페이지 이미지
[blocks in formation]

which is intent on getting | for his freedom of speech in the House of
harge the prelatical clergy,' Commons-which he entered a year or two
opery to make them odious, before the death of James I., as member for
they are guilty of no such Lancaster, and in which he subsequently had
g of the Trinity, he says,
a seat for Great Bed win, and also for the
d Person is made of a piece University of Oxford-but he was too re-
papists, the third Person is flective, and not sufficiently einseitig, to be a
dhead of his own phrensy, thorough party-man; neither intellectually
and folly. "One the bak- nor morally, neither by conviction nor by
he other the cobbler; and temperament, was he shaped for a revolu-
I think the first Person is tionary leader. "In a troubled state," he
d." The frequent occasion says at table," we must do as in foul weather
old the liturgy against ex- upon the Thames, not think to cut directly
fusions is also observable; through, but rise and fall as the waves do,
peated sarcasms on Sabbat- give as much as conveniently we can.'
ity in preaching and prayer, lived to see the waters abated, and the vessel
erpretation of the word, and of the State making way in comparative
ght of private judgment, calm, under the pilotage of Cromwell; but
ectaries laid so much stress. how far he was sanguine of his country's
as the same with Selden's weal under such a steersman, and with what
a middle-man. Ultras of degree of approval he watched the dictator's
schewed. His was not the policy, or what tokens of stability his pro-
r, nor, reformer though he phetic eye recognized in the protectorate, we
siast in reform. He was in- should be glad to find in his "Table-talk,"
gain committed to custody but find not.

KOFF.—A strange story has, of a little work named, "My Courtship and its
light in the course of the Consequences." The author is said to be one
Palmerston, it is said-and Nichoff. It is stated that this man Nichoff
ry evidence is produced in is a Russian agent, employed to write Russian
ertion in the course of the articles in the New York Herald. For some
he services of a certain per- reason or other, this worthy personage ceased
urn for his pay,
66 was to to give satisfaction to his employers, or they
rly through the medium of ceased to have occasion for his services. Due
he United States' press, the notice was given to him by Mr. Addington that
ially the pacific character,
at the end of June, 1852, his engagement
er Majesty's government." with the English Foreign-office was to be
form part of a letter said considered as terminated, and it was brought
y Mr. H. U. Addington, in to a conclusion accordingly. It may be as
Palmerston, to the author well to state that Nichoff, the Russian agent
on one authority, is by another stated to be
a citizen of the United States. It is added,
from his own account, that he was sentenced
by a criminal court at Genoa to fifteen
months' imprisonment for a scandalous out-
rage upon a lady. The two assertions are
far from incompatible. Nichoff, the Russian
agent, may well be a Russian by birth, nat-
uralized in America, the agent of the British
Foreign-office, the Russian spy, the hero of
the criminal outrage at Genoa, the corre-
spondent of Mr. H. U. Addington, and the
author of "My Courtship and its Conse-

descry in Selden's " easy con-
is certainly very
66 easy cir-
elden got together his money,
r; but neither need any mys-
onsidering his profession as a
mber counsel, and his oppor-
ion with the Kent family. To
ed in a rare degree with re-
he witty Fuller probably al-
when he says: "Mr. Selden
he Roman emperors, and a
our English kings." At least,
Fuller if there were no such
in the sentence, but only the


quences "

[ocr errors]

From Fraser's Magazine.


It is seldom we can trace with exact presion the source of a great river. We see he high land whence it has descended, the lain below enriched by its full stream, but we fail to mark the exact spot where first he infant waters trickle from the earth. So is often with the origin of great institutions -so it is with that greatest of modern Curopean institutions, the British Parliament. t is scarcely possible to say exactly when nd how it took its origin. It is certain that hen that event took place, which is often egarded as the origin of Parliament, the igning of Magna Charta, the word itself, hough doubtless with a sufficiently different ignification from that which it now bears, was in common use. Still that event is not mproperly chosen as the heading for a chaper on Parliament; it was the Barons of Runnymede, headed by those true patriots, Stephen Langton and Richard Earl of Pemroke, who wrested from King John that reat concession which still forms one of the undamental props of our present constitution -viz., that the king shall raise no money rom his people without the sanction and the id of Parliament.

