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And on the earth remain'd the earthly pomp
I call this, mother, back to thy remembrance
Say on, and tell
Thy tale to its conclusion.
Whence she came,
Or how she came, I know not ;-as 1 turn'd
The power of her near presence-it was not
There was no sound of words; our souls did seem
There shone the holy spark of heaven's
Which searching to its centre fires the soul
Confused, and taken by surprise, Beatrice has been unable to reveal to Don Cesar her attachment to Don Manuel; and the Prince, after a stormy avowal of his passion, leaves her, announcing to his attendants
Henceforth entreat her as my destined bride,
In state beseeming her and worthy me.'
He does return; but it is to find Beatrice in the embrace of
Don Manuel, in whose protecting arms she had sought shelter from the followers of Don Cesar, by whom the pavilion was guarded. In a paroxysm of jealousy and hatred, the impetuous Don Cesar rushes on his brother, and plunges his dagger in his breast. Don Manuel expires. A series of fearful discoveries follows. The unhappy mother, mourning over the body of Don Manuel, learns that the mortal blow had been inflicted by her own son; Beatrice, that the object of her affections was her brother; and Don Cesar, that she for whom he had murdered a brother was the sister of both. He feels that existence is no longer endurable, and expires by his own hand beside the bier of his brother. As a fair specimen of the style in which the lyrical portions of the translation are executed, we shall quote, in conclusion, the beautiful lines put into the mouth of the Chorus-Wohl dem, selig muss ich ihn preisen.'
'Oh! well is he, and blest his condition,
'I look'd on the house of the mighty with sorrow :
Mocking the sun;-alas! to-morrow
'Soft is his bed, and to watching a stranger,
'Who the proud thoughts that excite but to grieve us,
Hath with proud fortitude repress'd;
And the vain wishes that ever deceive us
ART. XI.-A Letter to the Right Honourable the Speaker of the House of Commons, containing a Narrative of the Circumstances connected with the Proceedings against C. Bolton, Esq. of Hull and others, for a Breach of Privilege in commencing and prosecuting an action against the Warden of the Fleet Prison, for suffering R. C. Burton, Esq. M.P. to go out of his custody in obedience to an order of the House. By A. ROSSER. London: 1821.*
the House of Commons, the of a
Is Committee, adopted certain resolutions for the publication
and sale of its Reports, Votes, and others Papers. The substance of these resolutions was, that Messrs Hansard, the printers of the House, should conduct the sale-that the price to the public should be a halfpenny per sheet-and that twelve and a-half per cent discount should be allowed to the Trade. This plan was forthwith acted upon; and there was thus established, if not as a branch of the House of Commons, yet certainly under its direction, a shop and a traffic of bookselling. Whatever evidence was given before any committee-none of it upon oath—much of it matter of opinion, hearsay, conjecture-little of it resembling that which goes by the same name in Courts of Justice;-whatever allegations were set forth in petitions, not even pretending to be evidence, and, if necessary, behind the back of those to whose character and conduct they related-were thus, if ordered to be printed, as they all are in common course, sold to the public at the rate of three halfpence, for a pamphlet, which common venders of such wares cannot afford to sell under two shillings or half-acrown; and a discount." 'was allowed to the Trade' (we cite the words of the House itself), 'in case the price should be found so high as to prevent the dealers pushing the sale.'
A party was attacked in one of these publications; and he brought
* We have placed the title of Mr Rosser's able and interesting pamphlet at the head of this article, though the subject of it occurred so many years ago. But the perusal of Mr Rosser's statement and observations will well recompense the reader for his trouble. He was the Solicitor who brought the action as a professional man; the defendant threw himself upon the protection of the House; and Mr Rosser and his clients being threatened with severe punishment, stopt the process, paid all the costs, and having with contrition acknowledged their offences, and 'thrown themselves on the mercy of the House,' were allowed to escape any further punishment, by the order for their attendance being rescinded.
his action against Mr Hansard. The defendant pleaded that the charges made in the alleged libel were true; as he might have pleaded had he published under no authority or pretended authority at all. He satisfied the jury of this fact, and had a verdict accordingly. But he first of all set up another defence: he stated that the House of Commons, whose printer and publisher he was, had authorized him to sell the libel in question; and that therefore, whether true or false, scandalous or harmless, he was protected by the lawful authority of his employers, who had a right to publish whatever they chose, respecting any person, and in any way.
