Imágenes de páginas

Whitehall was, that they should be the mild queen found that it would be madness to atand paternal sovereigns of England. They tempt the restoration of the abbey lands. She were under the same restraints with regard to found that her subjects would never suffer her their people under which a military despot is to make her hereditary kingdom a fief of Casplaced with regard to his army. They would tile. On these points she encountered a steady have found it as dangerous to grind their sub-resistance, and was compelled to give way. If jects with cruel taxation as Nero would have she was able to establish the Catholic worship found it to leave his prætorians unpaid. Those and to persecute those who would not conform who immediately surrounded the royal person, to it, it was evidently because the people cared and engaged in the hazardous game of ambi- far less for the Protestant religion than for the tion, were exposed to the most fearful dangers. rights of property and for the independence of Buckingham, Cromwell, Surrey, Sudley, So- the English crown. In plain words, they did merset, Suffolk, Norfolk, Percy, Essex, perish- not think the difference between the hostile ed on the scaffold. But in general the country sects worth a struggle. There was undoubted, gentleman hunted and the merchant traded in ly a zealous Protestant party and a zealous peace. Even Henry, as cruel as Domitian but Catholic party. But both these parties were, far more politic, contrived, while reeking with we believe, very small. We doubt whether the blood of the Lamiæ, to be the favourite both together made up, at the time of Mary's with the cobblers. death, the twentieth part of the nation. The remaining nineteen-twentieths halted between the two opinions, and were not disposed to risk a revolution in the government for the purpose of giving to either of the exueme factions an advantage over the other.


We possess no data which will enable us te compare with exactness the force of the twe sects. Mr. Butler asserts that, even at the ac cession of James the First, a majority of the population of England were Catholics. Thi is pure assertion, and is not only unsupporte by evidence, but, we think, completely dis proved by the strongest evidence. Dr. Lingar is of opinion that the Catholics were one-hal of the nation in the middle of the reign of Eliza. beth. Richton says, that when Elizabeth cam> to the throne, the Catholics were two-thirds of the nation, and the Protestants only one. third. The most judicious and impartial of English historians, Mr. Hallam, is, on the contrary, of opinion that two-thirds were Protestants, and only one-third Catholics. To us, wa must confess, it seems altogether inconceivabl that, if the Protestants were really two to one, they should have borne the government of Mary; or that, if the Catholics were really twɔ to one, they should have borne the government of Elizabeth. It is absolutely incredible that a sovereign who has no standing army, and whose power rests solely on the loyalty of his subjects, can continue for years to persecute a religion to which the majority of his subjects are sincerely attached. In fact, the Protestants did rise up against one sister, and the Catholics against the other. Those risings clearly showed how small and feeble both the parties were. Both in the one case and in the other the nation ranged itself on the side of the government, and the insurgents were speedily put down and punished. The Kentish gentlemen who took up arms for the reformed doctrines against Mary, and the Great Northern Earls who displayed the banner of the Five Wounds against Elizabeth, were alike considered by the great body of their countrymen as wicked disturbers of the public peace.

The account which Cardinal_Bentivoglio gave of the state of religion in England well deserves consideration. The zealous Catholics he reckoned at one-thirtieth part of the nation. The people who would without the least scruple become Catholics if the Cath:"ic

The Tudors committed very tyrannical acts. But in their ordinary dealings with the people they were not, and could not safely be tyrants. Some excesses were easily pardoned. For the nation was proud of the high and fiery blood of its magnificent princes; and saw, in many proceedings which a lawyer would even then have condemned, the outbreak of the same noble spirit which so manfully hurled foul scorn at Parma and at Spain. But to this endurance there was a limit. If the government ventured to adopt measures which the great body of the people really felt to be oppressive, it was soon compelled to change its course. When Henry the Eighth attempted to raise a forced loan of unusual amount by proceedings of unusual rigour, the opposition which he encountered was such as appalled even his stubborn and imperious spirit. The people, we are told, said that if they were to be taxed thus, "then were it worse than the taxes of France, and England should be bond, and not free." The county of Suffolk rose in arms. The king prudently yielded to an opposition which, if he had persisted, would in all probability have taken the form of a general rebellion. Towards the close of the reign of Elizabeth, the people felt themselves aggrieved by the monopolies. The queen, proud and courageous as she was, shrunk from a contest with the nation, and, with admirable sagacity, conceded all that her subjects had demanded, while it was yet in her power to concede with dignity and grace.

