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THE EYE-WITNESS.

I. THE OPENING OF THE SESSION OF PARLIAMENT. PARLIAMENTARY ceremonial had its peculiar importance, as Parliamentary proceedings frequently involved their dangers, during the period of the long struggle between prerogative and privilege. Men were then taught practically that the violation of a form might involve the destruction of a right. A striking instance is afforded in the life of Sir Thomas More, when he was Speaker of the House of Commons. Cardinal Wolsey, in all his pride and pomp, came down, demanding, in the name of the royal tiger, Henry VIII., the prompt passing of a money bill. Dread of the prerogative made the House admit the Cardinal; but respect for their privilege kept every member silent. At last the courageous, learned, honest, but wary Speaker, dropped on his knees, excused the silence of the House, and entreated the Cardinal to leave them to their deliberations, as his presence inspired them with awe and disturbed their composure. Other instances will crowd on the recollection of every reader. Members of the House of Commons may introduce a bill, if they can gain permission, without the hazard of a commitment to the Tower; and very great freedom of debate may be indulged in, without the fear of a monarch coming in person to perform the executive office of arrestment. Matters have flowed in more defined channels since 1668. Parliament has had its struggles, resisting, often ineffectually, breaches of its ceremonial privileges. But the struggle has more frequently been with the new and growing powers of the people and the press, than with the royal prerogative. We do not apprehend now that any future British Solomon will tear from the Journals of the House of Commons the resolution which affirms that "the liberties, franchises, and jurisdiction of Parliament are the ancient and undoubted inheritance of the sub- . jects of England." As little do we dread that there is any likelihood of such an occurrence as that of some future hero and champion of Parliamentary power against Royal assumption entering the House of Commons, ordering "that bauble" to be taken away, and coolly locking the doors. And equally remote may the time be when the Restoration of one sovereign or the Flight of another, as in the cases of the two brothers, Charles II. and James II., may render it necessary for the Legislature to assemble without that preliminary action of the Crown which is one of its inherent prerogatives.

The meeting of a new Parliament differs from the ordinary opening of a Session. A demise of the Crown, a ministerial defeat, a political combination, or a state necessity, may render a General Election expedient at any period of the year, and consequently compel the assembling of the Legislature in spring, in summer, in autumn, or in winter. And the first proceedings at the opening of a new Parliament differ from those of the first day of the opening of an ordinary Session. A new Parliament is opened by Royal Commission, even if the sovereign should intend to come down personally in order to deliver the Royal Speech. The members of the Legislature have to be sworn in. The House of Commons has to choose its Speaker; and these preliminary proceedings usually occupy three or four days before the regular business is commenced. But with an ordinary Session the first day is the first day of business, and the Royal Speech the first legislative movement; though, after it has been delivered, the House of Commons always transact some pro forma business, as the first reading of a bill, in order to assert and maintain a standing privilege that the consideration of the Royal Speech is not essentially the first business which they are bound to entertain. We now regard the annual opening of the Session of Parliament as one of those No. 5. [KNIGHT'S PENNY MAGAZINE.]

