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lish history, scenes of a quite different kind will offer to our view; and we shall find, on the contrary, that revolutions in England have always been terminated by making such provisions, and only such, as all orders of the people were really and indiscriminately to enjoy.

Most extraordinary facts, these! and which, from all the other circumstances that accompanied them, we see all along to have been owing to the impossibility (a point that has been so much insisted upon in former chapters) in which those who possessed the confidence of the people were, of transferring to themselves


branch of the executive authority, and thus separating their own condition from that of the rest of the people.

Without mentioning the compacts which were made with the first kings of the Norman line, let us only cast our eyes on Magna Charta, which is still the foundation of English liberty. A number of circumstances, which have been described in the former part of this work, concurred at that time to strengthen the regal power to such a degree that no men in the state could entertain a hope of succeeding in any other design than that of setting bounds to it. How great was the union which thence arose among all orders of the people !-what extent, what caution do we see in the provisions made by the Great Charter! All the objects for which men naturally wish to live in a state of society were settled in its various articles. The judicial authority was regulated. The person and property of the individual were secured. The safety of the merchant and stranger was provided for. The higher class of citizens gave up a number of oppressive privileges which they had long üccustomed themselves to look upon as their undoubted rights.* Nay, the implements of tillage of the bondman, or slave were also secured to him: and for the first time, perhaps, in the annals of the world, a civil war was terminated by making stipulations in favour of those unfortunate men to whom the avarice and lust of dominion, inherent in human nature, continued, over the greatest part of the earth, to deny the common rights of mankind.

Under Henry the Third great disturbances arose ; and they were all terminated by solemn confirmations given to the Great


possessors of lands took the engagement to establish in behalf of their tenants and vassals (erga suos ) the same liberties which they demanded from the king.

Charter. Under Edward I. Edward II. Ed. ward III. and Richard II. those who were intrusted with the care of the interests of the people lost no opportunity that offered, of strengthening still farther that foundation of public liberty,---of taking all such precautions as might render the Great Charter still more effectual in the event. They had not ceased to be convinced that their cause was the same with that of all the rest of the people.

Henry of Lancaster having laid claim to the crown, the commons received the law from the victorious party. They settled the crown upon Henry, by the name of Henry the Fourth ; and added to the act of settlement provisions which the reader may see in the second volume of the Parliamentary History of England. Struck with the wisdom of the conditions demanded by the commons, the authors of the book just mentioned, observe (perhaps with some simplicity) that the commons of England were no fools at that time. They ought rather to have said--The commons of England were happy enough to form among themselves an assembly in which every one could propose what matters he pleased, and freely discuss them ;--they had no possibility

left of converting either these advantages, or in general the confidence which the people had placed in them, to any private views of their own : they, therefore, without loss of time, endeavoured to stipulate useful conditions with that power by which they saw themselves at every instant exposed to be dissolved and dispersed, and applied their industry to ensure the safety of the whole people, as it was the only means they had of procuring their own.

In the long contentions which took place between the houses of York and Lancaster, the commons remained spectators of disorders which in those times it was not in their power to prevent: they successively acknowledged the title of the victorious parties ; but whether under Edward the Fourth, under Richard the Third, or Henry the Seventh, by whom those quarrels were terminated, they continually availed themselves of the importance of the services which they were able to perform to the new-established sovereign, for obtaining effectual conditions in favour of the whole body of the people.

At the accession of James the First, which, as it placed a new family on the throne of England, may be considered as a kind of revo

lution, no demands were made by the men who were at the head of the nation, but in favour of general liberty.

After the accession of Charles the First, discontents of a very serious nature began to take place ; and they were terminated in the first instance, by the act called the Petition of Right, which is still looked upon as a most precise and accurate delineation of the rights of the people. *

At the restoration of Charles the Second, the constitution being re-established upon its former principles, the former consequences produced by it, began again to take place; and we see at that æra, and indeed during the whole course of that reign, a continued series

* The disorders which took place in the latter part of the reign of that prince seem indeed to contain a complete contradiction to the assertion which is the subject of the present chapter ; but they, at the same time, are a no less convincing confirmation of the truth of the principles laid down in the course of this whole work. The above-mentioned disorders took rise from that day in which Charles the First gave up the power of dissolving his parliament,—that is, from the day in which the members of that assembly acquired an independent, personal, permanent authority, which they soon began to turn against the people who had raised them to it.


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