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tain a character at once more momentous and more august than that of the author, the guardian, and the preserver of our liberties. Hence you have not only eclipsed the achievements of all our Kings, but even those which have been fabled of our heroes.'”1
When at last his mighty hand relaxed, nothing was possible but the Restoration. The world was in truth not yet ready?
“ Thus ended, apparently in simple catastrophe, the enterprise of projecting into sudden reality the im
pulse of spiritual freedom. Its only result, English Revo- as it might seem, had been to prevent the
transition of the feudal into an absolute monarchy, and thus to prepare the way for the plutocracy under feudal forms which has governed England since the death of William III. This, however, is but a superficial view. Two palpable benefits the short triumph of Puritanism did win for England. It saved it from the Catholic reaction, and it created the dissenting bodies. The fifteen years of vigorous growth which Cromwell's sword secured for the church of the sectaries, gave it a permanent force which no reaction could suppress, and which has since been the great spring of political life in England.”
1 Defensio Secunda pro Populo Anglicano (translation). See Life of Young Sir Henry Vane, pp. 414, 454, 455.
2 Gneist: Geschichte und heutige Gestalt der Aemter in England, p. 226, etc.
3 Thomas Hill Green: Lectures on the English Commonwealth. Works, III, pp. 363, 364.
THE REVOLUTION OF 1688.
Charles II, 1660.
William and Mary, 1689.
THE Commonwealth went down after its brave struggle to establish sovereignty of the people, and a reaction began which went to great ex- The Restora. tremes. Charles II returned in the midst tion. of enthusiasm so excessive that the stern Republicans who for some glorious years had had all things in their hands, were completely silenced. The new King, like his father and grandfather, was ready to claim high prerogatives, but his subjects showed a subserviency that surprised him. Foremost in loyal zeal stood the clergy of the Anglican Church, which came back over the temporary wreck of Presbyterianism and Independency, into a power greater than ever before. What were the claims of James I and the Royalists at the the ideas of beginning of the century, we have already wealth. noted. These doctrines of absolutism, during the time of the Commonwealth so thoroughly repudiated, came at the Restoration again to the surface in forms more marked than ever. Every Anglican pulpit, and no other pulpits were now tolerated, — taught with the strongest emphasis the divine right of kings. Writers arose who undertook to show that Magna
1 pp. 104, 105.
Charta itself and every constitutional law were rebellious encroachments on the ancient, imprescriptible prerogatives of the monarchy. The theories of a certain Sir Robert Filmer were especially in vogue, according to which the King stood above all law. He taught that the Supreme Being regarded hereditary monarchy with peculiar favor. · No human power, no length of adverse possession, could deprive a legitimate prince of his right: his authority must of necessity be despotic; the laws by which his prerogatives were limited were merely concessions of the King which he might at any time revoke: any treaty which he might make with his subjects was simply a declaration of his present intentions, and not at all a contract the performance of which might be required.? The theme which the clergy insisted on beyond every other was “non-resistance," — that nothing whatever in the way of crime or folly committed by a legitimate prince, could justify subjects in rebelling. He might be imbecile or as cruel as Nero, but his will must be done. Charles was ready to claim much, but the Church accorded to him even more than he would have claimed. Extravagant, however, though the Church was in its loyalty, the temper of the majority, as reflected in Parliament, bore it fully out.
The student of history is disposed to think sometimes that the true benefactors of mankind have been
the knaves and fools, rather than men ing from the good and wise. What brought to pass of Charles II Magna Charta was the villany of John.
The work of Simon de Montfort was pre
and James II.
1 Hallam: Constitutional History, II, p. 439. 2 Macaulay: History of England, I, p. 55.
pared by the abuses suffered through the weak Henry III.
Headstrong Richard II made a way for the constitutional rule of the Lancastrians. So now it must be said that at the end of the seventeenth century, Anglo-Saxon freedom was saved only through the circumstance that the two Stuart kings were utterly unworthy men, - Charles II, a selfish, frivolous voluptuary; James II, a cruel and stupid bigot. What if the occupant of the throne during this mood of subserviency into which the people had so largely sunk, had been a ruler really good and gifted, -a Charlemagne, a Louis IX of France, a Frederick II; - or indeed some one of the heroes of the English line, arbitrary but masterful, — a William the Conqueror, the second or even the eighth Henry, or Elizabeth ? It must be believed that in such a case the fire of freedom would have become extinguished. It was the abuse of power only, by Sovereigns vicious and incapable, that brought the people to their senses.
As the reign of Charles proceeded, his private character grew constantly worse; as he sank himself, his example drew his court more and more deeply into the slough of brutal vice. forced into His public policy, also, plunged the nation into ever-increasing disgrace. He sold himself to Louis XIV, engaging the power of his kingdom to aid the selfish schemes of France. He forsook his best friends, the bishops and priests of the established Church, offering for a bribe to become a Catholic, and dying at last in the profession of that faith. James II came to the throne an avowed Catholic. Though his faith was abhorrent, the Anglican Church
in a mass, many of the nobles, and the great majority of the country gentry, were at first ready to be consistent; they adhered to the doctrine of nonresistance and let the new King do his will. But every day it grew plainer that James could not be endured. His chosen instruments were Jeffreys of the Bloody Assizes, Kirk and his “lambs," and in Scotland, Grahame of Claverhouse, — torturers and executioners, who beneath the King's very eyes applied the thumb-screw and the boot, and multiplied everywhere the gibbet and scaffold, till mercy and reason seemed about to flee from the world. Abuses and cruelties stung the nation to resistance.
Though the work of the great Long Parliament had appeared to be utterly discredited and overthrown, it began to be plain that certain important things had been after all established. Subservient though the people had seemed, and unprincipled though the two royal brothers were, yet no effort had been made to set up again the Star Chamber and High Commission Courts. It was clear that no such illegality as the ship-money extortion could again be attempted. It was recognized that the constitution must be that of 1642; all the acts of the Long Parliament which had received the sanction of King Charles I before the outbreak of the Civil War, were admitted.1 A sufficient number had become so sick of absolutism as to make possible
that statement of the fundamental prin
ciples of the constitution contained in the instrument known as the Declaration of Rights. It was prepared by a committee of which the illus
Macaulay: History of England, I, p. 119.
The Bill of