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the lessons of thy divine wisdom, in the following of thy doctrines, and in the just estimation of thy illustrious character as Patriot as well as Poet, Milton! thou should'st be living at this hour.
Mr. Carpenter has zealously performed his task, and the result is most satisfactory, except to the bigots who tremble at the name of Milton whenever it is used in its full meaning. The biography is also enriched with ample quotations from the Prose Works. They, who read the samples, will seek the whole. We ought not to omit saying that the Liheliest Means to keep Hirelings out of the Church and the Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing are to be had of the same publisher as the Life, at only Sixpence each. Ño Englishman should be without them. If any of our own subscribers plead that they cannot afford to buy them, we entreat them to discontinue the National for a while, and purchase these pamphlets instead. We assure them they cannot be losers by the exchange. We hope they will afford all.
NOTES OF THE MONTH. Two Parliaments are sitting in London : one composed of the Representatives of the People; the other the Representative of Property. The rival Houses cannot co-exist for any length of time. Which must give way? The Faction's Parliament evinces no disposition of resigning even a portion of its usurpation. Out of six hundred and fifty-eight members, only EIGHTY-SIX are willing to allow any notice of the People's requisition. How many of those eighty-six will support the Universal Right, as set forth in the “National Petition”?. A majority of this same House has declared that there shall be no speaking on the presentation of petitions from the People-doubtless to mark their respect for the petitioners. It is easy to foresee their treatment of the People's Charter. WHAT MUST FOLLOW? Shall the chosen of less than three hundred thousand men trample six millions? Delegates of the People ! our trust is in your firmness; in the vigour and unanimity of your proceeding. Act consistently with your high calling as advocates of the outlawed People! You are not representatives of a mere faction; you sit not in the senate for the gratification of your individual schemes, for the enthroning of your particular prejudices : you are the delegated Voice of the Many, whose unity of utterance is power and promise of success.—We rejoice that our Parliament has determined to send Missionaries through the country, for the propagation of the Gospel of Freedom. There are yet many of the People who need awakening.. We trust that precautions will be taken in order to disappoint the many-handed Law-that monster so worthy of its parentage, so uncertain in defence of Right, (witness the case of the Canadian Prisoners !) so surely and readily offensive in the service of the Established Wrong. Tyranny is preparing for the struggle.—The Anti-cornlaw Agitation is doing mischief to the cause of Freedom. Think you, if the robbers take off this tax, they will not put on another? It would be needless to expose this barefaced fraud, but that certain of the People's best-intentioned friends have lent to it the sanction of their short-sighted honesty. We have had enough of petitioning for patches. Our wounds are more than skin-deep. We have been too long mocked with palliatives. We must have a renovation of the System-a new Constitution.—A word or two on the National Rent! We appeal to all who do not desire slavery, to subscribe for this Fund, to the utmost of their ability. It is no time for apathy. We well. know the poverty of the Unrepresented; but though our external resources are inferior to our tyrants', our devotion must be more than substitute. Which of the countrymen of Hampden will refuse even his last shilling to purchase the freedom of his children? We may need more than money !
Feb. 23 1839.
TO MY COUNTRY:
Awake, awake, my Country! thou that art
AN EXAMINATION OF THE RIGHT OF PARLIAMENT.
" The English Constitution, like all others, has been in a state of continual fluctuation."-.
Have our Houses of Parliament, as at present constituted, any right to make laws for, or govern, the Nation? Have they a right to alter the laws of former Parliaments? Had those former Parliaments any right to make those laws? Has the British Empire any properly-constituted or rightfounded Government? Has it any such thing as a Constitution ?-One answer applies to all these questions--NO! The British Isles are under the rule of Anarchy. The People are the slaves of an usurping Oligarchy: Where is the Charter of our servitude, the patent of our masters' supremacy? Reign these sovereigns by divine right? They do not pretend it. "By what right, then? In the right of Might.- FELLOW COUNTRYMEN! we beseech you to examine the title of the British Parliament; not doubting but that such examination will prove the insufficiency of our rulers' claims to authority and obedience.
