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The History of England - A Study in Political Evolution
by A. F. Pollard
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In this respect the Reformation was the greatest achievement of the national state, which emerged from the struggle with no rival for its omnicompetent authority. Its despotism was the predominant characteristic of the century, for the national state successfully rid itself of the checks imposed, on the one hand by the Catholic church, and on the other by the feudal franchises. But the supremacy was not exclusively royal; parliament was the partner and accomplice of the crown. It was the weapon which the Tudors employed to pass Acts of Attainder against feudal magnates and Acts of Supremacy against the church; and men complained that despotic authority had merely been transferred from the pope to the king, and infallibility from the church to parliament. "Parliament," wrote an Elizabethan statesman, "establisheth forms of religion...."

But while Englishmen on the whole were pretty well agreed that foreign jurisdiction was to be eliminated, and that Englishmen were to be organized in one body, secular and spiritual, which might be called indifferently a state-church or a church-state, there was much more difference of opinion with regard to its theological complexion. It might be Catholic or it might be Protestant in doctrine; and it was far more difficult to solve this religious problem than to effect the severance from Rome. There were, indeed, many currents in the stream, some of them cross-currents, some political, some religious, but all mingling imperceptibly with one another. The revolt of the nation against a foreign authority is the most easily distinguished of these tendencies; another is the revolt of the laity against the clerical specialist. The church, it must be remembered, was often regarded as consisting not of the whole body of the faithful, but simply of the clergy, who continued to claim a monopoly of its privileges after they had ceased to enjoy a monopoly of its intelligence and virtue. The Renaissance had been a new birth of secular learning, not a revival of clerical learning. Others besides the clergy could now read and write and understand; town chronicles took the place of monastic chronicles, secular poets of divines; and a middle class that was growing in wealth and intelligence grew also as impatient of clerical as it had done of military specialists. The essential feature of the reformed services was that they were compiled in the common tongue and not in the Latin of ecclesiastical experts, that a Book of Common Prayer was used, that congregational psalm-singing replaced the sacerdotal solo, and a communion was substituted for a priestly miracle. Religious service was to be something rendered by the people themselves, and not performed for their benefit by the priest.

Individual participation and private judgment in religion were indeed the essence of Protestantism, which was largely the religious aspect of the revolt of the individual against the collectivism of the Middle Ages. The control exercised by the church had, however, been less the expression of the general will than the discipline by authority of masses too illiterate to think for themselves. Attendance at public worship would necessarily be their only form of devotion. But the general emancipation of servile classes and spread of intelligence by the Renaissance had led to a demand for vernacular versions of the Scriptures and to a great deal of private and family religious exercise, without which there could have been no Protestant Reformation. Lollardy, which was a violent outburst of this domestic piety, was never completely suppressed; and it flamed out afresh when once political reasons, which had led the Lancastrians to support the church, induced the Tudors to attack it.

Most spiritual of all the factors in the Reformation was the slow and partial emancipation of men's minds from the materialism of the Middle Ages. It may seem bold, in face of the vast secularization of church property and other things in the sixteenth century, to speak of emancipation from materialism. Nevertheless, there was a distinct step in the progress of men's minds from that primitive condition of intelligence in which they can only grasp material symbols of the real conception. Rudimentary jurisprudence had confessed its inability to penetrate men's thoughts and differentiate their actions according to their motives; there had been a time when possession had seemed more real than property, and when the transference of a right was incomprehensible without the transference of its concrete symbols. There could be no gift without its manual conveyance, no marriage without a ring, no king without a coronation. Many of these material swaddling-clothes remain and have their value. A national flag stimulates loyalty, gold lace helps the cause of discipline. Bishop Gardiner, in the sixteenth century, defended images on the ground that they were documents all could read, while few could read the Scriptures. To unimaginative men there could be no priest without vestments, no worship without ritual, no communion of the Spirit without the presence of the Body, no temple not made with hands, no God without an image. To break the image, to abolish the vestments and the ritual, to deny the transubstantiation, was to destroy the religion and reverence of the masses, who could only grasp matter and worship with their senses.

Protestantism was, therefore, not a popular religion, and to thousands of educated men it did not appeal. Few people are so immaterialistic that they can dispense with symbols; many can idealize symbols in which others see nothing but matter; and only those devoid of artistic perception deny the religious value of sculpture, painting, and music. Protestantism might be an ideal religion if men were compounded of pure reason; being what they were, many adopted it because they were impervious to artistic influence or impatient of spiritual discipline. It will hardly do to divide the nation into intelligent Protestants and illiterate Catholics: the point is that the somewhat crude symbolism which had satisfied the cravings of the average man had ceased to be sufficient for his newer intelligent needs; he demanded either a higher symbolism or else as little as possible. Some felt the symbol a help, others felt it a hindrance to the realization of the ideal; so some men can see better with, others without, spectacles, but that fact would hardly justify their abolition.

Henry VIII confined his sympathies to the revolt of the nation against Rome and the revolt of the laity against the priests. The former he used to make himself Supreme Head of the church, the latter to subdue convocation and despoil the monasteries. All civilized countries have found it expedient sooner or later to follow his example with regard to monastic wealth; and there can be little doubt that the withholding of so much land and so many men and women from productive purposes impeded the material prosperity of the nation. But the devotion of the proceeds to the foundation of private families, instead of to educational endowment, can only be explained and not excused by the exigencies of political tactics. His real services were political, not religious. He taught England a good deal of her insular confidence; he proclaimed the indivisible and indisputable sovereignty of the crown in parliament; he not only incorporated Wales and the county palatine of Chester with England, and began the English re-organization of Ireland, but he united England north with England south of the Humber, and consolidated the Borders, those frayed edges of the national state. He carried on the work of Henry II and Edward I, and by subduing rival jurisdictions stamped a final unity on the framework of the government.

The advisers of Edward VI embarked on the more difficult task of making this organization Protestant; and the haste with which they, and especially Northumberland, pressed on the change provoked first rebellion in 1549 and then reaction under Mary. They were also confronted with social discontent arising out of the general substitution of competition for custom as the ruling economic principle. Capital amassed in trade was applied to land, which began to be treated as a source of money, not a source of men. Land held in severalty was found more profitable than land held in common, large estates than small holdings, and wool-growing than corn-growing. Small tenants were evicted, small holdings consolidated, commons enclosed, and arable land converted to pasture. The mass of the agricultural population became mere labourers without rights of property on the soil they tilled; thousands lost employment and swelled the ranks of sturdy beggars; and sporadic disorder came to a head in Kett's rebellion in Norfolk in 1549, which was with difficulty suppressed. But even this highhanded expropriation of peasants by their landlords stimulated national development. It created a vagrant mobile mass of labour, which helped to meet the demands of new industrial markets and to feed English oversea enterprise. A race that sticks like a limpet to the soil may be happy but cannot be great; and the ejection of English peasants from their homesteads saved them from the reproach of home- keeping youths that they have ever homely wits.

Mary's reign, however, checked the national impulse towards expansion, and thrust England for the moment back into the Middle Ages. First she put herself and her kingdom under the aegis of Spain, to which in heart and mind she belonged, by marrying Philip II. Then with his assistance she restored the papal jurisdiction, and England surrendered its national independence. Those who repudiated their foreign jurisdiction were naturally treated as contumacious by the papal courts in England and sent to the stake; and English adventurers were prohibited, in the interests of Spain and Portugal, from trespassing in the New World. Finally England was plunged into war with France in order to help Philip, and lost Calais for its pains. Mary's reign showed that in a sovereign good intentions and upright conversation exaggerate rather than redeem the evil effects of bigotry and blindness. She had, however, made it impossible for any successor to perpetuate in England the Roman jurisdiction and the patronage of Spain.

