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tions were already there-the aged Maréchal de Monchy and his wife, the parents of the husband of Mme. de Noailles. M. Grellet had been asked by the ladies to let them know their probable fate-release, or death. They learned there was no apparent ground for hope. From that moment they prepared themselves for the worst. A good priest, a prisoner like themselves, assisted them faithfully in their religious duties. The infirmities of the aged Maréchale required constant attention; the two ladies watched over her tenderly to the last. And it is touching to know that, at this dark hour, Mme. d'Ayen wrote a consoling and affectionate note to Malle. Aufroy, her faithful attendant through life. The unhappy mother had now to learn that her second daughter, Mme. de Lafayette, had also been brought to Paris a prisoner. Those weeks were the most terrible, the most criminal, of all the years of horror. In June, 672 were legally murdered at Paris. In July, 835 more were legally slaughtered in cold blood. On the 27th of June, the aged Duc de Monchy and his wife were taken from the same prison to the scaffold. Three weeks passed, and the fatal summons came to Mme. d'Ayen, her aged motherin-law, and her daughter. On the 21st of July, at nine o'clock in the evening, they were carried to the Conciergerie, to go through the forms of a mock trial before a tribunal composed of the worst men in the country. Galley-slaves were among their judges. They arrived at the Conciergerie exhausted by fatigue and emotion. They were placed in a cell with several other female prisoners. They needed food; none could be procured at that late hour. One of the prisoners, Mme. Lavet, had known Mme. de Lafayette, and, anxious to be of service, she endeavored to procure beds for them. The jailers asked fortyfive francs for the use of these beds during one night. The pockets of the ladies were empty; they had been spoiled at the Luxembourg. Fifty cents was all they had to offer. The brutal men refused the use of the beds.
Mme. Lavet gave up her own bed to the aged Maréchale, and threw together a rug or two, on which Mme. d'Ayen stretched herself, urging her daughter to lie down. "Think, my child, what to-morrow will be!" “Ah, mamma, why should I rest, when eternity is so near?" The daughter asked for a prayer-book and a light, and passed hours in devotion. Her countenance expressed all the calm and peace of her soul. Never before had a religious calm so perfect been seen in those gloomy cells. Occasionally she would offer little services of affection to her mother and her grandmother. Mme. d'Ayen was not entirely without hope of release, knowing her perfect innocence of the crimes laid to her charge. The aged Maréchale, whose infirmities had enfeebled her mind, slept much of the time. Whenever she awoke, she read over aloud the official act of accusation, which was incomprehensible to her. She looked forward with certainty to being acquitted. "No; it is impossible that I should die for a conspiracy of whose existence I know nothing. I shall defend my cause before the judges; they cannot condemn me!" Mme. d'Ayen asked a favor of her fellow-prisoners: her watch was now her only property; would they see that it was given to her grandchildren? The young mother also wished to send a lock of hair, an empty portfolio, and a. portrait, to her children; would any one take charge of these last gifts? Alas! though full of sympathy, those Women were compelled to decline; their own lives would inevitably be forfeited by this act of charity. Mme. de Noailles then left messages of affection to M. Grellet and her children, telling them she was dying with entire resignation, and in perfect peace.
lease. Not so the younger; she saw their position clearly. With the sweet and graceful manner natural to her, she thanked Mme. Lavet for her kindness, and said to her, with a smile, "You have a happy face; you will not perish." One is thankful to know the prediction proved true.
It was on Tuesday, July 22d, 1794, that they were brought before the tribunal. At the same hour M. Grellet, aware of their fate, knocked at the door of the good priest, M. Carrichon. The little boys were with him, smiling and cheerful, ignorant of the danger of their mothers. M. Grellet took the priest apart. "All is over, my friend! The ladies are before the tribunal. I come to ask you to keep your word. I shall carry the boys to their little sister, at Vincennes; in the wood I shall prepare the unhappy children for their loss." The brave priest kept his word. At six o'clock the same evening he stood, disguised according to the agreement, at the gate of the Conciergerie, when it opened for the passage of the victims. We repeat his account, written for the family:
A large cart, the regular tumbrel of the prison, rolled slowly out from under the heavy gateway; in it were seated eight ladies, all but one unknown to him. Their hands were bound behind their backs. All were calm and edifying in manner and expression. On the last bench sat the aged Maréchale de Noailles, feeble and tottering on the rude seat. A second cart was drawn up in the court; it was empty. Presently Mme. d'Ayen and her daughter were brought out, and took the front seat. Mme. d'Ayen wore a striped dress, blue and white. Mme. de Noailles was dressed in white, which she had worn as mourning since the execution of her husband's parents, the Duc and Duchesse de Monchy. Her appear ance was very youthful. Both had their hands bound at their backs. Six men climbed into the tumbrel after the ladies, the two first, with respectful attention, leaving them as much space as possible in that wretched cart.
Mme. de Noailles, forgetful of herself, gave all her attention to her mother, bending over her, soothing her, cheering her. "Look at the young one: see how she talks to the other-how she watches her!" exclaimed the bystand ers. She soon looked about for the priest, who had promised to be near them on the fatal journey, to pray for them, and give them the absolution they desired. He drew near the cart, but was not observed among the thrang. The distance between the Conciergerie and the scaffold, at the extremity of the Faubourg St. Antoine, was painfully long. Several times, as the fatal procession moved onward amid the hoarse cries of the mob, the priest endeavored to approach nearer, to attract their attention, but for a long time without success. He became discouraged, but' still persevered, as he observed the anxious, inquiring look of Mme. de Noailles passing over the crowd. Suddenly the sky darkened; a heavy thunder-shower was rolling over the city towards them. The wind rose; sharp lightning was followed by heavy peals of thunder; rain began to fall in torrents. The street was deserted by the mob. The funeral procession alone kept its place, but moving irregularly, and less closely watched by the guards. The ladies still looked about for their friend. At length they saw him. Mme. de Noailles whispered to her mother, and both appeared cheered. M. Carrichon was now able to approach nearer to the carts. The ladies were drenched with rain. The wind was very high, and gave those in the first cart much trouble, especially the aged Maréchale. Her hat was blown back, her gray hair appeared. She tottered on her seat, unable to help herself. She was recognized by a handful of the rabble, who stood watching for the passage of the prisoners, in spite of the rain. They insulted the aged lady with harsh cries and loud abuse: "There she is, that Maréchale who used to dash about in such style in her grand coach! There she is, just like the others in the cart!" The outcry continued, the storm in
creased. The tumbrel was moving more slowly. Just as they reached the square of St. Antoine, the priest made a signal to Mme. de Noailles. She spoke to her mother. Both heads were bowed in devotion, with an expression of humble penitence, of piety, of hope. The priest raised one hand, and pronounced distinctly, and with intensity of feeling, the solemn words of absolution. Only a moment later, the storm rolled over, the clouds broke away, and the streets filled again with a crowd, who poured a torrent of abuse on the aged Maréchale. The others passed unmolested.
At length the scaffold was in sight. The tumbrels stopped. The guards drew around them. Beyond the military was a dense ring of spectators, the dregs of the populace, inhumanly laughing and joking and roaring as they watched the spectacle. The expression of the face of Mme. de Noailles, at that moment, is said to have been angelic. It attracted the attention of those brutal men. "Ah, how happy that young woman looks! How she prays! How she looks up to the sky! But what is the use of all that? Ah, the miscreants! Ah, the aristocrats!" The prisoners were taken from the carts. Three were placed near the steps leading to the scaffold. An old man, with white locks and a good face, was leaning against the ladder. Near him stood a lady whose manner and countenance were very edifying. Next to these was the venerable Mme. de Noailles, dressed in black, in mourning for her husband; she was seated on a block of stone her
large eyes gazing fixedly before her. Beyond these were two lines of prisoners, drawn up one behind the other; they were, in all, forty-six. At a little distance was Mme. d'Ayen, in an attitude of devotion, simple, noble, resigned, without fear; the same reverent expression on her countenance as was usual with her when she drew near the Lord's table. "I still often see her," writes the good priest, "in that attitude. God grant I may profit by the memory."
At that moment Mme. de Noailles was not in sight.
The aged grandmother was the first to mount the scaffold. Six ladies followed, all with composure and devotion.
Mme. d'Ayen was the tenth. As she stood on the scaffold, the executioner tore off her hat. It was fastened by a long pin, which he had not withdrawn. The rough movement of the man tore away some hair. A momentary expression of pain passed over her face, instantly followed by religious calm. The noble head was meekly bowed on the block-the fatal steel fell-life was
Her admirable daughter followed. Again the hat was rudely torn off; again there was the same quick movement of pain, followed by perfect calm. Looking so innocent, so youthful, and all in white, she appeared like a lamb brought to the sacrifice, or like a saintly martyr of past ages. In another instant her head was bowed, and her blood also stained that iniquitous scaffold.
THE CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS IN ENGLAND.
Ir is generally felt that the history of the British Constitution has arrived at a crisis interesting to political observers: and the interest appears in effect to lie In this, that the British nation, with whatever of political capacity and aptitude it may possess, is now, or will very soon be, brought fairly face to face with the elective principle of government, and compelled to found upon that principle the institutions of the future.
Though the term British Constitution is so familiar, and though it was to the British government that the term Constitutional was first applied, England has, properly speaking, no Constitution. She has no instrument like the Constitution of the United States, or those recently framed by most of the European nations, setting forth her polity and defining the powers and functions of its members. She has a series of political documents of great importance and renown, embodying the limitations imposed by the Parliament from time to time on the power of the kings-the Great Charter, the Petition of Right, the Habeas Corpus Act, the Bill of Right, the Acts of Parliament securing the independence of the Judiciary. The Great Charter has been called a Constitution. It is a document of the highest importance not only in English but in univeral history, being the first compact between King and People, the first formal submission of royal authority to the supremacy of law. But it does not set forth a polity; it only restricts the royal power.
