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sistancc of which, he has been enabled to trace, with greater exactness than any former historian, the progress of our constitu-; tional liberties, from the reign of Edward III. to the accession of the house of York, when the records of Parliament become comparatively barren and insignificant. Without setting up our antient constitution as a model of perfection, he has shown that the people of this country have always lived under a monarchy limited by law; and, in this view, his work may be considered as a complete and satisfactory answer to the false and mischievous theories of Brady and Carte, adapted and brought into notice by the genius and authority of Hume. The work of Mr Miller, the only historical view of the constitution that has appeared since Mr Hume's history, is remarkable for the sagacity of its conjectures, the ingenuity of its explanations, the boldness of its discussions, and its total freedom from prejudice; but it is deficient in accuracy and research, and will not bring conviction to a mind that has received its first impressions from the plausible but delusive representations of Hume. It is with great satisfaction, therefore, that we recommend the work before us to all who doubt the existence, or desire to trace the progress of our liberties, in the middle ages.
It would be idle to attempt any abstract or abridgement of this part of Mr Hallam's book. We shall content ourselves with a few critical remarks, and some extracts, to show the spirit and principles of the work.
Mr Hallam is inclined, with Carte, to doubt the story told by Mathew Paris of the election of John to the Crown of England, after the death of his brother Richard. The speech put in the mouth of Archbishop Hubert by the historian, is certainly 'in a strain beyond the constitution ;' but there is a circumstance, unnoticed by historians, that gives some probability to his account of a more formal election than ordinary. It has been usual for the Kings of England to date their accession to the throne from the death of their predecessor. But it will be found in Rymer, that John, in his public instruments, dates the commencement of his reign, not from the death of his brother, but from his own coronation. Inattention to this peculiarity has led the modern editors of the Fcedera to misplace some of the most important documents of his reign; those, in particular, that relate to the occupation of London by the Barons.
Mr Hallam admires, with reason, that equality of civil rights enjoyed by all the Commons of England. It is a proud distinction; and, till the French revolution, we believe, peculiar to this island. But we apprehend he is mistaken in supposing}
IS 18. Hallam's Middle Ages. 167that, ' from the reign of Henry III. at least, the legal equality of all ranks below the peerage was, to every essential purpose, as complete as at present.' He has surely forgotten the statute of Morton, which declares, that lords shall not marry those they have in ward to villeins or others, as burgesses, where f/ici/ lie disparaged. It is quite clear, that when this act was passed, burgesses were considered an inferior class to freeholders.
We agree, with Mr Hallam, that ' .we read very little of private wars in England ;' but we are not satisfied ' that they were never legal.' He quotes a passage from Glanvil, where that author expresses his doubts, whether a lord was entitled to demand an aid from his vassal ad gucrram suam manutenendam, but thinks this expression must relate to * the military service due from the lord to his sovereign.' If such had been the meaning of Glanvil, he would not have expressed himself doubtfully; for there can be no question, that the military tenants of a tenant in chief were bound to assist him in performing his military service to the Crown, either by their personal attendance in the field, or by contributing, according to the extent of their fees, to the scutage imposed on him. But the following passage, from the same author, which seems to have escaped Mr Hallam, places beyond a doubt the right of private war in England; and, notwithstanding the dubious expressions in the former quotation, establishes the principle, that vassals were bound to assist their lords in their private quarrels. 'Si quis plurahomagiapro diversisfcodissuisfecerit diversisdominis, qitise invicem injestant, si capitalis dominus ejus ei preceperit, quod secum in propria persona sua eat contra alium domimon suum, oportet eum ejus precepto in hoc obtemperare, salvo tamen scrvitio ultcrius domiui de feodo quod de eo tenet. * If a vassal holds tenements of different lords, says Bracton, 'et si inter dominos sues capitales oriantur inimicitue, in propria persona semper stabit cum eo cui j'ecit ligeantiam, et per attornatum cum aliis.' f 'The most prominent instance,' says Mr Hallam, 'of what may be deemed a private war in England, arose out of a contention between the Earls of Gloucester and Hereford, in the reign of Edward I., during which acts of extraordinary violence were perpetrated; but, far from its having passed for lawful, those powerful nobles were both committed to prison, and paid heavy fines.' This statement is not quite correct. These nohlemcn were not fined and imprisoned, because they made war simply, but because they made, .war after they had been prohibited by the king in Parliament. The punishment that attend
ed them is a proof, not of the illegality of private war, but of the supremacy of Parliament, to which the King himself, as well as the proudest baron of the land, was bound to give obedience. Nor is this the only remarkable instance on record of a private war in England. Mr Hallam might have found in Madox a formal truce, or cessation of hostilities, between the Earl Marshall and the Earl of Gloucester, in the reign, probably, of Henry III. J He has himself, indeed, in a subsequent part of his book, related some acts of violence, 'amounting in effect to a private war.' § But he is mistaken in classing Foulkes de Breaute among the confederate barons at the accession of Henry III. That worthy partisan was a sturdy royalist, and steady adherent of John. His subsequent misfortunes arose from the error of supposing he might commit the same excesses, with impunity, under Hubert de Burgh, which he had successful practised by the favour and example of his old master.
