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on fixed terms, and the monarchy is “ limited,” although the limit is imposed by the aristocracy only.

The struggles to break or to contract these limits, the resort to force and the enlistment of the subject populace on one side or the other, create those political adjustments which I have sketched in the preceding chapter. In order to illustrate some of our previous positions—which it is no part of this design to consider established, but rather to keep open for support or refutation throughout the survey—let us put the case of a monarch firmly enthroned, an aristocracy with strong personal but very little political power, and a democracy still agricultural; in short, let us open the page of history where Frederick II. of Prussia reigns. Why was not the kingdom of this monarch a country in its constitutional stage? simply because the commons were almost wholly without commerce, because large towns were unknown, and there was no previous adaptation for seizing that point d'appui which the king gave the people, who would then have had it in their power to have attained a share in the government, and made Prussia a constitutional monarchy like England. But Prussia was in its second stage (according to the gradation sketched above) and not in its third, still less its fourth stage. Now the whole effort of Frederick was to consolidate the royal power as against the nobles, to elevate the democracy, and to call a plutocracy into existence. With this view he not merely moderated as far as he dared the serfdom of the peasants, but spent his treasure in building towns, and encouraged by strong measures the immigration of industrious foreigners. His passion for making commercial companies* was only equalled by the signal failure of this attempt to create a class of capitalists. For to call a plutocracy into existence is more than the single will of a monarch can accomplish.

* There were compagnie de l'Elbe, compagnie de l'Oder, compagnie du Levant, compagnie des Indes, compagnie des harengs, compagnie du sel, compagnie d'assurances, compagnie maritime," &c. - Mirabeau, Monarch. Pruss. i. 129.

In Prussia, then, as it was in the days of Frederick the Great, we have a striking corroboration of our position, that on the condition and occupations of the democratic element depends the stage of national development. Here the monarchic and aristocratic elements were so constituted as to be ready to take their share in a constitutional government, had the third element not been deficient.

The consequence of this defect was that the monarchy absorbed the power of the aristocracy, and now that the popular voice is expressed, though still feebly, yet with power wanting in the days of Frederick, there is no independent aristocracy, but only a centralised functionarism, which siding always with, and being parcel of the court, leaves the broad distinction of governors and governed, which renders for ever impossible a true constitutional monarchy, and presents one of the leading features of the last stage of national development.

It is curious and most important in the history of nations to trace the struggle between the centralising and the local powers, during the ages when a nation wears the colours of a feudal monarch. The outward form may, so long as the feudal monarchy remains, be substantially unaltered, whatever be the struggle going on beneath the surface, but when the feudal monarchy comes to an end, then the results of the struggle become apparent. As the caterpillar goes on feeding and thriving equally well though the embryo butterfly within it be preyed upon by the larvæ of the ichneumon-fly; and it is only when the caterpillar dies that the result is seen, either in the development of the live butterfly, or in the total extinction both of caterpillar and butterfly when the feudal monarchy comes to an end, if under its shade local independence has gained the struggle, constitutional monarchy comes forth to take the place of the


feudal monarchy. But if centralisation has been established, there can be no constitutional monarchy; but there is instead that last stage of national life, the tomb of progress-a centralised despotism.

Now the feudal monarchy of France ceased with the revolution that dethroned Louis XVI.; the feudal monarchy of England may be considered to have ceased with the revolution that dethroned Charles I. We know the different results of these revolutions : the one nation, after trying many governments, has subsided into a centralised despotism as the only appropriate government ; the other has established a constitutional monarchy. Now France, in the Carlovingian and Merovingian times, was a collection of feudal baronies, with a central head of no independent power. Throughout the history of that country before the revolution, we trace the continued decay of feudal baronies, and local powers. They were made and became unfit for governing in their several spheres. The nobility went to Paris and became courtiers, the little local potentates who remained became corrupt. All men therefore looked for legislation and sensible rule to the business-like and comparatively honest intendants of the central government. Thus the embryo of constitutional monarchy was destroyed, while the feudal monarchy remained.

In England too, centralisation attempted to force its way ; but it never succeeded, for the nation was highly jealous of central functionaries, and the local powers retained sufficient probity to provide for the administration of the minor local affairs without resort to the government of the king. A ray of light is thrown upon this subterranean struggle by such entries in our Statute-Book as this : “A.D. 1641.-An act that no clerk of the market of his Majesty's house should execute his office in any part of the kingdom, but only within the verge of the court ; and the execution of that office granted to mayors and bailiffs of towns corporate; and to the lords of liberties

and franchises, and to their deputies,” an act which Lord Clarendon* seems little to have approved. The consequence of the maintenance of these “ lesser franchises and royalties, which especially keep up the power, distinction, and degrees of ment," was that when the phase of feudal monarchy ceased, the nation was prepared to emerge into that of constitutional monarchy.

* Hist of the Rebellion, i. 501.

† Ibid. 502.



“ What shall I do to be for ever known,

And make the age to come my own ? "--Cowley.

What recluse so blinded with theories of rectilinear progress, what statesman so shy of evil augury, what historian so tender of hinting the decay of his subject, what enthusiast is there so enslaved to hope as to deny when closing the annals of any nation of place and of renown, that there is one bright summer in its history, a time of energy, of stateliness, of splendour, when its character was most fully formed and its progress was the progress of humanity? When the hour of its greatness strikes, a nation hitherto little known and regarded with no awe or veneration comes suddenly to the front rank, bearing with it all such elements of success as its previous career has furnished to it, and straining them to the utmost, it impresses its character on the century, it furnishes from among its sons all the men who in that age advance knowledge; so that the history of that nation's progress, so long as it holds the foremost place, is the history of the progress of humanity.

Posterity, as it contemplates the story of nations, once great, but great no longer, is apt to contract its field of view, and in its eagerness to study the epoch of their glory forgets the raw years of their youth, the feeble

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