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The Beginnings of New England by John Fiske

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"The Lord Christ intends to achieve greater matters by this little
handful than the world is aware of." EDWARD JOHNSON, _Wonder-Working
Providence of Zion's Saviour in New England_ 1654










This book contains the substance of the lectures originally given at
the Washington University, St. Louis, in May, 1887, in the course of my
annual visit to that institution as University Professor of American
History. The lectures were repeated in the following month of June at
Portland, Oregon, and since then either the whole course, or one or more
of the lectures, have been given in Boston, Newton, Milton, Chelsea,
New Bedford, Lowell, Worcester, Springfield, and Pittsfield, Mass.;
Farmington, Middletown, and Stamford, Conn.; New York, Brooklyn, and
Tarrytown, N.Y.; Philadelphia and Ogontz, Pa.; Wilmington, Del.;
Chicago, 111.; San Francisco and Oakland, Cal.

In this sketch of the circumstances which attended the settlement of New
England, I have purposely omitted many details which in a formal history
of that period would need to be included. It has been my aim to give the
outline of such a narrative as to indicate the principles at work in
the history of New England down to the Revolution of 1689. When I was
writing the lectures I had just been reading, with much interest, the
work of my former pupil, Mr. Brooks Adams, entitled "The Emancipation of

With the specific conclusions set forth in that book I found myself
often agreeing, but it seemed to me that the general aspect of the case
would be considerably modified and perhaps somewhat more adequately
presented by enlarging the field of view. In forming historical
judgments a great deal depends upon our perspective. Out of the very
imperfect human nature which is so slowly and painfully casting off the
original sin of its inheritance from primeval savagery, it is scarcely
possible in any age to get a result which will look quite satisfactory
to the men of a riper and more enlightened age. Fortunately we can learn
something from the stumblings of our forefathers, and a good many
things seem quite clear to us to-day which two centuries ago were only
beginning to be dimly discerned by a few of the keenest and boldest
spirits. The faults of the Puritan theocracy, which found its most
complete development in Massachusetts, are so glaring that it is idle to
seek to palliate them or to explain them away. But if we would really
understand what was going on in the Puritan world of the seventeenth
century, and how a better state of things has grown out of it, we must
endeavour to distinguish and define the elements of wholesome strength
in that theocracy no less than its elements of crudity and weakness.

The first chapter, on "The Roman Idea and the English Idea," contains a
somewhat more developed statement of the points briefly indicated in the
thirteenth section (pp. 85-95) of "The Destiny of Man." As all of the
present book, except the first chapter, was written here under the
shadow of the Washington University, I take pleasure in dating it from
this charming and hospitable city where I have passed some of the most
delightful hours of my life.

St. Louis, April 15, 1889.




When did the Roman Empire come to an end? ... 1-3

Meaning of Odovakar's work ... 3

The Holy Roman Empire ... 4, 5

Gradual shifting of primacy from the men who spoke Latin, and their
descendants, to the men who speak English ... 6-8

Political history is the history of nation-making ... 8, 9

The ORIENTAL method of nation-making; _conquest without incorporation_
... 9

Illustrations from eastern despotisms ... 10

And from the Moors in Spain ... 11

The ROMAN method of nation-making; _conquest with incorporation, but
without representation_ ... 12

Its slow development ... 13

Vices in the Roman system. ... 14

Its fundamental defect ... 15

It knew nothing of political power delegated by the people to
representatives ... 16

And therefore the expansion of its dominion ended in a centralized
Despotism ... 16

Which entailed the danger that human life might come to stagnate in
Europe, as it had done in Asia ... 17

The danger was warded off by the Germanic invasions, which, however,
threatened to undo the work which the Empire had done in organizing
European society ... 17

But such disintegration was prevented by the sway which the Roman Church
had come to exercise over the European mind ... 18

The wonderful thirteenth century ... 19

The ENGLISH method of nation-making; _incorporation with representation_
... 20

Pacific tendencies of federalism ... 21

Failure of Greek attempts at federation ... 22

Fallacy of the notion that republics must be small ... 23

"It is not the business of a government to support its people, but of
the people to support their government" ... 24

Teutonic March-meetings and representative assemblies ... 25

Peculiarity of the Teutonic conquest of Britain ... 26, 27

Survival and development of the Teutonic representative assembly in
England ... 28

Primitive Teutonic institutions less modified in England than in Germany
... 29

Some effects of the Norman conquest of England ... 30

The Barons' War and the first House of Commons ... 31

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty ... 32

Conflict between Roman Idea and English Idea begins to become clearly
visible in the thirteenth century ... 33

Decline of mediaeval Empire and Church with the growth of modern
nationalities ... 34

Overthrow of feudalism, and increasing power of the crown ... 35

Formidable strength of the Roman Idea ... 36

Had it not been for the Puritans, political liberty would probably have
disappeared from the world ... 37

Beginnings of Protestantism in the thirteenth century ... 38

The Cathari, or Puritans of the Eastern Empire ... 39

The Albigenses ... 40

Effects of persecution; its feebleness in England ... 41

Wyclif and the Lollards ... 42

Political character of Henry VIII.'s revolt against Rome ... 43

The yeoman Hugh Latimer ... 44

The moment of Cromwell's triumph was the most critical moment in history
... 45

Contrast with France; fate of the Huguenots ... 46, 47

Victory of the English Idea ... 48

Significance of the Puritan Exodus ... 49



Influence of Puritanism upon modern Europe ... 50, 51

Work of the Lollards ... 52

They made the Bible the first truly popular literature in England ...
53, 54

The English version of the Bible ... 54, 55

Secret of Henry VIII.'s swift success in his revolt against Rome ... 56

Effects of the persecution under Mary ... 57

Calvin's theology in its political bearings ... 58, 59

Elizabeth's policy and its effects ... 60, 61

Puritan sea-rovers ... 61

Geographical distribution of Puritanism in England; it was strongest in
the eastern counties ... 62

Preponderance of East Anglia in the Puritan exodus ... 63

Familiar features of East Anglia to the visitor from New England ... 64

Puritanism was not intentionally allied with liberalism ... 65

Robert Brown and the Separatists ... 66

Persecution of the Separatists ... 67

Recantation of Brown; it was reserved for William Brewster to take the
lead in the Puritan exodus ... 68

James Stuart, and his encounter with Andrew Melville ... 69

What James intended to do when he became King of England ... 70

His view of the political situation, as declared in the conference at
Hampton Court ... 71

The congregation of Separatists at Scrooby ... 72

The flight to Holland, and settlement at Leyden in 1609 ... 73

Systematic legal toleration in Holland ... 74

Why the Pilgrims did not stay there; they wished to keep up their
distinct organization and found a state ... 74

And to do this they must cross the ocean, because European territory was
all preoccupied ... 75

The London and Plymouth companies ... 75

First explorations of the New England coast; Bartholomew Gosnold (1602),
and George Weymouth (1605) ... 76

The Popham colony (1607) ... 77

Captain John Smith gives to New England its name (1614) ... 78

The Pilgrims at Leyden decide to make a settlement near the Delaware
river ... 79

How King James regarded the enterprise ... 80

Voyage of the Mayflower; she goes astray and takes the Pilgrims to Cape
Cod bay ... 81

Founding of the Plymouth colony (1620) ... 82, 83

Why the Indians did not molest the settlers ... 84, 85

The chief interest of this beginning of the Puritan exodus lies not so
much in what it achieved as in what it suggested ... 86, 87



Sir Ferdinando Gorges and the Council for New England ... 88, 89

Wessagusset and Merrymount ... 90, 91

The Dorchester adventurers ... 92

John White wishes to raise a bulwark against the Kingdom of Antichrist
... 93

And John Endicott undertakes the work of building it ... 94

Conflicting grants sow seeds of trouble; the Gorges and Mason claims ...
94, 95

Endicott's arrival in New England, and the founding of Salem ... 95

The Company of Massachusetts Bay; Francis Higginson takes a powerful
reinforcement to Salem ... 96

The development of John White's enterprise into the Company of
Massachusetts Bay coincided with the first four years of the reign of
Charles I ... 97

Extraordinary scene in the House of Commons (June 5, 1628) ... 98, 99

The King turns Parliament out of doors (March 2, 1629) ... 100

Desperate nature of the crisis ... 100, 101

The meeting at Cambridge (Aug. 26, 1629), and decision to transfer the
charter of the Massachusetts Bay Company, and the government established
under it, to New England ... 102

Leaders of the great migration; John Winthrop ... 102

And Thomas Dudley ... 103

Founding of Massachusetts; the schemes of Gorges overwhelmed ... 104

Beginnings of American constitutional history; the question as to
self-government raised at Watertown ... 105

Representative system established ... 106

Bicameral assembly; story of the stray pig ... 107

Ecclesiastical polity; the triumph of Separatism ... 108

Restriction of the suffrage to members of the Puritan congregational
churches ... 109

Founding of Harvard College ... 110

Threefold danger to the New England settlers in 1636:--

1. From the King, who prepares to attack the charter, but is foiled by
dissensions at home ... 111-113

2. From religious dissensions; Roger Williams ... 114-116
Henry Vane and Anne Hutchinson ... 116-119
Beginnings of New Hampshire and Rhode Island ... 119-120

3. From the Indians; the Pequot supremacy ... 121

First movements into the Connecticut valley, and disputes with the Dutch
settlers of New Amsterdam ... 122, 123

Restriction of the suffrage leads to disaffection in Massachusetts;
profoundly interesting opinions of Winthrop and Hooker ... 123, 124

Connecticut pioneers and their hardships ... 125

Thomas Hooker, and the founding of Connecticut ... 120

The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (Jan 14, 1639); the first written
constitution that created a government ... 127

Relations of Connecticut to the genesis of the Federal Union ... 128

Origin of the Pequot War; Sassacus tries to unite the Indian tribes in a
crusade against the English ... 129, 130

The schemes of Sassacus are foiled by Roger Williams ... 130

The Pequots take the war path alone ... 131

And are exterminated ... 132-134

John Davenport, and the founding of New Haven ... 135

New Haven legislation, and legend of the "Blue Laws" ... 136

With the meeting of the Long Parliament, in 1640, the Puritan exodus
comes to its end ... 137

What might have been ... 138, 391



The Puritan exodus was purely and exclusively English ... 140

And the settlers were all thrifty and prosperous; chiefly country
squires and yeomanry of the best and sturdiest type ... 141, 142

