« AnteriorContinuar »
revolution by which his power was for ever destroyed. Here even William III. encountered resistance, and the massacre of Glencoe was denounced; but the spirit of the place seems to have disappeared during the two or three succeeding reigns, or to have taken another form, when Walpole announced that "every man in it had his price." During the latter half of George the Second's reign, it had resounded to the eloquence of the elder Pitt, and, during a third of George the Third's, it had reechoed the scarcely less commanding notes of his fiery son. The elder Fox, as well as the elder Pitt, had been heard in the interval; and here had Burke, with his magnificent imagination and earnest elocution, delivered those harangues which posterity have admired. Wilberforce had within these walls deprecated slavery; and Windham had not been ashamed to advocate boxing, bull-baiting, and cock-fighting, though a more refined generation has consigned Mr. Windham and his "manly sports," alike to oblivion. Here Charles James Fox had made his maiden speech as a Tory, and William Pitt his debut as a Whig; though, reversing their respective positions, they afterwards assailed and defended each other's principles in language whose glowing eloquence almost surpassed that of Cicero and Demosthenes. And, last of all, the past generation, the witty and classic Canning had here poured forth his keen sarcasm and polished diction against foes and colleagues who still survive.
Nothing of this is now to be heard or seen; and yet on great occasions it would not be difficult still to point out men on either side of the House not unworthy of being ranked as successors to these illustrious names. Where, give him time to prepare his speech, shall we find any past orator deliver a more glowing essay than Macaulay-and where, at any period, can be found a debater who rises with more consummate readiness and confidence in himself and his party, than Sir Robert Peel? His speeches may not read so advantageously in the newspapers; they may not have the stamina of Russell's, or the fire of Shiel's, but they are delivered with an ease and an address, a tact and a skill in declamation, which throw the occasionally hesitating accents of the one, though they can never cast the fervid strains of the other, into shade. No sooner does the Premier rise, and disclose his buff waistcoat, and somewhat portly person, than the House is hushed, and whatever be the difference in political opinion, an auditor must confess that he has never heard a speech in which details were more dexterously arranged or ably delivered.
But we are here anticipating; the great men seldom shine forth till a late hour of the night; and if a stranger desire to witness the operations of the Commons for a day, he must provide himself with an order from a member for the magic silver ticket is no longer tolerated-and hie down to the House somewhere about half-past three, or, if the debate be important, before three o'clock. He will generally then find a crowd in the lobby-most of them idlers like himself, but others desirous of passing interviews with members, either to talk of present business or to remind them of former promises. He will then observe with what indifference the independent representative treats a constituent, if a general election be past and his seat secure; but how marvellously polite he grows, if that stirring movement be at hand, or the worthy member's return at all in jeopardy. In a moment the interview is generally at an end-the senator being anxious either to escape the importunity of the immacculate voter,
or to exhibit the zeal with which, like a Roman soldier, he hurries to his post; or if the consultation be protracted, you may predict that one of the parties is either a friend of the member's without a favour to ask, or some influential supporter whose opposition is not to be risked. He disappears through a blue cloth door, after perhaps a moment's whisper with a little mild-looking man in silver hair and silk tights, on one side of the recess; or it may be a tall, half-clerical, half-rakish-looking personage, with grey locks and brow erect (both door-keepers), at the other. If the stranger attempt to follow, he will be quickly apprised of his error, by the former in terms polite but decided, by the other in accents more brief than complimentary. He may possibly be surprised to find such persons as doorkeepers; but let him not wonder at their nonchalance-for the first is the assistant with £1,000, and the other the chief Cerberus with a salary of £1,500 a-year. In the old days of the unreformed Parliament, they received from individual members at least as much again; and many members then, perhaps, as well as now, would not have objected to exchange positions.
On inquiry, he will be directed to an outer door marked "Strangers' Gallery;" but he must not yet enter, for the House is at prayers, and allows no one to participate in its devotions. What these are, no one knows; to the uninitiated they are not less mysterious than the Eleusinian, but it may be inferred that they are not quite so agreeable, as except on important debates, when it becomes necessary to attend in order procure seats, it is seldom that more than forty persons—the number necessary to constitute a House-can be got together to join the Speaker in his piety. Some of the senators, indeed, have attempted to secure their seats by leaving their hats as a substitute; but after a grave discussion between Mr. Wakley and Sir John Easthope, it was decided that, for the desired end, the heads must be present too. Hence the visitor is detained for a quarter of an hour in the lobby; but he may previously have been treated to a sight of the coming grandeur, by seeing the Speaker in flowing robe and floating wig pass before him, preceded by the Sergeant-at-arms and mace, held by Cromwell in so little respect, but before which every man and member is expected to bow and
On entering the House, it will be found to be a long and somewhat narrow oblong chamber, with a gallery capable of accommodating a hundred or a hundred and fifty persons (for the public) at one extremity, and a smaller one for the accommodation of the press at the other. On each side there is a gallery, designed for those silent but very essential members of the ministerial and opposition parties who do not favour the House with their eloquence, but are to be reckoned on when it comes to the more important point of the vote.
