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some reward, then a monarch cannot act more wisely, or behave more generously, than ennobling those persons whose conduct merits it ; and thus honourable distinctions acquire a stamp of worth which time only can efface. After the reward that an individual receives from having performed a virtuous action, how delightful is the inward satisfaction that he feels; he conscientiously knows, that he has deserved it, otherwise it would not have been conferred; for, after the glory and reputation that great virtues heap upon their possessors, nothing is more worthily flattering that those marks of honour which have been established in all nations, to justify and confirm those honoured in public esteem.
In my opinion, honourable, worthy, virtuous, and talented individuals cannot be too much encouraged by these marks of a monarch's favour ; they serve as objects to stimulate others to deserve the same, and they confer a lustre on the prince who could discover those whom he should delight to honour. Titles and honours, when properly dispensed, are sanctioned by the approbation of the world, disposed as it is to envy and to censure. Some persons have contended, with great force of argument and eloquence, that they should not be hereditary,-contending that as they were conferred for personal merit, so they should die with him by whose merit they were well earned; for inherited honours too often serve only to inspire a vain and ridiculous pride, and, when this happens, titles are certainly no longer honours. Although I am sorry to say that this is sometimes the case, yet it is not of common occurrence. The rank to which children are born by virtue of their father's honour, often animates them with a noble emulation to pursue the paths which their fathers have walked with so much honour to themselves and their country. It excites them to preserve the brilliant purity of their sentiments, their situation, and their reputation unsullied, so as to render themselves worthy of those high distinctions by which their ancestor was distinguished, and to which, in the course of events, they were born, as also to add a lustre, by their own proper virtues, to those titles and distinctions which they thus inherit. On this ground, therefore, do I advocate that titles and honours should continue as at present to be hereditary, inasmuch as they enable the son or grandson to remember the talents and honourable character of their ancestor, so that they might likewise.”
Men of rank, who regard the world's opinion, are very properly compelled, as they ought to be, to be more cautious and guarded in their conduct than others. For honours are accorded to men because they are virtuous, and extended to their children in order that they may become $0. In accepting this paternal succession, they have covenanted with virtue to observe her laws more critically than the rest of their fellow countrymen. They have contracted a debt to their prince and their country, and if they do not fulfil this engagement, and honourably
go and do
acquit themselves of this debt, they virtually renounce the heritage of their fathers.
The monarch clothes with a glorious distinction all those individuals who signalize themselves by some brilliant action. He hopes to perpetuate merit by perpetuating glory ; and, in accepting this distinction, the father confidently undertakes for the unborn virtues of his children, What infamy it is then for children to belie the well-grounded anticipations of their father and their sovereign, and to remain insensible to the one and the benefits of the other.
That which completes the glory or the infamy of a nobleman, is to make a scrutinizing comparison between his actions and those of his ancestors : for, so far from excusing children in favour of their fathers, we expect a literal performance of that virtue which their fathers possessed; for the glory of their ancestors is a luminary through which virtues appear more lovely, but vices more hideous, for
Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
“We first endure, then pity, then embrace.” Since, then, high rank imposes, in its very nature, an obligation, - the desire to possess great merit, it ought also to inspire the sentiment of modesty, rather than haughtiness and pride. Thus, to many, nature has apparently been very cruel; this, however, is not the case,—it is the general depravity of human nature itself, and oftentimes men will not employ that intellectual freedom of the will, so necessary to free herself from the shackles they thus allow to entangle them; for, along with their high rank, by which they are placed above the commonalty of their fellow men, they, instead of gaining an equal degree of superior intellectual superiority, sometimes degrade themselves by their contumely to their less honoured neighbours, and assume a degree of disdainful pride which nature and their sovereign never designed them to possess. One of this kind of young nobles, who was pluming himself of his rank, was thus reproved by one of the bishops, in nearly the following terms :—“My lord,” said the divine, "you are continually boasting of your high rank, your titles and honours ; the world knows you inherit them, and were your lordship to conceal or say nothing about them yourself, the world would despise you the less, and men would esteem you the more.” Thus manners degrade what titles vainly attempt to support ; for we must recollect that
“ Worth makes the man; want of it, the fellow."
