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try, they might, properly enough, perThe Representative History of Great haps, have insisted on the immutability
Britain an i Irelund: being a History of of their institutions; but, if the circuitthe House of Commons, and of the stances of their country, like all other Counties, Cities, and Boroughs, of the things under heaven, were the subjerts United Kingdom, from the earliest
of vicissitude, on what principle cvuld Period. By T. H. B. Oldfield. Six they indulge the imagination ihat their
descendants should refrain from all volumes. Price £3 12s. London, Bald
change, whether with design to improve win, Cradock, and Joy. 1816.
the political systein generally, or with When the violence of the French Re- design to adopt it to events rising fresh volution burst on the astonished world, with every shifting age? In fact, the asthose who were but partially informed tients never entertained potions so abon the probable consequences, proclaim- surd : and those who look back to past ed their rapturous expectations without ages, wishing to enjoy parts of what, reserve. Instead of waiting to witness in their imagination, was good, must the course it might take, they called on allow us to say, that unless they are all nations to imitate the exainple, and willing to take the whole, as things change---or, in the party language of then stood, their appeal is entitled to the day, to reforın the tyranny under little attention. which they groaned. It cannot be de There is every reason to believe that nied, by any rational mind, that the the States of Europe, in what the Roc fluctuating course of human affairs, in- mans--and we from theni, bave beca variably brings with it a variety of im- pleased to call their barbarous state, disperfections and weaknesses : neither can cussed their national affairs in national it be denied, that the energies of the assemblies. This we learn from Taritas; human intellect are constantly employed and there are remains of these institas in counteracting this privciple of deteri- tions in Germany, Bohemia, Hungary, oration, by endeavouring to convert it to and other countries to this day. advantage. Times change, and with When the army of the Franks passed them manners.
the Rbine, the monarch cousulted the It was not to be expected that our army on measures to be taken. That own constitution, especially the popular these measures were made kuown to the part of it, the representative, should whole, as Gregory of Tours says, in escape from this phrenzy of reforma- universis Leudis ium sublimibus quam tion; and the publication before ns was puuperibus, – of all ranks, high aed then compiled with a view to forward the low, is credible enough; though it cangood work of restoring it, to what the not be thought that the vnies of the writer supposed it to be, many centuries chiefs was not predominant in the issue. age. If the purpose had been honest, And we find the monarch answering to and the conduct of the author had been a proposal of importa ure, that he wast impartial, we should have hailed the consult the general assenbly of the communication with joy. But, the pur- Frank people, before he could give a pose could not be prononnced honest, determinate answer. * The admission of in the sense of benevolent, till it had the Bishops somewhat yaried the compa been proved, that what was suitable to sition of the States General, but did not the state of society and of the country, greatly change it. in antient times, is suited to the state of When Pepin desired to divide his dothe country now. Our forefathers might, minions between Carloman and Charlewith the greatest propriety, establish magne, he convoked an Assembly of the proceedings and principles for themselves :----they were competent judges * Conventum nobilium debere eam of their thea situation, and of the pur- uggregure Francorum, el communi stats poses they intended to answer. Could de omnibus consulere rebus : se rere they also have conferred immutability judicio illorum, in omnibus paritura, on the then circumstauces of their coun- nec preceptis promisit obstaturun.
Franks, and the Bishops, at St. Denis. Others but possessors of land, who could The Assembly consented, and the par-claim the legislative and judicial privi. tition was made : bui, the Bishops were leges. Aris and commerce had not then Dow summoned as lords of territory, in created viher ranks to assure the exaddition to their spiritual character. In ercise of this invaluable blessing." 806 Charlemagne also desired to divide “ As land was the only original posses. his Realm; but, not without the univer- sion of our Saxon ancestors, it was this sal consent of his people :---ut plenitur species of property alone, which could omnes consentire debeunt. And when entitle them to the right of fret men.” in 813, he wished to place the Imperial Now, is he thinks proper to annul arts crown on the head of his son, Louis le and commerce, and to reduce all proDébonnaire, he held a national assem- perty to that of land alone, as in the bly at Aix la Chapelle, in which he de- Saxon times, then let him fairly restore manded from each member individually, the Saxon constitution, as a proper acwhether it was his pleasure that he companiment to his favourite siate of should confer the title of Emperor on things. But, that he will persuade the bis Son? Having received a unanimous present, or any succeeding generation, answer, Yes, he pronounced him his to realize a dream so destructive, can associate in the empire; and directed excite no apprehension, even among the him to go to the Altar, and take the most ignorant. crown from off it, and place it on his The character Mr. Oldfield gives of head, “ This was to shew,” says Me- the Saxons, as a band of robhers, obzerai," that he held it from God, by the taining settlements by violence, at the voice of his people."
