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an exquisite harmony. We shall sooner see another Shakspeare or another Homer. The highest excellence, to which any single faculty can be brought, would be less surprising than such a happy and delicate combination of qualities. Yet the contemplation of imaginary models is not an unpleasant or useless employ
Of the two kinds of composition into which history has been thus divided, the one may be compared to a map, the other to a painted landscape. The picture, though it places the object before us, does not enable us to ascertain with accuracy the form and dimensions of its component parts, the distances, and the angles. The map is not a work of imitative art. It presents no scene to the imagination; but it gives us exact information as to the bearings of the various points, and is a more useful
HALLAM'S CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY."
[EDINBURGH REVIEW, 1828.]
companion to the traveller or the general than the painting could be, though it were the grandest that ever Rosa peopled with outlaws, or the sweetest over which Claude ever poured the mellow effulgence of a setting sun.
HISTORY, at least in its state of imaginary perfection, is a compound of poetry and philosophy. It impresses general truths on the mind by a vivid representation of particular characters and incidents. But, in fact, the two hostile elements of which it consists have It is remarkable that the practice of separatnever been known to form a perfect amalgama-ing the two ingredients of which history is tion; and at length, in our own time, they have composed has become prevalent on the Contibeen completely and professedly separated. nent as well as in this country. Italy has alGood histories, in the proper sense of the word, ready produced an historical novel, of high merit we have not. But we have good historical ro- and of still higher promise. In France, the mances and good historical essays. The ima-practice has been carried to a length somegination and the reason, if we may use a legal what whimsical. M. Sismondi publishes a metaphor, have made partition of a province grave and stately history, very valuable, and a of literature of which they were formerly little tedious. He then sends forth as a comseised per my et pour tout; and now they hold panion to it a novel, in which he attempts to their respective portions in severalty, instead give a lively representation of characters and of holding the whole in common. manners. This course, as it seems to us, has To make the past present, to bring the dis-all the disadvantages of a division of labour, tant near, to place us in the society of a great and none of its advantages. We understand man, or on the eminence which overlooks the the expediency of keeping the functions of field of a mighty battle, to invest with the reali-cook and coachman distinct-the dinner will ty of human flesh and blood beings whom we be better dressed, and the horses better maare too much inclined to consider as personi- naged. But where the two situations are united, fied qualities in an allegory, to call up our ances- as in the Maitre Jaques of Molière, we do not tors before us with all their peculiarities of see that the matter is much mended by the solanguage, manners, and garb, to show us over lemn form with which the pluralist passes from their houses, to seat us at their tables, to rum- one of his employments to the other. mage their old-fashioned wardrobes, to explain the uses of their ponderous furniture-these parts of the duty which properly belongs to the historian have been appropriated by the historical novelist. On the other hand, to extract the philosophy of history-to direct our judg-intention is to give an express and lively ment of events and men-to trace the connec-image of its external form. The latter is an tion of causes and effects, and to draw from the anatomist. His task is to dissect the subject to occurrences of former times general lessons of its inmost recesses, and to iay bare before us all moral and political wisdom, has become the the springs of motion and all the causes of debusiness of a distinct class of writers.
Mr. Hallam is, on the whole, far better quali fied than any other writer of our time for the office which he has undertaken. He has great industry and great acuteness. His knowledg is extensive, various, and profound. His mind is equally distinguished by the amplitude of its grasp and by the delicacy of its tact. His speculations have none of that vagueness which is the common fault of political philoso phy. On the contrary, they are strikingly practical. They teach us not only the general rule, but the mode of applying it to solve par ticular cases. In this respect they often re. mind us of the Discourses of Machiaveli
• The Constitutional History of England, from the Accession of Henry VII. to the Death of George II. HENRY HALLAM. In 2 vols. 1827.
ment of the mind. It cannot indeed produce perfection, but it produces improvement, and nourishes that generous and liberal fastidiousness, which is not inconsistent with the strongest sensibility to merit, and which, while it exalts our conceptions of the art, does not render us unjust to the artist.
