Page images
PDF
EPUB

families, than is the usual habit of little children, may not be improperly used. I enjoyed two years of this sweet lady's instruction, and I believe that for many years afterwards she continued to be the blessing of the rising generation. I have heard, that even till the day of her death she was enabled in a certain degree to carry on her instructions, and that she was lamented by many young people as a second mother. For my part I retain the most tender recollection of her, and have endeavoured in all my instructions of the young people who have been committed to my care, whether in my own family or in the schools of the poor, to bear in mind that manner of instruction which she used with me and my young companions, and which I conceive to be founded on this conviction, that it is impossible to empty the heart of man of one affection unless it is filled with another. It is in vain that we forbid our children to touch their dolls, or their horses, on a Sunday, while we do not endeavour to fill their young hearts with a love of the especial duties of that holy day. It is in vain that we preach to them to forsake Mammon, while we do not teach them to love God. It was the habit of our first instructress to find fault with all our accustomed employments, all our amusements, on the Sunday, all that we did was wrong, yet she inspired us with no taste for any thing that was better ; whilst on the other hand it was the method of this my holy instructress to point as it were to the heavenly hills and say, Let us up and be going,---and we felt our hearts kindle with an earnest desire to follow and to cast aside those incumbrances which are so apt to delay us on

the way.

may not teach

In conclusion, I have only to suggest an inquiry to you, my young readers, how far Mrs. Wittingham's mode of instruction

you

also a lesson. Believe me, it is a fruitless attempt really to renounce the love of the world and its vanities unless we learn to look at the eternal world, and to desire its glories, for it is faith alone which can overcome the world: when we have seen a palace, how insignificant does a cottage appear; when we have learnt to love the bread in our Father's house, there is no more taste for husks.

The eye of faith once cast upon the cross of Christ does more to overcome the love of the world than a thousand commands, to taste not, toueh not, handle not.

L.

WINTER WALKS.-No. III.

Henry and EDWARD having some little commissions to execute for their sisters, carried us this morning into Bond Street and the Burlington Arcade ; which occupied so much of our usual time for walking, that little enough was left to enable me to fulfil a promise I had made them, of taking them to see the House of Lords. This promise had been given them, with the view of stimulating my pupils in the perusal of a work connected with the subject of the English Constitution ; their desire to be acquainted with which, had been excited by Henry's study of the Life of Pitt, and by their visit to Westminster Abbey. When we turned into Piccadilly we met their cousins, Charles and Joseph, at the corner of the street, and as they were happy to accompany us, we went all together ; and as we walked along, we naturally fell into conversation upon the subject of our morning's reading.

“ How long is it,” said I, “ since Parliaments, or general Councils, were first established in the kingdom ?" Henry replied, “ that as far as he remembered what he had read, they were of as high antiquity as the Saxon government; but at any rate, the constitution of parliament as it now stands, had existed since the reign of Henry the Third.”

“ The parliament is assembled by the king's writs, is it not ?" said I, " and what are its constituent parts ?” Why,"

,” said Edward, “ I know that: it consists of the king sitting there in his royal capacity, and the three estates of the realm-the lords spiritual and the lords temporal, who sit in the House of Peers with the king ; and the Commons, who sit by themselves in another house."

66 Yes,” said Henry; " and when they meet, the king comes there, and sits on his throne ; and when the parliament ends, he comes there and dissolves it in person.”.

« Yes, either personally, or by commissioners, whom he appoints. The great excellence of our government, which has been the admiration of all the states of Europe, consists in each party being a mutual check upon the other: thus the nobility are a check upon the people, the people upon the aristocracy, and the king upon both. But who are meant by the lords spiritual, Edward ? how many are there of them ?"

“ Two archbishops and twenty bishops," said Edward ; “and the lords temporal consist of all the peers of the realm. Some hold their seats by hereditary descent; some by new creation : others, as the Scottish lords, by election, sixteen of whom represent their nobility ;-but the king may make new lords when he pleases, Sir, may he not?”

« Yes," said Henry, “ the king often does create new peers in reward of the services of his generals or admirals, great lawyers and statesmen; such as Marlborough and Wellington, and Nelson and Eldon, and the first Pitt, who was made Earl of Chatham."

« And what does the House of Commons consist of,” I next asked.

Knights, and citizens, and burgesses, and country gentlemen like papa,” said Edward. “ Can any of these make a new law without the consent of the other party, Henry ?"

No, they cannot,” he replied, “ for if the lords please, they can send back or throw out a bill of the Commons, and the king can refuse his consent to any thing he does not like, though both the other houses want it to be done."

