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legal though not in use,) might be lawfully established, even if the settlement is made within the boundaries of the present English claims ; but, in that case, the legal process in all the courts of justice must be carried on in the king's name; and the settlers may not refuse to admit a governor or lieutenant of the king's appointment, with a limited delegation of authority, according to the constitution of England, whenever the privy council shall think proper to send
But, if the settlements be attempted in any other part of Africa, not claimed by European powers, the managers must first obtain the consent (and association, if possible) of the native inhabitants, or else the establishment must be made on an uninhabited part of the coast; and as the majority of the settlers will probably be negroes, returned from slavery and oppression to their native soil, there will be no necessity to form the plan of government strictly by the constitutional model of England, any farther than reason and experience may suggest the adoption of some particular parts of it; but we may, in that case, assume the liberty of drawing a precedent for government from more ancient and more perfect documents than our Saxon records, viz., from the example, or rather the original intention, of the Israelitish common
wealth, purified and improved by the general precepts and maxims of the gospel, and by the example of free congregational government amongst the primitive Christians, who decided their own temporal litigations and differences, ("things pertaining to this life," 1 Cor. vi. 1-8, as well as ecclesiastical questions, in their regular assemblies of all the people; which method was an ancient ethnic custom, (derived probably from patriarchal times,) as appears by the example of the pagan Ephesians, recorded in Acts, xix. 38, 39, whom their town-clerk referred to a lawful assembly (apparently distinct, as the context proves, from their ordinary courts of justice, then subject to the Romans) for the examination and resolution of all extraordinary questions.
The Israelitish government, under the theocracy, was administered by freely-elected judges and officers throughout all the tribes and cities, or gates, except in the extraordinary cases of prophetical judges, though these were probably elected likewise, as soon as their superior or supernatural abilities became generally known.
They had a regular gradation of official power, heads of tens, of fifties, of hundreds, and of thousands, besides the provincial governors, who were ancient heads of houses or tribes; these altogether formed one great band of allegiance, uniting the whole community together for action
and defence, as one man, with one mind; viz., by the free resolutions of the majority, the smaller divisions being regularly included and controlled in the larger, and the individuals of all the divisions being mutually bound to each other by the reciprocal ties or allegiance of Frankpledge, which our Saxon ancestors, and many other, even savage and heathen nations,* have in some degree maintained, probably from the patriarchal times ; for all men, having the knowledge of good and evil, are capable of this form of government, if it is once properly explained to them and established; and there is no mode of defending, restraining, and keeping in order a promiscuous body of men, so cheap, so easy, or so certainly effectual for every profitable purpose, as that of mutual government by the principles and maxims of right, in such equal proportioned congregations ; each of which is a constituent part or member of a more powerful congregation in the great unity or commonwealth, wherein every individual, however violent or morose in himself, is prevented from injuring others, by having his person and his property rendered answerable for all damages, which he either occasions by his own rapacious violence or caprice, or which he does not endeavour to prevent in others, as a member of the tithing wherein any violence or offence is committed; for, according to the law of Frankpledge, no man is entitled to liberty* that is not duly pledged by his nearest neighbours for the mutual conservation of peace and right.
* The Romans had their decuriones and centuriones, not only in their military, but also in their civil government; and, consequently, they must have had the popular divisions of tithings and hundreds much in the same manner as those established by King Alfred in England, in imitation of the Israelitish commonwealth ; and even the Chinese and Japanese (it is said) have tithings to this day.
Under this form of government, all public works, as entrenchments, or earthworks and fortifications, to secure the towns and strengthen the country; canals and highways, for public passage; sewers and drains, for the general health of the country, &c., may be formed and maintained by a rotation of service, in which the value of daily attendance must be estimated, that defaulters may bear their share, or rather a double share, of the burden ; and the expense of watch and ward, or military service, must be defrayed in the same manner; by which means no debt will be incurred for the defence of the state. Rich funds may also be obtained to support the credit of a public exchequer, without
“ Omnis homo, qui voluerit se teneri pro libero, sit in plegio, ut plegius eum habeat ad justitiam si quid offenderit,” &c. - See Lombard's Archionomia, p. 125, b.
laying any perceptible burden on the community, by a general agreement to punish, by fines and mulcts, in due proportion to the wealth and possessions of delinquents : increasing, likewise, by repetition, for all offences, as well as of omission (or neglect of public duty) as of commission; except for murder, rapes, and unnatural crimes, which, by the laws of God, are unpardonable by any community. The people themselves to be judges, people of the vicinage, unexceptionably disinterested ; liable, besides, to the challenge of the parties, and duly sworn (according to the known laws of English juries) to do right, in the presence of the ordinary judges and officers elected to preside and keep order in the assemblies.
Old Jewry, Aug. 1, 1783.