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Title: Political Thought in England from Locke to Bentham
Author: Laski, Harold J.
Language: English
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No. 103











It is impossible for me to publish this book without some expression of
the debt it owes to Leslie Stephen's _History of the English Thought in
the Eighteenth Century_. It is almost insolent to praise such work; but
I may be permitted to say that no one can fully appreciate either its
wisdom or its knowledge who has not had to dig among the original texts.

Were so small a volume worthy to bear a dedication, I should associate
it with the name of my friend Walter Lippmann. He and I have so often
discussed the substance of its problems that I am certain a good deal of
what I feel to be my own is, where it has merit, really his. This volume
is thus in great part a tribute to him; though there is little that can
repay such friendship as he gives.


Sept. 15, 1919


CHAPTER                                       PAGE

  I. INTRODUCTION                                7


III. CHURCH AND STATE                           77

 IV. THE ERA OF STAGNATION                     127

  V. SIGNS OF CHANGE                           159

 VI. BURKE                                     213


BIBLIOGRAPHY                                   317

INDEX                                          321



The eighteenth century may be said to begin with the Revolution of 1688;
for, with its completion, the dogma of Divine Right disappeared for ever
from English politics. Its place was but partially filled until Hume and
Burke supplied the outlines of a new philosophy. For the observer of
this age can hardly fail, as he notes its relative barrenness of
abstract ideas, to be impressed by the large part Divine Right must have
played in the politics of the succeeding century. Its very absoluteness
made for keen partisanship on the one side and the other. It could
produce at once the longwinded rhapsodies of Filmer and, by repulsion,
the wearisome reiterations of Algernon Sidney. Once the foundations of
Divine Right had been destroyed by Locke, the basis of passionate
controversy was absent. The theory of a social contract never produced
in England the enthusiasm it evoked in France, for the simple reason
that the main objective of Rousseau and his disciples had already been
secured there by other weapons. And this has perhaps given to the
eighteenth century an urbaneness from which its predecessor was largely
free. Sermons are perhaps the best test of such a change; and it is a
relief to move from the addresses bristling with Suarez and Bellarmine
to the noble exhortations of Bishop Butler. Not until the French
Revolution were ultimate dogmas again called into question; and it is
about them only that political speculation provokes deep feeling. The
urbanity, indeed, is not entirely new. The Restoration had heralded its
coming, and the tone of Halifax has more in common with Bolingbroke and
Hume than with Hobbes and Filmer. Nor has the eighteenth century an
historical profundity to compare with that of the zealous pamphleteers
in the seventeenth. Heroic archivists like Prynne find very different
substitutes in brilliant journalists like Defoe, and if Dalrymple and
Blackstone are respectable, they bear no comparison with masters like
Selden and Sir Henry Spelman.

Yet urbanity must not deceive us. The eighteenth century has an
importance in English politics which the comparative absence of
systematic speculation can not conceal. If its large constitutional
outlines had been traced by a preceding age, its administrative detail
had still to be secured. The process was very gradual; and the attempt
of George III to arrest it produced the splendid effort of Edmund Burke.
Locke's work may have been not seldom confused and stumbling; but it
gave to the principle of consent a permanent place in English politics.
It is the age which saw the crystallization of the party-system, and
therein it may perhaps lay claim to have recognized what Bagehot called
the vital principle of representative government. Few discussions of the
sphere of government have been so productive as that in which Adam Smith
gave a new basis to economic science. Few controversies have, despite
its dullness, so carefully investigated the eternal problem of Church
and State as that to which Hoadly's bishopric contributed its name. De
Lolme is the real parent of that interpretative analysis which has, in
Bagehot's hands, become not the least fruitful type of political method.
Blackstone, in a real sense, may be called the ancestor of Professor
Dicey. The very calmness of the atmosphere only the more surely paved
the way for the surprising novelties of Godwin and the revolutionists.

Nor must we neglect the relation between its ethics and its politics.
The eighteenth century school of British moralists has suffered somewhat
beside the greater glories of Berkeley and Hume. Yet it was a great work
to which they bent their effort, and they knew its greatness. The
deistic controversy involved a fresh investigation of the basis of
morals; and it is to the credit of the investigators that they attempted
to provide it in social terms. It is, indeed, one of the primary
characteristics of the British mind to be interested in problems of
conduct rather than of thought. The seventeenth century had, for the
most part, been interested in theology and government; and its
preoccupation, in both domains, with supernatural sanctions, made its
conclusions unfitted for a period dominated by rationalism. Locke
regarded his _Human Understanding_ as the preliminary to an ethical
enquiry; and Hume seems to have considered his _Principles of Morals_
the most vital of his works. It may be true, as the mordant insight of
Mark Pattison suggested, that "those periods in which morals have been
represented as the proper study of man, and his only business, have been
periods of spiritual abasement and poverty." Certainly no one will be
inclined to claim for the eighteenth century the spiritual idealism of
the seventeenth, though Law and Bishop Wilson and the Wesleyan revival
will make us generalize with caution. But the truth was that theological
ethics had become empty and inadequate, and the problem was therefore
urgent. That is why Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume and Adam Smith--to take
only men of the first eminence--were thinking not less for politics than
for ethics when they sought to justify the ways of man to man. For all
of them saw that a theory of society is impossible without the provision
of psychological foundations; and those must, above all, result in a
theory of conduct if the social bond is to be maintained. That sure
insight is, of course, one current only in a greater English stream
which reaches back to Hobbes at its source and forward to T.H. Green at
perhaps its fullest. Its value is its denial of politics as a science
distinct from other human relations; and that is why Adam Smith can
write of moral sentiments no less than of the wealth of nations. The
eighteenth century saw clearly that each aspect of social life must find
its place in the political equation.

Yet it is undoubtedly an age of methods rather than of principles; and,
as such its peaceful prosperity was well suited to its questions.
Problems of technique, such as the cabinet and the Bank of England
required the absence of passionate debate if they were in any fruitful
fashion to be solved. Nor must the achievement of the age in politics be
minimized. It was, of course, a complacent time; but we ought to note
that foreigners of distinction did not wonder at its complacency.
Voltaire and Montesquieu look back to England in the eighteenth century
for the substance of political truths. The American colonies took alike
their methods and their arguments from English ancestors; and Burke
provided them with the main elements of justification. The very
quietness, indeed, of the time was the natural outcome of a century of
storm; and England surely had some right to be contented when her
political system was compared with the governments of France and
Germany. Not, indeed, that the full fruit of the Revolution was
gathered. The principle of consent came, in practice and till 1760, to
mean the government of the Whig Oligarchy; and the _Extraordinary Black
Book_ remains to tell us what happened when George III gave the Tory
party a new lease of power. There is throughout the time an
over-emphasis upon the value of order, and a not unnatural tendency to
confound the private good of the governing class with the general
welfare of the state. It became the fixed policy of Walpole to make
prosperity the mask for political stagnation. He turned political debate
from principles to personalities, and a sterile generation was the
outcome of his cunning.

Not that this barrenness is without its compensations. The theories of
the Revolution had exhausted their fruitfulness within a generation. The
constitutional ideas of the seventeenth century had no substance for an
England where Anglicanism and agriculture were beginning to lose the
rigid outlines of overwhelming predominance. What was needed was the
assurance of safety for the Church that her virtue might be tested in
the light of nonconformist practice on the one hand, and the new
rationalism on the other. What was needed also was the expansion of
English commerce into the new channels opened for it by the victories of
Chatham. Mr. Chief Justice Holt had given it the legal categories it
would require; and Hume and Adam Smith were to explain that commerce
might grow with small danger to agricultural prosperity. Beneath the
apparent calm of Walpole's rule new forces were fast stirring. That can
be seen on every side. The sturdy morality of Johnson, the new literary
forms of Richardson and Fielding, the theatre which Garrick founded upon
the ruins produced by Collier's indignation, the revival of which Law
and Wesley are the great symbols, show that the stagnation was sleep
rather than death. The needed events of shock were close at hand. The
people of England would never have discovered the real meaning of 1688
if George III had not denied its principles. When he enforced the
resignation of the elder Pitt the theories at once of Edmund Burke and
English radicalism were born; for the _Present Discontents_ and the
_Society for the Support of the Bill of Rights_ are the dawn of a
splendid recovery. And they made possible the speculative ferment which
showed that England was at last awake to the meaning of Montesquieu and
Rousseau. Just as the shock of the Lancastrian wars produced the Tudor
despotism, so did the turmoil of civil strife produce the complacency of
the eighteenth century. But the peace of the Tudors was the death-bed of
the Stuarts; and it was the stagnant optimism of the early eighteenth
century which made possible the birth of democratic England.

The atmosphere of the time, in fact, is deep-rooted in the conditions of
the past. Locke could not have written had not Hobbes and Filmer
defended in set terms the ideal of despotic government. He announced the
advent of the modern system of parliamentary government; and from his
time the debate has been rather of the conditions under which it is to
work, than of the foundations upon which it is based. Burke, for
example, wrote what constitutes the supreme analysis of the statesman's
art. Adam Smith discussed in what fashion the prosperity of peoples
could be best advanced. From Locke, that is to say, the subject of
discussion is rather _politik_ than _staatslehre_. The great debate
inaugurated by the Reformation ceased when Locke had outlined an
intelligible basis for parliamentary government. Hume, Bolingbroke,
Burke, are all of them concerned with the detail of political
arrangement in a fashion which presupposes the acceptance of a basis
previously known. Burke, indeed, toward the latter part of his life,
awoke to the realization that men were dissatisfied with the traditional
substance of the State. But he met the new desires with hate instead of
understanding, and the Napoleonic wars drove the current of democratic
opinion underground. Hall and Owen and Hodgskin inherited the thoughts
of Ogilvie and Spence and Paine; and if they did not give them
substance, at least they gave them form for a later time.

Nor is the reason for this preoccupation far to seek. The advance of
English politics in the preceding two centuries was mainly an advance of
structure; yet relative at least to continental fact, it appeared
liberal enough to hide the disharmonies of its inner content. The King
was still a mighty influence. The power of the aristocracy was hardly
broken until the Reform Bill of 1867. The Church continued to dominate
the political aspect of English religious life until, after 1832, new
elements alien from her ideals were introduced into the House of
Commons. The conditions of change lay implicit in the Industrial
Revolution, when a new class of men attained control of the nation's
economic power. Only then was a realignment of political forces
essential. Only then, that is to say, had the time arrived for a new
theory of the State.

The political ideas of the eighteenth century are thus in some sort a
comment upon the system established by the Revolution; and that is, in
its turn, the product of the struggle between Parliament and Crown in
the preceding age. But we cannot understand the eighteenth century, or
its theories, unless we realize that its temper was still dominantly
aristocratic. From no accusation were its statesmen more anxious to be
free than from that of a belief in democratic government. Whether Whigs
or Tories were in power, it was always the great families who ruled. For
them the Church, at least in its higher branches, existed; and the
difference between nobleman and commoner at Oxford is as striking as it
is hideous to this generation. For them also literature and the theatre
made their display; and if Dr. Johnson could heap an immortal contumely
upon the name of patron, we all know of the reverence he felt in the
presence of the king. Divine Right and non-resistance were dead, but
they had not died without a struggle. Freedom of the press and legal
equality may have been obtained; but it was not until the passage of
Fox's Libel Act that the first became secure, and Mr. and Mrs. Hammond
have recently illumined for us the inward meaning of the second. The
populace might, on occasion, be strong enough to force the elder Pitt
upon an unwilling king, or to shout for Wilkes and liberty against the
unconstitutional usurpation of the monarch-ridden House of Commons. Such
outbursts are yet the exception to the prevailing temper. The
deliberations of Parliament were still, at least technically, a secret;
and membership therein, save for one or two anomalies like Westminster
and Bristol, was still the private possession of a privileged class. The
Revolution, in fact, meant less an abstract and general freedom, than a
special release from the arbitrary will of a stupid monarch who aroused
against himself every deep-seated prejudice of his generation. The
England which sent James II upon his travels may be, as Hume pointed
out, reduced to a pathetic fragment even of its electorate. The masses
were unknown and undiscovered, or, where they emerged, it was either to
protest against some wise reform like Walpole's Excise Scheme, or to
become, as in Goldsmith and Cowper and Crabbe, the object of
half-pitying poetic sentiment. How deep-rooted was the notion of
aristocratic control was to be shown when France turned into substantial
fact Rousseau's demand for freedom. The protest of Burke against its
supposed anarchy swept England like a flame; and only a courageous
handful could be found to protest against Pitt's prostitution of her

Such an age could make but little pretence to discovery; and, indeed, it
is most largely absent from its speculation. In its political ideas this
is necessarily and especially the case. For the State is at no time an
unchanging organization; it reflects with singular exactness the
dominating ideas of its environment. That division into government and
subjects which is its main characteristic is here noteworthy for the
narrowness of the class from which the government is derived, and the
consistent inertia of those over whom it rules. There is curiously
little controversy over the seat of sovereign power. That is with most
men acknowledged to reside in the king in Parliament. What balance of
forces is necessary to its most perfect equilibrium may arouse
dissension when George III forgets the result of half a century's
evolution. Junius may have to explain in invective what Burke
magistrally demonstrated in terms of political philosophy. But the
deeper problems of the state lay hidden until Bentham and the
revolutionists came to insist upon their presence. That did not mean
that the eighteenth century was a soulless failure. Rather did it mean
that a period of transition had been successfully bridged. The stage was
set for a new effort simply because the theories of the older philosophy
no longer represented the facts at issue.

It was thus Locke only in this period who confronted the general
problems of the modern State. Other thinkers assumed his structure and
dealt with the details he left undetermined. The main problems, the
Church apart, arose when a foreigner occupied the English throne and
left the methods of government to those who were acquainted with them.
That most happy of all the happy accidents in English history made
Walpole the fundamental statesman of the time. He used his opportunity
to the full. Inheriting the possibilities of the cabinet system he gave
it its modern expression by creating the office of Prime Minister. The
party-system was already inevitable; and with his advent to full power
in 1727 we have the characteristic outlines of English representative
government. Thenceforward, there are, on the whole, but three large
questions with which the age concerned itself. Toleration had already
been won by the persistent necessities of two generations, and the noble
determination of William III; but the place of the Church in the
Revolution State and the nature of that State were still undetermined.
Hoadly had one solution, Law another; and the genial rationalism of the
time, coupled with the political affiliations of the High Church party,
combined to give Hoadly the victory; but his opponents, and Law
especially, remained to be the parents of a movement for ecclesiastical
freedom of which it has been the good fortune of Oxford to supply in
each succeeding century the leaders. America presented again the problem
of consent in the special perspective of the imperial relation; and the
decision which grew out of the blundering obscurantism of the King
enabled Burke nobly to restate and amply to revivify the principles of
1688. Chatham meanwhile had stumbled upon a vaster empire; and the
industrial system which his effort quickened could not live under an
economic régime which still bore traces of the narrow nationalism of the
Tudors. No man was so emphatically representative of his epoch as Adam
Smith; and no thinker has ever stated in such generous terms the answer
of his time to the most vital of its questions. The answer, indeed, like
all good answers, revealed rather the difficulty of the problem than the
prospect of its solution; though nothing so clearly heralded the new age
that was coming than his repudiation of the past in terms of a real
appreciation of it. The American War and the two great revolutions
brought a new race of thinkers into being. The French seed at last
produced its harvest. Bentham absorbed the purpose of Rousseau even
while he rejected his methods. For a time, indeed, the heat and dust of
war obscured the issue that Bentham raised. But the certainties of the
future lay on his side.




The English Revolution was in the main a protest against the attempt of
James II to establish a despotism in alliance with France and Rome. It
was almost entirely a movement of the aristocracy, and, for the most
part, it was aristocratic opposition that it encountered. What it did
was to make for ever impossible the thought of reunion with Rome and the
theory that the throne could be established on any other basis than the
consent of Parliament. For no one could pretend that William of Orange
ruled by Divine Right. The scrupulous shrank from proclaiming the
deposition of James; and the fiction that he had abdicated was not
calculated to deceive even the warmest of William's adherents. An
unconstitutional Parliament thereupon declared the throne vacant; and
after much negotiation William and Mary were invited to occupy it. To
William the invitation was irresistible. It gave him the assistance of
the first maritime power in Europe against the imperialism of Louis XIV.
It ensured the survival of Protestantism against the encroachments of an
enemy who never slumbered. Nor did England find the new régime
unwelcome. Every widespread conviction of her people had been wantonly
outraged by the blundering stupidity of James. If a large fraction of
the English Church held aloof from the new order on technical grounds,
the commercial classes gave it their warm support; and many who doubted
in theory submitted in practice. All at least were conscious that a new
era had dawned.

For William had come over with a definite purpose in view. James had
wrought havoc with what the Civil Wars had made the essence of the
English constitution; and it had become important to define in set terms
the conditions upon which the life of kings must in the future be
regulated. The reign of William is nothing so much as the period of that
definition; and the fortunate discovery was made of the mechanisms
whereby its translation into practice might be secured. The Bill of
Rights (1689) and the Act of Settlement (1701) are the foundation-stones
of the modern constitutional system.

What, broadly, was established was the dependence of the crown upon
Parliament. Finance and the army were brought under Parliamentary
control by the simple expedient of making its annual summons essential.
The right of petition was re-affirmed; and the independence of the
judges and ministerial responsibility were secured by the same act which
forever excluded the legitimate heirs from their royal inheritance. It
is difficult not to be amazed at the almost casual fashion in which so
striking a revolution was effected. Not, indeed, that the solution
worked easily at the outset. William remained to the end a foreigner,
who could not understand the inwardness of English politics. It was the
necessities of foreign policy which drove him to admit the immense
possibilities of the party-system as also to accept his own best
safeguard in the foundation of the Bank of England. The Cabinet,
towards the close of his reign, had already become the fundamental
administrative instrument. Originally a committee of the Privy Council,
it had no party basis until the ingenious Sunderland atoned for a score
of dishonesties by insisting that the root of its efficiency would be
found in its selection from a single party. William acquiesced but
doubtfully; for, until the end of his life, he never understood why his
ministers should not be a group of able counsellors chosen without
reference to their political affiliations. Sunderland knew better for
the simple reason that he belonged to that period when the Whigs and
Tories had gambled against each other for their heads. He knew that no
council-board could with comfort contain both himself and Halifax; just
as William himself was to learn quite early that neither honor nor
confidence could win unswerving support from John Churchill. There is a
certain feverishness in the atmosphere of the reign which shows how many
kept an anxious eye on St. Germain even while they attended the morning
levee at Whitehall.

What secured the permanence of the settlement was less the policy of
William than the blunder of the French monarch. Patience, foresight and
generosity had not availed to win for William more than a grudging
recognition of his kingship. He had received only a half-hearted support
for his foreign policy. The army, despite his protests, had been
reduced; and the enforced return of his own Dutch Guards to Holland was
deliberately conceived to cause him pain. But at the very moment when
his strength seemed weakest James II died; and Louis XIV, despite
written obligation, sought to comfort the last moments of his tragic
exile by the falsely chivalrous recognition of the Old Pretender as the
rightful English king. It was a terrible mistake. It did for William
what no action of his own could ever have achieved. It suggested that
England must receive its ruler at the hands of a foreign sovereign. The
national pride of the people rallied to the cause for which William
stood. He was king--so, at least in contrast to Louis' decision, it
appeared--by their deliberate choice and the settlement of which he was
the symbol would be maintained. Parliament granted to William all that
his foreign policy could have demanded. His own death was only the
prelude to the victories of Marlborough. Those victories seemed to seal
the solution of 1688. A moment came when sentiment and intrigue combined
to throw in jeopardy the Act of Settlement. But Death held the stakes
against the gambler's throw of Bolingbroke; and the accession of George
I assured the permanence of Revolution principles.