In all history there has been no other instance of colonization so
exclusively effected by picked and chosen men ... 143

What, then, was the principle of selection? The migration was not
intended to promote what we call religious liberty ... 144, 145

Theocratic ideal of the Puritans ... 146

The impulse which sought to realize itself in the Puritan ideal was an
ethical impulse ... 147

In interpreting Scripture, the Puritan appealed to his Reason ... 148,

Value of such perpetual theological discussion as was carried on in
early New England ... 150, 151

Comparison with the history of Scotland ... 152

Bearing of these considerations upon the history of the New England
confederacy ... 153

The existence of so many colonies (Plymouth, Massachusetts, Connecticut,
New Haven, Rhode Island, the Piscataqua towns, etc.) was due to
differences of opinion on questions in which men's religious ideas were
involved ... 154

And this multiplication of colonies led to a notable and significant
attempt at confederation ... 155

Turbulence of dissent in Rhode Island ... 156

The Earl of Warwick, and his Board of Commissioners ... 157

Constitution of the Confederacy ... 158

It was only a league, not a federal union ... 159

Its formation involved a tacit assumption of sovereignty ... 160

The fall of Charles I. brought up, for a moment, the question as to the
supremacy of Parliament over the colonies ... 161

Some interesting questions ... 162

Genesis of the persecuting spirit ... 163

Samuel Gorton and his opinions ... 163-165

He flees to Aquedneck and is banished thence ... 166

Providence protests against him ... 167

He flees to Shawomet, where he buys land of the Indians ... 168

Miantonomo and Uncas ... 169, 170

Death of Miantonomo ... 171

Edward Johnson leads an expedition against Shawomet ... 172

Trial and sentence of the heretics ... 173

Winthrop declares himself in a prophetic opinion ... 174

The Presbyterian cabal ... 175-177

The Cambridge Platform; deaths of Winthrop and Cotton ... 177

Views of Winthrop and Cotton as to toleration in matters of Religion ...

After their death, the leadership in Massachusetts was in the hands of
Endicott and Norton ... 179

The Quakers; their opinions and behavior ... 179-181

Violent manifestations of dissent ... 182

Anne Austin and Mary Fisher; how they were received in Boston ... 183

The confederated colonies seek to expel the Quakers; noble attitude of
Rhode Island ... 184

Roger Williams appeals to his friend, Oliver Cromwell ... 185

The "heavenly speech" of Sir Harry Vane ... 185

Laws passed against the Quakers ... 186

How the death penalty was regarded at that time in New England ... 187

Executions of Quakers on Boston Common ... 188, 189

Wenlock Christison's defiance and victory ... 189, 190

The "King's Missive" ... 191

Why Charles II. interfered to protect the Quakers ... 191

His hostile feeling toward the New England governments ... 192

The regicide judges, Goffe and Whalley ... 193, 194

New Haven annexed to Connecticut ... 194, 195

Abraham Pierson, and the founding of Newark ... 196

Breaking-down of the theocratic policy ... 197

Weakening of the Confederacy ... 198



Relations between the Puritan settlers and the Indians ... 199

Trade with the Indians ... 200

Missionary work; Thomas Mayhew ... 201

John Eliot and his translation of the Bible ... 202

His preaching to the Indians ... 203

His villages of Christian Indians ... 204

The Puritan's intention was to deal gently and honourably with the red
men ... 205

Why Pennsylvania was so long unmolested by the Indians ... 205, 206

Difficulty of the situation in New England ... 207

It is hard for the savage and the civilized man to understand one
another ... 208

How Eliot's designs must inevitably have been misinterpreted by the
Indians ... 209

It is remarkable that peace should have been so long preserved ... 210

Deaths of Massasoit and his son Alexander ... 211

Very little is known about the nature of Philip's designs ... 212

The meeting at Taunton ... 213

Sausamon informs against Philip ... 213

And is murdered ... 214

Massacres at Swanzey and Dartmouth ... 214

Murder of Captain Hutchinson ... 215

Attack on Brookfield, which is relieved by Simon Willard ... 216

Fighting in the Connecticut valley; the mysterious stranger at Hadley
... 217, 218

Ambuscade at Bloody Brook ... 219

Popular excitement in Boston ... 220

The Narragansetts prepare to take the war-path ... 221

And Governor Winslow leads an army against them ... 222, 223

Storming of the great swamp fortress ... 224

Slaughter of the Indians ... 225

Effect of the blow ... 226

Growth of the humane sentiment in recent times, due to the fact that the
horrors of war are seldom brought home to everybody's door ... 227, 228

Warfare with savages is likely to be truculent in character ... 229

Attack upon Lancaster ... 230

Mrs. Rowlandson's narrative ... 231-233

Virtual extermination of the Indians (February to August, 1676) ... 233,

Death of Canonchet ... 234

Philip pursued by Captain Church ... 235

Death of Philip ... 236

Indians sold into slavery ... 237

Conduct of the Christian Indians ... 238

War with the Tarratines ... 239

Frightful destruction of life and property ... 240

Henceforth the red man figures no more in the history of New England,
except in frontier raids under French guidance ... 241



Romantic features in the early history of New England ... 242

Captain Edward Johnson, of Woburn, and his book on "The Wonder-working
Providence of Zion's Saviour in New England" ... 243,244

Acts of the Puritans often judged by an unreal and impossible standard
... 245

Spirit of the "Wonder-working Providence" ... 246

Merits and faults of the Puritan theocracy ... 247

Restriction of the suffrage to church members ... 248

It was a source of political discontent ... 249

Inquisitorial administration of justice ... 250

The "Half way Covenant" ... 251

Founding of the Old South church ... 252

Unfriendly relations between Charles II and Massachusetts ... 253

Complaints against Massachusetts ... 254

The Lords of Trade ... 255

Arrival of Edward Randolph in Boston ... 256

Joseph Dudley and the beginnings of Toryism in New England ... 257, 258

Charles II. erects the four Piscataqua towns into the royal province of
New Hampshire ... 259

And quarrels with Massachusetts over the settlement of the Gorges claim
to the Maine district ... 260

Simon Bradstreet and his verse-making wife ... 261

Massachusetts answers the king's peremptory message ... 262

Secret treaty between Charles II. and Louis XIV ... 263

Shameful proceedings in England ... 264

Massachusetts refuses to surrender her charter; and accordingly it is
annulled by decree of chancery, June 21, 1684 ... 265

Effect of annulling the charter ... 266

Death of Charles II, accession of James II., and appointment of Sir
Edmund Andros as viceroy over New England, with despotic powers ... 267

The charter oak ... 268

Episcopal services in Boston ... 268, 269

Founding of the King's Chapel ... 269

The tyranny ... 270

John Wise of Ipswich ... 271

Fall of James II ... 271

Insurrection in Boston, and overthrow of Andros ... 272

Effects of the Revolution of 1689 ... 273

Need for union among all the northern colonies ... 274

Plymouth, Maine, and Acadia annexed to Massachusetts ... 275

Which becomes a royal province ... 276

And is thus brought into political sympathy with Virginia ... 276

The seeds of the American Revolution were already sown, and the spirit
of 1776 was foreshadowed in 1689 ... 277, 278




It used to be the fashion of historians, looking superficially at the
facts presented in chronicles and tables of dates, without analyzing and
comparing vast groups of facts distributed through centuries, or even
suspecting the need for such analysis and comparison, to assign the date
476 A.D. as the moment at which the Roman Empire came to an end. It was
in that year that the soldier of fortune, Odovakar, commander of the
Herulian mercenaries in Italy, sent the handsome boy Romulus, son of
Orestes, better known as "little Augustus," from his imperial throne
to the splendid villa of Lucullus near Naples, and gave him a yearly
pension of $35,000 [6,000 solidi] to console him for the loss of a
world. As 324 years elapsed before another emperor was crowned at Rome,
and as the political headship of Europe after that happy restoration
remained upon the German soil to which the events of the eighth century
had shifted it, nothing could seem more natural than the habit which
historians once had, of saying that the mighty career of Rome had ended,
as it had begun, with a Romulus. Sometimes the date 476 was even set up
as a great landmark dividing modern from ancient history. For those,
however, who took such a view, it was impossible to see the events of
the Middle Ages in their true relations to what went before and what
came after. It was impossible to understand what went on in Italy in
the sixth century, or to explain the position of that great Roman power
which had its centre on the Bosphorus, which in the code of Justinian
left us our grandest monument of Roman law, and which for a thousand
years was the staunch bulwark of Europe against the successive
aggressions of Persian, Saracen, and Turk. It was equally impossible to
understand the rise of the Papal power, the all-important politics of
the great Saxon and Swabian emperors, the relations of mediaeval England
to the Continental powers, or the marvellously interesting growth of the
modern European system of nationalities. [Sidenote: When did the Roman
Empire come to an end?]

Since the middle of the nineteenth century the study of history has
undergone changes no less sweeping than those which have in the same
time affected the study of the physical sciences. Vast groups of facts
distributed through various ages and countries have been subjected to
comparison and analysis, with the result that they have not only thrown
fresh light upon one another, but have in many cases enabled us to
recover historic points of view that had long been buried in oblivion.
Such an instance was furnished about twenty-five years ago by Dr.
Bryce's epoch-making work on the Holy Roman Empire. Since then
historians still recognize the importance of the date 476 as that which
left the Bishop of Rome the dominant personage in Italy, and marked the
shifting of the political centre of gravity from the Palatine to the
Lateran. This was one of those subtle changes which escape notice until
after some of their effects have attracted attention. The most important
effect, in this instance, realized after three centuries, was not the
overthrow of Roman power in the West, but its indefinite extension and
expansion. The men of 476 not only had no idea that they were entering
upon a new era, but least of all did they dream that the Roman Empire
had come to an end, or was ever likely to. Its cities might be pillaged,
its provinces overrun, but the supreme imperial power itself was
something without which the men of those days could not imagine the
world as existing. It must have its divinely ordained representative in
one place if not in another. If the throne in Italy was vacant, it
was no more than had happened before; there was still a throne at
Constantinople, and to its occupant Zeno the Roman Senate sent a
message, saying that one emperor was enough for both ends of the earth,
and begging him to confer upon the gallant Odovakar the title of
patrician, and entrust the affairs of Italy to his care. So when
Sicambrian Chlodwig set up his Merovingian kingdom in northern Gaul, he
was glad to array himself in the robe of a Roman consul, and obtain from
the eastern emperor a formal ratification of his rule.

