網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

under three different chief governors; and from the twenty-eighth year of his reign, they were summoned almost every year under the duke of York, who was lord lieutenant for ten years. Eight parliaments were summoned during the short reign of Edward IV. During that reign a law was passed, which enjoined the residence of the clergy, under the penalty of forfeiture of their benefices for a year's absence, and taking away the benefit of the king's license; also an act prohibiting appeals to England. This last act was prejudicial to the rights of the crown, and perhaps gave rise to that famous law of Sir Edward Poynings, in the reign of Henry VII. In the tenth year of this monarch, a number of laws were passed of great importance; the chief of which were that which authorized the treasurer to create delegates, and gave the officers of the treasury the same powers as those in England; the statute which adopted all the laws of England, antecedent to that period; and lastly, the famous act, emphatically called Poyning's law, which regulated the mode of summoning parliaments, and of passing laws. Till this period, laws were passed, and the lord lieutenants gave the royal assent from their own power and authority, in the same manner as the king did in England; but this power having been abused in the disputes between the rival houses of York and Lancaster, particularly by Richard duke of York, it was enacted by Poyning's law that no parliament should be held in Ireland, till the chief governor and council should previously certify to the king the causes and considerations for holding the same; or, in other words, all the acts which were intended to be passed in the ensuing session of parliament. This law appears to have been rigidly enforced in subsequent parliaments, till the 28th and 33d of Henry VIII., when two parliaments were held and confirmed, notwithstanding the prescriptions of Poyning's law had not been observed. In the latter years of this monarch's reign, and in the fourth of Philip and Mary, an act was passed explanatory of Poyning's law, by which the lord lieutenant and council were permitted to certify to the king, while the parliament was sitting, such provisions as they might deem expedient to be formed into laws during the session of parliament. In the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth, parliaments were repeatedly held, wherein the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the crown was re-established, and all the acts restoring popery were repealed. Poyning's law was by some considered as the sacred palladium of the English government, and which it was almost sacrilegious to touch; and to propose its repeal was considered as a political profanation.

In early times the lord lieutenant gave the royal assent, as the king does in England, without any communication with him, or any particular license. In the reign of Henry VII. it was provided, that all the bills should be previously sent by the lord lieutenant and council to

England, which were intended to be passed in any parliament, as a reason for holding the same. The extreme inconvenience of this necessary preliminary caused two temporary suspensions of this law in the reign of Henry VIII.; and in that of Philip and Mary, propositions for laws or heads of bills, might be transmitted from the council during the sitting of parliament. Till 1782, the practice grounded on these two laws was, that the council sent over a money bill every new parliament, as a reason for its convention, and also such propositions as were made to them from the two houses, while the legislature was sitting, for acts of parliament. But in consequence of a law passed in the said year, no bill could afterwards be transmitted from the council before the meeting of parliament. Latterly, bills passed in Ireland as they do in England, and the lord lieutenant was empowered by commission to give the royal assent similar to the mode in England, when the king does not give in person.

Propositions for laws, or heads of bills, originated indifferently in either house. After two readings and a committal, they were sent by the council to England, and were usually submitted by the English privy council to the attorney and solicitor-general: they were then returned to the council of Ireland, who sent them to the commons, if they originated there (if not, to the lords); and after three readings they were sent up to the house of lords, where they went through the same stages; and then the lord lieutenant gave the royal assent in the same form which is observed in the imperial parliament. In all these stages in England and Ireland, any bill was liable to be rejected, amended, or altered; but when they had passed the great seal of England, no alteration could be made by the Irish parliament.

Latterly, Irish parliaments were convoked by proclamation from the crown. Bills originated in either house, and went from one to the other, as they do in the imperial parliament; after which they were deposited in the lords' office, when the clerk of the crown took a copy of them on parchment, which was attested to be a true copy by the great seal of Ireland on the left side of the instrument. The Irish council then transmitted them to England; and if they were approved of by the king, the copy was returned to Ireland, with the great seal of England on the right side, with a commission to the lord lieutenant to give the royal assent. There are very few instances of the crown having refused Irish bills, or of their not being returned, since the year 1782; but, nevertheless, the royal prerogative in negativing a bill in Ireland, was as clear a right as it is at this moment in England; and although the crown has seldom exercised this ungracious prerogative, it by no means follows that it either does not possess it, or that it has fallen into disuse.*

* Lord Mountmorres' History of the Irish Parliament.

In the reign of queen Elizabeth, the Irish parliament was more nearly modelled on that of England than it had hitherto been; and the following account is left by Mr Hooker, of a parliament held by Sir Henry Sidney, her deputy: "On the first day of which parliament, the lord deputy, representing her majesty's person, was conducted and attended in a most honourable manner into Christ's church, and from thence into the parliament house, where he sat under the cloth of estate, being apparelled in princely robes of crimson velvet, doubled or lined with ermine. And then and there, the lord chancellor made a very eloquent oration, declaring what the law was; of what great effect and value; how the common society of men was thereby maintained, and each man in his degree conserved, as well the inferior as the superior, the subject as the prince; and how careful all good commonwealths in the elder ages had been in this respect, which, considering the time, state, and necessity of the commonwealth, did from time to time ordain and establish most wholesome laws, either of their own devices, or drawn from some other commonwealth; and by these means have prospered and continued. And likewise how the queen's most excellent majesty, as a most natural mother over her children, and as a most vigilant princess over her subjects, hath been always, and now at present is, very careful, studious, and diligent in this behalf, having caused this present parliament to be assembled, and by the counsel and advice of you her nobility, and you her knights and burgesses, such good laws, orders, and ordinances may be decreed, as may be to the honour of Almighty God, the preservation of her majesty, and of her imperial crown of this realm; for which they were not only to be most thankful, but also to do their duties in this behalf."

