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system, still less any idea of responsibility to the governed, but in which the mainspring of obedience on the part of the people consists in their personal feeling and reverence towards the chief. We remark, first and foremost, the king ; next, a limited number of subordinate kings or chiefs ; afterwards, the mass of armed freemen, husbandmen, artisans, freebooters, etc. ; lowest of all, the free laborers for hire and the bought slaves. The king is not distinguished by any broad or impassable boundary from the other chiefs, to each of whom the title basileus is applicable as well as to himself : his supremacy has been inherited from his ancestors, and passes by descent, as a general rule, to his eldest son, having been conferred upon the family as a privilege by the favor of Zeus. In war he is the leader, foremost in personal prowess and directing all military movements; in peace he is the general protector of the injured and oppressed; he further offers up those public prayers and sacrifices which are intended to obtain for the whole people the favor of the gods. An ample domain is assigned to him as an appurtenance of his lofty position, while the produce of his fields and his cattle is consecrated in part to an abundant though rude hospitality. Moreover, he receives frequent presents,to avert his enmity, to conciliate his favor, or to buy off his exactions; and when plunder is taken from the enemy, a large previous share, comprising probably the most alluring female captive, is reserved for him apart from the general distribution.
“Such is the position of the king in the heroic times of Greece: the only person (if we except the heralds and priests, each both special and subordinate) who is then presented to us as clothed with any individual authority; the person by whom all the executive functions, then few in number, which the society requires, are either performed or directed. His personal ascendancy -- derived from divine countenance bestowed both upon himself individually and upon his race, and probably from accredited divine descentis the salient feature in the picture: the people hearken to his voice, embrace his propositions, and obey his orders ; not merely resistance, but even criticism upon his acts, is generally exhibited in an odious point of view, and is indeed never heard of except from some one or more of the subordinate princes."*
The characteristic of the English monarchy is that it retains the feelings by which the heroic kings governed their rude age, and has added the feelings
*** History of Greece," Vol. i., Chap. xx.
by which the constitutions of later Greece ruled in more refined ages. We are a more mixed people than the Athenians, or probably than any political Greeks: we have progressed more unequally. The slaves in ancient times were a separate order, not ruled by the same laws or thoughts as other men; it was not necessary to think of them in making a constitution, it was not necessary to improve them in order to make a constitution possible. The Greek legislator had not to combine in his polity, men like the laborers of Somersetshire and men like Mr. Grote; he had not to deal with a community in which primitive barbarism lay as a recognized basis to acquired civilization : we have.
We have no slaves to keep down by special terrors and independent legislation ; but we have whole classes unable to comprehend the idea of a constitution,- unable to feel the least attachment to impersonal laws. Most do indeed vaguely know that there are some other institutions besides the Queen, and some rules by which she governs; but a vast number like their minds to dwell more upon her than upon anything else, and therefore she is inestimable. A republic has only difficult ideas in government; a constitutional monarchy has an easy idea too, - it has a comprehensible element for the vacant many, as well as complex laws and notions for the inquiring few.
A family on the throne is an interesting idea also : it brings down the pride of sovereignty to the level of petty life. No feeling could seem more childish than the enthusiasm of the English at the marriage of the Prince of Wales, – they treated as a great political event what, looked at as a matter of pure business, was very small indeed; but no feeling could be more like common human nature, as it is and as it is likely to be. The women-one-half the human race at least-care fifty times more for a marriage than a ministry. All but a few cynics like to see a pretty novel touching for a moment the dry
VOL. IV. -6
scenes of the grave world. A princely marriage is the brilliant edition of a universal fact, and as such it rivets mankind. We smile at the Court Circular; but remember how many people read the Court Circular! Its use is not in what it says, but in those to whom it speaks. They say that the Americans were more pleased at the Queen's letter to Mrs. Lincoln than at any act of the English government: it was a spontaneous act of intelligible feeling in the midst of confused and tiresome business. Just so a royal family sweetens politics by the seasonable addition of nice and pretty events: it introduces irrelevant facts into the business of government, but they are facts which speak to “men's bosoms” and employ their thoughts.
