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away every barrier which the older institutions had interposed between them and the Throne.
Such was the fate of the Continental nations. But this evil destiny fell not upon England. Providence produces the greatest effects, in the moral as well as in the physical world, by the simplest means. In the first year of the reign of King Edward III., the Commons prayed, that good men and true might be assigned in every county to keep the peace, and that they might have power to chastise offenders according to law and reason. Edward assented; the petition became the law; and to this statute we probably owe the preservation of our limited monarchy. The country required a renovation of its internal frame. The seignorial franchises of the Barons had becomie insufficient for the preservation of the public tranquillity. Adapted to a simple race of husbandmen, the frarikpledge was broken and dislocated by the expansion of the community. And the system of the Anglo-Saxon municipal government, founded upon the frankpledge, was no longer manageable or effective. At this juncture, a confederacy of the powerful landholders against the body of the English people, might have given them an overweening sway. They might have asserted, that an extension of their feudal rights was needed for the purpose of repressing the disorders of the kingdom: and the legislature might have granted to them a more summary and uncontrolled jurisdiction. Every manorial domain would then have been converted into an honour palatine; and England would have been parcelled out into petty principalities like Germany. Had the people, on the contrary, cooperated either actively or passively with the Crown in disfranchising the aristocracy, on the pretence that their territorial rights and privileges were incompatible with the quiet and wellbeing of the State; if they had complained, that the rich and wellborn were already formidable to the Throne and oppressive to the cottage,--then this country, like France, would have become a levelled field of despotism. We avoided these extremes by the creation of Justices of the Peace. The lawful authority which was becoming mischievous and debilitated in the hands of its ancient owners, received a new apportionment amongst the order to which it belonged. The class received a compensation for the authority which was lost by the individual.
Territorial jurisprudence was not abolished by a sweeping law. No sudden alteration shook and jarred the State. Infangthief and outfangthief, bloodwite and leirwitc, were still retained in the charter, as the appurtenances of the manor. But these harsh-sounding Saxon terms now required a glossary. The Lord forgot to claim his antiquated powers. He allowed them to fall into desuetude, whilst, with his brethren of the quorum, he sat on the bench, where he resumed an equivalent for his hereditary rights, by virtue of the commission which had issued under the King's broad seal: The Crown was not jealous of the share of power which it appeareti to bestow. Equal content was given to the people, who required the immediate protection of the magistracy. Villainage was wearing out. The yeoman and the franklin knew that the knight and the squire were commoners like themselves: and they submitted, without murmuring, to a jurisdiction which seemed as an emanation from the supreme executive authority; although they might now have been ill inclined to allow such preeminence to their equal in the State, if he had claimed it as an inherent sovereignty. Feudal authority, matured into real political power, thus became again reunited to property; and the energetic and benign influence exercised by the English Gentleman, was settled and confirmed.
The State derives all its stability, power, and energy, from nobility, industry, and talent. In the words of King Canute, these are the Pillars of the Throne; and if any one of them is broken asunder, the Throne will fall. But they must be coordinate, and they must not rise against each other. Aristocracy, founded only upon birth, is hateful to the other ranks of society. An aristocracy composed only of the rich, debases its members no less than the people at large. France, according to the old regime, exhibited the effects produced by a ruling caste: and America may one day deplore the polity which leaves no substantial ascendency, but to the purse. An Utopian community might create an aristocracy, for which the sole qualification should be talent, or the reputation of talent. As far as the multitude are concerned, the coin and the counterfeit are just the same. Revolutionary France, and the ancient republics, exhibit some approximation to such an aristocracy; and their examples prove, that the ascendency of mere mind, unchecked by the habits of action acquired by familiar honour and respectability, would become more intolerant, pitiless, and tyrannical, than any of the forms of misrule beneath which the earth has groaned. In England, the heterogeneous elements of our constitution have forced the three kinds of aristocracy into combination with each other. From their union results another species, the aristocracy which is founded upon character, a term so completely our own, as to be untranslatable into any other language. It is to the aristocracy of character that the Parliament owes its supremacy over the Crown and the Kingdom. If deprived of it, the Lords and Commons would become theatrical pageants. They
might retain the Woolsack and the Mace, the Black Rod and the Chair; but they could neither command respect nor enforce obedience.