expense of the original possessors, the But, it canuot be imagined, that every Britons, is little calculaied to raise fa. individual of the French people could vourable anticipations of the purity of assist at St. Denis, or at Aix la Cha- their institutions, political or legislative. pelle, or at any other council
, though call- That what they had acquired by rapine ed General : the chiefs or principals, they would secure by enactment, canthe leading personages, only, could not be doubted; but, in the mean while, trausact the business, really; and this ap- what became of the rights and privipears, as history gradually opens on us, leges of that prior population, which with further particulars. So Louis VIII. they allowed to remain among them? speaks of the advice and consent of his What was good for the Saxons, was Archiepiscoporum, Episcoporum, Com- surely bad for the Britons; what estabitum, Baronum, et Militum regni lished these, most certainly subjugated Franciue ;---in which list, however, the those : and, as to the principle of unimilitary, not the populace, the land versal suffrage, snpposing in might, by holders, not the husbandmen, are the possibility, extend to the lords and masparties considered. And much the same ters, the conquerors, the Saxons ; did it was the estimation of ranks, in our own include the labourers, the menials, the island: those Britons to whom it is cus. Britons ? tomary to trace up principles, differed
Mr. Oldfield is desirous of displaying little or nothing from their continental an acquaintance with the state of the Deighbours.
Britons before the arrival of the Saxons; Mr. Oldfield informs us, that “war
and he talks of Hu the mighty, the and agriculture being the chief employ-Cymri, and Dyonual Maelmwd, as if ments of the Saxons, there were he believed, or could persuade his reader
to believe, that he understood the sub* This fact is thus described by Tegan, ject on which be discourses. No such the Historian. Interrogans omnes d thing; and, to supply a part of his demaximo usque ad minimum, si eis pla- ficiency, we adduce the following evicuisset ut nomen suum, id est Impe- dence, from Roberts's Chronicle of the Tutoris, filio suo tradidisset: illi omnes Kings of Britain.---Appendix, No. V. Tesponderunt, Dei esse admonitionem The following Triad exhibits the original illius rei. De Gestis Ludovici, cap. 6. mode, and improvements upou this mode, ie Anual. Pith. tom. II.
of collecting the popular sutirages, in order
to obviate the difficulty of asserubling the rate ratification of Cymru Paramount; and whole populaiion.
" There are three ways a law so ratified will be the law of every of enacting and confirming those laws, Country, territory, kingdon, court, place of which are obligatory on the country in worship and district; and equal in force general.
as if it had been coufirmed by a General “ 1. By a General Assembly of Cymru
Assembly; and requires no appeal to the Paramonot, that is, a general assembly or
constitution:1 law of the country. For the the heads of cians, and families, and free constitutional law says, I his had the usholders from all the listricts, territories. Therefore it is established. For if no appeal
sent and consent of Cymru Puramount, and kingdoms, and departments of the Cynry. I be made within the three years and three For Cymr! Paramount denotes but one country, one nation And this court shall days, it shall be held that country, and dismake, abrogate, or amend laws, according trist, clan, and allied clan, ratify it, since as occasion shall require, by general opin shall have thus been lawfully proclaimed
no one can plead ignorance of that which nion, judgment, and assent."
as to time and place, whether in a sove“ The second is by a confederate Assem-reign dominion, an inferior kingdom, or bly of a country or territory. That is to separate government; and the opportunity say, when the court of the government and power of opposing it, or suggesting of a country or territory unanimously de amendment, has been given." sires a new law, or the amendment, or abrogation of a law; notice of it shall be privilege in the island of Britain. 1. The
“ There are three National Sessions by given, by proclamation, to all the courts | Session of the Bards, which is the most anwithin the territories of Cymru Paramount, cient in dignity. 2. 'The Seasivn of Cou. in order that such law may be amended, enacted, or abrogated, as it shall in justice try and Lord. That is to say, a court of or reason be deemed requisite, Thus the law, consisting of a general assembly of process shall be carried on, through all the 's The Session of Union and Maintenance.