Through this first great Act of Parliament requent attempts were made to drive a coach nd six, as has been done through so many f its successors. But the principle was hen announced on a summer day in 1215, nd has never since been quite forgotten. Often was this great wall of liberty sorely reached by able, vigorous, and despotic Plantagenets; by haughty, impetuous, and vilful Tudors; by wily, treacherous, and imerious Stuarts: but again and again were he breaches built up, in repeated confirmaions of the Charta, in the Provisions of Oxford, in the Petition of Right: it was to be emented with blood, to be maintained at ny cost change of dynasties, the death of ings, the pains of civil war, all were to be ndured rather than abandon the principle hat taxation rests not upon the will of the overeign, but the law of the land; the prin



[ocr errors]

yearly submits his budget to the House of Commons, and the House of Commons furnishes Her Majesty with supplies for carrying on the Russian war.

The second chapter of Parliamentary History has Simon de Montfort for its hero. This man was one of the many foreigners whose arrival in England, during the reign of Henry III., gave great offence to the country. Hated by the people, Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, was a favorite with the king, and was allowed to marry Henry's own sister. The wedding took place in the precincts of the Royal Palace, in that sanctuary which Stephen had built in troubled times, and which was now used as an appendage to the Westminster Palace-in St. Stephen's Chapel.

Little thought Simon de Montfort, as he stood at the east end of that oblong chamber, that his actions during the next years of his life were to make it the focus of English history; that the room in which he was marrying a king's daughter would be the scene of those contests which would limit the power of the king's posterity. De Montford, soon after his marriage, quarrelled with Henry III., and put himself at the head of the hostile barons. A few victories made him virtual king of England; but he knew that Englishmen loved not usurpers; he used his power in the king's name to effect a silent orderly revolution: the writs which for the first time summoned two knights from each shire and two burgesses from each borough to serve the king in Parliament, were issued, indeed, by De Montfort, but signed in due order by King Henry III. Thus two great steps towards a parliamentary constitution were accomplished. The first we owe mainly to a Norman baron and an English priest; the second to one, who in days when the Norman Government itself had not altogether lost its foreign character, was still more a foreigner: the same free infusion of foreign elements which has so strengthened and enriched our language, was destined also to widen and


the Danes, the Normans, Canutes, the De Montforts, ncrete, the English, owes its

Parliament into two Houses xisted as early as the reign of met both in one building, but il, at the upper and lower ster Hall; that is to say, ment was held at London, ed during many years its oyal council, and followed er he might be, to Oxford, It was not till the reign that the accumulation of cords and other documents suggested the propriety of oming independent of the sovereign; since that reign arliaments have been held most of those during the the Stuarts.

House of Commons were Westminster Hall to the of the Abbey. Here they reign of Edward VI., when the Chapel of St. Stephen. nued to use Westminster appear clearly when they that chamber which Guy to blow up, and which was the commencement of the

on could only be the joint rds, and Commons, appears regarded as a fixed princieat step, we shall call it, in ogress-in the reign of Edhe reign of Richard II. we - Commons for the first time peaker, and petitioning for eech which is still sued for rm by the Speaker of each ment in the reign of Hentep was taken in the postsidies as conditional on the ces in the reign of Henry sixth steps-viz., the asserment by the House of Comsive right to initiate money xchanging the process of which still exists of Bill, glish Parliament to a form, much extension, but not mafrom that in which it now

