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* Nine times nutlawed had been
They were sometimes Protestants, sometimes
The English had not, for ages, been bigoted Papists. In the fourteenth century, the first, and perhaps the greatest of the reformers, John Wickliffe, had stirred the public mind to its inmost depths. During the same century, a scandalous schism in the Catholic church had diminished, in many parts of Europe, the reverence in which the Roman pontiffs were held. It is clear that a hundred years before the time of Luther, a great party in this kingdom was eager for a change, at least as extensive as that which was subsequently effected by Henry the Eighth. The House of Commons, in the reign of Henry the Fourth, proposed a confiscation of ecclesiastical property, more sweeping and violent even than that which took place under the administration of Thomas Cromwell; and, though defeated in this attempt, they succeeded in depriving the clerical order of some of its most oppressive privileges. The splendid conquests of Henry the Fifth turned the attention of the nation from domestic reform. The Council of Constance removed some of the grossest of those scandals which had deprived the Church of the public respect. The authority of that venerable synod propped up the sinking authority of the Popedom. A considerable reaction took place. It cannot, however, be doubted, that there was still much concealed Lollardism in England; or that many who did not absolutely dissent from any doctrine held by the Church of Rome, were jealous of the wealth and power enjoyed by her ministers. At the very beginning of the reign of Henry the Eignth, a struggle took place between the clergy and the courts of law, in which the courts of law remained victorious. One of the bishops on that occasion declared, that the
Each side had a few enter
common people entertained the strongest prejudices against his order, and that a clergyman had no chance of fair play before a lay tribunal. The London juries, he said, entertained such a spite to the Church, that they would find Abel guilty of the murder of Cain. This was said a few months before the time when Martin Luther began to preach at Wittenberg against indulgences. As the Reformation did not find the English bigoted Papists, so neither was it conducted in such a manner as to make them zealous Pro testants. It was not under the direction of men like that fiery Saxon, who swore that he would go to Worms, though he had to face as many devils as there were tiles on the houses, or like that brave Switzer, who was struck down while praying in front of the ranks of Zurich. No preacher of religion had the same power here which Calvin had at Geneva, and Knox in Scotland. The government put itself early at the head of the movement, and thus acquired power to regulate, and occasionally to arrest, the movement. To many persons it appears extraordinary that Henry the Eighth should have been able to maintain himself so long in an intermediate position between the Catholic and Protestant parties. Most extraordinary, it would indeed be, if we were to suppose that the nation consisted of none but decided Catholics and decided Protestants. The fact is, that the great mass of the people were neither Catholic nor Protestant; but was, like its sovereign, midway between the two sects. Henry, in that very part of his conduct which has been represented as most capricious and inconsistent, was probably following a policy far more pleasing to the majority of his subjects, than a policy like that of Edward or a policy like that of Mary would have been. Down even to the very close of the reign of Elizabeth, the people were in a state somewhat resembling that in which, as Machiavelli says, the inha. bitants of the Roman empire were, during the transition from Heathenism to Christianity; “sendo la maggior parte di loro incertia quale Dio dovessero ricorrere." They were gene. rally, we think, favourable to the royal supremacy. They disliked the policy of the court of Rome. Their spirit rose against the interference of a foreign priest with their national concerns. The bull which pronounced sentence of deposition against Elizabeth, the plots which were formed against her life, the usurpation of her titles by the Queen of Scotland, the hostility of Philip, excited their strongest indignation. The cruelties of Bonner were remembered with disgust. Some parts of the new system, the use of the English language, sor example, in public worship, and the communion in both kinds, were undoubtedly popular. On the other hand, the early lessons of the nurse and the priest were not forgotten. The ancient ceremonies were long remembered with affectionate reverence. A large portion of the ancient theology lingered to the last in the minds which had been imbued with it in childhood. The best proof that the religion of the people drama of that age. No man would bring unpopular opinions prominently forward in a play intended for representation. And we may safely conclude, that feelings and opinions which pervade the whole dramatic literature of an age, are feelings and opinions of which the men of that age generally partook. . The greatest and most popular dramatists of the Elizabethan age treat religious subjects in a very remarkable manner. They speak respectfully of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. But they speak neither like Catholics nor like Protestants, but like persons who are wavering between the two systems; or who have made a system for themselves out of parts selected from both. They seem to hold some of the Romish rites