Common Sense, British Edition

Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession

Page 12

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12                           COMMON SENSE.
hath no divinity in it. However, it is needless to spend much
time in exposing the folly of hereditary right; if there are
any so weak as to believe it, let them promiscuously worship
the ass and the lion, and welcome. I shall neither copy
their humility, nor disturb their devotion.

Yet I should be glad to ask how they suppose kings came
at first ? The question admits but of three answers, viz.
either by lot, by election, or by usurpation. If the first king
was taken by lot, it establishes a precedent for the next,
which excludes hereditary succession. Saul was by lot, yet
the succession was not hereditary, neither does it appear from
that transaction there was any intention it ever should. If
the first king of any country was by election, that likewise
establishes a precedent for the next; for to say that the right
of all future generations is taken away, by the act of the
first electors, in their choice not only of a king, but of a fa-
mily of kings for ever, hath no parallel in or out of Scrip-
ture but the doctrine of original sin, which supposes the
free will of all men lost in Adam; and from such compari-
son, and it will admit of no other, hereditary succession can
derive no glory. For as in Adam all sinned, and as in the
first electors all men obeyed; as in the one all mankind
were subjected to Satan, and in the other to sovereignty;
as our innocence was lost in the first, and our autho-
rity in the last; and as both disable us from re-assuming
some former state and privilege, it unanswerably follows,
that original sin and hereditary succession are parallels. Dis-
honourable rank! Inglorious connnexion! Yet the most
subtile sophist cannot produce a juster simile.

As to usurpation, no man can be so hardy as to defend
it; and that William the conqueror was an usurper, is a fact
not to be contradicted. The plain truth is, that the anti-
quity of English monarchy will not bear looking into.

But it is not so much the absurdity as the evil of hereditary
succession which concerns mankind. Did it ensure a race of
good and wise men, it would have the seal of divine autho-
rity, but as it opens a door to the foolish, the wicked, and the improper, it hath in it the nature of oppression. Men who
look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey,
soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their
minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they

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“Common Sense, British Edition,” Common Sense Digital Edition, accessed December 18, 2017, http://explorecommonsense.com/items/show/21.