d Hampdens of the Civil occupied rather in the vin


ileges. In the days of the Commonwealth it was the glory and the blessing of England that the Parliamentary system did not perish. It is not the least weighty evidence of the sobering and strengthening effect of representative institutions, that in England the most effectual and thorough revolutions have been so little revolutionary. When the Puritan fervor was at its height, when the monarchy was abolished and the House of Lords dispersed, the House of Commons sat on, headed by the Speaker, in its own chamber-its forms and etiquettes were rigidly observed; its manner of proceeding differed little from that of the present time; matters of ceremony were debated with an earnestness scarcely inferior to that bestowed on the most important questions of State policy; an earnestness which those will not be inclined to ridicule who regard it as evidence of that strong desire in the middle of change to abide as much as possible by the ancient paths, which has given so noble an aspect to all English reform, which gives that permanence to progress, without which it rapidly becomes convulsion and ruin. When Cromwell became virtually King of England his keen sagacity saw how hard it was to change the warp which had been so slowly and so carefully worked into the English constitution; he knew on what seeming trifles great liberties depended; how utterly unfitted was the genius of the English people for a republican, or indeed for any other than a monarchical form of government. With this view he did what he could to put back ancient landmarks; he restored the other House as much as possible on its former footing; he even tried to procure for it the old name of House of Lords, a proceeding from which the House of Commons, more shy of the name than the reality, shrank in alarm. He desired that there should be a king, doubtless he would have himself accepted the royal title when offered to him, had he not known that his past career had made this impossible for him in the eyes of those whom he could not offend; that he, who had dealt so terrible a blow to kingship, could never become, in name at least, King of England. We know with what joy, as a bow unbent, all England threw itself into the movement which brought about the Restoration. The monarchy was reëstablished; it found the Parliament, with its old apparatus all prepared at Westminster; the parliamentary records preserved in an unbroken series; the old parliamentary terms not fallen into

[ocr errors]



the afternoon of some important debate; while statesmen whose names fill the Europe of to-day pass by into the House of Commons, and at the same time the thoughts are carried back to the days when the two houses were assembled to frame the timehonored laws under which we live-here in this very Hall. It is not less interesting to ascend the magnificent flight of steps at the south end of the Hall, and turning to the left, to enter St. Stephen's Chapel. Here then is the spot consecrated to the genius of free institutions. This is the Chapel which King Stephen built and dedicated to his patron saint; which Edward III. endowed; which Edward VI. allotted as a place of meeting to his faithful Commons; where the faithful Commons have consulted ever since till within the last twenty-one years.

wept; and when the first excesses of reac-esting to stand in this Hall at four o'clock in ionary frenzy had spent themselves, it was udged a wise act to adopt and legalize, if hey required legalizing, all the laws passed y the Parliaments of the Commonwealth nd the Protectorate, and thus the parliahentary history of England regained and arried forward the unbroken sequence of Es progressive career, till the work begun by Stephen Langton and Richard, Earl of Pemroke, in 1215, was consummated by Earl Frey and Lord John Russell, in 1832; the uthors of the Reform Bill proving them elves worthy descendants of the champions f Magna Charta. This was the last great tep; doubtless there are others yet to come. To one who on a fine May evening walks rom Charing-cross through Whitehall and Parliament street to Westminster, by the Admiralty, the Horse Guards, and the public ffices, amid a crowd of cabs and omnibuses, throng of passengers, mitred and coroneted arriages bearing temporal and spiritual peers o their places in Parliament, while busy embers for Manchester or the West Riding ush along the pavement to a similar destiation, it is difficult to recall the time when rom this now bustling metropolitan street, ondon was nearly two miles distant; when here was but a rough road leading through he meadows by the river towards Thorney sland, amidst the thickets of which the towrs of Westminster Abbey rose in solitary mokeless magnificence; while beneath their rotecting shadow, within the shelter of their anctuary, lay the humbler buildings where he king held his court, where his great counil, the Parliament, tendered him their petiions, and his officers administered justice. 'horney Island is drained, solitude has dearted, smoke has come, but the theory of he English constitution remains the same. Her Majesty may indeed reside at Buckingam Palace, but the royal presence is still egarded as the centre of authority present the new palace of Westminster; there the Queen's judges still sit and administer justice the royal name; there the Sovereign still epairs to sanction the acts, sometimes to reeive the humble petitions and advice of her ssembled Parliament.

