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poverty of the constituency in the earlier stages of representation, frequently induced them to solicit a charter of relief from the onerous obligation of sending members, while the same reason sometimes caused a burgess or a knight to decline the expensive honour of carrying the grievances of his city or his shire up to London. And no wonder, for at that period, and for a century and a half longer, the representatives of the commons of England had not even the honour to register their master's edicts. The form of proceeding in parliament was by petition, in which the king acted to grant or to refuse, and the statute was never engrossed until after the prorogation, when it saw the light with vastly more of the privy council than of the house of commons about it. In other words, it was a royal ordinance in the disguise of a popular enactment. This drove the lieges to their bill, a sturdy creature of parchment, which royalty might frown upon and repudiate, but could not tamper with. Yet so frail and feeble was popular will, even with this new aid, that the most servile parliaments ever assembled, perhaps, were those of the very next reign, unless we except that company of slaves that gave, by solenin enactment, the force of laws to the proclamations of the mean and brutal Henry VIII. In the reign of Elizabeth, frightened, probably, by Wentworth's imprisonment for asserting the freedom of speech, and the liberties of an English subject, the commons again resorted to petition, although a bill was before them intended to effect the very end at which the petition was aimed. For forty-five years that proud woman domineered, at her will, over the very name of liberty. The last of the Tudors was as thorough a tyrant as the first. Not one of the race (Edward VI. may, in some sort, be an exception) ever yielded an inch to the people, through fear or favour.
The first James attempted to cheat his parliament; the first Charles undertook to bully his. Had they succeeded, the Scotish dynasty might have quenched the new light of liberty instead of kindling it. Not succeeding, they but exposed themselves. The first of the Stuarts, notwithstanding the sagacity of his king-craft and the fertility of his expedients, was generally a bankrupt, or a robber by prerogative. His predecessors had been refused supplies thrice in six hundred years—he was refused as often in a single session. What the second and sterner, and mayhap honester of the race brought upon himself,
(generally composed of a fraction of an old one, most frequently a parochial division,) being a creature of the legislature, is allowed but one. If a Connecticut town could decay to the minimum point of an English borough, like an English borough'it would retain its right to be represented. Quis tulerit,” &c.
we all know. He read a lesson which Louis XVI. read after him—the lesson which subjects teach those kings who chance to stand at the end of an old era, and who will not, cannot, or dare not, steadily and steadfastly contemplate the beginning of a new one-who gaze on a mirror instead of looking through a telescope. Cromwell in his turn taught the commons one thing—that they could change dynasties. It was what he was sent to teach. He broke the charm of divine right with his iron mace, and it has lacked potency ever since. What he did for freedom, England has legitimated by her subsequent acts; what against it, imported nothing--the usurper writes his titles in the dust of an old edifice, but he sculptures his fame on the granite of a new one. Had a monarch made wise by adversity followed him to clinch that paradox of the parasite Claudian,
“Nunquam libertas gratior exstat Quam sub rege pio,”
there would have been a bloodier battle in 1690 than that of the Boyne, and it would have been fought upon another field. But the new Stuart led his mad orgies, his minions, and his “ tipsy Bacchanals," over the memories of recent slaughter. He insulted his father's enemies whom he should have conciliated, and what was worse, he forgot his father's friends whom he should have cherished. He sold England to buy a jest-book. He was the only sovereign his country has ever seen, who in every act and passage of his reign, perverted or degraded all the ends and uses of sovereignty, and prostituted the very name of king. Could he and his dark brother have changed places, the chain might have been riveted, and the enthusiasm which a restored monarch inspired, would have bound it on perhaps for a century. But Charles came first let the well-wishers of haman kind thank God for it), and tore off the robe from royalty. When his successor followed, there was nothing to conceal the fetters withal. The very populace heard their clanking. Then came the triumph of a representative government, and the true greatness of an English parliament. The problem of constitutional government was solved. The body that made the Prince of Orange king, might have made him protector, or found a king in the heart of old Castile. Cromwell founded his authority upon the old and bad example of a military election--the Prince of Orange did better ; he sought a constitutional process and a popular sanction. His friends made the one, and he formed the other. The first revolution began with the heart and scarcely reached the head
--the second reversed the progress, though the Jacobites of the year forty-five can witness that it was a slow one. Years of blood and misrule terminated at length in a new theory of government, and parliament at last conducted public affairs by the simple calculation of the majority.
