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commons, but they were not commoners. They continued to sit with the barons when the commoners sat apart. As yet no man seems to have dreamt that this lower class could ever be raised to the national councils, whether in separate, co-ordinate, or subordinate rank. The principle which by easiest. pressure expanded to admit them, had been acknowledged some centuries in England; yet they were still shut out. But ages and generations vainly strive for what the man and the hour accomplish. And both were at hand when Henry III. issued his writs of summons for the Great Council at Westminster on the 2nd of May, 1258. To this council the greater barons came alone ; and when the king entered the hall on the third day with his brother William de Valence, he found them assembled, with Simon de Montfort and Roger Bigod at their head, in complete coats of mail. He started in alarm at the unaccustomed sight, ‘Am I then your prisoner ?’ he asked. ‘No, sir; ' and as the reply was given, each baron unbuckled his sword: and put it aside ; ‘ but by your ‘partiality to foreigners, and your own wasteful profusion, the king‘dom is involved in want and wretchedness. Wherefore, we are here ‘to demand that the powers of government be delegated to a com‘mittee of barons and prelates, who may correct abuses and enact “salutarylaws.’ A violent scene of altercation ensued between Simon de Montfort and William de Valence, but before Henry had left the hall that day, he tendered complete submission. The demands of the barons were conceded, and the debts of the king were undertaken to be paid. Barons and prelates, to the number of twentyfour, were to be formed into a commission to reform the state. Twelve were to be selected from the council of the king; and twelve to be named by the party of De Montfort, in a parliament to be immediately held at Oxford. Oxford, on the eleventh of June, was accordingly the scene of that memorable assemblage, on which contemporaneous history bestowed the gracious imputation of madness. A more felicitous epithet could probably not have been selected, by the concurrentreason of the age. It was the Mad Parliament, in the sense wherein the Galileos and Columbuses were mad discoverers. No men had better right to use the word than the monks from whom our annals borrowed it, and who were at this time torturing IRoger Bacon for a premature wisdom that seemed to them a wicked foolishness. But it would be probably quite safe to affirm, that as the king and his councillors rode to the meeting at Oxford, through the ranks of 60,000 baronial retainers encamped around that city, it was less by the thought of madness they were then subdued, than by that of wisdom and determination resolved to be trifled with no more. The Committee of Reform was named. It comprised, on the side of the king, his nephew Henry; three of his half-brothers, Aymar, Guy, and William ; his brother-in-law, De Warenne; some of the officers of state; John de Plessys, Earl of Warwick; and Fulk Basset, bishop of London. But among even these the event showed leanings to the popular side. The twelve named by the barons included Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, and high steward; Richard de Clare, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford; Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, and high constable; Roger Bigod, earl marshal; Walter Cantilupe, Bishop of Worcester; Roger de Mortimer, and Peter and Hugh de Montfort. All, on either side, were in succession solemnly sworn to reform the state of the realm, to the honour of God, the service of the king, and the benefit of the people; and, in the discharge of that sacred duty, to suffer themselves to be influenced by no consideration, “neither of gift nor promise, profit nor loss, love nor hatred, nor fear.' The twelve then selected, each in its turn, two from the ranks of the party opposed to itself; and to the four thus chosen were committed the charge of appointing a Council of State of fifteen members. These important appointments were made with apparent impartiality; but the result determined where lay the vast preponderance of power and strength; and from that moment the king's hope of resistance or evasion was gone. His nephew and brothers had been excluded, though the numbers were nominally equal; and Archbishop Boniface of Canterbury, with notorious popular inclinings, was placed at the head of the council. But a few brief months were now to pass, before the Mad Parliament had assumed the government of England, and the greatest duties of the state were in charge of the most trusted adherents of DeMontfort. He had named the justiciary, the chancellor, the treasurer, and all the sheriffs; and had supplanted by men of his own choice the governors of twenty of the principal castles of the king. It has been called a Revolution; and it was so. But it was a Revolution fenced round by guarantees for Re-Establishment; in the spirit of the Great Charter, and with conscientious regard for the welfare of the people. The new justiciary was sworn to administer justice to all persons according to the ordinances of the com
mittee and council ; the chancellor was restricted from placing the seal to any grant without the assent of the council, or to any instrument at variance with the regulations of the committee; and the governors of the castles, while for twelve years they were limited by special order of the council, to obey its direction in relation, to any surrender to the king, were left without restriction after that space to obey loyally the king's command. The necessary provisional arrangements having been thus completed, four ordinances were issued by the committee. The first empowered and instructed the freeholders of each county to elect four knights to ascertain and lay before parliament the trespasses, excesses, and injuries committed within the county during the government of the king. The second arranged for annual elections of high sheriffs in each county by the votes of all the freeholders. The third ordered an annual delivery of accounts, not only by all sheriffs, but by the treasurer, the chancellor, and the justiciary. And the fourth directed that parliaments should be assembled three several times in the year, at the beginning of the months of February, June, and October. " With this the Mad Parliament closed its session. A seven
years' struggle followed, and extraordinary incidents marked its course.
Father Dancy. By the Author of “Mount Sorel,” &c. 2 vols. p. 8vo. London: Chapman and Hall.
