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[122] to England, but offered no barrier against
Chap. IV.} 1606
colonial injustice. Lands were to be held by the most favorable tenure.

Thus the first written charter of a permanent American colony, which was to be the chosen abode of liberty, gave to the mercantile corporation nothing but a desert territory, with the right of peopling and defending it, and reserved to the monarch absolute legislative authority, the control of all appointments, and a hope of an ultimate revenue. To the emigrants themselves it conceded not one elective franchise, not one of the rights of self-government. They were subjected to the ordinances of a commercial corporation, of which they could not be members; to the dominion of a domestic council, in appointing which they had no voice; to the control of a superior council in England, which had no sympathies with their rights; and finally, to the arbitrary legislation of the sovereign. Yet, bad as was this system, the reservation of power to the king, a result of his vanity, rather than of his ambition, had, at least, the advantage of mitigating the action of the commercial corporation. The check would have been complete, had the powers of appointment and legislation been given to the people of Virginia.1

The summer was spent by the patentees in preparations for planting a colony, for which the vain glory of the king found a grateful occupation in framing a code of laws;2 an exercise of royal legislation which

Nov 20.
has been pronounced in itself illegal.3 The superior council in England was permitted to name the colonial council, which was constituted a pure aristocracy,

1 Compare Chalmers, 13—15; Story on the Constitution, i. 22—24.

2 See the instrument, in Hening, l. 67—75. Compare, also, Stith's Virginia, 37—41; Burk's Virginia, i. 86—92.

3 Chalmers, 15.

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