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‘ [325] to interfere.’—‘We may make laws for Virginia,’
Chap IX.}
rejoined another member, intent on opposing the flagrant benevolence of the king, and wholly unconscious of asserting, in the earliest debate on American affairs, the claim of parliament to that absolute sovereignty which the colonies never acknowledged, and which led to the war of the revolution; ‘a bill passed by the commons and the lords, if it receive the king's assent, will control the patent.’ The charter, argued Sir Edward Coke, with ample reference to early statutes, was granted without regard to previously-existing rights, and is therefore void by the established laws of England. So the friends of the liberty of fishing triumphed over the advocates of the royal prerogative, though the parliament was dissolved before a bill could be carried through all the forms of legislation.

Yet enough had been done to infuse vigor into mercantile enterprise; in the second year after the

settlement of Plymouth, five-and-thirty sail of vessels went to fish on the coasts of New England, and made good voyages. The monopolists appealed to King James; and the monarch, preferring to assert his own extended prerogative, rather than to regard the spirit of the house of commons, issued a proclamation,
which forbade any to approach the northern coast of America, except with the special leave of the company of Plymouth, or of the privy council. It was monstrous thus to attempt to seal up a large portion of an immense continent; it was impossible to carry the ordinance into effect; and here, as so often, despotism caused its own fall. By desiring strictly to enforce its will, it provoked a conflict in which it was sure of being defeated.

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