The theorist of the Revolution is Locke; and it was his conscious effort
to justify the innovations of 1688. He sought, as he said, "to establish
the throne of our great Restorer, our present King William, and make
good his title in the consent of the people." In the debate which
followed his argument remained unanswered, for the sufficient reason
that it had the common sense of the generation on his side. Yet Locke
has suffered not a little at the hands of succeeding thinkers. Though
his influence upon his own time was immense; though Montesquieu owed to
him the acutest of his insights; though the principles of the American
Revolution are in large part an acknowledged adoption of his own; he has
become one of the political classics who are taken for granted rather
than read. It is a profound and regrettable error. Locke may not possess
the clarity and ruthless logic of Hobbes, or the genius for compressing
into a phrase the experience of a lifetime which makes Burke the first
of English political thinkers. He yet stated more clearly than either
the general problem of the modern State. Hobbes, after all, worked with
an impossible psychology and sought no more than the prescription
against disorder. Burke wrote rather a text-book for the cautious
administrator than a guide for the liberal statesman. But Locke saw that
the main problem of the State is the conquest of freedom and it was for
its definition in terms of individual good that he above all strove.

Much, doubtless, of his neglect is due to the medium in which he worked.
He wrote at a time when the social contract seemed the only possible
retort to the theory of Divine Right. He so emphasized the principle of
consent that when contractualism came in its turn to be discarded, it
was discovered that Locke suffered far more than Hobbes by the change so
made. For Hobbes cared nothing for the contract so long as strong
government could be shown to be implicit in the natural badness of men,
while Locke assumed their goodness and made his contract essential to
their opportunity for moral expression. Nor did he, like Rousseau, seize
upon the organic nature of the State. To him the State was always a mere
aggregate, and the convenient simplicity of majority-rule solved, for
him, the vital political problems. But Rousseau was translated into the
complex dialectic of Hegel and lived to become the parent of theories he
would have doubtless been the first to disown. Nor was Locke aided by
his philosophic outlook. Few great thinkers have so little perceived the
psychological foundations of politics. What he did was rather to fasten
upon the great institutional necessity of his time--the provision of
channels of assent--and emphasize its importance to the exclusion of all
other factors. The problem is in fact more complex; and the solution he
indicated became so natural a part of the political fabric that the
value of his emphasis upon its import was largely forgotten when men
again took up the study of foundations.

John Locke was born at Wrington in Somerset on the 29th of August, 1632.
His father was clerk to the county justices and acted as a captain in a
cavalry regiment during the Civil War. Though he suffered heavy losses,
he was able to give his son as good an education as the time afforded.
Westminster under Dr. Busby may not have been the gentlest of academies,
but at least it provided Locke with an admirable training in the
classics. He himself, indeed, in the _Thoughts on Education_ doubted the
value of such exercises; nor does he seem to have conceived any
affection for Oxford whither he proceeded in 1652 as a junior student of
Christ Church. The university was then under the Puritan control of Dr.
John Owen; but not even his effort to redeem the university from its
reputation for intellectual laxity rescued it from the "wrangling and
ostentation" of the peripatetic philosophy. Yet it was at Oxford that
he encountered the work of Descartes which first attracted him to
metaphysics. There, too, he met Pocock, the Arabic scholar, and Wallis
the mathematician, who must at least have commanded his respect. In 1659
he accepted a Senior Studentship of his college, which he retained until
he was deemed politically undesirable in 1684. After toying with his
father's desire that he should enter the Church, he began the study of
medicine. Scientific interest won for him the friendship of Boyle; and
while he was administering physic to the patients of Dr. Thomas, he was
making the observations recorded in Boyle's _History of the Air_ which
Locke himself edited after the death of his friend.

Meanwhile accident had turned his life into far different paths. An
appointment as secretary to a special ambassador opened up to him a
diplomatic career; but his sturdy commonsense showed him his unfitness
for such labors. After his visit to Prussia he returned to Oxford, and
there, in 1667, in the course of his medical work, he met Anthony
Ashley, the later Lord Shaftesbury and the Ahitophel of Dryden's great
satire. The two men were warmly attracted to each other, and Locke
accepted an appointment as physician to Lord Ashley's household. But he
was also much more than this. The tutor of Ashley's philosophic
grandson, he became also his patron's confidential counsellor. In 1663
he became part author of a constitutional scheme for Carolina which is
noteworthy for its emphasis, thus early, upon the importance of
religious toleration. In 1672, when Ashley became Lord Chancellor, he
became Secretary of Presentations and, until 1675, Secretary to the
Council of Trade and Foreign Plantations. Meanwhile he carried on his
medical work and must have obtained some reputation in it; for he is
honorably mentioned by Sydenham, in his _Method of Curing Fevers_
(1676), and had been elected to the Royal Society in 1668. But his real
genius lay in other directions.

Locke himself has told us how a few friends began to meet at his chamber
for the discussions of questions which soon passed into metaphysical
enquiry; and a page from a commonplace book of 1671 is the first
beginning of his systematic work. Relieved of his administrative duties
in 1675, he spent the next four years in France, mainly occupied with
medical observation. He returned to England in 1679 to assist Lord
Shaftesbury in the passionate debates upon the Exclusion Bill. Locke
followed his patron into exile, remaining abroad from 1683 until the
Revolution. Deprived of his fellowship in 1684 through the malice of
Charles II, he would have been without means of support had not
Shaftesbury bequeathed him a pension. As it was, he had no easy time.
His extradition was demanded by James II after the Monmouth rebellion;
and though he was later pardoned he refused to return to England until
William of Orange had procured his freedom. A year after his return he
made his appearance as a writer. The _Essay Concerning Human
Understanding_ and the _Two Treatises of Government_ were both published
in 1690. Five years earlier the _Letter Concerning Toleration_ was
published in its Latin dress; and four years afterwards an English
translation appeared. This last, however, perhaps on grounds of
expediency, Locke never acknowledged until his will was published; for
the time was not yet suited to such generous speculations. Locke was
thus in his fifty-eighth year when his first admitted work appeared. But
the rough attempts at the essay date from 1671, and hints towards the
_Letter on Toleration_ can be found in fragments of various dates
between the twenty-eighth and thirty-fifth years of his life. Of the
_Two Treatises_ the first seems to have been written between 1680 and
1685, the second in the last year of his Dutch exile.[1]

[Footnote 1: On the evidence for these dates see the convincing argument
of Mr. Fox-Bourne in his _Life of Locke_, Vol. II, pp. 165-7.]

The remaining fourteen years of Locke's life were passed in
semi-retirement in East Anglia. Though he held public office, first as
Commissioner of Appeals, and later of Trade, for twelve years, he could
not stand the pressure of London writers, and his public work was only
intermittent. His counsel, nevertheless, was highly valued; and he seems
to have won no small confidence from William in diplomatic matters.
Somers and Charles Montagu held him in high respect, and he had the
warm friendship of Sir Isaac Newton. He published some short discussions
on economic matters, and in 1695 gave valuable assistance in the
destruction of the censorship of the press. Two years earlier he had
published his _Thoughts on Education_, in which the observant reader may
find the germ of most of Emile's ideas. He did not fail to revise the
_Essay_ from time to time; and his _Reasonableness of Christianity_,
which, through Toland, provoked a reply from Stillingfleet and showed
Locke in retort a master of the controversial art, was in some sort the
foundation of the deistic debate in the next epoch. But his chief work
had already been done, and he spent his energies in rewarding the
affection of his friends. Locke died on October 28, 1704, amid
circumstances of singular majesty. He had lived a full life, and few
have so completely realized the medieval ideal of specializing in
omniscience. He left warm friends behind him; and Lady Masham has said
of him that beyond which no man may dare to aspire.[2]

[Footnote 2: Fox-Bourne, _op. cit_. Letter from Lady Masham to Jean le


Locke's _Two Treatises of Government_ are different both in object and
in value. The first is a detailed and tiresome response to the historic
imagination of Sir Robert Filmer. In his _Patriarcha_, which first saw
the light in 1680, though it had been written long before, the latter
had sought to reach the ultimate conclusion of Hobbes without the
element of contract upon which the great thinker depended. "I consent
with him," said Filmer of Hobbes, "about the Rights of _exercising_
Government, but I cannot agree to his means of acquiring it." That power
must be absolute, Filmer, like Hobbes, has no manner of doubt; but his
method of proof is to derive the title of Charles I from Adam. Little
difficulties like the origin of primogeniture, or whence, as Locke
points out, the universal monarchy of Shem can be derived, the good Sir
Robert does not satisfactorily determine. Locke takes him up point by
point, and there is little enough left, save a sense that history is the
root of institutions, when he has done. What troubles us is rather why
Locke should have wasted the resources of his intelligence upon so
feeble an opponent. The book of Hobbes lay ready to his hand; yet he
almost ostentatiously refused to grapple with it. The answer doubtless
lies in Hobbes' unsavory fame. The man who made the Church a mere
department of the State and justified not less the title of Cromwell
than of the Stuarts was not the opponent for one who had a very
practical problem in hand. And Locke could answer that he was answering
Hobbes implicitly in the second _Treatise_. And though Filmer might
never have been known had not Locke thus honored him by retort, he
doubtless symbolized what many a nobleman's chaplain preached to his
master's dependents at family prayers.

The _Second Treatise_ goes to the root of the matter. Why does political
power, "a Right of making Laws and Penalties of Death and consequently
all less Penalties," exist? It can only be for the public benefit, and
our enquiry is thus a study of the grounds of political obedience. Locke
thus traverses the ground Hobbes had covered in his _Leviathan_ though
he rejects every premise of the earlier thinker. To Hobbes the state of
nature which precedes political organization had been a state of war.
Neither peace nor reason could prevail where every man was his
neighbor's enemy; and the establishment of absolute power, with the
consequent surrender by men of all their natural liberties, was the only
means of escape from so brutal a régime. That the state of nature was so
distinguished Locke at the outset denies. The state of nature is
governed by the law of nature. The law of nature is not, as Hobbes had
made it, the antithesis of real law, but rather its condition
antecedent. It is a body of rules which governs, at all times and all
places, the conduct of men. Its arbiter is reason and, in the natural
state, reason shows us that men are equal. From this equality are born
men's natural rights which Locke, like the Independents in the Puritan
Revolution, identifies with life, liberty and property. Obviously
enough, as Hobbes had also granted, the instinct to self-preservation is
the deepest of human impulses. By liberty Locke means the right of the
individual to follow his own bent granted only his observance of the
law of nature. Law, in such an aspect, is clearly a means to the
realization of freedom in the same way that the rule of the road will,
by its common acceptance, save its observers from accident. It promotes
the initiative of men by defining in terms which by their very statement
obtain acknowledgment the conditions upon which individual caprice may
have its play. Property Locke derives from a primitive communism which
becomes transmuted into individual ownership whenever a man has mingled
his labor with some object. This labor theory of ownership lived, it may
be remarked, to become, in the hands of Hodgskin and Thompson, the
parent of modern socialism.

The state of nature is thus, in contrast to the argument of Hobbes,
pre-eminently social in character. There may be war or violence; but
that is only when men have abandoned the rule of reason which is
integral to their character. But the state of nature is not a civil
State. There is no common superior to enforce the law of nature. Each
man, as best he may, works out his own interpretation of it. But
because the intelligences of men are different there is an inconvenient
variety in the conceptions of justice. The result is uncertainty and
chaos; and means of escape must be found from a condition which the
weakness of men must ultimately make intolerable. It is here that the
social contract emerges. But just as Locke's natural state implies a
natural man utterly distinct from Hobbes' gloomy picture, so does
Locke's social contract represent rather the triumph of reason than of
hard necessity. It is a contract of each with all, a surrender by the
individual of his personal right to fulfil the commands of the law of
nature in return for the guarantee that his rights as nature ordains
them--life and liberty and property--will be preserved. The contract is
thus not general as with Hobbes but limited and specific in character.
Nor is it, as Hobbes made it, the resignation of power into the hands of
some single man or group. On the contrary, it is a contract with the
community as a whole which thus becomes that common political
superior--the State--which is to enforce the law of nature and punish
infractions of it. Nor is Locke's state a sovereign State: the very
word "sovereignty" does not occur, significantly enough, throughout the
treatise. The State has power only for the protection of natural law.
Its province ends when it passes beyond those boundaries.

Such a contract, in Locke's view, involves the pre-eminent necessity of
majority-rule. Unless the minority is content to be bound by the will of
superior numbers the law of nature has no more protection than it had
before the institution of political society. And it is further to be
assumed that the individual has surrendered to the community his
individual right of carrying out the judgment involved in natural law.
Whether Locke conceived the contract so formulated to be historical, it
is no easy matter to determine. That no evidence of its early existence
can be adduced he ascribes to its origin in the infancy of the race; and
the histories of Rome and Sparta and Venice seem to him proof that the
theory is somehow demonstrable by facts. More important than origins, he
seems to deem its implications. He has placed consent in the foreground
of the argument; and he was anxious to establish the grounds for its
continuance. Can the makers of the original contract, that is to say,
bind their successors? If legitimate government is based upon the
consent of its subjects, may they withdraw their consent? And what of a
child born into the community? Locke is at least logical in his consent.
The contract of obedience must be free or else, as Hooker had previously
insisted, it is not a contract. Yet Locke urged that the primitive
members of a State are bound to its perpetuation simply because unless
the majority had power to enforce obedience government, in any
satisfactory sense, would be impossible. With children the case is
different. They are born subjects of no government or country; and their
consent to its laws must either be derived from express acknowledgment,
or by the tacit implication of the fact that the protection of the State
has been accepted. But no one is bound until he has shown by the rule of
his mature conduct that he considers himself a common subject with his
fellows. Consent implies an act of will and we must have evidence to
infer its presence before the rule of subjection can be applied.

We have thus the State, though the method of its organization is not
yet outlined. For Locke there is a difference, though he did not
explicitly describe its nature, between State and Government. Indeed he
sometimes approximates, without ever formally adopting, the attitude of
Pufendorf, his great German contemporary, where government is derived
from a secondary contract dependent upon the original institution of
civil society. The distinction is made in the light of what is to
follow. For Locke was above all anxious to leave supreme power in a
community whose single will, as manifested by majority-verdict, could
not be challenged by any lesser organ than itself. Government there must
be if political society is to endure; but its form and substance are
dependent upon popular institution.

Locke follows in the great Aristotelian tradition of dividing the types
of government into three. Where the power of making laws is in a single
hand we have a monarchy; where it is exercised by a few or all we have
alternatively oligarchy and democracy. The disposition of the
legislative power is the fundamental test of type; for executive and
judiciary are clearly dependent on it. Nor, as Hobbes argued, is the
form of government permanent in character; the supreme community is as
capable of making temporary as of registering irrevocable decisions. And
though Locke admits that monarchy, from its likeness to the family, is
the most primitive type of government, he denies Hobbes' assertion that
it is the best. It seems, in his view, always to degenerate into the
hands of lesser men who betray the contract they were appointed to
observe. Nor is oligarchy much better off since it emphasizes the
interest of a group against the superior interest of the community as a
whole. Democracy alone proffers adequate safeguards of an enduring good
rule; a democracy, that is to say, which is in the hands of delegates
controlled by popular election. Not that Locke is anxious for the
abolition of kingship. His letters show that he disliked the Cromwellian
system and the republicanism which Harrington and Milton had based upon
it. He was content to have a kingship divested of legislative power so
long as hereditary succession was acknowledged to be dependent upon
popular consent. The main thing was to be rid of the Divine Right of

We have thus an organ for the interpretation of natural law free from
the shifting variety of individual judgment. We have a means for
securing impartial justice between members of civil society, and to that
means the force of men has been surrendered. The formulation of the
rules by which life, liberty and property are to be secured is
legislation and this, from the terms of the original contract, is the
supreme function of the State. But, in Locke's view, two other functions
still remain. Law has not only to be declared. It must be enforced; and
the business of the executive is to secure obedience to the command of
law. But Locke here makes a third distinction. The State must live with
other States, both as regards its individual members, and as a
collective body; and the power which deals with this aspect of its
relationships, Locke termed "federative." This last distinction, indeed,
has no special value; and its author's own defence of it is far from
clear. More important, especially, for future history, was his emphasis
of the distinction between legislature and executive. The making of laws
is for Locke a relatively simple and rapid task; the legislature may do
its work and be gone. But those who attend to their execution must be
ceaseless in their vigilance. It is better, therefore, to separate the
two both as to powers and persons. Otherwise legislators "may exempt
themselves from obedience to the laws they make, and suit the law, both
in its making and its execution, to their own private wish, and thereby
come to have a distinct interest from the rest of the community,
contrary to the end of society and government." The legislator must
therefore be bound by his own laws; and he must be chosen in such
fashion that the representative assembly may fairly represent its
constituencies. It was the patent anomalies of the existent scheme of
distribution which made Locke here proffer his famous suggestion that
the rotten boroughs should be abolished by executive act. One hundred
and forty years were still to pass before this wise suggestion was
translated into statute.

Though Locke thus insisted upon the separation of powers, he realized
that emergencies are the parent of special need; and he recognized that
not only may the executive, as in England, share in the task of
legislation, but also may issue ordinances when the legislature is not
in session, or act contrary to law in case of grave danger. Nor can the
executive be forced to summon the legislature. Here, clearly enough,
Locke is generalizing from the English constitution; and its sense of
compromise is implicit in his remarks. Nor is his surrender here of
consent sufficient to be inconsistent with his general outlook. For at
the back of each governmental act, there is, in his own mind, an active
citizen body occupied in judging it with single-minded reference to the
law of nature and their own natural rights. There is thus a standard of
right and wrong superior to all powers within the State. "A government,"
as he says, "is not free to do as it pleases ... the law of nature
stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others."
The social contract is secreted in the interstices of public statutes.

Its corollary is the right of revolution. It is interesting that he
should have adopted this position; for in 1676 he had uttered the
thought that not even the demands of conscience[3] can justify
rebellion. That was, however, before the tyranny of Charles had driven
him into exile with his patron, and before James had attempted the
subversion of all constitutional government. To deny the right of
revolution was to justify the worst demands of James, and it is in its
favor that he exerts his ablest controversial power. "The true remedy,"
he says, "of force without authority is to oppose force to it." Let the
sovereign but step outside the powers derived from the social contract
and resistance becomes a natural right. But how define such invasion of
powers? The instances Locke chose show how closely, here at least, he
was following the events of 1688. The substitution of arbitrary will for
law, the corruption of Parliament by packing it with the prince's
instruments, betrayal to a foreign prince, prevention of the due
assemblage of Parliament--all these are a perversion of the trust
imposed and operate to effect the dissolution of the contract. The
state of nature again supervenes, and a new contract may be made with
one more fitted to observe it. Here, also, Locke takes occasion to deny
the central position of Hobbes' thesis. Power, the latter had argued,
must be absolute and there cannot, therefore, be usurpation. But Locke
retorts that an absolute government is no government at all since it
proceeds by caprice instead of reason; and it is comparable only to a
state of war since it implies the absence of judgment upon the character
of power. It lacks the essential element of consent without which the
binding force of law is absent. All government is a moral trust, and the
idea of limitation is therein implied. But a limitation without the
means of enforcement would be worthless, and revolution remains as the
reserve power in society. The only hindrance to its exertion that Locke
suggests is that of number. Revolution should not, he urges, be the act
of a minority; for the contract is the action of the major portion of
the people and its consent should likewise obtain to the dissolution of
the covenant.

