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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 14

37.—Gravity of the Constitutional Change Effected

37.—Gravity of the Constitutional Change Effected.

The above act (12 Car. II. c. 24), which abolished the court of wards and liveries, and tenures in capite, and by knight-service, &c., completely altered the fundamental element of the constitution of this country. The Government of England, previously to that act, was a feudal monarchy, the very essence of which is, that the public expenses of the Government, both in war and peace, shall be defrayed by the various feudatories, the deficiency, if any, being provided for out of the public property in land vested in the monarch for the time being, and by taxes or subsidies granted by Parliament, and levied on the land and personal property of the kingdom. This act gave to the feudatories of England a complete discharge, as the lawyers are in the habit of very correctly wording it, from the oppressive fruits and incidents of their tenure. It confirmed to them their rights, discharged from the correlative obligations; and thus created the moral and legal anomaly of rights without obligations—an anomaly which cannot exist without a legal and logical absurdity, and a moral fraud.