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of it, and afterwards appointing the Regent, with the denial implied in the proceeding of all right in the heir to the Crown, who, though only heir-presumptive, was equal to an heir-apparent in the circumstances of the case. Mr. Fox held any appeal cheap to the precedents of a barbarous age, when the country was on the eve of civil war; and he dwelt strongly on the fact of parliamentary privilege being so little understood, that at the period of the later precedents the Speaker of the Commons was in prison under a commitment by the Lords, upon a judgment in favour of the Duke of York, then claiming the crown. In the House of Lords the precedents were much more fully and learnedly discussed, 23 Dec., 1788. Lord Camden held the earlier one of Henry VI. to be a “ good, substantial, and legal precedent," and affirmed that the proceedings “ were then as grave and formal as at any period of our history.” Lord Loughborough impeached the Report as singularly inaccurate; but he only pointed out one or two omissions of little moment. Lord Stormont entered into some details to show the distracted state of France, and contended that the times were any thing rather than tranquil. Lord Grenville did not argue the precedents except negatively, holding that there were none strictly in point, and that the ques. tion must be determined on principle and the analogies of the constitution. By far the ablest speech delivered in either House on this great occasion was that of Lord Lansdowne, whose views were enlarged and truly statesmanlike. He considered, that instead of throwing the responsibility of so momentous a proceeding upon Parliament, by calling for Resolutions on which to ground a Bill, the Ministers should have made up their minds to act upon their precedents, or if those failed, then to act upon principle; whereas they shifted their responsibility,upon Parliament. He blamed this novel practice, introduced in the American War, as confounding the executive and legislative functions, lessening the responsibility of the Government, and weakening the control of the Parliament. That some risk would be run by whoever affixed the Great Seal without the Royal authority, he admitted ; but then great offices, he said, were created for the
performance of great acts; and no one who was unwilling to run great hazards should accept great situations.
The result of these debates was the adoption by both Houses of resolutions, that the right to appoint a Regent had devolved upon them; that the appointment should be made by Bill; and that the office should be given under restrictions touching the grant of peerages, pensions for life, and patent places, and with the exclusion from making household appointments which were vested in the Queen, as having the custody of the Royal person. The Bill which was brought in upon the Resolutions, passed through the Commons with considerable majorities, though much less than on ordinary occasions ;' and it had reached the last stage before any period was fixed at which these restrictions were to cease-Mr. Pitt's extraordinary plan being, that Parliament should again be resorted to for another measure, if it appeared that the King's illness was likely to continue. Just as the Bill was about to leave the House, he agreed to insert a provision confining the restrictions to three years. It had been read a second time in the Lords, when the King's recovery put an end to the whole proceedings. But in the mean time a Commission had been sealed without any authority except the votes of the two Houses, and the Session was opened under it. The adoption of this by the King on his recovery has been considered as making the precedent of 1788-9 an authority of all the three Estates of Parliament in favour of proceeding by Bill, and not by Address, and in favour of two Estates acting, not without the third, which would be intelligible, but with the third's concurrence only given by themselves.
In Ireland an entirely different course was pursued. The two Houses there proceeded by address, calling upon the heirapparent to take upon himself the Government as Regent of Ireland during the King's illness, with all the regal powers and prerogatives belonging to the Crown. All the questions that arose in that country were determined by large majorities, the
' On the peerage restriction, 268 to 204, instead of above two to one, which at that time was under the usual proportion.
opposition appearing to be in possession of the Government even before the Regency commenced.
In 1810 the King again fell ill, and never recovered. The precedent of 1788 was followed, and the Regency was conferred on the heir-apparent by an Act which continued in force till the demise of the Crown in January, 1820. The principal alteration made was in the time of the restrictions continuing; it was reduced to one year. Narrow majorities only sanctioned the adoption of the precedent; on the Peerage question 226 to 210; and on the Household appointments the clause of the Government was rejected.
