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stood, into Ireland. This great provision identified our laws as to the past ; so that the inquiry of the historian, the antiquary, or the lawyer, thereafter to ascertain what up to this period had been the statute law of Ireland, must be directed simply to find out what was the statute law of England. It is described by Lord Coke as “ a right profitable Act of Parliament;" and the Deputy, Sir Edward Poynings, is commended by Sir John Davis as having shown a large heart and a great desire for a general reformation in Ireland, by summoning and holding this famous Parliament. If we might venture at this distance of time to criticise the conduct of a great statesman and of a wise sovereign, it may appear to us surprising that they did not perfect their work, by adding to the union of laws a union of Parliaments and a union of States. But, singular enough, while they secured identity of laws for the past, they provided a means, by the maintenance of separate Parliaments, for a divergence in legislation in future. However, they appeared themselves conscious of their inconsistency; and endeavoured to guard against the consequences, by subjugating the Parliament of Ireland to the authority of the Government in England, and by enacting, that “no Parliament be holden bereafter in the said land, but at such season as the King's Lieutenant and Counsaile there first do certifie the King, under the Great Seale of that land, the causes and consideration, and all such acts as there seemeth should pass in the same Parliament; and such causes, considerations, and acts affirmed by the King and his Counsaile to be good and expedient for that land, and his license thereupon, as well in affirmation of the said causes and acts, as to summon the said Parliament under his Great Seale of England had and obtained; that done, a Parliament to be had and holden after the form and effect afore rehearsed : and if any Parliament be holden in that land hereafter, contrary to the form and provision aforesaid, it be deemed void and of none effect in law.” The effect of this clause was to place a bridle in the mouth of the Irish Parliament, and subjugate alike the Lord Deputy, the nobles, and the commoners to the will of the King's Council in Dublin and in London.
We ought also to remember, that England claimed and exercised the right of binding Ireland, by an Act of Parliament passed in England, whenever Ireland should be specifically named in such an Act. By a consideration of the above arrangements, we can form a judgment upon the degree of independence and authority in the Irish Parliament from the time of Henry VII. No Parliament could be called in Ireland until the very measures to be introduced were first approved in England; and if Ireland was named in an English statute, she was to be bound, although her Parliament was silent upon the subject matter of the English law.
The study of the statute-law is neglected, because it is regarded as uninteresting and repulsive; and yet, if we reflect for a moment, we would perceive that the study of the social state of a country ought to be as interesting as the study of its political state, its wars and conquests. A law passed in a free state must be the expression of the feelings, prejudices, passions, wishes of the people at the time of its enactment. It would require a great fund of knowledge and of critical observation to note the statute-book from age to age, and present to the minds of the present generation a picture of the social state of generations long passed away, which led to the particular law under inquiry. This has been done partially by one writer, named Barrington, whose work, entitled “ Observations on the Ancient Statutes from Magna Charta to James I.,” is full of entertainment and instruction. For example : his commentary upon an English
statute framed in the reign of Edward I. (A.D. 1288), called « Ordinatio pro Statu Hiberniæ,” proves that the king of England could at that time introduce by his sole authority an English law into Ireland—that the kings of England did so is certain ; and he (Barrington) argues that that authority could not be lessened by the concurrence of his two Houses of Parliament. Thus, during the one hundred and forty years that no Parliament sat in Ireland, a law passed in England would be simply proclaimed in Ireland. He also quotes an order of Charles I., in the third year of his reign, to the Treasurers and Chancellors of the Exchequer, both of England and Ireland, by which they are directed to increase the duties upon Irish exports, which shows that it was then imagined that the king could tax Ireland, as a colony, by his prerogative, without the intervention of Parliament-a very dangerous prerogative.
Barrington, in his Observations on the Habits and Customs of our Ancient Irish Kings, refers to one Dr. Bastide, “in his youth a retainer of an Earl of Ormonde, who, by a fall from his horse, on an attack of the wild Irish, was taken prisoner by them, and who continued seven years in captivity, and married a daughter of one of their chieftains. By this means he spoke the Irish as fuently as he did English, and was pitched upon by Richard II. to attend four Irish kings who came to do homage to him whilst he was in Dublin. The whole account of their reception and entertainment very much resembles that which we have shown lately to the Cherokees and Mohawks; and he observes that everything was in common between the kings and their servants.” So much for Irish kings and their dignity in the reign of Richard II.
At a later period than this (1446) a Parliament was held at Trim, in which the Irish were directed not to suffer their beards to grow upon their upper lips, not to wear shirts
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF THE IRISH PARLIAMENT.
stained with saffron; and still later, Spenser, in his Dialogue upon the State of Ireland, says, that in the time of Queen Elizabeth they let their hair hang so far over their faces, that it was difficult to distinguish one from another; and this difficulty greatly favoured their thefts and rapines on the English. The third chapter of the first statute of Henry VI. directs, that on account of the murders, robberies, and other felonies committed in different counties of England by Irishmen resorting to the University of Oxford, all natives of that country shall be obliged to leave England within a month, under pain of forfeitures and imprisonment, except graduates in the University, beneficed clergymen, and lawyers. Barrington remarks upon the injustice of banishing a whole nation, which was now incorporated with England, merely because some riots had occurred in the neighbourhood of Oxford, at which some Irishmen had assisted, possibly with the intention of restoring peace and tranquillity! (a quiet joke of the clever commentator). The statute of the 1st of Henry V., which likewise directs the Irish to return to their homes, gives a more humane reason for the injunctionviz., “That their own country was depopulated by the great resort of the Irish to England.”
INSTRUCTION derived from our Ancient Statutes-Sumptuary Laws
Reign of Henry VII. an Era in European History. The chapters in Macaulay's History, on the Social Condition of England, are by some esteemed the most interesting in his book. Let us see if our own statutes, unnoticed by him, would not illustrate the social condition of the people in former ages of our history.
To show what was our social state in former times, Barrington quotes the 4th chapter of an ancient Act of Parliament, relating to the forest laws (about the date of the fourteenth century), whereby it is ordered : “ If any of the deer of the forest are found dead or wounded, it is humanely directed, that they shall be sent to the next house of lepers.” “We hear little of this leprosy in our histories or chronicles; and this is, perhaps, the only instance of its being mentioned in any law, though there are several of the ancient Scotch statutes which relate to it. Kentzner, indeed, who was in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth (and, perhaps, the first travelling tutor to a young nobleman in the tour of Europe), says that the English were at that time much subject to the leprosy. I should doubt much whether this supposed leprosy was more than the scurvy; and if we ever had this horrible distemper amongst us, it is not impossible that greater cleanliness, by change of linen, as also the use of tea having abolished the more solid and substantial breakfast of meat, may have much