We manage these things better in England. Sir Walter Scott gives us a novel; Mr. Hallam a critical and argumentative history. Both are occupied with the same matter. But the former looks at it with the eye of a sculptor. His
The style is sometimes harsh, and sometimes hend the meaning latent under the emblems of obscure. We have also here and there remark- their faith, can resist the contagion of the ed a little of that unpleasant trick which Gib- popular superstition. Often, when they flatter bon brought into fashion-the trick, we mean, themselves that they are merely feigning a of narrating by implication and allusion. Mr. compliance with the prejudices of the vulgar, Hallam, however, has an excuse which Gib- they are themselves under the influence of bon had not. His work is designed for readers those very prejudices. It probably was not who are already acquainted with the ordinary altogether on grounds of expediency, that Sobooks on English history, and who can there- crates taught his followers to honour the gods fore unriddle these little enigmas without dif- whom the state honoured, and bequeathed a ficulty. The manner of the book is, on the cock to Esculapius with his dying breath. So whole, not unworthy of the matter. The lan- there is often a portion of willing credulity and guage, even where most faulty, is weighty and enthusiasm in the veneration which the most massive, and indicates strong sense in every discerning men pay to their political idols. line. It often rises to an eloquence, not florid From the very nature of man it must be so. or impassioned, but high, grave, and sober; The faculty by which we inseparably associate such as would become a state paper, or a judg-ideas which have often been presented to us ment delivered by a great magistrate, a Somers, in conjunction, is not under the absolute conor a D'Aguesseau. trol of the will. It may be quickened into In this respect the character of Mr. Hallam's morbid activity. It may be reasoned into mind corresponds strikingly with that of his sluggishness. But in a certain degree it will style. His work is eminently judicial. Its always exist. The almost absolute mastery whole spirit is that of the bench, not of the which Mr. Hallam has obtained over feelings bar. He sums up with a calm, steady impar- of this class, is perfectly astonishing to us; tiality, turning neither to the right nor to the and will, we believe, be not only astonishing, left, glossing over nothing, exaggerating no- but offensive to many of his readers. It must thing, while the advocates on both sides are al- particularly disgust those people who, in their ternately biting their lips to hear their conflict-speculations on politics, are not reasoners, but ing mis-statements and sophisms exposed. On fanciers; whose opinions, even when sincere, a general survey, we do not scruple to pro- are not produced, according to the ordinary nounce the Constitutional History the most law of intellectual births, by induction and in impartial book that we ever read. We think ference, but are equivocally generated by the it the more incumbent on us to bear this testi- heat of fervid tempers out of the overflowings mony strongly at first setting out, because, in of tumid imaginations. A man of this class is the course of our remarks, we shall think it always in extremes. He cannot be a friend te right to dwell principally on those parts of it liberty without calling for a community of from which we dissent. goods, or a friend to order without taking under his protection the foulest excesses of tyranny. His admiration oscillates between the most worthless of rebels and the most worthless of oppressors; between Marten, the scandal of the High Court of Justice, and Laud, the scandal of the Star-Chamber. He can forgive any thing but temperance and impartiality. He has a certain sympathy with the violence of his opponents, as well as with that of his associates. In every furious partisan he sees either his present self or his former self, the pensioner that is or the Jacobin that has been. But he is unable to comprehend a writer who, steadily attached to principles, is indifferent about names and badges; who judges of cha
There is one peculiarity about Mr. Hallam, which, while it adds to the value of his writings, will, we fear, take away something from their popularity. He is less of a worshipper than any historian whom we can call to mind. Every political sect has its esoteric and its exoteric school; its abstract doctrines for the initiated, its visible symbols, its imposing forms, its mythological fables for the vulgar. It assists the devotion of those who are unable to raise themselves to the contemplation of pure truths, by all the devices of Pagan or Papal superstition. It has its altars and its deified heroes, its relics and pilgrimages, its canonized martyrs and confessors, its festivals and its legendary miracles. Our pious ances-racters with equable severity, not altogether