Elizabeth was a sovereign more purely British in blood than any other since the Norman Conquest; and to her appropriately fell the task of completing her country's national independence. Henry VIII's Act of Supremacy and Edward VI's of Uniformity were restored with some modifications, in spite of the opposition of the Catholic bishops, who contended that a nation had no right to deal independently with ecclesiastical matters, and suffered deprivation and imprisonment rather than recognize a schismatic national church. Elizabeth rejected Philip's offers of marriage and paid no heed to his counsels of state. She scandalized Catholic Europe by assisting the revolted Scots to expel the French from North Britain; and revenged the contempt, in which England had been held in Mary's reign, by supporting with impunity the Dutch against Philip II and the Huguenots against the king of France. She concealed her aggressions with diplomatic artifice and caution; but at heart she was with her people, who lost no opportunity, in their new-found confidence, of plundering and insulting the Catholic powers in their way.

The astonishing success of England amid the novel conditions of national rivalry requires some attempt at explanation. It seems to have been due to the singular flexibility of the English character and national system, and to the consequent ease with which they adapted themselves to changing environment. Indeed, whatever may be the case at present, a survey of English history suggests that the conventional stolidity ascribed to John Bull was the least obvious of his characteristics; and even to-day the only people who never change their mind at general elections are the mercurial Celts. Certainly England has never suffered from that rigidity of social system which has hampered in the past the adaptability of its rivals. Even in feudal times there was little law about status; and when the customary arrangement of society in two agricultural classes of landlord and tenant was modified by commerce, capitalism, and competition, nobles adapted themselves to the change with some facility. They took to sheep-farming and commercial speculations, just as later on they took to keeping dairy-shops. It is the smallness rather than the source of his profits that excites social prejudice against the shopkeeper in England. On the Continent, however, class feeling prevented the governing classes from participating in the expansion of commerce. German barons, for instance, often with only a few florins a year income, could not supplement it by trade; all they could do was to rob the traders, robbery being a thoroughly genteel occupation. Hence foreign governments were, as a rule, less alive and less responsive to the commercial interests of their subjects. Philip II trampled on commercial opinion in a way no English sovereign could have done. Indeed, complaints were raised in England at the extent to which the commercial classes had the ear of parliament and the crown; since the accession of Henry VIII, it was said in 1559, they had succeeded by their secret influence in procuring the rejection of every bill they thought injurious to their interests.

There was no feeling of caste to obstruct the efficiency of English administration. The nobility were separated from the nation by no fixed line; there never was in England a nobility of blood, for all the sons of a noble except the eldest were commoners. And while they were constantly sinking into the mass of the nation, commoners frequently rose to the rank of nobility. Before the end of the fourteenth century wealth derived from trade had become an avenue to the House of Lords. The justices of the peace, on whom the Tudors relied for local administration, were largely descended from successful city men who had, like the Walsinghams, planted themselves out in the country; and Elizabeth herself was great-great-granddaughter of a London mayor. This social elasticity enabled the government to avail itself of able men of all classes, and the efficiency of Tudor administration was mainly due to these recruits, whose genius would have been elsewhere neglected. Further, it provided the government with agents peculiarly fitted by training and knowledge to deal with the commercial problems which were beginning to fill so large a sphere in politics; and finally, it rendered the government singularly responsive to the public opinion of the classes upon whose welfare depended the expansion of England.

Englishmen likewise took to the sea, when the sea became all-important, as readily as they took to trade. English command of the Narrow Seas had laid France open to the invasions of Edward III and Henry V, and had checked the tide of French reconquest before the walls of Calais. English piracy in the Channel was notorious in the fifteenth century, and in the sixteenth it attained patriotic proportions. Henry VII had encouraged Cabot's voyage to Newfoundland, but the papal partition of new-found lands between Spain and Portugal barred to England the door of legitimate, peaceful expansion; and there can be little doubt that this prohibition made many converts to Protestantism among English seafaring folk. Even Mary could not prevent her subjects from preying on Spanish and Portuguese commerce and colonies; and with Elizabeth's accession preying grew into a national pastime. Hawkins broke into Spanish monopoly in the West Indies, Drake burst into their Pacific preserves, and circumvented their defences; and a host of followers plundered nearly every Spanish and Portuguese colony.

At last Philip was provoked into a naval war for which the English were and he was not prepared. Spanish rigidity embraced the Spanish marine as well as Spanish theology. Clinging to Mediterranean and medieval traditions, Spain had failed to realize the conditions of sea-power or naval tactics. England, on the other hand, had, largely under the inspiration of Henry VIII, adapted its navy to oceanic purposes. A type of vessel had been evolved capable of crossing the ocean, of manoeuvring and of fighting under sail; to Drake the ship had become the fighting unit, to the Duke of Medina Sidonia a ship was simply a vehicle for soldiers, and a sea-fight was simply a land-fight on sea. The crowning illustration of Spain's incapacity to adapt itself to new conditions is perhaps the fact that only a marquis or duke could be made a Spanish admiral.

England had disposed of similar claims to political and military authority in 1569, when medieval feudalism made its last bid for the control of English policy. For ten years Elizabeth had been guided by Sir William Cecil, a typical "new man" of Tudor making, who hoped to wean the common people from dependence upon their lords, and to complete the destruction of feudal privileges which still impeded the action of national sovereignty. The flight of Mary Queen of Scots into England in 1568 provided a focus for noble discontent with Cecil's rule, and the northern earls rebelled in 1569. The rebellion was easily suppressed, but its failure did not deter the Duke of Norfolk, the earls' accomplice, from joining Ridolfi's plot with similar ends. He was brought to the block in 1572, and in him perished the last surviving English duke. For more than half a century England had to do its best—defeat the Spanish Armada, conquer Ireland, circumnavigate the globe, lay the foundations of empire, produce the literature of the Elizabethan age—without any ducal assistance. It was left for James I, who also created the rank of baronet in order to sell the title (1611), to revive the glories of ducal dignity in the persons of Ludovic Stuart, Duke of Richmond, and George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham (1623).

Cecil's drastic methods of dealing with the opposition lords left the door of government open to men like Walsingham, who were determined to give full play to the new forces in English politics. Discontented reactionaries were reduced to impotent silence, or driven abroad to side openly with the enemy. Pius V's bull excommunicating and deposing Elizabeth (1570) shattered in a similar way the old Catholic party. The majority acquiesced in the national religion; the extremists fled to become conspirators at foreign courts or Jesuit and missionary priests. The antagonism between England and Spain in the New World did more, perhaps, than Spanish Catholicism to make Philip the natural patron of these exiles and of their plots against the English government; and as Spain and England drew apart, England and France drew together. In 1572 a defensive alliance was formed between them, and there seemed a prospect of their co-operation to drive the Spaniards out of the Netherlands. But Catholic France resented this Huguenot policy, and the massacre of St. Bartholomew put a violent end to the scheme, while Elizabeth and Philip patched up a truce for some years. There could, however, be no permanent compromise, on the one hand, between Spanish exclusiveness and the determination of Englishmen to force open the door of the New World and, on the other, between English nationalism and the papal resolve to reconquer England for the Catholic church. Philip made common cause with the papacy and with its British champion, Mary Queen of Scots, while Englishmen made common cause with Philip's revolted subjects in the Netherlands. The acquisition of Portugal, its fleet, and its colonial empire by Philip in 1580, the assassination of William of Orange in 1584, and the victories of Alexander of Parma in the Netherlands forced Elizabeth into decisive action. The Dutch were taken under her wing, a national expedition led by Drake paralyzed Spanish dominion in the West Indies in 1585 and then destroyed Philip's fleet at Cadiz in 1587, and the Queen of Scots was executed.

At last Philip attempted a tardy retaliation with the Spanish Armada. Its naval inefficiency was matched by political miscalculations. Philip never imagined that a united England could be conquered; but he laboured under the delusion, spread by English Catholic exiles, that the majority of the English people only awaited a signal to rise against their queen. When this delusion was exploded and the naval incompetence of Spain exposed, his dreams of conquest vanished, and he continued the war merely in the hope of securing guarantees against English interference in the New World, in the Netherlands, and in France, where he was helping the Catholic League to keep Henry of Navarre off the French throne. Ireland, however, was his most promising sphere of operations. There religious and racial hostility to the English was fusing discordant Irish septs into an Irish nation, and the appearance of a Spanish expedition was the signal for something like a national revolt. England had not been rich enough in men or money to give Ireland a really efficient government, but the extent of the danger in 1598-1602 stimulated an effort which resulted in the first real conquest of Ireland; and Englishmen set themselves to do the same work, with about the same amount of benevolence, for the Irish that the Normans had done for the Anglo-Saxons.