[Footnote 3: King, _Life of Locke_, pp. 62, 63.]

The problem of Church and State demanded a separate discussion; and it
is difficult not to feel that the great _Letter on Toleration_ is the
noblest of all his utterances. It came as the climax to a long evolution
of opinion; and, in the light of William's own conviction, it may be
said to have marked a decisive epoch of thought. Already in the
sixteenth century Robert Brown and William the Silent had denounced the
persecution of sincere belief. Early Baptists like Busher and Richardson
had finely denied its validity. Roger Williams in America, Milton in
England had attacked its moral rightness and political adequacy; while
churchmen like Hales and Taylor and the noble Chillingworth had shown
the incompatibility between a religion of love and a spirit of hate. Nor
had example been wanting. The religious freedom of Holland was narrow,
as Spinoza had found, but it was still freedom. Rhode Island,
Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Massachusetts had all embarked upon
admirable experiment; and Penn himself had aptly said that a man may go
to chapel instead of church, even while he remains a good constable.
And in 1687, in the preface to his translation of Lactantius, Burnet had
not merely attacked the moral viciousness of persecution, but had drawn
a distinction between the spheres of Church and State which is a
remarkable anticipation of Locke's own theory.

Locke himself covers the whole ground; and since his opinions on the
problem were at least twenty years old, it is clear that he was
consistent in a worthy outlook. He proceeds by a denial that any element
of theocratic government can claim political validity. The magistrate is
concerned only with the preservation of social peace and does not deal
with the problem of men's souls. Where, indeed, opinions destructive of
the State are entertained or a party subversive of peace makes its
appearance, the magistrate has the right of suppression; though in the
latter case force is the worst and last of remedies. In the English
situation, it follows that all men are to be tolerated save Catholics,
Mahomedans and atheists. The first are themselves deniers of the rights
they would seek, and they find the centre of their political allegiance
in a foreign power. Mahomedan morals are incompatible with European
civil systems; and the central factor in atheism is the absence of the
only ultimately satisfactory sanction of good conduct. Though Church and
State are thus distinct, they act for a reciprocal benefit; and it is
thus important to see why Locke insists on the invalidity of
persecution. For such an end as the cure of souls, he argues, the
magistrate has no divine legation. He cannot, on other grounds, use
force for the simple reason that it does not produce internal
conviction. But even if that were possible, force would still be
mistaken; for the majority of the world is not Christian, yet it would
have the right to persecute in the belief that it was possessed of
truth. Nor can the implication that the magistrate has the keys of
heaven be accepted. "No religion," says Locke finely, "which I believe
not to be true can be either true or profitable to me." He thus makes of
the Church an institution radically different from the ruling
conceptions of his time. It becomes merely a voluntary society, which
can exert no power save over its members. It may use its own ceremonies,
but it cannot impose them on the unwilling; and since persecution is
alien from the spirit of Christ, exclusion from membership must be the
limit of ecclesiastical disciplinary power. Nor must we forget the
advantages of toleration. Its eldest child is charity, and without it
there can be no honesty of opinion. Later controversy did not make him
modify these principles; and they lived, in Macaulay's hands, to be a
vital weapon in the political method of the nineteenth century.


Any survey of earlier political theory would show how little of novelty
there is in the specific elements of Locke's general doctrine. He is at
all points the offspring of a great and unbroken tradition; and that not
the least when he seems unconscious of it. Definite teachers, indeed, he
can hardly be said to have had; no one can read his book without
perceiving how much of it is rooted in the problems of his own day. He
himself has expressed his sense of Hooker's greatness, and he elsewhere
had recommended the works of Grotius and Pufendorf as an essential
element in education. But his was a nature which learned more from men
than books; and he more than once insisted that his philosophy was woven
of his own "coarse thoughts." What, doubtless, he therein meant was to
emphasize the freshness of his contact with contemporary fact in
contrast with the technical jargon of the earlier thinkers. At least his
work is free from the mountains of allusion which Prynne rolled into the
bottom of his pages; and if the first Whig was the devil, he is
singularly free from the irritating pedantry of biblical citation. Yet
even with these novelties, no estimate of his work would be complete
which failed to take account of the foundations upon which he builded.

Herein, perhaps, the danger is lest we exaggerate Locke's dependence
upon the earlier current of thought. The social contract is at least as
old as when Glaucon debated with Socrates in the market-place at Athens.
The theory of a state of nature, with the rights therein implied, is the
contribution, through Stoicism, of the Roman lawyers, and the great
medieval contrast to Aristotle's experimentalism. To the latter, also,
may be traced the separation of powers; and it was then but little more
than a hundred years since Bodin had been taken to make the doctrine an
integral part of scientific politics. Nor is the theory of a right to
revolution in any sense his specific creation. So soon as the
Reformation had given a new perspective to the problem of Church and
State every element of Locke's doctrine had become a commonplace of
debate. Goodman and Knox among Presbyterians, Suarez and Mariana among
Catholics, the author of the _Vindiciæ_ and Francis Hotman among the
Huguenots, had all of them emphasized the concept of public power as a
trust; with, of course, the necessary corollary that its abuse entails
resistance. Algernon Sydney was at least his acquaintance; and he must
have been acquainted with the tradition, even if tragedy spared him the
details, of the _Discourses on Government_. Even his theory of
toleration had in every detail been anticipated by one or other of a
hundred controversialists; and his argument can hardly claim either the
lofty eloquence of Jeremy Taylor or the cogent simplicity of William

What differentiates Locke from all his predecessors is the manner of his
writing on the one hand, and the fact of the Revolution on the other.
Every previous thinker save Sydney--the latter's work was not published
until 1689--was writing with the Church hardly less in mind than the
purely political problems of the State; even the secular Hobbes had
devoted much thought and space to that "kingdom of darkness" which is
Rome. And, Sydney apart, the resistance they had justified was always
resistance to a religious tyrant; and Cartwright was as careful to
exclude political oppression from the grounds of revolution as Locke was
to insist upon it as the fundamental excuse. Locke is, in fact, the
first of English thinkers the basis of whose argument is mainly secular.
Not, indeed, that he can wholly escape the trammels of ecclesiasticism;
not until the sceptical intelligence of Hume was such freedom possible.
But it is clear enough that Locke was shifting to very different ground
from that which arrested the attention of his predecessors. He is
attempting, that is to say, a separation between Church and State not
merely in that Scoto-Jesuit sense which aimed at ecclesiastical
independence, but in order to assert the pre-eminence of the State as
such. The central problem is with him political, and all other questions
are subsidiary to it. Therein we have a sense, less clear in any
previous writer save Machiavelli, of the real result of the decay of
medieval ideals. Church and State have become transposed in their
significance. The way, as a consequence, lies open to new dogmas.

The historical research of the nineteenth century has long since made an
end of the social contract as an explanation of state-origins; and with
it, of necessity, has gone the conception of natural rights as anterior
to organized society. The problem, as we now know, is far more complex
than the older thinkers imagined. Yet Locke's insistence on consent and
natural rights has received new meaning from each critical period of
history since he wrote. The theory of consent is vital because without
the provision of channels for its administrative expression, men tend to
become the creatures of a power ignorant at once and careless of their
will. Active consent on the part of the mass of men emphasizes the
contingent nature of all power and is essential to the full realization
of freedom; and the purpose of the State, in any sense save the mere
satisfaction of material appetite, remains, without it, unfulfilled. The
concept of natural right is most closely related to this position. For
so long as we regard rights as no more than the creatures of law, there
is at no point adequate safeguard against their usurpation. A merely
legal theory of the State can never, therefore, exhaust the problems of
political philosophy.

No thinker has seen this fact more clearly than Locke; and if his effort
to make rights something more than interests under juridical protection
can not be accepted in the form he made it, the underlying purpose
remains. A State, that is to say, which aims at giving to men the full
capacity their trained initiative would permit is compelled to regard
certain things as beyond the action of an ordinary legislature. What
Stammler calls a "natural law with changing content"[4]--a content
which changes with our increasing power to satisfy demand--is essential
if the state is to live the life of law. For here was the head and
centre of Locke's enquiry. "What he was really concerned about," said
T.H. Green, "was to dispute 'the right divine of kings to govern
wrong.'" The method, as he conceived, by which this could be
accomplished was the limitation of power. This he effected by two
distinct methods, the one external, the other internal, in character.

[Footnote 4: Cf. my _Authority in the Modern State_, p. 64., and
the references there cited.]

The external method has, at bottom, two sides. It is, in the first
place, achieved by a narrow definition of the purpose of the state. To
Locke the State is little more than a negative institution, a kind of
gigantic limited liability company; and if we are inclined to cavil at
such restraint, we may perhaps remember that even to neo-Hegelians like
Green and Bosanquet this negative sense is rarely absent, in the
interest of individual exertion. But for Locke the real guarantee of
right lies in another direction. What his whole work amounts to in
substance--it is a significant anticipation of Rousseau--is a denial
that sovereignty can exist anywhere save in the community as a whole. A
common political superior there doubtless must be; but government is an
organ to which omnipotence is wanting. So far as there is a sovereign at
all in Locke's book, it is the will of that majority which Rousseau
tried to disguise under the name of the general will; but obviously the
conception lacks precision enough to give the notion of sovereignty the
means of operation. The denial is natural enough to a man who had seen,
under three sovereigns, the evils of unlimited power; and if there is
lacking to his doctrine the well-rounded logic of Hobbes' proof that an
unlimited sovereign is unavoidable, it is well to remember that the
shift of opinion is, in our own time, more and more in the direction of
Locke's attitude. That omnicompetence of Parliament which Bentham and
Austin crystallized into the retort to Locke admits, in later hands, of
exactly the amelioration he had in mind; and its ethical inadequacy
becomes the more obvious the more closely it is studied.[5]

[Footnote 5: Cf. my _Problem of Sovereignty_, Chap. I.]

The internal limitation Locke suggested is of more doubtful value.
Government, he says, in substance, is a trustee and trustees abuse their
power; let us therefore divide it as to parts and persons that the
temptation to usurp may be diminished. There is a long history to this
doctrine in its more obvious form, and it is a lamentable history. It
tied men down to a tyrannous classification which had no root in the
material it was supposed to distinguish. Montesquieu took it for the
root of liberty; Blackstone, who should have known better, repeated the
pious phrases of the Frenchman; and they went in company to America to
persuade Madison and the Supreme Court of the United States that only
the separation of powers can prevent the approach of tyranny. The facts
do not bear out such assumption. The division of powers means in the
event not less than their confusion. None can differentiate between the
judge's declaration of law and his making of it.[6] Every government
department is compelled to legislate, and, often enough, to undertake
judicial functions. The American history of the separation of powers
has most largely been an attempt to bridge them; and all that has been
gained is to drive the best talent, save on rare occasion, from its
public life. In France the separation of powers meant, until recent
times, the excessive subordination of the judiciary to the cabinet. Nor
must we forget, as Locke should have remembered, the plain lesson of the
Cromwellian constitutional experiments. That the dispersion of power is
one of the great needs of the modern State at no point justifies the
rigid categories into which Locke sought its division.[7]

[Footnote 6: Cf. Mr. Justice Holmes' remarks in _Jensen_ v.
_Southern Pacific_, 244 U.S. 221.]

[Footnote 7: Cf. my _Authority in the Modern State_, pp. 70 f.]

Nor must we belittle the criticism, in its clearest form the work of
Fitz James Stephen,[8] that has been levelled at Locke's theory of
toleration. For the larger part of the modern world, his argument is
acceptable enough; and its ingenious compromises have made it especially
representative of the English temper. Yet much of it hardly meets the
argument that some of his opponents, as Proast for example, had made.
His conception of the visible church as no part of the essence of
religion could win no assent from even a moderate Anglican; and, once
the visible church is admitted, Locke's facile distinction between
Church and State falls to the ground. Nor can it be doubted that he
underestimated the power of coercion to produce assent; the policy of
Louis XIV to the Huguenots may have been brutal, but its efficacy must
be unquestionable. And it is at least doubtful whether his theory has
any validity for a man who held, as Roman Catholics of his generation
were bound to hold, that the communication of his particular brand of
truth outweighed in value all other questions. "Every Church," he wrote,
"is orthodox to itself; to others, erroneous or heretical"; but to any
earnest believer this would approximate to blasphemy. Nor could any
serious Christian accept the view that "under the gospel '...there is no
such thing as a Christian commonwealth'"; to Catholics and Presbyterians
this must have appeared the merest travesty of their faith.

[Footnote 8: Cf. also Coleridge's apt remark. _Table Talk_, Jan. 3,

Here, indeed, as elsewhere Locke is the true progenitor of Benthamism,
and his work can hardly be understood save in this context. Just as in
his ethical enquiries it was always the happiness of the individual that
he sought, so in his politics it was the happiness of the subject he had
in view. In each case it was to immediate experience that he made his
appeal; and this perhaps explains the clear sense of a contempt for past
tradition which pervades all his work. "That which is for the public
welfare," he said, "is God's will"; and therein we have the root of that
utilitarianism which, as Maine pointed out, is the real parent of all
nineteenth century change. And with Locke, as with the Benthamites, his
clear sense of what utilitarianism demanded led to an over-emphasis of
human rationalism. No one can read the _Second Treatise_ without
perceiving that Locke looked upon the State as a machine which can be
built and taken to pieces in very simple fashion. Herein, undoubtedly,
he over-simplified the problem; and that made him miss some of the
cardinal points a true psychology of the State must seize. His very
contractualism, indeed, is part of this affection for the rational. It
resulted in his failure to perceive how complex is the mass of motives
imbedded in the political act. The significance of herd instinct and the
vast primitive deeps of the unconscious were alike hidden from him. All
this is of defect; and yet excusably. For it needed the demonstration by
Darwin of the kinship of man and beast for us to see the real substance
of Aristotle's vision that man is embedded in political society.


Once Locke's work had become known, its reputation was secure. Not,
indeed, that it was entirely welcome to his generation. Men were not
wanting who shrank from his thoroughgoing rationalism and felt that
anything but reason must be the test of truth. Those who stood by the
ancient ways found it easy to discover republicanism and the roots of
atheistic doctrine in his work; and even the theories of Filmer could
find defenders against him in the Indian summer of prerogative under
Queen Anne. John Hutton informed a friend that he was not less dangerous
than Spinoza; and the opinion found an echo from the nonjuring sect.
But these, after all, were but the eddies of a stream fast burying
itself in the sands. For most, the Revolution was a final settlement,
and Locke was welcome as a writer who had discovered the true source of
political comfort. So it was that William Molyneux could embody the
ideas of the "incomparable treatise" in his demand for Irish freedom; a
book which, even in those days, occasioned some controversy. Nor is it
uninteresting to discover that the translation of Hotman's
_Franco-Gallia_ should have been embellished with a preface from one
who, as Molyneux wrote to Locke,[9] never met the Irish writer without
conversing of their common master. How rapidly the doctrine spread we
learn from a letter of Bayle's in which, as early as 1693, Locke has
already became "the gospel of the Protestants." Nor was his immediate
influence confined to England. French Huguenots and the Dutch drew
naturally upon so happy a defender; and Barbeyrac, in the translation of
Pufendorf which he published in 1706, cites no writer so often as
Locke. The speeches for the prosecution in the trial of Sacheverell were
almost wholesale adaptations of his teaching; and even the accused
counsel admitted the legality of James' deposition in his speech for the

[Footnote 9: Locke, Works (ed. of 1812), IX. 435.]

More valuable testimony is not wanting. In the _Spectator_, on six
separate occasions, Addison speaks of him as one whose possession is a
national glory. Defoe in his _Original Power of the People of England_
made Locke the common possession of the average man, and offered his
acknowledgments to his master. Even the malignant genius of Swift
softened his hate to find the epithet "judicious" for one in whose
doctrines he can have found no comfort. Pope summarized his teaching in
the form that Bolingbroke chose to give it. Hoadly, in his _Original and
Institution of Civil Government_, not only dismisses Filmer in a first
part each page of which is modelled upon Locke, but adds a second
section in which a defence of Hooker serves rather clumsily to conceal
the care with which the _Second Treatise_ had also been pillaged. Even
Warburton ceased for a moment his habit of belittling all rivals in the
field he considered his own to call him, in that _Divine Legation_ which
he considered his masterpiece, "the honor of this age and the instructor
of the future"; but since Warburton's attack on the High Church theory
is at every point Locke's argument, he may have considered this
self-eulogy instead of tribute. Sir Thomas Hollis, on the eve of English
Radicalism, published a noble edition of his book. And there is perhaps
a certain humor in the remembrance that it was to Locke's economic
tracts that Bolingbroke went for the arguments with which, in the
_Craftsman_, he attacked the excise scheme of Walpole. That is
irrefutable evidence of the position he had attained.

Yet the tide was already on the ebb, and for cogent reasons. There still
remained the tribute to be paid by Montesquieu when he made Locke's
separation of powers the keystone of his own more splendid arch. The
most splendid of all sciolists was still to use his book for the outline
of a social contract more daring even than his own. The authors of the
_Declaration of Independence_ had still, in words taken from Locke, to
reassert the state of nature and his rights; and Mr. Martin of North
Carolina was to find him quotable in the debates of the Philadelphia
Convention. Yet Locke's own weapons were being turned against him and
what was permanent in his work was being cast into the new form required
by the time. A few sentences of Hume were sufficient to make the social
contract as worthless as the Divine Right of kings, and when Blackstone
came to sum up the result of the Revolution, if he wrote in contractual
terms it was with a full admission that he was making use of fiction so
far as he went behind the settlement of 1688. Nor is the work of Dean
Tucker without significance. The failure of England in the American war
was already evident; and it was not without justice that he looked to
Locke as the author of their principles. "The Americans," he wrote,
"have made the maxims of Locke the ground of the present war"; and in
his _Treatise Concerning Civil Government_ and his _Four Letters_ he
declares himself unable to understand on what Locke's reputation was
based. Meanwhile the English disciples of Rousseau in the persons of
Price and Priestley suggested to him that Locke, "the idol of the
levellers of England," was the parent also of French destructiveness.
Burke took up the work thus begun; and after he had dealt with the
contract theory it ceased to influence political speculation in England.
Its place was taken by the utilitarian doctrine which Hume had outlined;
and once Bentham's _Fragment_ had begun to make its way, a new epoch
opened in the history of political ideas.