tors, we are told, deserted the High Altar of untinctured with cynicism, but free from the Canterbury, to lay all their oblations on the slightest touch of passion, party spirit, or cashrine of St. Thomas. In the same manner the price. great and comfortable doctrines of the Tory creed, those particularly which relate to restrictions on worship and on trade, are adored by squires and rectors, in Pitt Clubs, under the name of a minister, who was as bad a representative of the system which has been chrisned after him, as Becket of the spirit of the Gospel. And, on the other hand, the cause for which Hampden bled on the field, and Sidney on the scaffold, is enthusiastically toasted by many an honest radical, who would be puzzled to explain the difference between Ship-money and the Habeas Corpus act. It may be added, that, as in religion, so in politics, few, even of those who are enlightened enough to compre
We should probably like Mr. Hallam's book more, if instead of pointing out, with strict fidelity, the bright points and the dark spots of both parties, he had exerted himself to whitewash the one and to blacken the other. But we should certainly prize it far less. Eulogy and invective may be had for the asking. But for cold rigid justice-the one weight and the one measure-we know not where else we can look.
No portion of our annals has been more per plexed and misrepresented by writers of dif ferent parties, than the history of the Reforma tion. In this labyrinth of falsehood and so phistry, the guidance of Mr. Hallam is peca
liarly valuable. It is impossible not to admire the evenhanded justice with which he deals out castigation to right and left on the rival persecutors.
It is vehemently maintained by some writers of the present day, that the government of Elizabeth persecuted neither Papists nor Puritans as sich; and occasionally that the severe measures which it adopted were dictated, not by religious intolerance, but by political necessity. Even the excellent account of those times, which Mr. Hallam has given, has not altogether imposed silence on the authors of this fallacy. The title of the Queen, they say, was annulled by the Pope; her throne was given to another; her subjects were incited to rebellion; her life was menaced; every Catholic was bound in conscience to be a traitor; it was therefore against traitors, not against Catholics, that the penal laws were enacted.
That our readers may be the better able to appreciate the merits of this defence, we will state, as concisely as possible, the substance of some of these laws.
As soon as Elizabeth ascended the throne, and before the least hostility to her government had been shown by the Catholic population, an act passed, prohibiting the celebration of the rites of the Romish church, on pain of forfeiture for the first offence, a year's imprisonment for the second, and perpetual imprisonment for the third.
that if any Catholic shall convert a Protestant to the Romish church, they shall both suffer death, as for high treason.
We believe that we might safely content ourselves with stating the fact, and leaving it to the judgment of every plain Englishman. Recent controversies have, however, given so much importance to this subject, that we will offer a few remarks on it.
In the first place, the arguments which are urged in favour of Elizabeth, apply with much greater force to the case of her sister Mary. The Catholics did not, at the time of Elizabeth's accession, rise in arms to seat a Pretender on her throne. But before Mary had given, or could give provocation, the most distinguished Protestants attempted to set aside her rights in favour of the Lady Jane. That attempt, and the subsequent insurrection of Wyatt, furnished at least as good a plea for the burning of Protestants as the conspiracies against Elizabeth furnish for the hanging and embowelling of Papists.
The fact is, that both pleas are worthless alike. If such arguments are to pass current, it will be easy to prove that there was never such a thing as religious persecution since the creation. For there never was a religious persecution, in which some odious crime was not justly or unjustly said to be obviously deducible from the doctrines of the persecuted party. We might say that the Cæsars did not persecute the Christians; that they only punished men who were charged, rightly or wrongly, with burning Rome, and with com mitting the foulest abominations in their as semblies; that the refusal to throw frankincence on the altar of Jupiter was not the crime, but only evidence of the crime. We might say that the massacre of St. Bartholemew was intended to extirpate, not a religious sect, but a political party. For, beyond all doubt, the proceedings of the Huguenots, from the conspiracy of Amboise to the battle of Moncoutour, had given much more trouble to the French monarchy than the Catholics have ever given to England since the Reformation; and that too with much less excuse.
