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sat between Lavater and Basedow, each of whom was occupied in edifying his neighbour. Lavater was discoursing with a country clergyman on the mysteries of the Apocalypsewhilst Basedow was attempting, but in vain, to convince an obstinate dancing-master, that the rite of baptism was not at all calculated for our enlightened times. Once, and once only, Lavater felt slightly offended by Basedow's Antitrinitarian zeal, and Goethe also owed him a grudge, because his coarseness had disturbed the harmony of a party, which, our author reported, would have been a sentimental one. On the way home, Lavater reproached him; but I punished him in a humorous manner. On their road, Basedow saw a public house at a distance. The weather was hot,' and he longed earnestly for a glass of beer;' for his mundungus had parched his mouth; and when the vehicle came near the inviting and hospitable mansion, he commanded' the coachman to stop. Goethe had taken notice of the sign of the public house, and had bethought himself of the joke which might be grounded on it; so, at the moment that the coachman was going to drive up to the door, I holla'd out to him with a tone of authority to go on. Basedow, in astonishment, could hardly repeat his order with a hoarse voice; but the coachman, who must have had his cue, obeyed Goethe. Basedow swore and cursed; and Goethe might have paid dearly for his waggery; for the thirsty pedagogue was ready to pommel him; but at this critical moment his wit saved him. swered him with the greatest calmness,' notwithstanding the impending peril, Father, be quiet;-you ought to thank me. It is lucky that you did not see the sign of the alehouse. It is composed of two triangles. Now, one triangle generally makes you mad enough. If you had seen both, it would have been necessary to have put you in chains.' Basedow broke out into loud laughter on hearing the joke. '-and friendship and hilarity was immediately restored. After this journey, he planned a dramatized life of Mahomet, whom he never considered as an impostor, and which was suggested by the earnestness of Lavater and Basedow in propagating their doctrines, at the same time that each had certain private objects of their own in view, which they carefully concealed. '

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The fifteenth and concluding book contains a good deal of anecdote, besides Klopstock's opinion on skates and skating. That sublime poet earnestly recommended the low, broad, flat, polished skates of Friesland steel, which are the best for skating swiftly so, according to his directions, I bought a pair of broad skates, which I have used for many years, al


though they were productive of some inconveniences.' A little time after he bought his new pair of skates, he wrote Clavigo, which drama was composed for the purpose of gratifying his 'partner.' To understand the force of this epithet, it is necessary to mention, that Goethe and his acquaintance used to amuse themselves by playing at marriages; they used to draw lots, and each couple was bound to behave towards each as husband and wife' during a week. This way of enlivening their parties was first invented by a young Englishman who was pursuing his studies in Pfeil's boarding school. Goethe gives a high character of this young gentleman-he conceals his name-but, as a full description of his person is advertized, we apprehend that his friends must immediately recognize him if these pages should chance to come before them. He was tall and well made, slimmer than his sweetheart' (who was of the Madam van Brisket breed); his features were small, and his counte nance would have been really handsome,' if he had not been very much disfigured by the small pox; he had a high bold fore head; his manner was calm, precise, sometimes even cold and repulsive; but his heart was full,' &c. &c. Goethe drew the same partner three times successively; this sport of fortune became the town talk; and as the lady was unexceptionable, his family seemed to instigate him to form a more durable union.


We cannot inform our readers whether it took place or not,as the work breaks off abruptly at this crisis. From the bulk of the three volumes we have now gone over, it is satisfactory to think how much pleasure we have yet to come, if, as we hope and trust, the work is to be continued by him on the same comprehensive plan. As far as it has been published, it just brings him to man's estate, and contains the history of one novel, two or three plays, and sundry odds and ends of verse and prose. About forty years more of his life remain to be given; and as his works do not fill much more than fifteen thick octavo volumes, these data will enable us to form a rough calculation of the proportion which the residue must bear to this iniatory fragment.

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ART. IV. The Representative History of Great Britain and
Ireland, being a History of the House of Commons, and of the
Counties, Cities, and Boroughs of the United Kingdom, from
the earliest period. By T. H. B. OLDFIELD. 6 vol. 8vo.
London, Baldwin. 1816.

Historical Reflexions on the Constitution and Representative System of England, with Reference to the Popular Propositions for a Reform of Parliament. By JAMES JOPP, Esq. London, Hatchard. 1812. 8vo.


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HE two authors we have brought together, to form the subject of the present article, are not more in opposition to each other than at variance, as it appears to us, with every just view of our present, or correct notion of our antient constitution. Mr Oldfield is a zealous advocate of Parliamentary Reform, and as bitter an enemy of the Borough Faction, as the worthy member for Westminster himself. Inequality of representation,' he observes, in his dedication to the Hampden Club, is by far the worst feature of that complicated wrong, by which the liberty and property of the nation are given into the hands of the borough faction. The model he recommends to his reforming friends is the Saxon constitution, under which not only the legislative body, but every executive magistrate, from the tything man to the alderman, was elected by the respective hundreds annually assembled in the county courts.' How the hundreds came to perform their elections in the county court, Mr Oldfield has not condescended to explain to us; but in those halcyon days of representation, he assures us that every householder had a vote in the election of his representative; and he adds, if this original right of voting were fully restored, and vested in all the householders or heads of families, who principally defray the exigencies of the state, even if the franchise descended no farther, it would be amply sufficient to destroy the present detestable corruption of the representation, or more properly mock representation, of the Commons.' He theni favours us with his scheme of Parliamentary Reform, acording to which 1,200,000 householders would elect 120,000 tything men, 12,000 constables, 1200 magistrates, and 600 representatives.' But as this plan might alarm the friends of universal suffrage, he has the precaution to calm their apprehensions, by hinting to them, that in case universal suffrage should be adopted, the same system would be equally practicable, though on a more extended basis.' On such crude plans and meagre speculations, it would be an insult on the understanding of our