W - were inclined to have entered into some discussion with Mr Hallam concerning the state of the English boroughs at the time of the Conquest; but the subject is too extensive for our limits. We are apprehensive, that, notwithstanding his well-founded suspicions of Brady, he has confided too implicitly in that author's history of boroughs, the most imperfect and unfair of all his works. He is inclined, we perceive, to doubt the existence of municipal jurisdiction among the Saxons. He quotes indeed the charter of Lincoln, which * refers to municipal privileges of jurisdiction enjoyed by the citizens under the Confessor 5 * but supposes, that as Lincoln was one of the five Danish towns, * it might be in a more advantageous situation than the generality' of boroughs. If he had looked to the charter of Henry II. to the burgesses of Wallingford, published by Brady himself, he would have found a similar recognition of municipal jurisdiction under the Confessor, and, in particular, a confirmation of their mercantile gild, with all its laws and customs, as then enjoyed, among which was this privilege, ne propositus •metis, vel aliqua justicia mea de gilda eorum se intromittat, nisi jpropvie aldermannus et minister eorum. * From a charter of Henry I. published by Madox, it appears, that the Cnihtengild of London had a soke or manor within the city, which they had enjoyed under the Confessor, and probably from the time of Edgar, with sac and soc and other privileges of Saxon jurisdiction. These privileges they transferred in the time of Henry I. to the priory of the Holy Trinity, in consequence of which the
i Formulare Anglican. *>. 84• § p. 375. 377.
* Foedera, 1.471.
prior of that monastery became one of the aldermen of London, and continued to exercise that office till the suppression of convents in 1531. The ward governed so long in this extraordinary manner, is now called Portsokcn ward. f
We are not in the least disposed to enter on the controversy concerning the origin of the House of Commons. We are inclined, in the main, to agree with Mr Hallam; but we cannot help remarking to him, that the villani mentioned in the 16 Henry III. were not villeins, but townsmen, as he will at once perceive, if he takes the trouble to peruse the writ. % We are agreed also, that some of his Parliaments, after the 49 Henry III. must be rejected as spurious. The citizens and burgesses were not summoned to a Parliament in 1269, but to assist at a religious ceremony. The instance at the accession of Edward I. is a case more in point; but the chief object of the meeting was to swear fealty to the King.
But, without searching further for errors and omissions unavoidable in a work like this, we shall proceed to the more pleasing task of giving some extracts, as specimens of the tone and spirit of Mr Hallam's constitutional remarks. After relating the impeachment of Suffolk, and the appointment of a parliamentary commission for reform, in the tenth of Richard II., he makes the following observations.
'Those, who have written our history with more or less of a Tory bias, exclaim against this parliamentary commission as an unwarrantable violation of the King's sovereignty; and even impartial men are struck at first sight by a measure that seems to overset the natural balance of our constitution. But it would be unfair to blame either those concerned in this commission, some of whose names at least have been handed down with unquestioned respect, or those highspirited representatives of the people, whose patriot firmness has been hitherto commanding all our sympathy and gratitude, unless we could distinctly pronounce by what gentler means they could restrain the excesses of government. Thirteen Parliaments had already met since the accession of Richard; in all, the same remonstrances had been repeated, and the same promises renewed. Subsidies, more frequent than in any former reign, had been granted for the supposed exigencies of the war; but this was no longer illuminated by those dazzling victories, which give to fortune the mien of wisdom. The coasts of England were perpetually ravaged, and her trade destroyed; while the administration incurred the suspicion of diverting to private uses that, treasure which they so fully and unsuccessfully-applied to the public service. No voice of his people, until it spoke in
f Firma Burgi, 23—Stow's Survey of London, L 3,45.