Common Sense, British Edition

Of Monarchy and Hereditary Sucession

Page 13

COMMON SENSE.                               13
act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they
have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and
when they succeed to the government, are frequently the
most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.

Another evil which attends hereditary succession is, that
the throne is subject be possessed by a minor at any age;
all which time the regency, acting under the cover of a
king, have every opportunity and inducement to betray their
trust. The same national misfortune happens, when a king,
worn out with age and infirmity, enters the last stage of hu-
man weakness.
In both these cases, the public becomes a
a prey to every miscreant, who can tamper successfully with
the follies either of age or infancy.

The most plausible plea which hath ever been offered in
favour of hereditary succession, is, that it preserves a nation
from civil wars ; and were this true, it would be weighty ;
whereas, it is the most barefaced falsity ever imposed upon
mankind. The whole history of England disowns the fact.
Thirty kings and two minors have reigned in that distracted
kingdom since the conquest
, in which time there have been
(including the revolution) no less than eight civil wars and
nineteen rebellions. Wherefore instead of making for peace,
it makes against it, and destroys the very foundation it seems
to stand on.

The contest for monarchy and succession, between the
houses of York and Lancaster, laid England in a scene of
blood for many years. Twelve pitched battles, besides skir-
mishes and sieges were fought between Henry and Edward.
Twice was Henry prisoner to Edward, who in his turn was
prisoner to Henry. And so uncertain is the fate of war, and
the temper of a nation, when nothing but personal matters
are the ground of a quarrel, that Henry was taken in triumph
from a prison to a palace, and Edward obliged to fly from a
palace to a foreign land; yet, as sudden transitions of temper
are seldom lasting, Henry in his turn was driven from the
throne and Edward recalled to succeed him. The parlia-
ment always following the strongest side.

This contest began in the reign of Henry the Sixth, and
was not entirely extinguished ‘till Henry the Seventh, in
whom the families were united. Including a period of 67
years, viz. from 1422 to 1489.



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