On the 2nd of July, 1800, the kingdom of Ireland was united to Great Britain by a formal act of the legislature, by which the kingdom of Ireland is now represented in the imperial parliament of Great Britain. By the articles of Union (for which see page 267), one hundred members were to represent the commons of Ireland in the parliament of the united kingdom; but as the reform bill has entirely altered the representation, we refer to p. 401, for the particulars. Four lords spiritual, or bishops, by rotation of sessions, and twenty-eight lords temporal, elected for life, sit and vote in the imperial house of peers, on the part of Ireland. That kingdom now forms an integral part of the British dominions; and all the acts of the imperial parliament include Ireland, unless otherwise expressed

in the act.

CORPORATIONS.

ALL personal rights die with the person; but there are rights, which for the benefit of society, require to be continued when the person in whom they were first invested has become a clod of the valley. Yet as the formal revival and recognition of these rights in a succession of persons, would always be inconvenient and sometimes impracticable, it has been found necessary to create artificial persons, who may perpetually maintain and enjoy the original rights by a sort of immortality; these artificial persons are what are called bodies politic, bodies corporate, or corporations, and are qualified to take, grant, &c. The advantages which are thus derived to the interests of religion, learning and commerce, have been found by experience to be very great. The introduction of corporations into Europe seems to have been effected by Lewis le Gros, who erected the French boroughs into corporations, with the view of relieving the people from the feudal slavery, and of affording them protection, by means of certain privileges and a separate jurisdiction. It appears from Doomsday-book, that the greatest boroughs in England at the time of the conquest, were little more than country villages, whose inhabitants were only a number of low dependant tradesmen, living without any incorporation or particular civil

tie.

To show the advantages of these incorporations, let us consider the case of a college in any of the universities founded ad studendum et orandum, for the encouragement and support of religion and learning. If this were a mere voluntary assembly, the individuals of which it is composed might indeed read, pray, study, and perform scholastic exercises together, so long as they should agree to do so; but they could neither frame nor receive any laws or rules for their conduct; none at least which could have any binding force, for want of a coercive power to create a sufficient obligation. Neither could they be capable of retaining any privileges or immunities; for in the event of such privileges being attacked, which of all this unconnected assembly has the right or ability to defend them? And when they are dispersed by death or otherwise, how shall they transfer these advantages to another set of students equally unconnected as themselves? The case is the same also in respect of holding estates or other property, if land be granted for the purposes of religion or learning to twenty individuals not incorporated, there is no legal way of continuing or transmitting the property to any other persons for the same purposes, but by endless conveyances from one to another, as often as the parties are changed. But when they are consolidated, and united into a

corporation, they and their successors for ever are considered in law only as one person, who never dies: as one person, they have but one will, which is collected from the sense of the majority of the individuals: this individual may establish rules and orders for the regulation of the whole, which are a sort of municipal law for this little commonwealth; or rules and statutes may be imposed on it at its creation, which then take the place of natural laws the privileges and immunities, the estates and possessions of the corporation, when once they are vested in them, will remain for ever invested, without any new conveyance to new successions; for all the individual members that have existed from the foundation to the present time, or shall hereafter exist, are but one person in law, a person who never dies. In the same manner as the Thames, the Clyde, or the Forth, are the same rivers still, although the parts which compose them have been changing every instant from their first creation, ages ago.

These political constitutions seem to have been originally invented by the Romans; and Plutarch informs us that they were introduced by one of their early kings, Numa; who, on his accession to the throne, finding that the city was torn to pieces by the two rival factions of the Sabines and Romans, conceived the politic idea of subdividing these two into many smaller ones, by instituting separate societies of every manual trade and profession. They were afterwards held in much consideration by the civil law, in which they were called universitates, as forming one whole out of many individuals; or collegia, from their being gathered together: they were also adopted by the canon law, for the maintenance of ecclesiastical discipline; and from them our spiritual corporations are derived. But our laws have considerably refined and improved upon the invention, according to the usual genius of the English nation, particularly by the invention of corporations sole, that is, consisting of one person only, of which refinement the Roman lawyers had no notion whatever; their maxim being, that three persons made a corporation; though they held that if a a corporation consisting originally of three persons should be reduced to one, it may still subsist as, and be called, a corporation.

The law of England recognises two sorts of corporations, viz. aggregate and sole.

A corporation aggregate, consists of many persons united together into one society, and is kept up by perpetual succession: of which kind are the mayor and commonalty of a city or borough, the head and fellows of a college, and the dean and chapter of a cathedral church.

A corporation sole, consists of a single person and his official successors in some particular station, who are incorporated by law in order to give them some legal advantages, particularly that of perpetuity, which in their natural persons they could not have. In this sense, the king is a corpo

« 上一頁繼續 »