The tenor is commencement address, the content is Constitutional History ! (British Origins), the level of address is fifth-sixth grade, the potential is nil. Ayars' idea was to illustrate the development of the concepts of liberty and equality cited in the Declaration of Independence and spelled out in the Bill of Rights through the lives of three individuals: Stephen Langton, the 13th-century archbishop of Canterbury who encouraged the rebellious bishops to confront King John and secure Magna Carta; John Lilburne, the 17th-century pamphleteer whose principled opposition to both King and Cromwell helped confirm and extend individual rights; and George Mason, author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights-on which the US Bill of Rights was modeled. Each is a valid choice but a difficult subject: Langton is a shadowy figure, Lilburne was a wrangler, Mason led an uneventful life. More critically, the accounts have no shape or focus; there is no principle of selectivity in evidence, no emphasis or subordination. Reading becomes a dreary trudge through strange historical thickets, without interest or much illumination.