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same nation under the prospect of war rising up again during the Isle of Wight treaty in 1648, but also under the certainty of destroying the Church of England. On the one side, by refusing, he seemed to disown his duties as the father of his people. On the other side, by yielding, he seemed to forget his coronation oath, and the ultimate interests of his people—to merge the future and the reversionary in the present and the fugitive. It was not within the possibilities that he could so act as not to offend onehalf of the nation. His dire calamity it was, that he must be hated, act how he would, and must be condemned by posterity. Did his enemies allow for the misery of this internal conflict? Milton, who never appears to more disadvantage than when he comes forward against his sovereign, is indignant that Charles should have a conscience, or plead a conscience, in a public matter. Henderson, the celebrated Scotch theologian, came post from Edinburgh to London (whence he went to Newcastle) expressly to combat the king's scruples. And he also (in his private letters) seems equally enraged as Milton, that Charles should pretend to any private conscience in a state question.
Now let us ask-What was it that originally drove Charles to books of Casuistry? It was the deep shock which he received, both in his affections and his conscience, from the death of Lord Strafford. Every body had then told him, even those who felt how much the law must be outraged to obtain a conviction of Lord Strafford, how many principles of justice must be shaken, and how sadly the royal word must suffer in its sanctity, -yet all had told him that it was expedient to sacrifice that nobleman. One man ought not to stand between the king and his alienated people. It was good for the common welfare that Lord Strafford should die. Charles was unconvinced. He was sure of the injustice; and perhaps he doubted even of the expedience. But his very virtues were armed against his peace. In all parts of his life self-distrust and diffidence had marked his character. What was he, a single person, to resist so many wise counsellors, and
what in a representative sense was the nation ranged on the other side? He yielded: and it is not too much to say that he never had a happy day afterwards. The stirring period of his life succeeded—the period of war, camps, treaties. Much time was not allowed him for meditation. But there is abundant proof that such time as he had, always pointed his thoughts backwards to the afflicting case of Lord Strafford. This he often spoke of as the great blot-the ineffaceable transgression of his life. For this he mourned in penitential words yet on record. To this he traced back the calamity of his latter life. Lord Strafford's memorable words-" Put not your trust in princes, nor in the sons of princes,"-rang for ever in his ear. Lord Strafford's blood lay like a curse upon his throne.
Now, by what a pointed answer, drawn from this one case, might Charles have replied to the enemies we have noticed to those, like so many historians since his day, who taxed him with studying Casuistry for the purposes of intrigue-to those, like Milton and Henderson, who taxed him with exercising his private conscience on public questions?
I had studied no books of Casuistry," he might have replied, "when I made the sole capital blunder in a case of conscience, which the review of my life can show."
"I did not insist on my private conscience; woe is me that I did not: I yielded to what was called the public conscience in that one case which has proved the affliction of my life, and which, perhaps, it was that wrecked the national peace.'
A more plenary answer there cannot be to those who suppose that Casuistry is evaded by evading books of Casu istry. That dread forum of conscience will for ever exist as a tribunal of difficulty. The discussion must proceed on some principles or other, good or bad; and the only way for obtaining light is by clearing up the grounds of action, and applying the principles of moral judgment to such facts or circumstances as most frequently arise to perplex the understanding, or the affections, or the conscience.
HINTS ON HISTORY; OR, A GLANCE AT THE DARK AGES. PART II.