judges, and constitutional assessors. And courts and clans, till their decision bel'That is to sav, a session of country and known, and their common assent be obtained, without opposition, and without ob- district, consisting of rulers, chiefs of clatis, jection. When this is obtained, the courts and men of wisdom, from country and disand sessions shall be advertised, by procla-Ilaws, to be observed in, or between, coun
trict, for the purpose of enacting general 'mation, of the time when the three of notice shall terminate; and the Confe- | try aud district, or adjoining country, by derate Assembly shall meet at the end of and with the assent and consent of country the three years. This is called Gorsedd and country, ruler and ruler, aud the agree GYFallwY, and it shall go on through all mout of privilege and privilege, for the the governments, and its decision be equi
sake of peace and justice. And this shall valent to that of the general assembly of bind all parties. No.weapon is to appear
drawn in these sessions, or within their Cymru Paramount."
limits, or during their continuance." Triad « The third mode of enacting or abroga. 59. p. 280. ting a law, by the full authority of country and clan, is by provisional proclamation
Now, we ask, what could be the naand advertisement of it, until there be a
ture of the law, and what the state of Confederate Assembly. That is to say, society, when three years might be althat whatever be the intention as to a law, lowed to elapse between the proposition it is necessary in order to ratify such inten- of a public regulation and the enactment tion, that it be publicly proclaimed, for one of it, by universal consent? What reyear and a day, by cry of country and dis- semblance has this slow process to the trict, in every court and place of worship; telegraphic dispatch necessary on many every fair, and market, and every other regular meeting of country and district, until points submitted to a British parliament the decision of every court, country, and of our own day? district be obtained, together with such Neither is it clear, that the right of amendments, or corrections, as may be ap; sanctioning by a vote any law intended proved of by country and district, and to be cominon, was possessed by every there is no farther opposition. And when this is knowil, it is again to be proclaimer),
individual without exception; for we are as before, for one year and a day; until told, by the same authority, (the Ancithe time of a confederate Assembly; the ent Triads) that “every Welshman had proclamation continuing in all for the space a right to a freehold possession of five of three years. Thus it will be a confede- acres of land.”
“ One who has no lands ought not to ona! liberty has been, eventually, incalcuput his hand to the sword, as he has no labile; for, all kanw, that a single acre, or thing to lose ; and it is not just that he had an acrm, or much less, may be rendershould be compelled to lose live or limb for
ed worth more than fo;ty shilling perananother. De onght therefore to be left to
num; so that where the original British his own will on this res664;) and if he takes the sword in his hand he is called laws admitted of one vote only, the preBredt i. e. feeble , and his privilege is that
sent system admits a score. To this only of those who are so called.” Triad must be added, the gradual and continual 244. page $16.
decrease in the value of money. Perhaps, So then, a class of inbabitants, “
we should err but little, in estimating ing no lands," was known at this very forty pounds of our present inoney value.
the forty shillings of Henry's days at time; and it was inferior in privileges ; for beside this express mention of the What a prodigious increase of voters, lesser privileges of the Brydd, we read then, is made, by retaining that nominal of “ three who acquire the pull privi- estimate, now reduced to one twentieth leges of a Briton, by accident ; one of part of its former legal and established which is, “A man of no landed pro
standard ! perty, who rescues a Briton in danger But towns, as they consisted of conof losing his life.” Triad 198. The Ro- densed population, could neither be remans decreed a civic crown to him who gulated by the law of five acres, nor by saved the life of a citizen (civilis quer- the yearly value of freeholds; for it cus. Virg.); the Britons conferred on might so happen, as it actually does bim the FULL privileges of their coun- happen, in thousands of instances, that try : which was the noblest reward, let a man possessing the bighest skill in our readers judge.
his profession, of the greatest advantage There is a singular trait of humanity, to his fellow-citizens, and to the comin not calling to arms the man who has munity, by his superior qualificatious, no property to defend ; the same dis should possess no freehold at all. Such tinction was certainly made in other pri
a man, under the Welsh laws, obtained vileges—(for bearing arms is constantly the full privileges of a Briton; and under enumerated among the privileges of a the corporate towns he exercised his Welshman)---and it should appear, that right of voting as an inhabitait houseas the freeholder defended his land with holder. That this right has been iinhis “sword and spear, and twelve ar- prudently and corruptiy narrowed in rows in a quiver,” so he voted in conse succeeding times, must be acknowledged quence of his possessions :---his property
and regretted. in land was his qualification, equally as a
Mr. Oldfield talks currently of the warrior and as a legislator.
