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the constitution, freed from the apparatus of despotic powers with which the Tudors had obscured it, was restored to its ancient lustre, Happy had been the people, if their leaders, after having executed so noble a work, had contented themselves with the 'glory of being the benefactors of their country. Happy
Happy had been the king, if, obliged at last to submit, his submission had been sincere, and if he had become sufficiently sensible that the only resource he had left was, the affection of his subjects.
But Charles knew not how to survive the loss of a power he had conceived to be indisputable : he could not reconcile himself to limitations and restraints so injurious, according to his notions, to sovereign authority. His discourse and conduct betrayed his secret designs; distrust took possession of the nation : certain ambitious persons availed themselves of it to promote their own views; and the storm, which seemed to have blown over, burst forth anew. The contending fanaticism of
whereas the former often admitted for law the proclamations of the king and council, and grounded its judg. ments upon them. The abolition of this tribunal, therefore, was justly looked upon as a great victory over regal authority.
persecuting sects joined in the conflict between regal haughtiness and the ambition of individuals; the tempest blew from every point of the compass; the constitution was rent asunder; and Charles exhibited in his fall an awful example to the universe.
The royal power being thus annihilated, the English made fruitless attempts to substitute a republican government in its stead. " It was a curious spectacle,” says Montesquieu, “ to behold the vain efforts of the
English to establish among themselves a
democracy.” Subjected, at first, to the power of the principal leaders in the long parliament, they saw that power expire, only to pass without bounds into the hands of a protector. They saw it afterwards parcelled out among the chiefs of different bodies of soldiers; and thus shifting without end from one kind of subjection to another, they were at length convinced, that an attempt to establish liberty in a great nation, by making the people interfere in the common business of government, is, of all attempts, the most chimerical: that the authority of all, with which men are amused, is, in reality no more than the authority of a few powerful individuals, who divide the republic among themselves; and they at last
rested in the bosom of the only constitution which is fit for a great state and a free people ; I mean that in which a chosen number deliberate, and a single hand executes; but in which, at the same time, the public satisfaction is rendered, by the general relation and arrangement of things, a necessary condition of the duration of government.
Charles the Second, therefore, was called over ; aid he experienced on the part of the people that enthusiasm of affection which usually attends the return from a long alienation. He could not, however, bring himself to forgive them the inexpiable crime of which he looked upon them to have been guilty. He saw with the deepest concern that they still entertained their former notions with regard to the nature of the royal prerogative; and bent upon the recovery of the ancient
of the ancient powers of the crown, he only waited for an opportunity to break those promises which had procured his restoration.
But the very eagerness of his measures frustrated their success. His dangerous alliances on the continent, and the extravagant wars in which he involved England, joined to the frequent abuse he made of his authority, betrayed his designs. The eyes of the nation
were soon opened, and saw into his projects ; when, convinced, at length, that nothing but fixed and irresistible bounds can be an effectual check on the views and efforts of power, they resolved finally to take away those remnants of despotism which still made a part of the regal prerogative.
The military services due to the crown, the remains of the ancient feudal tenures, had been already abolished: the laws against heretics were now repealed: the statute for holding parliaments once at least in three years was enacted : the Habeas Corpus act, that barrier of the subject's personal safety, was established; and such was the patriotism of the parliaments, that it was under a king the most destitute of principle that liberty received its most efficacious supports.
At length, on the death of Charles, began a reign which affords a most exemplary lesson both to kings and people. James the Second, a prince of a more rigid disposition, though of a less comprehensive understanding than his late brother, pursued still more openly the project which had already proved so fatal to his family. He would not see that the great alterations which had successively been effected in the constitution rendered the execution of it daily more and more impracticable: he imprudently suffered himself to be exasperated at a resistance he was in no condition to overcome; and, hurried away by a spirit of despotism and a monkish zeal, he ran headlong against the rock which was to wreck his authority.
He not only used in his declarations the alarming expressions of absolute power and unlimited obedience-he not only usurped to himself a right to dispense with the laws; but moreover sought to convert that destructive pretension to the destruction of those very laws which were held most dear by the nation, by endeavouring to abolish a religion for which they had suffered the greatest calamities, in order to establish on its ruins a mode of faith which repeated acts of the legislature had proscribed, - and proscribed, not because it tended to establish in England the doctrines of transubstantiation and purgatory, doctrines in themselves of no political moment, but because the unlimited power of the sovereign had always been made one of its principal tenets.
To endeavour therefore to revive such a religion, was not only a violation of the laws, but was, by one enormous violation, to pave the way for others of a still more alarming nature. Hence the English, seeing that their