So far Tudor monarchy had proved an adequate exponent of English nationalism, because nationalism had been concerned mainly with the external problems of defence against foreign powers and jurisdictions. But with the defeat of the Spanish Armada, the urgency of those problems passed away; and during the last fifteen years of Elizabeth's reign national feelings found increasing expression in parliament and in popular literature. In all forms of literature, but especially in the Shakespearean drama, the keynote of the age was the evolution of a national spirit and technique, and their emancipation from the influence of classical and foreign models. In domestic politics a rift appeared between the monarchy and the nation. For one thing the alliance, forged by Henry VIII between the crown and parliament, against the church, was being changed into an alliance between the crown and church against the parliament, because parliament was beginning to give expression to democratic ideas of government in state and church which threatened the principle of personal rule common to monarchy and to episcopacy. "No Bishop, no King," was a shrewd aphorism of James I, which was in the making before he reached the throne. In other respects—such as monopolies, the power of the crown to levy indirect taxation without consent of parliament, to imprison subjects without cause shown, and to tamper with the privileges of the House of Commons—the royal prerogative was called in question. Popular acquiescence in strong personal monarchy was beginning to waver now that the need for it was disappearing with the growing security of national independence. People could afford the luxuries of liberty and party strife when their national existence was placed beyond the reach of danger; and a national demand for a greater share of self- government, which was to wreck the House of Stuart, was making itself heard before, on March 24, 1603, the last sovereign of the line which had made England a really national state passed away.



CHAPTER V

THE STRUGGLE FOR SELF-GOVERNMENT

1603-1815

National independence and popular self-government, although they were intimately associated as the two cardinal dogmas of nineteenth-century liberalism, are very different things; and the achievement of complete national independence under the Tudors did not in the least involve any solution of the question of popular self-government. Still, that achievement had been largely the work of the nation itself, and a nation which had braved the spiritual thunders of the papacy and the temporal arms of Philip II would not be naturally submissive under domestic tyranny. Perhaps the fact that James I was an alien hastened the admonition, which parliament addressed to him in the first session of the reign, to the effect that it was not prepared to tolerate in him many things which, on account of her age and sex, it had overlooked in Elizabeth.

Parliament began the constitutional conflict thus foreshadowed with no clear constitutional theory; and its views only crystallized under pressure of James I's pretensions. James possessed an aptitude for political speculation, which was rendered all the more dangerous by the facilities he enjoyed for putting his theories into practice. He tried to reduce monarchy to a logical system, and to enforce that system as practical politics. He had succeeded to the English throne in spite of Henry VIII's will, which had been given the force of a parliamentary statute, and in spite of the common law which disabled an alien from inheriting English land. His only claim was by heredity, which had never been legally recognized to the exclusion of other principles of succession. James was not content to ascribe his accession to such mundane circumstances as the personal unfitness of his rivals and the obvious advantages of a union of the English and Scottish crowns; and he was led to attribute a supernatural virtue to the hereditary principle which had overcome obstacles so tremendous. Hence his theory of divine hereditary right. It must be distinguished from the divine right which the Tudors claimed; that was a right which was not necessarily hereditary, but might be varied by the God of battles, as at Bosworth. It must also be distinguished from the Catholic theory, which gave the church a voice in the election and deposition of kings. According to James's view, Providence had not merely ordained the king de facto, but had pre-ordained the kings that were to be, by selecting heredity as the principle by which the succession was to be determined for ever and ever. This ordinance, being divine, was beyond the power of man to alter. The fitness of the king to rule, the justice or efficiency of his government, were irrelevant details. Parliament could no more alter the succession, depose a sovereign, or limit his authority than it could amend the constitution of the universe. From this premiss James deduced a number of conclusions. Royal power was absolute; the king could do no wrong for which his subjects could call him to account; he was responsible to God but not to man—a doctrine which the Reformation had encouraged by proclaiming the Royal Supremacy over the church. He might, if he chose, make concessions to his people, and a wise sovereign like himself would respect the concessions of his predecessors. But parliamentary and popular privileges existed by royal grace; they could not be claimed as rights.

This dogmatic assurance, to which the Tudors had never resorted, embittered parliamentary opposition and obscured the historical justification for many of James's claims. Historically, there was much more to be said for the contention that parliament existed by grace of the monarchy than for the counterclaim that the monarchy existed by grace of parliament; and for the plea that parliament only possessed such powers as the crown had granted, than for the counter-assertion that the crown only enjoyed such rights as parliament had conceded. Few of James's arbitrary acts could not be justified by precedent, and not a little of his unpopularity was due to his efforts to exact from local gentry the performance of duties which had been imposed upon them by earlier parliaments. The main cause of dissatisfaction was the growing popular conviction that constitutional weapons, used by the Tudors for national purposes, were now being used by the Stuarts in the interests of the monarchy against those of the nation; and as the breach widened, the more the Stuarts were led to rely on these weapons and on their theory of the divine right of kings, and the more parliament was driven to insist upon its privileges and upon an alternative theory to that of James I.

This alternative theory was difficult to elaborate. There was no idea of democracy. Complete popular self-government is, indeed, impossible; for the mass of men cannot rule, and the actual administration must always be in the hands of a comparatively few experts. The problem was and is how to control them and where to limit their authority; and this is a question of degree. In 1603 no one claimed that ministers were responsible to any one but the king; administration was his exclusive function. It was, however, claimed that parliamentary sanction must be obtained for the general principles upon which the people were to be governed—that is to say, for legislation. The crown might appoint what bishops it pleased, but it could not repeal the Act of Uniformity; it might make war or peace, but could not impose direct and general taxation; it selected judges, but they could only condemn men to death or imprisonment for offences recognized by the law. The subject was not at the mercy of the king except when he placed himself outside the law.

The disadvantage, however, of an unwritten constitution is that there are always a number of cases for which the law does not provide; and there were many more in the seventeenth century than there are to-day. These cases constituted the debatable land between the crown and parliament. Parliament assumed that the crown could neither diminish parliamentary privilege nor develop its own prerogative without parliamentary sanction; and it read this assumption back into history. Nothing was legal unless it had been sanctioned by parliament; unless the crown could vouch a parliamentary statute for its claims they were denounced as void. This theory would have disposed of much of the constitution, including the crown itself; even parliament had grown by precedent rather than by statute. There were, as always, precedents on both sides. The question was, which were the precedents of growth and which were those of decay? That could only be decided by the force of circumstances, and the control of parliament over the national purse was the decisive factor in the situation.

The Stuarts, indeed, were held in a cleft stick. Their revenue was steadily decreasing because the direct taxes, instead of growing with the nation's income, had remained fixed amounts since the fourteenth century, and the real value of those amounts declined rapidly with the influx of precious metals from the New World. Yet the expense of government automatically and inevitably increased, and disputes over foreign policy, over the treatment of Roman Catholics, over episcopal jurisdiction, over parliamentary privileges, and a host of minor matters made the Commons more and more reluctant to fill the empty Treasury. The blunt truth is that people will not pay for what they do not consider their concern; and Stuart government grew less and less a popular affair. The more the Stuarts demanded, the greater the obstacles they encountered in securing compliance.

James I levied additional customs which were called impositions, and the judges in 1606 properly decided that these were legal. But they increased James's unpopularity; and, as a precaution, parliament would only grant Charles I tonnage and poundage (the normal customs duties) for one year after his accession instead of for life. Charles contended that parliament had, owing to non-user, lost the right of refusing these supplies to the crown; he proceeded to levy them by his own authority, and further demanded a general forced loan and benevolence. For refusing to pay, five knights were sent to prison by order of the privy council "without cause shewn," whereby the crown avoided a judicial decision on the legality of the loan. This provoked the Petition of Right in 1628; but in 1629 Charles finally quarrelled with parliament over the question whether in assenting to the petition he had abandoned his right to levy tonnage and poundage. For eleven years he ruled without parliament, raising supplies by various obsolete expedients culminating in ship money, on behalf of which many patriotic arguments about the necessities of naval defence were used.

