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CHAP. uncontrouled afcendant over her people; and while the XLV. merited all their esteem by her real virtues, fhe also engaged their affection by her pretended ones. Few fove1603. reigns of England fucceeded to the throne in more difficult circumstances; and none ever conducted the government with fuch uniform fuccefs and felicity. Though unacquainted with the practice of toleration, the true fecret for managing religious factions, the preferved her people, by her fuperior prudence, from those confufions, in which theological controverfy had involved all the neighbouring nations: And though her enemies were the moft powerful princes of Europe, the most active, the moft enterprifing, the leaft fcrupulous, he was able, by her vigour, to make deep impreffions on their fate: Her own greatness, mean while, remained untouched and unimpaired.
THE wife ministers and brave warriors, who flourifhed under her reign, fhare the praife of her fuccefs; but instead of leffening the applaufe due to her, they make great addition to it. They owed, all of them, their advancement to her choice; they were fupported by her conftancy; and, with all their ability, they were never able to acquire any undue afcendant over her. In her family, in her court, in her kingdom, the remained equally mistress: The force of the tender paffions was great over her, but the force of her mind was ftill fuperior; and the combat, which her victory visibly coft her, ferves only to difplay the firmnefs of her refolution, and the loftinefs of her ambitious fentiments.
THE fame of this princefs, though it has furmounted the prejudices both of faction and bigotry, yet lies ftill expofed to another prejudice, which is more durable because more natural, and which, according to the different views in which we furvey her, is capable either of exalting beyond measure, or diminishing the luftre of her character. This prejudice is founded on the confideration of her fex. When we contemplate her as a woman, we are apt to be struck with the higheft admiration of her great qualities and extenlive capacity; but we are alfo apt to require fome more foftness of difpofition, fome greater lenity of temper, fome of thofe amiable weakneffes by which her
fex is diftinguished. But the true method of eftimating CHA P.
Government of England-Revenues
HE party amongst us, who have distinguished themielves by their adhering to liberty and a popular government, have long indulged their prejudices Govern against the fucceeding race of princes, by beltowing ment of unbounded panegyrics on the virtue and wisdom of EliEngland. zabeth. They have even been fo extremely ignorant of the tranfactions of this reign, as to extol her for a quaJity, which, of all others, the was the leaft poffeffed of; a tender regard for the constitution, and a concern for the liberties and privileges of her people. But as it is fcarcely poffible for the prepoffeffions of party to throw a veil much longer over facts fo palpable and undeniable, there is danger left the public fhould run into the oppofite extreme, and fhould entertain an averfion to the memory of a princess, who exercised the royal authority in a manner fo contrary to all the ideas, which we at prefent entertain of a legal conftitution. But Elizabeth only fupported the prerogatives, tranfmitted to her by her immediate predeceffors: She believed that her fubjects were entitled to no more liberty than their ancestors had enjoyed: She found that they entirely acquiefced in her arbitrary administration: And it was not natural for her to find fault with a form of government, by which the herself was invefted with fuch unlimited authority. In the particular exertions of power, the question ought never to be forgot, What is beft? But in the general distribution of power among the feveral members of a constitution, there can feldom be admitted any other question, than, What is ufual? Few examples occur of princes, who have willingly refigned their power:, None of those who have, without ftruggle and reluctance, allowed it to be extorted from them. If any other rule than efta
blished practice be followed, factions and diffentions must Appendix
In order to understand the antient conftitution of England, there is not a period which deferves more to be studied than the reign of Elizabeth. The prerogatives of this princess were scarcely ever difputed, and the therefore employed them without fcruple. Her imperious temper, a circumftance in which he went far beyond her fucceffors, rendered her exertions of power violent and frequent, and discovered the full extent of her authority: The great popularity which he enjoyed, proves, that she did not infringe any established liberties of the people: There remain monuments numerous enough to afcertain the most noted acts of her adminiftration: And though these monuments must be derived from a fource wide of the ordinary historians, they become only the more authentic on that account, and serve as a stronger proof, that the particular exertions of her power were conceived to be nothing but the ordinary course of adminiftration, fince they were not thought remarkable enough to be recorded even by contemporary writers. If there was any difference in this particular, the people, in former reigns, feem rather to have been more submissive than even during the age of Elizabeth M. It may not
By the antient conftitution, is here meant that which prevailed before the fettlement of our prefent plan of liberty. There was a more antient conftitution, where, though the people had perhaps less liberty than under the Tudors, yet the king had alfo lefs authority: The power of the barons was a great check upon him, and exercised great tyranny over them.
But there was ftill a more antient conftitution, viz. that before
M In a memorial of the ftate of the realm, drawn by fecretary Cecil, in 1569, there is this paffage: "Then followeth
Appendix here be improper to recount fome of the antient prerogaIII. tives of the crown, and lay open the fources of that great power, which the English monarchs formerly enjoyed.
ONE of the most antient and most established inftruments of power was the court of star-chamber, which poffeffed an unlimited difcretionary authority of fining, imprifoning, and inflicting corporal punishment, and whofe jurifdiction extended to all forts of offences, contempts, and diforders, that lay not within reach of the common law. The members of this court confifted of the privy council and the judges; men, who all of them enjoyed their offices during pleasure: And when the prince himself was prefent, he was the fole judge, and all the others could only interpofe with their advice. There needed but this one court, in any government, to put an end to all regular, legal, and exact plans of liberty. For who durft fet himself in oppofition to the crown and miniftry, or aspire to the character of being a patron of freedom, while expofed to fo arbitrary a jurifdi&tion? I much question, whether any of the abfolute monarchies in Europe contain, at present, fo illegal and defpotic a tribunal.
THE Court of High Commiffion was another jurifdiction still more terrible; both because the crime of heresy, of which it took cognizance, was more undefinable than any civil offence, and because its methods of inquifition, and of adminiftering oaths, were more contrary to all the moft fimple ideas of juftice and equity. The fines and imprisonments impofed by this court were frequent : The deprivations and fufpenfions of the clergy for nonconformity were alfo numerous, and comprehended at one time the third of all the ecclefiaftics of England N. The queen, in a letter to the archbishop of Canterbury, faid exprefsly, that he was refolved, "That no man "fhould be fuffered to decline, either on the left or on
"the decay of obedience in civil policy, which being compared with the fearfulness and reverence of all inferior ef"tates to their fuperiors in times paft, will aftonish any wife "and confiderate perfon, to behold the defperation of refor"mation." Haynes, p. 586. Again, p. 588.
N Neal, vol. i. p. 479.