To speak decisively and finally, titles may be adventitious, but honours must be personal, and while an obscure parentage does not always preclude the reward of virtue, an illustrious birth may be so dishonoured as to become actually an obstacle to the operations of virtue itself.
REFORM OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS.
MANY years have now elapsed since the celebrated Earl of Chesterfield denounced the House of Lords as an “Hospital of Incurables.” Time has confirmed the justness of his remark, and the conduct of the peers, since the accession of Earl Grey to the premiership, down to the present hour, has shown them to be a clog on the best energies of the nation. Every thinking man sees the imperative necessity of introducing some measure of reform among the hereditary legislators : but the question has not yet been sufficiently discussed to produce unanimity as to the exact mode that ought to be pursued. It may, therefore, be useful to point out the system pursued by our ancestors, and exhibit in some particulars the constitutional principles which formerly governed the House of Lords. It can be clearly proved that the immense tracts of land anciently granted by the crown to the barons, were wholly in the nature of a trust, and that non-residence, as will be shown in the subjoined case of the Earl of Shrewsbury, involved their forfeiture. It also appears from Nevil's case, claiming to be Earl of Westmoreland, that every peer lost his dignity, if he lost the pecuniary means of supporting it; and the case of Isabel, Countess of Rutland, proves that the only reason why peers and peeresses were privileged from arrest for debt, was grounded on the presumption that they held sufficient freehold to meet all demands.
EARL OF SHREWSBURY'S CASE. By force of certain letters, bearing date 28 Martii, 1612, of the Lords of the Privy Council, directed to Sir Humphrey Winch, Sir James Lay, Sir Anthony Saintleger, and James Hulleston ; they did certify to their lordships the claim of Gilbert Earl of Shrewsbury to the dignities of the Earldom of Waterford, and Barony of Dungarvon, in Ireland, in such manner as followeth :
King Henry the Sixth, by his letters patent, in the twentieth year of his reign, did grant to his thrice beloved cousin John Earl of Shrewsbury, in consideration of his approved and loyal services in the city and county of Waterford, pro eo quoque eundem cousanguineum nostrum prædicta terra nostra Hiberniæ in partibus illis contra inimicorum et rebellium nostrorum insultus potentius defendat, ipsum in comitem Waterford, una cum stilo et titulo ac nomine et honore eidem debitis ordinamus et creamus, habendum to the said earl and his heirs males of his body; and further, by the said letters patent, did grant the castles, lordships, honours, lands, and manors of Dungarvon to the said earl and the heirs males of his body, to hold the premises of the king, and his heirs, by homage and fealty, and by the service of his being his majesty's senechal in the realm of Ireland ; afterwards in the parliament called des absentees, holden at Dublin, in Ireland, the 10th May, the 28th of Henry the Eighth, by
reason of the long absence of George Earl of Shrewsbury out of this realm: it was enacted, that the king, his beirs and assigns, shall have and enjoy in the right of his crown of England, all honours, manors, castles, lordships, franchises, hundreds, liberties, count palatines, jurisdictions, annuities, fees of knights, lands, tenements, &c., and all and singular possessions, hereditaments, and all other profits, as well spiritual as temporal whatsoever, which the said George Earl of Shrewsbury and Waterford, or any other person or persons had to his use, &c. King Henry the Eighth, by his letters patent, the twenty-ninth of his reign, reciting the said statute des absentees, nos præmissa considerantes et nolentes statum, honorem, et dignitatem prædicti comitis diminuere, sed amplius augere, de certâ scientia et mero motu, did grant to the said earl and his heirs, the abbey of Rufford, with the land thereto belonging in the county of Nottingham, and the lordship of Rotherham in the county of York, the abbies of Chesterfield, Shirbrook, and Glossadel in the county of Derby, with divers other lands and tenements of great value, to be holden in capite : and the questions were :
1st.—Whether by the long absence of the Earl of Shrewsbury out of Ireland, by reason whereof the king and his subjects wanted their defence and assistance there, the title of the honour be lost or forfeited, the said earl being a peer of both realms, and residing here in England.
