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acts were passed by the authority of the king, earls, barons, and other nobles, and the commons only. He mentions also several other instances of similar parliaments being held, excluso clero, by Edward III. and Richard II. There are in print acts made in the reign of the latter, commencing in these words,-" Our lord, the king, by the advice and common assent of all the lords temporal, and commons, being in this parliament assembled, hath ordained,” &c. The bishops, however, were utterly insensible to these arguments; even the Irish rebellion had no effect upon them ; nevertheless they had already become so odious to the people generally, that they were actually deterred from attending in the House of Lords, and on the 30th of December, in the same year (1641), they sent a protest, through the king, to the House of Lords, in which, amongst other things, they set forth, that they had “lately been at several times, violently menaced, affronted, and assaulted, by multitudes of people, in their coming to perform their service in that honourable house ; and lately chased away and put in danger of their lives.” They therefore protested against all laws passed in their forced absence from the House. This singular document was immediately communicated to the House of Commons, who resolved to accuse the twelve bishops that signed it, of high treason, “for endeavouring to subvert the fundamental laws of the realm, and the very being of parliaments, manifested by preferring that petition and protestation; and to desire that they may be forthwith sequestered from parliament, and put into safe custody.” Upon this resolution being reported to the Lords, they ordered the bishops to be brought to the House, and after being heard, they were all committed to the tower accordingly, with the exception of the two bishops of Durham and of Coventry and Lichfield, who, by reason of their great age, were only handed over to the custody of the black rod. The bishop of Winchester, who had not signed the protest, and who utterly disclaimed it in the House, was permitted for the present to retain his seat. Meanwhile the bill for taking away the bishop's votes in the legislature made rapid progress through the House of Lords, and finally passed on the 5th of February, 1642, three bishops only, Winchester, Rochester, and Worcester, dissenting, the only spiritual lords besides the bishop of London who then sat in parliament. The king delayed his assent to this bill as long as he possibly could, but he at length gave it by commission on the 14th of the same month, when the lord keeper described the bill as one “for taking away the votes of the bishops out of the Lords' House, and exempting them from the trouble of other secular affairs : that so being reduced to their first and original institution, they may the better attend the gaining of souls to Heaven, by their frequent preaching and other divine offices proper to their function; a work much more excellent than their mingling in temporal business.”
With respect to the bishops who were accused of high treason, we need only add, that after having been deprived by resolutions of the Commons of “the profits and issues of their temporal estates, freehold lands, and lands of inheritance, during their lives,” they were liberated on bail.
In conformity with the law, the bishops remained excluded from parliament, not only during the period of the commonwealth, but even for some time after the restoration. They did not sit in the Convention Parliament, which assembled on the 25th of April, 1660, composed of the two Houses of Lords and Commons, and which was not dissolved until the 24th of December in the same year. Neither did they sit in the second parliament, commonly called the Pensionary Parliament, which assembled on the 8th of May, 1661, until the latter end of July, when a bill was passed, chiefly through the influence of Lord Clarendon, for restoring them to the benches which they formerly occupied.
Thus we may perceive that there is nothing at all unprecedented or novel, in petitioning for the exclusion of the bishops from the House of Lords; that in the elder days of the constitution they were shut out from the House by the simple order of the king, and in later times by an act of the legislature. The reasons which were alleged in support of that act still exist, and have received tenfold force from the late proceedings of the spiritual lords. For what have they done? They have decreed that the Commons' House of Parliament should not represent the people; that the nomination boroughs, which violate the first principles of the constitution, should still be continued in all their rottenness; that corruption, bribery, perjury, should still disgrace and demoralize the country, and all this they have done, in order that they may possess unto themselves a barrier against those reforms in the temporal establishment of the church, to which all rational men are intensely looking forward, and for which the whole empire will soon become clamorous. If, therefore, we be asked, “What will the people do?”—we answer, that what they ought to do first, and before all other things, is to present petitions in millions, if necessary, for the exclusion of all the bishops from the legislature. We do not except even the venerable Bishop of Norwich, or Dr. Maltby, the Bishop of Chichester, because we would act upon the general principle of the impropriety of ecclesiastical ministers mingling in secular affairs. If we be asked, are then the clergy not to be represented at all in parliament —we answer, that they are already represented in the Commons, inasmuch as they vote at elections for the universities, for many corporations, and for various counties and other places, either as freeholders or inhabitant householders, and although even those privileges militate, in some degree, against our principle, yet, inasmuch as the exercise of them does not often recur, and cannot be seriously injurious to the general welfare, under a reformed system of franchise, they might be allowed to remain. . But is this all that “the people will have to do?” By no means. There are several other questions which they will still have to decide, and the first of these is, whether, in case any misfortune should occur affecting the life of the Princess Victoria before marriage and issue, the Duke of Cumberland should be suffered, after the vote he has given, to ascend the throne of England. The change of the right line of descent, in the royal family of this country, is very far from being a new measure. Such changes occurred on seven different occasions before the revolution of 1688; an eighth instance of a similar example was very near taking place, with respect to the Duke of York, afterwards James II.; and we all may remember that a project of the same kind was in contemplation, against the prince who last held that dukedom in this country, in consequence of the scandalous transactions which grew out of his connexion with Mrs. Clarke.