Locke might, indeed, claim that he had a part in this renaissance; but,
once the influence of Burke had passed, it was to other gods men turned.
For Bentham made an end of natural rights; and his contempt for the past
was even more unsparing than Locke's own. It is more instructive to
compare his work with Hobbes and Rousseau than with later thinkers; for
after Hume English speculation works in a medium Locke would not have
understood. Clearly enough, he has nothing of the relentless logic which
made Hobbes' mind the clearest instrument in the history of English
philosophy. Nor has he Hobbes' sense of style or pungent grasp of the
grimness of facts about him. Yet he need not fear the comparison with
the earlier thinker. If Hobbes' theory of sovereignty is today one of
the commonplaces of jurisprudence, ethically and politically we occupy
ourselves with erecting about it a system of limitations each one of
which is in some sort due to Locke's perception. If we reject Locke's
view of the natural goodness of men, Hobbes' sense of their evil
character is not less remote from our speculations. Nor can we accept
Hobbes' Erastianism. Locke's view of Church and State became, indeed, a
kind of stepchild to it in the stagnant days of the later Georges; but
Wesleyanism, on the one hand, and the Oxford movement on the other,
pointed the inevitable moral of even an approximation to the Hobbesian
view. And anyone who surveys the history of Church and State in America
will be tempted to assert that in the last hundred years the
separateness for which Locke contended is not without its justification.
Locke's theory is a means of preserving the humanity of men; Hobbes
makes their reason and conscience the subjects of a power he forbids
them to judge. Locke saw that vigilance is the sister of liberty, where
Hobbes dismissed the one as faction and the other as disorder. At every
point, that is to say, where Hobbes and Locke are at variance, the
future has been on Locke's side. He may have defended his cause less
splendidly than his rival; but it will at least be admitted by most that
he had a more splendid cause to defend.

With Rousseau there is no contrast, for the simple reason that his
teaching is only a broadening of the channel dug by Locke. No element
integral to the _Two Treatises_ is absent from the _Social Contract_.
Rousseau, indeed, in many aspects saw deeper than his predecessor. The
form into which he threw his questions gave them an eternal significance
Locke can perhaps hardly claim. He understood the organic character of
the State, where Locke was still trammelled by the bonds of his narrow
individualism. It is yet difficult to see that the contribution upon
which Rousseau's fame has mainly rested is at any point a real advance
upon Locke. The general will, in practical instead of semi-mystic terms,
really means the welfare of the community as a whole; and when we
enquire how that general will is to be known, we come, after much
shuffling, upon the will of that majority in which Locke also put his
trust. Rousseau's general will, indeed, is at bottom no more than an
assertion that right and truth should prevail; and for this also Locke
was anxious. But he did not think an infallible criterion existed for
its detection; and he was satisfied with the convenience of a simple
numerical test. Nor would it be difficult to show that Locke's state has
more real room for individuality than Rousseau's. The latter made much
show of an impartible and inalienable sovereignty eternally vested in
the people; but in practice its exercise is impossible outside the
confines of a city-state. Once, that is to say, we deal with modern
problems our real enquiry is still the question of Locke--what limits
shall we place upon the power of government? Rousseau has only
emphasized the urgency of the debate.

Wherein, perhaps, the most profound distinction between Locke's teaching
and our own time may be discovered is in our sense of the impossibility
that a final answer can be found to political questions. Each age has
new materials at its command; and, today, a static philosophy would
condemn itself before completion. We do not build Utopias; and the
attempt to discover the eternal principles of political right invites
disaster at the outset. Yet that does not render useless, even for our
own day, the kind of work Locke did. In the largest sense, his questions
are still our own. In the largest sense, also, we are near enough to his
time to profit at each step of our own efforts by the hints he proffers.
The point at which he stood in English history bears not a little
resemblance to our own. The emphasis, now as then, is upon the problem
of freedom. The problem, now as then, was its translation into
institutional terms. It is the glory of Locke that he brought a generous
patience and a searching wisdom to the solution he proffered to his




The Revolution of 1688 drew its main source of strength from the
traditional dislike of Rome, and the eager desire to place the Church of
England beyond the reach of James' aggression. Yet it was not until a
generation had passed that the lines of ecclesiastical settlement were,
in any full sense clear. The difficulties involved were mostly
governmental, and it can hardly even yet be said that they have been
solved. The nature of the relation between Church and State, the
affiliation between the Church and Nonconformist bodies, the character
of its internal government--all these had still to be defined. Nor was
this all. The problem of definition was made more complex by schism and
disloyalty. An important fraction of the Church could not accept at all
the fact of William's kingship; and if the larger part submitted, it
cannot be said to have been enthusiastic.

Nor did the Church make easy the situation of the Nonconformists.
Toleration of some kind was rapidly becoming inevitable; and with a
Calvinist upon the throne persecution of, at any rate, the Presbyterians
became finally impossible. Yet the definition of what limits were to be
set to toleration was far from easy. The Church seemed like a fortress
beleaguered when Nonjurors, Deists, Nonconformists, all alike assaulted
her foundations. To loosen her hold upon political privilege seemed to
be akin to self-destruction. And, after all, if Church and State were to
stand in some connection, the former must have some benefit from the
alliance. Did such partnership imply exclusion from its privilege for
all who could not accept the special brand of religious doctrine? Locke,
at least, denied the assumption, and argued that since Churches are
voluntary societies, they cannot and ought not to have reciprocal
relation with the State. But Locke's theory was meat too strong for the
digestion of his time; and no statesman would then have argued that a
government could forego the advantage of religious support. And William,
after all, had come to free the church from her oppressor. Freedom
implied protection, and protection in that age involved establishment.
It was thus taken for granted by most members of the Church of England
that her adoption by the State meant her superiority to every other form
of religious organization. Superiority is, by its nature exclusive, the
more especially when it is united to a certainty of truth and a kinship
with the dominant political interest of the time. Long years were thus
to pass before the real meaning of the Toleration Act secured
translation into more generous statutes.

The problem of the Church's government was hardly less complex. The very
acerbity with which it was discussed proclaims that we are in an age of
settlement. Much of the dispute, indeed, is doubtless due to the dislike
of all High Churchmen for William; with their consequent unwillingness
to admit the full meaning of his ecclesiastical supremacy. Much also is
due to the fact that the bench of bishops, despite great figures like
Tillotson and Wake, was necessarily chosen for political aptitude rather
than for religious value. Nor did men like Burnet and Hoadly, for all
their learning, make easy the path for brethren of more tender
consciences. The Church, moreover, must have felt its powers the more
valuable from the very strength of the assault to which she was
subjected. And the direct interference with her governance implied by
the Oaths of Allegiance and of Abjuration raised questions we have not
yet solved. It suggested the subordination of Church to State; and men
like Hickes and Leslie were quick to point out the Erastianism of the
age. It is a fact inevitable in the situation of the English Church that
the charge of subjection to the State should rouse a deep and quick
resentment. She cannot be a church unless she is a _societas perfecta_;
she cannot have within herself the elements of perfect fellowship if
what seem the plain commands of Christ are to be at the mercy of the
king in Parliament. That is the difficulty which lies at the bottom of
the debate with Wake in one age and with Hoadly in the next. In some
sort, it is the problem of sovereignty that is here at issue; and it is
in this sense that the problems of the Revolution are linked with the
Oxford Movement. But Newman and his followers are the unconscious
sponsors of a debate which grows in volume; and to discuss the thoughts
of Wake and Hoadly and Law is thus, in a vital aspect, the study of
contemporary ideas.

We are not here concerned with the wisdom of those of William's advisers
who exacted an oath of allegiance from the clergy. It raised in acute
form the validity of a doctrine which had, for more than a century, been
the main foundation of the alliance between throne and altar in England.
The demand precipitated a schism which lingered on, though fitfully,
until the threshold of the nineteenth century. The men who could not
take the oath were, many of them, among the most distinguished churchmen
of the time. Great ecclesiastics like Sancroft, the archbishop of
Canterbury and one of the seven who had gained immortality by his
resistance to James, saints like Ken, the bishop of Bath and Wells,
scholars like George Hickes and Henry Dodwell, men like Charles Leslie,
born with a genius for recrimination; much, it is clear, of what was
best in the Church of England was to be found amongst them. There is not
a little of beauty, and much of pathos in their history. Most, after
their deprivation, were condemned to poverty; few of them recanted. The
lives of men like Sancroft and Ken and the younger Ambrose Bonwicke are
part of the great Anglican tradition of earnest simplicity which later
John Keble was to illustrate for the nineteenth century. The Nonjurors,
as they were called, were not free from bitterness; and the history of
their effort, after the consecration of Hilkiah Bedford and Ralph
Taylor, to perpetuate the schism is a lamentable one. Not, indeed, that
the history even of their decline is without its interest; and the
study, alike of their liturgy and their attempt at reunion with the
Eastern Church, must always possess a singular interest for students of
ecclesiastical history.

Yet the real interest of the Nonjuring schism was political rather than
religious; and its roots go out to vital events of the past. At the
bottom it is the obverse side of the Divine Right of kings that they
represent. That theory, which was the main weapon of the early secular
state against the pretensions of Rome, must naturally have commanded the
allegiance of members of a church which James I, its main exponent, had
declared of vital import to his very existence. Its main opponents,
moreover, were Catholics and Dissenters; so that men like Andrewes must
have felt that when they answered Bellarmine they were in substance also
defenders of their Church. After the great controversy of James I's
reign resistance as a duty had come to be regarded as a main element in
Jesuit and Nonconformist teaching; with the result that its antithesis
became, as a consequence of the political situation, no less integral a
part of Church of England doctrine. For it was upon the monarchy that
the Church had come to depend for its existence; and if resistance to
the king were made, as Knox and Bellarmine had in substance made it, the
main weapon of the dissenting churches there was little hope that it
would continue to exist once the monarchy was overthrown. And it is
this, unquestionably, which explains why stout ecclesiastics like Barrow
and Jackson can write in what seems so Erastian a temper. When they urge
the sovereignty of the State, their thesis is in truth the sovereignty
of the Church; and that means the triumph of men who looked with
contemptuous hatred upon Nonconformists of every sect. The Church of
England taught non-resistance as the condition of its own survival.

How deep-rooted this doctrine had become in the course of the
seventeenth century the writings of men like Mainwaring and Sanderson
sufficiently show; yet nothing so completely demonstrates its widespread
acceptance as the result of the Revolution. Four hundred clergy
abandoned their preferment because James ruled by Divine Right; and they
could not in conscience resist even his iniquities. An able tract of
1689[10] had collected much material to show how integral the doctrine
was to the beliefs of the Church. Had William's government, indeed,
refrained from the imposition of the oath, it is possible that there
might have been no schism at all; for the early Nonjurors at
least--perhaps Hickes and Turner are exceptions--would probably have
welcomed anything which enabled the avoidance of schism. Once, however,
the oath was imposed three vital questions were raised. Deprivation
obviously involved the problem of the power of the State over the
Church. If the act of a convention whose own legality was at best
doubtful could deprive the consecrated of their position, was the Church
a Church at all, or was it the mere creature of the secular power? And
what, moreover, of conscience? It could not be an inherent part of the
Church's belief that men should betray their faith for the sake of
peace. Later thinkers added the purely secular argument that resistance
in one case made for resistance in all. Admit, it was argued by Leslie,
the right to disobey, and the fabric of society is at a stroke
dissolved. The attitude is characteristic of that able controversialist;
and it shows how hardly the earlier notions of Divine Right were to

[Footnote 10: _The History of Passive Obedience_. Its author was
Jeremy Collier.]

These theories merit a further examination. Williams, later the Bishop
of Chichester, had argued that separation on the basis of the oath was
unreasonable. "All that the civil power here pretends to," he wrote "is
to secure itself against the practices of dissatisfied persons." The
Nonjurors, in this view, were making an ecclesiastical matter of a
purely secular issue. He was answered, among others, by Samuel Grascom,
in an argument which found high favor among the stricter of his sect.
"The matter and substance of these Oaths," he said, "is put into the
prayers of the Church, and so far it becomes a matter of communion. What
people are enjoined in the solemn worship to pray for, is made a matter
of communion; and if it be simple, will not only justify, but require a
separation." Here is the pith of the matter. For if the form and
substance of Church affairs is thus to be left to governmental will,
then those who obey have left the Church and it is the faithful remnant
only who constitute the true fellowship. The schism, in this view, was
the fault of those who remained subject to William's dominion. The
Nonjurors had not changed; and they were preserving the Church in its
integrity from men who strove to betray it to the civil power.

This matter of integrity is important. The glamour of Macaulay has
somewhat softened the situation of those who took the oaths; and in his
pages the Nonjurors appear as stupid men unworthily defending a dead
cause. It is worth while to note that this is the merest travesty.
Tillotson, who succeeded Sancroft on the latter's deprivation, and
Burnet himself had urged passive resistance upon Lord William Russell as
essential to salvation; Tenison had done likewise at the execution of
Monmouth. Stillingfleet, Patrick, White Kennett, had all written in its
favor; and to William Sherlock belongs the privilege of having defended
and attacked it in two pamphlets each of which challenges the pithy
brilliance of the other. Clearly, so far as consistency is in question,
the Nonjurors might with justice contend that they had right on their
side. And even if it is said that the policy of James introduced a new
situation the answer surely is that Divine Right and non-resistance can,
by their very nature, make no allowance for novelty.

The root, then, of this ecclesiastical contention is the argument later
advanced by Leslie in his "Case of the Regale and the Pontificate" in
which he summarized the Convocation dispute. The State, he argues, has
no power over bishops whose relationship to their flock is purely
spiritual and derived from Christ. The Church is independent of all
civil institution, and must have therefore within herself the powers
necessary to her life as a society. Leslie repudiates Erastianism in the
strongest terms. Not only is it, for him, an encroachment upon the
rights of Christ, but it leads to deism in the gentry and to dissent
among the common people. The Church of England comes to be regarded as
no more than the creature of Parliamentary enactment; and thus to leave
it as the creature of human votes, is to destroy its divinity.

It is easy enough to see that men who felt in this fashion could hardly
have decided otherwise than as they did. The matter of conscience,
indeed, was fundamental to their position. "I think," said the Bishop of
Worcester on his death-bed, "I could suffer at a stake rather than take
this oath." That, indeed, represents the general temper. Many of them
did not doubt that James had done grievous wrong; but they had taken the
oath of allegiance to him, and they saw in their conscience no means of
escape from their vow. "Their Majesties," writes the author of the
account of Bishop Lake's death, "are the two persons in the world whose
reign over them, their interest and inclination oblige them most to
desire, and nothing but conscience could restrain them from being as
forward as any in all expressions of loyalty." In such an aspect, even
those who believe their attitude to have been wrong, can hardly doubt
that they acted rightly in their expression of it. For, after all,
experience has shown that the State is built upon the consciences of
men. And the protest they made stands out in the next generation in
vivid contrast to a worldly-minded and politically-corrupt Church which
only internal revolution could awaken from its slumbers.

No one represents so admirably as Charles Leslie the political argument
of the case. At bottom it is an argument against anarchy that he
constructs, and much of what he said is medieval enough in tone to
suggest de Maistre's great defence of papalism as the secret of
world-order. He stands four square upon divine right and passive
obedience. "What man is he who can by his own natural authority bend the
conscience of another? That would be far more than the power of life,
liberty or prosperity. Therefore they saw the necessity of a divine
original." Such a foundation, he argued elsewhere, is necessary to
order, for "if the last resort be in the people, there is no end of
controversy at all, but endless and unremediable confusion." Nor had he
sympathy for the Whig attack on monarchy. "The reasons against Kings,"
he wrote, "are as strong against all powers, for men of any titles are
subject to err, and numbers more than fewer." And nothing can unloose
the chain. "Obedience," he said in the _Best of All_, "is due to
commonwealths by their subjects even for conscience' sake, where the
princes from whom they have revolted have given up their claim."

The argument has a wider history than its controversial statement might
seem to warrant. At bottom, clearly enough, it is an attack upon the new
tradition which Locke had brought into being. What seems to impress it
most is the impossibility of founding society upon other than a divine
origin. Anything less will not command the assent of men sufficiently to
be immune from their evil passions. Let their minds but once turn to
resistance, and the bonds of social order will be broken. Complete
submission is the only safeguard against anarchy. So, a century later,
de Maistre could argue that unless the whole world became the subject of
Rome, the complete dissolution of Christian society must follow. So,
too, fifty years before, Hobbes had argued for an absolute dominion lest
the ambitions and desires of men break through the fragile boundaries of
the social estate.

The answer is clear enough; and, indeed, the case against the Nonjurors
is nowhere so strong as on its political side. Men cannot be confined
within the limits of so narrow a logic. They will not, with Bishop Ken,
rejoice in suffering as a doctrine of the Cross. Rather will oppression
in its turn arouse a sense of wrong and that be parent of a conscience
which provokes to action. Here was the root of Locke's doctrine of
consent; for unless the government, as Hume was later to point out, has
on its side the opinion of men, it cannot hope to endure. The fall of
James was caused, not as the Nonjurors were tempted to think, by popular
disregard of Divine personality, but by his own misunderstanding of the
limits to which misgovernment may go. Here their opponents had a
strong case to present; for, as Stillingfleet remarked, if William had
not come over there might have been no Church of England for the
Nonjurors to preserve. And other ingenious compromises were suggested.
Non-resistance, it was argued by Sherlock, applied to government in
general; and the oath, as a passage in the _Convocation Book_ of Overall
seemed to suggest, might be taken not less to a _de facto_ monarch than
to one _de jure_. Few, indeed would have taken the ground of Bishop
Burnet, and allotted the throne to William and Mary as conquerors of
the Kingdom; at least the pamphlet in which this uncomfortable doctrine
was put forward the House of Commons had burned by the common hangman.

What really defeated the Nonjurors' claims was commonsense. Much the
ablest attack upon their position was Stillingfleet's defence of the
policy employed in filling up the sees vacated by deprivation; and it is
remarkable that the theory he employs is to insist that unless the
lawfulness of what had been done is admitted, the Nonjuror's position is
inevitable. "If it be unlawful to succeed a deprived bishop," he
wrote,[11] "then he is the bishop of the diocese still: and then the law
that deprives him is no law, and consequently the king and Parliament
that made that law no king and Parliament: and how can this be
reconciled with the Oath of Allegiance, unless the Doctor can swear
allegiance to him who is no King and hath no authority to govern." All
this the Nonjurors would have admitted, and the mere fact that it could
be used as argument against them is proof that they were out of touch
with the national temper. What they wanted was a legal revolution which
is in the nature of things impossible. We may regret that the oath was
deemed essential, and feel that it might not have been so stoutly
pressed. But the leaders of a revolution "tread a path of fire"; and the
fault lay less at the door of the civil government than in the fact that
this was an age when men acted on their principles. William and his
advisers, with the condition of Ireland and Scotland a cause for
agitation, with France hostile, with treason and plot not absent from
the episcopate itself, had no easy task; what, in the temper of the
time, gives most cause for consideration, is the moderate spirit in
which they accomplished it.

[Footnote 11: _A Vindication of their Majesties' Authority to fill
the Sees of the Deprived Bishops_ (1691).]