It cannot be supposed that a people who had in their own hands the means of checking their princes, would suffer any prince to impose upon them a religion generally detested. It is absurd to suppose that, if the nation had been decidedly attached to the Protestant faith, Mary | could have re-established the Papal supremacy. It is equally absurd to suppose that, if the nation had been zealous for the ancient religion, Elizabeth could have restored the Protestant Church. The truth is, that the people were not disposed to engage in a struggle either for the new or for the old doctrines. Abundance of spirit was shown when it seemed likely that Mary would resume her father's grants of church property, or that she would sacrifice the interests of England to the husband whom she regarded with unmerited tenderness. That VOL. II.-23


common people entertained the strongest pre judices against his order, and that a clergy. man had no chance of fair play before a lay tribunal. The London juries, he said, enter. tained 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 Wit temberg against indulgences.

religion were established he estimated at fourfifths of the nation. We believe this account to have been very near the truth. We believe that the people whose minds were made up on either side, who were inclined to make any sacrifice or run any risk for either religion, were very few. Each side had a few enterprising champions and a few stout-hearted martyrs; but the nation, undetermined in its opinions and feelings, resigned itself implicitly to the guidance of the government, and lent to the sovereign for the time being an equally ready aid against either of the extreme parties. We are very far from saying that the English of that generation were irreligious. They held firmly those doctrines which are common to the Catholic and to the Protestant theology. But they had no fixed opinion as to the matters in dispute between the churches. They were in a situation resembling that of those Bor-power here which Calvin had at Geneva, and derers whom Sir Walter Scott has described Knox in Scotland. The government put itself with so much spirit; early at the head of the movement, and thus acquired power to regulate, and occasionally to arrest, the movement.

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

"Who sought the beeves that made their broth In England and in Scotland both;"

And who

"Nine times outlawed had been

By England's king and Scotland's queen."
They were sometimes Protestants, sometimes
Catholics; sometimes half Protestants, half

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 con. sisted of none but decided Catholics and deThe English had not, for ages, been bigoted cided Protestants. The fact is, that the great Papists. In the fourteenth century, the first, mass of the people were neither Catholic nor and perhaps the greatest of the reformers, John Protestant; but was, like its sovereign, midWickliffe, had stirred the public mind to its in-way between the two sects. Henry, in tha: most depths. During the same century, a very part of his conduct which has been represcandalous schism in the Catholic church had sented as most capricious and inconsistent, diminished, in many parts of Europe, the re- was probably following a policy far more verence in which the Roman pontiffs were pleasing to the majority of his subjects, than held. It is clear that a hundred years before a policy like that of Edward or a policy like the time of Luther, a great party in this king- that of Mary would have been. Down even dom was eager for a change, at least as exten- to the very close of the reign of Elizabeth, the sive as that which was subsequently effected people were in a state somewhat resembling by Henry the Eighth. The House of Com- that in which, as Machiavelli says, the inhamons, in the reign of Henry the Fourth, pro- bitants of the Roman empire were, during the posed a confiscation of ecclesiastical property, transition from Heathenism to Christianity; more sweeping and violent even than that "sendo la maggior parte di loro incerti a quale which took place under the administration of Dio dovessero ricorrere." They were geneThomas Cromwell; and, though defeated in rally, we think, favourable to the royal suprethis attempt, they succeeded in depriving the macy. They disliked the policy of the court clerical order of some of its most oppressive of Rome. Their spirit rose against the interprivileges. The splendid conquests of Henry ference of a foreign priest with their national the Fifth turned the attention of the nation concerns. The bull which pronounced senfrom domestic reform. The Council of Con- tence of deposition against Elizabeth, the plots stance removed some of the grossest of those which were formed against her life, the usurpascandals which had deprived the Church of tion of her titles by the Queen of Scotland, the the public respect. The authority of that hostility of Philip, excited their strongest invenerable synod propped up the sinking au- dignation. The cruelties of Bonner were rethority of the Popedom. A considerable reac-membered with disgust. Some parts of the tion took place. It cannot, however, be doubted, new system, the use of the English language, that there was still much concealed Lollardism for example, in public worship, and the com in England; or that many who did not abso- munion in both kinds, were undoubtedly popu lutely dissent from any doctrine held by the lar. On the other hand, the early lessons of Church of Rome, were jealous of the wealth the nurse and the priest were not forgotten. and power enjoyed by her ministers. At the The ancient ceremonies were long remembervery beginning of the reign of Henry the ed with affectionate reverence. A large por Eighth. a struggle took place between the tion of the ancient theology lingered to the clergy and the courts of law, in which the last in the minds which had been imbued with courts of law remained victorious. One of the it in childhood. bishops on that occasion declared, that the

The best proof that the religion of the people

as of this mixed kind, is furnished by the drama of that age. No man would bring unpopular opinions prominently forward in a play it ended 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.

e 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.