He was brought up sharply when he began to kick against the Presbyterian pricks of Scotland; and the expenses of the Bishops' War put an end to the hand-to-mouth existence of his unparliamentary government in England. The Long parliament went to the root of the matter by demanding triennial sessions and the choice of ministers who had the confidence of parliament. It emphasized its insistence upon ministerial responsibility to parliament by executing Strafford and afterwards Laud. Charles, who laboured under the impression common to reactionaries that they are defending the rights of the people, contended that, in claiming an unfettered right to choose his own advisers, he was championing one of the most obvious liberties of the subject. Parliament, however, had realized that in politics principles consist of details as a pound consists of pence; and that if it wanted sound legislative principles, it must take care of the details of administration. Charles had ruled eleven years without parliament; but so had Wolsey, and Elizabeth had apologized when she called it together oftener than about once in five years. If the state had had more financial ballast, and the church had been less high and top-heavy, Charles might seemingly have weathered the storm and let parliament subside into impotence, as the Bourbons let the States-General of France, without any overt breach of the constitution. After all, the original design of the crown had been to get money out of parliament, and the main object of parliament had once been to make the king live of his own. A king content with parsimony might lawfully dispense with parliament; and the eleven years had shown the precarious basis of parliamentary institutions, given a thrifty king and an unambitious country. Events were demonstrating the truth of Hobbes's maxim that sovereignty is indivisible; peace could not be kept between a sovereign legislature and a sovereign executive; parliament must control the crown, or some day the eleven years would recur and become perpetual. In France, unparliamentary government was prolonged by the victory of the crown for a century and three-quarters. In England, Charles's was the last experiment, because parliament defeated the claim of the crown to rule by means of irresponsible ministers.

In such a contest for the control of the executive there could be no final arbitrament save that of force; but Charles was only able to fight at all because parliament destroyed its own unanimity by attacking the church, and thus provided him with a party and an army. More than a temporary importance, however, attaches to the fact that the abeyance of monarchical power at once gave rise to permanent English parties; and it was natural that those parties should begin by fighting a civil war, for party is in the main an organ for the expression of combative instincts, and the metaphors of party warfare are still of a military character. Englishmen's combative instincts were formerly curbed by the crown; but since the decline of monarchy they have either been vented against other nations, or expressed in party conflicts. The instinct does not commonly require two forms of expression at once, and party strife subsides during a national war. Its methods of expression, too, have been slowly and partially civilized; and even a general election is more humane than a civil war. But the first attack of an epidemic is usually the most virulent, and party strife has not a second time attained the dimensions of civil war.

One reason for this mitigation is that the questions at issue have been gradually narrowed down until, although they bulk large to heated imaginations, they really cover a very small area of political life, and the main lines continue the same whichever party triumphs. Another reason is that experience has proved the necessity of the submission of the minority to the majority. This is one of the greatest achievements of politics. In the thirteenth century Peter des Roches claimed exemption from the payment of a scutage on the ground that he had voted against it, and his claim was held to be valid. Such a contention means anarchy, and considerable progress had been made before the seventeenth century towards the constitutional doctrine that the vote of the majority binds the whole community. But the process was incomplete, and the causes of strife between Roundhead and Royalist were fundamental. A victory of the Royalists would have been carried to extremes, as the victory of the Roundheads was; and the result would almost certainly have been despotic government until a still more violent outbreak precipitated the country into a series of revolutions.

Liberty, like religious toleration, has been won through the internecine warfare between various forms of despotism; and the strength of the Royalists lay in the fact that parliament, in espousing Presbyterianism, weighted its cause with an ecclesiastical system as narrow and tyrannical as Laud's. New presbyter was but old priest writ large, and the balance between the two gave the decision into the hands of the Independents, whose numerical inferiority was redeemed by Cromwell's military genius. When Presbyterians and Independents had ground the Royalists to powder at Marston Moor and Naseby, Charles sought to recover his authority through their quarrels. He fell between two stools. His double dealings with both parties led to the second civil war, to his own execution, and to the abolition of monarchy and of the House of Lords in 1649. Having crushed Catholic Ireland and Presbyterian Scotland, to which Charles and his son had in turn appealed, Cromwell was faced with the problem of governing England.

The victorious party was in a hopeless minority, and some of the fervour with which the Independents appealed to divine election may have been due to a consciousness that they would not have passed the test of a popular vote. In their view, God had determined the fundamentals of the constitution by giving the victory to His elect; these fundamentals were to be enshrined in a written rigid constitution, and placed beyond the reach of parliament or the people. Under the sovereignty of this inspired constitution (1653), which provided, among other things, for the union of England, Ireland, and Scotland, a drastic reform of the franchise and redistribution of seats, the government was to be in the hands of a "single person," the Protector, and a single chamber, the House of Commons. The single person soon found the single chamber "horridly arbitrary," and preferred the freedom of military despotism. But his major-generals were even more arbitrary than the single chamber, and in 1657 a fresh constitution was elaborated with a Second Chamber to make it popular. The Restoration had, in fact, begun almost as soon as the war was over; the single chamber republic of 1649-1653 had given place to a single- chamber monarchy, called the Protectorate, and a further step was taken when in 1657 the "other" House was added; Cromwell was within an ace of making himself a king and his dynasty hereditary. Only his personal genius, the strength of his army, and the success of his foreign policy enabled him thus to restore the forms of the old constitution without the support of the social forces on which it had been based. His death in 1658 was necessarily followed by anarchy, and anarchy by the recall of Charles II.

The Restoration was not so much a restoration of monarchy, which had really been achieved in 1653, as a restoration of the church, of parliament, and of the landed gentry; and each took its toll of profit from the situation. The church secured the most sectarian of its various settlements, and the narrowness of its re-establishment kept nearly half the nation outside its pale. The landed gentry obtained the predominant voice in parliament for a century and three-quarters, and, as a consequence, the abolition of its feudal services to the crown, the financial deficit being made up by an excise on beer instead of by a land-tax. Parliament emancipated itself from the dictation of the army, taking care never to run that risk again, and from the restrictions of a written, rigid constitution. It also recovered its rotten boroughs and antiquated franchise, but lost its union with the parliaments of Ireland and Scotland. At first it seemed more royalist than the king; but it soon appeared that its enthusiasm for the monarchy was more evanescent than its attachment to the church and landed interest. Even in the first flush it refrained from restoring the Star Chamber and the other prerogative courts and councils which had enabled the crown to dispense with parliamentary and common law control; and Charles II was never able to repeat his father's experiment of ruling for eleven years without a parliament.

The ablest, least scrupulous, and most popular of the Stuarts, he began his reign with two objects: the emancipation of the crown from control as far as possible, and the emancipation of the Roman Catholics from their position of political inferiority; but the pursuit of both objects was strictly conditioned by a determination not to embark on his travels again. The two objects were really incompatible. Charles could only make himself autocratic with the support of the Anglican church, and the church was determined to tolerate no relaxation of the penal code against other Catholics. At first Charles had to submit to Clarendon and the church; but in 1667 he gladly replaced Clarendon by the Cabal administration, among the members of which the only bond of unity was that it did not contain a sound Anglican churchman. With its assistance he published his Declarations of Indulgence for Roman Catholics and Dissenters (1672), and sought to secure himself against parliamentary recalcitrance by a secret treaty with Louis XIV (1670). This policy failed against the stubborn opposition of the church. The Cabal fell; Danby, a replica of Clarendon, came into office; and the Test Act of 1673 made the position of the Roman Catholics worse than it was before the Declaration.

