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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 se■lecting 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 predominate 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 exThere 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 ?"




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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

the burghs, on every male of full age not legally incapacitated, who pays a rent of £10, and has qualified by paying the assessed taxes, on or before the 20th of August of this year, and of July in every succeeding


Without claiming originality, my desire has been to give the greatest mass of information in the smallest possible compass: And as the Reform Bills have now become law, I devoutly hope, that the empire may be as prosperous under their operation, as it was under our old " time-honoured" constitution.

Blackstone says, that the original or first institution of parliament is one of those matters which lie so far hidden in the obscure ages of antiquity, that to trace it out is equally difficult and uncertain. The word parliament itself is comparatively of modern date, derived from the French, signifying merely an assembly that met and conferred together. It was first applied to general assemblies of the estates of France, under Lewis VII. about the middle of the twelfth century.

It is certain, that, long previous to the introduction of the Norman language into England, all matters of public importance were debated and settled in great councils of the realm. And this general council has been established under several different names from time immemorial; such as mychil synoth, or great council, mychil gemote, or great meeting, but more generally witena gemote, or the meeting of wise men, so that it would appear parliaments, or great national councils, were coeval with the kingdom itself. How these parliaments were summoned is matter of dispute, and particularly, if the commons were summoned at all: it is generally agreed that the main constitution of parliament which now exists, was not marked out before the year 1215, being the year in which King John granted to England the Great Charter, and in which provision is first made for admitting the commons of England to a share of the legislation. In Magna Charta, king John promises, for himself and his heirs and succes. sors, to summon all archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons, personally and all other tenants in chief under the crown by the sheriffs and bailiffs: to meet at a certain place, with forty days' notice, to assess aids and scutages, when necessary. There was no such thing in existence as a house of Commons, till the year 1266, being the 49th of Henry III., when writs, which are still extant, were, for the first time, issued by the crown to summon knights, citizens, and burgesses, to attend and give their advice to the king in parliament.

Parliament is summoned by the king's writ, regularly issued out of chancery, by advice of the privy council, at least forty days before it commences its sittings. It belongs exclusively to the royal prerogative to summon parliaments: no parliament can be convened by its own authority, or by any other authority than that of the king alone, for the

crown (under God) is the source and fountain of all power within the realm. If the same persons who compose the parliament, should meet as a parliament without the king's writ, they would be guilty of high treason, and all their enactments as a parliament would not only be null and void, but treasonable by the law. In all cases of conquest or successful rebellion, as in the rival houses of York and Lancaster, the law submitted to the powerful; and whichever of these houses won the field, never missed a parliament to confirm their title: even Cromwell found a parliament to support his usurpation. In all the concessions of the crown to parliament, it has ever preserved to itself this prerogative, and for very good reasons. In the first place, For its own preservation, because parliament derives its whole authority from the crown, and the law of England has absolutely barred all coercion on the crown, as whoever had the power of coercion would be superior to the crown, which would destroy the very foundation of the government; and the power that is derived from the crown cannot be on a level, far less superior, to it. Both houses of parliament call the king their sovereign lord, and style themselves his most dutiful and obedient subjects and servants, and swear allegiance to him; And, secondly, Because, supposing parliament had a right to meet without being called by the king, it is impossible to imagine that all the members, and each of the houses would unanimously agree upon the proper time and place of meeting; and, if one half of the members should meet and the other half absent themselves, who shall determine which is really the parliament, the part that assembles, or that which stays away? But the crown, by preserving to itself the prerogative of calling parliaments together, prevents confusions and revolutions, which would set every private person on the throne, and introduce an anarchy, which would admit of neither order nor remedy.

But although the parliament cannot meet without the king's writ, yet, at the Revolution in 1688, a convention of the preceding parliament assembled in London, which was afterwards, by the authority of the crown, turned into a parliament. The throne had become vacant, before the convention met without any royal summons. They did not assemble without writ, and make the throne vacant, but the throne being previously vacant by King James II.'s abdication, they assembled without any writ, as they must have done, if they assembled at all. Had the throne been full, their meeting would not merely have been irregular, it would have been high treason; but, as the king had abdicated, such meeting became absolutely necessary. In this convention, the three estates of the realm declared the throne to be vacant, and recognised the succession to be in Mary, the eldest daughter of the late king, who succeeded to the throne, according to the order of the descent of the crown of England, with whom the Prince of Orange, her husband, was associated in the government. There was thus

no change in the constitution, the throne being filled by hereditary succession; in proof of this, it may be remarked, that the entail of the crown went to the heirs of Queen Mary, and not to those of the Prince of Orange, which shows that his administering the government, was no infraction on the hereditary descent of the crown. The first statute of William and Mary explains the grounds of that revolution, and of the settlement then made," And whereas the late King James the Second, having abdicated the government, and the throne being thereby vacant," &c. This statute also settles the point of the three estates of which parliament is composed, which, meaning the late convention which met without any authority of the king or queen, says, "Whereas the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, assembled at Westminster, representing all the estates of the people of this realm," &c. therefore, the king is not an estate of parliament, for here were three estates without him.

The Revolution parliament repealed several former laws, but they left untouched, and in their full force, such statutes as declared the supremacy of the crown, and condemned any coercion upon it. Such as 16th Rich. II. which declares, "That the crown of England hath been so free at all times, that it hath been in no earthly subjection, but immediately subject to God, in all things touching the regality of the same crown, and to none other." The 24th Henry VIII. which recognises the king as the "one supreme head and king, unto whom a body politic, compact of all sorts and degrees of people, divided in terms, and by names of spirituality and temporality, been bounden and owen to bear, next to God, a natural and humble obedience. He being also instituted and furnished, by the goodness and sufferance of Almighty God, with plenary whole and entire power, pre-eminence, authority, prerogative, and jurisdiction, to render and yield justice and final determination to all manner of folks, resiants, or subjects, within this his realm, in all causes, matters, debates, and contentions," &c. The 12th Car. II. wherein it is declared :-"That by the undoubted and fundamental laws of this kingdom, neither the peers of this realm, nor the commons, nor both together, in parliament or out of parliament, nor the people, collectively or representatively, nor any other persons whatsoever, ever had, have, or ought to have, any coercive power over the persons of the kings of this realm." The 13th Car. II. which makes it a præmunire, either by "writing, printing, preaching, or other speaking, to declare or affirm, that both houses of parliament, or either house of parliament, have or hath a legislative power without the king;" and it also declares the power of the sword to be wholly in the king; "and that both or either of the houses of parliament cannot, nor ought to pretend to the same, nor can, nor lawfully may raise or levy any war, offensive or defensive, against his majesty, his heirs, or lawful successors; and yet the contrary thereof hath of late years been practised, almost to

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