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PECULIAR CHARACTER OF THE ENGLISH ARISTOCRACY.

It was not only by the efficiency of the restraints imposed on the royal prerogative that England was advantageously distinguished from most of the neighbouring countries. A peculiarity equally important, though less noticed, was the relation in which the nobility stood here to the commonalty. There was a strong hereditary aristocracy; but it was of all hereditary aristocracies the least insolent and exclusive. It had none of the invidious character of a caste. It was constantly receiving members from the people, and constantly sending down members to mingle with the people. Any gentleman might become a Peer. The younger son of a Peer was but a gentleman. Grandsons of Peers yielded precedence to newly-made Knights. The dignity of knighthood was not beyond the reach of any man who could by diligence and thrift realize a good estate, or who could attract notice by his valour in a battle or a siege. It was regarded as no disparagement for the daughter of a Duke, nay, of a royal Duke, to espouse a distinguished commoner. Thus, Sir John Howard married the daughter of Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk. Sir Richard Pole married the Countess of Salisbury, daughter of George Duke of Clarence. Good blood was indeed held in high respect; but between good blood and the privileges of peerage there was, most fortunately for our country, no necessary connexion. Pedigrees as long, and scutcheons as old, were to be found out of the House of Lords as in it. There were new men who bore the highest titles. There were untitled men well known to be descended from Knights who had broken the Saxon ranks at Hastings, and scaled the walls of Jerusalem. There were Bohuns, Mowbrays, De Veres, nay, kinsmen of the house of Plantagenet, with no higher addition than that of Esquire, and with no civil privileges beyond those enjoyed by every farmer and shopkeeper. There was therefore here no line like that which in some other countries divided the patrician from the plebeian. The yeoman was not inclined to murmur at dignities to which

his own children might rise. The grandee was not inclined to insult a class into which his own children must descend. After the wars of York and Lancaster, the links which connected the nobility and the commonalty became closer and more numerous than ever. The extent of the destruction which had fallen on the old aristocracy may be inferred from a single circumstance. In the year 1451, Henry VI. summoned fifty-three temporal Lords to Parliament. The temporal Lords summoned by Henry VII. to the Parliament of 1485, were only twenty-nine, and of these twenty-nine several had recently been elevated to the peerage. During the following century, the ranks of the nobility were largely recruited from among the gentry. The constitution of the House of Commons tended greatly to promote the salutary intermixture of classes. The Knight of the shire was the connecting link between the Baron and the shopkeeper. On the same benches on which sate the goldsmiths, drapers, and grocers, who had been returned to Parliament by the commercial towns, sate also members who, in any other country, would have been called noblemen, hereditary Lords of manors, entitled to hold courts, and to bear coat-armour, and able to trace back an honourable descent through many generations. Some of them were younger sons and brothers of great Lords. Others could boast even of royal blood. At length the eldest son of an Earl of Bedford, called in courtesy by the second title of his father, offered himself as candidate for a seat in the House of Commons, and his example was followed by others. Seated in that House, the heirs of the grandees of the realm naturally became as zealous for its privileges as any of the humble burgesses with whom they were mingled. Thus our democracy was, from an early period, the most aristocratic, and our aristocracy the most democratic, in the world; a peculiarity which has lasted down to the present day, and which has produced many important moral and political effects. (Page 39.)

The English constitution thus provides for a principle or feeling which is found everywhere in human society, and guards against its injurious effects. Even in republican America, the aspiring principle operates as powerfully as in the monarchies of Europe, and titles, of one kind or other, are as numerous; but with us they are rendered valuable by the manner in which they are conferred, and the privileges with which they are con

