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upon tender by the supreme magistrate, are subject to the penalties of a præmunire. Sergeants, councillors, proctors, attorneys, and all officers of courts, practising without having taken the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and without having subscribed the declaration against popery, are guilty of a præmunire, whether the oaths be tendered or not. sert, maliciously and directly, by preaching, teaching, or advisedly speaking, that the male descendants of James II. or any person other than according to the acts of settlement and union, hath any right to the throne of these kingdoms, or that the king cannot make laws to limit the descent of the crown ; such preaching, teaching, or advisedly speaking, is a præmunire, and writing, printing, or publishing the same doctrines amounted to high treason. If the peers of Scotland, when assembled to elect their sixteen representatives in the British parliament, shall presume to treat of any other matter save only the election, they incur the penalties of a præmunire. All unwarrantable undertakings by unlawful subscriptions, then commonly known by the name of bubbles, subject the parties to the penalties of a præmunire.
All such as knowingly and wilfully solemnize, assist, or are present at any forbidden marriage of such of the descendants of the body of George II. as are, by that act, prohibited from contracting matrimony without consent of the crown, incur the penalties of the statute of præmunire.
Its punishment may be gathered from the foregoing statutes, which are thus shortly summed up by Sir E. Coke; “ that from the conviction the defendant shall be out of the king's protection, and his lands and tenements, goods and chattels forfeited to the king, and that his body shall remain in prison at the king's pleasure, or during life; which is the same thing, as the king by his prerogative may at any time, remit the whole or any part of the punishment, except in the case of transgressing the statute of Habeas Corpus. Such delinquent, though protected as part of the public from public wrongs, cannot bring an action for any private injury, how atrocious soever, being so far out of the protection of the law, that it will not guard his civil rights, nor remedy any grievance, which he as an individual may suffer. And no man, knowing him to be guilty, can with safety give him comfort, aid, or relief."
IN selecting and abridging the account of the British and Scottish parliaments, I have given not only the spirit of the authors quoted at the conclusion of the articles, but their very words, and have endeavoured to
observe the utmost impartiality. Although the Bills for the Reform of Parliament have given the British empire, on whose widely extended dominions the sun never sets, a new constitution, yet as many parts of the old fabric still remain, I have given, in the following work, an account of those institutions which have been the means, under God, of rendering this empire happy and glorious at home, and the envy and admiration of the world abroad,
This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
Richard II, Act II. Scene I.
In marking the origin of parliaments, I have chiefly followed the authority of Judge Blackstone; but it may be remarked, that much difference of opinion exists among lawyers of the greatest reputation upon this interesting subject; but however much constitutional writers differ from each other in their opinions respecting the institutions of our Saxon ancestors, (whose tenacious adherence to ancient customs and landmarks is proverbial,) they all agree in affirming, that there was no such thing as a house of commons in existence previous to the year 1265, which was the 49th of Henry III. ; for the Saxon Witenagemotte cannot be considered as a parliament in the sense in which we understand that word. Henry III. was the first English sovereign who summoned by writ, knights and burgesses, as representatives of their counties and boroughs, to serve him in parliament, a service which was then, and for may ages afterwards, considered as a grievous burden, a heavy expense, and a great hardship; indeed it frequently happened that the boroughs were obliged to allow their representatives a sum of money to defray the expenses of their attendance in parliament. At its first institution, parliament met in one house or chamber, the three estates, viz. the Prelates, the lay Peers, and the Commons, sat and voted together as one body ; but this proving inconvenient, and the commons requiring frequently to retire for consultation, about such affairs as more immediately affected their own estate, their final separation and meeting in another house by themselves, was effected about the year 1295, in the reign of Edward I. From that period to the grand rebellion, their importance gradually increased, and since the Revolution of 1688, the crown has from time to time conceded to the house of Commons that power and authority which constitutes its present greatness. The Scottish parliaments were constituted similarly to the English; the last parliament which sat in Scotland, was that which enacted the incorporating union between the two kingdoms, and before the Revolution of 1688 ; it also contained three estates, viz. the spiritual and lay peers, and the commons, who all sat and voted together in one house ; but at the Revolution, the convention parliament, which met at Edinburgh in April, 1689, deprived the bishops of their seats, and there remained only two estates in that convention which offered the crown of Scotland to the prince and princess of Orange, and of that parliament which passed the act of union, and thereby voted their own annihilation.
The following observations are extracted from Professor Park's “ Lectures on the Theory and Practice of the Constitution,” delivered at King's College, London, in the commencement term.
