The Law and Working of the Constitution: Documents 1660-1914 - Vol. 1

The Law and Working of the Constitution: Documents 1660-1914 - Vol. 1

The Law and Working of the Constitution: Documents 1660-1914 - Vol. 1

The Law and Working of the Constitution: Documents 1660-1914 - Vol. 1

Excerpt

The present selection of documents illustrating the development of the British Constitution since 1660 has, we make bold to claim, two novel features. The first is a negative one. We have not, in the manner of some of our predecessors in this field, prefaced each of our documents, or groups of documents, with a set of notes, commentaries, or asides of praise and blame; at the most our notes are designed to make the reader able to understand the circumstances of the case as well as if he had the whole of the original document, instead of an excerpt, before him. Nor have we, as others of such predecessors have preferred, attempted to write the constitutional history of two hundred and fifty years in some century--or score-- of breathless pages, and attached it to the front of the selections by way of guide or précis of what is to follow. We have chosen rather to use all the available space for the inclusion of original materials, intending by our presentation to make it possible for them to speak for themselves. But the student in need of a general commentary will, we trust, make use of some full-scale modern work such as Sir David Keir Constitutional History of Modern Britain, for which these volumes should present pièces justificatives; for information on some particular topics he would do well to consult the appropriate sections of Sir William Holdsworth History of English Law.

In the second place, we have taken seriously the observation that the British Constitution is not written down in books but is flexible in the sense of being found in the minds and practice of each generation.

Those who have confined their attention to the great constitutional milestones have not been able to show the whole, nor indeed some of the most interesting aspects, of the constitution. To do so one must go behind the Statutes and the Judgements known to lawyers. These are but the "bones cast in a little low dry garret" which we desire to clothe with flesh and blood and bring out into the world. We have been anxious--if we may vary the metaphor-- to show the wheels turning, the driver at the controls, and the direction of the journey, as well as the authorized stopping-places. To do this we have drawn upon more varied sources, correspondence, commission reports, novels, memoranda, and so on (as has . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.