The Nonjuring schism was by no means the only difficulty which the
Church of England had to confront in these troubled years. The
definition of her relationship with State and nation, if at the moment
it aroused less bitterness, was in the long run more intricate in its
nature. That some sort of toleration was inevitable few, save a group of
prejudiced irreconcilables, would have denied. But greater things were
in the air, and there were still many who dreamed of a grand scheme of
Comprehension, by which all save the more extreme Dissenters would have
been admitted to the Church. It is this which explains the acrimonious
debates of the next two years. The hatred of the Church for dissent can
only be understood by those who study with care the insults heaped upon
her by the sectaries during the Civil Wars. That men who had striven for
her dissolution should be admitted to her privileges seemed to Churchmen
as tragic as ironical. Nor must we miss the political aspect of the
matter. William had received an eager, if natural, support from
Nonconformists; and since the vast majority of them was Whig in temper,
the greater the degree of toleration, the greater likelihood there was
of an attack upon the Church. Exclusion thus became a fundamental
article of the Tory creed; and it was the more valued because it
enabled them to strike at their opponents through an institution which
at the trial of Sacheverell, in 1710, still showed an overwhelming hold
upon the mass of the people.

The attitude of mind herein implied is in large part the reaction from
the Erastian temper of the government. Under William, that temper is
intelligible enough; for unless he held the Church in strict control, he
must have felt that he was giving a large handle to his enemies. Under
Anne, the essence of the situation remained unchanged, even though her
eager sympathy with the Church was beyond all question. William had
relieved Nonconformists from the burden of penal statute; the Occasional
Conformity Act of 1713 broadly continued the exclusion of all save the
more yielding of them from political office. When the Hanoverians
succeeded they were willing to repeal its more rigid intolerance; but
the Test Act remained as evidence that the Dissenters were not yet
regarded as in a full sense part of the national life.

The reasons for the hatred of dissent go back in part to the Civil War
and in part also to the feeling of common ground between the dissenting
interest and Rome which was born of the struggle under Elizabeth and
James. The pamphlets are innumerable; and most of them deserve the
complete obliquity into which they have fallen. We are told, in the
eighteenth as in the seventeenth century, that the Presbyterian theory
of government is inconsistent with the existence of the civil power.
"They claim," said Leslie, "power to abrogate the laws of the land
touching ecclesiastical matters, if they judge them hurtful or
unprofitable... They require the civil magistrate to be subject to their
power." Of Knox or Cartwright this is no unfair account; but of the
later Presbyterians it is the merest travesty. It supposes that they
would be willing to push to the utmost limit the implications of the
theory of the two kingdoms--a supposition which their passive submission
to the Act of 1712 restoring lay patronage decisively refutes. Bramhall
had no doubt that their discipline was "the very quintessence of refined
popery," and the argument is repeated by a hundred less learned
pamphleteers. Neither the grim irony of Defoe nor the proven facts of
the case could wean either the majority of Churchmen or the masses of
the people from the belief that the Revolution endangered the very
existence of the Church and that concession would be fatal. So stoutly
did the Church resist it that the accession of George I alone, in
Lecky's view, prevented the repeal of the Toleration Act and the
destruction of the political benefits of the Revolution.

But nowhere was the temper of the time more clearly displayed than in
the disputes over Convocation. To William's advisers, perhaps, more than
to the Church itself their precipitation is due; for had they not, at
the outset of the reign, suggested large changes in the liturgy
suspicions then aroused might well have slumbered. As it was, the
question of the royal supremacy immediately came into view and the
clergy spared no effort to meet the issue so raised. And this they felt
the more bitterly because the upper house of Convocation, two-thirds of
which were William's nominees, naturally inclined to his side. Both
under William and Anne the dispute continued, and the lower clergy
shrank from no opportunity of conflict. They fought the king, the
archbishop, the upper house. They attacked the writings of Toland and
Burnet, the latter's book since recognized as one of the great treasures
of Anglican literature. In the main, of course, the struggle was part of
the perennial conflict between High Church doctrine and
latitudinarianism. But that was only a fragment of the issue. What
really was in question was the nature of the State's power over the
Church. That could be left unanswered so long, as with James I and
Charles, the two powers had but a single thought. The situation changed
only when State and Church had different policies to fulfil and
different means for their attainment.

The controversy had begun on the threshold of William's accession; but
its real commencement dates from 1697. In that year was published the
_Letter to a Convocation Man_, probably written by Sir Bartholomew
Shower, an able if unscrupulous Jacobite lawyer, which maliciously,
though with abounding skill, raised every question that peaceful
churchmen must have been anxious to avoid. The _Letter_ pointed out the
growth of infidelity and the increasing suspicion that the Church was
becoming tainted with Socinian doctrine. Only the assembly of
Convocation could arrest these evils. The author did not deny that the
king's assent was necessary to its summons. But he argued that once the
Convocation had met, it could, like Parliament, debate all questions
relevant to its purpose. "The one of these courts," said Shower, "is of
the same power and use with regard to the Church as the other is in
respect to the State," and he insisted that the writ of summons could
not at any point confine debate. And since the Convocation was an
ecclesiastical Parliament, it followed that it could legislate and thus
make any canons "provided they do not impugn common law, statutes,
customs or prerogative." "To confer, debate and resolve," said Shower,
"without the king's license, is at common law the undoubted right of

Here was a clear challenge which was at once answered, in _The Authority
of Christian Princes_, by William Wake, who was by far the most learned
of the latitudinarian clergy, and the successor of Tenison in the see of
Canterbury. His argument was purely historical. He endeavored to show
that the right to summon ecclesiastical synods was always the
prerogative of the early Christian princes until the aggression of the
popes had won church independence. The Reformation resumed the primitive
practice; and the Act of Submission of 1532 had made it legally
impossible for the clergy to discuss ecclesiastical matters without
royal permission. Historically, the argument of Wake was irrefutable;
but what mostly impressed the Church was the uncompromising Erastianism
of his tone. Princes, he said, "may make what laws or constitutions they
think fit for the Church.... a canon is but as matter prepared for the
royal stamp." In this view, obviously, the Church is more than a
department of the State. But Wake went even farther, "I cannot see why
the Supreme Magistrate," he wrote, "who confessedly has a power to
confirm or reject their (Convocation's) decrees, may not also make such
other use of them as he pleases, and correct, improve, or otherwise
alter their resolutions, according to his own liking, before he gives
his authority to them."

So defined no Church could claim in any true sense the headship of
Christ; for it was clearly left at the mercy of the governmental view of
expedient conduct. Wake's answer aroused a sensation almost as acute as
the original _Letter_ of Shower. But by far the ablest criticism it
provoked was that of Francis Atterbury, then a young student of Christ
Church and on the threshold of his turbulent career. His _Rights, Powers
and Privileges of an English Convocation Stated and Vindicated_ not only
showed a masterly historic sense in its effort to traverse the
unanswerable induction of Wake, but challenged his position more
securely on the ground of right. The historical argument, indeed, was
not a safe position for the Church, and Wake's rejoinder in his _State
of the Church_ (1703) is generally conceded to have proved his point, so
far as the claim of prescription is concerned. But when Atterbury moves
to the deeper problem of what is involved in the nature of a church, he
has a powerful plea to make. It is unnecessary now to deal with his
contention that Wake's defence of the Royal Supremacy undermines the
rights of Parliament; for Wake could clearly reply that the seat of that
power had changed with the advent of the Revolution. Where the avoidance
of sympathy is difficult is in his insistence that no Church can live
without an assembly to debate its problems, and that no assembly can be
real which is subject to external control. "Their body," as he remarks,
"will be useless to the State and by consequence contemptible"; for its
opinions will not be born of that free deliberation which can alone
ensure respect. Like all High Churchmen, Atterbury has a clear sense
that Church and State can no longer be equated, and he is anxious to
preserve the personality of the Church from the invasions of an alien
body. To be real, it must be independent, and to be independent, it must
have organs of self-expression. But neither William nor Anne could
afford to forego the political capital involved in ecclesiastical
control and Erastian principles proceeded to their triumph.

Here, as elsewhere, it was Charles Leslie who best summed up the
feeling of High Churchmen. His _Case of the Regale_ (1701) is by far the
ablest of his many able performances. He saw at the outset that the real
issue was defined by the Church's claim to be a divine society, with
rights thus consecrated by the conditions of its origin. If it was
divine, invasion did not touch its _de jure_ rights. "How," he asked,
"can rights that are divine be given up? If they are divine, no human
authority can either supersede or limit them.... How can rights that are
inherent be given up? If they are inherent, they are inseparable. The
right to meet, to consult, to make rules or canons for the regulation of
the society, is essential to every society as such ... can she then part
with what is essential to her?" Nor could it be denied that "where the
choice of the governors of one society is in the hands of another
society, that society must be dependent and subject to the other." The
Church, in the Latitudinarian view was thus either the creature of the
state or an _imperium in imperio_; but Leslie would not admit that
fruitful stumbling block to the debate. "The sacred and civil powers
were like two parallel lines which could never meet or interfere ... the
confusion arises ... when the civil power will take upon them to control
or give laws to the Church, in the exercise of her spiritual authority."
He did not doubt that the Church should give securities for its loyalty
to the king, and renounce any effort at the coercion of the civil
magistrate. But the Church was entitled to a similar privilege, and
kings should not "have their beneficence and protection to the Church of
Christ understood as a bribe to her, to betray and deliver up into their
hands the powers committed into her charge by Christ." Nor did he fail
to point out the suicidal nature of Erastianism. For the church's hold
upon men is dependent upon their faith in the independence of her
principles. "When they see bishops," he wrote wisely, "made by the
Court, they are apt to imagine that they speak to them the court
language; and lay no further stress upon it than the charge of a judge
at an assizes, who has received his instructions beforehand from the
Court; and by this means the state has lost the greatest security of her

The argument is powerful enough; though it should be noted that some of
its implications remain undetermined. Leslie does not say how the
spheres of Church and State are to be differentiated. He does not
explain the methods whereby an establishment is to be made compatible
with freedom. For it is obvious that the partnership of Church and State
must be upon conditions; and once the State had permitted the existence
of creeds other than that of its official adoption, it could not
maintain the exclusive power for which the Church contended. And when
the Church not only complained of State-betrayal, but attempted the use
of political means to enforce remedial measures it was inevitable that
statesmen would use the weapons ready to their hand to coerce it to
their will. The real remedy for the High Churchmen was not exclusiveness
but disestablishment.

That this is the meaning of the struggle did not appear until the reign
of George I. What is known as the Bangorian controversy was due to the
posthumous publication, in 1716, of the papers of George Hickes, the
most celebrated of the Nonjurors in his generation. The papers are of
no special import; but taken in connection with the Jacobite rising of
1715 they seemed to imply a new attack upon the Revolution settlement.
So, at least, they were interpreted by Benjamin Hoadly, then Bishop of
Bangor, and a stout upholder of the Latitudinarian school. The conflict
today has turned to dust and ashes; and few who read the multitude of
pamphlets it evoked, or stand amazed at their personal bitterness, can
understand why more than a hundred writers should have thought it
necessary to inform the world of their opinions, or why the London Stock
Exchange should have felt so passionate an interest in the debate as to
cease for a day the hubbub of its transactions. Nor can any one make
heroes from the personalities of its protagonists. Hoadly himself was a
typical bishop of the political school, who rose from humble
circumstances to the wealthy bishopric of Winchester through a
remarkable series of translations. Before the debate of 1716, he was
chiefly known by two political tracts in which he had rewritten, in less
cogent form, and without adequate acknowledgment, the two treatises of
Locke. He clearly realized how worthless the dogma of Divine Right had
become, without being certain of the principles by which it was to be
replaced. Probably, as Leslie Stephen has pointed out, his theorizing is
the result of a cloudy sense of the bearing of the Deist controversy. If
God is to be banished from direct connection with earthly affairs, we
must seek a human explanation of political facts. And he became
convinced that this attitude applies not less completely to
ecclesiastical than to secular politics. Of his opponents, by far the
ablest was William Law, the only theologian whom Gibbon may be said to
have respected, and the parent, through his mystical writings, of the
Wesleyan movement. Snape, then Provost of Eton, was always incisive; and
his pamphlet went through seventeen editions in a single year and
provoked seven replies within three months. Thomas Sherlock would not be
either himself or his father's son, were he not caustic, logical and
direct. But Hoadly and Law between them exhaust the controversy, so far
as it has meaning for our own day. The less essential questions like
Hoadly's choice of friends, his attitude to prayer, the accuracy of the
details in his account of the Test Act, the cause of his refusal to
answer Law directly, are hardly now germane to the substance of the
debate. Hoadly's position is most fully stated in his _Preservative
against the Principles and Practice of Nonjurors_ which he published in
1716 as a counterblast to the papers of Hickes; and they are briefly
summarized in the sermon preached before the King on March 31, 1717, on
the text "My Kingdom is not of this world," and published by royal
command. Amid a vast wilderness of quibbles and qualifications, some
simple points emerge. What he was doing was to deprive the priesthood of
claims to supernatural authority that he might vindicate for civil
government the right to preserve itself not less against persons in
ecclesiastical office than against civil assailants. To do so he is
forced to deny that the miraculous powers of Christ and the Apostles
descended to their successors. For if that assumption is made we grant
to fallible men privileges which confessedly belong to persons outside
the category of fallibility. And, exactly in the fashion of Leslie in
the _Regale_ he goes on to show that if a Church is a supernatural
institution, it cannot surrender one jot or tittle of its prerogative.
It is, in fact, an _imperium in imperio_ and its conflict with the state
is inevitable. But if the Church is not a supernatural institution, what
is its nature? Hoadly here attacks the doctrine which lies at the basis
of all ecclesiastical debate. The Church, he claims, is not a visible
society, presided over by men who have authority directly transmitted by
Christ. There are not within it "viceregents who can be said properly to
supply his place; no interpreters upon whom his subjects are absolutely
to depend; no judges over the conscience or religion of his people. For
if this were so that any such absolute viceregent authority, either for
the making of new laws, or interpreting old ones, or judging his
subjects, in religious matters, were lodged in any men upon earth, the
consequence would be that what still retains the name of the Church of
Christ would not be the kingdom of Christ, but the kingdom of those men
invested with such authority. For whoever hath such an authority of
making laws is so far a king, and whoever can add new laws to those of
Christ, equally obligatory, is as truly a king as Christ himself. Nay,
whosoever hath an absolute authority to interpret any written or spoken
laws, it is he who is truly the lawgiver to all intents and purposes,
and not the person who first wrote and spoke them."

The meaning is clear enough. What Hoadly is attacking is the theory of a
visible Church of Christ on earth, with the immense superstructure of
miracle and infallibility erected thereon. The true Church of Christ is
in heaven; and the members of the earthly society can but try in a
human, blundering way, to act with decency and justice. Apostolic
succession, the power of excommunication, the dealing out of forgiveness
for men's sins, the determination of true doctrine, insofar as the
Church claims these powers, it is usurping an authority that is not its
own. The relation of man to God is his private affair, and God will ask
from him sincerity and honesty, rather than judge him for his
possession of some special set of dogmas. Clearly, therefore, if the
Church is no more than this, it has no supernatural pretensions to
oppose to the human claims of the State. And since the State must have
within itself all the means of sufficient life, it has the right to
resist the ecclesiastical onslaught as based upon the usurpation of
power assumed without right. And in later treatises Hoadly did for
ceremonial exactly what he had done for church government. The eucharist
became a piece of symbolism and excommunication nothing more than an
announcement--"a mere external thing"--that the rules of the fellowship
have been broken. It at no point is related to the sinner's opportunity
of salvation.

In such an aspect, it would clearly follow that the Church has no
monopoly of truth. It can, indeed, judge its own beliefs; but reason
alone can demonstrate the inadequacy of other attitudes. Nor does its
judgment preclude the individual duty to examine into the truth of
things. The real root of faith is not the possession of an infallible
dogma, but the arriving honestly at the dogma in which you happen to
believe. For the magistrate, he urges, what is important is not the
table of your springs of action, but the conduct itself which is based
upon that table; from which it follows that things like the Test and
Corporation Acts have no real political validity. They have been imposed
upon the State by the narrow interpretations of an usurping power; and
the Nonconformist claim to citizenship would thus seem as valid as that
of a member of the Church of England.

All this sounds sensible enough; though it is curious doctrine in the
mouth of a bishop of that church. And this, in fact, is the
starting-point of Law's analysis of Hoadly. No one who reads the
unsparing vigor of his criticism can doubt that Law must have been
thoroughly happy in the composition of his defence; and, indeed, his is
the only contribution to the debate which may claim a permanent place in
political literature. In one sense, indeed, the whole of Law's answer is
an _ignoratio elenchi_, for he assumes the truth of that which Hoadly
sets out to examine, with the inevitable result that each writer is, for
the most part, arguing from different premises. But on the assumption
that Hoadly is a Christian, Law's argument is an attack of great power.
He shows conclusively that if the Church of England is no more than
Hoadly imagines it to be, it cannot, in any proper historic sense, be
called the Church of England at all. For every one of the institutions
which Hoadly calls an usurpation, is believed by Churchmen to be
integral to its nature. And if sincerity alone is to count as the test,
then there cannot, for the existing world, be any such thing as
objective religious truth. It subverted not merely absolute
authority--which the Church of England did not claim--but any authority
in the Church. It impugned the authority of the Crown to enforce
religious belief by civil penalties. Hoadly's rejection of authority,
moreover, is in Law's view fatal to government of any kind. For all
lawful authority must affect eternal salvation insofar as to disobey it
is to sin. The authority the Church possesses is inherent in the very
nature of the Church; for the obligation to a belief in Christianity is
the same thing as to a belief in that Church which can be shown to
represent Christ's teaching.

From Law's own point of view, the logic of his position is undeniable;
and in his third letter to Hoadly, the real heart of his attack, he
touches the centre of the latter's argument. For if it is sincerity
which is alone important it would follow that things false and wrong are
as acceptable to God as things true and right, which is patently absurd.
Nor has Hoadly given us means for the detection of sincerity. He seemed
to think that anyone was sincere who so thought himself; but, says Law,
"it is also possible and as likely for a man to be mistaken in those
things which constitute true sincerity as in those things which
constitute true religion." Clearly, sincerity cannot be the pith of the
matter; for it may be mistaken and directed to wrong ends. The State, in
fact, may respect conscience, but Hoadly is no more entitled to assume
the infallibility of private belief than he is to deny the infallibility
of the Church's teaching. That way lies anarchy.

Here, indeed, the antagonists were on common ground. Both had denied the
absolute character of any authority; but while Hoadly virtually
postulates a Church which logically is no more than those who accept
the moral law as Christ described it, Law restricts the Church to that
society which bears the traditional marks of the historic institution.
On Hoadly's principles, there was no reason why anyone not hostile to
the civil power should not enjoy political privilege; on Law's there was
every reason simply because those who denied the doctrines of the High
Church refused a truth open for their acceptance. Law, indeed, goes so
far as to argue that in the light of his principles Hoadly should be a
Deist; and there is ground for what, in that age, was a valuable point
to make. The sum total of it all is that for the bishop the outward
actions of men alone concern the State; while Law insists that the root
of action and the test of fitness is whether men have seen a certain
aspect of the truth and grasped it.