WE have reason to congratulate ourselves that the conquest made in Europe by Goths and Vandals, Franks and Saxons, was altogether of a different nature from that which merely places a new dynasty upon the throne, and that the conquering people became themselves the inhabitants, as well as rulers of the soil, and amalgamated with the nations they subdued. have reason to congratulate ourselves that no warrior chief, fresh from his woods, seized hold of the central power, and swayed the west of Europe in its combined form. It is well that no Attila—and the Hun was not far from it-possessed himself of a worn-out empire, lifeless, decked only in the panoply of civilisation, there to remain, like a decorated corpse, the subject of renewed combat, and the prize of the last victor in the field. Since the barbarian was to come, we may look without regret at that dismemberment of the empire, that piece-meal conquest and slow but entire appropriation, which at first appear in so great a measure to aggravate the calamity. For many centuries nothing but mischief seems to follow from his irruption and settlement; the very principles of civil government are lost sight of; rude violence every where prevails; learning is almost extinct, and the little leisure and reflection which armed outrage permits to others, or allows to itself, is seized on and appropriated by superstition. Every where darkness and confusion. But by-and-by the cloud rolls off, and a new scene presents itself; and now, where otherwise a great empire might have been seen falling to sleep at the very best in base and sordid security, there is beheld a number of distinct nations, full of vigour, of untameable spirit, inventing new modes of government, and provoking each other by constant rivalry, and a ceaseless jealousy of each other's power, to emulation in all the arts both of war and of peace, all arts by which wealth is to be obtained or protected. Nay, was it not well that the barbarian did come, and that even for the interests of learning, which seem to have suffered most wofully from his advent? It was not, we need hardly say, such an empire as Augustus reigned over that he destroyed and
NO. CCXCII. VOL. XLVII.
overran. Soon after the great imperial government had been established, when the flush of its novelty and the exultation of its triumph had departed, literature began to manifest symptoms of decay, and a lassitude and monotony fell upon the stationary world. Before the reign of Constantine, learning had lamentably declined; and how dark ensuing ages might have become, without aid of the barbarian, it is impossible to say. An old despotismand a despotism is soon old, while free governments, whatever their faults, however fractious and turbulent, retain for ever the vivacity of youth-an old despotism, extending over a wide territory, appears to be a condition least of all propitious to high efforts of literature; affording, as it does, to the people at large none of those national controversies which give at once both scope and stimulant to intellectual enterprise. These have certainly not been wanting to modern Europe, since it was partitioned and re-colonized by the barbarian. And not only has the change in its political condition promoted mental activity: we hold that even that multiplicity of strange languages, which grew up amongst its new inhabitants, and which has often been looked on as so unpropitious a circumstance, and has tempted some men of great capacity for wishing, to sigh after an universal tongue, was, and still is, in reality highly favourable to intellectual effort and intellectual wealth. Each nation, by speaking its separate language, has had its own literature to construct—each language has been a fresh soil to be conquered and taken possession of by geniuseach people may boast their own great poet or philosopher, yet has there been no such isolation amongst them, but that each has partaken and appropriated of the stores of the other. This state of things has all the advantage of a number of distinct laboratories where each chemist plies his experiments apart, not uninformed, however, of the results which others have obtained. The same topics of enquiry have occupied the mind of the Frank, the German, the Englishman; and we see to this day how the torch of truth is made to burn more bright by being borne rapidly from country to country.
Amongst the new products found growing upon the old soil after the deluge had subsided, was one of a political nature. Perhaps the chief boast of the middle ages is, that they gave birth to the system of representative government-an invention, as it has been justly called, by which free institutions become applicable to extensive territories. The old form of the republic was appropriate only to a single city; the plan of representation allows an extensive territory to be united under a free and equal government.
We trace representation as a lineal descendant from that very feudalism to which it is now seen in the light of a direct antagonist. Feudalism could never itself have been converted into a good government, for its chief characteristic consisted in the absence of any adequate idea of a state. It yielded inevitably before the love of order. It was not conquered by arms. Without aid of a standing army, we see monarchy in Spain, in France, in England, every where prevailing It was monarchy alone that could give these countries any approximation to free and equal government; and therefore it naturally grew with their increasing wealth and intelligence, and increasing desire for good government. But though such was the impracticable nature of feudalism itself, yet it infused a free spirit into men which tempered the monarchies of Europe, and moreover gave birth to a political offspring, which was fated, not only to check, but to compete with monarchy.
