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sellors would by “some wicked device or other, make the bill for the triennial Parliament, and

those other excellent laws mentioned in his

Majesty's declaration, of less value than words.”

It was maintained at the time, in the Grand Remonstrance, as it is at this day recognized by our first authorities on constitutional history, and as is made clear by the facts already set forth in this volume, that in the passing of this Act the Long Parliament had not gone beyond the restoration of strictly constitutional rights. Hallam declares of the principal Acts and Statutes which we owe to this Parliament, that “they made scarce any material change in our constitution such as it had been established and recognized under the House of Plantagenet; the law for triennial Parliaments even receded from those unrepealed provisions of the reign of Edward III. that they should be assembled annually.” “Great as were the changes,” says Green, “which had been wrought in the




first six months of the Long Parliament, they had been based strictly on precedent, and had, in fact, been simply a restoration of the older English constitution as it existed at the close of the Wars of the Roses."

One Act, however, was not founded on precedent, and was, indeed, contrary to the principles the Parliament itself had maintained.

This was the Act preventing its own dissolution except by its own consent. The pleas for this inconsistent conduct were of a kind always at the command of those who exercise arbitrary powers—the urgency of the occasion, the necessity of providing for the King's own security, and the public peace.






EXPERIENCE taught the nation that they might suffer from Parliaments as well as for want of them, unless they could secure frequent appeals to the people according to the spirit of the ancient laws. This conviction was never entirely dormant, even when the Triennial Act was repealed at the Restoration. It grew stronger with experience of an eighteen years Parliament under Charles II. ; it found expression in the Declaration and Bill of Rights; and, finally, it gave the nation a second Triennial Act.

After Cromwell had dispersed the Rump, he



himself, in his schemes for a reformed Parliament, saw it to be wise to provide that one should be summoned every third year, and that without

, its own consent the Parliament should not be dissolved within five months of its assembling. His Parliament of 1654 is eulogised by historians for its representative character. Cromwell declared to it that the danger to avoid was the perpetuating of the same Parliaments. The Parliament endorsed his view in a measure that no triennial Parliament should sit beyond six months without the Lord Protector's consent, and then only for a strictly limited time. Within the intervals of the triennial Parliaments other Parliaments might be called as necessity required, on the understanding that these should end before the triennial election. The measure never became law, owing to the dissolution by Cromwell, but the security which it was designed to give was always kept in view by the nation, The next Parliament he called, though it hankered after a monarch and offered him the kingly title, also petitioned the Protector to summon Parliaments of two Houses “once in three years at farthest, and oftener as the affairs of the nation shall require.” The Rump had before its sudden dissolution discussed some schemes for a constant representation of the people. In these discussions it was suggested that Parliament should always sit, but should be kept in harmony with the people by a perpetual rotation of its members. Another proposition was, that two councils should be chosen by the people, one of them to have the power of proposing and discussing laws, the other to arrive at the final decision. It is important to notice that in this proposal also the right of the people to be frequently consulted was acknowledged by a provision that every year a third part of each council should retire, so that their places might be filled by a fresh election. Nothing but con

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