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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/607

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REPRESENTATIVE BODIES.

imposing undue exactions; and as when, on sundry occasions, the States-General was assembled for the purpose of reconciling the nation to imposts levied to carry on wars. Nor must its familiarity cause us to omit the instance furnished by our own history, when, after preliminary steps toward that end at St. Alban's and St. Edmund's, nobles and people at Runnymede effectually restrained the king from various tyrannies, and, among others, from that of imposing taxes without the consent of his subjects.

And now what followed from arrangements which, with modifications due to local conditions, were arrived at in several countries under similar circumstances? Evidently, when the king, hindered from enforcing unauthorized demands, had to obtain supplies by asking his subjects, or the more powerful of them, his motive for summoning them, or their representatives, became primarily that of getting these supplies. The predominance of this motive for calling together national assemblies may be inferred from its predominance, previously shown in connection with local assemblies; as instance a writ of Henry I concerning shire-moots, in which, professing to restore ancient custom, he says: "I will cause those courts to be summoned when I will for my own sovereign necessity, at my pleasure." To vote money is therefore the primary purpose for which chief men and representatives are assembled.

 

From the ability to prescribe conditions under which money will be voted, grows the ability, and finally the right, to join in legislation. This connection is vaguely typified in early stages of social evolution. Making gifts and getting redress go together from the beginning. As was said 'of Gulab Singh, when treating of presents, "even in a crowd one could catch his eye by holding up a rupee and crying out, 'Maharajah, a petition.' He would pounce down like a hawk on the money, and, having appropriated it, would patiently hear out the petitioner." I have in the same place given further examples of this relation between yielding support to the governing agency and demanding protection from it; and the examples there given may be enforced by such others as that, among ourselves in early days, "the king's court itself, though the supreme judicature of the kingdom, was open to none that brought not presents to the king," and that, as shown by the exchequer rolls, every remedy for a grievance or security against aggression had to be paid for by a bribe; a state of things which, as Hume remarks, was paralleled on the Continent.

Such being the primitive connection between support of the political head and protection by the political head, the interpretation of the actions of parliamentary bodies, when they arise, becomes clear. Just as, in rude assemblies of king, military chiefs, and armed freemen, preserving in large measure the original form, as those in France during the Merovingian period, the presentation of