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they would not fight against their brethren in such a quarrel. Henry, proud and selfwilled as he was, shrank, not without reason, from a conflict with the roused spirit of the nation. He had before his eyes the fate of his predecessors who had perished at Berkeley and Pomfret. He not only cancelled his illegal commissions; he not only granted a general pardon to all the malecontents; but he publicly and solemnly apologised for his infraction of the laws.
His conduct, on this occasion, well illustrates the whole policy of his house. The temper of the princes of that line was hot, and their spirit high: but they understood the character of the nation which they governed, and never once, like some of their predecessors, and some of their successors, carried obstinacy to a fatal point. The discretion of the Tudors was such, that their power, though it was often resisted, was never subverted. The reign of every one of them was disturbed by formidable discontents: but the government was always able either to sooth the mutineers, or to conquer and punish them. Sometimes, by timely concessions, it succeeded in averting civil hostilities; but in general it stood firm, and called for help on the nation. The nation obeyed the call, rallied round the sovereign, and enabled him to quell the disaffected minority.
Thus, from the age of Henry the Third to the age of Elizabeth, England grew and flourished under a polity which contained the germ of our present institutions, and which, though not very exactly defined, or very exactly observed, was yet effectually prevented from degenerating into despotism, by the awe in which the governors stood of the spirit and strength of the governed.
But such a polity is suited only to a particular stage in the progress of society. The same causes which produce a division of labour in the peaceful arts must at length make war a distinct science and a distinct trade. A time arrives when the use of arms begins to occupy the entire attention of a separate class. It soon appears that peasants and burghers, however brave, are unable to stand their ground against veteran soldiers, whose whole life is a preparation for the day of battle, whose nerves have been braced by long familiarity with danger, and whose movements have all the precision of clockwork. It is found that the defence of nations can no longer be safely entrusted to warriors taken from the plough or the loom for a campaign of forty days. If any state forms a great regular army, the bordering states must imitate the example, or must submit to a foreign yoke. But, where a great regular army exists, limited monarchy, such as it was in the middle ages, can exist no longer. The sovereign is at once emancipated from what had been the chief restraint on his power; and he inevitably becomes absolute, unless he is subjected to checks such as would be superfluous in a society where all are soldiers occasionally, and none permanently.
With the danger came also the means of escape. In the monarchies of the middle ages the Limited mm power of the sword belonged to the prince; 3133111121 gar-the
but the power of the purse belonged to swmlly
the nation; and the progress of civilisa- amalgamtion, as it made the sword of the prince
more and more formidable to the nation, made the purse of the nation more and more necessary to the prince. His hereditary revenues would no longer suflEice, even for the expenses of civil government. It was utterly impossible that, without a regular and extensive system of taxation, he could keep in constant efliciency a great body of disciplined troops. The policy which the parliamentary assemblies of Europe ought to have adopted was to take their stand firmly on their constitutional right to give or withhold money, and resolutely to refuse funds for the support of armies, till ample securities had been provided against despotism.
This wise policy was followed in our country alone. In the neighbouring kingdoms great military establishments were formed; no new safeguards for public liberty were devised; and the consequence was, that the old parliamentary institutions everywhere ceased to exist. In France, where they had always been feeble, they languished, and at length died of mere weakness. In Spain, where they had been as strong as in any part of Europe, they struggled fiercely for life, but struggled too late. The mechanics of Toledo and Valladolid vainly defended the privileges of the Castilian Cortes against the veteran battalions of Charles the Fifth. As vainly, in the next generation, did the citizens of Saragossa stand up against Philip the Second, for the old constitution of Aragon. One after another, the great national councils of the continental monarchies, councils once scarcely less proud and powerful than those which sate at Westminster, sank into utter insignificance. If they met, they met merely as our Convocation now meets, to go through some venerable forms.
In England events took a different course. This “sham singular_felic_ity she owed chiefly to her mzpggeggig- insular Situation. Before the end of the
' fifteenth century great military establishments were indispensable to the dignity, and even to the safety, of the French and Castilian monarchies. If either of those two powers had disarmed, it would soon have been compelled to submit to the dictation of the other. But England, protected by the sea against invasion, and rarely engaged inwarlike operations on the Continent, was not, as yet, under the necessity of employing regular troops. The sixteenth century, the seventeenth century, found her still without a standing army. At the commencement of the seventeenth century political science had made con
siderable progress. The fate of the Spanish Cortes and of the French States General had given solemn warning to our Parliaments; and our Parliaments, fully aware of the nature and magnitude of the danger, adopted, in good time, a system of tactics which, after a contest protracted through three generations, was at length successful.
Almost every writer who has treated of that contest has been desirous to show that his own party was the party which was struggling to preserve the old constitution unaltered. The truth however is that the old constitution could not be preserved unaltered. A law, beyond the control of human wisdom, had decreed that there should no longer be governments of that peculiar class which, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, had been common throughout Europe. The question, therefore, was not whether our polity should undergo a change, but what the nature of the change should be. The introduction of a new and mighty force had disturbed the old equilibrium, and had turned one limited monarchy after another into an absolute monarchy. What had happened elsewhere would assuredly have happened here, unless the balance had been redressed by a great transfer of power from the crown to the parliament. Our princes were about to have at their command means of coercion such as no Plantagenet or Tudor had ever possessed. They must inevitably have become despots, unless they had been, at the same time, placed under restraints to which no Plantagenet or Tudor had ever been subject.
It seems certain, therefore, that, had none but political causes been at work, the seven- “Mom” teenth century would not have passed away gag-ind in without a fierce conflict between our Kings ' and their Parliaments. But other causes of perhaps greater potency contributed to produce the same effect. While the government of the Tudors was in its highest vigour an event took place which has coloured the destinies of all Christian nations, and in an espe— cial manner the destinies of England. Twice during the middle ages the mind of Europe had risen up against the domination of Rome. The first insurrection broke out in the south of France. The energy of Innocent the Third, the zeal of the young orders of Francis and Dominic, and the ferocity of the Crusaders whom the priesthood let loose on an unwarlike population, crushed the Albigensian churches. The second reformation had its origin in England, and spread to Bohemia. The Council of Constance, by removing some ecclesiastical disorders which had given scandal to Christendom, and the princes of Europe, by unsparingly using fire and sword against the heretics, succeeded in arresting and turning back the movement. Nor is this much to be lamented. The sympathies of a Protestant, it is true, will naturally be on the side of the Albigensians and of the Lollards. Yet an enlightened and temperate Protestant will perhaps be disposed to doubt whether the success, either of the Albigensians or of the Lollards, would, on the whole, have promoted the happiness and virtue of mankind. Corrupt as the Church of Rome was, there is reason to believe that, if that Church had been overthrown in the twelfth or even in the fourteenth century, the vacant space would have been occupied by some system more corrupt still. There was then, through the greater part of Europe, very little knowledge; and that little was confined to the clergy. Not one man in five hundred could have spelled his way through a psalm. Books were few and costly. The art of printing was unknown. Copies of the Bible, inferior in beauty and clearness to those which every cottager may now command, sold for prices which many priests could not afford to give. It was obviously impossible that the laity should search the Scriptures for themselves. It