This is the aspect of the upper part of the House, which, from his position, usually first strikes the stranger's eye; and if he cast his glances downwards, he will find that it is not less curious. Before a huge-looking pulpit, which obscures half the chamber, will be seen, arrayed in black robe and flowing wig, that Speaker so called-lucus a non lucendo-because, with the exception of now and then calling his noisy surrounders to order, he rarely opens his mouth-and of whose enduring powers as a listener-on an average of eight hours a day during more than half the year-to the most tiresome and prolix harangues, the
PROPOSALS FOR FORMING A GENEALOGICAL PUBLICATION SOCIETY.
To the Editor of "The Patrician."
SIR,-With your permission, I shall occupy a page or two of your journal, in laying before your readers some suggestions, respecting the furtherance of studies which are dear to yourself and them. I mean, I need hardly say, Family History.
It is not in the pages of THE PATRICIAN, where the nature and objects of such studies have been so invitingly set forth, any defence of them is needed; still must I transcribe the philosophic éloge of GIBBON, as given us in his Autobiography. "A lively desire," he wrote, "of knowing and recording our ancestors so generally prevails, that it must depend on the influence of some common principle in the minds of men. We seem to have lived in the persons of our forefathers; it is the labour and reward of vanity to extend the term of this ideal longevity. Our imagination is always active to enlarge the narrow circle in which Nature has confined us. Fifty or a hundred years may be allotted to an individual; but we step forwards beyond death with such hopes as religion and philosophy will suggest; and we fill up the silent vacancy that precedes our birth, by associating ourselves to the authors of our existence. Our calmer judgment will rather tend to moderate than to suppress the pride of an ancient and worthy race. The satirist may laugh, the philosopher may preach; but reason herself will respect the prejudices and habits which have been consecrated by the experience of mankind." I believe, therefore, that the expression of some ideas, which seem calculated to augment our ancestral knowledge, will not be unwelcome; and I shall endeavour to intrude as little as possible on your time and space.
A marked feature in the publishing history of our own day, is the division of subjects among particular Book Societies, in such a way that the student may possess himself of the rarest volumes in his favorite branches, at a cost little above that of the mere paper and type. The societies themselves have already multiplied to such extent, that their names are becoming difficult of enumeration. To give the pas to Theology; there are the Parker, the Calvin, the Wodrow; and other associations. Again, the names of the Camden, the Percy, and the Shakspeare clubs sufficiently set forth their literary intentions. But the question that has often occurred to your correspondent, and which he would put through you, Mr. Editor, to the public, is this:-WHY HAVE WE NO GENEALOGICAL BOOK CLUB? Are not the themes of sufficient moment? Nay, Are other themes whatsoever of equal domestic and personal interest? I think not.
Most of your readers, doubtless, are sufficiently acquainted with the simple code of rules, which form the groundwork of these societies. The subscription is a mere trifle-one or two guineas per annum; the volumes returned for it average four annually; and the cessation of contributing is a cessation of membership-no subscriber being liable for more than the amount of his, or her, subscription. Is it possible for the laborious investigator of family antiquities to hope that, through the medium of some such association, he may see his toil lightened his knowledge increased-and himself rewarded by an appreciating audience, brought together in this simple way?
Were such a Society formed, a name for it would be easily found; and let us suppose it to be named the Harleian, while I bring forward some of the works to which its attention might be fairly directed:
I. THE VISITATION BOOKS.-A list of these, but not a complete one, is given in your first volume, page 112. I would propose that the Harleian Book Society employ a competent editor to collate, and collect, these invaluable records, as they exist in the College of Arms, the British Museum, the University libraries,
venience of trunkmakers-it is impossible even to guess; but the stranger, most certainly, after once witnessing their reception, will never again adhibit his name to such a document.
The petitions over, the time for boring the ministry commences. One gentleman from the opposition benches gets up and asks the Premier whether the Americans design to annex Ireland, or the French admiral to marry the Queen of the Otaheite Islands; and when his curiosity has been gratified by the Minister's reply, that "he does not know, but will institute the necessary inquiries, and mean time begs to assure the House that in neither of these important contingences will he lose sight of the interest and honour of England;" another rises in the Minister's rear, and begs to be informed whether there be any truth in the newspaper rumours, that the Queen intends to create her husband King Consort, and appoint him, on the first vacancy, Archbishop of Canterbury? to which the unhappy official replies in the negative, with a sharpness and asperity that might induce listeners to suppose there is some truth in his frequent declaration that "the prime minister of this country reposes not on a bed of roses," were it not for the reflection that, if he really were sincere, he might at any time exchange its thorns for a couch of swandown.