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 That which is, as we have said, the great have made a system for themselves out of stain on the character of Burghley, is also the parts selected from both. They seem to hold great stain on the character of Elizabetn some of the Romish rites and doctrines in high Being herself an Adiaphorist, having no scrurespect. They treat the vow of celibacy, for ple about conforming to the Romish churcn, example, so tempting, and, in after times, so when conformity was necessary to her own common a subject for ribaldry, with mysterious safety, retaining to the last moment of her life reverence. The members of religious orders a fondness for much of the doctrine and much whom they introduce are almost always holy of the ceremonial of that church, she yet suband venerable men. We remember in their jected that church to a persecution even more plays nothing resembling the coarse ridicule odious than the persecution with which her with which the Catholic religion and its minis- sister had harassed the Protestants. We say ters were assailed, two generations later, by more odious. For Mary had at least the plea dramatists who wished to please the multitude. of fanaticism. She did nothing for her reliWe remember no Friar Dominic, no Father gion which she was not prepared to suffer for Foigard, among the characters drawn by those it. She had held it firmly under persecution. great poets. The scene at the close of the She fully believed it to be essential to salvaKnight of Malta might have been written by a tion. If she burned the bodies of her subjects, fervent Catholic. Massinger shows a great fond- it was in order to rescue their souls. Elizaness for ecclesiastics of the Romish church; beth had no such pretext. In opinion, she was and has even gone so far as to bring a virtuous little more than half a Protestant. She had and interesting Jesuit on the stage. Ford, in professed, when it suited her, to be wholly a that fine play, which it is painful to read, and Catholic. There is an excuse, a wretched exscarcely decent to name, assigns a highly cuse, for the massacre of Piedmont and the creditable part to the Friar. The partiality of autos-da-fe of Spain. But what can be said in Shakspeare for Friars is well known. In Ham-defence of a ruler who is at once indifferent let, the Ghost complains that he died without and intolerant ? 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

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 regu lated his conduct in her own time, how dif ferent 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 governinent, 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 til 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 again he cruel mination of one persecuting chuch

At length oppression put off its most horrible he would have dissolved the Parliame at, anı: form, and took a milder aspect. The penal imprisoned the most popular members He laws against dissenters were abolished. But would have called another Parliament. He exclusions and disabilities still remained. would have given some vague and delusive These exclusions and disabilities, after having promises of relief in return for subsidies. generated the most fearful discontents, after When entreated to fulfil his promises, he having rendered all government in one part would have again dissolved the Parliament, of the kingdom impossible, after having and again imprisoned his leading opponents. brought the state to the very brink of ruin, The country would have become more agi have, in our times, been removed; but, though tated than before. The next House of Com. removed, have left behind them a rankling mons would have been more unmanageable which may last for many years. It is melan- than that which preceded it. The tyrant choly to think with what ease Elizabeth might would have agreed to all that the nation dehave united all the conflicting sects under the manded. He would have solemnly ratified an shelter of the same impartial laws and the act abolishing monopolies forever. He would same paternal throne; and thus have placed have received a large supply in return for this the nation in the same situation, as far as the concession; and within half a year new parights of conscience are concerned, in which tents, more oppressive than those which had we at length stand, after all the heart-burnings, been cancelled, would have been issued by the persecutions, the conspiracies, the sedi- scores. Such was the policy which brought tions, the revolutions, the judicial murders, the heir of a long line of kings, in early youth the civil wars, of ten generations. the darling of his countrymen, to a prison and a scaffold.

