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to their tyrants, and, by a show of liberty to render less unpalatable the burthens of their slavery. The decline of the feudal system, and consequent diminution of the military force at the royal disposal, much increased the influence of the Commons; the invention of Printing, also, powerfully aided the Cause of Liberty. Men's eyes were opened; and religious and political innovations were the speedy result. Men soon saw the necessity of circumscribing the power of princes. The exorbitant pretensions to absolutism of the weak and pedantic James I., hastened the growth of these alterations; and the violent exercise of the royal prerogative by Charles I. in the taxing of his subjects, and his endeavours to force upon them obnoxious forms of religion, precipitated the degradation of the monarchy. The rebellion commenced in Scotland. Surrounded by difficulties, the king was compelled, in 1640, to summon a Parliament, afterwards known as the Long Parliament. The People, awakening from the old-time lethargy of slavishness, readily supported the patriot innovators. Charles was executed for high treason against the Sovereign People. The republican portion of the Long Parliament was now the supreme authority ; but it seemed that they desired to render their sittings permanent. The victorious army opposed them; and on the 10th of April, 1653, Oliver Cromwell entered the House with a body of soldiers, and forcibly dissolved the Parliament. The whole power of the realm remaining in his hands, he himself chose the next Parliament; a majority of which soon after formally resigned their authority into his hands : the remainder were expelled by force. He soon summoned another Parliament; and also issued writs for the attendance of a House of Peers, which body had for some years been dispensed with. After the death of Cromwell, the army recalled the remains of the Long Parliament. Again were they expelled; and again restored. On the 16th of March, 1660, at the command of General Monk, they finally dissolved themselves; and a new Parliament was elected to make way for the restoration of Charles II. Parliaments, also, resumed their old servility. In 1688, William, Prince of Orange, invaded England "for the sole purpose of having a legal and free Parliament assembled."* Having forced James II. to abdicate, William called a Parliament, composed of all the members who had had seats in any parliament of Charles II.; and, with their accommodating sanction,“ wrote circular letters to the counties and corporations of England; and his orders were universally complied with.” *
This “ Convention" invited him to ascend the vacant throne; was by his authority converted into a Parliament; and, in their new capacity, confirmed his assumption of royalty. So the King's command made a Parliament of that which was none; and the Parliament's subserviency ratified the accession of him to whose illegal ordinance they owed their own authority.
From the foregoing history it appears
1.-That the power of the House of Lords originated in conquest or robbery.
2.—That the first assembling of the Commons was nothing more than a privilege, granted to a fraction of the People, to further the particular purposes of the tyrant granters.
3.-—That the Commons, the representatives by royal allowance of a portion of the community, were not, for a long period, suffered to perform any of the functions of legislators; but were merely assessors to apportion the amount of fines, or robberies, to be exacted from their constituents and the rest of the Nation, for the benefit of their tyrants.
4.—That as the origin of the House of Commons was by permission of the aforesaid plunderers, so its increase of authority has been an encroachment on its robber patrons, giving it no title to reverence, but as a vindication of the right of the Now-enslaved to encroach upon its usurped privileges, and to obtain, in their turn, a share in the legislature. Methinks, the descendants of a gong of robbers, who held their privileges
by the gift of a foreign conqueror, can have little claim to govern freemen. Later Creations of Peers have been the work of Sovereigns descended from the Conqueror, or holding their crown by right of conquest, or descent from other Conquerors. Till some better title can be shown for those Sovereigns, their creations are invalidated. Again, some Sovereigns have been chosen by the Chartered Parliaments, and so pretended to a title which the granters, not possessing, could not bestow.
If the burgesses, or any other portion of the community, had, at any period of our history, a right to obtain for themselves a share in the national government, from which by long-abused force they had been excluded, is not the same right available for any who are by them excluded? If they plead that they owe all authority to the Charters of Royalty, we have already shown that the Royalty had no right, and, consequently, could confer none. They cannot plead the National Will
, since it is evident that the Majority of the Nation has never been consulted on any subject.
But, it is said, The Parliament of 1688 (we have shown how constituted,) made an agreement in the name of the Nation (bear in mind who deputed them!) whereby they bound themselves, their heirs, and posterities to a certain form of government for ever; and we, their posterity, are therefore bound (in honour, or conscience, or how?) to maintain that form of government, however useless, or inconvenient, or prejudicial it may prove to us. Why, this is worse than the “Grace of God" of the old tyrannies. Surely God has given to us the same right, as they exercised, of resisting oppression. Surely we may use such means as seem fitting to us, even as they did what seemed good to them, to achieve freedom: although we may differently define Freedom. What egregious absurdity is their pretension! Even in the most trivial affairs a living father has no right to command his son after that son arrives at years of maturity. Shall it be tolerated, then, that from his grave he shall control him, even, perhaps, when the son's age exceeds that to which his sire had arrived, when the son's wisdom, through better opportunity and from accumulation of his own and former experience, also far exceeds the wisdom of his father! The absurdity is monstrous. But had the opposite argument even the colouring of reason, there was no consent of the Nation to the Revolution of 1688 or to the Bill of Rights. All that can be advanced is the tacit compliance of ignorant weakness; which
may pleaded for the most atrocious of successful villanies.