The Union having destroyed whatever of authority the Irish proceedings might pretend to, the English precedents of 1788 and 1811 must be understood to have fixed the law of the Constitution. That they sin against its fundamental principles is certain. They introduce a proceeding wholly anomalous and absurd—the pretence of passing an Act by the three branches when only two are in existence; and they rudely violate the monarchical principle by sanctioning a capitulation of the undoubted heir to the Crown with the other Estates, thus armed with the power of making terms or imposing conditions. Both precedents were the result of the relative position of parties in Parliament, and the way in which they were balanced against each other.
In 1423 the Commission does not set forth that the King is unable to attend (Rot. Parl. iv. 197); but in 1455, when he was ill and incapable, it is stated that he cannot be present “propter certas justas et rationabiles causas” (Rot. Par. v. 278). Sometimes the Commission sets forth his illness as the cause, and that attending to business would prevent his recovery (Rot. Par. v. 453). In Commissions now, when the King does not attend, it is said, that “for divers causes and considerations we cannot conveniently be present in our Royal person," or “ do not think fit to be present in our Royal person.” (See Note LXXII., infra.)
Note LXV.–p. 335. The great diversity in the ultimate result of the English struggles for a free, that is, a rational and stable mixed constitution, and those of the French barons and towns, might lead the careless observer to imagine that there was a greater contrast in the circumstances or in the character of the two nations, and of their popular bodies, than really existed. The cause of the diversity appears to have been this :—The sovereign in France obtained every accession of territory, both of his own domain and of the dominion at large. This enabled him, with the new power and influence thus acquired, to press upon his former subjects. Whatever he obtained beyond the force required to maintain his authority over the new dominions was available to him in extending his authority over the old. But this operation depended upon the circumstance of each province so added having previously been under some chief possessed of a certain power independent of his vassals, beside the right to obtain help from those vassals to a certain extent, that is, on certain occasions. If in France the whole fiefs had been thoroughly incorporated and become one community with a central government, and with one assembly acting for the whole, it would probably have happened there as in England, that the Crown could do everything but raise money, and that the necessity of applying to the body for supplies would have laid the foundation of a popular constitution, by giving the people a regular control over the sovereign's measures. It is quite certain that no assemblies in any part of France ever showed, in any period of French history, a more abject submission to the reigning sovereign, or flattered his caprices and crouched before his violence more slavishly and more shamefully, than the English Parliament in the fifteenth and the first half of the sixteenth centuries, with the single exception of money grants, in which alone the most cruel and profligate tyrants ever experienced the least difficulty. But had England, like France, continued divided into seven principalities, each having its Parliament as well as its domain, the Plantagenets and the Tudors would not have found more difficulty in obtaining supplies from any one than they did in gaining the consent of the body which represented the whole seven, to their very worst acts, whether legislative or judicial, of pillage or of murder.—See Lord Brougham's Pol. Phil., Pt. I. Ch. XIII.
Note LXVI.-p. 335. States-General before Henry's Inrasion.
The constitutional history of France is involved in still greater obscurity than that of England. The assembling of the StatesGeneral being only occasional, and the more regular meetings of the Provincial States being occupied with matters of inferior importance, no details have been preserved by historians which can throw a steady light on their proceedings; often, indeed, the mention of their having been held at all is omitted. The records of the eleven Provincial Parliaments, and of the more important Parliament of Paris, are preserved, but they relate chiefly to judicial proceedings. The Ordinances are the only authority to which we can resort for information respecting the history of the legislature ; but these are confined to occasions on which some law was made or other measures finally adopted, and take no notice of any other proceedings ; and even where they are most full, they give the result only, without noting the steps by which it was arrived at. In the earlier periods, too, there were not many Ordinances made, at least not many that have reached us. Between the years 921 and 1051 none are to be found, and only two between the latter year and Louis IX. (St. Louis') time, the middle of the thirteenth century. The others are not properly Ordinances, but rather charters or grants to particular towns, or regulations touching the royal domains, than general laws. It may further be observed that the remonstrances of Provincial States, and the concessions made to them, were sometimes important, and had a bearing upon the general system by affecting the power of the Crown and the influence of the people ; yet in very many instances the Ordinances contain