Some apology is necessary on the part of one whose acquaintance with civic affairs is of such recent date, for presuming to stand forth as the champion of the fights and privileges of the City of London. No man of common spirit, however, could tamely submit to the insulting charges and coarse insinuations with which the Corporation has long been assailed by malevolent or ignorant individuals. That the civic system is free from spot or blemish, no one in his senses would pretend to assert. But it may honestly and truly be asserted that the Court of Aldermen have both the power and the inclination to amend whatever is defective, and to introduce whatever reforms are desirable, without the irritating and officious interference of the imperial legislature. The system may not be perfect, for it is of human origin; but its administrators are men of upright character, practically conversant with the requirements of trade, and animated by am earnest desire to promote the interests of their fellow-citizens.
udes in a very general manner to the liberties and privileges enjoyed by the City. The first detailed and specific notice of their character occurs in the charter of Henry I. In the early part of his reign, being anxious to fix himself securely in his seat, the usurper conveyed, or confirmed, a grant to the citizens to hold Middlesex to farm for the yearly rental of 300 pounds; to appoint their own sheriff and their own justiciar; to be exempt from various burdensome and vexatious taxes in force in other parts of the kingdom; to be free from all denominations of tolls, customs, passage, and lestage, throughout the kingdom and along the seaboard; and to possess many other equally important privileges. This valuable charter was renewed by King Stephen, during whose stormy and troubled reign the metropolis enjoyed a degree of prosperity unknown to the rest of the kingdom. The comparative peace and security which distinguished the happy lot of the citizens of London, have been justly attributed to the maintenance
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