Even though our argument were altogether false, what advantage is gained for the present House of Commons? They must still give some justification of their existence. What but that they represent the Nation? It is notorious that they do not. The number of registered Electors in the United Kingdom is between eight and nine hundred thousand ; of these not three-fourths (six hundred thousand) actually vote; a majority of these (say three hundred and fifty thousand) return the members. THE MALE POPULATION ABOVE TWENTY-ONE YEARS OF AGE NUMBERS ABOVE SIX MIL
Yet further, as a majority of the members enact the laws, the Representatives of less than two hundred thousand men may legislate for Six MILLIONS.
We have brought our history no lower than the Parliament of 1688. Nothing has been done since to merit the regard of those who revere the wisdom of their ancestors, and prove their reverence by not following their example. Were the Governor of the Universe to become incarnate, to plead his title to obedience, our Constitutionalists would look for precedents : we fear, in vain. But, for the People's right, we can refer these lovers of antiquity to good precedents. Our Saxon ancestors may suit them. But why stop there? Further back! the world grows old and childish. Will they refer to that Lawgiver who asserted the absolute equality of mankind? We must name him, for the satisfaction of those who have undergone the ceremony of baptism-JESUS CHRIST. Pity they have troubled themselves to amend his laws!
All men are equal: all men have the right to resist oppression. The Present is not the Slave of the Past.—The House of Lords has no title to the Nation's respect; the House of Commons does not represent the Nation. Hand-labourers are, at least, as intelligent and honest as landlords and capitalists. The honest and industrious men of the nineteenth century are as entitled to achieve freedom, as any since the world began fermenting. We bid them, in God's name, to be up and stirring, that they may win back their birthright, and bequeath Liberty and Justice and Happiness to their heirs and posterities for ever.
If the complaint of Liberty be unheard, or insufficiently answered, let thé names of Eliot, and Hampden, of Vane, of Milton, and of Sydney, be never again mentioned in the kennel of the Slave!
These times strike monied worldlings with dismay:
The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen, in his person and property, and in their management. Try by this, as a tally, every provision of our constitution, and see if it hangs directly on the will of the people.-Jefferson.
The origin of Aristocracy was worse than foppery. It was robbery. The first Aristocrats all countries were brigands. Those of latter times, sycophants.—Paine
Distinctions.—Mankind will never be, in an eminent degree, virtuous and happy, till each man shall possess that portion of distinction, and no more, to which he is entitled by his personal merits.-Godwin.
Legislation. The vices and virtues of a state are the effects of its legislation. -Helvetius.
Liberty with danger is to be preferred to slavery with security.--Sallust.
Liberty—absolute liberty, full and perfect liberty, is the thing we require.--
For a nation to be free, it is sufficient that she wills it.-La Fayette.
Who but a fool would think of sacrificing himself for his country? Yes, Leonidas certainly was a fool. Andrew Marvel was another: he should have come down from his garret to accept the king's pension, and turned poetlaureate. We have no marvels in these latter days. Sir John Eliot was no doubt a very disloyal citizen when he refused to pay an unjust tax; very “ungentlemanly” when he “inconvenienced his majesty's government” by pressing his spirited“ remonstrance”; it was very foolish of him to get himself imprisoned, and still more to prefer a prison death to asking pardon for his " factious opposition":—if it was so called then: perhaps not, there was one Hampden in that House of Commons: but he was a rebel. Milton was a rebel.
