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with the barons at Runnymede, and, in opposition to the Pope and to his legate had wrested the great charter of English liberty from the Sovereign, but the Church which succeeded to the sceptre of Catholicism was essentially Erastian, and the instincts of its clergy were almost uniformly despotic. The free spirit generated in the Reformation had taken refuge in Puritanism, but in the reaction that accompanied and followed the Restoration, Puritanism seemed hopelessly discredited and crushed. The hostility which the country gentry and the established clergy had always felt towards it was intensified by the many battles which the first had fought, and by the many humiliations which the latter had undergone, while the populace hated it for its austerity, and the deepest feelings of the English nation were stung to madness at the memory of their slaughtered king. The doctrine of non-resistance in its extreme form was taught in the Homilies of the Church, embodied in the oath of allegiance,' in the corporation oath of Charles II.2 and in the declaration prescribed by the Act of Uniformity,3 enrolled by great Anglican casuists among the leading tenets of Christianity, and persistently enforced from the pulpit. It had become, as a later bishop truly said, 'the distinguishing character of the Church of England.' At a time when the constitution was still unformed, when every institution of freedom and every bulwark against despotism was continually assailed, the authorised religious teachers of the nation were incessantly inculcating this doctrine, and it may probably be said without exaggeration that it occupied a more prominent position in the preaching and the literature of the Anglican Church than any other tenet in the whole compass of theology. Even Burnet and Tillotson, who were men of unquestionable honesty, and who subsequently took a conspicuous part on the side of the Revolution, when attending Russell in his last hours, had impressed upon him in the

'I, A B, do declare and believe that it is not lawful upon any pretence whatever to take up arms against the king.'

13 Car. ii. c. 2.

314 Car. ii. stat. ii. c. 1.

See the dying profession of Lake, Bishop of Chichester, Lathbury's Hist. of the Non-jurors, p. 50.

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strongest manner the duty of accepting the doctrine of the absolute unlawfulness of resistance, and had clearly intimated that if he did not do so they could feel no confidence in his salvation.1 The clergy who attended Monmouth at his execution told him he could not belong to the Church of England unless he acknowledged it.2 The University of Cambridge in 1679, and the University of Oxford on the occasion of the death of Russell, authoritatively proclaimed it, and the latter university consigned the leading Whig writings in defence of freedom to the flames, and prohibited all students from reading them.3 The immense popularity which the miracle of the royal touch had acquired, indicated only too faithfully the blind and passionate loyalty of the time; nor was there any other period in English history in which the spirit of independence and the bias in favour of freedom which had long characterised the English people were so little shown as in the years that followed the Restoration.

It was impossible that this could last. The enthusiasm of loyalty was strung to so high a pitch that reaction was inevitable, but had it not been for a very rare combination of causes it would never have been carried to the point of revolution. The immorality of the court of Charles which shocked the sober feelings of the middle-class, the contemptible character of the King, the humiliation which French patronage and Dutch victories imposed upon the nation, the growth of religious scepticism, which at last weakened the influence of the clergy, the atrocious persecution of Nonconformists, and the infamy of the State trials, had all considerable effect, but they operated chiefly upon a small body of enlightened men. The popularity of the Revolution, so far as it existed, arose from the conflict between the three great passions of the English mind. These were attachment to the throne, attachment to the Church, and dread of Catholicism. The No Popery' feeling

