Common Sense, British Edition

Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession

Page 11

COMMON SENSE.                            11
wise, unjust, unnatural compact might, (perhaps) in the next
succession put them under the government of a rogue or a
fool. Most wise men, in their private sentiments, have ever
treated hereditary right with contempt; yet it is one of those
evils which, when once established, is not easily removed;
many submit from fear, others from superstition, and the
more powerful part shares with the king the plunder of the

This is supposing the present race of kings in the world to
have had an honourable origin; whereas it is more than pro-
bable, that could we take off the dark covering of antiquity,
and trace them to their first rise, that we should find the first
of them nothing better than the principal ruffian of some
restless gang, whose savage manners, or pre-eminence in
subtility obtained him the title of chief among plunderers;
and who by increasing in power, and extending his depre-
dations, over-awed the quiet and defenceless to purchase
their safety by frequent contributions. Yet his electors
could have no idea of giving hereditary right to his descen-
dants, because such a perpetual exclusion of thcmselves was
incompatible with the free and unrestrained principles they
professed to live by. Wherefore hereditary succession in the
early ages of monarchy could not take place as a matter of
claim, but as something casual or complimental; but as try
or no records were extant in those days, and tradition on
history stuffed with fables, it was very easy, after the lapsewf
a few generations, to trump up some superstitious tale, con-
veniently timed, Mahomet like, to cram hereditary right
down the throats of the vulgar. Perhaps thc disorders which
threatened, or seemed to threaten, on the decease of a leaderf
and the choice of a new one, (for elections among ruffian,
could not be very orderly) induced many at first to favor he-
reditary pretensions; by which means it happened, as it hath
happened since, that what at first was submitted to as a con-
venience was afterwards claimed as a right.

England, since the conquest, hath known some few good
monarchs, but groaned beneath a much larger number of bad
ones ; yet no man in his senses can say that their claim under
William the Conqueror is a very honourable one. A French
bastard landing with an armed banditti, and establishing
himself king of England against the consent of the natives,
is in plain terms a very paltry rascally original. It certainly



“Common Sense, British Edition,” Common Sense Digital Edition, accessed April 16, 2024,

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