[Transcriber's note: page missing in original.] still survives in
political methods and habits of thought that will yet be long in dying
out. With great political systems, as with typical forms of organic
life, the processes of development and of extinction are exceedingly
slow, and it is seldom that the stages can be sharply marked by dates.
The processes which have gradually shifted the seat of empire until the
prominent part played nineteen centuries ago by Rome and Alexandria,
on opposite sides of the Mediterranean, has been at length assumed by
London and New York, on opposite sides of the Atlantic, form a most
interesting subject of study. But to understand them, one must do much
more than merely catalogue the facts of political history; one must
acquire a knowledge of the drifts and tendencies of human thought and
feeling and action from the earliest ages to the times in which we
live. In covering so wide a field we cannot of course expect to obtain
anything like complete results. In order to make a statement simple
enough to be generally intelligible, it is necessary to pass over many
circumstances and many considerations that might in one way and another
qualify what we have to say. Nevertheless it is quite possible for us to
discern, in their bold general outlines, some historic truths of supreme
importance. In contemplating the salient features of the change which
has now for a long time been making the world more English and less
Roman, we shall find not only intellectual pleasure and profit but
practical guidance. For in order to understand this slow but mighty
change, we must look a little into that process of nation-making which
has been going on since prehistoric ages and is going on here among us
to-day, and from the recorded experience of men in times long past
we may gather lessons of infinite value for ourselves and for our
children's children. As in all the achievements of mankind it is only
after much weary experiment and many a heart-sickening failure that
success is attained, so has it been especially with nation-making. Skill
in the political art is the fruit of ages of intellectual and moral
discipline; and just as picture-writing had to come before printing and
canoes before steamboats, so the cruder political methods had to be
tried and found wanting, amid the tears and groans of unnumbered
generations, before methods less crude could be put into operation. In
the historic survey upon which we are now to enter, we shall see that
the Roman Empire represented a crude method of nation-making which began
with a masterful career of triumph over earlier and cruder methods, but
has now for several centuries been giving way before a more potent and
satisfactory method. And just as the merest glance at the history of
Europe shows us Germanic peoples wresting the supremacy from Rome, so in
this deeper study we shall discover a grand and far-reaching Teutonic
Idea of political life overthrowing and supplanting the Roman Idea. Our
attention will be drawn toward England as the battle-ground and the
seventeenth century as the critical moment of the struggle; we shall see
in Puritanism the tremendous militant force that determined the issue;
and when our perspective has thus become properly adjusted, we shall
begin to realize for the first time how truly wonderful was the age that
witnessed the Beginnings of New England. We have long had before our
minds the colossal figure of Roman Julius as "the foremost man of all
this world," but as the seventeenth century recedes into the past
the figure of English Oliver begins to loom up as perhaps even more
colossal. In order to see these world-events in their true perspective,
and to make perfectly clear the manner in which we are to estimate them,
we must go a long distance away from them. We must even go back, as
nearly as may be, to the beginning of things. [Sidenote: Gradual
shifting of primacy from the men who spoke Latin, and their descendants,
to the men who speak English]

If we look back for a moment to the primitive stages of society, we may
picture to ourselves the surface of the earth sparsely and scantily
covered with wandering tribes of savages, rude in morals and manners,
narrow and monotonous in experience, sustaining life very much as lower
animals sustain it, by gathering wild fruits or slaying wild game, and
waging chronic warfare alike with powerful beasts and with rival tribes
of men. [Sidenote: Political history is the history of nation-making]

In the widest sense the subject of political history is the description
of the processes by which, under favourable circumstances, innumerable
such primitive tribes have become welded together into mighty nations,
with elevated standards of morals and manners, with wide and varied
experience, sustaining life and ministering to human happiness by
elaborate arts and sciences, and putting a curb upon warfare by limiting
its scope, diminishing its cruelty, and interrupting it by intervals of
peace. The story, as laid before us in the records of three thousand
years, is fascinating and absorbing in its human interest for those who
content themselves with the study of its countless personal incidents,
and neglect its profound philosophical lessons. But for those who study
it in the scientific spirit, the human interest of its details becomes
still more intensely fascinating and absorbing. Battles and coronations,
poems and inventions, migrations and martyrdoms, acquire new meanings
and awaken new emotions as we begin to discern their bearings upon the
solemn work of ages that is slowly winning for humanity a richer and
more perfect life. By such meditation upon men's thoughts and deeds is
the understanding purified, till we become better able to comprehend our
relations to the world and the duty that lies upon each of us to shape
his conduct rightly.

In the welding together of primitive shifting tribes into stable and
powerful nations, we can seem to discern three different methods that
have been followed at different times and places, with widely different
results. In all cases the fusion has been effected by war, but it has
gone on in three broadly contrasted ways. The first of these methods,
which has been followed from time immemorial in the Oriental world, may
be roughly described as _conquest without incorporation._ A tribe grows
to national dimensions by conquering and annexing its neighbours,
without admitting them to a share in its political life. Probably there
is always at first some incorporation, or even perhaps some crude germ
of federative alliance; but this goes very little way,--only far enough
to fuse together a few closely related tribes, agreeing in speech and
habits, into a single great tribe that can overwhelm its neighbours. In
early society this sort of incorporation cannot go far without being
stopped by some impassable barrier of language or religion. After
reaching that point, the conquering tribe simply annexes its neighbours
and makes them its slaves. It becomes a superior caste, ruling over
vanquished peoples, whom it oppresses with frightful cruelty, while
living on the fruits of their toil in what has been aptly termed
Oriental luxury. Such has been the origin of many eastern despotisms, in
the valleys of the Nile and Euphrates, and elsewhere. Such a political
structure admits of a very considerable development of material
civilization, in which gorgeous palaces and artistic temples may be
built, and perhaps even literature and scholarship rewarded, with money
wrung from millions of toiling wretches. There is that sort of brutal
strength in it, that it may endure for many long ages, until it comes
into collision with some higher civilization. Then it is likely to end
in sudden collapse, because the fighting quality of the people has
been destroyed. Populations that have lived for centuries in fear of
impalement or crucifixion, and have known no other destination for
the products of their labour than the clutches of the omnipresent
tax-gatherer, are not likely to furnish good soldiers. A handful of
freemen will scatter them like sheep, as the Greeks did twenty-three
centuries ago at Kynaxa, as the English did the other day at Tel
el-Kebir. On the other hand, where the manliness of the vanquished
people is not crushed, the sway of the conquerors who cannot enter into
political union with them is likely to be cast off, as in the case of
the Moors in Spain. There was a civilization in many respects admirable.
It was eminent for industry, science, art, and poetry; its annals are
full of romantic interest; it was in some respects superior to the
Christian system which supplanted it; in many ways it contributed
largely to the progress of the human race; and it was free from some
of the worst vices of Oriental civilizations. Yet because of the
fundamental defect that between the Christian Spaniard and his
Mussulman conqueror there could be no political fusion, this brilliant
civilization was doomed. During eight centuries of more or less
extensive rule in the Spanish peninsula, the Moor was from first to last
an alien, just as after four centuries the Turk is still an alien in
the Balkan peninsula. The natural result was a struggle that lasted
age after age till it ended in the utter extermination of one of the
parties, and left behind it a legacy of hatred and persecution that has
made the history of modern Spain a dismal record of shame and disaster.
[Sidenote: The Oriental method of nation-making]

In this first method of nation-making, then, which we may call the
Oriental method, one now sees but little to commend. It was better than
savagery, and for a long time no more efficient method was possible,
but the leading peoples of the world have long since outgrown it; and
although the resulting form of political government is the oldest we
know and is not yet extinct, it nevertheless has not the elements
of permanence. Sooner or later it will disappear, as savagery is
disappearing, as the rudest types of inchoate human society have

The second method by which nations have been made may be called
the Roman method; and we may briefly describe it as _conquest with
incorporation, but without representation_. The secret of Rome's
wonderful strength lay in the fact that she incorporated the vanquished
peoples into her own body politic. In the early time there was a fusion
of tribes going on in Latium, which, if it had gone no further, would
have been similar to the early fusion of Ionic tribes in Attika or of
Iranian tribes in Media. But whereas everywhere else this political
fusion soon stopped, in the Roman world it went on. One after another
Italian tribes and Italian towns were not merely overcome but admitted
to a share in the political rights and privileges of the victors. By the
time this had gone on until the whole Italian peninsula was consolidated
under the headship of Rome, the result was a power incomparably greater
than any other that the world had yet seen. Never before had so many
people been brought under one government without making slaves of most
of them. Liberty had existed before, whether in barbaric tribes or
in Greek cities. Union had existed before, in Assyrian or Persian
despotisms. Now liberty and union were for the first time joined
together, with consequences enduring and stupendous. The whole
Mediterranean world was brought under one government; ancient barriers
of religion, speech, and custom were overthrown in every direction; and
innumerable barbarian tribes, from the Alps to the wilds of northern
Britain, from the Bay of Biscay to the Carpathian mountains, were more
or less completely transformed into Roman citizens, protected by Roman
law, and sharing in the material and spiritual benefits of Roman
civilization. Gradually the whole vast structure became permeated by
Hellenic and Jewish thought, and thus were laid the lasting foundations
of modern society, of a common Christendom, furnished with a common
stock of ideas concerning man's relation to God and the world, and
acknowledging a common standard of right and wrong. This was a
prodigious work, which raised human life to a much higher plane than
that which it had formerly occupied, and endless gratitude is due to the
thousands of steadfast men who in one way or another devoted their lives
to its accomplishment. [Sidenote: The Roman method of nation-making]