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events which are almost as certain in their recurrence as the periodical ́ succession of the seasons. But the change of the usual time, both of opening and of duration, is significant of a great change in our social condition. Parliament no longer meets in November, to be prorogued towards the end of May, as was the usual case when George the Third was king. We hear far less now of the "odious country” and the "charming town," comparisons so frequent in the mouths of fashionable dames, when the smell of the lamps at the theatres of Drury Lane or Covent Garden was considered more fragrant than that of the green fields. Winter travelling has lost most of its difficulties and its terrors: railroads have brought the constituency of Orkney and Shetland within reasonable distance of the metropolis; and improvements in agriculture, multiplicity of social comforts and in-door enjoyments, and a thousand things unknown to our forefathers, render residence in the country endurable till after Christmas, even by the most fastidious. The usual period, therefore, for the opening of an ordinary Session is towards the end of the month of January or the beginning of February; of late it has almost invariably been the latter month, though circumstances in the present year have caused the Cabinet, as the responsible advisers of the Crown, to assemble the Legislature at so early a day as the 22nd of January. Should the weather on the appointed day be even only barely tolerable, we may, in passing down St. James's Park towards Palace Yard, remark the crowd which on each side densely hedges the road of the royal procession. This was strikingly exemplified on the opening of the present Session. The morning was lowering after a night of storm, yet a greater crowd than usual was assembled. Those who are unable or unwilling to get a place may obtain a precarious elevation on chairs, tables, and forms, at all rates, from a penny to a shilling. A similar spectacle may be witnessed in Whitehall and Parliament Street. The windows are crowded, temporary erections are filled, the great object of the spectators, especially of the ladies, being to see the Queen, whose youth, sex, and universal popularity since she came to the throne, have rendered royal processions favourite sights with the public. Yet the scene itself presents but little variation or novelty from year to year. The state-coach now rolls over a level road from Buckingham Palace to the House of Lords: ruts have not now to be filled up with fagots, in order to render its passage more easy, as was the case a century ago. But the royal procession and the royal speech have each assumed conventional forms, from which deviation is rare. The state-coach and the statecoachman have much the same aspect which they exhibited to our forefathers, who, in square-cut coats and square-toed shoes, long-flapped waistcoats, bob-wigs, and bright buckles, gazed on similar scenes. Yet each generation retains its interest, even in the outside show; for it is the preliminary act which opens the annual proceedings of a Legislature, whose empire extends over nearly fifty colonies in all parts of the globe, which has annually to raise fifty millions sterling of money, and to provide for the perpetually varying concerns of a little island crowded with an ever-swelling population, and a country whose material interests are every day changing their character and nature.

Having threaded our way through the crowd that surrounds the entrance of the House of Lords, we pass into the oblong narrow room, which provides the upper branch of the Legislature with temporary accommodation until the New Houses of Parliament (whose turrets are seen through the windows) are completed. At the upper end of the room, on a slightly elevated platform, are three chairs richly decorated: the centre one is the throne; it is a permanent fixture of the House of Lords. The other two chairs are of a temporary nature, arising out of the personal relations

of the reigning sovereign. One is for the accommodation of the royal consort, Prince Albert; the other, a small one, is reserved for the juvenile Prince of Wales, whose actual presence, however, on these grand occasions has not yet gratified the longing eyes of the ladies. On either side, immediately above the throne, are two small galleries ascended by narrow stairs; and ranged along the walls, in rows of two and three, are the crimson-covered benches for the peers, the "bench of bishops" being on the right of the woolsack, and near the throne. At the foot of the table in the centre sit the "clerks of Parliament," three in number, in legal costume. Behind them are a few "cross benches," which are occasionally, but not invariably, supposed conventionally to be occupied by those peers whose opinions place them in a neutral or midway position between "Her Majesty's Government" and "Her Majesty's Opposition." As an illustration, we may notice that the present Duke of Richmond most usually occupies and speaks from a seat on the "cross benches." Below is the bar, and “the space below the bar;" while overhead a gallery accommodates the reporters and other "strangers."

Every available space for visitors is already occupied by a fair and fashionable throng. The two little galleries on each side of the throne-the space around it, leaving barely standing room for the procession which enters with the sovereign—side seats and window recesses in the body of the House, are filled with peeresses, the wives and daughters of peers, foreign ambassadors, and occasionally distinguished foreign personages who may be in England at the time. The larger gallery over the bar is crowded with those who have been admitted by tickets from the lord chamberlain, the front row being all that is left for the reporters of the daily press.

What a buzz fills the atmosphere! The ladies cannot be censured for contributing their portion to the loud though confused conversational sounds, for the peers set them a notable example. The body of the House is the only spot which is comparatively empty; and as the peers enter one by one in their robes, they gather in groups, shake hands, congratulate each other, laugh at mutual jokes, and present altogether a scene of hilarious negligence. The mirth is infectious; and even the ladies suspend their busy whisperings and anxious inquiries, to join in the smiles, and catch, if they the occasionally very animated observations of individual peers. But the House begins to fill more rapidly; and the Judges, as they enter, attract attention by the distinctive peculiarities of the judicial costume.

