Chapter 13: The little Republics in Europe

We shall next consider:

The Origin of Republics

In some countries, the provinces far from the seat of government sometimes became independent.

The Manner Of Voting

When there are 100 votes and three candidates, it is possible that the person who is most odious may be elected.

  • This must be still more the case when a criminal is brought before this assembly.
  • To prevent this, in some of these republics they always bring the question to a simple state.
  • If there are three candidates, they put a previous vote, by which they exclude one of the candidates.
  • When there is an equality on both sides, nothing can be done.

  • Chapter 14: The Rights of Sovereigns

    We shall now consider:

  • Every attempt to overturn this power is considered as the greatest crime in every nation.
  • There is a great difference between treason in monarchies and treason in republics.
  • It is the interest of monarchies:
  • The laws of monarchy are therefore unfavourable to the assassination of tyrants.
  • In a republic, the definition of a tyrant is quite clear.
  • This man cannot be brought to a court of justice.
  • Therefore, assassination is reckoned just and equitable.
  • The present republican governments in Europe, do not encourage this maxim.
  • According to our present notions, Oliver Cromwell’s assassination is most opprobrious.
  • Having noticed this difference between monarchical and republican governments, we shall next consider the crimes of treason.

  • These were the kinds of treason among the Romans.
  • The crimes accounted treason by the English law are the following.

    1. Killing the king, wishing his death, or providing arms against him, with every attempt of this kind are punished capitally.
      • The gunpowder plot was never executed, yet the conspirators were put to death.
      • Had they intended only the death of some other person, they would not have been executed.
    2. Corrupting the king’s wife or oldest daughter, because these are affronts to the king, and may introduce a spurious offspring to the crown.
      • If it be a younger daughter, the crime is not so great.
    3. Levying a force against the king, aiding his enemies, etc.
    4. Attempting the life of the chancellor or [judge of] assize when sitting in court; at another time it is only felony.
      • Edward I, however, made the mere wounding of them not treason.
    5. Counterfeiting the king’s great or privy seal, which is accounted an usurpation of the government, because by them the acts of government are carried on.
    6. Counterfeiting of the king’s coin, though this should not properly be treason, because it is no attempt on the essence of government.
      • This crime is no more than forgery, and is usually punished as such.

    These were the branches of treason before the reformation.

  • There was some danger then from the Popish party.
  • This law, however proper then, should now be repealed, as there is no more need for it.
  • During the civil war and usurpation of Cromwell, it became a question how far it is lawful to resist the power of government.

  • After the restoration, the court party got the better
  • At the Revolution, the Stewart family were set aside for excellent reasons.
  • By this, the court party was turned out, and began to influence the dispositions of the people.
  • In the reigns of King John and Henry 3rd, England was entirely under the dominion of the Pope.

    Beside these there are other offences called misprisions of treason, and are either positive or negative.

    In the last place there are offences against the king called contempts, which are fourfold.

    1. Contempt of the king’s court or palaces.
      • A riot committed in any of these is a great indignity offered to the sovereign.
      • Riots in courts of justice are also severely punished, because there persons are often provoked, and if the law were not strict they would disturb the court.
    2. Contempt of the king’s prerogative, such as:
      • Disobeying the king when lawfully called,
      • Going out of the kingdom, when in office, without his leave,
      • Refusing to come after a summons under the privy seal,
      • Accepting a pension from a foreign prince without the king’s permission, even in a man of letters.
    3. Contempt of the king’s person and government (of which many are guilty) such as:
      • By saying he is indolent or cowardly
      • By saying he has broken the coronation oath
      • By speaking disrespectfully of his ministers.
        • These are never regarded at present, because the government is so well established that writing and speaking cannot affect it.
    4. Contempt of the king’s title, by:
      • denying it
      • preferring the Pretender’s to it
      • drinking the Pretender’s health
      • refusing the oath of allegiance and abjuration
        • all these subject to imprisonment or fining, but not to the penalties of treason, felony, praemunire, nor outlawry.

    Having considered the offences of the subject against the sovereign, we shall next treat of the crimes which the sovereign may commit against the subject.


    Next: Chapter 15