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ment, by the army, by a council of state, by a council of officers ; enjoying the blessings of peace and settled government only when CROMWELL, in the name of Puritanism, obtained and exercised absolute power. During this whole period the constitution was disregarded; and although imitated by Cromwell in the institutions he established, these could not acquire the freedom and independence which distinguished the ancient institutions, and they became mere ly instruments of Cromwell's will. During the Interregnum, we must not look for any contribution to the history of the constitution; it was suspended throughout the whole period, only recovering its action at the Restoration. To that event, therefore, we must now pass; although we may admit that the events of the intermediate period are of the highest interest, and well deserving of laborious study.
CHARLES II.—THE RESTORATION.- ABOLITION OF THE FEUDAL
TENURES.--HABEAS CORPUS ACT.
ENGLAND UNDER CROMWELL-REACTION FROM PURITANISM AT THE RESTORATION
TENDENCY TO RESTORE ABSOLUTISM-MODERATION OF THE ROYALISTS-THE
THE UNITED STATES-ITS TWELVE PROVISIONS-ITS IMPORTANCE-ILLUSTRA
TION FROM THE PARALLEL HISTORY OF FRANCE AND ENGLAND-CONCLUSION.
The history of England during the period of the Interregnum, displays the agitation of a people deprived of their ancient government, but so enamored of its forms and principles, that when all opposition was subdued, and power was finally concentrated in one ruler, he found it necessary to imitate the ancient system as far and as closely as the new elements would assimilate to the old, Oliver Cromwell, avoiding the title of king from dread of the disapproval of the army, took the title of Protector, with analogous powers; and he instituted two houses with similar functions to the houses of Parliament. But not regarding the principle of freedom, which the adoption of the ancient system involved, or being unable to carry on his government in accordance with it, he did not for. bear from the exercise of despotic authority; and when he had issued his own ordinances for the levying of taxes, he imitated the worst proceedings of his predecessor, Charles, by the intimidation of parties who resisted payment, by imprisonment of their advocates, and by coercion or removal of the judges.
Seldom if ever has so great a change come over the manners and customs of any nation as took place in England on the accession of Charles II. : instead of that fanatic gloom which, during the reign of the Commonwealth, had repressed every expression of pleasure and induced a rude austerity of manners, a taste for elegance and refinement, too frequently degenerated into luxury and voluptuousness, distinguished the new court and pervaded every class of society. We should, however, form a wrong estimate of the nature of this change did we suppose that the great body of the people had become on a sudden less religious or less moral: it was the reaction which naturally follows a period of undue restraint. “Men,” says a contemporary writer, “freed from the bondage under which they had been held, madly rushed into every excess, and indulged in licentiousness in proportion to the severity of the restraint under which they had been held.” Even the Puritans themselves bad undergone a great and remarkable change since their elevation to power; they were no longer that small and virtuous body which they formerly had been, but a heterogeneous mass, united only by extravagant whims about dress, diversions, and postures, which brought the very name of religion into ridicule with the multitude. Before the civil wars, says Macau- . lay, even those who most disliked the opinions and manners of the Puritan were forced to admit that his moral conduct was generally, in essentials, blameless; but this praise was now no longer bestowed, and unfortunately was no longer deserved. The general fate of sects is to obtain a high reputation for sanctity while they are oppressed, and to lose it as soon as they become powerful. Soon the world begins to find out that the godly are not better than other men, and argues, with some justice, that, if not better, they must be much worse; and in no long time, all those signs which were formerly regarded as characteristic of a saint, are characteristic of a kuave. Such was the tone of public feeling at the time of the Restoration; both Presbyterians and Independents had lost the confidence of the nation; and the character of the restored king tended in no slight degree to favor the spread of latitudinarian opinions. Accustomed to the lax morality of the Continental courts, Charles II., although a thorough gentleman in manners, refined and elegant in tastes, amiable in disposition, and agreeable in conversation, was nevertheless a voluptuary, and addicted beyond measure to sensual indulgence. That such a character in the monarch should have completely impressed itself upon the people, may be fairly charged upon the tyrannous Puritanism—more tyrannous than the most unlimited monarchy—under which the nation had so long groaned.
But, further than to notice that alike in action and reaction, Puritanism is the most vicious pest of a community, we do not care to carry these remarks. Nor does our space permit us to dwell at large on the events of the reign of Charles II. To our purpose it suffices to narrate what are to us the two great acts of this reign—the abolition of the feudal tenures, and the passage of the Act of Habeas Corpus. But for these celebrated acts we could take little pleasure in the story of this period. Throughout the whole of it we witness the recovery of the monarchical element to almost absolute
power, through the willing prostration of the people, tired of the changes and insecurity of the Interregnum, eager to place their idol on the highest pinnacle of sovereignty; and owing such liberty as remained to the forbearance of the king's ministers. Hyde, as lord chancellor, was the chief minister. He had resided with Charles abroad, where as titular lord chancellor he had managed Charles's affairs; and now since his return, the king, giving himself up to pleasure, left everything in his chancellor's hands. To his constitutional training are to be ascribed the moderation of the Government, in not taking advantage of the transports that prevailed. He resolved (says Burnet) not to stretch the prerogative to what it was before the wars; and would neither set aside the Petition of Right, nor endeavor to raise the courts of Star Chamber or High Commission again—which could have been easily done if he had set about it; nor did he think fit to move for the repeal of the act for triennial Parliaments, till other matters were well settled. He took care indeed to have all things extorted by the Long Parliament from Charles I. repealed; but in regard to revenues he had no mind to put the king out of the necessity of recourse to Parliament.
“ The old civil polity,” says Macaulay," was now, by the general consent of both the great parties, reëstablished. It was again exactly what it had been when Charles I., eighteen years before, withdrew from his capital. All those acts of the Long Parliament which had received the royal assent were admitted to be still in force. One fresh concession, a concession in which the Cavaliers were even more deeply interested than the Roundheads, was easily obtained from the restored king. The military tenure of land had been originally created as a means of national defence. But in the course of ages, whatever was useful in the institution had disappeared; and nothing was left but ceremonies and grievances. A landed proprietor who held an estate under the crown by knight service—and it was thus that most of the soil of England was heldhad to pay a large fine on coming to his property. He could not alienate one acre without purchasing a license. When he died, if his domains descended to an infant, the sovereign was guardian, and was not only entitled to great part of the rents during the minority, but could require the ward, under heavy penalties, to marry any person of suitable rank. The chief bait which attracted a needy sycophant to the court was the hope of obtaining, as the reward of servility and flattery, a royal letter to an heiress. These abuses had perished with the monarchy. That they should not revive with it was the wish of every landed gentleman in the kingdom. They were therefore solemnly abolished by statute; and no relic of the ancient tenures in chivalry was suffered to remain, except those honorary services which are still, at a coronation, rendered to the person of the sovereign by some lords of manors."
The surrender of these feudal revenues had been the subject of treaty with James I. ; but the treaty failed, as we have seen, from the uncertainty felt by the Parliament whether, when they had granted the compensation, the surrender would be binding on the king's successors, on the principles of divine right. Charles I., at the treaty of Newport, consented to surrender the revenues for an annual sum of £100,000. The Long Parliament voted the abolition of them' unconditionally, declaring that they had a right to take away the burden, as a recompense to the whole kingdom for having ventured their lives and fortunes in that time of great distraction ; and from that period the revenues were not collected, and the court of wards ceased to exercise its functions. The Con. vention Parliament, as it was called which settled the Restoration, proceeded on the principle of compensation; and resolved, as a consideration of the surrender, to make up the king's entire revenue to £1,200,000 per annum, to be derived in part from a per