George Buchanan: Against arbitrary power

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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
M.—It is not, then, your opinion, that a king should in all matters be invested with arbitrary power?

B.—By no means; for I recollect that he is not only a king, but also a man erring much through ignorance, offending much through inclination, and much almost against his will; as he is an animal readily yielding to every breath of favour or hatred. This imperfection of nature too is generally increased by the possession of office; so that here, if anywhere, I recognize the force of the sentiment in the comedy, when it says, that “by unrestrained authority we all become worse.” For this reason legislative sages supplied their king with law, either to instruct his ignorance or to rectify his mistakes. From these remarks you may, I presume, conceive, as in a typical representation, what my idea is of a genuine king’s duty. ...

For the reference, see George Buchanan: Against arbitrary power.
 
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