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ist to follow the dictates of his own conscience without molestation. Scarcely a law in the statute-book is theoretically more objectionable than the Toleration Act. But we question whether in the whole of that vast mass of legislation, from the Great Charter down)wards, there be a single law which has so much dimine ished the sum of human suffering, which has done si much to allay bad passions, which has put an end to so much petty tyranny and vexation, which has brought gladness, peace, and a sense of security to so many private dwellings.
The second of those great reforms which the Revolution produced was the final establishment of the Presbyterian Kirk in Scotland. We shall not now inquire whether the Episcopal or the Calvinistic form of Church government be more agreeable to primitive practice. Far be it from us to disturb with our doubts the repose of any Oxonian Bachelor of Divinity who conceives that the English prelates with their baronies and palaces, their purple and their fine linen, their mitred carriages and their sumptuous tables, are the true successors of those ancient bishops who lived by catching fish and mending tents. We say only that the Scotch, doubtless from their own inveterate stupidity and malice, were not Episcopalians; that they could not be made Episcopalians; that the whole power of government had been in vain employed for the purpose of converting them ; that the fullest instruction on the mysterious questions of the Apostolical succession and the imposition of hands had been imparted by the very logical process of putting the legs of the students into wooden boots, and driving two or more wedges between their knees; that a course of divinity ectures, of the most edifying kind, had been given in che grass-market of Edinburgh ; yet that, in spite of all the exertions of those great theological professors, Lauderdale and Dundee, the Covenanters were as obstinate as ever. To the contest between the Scotch nation and the Anglican Church are to be ascribed near thirty years of the most frightful misgovernment ever seen in any part of Great Britain. If the Revolution had produced no other effect than that of freeing the Scotch from the yoke of an establishment which they detested, and giving them one to which they were attached, it would have been one of the happiest events in our history.
The third great benefit which the country derived from the Revolution was the alteration in the mode of granting the supplies. It had been the practice to settle on every prince, at the commencement of his reign, the produce of certain taxes which, it was supposed, would yield a sum sufficient to defray the ordinary expenses of government. The distribution of the revenue was left wholly to the sovereign. He might be forced by a war, or by his own profusion, to ask for an extraordinary grant. But, if his policy were economical and pacific, he might reign many years without once being under the necessity of summoning his Parliament, or of taking their advice when he had summoned them. This was not all. The natural tendency of every society in which property enjoys tolerable security is to increase in wealth. With the national wealth, the produce of the customs, of the excise, and of the post-office, would of course increase ; and thus it might well happen that taxes which, at the beginning of a long reign, were barely sufficient to support a frugal government in time of peace, might, before the end of that reign, enable the
sovereign to imitate the extravagance of Nero or Heliogabalus, to raise great armies, to carry on expensive
Something of this sort had actually happened under Charles the Second, though his reign, reckoned from the Restoration, lasted only twenty-five years. His first Parliament settled on him taxes estimated to produce twelve hundred thousand pounds a year. This they thought sufficient, as they allowed nothing for a standing army in time of peace. At the time of Charles's death, the annual produce of these taxes considerably exceeded a million and a half; and the King who, during the years which immediately followed his accession, was perpetually in distress, and perpetually asking his Parliaments for money, was at last able to keep a body of regular troops without any assistance from the House of Commons. If his reign had been as long as that of George the Third, he would probably, before the close of it, have been in the annual receipt of several millions over and above what the ordinary expenses of civil government required; and of those millions he would have been as absolutely master as the King now is of the sum allotted for his privy-purse. He might have spent them in luxury, in corruption, in paying troops to overawe his people, or in carrying into effect wild schemes of foreign conquest. The authors of the Revolution applied a remedy to this great abuse. They settled on the King, not the fluctuating produce of certain fixed taxes, but a fixed sum sufficient for the support of his own royal state. They established it as a rule that all the expenses of the army, the navy, and the ordnance, should be brought annually under the review of the House of Commons, and that every sum voted should be applied to the service specified in the vote. The direct effect of this
change was important. The indirect effect has been more important still. From that time the House of Commons has been really the paramount power in the state. It has, in truth, appointed and removed ministers, declared war, and concluded peace. No combination of the King and the Lords has ever been able to effect any thing against the Lower House, backed by its constituents. Three or four times, indeed, the sovereign has been able to break the force of an opposition by dissolving the Parliament. But if that experiment should fail, if the people should be of the same mind with their representatives, he would clearly have no course left but to yield, to abdicate, or to fight.
The next great blessing which we owe to the Revolution is the purification of the administration of justice in political cases. Of the importance of this change no person can judge who is not well acquainted with the earlier volumes of the State Trials. These volumes are, we do not hesitate to say, the most frightful record of baseness and depravity that is extant in the world. Our hatred is altogether turned away from the crimes and the criminals, and directed against the law and its ministers. We see villanies as black as ever were imputed to any prisoner at any bar daily committed on the bench and in the jury-box. The worst of the bad acts which brought discredit on the old Parliaments of France, the condemnation of Lally, for example, or even that of Calas, may seem praiseworthy when compared with the atrocities which follow each other in endless succession as we turn over that huge chronicle of the shame of England. The magis. trates of Paris and Toulouse were blinded by prejudice, passion, or bigotry. But the abandoned judges of our own country committed murder with their eyes open
The cause of this is plain. In France there was no constitutional opposition. If a man held language offensive to the government, he was at once sent to the Bastile or to Vincennes. But in England, at least after the days of the Long Parliament, the King could not, by a mere act of his prerogative, rid himself of a troublesome politician. He was forced to remove those who thwarted him by means of perjured witnesses, packed juries, and corrupt, hard-hearted, browbeating judges. The Opposition naturally retaliated whenever they had the upper hand. Every time that the power passed from one party to the other, there was a proscription and a massacre, thinly disguised under the forms of judicial procedure. The tribunals ought to be sacred places of refuge, where, in all the vicissitudes of public affairs, the innocent of all parties may find shelter. They were, before the Revolution, an unclean public shambles, to which each party in its turn dragged its opponents, and where each found the same venal and ferocious butchers waiting for its custom. Papist or Protestant, Tory or Whig, Priest or Alderman, all was one to those greedy and savage natures, provided only there was money to earn, and blood to shed.
Of course, these worthless judges soon created around them, as was natural, a breed of informers more wicked, if possible, than themselves. The trial by jury afforded little or no protection to the innocent. The juries were nominated by the sheriffs. The sheriffs were in most parts of England nominated by the Crown. In London, the great scene of political con tention, those officers were chosen by the people. The fiercest parliamentary election of our time will give but . faint notion of the storm which caged in the city on