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govern according to law. In the reign of William III. it was declared by statute that the laws of England are the birthright of the English people, and that all kings and queens of this realm, together with their officers and ministers, are to administer the government of the same according to the said laws. And this statute has never been repealed. But long before William III. it had been one of our constitutional maxims that the King of England was never an absolute monarch. Bracton, who flourished in the reign of Henry III., wrote, “It is the law which makes the King. Let the King therefore render to the law what the law has vested in him with regard to others—dominion and power: for he is not truly King where will and pleasure rule, and not the law.” And again, “ The King also hath a superior-namely, God; and also the law, by which he was made a king.” For though the Queen is our sovereign lord, she does not possess the sovereign authority of the commonwealth, because that is vested, not in her Majesty singly, but in the Queen, Lords, and Commons jointly. When her Majesty was crowned Queen of England, she took the following oath, which is called the Coronation Oath :—“The Archbishop: Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the THE CORONATION OATH.
people of this kingdom of England, and the dominions thereto belonging, according to the statutes in Parliament agreed on, and the laws and customs of the same ?' The Queen : ‘I solemnly promise so to do.' Archbishop : “Will you to the utmost of your power cause law and justice, in mercy, to be executed in all your judgments ?' Queen : ‘I will.' A rehbishop : “Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the Gospel, and the Protestant reformed religion established by the law ? And will you preserve unto the bishops and clergy of this realm, and to the churches committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges as by law do or shall appertain unto them, or any of them ? Queen : ‘All this I promise to do.' After this, the Queen, laying her hand upon the Holy Gospels, said : The things which I have here before promised I will perform and keep: So help me God:' and then her Majesty kissed the book."
But an English Sovereign is not only infallible but immortal. Now, perhaps, you will think that this is downright nonsense, because you know that our Sovereigns are just as likely to die as the poorest peasant in the land. And if they do not die, what have become of our Norman, Planta
genet, Lancastrian, Yorkist, Tudor, Stuart, and Hanoverian kings ? No, say you, we cannot quite swallow that, though we do belong to the “stupid party.” But you see, when I told you that the Queen was infallible, I meant only politically; and so when I say that an English Sovereign is immortal, I mean only in a political and not in a natural sense. You have often read of the phrase, the King never dies; and it means simply this, that immediately upon the decease of the reigning prince in his natural capacity, his kingly office is vested at once in his heir, who is from that very moment King to all intents and purposes. So you see that it is not the king personally who never dies, but his title and office. When we talk of the demise of the crown, we only mean that in consequence of the disunion of the King's natural body from his body politic, the kingdom is demised or transferred to his successor, and hence the royal dignity remains perpetual.
In addition to the Queen being politically infallible and immortal, her Majesty is also legally omnipresent; for as she is considered the fountain of justice and general conservator of the peace of the kingdom, she is, in the eyes of the law, supposed always to be present in her various courts of jus
HER LEGAL OMNIPRESENCE.
tice. So that when you enter a law court and take your hat off, it is not merely out of respect to the judge or magistrate on the bench, but to the imagined presence of the Queen. Should you or I ever have the misfortune to be committed for contempt of court, we should be punished, not only because we treated with contempt the judge or magistrate, but the Queen, whose representative such judge or magistrate is. The original power of judicature is lodged in society at large, but as justice could not be very well rendered to every one by the people collectively, every nation commits that power to certain select magistrates. In England this authority has immemorially been exercised by the Sovereign, or his or her substitutes, the judges. Our monarchs have, however, delegated for many ages their judicial power to the judges, who, in their several courts, are the depositaries of the fundamental laws of the kingdom, and have a stated jurisdiction regulated by certain and established rules which the Crown itself cannot now alter but by Act of Parliament. And here you must remember that though the Queen is supposed to be present in all her courts of justice, her Majesty cannot personally assume to decide any case, civil or criminal, but must leave such decision to her judges. And when any judicial act is referred to the Queen by any Act of Parliament, it is understood to be done in some court of justice according to the law. So you see that the Queen is not the author of justice, but only the distributor, being, as it were, the steward of the public to dispense it to whom it is due: in fact, her Majesty is not the spring but the reservoir whence right and equity are conducted by a thousand channels to every individual.
You have often seen in the daily papers, among the law intelligence, the Queen versus, and then the name of the person prosecuted. Perhaps this has puzzled you, and you cannot make out why her Majesty should appear in the capacity of prosecutor. Well, it is very simple. All offences are deemed to be theoretically against either the peace, crown, or dignity of the Queen. And though these offences seem to be rather against the kingdom than the Crown, yet as the public has delegated all its powers with regard to the execution of the laws to one visible magistrate, all affronts to those powers are offences against her Majesty, to whom they are so delegated. Hence the Queen is the proper person to prosecute for all public offences, as she is the one injured in the eye of the law. And for this