The Judge, before whom this most grave and momentous affair came, was the Lord Chief Justice of England; and, acting under the obligations of his oath, in the conscientious discharge of his duty, he gave that judgment which he deemed the law requiredthat judgment which, if the law had unhappily been against the liberties of the people, he would have been bound to give, and would have given, as every one who knew him knew full well: but the law, speaking through him, was in favour of these liberties; and he gave that judgment from the bench, which, at the bar, or in the senate, or on the hustings, he would at all times of his honest and brilliant career, have rejoiced to defend; and the title and the station of Chief Justice lent new force, without giving a new direction to that indomitable love of popular rights, and that steadfast resistance of unlawful power, which had already illustrated the name of Denman.
As soon as a pretension, which he considered to be monstrous and intolerable, was set up on the part of the House of Commons, he did not hesitate or delay pronouncing his judgment; and, least of all, did he seek to shelter himself behind the authority of others by reserving the point for the consideration of the Court. He at once declared his opinion in these memorable words :—' I ' entirely disagree from the law laid down by the learned counsel 'for the defendant. I am not aware of the existence in this 'country of any body whatever that can privilege any servant of 'theirs to publish libels of any individual. Whatever arrange6 ments may be made between the House of Commons and any 'publisher in their employ, I am of opinion that the publisher 'who publishes that in his public shop, and especially for money, 'which may be injurious, and possibly ruinous to any of the King's subjects, must answer in a court of justice to that subject, if he challenge him for a libel; and I wish to say so emphatically and distinctly; because I think that if upon the first opportunity that ' arose in a court of justice for questioning this point, it were left unsatisfactorily explained, the Judge who sat there might be'come an accomplice in the destruction of the Liberties of the
'country, and expose every individual who lives in it to a Tyranny ⚫ that no man ought to submit to.'
The case was left to the jury, therefore, upon the other ground; and they having decided against the plaintiff, no opportunity was given for taking the opinion of the Court upon the alleged privilege. But other actions being threatened, the House of Commons thought it necessary to interpose; and a Committee was appointed to examine precedents upon the subject. It met seven times; and reported whatever precedents could be found, with certain Resolutions, which Viscount Howick, its chairman, moved, and which the House adopted by a large majority.
Into the merits of this Report of these Resolutions we need not here enter at large; because we mean, at present, to examine the question only upon the ground of expediency or necessity, and not to touch, on the legal point at all. Yet it is impossible to avoid casting our eye towards the kind of precedents by which the claims of the House are supported; and the sort of proposition which it has thought fit to establish by its
The earliest precedents of printing and publishing are in 1641, when the Long Parliament was in open conflict with the Crown, and had assumed many of the functions of the executive Government. Among the precedents of the following year, 1642, to which the Report refers (App. p. 77) are these:— 'Declaration of Parliament for raising the Trained Bands'— • Propositions for raising Horse'-' Declaration of the Lords and • Commons in favour of persons advancing money on the credit * of the late ordinance.' That the Commons in those days acted as became friends of liberty, and by their gallant spirit, and wise councils, rescued their country from arbitrary power, none are more ready to admit than we. But they were placed in critical circumstances; they were acting in revolutionary times; their excess of all bounds of laws was only to be justified by the awful necessity which compelled it; and to cite such acts for any other purpose, in peaceful times, than as a warning against repeating them until some such crisis again occurs, would be the height of unreasonable, or rather unthinking zeal. Yet are there to be found, though strangely enough not in the Committee's Report, instances of equal extravagance, justified by nothing like a crisis, but rather in times remarkably tranquil. One of these, which we shall advert to, is before the date of the former precedents, viz. in 1621; another is as late as the end of George II.'s reign. The case of 1621 is that of Edward Floyd; and it implicates both Houses of Parliament. This unfortunate person had incurred the displeasure of the House of Commons by