Tuesday, September 16, 2008

While Looking for Something Else

Hissing in the House.'
From time to time the behaviour of Members of Parliament is condemned as too rowdy and rude. I can remember hearing of such complaints as long as I can remember hearing of Parliament, and it has often been said that the behaviour grew worse after the Commons' sittings began to be televised. I haven't heard much recently, but problems like this seem to go on and on; is it useless to appeal for better behaviour?
Perhaps not; while I was looking for something else in the Journals of the House of Commons from the Parliament of 1604, I happened upon a most indignant motion:
Mr. Hext moveth against Hissing in the House; as not beseeming the Gravity of the Assembly, derogating from the Dignity of it, and from the Privileges, more than any other Abuse whatsoever.*
It must have worked. I can't recall any recent complaints about hissing in the house. But was hissing really worse than any other abuse?
*From: 'House of Commons Journal Volume 1: 26 March 1604 (2nd scribe)', Journal of the House of Commons: volume 1: 1547-1629 (1802). URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=9611. Date accessed: 16 September 2008.


Felicity Pickup said...

Thank you for enticing me to do my duty to explore historical British Parliamentary material. Actually it was that masterly (masterful?) and admirable footnote that enticed me. I just had to check out the possible ways of getting to that digitised version.

Why did I need to be "enticed" to look at such completely fascinating documentation? Well, after a librarian career of 48 years during which, by and large, I have not needed to recall anything I was taught about the documents of legislative bodies, this very thing has been added to my job description. This old dog was not pleased to have to learn this new trick. Your blog post has encouraged this faint heart.

William Craig said...


It is rewarding to know that a note I more or less tossed off because it amused me was interesting and useful to you. Thanks for the comment.