« PreviousContinue »
ject to the lapprobation of the king : he gives, when required, the casting vote. In their legislative capacity their debates are always private.
When a vacancy happens by the death of any one of them, the majority of the remainder fix upon two persons, either of whom they deem eligible to occupy his place. Their names are presented to the Governor, who makes choice of one. The situation is for life, except in cases of criminal conduct, resignation, or the acceptance of any place entitling him to a seat in the council. ' It brings with it considerable honour, much trouble, but no emolument. The Keys always possessed, and seem never to have abused, the confidence of the people. In the seventeenth century, they strongly resisted the encroachments attempted to be made by the lord upon the landed interest, and finally, in the year 1703, obtained the act of settlement or covenant between them. Foreigners as well as natives, not excluding the clergy, are eligible to seats in this house, the only requisite qualification being the possession of land, and the age of twenty-one years. Were the House of Keys once corrupt, it would probably continue so for ever; its very nature is such, that it could never be purified.
Although the people are no way concerned in their election, the Keys style themselves their representatives, as is evinced in a letter, of which the following is a copy, dated March 13, 1798, at a time when persons of almost all ranks were making subscriptions for carrying on the war ;
- The Keys of the Isle of Man, the consti. tutional representatives of the people, warmly attached to their sovereign, and the constitution of Great Britain, offer this, their mite, in aid of their cause : and they feelingly regret that, in tendering so small a sum,* there is so great a disproportion between their wishes and their abilities, having no public funds at their disposal, and being prevented from raising any, in consequence of an influence, equally unjust and impolitic, which, unfortunately for their coun. try, they are unable to remove."
It appears by the letter, that the different branches of government were not, at this time, too cordially connected. An act of 25 Geo. III. grants to the House of Keys the discretionary power of permitting the importation of cured herrings in times of scarcity. This is the only
* The sum inclosed was 1751.
place where they are acknowledged in any British act of parliament.
Laws passed by the legislature of this island are called acts of Tinwald. Before they become binding upon the people, they must, according to long usage, be promulgated from a certain artificial mount, near the spot where the highroad from Castletown to Ramsey, and that from Douglas to Peel, cross each other, called the Tinwald-hill, the day of the nativity of John the Baptist being formerly the only usual time of such promulgation. Hence it is, that the acts · derive their name.
Besides the statutes or acts of Tinwald are some ordinances which, by custom, have the force of law. They may be termed part of the common law; and originated in orders and regulations made by separate branches of the legislature, but which did not receive the assent of all.. They are quite unconstitutional. Some persons have thought, but erroneously, that present ordinances, or such acts as have passed that part of the legislature resident in Man, but have not been signed by the King of England, would be binding upon the people. About the year 1790, some bills passed the Manks branches of the
legislature, which they wished to put in force without delay, and waited for nearly two years before the King's pleasure respecting them was known. His consent to them, in the original form, was finally refused. Had modern ordinances the force of law, no delay would have been requisite; and, indeed, the King's consent would be nugatory.
The ceremonies of the promulgation are now greatly fallen off and altered. The following account of the forms recently observed, I copy from a copy:
“ About eleven o'clock the cavalcade arrived at St. John's, where the Duke of Athol was received by the Clergy and Keys, and saluted by the fencibles: he then went in state to the chapel, where a sermon was preached by the reverend and learned Mr. Corlett, vicar of Kirk German.
After service followed the procession of state. The fencibles were drawn up in two lines, from the chapel door to the Tinwald-hill; and the procession passed between the two lines in the following order:
The clergy, two and two, the juniors first.
The Vicars general:
The Clerk of the Rolls.
The Captains of the different parishes. As soon as his Grace had ascended the hill, he was seated, under the canopy, in his chair of state. The Deemsters then proceeded in the customary business of the day. The new laws were first read in English and then in Manks :: and after all the business on the hill was gone through, three cheers were given.
His Grace then descended, and the procession moved back to the chapel in the same regular order. After the necessary business was finished in the chapel, such as signing the laws, &c. his Grace was conducted to his coach. ***
The ancient manner of holding a court was much more ceremonious; and I copy from the beginning of the statute-book the following regulations and instructions: