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being fully imposed on the successor by the very descent of the crown; no interregnum, therefore, is considered to take place. As speedily as possible the fact of accession is communicated to the new monarch, the privy council are summoned forth with, the sovereign addresses to them a short speech or declaration, and orders are immediately issued for proclaiming the event, the members of the privy council being on the instant sworn anew. The king on the earliest opportunity after entering the council chamber, takes and subscribes the oath relating to the security of the church of Scotland. If parliament be sitting at the time, the oath of allegiance and supremacy is immediately administered to the members of both houses, with a proviso respecting any possible issue of the previous sovereign, in all cases where he dies without issue, and leaves a queen dowager, as happened at the death of king William IV.

On the day after accession it is the practice for the king to appear at an open window in the presence chamber of one of the royal palaces, when a herald (the deputy garter, or some one representing that officer, in the presence of the earl marshal) takes his station in the court-yard underneath the open window, and reads aloud a proclamation, declaring the demise of the late monarch, and the accession of the present. The new sovereign having then withdrawn, an extended procession is formed of guards, heralds, and their subordinate officers, who all proceed to Charing Cross, at which place the proclamation is again read: thence the procession advances to the city, where it is received and accompanied by


the lord mayor and corporate authorities, and proclamation is made at Temple Bar, at the corner of Wood street, and finally at the Royal Exchange. Similar proclamations take place in the principal towns of the united kingdom. A coronation of the monarch is not necessary to any exercise of the royal authority; it is a ceremony which may be postponed indefinitely, and it has frequently been deferred for a year or more.

The monarch, if of the age of eighteen years, may enter upon a full exercise of all the kingly functions and authority. Should he be under the specified age, he is nevertheless proclaimed in the usual form, but a Regent acts in his name, and on his behalf.

Formerly the reign of each king was calculated as commencing on the day of his coronation, and in the period between the demise of the previous monarch, and the coronation of the next heir, the latter was styled only “ Lord of England,” &c.; but since the reign of Elizabeth, the practice has been universally followed of dating the commencement of the new king's reign from the instant of the previous monarch's dissolution-a plan manifestly as rational as it is convenient.

“Stern tide of human time! that know'st not rest,

But, sweeping from the cradle to the tomb,
Bearest ever downward on thy dusky breast
Successive generations to their doom.”

Scort, Field of Waterloo. The death of the monarch is not described as his decease, (for “ the king never dies,") but as his demise, demissio regis, vel coronæ, an expression, which signifies merely a transfer of property; so that the meaning is, " in consequence of the separation (by death) of the king's natural body from his body politic, the kingdom is transferred or demised to his successor.” By the demise of the Crown, the privy council and the parliament are dissolved; that very event produces this result, without any act of the new sovereign; but this dissolution does not now, as formerly, take effect instantly on the death of the monarch. Formerly it was considered, that the king being the head of the parliament, the entire body became extinct by the removal of so important a portion. But the dangers and inconveniences resulting from the election and assemblage of a new parliament at the critical period of the accession of a new sovereign, led to the enactment of statutes by which the old parliament was empowered to sit for six months, unless sooner prorogued or dissolved; that at the expiration of the six months, if not otherwise dissolved by the king, the lapse of time should render it extinct ; that if at the period of the Crown's demise, the parliament be separated by adjournment or prorogation, they shall, notwithstanding, assemble immediately, and if no parliament be then in existence, the old parliament shall be competent to assemble and sit till dissolved by the will of the new king, or the lapse of six months'. Thus is the con

· The necessity for instant assemblage causes the parliament to meet even on a Sunday—a dies non for all other purposes-if that be the earliest opportunity after the Crown's demise.

trol of two of the estates of parliament over the succession to the Crown preserved without confusion, and thus the difficulties and dangers of disputed claims are simplified or removed by preserving the parliamentary powers in a body elected while the previous monarch occupied the throne.


“Besides, to give a kingdom hath been thought
Greater and nobler done ; and to lay down
Far more magnanimous than to assume.”

Milton, Paradise Regained, b. ii. Although the term abdication might, without impropriety, be applied to any act of giving up, in almost any form, and under almost any circumstances, (except that of specifying a successor when the term is “resignation,') yet being generally used to signify a relinquishment of sovereign authority, it has as. sumed a kind of technical character, which in some degree limits it to that remarkable act. The consti. tution of monarchies does not make provision for the formal renunciation of regal authority, and on this account, as well as for other reasons, abdication has been often defined, as though it were an informal relinquishment. By the revolution of 1688, it has been established, as a principle of the British constitution, that the mere abandonment of the regal functions, or as Lord Somers emphatically said, “ doing such acts as are inconsistent with the hold. ing or retaining of the thing," amounts to a virtual abdication of the sovereignty; for by actions subversive of the constitution, all authority founded on that constitution is annihilated ; and if the houses of parliament determine that the king has endeavoured to commit actions subversive of the constitution, then the monarch is held to have abdicated, and is considered to be no longer the subject of high treason, because he has sought to subvert that upon which his sovereignty was founded, and has therefore voluntarily destroyed the sources of his regal authority.

In 1688, a resolution was passed by the house of Commons, declaring that the throne was vacant, as a natural result of the conduct of James II.; this resolution was agreed to unaltered by the house of Lords, after an unsuccessful attempt to substitute the word “ deserted,” for “abdicated,” in speaking of the cause of the vacancy. When once, however, the fact is established, that the throne is vacant, no doubt can exist that the right of filling up the vacancy rests with the parliament, who are specially empowered by statute to control and limit the succession to the throne with the authority of the king; and when he has ceased to be king by the acts of abdication, then the other estates of parliament must naturally proceed without him, in naming the successor to the throne. The application of the word " abdicate,” to the relinquishment of a kingly or imperial station, has been held by jurists as a recognition of a previous rightful possession ; hence it is maintained, that a usurper may retire, but cannot abdicate. In the year 1814 attention was especially called to this distinction by the forced retirement from France of the extraordinary man, who

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