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Note.—The writer of this volume has not deemed it neces-
sary to give at every step of his brief narrative a reference to the
sources from which his materials have been derived. It will be
obvious to most readers that, where other authorities are not in-
dicated, these have been the well-known Parliamentary Histories,
Chandler's Debates, Grey's Debates, Somers' State Tracts, and
the valuable collection of political papers preserved to us in the
King's Pamphlets at the British Museum.




Why should our Parliaments be septennial ? The purpose

of this book is not to answer this question, but to emphasize it, and to engage the reader's interest in it. This purpose will, it is hoped, be attained by the presentation of interesting historical details not hitherto found in any one work.

Our ancestors demanded frequent Parliaments as a right. The House of Lords declared for them. Whigs gave us them ; and when Whigs


took them away again, Tories struggled for their continuance. Names known to us now as those of great ministers were associated with the demand for short Parliaments, until the bearers of those names became ministers. Then the zeal of the reformer slackened, and was lost in the reluctance of the statesman. By living examples was established the truth of the popular contention, that ministers and members of Parliament could only be surely kept in the right path by being called upon frequently to “recur to the sense of the people.” In the reform agitations prior to 1832 the demand for short Parliaments was as loud as that for suffrage extension; but Lord John Russell left the repeal of the Septennial Act an open question when he introduced his Reform Bill. Neither the Reform Act itself, nor the further power of controlling Parliament by the development of such organs of public opinion as public meetings and the press, sufficed to quell the agitation for short

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