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most gravely decided in the "year 1763, as appears by the Journals of the House of Commons. On that occasion, Sir John Cust, the Speaker, being taken ill, sent to tell the House by the clerk at the table, that he could not take the chair. It appears that there was considerable discussion, whether the mace ought not to have been in the House when this important communication was made. No one, however, presumed to say that it ought to have been on the table; but many maintained that it ought for the dignity of the House to have been underneath it. It was decided however that Mr. Speaker had done quite right not to part with his bauble; and the House accordingly, as the Journals inform us, " adjourned themselves without the mace."
For a member to cross between the chair and the mace when it is taken from the table by the serjeantat-arms, is an offence which it is the Speaker's duty to reprimand.
If however a prisoner is brought to the bar to give evidence or receive judgment, he is attended by the serjeant-at-arms with the mace on his shoulder, and however desirous any member may be to ask the prisoner a question, he cannot do so, because the mace is not on the table: he must therefore write down his questions before the prisoner appears, and propose them through the Speaker, who is the only person allowed to speak when his bauble is away.
If the House resolve itself into a committee, the mace is thrust under the table; and Mr. Speaker leaves his chair. In short, much of the deliberative proceedings of this branch of the legislature are regulated by the position in which this important piece of furniture is placed: to use the words of the learned Hatsell, "When the mace lies upon the table, it is a House; when under, it is a Committee. When the Mace is out of the house, no business can be done: when from the table and upon. the serjeant's shoulder, the Speaker alone manages." The mace then may be called the household god of the House of Commons .; without the presence of which, good fortune could hardly attend its deliberations: all honour to it!
MESSAGES BETWEEN THE TWO HOUSES.
It is somewhat curious to observe the difference that exists in the mode of sending messages between the two Houses of Parliament. The Lords have regular messen-. gers of their own; and, strange to say, these mercuries are chosen from among the gravest and slowest-moving personages in the kingdom; encumbered not only by the weight of years, but also with the inconvenience of a long gown and all the gravity of deportment attendant thereupon. One would have thought that to go on errands their lordships would have picked out some light and agile personages, to whom locomotion would not be a grievance; but, on the contrary, their messengers consist of the judges of the land, the master of the rolls, the attorney and solicitor general, the king's serjeants, the clerk of the parliaments, and the masters in chancery. Now, of these, the attorney and solicitor general and king's Serjeants are generally the youngest; but of late years, the two former have generally been members of the lower House, and frequently also some of the latter; so that their services are never required in a mercurial capacity: the same remark applies to the master of the rolls. The judges are seldom sent on an errand unless the subject be one of importance, and therefore the regular message-bearers of the House of Lords are the masters in chancery. These worthy gentlemen being entrusted with a particular communication to the lower House—as, to request the attendance of a member to give evidence, or to bring down a bill that has passed the Lords, or for various other matters,—make known their presence to the serjeant-at-arms, who communicates it to the Speaker, and the Speaker having notified it to the House, the question is put that they be admitted, which as a matter of courtesy is always carried in the affirmative, and they are called in accordingly. If the House is sitting as a committee, the Speaker must resume the chair, and the allimportant mace must be taken from its hiding-place underneath the table, and placed upon it, before the messengers can be admitted. Once introduced, they make three profound bows to Mr. Speaker, deliver their message, and walk outside directly into the lobby, to wait for an answer. If this be in the affirmative, they are told so; if not, they are desired to say that the House of Commons will send an answer by messengers of their own.
There must always be two messengers to carry a message from the Lords to the Commons. However competent one judge of the land, or even one master in chancery might be to go on an errand, the House of Commons considers it derogatory to receive the message from less than two messengers at least. And on one occasion, in the year 1641, as appears by the Journals of the House, when a message had been sent by only one messenger, a complaint was made to the House of Lords on the subject; and they humbly admitted their error, alleging that the business was of much haste, and they had sent all the messengers they had: but in order to rectify the apparent neglect, they sent back the self-same message by three messengers instead of one, which no doubt rendered it much more impressive.
The House of Commons too do not choose that the messengers should take the liberty of walking away without taking back their answer; and once, in the year 1604, when some unlucky messengers became tired of waiting in the lobby, and ventured to return before they were told, a complaint was made to the Lords, who thereupon " acknowledged the error of their messengers."
But if the House of Commons are tenacious in requiring the attendance of at least two messengers, still more particular are the Lords in receiving messages from the Commons; for they will not receive them unless brought by eight members at least. The House of Commons has no particular messengers of its own; but when a bill or message is to be taken to the Upper House, Mr. Speaker appoints some members to carry it up, and at the same time calls on the House to follow their messengers. Unless seven persons obey this call, the message cannot be taken at all; but this seldom, if ever, happens: and when the message is one of very great importance, a considerable number generally accompany it, in order to
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show the estimation in which it is held, and to intimate to the House that they are in earnest.
These members, having arrived at the door of the House of Lords, announce their presence to the usher of the black rod, or his deputy. This gentleman (of whom, in our early days, we remember to have entertained a most indescribable feeling of awe, mixed up with all sorts of notions of fines, and imprisonments, and the Tower of London, fancy always picturing him as a sombre-looking personage in a black gown with a long black wand in his hand,) is simply a most dandified-looking personage, with the most exquisitely polished shoes, the finest silk stockings, bag-wig, and other paraphernalia of fulldress, all complete; and being informed of the attendance of the members of the lower House, forthwith proceeds to the bar, and in a loud voice proclaims "My lords, a message from the Commons." The Lord Chancellor, or chairman, asks if it be their lordships' pleasure to admit the messengers, and an answer being given in the affirmative, the word is passed to let them in. Hereupon the doors are thrown open, and in rush a posse comitatus of members eager to tell of their message. This ardour, however, is restrained by the black rod: more skilled in the courtesies of the House, he marshals them in order, places himself at their head as fugle-man, and, bidding them do as he does, forthwith marches up to the bar, making three profound obeisances as he advances, and all the members following him closely and bobbing their heads as he bobs his.
In the mean time, the Lord Chancellor leaves the woolsack, and carrying with him his large purse plants it on