A law was next made, in 1562, enacting, that all who had ever graduated at the Universities, or received holy orders, all lawyers, and all magistrates, should take the oath of supremacy when tendered to them, on pain of forfeiture, and imprisonment during the royal pleasure. After the lapse of three months, it might again be tendered to them; and, if it were again refused, the recusant was guilty of high treason. A prospective law, however severe, framed to exclude Catholics from the liberal professions, would have been mercy itself compared with this odious act. It is a retrospective statute; it is a retrospective penal statute; it is a retrospective penal statute against a large class. We will not positively affirm that a law of this description must always, and under all circum- The true distinction is perfectly obvious. stances, be unjustifiable. But the presumption To punish a man because he has committed a against it is most violent; nor do we remem-crime, or is believed, though unjustly, to have ber any crisis, either in our own history, or in committed a crime, is not persecution. To the history of any other country, which would punish a man because we infer from the nahave rendered such a provision necessary. ture of some doctrine which he holds, or from But in the present, what circumstances called the conduct of other persons who hold the same for extraordinary rigour? There might be doctrines with him, that he will commit a crime, disaffection among the Catholics. The prohi-is persecution; and is, in every case, foolish bition of their worship would naturally pro- and wicked. duce it. But it is from their situation, not from their conduct; from the wrongs which they bad suffered, not from those which they had committed, that the existence of discontent among them must be inferred. There were libels, no doubt, and prophecies, and rumours, and suspicions; strange grounds for a law inflicting capital penalties, ex post facto, on a large order of men.
Eight years later, the bull of Pius deposing Elizabeth produced a third law. This law, to which alone, as we conceive, the defence now Ender our consideration can apply, provides, I
When Elizabeth put Ballard and Babington to death, she was not persecuting. Nor should we have accused her government of persecu tion for passing any law, however severe, against overt acts of sedition. But to argue that because a man is a Catholic he must think it right to murder an heretical sovereign, and that because he thinks it right he will attempt to do it, and then to found on this conclusion a law for punishing him as if he had done it, is plain persecution.
If, indeed, all men reasoned in the same manner on the same da’a, and always did what
who would have admitted in theory the depos ing power of the Pope, but who would not have been ambitious to be stretched on the rack, even though it were to be used, according to the benevolent proviso of Lord Burleigh, "as charitably as such a thing can be;" or to be hanged, drawn, and quartered, even though, by that rare indulgence which the queen, of her especial grace, certain knowledge, and mere motion, sometimes extended to very mitigated cases, he were allowed a fair time to choke before the hangman began to grabble in his entrails.
they thought it their duty to do, this mode of dispensing punishment might be extremely judicious. But as people who agree about premises often disagree about conclusions, and as no man in the world acts up to his own standard of right, there are two enormous gaps in the logic by which alone penalties for opinions can be defended. The doctrine of reprobation, in the judgment of many very able men, follows by syllogistic necessity from the doctrine of election. Others conceive that the Antinomian and Manichean heresies directly follow from the doctrine of reprobation; and it is very generally thought that licentiousness and cruelty of the worst description are likely to be the fruits, as they often have been the fruits, of Antinomian and Manichean opinions. This chain of reasoning, we think, is as perfect in all its parts as that which makes out a Papist to be necessarily a traitor. Yet it would be rather a strong measure to hang the Calvinists, on the ground that if they were spared they would infallibly commit all the atrocities of Matthias and Knipperdoling. For, reason the matter as we may, experience shows us that a man may believe in election without believing in reprobation, that he may believe in reprobation without being an Antinomian, and that he may be an Antinomian without being a bad citizen. Man, in short, is so inconsistent a creature, that it is impossible to reason from his belief to his conduct, or from one part of his belief to another.
