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Commerce and Agriculture.

135.

then entertained on questions embraced by his favourite science. A Bill against the transportation of money was supported by one member, in order to prevent the realm being impoverished; 'for, said he, 'twenty shillings English is equal to twenty-three sbillings Flemish ;' and the opinion was gravely enounced, that 'England would be the happiest nation in the world if there were no money in it, and that 'the happiest age was that in which there was only trading in commodities.' Mr. Francis Bacon introduced, with no success, a Bill to suppress abuses in weights and measures; and truly the evil called for legislation, if, as he said, all the churches could be supplied with battlements and bells out of the false weights then in use. The painter-stainers having accused the plasterers of meddling with their business, and using their colours, the House had enough respect for the old guild-sentiment to fight their battle for them. Much ridicule was heaped on a measure brought forward for giving the monopoly of any trade or art to the person who should first invent, add to, or refine it. An attempt to abolish the Kent custom of gavelkind was advocated on the ground that the Conqueror had created it to injure the old English families; but the abolition was opposed on the ground that the queen's subsidies would be injured by the change; so the subsidies carried it against the old families by one hundred and thirty-eight votes to sixty-seven. In order to avoid the double payment of shopdebts,' a Bill with that title was drawn up; and one speaker informed the House that shopkeepers were accustomed to keep two books, one for current accounts, and another called Book Dormant,' in which the various totals were added up; and that unless a customer saw his accounts in both books crossed out, he was liable to have to pay it twice over. After keen contests the Bill passed by one hundred and fifty-one Ayes to one hundred and two Noes.

Agriculture was not overlooked. A Bill to compel a certain portion of land to be sown with hemp was unanimously rejected; but on the question of continuing the statute of tillage a long debate was held, in which Bacon and Raleigh took opposite sides. That statute ordered one-third of all lands held to be put under the plough, which Bacon justified, because it was not well that the wealth of a kingdom should be engrossed in a few pasturers' hands.' But Raleigh alleged that sometimes land so ploughed could not be sown through the poverty of the tenant; he also feared a glut of corn. 'All nations abound with corn. France offered the queen to serve Ireland with corn at 16s. a quarter, which is but 2s. a bushel : such a competition would beggar the English farmer: “therefore I think the best course is to set it at liberty, and leave every man free, which is the desire of every true Englishman." Cecil spoke for the maintenance of the law, and so it was carried ; but Mr. Selby, a Northumberland man, got his county exempted because it was so near the Scots, and had suffered so much from the plague, which had swept away not only whole families, but whole villages. An agriculturist who endeavoured to get his own lands also exempted was disappointed, after a protracted struggle.

But little was done towards acting on the royal suggestion for the repeal of superfluous laws. Bacon delivered an elaborate speech in favour of this course, observing, that it was better to venture a man's credit by speaking than to stretch a man's conscience by silence.' He also compared laws to 'pills gilt over, which, if they be easily and well swallowed down, are not bitter to the digestion, nor hurtful to the body. He moved the appointment of a committee. Sir Edward Hoby had previously remarked, that 'the multiplicity of penal laws were as thorns that did prick, but did yield no fruit;' and Mr. Wiseman, of Lincoln's Inn, did not stop short of denouncing them as needless in themselves and disgraceful on account of the penalties. Many (limbs of the law) had seats in the House, and were among its chief speakers; yet lawyers were not delicately handled. In one case where the names of a doctor of the civil law and a common lawyer were introduced, a member cited and applied the saying, "It's no matter who goes first, the hangman or the thief!' A Bill 'to restrain the number of common solicitors' was passed ; as was another for doing away with frivolous suits in Westminster Hall; and a Bill for abolishing certain idle courts kept every three weeks by archdeacons was directed against some notorious abuse. That the House did not incline to enlarge the jurisdiction of great corporations may

be concluded from the small majority of eight votes, in a division comprising one hundred and eighty members, for giving the city of London power over the liberties of St. Catherine, a resort of the lawless and most desperate characters, who from that eastern Alsatia set the civic authorities at defiance.

Before making an end of this summary, it may be noticed, that if the Elizabethan House of Commons, in its artificial, aphoristic, and interlarded Latin style shows to disadvantage by the side of the Victorian Parliament, its superiority must be acknowledged in two important particulars, the shortness of the speeches, and the early hours observed. The House then always met in the mornings, and a sitting protracted far into the afternoon was a

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treasurer.

Dissolution of the last Parliament.

137 wonder. Now that our House has gone to the farthest limits of long sittings consistent with physical endurance, we may hope for an amendment. A week before the end of the session, (which lasted fifty-three days in all, including Sundays,) the Speaker intimated that the session would then close, and the House began to hold afternoon sittings. It should be remembered that the parliamentary dinner hour has shifted about six hours later in the course of two hundred and sixty years. Among the closing scenes of this Parliament were two that must be mentioned. Both in the Lords and Commons it was usual for a collection to be made; and before again conforming to custom, a statement was rendered as to the manner of applying the collection last made. Two of the items were, to the minister, (chaplain,) £10; to the sergeant-at-arms, £30; most of the remainder going to the seven prisons of London. On this occasion a provincial M.P. appealed, but in vain, for a contribution to the poor of a town which had severely suffered from a widely destructive fire. The House was afraid of encouraging municipal mendicancy. Another incident was the sudden swooning of a member, the secretary to the lord

Superstition pounced on the mischance; and it was strange to hear,' says Mr. Townshend, the diversity of opinion touching this accident; some saying that it was a malum omen, others that it was a bonum omen.' What would honourable gentlemen now say to a similar event on the eve of a dissolution?