• THE author (or, as it must be, authoress) is incorrigible in her sentimentality; her imagination, though that is scarcely the right term, say rather her fancy, is perpetually running her understanding into the wildest career. This faculty is not of that combinative and creative kind which belongs to the genuine poetical capacity, but of that fuming and exaggerated sort which belongs to all persons of impetuous temperament, and but comparatively slight reflective powers. Thus it is that she will not yiew or ...F. things as they are or were, but as they might be, if perfected according to the theory of their existence. This vice of writing is perceptible in every sentence; it strengthens every prejudice, and glows in every description—one cannot read, a
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page without feeling its offensiveness. Nor are any of her theories or imaginings supported by knowledge or ingenious reasoning; she assumes at once the position, and having done so, proceeds equally erroneously to moralise upon it. She commences with a lament (extraordinary extent of Conservatism) that “the good old times” of Elizabeth's days were not so good as the good old times of a still more remote and barbarous o England was, however, even then, a H. compared to what it is now, but still far below what it was fore the revolutionary reformation. What a state of bliss must the ancient Britons have enjoyed before that ancient reformer Caesar enlightened them, and the Romans taught them to build houses and live sociably 1 But in the whole of this introductory chapter there are innumerable contradictions: in one sentence we are told that England still had immense districts of barren, sandy heaths, green commons of prodigious extent, or bleak dreary moors and morasses; and yet shortl after that it was then “merry England;" and a lament is uttered that the vile hand of modern improvement has interfered with these “barren heaths and dreary moors.” “The mysteries of those dark, gloomy moors, as seen under the indigo clouds of a November sky (let us be thankful we still have gloomy Novembers)—perplexed as they were by the superstition of the times with witches, demons, dwarfs, and fairies—seemed to elevate the imagination.” If this were so (which we by no means believe) it surely would not particularly add to the merriment of the age. We are also told it is impossible for a mind of any imagination not to regret in this picture the absence of the monasteries. “The magnificent abbey situated on the bank of some gentle (are all streams gentle?) stream ; its rich meadow covered with the sheep and kine (for the use of self-denying monks 7); the convent bell tolling for evening prayer; the beautiful priory; the hermit's silent cell”—(what a picture for Cremorne Gardens!)—had all disappeared. Now, it so happens that the minds of the greatest imagination, Shakespeare and his contemporaries, never expressed any regret of this sentimental kind. They had no occasion to draw fancy portraits, nor did their truly imaginative minds raise up fictitious impossibilities to weep over their destruction. They informed the real with their intellectual might, and left the exciting process of fanciful exaggeration to the authoresses of the Minerva Press school. This enfeebling inclination to draw fancy portraits arises from the possession of the same kind of capacity that belongs to the playwrights of the Cobourg theatre, and only can affect weak minds that are caught by the commonest symbols. Here again we have “the monk in his long, waving garments, book in hand, the type of a life of contemplation; the holy nun—the ancient palmer—were gone. The tide of destruction had swept over all this, and the place thereof shall know it no more.” Now this is all sentimentalizing of a very injurious kind—those who know anything of history know it is all false and misleading. The gravest documents sufficiently prove the absurdity of this picture, and three hundred years before we know it was equally false, This lady should have read, at least, the Chronicles of Jocelyn de Brakelond—translated for two shillings”—where she would learn that “the life of contemplation” was filled with the basest worldly cares, much profligacy, and very little or no true religion, the name of obscure saints being frequently, and that of the Saviour never, alluded to. What faith, therefore, can we have in any work, which, though dealing with fictitious circumstances should be true in spirit, that commences in this way. In fact, this book, and indeed this kind of writing, is utterly false in spirit, and if read, should only be read for the story, or by those who, forearmed with knowledge, cannot be misled by the exaggerated sentiment. The very epithets are misleading; for the “noble” aristocracy she refers to we find in the real history of the time (with one or two exceptions) was made up of duplicity and atrocity. Murders, both private and judicial, were constantly occurring, and some of the leading men, for instance, the Earl of Leicester and Lord Bacon, were so vile that they could not have escaped the extreme penalties of the law in our time, as indeed they scarcely did in their own. To draw a correct view of the age, and to discriminate between the conventional and the real crimes of the period; to show the effects of laws upon society, and to truly contrast the two eras, were a great and beneficial task. But of this species of composition the writer has no idea. She has conceived an admiration for certain modes of existence—she fancies, or pretends to fancy, that every theory is reduced to practice; and trusting to this unhappy heat of mind, represents all she approves couleur de rose, and all she does not in the blackest hue. All this would be comparatively, harmless if she were quite a Mrs. Bean, or an Anne of Swansea, and she might then dip her pen in gall—or in a blacking bottle—and no-one need fear; but she has education (though very little reading, by the way, of the Elizabethan era)—she has also some powers of writing; and there are many persons partially and imperfectly instructed, who will be in danger of infection from her notions, and of being misled by her narrative. It were an endless task to point out the errors engendered in almost every o: of her book. We cannot, however, resist noticing, this. In escribing Elizabeth in her last days, she says, “scarce one but revered in heart that aged monarch,” when we know that there, was “scarce one’” but kept up a secret and almost traitorous correspondence with her expected successor. Her most confidential minister keeping horses, saddled at every stage to Edinburgh to carry the joyful news of her death to James. The whole tone of the book will be offensive to the scholar acquainted