But the laws passed against the Puritans had not even the wretched excuse which we have been considering. In their case the cruelty was equal, the danger infinitely less. In fact the danger was created solely by the cruelty. But it is superfluous to press the argument. By no artifice of ingenuity can the stigma of perse. cution, the worst blemish of the English church, be effaced or patched over. Her doctrines we well know do not tend to intolerance. She admits the possibility of salvation out of her own pale. But this circumstance, in itself honourable to her, aggravates the sin and the shame of those who persecuted in her name. Dominic and De Monfort did not at least murder and torture for differences of opinion which they considered as trifling. It was to stop an infection which, as they believed, hurried to perdition every soul which it seized that they employed their fire and steel. The measures We do not believe that every Englishman of the English government with respect to the who was reconciled to the Catholic church Papists and Puritans sprang from a widely would, as a necessary consequence, have different principle. If those who deny that the thought himself justified in deposing or assas-supporters of the Established Church were sinating Elizabeth. It is not sufficient to say guilty of religious persecution mean only that that the convert must have acknowledged the they were not influenced by religious motives, authority of the Pope, and that the Pope had we perfectly agree with them. Neither the issued a bull against the queen. We know penal code of Elizabeth, nor the more hateful through what strange loopholes the human system by which Charles the Second attempt. mind contrives to escape, when it wishes to ed to force Episcopacy on the Scotch, had an avoid a disagreeable inference from an admit-origin so noble. Their cause is to be sought ted proposition. We know how long the Jan-in some circumstances which attended the Resenists contrived to believe the Pope infallible formation in England-circumstances of which in matters of doctrine, and at the same time to the effects long continued to be felt, and may believe doctrines which he pronounced to be in some degree be traced even at the present heretical. Let it pass, however, that every day. Catholic in the kingdom thought that Elizabeth might be lawfully murdered. Still the old maxim, that what is the business of every body is the business of nobody, is particularly likely to hold good in a case in which a cruel death is the almost inevitable consequence of making any attempt.
In Germany, in France, in Switzerland, and in Scotland, the contest against the Papal power was essentially a religious contest. In all these countries, indeed, the cause of the Reformation, like every other great cause, attracted to itself many supporters influenced by no conscientious principle, many who quitted the Established Church only because they
Of the ten thousand clergymen of the Church of England, there is scarcely one who would thought her in danger, many who were weary not say that a man who should leave his coun- of her restraints, and many who were greedy try and friends to preach the gospel among for her spoils. But it was not by these adsavages, and who should, after labouring inde-herents that the separation was there conductfatigably without any hope of reward, termi-ed. They were welcome auxiliaries; their sup nate his life by martyrdom, would deserve the port was too often purchased by unworthy warmest admiration. Yet we doubt whether compliances; but, however exalted in rank or ten of the ten thousand ever thought of going power, they were not the leaders in the enteron such an expedition. Why should we sup- prise. Men of a widely different description, pose that conscientious motives, feeble as they men who redeemed great infirmities and errors are constantly found to be in a good cause, by sincerity, disinterestedness, energy, and cou. should be omnipotent for evil? Doubtless rage; men who, with many of the vices of rethere was many a jolly Popish priest in the volutionary chiefs and of polemic divines, unit. old nanor-houses of the northern counties, ed some of the highest qualities of apostles,
were the real directors. They might be violent in innovation, and scurrilous in controversy. They might sometimes act with inexcusable severity towards opponents, and sometimes connive disreputably at the vices of powerful allies. But fear was not in them, nor hypocrisy, nor avarice, nor any petty selfishness. Their one great object was the demolition of the idols, and the purification of the sanctuary. If they were too indulgent to the failings of eminent men, from whose patronage they expected advantage to the church, they never flinched before persecuting tyrants and hostile armies. If they set the lives of others at nought in comparison of their doctrines, And the only notice which it would have been they were equally ready to throw away their necessary to take of his name, would have own. Such were the authors of the great been schism on the continent and in the northern part of this island. The Elector of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse, the Prince of Condé and the King of Navarre, Moray and Morton, might espouse the Protestant opinions, or might pretend to espouse them; but it was from Luther, from Calvin, from Knox, that the Reformation took its character.