And thence, from that point where our great mother arrived, after centuries of strife, we have commenced our own career, perhaps in its turn to lead through storm and sorrow to some new discovery in the science of human government. We work for futurity. Each man who combines or creates, although in the lowest department of knowledge, lends a seed of truth to the great hereafter, which, though buried now, may fructify in a distant age, perhaps, (for who will measure the possibility of communicated power which man may hope for from heaven)-perhaps in some distant planet. Systems of government are experiments by man for the subjugation of his own passions, and for the happiness of universal nature. Who shall comprehend or limit the means which Deity in its wisdom has reserved to compass such mighty ends? The man who, surveying the past, can see the hosts of dead errors, “whose corpses lie in the wilderness," -errors which, in their day, and that day no short one, have desolated and defiled the earth,—will look forward with a new faith in the prognostics of philosophy, and the promises of the gospel. We believe in the advancing progress of man,-in the amelioration of his moral nature ; in the expansion of his intellectual powers; in the daily enhancement of his political discoveries, because by no other means can faith or reason, the sacred hopes of the heart, or the high-reaching thoughts of the intellect, solve the riddle of his existence. The politics of the feudal age imprisoned power in baronial castles, as its morals did knowledge within the walls of monasteries. But power and knowledge, like pent up streams escaping from their barriers, though their first rush was in a torrent, confusing, in its uproar, and devastating by its force, are at length calmly overflowing the broad levels of the world, and fertilizing its neglected wastes. The snows are melting on the mountains ; the mighty Nile has reached its first water-mark. Feudalism is dead with its equipage of oppression,-bigotry is dying with its mask and dagger. The people are too strong for the one, and too wise for the other. They have essayed a great paradox, and gained dominion by dividing it. The source of power has descended, but its participators are multiplied. Commerce and the arts have been busy distributors, and the press has divulged the secret. While the one conferred authority on the many, the other taught them how to use it. The
invention of gunpowder scattered the ancient elements of society,--the application of steam to locomotion is fast reuniting them, under a new form. Old Opinion has newly
imp'd her wings
and Reason, long asleep, and Science, long obscured, and Revelation, long perverted, are adding clearness to her vision and strength to her flight. Above the darkness of the past, through the obscurity of the present, the halcyon of happy augury sings steadily and strongly her prophecy of the future:
“Adspice convexo nutantem pondere mundum,
ART. IX.-Miscellanies. By HARRIET MARTINEAU. In two
volumes. Boston : 1836.
A comprehension of the principle of social responsibility is the great and rare merit of Miss Martineau's writings, re-appearing every where in them, and always bringing with it an eloquence of humanity which rejoices the heart. It is this which gives the glowing spirit to the essays on Sir Walter Scott, at the commencement of the first volume. This, also, gives their beauty to the Sabbath Musings, which, in their expression of this principle and feeling, stand quite alone and peculiar among devotional papers.
papers. The conception, in the first of these musings
of the mountain meditations of Jesus Christ, which is one of the worthiest tributes the human heart ħas paid to its Saviour; the elevating views, in the last of them, of the moral influences of love and marriage on the social character, together with the comparison of the effect of merely natural exercises of the social duties, in common relations, with the effect of the solitary devotion of the hermit, are all made living by this sentiment. In no place, in these volumes, however, does she do herself more justice, than in the noble essay on Moral Independence. Here she shows how sympathy with man must keep in strict correspondence to "sympathy with God," as
she very felicitously calls the love of truth. Though the object of this essay is mainly to set forth the duty of « Godward sympathy,” she shows that it should not be separated, in our language or thoughts, from sympathy with that which is “ equally real and unseen; with the thoughts and feelings of our fellow beings;" and, finally, she sums the whole matter up in the following beautiful picture, which embodies, we suppose, her ideal of a Christian :
“Can we not conceive of one who lives in freedom, transparent in character, simple in manners, strenuous in action, while living in intense repose; with a telescopic view of principles, and a microscopic observation of sympathies; planting his foot fearlessly in the highest regions of storm, and welcoming the faintest breath of love which wanders through the low places of life; having no concealments but of his solitary troubles; resenting no offences except inroads upon human rights; conscious of no fears but such as every hour is overcoming; of no desires but such as each moment is fulfilling; rejoicing w
rever rejoicing is; never weeping but with those who have cause to weep; laying hold upon nothing but truth; possessing nothing but life ; awed before the faintest presence of holiness on earth; awed by nothing but holiness in heaven ?"
For the first time, since the period of recorded history, is the great principle of social responsibility receiving that developement in literature, science, and political events, which proves it to be a great element in the spirit of the times. Hitherto the malignant error, "might makes right,” has not only sapped the vital roots of national happiness, in every region of the globe, but has cast its giant shadow, if we may be allowed to change the figure, beyond the limits of this earthly orb, and eclipsed, to mortal eyes, the sun of the spiritual universe. For it is welí known, that God himself has been so apprehended, through the cannon-smoke of selfish strife, that his throne has been believed to be founded in an inexorable power, quite independent of moral obligation. And that, for the purpose of explaining this false theology, first-rate genius has turned away from the subjects of thought, which, morally speaking, should press first on the attention of a social being like man, whose happiness is inwrought with the social system.
That the principle of social responsibility is struggling for expression, in political events, is evident from the revolutions in Europe and America; the reform of the English Parliament; the struggles of Ireland for equality with England; of the Greeks for independence on the sultan; of the Poles for freedom from Russian tyranny. Jacobinism, Radicalism, Owenism, St. Simonism, are but the false colours which the painted windows of the Gothic architecture of society throw over different individuals who are imprisoned in its stone-cold customs. VOL. XX.—NO. 39.