This Roman method of nation-making had nevertheless its fatal
shortcomings, and it was only very slowly, moreover, that it wrought
out its own best results. It was but gradually that the rights and
privileges of Roman citizenship were extended over the whole Roman
world, and in the mean time there were numerous instances where
conquered provinces seemed destined to no better fate than had awaited
the victims of Egyptian or Assyrian conquest. The rapacity and cruelty
of Caius Verres could hardly have been outdone by the worst of Persian
satraps; but there was a difference. A moral sense and political sense
had been awakened which could see both the wickedness and the folly of
such conduct. The voice of a Cicero sounded with trumpet tones against
the oppressor, who was brought to trial and exiled for deeds which under
the Oriental system, from the days of Artaxerxes to those of the Grand
Turk, would scarcely have called forth a reproving word. It was by slow
degrees that the Roman came to understand the virtues of his own method,
and learned to apply it consistently until the people of all parts of
the empire were, in theory at least, equal before the law. In theory, I
say, for in point of fact there was enough of viciousness in the Roman
system to prevent it from achieving permanent success. Historians have
been fond of showing how the vitality of the whole system was impaired
by wholesale slave-labour, by the false political economy which taxes
all for the benefit of a few, by the debauching view of civil office
which regards it as private perquisite and not as public trust,
and--worst of all, perhaps--by the communistic practice of feeding an
idle proletariat out of the imperial treasury. The names of these deadly
social evils are not unfamiliar to American ears. Even of the last we
have heard ominous whispers in the shape of bills to promote mendicancy
under the specious guise of fostering education or rewarding military
services. And is it not a striking illustration of the slowness with
which mankind learns the plainest rudiments of wisdom and of justice,
that only in the full light of the nineteenth century, and at the cost
of a terrible war, should the most intelligent people on earth have got
rid of a system of labour devised in the crudest ages of antiquity and
fraught with misery to the employed, degradation to the employers, and
loss to everybody? [Sidenote: Its slow development]

These evils, we see, in one shape or another, have existed almost
everywhere; and the vice of the Roman system did not consist in the fact
that under it they were fully developed, but in the fact that it had no
adequate means of overcoming them. Unless helped by something supplied
from outside the Roman world, civilization must have succumbed to these
evils, the progress of mankind must have been stopped. What was needed
was the introduction of a fierce spirit of personal liberty and local
self-government. The essential vice of the Roman system was that it had
been unable to avoid weakening the spirit of personal independence and
crushing out local self-government among the peoples to whom it had been
applied. It owed its wonderful success to joining Liberty with Union,
but as it went on it found itself compelled gradually to sacrifice
Liberty to Union, strengthening the hands of the central government and
enlarging its functions more and more, until by and by the political
life of the several parts had so far died away that, under the pressure
of attack from without, the Union fell to pieces and the whole political
system had to be slowly and painfully reconstructed.

Now if we ask why the Roman government found itself thus obliged to
sacrifice personal liberty and local independence to the paramount
necessity of holding the empire together, the answer will point us to
the essential and fundamental vice of the Roman method of nation-making.
It lacked the principle of representation. The old Roman world knew
nothing of representative assemblies. [Sidenote: It knew nothing of

Its senates were assemblies of notables, constituting in the main an
aristocracy of men who had held high office; its popular assemblies were
primary assemblies,--town-meetings. There was no notion of such a thing
as political power delegated by the people to representatives who were
to wield it away from home and out of sight of their constituents. The
Roman's only notion of delegated power was that of authority delegated
by the government to its generals and prefects who discharged at a
distance its military and civil functions. When, therefore, the Roman
popular government, originally adapted to a single city, had come
to extend itself over a large part of the world, it lacked the one
institution by means of which government could be carried on over
so vast an area without degenerating into despotism. [Sidenote: And
therefore ended in despotism]

Even could the device of representation have occurred to the mind of
some statesman trained in Roman methods, it would probably have made no
difference. Nobody would have known how to use it. You cannot invent
an institution as you would invent a plough. Such a notion as that of
representative government must needs start from small beginnings and
grow in men's minds until it should become part and parcel of their
mental habits. For the want of it the home government at Rome became
more and more unmanageable until it fell into the hands of the army,
while at the same time the administration of the empire became more and
more centralized; the people of its various provinces, even while their
social condition was in some respects improved, had less and less
voice in the management of their local affairs, and thus the spirit of
personal independence was gradually weakened. This centralization was
greatly intensified by the perpetual danger of invasion on the northern
and eastern frontiers, all the way from the Rhine to the Euphrates.
Do what it would, the government must become more and more a military
despotism, must revert toward the Oriental type. The period extending
from the third century before Christ to the third century after was a
period of extraordinary intellectual expansion and moral awakening; but
when we observe the governmental changes introduced under the emperor
Diocletian at the very end of this period, we realize how serious had
been the political retrogression, how grave the danger that the stream
of human life might come to stagnate in Europe, as it had long since
stagnated in Asia.

Two mighty agents, cooperating in their opposite ways to prevent any
such disaster, were already entering upon the scene. The first was the
colonization of the empire by Germanic tribes already far advanced
beyond savagery, already somewhat tinctured with Roman civilization, yet
at the same time endowed with an intense spirit of personal and local
independence. With this wholesome spirit they were about to refresh and
revivify the empire, but at the risk of undoing its work of political
organization and reducing it to barbarism. The second was the
establishment of the Roman church, an institution capable of holding
European society together in spite of a political disintegration that
was widespread and long-continued. While wave after wave of Germanic
colonization poured over romanized Europe, breaking down old
boundary-lines and working sudden and astonishing changes on the map,
setting up in every quarter baronies, dukedoms, and kingdoms fermenting
with vigorous political life; while for twenty generations this salutary
but wild and dangerous work was going on, there was never a moment when
the imperial sway of Rome was quite set aside and forgotten, there was
never a time when union of some sort was not maintained through the
dominion which the church had established over the European mind. When
we duly consider this great fact in its relations to what went before
and what came after, it is hard to find words fit to express the debt of
gratitude which modern civilization owes to the Roman Catholic church.
When we think of all the work, big with promise of the future, that went
on in those centuries which modern writers in their ignorance used once
to set apart and stigmatize as the "Dark Ages"; when we consider how the
seeds of what is noblest in modern life were then painfully sown upon
the soil which imperial Rome had prepared; when we think of the various
work of a Gregory, a Benedict, a Boniface, an Alfred, a Charlemagne; we
feel that there is a sense in which the most brilliant achievements
of pagan antiquity are dwarfed in comparison with these. Until quite
lately, indeed, the student of history has had his attention too
narrowly confined to the ages that have been preeminent for literature
and art--the so-called classical ages--and thus his sense of historical
perspective has been impaired. When Mr. Freeman uses Gregory of Tours as
a text-book, he shows that he realizes how an epoch may be none the less
portentous though it has not had a Tacitus to describe it, and certainly
no part of history is more full of human interest than the troubled
period in which the powerful streams of Teutonic life pouring into Roman
Europe were curbed in their destructiveness and guided to noble ends by
the Catholic church. Out of the interaction between these two mighty
agents has come the political system of the modern world. The moment
when this interaction might have seemed on the point of reaching a
complete and harmonious result was the glorious thirteenth century, the
culminating moment of the Holy Roman Empire. Then, as in the times of
Caesar or Trajan, there might have seemed to be a union among civilized
men, in which the separate life of individuals and localities was not
submerged. In that golden age alike of feudal system, of empire, and of
church, there were to be seen the greatest monarchs, in fullest sympathy
with their peoples, that Christendom has known,--an Edward I., a St.
Louis, a Frederick II. Then when in the pontificates of Innocent III.
and his successors the Roman church reached its apogee, the religious
yearnings of men sought expression in the sublimest architecture the
world has seen. Then Aquinas summed up in his profound speculations the
substance of Catholic theology, and while the morning twilight of modern
science might be discerned in the treatises of Roger Bacon, while
wandering minstrelsy revealed the treasures of modern speech, soon to
be wrought under the hands of Dante and Chaucer into forms of exquisite
beauty, the sacred fervour of the apostolic ages found itself renewed in
the tender and mystic piety of St. Francis of Assisi. It was a wonderful
time, but after all less memorable as the culmination of mediaeval
empire and mediaeval church than as the dawning of the new era in which
we live to-day, and in which the development of human society proceeds
in accordance with more potent methods than those devised by the genius
of pagan or Christian Rome. [Sidenote: The German invaders and the Roman
church] [Sidenote: The wonderful thirteenth century]

For the origin of these more potent methods we must look back to the
early ages of the Teutonic people; for their development and application
on a grand scale we must look chiefly to the history of that most
Teutonic of peoples in its institutions, though perhaps not more than
half-Teutonic in blood, the English, with their descendants in the New
World. The third method of nation-making may be called the Teutonic or
preeminently the English method. It differs from the Oriental and Roman
methods which we have been considering in a feature of most profound
significance; it contains the principle of representation. For this
reason, though like all nation-making it was in its early stages
attended with war and conquest, it nevertheless does not necessarily
require war and conquest in order to be put into operation. Of the other
two methods war was an essential part. In the typical Oriental nation,
such as Assyria or Persia, we see a conquering tribe holding down a
number of vanquished peoples, and treating them like slaves: here the
nation is very imperfectly made, and its government is subject to sudden
and violent changes. In the Roman empire we see a conquering people hold
sway over a number of vanquished peoples, but instead of treating them
like slaves, it gradually makes them its equals before the law; here
the resulting political body is much more nearly a nation, and its
government is much more stable. A Lydian of the fifth century before
Christ felt no sense of allegiance to the Persian master who simply
robbed and abused him; but the Gaul of the fifth century after Christ
was proud of the name of Roman and ready to fight for the empire of
which he was a citizen. We have seen, nevertheless, that for want of
representation the Roman method failed when applied to an immense
territory, and the government tended to become more and more despotic,
to revert toward the Oriental type. Now of the English or Teutonic
method, I say, war is not an essential part; for where representative
government is once established, it is possible for a great nation to be
formed by the peaceful coalescence of neighbouring states, or by their
union into a federal body. An instance of the former was the coalescence
of England and Scotland effected early in the eighteenth century
after ages of mutual hostility; for instances of the latter we have
Switzerland and the United States. Now federalism, though its rise
and establishment may be incidentally accompanied by warfare, is
nevertheless in spirit pacific. Conquest in the Oriental sense is quite
incompatible with it; conquest in the Roman sense is hardly less so. At
the close of our Civil War there were now and then zealous people to
be found who thought that the southern states ought to be treated as
conquered territory, governed by prefects sent from Washington, and held
down by military force for a generation or so. Let us hope that there
are few to-day who can fail to see that such a course would have been
fraught with almost as much danger as the secession movement itself.
At least it would have been a hasty confession, quite uncalled for
and quite untrue, that American federalism had thus far proved itself
incompetent,--that we had indeed preserved our national unity, but only
at the frightful cost of sinking to a lower plane of national life.
[Sidenote: The English method of nation-making] [Sidenote: Pacific
tendencies of federalism]

But federalism, with its pacific implications, was not an invention of
the Teutonic mind. The idea was familiar to the city communities of
ancient Greece, which, along with their intense love of self-government,
felt the need of combined action for warding off external attack. In
their Achaian and Aitolian leagues the Greeks made brilliant attempts
toward founding a nation upon some higher principle than that of mere
conquest, and the history of these attempts is exceedingly
interesting and instructive. They failed for lack of the principle
of representation, which was practically unknown to the world until
introduced by the Teutonic colonizers of the Roman empire. Until the
idea of power delegated by the people had become familiar to men's minds
in its practical bearings, it was impossible to create a great nation
without crushing out the political life in some of its parts. Some
centre of power was sure to absorb all the political life, and grow at
the expense of the outlying parts, until the result was a centralized
despotism. Hence it came to be one of the commonplace assumptions of
political writers that republics must be small, that free government
is practicable only in a confined area, and that the only strong and
durable government, capable of maintaining order throughout a vast
territory, is some form of absolute monarchy. [Sidenote: Fallacy of the
notion that republics must be small]

It was quite natural that people should formerly have held this opinion,
and it is indeed not yet quite obsolete, but its fallaciousness will
become more and more apparent as American history is better understood.
Our experience has now so far widened that we can see that despotism
is not the strongest but wellnigh the weakest form of government; that
centralized administrations, like that of the Roman empire, have fallen
to pieces, not because of too much but because of too little freedom;
and that the only perdurable government must be that which succeeds in
achieving national unity on a grand scale, without weakening the sense
of personal and local independence. For in the body politic this spirit
of freedom is as the red corpuscles in the blood; it carries the life
with it. It makes the difference between a society of self-respecting
men and women and a society of puppets.