The result, to say the least, was calamitous. In May of 1717,
convocation met and the Lower House immediately adopted an unanimous
report condemning the "Preservative" and the sermon. But Hoadly had the
government behind him and the convocation was prorogued before further
action could be taken. Snape, Hare, Mosse and Sherlock, all of whom were
chaplains royal, and had been drawn into the conflict, were dismissed
from their office; and for more than one hundred and thirty-five years
convocation was not again summoned. It was a striking triumph for
Erastianism, though the more liberal principles of Hoadly were less
successful. Robert Walpole was on the threshold of his power, and, as a
manager of Sacheverell's impeachment, he had seen the hold of the Church
upon the common people, may even, indeed, have remembered that Hoadly's
own dwelling had been threatened with destruction in the popular
excitement. _Quieta non movere_ was his motto; and he was not interested
in the niceties of ecclesiastic metaphysic. So the Test Act remained
immovable until 1828; while the annual Act of Indemnity for its
infractions represented that English genius for illogical mitigation
which solves the deeper problems of principle while avoiding the
consideration of their substance.

In the hundred and twenty years which passed between the Bangorian
Controversy and the Oxford Movement, there is only one volume upon the
problem of Church and State which deserves more than passing notice.
Bishop Warburton was the Lord Brougham of his age; and as its
self-constituted universal provider of intellectual fare, he deemed it
his duty to settle this, amongst others of the eternal questions. The
effort excited only the contempt of Leslie Stephen--"the peculiar
Warburton mixture," he says "of sham logic and bluster." Yet that is
hardly fair to the total result of Warburton's remarks. He tried to
steer a middle path between the logical result of such Erastianism as
that of the _Independent Whig_, on the one hand, and the excessive claim
of High Churchmanship on the other. Naturally enough, or the writer
would not be Warburton, the book is full of tawdry rhetoric and stupid
quibbles. But the _Alliance between Church and State_ (1736) set the
temper of speculation until the advent of Newman, and is therefore
material for something more than contempt. It acutely points out that
societies generate a personality distinct from that of their members in
words reminiscent of an historic legal pronouncement.[12] "When any
number of men," he says, "form themselves into a society, whether civil
or religious, this society becomes a body different from that aggregate
which the number of individuals composed before the society was
formed.... But a body must have its proper personality and will, which
without these is no more than a shadow or a name."

[Footnote 12: Dicey, _Law and Opinion in England_ (2nd edition),
p. 165.]

And that is the root of Warburton's pronouncement. The Church is a
society distinct from the State, but lending to that body its assistance
because without the sanction of religion the full achievement of the
social purpose is impossible. There is thus an alliance between them,
each lending its support to the other for their common benefit. The two
remain distinct; the union between them is of a federal kind. But they
interchange their powers, and this it is which explains at once the
royal supremacy and the right of Churchmen to a share in the
legislature. This also it is which explains the existence of a Test
Act, whereby those who might injure that which the State has undertaken
to protect are deprived of their power to evil. And, in return, the
Church engages to "apply its utmost endeavors in the service of the
State." It becomes attached to its benefactor from the privilege it
receives; and the dangers which might arise from its natural
independence are thus obviated. For a federal union precludes the grave
problem of an _imperium in imperio_, and the "mischiefs which so
terrified Hobbes" are met by the terms upon which it is founded.

It is easy enough to discover the loopholes in the theory. The contract
does not exist, or, at least, it is placed by Warburton "in the same
archive with the famous original compact between monarch and people"
which has been the object of vast but fruitless searches. Nor does the
Act of Submission bear upon its face the marks of that tender care of
the protection of an independent society which Warburton declared a
vital tenet of the Union. Yet such criticisms miss the real significance
of the theory. It is really the introduction into English politics of
that notion of the two societies which, a century before, Melville and
Bellarmine had made so fruitful. With neither Presbyterian nor Jesuit
was the separation complete, for the simple reason that each had a
secret conviction that the ecclesiastical society was at bottom the
superior. Yet the theory was the parent of liberty, if only because it
pointed the way to a balance of power between claims which, before, had
seemed mutually exclusive.

Until the Toleration Act, the theory was worthless to the English Church
because its temper, under the ægis of Laudian views, had been in
substance theocratic. But after 1692 it aptly expressed the compromise
the dominant party of the Church had then in mind. They did, indeed,
mistake the power of the Church, or, rather, they submitted to the State
so fully that what they had intended for a partnership became an
absorption. So that the Erastianism of the eighteenth century goes deep
enough to make the Church no more than a moral police department of the
State. Saints like Ken and preachers like South are replaced by
fashionable prelates like Cornwallis, who made Lambeth Palace an adjunct
to Ranelagh Gardens, and self-seeking pluralists like Bishop Watson. The
Church could not even perceive the meaning of the Wesleyan revolt; and
its charity was the irritating and complacent patronage of the
obstrusive Hannah More. Its learning decayed, its intelligence
slumbered; and the main function it fulfilled until Newman's advent was
the provision of rich preferment to the younger sons of the nobility. It
is a far cry from Lake of Chichester and Bishop Ken to a church which
was merely an annex to the iniquities of the civil list.


No one can mistake the significance of this conflict. The opponents of
Erastianism had a deep sense of their corporate Church, and it was a
plea for ecclesiastical freedom that they were making. They saw that a
Church whose patronage and discipline and debates were under the control
of an alien body could not with honesty claim that Christ was in truth
their head. If the Church was to be at the mercy of private judgment
and political expediency, the notion of a dogmatic basis would have to
be abandoned. Here, indeed, is the root of the condemnation of Tindal
and of Hoadly; for they made it, by their teaching, impossible for the
Church to possess an ethos of her own. It was thus against the
sovereignty of the State that they protested. Somewhere, a line must be
drawn about its functions that the independence of the Church might be
safeguarded. For its supporters could not be true to their divine
mission if the accidental vote of a secular authority was by right to
impose its will upon the Church. The view of it as simply a religious
body to which the State had conceded certain rights and dignities, they
repudiated with passion. The life of the Church was not derived from the
State; and for the latter to attempt its circumscription was to usurp an
authority not rightly its own.

The real difficulty of this attitude lay in the establishment. For here
the Church was, at bottom, declaring that the State life must be lived
upon terms of her own definition. That was possible before the
Reformation; but with the advent of Nonconformity and the growth of
rationalism the exclusive character of the Church's solution had become
unacceptable. If the Church was to become so intimately involved with
the State as an establishment implied, it had no right to complain, if
statesmen with a genius for expediency were willing to sacrifice it to
the attainment of that ideal. For the real secret of independence is,
after all, no more than independence. The Church sought it without being
willing to pay the price. And this it is which enabled Hoadly to emerge
triumphant from an ordeal where logically he should have failed. The
State, by definition is an absorptive animal; and the Church had no
right to complain if the price of its privileges was royal supremacy. A
century so self-satisfied as the eighteenth would not have faced the
difficulties involved in giving political expression to the High Church

Yet the protest remained, and it bore a noble fruit in the next century.
The Oxford movement is usually regarded as a return to the seventeenth
century, to the ideals, that is to say, of Laud and Andrewes.[13] In
fact, its real kinship is with Atterbury and Law. Like them, it was
searching the secret of ecclesiastical independence, and like them it
discovered that connection with the State means, in the end, the
sacrifice of the church to the needs of each political situation. "The
State has deserted us," wrote Newman; and the words might have been
written of the earlier time. The Oxford movement, indeed, like its
predecessor, built upon foundations of sand; and when Lord Brougham told
the House of Lords that the idea of the Church possessing "absolute and
unalienable rights" was a "gross and monstrous anomaly" because it would
make impossible the supremacy of Parliament, he simply announced the
result of a doctrine which, implicit in the Act of Submission, was first
completely defined by Wake and Hoadly. Nor has the history of this
controversy ended. "Thoughtful men," the Archbishop of Canterbury has
told the House of Lords,[14] "... see the absolute need, if a Church is
to be strong and vigorous, for the Church, _qua_ church, to be able to
say what it can do as a church." "The rule of the sovereign, the rule of
Parliament," replied Lord Haldane,[15] "extend as far as the rule of the
Church. They are not to be distinguished or differentiated, and that was
the condition under which ecclesiastical power was transmitted to the
Church of England." Today, that is to say, as in the past, antithetic
theories of the nature of the State hinge, in essence, upon the problem
of its sovereignty. "A free church in a free state," now, as then, may
be our ideal; but we still seek the means wherewith to build it.

[Footnote 13: Cf. my _Problem of Sovereignty_, Chapter III.]

[Footnote 14: _Parliamentary Debates_. Fifth Series, Vol. 34,
p. 992 (June 3, 1919).]

[Footnote 15: _Parliamentary Debates_. Fifth Series, Vol. 34, p 1002.
The quotation does not fully represent Lord Haldane's views.]




With the accession of George I, there ensued an era of unexampled calm
in English politics, which lasted until the expulsion of Walpole from
power in 1742. No vital questions were debated, nor did problems of
principle force themselves into view; and if the Jacobites remained in
the background as an element invincibly hostile to absorption, the
failure of their effort in 1715 showed how feeble was their hold on
English opinion. Not, indeed, that the new dynasty was popular. It had
nothing of that romantic glamour of a lost cause so imperishably
recorded in Scott's pages. The first Georges were heavy and foreign and
meagre-souled; but at least they were Protestant, and, until the reign
of George III, they were amenable to management. In the result, an
opposition in the classic sense was hardly needed; for the only question
to be considered was the personalities who were to share in power. The
dominating temper of Walpole decided that issue; and he gave thereby to
the political struggle the outlines in which it was encased for a

It is a dull period, but complacent; for it was not an unprosperous
time. Agriculture and commerce both were abundant; and the increasing
development of towns shows us that the Industrial Revolution loomed in
the near distance. The eager continuance of the deistic controversy
suggests that there was something of novelty beneath the calm; for
Tindal and Woolston and Chubb struck at the root of religious belief,
and Shaftesbury's exaltation of Hellenism not only contributed to the
_Aufklarung_ in Scotland, but suggested that Christian ideals were not
to go unchallenged. But the literature of the time is summarized in
Pope; and the easy neatness of his verses is quaintly representative of
the Georgian peace. Defoe and Swift had both done their work; and the
latter had withdrawn to Ireland to die like a rat in a hole. Bishop
Berkeley, indeed, was convinced of the decadence of England; but his
_Essay towards Preventing the Ruin of Great Britain_ (1721) shows rather
the effect of the speculative mania which culminated in the South Sea
Bubble upon a noble moral nature than a genius for political thought.
Certainly no one in that generation was likely to regard with
seriousness proposals for the endowment of motherhood and a tax upon the
estate of bachelors. The cynical sophistries of Mandeville were, despite
the indignation they aroused, more suited to the age that Walpole
governed. It is, in fact, the character of the minister which sets the
keynote of the time. An able speaker, without being a great orator, a
superb administrator, eager rather for power than for good, rating men
low by instinct and corrupting them by intelligence, Walpole was not the
man, either in type of mind or of temperament, to bring great questions
to the foreground of debate. He was content to maintain his hold over
the respect of the Crown, and to punish able rivals by exclusion from
office. One by one, the younger men of talent, Carteret, Pulteney,
Chesterfield, Pitt, were driven into hostility. He maintained himself in
office by a corruption as efficiently administered as it was cynically
conceived. An opposition developed less on principle than on the belief
that spoils are matter rather for distribution than for concentration.
The party so formed had, indeed, little ground save personal animosity
upon which to fight; and its ablest exertions could only seize upon a
doubtful insult to a braggart sea-captain as the pretext of the war it
was Walpole's ambition no less than policy to avoid. From 1726 until
1735 the guiding spirit of the party was Bolingbroke; but in the latter
year he quarrelled with Pulteney, nominally its leader, and retired in
high dudgeon to France. But in the years of his leadership he had
evolved a theory of politics than which nothing so clearly displays the
intellectual bankruptcy of the time.

To understand the argument of Bolingbroke it is necessary to remember
the peculiar character of his career. He had attained to the highest
office under Anne at an exceptionally early age; and his period of
power had been distinguished by the vehemence with which he pursued the
ideal of a strict division of parties and the expulsion of all alien
elements from the government. But he had staked all his fortunes upon a
scheme he had neither the resolution to plan nor the courage to execute;
and his flight to France, on the Hanoverian accession, had been followed
by his proscription. Walpole soon succeeded alike to his reputation and
place; and through an enormous bribe to the bottomless pocket of the
King's mistress St. John was enabled to return from exile, though not to
political place. His restless mind was dissatisfied with exclusion from
power, and he occupied himself with creating an alliance between the
Tories and malcontent Whigs for Walpole's overthrow. The alliance
succeeded, though too late for Bolingbroke to enjoy the fruits of
success; but in effecting the purgation of the Tory party from its taint
of Jacobitism he rendered no inconsiderable service. His foundation,
moreover, of the _Craftsman_--the first official journal of a political
party in England--showed his appreciation of the technique of political
controversy. Most of it is dead now, and, indeed, no small part of its
contemporary success is due to the making of comment in terms of the
immediate situation, as also by its consistent use of a personal
reference which has, save in the mass, no meaning for today. Though,
doubtless, the idea of its inception was derived from journals like
Defoe's _Review_ and Leslie's _Rehearsal_, which had won success, its
intimate connection with the party leadership was a novel element; and
it may therein claim a special relation to the official periodicals of a
later generation.

The reputation of Bolingbroke as a political philosopher is something
that our age can hardly understand. "A solemn trifler," Lord Morley has
called him; and it is difficult to know why his easy declamation was so
long mistaken for profound thought. Much, doubtless, is due to that
personal fascination which made him the inspiration of men so different
as Pope and Voltaire; and the man who could supply ideas to Chatham and
Disraeli cannot be wholly devoid of merit. Certainly he wrote well, in
that easy elegance of style which was the delight of the eighteenth
century; and he is consistently happy in his choice of adjectives. But
his work is at every point embellished with that affectation of
classical learning which was the curse of his age. He sought no general
truths, and he is free from the accusation of sincerity. Nor has he any
enthusiasm save that of bitter partisanship. He hated Walpole, and his
political writings are, at bottom, no more than an attempt to generalize
his animosity. The _Dissertation on Parties_ (1734) and the _Idea of a
Patriot King_ (1738) might have betrayed us, taken alone, into regarding
their author as a disinterested observer watching with regret the
development of a fatal system; but taken in conjunction with the _Letter
to Sir W. Windham_ (1717), which was not published until after his
death, and is written with an acrid cynicism fatal to his claim to
honesty, they reveal the opinions as no more than a mask for ambition
born of hate.

The whole, of course, must have some sort of background; and the
_Letters on the Study of History_ (1735) was doubtless intended to
supply it. Experience is to be the test of truth, since history is
philosophy teaching by example. But Bolingbroke's own argument supplies
its refutation. His history is an arbitrary selection of instances
intended to illustrate the particular ideas which happened to be
uppermost in his mind. The Roman consuls were chosen by annual election;
whence it is clear that England should have, if not an annual, at least
a triennial parliament. He acknowledges that the past in some degree
unknown determines the present. He has some not unhappy remarks upon the
evils of an attitude which fails to look upon events from a larger
aspect than their immediate environment. But his history is intended
less to illustrate the working of principle than to collect cases worthy
of citation. Time and space do not exist as categories; he is as content
with a Roman anecdote as with a Stuart illustration. He is willing,
indeed, to look for the causes of the Revolution as far back as the
reign of James I; though he shows his lack of true perception when he
ascribes the true inwardness of the Reformation to the greed of the
monarch for the spoils of the clergy. At bottom what mainly impresses
him is the immense influence of personal accident upon events.
Intrigue, a sudden dislike, some backstairs piece of gossip, here is the
real root of great changes. And when he expresses a "thorough contempt"
for the kind of work scholars such as Scaliger and Petavius had
achieved, he shows his entire ignorance of the method whereby alone a
knowledge of general principle can be attained.

A clear vision, of course, he has, and he was not beguiled by high
notions of prerogative or the like. The divine right of kings is too
stupid to be worth the trouble of refutation; all that makes a king
important is the authority he exerts. So, too, with the Church; for
Bolingbroke, as a professed deist, has no trouble with such matters as
the apostolic succession. He makes great show of his love of liberty,
which is the true end of government; and we are informed with a vast
solemnity of the "perpetual danger" in which it always stands. So that
the chief end of patriotism is its maintenance; though we are never told
what liberty is, nor how it is to be maintained. The social compact
seems to win his approbation and we learn that the secret of the
British constitution is the balance of powers and their mutual
independency. But what the powers are, and how their independence is
preserved we do not learn, save by an insistence that the safety of
Europe is to be found in playing off the ambitions of France and Austria
against each other; an analogy the rejection of which has been the
secret of English constitutional success. We learn of the evil of
standing armies and the danger of Septennial Parliaments. We are told
that parties are mainly moved by the prospect of enjoying office and
vast patronage; and a great enough show is made of his hatred for
corruption as to convince at least some critics of distinction of his
sincerity. The parties of the time had, as he sees, become divided by no
difference save that of interest; and herein, at least, he shows us how
completely the principles of the Revolution had become exhausted. He
wants severe penalties upon electoral corruption. He would have
disfranchised the rotten boroughs and excluded placemen from Parliament.
The press was to be free; and there is at least a degree of generous
insight in his plea for a wider commercial freedom in colonial matters.
Yet what, after all, does this mean save that he is fighting a man with
the patronage at his disposal and a majority upon the committee for the
settlement of disputed elections? And what else can we see in his desire
for liberty of the press save a desire to fight Walpole in the open,
without fear of the penalties his former treason had incurred?

His value can be tested in another way. His _Idea of a Patriot King_ is
the remedy for the ills he has depicted. He was sixty years old when it
appeared, and he had then been in active politics for thirty-five years,
so that we are entitled to regard it as the fruit of his mature
experience. He was too convinced that the constitution was "in the
strictest sense a bargain, a conditional contract between the prince and
the people" to attempt again the erection of a system of prerogative.
Yet it is about the person of the monarch that the theory hinges. He is
to have no powers inconsistent with the liberties of the people; for
such restraints will not shackle his virtues while they limit the evil
propensities of a bad king. What is needed is a patriot king who will
destroy corruption and awaken the spirit of liberty. His effective
government will synchronize with the commencement of his reign; and he
will at once dismiss the old and cunning ministers, to replace them by
servants who are wise. He will not stand upon party, but upon the State.
He will unite the forces of good counsel into a single scheme.
Complaints will be answered, the evildoers punished. Commerce will flow
on with uninterrupted prosperity, and the navy of England receive its
due meed of attention. His conduct must be dignified, and he must
acquire his influence not apart from, but on account of, the affection
of his people. "Concord," says Bolingbroke in rhapsodical prospection,
"will appear breeding peace and prosperity on every hand"; though he
prudently hopes also that men will look back with affection upon one
"who desired life for nothing so much as to see a King of Great Britain
the most powerful man in the country, and a patriot King at the head of
a united people."