The set time at last arrives, December 19th, and with it comes the queen: she is again seated under the rich cloth of state;' the Speaker and members are summoned to the bar of the Upper House; he pays obeisance thrice, and relieves himself of another 'oration' in presenting certain Bills 'for her royal assent, which gives life unto them, and which the Commons “humbly desire may be made laws.' In naming the subsidies voted his memory makes a slip; but the error is corrected; and he concludes by 'craving pardon for his offences, if he had forgotten himself either in word or action. The lord keeper is again the mouthpiece of majesty, and replies, that as to giving assent to the Bills, 'that shall be as God directs her sacred spirit;' the money grants were 'not proportionable to the occasion; yet she most thankfully receives the same as a loving and thankful prince;' and Mr. Speaker is complimented on his 'wisdom and discretion. Assent is then given to nineteen public and ten private Bills; the lord keeper pronounces the Parliament dissolved; and having cried, 'God save the queen,' all the Commons say, 'Amen. But

scarcely have twenty months been counted from this day, when England ceases to pray for the life of the masculine princess who has gone the last journey alone; not to be followed, until more than two centuries have revolved, by a queen who should command equal admiration and affection. Mary of Orange, indeed, was a gentle cutting from the harsh Stuart stock, and is numbered among the sovereigns of England; but she was only nominally a ruler, content to sit in the shadow cast by the sun of renown on the majestic figure of her husband. Neither she nor her much inferior sister was idolized as the virgin queen had been by the lieges of the land ; and after the setting of that bright occidental star'-whose brightness was set off by the mock sun which succeeded it--the British people had to wait till 1837 before another sovereign appeared for whom with equal enthusiasm a nation's heart sent up, and has not ceased to send up, the prayer so grand in its simplicity, ‘God save the queen!!

ART. V.-Memoir of Edward Forbes, F.R.S. By GEORGE

Wilson, M.D., F.R.S.E., and ARCHIBALD GEIKIE, F.R.S.E., F.G.S. Macmillan and Co. '1861.

THERE are few men of science whose lives interest the mass of readers. It is only when, like Humboldt, the hero has explored foreign lands, and acquired world-wide fame, that the crowd care to know what he did, and how he lived. Besides, these men have rarely been fortunate in their biographers. There are probably no biographies of scientific men that will bear comparison with Southey's Life of Wesley, or Stanley's Life of Arnold. The fact is, the daily existence of the student, who is patiently tracking truth in obscure paths, is not an exciting one, and his themes touch a chord in the minds only of a few. Warriors and statesmen, poets and theologians, have a thousand points in common with the masses; but men must themselves be students of nature to care about dredging the Adriatic, or about philosophical theories respecting the distribution of plants. What is the composition of the bed of the sea to them, unless they are directors in the Submarine Telegraph Company? Still less are they concerned whether the vegetation of Dartmoor had an Arctic or a Lusitanian origin. These are subjects respecting which the crowd know little, and care less. Hence the writers If they

Difficulties of scientific Biography.

139 of scientific biography always have a difficult task. write for the scientific world, their circle of readers is too limited to repay the publisher. If they appeal to the unlearned multitude, their books must either abound in unintelligible allusions, or, in attempting to make them readable, they must convert their works into scientific manuals. This latter tendency is the one usually manifested, in consequence of the lack of exciting materials. The want of stirring events is often supplied by long disquisitions on technical subjects, and thus a respectable octavo is concocted out of matter barely sufficient for a moderate duodecimo. Unscientific readers rarely reach the fiftieth page before they are found napping, and the volume that falls from their hands is seldom resumed. They have just seen enough of the book to talk about the great naturalist' over their wine and filberts, and they want no

more.

These thoughts have been forcibly suggested to us by the Life of Edward Forbes. He occupied a large space in an esoteric circle, but he was not a man known to the world through any startling discoveries that he made. He neither invented electric telegraphs, nor discovered new planets. Even by those who knew his name, and were aware of his high reputation, few out of his own scientific circle could associate these with specific discoveries. Newton, and his theory of gravitation, Dalton, and his atomic theory, and even Babbage, with his wondrous, though uncompleted, calculating machine, have each a well-understood position in the public mind; but the public reputations of such men as Forbes are misty and vague. But when, leaving the highways of life, we enter the charmed circle, within which these men live, how changed is the scene! They now stand aloft, like the Pythoness on her oracular tripod. Nature, like the unseen future, presents ten thousand problems of which her votaries ask the solution; and these men are her priests, delivering her responses to the inquiring multitude. Their themes are lofty, and their methods of research profound. The one cannot be measured by utilitarian standards, nor the other estimated by counting-house experiences. Subjects and processes are equally lifted above the ordinary range of life, calling into requisition the highest powers of the human mind. When the men, of whom Edward Forbes was so distinguished an example, are beheld amidst their scenes of triumph, we learn how truly they tower above their fellows.

The special biography which we now introduce, has many of the faults of its class. The opening chapter, filling nearly forty pages, is little more than an abstract of Train's Isle

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