There is another subject which we should wish to touch with all imaginable delicacy, connected with the position in which the Duchess of Kent may be placed with relation to the Princess Victoria, in case heaven should afflict this nation with the greatest calamity that an affectionate people could sustain, by taking away from us the most excellent, the most patriotic, the best hearted, and the most beloved sovereign that ever held the sceptre of these kingdoms. It is known, or at least very strongly suspected, that the Duchess of Kent is unfriendly to the Reform Bill—nay, that she is exceedingly hostile to that measure; and that she refused, in consequence of the coolness to which her conduct with respect to it gave rise in a high quarter, to attend the coronation. At all events it is a fact, that her Royal Highness has not either directly or indirectly intimated any kind feeling towards a measure, which the united people of this country ardently desire, and unless some alteration should speedily be manifested in her sentiments upon this subject, it may be a question whether the late Regency Bill should not be repealed, and the name of the Duke of Sussex substituted for that of the widow of the Duke of Kent. There can be no doubt that such an alteration wonld receive the unanimous assent of the whole country. Her Royal Highness must moreover see, that, after the vote given by the Duke of Northumberland upon the bill, the continuance of his consort, as the preceptress of the heir presumptive to the throne, will be universally considered as highly objectionable.
These, and other questions of perhaps a still more important character, relating to the church and the national debt, must, however, be hereafter disposed of. At present our business is to pass the bill, and in order to do that we must exclude the bishops, for we cannot conceive any thing more unconstitutional, more disagreeable to the ancient peerage of this country, or more unacceptable even to the gentlemen who might benefit by the measure, than a creation of a batch of sixty, or, as some propose, a hundred new peers. We much doubt whether gentlemen of property adequate
to the maintenance of that elevated station, can be found, who will, under such circumstances, take the coronet, should it be offered to them. Who can deny that Sir Francis Burdett, and Mr. Coke, of Norfolk, are much more respectable as commoners, than if now, towards the decline of their lives, they were to be transformed into lords, and called by some new-fangled title, which it would take three or four years to enable us to identify with those old and staunch friends of the people? Will not their refusal of the peerage act upon the minds of other gentlemen of their rank and feelings 2 If men below the station of those distinguished patriots, and destitute of their dignified sentiments on this point, be called to the Upper House, will they add to the dignity and to the value of that branch of the legislature ? We think not, and we are afraid, moreover, that if such a measure be adopted, founded though it be on bad precedents, it will lead to evils more disastrous than those which it would be intended to remedy. The true course is, the exclusion of the bishops, and the application to some few of the sensible peers who constituted the late majority, of those persuasives which sometimes are found to proceed from the knocking of a whole nation at their doors. The people must continue their meetings; they must associate, not for the purpose of refusing the taxes, which would be of itself a high misdemeanour, and an act of gross ingratitude towards the existing government, which it would embarrass or dissolve, but for the purpose of securing the eventual enactment of the new Magna Charta of their liberties. This is a duty which they owe to themselves and to their children, to the state of which they are the firmest pillars, and, indeed, we might add, to the world at large, upon which their conduct must operate as a powerful example. For wherever, throughout the nations of the globe, the name of England has reached—and where exist the nations who have not trembled at that name 2—there is the constitution of our government curiously examined—envied by the slave—applauded by the free: and every step we take towards rendering that constitution more popular, rouses the freeman to grasp the banner of his liberties with a more ardent courage, and stimulates the slave to break the chains that bind him to the earth, and sooner or later to assert for his country the privileges which we have the happiness to know how to appreciate, and the firm determination to enjoy. Who does not perceive that the transformation of this bill into a law, will eventually put an end to abuses of every kind, whether of a local or a general character ? Assuredly, then, no argument can be more treacherously false, than that which has represented this bill, as one calculated to confer no direct advantages upon the great mass of the community. Is it not directly calculated to rid them of their select vestries, and other local nests of corruption which swarm throughout the land, and thereby to diminish a profligate amount of expenditure, which, in addition to the king's
taxes, takes so much more than it ought to take out of the pockets of the people 2 Is it not directly calculated to constitute a popular House of Commons—a house which shall immediately emanate from the people, consult for their interests, save them from being taxed beyond their means, and preserve them from those wicked wars in which we have been hitherto engaged, less for the safety of the country than for the support of what has been called, at one time, the honour of the crown, which signifies only the family pride of the crown; at another time, the dignity of the nation, which signifies only the dignity of the peers, and of other persons concerned in the perpetuation of the aristocratical principle 2 For instance, if Louis XVI. had not been beheaded, and if the nobility of France had not been driven into exile at the time of the French revolution, is it to be supposed that George the Third and Mr. Pitt would ever have plunged England into that dreadful abyss of war, from which we have only been lately liberated, if liberated we have been, at the enormous ransom of 860 millions of pounds sterling 2 No. Our then king and our heaven-born prime minister of that day feared that similar proceedings might take place at home : when their neighbour's house was on fire, they trembled for their own, and the consequence has been that we are oppressed by a debt, which heaven alone knows how we are to pay. But if this Reform Bill, the principles of which Lord Grey promulgated forty years ago, had then been proposed and carried into law, can we imagine that such a debt as that would ever have been incurred 7 Impossible. Well then, would that have been no advantage to the industrious classes of the country 2 What is it of which those classes most complain 2 The want of an adequate remuneration for their labour. And what is it that prevents that remuneration from being given Why, nothing else but the enormous taxation which bears down the energies of the whole country, which makes bread and every other article of life, four-fold dearer than they are upon the continent, which prevents the upper and middling classes from employing the mechanic and the labourer more than they can possibly help, and which, in one word, disorganizes the whole fabric of our society, and renders it a sort of general field of battle, in which it is the immediate object of every man to save himself, instead of contributing, as under more favourable "circumstances he would do, to save also his neighbour, and to render him all the assistance in his power. It is the natural impulse of human nature for men to cherish and assist each other: but that impulse is compressed and chilled in the heart by the pressure of that Mount-Atlas of taxation, under the weight of which, like another Hercules, the country is writhing, and from which she will require much more than the energy of that fabled demigod to effect her ultimate escape, The question of our liberties is still trembling in a balance, and no man can yet say to which side it shall eventually incline. Should