Bolingbroke himself has admitted that such a monarch would be a "sort of
standing miracle," and perhaps no other comment upon his system is
required. A smile in Plato at the sight of his philosopher-King in such
strange company might well be pardoned. It is only necessary to point
out that the person whom Bolingbroke designates for this high function
was Frederick, Prince of Wales, to us the most meagre of a meagre
generation, but to Bolingbroke, by whose grace he was captivated, "the
greatest and most glorious of human beings." This exaltation of the
monarch came at a time when a variety of circumstances had combined to
show the decrease of monarchical sentiment. It bears upon its every page
the marks of a personal antagonism. It is too obviously the programme of
a party to be capable of serious interpretation as a system. The
minister who is to be impeached, the wise servants who are to gain
office, the attack on corruption, the spirited foreign policy--all these
have the earmarks of a platform rather than of a philosophy. Attacks on
corruption hardly read well in the mouth of a dissolute gambler; and the
one solid evidence of deep feeling is the remark on the danger of
finance in politics. For none of the Tories save Barnard, who owed his
party influence thereto, understood the financial schemes of Walpole;
and since they were his schemes obviously they represented the triumph
of devilish ingenuity. The return of landed men to power would mean the
return of simplicity to politics; and one can imagine the country
squires, the last resort of enthusiasm for Church and King, feeling that
Bolingbroke had here emphasized the dangers of a régime which already
faintly foreshadowed their exclusion from power. The pamphlet was the
cornerstone in the education of Frederick's son; and when George III
came to the throne he proceeded to give such heed to his master as the
circumstances permitted. It is perhaps, as Mr. A.L. Smith has argued,
unfair to visit Bolingbroke with George's version of his ideal; yet they
are sufficiently connected for the one to give the meaning to the other.
Chatham, indeed, was later intrigued by this ideal of a national party;
and before Disraeli discovered that England does not love coalitions he
expended much rhetoric upon the beauties of a patriotic king. But
Chatham was a wayward genius who had nothing of that instinct for common
counsel which is of the essence of party government; while it is
necessary to draw a firm line between Disraeli's genial declamation and
his practice when in office. It is sufficient to say that the one effort
founded upon the principles of Bolingbroke ended in disaster; and that
his own last reflections express a bitter disillusion at the result of
the event which he looked to as the inauguration of the golden age.


The fall of Walpole, indeed, released no energies for political thought;
the system continued, though the men were different. What alone can be
detected is the growth of a democratic opinion which found its
sustenance outside the House of Commons, the opinion the strength of
which was later to force the elder Pitt upon an unwilling king. An able
pamphlet of the time shows us the arrival of this unlooked-for portent.
_Faction detected by the Evidence of Facts_ (1742) was, though it is
anonymous,[16] obviously written by one in touch with the inner current
of affairs. The author had hoped for the fall of Walpole, though he sees
the chaos in its result. "A republican spirit," he says, "has strangely
arisen"; and he goes on to tell how the electors of London and
Westminster were now regarding their members as delegates to whom
instructions might be issued. "A new party of malcontents" had arisen,
"assuming to themselves, though very falsely, the title of the People."
They affect, he tells us, "superiority to the whole legislature ... and
endeavor in effect to animate the people to resume into their own hands
that vague and loose authority which exists (unless in theory) in the
people of no country upon earth, and the inconvenience of which is so
obvious that it is the first step of mankind, when formed into society,
to divest themselves of it, and to delegate it forever from themselves."
The writer clearly foreshadows, even in his dislike, that temper which
produced the Wilkes affair, and made it possible for Cartwright and
Horne Tooke and Sir Thomas Hollis to become the founders of English

[Footnote 16: It was probably written by Lord Egmont.]

Yet the influence of that temper still lay a generation ahead; and the
next piece of import comes from a mind which, though perhaps the most
powerful of all which have applied themselves to political philosophy in
England, was, from its very scepticism, incapable of constructive
effort. David Hume was thirty-one years of age when he published (1742)
the first series of his essays; and his _Treatise of Human Nature_ which
had fallen "dead-born from the press" was in some sort compensated by
the success of the new work. The second part, entitled _Political
Discourses_, was published in 1752, almost simultaneously with the
"_Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals_." As in the case of
Hume's metaphysical studies, they constitute the most powerful
dissolvent the century was to see. Yet nowhere was so clearly to be
demonstrated the euthanasia into which English politics had fallen.

Hume, of course, is always critical and suggestive, and even if he had
no distinctive contribution to make, he gave a new turn to speculation.
There is something almost of magic in the ease with which he demolishes
divine right and the social contract. The one is an inevitable deduction
from theism, but it protects an usurper not less than an hereditary
king, and gives a "divine commission" as well to a constable as to the
most majestic prince. The proponents of the social contract are in no
better case. "Were you to preach," he remarks, "in most parts of the
world that political connections are founded altogether on voluntary
consent, or on a mutual promise, the magistrate would soon imprison you
as seditious for loosening the ties of obedience; if your friends did
not before shut you up as delirious for advancing such absurdities." The
original contract could not be produced, and, even if it were, it would
suppose the "consent of the fathers to bind the children even to the
most remote generations." The real truth, as he remarks, is that "almost
all the governments which exist at present, or of which there remains
any record in story, have been founded originally on usurpation, or on
conquest, or both, without any pretence of a fair consent or voluntary
subjection of the people." If we then ask why obedience is possible, the
sufficient answer is that "it becomes so familiar that most men never
make any inquiry about its origin or cause, any more than about the
principle of gravity, resistance, or the most universal laws of nature."

Government, in short, is dependent upon the inescapable facts of
psychology. It might be unnecessary if all desires could be individually
fulfilled by making them, or if man showed to his fellow-men the same
tender regard he has for himself. So happy a condition does not exist;
and government is the most useful way of remedying the defects of our
situation. A theologian might say that Hume derives government from
original sin; to which he would have replied by denying the fall. His
whole attitude is simply an insistence that utility is the touchstone of
institutions, and he may claim to be the first thinker who attempted its
application to the whole field of political science. He knows that
opinion is the sovereign ruler of mankind, and that ideas of utility lie
at the base of the thoughts which get accepted. He does not, indeed,
deny that fear and consent enter into the attitude of men; he simply
asserts that these also are founded upon a judgment of utility in the
thing judged. We obey because otherwise "society could not subsist," and
society subsists for its utility. "Men," he says "could not live at all
in society, at least in a civilized society, without laws and
magistrates and judges, to prevent the encroachments of the strong upon
the weak, of the violent upon the just and equitable."

Utilitarianism is, of course, above all a method; and it is not unfair
to say of Hume that he did not get very far beyond insistence on that
point. He sees that the subjection of the many to the few is rooted in
human impulse; but he has no penetrating inquiry, such as that of Locke
or Hobbes, into the purpose of such subjection. So, too, it is the sense
of public interest which determines men's thoughts on government, on who
should rule, and what should be the system of property; but the ethical
substance of these questions he leaves undetermined. Politics, he
thinks, may one day be a science; though he considers the world still
too young for general truths therein. The maxims he suggests as of
permanent value, "that a hereditary prince, a nobility without vassals,
and a people voting by their representatives form the best monarchy,
autocracy and democracy"; that "free governments ... are the most
ruinous and oppressive to their provinces"; that republics are more
favorable to science, monarchies to art; that the death of a political
body is inevitable; would none of them, probably, be accepted by most
thinkers at the present time. And when he constructs an ideal
constitution, irrespective of time and place, which is to be regarded as
practical because it resembles that of Holland, it is obvious that the
historical method had not yet come fully into being.

Yet Hume is full of flashes of deep wisdom, and it would be an avoidance
of justice not to note the extent of the spasmodic insight that he had.
He has a keen eye for the absurdity of Pope's maxim that administration
is all in all; nothing can ever make the forms of government immaterial.
He accepts Harrington's dictum that the substance of government
corresponds to the distribution of property, without making it, as later
thinkers have done, the foundation of all political forces. He sees that
the Crown cannot influence the mass of men, or withstand the new balance
of property in the State; a prophecy of which the accuracy was
demonstrated by the failure of George III. "In all governments," as he
says, "there is a perpetual intestinal struggle, open or secret,"
between Authority and Liberty; though his judgment that neither "can
ever absolutely prevail," shows us rather that we are on the threshold
of _laissez-faire_ than that Hume really understood the problem of
freedom. He realized that the House of Commons had become the pivot of
the State; though he looked with dread upon the onset of popular
government. He saw the inevitability of parties, as also their tendency
to persist in terms of men instead of principles. He was convinced of
the necessity of liberty to the progress of the arts and sciences; and
no one, save Adam Smith, has more acutely insisted upon the evil effect
on commerce of an absolute government. He emphasized the value of
freedom of the press, in which he saw the secret whereby the mixed
government of England was maintained. "It has also been found," he said
in a happy phrase, "... that the people are no such dangerous monsters
as they have been represented, and that it is in every respect better to
guide them like rational creatures than to lead or drive them like brute
beasts." There is, in fact, hardly a page of his work in which some such
acuteness may not be found.

Not, indeed, that a curious blindness is absent. Hume was a typical
child of one aspect of the eighteenth century in his hatred of
enthusiasm, and the form in which he most abominates it is religious.
Why people's religious opinions should lead to antagonism he could no
more understand than why people should refuse to pass one another on a
road. Wars of religion thus seemed to him based upon a merely frivolous
principle; and in his ideal commonwealth he made the Church a department
of the State lest it should get out of hand. He was, moreover, a static
philosopher, disturbed by signs of political restlessness; and this led
to the purgation of Whig doctrines from his writings, and their
consistent replacement by a cynical conservatism. He was always afraid
that popular government would mean mob-rule; and absolute government is
accordingly recommended as the euthanasia of the British constitution.
Not even the example of Sweden convinced him that a standing army might
exist without civil liberty being endangered; and he has all the noxious
fallacies of his time upon the balance of power. Above all, it is
striking to see his helplessness before the problem of national
character. Mainly he ascribes it to the form of government, and that in
turn to chance. Even the friend of Montesquieu can see no significance
in race or climate. The idea, in fact, of evolution is entirely absent
from his political speculation. Political life, like human life, ends in
death; and the problem is to make our egress as comfortable as we can,
for the prime evil is disturbance. It is difficult not to feel that
there is almost a physical basis in his own disease for this love of
quiet. The man who put indolence among the primary motives of human
happiness was not likely to view novel theories with unruffled temper.

Hume has an eminent place among economists, and for one to whom the
study of such phenomena was but a casual inquiry, it is marvelous how
much he saw. He is free from the crude errors of mercantilism; and
twenty years before Adam Smith hopes, "as a British subject," for the
prosperity of other countries. "Free communication and exchange" seems
to him an ordinance of nature; and he heaps contempt upon those
"numberless bars, obstructions and imposts which all nations of Europe,
and none more than England, have put upon trade." Specie he places in
its true light as merely a medium of exchange. The supposed antagonism
between commerce and agriculture he disposes of in a half-dozen
effective sentences. He sees the place of time and distance in the
discussion of economic want. He sees the value of a general level of
economic equality, even while he is sceptical of its attainment. He
insists upon the economic value of high wages, though he somewhat
belittles the importance of wealth in the achievement of happiness.
Before Bentham, who on this point converted Adam Smith, he knew that the
rate of interest depends upon the supply of and demand for loans. He
insists that commerce demands a free government for its progress,
pointing out, doubtless from his abundant French experience, that an
absolute government gives to the commercial class an insufficient status
of honor. He pointed out, doubtless with France again in his mind, the
evils of an arbitrary system of taxation. "They are commonly converted,"
he says with unwonted severity, "into punishments on industry; and also,
by their unavoidable inequality, are more grievous, than by the real
burden which they impose." And he emphasizes his belief that the best
taxes are those which, like taxes upon luxury, press least upon the

Such insight is extraordinary enough in the pre-Adamite epoch; but even
more remarkable are his psychological foundations. The wealth of the
State, he says, is the labor of its subjects, and they work because the
wants of man are not a stated sum, but "multiply every moment upon
him." The desire for wealth comes from the idea of pleasure; and in the
_Treatise on Human Nature_ he discusses with superb clarity the way in
which the idea of pleasure is related at once to individual satisfaction
and to that sympathy for others which is one of the roots of social
existence. He points out the need for happiness in work. "The mind," he
writes, "acquires new vigor, enlarges its powers and faculties, and by
an assiduity in honest industry both satisfies its own appetites and
prevents growth of unnatural ones"; though, like his predecessor,
Francis Hutcheson, he overemphasizes the delights opened by civilization
to the humbler class of men. He gives large space in his discussion to
the power of will; and, indeed, one of the main advantages he ascribed
to government was the compulsion it puts upon us to allow the categories
of time and space a part in our calculations. He does not, being in his
own life entirely free from avarice, regard the appetite for riches as
man's main motive to existence; though no one was more urgent in his
insistence that "the avidity of acquiring goods and possessions for
ourselves and our nearest friends is ... destructive of society" unless
balanced by considerations of justice. And what he therein intended may
be gathered from the liberal notions of equality he manifested. "Every
person," he wrote in a famous passage, "if possible ought to enjoy the
fruits of his labor in a full possession of all the necessaries, and
many of the conveniences of life. No one can doubt but such an equality
is most suitable to human nature, and diminishes much less the happiness
of the rich than it adds to that of the poor." It is clear that we have
moved far from the narrow confines of the old political arithmetic. The
theory of utility enables Hume to see the scope of economics--the word
itself he did not know--in a more generous perspective than at any
previous time. It would be too much to say that his grasp of its
psychological foundation enabled him entirely to move from the
limitations of the older concept of a national prosperity expressed only
in terms of bullion to the view of economics as a social science. But at
least he saw that economics is rooted in the nature of men and therein
he had the secret of its true understanding. _The Wealth of Nations_
would less easily have made its way had not the insight of Hume prepared
the road for its reception.

What, then, and in general, is his place in the history of political
thought? Clearly enough, he is not the founder of a system; his work is
rather a series of pregnant hints than a consecutive account of
political facts. Nor must we belittle the debt he owes to his
predecessors. Much, certainly, he owed to Locke, and the full radiance
of the Scottish enlightenment emerges into the day with his teaching.
Francis Hutcheson gave him no small inspiration; and Hutcheson means
that he was indebted to Shaftesbury. Indeed, there is much of the sturdy
commonsense of the Scottish school about him, particularly perhaps in
that interweaving of ethics, politics and economics, which is
characteristic of the school from Hutcheson in the middle seventeenth
century, to the able, if neglected, Lorimer in the nineteenth.[17] He is
entitled to be considered the real founder of utilitarianism. He first
showed how difficult it is in politics to draw a distinction between
ethical right and men's opinion of what ought to be. He brings to an end
what Coleridge happily called the "metapolitical school." After him we
are done with the abuse of history to bolster up Divine Right and social
contract; for there is clearly present in his use of facts a true sense
of historical method. He put an end also to the confusion which resulted
from the effort of thinkers to erect standards of right and wrong
independent of all positive law. He took the facts as phenomena to be
explained rather than as illustrations of some favorite thesis to be
maintained in part defiance of them. Conventional Whiggism has no
foothold after he has done with its analysis. His utilitarianism was the
first efficient substitute for the labored metaphysics of the contract
school; and even if he was not the first to see through its
pretensions--that is perhaps the claim of Shaftesbury--he was the first
to show the grounds of their uselessness. He saw that history and
psychology together provide the materials for a political philosophy.
So that even if he could not himself construct it the hints at least
were there.

[Footnote 17: There are few books which show so clearly as Lorimer's
_Institutes of Nations_ (1872) how fully the Scottish school was in the
midstream of European thought.]

His suggestiveness, indeed, may be measured in another fashion. The
metaphysics of Burke, so far as one may use a term he would himself have
repudiated, are largely those of Hume. The place of habit and of social
instinct alongside of consent, the perception that reason alone will not
explain political facts, the emphasis upon resistance as of last resort,
the denial that allegiance is a mere contract to be presently explained,
the deep respect for order--all these are, after all, the fabric from
which the thought of Burke was woven. Nor is there in Bentham's defence
of Utilitarianism argument in which he would have recognized novelty.
Herein, at least, his proof that morality is no more than general
opinion of utility constructs, in briefer form, the later arguments of
Bentham, Paley and the Mills, nor can their mode of statement claim
superiority to Hume's. So that on either side of his work he foreshadows
the advent of the two great schools of modern political thought. His
utilitarianism is the real path by which radical opinion at last found
means of acceptance. His use of history is, through Burke, the ancestor
of that specialized conservatism begotten of the historical method. If
there is thus so much, it is, of course, tempting to ask why there is
not more. If Hume has the materials why did he fail to build up a system
from them? The answer seems twofold. In part it is the man himself. His
genius, as his metaphysics show, lay essentially in his power of
destruction; and the man who gave solipsism to philosophy was not likely
to effect a new creation in politics. In part, also, the condition of
the time gave little stimulus to novelty. Herein Hume was born a
generation too early. Had he written when George III attempted the
destruction of the system of the Revolution, and when America and France
combined to raise again the basic questions of politics, he might have
done therein what Adam Smith effected in his own field. But the time had
not yet come; and it was left to Burke and Bentham to reap where he had




From Hume until the publication of Burke's _Present Discontents_ (1770)
there is no work on English politics of the first importance. Walpole
had fallen in 1742; but for the next fifteen years his methods dominated
the parliamentary scene. It was only with the advent of the elder Pitt
to power that a new temper may be observed, a temper quickened by what
followed on the accession of George III. Henceforward, it is not untrue
to say that the early complacency of the time was lost; or, at least, it
was no longer in the ascendant again until the excesses of the French
Revolution enabled Burke to persuade his countrymen into that grim
satisfaction with their own achievement of which Lord Eldon is the
standing model. The signs of change are in each instance slight, though
collectively they acquire significance. It was difficult for men to
grumble where, as under Walpole, each harvest brought them greater
prosperity, or where, as under Chatham, they leaped from victory to
victory. Something of the exhilaration of these years we can still catch
in the letters which show the effort made by the jaded Horace Walpole to
turn off with easy laughter his deep sense of pride. In the House of
Commons, indeed, there is nothing, until the Wilkes case, to show that a
new age has come. It is in the novels of Richardson and Fielding, the
first shy hints of the romantic temper in Gray and Collins, above all in
the awakening of political science, that novelty is apparent.

So far as a new current of thought can ever be referred to a single
source, the French influence is the effective cause of change. Voltaire
and Montesquieu had both visited England in the period of Walpole's
administration, and both had been greatly influenced by what they saw.
Rousseau, indeed, came later on that amazing voyage which the
good-natured Hume insisted would save him from his dread of persecution,
and there is evidence enough that he did not relish his experience. Yet
when he came, in 1762, to publish the _Contrat Social_ it was obvious
that he had drunk deeply of English thought. The real meaning of their
work to Englishmen lay in the perspective they gave to English
institutions. Naturally enough, there was a vast difference between the
simplicity of a government where sovereignty was the monarch's will and
one in which a complex distribution of powers was found to secure a
general freedom. The Frenchmen were amazed at the generous equality of
English judicial procedure. The liberty of unlicensed printing--less
admirable than they accounted it--the difference between a _Habeas
Corpus_ and a _lettre de cachet_, the regular succession of Parliaments,
all these impressed them, who knew the meaning of their absence, as a
magnificent achievement. The English constitution revealed to France an
immense and unused reservoir of philosophic illustration. Even to
Englishmen itself that meaning was but partly known. Locke's system was
a generalization from its significance at a special crisis. Hume had
partial glimpses of its inner substance. But for most it had become a
discreet series of remedies for particular wrongs. Its analysis as a
connected whole invigorated thought as nothing had done since the Civil
Wars had elaborated the theory of parliamentary sovereignty. What was
more significant was the realization of Montesquieu's import
simultaneously with the effort of George III to revive crown influence.
Montesquieu thus became the prophet of a new race of thinkers.
Rousseau's time was not yet; though within a score of years it was
possible to see him as the rival to Burke's conservatism.