readers, to offer a single word of comment. Let us see how far Mr Oldfield is qualified, by his historical researches, to suggest improvements in our existing institutions.

The Saxon Witenagemote, according to this learned antiquary, was a representative assembly, composed of deputies, chosen annually by all the householders of the kingdom. This constitution, as he informs us, withstood the shock of the Danish invasion, but fell a sacrifice to the Norman conquest. With the Normans the feudal system came into England; and the great council of the nation, instead of being composed of representatives of the people, was filled with military tenants of the Crown.

In this cruel slavery and bondage the nation was held for 147 years; till at length, in the minority of Henry III., the Earl of Pembroke, Regent of the kingdom, sent letters of summons to all the barons of the realm singly, and to the cities, boroughs, towns, ports and tythings, to elect deputies to represent them in Parliament, agreeable to the direction of the Great Charter of liberties. Thus the people of England recovered their elective power in Parliament; which great event ought to be held in commemoration for ever, by a day of public thanksgiving, festivity and joy, as a perpetual monument of that great deliverance.' For this piece of history, Mr Oldfield refers us to the close rolls for 1218, where we apprehend it has been shut up, and lain concealed till now, as no historian before Mr Oldfield seems to have been acquainted with the fact; nor will any member, we fear, of the Hampden Club, however quick-sighted in the cause of reform, discover the passage in Magna Carta, which directs letters of summons to be sent to the cities, boroughs, towns, ports and tythings, to elect deputies to represent them in Parliament.' The only ground we can discover for this proposed addition to our Parliamentary history, is a writ in the close roll of the 2d of Henry III. to the Sheriff of Yorkshire, transmitting to him the great charters, and directing him to publish them in pleno comitatu tuo, convocatis baronibus, militibus et omnibus libere tenentibus ejusdem comitatus, qui ibidem jurent fidelitatem nostram. Not content with this instance of a Parliament chosen after the Saxon model, Mr Oldfield next informs us, that after the battle of Lewes, a Parliament was called by the Barons, composed of representatives from counties, chosen by the universal suffrage of the householders; ' and, with the same confidence of assertion, and contempt of history, he adds, that in the time of Edward I., the right of electing members was in every householder in each district, thedis

, *


* Brady, History, Append. No. 145.

tinction of freeholders and exclusive rights of corporations being totally unknown.'

From this epoch of our history, which is usually considered as the origin of the present House of Commons, Mr Oldfield dates the subversion of the true representative system. Cities and boroughs were partially and irregularly summoned to Parliament; rural tythings were entirely omitted; corporation privileges in towns abridged the right of universal suffrage in the inhabitants; qualifications in counties transferred the right of voting from householders to freeholders; Parliaments, instead of being elected annually, or oftener, were continued for several sessions; and, at length, the members of the long Parliament, which met in 1640, had the audacity, impiously and treacherously, to make a law, which took from the King the power of dissolving them. The stupid people' of England, it seems, rejoiced over this enslaving act, and deemed it a conquest over the King; which gives Mr Oldfield occasion to remark, that England has been mad several times since that period, but this was the greatest fit of frenzy she ever had.' The impious example of the rebel' Parliament, for so this reformer denominates that great assembly, was but too closely followed in the reigns of King William, Queen Anne, and George I. Triennial and septennial bills were passed, qualifications of property were required for members of Parliament, and the rights of electors were either infringed by statutes, or left at the mercy of capricious, and often contradictory decisions of the House of Commons. Every abuse in Parliament has increased, in Mr Oldfield's opinion, since the Revolution of 1688; from which he does not hesitate to date the downfall of our constitution. ' The chief objects, indeed, of his obloquy, are the rebel House of Commons,' of 1640, King William of glorious memory, the Convention Parliament of 1688, and Sir Robert Walpole the father of corruption.' Such are the beacons erected by this judicious and enlightened reformer, to warn the gentlemen of the Hampden Club from the paths and pitfalls of slavery.

It will not be expected that we should follow Mr Oldfield through his six volumes in octavo. What was obscure in our antient constitution, he has not elucidated; what was doubtful, he has not settled; what was disputed, he has not determined, He has removed no difficulties, and has not answered, and seldom indeed noticed, any objections. What he calls a history of the House of Commons, is a collection of scraps and extracts, purloined from authors of different and sometimes inconsistent opinions, adopted without examination, transcribed without care, and put together without system or coherence,

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