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We have perhaps said enough, but as the learned historian has repeatedly stated that the English did not suppose that they enjoyed superior privileges to their neighbours, we shall farther observe, 1st, That if the people enjoyed privileges, as it is evi. dent they did, it would not lessen our opinion of their enjoyments, that they were unacquainted with the situation of the continental states, and that it would be incumbent on Mr. Hume to prove that France enjoyed any thing of the kind. 2dly, That the wretched condition of France, governed and taxed at the will of the prince, and oppressed by foreign military, seems to have been a fact with which most men were acquainted, and that proofs of it not only occur in books, but in the journals of Parliament. Sir Humphrey Gilbert, in support of the prerogative to grant patents, advised the house, in language similar to what was adopted in a future reign, to abstain from such topics, lest “her majesty might look to her own power, and thereby finding her validity to suppress the strength of the challenged liberty, and to challenge and use her power any way, to do as did Lewis of France, who, as he termed it, delivered the crown there out of wardship*, which the said French king did upon like occasion. He also said that other kings had absolute
Mr. Hume in the body of his history quotes this very speech; but he, unfortunately, stopt at the word wardship; and thus overlooked the rest of the passage, which might have prevented him from taking so erroneous a view of the English government in that age. While, too, he alludes to Wentworth's observations on it, he overlooks the remarks of another member.
power, as Denmark and Portugal, where, as the crown became more free, so are all the subjects thereby, the rather made slaves.” This speech was disliked, but no notice was taken of it at the time. At the next meeting of Parliament, however, on a question about the residence of burgesses
within the boroughs they represented, a member, after stating to the House that it belonged to them “ to consider of all, and, as occasion may serve, to alter, constitute, or reform all things as cause should be,” alludes to Gilbert's speech in the following terms : “ We know that, such as have spent their whole time in service, or have seen only the manner of government of other nations, and can tell you how the Crown of France is delivered out of wardship, or otherwise tell a tale of the King of Castile and Portugal, how they, in making laws, do use their own discretion, the King of Denmark useth the advice of his nobles only, and nothing of the commons; or can point you out the monstrous garments of the common people in some parts of Germany, or the mangled commonwealth of the allies, or shadows of the great cities, which now are to be seen in Italy ; surely all those men, except they know also our own homes, are not to be trusted to conclude for our home affairs t." Wentworth, on a future day, declared Gilbert's speech to be an injury to the House, and reprobated that individual in the coarsest terms, for his disposition to flatter and
* Id. p. 168.
† D'Ewes, p. 169.
fawn upon the prince, comparing him to the chamelion, which can change itself into all colours save white; “ even so,” said he, “ this reporter can change himself into all fashions save honesty*.” No evidence can be more direct or complete than this.
We have now travelled over a vast variety of ground, and it must be apparent that, though there were some institutions, as the star-chamber, &c. not consonant to the genius of a free government, and occasional proceedings of a dangerous kind, the grand constitutional principles were clearly defined, as well as recognized by the monarch in the general course of administration t.
* P. 175.
+ In note D. the reader will find some additional matter upon this subject, and a more particular examination of Mr. Hume's statements. We have reserved for that note also, some observations regarding the opinions of the grand reformers on the continent, about civil liberty, with the sentiments prevalent in Scotland.
In a note to p. 442. ch. 44. Mr. Hume has made some remarks about the practice of addressing and serving the monarch on the knee, &c. and says, that Elizabeth's “ successor first allowed his courtiers to omit this ceremony; and, as he exerted not the power, so he relinquished the appearance, of despotism.” But I cannot discover on what grounds he has paid this compliment to James, who, he himself confesses, arrogated a divine uncontrolled right in his language, which his predecessors had not done. We learn from Sully, that James did not omit this ceremony; for Sully declares that he was not a little surprised at the service on the knee, when, as French ambassador, he dined with James, (Mem. de Sully, tom. iii. p. 273. edit. à Paris, 1814.) and it is incontestible, that Charles exacted it, and every observance in its utmost rigour. When the trial of that prince was determined on, the Council of War ordered the ceremony to be withheld; (Whitelocke, p. 365,) and Charles is represented by his attendant, Herbert, to have felt it severely, saying, that he was the first to whom
that mark of respect ever was denied, and that in former times, even subjects of high degree always received it. Herbert, p. 109. Now it is utterly inexplicable how Mr. Hume should have missed this, for in describing the situation of Charles on that occasion, he says,
« all the exterior symbols of sovereignty were withdrawn, and his attendants had orders to serve him without ceremony. At first he was shocked with instances of rudeness and familiarity, to which he had been so little accustomed. Nothing so contemptible as a despised prince was the reflection which they suggested to him. But he soon reconciled bis mind to this as he had done to his other calamities.” Thus, it was a calamity to him to be deprived of a ceremony which, in Elizabeth, it was tyranny to exact. Even Strafford, when Lord-Deputy of Ireland, requested an order, that “ on days of meeting none but noblemen should come farther than the drawing-chamber, that the gallery should only be free for those of the council, and that all their servants should stay in the great chamber, where they and all others were to be bare, as well as in the presence, there being there a state as well as in the other.” Straf. Let. and Dis. vol. i. p. 200 and 201. Bastwick's account of the reverence exacted by the bishops in Charles I.'s time, as well as of the pomp and state assumed by them, is probably caricatured ; but the picture bears internal marks of having been taken from the life; and it is really ridiculous. See his Litany. The fact is, that in former times, the manners were remarkably severe. Sons, arrived even at manhood, are represented as standing uncovered and silent in their father's presence ; daughters, as standing at the cupboard in their mother's, or only kneeling on a cushion. Sully himself, though he was surprised at the service on the knee at the English court, reposed, while his family stood at a distance. Henry, vol. xii. p. 353. With regard to kneeling, though I confess I have attended little to these trifles, I apprehend, from several passages I have met with, that it was the old fashion, for which we have substituted bowing, and which is yet retained by the ladies, for the courtesy is just that ceremony mutilated, as bowing is a mutilated kind of prostration. Every one remembers the following passage in Shakespeare:
“ Off goes his bonnet to an oyster-wench;
A brace of dray-men bid, God speed him well,
Tracing the Progress of Society, and investigating the va
rious circumstances which affected the Constitution of England during the Reign of James I.
We have seen that, throughout all the fluctuations of society, the grand principles of the constitution had been still maintained. Circumstances had conferred great influence upon the crown; but it had operated through the ancient channels of the government, and had thus preserved for the other branches of the legislature the right of vindicating public privileges, and redressing grievances, with out innovating upon established principles.
Though the free importation of manufactures, the laws against trading in grain, the injudicious attempts of the legislature to regulate the wages of labour, the enforcing of long apprenticeships to the most vulgar trades, and the abominable practice of granting monopolies, had impeded the progress of improvement, there had been still a great advance. The woollen manufactures Aourished in a high degree; and some towns had risen to considerable opulence by commerce.
Crowded streets, filth, &c. all evils in themselves, were yet attended with certain benefits to posterity; for, by occasioning plagues, and thus sweeping off a large