The business of the day now begins. Bills are brought in, and read a first stage unopposed; for, in accordance with the forms of the House, it would be uncourteous to resist the first reading of a bill; but, when the second stage arrives, the discussion in reality commences. It is rarely, however, until half-past nine or ten o'clock that it becomes interesting. Yet dear is this interval to prosy speakers! Now many men get up and bore the House by the hour, who, at a later period of the evening, would not for a moment be heard. And gladly is the opportunity seized by those who would at no other time have a chance of seeing their names in print, for the delight of themselves, and wonder of their constituents.
Ten-eleven o'clock draws nigh, and the great speakers now rise. An ingenious calculator on the opposition benches has, perhaps, discovered that there is a mistake involving the amount of ten-pence three farthings in the revenue of the year, and he arraigns this act of public profligacy in terms to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer replies with a prolixity and obscurity which confirm the prevailing opinion, that language was imparted to enable man to conceal his thoughts. Then arises a more important member of the opposition, and hurls at a superior minister some more weighty denunciation, which the Premier casts aside or returns with as much coolness as the general who defended his position by intercepting and returning his assailants' cannon-balls. Several combatants on both sides join successively in the dispute; their leaders generally bringing up the rear, and the party who broke the debateable ground invariably possessing the right of reply. The House becomes tumultuous; the cry of "Divide!" is heard; the hour of voting approaches; and now do those silent members who plume themselves on this power feel their full importance. Each of these gentlemen is now on a level with the most eloquent speaker in the House, and by their aid is the question settled, unless it be adjourned to another evening on the motion of some member who objects, on principle, to midnight legislation, or of another who is desirous to take part in the fight, but requires time to marshal his forces for the strife.
THE ROLL OF BATTLE ABBEY. (Annotated.)
MOUNTAGU. The Christian name of the distinguished soldier to whom this entry refers, was Drogo, denominated "de Montagu,' from a town in Normandy. In Domesday Book, he is styled Drogo de Montacuto, and appears by the possessions he held under Robert, Earl of Morton, to have come over in the retinue of that great Earl, the half-brother of the Conqueror. This Drogo fixed his chief residence at the castle of ShiptonMontacute, co. Somerset, and hence his descendants continued to be designated. Simon de Montacute, Lord of Shipton-Montacute, gained great distinction as a successful warrior in the martial times of Edward I. "In the 24th of that monarch" (says Hollinshed) " those Englishmen that kept the town of Burg, being compassed about with a siege by Monsieur de Sully, obtained a truce for a certain space; during the which, they sent unto Blaines for some relief of vittels, and where other refused to bring up a ship laden with vittels, which was there prepared, the Lord SIMON DE MONTAGEW, a right valiant chieftaine, and a wise, took upon him the enterprise, and thro' the middle of the French gallies, which were placed in the river to stop, that no ship should passe towards that towne; by help of a prosperous wind, he got into the haven of Burg, and so relieved them within of their want of vittels; by means whereof, Monsieur de Sulley broke up his siege and returned into France." From this renowned
VOL. IV., NO. XX.
soldier descended the illustrious race of Montague, conspicuous in all the great achievements of English history. Thomas de Montacute, last Earl of Salisbury, was concerned in SO many military' exploits, that to give an account of them all would be to write the annals of the reign of Henry V. Suffice it then to say, that as he lived, so he died, in the service of his country; being mortally wounded when commanding the English army at the siege of Orleans, in 1428. His wife was the Lady Eleanor Holland, a descendant of the royal house of Plantagenet, and by her he had an only daughter and heiress, the Lady Alice, who wedded Richard Nevill, eldest son of Ralph, Earl of Westmoreland, by his second wife, Joane de Beaufort, dau. of John of Gaunt. In right of this marriage, Richard Nevill had the Earldom of Salisbury revived in his person, and was succeeded therein by his eldest son, Richard Nevill, Earl of Warwick and Salisbury, the hero of the Wars of the Roses,
"The setter-up and puller down of Kings."
Though the chief line of the Montacutes thus failed in an heiress, male branches continued to flourish, and from these sprang the Dukes of Montague and the Earls of Halifax, now extinct, the Dukes of Manchester, and the Earls of Sandwich.
MOUNTFORD. Hugh de Montfort, commonly called Hugh with a