We shall take our own House of Commons as the type and exemplar of what was passing in the mind of Europe. We suppose no one is so little given to reflection as to be satisfied with ascribing the origin of our second house of Parliament to the writs issued by Simon Mountfort, in the disturbed reign of Henry III.; this is an historical incident, which may or may not have hastened the development of that institution, which dates its constitutional existence from the succeeding reign of Edward I. We are all prepared to trace such an institution, not to an incident of this description, but to political notions working in the mind of the people at
have endeavoured to show, was this: instead of the commonwealth being regarded as the great corporate body, to the welfare of which the desires and passions of the individual should be subordinated, the individual stood forth in his own claims, asserted his own rights, made the best stipulation he could for their preservation and the good of the community; its order and government were left to be the chance result of these several treaties. Liberty assumed a quite different form from that which it bore in the ancient republics. There was here no public; there was scarce any representative of the public; all was private property, all was personal privilege, the conflict and compromise of individual claim. Every baron, every freeholder, had made his distinct treaty with his sovereign; he held his land on tenure, that is, on condition of performing certain services to his lord; these services rendered, he had done all that could be rightfully demanded; if he did more, it was voluntary. He had made his bargain with the state, and to that he held.
The situation of the Jews in all the feudal governments illustrates the manner in which the commonwealth was built up. Contrary to custom, they could here make no good bargain for themselves. They were attached to the soil neither as its lords and conquerors, nor as its bound cultivators; nor could the pious burgess associate with them, nor they with him, in those guilds and corporations which in their essence were a species of voluntary association. They were put quite out of the pale of government. The king seized upon them, by virtue of his prerogative; they became part of the Crown property-a sort of treasure
The king protected and pillaged them at his pleasure. He sometimes even lent out his Jews, and took up money upon them as a security. We know that religious animosity led, in the first instance, to their being thus segregated from the rest of the world; but under no government where laws were made in the true spirit of legislation, as having the good of a whole community in prospect, could any body of men be allowed to remain in this predicament. They would either have been expelled entirely, or the common rights of citizens, the usual
protection of person and property, would have been extended to them.
This, then, was the prevailing spirit of feudal times:-The individual entered into a compact with the governing power, separating himself, as it were, from that community of which, in fact, he was a component part, and treating with it in his own person. The king, however powerful, never thought of laying any additional tax upon the feudatory without his consent. But how, in this respect, were the towns or burghs situated? These, if in the royal demesne, originally formed part of the crown property, and the king could levy a talliage upon them at his pleasure. If they fell within the barony of the greater lord, the lord could, in the same manner, exact tribute from them. But the royal towns obtained charters from the king, by which they were relieved from uncertain and arbitrary taxation on the payment of a fixed and stipulated sum. These charters, many of which were granted by King John, were either purchased from the necessity, or granted by the policy of the crown. Such burghs as were the property of the barons obtained relief in a similar way; the inhabitants paid a certain fixed sum for their land and houses, and then held by what was called burgage tenure. The towns were now placed, with respect to the sovereign power, in the same independent position as the nobles; they had made their treaty, though they could not always guard it from infringement quite so effectually as the barons. But the wants of the crown and the wealth of the burghs were both increasinga new composition must be made; but the will of both parties must now be consulted. The power of the king and of his great council of peers might be, and doubtless was, sufficient to enforce a tax upon the towns; but it was ever the more profitable plan to respect the feeling of right which the burgess now shared with the noble. man, and induce him to tax himself. To enter into a new treaty with the towns-a treaty to be renewed as often as the want of money was renewedwas scarcely possible, without some system of deputation.
Citizens were sent up from the different towns to the meeting of the great council, who, on hearing the wants of the sovereign, would appoint the quota to be paid by themselves. As it was not
necessary for it was impossiblethat all the burgesses should attend, and come into the presence of their king, so neither was it considered necessary that every town should send its deputation or representatives; the interest of such as did not, being identical with, and therefore under the protection of those who did. Some of the towns, as is well known, petitioned to be spared the expense and burden of sending a deputation.