66 The accredited theory of the Constitution assigns the business of legislation to parliament indiscriminately; it does not confer the right of introducing bills of projects of law, nor yet subjects of debate, upon any particular person or persons ; and even in point of practice, bills may be introduced, and motions made, by any individual member of the legislature who chooses ; that is to say, by any one of six hundred and fifty-eight individuals in the house of Commons, and four hundred and eight in the house of Lords; and such bills are precisely of the same validity, if passed, as bills introduced by the executive government, or king's ministers. We have only to apply this theory to the business of the administrative government, and to suppose that government carried on by the undisturbed means, which this theory of the constitution has pointed out,- legislation casually and promiscuously originated,—to see with one glance, that a greater absurdity never entered the heart of man. Administrative government has become the most profound and the most complicated of all sci
From the extent and intricacy of its materials, it mates and masters the most powerful intellects ; while from that very extent, and the inability of the human mind to grasp all its relations and dependencies, or to contemplate more than a portion of the whole field, that portion with which the particular observation or experience of each bas made him most conversant, it furnishes room for a more endless diversity and gradation of opinion, than is to be found in any other science founded upon induction. Now in all sciences, in medicine, in mathematics, in chemistry, in astro nomy, in law, we find not only the most various measures of capacity and power, among the professors, but we find in each, a very few minds capable of penetrating immeasurable distances beyond even the range of the highest order of ordinary minds, and upon whom, in each of those sciences, an ascendency or superiority devolves, which is strictly consonant to the nature
of things, and which is only an extension of the same principle which gives ordinary intelligence and information an ascendency or superiority over dullness and ignorance. One man can do, another man cannot do, and that is the whole matter.
“ We find that no sooner is an administration formed, than it immediately takes upon itself not only what is properly called the executive government, but another and much more important function, not recognized by the theory of the constitution,—the management, control, and direction of the whole mass of political legislation, according to its own views of political science and civil economy; that although some scattered portions of legislation are gladly left by this overburdened administration to private individuals, who are desirous, either through vanity or public spirit, of signalizing themselves as legislators, yet that even this is done, as it were, by the connivance of the administration, or government, as it is emphatically called ; and that it follows as a necessary consequence, from government being always in the majority in the house of Commons, that no private individual could carry any measure through parliament which government should see reasons to oppose,—so that a single intimation of such intention, at once compels the private legislator to drop or withdraw his measure ; that even this connivance at private legislation is not considered constitutional or becoming, when the measure is one of political importance, as it is deemed not merely the right but the duty of government, to take upon itself the responsibility of introducing such measures into parliament; and government has ever been severely reprimanded by leaders in opposition for abandoning that duty to others : finally, that as soon as from any circumstance whatever, government or the administration shall be deprived of the power of so managing, controlling, and directing the course of political legislation, by a change of the majority into the minority, or find sufficient reason to apprehend that they shall be deprived of that power, they do, according to the actual course of the constitution, resign office, upon the express ground that they can no longer carry on the government advantageously to the country; and that, so far from doing that as an act of offended greatness, it would be esteemed politically dishonourable and improper if they were to retain office, after the support and adherence of a majority in the house of Commons should have been unequivocally withdrawn from them.
“ A person who is returned wholly by a particular class of constituents, becomes (so far as there is any meaning in direct representation,) a representative of the interest of that class ; and if, as must almost universally happen, the interest of that class, although they themselves be locally confined to a particular spot, is identical with the interests of the same class all over the kingdom, then the person does indirectly represent the interest of the whole class; and the measure of direct representation of his own con
stituency will be the measure of his indirect representation of that class. We might thus create a fair representation of the whole community, by selecting single spots or districts, in each of which some one class of the community is congregated, until we had fairly exhausted every class, and authorizing each of the districts to return a certain number of members. But when a person is returned for a district sufficiently large, and in which the elective franchise is sufficiently extensive to comprehend all the varieties of classes within its constituency, it becomes a district, not a class which is represented, (unless, indeed, any particular class have an overpowering predominance in that district,) and the only direct or indirect representation which appears to exist, is that of local interests, such as the affairs of rail-roads, navigations, and the particular trades which predon.inate within the district. So far as these interests are confined to that district, there will be direct representation only; so far as they extend to other districts, there will be indirect representation also. I have said above, as far as there is any meaning in direct representation, for I have great doubts whether the modern notion of direct representation, in this country of indistinct ideas, will stand scrutiny ; it is curious to see how men's minds work in the dark. Is not representation a humbug ?' said a very keen-sighted, but not a very scientific friend to me lately. Certainly', said I, “ in the sense in which it is now used : take for example the members for Westminster. What do they represent ? is it opinions? whose opinions ? What are the collective opinions of Westminster ? is it interests ? whose interests ? What are the collective interests of St James's Square and Tothill Fields ? and yet we may find voters from both for the sitting members. Which do they represent ?'-0,' says one, they represent the majority!' what majority ? is it the majority on the poll ? there is no majority, but the ex
There is no majority so long as the opposed candidates are equal. Who are the majority ? those who come first, those who come in the middle, or those who come last ?'- No,' says another, the majority of their own voters.' How, I ask, is that majority ascertained, and where is the identity of their opinions and interests ?"
The political party known by the name of whigs, were excluded from office during the reigns of the third and fourth Georges, but soon after the accession of William the IV., our present most gracious sovereign, that party obtained possession of power, and one of their first measures was to introduce bills into parliament, for altering the mode of electing the members of the house of Commons, disfranchising some boroughs, and enfranchising others, increasing the number of the county and borough electors, and especially giving to Scotland an entirely new constituency. Heretofore in that kingdom, the burgh members were elected by the respective town councils, but the reform bill for Scotland wholly disfranchises all the town councils, and confers the elective franchise in