This failure convinced Charles that one of his two designs must go by the board. He threw over the less popular cause of his co-religionists; and henceforth devoted himself to the task of emancipating the crown from parliamentary interference. But popular suspicion had been aroused by Charles's secret dealings and James's open professions; and Titus Oates, who knew something about real plans for the reconversion of England, inflated his knowledge into a monstrous tale of a popish plot. The Whigs, as the opposition party came to be called, used it for more than it was worth to damage the Tories under Danby. The panic produced one useful measure, the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, many judicial murders, and a foolish attempt to exclude James from the succession, As it subsided, Charles deftly turned the reaction to the ruin of the Whigs (1681). Of their leaders, Shaftesbury fled to Holland, and Sidney and Russell were brought to the block; their parliamentary strongholds in the cities and towns were packed with Tories; and for the last four years of his reign Charles ruled without a parliament, but with the goodwill of the Tories and the church.

This half of the nation would probably have acquiesced in the growth of despotism under James II, had not the new king ostentatiously ignored the wisdom of Charles II. He began (1685) with everything in his favour: a Tory parliament, a discredited opposition, which further weakened its case by Argyll's and Monmouth's rebellions, and a great reputation for honesty. Within a couple of years he had thrown away all these advantages by his revival of Charles II's abandoned Roman Catholic policy, and had alienated the Anglican church, by whose support alone he could hope to rule as an English despot. He suspended and dispensed with laws, introduced Roman Catholics into the army, the universities, the privy council, raised a standing force of thirty thousand men, and finally prosecuted seven bishops for seditious libel. William III, the husband of James's daughter Mary, was invited by representatives of all parties to come over as England's deliverer, and James fled on his approach. He could not fight, like his father, because no English party supported his cause.

The Revolution of 1688 was singularly negative so far as its results were expressed in the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement. These celebrated constitutional documents made little provision for national self-government. One king, it is true, had been evicted from the throne, and Roman Catholics were to be always excluded; and these measures disposed of divine hereditary right. But that had been a Stuart invention, and kings had been deposed before James II. Why should self-government follow on the events of 1688 any more than on those of 1399, 1461, or 1485? Future sovereigns were, indeed, to refrain from doing much that James had done. They were not to keep a standing army in time of peace, not to pardon ministers impeached by the House of Commons, not to dismiss judges except on an address from both Houses of Parliament, not to suspend laws at all nor to dispense with them in the way James had done, not to keep a parliament nor do without one longer than three years, and not to require excessive bail. Religious toleration, too, was secured in some measure, and freedom of the press to a limited extent. But all these enactments were safeguards against the abuse of royal power and infringement of civil liberty rather than provisions for self-government. No law was passed requiring the king to be guided by ministers enjoying the confidence of parliament; he was still the real and irresponsible executive, and parliament was limited to legislation. The favourite Whig toast of "civil and religious liberty" implied an Englishman's right to freedom from molestation, but not a right to a voice in the government of the country. Responsible self-government was not guaranteed by the laws, but it was ensured by the facts, of the Revolution.

The truth is, that the methods of English constitutional progress have been, down to this day, offensive strategy and defensive tactics. Positions have been taken up which necessitate the retirement of the forces of reaction, unless they are prepared to make attacks predestined to defeat; and so, nearly every Liberal advance has been made to appear the result of Tory aggression. The central position has always been control of the purse by parliament. At first it only embraced certain forms of direct taxation; gradually it was extended and developed by careful spade-work until it covered every source of revenue. Entrenched behind these formidable earthworks, parliament proceeded to dictate to the early Stuarts the terms of national policy. Charles I, provoked by its assumptions, made his attack on the central position, was foiled, and in his retreat left large portions of the crown's equipment in the hands of parliament. Rasher attacks by James II resulted in a still more precipitate retreat and in the abandonment of more of the royal prerogatives. The growth of the empire and of the expenses of government riveted more firmly than ever the hold of parliament over the crown; the greater the demands which it alone could meet, the higher the conditions it could impose upon their grant, until parliament determined absolutely the terms upon which the office of monarchy should be held. In a similar way the Commons used their control of the national purse to restrict the powers of the House of Lords; provocation has led to attacks on the central position, and the failure of these attacks has been followed by surrender. Prudent leaders have preferred to retire without courting the preliminary of defeat.

William III and his successors adopted this course when confronted with the impregnable position of parliament after the Revolution; and hence later constitutional gains, while no apparent part of the parliamentary position, were its inevitable consequences. William, absorbed in a life-and-death struggle with Louis XIV, required a constant stream of supplies from parliament; and to secure its regularity he had to rely on the good offices and advice of those who commanded most votes in the House of Commons. In the Lords, who then numbered less than two hundred, he could secure the balance of power through the appointment of bishops. In the Commons his situation was more difficult. The partial demise of personal monarchy in 1688 led to a scramble for its effects, and the scramble to the organization of the two principal competitors, the Whig and Tory parties. The Whigs formed a "junto," or caucus, and the Tories followed their example. William preferred the Whigs, because they sympathized with his wars; but the country sometimes preferred the Tories, because it hated William's Dutchmen and taxation. On William's death in 1702 the danger from Louis XIV was considered so acute that a ministry was formed from all parties in order to secure the united support of parliament; but gradually, in Anne's reign, the Tories who wanted to make peace left the ministry, until in 1708 it became purely Whig. In 1710 it fell, and the Tories took its place. They wanted a Stuart restoration, even at the price of undoing the Revolution, if only the Pretender would abandon his popery; while the Whigs were determined to maintain the Revolution even at the price of a Hanoverian dynasty. They returned to power in 1714 with the accession of George I, and monopolized office for more than half a century. As time went on, many Whigs became hardly distinguishable from Tories who had relinquished Jacobitism; and from Lord North's accession to office in 1770 down to 1830 the Tories enjoyed in their turn a half- century of nearly unbroken power.

During this period the party system and cabinet government were elaborated. Party supplanted the crown as the determining factor in British government, and the cabinet became the executive committee of the party possessing a majority in the House of Commons. Queen Anne had not the intellect nor vigour to assert her independence of ministers, and George I, who understood no English, ceased to attend cabinet meetings. The royal veto disappeared, and even the king's choice of ministers was severely limited, not by law but by practical necessities. Ministers, instead of giving individual advice which the sovereign might reject, met together without the king and tendered collective advice, the rejection of which by the sovereign meant their resignation, and if parliament agreed with them, its dissolution or surrender on the part of the crown. For the purpose of tendering this advice and maintaining order in the cabinet, a chief was needed; Walpole, by eliminating all competitors during his long administration (1721-1742), developed the office of prime minister, which, without any law to establish it, became one of the most important of British institutions. Similarly the cabinet itself grew and was not created by any Act; indeed, while the cabinet and the prime minister were growing, it would have been impossible to induce any parliament to create them, for parliament was still jealous of royal influence, and even wanted to exclude from its ranks all servants of the crown. But, fortunately, the absence of a written constitution enabled the British constitution to grow and adapt itself to circumstances without legal enactment.

The circumstance that the cabinet was the executive committee of the majority in the House of Commons gave it the command of the Lower House, and by means of the Commons' financial powers, of the crown. This party system was deplored by many; Bolingbroke, a Tory leader out of office, called for a national party, and urged the crown to emancipate itself from Whig domination by choosing ministers from all sections. Chatham thought that in the interests of national efficiency, the ablest ministers should be selected, whatever their political predilections. George III adapted these ideas to the purpose of making himself a king in deed. But his success in breaking down the party and cabinet system was partial and temporary; he only succeeded in humbling the Whig houses by giving himself a master in the person of the younger Pitt (1784), who was supported by the majority of the nation.

With the House of Lords the cabinet has had more prolonged and complicated troubles. Ostensibly and constitutionally the disputes have been between the two Houses of Parliament; and this was really the case before the development of the close connexion between the cabinet and the Commons. Both Houses had profited by the overthrow of the crown in the seventeenth century, and the extremes to which they sometimes pushed their claims suggest that they were as anxious as the crown had been to place themselves above the law. The House of Lords did succeed in making its judicial decisions law in spite of the crown and Commons, although the Commons were part of the "High Court of Parliament," and no law had granted the Lords supreme appellate jurisdiction; hence the constitutional position of the House of Lords was made by its own decisions and not by Act of Parliament or of the crown. This claim to appellate jurisdiction, which was much disputed by the Commons during the reign of Charles II, was only conceded in return for a similar concession to the Commons in financial matters. Here the Commons practically made their resolutions law, though the Lords insisted that the privilege should not be abused by "tacking" extraneous provisions on to financial measures.

