J’y suis et j’y reste (“I am here and here I remain”)

I suspect there isn’t anyone who hasn’t contemplated what Country Life labels with some equanimity the distinguishing features of the Town and Country mouse.

Strangely both parties blame the other for misunderstanding or not appreciating the benefits and advantages of living in the town or in the country. It is natural that the prejudice should affect each equally; such is human nature, a bias for what we applaud and an impartiality for what we do not.  Nonetheless there were occasions when the balance was viewed as unfair.

“The proctors of the dioceses were in a worse humour than when they first came up to Westminster. Many of them had probably never before passed a week in the capital, and had not been aware how great the difference was between a town divine and a country divine. The sight of the luxuries and comforts enjoyed by the popular preachers of the city raised, not unnaturally, some sore feeling in a Lincolnshire or Caernarvonshire vicar who was accustomed to live as hardly as small farmer. ”

Excerpt From
The History of England, from the Accession of James II — Volume 3
Thomas Babington Macaulay

I on the other hand pride myself shamelessly for never having regretted the move from the town to the country.  Nor shall I forget the words of R. A. Jamieson QC when we first met in his rustic office at 74 Mill Street.  “How’s trade?”, he asked summarily. Instinctively I recognized this peculiar adaptation of “How’s business?” was no accident from a man who had practiced law in Almonte since 1921 after called to the bar at Osgoode Hall in Toronto.  R. A. Jamieson QC was I believe 82 years old in 1976. That would make his date of birth 1894 and his call to the bar in 1921 at the age of 27. Mr. Jamieson grew up in a rural environment where the predominant business interests were farmers and the trades (in addition to some select mineral interests maintained from Toronto through a local agent, Mr. W. H. Stafford QC). My introduction to Mr. Jamieson was at a time when the burgeoning view of the advanced world surrounded whatever might fall within the character of business, an achievement which was particularly adorned by almost anything “high tech” or devoted to the ineffable world of computers.  The trades meanwhile fell into a state of polite condescension as though trade and business were somehow separate or incomparable. It is a contrast which has since evolved in the opposite direction, from indignity to preference and legitimacy.

The expression “I am here and here I remain” is said to be derivative of the phrase “Nolumus leges Angliae mutari” (We are unwilling to change the laws of England).

On 1 June 1642 the English Lords and Commons approved a list of proposals known as the Nineteen Propositions, sent to King Charles I of England, who was in York at the time. In these demands, the Long Parliament sought a larger share of power in the governance of the kingdom. Before the end of the month the King rejected the Propositions and in August the country descended into civil war.

The opening paragraph of the Nineteen Propositions introduces the document as a petition which it is hoped that Charles, in his “princely wisdom,” will be “pleased to grant.” The (salient) nineteen numbered points may be summarised as follows:

1. Ministers serving on Charles’ Privy Council must be approved by the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

2. Matters that concern the public must be debated in Parliament, not decided based upon the advice of private advisors.

5. The King’s children may not marry anyone without the consent of Parliament.

6. Laws against Jesuits, Catholic priests, and Catholic recusants must be strictly enforced.

7. The vote of Catholic Lords shall be taken away, and the children of Catholics must receive a Protestant education.

11. Councilors and judges must take an oath to maintain certain Parliamentary statutes.

12. All judges and officers approved of by Parliament shall hold their posts on condition of good behavior.

14. Charles’s pardon must be granted, unless both houses of Parliament object.

17. The Kingdom will formalize its alliance with the Protestant states of the United Provinces (the Dutch) in order to defend them against the Pope and his followers.

19. New peers of the House of Lords must be voted in by both Houses of Parliament.

He stated “For all these reasons to all these demands our answer is, Nolumus Leges Angliae mutari [We are unwilling to change the laws of England].” On 21 June 1642 the King’s answer was read in Parliament, and it was ordered that it be displayed in the churches of England and Wales.

When examined in the context of longstanding tense relations between British monarchy and Parliament, The Nineteen Propositions can be seen as the turning point between attempted conciliation between the King and Parliament and war.

In August 1642 the government split into two factions: the Cavaliers (Royalists) and the Roundheads (Parliamentarians), the latter of which would emerge victorious with Oliver Cromwell as its leader. The idea of mixed government and the three Estates, popularized by Charles’s Answer to the Nineteen Propositions, remained dominant until the 19th Century.

The similarity of king vs parliament, state vs religion, town vs country, business vs trade is more than a Shakespearean variation of theme to appease those in the box seats and the groundlings.  Britain’s history has forever been one of preposterous conduct for the sole satisfaction of power and greed. The most recent exemplification of this declining absorption was the coronation of King Charles. In spite of the exhaustion of regal and religious interests, not to be diminished however is the insatiable popular allure of this extraordinary costume party and related social and real estate excesses.

Monarchy is the oldest form of government in the United Kingdom. In a monarchy, a king or queen is Head of State. The British Monarchy is known as a constitutional monarchy. This means that, while The Sovereign is Head of State, the ability to make and pass legislation resides with an elected Parliament. Although The Sovereign no longer has a political or executive role, he or she continues to play an important part in the life of the nation.

As Head of State, The Monarch undertakes constitutional and representational duties which have developed over one thousand years of history. In addition to these State duties, The Monarch has a less formal role as ‘Head of Nation’. The Sovereign acts as a focus for national identity, unity and pride; gives a sense of stability and continuity; officially recognizes success and excellence; and supports the ideal of voluntary service. In all these roles The Sovereign is supported by members of their immediate family.

The departure of members of the royal family from performance of daily absurdities is on-going and predictable. While the monarchy makes for a cogent fairy tale it is otherwise of limited authenticity in the minds of many. I find it astonishing that the inexpressibly wealthy royals are prepared to compromise so ignobly for self-preservation and for no other defensible reason. Granted the  history of conduct of royals is hardly commendable. Murder or execution was always a satisfactory answer to conflict. The tolerance of race, beliefs and ability are making a change of society but it would be ingenuous to image the draw of lucre and power will not outweigh the bases of improvement.