right of sending members to parliament; Admitting this, we have only to re- wherras, be ought io have called it the flect on the progressive advances of com- burden of that duty. For, he kuows merce, which naturally produced a more very well
, that formerly many plares general circulation of money, with an petitioned, to be relieved froiu the in. increasing habit of recurring to it as convenience; some pleading poverty, the staudard of value, to form a true es or other causes of exemption, and even timate of the supposed violation of the individuals, he knows, who stated various ancient British rights by Henry VI. who pretences why they should not be bound restricted the exercise of voting for repre- to attend elections. True it is, that sentatives, to freeholds of forty shillings these pleas were used when the repieyearly value.
sentatives were paid by their constituWere the five acres of a Welsh freehold ents; * a time which Mr. 0. himfeli, worth about forty shillings yearly? if they were, no innovation was committed * The wages for each knight, w're on the rights of the people, neither was four shillings a day; for each citizen a single individual disfranchised by this and burgess, two shillings; for “golaw : the only alteration made, was in the ing, returning, and remaiving, to transtandard adopted---money rather than sact the said business in the parliament land. And the advantage of this to nati- I then assembled.”
second thoughts, would not wish should | whether he be an in, or an out, whether return, as it would throw the whole a peer, or a commoner, whether wish
of representation into the bands ing for place and pension, or already of those persons, or bodies, who were enjoying his share of the loaves and rich enough to pay for it; and thus fishes, the iniquity, is equal without diswealth would be the criterion of right! tinction of person.
Now, we would not be understood to We have already dated this book palliate the crime of corruption in the about the beginning of the French Rechoice of representatives; but we de- volution : it was then comprized in two precate a reinedy which may prove volumes ; it is now much enlarged, and worse than the disease. Let it be re-greatly improved by introducing varicollected, that the privilege of choosing ous particulars from the Population members of parliament has not secured | Returns ; such as, the number of the those boroughs, marked by our author people, their employments, their proas rotten, from decay ; that the absence portionate poor-rate, &c. These addiof that privilege has not prevented tions shew the relative population of places not losig ago mere deserts, or vil. counties and places ; and not their lages, scarcely honoured with a name, magnitude merely, but also their strength from becoming great towns, equal to and importance. cities: that if these places had enjoyed These volumes afford matter for cuthe right of election, they would never rious speculation : for instance-How have been chosen by their creutors for many counties, having formerly witthe scenes of their industry; and that, if nessed the evils of obstinately contested they were uow endowed with that right, elections, have agreed to choose members they would soon, in all probability, be supported by different interests. Pero reduced to their original state of desert, haps, on examination, it would be found or insignificance, and become as rotten, that full two-thirds of the counties in in their turn, as those which are so ve- England have taken refuge in comprohemently impugned by Mr. Oldfield.
mise. Now we cannot say, with Mr. O. But, Mr. Oldfield, in his fury for re
therefore they are not represented, at formation is guilty of gross partiality;
all : for, we venture to assert, that if for, if an onfortunate borough is under they choose wise and moderate mer the controul of Lord A. who supports that they will rarely embrace extremes,
-and no other should be chosenthe present Ministry, the author employs the whole energy of his style to uuless on violent party questions. They brand it with the soulest epithets cha- will, if men of sense, consider themracteristic of slavery and corruption : selves as sent by their constituents to while another, which is equally under the Grand Council of the nation to give the controul of Lord B. who is in present | vice given, and to promote the interests
advice, to assign reasons for their ad* opposition, passes uncensured ; and some places formerly enthralled by of their country, at large; not those of Lord. C. (a courtier) have been it a narrow party, intent only on power, seems, restored to liberty, by the pre-munity to the despicable interests of a
and willing to sacrifice the whole comtriot.) Now, this restoration to liberty, factious portioa of it. by whatever name a partizan, invoking This we say of county members; and the freedom of elertion, may please to call much the same may be said of members it, is in our view, neither more nor less returned by bodies corporate, in consethan a change of tyrant: but, a change quence of compromise. We look not at of tyrant is not the same thing as a
the party ; we look at the men : if they deliverance from tyranny.
be honest, intelligent, virtuous, in good We say, whatever nobleman--no mat- repute among their constituents, they ter for bis party-interseres in a popular will do their country justice: and for election, the guilt is exactly the same: that justice the nation is obliged to them: sud whoever commits an election fraud, can greater honour be desired? If they