From Godwin's Enquiry concerning Political Justice.
[Continued from page 201.]
LET us proceed to consider the moral effects which the institution of monarchical government is •tleulated to produce upon the inhabitants of the coun∣tries in which it flourishes. And here it must be laid •••wn as a first principle, that monarchy is founded in imp••ture. It is false that kings are entitled to the e••••nee they obtain. They possess no intrinsic supe∣riority over their subjects. The line of distinction that is drawn is the offspring of pretence, an indirect means employed for effecting certain purposes, and not the offspring of truth. It tramples upon the ge∣nuine nature of things, and depends for its support upon this argument, "that, were it not for impositions of a similar nature, mankind would be miserable."
Secondly, it is false that kings can discharge the duties of royalty. They pretend to superintend the affairs of millions, and they are necessarily unacquaint∣ed with these affairs. The senses of kings are con∣structed like those of other men, they can neither see nor hear what is transacted in their absence. They pretend to administer the affairs of millions, and they possess no such supernatural powers as should enable them to act at a distance. They are nothing of what they would persuade us to believe them. The king is often ignorant of that of which half the inhabitants of his dominions are informed. His prerogatives are administered by others, and THE LOWEST CLERK IN OFFICE IS FREQUENTLY TO THIS AND THAT IN∣DIVIDUAL MORE EFFECTUALLY THE SOVEREIGN THAN THE KING HIMSELF. He knows nothing of what is solemnly transacted in his name.
To conduct this imposture with success it is neces∣sary to bring over to its party our eyes and our ears. Page 220Accordingly kings are always exhibited with all the splendour of ornament, attendance and equipage. They live amidst a sumptuousness of expence; and this not merely to gratify their appetites, but as a necessary instrument of policy. The most fatal opinion that could lay hold upon the minds of their subjects is, that kings are but men. Accordingly they are care∣fully withdrawn from the profaneness of vulgar in∣spection; and, when they are exhibited, it is with every artifice that may dazzle our sense and mislead out judgment.
The imposture does not stop with our eyes, but addresses itself to our ears. Hence the inflated stile of regal formality. The NAME OF KING every where o•••des it••lf upon us. It would seem as if every thing in the country, the lands, the houses, the fur∣niture and the inhabitants were his property. Our estates are the king's dominions. Our bodies and minds are his subjects. Our representatives are his parliament. Our courts of law are his deputies. All •••gistrates throughout the realm are the king's of∣ficers. His name occupies the formost place in all statutes and decrees. He is the prosecutor of every criminal. He is "Our Sovereign Lord the King." Were it possible that he should die, "the fountain of our blood, the means by which we live," would be gone: every political function would be suspended. It is therefore one of the fundamental principles of monarchical government that "the king cannot die." Our moral principles accommodate themselves to our veracity: and accordingly the sum of our poli∣tical duties (the most important of all duties) is loy∣alty; to be true and faithful to the king; to honour a man whom it may be we ought to despise: and to obey; that is, to acknowledge no immutable criteri∣on of justice and injustice.