Your nation may have art, poetry, and science, all the refinements of
civilized life, all the comforts and safeguards that human ingenuity can
devise; but if it lose this spirit of personal and local independence,
it is doomed and deserves its doom. As President Cleveland has well
said, it is not the business of a government to support its people, but
of the people to support their government; and once to lose sight
of this vital truth is as dangerous as to trifle with some stealthy
narcotic poison. Of the two opposite perils which have perpetually
threatened the welfare of political society--anarchy on the one hand,
loss of self-government on the other--Jefferson was right in maintaining
that the latter is really the more to be dreaded because its beginnings
are so terribly insidious. Many will understand what is meant by a
threat of secession, where few take heed of the baneful principle
involved in a Texas Seed-bill.

That the American people are still fairly alive to the importance of
these considerations, is due to the weary ages of struggle in which our
forefathers have manfully contended for the right of self-government.
From the days of Arminius and Civilis in the wilds of lower Germany to
the days of Franklin and Jefferson in Independence Hall, we have been
engaged in this struggle, not without some toughening of our political
fibre, not without some refining of our moral sense. Not among our
English forefathers only, but among all the peoples of mediaeval and
modern Europe has the struggle gone on, with various and instructive
results. In all parts of romanized Europe invaded and colonized by
Teutonic tribes, self-government attempted to spring up. What may have
been the origin of the idea of representation we do not know; like most
origins, it seems lost in the prehistoric darkness. Wherever we find
Teutonic tribes settling down over a wide area, we find them holding
their primary assemblies, usually their annual March-meetings, like
those in which Mr. Hosea Biglow and others like him have figured.
Everywhere, too, we find some attempt at representative assemblies,
based on the principle of the three estates, clergy, nobles, and
commons. But nowhere save in England does the representative principle
become firmly established, at first in county-meetings, afterward in a
national parliament limiting the powers of the national monarch as the
primary tribal assembly had limited the powers of the tribal chief. It
is for this reason that we must call the method of nation-making by
means of a representative assembly the English method. While the idea of
representation was perhaps the common property of the Teutonic tribes,
it was only in England that it was successfully put into practice and
became the dominant political idea. We may therefore agree with Dr.
Stubbs that in its political development England is the most Teutonic of
all European countries,--the country which in becoming a great nation
has most fully preserved the local independence so characteristic of the
ancient Germans. The reasons for this are complicated, and to try to
assign them all would needlessly encumber our exposition. But there is
one that is apparent and extremely instructive. There is sometimes a
great advantage in being able to plant political institutions in a
virgin soil, where they run no risk of being modified or perhaps
metamorphosed through contact with rival institutions. In America the
Teutonic idea has been worked out even more completely than in Britain;
and so far as institutions are concerned, our English forefathers
settled here as in an empty country. They were not obliged to modify
their political ideas so as to bring them into harmony with those of the
Indians; the disparity in civilization was so great that the Indians
were simply thrust aside, along with the wolves and buffaloes.
[Sidenote: Teutonic March-meetings and representative assemblies]

This illustration will help us to understand the peculiar features of
the Teutonic settlement of Britain. Whether the English invaders really
slew all the romanized Kelts who dwelt in the island, except those who
found refuge in the mountains of Cumberland, Wales, and Cornwall, or
fled across the channel to Brittany, we need not seek to decide. It
is enough to point out one respect in which the Teutonic conquest was
immeasurably more complete in Britain than in any other part of the
empire. Everywhere else the tribes who settled upon Roman soil--the
Goths, Vandals, Suevi, and Burgundians--were christianized, and so to
some extent romanized, before they came to take possession. Even the
more distant Franks had been converted to Christianity before they
had completed their conquest of Gaul. Everywhere except in Britain,
therefore, the conquerors had already imbibed Roman ideas, and the
authority of Rome was in a certain sense acknowledged. There was no
break in the continuity of political events. In Britain, on the other
hand, there was a complete break, so that while on the continent the
fifth and sixth centuries are seen in the full midday light of history,
in Britain they have lapsed into the twilight of half-legendary
tradition. The Saxon and English tribes, coming from the remote wilds
of northern Germany, whither Roman missionaries had not yet penetrated,
still worshipped Thor and Wodan; and their conquest of Britain was
effected with such deadly thoroughness that Christianity was destroyed
there, or lingered only in sequestered nooks. A land once christianized
thus actually fell back into paganism, so that the work of converting it
to Christianity had to be done over again. From the landing of heathen
Hengest on the isle of Thanet to the landing of Augustine and his monks
on the same spot, one hundred and forty-eight years elapsed, during
which English institutions found time to take deep root in British
soil with scarcely more interference, as to essential points, than in
American soil twelve centuries afterward. [Sidenote: Peculiarity of the
Teutonic conquest of Britain]

The century and a half between 449 and 597 is therefore one of the most
important epochs in the history of the people that speak the English
language. Before settling in Britain our forefathers had been tribes in
the upper stages of barbarism; now they began the process of coalescence
into a nation in which the principle of self-government should be
retained and developed. The township and its town-meeting we find there,
as later in New England. The county-meeting we also find, while the
county is a little state in itself and not a mere administrative
district. And in this county-meeting we may observe a singular feature,
something never seen before in the world, something destined to work
out vaster political results than Caesar ever dreamed of. This
county-meeting is not a primary assembly; all the freemen from all the
townships cannot leave their homes and their daily business to attend
it. Nor is it merely an assembly of notables, attended by the most
important men of the neighbourhood. It is a representative assembly,
attended by select men from each township. We may see in it the germ of
the British parliament and of the American congress, as indeed of all
modern legislative bodies, for it is a most suggestive commentary upon
what we are saying that in all other countries which have legislatures,
they have been copied, within quite recent times, from English or
American models. We can seldom if ever fix a date for the beginning
of anything, and we can by no means fix a date for the beginning of
representative assemblies in England. We can only say that where
we first find traces of county organization, we find traces of
representation. Clearly, if the English conquerors of Britain had left
the framework of Roman institutions standing there, as it remained
standing in Gaul, there would have been great danger of this principle
of representation not surviving. It would most likely have been crushed
in its callow infancy. The conquerors would insensibly have fallen into
the Roman way of doing things, as they did in Gaul. [Sidenote: Survival
and development of Teutonic representative assembly in England]

From the start, then, we find the English nationality growing up under
very different conditions from those which obtained in other parts
of Europe. So far as institutions are concerned, Teutonism was less
modified in England than in the German fatherland itself, For the
gradual conquest and Christianization of Germany which began with
Charles the Great, and went on until in the thirteenth century the
frontier had advanced eastward to the Vistula, entailed to a certain
extent the romanization of Germany. For a thousand years after Charles
the Great, the political head of Germany was also the political head
of the Holy Roman Empire, and the civil and criminal code by which the
daily life of the modern German citizen is regulated is based upon the
jurisprudence of Rome. Nothing, perhaps, could illustrate more forcibly
than this sheer contrast the peculiarly Teutonic character of English
civilization. Between the eighth and the eleventh centuries, when the
formation of English nationality was approaching completion, it received
a fresh and powerful infusion of Teutonism in the swarms of heathen
Northmen or Danes who occupied the eastern coasts, struggled long for
the supremacy, and gradually becoming christianized, for a moment
succeeded in seizing the crown. Of the invasion of partially romanized
Northmen from Normandy which followed soon after, and which has so
profoundly affected English society and English speech, we need notice
here but two conspicuous features. First, it increased the power of the
crown and the clergy, brought all England more than ever under one law,
and strengthened the feeling of nationality. It thus made England a
formidable military power, while at the same time it brought her into
closer relations with continental Europe than she had held since the
fourth century. Secondly, by superposing a new feudal nobility as the
upper stratum of society, it transformed the Old-English thanehood into
the finest middle-class of rural gentry and yeomanry that has ever
existed in any country; a point of especial interest to Americans, since
it was in this stratum of society that the two most powerful streams of
English migration to America--the Virginia stream and the New
England stream--alike had their source. [Sidenote: Primitive Teutonic
institutions less modified in England than in Germany]