“ Very true; whatever is enacted for law by one, or by two only of the three, is no statute; all three must consent before it become what is called an act of parliament.-What peculiar privilege have the members of the House of Commons which you would like to have, Edward,” said I.

Edward looked thoughtful for a while, as if endeavouring. to remember; then looking up with an arch smile, he said, “ I know, I know, Sir, it is the privilege of speech ; they may say what they please. They have also the privilege of taxing the people when the king wants money."

“What ceremony takes place when the king gives the royal assent to bills of parliament ? that is what you would like best to see, Edward, and you, Joseph.” 5 ( then I know," he replied ; “ the king appears in

person, in his royal robes, with the crown on his head, I suppose; and he sits on his throne in the House of Lords, which we are going to see ; and he is attended by all his great officers of state, and heralds and trumpets, I suppose ; and the guards will be there, and the lancers, to keep off the crowd.”

“ And then," said Henry, " the Commons go up, with the Speaker at their head, and he carries up the bills in his hand, and making a speech to the king, he extols the generosity of the Commons, tells His Majesty to be frugal of the public money, and the King receives them very graciously, and thanks his faithful Commons."

While we were thus talking we found ourselves at last in Westminster Hall, the largest apartment, I believe, in London; and proceeding up the staircase at the end of it, we were admitted to the chamber where the

peers

assemble ;- " and this,” said I to the boys, “ is the House of Lords."

The appearance of the house is highly imposing, from its lofty roof, elevated doorways, its ornamented throne, scarlet furniture, and rich draperies; but principally from the dignified uses to which it is appropriated, and from the splendor of the rank, talents, and influence of its noble and august members. The walls are covered with tapestry very much injured by time, on which is represented the discomfiture of the Spanish Armada, in the reign of Elizabeth ; and the border contains a series of medallions of portraits of the admirals of the English fleet; but it wonld be difficult for these gallant captains, if alive, to recognize themselves in these woful countenances. We thought of the names of Howard of Effingham, Drake, Hawkins, Frobisher, and Seymour; as well as of the gallant knights Walter Raleigh, Cecil, Navaser, and Blount, I thought also with holy admiration of Him, who can turn the calm into a tempest; who can defeat the councils of the wisest; who rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm; who saves with many or with few; and who by the ministry of the elements or of angels, can either ingulph a navy in the ocean, or make seventy thousand men dead corpses before the morning, and thus turn the battle from our gates,

From the House of Lords we passed into the robing-room, but not till Edward had placed himself on the woolsack as chancellor, and the other boys had taken their seats on the treasury-bench; some of them enquiring where the duke sat, and others where the bishops; one only asking if lawyers had no seats there. The robing-room, which is also used for committees, though a much plainer apartment than “ the House,

VOL. II, 3d SERIES,

Z

is still very handsome, and the different compartments of the wall are decorated with old-fashioned needle-work or tapestry, the subjects of which seemed to me characteristic of three eras of English history—the age of romance, by Rosamond's Bower; that of civil war, by the Battle of Bosworth, in which the horse of Richard is conspicuous ; and that of the dawn of England's happier days, by the birth of the infant Elizabeth. We then walked through the painted chamber, in which there is no painting at all, but which is cold, and unfurnished in its appearance ; and proceeding along the gallery leading to the grand entrance, admired its beautiful columns of scagliola, and imitation of porphyry, and saw the staircase by which his Majesty ascends when he arrives to open the session of parliament. We afterwards peeped into the House of Commons, where Edward had just time to run up and place himself in the Speaker's chair, and was beginning with his usual thirst of information to ask, What's this—what's that? when the door opened, and discovered half a dozen M.P.'s about to enter, smiling with surprise to see a juvenile committee of the whole house.

Now it may be asked, What is there in this meagre description of our visit to the House of Peers, unoccupied as it was at the time we saw it, by those who alone can give it importance, to gratify the young ? Are there not many noble mansions in the kingdom containing apartments far more splendid than this celebrated house? There may be; I cannot tell, for I have not seen them ;—but is there nothing imposing to the youthful mind in the mere circumstance of locality! Here is the pivot, as it were, on which the interests of a whole world revolve. Here is the arena occupied by those master minds who legislate for the happiness or liberties of millions of their fellow men.

Who could behold the Capitol unmoved ! or visit the Holy City without emotion! or stand among the bulrushes of the Nile, or on the top of Sinai, without having the mind filled with thoughts past utterance ! What is it that goes to the formation of character in after-life, but the stamp of early impressions, reiterated by little and little, yet each producing its own proportion of stimulus, or purpose, effort or desire, either to illustrious deeds, honest industry, moral worth, or

« PreviousContinue »