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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Use to escape the animadversion of men


for what he was before. As the sentence of a judge does not make a man a murderer or thief, only declares him convict of these crimes, and punishable for them; it is their own committing them that makes him criminal: and, as before the sentence, having certain knowledge of the fact, we might disown the man's innocency or honesty; so a ruler's acts of tyranny and usurpation make him a tyrant and usurper, and give ground to disown his just and legal authority; which he can have no more than a murderer or thief can have innocency or honesty. (3.) We find also examples of their disowning kings undeposed; as king Baliol was disowned with his whole race, for attempting to enslave the kingdom's liberties to foreign power. And if this may be done for such an attempt, as the greatest court parasites, and sycophants consent; what then shall be done for such as attempt to subject the people to domestic or intestine slavery? shall we refuse to be slaves to one without, and be, and own ourselves contented slaves to one within the kingdom? It is known also that king James the I. his authority was refused by his subjects in France, so long as he was a prisoner to the English there, though he charged them upon their allegiance, not to fight against the party who had his person prisoner: they answered, They owned no prisoner for their king, nor owned no allegiance to a prisoner. Hence princes may learn, though people submit to their government; yet their resignation of themselves to their obedience is not so full, as that they are obliged to own allegiance to them, when either morally or physically they are incapacitate to exercise authority over them. They that cannot rule themselves cannot be owned as rulers over a people.

2. Neither hath there been any nation, but what at one time or other hath furnished examples of this nature. The English history gives account, how some of their kings have been dealt with by their subjects, for impieties against the law and light of nature, and encroachments upon the laws of the land. Vortigern was dethroned for incestuously marrying his own sister. Neither did ever blasphemies, adulteries, murders, plotting against the lives of innocents, and taking them away by poison or razor, use to escape the animadversion of men, before they were priest-ridden unto a belief that princes persons were sacred. And if men had that generosity now this man that now reigns might expect some such animadversion. And we find also king Edward, and Richard the II. were deposed, for usurpation upon laws and liberties, in doing whereof the people avowed, They would not suffer the laws of England to be changed.

Surely the people of England must now be far degenerate, who having such laws transmitted to them from their worthy ancestors, and they themselves being born to the possession of them without a change, do now suffer them to be so encroached upon, and mancipate themselves, and leave their children vassals to popery, and slaves to tyranny.

3. The Dutch also, who have the best way of guiding of kings of any that ever had to do with them (witness their having so many of them in chains, now in Batavia in the East Indies) are not wanting for their part to furnish us with examples. When the king of Spain would not condescend to govern them according to their ancient laws, and rule for the good of the people, they declared him to be fallen from the seigniory of the Netherlands, and so erected themselves into a flourishing common-wealth. It will not be amiss to transcribe some of the words of the edict of the states general to this purpose. It is well known, (say they) 'That a prince and lord of a country is ordained, by God, to be sovereign and head over his subjects, to preserve and defend them from all injuries, force, and violence; and that if the prince therefore faileth therein, and instead of preserving his subjects, doth outrage and oppress them, depriveth them of their privileges and ancient customs, commandeth them, and will be served of them as slaves; they are no longer bound to respect him as their sovereign lord, but to esteem of him as a tyrant, neither are they bound to acknowledge him as their prince, but may abandon him, &c.' And with this agrees the answer William, prince of Orange, to the edict of proscription, published against him by Philip the II. There is, says he, 'A reciprocal bond betwixt the lord and his vassal; so that if the lord break the oath, which he hath made unto his vassal, the vassal is discharged of the oath made unto his lord.' This was the very argument of the poor suffering people of Scotland, whereupon they disowned the authority of Charles the II.


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