Thus was formed and perpetuated our House of Commons. It arose from the application to chartered towns of the feudal notion that those who had made their stipulation with government could not further be taxed without their own consent ;—a notion which soon became a prevailing sentiment of the people at large. The county member represented the small freeholders, who had an undoubted right to partake in this political sentiment. The county courts, it may be observed, which had been preserved from Saxon times, gave a facility for this mode of representation, which otherwise perhaps might not have been devised. Thus, our second branch of the Legislature arose from no endeavour to approximate the constitution to a republic, nor from any design on the part of the people to share in the general work of legislation; and nothing can be more absurd than the clamour (it cannot be called argument) of those who, while they are carrying forward and amplifying the theory of representation, talk of reforming and returning to ancestral purity. It was some time before the Commons took any other part in le gislation than the humble one of petitioning. Their petitions were referred by the crown to his council, or to the lords of Parliament, who, if they were granted, converted them into a law. They were burghers who came up, and often very reluctantly, to hear the wants of their sovereign, and fix their tributes; taking occasion, however, to bring with them their grievances along with their money. This character of men who came up to be taxed, they long preserved. We find them unwilling to enter on questions of peace and war, when these are proposed by the king; they declare that such high and lofty matters are above their simple understandings; they decline giving any opinion. This affectation of modesty, which has been
described as a notable humility, we have no doubt arose from sound mercantile policy. They were unwilling to give any pledge, by participating in the king's counsels, that they would support those counsels with their purses; nor did they wish to see too clearly those exigencies of the state, which were laid before them, they knew, as foundations for a pecuniary demand.
But though the principle of representation was thus limited in its origin, it was one well calculated for growth. The Commons began to represent their constituents on subjects than one, and gradually crept up to an equality with the hereditary legislators which the feudal system had provided. Their petitions are listened to with respect in the reign of Edward I. In the commencement of that of Edward III. their assent to the statutes is first mentioned; probably, as Hallam suggests, with the object only of giving additional weight and popularity to a law which would have been equally valid without that assent. What, during the long reign of Edward III., grew to be a custom, became a right in that of his successor Richard II. In the reign following, namely that of Henry IV., they made an attempt to share the judicial functions of Parliament; in this they fail ed, but their equality in the legislative power was at the same time distinctly acknowledged.
Still they were far, even under the Lancastrian Kings, from having attained the position we recognise as due to a House of Representatives. Circumstances in the reigns of Richard II. and his successor, gave to the House of Commons an appearance of power which it by no means possessed; but its substantial and independent power dates from a subsequent period. How is it, we have heard the question sometimes asked, that the Commons, who under Richard II. made so bold a stand against the royal prerogative -impeached the King's Ministers, and Chancellor, and an Archbishop of Canterbury, and controlled and scrutinized all the expenses of the Crown -were the passive tools of a court under Henry VIII., and had scarce spirit enough to mutter something about their rights and privileges under Elizabeth and James? The people of England had grown more wealthy, more enlightened, and yet
their representatives had grown more feeble and insignificant, and political power appears to have deserted them as their wealth and knowledge, which we are told are the true sources of political power, had increased. The difficulty, which else would be very startling, is solved by this consideration ;-that the privileges and powers of the House of Commons in the reign of Richard II. flourished under the protection of the Peers of Parliament. What they did was not done in their own strength. The Commons had not themselves grown weaker in the time of Henry VIII., but they had lost their powerful allies. These had indeed become politically feeble; they had been transformed by the change of manners which England with all Europe was undergoing, from independent barons, jealous of their rights, and prompt to maintain them by force of arms, into submissive and silken courtiers, competing for the favours of a monarch; or, at all events, into gentlemen willing to lead a very different life from that which could alone preserve their feudal superiority. The Commons under Richard II. were as little able to stand alone, or in the front of the battle, against the king, as under Henry VIII. The nobility took them in alliance, and the Lower House itself gained part of its strength from that minor nobility which represented the counties, and which shared in the fluctuations of that order to which it belonged. We may always observe, that whenever Richard is predominant over his refractory barons, the Commons drop their lofty tone. When the confederacy of the Lords Appellant is crushed or dissolved, the privilege of Parliament is found to be no protection against the most extravagant resentment of the king. During this period, and through the reign of the Lancastrians, the nobility are seen as the rude conservators of the liberties of the country and the rights of Parliament. Under the Tudors they forfeited this honourable character; they deserted their post, or rather, they were no longer the men capable of occupying it. The Commons were now left to themselves; and when they next grew strong, their strength was their own. In the ensuing dynasty of the Stuarts, our house of representatives obtained and abused an independent and predominating power.
Were we to travel through Europe,