Washington was a rebel. Lord Drum is a patriot. Early in life was he imbued with the eternal principles of right (not exactly Sir Robert Peels): very great was his hatred of abuse; exceeding zealous was he in the advocacy of reform. He was then plain Mr. Sheepskin. Now he is a peer. A peer cannot wear the clothes of a commoner. Lord Drum is a patriot. More than twenty years, "man and” nobleman, did he talk about reform. One day, too, he happened to do a little bit : scarcely enough to frighten him; but he is a cautious man, and he resolved to avoid farther temptation. The little reform happened as follows:-Some few honest gentlemen had insinuated themselves into the senate with forged qualifications (no doubt meaning well); a sort of obtaining money under false pretences. It was thought advisable, therefore, as the people were getting riotous--kicking against their gentle masters, as even a good-tempered ass with an “established” raw will sometimes do—, to make a law, not to punish or turn out the interlopers, but to prohibit more than a certain extent of the foul play: on the same principle that the appointed number of lashes is not always attempted to be given to the slave-soldier at once, for fear that he may not live to endure all; or as children put by a little morsel of the stolen sweetmeat for to-morrow, that they may not be made sick. Lord Drum was one of the framers of this prohibitory law, and was generally allowed to have been nearer to the Right (they flung all sorts of things at it, from all sorts of distances :) than any of his colleagues. He, however, missed it. Well, the law was made, was pronounced very good, like God's creation, and infinite as the Creator. Alas!" it was born lame. Never mind! the workmen were all proud of their job, and sure it was the perfection of machinery. The people, however, for whose benefit it was constructed, said it was no_go, and set to work to erect a power of their own. Of course the patriotic Drum opposed them. “Certainly,” said he, “ the law was meant to work, and if it cannot work, put it upon crutches: its constitution is good.” This little lame thing, of no use without crutches, was Lord Drum's hobby. O, but he was a patriot ! He did more than this.
Some time after this achievement, the people of Lancashire quarrelled with their government. It was at no very remote period, though the circumstance is not recorded in all the Histories of England. They do not all speak truth. The government (as governments sometimes will) had grossly robbed them, prevented education, favoured monopolies, stood in the way of all improvement, lied to them, and laughed at their complaints. The people bore this as long as they could—longer than perhaps they should-, and tried all constitutional means of remedying their grievances. At length the government grew furious that the people would not commit themselves by any act of violence, and, by way of trying their temper, ordered the arrest of all the most worthy and most respected men of Lancashire, in fact, all the popular leaders. This irritated the people beyond endurance; they endeavoured to rescue the prisoners; and, as the government desired, an insurrection commenced. Not being well concerted, the people having indeed been driven into it, purposely hurried by the government, the “rebellion” was soon pụt down. A great number of the Lancashire men and women were murdered ; and some few villages, when all was quiet, were burnt as an example. The government then took away from the rebels, as the Lancashire men were called, all rights of citizenship (not one-twentieth part of the population had been engaged in the insurrection); and determined to appoint a despot to manufacture a new species of slavery as a punishment for the attempt at freedom. Who could be so fit as the little reformer, tbe high-strained and strait-laced Drum. Having ever been the strenuous opponent of irresponsible power, a tremendous stickler for natural and inalienable rights, he, after a little coy grimacing, accepted the office, solely to establish new claims on the people's gratitude. He went to Lancashire, and actually did not hang any one. No! he constituted himself judge, jury, and accuser, and outlawed without any other trial the men who had only done that for which he was wont to argue ; punishing them, not because they had done any wrong, but for fear they should do wrong or lead others to do wrong: therefore, said he, it was prevention, not punishment, and who ought to complain of prevention? Do not forget Drum was a patriot. He also did his best to satisfy the “loyal and well-disposed” inhabitants of Lancashire, who had defended the government plunder; and, after a short dictatorship, left the county in so promising & condition that a fresh disturbance broke out before he reached London. Some very particular and straight-forward people, who do not know how to turn round and look about them, may wonder why this great patriot did not rather sympathize with the insurgents—who certainly had justice on their side_instead of making common cause with their oppressors. If it be not justification enough to say that he approved of his own conduct, I confess I cannot defend him : unless it be on the ground that the rebels spoke a very outlandish dialect, not to be called English; and therefore it was just and proper that they should fall“ among thieves”: and Lord Drum was no Samaritan, but a good Christian—and a patriot.
When the dictator reached home, he found the people of his own neighbourhood doing much the same as the others had done; and, lest they should go astray, or not do all things decently and in order, the high-minded patriot re-mounted his old hobby and offered them the benefit of his experience. He would be their leader. “Liberals of all denominations, follow me: I will lead you to victory! See what I did in Lancashire !”—Good God! the wooden horse don't move: it is just where it stood in the old time; and the people are far beyond their leader's ken.
I am afraid my readers have had enough of the Patriot. I will only subjoin a few of his positive and negative qualifications for the great name in which he glories.
He is a great esteemer of the nobility of man: but thinks more of an unmeaning word or a bit of blue ribbon; and, therefore, stands by his "order” and does not mean to rise above the peerage (I beg pardon : he will not sink below it). He has a decided aversion for all monopolies: but thinks coals quite cheap enough; and that private property is no monopoly, but a vested right, which does no harm to any one. He would do justice to all men, indifferently and without favour: and works the problem by robbing the nation of fifty-thousand pounds a year to give to a person who does nothing, and allowing an honest man, whose very sinews have been worn out with excessive labour, his choice of starvation or imprisonment and separation from his family: He would grant-feeling that he has sufficient authority so to doperfect liberty of opinion : but all men should ask his leave to express their opinions : for he is well aware that there is a time and place for all things;