nected. But while some are elevated, none are degraded. Every Englishman is a free man. A nobler spectacle was never beheld in this world than when the Convention Parliament, summoned by the Prince of Orange, and declaring itself to be "a full and free representative of this nation," not of any privileged class,-condemned the conduct of James as "utterly and directly contrary to the known laws and statutes and freedom of this realm," and by several declarations "vindicated and asserted the ancient and undoubted rights and liberties" of the people at large. According to this wonderful constitution, the supporting pedestal as truly belongs to the column as the ornamenting capital. Such a column deserves such a capital. The superlative differs from the positive in degree, not in kind. Where some are greatest, all are great. Every Englishman, possessing the true nobility of a consciously enjoyed freedom, is capable of the more restricted honours of the peerage; while such of the descendants of Peers as do not inherit the family title, undergo no degradation by being blended with the noble race of freemen. It is this which is the foundation of all those extensions of political functions and privileges to the people which have been from time to time accorded to them by law. Slaves and serfs are incapable of the beneficial exercise of political power. No country would be safe in the hands of vassals whom a tyrannizing overseer can drive to the hustings with his horsewhip, or flog or curse for their conduct in the jury-box. As education and morals advance among freemen, civil and political privileges may be extended, not only safely, but advantageously.

Mr. Macaulay's statements on the subject of the Reformation, though for the most part correct, are too frequently warped from the simplicity of truth by the false philosophy of human wisdom refusing to be taught by that which is divine. What we have before intimated we here repeat, that it is not true that a diluted and corrupted form of Christianity is best suited to a lower state of civilization. Writers may deceive themselves, as well as their readers, by the terms they employ; and therefore, on important subjects the most exact precision of style is necessary. It is safer because truer to say, that the rule of a Dunstan is a less evil, than that it is better, than that of a Penda. When truth is mingled with error, it is not a fair description of the resulting influence to take the good which the truth effects, and leave out of sight the mischief produced by the error. Mr. Macaulay sees clearly neither the real evils caused by Romanism, nor the principles and essence, so to term it, of the blessings for which we are indebted to the Reformation. As he looks only at second causes and subordinate effects, so he looks at these only in their most palpable forms. When he states the truth, therefore, he does not state the whole truth. The following extract will show how graphically he can represent that which appears on the surface; and will excite the wish that he were able to penetrate through the visible exterior to that which, though in some respects profound, is not beyond the reach of human power, when properly directed.

THE REFORMATION-ITS NECESSITY-CAUSES-ISSUES.

About a hundred years after the rising of the Council of Constance, that great change, emphatically called the Reformation, began. The fulness of time was The Clergy were no longer the sole or the chief depositories of knowVOL. V.-FOURTH SERIES.

now come.

ledge. The invention of printing had furnished the assailants of the Church with a mighty weapon which had been wanting to their predecessors. The study of the ancient writers, the rapid development of the powers of the modern lan3 c

guages, the unprecedented activity which was displayed in every department of literature, the political state of Europe, the vices of the Roman court, the exactions of the Roman chancery, the jealousy with which the wealth and privileges of the Clergy were naturally

regarded by laymen, the jealousy with which the Italian ascendancy was naturally regarded by men born on our side of the Alps; all these things gave to the teachers of the new theology an advantage which they perfectly understood how

to use.

We only pause to remind the reader, that no allusion is made to the spiritual yearnings of the human mind after relief, even in the obscure shades of Roman error, nor to the adaptation, at once perceived and felt, of "the new theology" to them: none to the historical fact, that thus, with Luther, the great Reformer himself, did the work of reformation begin. He felt this want in his own spirit, his deeply wounded spirit; and, in this state of mind, found and read, for the first time in his life, the entire Bible, and was led to the truth, which gave him spiritual peace and freedom and power. And not merely was all this connected with the Reformation: it was its cause. And ought this to be omitted?

Those who hold that the influence of the Church of Rome in the dark ages was, on the whole, beneficial to mankind,

may yet with perfect consistency regard the Reformation as an inestimable blessing.

True; but not merely for the reasons the historian assigns. The real cause of the blessing was the full communication of the truth hitherto stated only imperfectly, and connected with great errors.

