Of the parliament

  • Gareth Jones


It is highly necessary for preserving the ballance of the constitution, that the executive power should be a branch, though not the whole, of the legislative. The total union of them, we have seen, would be productive of tyranny; the total disjunction of them, for the present, would in the end produce the same effects, by causing that union against which it seems to provide. The legislature would soon become tyrannical, by making continual encroachments, and gradually assuming to itself the rights of the executive power. Thus the long parliament of Charles the first, while it acted in a constitutional manner, with the royal concurrence, redressed many heavy grievances and established many salutary laws. But when the two houses assumed the power of legislation, in exclusion of the royal authority, they soon after assumed likewise the reins of administration; and, in consequence of these united powers, overturned both church and state, and established a worse oppression than any they pretended to remedy. To hinder therefore any such encroachments, the king is himself a part of the parliament: and, as this is the reason of his being so, very properly therefore the share of legislation, which the constitution has placed in the crown, consists in the power of rejecting rather than resolving; this being sufficient to answer the end proposed. For we may apply to the royal negative, in this instance, what Cicero observes of the negative of the Roman tribunes, that the crown has not any power of doing wrong, but merely of preventing wrong from being done.1


Free Agent Executive Power Legislative Power Henry VIII Distinct Power 
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  1. 1.
    [For the history of this bill, which was introduced in 1719, see Basil Williams, The Whig Supremacy 1714–1760, (Oxford, 1962), pp. 164–5.]Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gareth Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.Trinity CollegeCambridgeUK

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