This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text.
Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book
(without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated.
1899 Excerpt: ...nobility but the actual descent of a peerage. The
sons of peers, as we well know, are commoners, and totally
destitute of any legal right beyond a barren precedence. There is
no part, perhaps, of our constitution so admirable as this equality
of civil rights; this isonomia, which the philosophers of ancient
Greece only hoped to find in democratical government. From the
beginning our law has been no respecter of persons. It screens not
the gentleman of ancient lineage from the judgment of an ordinary
jury, nor from ignominious punishment. It confers not, it never did
confer, those unjust immunities from public burdens, which the
superior orders arrogated to themselves upon the continent. Thus,
while the privileges of our peers, as hereditary legislators of a
free people, are incomparably more valuable and dignified in their
nature, they are far less invidious in their exercise than those of
any other nobility in Europe. It is, I am firmly persuaded, to this
peculiarly democratical character of the English monarchy, that we
are indebted for its long permanence, its regular improvement, and
its present vigor. It is a singular, a providential circumstance,
that, in an age when the gradual march of civilization and commerce
was so little foreseen, our ancestors, deviating from the usages of
neighboring countries, should, as if deliberately, have guarded
against that expansive force which, in bursting through obstacles
improvidently opposed, has scattered havoc over Europe. This
tendency to civil equality in the English law may, I think, be
ascribed to several concurrent causes. In the first place the
feudal institutions were far less military in England than upon the
continent. From the time of Henry II. the escuage, or pecuniary
commutation for personal service...
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