There were some further disputes in the reigns of William III and Anne, but the only occasion upon which peers were actually made in order to carry a measure, was when the Tories created a dozen to pass the Peace of Utrecht in 1712. It is, indeed, a singular fact that no serious conflict between the two Houses occurred during the whole of the Georgian period from 1714 to 1830. The explanation seems to be that both Houses were simply the political agents of the same organized aristocracy. The humble townsfolk who figured in the parliaments of Edward I (see p. 65) disappeared when a seat in the House of Commons became a position of power and privilege; and to the first parliament (1547) for which journals of the Commons proved worth preserving, the eldest son of a peer thought it worth while seeking election. Many successors followed; towns were bribed or constrained to choose the nominees of peers and country magnates; burgage tenements were bought up by noble families to secure votes; and the Restoration parliament had material reasons for treating Cromwell's reforms as void, and restoring rotten boroughs and fancy franchises. By the time that parliament had emancipated itself from the control of the crown, it had also emancipated itself to a considerable extent from the control of the constituencies.

This political system would not have developed nor lasted so long as it did, had it not had some virtue and some relevance to its environment. In every country's development there is a stage in which aristocracy is the best form of government. England had outgrown monarchical despotism, but it was not yet fit for democracy. Political power depends upon education, and it would have been unreasonable to expect intelligent votes from men who could not read or write, had small knowledge of politics, little practical training in local administration, and none of the will to exercise control. Politics were still the affair of the few, because only the few could comprehend them, or were conscious of the uses and limitations of political power. The corrupt and misguided use of their votes by those who possessed them was some reason for not extending the franchise to still more ignorant masses; and it was not entirely irrational to leave the control of national affairs in the hands of that section of the nation which had received some sort of political education.

The defects, however, of a political system, which restricts power to a limited class or classes, are that each class tends to exercise it in its own interests and resents its extension to others, even when they are qualified for its use. If all other historical records had disappeared, land laws, game laws, inclosure acts, and corn laws—after the Revolution a bounty was actually placed on the export of corn, whereby the community was taxed in order to deprive itself of food or make it dearer—alone would prove that political power in the Georgian period was vested in a landed aristocracy, though England's commercial policy, especially towards Ireland, would show that mercantile interests had also to be consulted. Similarly, the journals of the House of Commons would prove it to have been a close corporation less anxious for the reign of law than for its own supremacy over the law. It claimed authority to decide by its own resolutions who had the right to vote for its members and who had the right to a seat. It expelled members duly elected, and declared candidates elected who had been duly rejected. It repudiated responsibility to public opinion as derogatory to its liberties and independence; it excluded strangers, and punished the publication of debates and division-lists as high misdemeanours. It was a law unto itself, and its notions of liberty sometimes sank to the level of those of a feudal baron.

Hence the comparative ease and success with which George III filled its sacred precincts with his paid battalions of "king's friends." He would have been powerless against a really representative House; but he could buy boroughs and votes as effectively as Whig or Tory dukes, and it was his intervention that raised a doubt in the mind of the House whether it might not need some measure of reform. The influence of the crown, it resolved in 1780, had increased, was increasing, and ought to be diminished. But it could only be diminished by destroying that basis of corruption which supported the power of the oligarchs no less than that of the crown. Reform would be a self-denying ordinance, if not an act of political suicide, as well as a blow at George III. Privileged bodies do not reform themselves; proposals by Burke and by Pitt and by others were rejected one after another; and then the French Revolution came to stiffen the wavering ranks of reaction. Not till the Industrial Revolution had changed the face of England did the old political forces acknowledge their defeat and surrender their claim to govern the nation against its will.



CHAPTER VI

THE EXPANSION OF ENGLAND

1603-1815

In the reign of Elizabeth Englishmen had made themselves acquainted with the world. They had surveyed it from Greenland's icy mountains to India's coral strand, and from the Orinoco to Japan, where William Adams built the first Japanese navy; they had interfered in the politics of the Moluccas and had sold English woollens in Bokhara; they had sailed through the Golden Gate of California and up the Golden Horn of the Bosphorus; they had crossed the Pacific Ocean and the deserts of Central Asia; they had made their country known alike to the Great Turk and to the Grand Moghul. National unity and the fertile mingling of classes had generated this expansive energy, for the explorers included earls as well as humble mariners and traders; and all ranks, from the queen downwards, took shares in their "adventures." They had thus acquired a body of knowledge and experience which makes it misleading to speak of their blundering into empire. They soon learnt to concentrate their energies upon those quarters of the globe in which expansion was easiest and most profitable. The East India Company had received its charter in 1600, and the naval defeat of Spain had opened the sea to all men; but, with the doubtful exception of Newfoundland, England secured no permanent footing outside the British Isles until after the crowns of England and Scotland had been united.

This personal union can hardly be called part of the expansion of England, but it had been prepared by some assimilation and cooperation between the two peoples, and it was followed by a great deal more. The plantation of Ulster by English and Scots after the flight of the Irish earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell in 1607 is one illustration, and Nova Scotia is another; but Virginia, the first colony of the empire, was a purely English enterprise, and it cradled the first-born child of the Mother of Parliaments. To Virginia men went for profit; principle drove them to New England. The Pilgrim Fathers, who sailed in the Mayflower in 1620, had separated from the church and meant to separate from the state, and to set up a polity the antithesis of that of Laud and the Stuarts. But there was something in common between them; the Puritans, too, wanted uniformity, and believed in their right to compel all to think, or at least to worship, alike. Schism, however, appeals with ill grace and little success to authority; and dissentients from the dissenters formed Independent offshoots from New England. But all these Puritan communities in the north were different in character from Virginia in the south; they consisted of democratic townships, Virginia of plantations worked by slaves. Slave labour was also the economic basis of the colonies established on various West Indian islands during the first half of the seventeenth century; and this distinction between colonies used for exploitation and colonies used for settlement has led to important constitutional variations in the empire. Only those colonies in which large white communities are settled have received self-government; those in which a few whites exploit a large coloured population remain subject to the control of the home government. The same economic and social differences were responsible for the great American civil war between North and South in the nineteenth century.

There are three periods in British colonial expansion. The first, or introductory period, was marked by England's rivalry with Spain and Portugal; the second by its rivalry with the Dutch; and the third by its rivalry with France; and in each the rivalry led to wars in which Britain was victorious. The Elizabethan war with Spain was followed by the Dutch wars of the Commonwealth and Charles II's reign, and then by the French wars, which lasted, with longer or shorter intervals, from 1688 to 1815. The wars with the Dutch showed how completely, in the latter half of the seventeenth century, commercial interests outweighed those of religion and politics. Even when English and Dutch were both living under Protestant republics, they fought one another rather than the Catholic monarchies of France and Spain. Their antagonism arose over rival claims to sovereignty in the Narrow Seas, which the herring fisheries had made as valuable as gold mines, and out of competition for the world's carrying trade and for commerce in the East Indies. The last-named source of irritation had led to a "massacre" of Englishmen at Amboyna in 1623, after which the English abandoned the East Indian islands to the Dutch East India Company, concentrating their attention upon India, where the acquisition of settlements at Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay laid the foundations of the three great Presidencies of the British Empire in India.

A fatal blow was struck at the Dutch carrying trade by the Navigation Acts of 1650-1651, which provided that all goods imported into England or any of its colonies must be brought either in English ships or in those of the producing country. The Dutch contested these Acts in a stubborn naval war. The great Admirals, Van Tromp and Blake, were not unevenly matched; but the Dutch failed to carry their point. The principle of the Navigation Acts was reaffirmed, with some modifications, after the Restoration, which made no difference to England's commercial and colonial policy. A second Dutch war accordingly broke out in 1664, and this time the Dutch, besides failing in their original design, lost the New Netherland colony they had established in North America. Portions of it became New York, so named after the future James II, who was Duke of York and Lord High Admiral, and other parts were colonized as Pennsylvania by the Quaker, William Penn. The great importance of this acquisition was that it drove out the wedge dividing the New England colonies to the north from Virginia and Maryland, which had been founded in Charles I's reign, mainly as a refuge for Roman Catholics, to the south; and this continuous line of British colonies along the Atlantic seaboard was soon continued southwards by the settlement of the two Carolinas. The colonization of Georgia, still further south, in the reign of George II, completed the thirteen colonies which became the original United States.