By the thirteenth century the increasing power and pretensions of the
crown, as the unification of English nationality went on, brought about
a result unlike anything known on the continent of Europe; it brought
about a resistless coalition between the great nobles, the rural gentry
and yeomanry, and the burghers of the towns, for the purpose of curbing
royalty, arresting the progress of centralization, and setting up
representative government on a truly national scale. This grand result
was partly due to peculiar circumstances which had their origin in
the Norman conquest; but it was largely due to the political habits
generated by long experience of local representative assemblies,--habits
which made it comparatively easy for different classes of society to
find their voice and use it for the attainment of ends in common. On the
continent of Europe the encroaching sovereign had to contend with
here and there an arrogant vassal, here and there a high-spirited and
rebellious town; in England, in this first great crisis of popular
government, he found himself confronted by a united people. The fruits
of the grand combination were _first_, the wresting of Magna Charta from
King John in 1215, and _secondly_, the meeting of the first House of
Commons in 1265. Four years of civil war were required to secure these
noble results. The Barons' War, of the years 1263 to 1267, was an
event of the same order of importance as the Great Rebellion of the
seventeenth century and the American Revolution; and among the
founders of that political freedom which is enjoyed to-day by all
English-speaking people, the name of Simon de Montfort, Earl of
Leicester, deserves a place in our grateful remembrance beside the names
of Cromwell and Washington. Simon's great victory at Lewes in 1264 must
rank with Naseby and Yorktown. The work begun by his House of Commons
was the same work that has continued to go on without essential
interruption down to the days of Cleveland and Gladstone. The
fundamental principle of political freedom is "no taxation without
representation"; you must not take a farthing of my money without
consulting my wishes as to the use that shall be made of it. Only
when this principle of justice was first practically recognized, did
government begin to divorce itself from the primitive bestial barbaric
system of tyranny and plunder, and to ally itself with the forces that
in the fulness of time are to bring peace on earth and good will to
men. Of all dates in history, therefore, there is none more fit to be
commemorated than 1265; for in that year there was first asserted and
applied at Westminster, on a national scale, that fundamental principle
of "no taxation without representation," that innermost kernel of the
English Idea, which the Stamp Act Congress defended at New York exactly
five hundred years afterward. When we think of these dates, by the way,
we realize the import of the saying that in the sight of the Lord a
thousand years are but as a day, and we feel that the work of the Lord
cannot be done by the listless or the slothful. So much time and so much
strife by sea and land has it taken to secure beyond peradventure the
boon to mankind for which Earl Simon gave up his noble life on the field
of Evesham! Nor without unremitting watchfulness can we be sure that the
day of peril is yet past. From kings, indeed, we have no more to fear;
they have come to be as spooks and bogies of the nursery. But the
gravest dangers are those which present themselves in new forms, against
which people's minds have not yet been fortified with traditional
sentiments and phrases. The inherited predatory tendency of men to seize
upon the fruits of other people's labour is still very strong, and while
we have nothing more to fear from kings, we may yet have trouble enough
from commercial monopolies and favoured industries, marching to the
polls their hordes of bribed retainers. Well indeed has it been said
that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. God never meant that in
this fair but treacherous world in which He has placed us we should earn
our salvation without steadfast labour. [Eternal vigilance is the price
of liberty]

To return to Earl Simon, we see that it was just in that wonderful
thirteenth century, when the Roman idea of government might seem to
have been attaining its richest and most fruitful development, that the
richer and more fruitful English idea first became incarnate in the
political constitution of a great and rapidly growing nation. It was not
long before the struggle between the Roman Idea and the English Idea,
clothed in various forms, became the dominating issue in European
history. We have now to observe the rise of modern nationalities, as new
centres of political life, out of the various provinces of the Roman
world. In the course of this development the Teutonic representative
assembly is at first everywhere discernible, in some form or other,
as in the Spanish Cortes or the States-General of France, but on the
continent it generally dies out. Only in such nooks as Switzerland and
the Netherlands does it survive. In the great nations it succumbs before
the encroachments of the crown. The comparatively novel Teutonic idea of
power delegated by the people to their representatives had not become
deeply enough rooted in the political soil of the continent; and
accordingly we find it more and more disused and at length almost
forgotten, while the old and deeply rooted Roman idea of power delegated
by the governing body to its lieutenants and prefects usurps its place.
Let us observe some of the most striking features of this growth of
modern nationalities. [Sidenote: Conflict between Roman Idea and English
Idea begins to become clearly visible in the thirteenth century]

The reader of medieval history cannot fail to be impressed with the
suddenness with which the culmination of the Holy Roman Empire, in
the thirteenth century, was followed by a swift decline. The imperial
position of the Hapsburgs was far less splendid than that of the
Hohenstauffen; it rapidly became more German and less European, until
by and by people began to forget what the empire originally meant.
The change which came over the papacy was even more remarkable. The
grandchildren of the men who had witnessed the spectacle of a king of
France and a king of England humbled at the feet of Innocent III., the
children of the men who had found the gigantic powers of a Frederick II.
unequal to the task of curbing the papacy, now beheld the successors of
St. Peter carried away to Avignon, there to be kept for seventy years
under the supervision of the kings of France. Henceforth the glory of
the papacy in its political aspect was to be but the faint shadow of
that with which it had shone before. This sudden change in its position
showed that the medieval dream of a world-empire was passing away,
and that new powers were coming uppermost in the shape of modern
nationalities with their national sovereigns. So long as these
nationalities were in the weakness of their early formation, it was
possible for pope and emperor to assert, and sometimes to come near
maintaining, universal supremacy. But the time was now at hand when
kings could assert their independence of the pope, while the emperor was
fast sinking to be merely one among kings.

As modern kingdoms thus grew at the expense of empire and papacy above,
so they also grew at the expense of feudal dukedoms, earldoms, and
baronies below. The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were as fatal
to feudalism as to world-empire and world-church. A series of wars
occurring at this time were especially remarkable for the wholesale
slaughter of the feudal nobility, whether on the field or under the
headsman's axe. This was a conspicuous feature of the feuds of the
Trastamare in Spain, of the English invasions of France, followed by the
quarrel between Burgundians and Armagnacs, and of the great war of the
Roses in England. So thorough-going was the butchery in England, for
example, that only twenty-nine lay peers could be found to sit in the
first parliament of Henry VII in 1485. The old nobility was almost
annihilated, both in person and in property; for along with the
slaughter there went wholesale confiscation, and this added greatly to
the disposable wealth of the crown. The case was essentially similar in
France and Spain. In all three countries the beginning of the sixteenth
century saw the power of the crown increased and increasing. Its vast
accessions of wealth made it more independent of legislative assemblies,
and at the same time enabled it to make the baronage more subservient in
character by filling up the vacant places with new creations of its own.
Through the turbulent history of the next two centuries, we see the
royal power aiming at unchecked supremacy and in the principal instances
attaining it except in England. Absolute despotism was reached first in
Spain, under Philip II.; in France it was reached a century later, under
Louis XIV.; and at about the same time in the hereditary estates of
Austria; while over all the Italian and German soil of the disorganized
empire, except among the glaciers of Switzerland and the dykes of the
Netherlands, the play of political forces had set up a host of petty
tyrannies which aped the morals and manners of the great autocrats at
Paris and Madrid and Vienna. [Sidenote: Increasing power of the crown]

As we look back over this growth of modern monarchy, we cannot but
be struck with the immense practical difficulty of creating a strong
nationality without sacrificing self-government. Powerful, indeed, is
the tendency toward over-centralization, toward stagnation, toward
political death. Powerful is the tendency to revert to the Roman, if not
to the Oriental method. As often as we reflect upon the general state of
things at the end of the seventeenth century--the dreadful ignorance and
misery which prevailed among most of the people of continental Europe,
and apparently without hope of remedy--so often must we be impressed
anew with the stupendous significance of the part played by
self-governing England in overcoming dangers which have threatened the
very existence of modern civilization. It is not too much to say that
in the seventeenth century the entire political future of mankind was
staked upon the questions that were at issue in England. To keep the
sacred flame of liberty alive required such a rare and wonderful
concurrence of conditions that, had our forefathers then succumbed in
the strife, it is hard to imagine how or where the failure could have
been repaired. Some of these conditions we have already considered; let
us now observe one of the most important of all. Let us note the part
played by that most tremendous of social forces, religious sentiment,
in its relation to the political circumstances which we have passed
in review. If we ask why it was that among modern nations absolute
despotism was soonest and most completely established in Spain, we find
it instructive to observe that the circumstances under which the
Spanish monarchy grew up, during centuries of deadly struggle with the
Mussulman, were such as to enlist the religious sentiment on the side of
despotic methods in church and state. It becomes interesting, then, to
observe by contrast how it was that in England the dominant religious
sentiment came to be enlisted on the side of political freedom.
[Illustration: Had it not been for the Puritans, political liberty would
probably have disappeared from the world]

In such an inquiry we have nothing to do with the truth or falsity of
any system of doctrines, whether Catholic or Protestant. The legitimate
purposes of the historian do not require him to intrude upon the
province of the theologian. Our business is to trace the sequence of
political cause and effect. Nor shall we get much help from crude
sweeping statements which set forth Catholicism as invariably the enemy
and Protestantism as invariably the ally of human liberty. The Catholic
has a right to be offended at statements which would involve a
Hildebrand or a St. Francis in the same historical judgment with a
Sigismund or a Torquemada. The character of ecclesiastical as of all
other institutions has varied with the character of the men who have
worked them and the varying needs of the times and places in which they
have been worked; and our intense feeling of the gratitude we owe to
English Puritanism need in nowise diminish the enthusiasm with which we
praise the glorious work of the mediaeval church. It is the duty of
the historian to learn how to limit and qualify his words of blame or
approval; for so curiously is human nature compounded of strength and
weakness that the best of human institutions are likely to be infected
with some germs of vice or folly. [Sidenote: Beginnings of Protestantism
in the thirteenth century]