and doctrines in high respect. They treat the vow of celibacy, for example, so tempting, and, in after times, so common a subject for ribaldry, with mysterious reverence. The members of religious orders whom they introduce are almost always holy and venerable men. We remember in their plays nothing resembling the coarse ridicule with which the Catholic religion and its ministers were assailed, two generations later, by dramatists who wished to please the multitude. We remember no Friar Dominic, no Father Foigard, among the characters drawn by those great poets. The scene at the close of the Knight of Malta might have been written by a servent Catholic. Massinger shows a great fondness for ecclesiastics of the Romish church; and has even gone so far as to bring a virtuous and interesting Jesuit on the stage. Ford, in that fine play, which it is painful to read, and scarcely decent to name, assigns a highly creditable part to the Friar. The partiality of Shakspeare for Friars is well known. In Hamlet, the Ghost complains that he died without extreme unction, and, in defiance of the article which condemns the doctrine of purgatory, declares that he is “Confined to fast in fires, Til: the foul crimes, done in his days of nature, Are burnt and purged away.” These lines, we suspect, would have raised a tremendous storm in the theatre at any time during the reign of Charles the Second. They were clearly not written by a zealous Protestant, or for zealous Protestants. Yet the author of King John and Henry the Eighth was surely no friend to papal supremacy. There is, we think, only one solution of the phenomena which we find in the history and in the drama of that age. The religion of England was a mixed religion, like that of the Samaritan settlers, described in the second book of Kings, who “feared the Lord, and served their graven images;" like that of the Judaizing Christians, who blended the ceremonies and doctrines of the synagogue with those of the church; like that of the Mexican Indians, who, for many generations after the subjugation of their race, continued to unite with the rites learned from their conquerors, the worship of the grotesque idols which had been adored by Montezuma and Guatemozin. These feelings were not confined to the
was of this mixed kind, is furnished by the populace, Elizabeth herself was not exempt
from them. A crucifix, with wax-lights burning round it, stood in her private chapel. She always spoke with disgust and anger of the marriage of priests. “I was in horror,” says Archbishop Parker, “to hear such words to come from her mild nature and Christian learned conscience, as she spake concerning God's holy ordinance and institution of matrimony.” Burghley prevailed on her to connive at the marriages of churchmen. But she would only connive; and the children sprung from such marriages were illegitimate till the accession of James the First. That which is, as we have said, the great stain on the character of Burghley, is also the great stain on the character of Elizabeth. Being herself an Adiaphorist, having no scruple about conforming to the Romish church, when conformity was necessary to her own safety, retaining to the last moment of her life a fondness for much of the doctrine and much of the ceremonial of that church, she yet subjected that church to a persecution even more odious than the persecution with which her sister had harassed the Protestants. We say more odious. For Mary had at least the plea of fanaticism. She did nothing for her religion which she was not prepared to suffer for it. She had held it firmly under persecution. She fully believed it to be essential to salvation. If she burned the bodies of her subjects, it was in order to rescue their souls. Elizabeth had no such pretext. In opinion, she was little more than hals a Protestant. She had professed, when it suited her, to be wholly a Catholic. There is an excuse, a wretched excuse, for the massacre of Piedmont and the autos-da-fe of Spain. But what can be said in defence of a ruler who is at once indifferent and intolerant 1 If the great queen, whose memory is still held in just veneration by Englishmen, had possessed sufficient virtue and sufficient enlargement of mind to adopt those principles which More, wiser in speculation than in action, had avowed in the preceding generation, and by which the excellent l’Hospital regulated his conduct in her own time, how different would be the colour of the whole history of the last two hundred and fifty years . She had the happiest opportunity ever vouchsafed to any sovereign, of establishing perfect freedom of conscience throughout her dominions, without danger to her government, or scandal to any large party among her subjects. The nation, as it was clearly ready to profess either religion, would, beyond all doubt, have been ready to tolerate both. Unhappily for her own glory and for the public peace, she adopted a policy, from the effects of which the empire is still suffering. The yoke of the Established Church was pressed down on the people till they would bear it no longer. Then a reaction came. Another reaction followed. To the tyranny of the establishment succeeded the tumultuous conflict of sects, infuriated by man, fold wrongs, and drunk with unwonted freedom. To the conflict of sects succeeded agai, the cruel domination of one persecuting church
These exclusions and disabilities, after having