France now overshadowed Holland as England's chief competitor. Canada, originally colonized by the French, had been conquered by the English in 1629, but speedily restored by Charles I; and towards the close of the seventeenth century France began to think of uniting Canada with another French colony, Louisiana, by a chain of posts along the Mississippi. Colbert, Louis XIV's minister, had greatly developed French commerce, navy, and navigation; and the Mississippi Company was an important factor in French history early in the eighteenth century. This design, if successful, would have neutralized the advantage England had secured in the possession of the Atlantic seaboard of North America, and have made the vast West a heritage of France.

Nevertheless, the wars of William III and Anne were not in the main colonial. Louis' support of James II, and his recognition of the Old Pretender, were blows at the heart of the empire. Moderate success on James's part might have led to its dismemberment, to the separation of Catholic Ireland and the Scottish Highlands from the remainder of the British Isles; and dominion abroad would not long have survived disruption at home. The battle of the Boyne (1690) disposed of Irish independence, and the Act of Union with Scotland (1707) ensured Great Britain against the revival of separate sovereignties north and south of the Tweed. Scotland surrendered her independent parliament and administration: it received instead the protection of the Navigation laws, representation in both houses of the United Parliament, and the privilege of free trade with England and its colonies—which put an end to the tariff wars waged between the two countries in the seventeenth century; and it retained its established Presbyterian church. Forty- five Scottish members were to sit in the House of Commons, and sixteen Scottish peers elected by their fellows for each parliament in the House of Lords. Scottish peers who were not thus chosen could neither sit in the House of Lords nor seek election to the House of Commons.

In time this union contributed materially to the expansive energy of the British Empire, but it did not substantially help Marlborough to win his brilliant victories in the war with France (1702-1713). Apart from the general defeat of Louis XIV's ambition to dominate Europe, the most important result, from the British point of view, was the definite establishment of Great Britain as a Mediterranean power by the acquisition of Gibraltar and Minorca. English expeditions against Canada had not been very successful, but the Peace of Utrecht (1713) finally secured for the empire the outworks of the Canadian citadel— Hudson's Bay Territories, Newfoundland, and the future provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The trading privileges which Great Britain also secured in Spanish America both assisted the vast growth of British commerce under Walpole's pacific rule, and provoked the war with Spain in 1739 which helped to bring about his fall. This war, which soon merged in the war of the Austrian Succession (1741-1748), was indecisive in its colonial aspects, and left the question of French or English predominance in India and North America to be settled in the Seven Years' War of 1756-1763.

War, however, decides little by itself, and three of the world's greatest soldiers, Alexander, Hannibal, and Napoleon, founded no permanent empires. An excellent servant, but a bad master, the soldier needs to be the instrument of other than military forces if his labours are to last; and the permanence of the results of the Seven Years' War is due less to the genius of Pitt, Wolfe, Clive, and Howe than to the causes which laid the foundations of their achievements. The future of North America was determined not so much by Wolfe's capture of Quebec— which had fallen into British hands before—as by the fact that before the Seven Years' War broke out there were a million and a quarter British colonists against some eighty thousand French. If Canada had not fallen in the Seven Years' War, it would have succumbed to British arms in the wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon. The fate of India seemed less certain, and the genius of Dupleix roused better hopes for France; yet India, defenceless as it was against European forces, was bound to fall a prize to the masters of the sea, unless some European state could control its almost impassable overland approaches. Clive, perhaps, was almost as much the brilliant adventurer as Dupleix, but he was supported at need by an organized government more susceptible than the French ancien rgime to the pressure of commercial interests and of popular ambitions.

The conquest of Canada led to the loss of the thirteen American colonies. Their original bias towards separation had never been eradicated, and the recurrent quarrels between the various legislatures and their governors had only been prevented from coming to a head by fear of the Frenchmen at their gates and disunion among themselves. Charles II and James II wanted to centralize the New England colonies on a monarchical basis; and they began by attacking their charters in much the same way as they dealt with the Puritan corporations of English cities and boroughs. Those of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island were forfeited, and these colonies were thus provided with a grievance common to themselves and to the mother-country. But, while the Revolution supplied a remedy at home, it did not in the colonies. Their charters, indeed, were restored; but when the Massachusetts legislature passed a bill similar to the Bill of Rights, the royal assent was not accorded, and the colonists remained liable to taxation without their own consent. This theoretical right of Great Britain to tax the American colonies was wisely left in abeyance until George Grenville's righteous soul was vexed with the thought that colonists, for whose benefit the Seven Years' War had largely been waged, should escape contribution towards its expenses. Walpole had reduced the duties on colonial produce and had winked at the systematic evasion of the Navigation Acts by the colonists. Grenville was incapable of such statesmanlike obliquity. He tried to stop smuggling; he asserted the right of the home government to control the vast hinterland from which the colonists thought that the French had been evicted for their particular benefit; and he passed the Stamp Act, levying internal taxation from the colonies without consulting their legislatures.

Security from the French made the colonists think they were independent of the British, and, having an inordinate proportion of lawyers among them, they did not lack plausible arguments. They admitted the right of the British parliament to impose external taxes, such as customs duties, on the colonies, but denied its right to levy internal taxation. The distinction was well established in English constitutional history, and kings had long enjoyed powers over the customs which they had lost over direct taxation. But the English forefathers of the Puritan colonists had seen to it that control over direct, led to control over indirect, taxation; and it may be assumed that the American demand for the one would, if granted, soon have been followed by a demand for the other. In any case, reasons for separation would not have been long in forthcoming. It was not that the old colonial system was particularly harsh or oppressive; for the colonial producer, if restricted (nominally) to the home market, was well protected there. But the colonists wanted complete control over their own domestic affairs. It was a natural and a thoroughly British desire, the denial of which to-day would at once provoke the disruption of the empire; and there was no reason to expect colonial content with a government which was not giving much satisfaction in England. A peaceful solution was out of the question, because the governing classes, which steadily resisted English demands for reform, were not likely to concede American demands for radical innovations. There were no precedents for such a self-denying ordinance as the grant of colonial self-government, and law was on the side of George III. But things that are lawful are not always expedient, and legal justification is no proof of wisdom or statesmanship.

The English people supported George III until he had failed; but there was not much enthusiasm for the war, except at places like Birmingham, which possessed a small-arms manufactory and other stimulants to patriotic fervour. It was badly mismanaged by George, and Whigs did their best to hamper his efforts, fearing, with some reason, that success in North America would encourage despotic enterprise at home. George would, however, in all probability have won but for the intervention of France and Spain (1778-1779), who hoped to wipe off the scores of the Seven Years' War, and for the armed neutrality of Russia and Holland (1780), who resented the arrogant claims of the British to right of search on the high seas. At the critical moment Britain lost the command of the sea; and although Rodney's naval victory (1782) and the successful defence of Gibraltar (1779-1783) enabled her to obtain tolerable terms from her European enemies, American independence had to be granted (1783). For Ireland was on the verge of revolt, and British dominion in India was shaken to its foundations. So the two great sections of the English people parted company, perhaps to their mutual profit. Certainly each government has now enough to do without solving the other's problems, and it is well-nigh impossible to conceive a state maintaining its equilibrium or its equanimity with two such partners as the British Empire and the United States struggling for predominance within it.