To state the matter shortly, royalty is a government in which the attention of the nation is concentrated on one person doing interesting actions; a republic is a government in which that attention is divided between many who are all doing uninteresting actions. Accordingly, so long
Accordingly, so long as the human heart is strong and the human reason weak, royalty will be strong because it appeals to diffused feeling, and republics weak because they appeal to the understanding
Secondly, the English monarchy strengthens our government with the strength of religion. It is not easy to say why it should be so: every instructed theologian would say that it was the duty of a person born under a republic as much to obey that republic as it is the duty of one born under a monarchy to obey the monarch. But the mass of the English people do not think so: they agree with the oath of allegiance; they say it is their duty to obey “the Queen," and they have but hazy notions as to obeying laws without a queen. In former times, when our Constitution was incomplete, this notion of local holiness in one part was mischievous. All parts were struggling, and it was necessary each should
have its full growth; but superstition said one should grow where it would, and no other part should grow without its leave. The whole Cavalier party said it was their duty to obey the king, whatever the king did ; there was to be “passive obedience” to him, and there was no religious obedience due to any one else, --- he was “the Lord's anointed,” and no
one else had been anointed at all. The Parliament, the laws, the press were human institutions; but the monarchy was a divine institution. An undue advantage was given to a part of the Constitution, and therefore the progress of the whole was stayed.
After the Revolution this mischievous sentiment was much weaker. The change of the line of sovereigns was at first conclusive. If there was a mystic right in any one, that right was plainly in James II. ; if it was an English duty to obey any one whatever he did, he was the person to be so obeyed ; if there was an inherent inherited claim in any king, it was in the Stuart king to whom the crown had come by descent, and not in the Revolution king to whom it had come by vote of Parliament. All through the reign of William III. there was, in common speech, one king whom man had made and another king whom God had made. The king who ruled had no consecrated loyalty to build upon; although he ruled in fact, according to sacred theory there was a king in France who ought to rule. But it was very hard for the English people, with their plain sense and slow imagination, to keep up a strong sentiment of veneration for a foreign adventurer: he lived under the protection of a French king; what he did was commonly stupid, and what he left undone was very often wise. As soon as Queen Anne began to reign there was a change of feeling; the old sacred sentiment began to cohere about her. There were indeed difficulties which would have baffled most people; but an Englishman whose heart is in a matter is not
easily baffled. Queen Anne had a brother living and a father living, and by every rule of descent their right was better than hers; but many people evaded both claims: they said James II. had “run away” and so abdicated, though he only ran away because he was in duresse and was frightened, and though he claimed the allegiance of his subjects day by day; the Pretender, it was said, was not legitimate, though the birth was proved by evidence which any court of justice would have accepted. The English people were “out of” a sacred monarch, and so they tried very hard to make a new one; events, however, were too strong for them. They were ready and eager to take Queen Anne as the stock of a new dynasty; they were ready to ignore the claims of her father and the claims of her brother, but they could not ignore the fact that at the critical period she had no children. She had once had thirteen, but they all died in her lifetime, and it was necessary either to revert to the Stuarts or to make a new king by Act of Parliament.
According to the Act of Settlement passed by the Whigs, the crown was settled on the descendants of the “Princess Sophia” of Hanover, a younger daughter of a daughter of James I. There were before her James II., his son, the descendants of a daughter of Charles I., and elder children of her own mother; but the Whigs passed these over because they were Catholics, and selected the Princess Sophia, who, if she was anything, was a Protestant. Certainly this selection was statesmanlike, but it could not be very popular. It was quite impossible to say that it was the duty of the English people to obey the house of Hanover upon any principles which do not concede the right of the people to choose their rulers, and which do not degrade monarchy from its solitary pinnacle of majestic reverence and make it one only among many expedient institutions. If a king is a useful public functionary who may be