enerated the most fearful discontents, after aving rendered all government in one part of the kingdom impossible, after having brought the state to the very brink of ruin, have, in our times, been removed ; but, though removed, have left behind them a rankling which may last for many years. It is melancholy to think with what ease Elizabeth might have united all the conflicting sects under the shelter of the same impartial laws and the same paternal throne; and thus have placed the nation in the same situation, as far as the rights of conscience are concerned, in which we at length stand, after all the heart-burnings, the persecutions, the conspiracies, the seditions, the revolutions, the judicial murders, the civil wars, of ten generations. This is the dark side of her character. Yet she surely was a great woman. Of all the sovereigns who exercised a power which was seemingly absolute, but which in fact depended for support on the love and confidence of their subjects, she was by far the most illustrious. It has often been alleged, as an excuse for the misgovernment of her successors, that they only followed her example;—that precedents might be found in the transactions of her reign for persecuting the Puritans, for levying money without the sanction of the IIouse of Commons, for confining men without bringing them to trial, for interfering with the liberty of parliamentary debate. All this may be true. But it is no good plea for her successors, and for this plain reason, that they were her successors. She governed one generation, they governed another; and between the two generations there was almost as little in common as between the people of two difserent countries. It was not by looking at the particular measures which Elizabeth had adopted, but by looking at the great general principles of her government, that those who followed her were likely to learn the art of managing untractable subjects. If, instead of searching the records of her reign for precedents which might scem to vindicate the mutilation of Prynne and the imprisonment of Eliot, the Stuarts had attempted to discover the fundamental rules which guided her conduct in all her dealings with her people, they would have perceived that their policy was then most unlike to hers when, to a superficial observer, it won!d have seemed most to resemble hers. Firm, haughty, sometimes unjust and cruel in her proceedings towards individuals or towards small parties, she avoided with care, or retracted with speed, every measure which seemed likely to alienate the great mass of the people. She gained more honour and tnore love by the manner in which she repaired her errors, than she would have gained by never committing errors. If such a man as Jhares the First had been in her place when th- whole nation was crying out against the
he would have dissolved the Parliament, and imprisoned the most popular members. He would have called another Parliament. He would have given some vague and delusive promises of relief in return for subsidies. When entreated to fulfil his promises, he would have again dissolved the Parliament, and again imprisoned his leading opponents. |The country would have become more agi. tated than before. The next House of Commons would have been more unmanageable than that which preceded it. The tyrant would have agreed to all that the nation demanded. He would have solemnly ratified an act abolishing monopolies forever. He would have received a large supply in return for this concession; and within half a year new pa. tents, more oppressive than those which had been cancelled, would have been issued by scores. Such was the policy which brought the heir of a long line of kings, in early youth the darling of his countrymen, to a prison and a scaffold.
Elizabeth, before the House of Commons could address her, took out of their mouths the words which they were about to utter in the name of the nation. Her promises went beyond their desires. Her performance followed close upon her promise. She did not treat the nation as an adverse party; as a party which had an interest opposed to hers; as a party to which she was to grant as few advantages as possible, and from which she was to extort as much money as possible. Her benefits were given, not sold; and when once given, they were not withdrawn. She gave them, too, with a frankness, an effusion of heart, a princely dignity, a motherly tenderness, which enhanced their value. They were received by the sturdy country gentleman, who had come up to Westminster full of resentment, with tears of joy and shouts of God save the Queen. Charles the First gave up half the preroga. tives of his crown to the Commons; and the Commons sent him in return the Grand Remonstrance.
scholar, the courtier, the orator, the poet, the historian, the philosopher, sometimes review.
monopolies, he would have refused all redress: ling the queen's guards, sometimes giving chase to a Spanish galleon, then answering Prince of Philosophers, who have made the the chiefs of the country party in the House of Elizabethan age a more glorious and important Commons, then again murmuring one of his era in the history of the human mind, than the sweet love-songs too near the ears of her high- age of Pericles, of Augustus, or of Leo. But ness's maids of honour, and soon after poring subjects so vast require a space far larger over the Talmud, or collating Polybius with than we can at present afford. We therefore Livy. We had intended also to say something stop here, fearing that, if we proceed, our articoncerning the literature of that splendid pe- |cle may swell to a bulk exceeding that of all riod, and especially concerning those two in- |other reviews, as much as Doctor Nares's book comparable men, the Prince of Poets and the exceeds the bulk of all other histories.