This is the dark side of her character. Yet she surely was a great woman. Of all the Elizabeth, before the House of Commons sovereigns who exercised a power which was could address her, took out of their mouths the seemingly absolute, but which in fact depend- words which they were about to utter in the ed for support on the love and confidence of name of the nation. Her promises went betheir subjects, she was by far the most illus-yond their desires. Her performance followed trious. It has often been alleged, as an excuse close upon her promise. She did not treat the for the misgovernment of her successors, that nation as an adverse party; as a party which they only followed her example;-that prece- had an interest opposed to hers; as a party to dents might be found in the transactions of which she was to grant as few advantages as her reign for persecuting the Puritans, for possible, and from which she was to extort as levying money without the sanction of the much money as possible. Her benefits were House of Commons, for confining men with-given, not sold; and when once given, they out bringing them to trial, for interfering with were not withdrawn. She gave them, too, the liberty of parliamentary debate. All this with a frankness, an effusion of heart, a may be true. But it is no good plea for her princely dignity, a motherly tenderness, which successors, and for this plain reason, that they enhanced their value. They were received by were her successors. She governed one gene- the sturdy country gentleman, who had come ration, they governed another; and between up to Westminster full of resentment, with the two generations there was almost as little tears of joy and shouts of God save the Queen. in common as between the people of two dif- Charles the First gave up half the preroga ferent countries. It was not by looking at the tives of his crown to the Commons; and the particular measures which Elizabeth had Commons sent him in return the Grand Readopted, but by looking at the great general monstrance. 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 seem 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 We had intended to say something concerning observer, it would have seemed most to resem- the dexterous Walsingham, the impetuous Ox. ble hers. Firm, haughty, sometimes unjust and ford, the elegant Sackville, the all-accomplishcruel in her proceedings towards individuals ed Sidney; concerning Essex, the ornament of or towards small parties, she avoided with the court and of the camp, the model of chival care, or retracted with speed, every measure ry, the munificent patron of genius, whom great which seemed likely to alienate the great mass virtues, great courage, great talents, the favour of the people. She gained more honour and of his sovereign, the love of his countrymenmore love by the manner in which she repair- all that seemed to insure a happy and glorious ed her errors, than she would have gained by life, led to an early and an ignominious death' never committing errors. If such a man as concerning Raleigh, the soldier, the sailor, the Chanes the First had been in her place when scholar, the courtier, the orator, the poet, the whole nation was crying out against the historian, the philosopher, sometimes review. monopolies, he would have refused all redress:ing the queen's guards sometimes givin

We had intended to say something concernis the central figure-that group which the ing that illustrious group of which Elizabeth last of the bards saw in vision from the top of Snowdon, encircling the Virgin Queen—

"Many a baron bold,

And gorgeous dames, and statesmen old
In bearded majesty."

chase to a Spanish galleon, then answering the chiefs of the country party in the House of Commons, then again murmuring one of his sweet love-songs too near the ears of her highness's maids of honour, and soon after poring over the Talmud, or collating Polybius with Livy. We had intended also to say something concerning the literature of that splendid period, and especially concerning those two incomparable men, the Prince of Poets and the

Prince of Philosophers, who have made the Elizabethan age a more glorious and important era in the history of the human mind, than the age of Pericles, of Augustus, or of Leo. But subjects so vast require a space far larger than we can at present afford. We therefore stop here, fearing that, if we proceed, our arti cle may swell to a bulk exceeding that of all other reviews, as much as Doctor Nares's book exceeds the bulk of all other histories.


The services which M. Dumont has rendered to society can be fully appreciated only by those who have studied Mr. Bentham's works, both in their rude and in their finished state. The difference both for show and for use is as great as the difference between a lump of golden ore and a rouleau of sovereigns fresh from the mint. Of Mr. Bentham we would at all times speak with the reverence which is due to a

[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 noticing to mankind, for he was one of those persons those weaknesses or those errors in an unkind 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 usu 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 perfection 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 Galiieo 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 congregation might be edified, it was neces sary that some brother having the gift of interpretation should expound the invaluable jargon. His oracles were of high import, but they were traced on leaves and flung loose to the wind. So negligent was he of the arts of selection, distribution, and compression, that to persons who formed their judgment of him from hig works in their undigested state, he seemed to be the least systematic of all philosophers. The truth is, that his opinions formed a sys tem which, whether sound or unsound, is more exact, more entire, and more consistent with itself than any other. Yet, to superficial rea »

• Souvenirs sur Mirabeau, et sur les deuz Premières Assemblées Législatives. Par ETIENNE DUMONT, de Geneve: ouvrage posthume publié par M. J. L. Duval, Membre du Conseil Représentatif du Canton du Genève.

vo. Paris. 1833.

« AnteriorContinuar »