Of no human institution is this more true than of the great medieval
church of Gregory and Innocent when viewed in the light of its claims
to unlimited temporal and spiritual sovereignty. In striking down the
headship of the emperors, it would have reduced Europe to a sort of
Oriental caliphate, had it not been checked by the rising spirit of
nationality already referred to. But there was another and even mightier
agency coming in to curb its undue pretensions to absolute sovereignty.
That same thirteenth century which witnessed the culmination of its
power witnessed also the first bold and determined manifestation of the
Protestant temper of revolt against spiritual despotism. It was long
before this that the earliest Protestant heresy had percolated into
Europe, having its source, like so many other heresies, in that eastern
world where the stimulating thought of the Greeks busied itself with the
ancient theologies of Asia. From Armenia in the eighth century came the
Manichaean sect of Paulicians into Thrace, and for twenty generations
played a considerable part in the history of the Eastern Empire. In the
Bulgarian tongue they were known as Bogomilians, or men constant in
prayer. In Greek they were called Cathari, or "Puritans." They accepted
the New Testament, but set little store by the Old; they laughed at
transubstantiation, denied any mystical efficiency to baptism, frowned
upon image-worship as no better than idolatry, despised the intercession
of saints, and condemned the worship of the Virgin Mary. As for the
symbol of the cross, they scornfully asked, "If any man slew the son of
a king with a bit of wood, how could this piece of wood be dear to the
king?" Their ecclesiastical government was in the main presbyterian, and
in politics they showed a decided leaning toward democracy. They wore
long faces, looked askance at frivolous amusements, and were terribly in
earnest. Of the more obscure pages of mediaeval history, none are fuller
of interest than those in which we decipher the westward progress of
these sturdy heretics through the Balkan peninsula into Italy, and
thence into southern France, where toward the end of the twelfth century
we find their ideas coming to full blossom in the great Albigensian
heresy. It was no light affair to assault the church in the days of
Innocent III. The terrible crusade against the Albigenses, beginning in
1207, was the joint work of the most powerful of popes and one of the
most powerful of French kings. On the part of Innocent it was the
stamping out of a revolt that threatened the very existence of
the Catholic hierarchy; on the part of Philip Augustus it was the
suppression of those too independent vassals the Counts of Toulouse, and
the decisive subjection of the southern provinces to the government at
Paris. Nowhere in European history do we read a more frightful story
than that which tells of the blazing fires which consumed thousand after
thousand of the most intelligent and thrifty people in France. It was
now that the Holy Inquisition came into existence, and after forty years
of slaughter these Albigensian Cathari or Puritans seemed exterminated.
The practice of burning heretics, first enacted by statute in Aragon in
1197, was adopted in most parts of Europe during the thirteenth century,
but in England not until the beginning of the fifteenth. The Inquisition
was never established in England. Edward II. attempted to introduce
it in 1311 for the purpose of suppressing the Templars, but his utter
failure showed that the instinct of self-government was too strong in
the English people to tolerate the entrusting of so much power over
men's lives to agents of the papacy. Mediaeval England was ignorant and
bigoted enough, but under a representative government which so strongly
permeated society, it was impossible to set the machinery of repression
to work with such deadly thoroughness as it worked under the guidance of
Roman methods. When we read the history of persecution in England, the
story in itself is dreadful enough; but when we compare it with the
horrors enacted in other countries, we arrive at some startling results.
During the two centuries of English persecution, from Henry IV. to James
I., some 400 persons were burned at the stake, and three-fourths of
these cases occurred in 1555-57, the last three years of Mary Tudor.
Now in a single province of Spain, in the single year 1482, about 2000
persons were burned. The lowest estimates of the number slain for heresy
in the Netherlands in the course of the sixteenth century place it at
75,000. Very likely such figures are in many cases grossly exaggerated.
But after making due allowance for this, the contrast is sufficiently
impressive. In England the persecution of heretics was feeble and
spasmodic, and only at one moment rose to anything like the appalling
vigour which ordinarily characterized it in countries where the
Inquisition was firmly established. Now among the victims of religious
persecution must necessarily be found an unusual proportion of men and
women more independent than the average in their thinking, and more
bold than the average in uttering their thoughts. The Inquisition was a
diabolical winnowing machine for removing from society the most flexible
minds and the stoutest hearts; and among every people in which it was
established for a length of time it wrought serious damage to the
national character. It ruined the fair promise of Spain, and inflicted
incalculable detriment upon the fortunes of France. No nation could
afford to deprive itself of such a valuable element in its political
life as was furnished in the thirteenth century by the intelligent and
sturdy Cathari of southern Gaul. [Sidenote: The Cathari, or Puritans of
the Eastern Empire] [Sidenote: The Albigenses] [Sidenote: Effects of
persecution; its feebleness in England]

The spirit of revolt against the hierarchy, though broken and repressed
thus terribly by the measures of Innocent III., continued to live on
obscurely in sequestered spots, in the mountains of Savoy, and Bosnia,
and Bohemia, ready on occasion to spring into fresh and vigorous life.
In the following century Protestant ideas were rapidly germinating in
England, alike in baron's castle, in yeoman's farmstead, in citizen's
shop, in the cloistered walks of the monastery. Henry Knighton,
writing in the time of Richard II., declares, with the exaggeration of
impatience, that every second man you met was a Lollard, or "babbler,"
for such was the nickname given to these free-thinkers, of whom the most
eminent was John Wyclif, professor at Oxford, and rector of Lutterworth,
greatest scholar of the age. [Sidenote: Wyclif and the Lollards]

The career of this man is a striking commentary upon the difference
between England and continental Europe in the Middle Ages. Wyclif denied
transubstantiation, disapproved of auricular confession, opposed the
payment of Peter's pence, taught that kings should not be subject to
prelates, translated the Bible into English and circulated it among the
people, and even denounced the reigning pope as Antichrist; yet he was
not put to death, because there was as yet no act of parliament for the
burning of heretics, and in England things must be done according to the
laws which the people had made. [1] Pope Gregory XI. issued five bulls
against him, addressed to the king, the archbishop of Canterbury, and
the university of Oxford; but their dictatorial tone offended the
national feeling, and no heed was paid to them. Seventeen years after
Wyclif's death, the statute for burning heretics was passed, and the
persecution of Lollards began. It was feeble and ineffectual, however.
Lollardism was never trampled out in England as Catharism was trampled
out in France. Tracts of Wyclif and passages from his translation of
the Bible were copied by hand and secretly passed about to be read on
Sundays in the manor-house, or by the cottage fireside after the day's
toil was over. The work went on quietly, but not the less effectively,
until when the papal authority was defied by Henry VIII., it soon became
apparent that England was half-Protestant already. It then appeared
also that in this Reformation there were two forces cooperating,--the
sentiment of national independence which would not brook dictation from
Rome, and the Puritan sentiment of revolt against the hierarchy in
general. The first sentiment had found expression again and again in
refusals to pay tribute to Rome, in defiance of papal bulls, and in the
famous statutes of _praemunire_, which made it a criminal offence to
acknowledge any authority in England higher than the crown. The revolt
of Henry VIII. was simply the carrying out of these acts of Edward I.
and Edward III. to their logical conclusion. It completed the detachment
of England from the Holy Roman Empire, and made her free of all the
world. Its intent was political rather than religious. Henry, who wrote
against Martin Luther, was far from wishing to make England a Protestant
country. Elizabeth, who differed from her father in not caring a straw
for theology, was by temperament and policy conservative. Yet England
could not cease to be Papist without ceasing in some measure to be
Catholic; nor could she in that day carry on war against Spain without
becoming a leading champion of Protestantism. The changes in creed and
ritual wrought by the government during this period were cautious and
skilful; and the resulting church of England, with its long line of
learned and liberal divines, has played a noble part in history.
[Sidenote: Political character of Henry VIII's revolt against Rome]

But along with this moderate Protestantism espoused by the English
government, as consequent upon the assertion of English national
independence, there grew up the fierce uncompromising democratic
Protestantism of which the persecuted Lollards had sown the seeds. This
was not the work of government. [Sidenote: The yeoman, Hugh Latimer]

By the side of Henry VIII. stands the sublime figure of Hugh Latimer,
most dauntless of preachers, the one man before whose stern rebuke the
headstrong and masterful Tudor monarch quailed. It was Latimer
that renewed the work of Wyclif. and in his life as well as in his
martyrdom,--to use his own words of good cheer uttered while the fagots
were kindling around him,--lighted "such a candle in England as by God's
grace shall never be put out." This indomitable man belonged to that
middle-class of self-governing, self-respecting yeomanry that has been
the glory of free England and free America. He was one of the sturdy
race that overthrew French chivalry at Crecy and twice drove the
soldiery of a tyrant down the slope of Bunker Hill. In boyhood he worked
on his father's farm and helped his mother to milk the thirty kine; he
practised archery on the village green, studied in the village school,
went to Cambridge, and became the foremost preacher of Christendom. Now
the most thorough and radical work of the English Reformation was done
by this class of men of which Latimer was the type. It was work that was
national in its scope, arousing to fervent heat the strong religious
and moral sentiment of the people, and hence it soon quite outran the
cautious and conservative policy of the government, and tended to
introduce changes extremely distasteful to those who wished to keep
England as nearly Catholic as was consistent with independence of the
pope. Hence before the end of Elizabeth's reign, we find the crown set
almost as strongly against Puritanism as against Romanism. Hence, too,
when under Elizabeth's successors the great decisive struggle between
despotism and liberty was inaugurated, we find all the tremendous force
of this newly awakened religious enthusiasm cooperating with the English
love of self-government and carrying it under Cromwell to victory. From
this fortunate alliance of religious and political forces has come all
the noble and fruitful work of the last two centuries in which men of
English speech have been labouring for the political regeneration of
mankind. But for this alliance of forces, it is quite possible that the
fateful seventeenth century might have seen despotism triumphant in
England as on the continent of Europe, and the progress of civilization
indefinitely arrested. [Sidenote: The moment of Cromwell's triumph was
the most critical moment in history]

In illustration of this possibility, observe what happened in France
at the very time when the victorious English tendencies were shaping
themselves in the reign of Elizabeth. In France there was a strong
Protestant movement, but it had no such independent middle-class to
support it as that which existed in England; nor had it been able to
profit by such indispensable preliminary work as that which Wyclif had
done; the horrible slaughter of the Albigenses had deprived France of
the very people who might have played a part in some way analogous to
that of the Lollards. Consequently the Protestant movement in France
failed to become a national movement. Against the wretched Henry III who
would have temporized with it, and the gallant Henry IV who honestly
espoused it, the oppressed peasantry and townsmen made common cause by
enlisting under the banner of the ultra-Catholic Guises. The mass of
the people saw nothing in Protestantism but an idea favoured by the
aristocracy and which they could not comprehend. Hence the great king
who would have been glad to make France a Protestant country could only
obtain his crown by renouncing his religion, while seeking to protect
it by his memorable Edict of Nantes. But what a generous despot could
grant, a bigoted despot might revoke; and before another century had
elapsed, the good work done by Henry IV. was undone by Louis XIV., the
Edict of Nantes was set aside, the process of casting out the most
valuable political element in the community was carried to completion,
and seven percent of the population of France was driven away and added
to the Protestant populations of northern Germany and England and
America. The gain to these countries and the damage to France was far
greater than the mere figures would imply; for in determining the
character of a community a hundred selected men and women are more
potent than a thousand men and women taken at random. Thus while the
Reformation in France reinforced to some extent the noble army of
freemen, its triumphs were not to be the triumphs of Frenchmen, but of
the race which has known how to enlist under its banner the forces that
fight for free thought, free speech, and self-government, and all that
these phrases imply. [Sidenote: Contrast with France; fate of the