DUMONT's RECOLLECTIONS OF MIRABEAU.’
[EdinBURGH REview, 1832.]
This is a very amusing and a very in- great original thinker, and to a sincere and structive book; but, even if it were less amus- ardent friend of the human race. If a few ing and less instructive, it would still be inte- weaknesses were mingled with his eminent resting as a relic of a wise and virtuous man. virtues, if a few errors insinuated themselves M. Dumont was one of those persons, the care among the many valuable truths which he of whose fame belongs in an especial manner | taught, this is assuredly no time for noticin to mankind, for he was one of those persons those weaknesses or those errors in an j who have, for the sake of mankind, neglected or sarcastic spirit. A great man has gone the care of their own fame. In his walk |from among us, full of years, of good works, through life there was no obtrusiveness, no and of deserved honours. In some of the highpushing, no elbowing, none of the little arts |est departments in which the human intellect which bring forward little men. With every can exert itself, he has not left his equal or his right to the head of the board, he took the low- | second behind him. From his contemporaries est room, and well deserved to be greeted with— he has had, according to the usual lot, more or Friend, go up higher. Though no man was less than justice. He has had blind flatterers more capable of achieving for himself a sepa- and blind detractors; flatterers who could see rate and independent renown, he attached him- nothing but persection in his style, detractors self to others; he laboured to raise their fame; who could see nothing but nonsense in his he was content to receive, as his share of the matter. He will now have judges. Posterity reward, the mere overflowings which redound- will pronounce its calm and impartial decision, ed from the full measure of their glory. Not and that decision will, we firmly believe, place that he was of a servile and idolatrous habit in the same rank with Galileo and with Locke of mind; not that he was one of the tribe of the man who found jurisprudence a gibberish Boswells, those literary Gibeonites, born to be and left it a science. Never was there a lite hewers of wood and drawers of water to the rary partnership so fortunate as that of Mr higher intellectual castes. Possessed of talents | Bentham and M. Dumont. The raw material and acquirements which made him great, he which Mr. Bentham furnished was most prewished only to be useful. In the prime of cious, but it was unmarketable. He was, assumanhood, at the very time of life at which am- redly, at once a great logician and a great bitious men are most ambitious, he was not rhetorician. But the effect of his logic was solicitous to proclaim that he furnished infor- injured by a vicious arrangement, and the mation, arguments, and eloquence to Mirabeau. effect of his rhetoric by a vicious style. His In his later years he was perfectly willing that mind was vigorous, comprehensive, subtile, his renown should merge in that of Mr. Ben- | fertile of arguments, fertile of illustrations. tham. But he spoke in an unknown tongue; and, that
The services which M. Dumont has rendered the congregation might be edified, it was necesto society can be fully appreciated only by sary that some brother having the gift of interthose who have studied Mr. Bentham's works, pretation should expound the invaluable jargon. both in their rude and in their finished state. His oracles were of high import, but they were The difference both for show and for use is as traced on leaves and flung loose to the wind. great as the difference between a lump of golden | So negligent was he of the arts of selection, ore and a rouieau of sovereigns fresh from the distribution, and compression, that to persons maint. Of Mr. Bentham we would at all times who formed their judgment of him from hio speak with the reverence which is due to a works in their undigested state, he seemed to be the least systematic of all philosophers.
