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CONSTITUENCIES CONSULTED.

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of the constituency was implied in the frequency of new Parliaments, it is surely obtainable in what occurred in the Parliament of 1339. The ostensible reasons for calling the Parliament were to provide for the better keeping of the peace, for the defence of the marches of Scotland, and for guarding the sea. But the King's mouthpieces revealed a different reason. The King was in France. “He and others with him were entered into obligations for £300,000 sterling, and more, towards the charge of his auxiliaries, and he could not handsomely march from thence without giving his creditors satisfaction." He demanded a large sum.

The nobility gave handsomely, but “the Commons, though they declared themselves very forward and willing to assist the King, yet prayed the regent that he would summon another Parliament in a convenient space, for they durst not grant any tax till they had taken the sense of their constituents about it."

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CHAPTER III.

THE CLAIM NEGLECTED AND REVIVED.

THE

FIRST TRIENNIAL ACT.

WHEN the statutes respecting the yearly assembling of the national council were allowed to fall into abeyance, two evils were possible—long intermission of Parliaments, and long duration of Parliaments. Both were experienced, but it was the weight of the first that led to the earliest revival of the claim for short Parliaments.

The reasons why the ancient custom concerning annual Parliaments, and the law derived from that custom, came to be neglected and forgotten by our ancestors have already been suggested. As the popular control over Parlia

THE CLAIM NEGLECTED AND REVIVED. 25

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ments relaxed, and the King's control increased, strange constitutional doctrines arose, the propagation of which in the times examined in the previous chapter, would probably have sufficed to depose the princes who countenanced them. From the time of Henry VI., when that disfranchising Act limiting the right of election to the forty-shilling freeholders was passed, the power of the kings, owing to that and other changes, became so altered that Mr. Green, in his “Short History," characterizes the period from Edward IV. to Elizabeth by the appellation of the New Monarchy. He calls it the New Monarchy because, he says, “the old English kingship, limited by the forces of feudalism or by the progress of constitutional freedom, faded suddenly away, and in its place arose, all-absorbing and unrestrained, the despotism of the New Monarchy.' By Elizabeth's time the character of the Par

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liament had been wondrously altered, and we find King James in his long speeches openly maintaining that Parliament is "nothing else but the King's great council, which the King doth assemble either upon occasion of interpreting or of abrogating old laws or of making new, according as ill manners was deserving, or for the public punishment of notorious evildoers, or the praise and reward of the virtuous and well deservers.” King James would have undoubtedly commended the clôture, for Parliament, according to him, was “no place for particular men to utter their private conceits, nor for satisfaction of their curiosities, and least of all to make show of their eloquence by tyning (losing) the time with long studied and eloquent orations."

In spite of - in great measure, perhaps, because of–James and his theory of divine right, his declarations that kings were exempt from any censure or correction upon earth, and his sedulous propagation of the

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principle that he alone had the power to call, adjourn, or dissolve Parliaments, 'old rights began to be asserted. Complaints were now made about the intermission of Parliaments; the redress of grievances before supply was demanded ; and Sir Edward Coke dared to recall the fact that in Edward III.'s time, a Parliament “was holden every year that the people might complain of grievances.” The Commons vindicated their privileges by a protestation which James, in blind fury, himself tore out of the journals. The imprisonment by Charles I. of Sir J. Eliot and Sir D. Digges, for expressions which had displeased him in their conduct of charges against Buckingham, roused the House to a resolution not to do anything more until they were righted in their privileges. Some explanation of the reason why sturdy men such as Eliot, Hampden, Pym, and others, were not sooner found to summon up courage in the assertion of public rights

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