In view of these facts we may see how tremendous was the question at
stake with the Puritans of the seventeenth century. Everywhere else the
Roman idea seemed to have conquered or to be conquering, while they
seemed to be left as the forlorn hope of the human race. But from the
very day when Oliver Cromwell reached forth his mighty arm to stop the
persecutions in Savoy, the victorious English idea began to change the
face of things. The next century saw William Pitt allied with Frederick
of Prussia to save the work of the Reformation in central Europe and set
in motion the train of events that were at last to make the people of
the Teutonic fatherland a nation. At that same moment the keenest
minds in France were awaking to the fact that in their immediate
neighbourhood, separated from them only by a few miles of salt water,
was a country where people were equal in the eye of the law. It was the
ideas of Locke and Milton, of Vane and Sidney, that, when transplanted
into French soil, produced that violent but salutary Revolution which
has given fresh life to the European world. And contemporaneously with
all this, the American nation came upon the scene, equipped as no
other nation had ever been, for the task of combining sovereignty with
liberty, indestructible union of the whole with indestructible life in
the parts. The English idea has thus come to be more than national,
it has become imperial. It has come to rule, and it has come to stay.
[Sidenote: Victory of the English Idea]

We are now in a position to answer the question when the Roman Empire
came to an end, in so far as it can be answered at all. It did not come
to its end at the hands of an Odovakar in the year 476, or of a Mahomet
II in 1453, or of a Napoleon in 1806. It has been coming to its end as
the Roman idea of nation-making has been at length decisively overcome
by the English idea. For such a fact it is impossible to assign a date,
because it is not an event but a stage in the endless procession
of events. But we can point to landmarks on the way. Of movements
significant and prophetic there have been many. The whole course of the
Protestant reformation, from the thirteenth century to the nineteenth,
is coincident with the transfer of the world's political centre of
gravity from the Tiber and the Rhine to the Thames and the Mississippi.
The whole career of the men who speak English has within this period
been the most potent agency in this transfer. In these gigantic
processes of evolution we cannot mark beginnings or endings by years,
hardly even by centuries. But among the significant events which
prophesied the final triumph of the English over the Roman idea, perhaps
the most significant--the one which marks most incisively the dawning
of a new era--was the migration of English Puritans across the Atlantic
Ocean, to repeat in a new environment and on a far grander scale the
work which their forefathers had wrought in Britain. The voyage of the
Mayflower was not in itself the greatest event in this migration; but
it serves to mark the era, and it is only when we study it in the mood
awakened by the general considerations here set forth that we can
properly estimate the historic importance of the great Puritan Exodus.
[Sidenote: Significance of the Puritan Exodus]



In the preceding chapter I endeavoured to set forth and illustrate some
of the chief causes which have shifted the world's political centre of
gravity from the Mediterranean and the Rhine to the Atlantic and the
Mississippi; from the men who spoke Latin to the men who speak English.
In the course of the exposition we began to catch glimpses of the
wonderful significance of the fact that--among the people who had
first suggested the true solution of the difficult problem of making a
powerful nation without sacrificing local self-government--when the
supreme day of trial came, the dominant religious sentiment was arrayed
on the side of political freedom and against political despotism. If we
consider merely the territorial area which it covered, or the numbers
of men slain in its battles, the war of the English parliament against
Charles I. seems a trivial affair when contrasted with the gigantic
but comparatively insignificant work of barbarians like Jinghis or
Tamerlane. But if we consider the moral and political issues involved,
and the influence of the struggle upon the future welfare of mankind,
we soon come to see that there never was a conflict of more world-wide
importance than that from which Oliver Cromwell came out victorious. It
shattered the monarchical power in England at a time when monarchical
power was bearing down all opposition in the other great countries of
Europe. It decided that government by the people and for the people
should not then perish from the earth. It placed free England in a
position of such moral advantage that within another century the
English Idea of political life was able to react most powerfully upon
continental Europe. It was the study of English institutions by such men
as Montesquieu and Turgot, Voltaire and Rousseau, that gave shape and
direction to the French Revolution. That violent but wholesome clearing
of the air, that tremendous political and moral awakening, which ushered
in the nineteenth century in Europe, had its sources in the spirit
which animated the preaching of Latimer, the song of Milton, the solemn
imagery of Bunyan, the political treatises of Locke and Sidney, the
political measures of Hampden and Pym. The noblest type of modern
European statesmanship, as represented by Mazzini and Stein, is the
spiritual offspring of seventeenth-century Puritanism. To speak of
Naseby and Marston Moor as merely English victories would be as
absurd as to restrict the significance of Gettysburg to the state of
Pennsylvania. If ever there were men who laid down their lives in the
cause of all mankind, it was those grim old Ironsides whose watchwords
were texts from Holy Writ, whose battle-cries were hymns of praise.
[Sidenote: Influence of Puritanism upon modern Europe]

It was to this unwonted alliance of intense religious enthusiasm with
the instinct of self-government and the spirit of personal independence
that the preservation of English freedom was due. When James I. ascended
the English throne, the forces which prepared the Puritan revolt had
been slowly and quietly gathering strength among the people for at least
two centuries. The work which Wyclif had begun in the fourteenth century
had continued to go on in spite of occasional spasmodic attempts to
destroy it with the aid of the statute passed in 1401 for the burning
of heretics. The Lollards can hardly be said at any time to have
constituted a sect, marked off from the established church by the
possession of a system of doctrines held in common. The name by which
they were known was a nickname which might cover almost any amount
of diversity in opinion, like the modern epithets "free-thinker" and
"agnostic." The feature which characterized the Lollards in common was a
bold spirit of inquiry which led them, in spite of persecution, to read
Wyclif's English Bible and call in question such dogmas and rites of the
church as did not seem to find warrant in the sacred text. Clad in long
robes of coarse red wool, barefoot, with pilgrim's staff in hand, the
Lollard preachers fared to and fro among the quaint Gothic towns and
shaded hamlets, setting forth the word of God wherever they could find
listeners, now in the parish church or under the vaulted roof of the
cathedral, now in the churchyard or market-place, or on some green
hillside. During the fifteenth century persecution did much to check
this open preaching, but passages from Wyclif's tracts and texts from
the Bible were copied by hand and passed about among tradesmen and
artisans, yeomen and plough-boys, to be pondered over and talked about
and learned by heart. It was a new revelation to the English people,
this discovery of the Bible. Christ and his disciples seemed to come
very near when the beautiful story of the gospels was first read in
the familiar speech of every-day life. Heretofore they might well have
seemed remote and unreal, just as the school-boy hardly realizes that
the Cato and Cassius over whom he puzzles in his Latin lessons were once
living men like his father and neighbours, and not mere nominatives
governing a verb, or ablatives of means or instrument. Now it became
possible for the layman to contrast the pure teachings of Christ with
the doctrines and demeanour of the priests and monks to whom the
spiritual guidance of Englishmen had been entrusted. Strong and
self-respecting men and women, accustomed to manage their own affairs,
could not but be profoundly affected by the contrast. [Sidenote: Work of
the Lollards]

While they were thus led more and more to appeal to the Bible as the
divine standard of right living and right thinking, at the same time
they found in the sacred volume the treasures of a most original and
noble literature unrolled before them; stirring history and romantic
legend, cosmical theories and priestly injunctions, profound metaphysics
and pithy proverbs, psalms of unrivalled grandeur and pastorals of
exquisite loveliness, parables fraught with solemn meaning, the mournful
wisdom of the preacher, the exultant faith of the apostle, the matchless
eloquence of Job and Isaiah, the apocalyptic ecstasy of St. John. At a
time when there was as yet no English literature for the common people,
this untold wealth of Hebrew literature was implanted in the English
mind as in a virgin soil. Great consequences have flowed from the fact
that the first truly popular literature in England--the first which
stirred the hearts of all classes of people, and filled their minds with
ideal pictures and their every-day speech with apt and telling phrases--
was the literature comprised within the Bible. The superiority of the
common English version of the Bible, made in the reign of James I., over
all other versions, is a fact generally admitted by competent critics.
The sonorous Latin of the Vulgate is very grand, but in sublimity of
fervour as in the unconscious simplicity of strength it is surpassed
by the English version, which is scarcely if at all inferior to the
original, while it remains to-day, and will long remain, the noblest
monument of English speech. The reason for this is obvious. The common
English version of the Bible was made by men who were not aiming at
literary effect, but simply gave natural expression to the feelings
which for several generations had clustered around the sacred text. They
spoke with the voice of a people, which is more than the voice of the
most highly gifted man. They spoke with the voice of a people to whom
the Bible had come to mean all that it meant to the men who wrote it. To
the Englishmen who listened to Latimer, to the Scotchmen who listened
to Knox, the Bible more than filled the place which in modern times
is filled by poem and essay, by novel and newspaper and scientific
treatise. To its pages they went for daily instruction and comfort,
with its strange Semitic names they baptized their children, upon its
precepts, too often misunderstood and misapplied, they sought to build
up a rule of life that might raise them above the crude and unsatisfying
world into which they were born. [Sidenote: The English version of the

It would be wrong to accredit all this awakening of spiritual life in
England to Wyclif and the Lollards, for it was only after the Bible, in
the translations of Tyndall and Coverdale, had been made free to the
whole English people in the reign of Edward VI. that its significance
began to be apparent; and it was only a century later, in the time of
Cromwell and Milton, that its full fruition was reached. It was with the
Lollards, however, that the spiritual awakening began and was continued
until its effects, when they came, were marked by surprising maturity
and suddenness. Because the Lollards were not a clearly defined sect, it
was hard to trace the manifold ramifications of their work. During the
terrible Wars of the Roses, contemporary chroniclers had little or
nothing to say about the labours of these humble men, which seemed
of less importance than now, when we read them in the light of their
world-wide results. From this silence some modern historians have
carelessly inferred that the nascent Protestantism of the Lollards had
been extinguished by persecution under the Lancastrian kings, and was in
nowise continuous with modern English Protestantism. Nothing could be
more erroneous. The extent to which the Lollard leaven had permeated all
classes of English society was first clearly revealed when Henry VIII.
made his domestic affairs the occasion for a revolt against the Papacy.
Despot and brute as he was in many ways, Henry had some characteristics
which enabled him to get on well with his people. He not only
represented the sentiment of national independence, but he had a truly
English reverence for the forms of law. In his worst acts he relied upon
the support of his Parliament, which he might in various ways cajole or
pack, but could not really enslave. In his quarrel with Rome he could
have achieved but little, had he not happened to strike a chord of
feeling to which the English people, trained by this slow and subtle
work of the Lollards, responded quickly and with a vehemence upon which
he had not reckoned. As if by magic, the fabric of Romanism was broken

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