In happy fulfilment of this just idea, Westinster Hall was made the vestibule of the ew houses of Parliament. Whatever may e said of the building as a whole, none can npugn the happy thought which suggested he present use to which the Hall is applied, r the admirable skill with which the thought

In 1834, when the Houses were burnt down, this chapel was among the first of the buildings that fell in. But the place had become consecrated with a higher unction than that bestowed upon it by Stephen's priests; and although the walls and roof were hopelessly gone, the site was preserved with jealous care: walls of the same height, a roof of the same pitch-were again erected; and a chamber new yet old, the exact verisimilitude in length and breadth and height, occupies the very same space, and we may say, in all but the identity of the bricks and mortar, is the very same room as that in which Elizabeth's Commons joined heart and hand together to support their royal mistress in repelling the assault of Spain; where Hampden protested against the illegal payment of ship-money; where Falkland lamented his country's wrongs, and repudiated his party's crimes; where Walpole for so many years resisted all the efforts of the ablest and most factious opposition ever perhaps combined against a single minister; where Pitt, the great Commoner, hurled that thunder which shook with fear the hearts not only of parliamentary opponents but of the foreign enemies of England; where Burke declaimed in a higher than parliamentary wisdom to an inferior and inattentive audience; or denounced Warren Hastings with a ferocity of invective that made the great Governor of India quail before his own conscience and his unsparing persecutor; where Sheridan spoke on the same Eastern question with such overwhelming eloquence, that the House, distrusting its own power of judgment under the influence of so potent a spell, deliberately


nother with a rivalry not to he time when they should er in the adjoining abbey; asted his splendid talents in which he did not approve, party with which he could here Wilberforce and Fowred their testimony against land has since acknowlof, and repaired; where that career, the end of ared his name to the gratef his countrymen; where ttle of the Reform Bill was ad fought again and won. preserve a chamber rich in and though no longer itself se, it serves as an approridor, adorned by the statClarendon, Falkland, and to receive hereafter the the great worthies whose in the book of English hishave followed them in the erties.


ounger and Charles James | tion of domestic or foreign executive policy, his first impression is that the debate is strangely irrelevant, that old forms are very much abused; but being better advised, he recollects that this is one of England's best privileges, this right to redress grievances. in more modern phrase, to obtain information from Government before granting supply. He sees a mild gentlemanly man in a grotesque costume, armed with a sword like a lath, but he does not smile, at least not in contempt, for the very name of Serjeant-atArms is suggestive of the hardly-won and rigidly-maintained privileges of the Commons; of struggles with the court on behalf of liberty; of commitments to the Tower; in a word, of the material force which is at hand to enforce the rights of the people's representatives. He sees lords and honorables upon the benches below, and he hails it as a consequence and memorial of that fusion of ranks by which the son of a peer becomes a commoner, and all ranks are bound together by a common interest. A message is brought down from the House of Lords, the respectful salutations made by the bearer of it to the Speaker provoke him not to ridicule, but to a comparison of the time when both Houses sat together, and the voice of the Commons was utterly lost in that of their acknowledged superiors-the Lords. Scarcely a quarter of an hour passes but his attention is arrested by some minute form, often troublesome, often tedious, often grotesque, but never omitted; and in its patient performance he acknowledges a profound wisdom, for he knows that easy as it is to laugh and be witty at the expense of ancient forms, these are notwithstanding the only limits by which popular discussion can be controlled, the only conditions under which a popular assembly has ever greatly flourished. He is aware that some of the greatest politicians* of continental Europe delight to dwell upon these forms with all the energy of half-envious admiration; politicians who have learnt by experience how hard, how impossible, it is to manage, or to create, popular assemblies without the safeguard of time-hallowed and deeply significant, though to a superficial observer unmeaning, forms; in a word, in the jealousy of ancient form, which hedges in and regulates but does not cramp a debate upon a modern Reform Bill, the educated or thoughtful observer perceives that careful clinging to the golden mean between perma

a door at the end of this parliamentary student who I the old by the new finds tral hall, from which corHouse of Lords on the e House of Commons on the latter direction, he more door and enters the all is modern. It is imate the post-office, the fice, the illuminated clock, assing insolence of the keeper, with the dignir remote ancestors. But the gallery of the House may con his historical fit. The arrangement of eaker in the chair, the remind him immediately uts which he has seen in ting the Parliament of nace lies upon the table; er, and "Take away that the words, "That this ird time;" he recognizes 7 hasty legislation which many stages between an an act passed; he hears nput by the Speaker, the chair," as preparammittee of supply; and estion a discussion arises pply, but on some ques-sity.

* Such as Professor Dahlmann, of Bonn Univer

« 이전계속 »