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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to www.million-books.com where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: MAGNA CHARTA. The reign of King John will be for ever memorable in the annals of English history for the melioration of the Constitution, by his concession, however reluctantly granted, of the great charter of British liberties. And as it is the foundation, not only of English freedom, but of the liberties of the whole British dominions, we begin the history of our Constitution with some account of it, and a copy of its translation. In such a miscellany as this, it would be impossible to give a complete commentary on this famous charter, the palladium of British freedomwe shall therefore confine our observations to a brief analysis, pointing out, in as few words as possible, the grievances and hardships that were intended to be removed, with the liberties and privileges that were designed to be granted, by the great charter of King John. Those privileges and liberties may be divided into four classes :1. Those granted to the church and clergy; 2. To the earls, barons, knights, and others who held of the king in caplle, that is, in chief; 3. To cities, towns, and merchants, for the encouragement of trade ; 4. To the whole body of freemen. None of the parties concerned in this important charter ever entertained a thought of emancipating slaves or villeins, who composed in fact the great mass of the people ; and therefore they are only once mentioned, and ihat, not for any advantage for themselves, but entirely for their master's benefit. The power and wealth of the clergy were then so great, and their grievances so few, that they had scarcely any thing to complain of or to ask ; and this probably is the reason why there are so few articles in the charter respecting the church. The famous Constitutions of Clarendon (hereafter related) had been an object of execration and h...
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