us. I see
in America, a government extending over a country ten times as large
as England, and conducted with regularity, for a fortieth part of the
expense which Government costs in England. If I ask a man in America if
he wants a King, he retorts, and asks me if I take him for an idiot?
How is it that this difference happens? are we more or less wise than
others? I see in America the generality of people living in a style of
plenty unknown in monarchical countries; and I see that the principle
of its government, which is that of the equal Rights of Man, is making a
rapid progress in the world.

If monarchy is a useless thing, why is it kept up anywhere? and if a
necessary thing, how can it be dispensed with? That civil government
is necessary, all civilized nations will agree; but civil government is
republican government. All that part of the government of England which
begins with the office of constable, and proceeds through the department
of magistrate, quarter-sessions, and general assize, including trial by
jury, is republican government. Nothing of monarchy appears in any part
of it, except in the name which William the Conqueror imposed upon the
English, that of obliging them to call him "Their Sovereign Lord the
King."

It is easy to conceive that a band of interested men, such as Placemen,
Pensioners, Lords of the bed-chamber, Lords of the kitchen, Lords of
the necessary-house, and the Lord knows what besides, can find as many
reasons for monarchy as their salaries, paid at the expense of the
country, amount to; but if I ask the farmer, the manufacturer, the
merchant, the tradesman, and down through all the occupations of life to
the common labourer, what service monarchy is to him?



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