2ndly.—Whether by the said act des absentees, anno 28, Henry the Eighth, the title of the dignity of the Earl of Waterford, be taken from the said earl ; as well as the manors, lands, tenements, and other hereditaments in the said act specified.
And afterwards, by other letters patent of the Lords of the Council, dated 27th September, 1612, the two chief justices and the chief baron were required to consider of the case, which was enclosed within their letters, and were to certify their opinions of the same.
Which case was argued by counsel learned in the law, in behalf of the said earl, before the said chief justices and chief baron, upon which they have taken great consideration and advisement, after they had read the preamble, and all the said act of the 28th Henry the Eighth, it was unanimously resolved by them all, as followeth :
As to the first, it was resolved, that forasmuch as it does not appear what defence was requisite, and that the consideration executory was not found by office to be broken as to that point, the said Earl of Shrewsbury, notwithstanding, does remain Earl of Waterford.
As to the second, it was resolved, that the said act of the 28th of Henry the Eighth des absentees, doth not only take away the possessions which were given to him at the time of his creation, but also the dignity itself; for although one may have a dignity without any possession at sustinendum nomen et onus, yet it is very inconvenient that a dignity should be clothed with poverty: and in cases of writs, and such other legal
proceedings, he is accounted in law a nobleman, and so ought to be called, in respect of his dignity: but yet, if he want possessions to maintain his estate, he cannot press the king, in justice, to grant him a writ to call him to the parliament: and so it was resolved in the case of the Lord Ogle, in the reign of Edward the Sixth, as the Baron of Burleigh, lord treasurer of England, at the parliament anno 35 Elizabeth. did report; and, therefore, the act of the 28 H. 8, (as all other acts ought to be) shall be expounded to take away all inconvenience, and therefore by the general words of the act, viz: “of honours and hereditaments, the dignity itself, with the lands given for maintenance of it, are given to the king, and the dignity is extinct in the crown." And the cause of degradation of George Nevill, Duke of Bedford, is worthy the observation, which was done by force of an act of parliament, 16th June, 17 Edw. IV., which act reciting the making of the said George duke, doth express the cause of his degradation in these words : "and forasmuch as it is openly known that the said George hath not, or by inheritance may
livelihood to support the same name, estate, and dignity, or any name of estate ;" and oftentimes it is to be seen, that when any lord is called to high estate, and hath not convenient livelihood to support the same dignity, it induceth great poverty and indigence, and causeth oftentimes great extortion, imbracery and maintenance to be had, to the great trouble of all such countries where such estate shall happen to be: wherefore, the king, by the advice of his lords spiritual and temporal, and by the commons in the present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, ordaineth, establisheth, and enacteth, that, from henceforth the same creation and making of the said duke, and all the names of dignity given to the said George, or to John Nevill, his father, be from henceforth void and of none effect, &c. In which act, these things may be observed.
1.—That although the duke had not any possessions to support his dignity, yet his dignity cannot be taken away from him without an act of parliament.
2.—The inconveniences do appear where a great state and dignity is, and no livelihood to maintain it.
3.-It is good reason to take away such dignity by act of parliament : and therefore the said act of the 28 H. 8. shall be expounded according to the general words of the writ, to take away such inconvenience : and although the said Earl of Shrewsbury be not only of great honour and virtue, but also of great possessions in England, yet it was not the intention of the act to continue him earl in Ireland, when his possessions in Ireland were taken from him, but that the king at his pleasure might confer the dignity as well as the possessions to any other, for the defence of the said realm. And the said letters patent de anno 29 H. 8. have no words to restore the dignity which the act of parliament hath taken away, but it was not the intent of the king diminuere statum, honorem, et