1 Birch's Life of Tillotson (2nd ed.)


2 See Fox's James II. p. 265.

3 See on these decrees Cooke's Hist. of Parties, i. 105, 345–355. Somers' Tracts, viii. 420-424; ix. 367.

under Charles II. had burst out fiercely in the panic about the Popish plot and in the atrocities that followed it; but when the Whigs endeavoured to avail themselves of it to pass the Exclusion Bill their efforts recoiled upon themselves, and it became evident that even this passion was less powerful than attachment to the legitimate order of succession. Yet it was to this feeling that the triumph of the Revolution was mainly due., Had the old dynasty adhered to the national faith its position would have been impregnable, and in the existing disposition of men's minds it was neither impossible nor improbable that the free institutions of England would have shared the fate of those of Spain, of Italy, and of France. Most happily for the country, a bigoted Catholic, singularly destitute both of the tact and sagacity of a statesman, and of the qualities that win the affection of a people, mounted the throne, devoted all the energies of his nature and all the resources of his position to extending the religion most hateful to his people, attacked with a strange fatuity the very Church on whose teaching the monarchical enthusiasm mainly rested, and thus drove the most loyal of his subjects into violent opposition. Without the assistance of the Church and Tory party the Revolution would have been impossible, and it is certain that the Church would never have led the opposition to the dispensing power had not that power been exerted to remove the disabilities of the Catholics and Dissenters. The overtures of the King to the Nonconformists, whom the Church regarded as her bitterest enemies, his manifest intention to displace Protestants by Catholics in the leading posts of the Government, the violation of the constitution of an Oxford college which assailed the clergy in the very citadel of their power, and finally, the prosecution of the seven bishops, at last forced the advocates of passive obedience into reluctant opposition to their sovereign. Yet even then attachment to the legitimate line might have prevailed but for the belief that was industriously spread that the Prince of Wales was a supposititious child, and every stage in the intricate drama that ensued was governed more by the


action of individuals and by accidental circumstances than by general causes. The defection of Marlborough, and of almost every leading politician on whom the King relied, brought William without opposition to London, but this was only the first step of the change. The Whigs were themselves by no means unanimous in desiring his accession to the throne, and it is quite certain that the great majority of the English people had no wish to break the natural order of succession. The doctrine of the indefeasible right of the legitimate sovereign, and of the absolute sinfulness of resistance, was in the eyes of the great majority of Englishmen the cardinal principle of political morality, aud a blind, unqualified, unquestioning loyalty was the strongest and most natural form of political enthusiasm. This was the real danger to English liberty. Until this tone of thought and feeling was seriously modified, free institutions never could take root, and even after the intervention of William it was quite possible, and in the eyes of most Englishmen eminently desirable, that a Government should have been established so nearly legitimate as to receive the support of this enthusiasm-the consecration of this belief.

The most obvious method of achieving this end would have been to have retained James on the throne, imposing on him new parliamentary restrictions; but his flight to France rendered this impracticable, removed the greatest difficulty from the path of the Whigs, and made it possible for them to construct the ingenious fiction of abdication, which was of much use in quieting the consciences of the Tories. Assuming that James had abdicated, the infant prince was the natural heir, and he might have been called to the throne under a Protestant regency. But this, too, was made impossible by circumstances. The child had been carried to France, and the popular belief that he was supposititious damped the enthusiasm of his supporters. Assuming that James had abdicated, and that his alleged son was supposititious, the coronation of Mary as sole sovereign would have established a legitimate monarchy. The wishes of the queen and the resolu

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tion of William, who threatened at once to retire to Holland and leave the country to anarchy, prevented this solution and made it absolutely necessary to call to the throne a sovereign whose title was manifestly a parliamentary one. Had any one of the other three courses been pursued, a shock would, no doubt, have been given to the Tory theory of government; but the old current of political thought would soon have resumed its course. The sovereignty would have still been regarded as of Divine right. The political enthusiasm of the great majority of the nation would have centred upon it, and the belief that it possessed a sanctity generically different from, and immeasurably transcending that of any other institution in the country would have given it a fatal power in every conflict with the parliament. By a very rare concurrence of circumstances, by the extraordinary folly of the legitimate sovereign, by the ambition and consummate statesmanship of William and of a small group of Whig statesmen, a form of government was established and maintained in England for which the mass of the people were intellectually wholly unprepared. The French war soon roused the national feeling, while James, with great folly, identified himself ostentatiously with the enemies of his country; and the indignation produced by the plots against the life of William, and at a later period by the recognition of the Pretender by Lewis XIV., conspired powerfully to the maintenance of the new Government. The Whig leaders employed in the interests of toleration and liberty an opportunity which was the result of violent currents of public feeling of a very different kind. A considerable portion of the Tories were gradually won over, and it is a remarkable fact that the Act of Settlement was passed by a Tory majority. Religious liberty was extended probably quite as far as the existing condition of opinion would allow. The ancient limits of the constitution which had been grievously infringed in the last two reigns, were reasserted by the Declaration of Rights, and new guarantees of national freedom were enacted, so efficient, and at the same time so moderate, that very few of them were subsequently annulled.

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