The absence of a written constitution has, in fact, been the condition of English development. Had the Great Charter been a constitution it would, while curbing John's tyranny, have left the king prerogatives, legislative and judicial as well as executive, which would now be deemed almost despotic; and these pre
rogatives, being secured by a written compact, could have been reduced only by a revolutionary struggle, from which the nation would have shrunk, and in which, if it had taken place, the king, having the written law upon his side, would probably have been victorious. As it is, England has had room to grow, and the leaders of progress, while they were really retrenching prerogative and extending liberty, have always been able to think and say that the Constitution was in their favor. The constitutional past to which Pym and Hampden appealed was partly mythical; and being so, it served its purpose better than it would have done if it had been wholly real. They could find in it support for any thing which they needed; they could find support for the doctrine that the command of the national army did not belong to the king, though the Barons who extorted the Great Charter would have pronounced without hesitation that the command of the national army did belong to the king, and would certainly have secured it to him if they had framed a constitution.
The British constitution is in fact the distribution of power between the king, the nobility, and the commons. And this distribution, though formally unchanged and treated by writers on constitutional law as something peculiarly fixed and stable, has in reality been always changing; so that the Constitutional History of England may be described as the gradual transfer of power from the king to Parliament and from the Lords to the Commons; in other words, as a gradual transition, masked by monarchical and aristocratic forms, from hereditary to elective government.
Even after the Great Charter, the king retained the exclusive initiative in legislation, and it would be difficult to maintain that he did not possess any legisla
tive power of a more direct kind. He retained the entire executive power, and exercised it either in his own person, or through ministers freely chosen by himself. He also retained the entire judicial power, deciding all cases either personally, as in the language of our law, which speaks of trials as held "before the king himself at Westminster," he is still supposed to do; or through judges appointed by himself and removable at his pleasure; so that for the people, if not for the Barons, he could make the law pretty much what he pleased. In taxation his power was limited to the enforcement of the three ordinary aids, all extraordinary aids requiring the assent of the Great Council: but he had still his own domains and his lucrative prerogatives as feudal suzerain, with some less regular sources of revenue or profit, such as purveyance and the Jews: and these were sufficient, with prudence and abstention from foreign wars, to render him fiscally independent. He had the command of the feudal militia, and the power of calling it out at his pleasure, for the prescribed term. The real limitation of his authority was not so much the law as the military strength of the Barons. When, by the destruction of the feudal nobility in the Wars of the Roses, that pressure was removed, the Crown, without any tangible act of usurpation, started at once into almost despotic power, which it retained till the combined growth of Puritanism and the middle class again turned the political scale.
The real question between the nation and the Stuarts was whether the king or the Parliament should rule. That question was settled, after a series of convulsions, by the Revolution of 1688. William the Third, in assenting to the Declaration of Right, resigned the dispensing power, for which the Stuarts had desperately contended, thereby admitting that the monarchy was entirely subject to the law made by Parliament. The same reign was marked by the last important exercise of the legislative veto which, with the alleged dispensing power, was the only remnant of legislative au
thority left in the king. William the Third administered in his own person the executive department of Foreign Affairs, acting in that department without the advice and sometimes without the knowledge of his ministers; an assumption of authority favored in his case by his personal position as the head not only of England as of a great European confederation, formed to resist the aggrandizement of France. But since William's time, this, with all other functions of the executive, has passed entirely into the hands of the king's constitutional advisers, as they are called; that is, of ministers imposed on him by the Parliament without reference to his personal wishes, and responsible to the Parliament for all they do. By the final change of the tenure of the judges from one during the king's pleasure to one during life and good behavior, with the power of removal virtually vested in Parliament, the Crown has in like manner been stripped of the last remnant of judicial authority; and that authority has been completely transferred to the Parliament. An attempt was made by George III. to revive monarchical government in his own person; and the attempt was favored during the earlier part of his reign by the unpopularity of the Whig oligarchy, and during the latter part by the reaction against the excesses of the French Revolution. But this was rather a clandestine intrigue than an open resumption of power; and it could not be carried on without the aid of a party in the House of Commons called the king's friends, and acting in corrupt subserviency to the Crown. The king's attempt to uphold Bute as Prime Minister by his personal authority signally broke down; and though he made Pitt mister in face of an adverse majority in the House of Commons, he could not have kept him minister if the majority had remained adverse. His personal influence availed to dissuade Pitt from bringing forward Catholic Emancipation; but had Pitt persisted, and had the bill passed Parliament, the king would not have dared to veto.
The King of England is now politically