England has no such names to show; not that she wanted men of sincere piety, of deep learning, of steady and adventurous courage. But these were thrown into the back-ground. Elsewhere men of this character were the principals. Here they acted a secondary part. Elsewhere worldliness was the tool of zeal. Here zeal was the tool of worldliness. A king, whose character may be best described by saying that he was despotism itself personified, unprincipled ministers, a rapacious aristocracy, a servile parliament-such were the instruments by which England was delivered from the yoke of Rome. The work which had been begun by Henry, the murderer of his wives, was continued by Somerset, the murderer of his brother, and completed by Elizabeth, the murderer of her guest. Sprung from brutal passion, nurtured by selfish policy, the Reformation in England displayed little of what had in other countries distinguished it-unflinching and unsparing devotion, boldness of speech, and singleness of eye. These were indeed to be found; but it was in the lower ranks of the party which opposed the authority of Rome, in such men as Hooper, Latimer, Rogers, and Taylor. Of those who had any important share in bringing the alteration about, the excellent Ridley was perhaps the only person who did not consider it as a mere political job. Even Ridley did not play a very prominent part. Among the statesmen and prelates who principally give the tone to the religious changes there is one, and one only, whose conduct partiality itself can attribute to any other than interested motives. It is not strange, therefore, that his character should have been the subject of fierce controversy. We need not say that we speak of Cranmer.
Mr. Hallam has been severely censured for saying, with his usual placid severity, that "if we weigh the character of this prelate in an equal balance, he will appear far indeed removed from the turpitude imputed to him by his enemies; yet not entitled to any extraordinary veneration." We will venture to expand
the sense of Mr. Hallam, and to comment on
"Non ragioniam di lui; ma guarda, e passa." But when his admirers challenge for him a place in the noble army of martyrs, his claims require fuller discussion.
The shameful origin of his history, common enough in the scandalous chronicles of courts, seems strangely out of place in a hagiology. Cranmer rose into favour by serving Henry in a disgraceful affair of his first divorce. He promoted the marriage of Anne Boleyn with the king. On a frivolous pretence he pronounced it null and void. On a pretence, if possible, still more frivolous, he dissolved the ties which bound the shameless tyrant to Ann of Cleves. He attached himself to Cromwell, while the fortunes of Cromwell flourished. He voted for cutting off his head without a trial, when the tide of royal favour turned. He conformed backwards and forwards as the king changed his mind. While Henry lived, he assisted in condemning to the flames those who denied the doctrine of tran substantiation. When Henry died, he found out that the doctrine was false. He was, however, not at a loss for people to burn. The authority of his station, and of his gray hairs, was employed to overcome the disgust with which an intelligent and virtuous child regarded persecution.
Intolerance is always bad. But the sanguinary intolerance of a man who thus wavered in his creed, excites a loathing to which it is difficult to give vent without calling foul names. Equally false to political and to re ligious obligations, he was first the tool of Somerset, and then the tool of Northumber land. When the former wished to put his own brother to death, without even the form of a trial, he found a ready instrument in Cranmer. In spite of the canon law, which forbade a churchman to take any part in matters of blood, the archbishop signed the warrant for the atrocious sentence. When So merset had been in his turn destroyed, his destroyer received the support of Cranmer in his attempt to change the course of the succes sion.
The apology made for him by his admirers only renders his conduct more contemptible. He complied, it is said, against his better judg ment, because he could not resist the entrea ties of Edward! A holy prelate of sixty, one would think, might be better employed by the