* Sowrenirs sur Mirabeau, et sur les deur Premières The truth is, that his opinions formed a sys:*:::::::::::: par oo:: §o. t ‘. tem which, whether sound or unsound, is more j.".o.o.o.o.o.o.o. oomore entire, and more conso with
ers of his works in their original form, and indeed to all readers of those works who did not bring great industry and great acuteness to the study, he seemed to be a man of a quick and ingenious but ill-regulated mind, who saw truth only by glimpses, who threw out many striking hints, but who had never thought of combining his doctrines in one harmonious whole. M. Dumont was admirably qualified to supply what was wanting in Mr. Bentham. In the qualities in which the French writers surpass those of all other nations—neatness, clearness, precision, condensation—he surpassed all French writers. If M. Dumont had never been born, Mr. Bentham would still have been a very great man. But he would have been great to himself alone. The fertility of his mind would have resembled the fertility of those vast American wildernesses, in which blossoms and decays a rich but unprofitable vegetation, “where with the reaper filleth not his hand, neither he that bindeth up the sheaves his bosom.” It would have been with his discoveries as it has been with the “Century of Inventions.” His speculations on laws would have been of no more practical use than Lord Worcester's speculations on steam-engines. Some generations hence, perhaps, when legislation has found its Watt, an antiquary might have published to the world the curious fact, that in the reign of George the Third there had been a man called Bentham, who had given hints of many discoveries made since his time, and who had really, for his age, taken a most philosophical view of the principles of jurisprudence. Many persons have attempted to interpret between this powerful mind and the public. But, in our opinion, M. Dumont alone has succeeded. It is remarkable that, in foreign countries, where Mr. Bentham's works are known solely through the medium of the French version, his merit is almost universally acknowledged. Even those who are most decidedly opposed to his political opinions, the very chiefs of the Holy Alliance, have publicly testified their respect for him. In England, on the contrary, many persons who certainly entertained no prejudice against him on political grounds, were long in the habit of mentioning him contemptuously. Indeed, what was said of Bacon's philosophy may be said of Bentham's. It was of little repute among us till judgments in its favour came from beyond sea, and convinced us, to our shame, that we had been abusing and laughing at one of the greatest men of the age. M. Dumont might easily have found employments more gratisying to personal vanity, than that of arranging works not his own. But he could have found no employment more useful or more truly honourable. The book before us, hastily written as it is, contains abundant proof, if proof were needed. that he did not become an editor because he wanted the talents which would have made him eminent as a writer. Persons who hold democratical opinions. and who have been accustomed to consider M. Dumont as one of their party, have been
surprised and mortified to learn, that he speaks with very little respect of the French Revolution, and of its authors. Some zealous Tories have naturally expressed great satisfaction at finding their doctrines, in some respects, confirmed by the testimony of an unwilling witness. The date of the work, we think. explains every thing. If it had been written ten years earlier, or twenty years later, it would have been very different from what it is. It was written, neither during the first excitement of the Revolution, nor at that later period, when the practical good produced by the Revolution had become manifest to the most prejudiced observers; but in those wretched times, when the enthusiasm had abated, and the solid advantages were not yet fully seen. It was written in the year 1799, a year in which the most sanguine friend of liberty might well feel some misgivings as to the effects of what the National Assembly had done. The evils which attend every great change had been severely felt. The benefit was still to come. The price, a heavy price, had been paid. The thing purchased had not yet been delivered. Europe was swarming with French exiles. The fleets and armies of the second coalition were victorious. Within France, the reign of terror was over; but the reign of law had not commenced. There had been, indeed, during three or four years, a written constitution, by which rights were defined, and checks provided. But these rights had been repeatedly violated, and those checks had proved utterly inefficient. The laws which had been framed to secure the distinct authority of the executive magistrates and of the legislative assemblies—the freedom of election, the freedom of debate, the freedom of the press, the personal freedom of citizens —were a dead letter. The ordinary Inode in which the republic was governed, was by coups d'état. On one occasion, the legislative councils were placed under military restraint by the directors. Then again, directors were deposed by the legislative councils. Elections were set aside by the executive authority. Ship loads of writers and speakers were sent, without a legal trial, to die of fever in Guiana. France, in short, was in that state in which revolutions, effected by violence, almost always leave a nation. The habit of obedience had been lost. The spell of proscription had been broken. Those associations on which, sar more than on any arguments about property and order, the authority of magistrates rests, had completely passed away. The power of the government consisted merely in the physical force which it could bring to its support. Moral force it had none. It was itself a government sprung from a recent convulsion. Its own fundamental maxim was, that rebellion might be justifiable. Its own existence proved that rebellion might be successful. The people had been accustomed, during several years, to offer resistance to the constituted authorities on the slightest provocation, and to see the constituted authorities yield to that resistance. The whole political world was “without form and void”—an incessant whirl of hostile atoms, which every moment formed some new combination. The only man who could fix the