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A blare of trumpets! It announces the arrival, not of the Queen, but of some one of royal lineage. In a few minutes the Duke of Cambridge makes his appearance, accompanied perhaps (as was the case in 1845) by the young Duke of Mecklenburg Strelitz, who stands for a few minutes at the foot of the throne gazing on the brilliant scene. The space is confined; the crowd is great; but the general effect is exceedingly animating. Peers in their robes; in the galleries and side spaces a profusion of uniforms, scarlet and blue, covered with sashes and orders; the white lawn of the bishops, and the ermine of the judges; with the varied but rich dresses of the ladies, offer a combination and present a picture which is the admiration of every artistic eye. In the midst of the talk, impatient glances are directed towards the clock; and presently the distant reverberations of cannon announce that the royal procession is on its way. By and by, a rolling sound of cheering approaches nearer and nearer, until it is heard coming directly from the outside of the walls; the ministers and noblemen, whose business it is to escort Her Majesty into the House, have disappeared: and a long swell of trumpets announces that the Queen has passed through the main entrance into the robing-chamber.

The hubbub within the House of Lords has subsided into expectant silence, and

the peers are all in their places. A slight commotion is perceptible at the side-doors, which presently are flung open; and the whole assembly rises, as with "a rushing noise," and stand awaiting the entrance of the sovereign. Heralds, pursuivants, equerries, and ushers pour in, clothed in their quaint but rich costume; and they are followed by the Lord Privy Seal, the President of the Council, the Lord Chancellor, the Duke of Norfolk, as hereditary Earl Marshal, and the noblemen who carry respectively the cap of maintenance, the sword of state, and the crown on its gorgeous cushion. The Queen is close behind, the crimson velvet robe covering the rich dress. A tiara of diamonds and the insignia of the Order of the Garter complete the regal costume. Her Majesty leans upon the arm of Prince Albert, who wears his Orders and a field-marshal's uniform; and the royal pair, as they pass on to the throne, are followed by the ladies of the household and attendant pages.

The procession files on either side of the throne; and the Queen, composedly seating herself on the throne, in a low but distinct tone desires their lordships to be seated. The command is obeyed; the whole assembly resume their seats. Meantime the Usher of the Black Rod receives instruction to summon the House of Commons. He proceeds to the door of the Lower House; knocks, enters, and, with three formal obeisances, advances to the table, and informs the Speaker that Her Majesty desires the attendance of her faithful Commons in the other House. The Black Rod retires pre

with like formality as he entered; the Serjeant-at-arms takes up the mace, and cedes the Speaker, who is dressed in his state gold-laced gown, only worn on solemnities like the present. The members of the Commons fall into file behind them; and when the attendance is numerous, as is frequently the case on the opening of the Session, the tramp of feet, the jostling noise, which is heard from the narrow passage, and occasionally the cry of "Order, order," from the Speaker, announce their approach before they fill the space below the bar.

The Lord Chancellor drops on one knee, and presents the Royal Speech to the Queen. For a moment there is "expressive silence,” which is broken by a voice of womanly softness, yet clear, articulate, and sweet, pronouncing the words "My lords and gentlemen." Every paragraph is read with due order and appropriate emphasis; not a word is lost; particular passages are marked by intelligent expression, especially whenever allusion is made to that "Divine Providence" to whose protecting and guiding care Her Majesty commends the deliberations of the Legislature.

The scene is over: the Queen departs with the same state as she came; the band plays the royal anthem as the state carriage is in motion; the Peers adjourn to unrobe, the Commons to their own House, each taking a breathing space of an hour or two before they proceed to the debate on the Address. Political events rendered both the royal speech: and the subsequent debate more than ordinarily interesting in 1846. Each of the leaders of the two great political parties gave explanations of the circumstances which had led to cabinet revolutions; and which have perhaps been as remarkable as any in modern times.

THE SCHOOL-BOY'S EXECRATION.

For the Use of the Anti-Classical Educationists.

WHAT a plaguy old Gammer

Is that Madam Grammar!

With her moods and her tenses,
To bother our senses;

With her cases and genders,

Worse than ten Witch of Endors;

With her tropes and her figures,
To toil us like Niggers;

And with parsing and scanning,
To set one a banning.

I wish Captain Rock

Would burn hic, hæc, hoc;

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