We live at the beginning of one of the great cycles of the world. The empire of feudality has fallen for ever; and the states which composed it must assume a new organization. At ro very distant period, their polity will be nearly uniform in its structure; and the principles which will rule them, will cause their governments to approximate to the form of the government of England. It is in vain that Emperors and Kings assemble in secret conclave to avert this revolution. The doom is sealed, the decree has gone forth, the judgment is passed. They must be content to reign according to the Constitution. Their prerogatives must be defined; the rights and privileges of their subjects must be secured. If this euthanasia of feudality is to be retarded, it will be so, not by the stubborn opposition of Sovereigns and Cabinets, but by the ignorance and political fanaticism of the people. The privileges of the commonwealth can never be protected, if we violate the rights belonging to any of its members. If the priesthood are disposed to pay tqo ready an obedience to the ruling powers, we shall not add to their independence by despoiling them of their lands, and converting them into the salaried servants of the State, or into eleemosynary dependants upon the bounty of their bearers. An established church is an essential portion of a constitutional Monarchy. Its endowment is the property of the people. When they pillage the altar, they rob themselves. We should open as many paths as possible between the lower and upper orders of society. Every advocate of popular liberty ought to cherish an ecclesiastical constitution, by which the son of the peasant may acquire unchallenged rank and independence. The cardinal's cap and the episcopal mitre fall often on the humblest brow. Men of transcendant talents may force their way through tracks of their own. The difficulty consists in providing for the regular progress of men whose talents entitle them to distinction, though not to command. When the church cannot be acceptable to the individuals belonging to this class of society, those to whom it would have afforded a competent provision are without resource, unless they become soldiers or lawyers, who devour the flock which the pastor tends, or they increase the locust swarms of employés and gens du bureau.
A representative government cannot exist in a monarchy without inequality of rank. Some classes must have a greater share of political power than the rest, in order that they may be enabled to support the popular representatives by their influence.
Deputies, however freely elected, who walk into the chamber attended only by their own insignificance, can receive but a slender aid from the will and voices of their electors. Unless the popular members are powerful in the nation, they can never constitute a party. To preserve their influence, they may form knots, clubs, juntos; but they acquire no stability by these means. They must be great men at home, as well as in the chamber; if they have no authority elsewhere, they will not awe the ministers by ranting in the tribune. France, and we fear Spain and Portugal, will afford too clear a comment upon these propositions.
Will it be said that we are wedded to the imperfections and infirmities of our form of government? No. The most fervent attachment to our laws and institutions is perfectly compatible with the most painful sense of their defects. Our constitutional history consists of an unbroken series of complaints and concessions. Our ancestors were always yearning after amelioration and improvement. Grievances may have been frequently exaggerated, -grace, too long withheld; but no period can be discovered in times past, in which King, Lords and Commons, united in assuming, that the laws and constitution had acquired such a degree of abstract excellence as to forbid all reform. A free government should not crouch before the people; but if an unyielding spirit of opposition should renounce all communion with public opinion, then the hour of distress and danger will have arrived. Wo betide us if we refuse to listen to the wisdom of our ancestors. They were homely and practical men; and, obeying the simple dictates of common sense, they never shrunk from the duty of amendment. The best institutions turn into curses, if allowed to degenerate from their pristine nature. The laws and customs which afforded security to the father, become noxious to the son. The level of the ocean changes; shoals and rocks are found where the vessel of the State rode at anchor; and, unless a new harbour is deepened for her reception, the Pilots will quail and tremble at the howling of the winds, and find no refuge from the storm.
Quamvis Pontica pinus,
Art. II. Supplément aux Melanges d'Histoire, de Litterature,
8c. Tirés d'un Portefeuille. Paris, 1820.
collection of Tracts which the late Mr Quintin Crawfurd had printed, but withheld from the public. He, some time before his death, added the Supplement which is now before us, and which, though also unpublished, we have understood he did not object to have candidly discussed. There was in truth no reason why he should dread the severity of criticism in any part of the work. The contents were all extremely interesting; and the portion which proceeded from his own pen, displayed both sound judgment and a correct taste.
The first piece in this Supplement is almost entirely by M. de Meilhan, and contains a number of judicious reflections upon the character and history of Louis XV., with several anecdotes more or less known already. The moral of the whole, or the practical application is, that, of all kinds of affection, by far the most worthless and unreasonable was the enthusiasm of the French for their Princes. Early in his reign, Louis XV. was taken dangerously ill at Metz; and the whole people of France were thrown into an alarm which hardly any public event had ever before excited. When a preacher, in the course of the sermon delivered upon his recovery, termed him in his presence, according to the adulatory style of the pulpit in those days, Lé bien-aimé, the expression was, by universal consent, deemed so peculiarly fitted to indicate the place he held in the hearts of all men, that it flew instantaneously over the whole nation, and became at once and every where united to his name. Had he died then, says our author, he would have been regarded as the Titus of France in after times; and this, he very justly adds, without any one reason in the world, except that he was handsome, young, • and, dying in the flower of his age, would have got credit for ! all the good which he might have done. Unfortunately for his reputation, he lived to an old age, and is now only remembered as a pattern of indolence, voluptuousness and insignificance, rare even among absolute monarclis. There is much truth in the explanation here given of the great name often acquired by persons in distinguished stations, who are cut off suddenly in their youth. Tu Marcellus eris! The sentiment of pity inclines theworld to a favourable judgment; and while time has not been given for committing many faults or displaying many deficiencies, the object of compassion is decked in the attributes which an indulgent fancy takes pleasure to invent. But the Well-bcloved reigned