*

The leading-strings which preserve and uphold the infant would impede the full-grown man. And so the very means by which the human mind is, in one stage of its progress, supported and propelled, may, in another stage, be mere hinderances. There is a point in the life, both of an individual and of a society, at which submission and faith, such as at a later period would be justly called servility and credulity, are useful qualities. The child who teachably and undoubtingly listens to the instructions of his elders, is likely to improve rapidly. But the man who should receive with child-like docility every assertion and dogma uttered by another man no wiser than himself, would become contemptible. It is the same with communities. The childhood of the European nations was passed under the tutelage of the Clergy. The ascendancy of the sacerdotal order was long the ascendancy which naturally and properly belongs to intellectual superiority.

The Priests, with all their faults, were by far the wisest portion of society. It was, therefore, on the whole, good that they should be respected and obeyed. The encroachments of the ecclesiastical power on the province of the civil power produced much more happiness than misery, while the ecclesiastical power was in the hands of the only class that had studied history, philosophy, and public law, and while the civil power was in the hands of savage Chiefs, who could not read their own grants and edicts. But a change took place. Knowledge gradually spread among laymen. At the commencement of the sixteenth century many of them were, in every intellectual attainment, fully equal to the most enlightened of their spiritual Pastors. Thenceforward, that dominion, which during the dark ages had been, in spite of many abuses, a legitimate and a salutary guardianship, became an unjust and noxious tyranny. (Page 47.)

We pause again before completing the quotation. Mr. Macaulay has overlooked some of the worst elements of the induction. There was the splendid revival of letters in Italy, under the Florentine Medici. Did the

Mr. Macaulay's Romanist friends will hardly thank him for thus making the Church of Rome the go-cart, to assist in "propelling" infant Europe when learning to walk! Were there toys, too, to keep the child quiet? Unhappily, Rome laboured hard, and still labours hard, to keep all things in this state of adaptation to childhood. But this is poor philosophy for the critic of Bacon.-REV.

children grow out of their leading-strings then? Was there any general effort, or even desire, to throw them away? What is Italy even yet? And there was Spain. Letters began to revive there, and the constituents of a noble civil freedom existed, both in Castile and Arragon. Was there any general feeling of growth, any general wish to cast off the habiliments of childhood, and to assume the manly gown? Was this the feeling in which the Reformation began in Germany? Was Luther ashamed of having been kept at his "Reading-made-easy?" The Reformation was not the merely natural result of intellectual growth. Leo at Rome was at least as much a man—that is, as good a scholar-as Luther at Wittenberg. The Reformation began in the feeling which prompted the inquiry, "What must I do to be saved?" And the first and chief reason of its success was, the satisfactory reply which the question received. These analogies may illustrate some of the subordinate and secondary movements of the Reformation; but they utterly fail, because they are grossly incorrect, when applied to its source and primary issues. Fanciful at best, when so used they cease to be even prettinesses: they are altogether misleading, as inconsistent both with religious truth and historical fact.

In the remaining portion of the extract there are statements for which no logical Romanist will thank the author. If the influence of the Church of Rome be such as he intimates, it will establish the correctness of an observation we have already made, that the terms, "a less evil" and "a better," are by no means convertible. He who says "better," almost naturally thinks, that as better is the comparative of good, it implies good. Whereas, if the phrase be, "A is a less evil than B," it is at once seen that both are evil.

EVILS OF MODERN POPISH DOMINATION ALLOWED BY MR. MACAULAY.

From the time when the barbarians overran the Western Empire to the time of the revival of letters, the influence of the Church of Rome had been generally favourable to science, to civilization, and to good government. But, during the last three centuries, to stunt the growth of the human mind has been her chief object. Throughout Christendom, whatever advance has been made in knowledge, in freedom, in wealth, and in the arts of life, has been made in spite of her, and has everywhere been in inverse proportion to her power. The loveliest and most fertile provinces of Europe have, under her rule, been sunk in poverty, in political servitude, and in intellectual torpor, while Protestant countries, once proverbial for sterility and barbarism, have been turned by skill and industry into gardens, and can boast of a long list of heroes and statesmen, philosophers and poets. Whoever, knowing what Italy and Scotland naturally are, and what, four hundred years ago, they actually were, shall now compare the country round Rome with the country round Edinburgh, will be able to form some judgment as to the tendency of Papal domination. The descent of Spain, once

