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the feelings of Europe. What then was at last the result? What were the provisions of the treaty of Westphalia?

Did not the cause of reason and of truth every where prevail ? and was not a new profession of religious faith every where the consequence? Not so.

Again ; a great family had arisen in Europe, arbitrary and ambitious—the family of the House of Austria. Did not all the states and powers whose interests could be affected, instantly unite in a common cause, and without difficulty restrain and diminish the power of this universal enemy? Not exactly so; not with such readiness, not with such


Again; the whole regions of Germany were parcelled out among a number of cities and states, of princes and powers, ecclesiastical and secular.

Did not the different parts and members of a system so unfitted for mutual advancement and strength, coalesce into some general form, some great limited monarchy, which might have protected the whole, not only from themselves, but from the great monarchies of France and Spain on the one side, and the Turkish arms on the other? Not so.

In answer to all such inquiries, it must be confessed, that the affairs of mankind cannot be made to run in these regular channels; or their jarring interests and prejudices be moulded into the convenient and beautiful forms which a philosophic mind might readily propose. Some effort, some approximation to a reasonable conduct in mankind is generally visible : a struggle between light and darkness, from time to time an amelioration, an improvement-at the period of the Reformation for instance-no doubt, an advance most distinct and important; the seeds of human prosperity, after each renovation of the soil, somewhat more plentifully scattered; the harvests continually less and less overpowered by the tares. All this is discernible as we journey down the great tract of history, and more than this is perhaps but seldom to be perceived.

But what then is the practical conclusion from the whole ? That the virtue of those men is only the greater, who, in the midst of difficulty and discouragement, labour much, though they have been taught by reading, reflection, and perhaps experience, to expect but little ; who, whatever may be the failures of themselves or others in their endeavours to serve their fellow-creatures, are neither depressed into torpor, nor exasperated into misanthropy; who take care to deserve success, but who do not think that success is necessary to their merit; who fix their eyes steadily on the point of duty, and never cease, according to the measure of the talents with which they are intrusted by their Creator, to unite their efforts and embark their strength in the great and constant cause of wise and good men, the advancement of the knowledge and the virtue, that is, in other words, of the happiness of their species. LECTURE XIV.

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E must now turn to England. During the reign of

a prince so respected for his courage and understanding, and so tyrannical in his nature, as Henry VIII., in the interval between the decline of the aristocracy and the rise of the commons, the constitution of England seems to have been exposed to the most extreme danger, and if Henry had lived longer, or if his successor had resembled him in capacity and disposition, this island, like France, might have lost its liberties for ever.

It appears that the slavish submission of parliaments had proceeded at length, to allow to the proclamations of the king an authority which, notwithstanding the remarkable limitations annexed to it, might eventually have been extended, in practice, to the destruction of all other authority in the realm.

It is true that this act was not obtained till the thirty-first of his reign, and within a few years of his death; but in about ten years after his accession, it appears from Lord Herbert, who wrote a life of him, that he had caused to be made“ a general muster and description of the value of every man's land, as also the stock on the lands, and who was owner thereof, and the value and substance of every person above sixteen.”-Herbert, p. 122, ann. 1522. In consequence whereof he demanded a loan, &c. from his subjects, not fresh supplies from the commons; so that the intentions of the king and his council were sufficiently clear.

But there can be no stronger testimony to the right of the houses of parliament to tax, or rather to concur in the taxation of the people, than the result of the utmost efforts of the king and Cardinal Wolsey, to obtain money without their sanction. “All which extraordinary ways of finishing the present usurpations,” says the historian,“ ended in a parliament the next year.”

In this next year, it seems, the cardinal himself personally interfered in the House of Commons, and the particulars are very curious.

On the whole, the king, as it afterwards appeared, could direct and limit the Reformation at his will; could manage at his pleasure the morality and religion of the Commons, but not their property. In 1525, an attempt was made once more to raise

money without parliament, but the people showed the spirit of Englishmen, for while they pleaded their own poverty, they alleged, in the first place, " that these commissions were against the law;” (Herbert, p. 152). And the king at last disavowed the whole proceedings, “ and by letters,” says the historian, “sent through all the counties of England, declared he would have nothing of them but by way of benevolence.” Even with respect to the benevolence, the narrative, as given by Herbert, is curious; still more so, when a benevolence was again tried, and again clearly resisted, in 1544.

Opposition was constantly made, though the judges authorized this expedient in the first instance, and though in the latter, Read, a magistrate of the city, who refused compliance, was, by a great outrage, sent to serve in the wars against the Scots, and treated in a manner perfectly atrocious.

It always appears, that it was necessary to have recourse to parliament, and the king in his last words, though the most decided and detestable of tyrants, “ thanked them, because they had, freely of their own minds, granted to him a certain subsidy.”

Slavish, therefore, and base as these parliaments were, the members of them did not entirely forfeit the character of Englishmen.

With respect, however, to the great point of the very existence of our legislative assemblies, it is to be observed, that from the violent, cruel, and unprincipled measures into which Henry was so repeatedly hurried, he had continually to apply to his parliaments, which kept up the use of them at this most critical era in our constitution.

In France, on the contrary, Francis I. could always contrive to do without his national assemblies; a circumstance which most unhappily, and most materially, contributed to their decline and fall.

In England, on the death of Henry, the real nature of the constitution was immediately shown. The very first years of the minority of his son, Edward VI., produced repeals of those acts, which had violated the acknowledged liberties of the country.

But a bad minister could so impose upon the excellent nature even of Edward VI., as to cause him to issue, at the close of his reign, a proclamation intended to influence the election of members in parliament; a precedent which was sure to be followed by such a princess as Mary, and afterwards, though probably with less ill intention, by James I.

So innumerable are the perils to which the liberties of the subject are always exposed.

I hasten to the reign of Elizabeth. “In order to understand,” says Mr. Hume, “the ancient constitution of England, there is not a period which deserves more to be studied than the reign of Elizabeth.” And it happens, that there can be no period of our history which may be more thoroughly studied. Camden has written her life. There are very valuable collections of letters and papers; you may trace them in the references of Hume and Rapin, and many curious and amusing, and sometimes important particulars, have been lately drawn from these sources, and presented to the ordinary reader in a very agreeable and sensible manner by Miss Aikin, in her Memoirs of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth. It is, however, the constitutional part of this history that I can myself alone allude to.

Hume, after making the remark I have alluded to, proceeds to state the very arbitrary nature of the constitution, as exhibited in the conduct and maxims of that queen, and of the ministers at that time. On the whole, he makes out a strong case to show the existence of such tribunals, such principles, and such practices, as seem in themselves totally inconsistent with all civil freedom, however qualified the idea which we should affix to the term.

But this reign, it must on the other hand be remembered,

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