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Was built with many a creeping flower,
To minds that lose their equipoise.' The equipoise is lost, and she abandons the virtuous station she had ostensibly held.
A foreign land is now her choice,
A foreign sky above her,
Of those that say they love her.
A prince's palace is her home,
For music spoke her native tongue.' With this extract we must close our review of a book, in which we have found more to praise and less to blame, than in any poetical work of imagination that has fallen under our notice for a considerable time.
ART. II.-A Letter to the Duke of Wellington, on the propriety
and legality of creating Peers for life; with Precedents. 8vo. London : 1830.
is a Court of Judicature, a Branch of the Legislature, and a Council of Advice to the King in his administration of the Government. We shall make a few remarks on each of these functions before we proceed to the pamphlet before us.
When acting as a Court of Judicature in criminal causes, whether they be impeachments at the instance of the Commons, or trials for private offences, it is usual for the Lords who attend, to take part in the proceedings, and give their votes individually. But in civil causes the judicial functions of the House have been long delegated in practice to the Lord Chancellor, and to the other law lords who have seats in that assembly. The chief, if not the only, exceptions to this rule are claims to peerages, which in all doubtful cases are practically and substantially, as well as nominally, heard in a Committee of the whole House, and decided by the House when resumed. In other questions, the judgment of the Lords, though technically and formally that of the whole House, is practically and substantially nothing more than the judgment of the Lord Chancellor; or of the Lord Chancellor and other law lords who have been raised to the peerage. An expedient, resorted to some years ago, places in a striking point of view the sense which the Lords themselves entertain of their unfitness for the exercise of the judicial functions with which they are invested. The accumulation of undecided appeals under Lord Eldon, had become so large that it amounted nearly to a denial of justice to the parties involved in litigation. Some expedient became necessary to remedy a grievance universally felt and loudly complained of. A device was fallen upon, which in some degree answered the purpose, but exposed to the dullest capacity the fallacy of considering the Lords as a body of men competent to judge and decide the intricate questions of law or fact brought before them. It was agreed that the House should meet on certain days at ten o'clock in the morning, and continue sitting till four o'clock, to hear appeals. To obtain a quorum for the despatch of business, it was necessary that three members should be constantly present in the House. It was hopeless to trust for this attendance to accident or to a vague and general sense of duty. Some specific compulsion was thought necessary. To form á House at a certain hour, and to retain a sufficient number of members while counsel were pleading at the bar, was the object to be obtained. Whether the Lords in attendance listened to or understood the case, was universally felt to be a matter of no importance whatever. Nothing more was required than that there should be constantly three members present to constitute a House. To secure this point, it was agreed, that every lord should bind himself by a penalty to attend one whole morning during the Session, and that it should be settled by lot on what particular day he was to be present, or find a substitute. By this contrivance, a House was secured for hearing appeals; but as no one, except the Chancellor, attended more than once, it continually happened, in Scotch appeals, and in other causes where the pleadings lasted for several days, that one set of Lords heard the beginning, and another set the end of the plaintiff's case, while a third set heard the commencement, and a fourth set the conclusion of the defendant's reply ; after which, the Lord Chancellor rose and decided the cause, the Lords, who sat with him, and without whose presence and concurrence he could have pronounced no judgment at all, knowing as much of the matter in litigation as the Woolsack he had quitted.
tions, and deputed some lawyer, not a member of the House, to supply his place. The modest deputy took his seat behind the trio, who in the contemplation of law were the judges of the cause, and while they amused themselves with reading newspapers or writing letters, he listened to the pleadings, and when the lawyers had finished, one of the three called on him, as assistant of the House, to state his opinion of the case. Having received this invitation, and not before, he imparted to their Lordships the view he had taken of the matter, and suggested to them the judgment, which, in his opinion, they ought to give. A motion to that effect was then made by one of the trio; and the question having been put with becoming gravity from the Woolsack, the motion was carried without a dissenting voice or a word said on the subject. It might, however, have been otherwise. We recollect one of the Lords, who was unwilling to sacrifice a whole morning to this irksome and disagreeable duty, threatening the projectors of the plan that, if they forced him to attend, he would speak and vote against the assistant, who had no right of reply; and as he was a clever man, he might possibly have converted some brother Peer to his opinion, and obtained a judgment, most probably wrong, but certainly final.
It may be asked, why did a farce of this sort continue to be acted? Why were not means devised to render it unnecessary ? Why are judicial functions attributed to persons, who must of necessity be unfit to exercise them? Why have we not, like other nations, a supreme tribunal composed of men trained and practised in the courts of law? In every judicature, except the highest, we have judges specially named and designated to hear and determine causes. Why is there a different constitution in the highest court of all? We complain not of the judgments given by the House of Lords ; but why is such a cumbrous and useless apparatus necessary to obtain them?
As a Branch of the Legislature, the consent of the House of Lords is necessary for every act of Parliament; and in the performance of the duties which this privilege implies, it cannot be denied, that the services of the Lords are, in many respects, of the highest value. Local and private bills, introduced by members of the House of Commons, to please or to serve their constituents, and passed without examination, or carried by cabal in that assembly, are sure to meet with a rigid scrutiny in the House of Lords ; and, if unjust in their principle, or injurious in their details, it is the fault of those who are to suffer by them if they are not corrected or thrown out. There is nothing for which the House of Lords is more deserving of credit, than for its vigilant attention and scrupulous regard to private rights. If any
one fails to obtain justice from them, it must arise from his own negligence. No private bill is taken into consideration till the preamble to it has been proved, that is, till the grounds on which it is proposed have been established on full and satisfactory evidence; and in the Committee, where its clauses are examined, all the parties interested in its provisions are calmly and deliberately heard, and justice done to every one, as far as human wisdom can provide.
But it is not on private bills only that the superintendence of the House of Lords is exerted in a beneficial manner to the public. In the passage of public Acts of Parliament through the House, the same care and precautions are observed. The slovenly bills transmitted from the Commons, badly drawn
at first, and loaded with inconsistent and contradictory amendments, arising, not from design, but from partial and imperfect views of the subject, undergo a most useful revision in the House of Lords, and, when cleared from the dross they had contracted, they generally come out of the discussion in a more intelligible and practicable form. Nothing shows more clearly than the proceedings of the two Houses of Parliament, what experience has every where taught, that two deliberative Assemblies, composed of different elements, influenced by different opinions, and enlightened by different minds, are preferable to one. Legislation proceeds more slowly, and with greater difficulties ; but time is given for the mature consideration and discussion of every measure, before it acquires the force of law.
In several respects, the Lords are well qualified for the discharge of their legislative functions. They are, in general, men of cultivated minds; and some of them are eminently distinguished for their talents and acquirements. Many of them have been practised in affairs, and most of them are conversant in the internal administration of their country. Their debates, imperfectly reported as they are, show how carefully they have studied the subjects that come before them. But, with all these merits, it may be questioned, whether the House of Lords be so constituted at present as to afford the best of legislative assemblies. Society is in continual progress, either to good or evil; and they who lag far behind, must be unfit to regulate and direct its movements. But, from their education and habits—the pursuits and amusements that employ their time—the limited intercourse they maintain with the more active and industrious classes-it must always happen, that a great majority of the Lords, who sit by hereditary right, are behind the age in which they live. How many evils have been, for years, obvious to every eye, before the Lords could be brought to acknowledge their existence ! and how many