Meanwhile, Warren Hastings saved the situation in India by means that were above the Oriental but below the normal English standard of morality. He was impeached for his pains later on by the Whigs, whose moral indignation was sharpened by resentment at the use of Anglo- Indian gold to defeat them at the general election of 1784. Ireland was placated by the grant of legislative independence (1782), a concession both too wide and too narrow to provide any real solution of her difficulties. It was too wide because Grattan's parliament, as it is called, was co-ordinate with, and not subordinate to, the imperial parliament; and there was thus no supreme authority to settle differences, which sooner or later were bound to arise between the two. It was too narrow, because the Irish executive remained responsible to Downing Street and not to the Irish parliament. The parliament, moreover, did not represent the Irish people; Catholics were excluded from it, and until 1793 were denied the vote; sixty seats were in the hands of three families, and a majority of the members were returned by pocket-boroughs. A more hopeless want of system can hardly be imagined: a corrupt aristocracy, a ferocious commonalty, a distracted government, a divided people—such was the verdict of a contemporary politician. At length, after a Protestant revolt in Ulster, a Catholic rising in the south, and a French invasion, Pitt bribed and cajoled the borough- mongers to consent to union with Great Britain (1800). Thirty-two Irish peers, twenty-eight temporal and four spiritual, were to sit in the House of Lords, and a hundred Irish members in the House of Commons. The realization of the prospect of Roman Catholic Emancipation, which had been held out as a further consideration, was postponed by the prejudices of George III until its saving grace had been lost. Grattan's prophecy of retribution for the destruction of Irish liberty has often been quoted: "We will avenge ourselves," he said, "by sending into the ranks of your parliament, and into the very heart of your constitution, one hundred of the greatest scoundrels in the kingdom"; but it is generally forgotten that he had in mind the kind of members nominated by peers and borough-mongers to represent them in an unreformed House of Commons.

The loss of the American colonies threw a shadow over British colonial enterprise which had some lasting effects on the colonial policy of the mother-country. The severance did not, as is often supposed, convince Great Britain that the grant of self-government to colonies was the only means to retain them. But they had been esteemed mainly as markets for British exports, and the discovery that British exports to America increased, instead of diminishing, after the grant of independence, raised doubts about the value of colonies which explain the comparative indifference of public opinion towards them during the next half- century. For the commercial conception of empire was still in the ascendant; and if the landed interest controlled the domestic politics of the eighteenth century, the commercial interest determined the outlines of British expansion. Territory was acquired or strongholds seized in order to provide markets and guard trade communications.

From this point of view India became, after the loss of the American colonies, the dominant factor in British external policy. The monetary value of India to the British far exceeded that of all their other foreign possessions put together. The East India Company's servants often amassed huge fortunes in a few years, and the influence of this wealth upon British politics became very apparent in the last quarter of the century. It put up the price of parliamentary pocket-boroughs, and thus delayed reform; it enabled commercial men to force their way into the House of Lords by the side of landed magnates, and the younger Pitt doubled its numbers in his efforts to win the political support of the moneyed classes; and finally, it affected consciously or unconsciously men's views of the interests of the empire and of the policy to be pursued to serve them.

The half-century which followed the American War of Independence was not, indeed, barren of results in other directions than those indicated by the East India Company. Canada was saved from the seductions of American independence by a wise recognition of its established customs and religion (1774), and was strengthened by the influx of United Empire Loyalists who would not bow the knee to republican separatism. Provision was made for the government of these some what discordant elements by dividing Canada into two provinces, one predominantly French, the other British, and giving each a legislature for the voicing of its grievances (1791). So, too, the impulse of the Seven Years' War survived the War of Independence in other quarters of the globe. Naval officers, released from war-like operations, were sent to explore the Pacific; and, among them, Captain James Cook surveyed the coasts of Australia and New Zealand (1770). The enthusiastic naturalist of the expedition, Joseph Banks, persistently sang the praises of Botany Bay; but the new acquisition was used as a convict settlement (1788), which was hardly a happy method of extending British civilization. The origin of Australia differed from that of New England, in that the Pilgrim Fathers wanted to avoid the mother- country; while the mother-country wanted to avoid the convicts; but in neither case was there any imperialism in the aversion.

India was, in fact, the chief outlet at that period for British imperial sentiment. It is true that Great Britain laid down in solemn official language, in 1784, that the acquisition of territory was repugnant to the principles of British government. But so had Frederick the Great begun his career by writing a refutation of Machiavelli; circumstances, and something within which made for empire, proved too strong for liberal intentions, and the only British war waged between the Peace of Versailles in 1783 and the rupture with Revolutionary France in 1793 resulted in the dismemberment of Tippoo Sultan's kingdom of Mysore (1792). The crusading truculence of the French republicans, and Napoleon's ambition, made the security of the British Isles Pitt's first consideration; but when that was confirmed by naval victories over the French on the 1st of June, 1794, and at the battle of the Nile in 1798, over the Dutch at Camperdown and over the Spaniards at Cape St. Vincent in 1797, over the Danes at Copenhagen in 1801, and over the French and Spaniards combined at Trafalgar in 1805, Great Britain concentrated its energies mainly on extending its hold on India and the Far East, and on strengthening its communications with them. The purpose of the battle of the Nile was to evict Napoleon from Egypt, which he had occupied as a stepping-stone to India, and Malta was seized (1800) with a similar object. Mauritius, too, was taken (1810), because it had formed a profitable basis of operations for French privateers against the East India trade; and the Cape of Good Hope was conquered from the Dutch, the reluctant allies of the French, in 1795, as a better half-way house to India than St. Helena, which England had acquired from the same colonial rivals in 1673. The Cape was restored in 1802, but reconquered in 1806 and retained in 1815.

In the Far East, British dominion was rapidly extended under the stimulus of the Marquess Wellesley, elder brother of the Duke of Wellington, who endeavoured in redundantly eloquent despatches to reconcile his deeds with the pacific tone of his instructions. Ceylon was taken from the Dutch in 1796, and was not restored like Java, which suffered a similar conquest; and British settlements were soon afterwards founded at Singapore and on the Malay Peninsula. In India itself Tippoo was defeated and slain in his capital at Seringapatam in 1799, the Mahrattas were crushed at Assye and Argaum in 1803, the nabob was forced to surrender the Carnatic, and the vizier the province of Oudh, until the whole coast-line of India and the valley of the Ganges had passed directly or indirectly under British control. These regions were conquered partly because they were more attractive and accessible to the British, and partly to prevent their being accessible to the French; the poorer and more difficult mountainous districts of the Deccan, isolated from foreign infection, were left under native rulers.

The final overthrow of Napoleon, to which Great Britain had contributed more by its efforts in the Spanish Peninsular War (1808-1814) than at the crowning mercy of Waterloo, confirmed its conquests in India and its control of the trade routes of the world. Its one permanent failure during the war was Whitelocke's expedition to Buenos Ayres in 1807; that attack was not repeated because the Spaniards having, by their revolt against Napoleon, become England's allies, it was hardly fair to appropriate their colonies; and so South America was left to work out its destinies under Latin and not Teutonic influence. Most of the West Indian islands, however, with British Honduras and British Guiana on the mainland, had been acquired for the empire, which had now secured footholds in all the continents of the world. The development of those footholds into great self-governing communities, the unique and real achievement of the British Empire, was the work of the nineteenth century; and its accomplishment depended upon the effects of the changes known to us as the Industrial Revolution.



CHAPTER VII

THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

The Industrial Revolution is a phrase invented by Arnold Toynbee, and now generally used to indicate those economic changes which turned England from an agricultural into an industrial community. The period during which these changes took place cannot from the nature of things be definitely fixed; but usually it is taken to extend from about the middle of the eighteenth century to the close of the reign of George III. Two points, however, must be remembered: first, that there was a commercial as well as an agricultural and an industrial stage of development; and secondly, that this period contains merely the central and crucial years of a process of specialization and expansion which occupied centuries of English economic history. There was also before the agricultural stage a pastoral stage; but that lies beyond the scope of English history, because both the English people and the Celts they conquered had passed out of the pastoral stage before recorded English history begins. Each of these stages corresponds to a different social organization: the pastoral stage was patriarchal, the agricultural stage was feudal, the commercial stage was plutocratic, and the industrial stage leads towards democracy. The stages, of course, overlap one another, and every national community to-day is partly pastoral, partly agricultural, partly commercial, and partly industrial. We can only call a nation any one of these things in the sense that they denote its dominant characteristic.

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