Among our Saxon ancestors, the right to possess arms for personal defence, and of voting in all the affairs of his town or district, belonged to every freeman. In the year 1066, A. C., a Norman bandit with a powerful army invaded England, and succeeded in reducing the Saxon population. The conquered country was parcelled out among his noble followers, who exercised absolute dominion over the property and persons of the vanquished. For mutual protection against the injured, to preserve their impunity, and partly from jealousy of each other, these leaders of robbers occasionally met in council. This was the origin of our most illustrious House of Peers. “ While the Normans that followed the Conqueror, made spoil of the English, they would not endure that any thing but the will of the Conqueror should stand for law: but after a descent or two, when themselves were become English, and found themselves beaten with their own rods, they then began to savour the difference between subjection and slavery, and insist upon the law of Mine and Thine."* The kings of England, however, had no formal parliament till about the eighteenth year of Henry I. He, having usurped the kingdom, therefore flattered his nobility and people; and, to content his vassals, gave them the Great Charter. This Charter, though renewed by Stephen, and confirmed by Henry II., was scarcely observed in any one * Sir Walter Raleigh.
article. In the reign of John, the barons demanded its renewal; and forced from their reluctant sovereign, that foundation of English Liberty, Mugna Charta, (1215) the only article of which (among numerous privileges to the barons, and some allowances to freemen,) at all benefitting the great body of the People, the villeins, was that they should not by any fine be deprived of their implements of husbandry. The Charter was again confirmed on the accession of Henry III.; again and again infringed and reallowed according as the King or Barons gained the ascendancy. The People were little cared for. So stood affairs till 1265, when the Barons, who had taken arms against Henry III. for his repeated violations of their Charter, being masters, but fearing a reverse, sought to win the affections of the enslaved People by some slight pretence of regard for their interest. The Earl of Leicester, the chief of the Barons, summoned a Parliament; and ordered, in addition to the usual complement of Lords Spiritual and Temporal, the attendance of two Knights from each shire, and also of Deputies from the principal boroughs.* This is the first admission of any class of the People to uuthority, since the Conquest. The Knights of the shire were only deputies from the smaller barons and lesser nobility. The representatives of the boroughs, however, were not called again to Parliament till the twenty-third year of the next reign (Edward I.), when that prince, finding a difficulty in inforcing supplies for his multiplied necessities, and feeling the inconvenience of having to transact his business with every particular borough, issued writs to the sheriffs, commanding the attendance of two deputies from every borough, authorized by their fellow-burgesses to give assent to whatever he and his council might require. These deputies composed no essential part of the Parliament. They did not even sit with the knights of the shire; they had no voice in the enacting of laws : their sole business was to give their consent to the king's demands for supplies, (as now, a persuasion to the taxed to pay quietly,) and, that done, they were dismissed, though the Parliament continued to sit. At length, a practice arose, for the deputies from the boroughs to present petitions for the redress of grievances; which were granted, or not, according to the humour of the king, or his necessity for their willing service. The partition of family estates, diminishing the importance of the smaller barons, and, at the same time, Commerce (partially encouraged by the kings for the sake of augmenting their Customs,) increasing the wealth and influence of the burgesses, these two bodies became assimilated, and the deputies from the boroughs and the knights of the shires at last came to sit in the same house. The functions of the altered House remained the same. The monarch was the prime mover in every thing. Parliaments were only called when the tyrant needed money, and thought it less trouble to give his subjects “the rod into their own hands than to commit them to the executioner.”+ Sometimes the tax was levied without asking their leave. Occasionally they bribed the despot to allow some alteration in the oppression of the laws; but this interference in the province of legislation was always resented by the sovereign when he felt his strength sufficient. How servile these Parliaments were, we may learn from the following samples. In the reign of Henry VIII., they declared that the king's proclamation had all the force of law. Sometimes even this sanction was not sought. The kings interfered in the nomination of deputies, even to the naming of the whole body. At the commencement of every session, it was usual to pray for liberty of Speech; and the sovereign imprisoned members who transgressed the bounds of a deferential, or rather, abject remonstrance. Till within a few years of the Commonwealth, the monarch constitutionally possessed all power except that of imposing taxes; and, even in this respect, the Commons were but slaves, allowed to assess their fellow-slaves' proportion of tribute ; nor were these privileges granted, save to prevent inconvenience
• The boroughs were erected by royal palent. Liberty of trade and some few other privilege were conseired upon them: thus encouraging their industry for the purpose of taxation.
+ Sir Walter Raleigh.