the first among monarchies, to the lowest depths of degradation, the elevation of Holland, in spite of many natural disadvantages, to a position such as no commonwealth so small has ever reached, teach the same lesson. Whoever passes in Germany from a Roman Catholic to a Protestant principality; in Switzerland, from a Roman Catholic to a Protestant canton; in Ireland, from a Roman Catholic to a Protestant county, finds that he has passed from a lower to a higher grade of civilization. On the other side of the Atlantic the same law prevails. The Protestants of the United States have left far behind them the Roman Catholics of Mexico, Peru, and Brazil. [With all their wealth!] The Roman Catholics of Lower Canada remain inert, while the whole continent round them is in a ferment with Protestant activity and enterprise. The French have doubtless shown an energy and an intelligence which, even when misdirected, have justly entitled them to be called a great people. But this apparent exception, when examined, will be found to confirm the rule; for in no country that is called Roman Catholic, has the Roman Catholic Church, during several generations,

possessed France.

80 little authority as

in

It is difficult to say whether England owes more to the Roman Catholic religion or to the Reformation. For the amalgamation of races and for the abolition of villenage, she is chiefly indebted to the influence which the priesthood in

the middle ages exercised over the laity. For political and intellectual freedom, and for all the blessings which political and intellectual freedom have brought in their train, she is chiefly indebted to the great rebellion of the laity against the priesthood. (Page 49.)

Of so universal an effect must there not be a cause? Considering the difference between physical and moral questions, the facts are amply sufficient to develope the existence of a general law. And a true philosophy will be able to lay bare the entire case. Soul-slavery is the worst of all slaveries; and whatever may be predicated of slavery in general, as to its social mischiefs, may be predicated of soul-slavery with tenfold deeper colours. In Protestant countries, indeed, where the vassal of Rome finds himself under heretical dominion, he will talk about the rights of man, and the rights of conscience. Sometimes in countries where the rulers are Romanists, he will describe the power of the ruler as derived from the people. But why? In this latter case, not to give more power to the people, but to subject both rulers and people to the Bishop of Rome and his Clergy, because their power is derived from God, the Lord both of subjects and Kings. And in the former case, either to gain power, which will always be employed against Protestantism and in favour of Romanism, or to unsettle the Government, and to agitate the public mind, in the hope that, in any scramble, the semper eadem Church may recover what she has lost.

Let Mr. Macaulay's statement furnish the triumphant justification of the principles and conduct of the founders of our Protestant Constitution in 1688. He unequivocally testifies, that for the last three centuries the Church of Rome has been so hostile to social freedom, improvement, and prosperity, that every advance in this direction has been in spite of it. He declares unequivocally that the countries subject to its rule are visibly and undeniably distinguished from those which have rejected it, by this very circumstance. The tree is known by its fruits; and a tree bearing such social fruits is not, cannot be, socially good, is, and must be, socially bad. The Protestant patriots of 1688 were not blinded by prejudice and bigotry. They knew what they were about. They saw what Mr. Macaulay has described, and they saw the originating principles as well as the resulting facts. It is lamentable to see men like Lord John Russell nibbling at the exceptions made by Locke in his claims for general toleration, as though, philosopher as he was, he had not been able to disperse the mists in which Protestant intolerance had involved him. And it is the more lamentable, because no man can have read Locke's "Letters on Toleration" without knowing that he clearly assigns the reasons which led him to make the exception. It is not that Romanists are in error. Locke believed others to be in error, for whom his enlightened mind claimed the full benefits of toleration. It was their deadly hostility to Protestantism, and to that liberty which Protestantism claims, which led to his exception. The Protestant claims liberty to be a Protestant, and gives the Romanist liberty to be a Romanist. The Romanist gives liberty to men to be Romanists, and to be nothing else, and asserts it to be the duty of the civil power to enforce conformity to Romanism. Without religious liberty there is no true civil liberty; and the Whigs of 1688 refused to give power to Romanists, because they wished to secure the full enjoyment of perfect liberty; that is,

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