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The Wisconsin lumberman, devoted to the lumbering interests of the northwest
Volume III. Number 6 (March, 1875)

An old English legal fiction,   p. 521 PDF (375.4 KB)


Page 521


The Wisconsin Lumberman.
Tweed to the Reseue
The New York correspondent of the
St. Louis Republican gives the following
reminiscence of Tweed: "It was the year
before his downfall and we were boh
aboard an eastern twain, the Boss en route
for his home in Greenwich. A freight
train was on the track before us, and we
were detained in a muddy, barren bit of
country over an hour. Some of the pas-
sengers got out and walked down the road
to the scene of the disaster, where a num-
ber of men were clearing the track,
amongst 'em, of course, the writer of this,
who can never keep out of a muss if
there's one to get into. The freight train
had not only gone all of a heap off the
track, but two cars had collided and
crushed between 'em a poor brakeman,who
laid that chill spring morning on the side
of the road in great agony. Tweed
strolled along, but the instant he saw this
suffering man he went ,to his assistance,
and in a few minutes he had the poor
fellow on a car-cushion, borne bet*een a
couple of men on to the next station,
where I have no doubt Mr. Tweed looked
out for him. Presently the Boss started
back to the train alone, and a lady and my-
self followed leisurely behind. At a point
in the road Tweed stopped and then turned
out of sight, and when we gained the same
point, behold, with his coat off, there was
the king of New York, bringing all his
weight to bear on the hind wheel of a two-
wheeled cart that had stuck deep in the
mud of a neighboring road. A cord of
wood was neatly piled upon it, an old, fee-
ble man was the proprietor of the concern;
the jaded horse pulled in obedience to the
lusty cry of Tweed; the old wood-cutter
stood behind with a stake, shoving it up
against the wheel every time the Boss gave
a hft. The mud was soft, and deep, and
stick, and the well-polished boots of the
philanthropist were buried in it. His face
was red, for he was doing a good bit of
muscular exercise. The train was half a
mile a way and the wreck equally distant.
He didn't dream a soul beside the stuck
old woodman looked at him, and he was
doing a real kindness with the will and vim
of a sympathetic Christian heart and the
strength of his whole body. Up came the
wagon and the Boss pulled his coat from
the wood-pile, got into it, clambered the
bank to the track, and rolled on to the
tlain."
521
An Old English Legal Fietion.
It is curious to notice from time to time how
strangely English institutions are influenced
by fictions and traditions which have no sub-
stance in them, but which nothing short of a
resolution would induce English people to
change. One of the most common and least
understood of these fictions is the steward-
ship of the Chiltern Hundreds. We may
suppose that a member of any representative
body in any civilized country of the world
wishes to cease being a member, and to retire
into private life, he sends in his resignation,
and there is an end of it. But a member of
the British House of Commons cannot resign
his seat. He may become disqualified from
sitting in that assembly by accepting some
place of honor or profit under the crown, or
by some other cause, but Parliamentary law
does not permit him to resign. If, therefore.
a    member    desires  to  retire  from
the     House,     he      must     set
about and find an office which he can ask,
even from his political opponents, without
much risk of refusal, and, having got his of-
fice, he is disqualified as a member of parlia-
ment from sitting in the house of commons,
and then, by resigning his office, he is at hib-
erty to retire from public life. It seems a
roundabout way of doing a simple thing, but
it is the only say of doing it. The steward-
ship of the Chiltem Hundreds is the office
generally applied for in the circumstances.
The Chilten Hills are in the center of Buck-
inghamshire -M. Disraeli's county-and it is
perhaps the most benighted county in Eng-
land. The Cniltern Hills are covered with
beautiful beach forests, and in the old day
these forests were infested by robbers. To
restrain the robbers and to protect the
peaceable inhabitants of the neighbor-
hood from their inroads, it was usual
for the crown to appoint an officer, who
was called the steward of the Chiltern
Hundreds Though the beach forests remain,
the robbers have withdrawn to the more per-
fect seclusion of the slums of East London,
and the office is now an obsolete sinecure, and
but for the Fecondary object of enabling a
member of parliament to adopt a roundabout
way of resigning his seat, it might be abol-
ished to-morrow. But the English cling to
their fictions, and for the last century and a
quarter, whenver a member of the House a
pies for the Chiltern Hundreds, it is granted
Lgenera ly, though not invariably,) on the
understanding that the member instantly re-
signs it, and, his seat being vacated by his
acceptance of office, a new writ in issued fop
the constituency which he has represented.


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