It is worth while to linger for a moment upon the thesis which underlies
the _Esprit des Lois_ (1748). It is a commonplace now that Montesquieu
is to be regarded as the founder of the historical method. The present
is to be explained by its ancestry. Laws, governments, customs are not
truths absolute and universal, but relative to the time of their origin
and the country from which they derive. It would be inaccurate, with
Rousseau on the threshold, to say that his influence demolished the
systems of political abstraction which, at their logical best, and in
the most complete unreality, are to be found in Godwin's _Political
Justice_; but it is not beyond the mark to affirm that after his time
such abstract systems were on the defensive. Therein, with all his
faults, he had given Burke the clue to those truths he so profoundly
saw--the sense of the State as more than a mechanical contrivance, the
high regard for prescription, the sense of law as the voice of past
wisdom. He was, said Burke, "the greatest genius which has enlightened
this age"; and Burke had every reason to utter that noble panegyric. But
Montesquieu was more than this. He emphasized legislation as the main
mechanism of social change; and therein he is the parent of that
decisive reversal of past methods of which Bentham first revealed the
true significance. Nor had any thinker before his time so emphasized the
importance of liberty as the true end of government; even the placid
Blackstone adopted the utterance from him in his inaugural lecture as
Vinerian professor. He insisted, too, on the danger of perversion to
which political principle lies open; a feeling which found consistent
utterance both in the debates of the Philadelphia Convention, and in
the writings of Bentham and James Mill. What, perhaps, is most
immediately significant is his famous praise of the British
Constitution--the secret of which he entirely misapprehended--and his
discovery of its essence in the separation of powers. The short sixth
chapter of his eleventh book is the real keynote of Blackstone and De
Lolme. It led them to investigate, on principles of at least doubtful
validity, an edifice never before described in detail. It is, when the
last criticism has been made, an immense step forward from the uncouth
antiquarianism of Coke's Second Institute to the neatly reticulated
structure erected upon the foundations of Montesquieu's hint. That it
was wrong was less important than that the attempt should have been
made. The evil that men do lives after them; and few doctrines have been
more noxious in their consequence than this theory of checks and
balances. But Blackstone's _Commentaries_ (1765-9) produced Bentham's
_Fragment on Government_ (1776), and with that book we enter upon the
realistic study of the British Constitution.

Rousseau is in an antithetic tradition; but just as he drew from
English thinkers so did he exercise upon the next generation an
influence the more logical because the inferences he drew were those
that his masters, with the English love of compromise, had sought to
avoid. Rousseau is the disciple of Locke; and the real difference
between them is no more than a removal of the limitations upon the power
of government which Locke had proposed. It is a removal at every point
conditioned by the interest of the people. For Rousseau declared that
the existing distribution of power in Europe was a monstrous thing, and
he made the people sovereign that there might be no hindrance to their
achievement in the shape of sinister interest. The powers of the people
thus became their rights and herein was an unlimited sanction for
innovation. It is easy enough then to understand why such a philosophy
should have been anathema to Burke. Rousseau's eager sympathy for humble
men, his optimistic faith in the immediate prospect of popular power
were to Burke the symptoms of insane delusion and their author "the
great professor and founder of the philosophy of vanity in England."
But Burke forgot that the real secret of Rousseau's influence was the
success of the American Revolution; and no one had done more than Burke
himself to promote its cause and justify its principles. That revolution
established what Europe might well consider a democracy; and its
statesmen were astonished not less at the vigilance with which America
guarded against the growth of autocratic government, than at the
soberness with which it checked the supposed weakness of the sovereign
people. America made herself independent while what was best in Europe
combined in enthusiastic applause; and it seemed as though the maxims of
Rousseau had been taken to heart and that a single, vigorous exertion of
power could remove what deliberation was impotent to secure. Here
Rousseau had a message for Great Britain which Burke at every stage
denied. Nor, at the moment, was it influential except in the general
impetus it gave to thought. But from the moment of its appearance it is
an undercurrent of decisive importance; and while in its metaphysical
form it failed to command acceptance, in the hands of Bentham its
results were victorious. Bentham differs from Rousseau not in the
conclusions he recommends so much as in the language in which he clothes
them. Either make a final end of the optimism of men like Hume and
Blackstone, or the veneration for the past which is at the root of
Burke's own teaching.

It is easy to see why thought such as this should have given the
stimulus it did. Montesquieu came to praise the British constitution at
a time when good men were aghast at its perversion. There was no room in
many years for revolution, but at least there was place for hearty
discontent and a seeking after new methods. Of that temper two men so
different as the elder Pitt and Wilkes are the political symbols. The
former's rise to power upon the floodtide of popular enthusiasm meant
nothing so much as a protest against the cynical corruption of the
previous generation. Wilkes was a sign that the populace was slowly
awaking to a sense of its own power. The French creed was too purely
logical, too obviously the outcome of alien conditions, to fit in its
entirety the English facts; and, it must be admitted, memories of wooden
shoes played not a little part in its rejection. The rights of man made
only a partial appeal until the miseries of Pitt's wars showed what was
involved in that rejection; and then it was too late. But no one could
feel without being stirred the illumination of Montesquieu; and
Rousseau's questions, even if they proved unanswerable, were stuff for
thought. The work of the forty years before the French Revolution is
nothing so much as a preparation for Bentham. The torpor slowly passes.
The theorists build an edifice each part of which a man whose passion is
attuned to the English nature can show to be obsolete and ugly. If the
French thinkers had conferred no other benefit, that, at least, would
have been a supreme achievement.


The first book to show the signs of change came in 1757. John Brown's
_Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times_ is largely
forgotten now; though it went through seven editions in a year and was
at once translated into French. Brown was a clergyman, a minor planet in
the vast Warburtonian system, who had already published a volume of
comment upon the _Characteristics_ of Shaftesbury. His book is too
evidently modelled upon Montesquieu, whom he mentions with reverence, to
make us doubt its derivation. There is the same reliance upon Livy and
Machiavelli, the same attempt at striking generalization; though the
argument upon which Brown's conclusions are based is seldom given,
perhaps because his geometric clarity of statement impressed him as
self-demonstrative. Brown's volumes are an essay upon the depravity of
the times. He does not deny it humanitarianism, and a still lingering
sense of freedom, but it is steeped in corruption and displays nothing
so much as a luxurious and selfish effeminacy. He condemns the
universities out of hand, in phrases which Gibbon and Adam Smith would
not have rejected. He deplores the decay of taste and learning. Men
trifle with Hume's gay impieties, and could not, if they would,
appreciate the great works of Bishop Warburton. Politics has become
nothing save a means of promoting selfish interests. The church, the
theatre, and the arts have all of them lost their former virtues. The
neurotic temper of the times is known to all. The nation, as was shown
in 1745, when a handful of Highlanders penetrated without opposition to
the heart of the kingdom, has grown slack and cowardly. Gambling
penetrates every nook and cranny of the upper class; the officers of the
army devote themselves to fashion; the navy's main desire is for prize
money. Even the domestic affections are at a low ebb; and the grand tour
brings back a new species of Italianate Englishman. The poor, indeed,
the middle class, and the legal and medical professions, Brown
specifically exempts from this indictment. But he emphasizes his belief
that this is unimportant. "The manners and principles of those who
lead," he says, "... not of those who are governed ... will ever
determine the strength or weakness, and therefore the continuance or
dissolution of a state."

This profligacy Brown compares to the languid vice which preceded the
fall of Carthage and of Rome; and he sees the approaching ruin of Great
Britain at the hands of France, unless it can be cured. So far as he has
an explanation to offer, it seems to be the fault of Walpole, and the
decay of religious sentiment. His remedy is only Bolingbroke's Patriot
King, dressed up in the habit of the elder Pitt, now risen to the height
of power. What mainly stirred Englishmen was the prophecy of defeat on
the morrow of the disastrous convention of Kloster Seven; but when Wolfe
and Clive repaired that royal humiliation Brown seems to have died a
natural death. What is more interesting than his prophecies was the
evidence of a close reading of Montesquieu. English liberty, he says, is
the product of the climate; a kind of mixture, it appears, of fog and
sullen temper. Nations inevitably decay, and the commercial grandeur of
England is the symptom of old age; it means a final departure from the
simplicity of nature and breeds the luxury which kills by enervation.
Brown has no passion, and his book reads rather like Mr. Galsworthy's
_Island Pharisees_ sufficiently expurgated to be declaimed by a
well-bred clergyman in search of preferment on the ground of attention
to the evils of his time. It describes undoubted facts, and it shows
that the era of content has gone. But its careful periods and strangely
far-off air lack the eagerness for truth which Rousseau put into his
questions. Brown can neither explain nor can he proffer remedy. He sees
that Pitt is somehow significant; but when he rules out the popular
voice as devoid of all importance, he deprives himself of the means
whereby to grasp the meaning of the power that Pitt exerted. Nothing
could prove more strongly the exactitude of Burke's _Present
Discontents_. Nothing could better justify the savage indignation of

Hume was the friend of Montesquieu, though twenty years his junior; and
the _Esprit des Lois_ travelled rapidly to Scotland. There it caught the
eye of Adam Ferguson, the author of a treatise on refinement, and by the
influence of Hume and Adam Smith, Professor of Moral Philosophy in the
University of Edinburgh. Ferguson seems to have been immensely popular
in his time, and certainly he has a skill for polished phrase, and a
genial paraphrase of other men's ideas. His _Essay on the History of
Civil Society_ (1767), which in a quarter of a century went through six
editions, was thought by Helvétius superior to Montesquieu, though Hume
himself, as always the incarnation of kindness, recommended its
suppression. At least Ferguson read enough of Montesquieu to make some
fluent generalities sound plausible. He knows that the investigation of
savage life will throw some light upon the origins of government. He
sees the folly of generalizing easily upon the state of nature. He
insists, probably after conversation with Adam Smith, upon the social
value of the division of functions. He does not doubt the original
equality of men. He thinks the luxury of his age has reached the limit
of its useful growth. Property he traces back to a parental desire to
make a better provision for children "than is found under the
promiscuous management of many copartners." Climate has the new
importance upon which Montesquieu has insisted; or, at least, as it
"ripens the pineapple and the tamarina," so it "inspires a degree of
mildness that can even assuage the rigours of despotical government."
The priesthood--this is Hume--becomes a separate influence under the
sway of superstition. Liberty, he says, "is maintained by the continued
differences and oppositions of numbers, not by their concurring zeal in
behalf of equitable government." The hand that can bend Ulysses' bow is
certainly not here; and this pinchbeck Montesquieu can best be left in
the obscurity into which he has fallen. The _Esprit des Lois_ took
twenty years in writing; and it needed the immense researches of men
like Savigny before its significance could fully be grasped. Facile
popularisers of this sort may have mollified the drawing-room; but they
did not add to political ideas.


A more fertile source of inquiry was to be found among the students of
constitutional law. Blackstone's _Commentaries on the Laws of England_
(1765-9) has had ever since its first publication an authority such as
Coke only before possessed. "He it is," said Bentham, "who, first of
all institutional writers, has taught jurisprudence to speak the
language of the Scholar and the Gentleman." Certainly, as Professor
Dicey has remarked, "the book contains much real learning about our
system of government." We are less concerned here with Blackstone as an
antiquarian lawyer than as a student of political philosophy. Here his
purpose seems obvious enough. The English constitution raised him from
humble means through a Professorship at Oxford to a judgeship in the
Court of Common Pleas. He had been a member of Parliament and refused
the office of Solicitor-General. He had thus no reason to be
dissatisfied with the conditions of his time; and the first book of the
_Commentaries_ is nothing so much as an attempt to explain why English
constitutional law is a miracle of wisdom.

Constitutional law, as such, indeed, found no place in Blackstone's
book. It creeps in under the rights of persons, where he deals with the
power of king and Parliament. His treatment implies a whole philosophy.
Laws are of three kinds--of nature, of God, and of the civil state.
Civil law, with which alone he is concerned, is "a rule of civil conduct
prescribed by the supreme power in a state, commanding what is right and
prohibiting what is wrong." It is, he tells us, "called a rule to
distinguish it from a compact or agreement." It derives from the
sovereign power, of which the chief character is the making of laws.
Society is based upon the "wants and fears" of men; and it is coeval
with their origin. The idea of a state of nature "is too wild to be
seriously admitted," besides being contrary to historical knowledge.
Society implies government, and whatever its origins or its forms there
"must be in all of them a supreme, irresistible, absolute, uncontrolled
authority, in which the _jura summa imperii_, or rights of sovereignty
reside." The forms of government are classified in the usual way; and
the British constitution is noted as a happy mixture of them all. "The
legislature of the Kingdom," Blackstone writes, "is entrusted to three
powers entirely independent of each other; first the King, secondly the
lords spiritual and temporal, which is an aristocratical assembly of
persons, chosen for their piety, their birth, their wisdom, their valour
or their property; and, thirdly, the House of Commons, freely chosen by
the people from among themselves, which makes it a kind of democracy;
and as this aggregate body, actuated by different springs and attentive
to different interests, composes the British Parliament and has the
supreme disposal of everything; there can be no inconvenience attempted
by either of the three branches, but will be withstood by one of the
other two; each branch being armed with a negative power, sufficient to
repel any innovation which it shall think inexpedient or dangerous." It
is in the king in Parliament that British sovereignty resides. Eschewing
the notion of an original contract, Blackstone yet thinks that all the
implications of it are secured. "The constitutional government of this
island," he says, "is so admirably tempered and compounded, that nothing
can endanger or hurt it, but destroying the equilibrium of power between
one branch of the legislature and the rest."

All this is not enough; though, as Bentham was to show in his _Fragment
on Government_, it is already far too much. "A body of nobility," such
is the philosophic interpretation of the House of Lords, "is also more
peculiarly necessary in our mixed and compounded constitution, in order
to support the rights of both the Crown and people, by forming a barrier
to withstand the encroachments of both ... if they were confounded with
the mass of the people, and like them had only a vote in electing
representatives, their privileges would soon be borne down and
overwhelmed by the popular torrent, which would effectually level all
distinctions." "The Commons," he says further, "consist of all such men
of property in the kingdom as have not seats in the House of Lords." The
legal irresponsibility of the King is emphasized. "He is not only
incapable of doing wrong," says Blackstone, "but even of thinking wrong;
he can never mean to do an improper thing; in him is no folly or
weakness," though he points out that the constitution "has allowed a
latitude of supposing the contrary." The powers of the King are
described in terms more suitable to the iron despotism of William the
Norman than to the backstairs corruption of George III. The right of
revolution is noted, with justice, as belonging to the sphere of morals
rather than of law.

"Its true defect," says Professor Dicey of the _Commentaries_, "is the
hopeless confusion both of language and of thought introduced into the
whole subject of constitutional law by Blackstone's habit--common to all
the lawyers of his time--of applying old and inapplicable terms to new
institutions." This is severe enough; yet Blackstone's sins are deeper
than the criticism would suggest. He introduced into English political
philosophy that systematic attention to forms instead of substance upon
which the whole vicious theory of checks and balances was erected. He
made no distinction between the unlimited sovereignty of law and the
very obviously limited sovereignty of reality. He must have known that
to talk of the independence of the branches of the legislature was
simple nonsense at a time when King and peers competed for the control
of elections to the House of Commons. His idealization of a peerage
whose typical spiritual member was Archbishop Cornwallis and whose
temporal embodiment was the Duke of Bedford would not have deceived a
schoolboy had it not provided a bulwark against improvement. It was
ridiculous to describe the Commons as representative of property so long
as places like Manchester and Sheffield were virtually disfranchised.
His picture of the royal prerogative was a portrait against every detail
of which what was best in England had struggled in the preceding century
and a half. He has nothing to say of the cabinet, nothing of ministerial
responsibility, nothing of the party system. What he did was to produce
the defence of a non-existent system which acted as a barrier to all
legal, and much political, progress in the next half-century. He gave
men material without cause for satisfaction.

As a description of the existing government there is thus hardly an
element of Blackstone's work which could stand the test of critical
inquiry. But even worse was its philosophy. As Bentham pointed out, he
was unaware of the distinction between society and government. The state
of nature exists, or fails to exist, with startling inconsistency.
Blackstone, in fact, was a Lockian who knows that Hume and Montesquieu
have cut the ground from under his master's feet, and yet cannot
understand how, without him, a foundation is to be supplied. Locke,
indeed, seems to him, as a natural conservative, to go too far, and he
rejects the original contract as without basis in history; yet
contractual notions are present at every fundamental stage of his
argument. The sovereign power, so we are told, is irresistible; and then
because Blackstone is uncertain what right is to mean, we hear of moral
limitations upon its exercise. He speaks continually of representation
without any effort to examine into the notions it conveys. The members
of society are held to be equal; and great pains are taken to justify
existent inequalities. "The natural foundations of sovereignty," he
writes, "are the three great requisites... of wisdom, goodness and
power." Yet there is nowhere any proof in his book that steps have been
taken in the British Constitution to associate these with the actual
exertion of authority. Nor has he clear notions of the way in which
property is to be founded. Communism, he writes in seventeenth century
fashion, is the institution of the all-beneficent Creator who gave the
earth to men; property comes when men occupy some special portion of the
soil continuously or mix their labor with movable possessions. This is
pure Locke; though the conclusions drawn by Blackstone are utterly
remote from the logical result of his own premises.

The truth surely is that Blackstone had, upon all these questions, only
the most confused sort of notions. He had to preface his work with some
sort of philosophic theory because the conditions of the age demanded
it. The one source of enlightenment when he wrote was Hume; but for some
uncertain reason, perhaps his piety, Blackstone makes no reference to
the great sceptic's speculations. So that he was driven back upon
notions he felt to be false, without a proper realization of their
falsity. His use of Montesquieu shows rather how dangerous a weapon a
great idea can be in the hands of one incompetent to understand it, than
the fertility it contained. The merit of Blackstone is his learning,
which was substantial, his realization that the powers of law demand
some classification, his dim yet constant sense that Montesquieu is
right alike in searching for the roots of law in custom and in applying
the historical method to his explanations. But as a thinker he was
little more than an optimistic trifler, too content with the conditions
of his time to question its assumptions.

De Lolme is a more interesting figure; and though, as with Blackstone,
what he failed to see was even more remarkable than what he did
perceive, his book has real ability and merit. De Lolme was a citizen of
Geneva, who published his _Constitution of England_ in 1775, after a
twelve months' visit to shores sufficiently inhospitable to leave him to
die in obscurity and want. His book, as he tells us in his preface, was
no mean success, though he derived no profit from it. Like Blackstone,
he was impressed by the necessity of obtaining a constitutional
equilibrium, wherein he finds the secret of liberty. The attitude was
not unnatural in one who, with his head full of Montesquieu, was a
witness of the struggle between Junius and the King. He has, of course,
the limitation common to all writers before Burke of thinking of
government in purely mechanical terms. "It is upon the passions of
mankind," he says, "that is, upon causes which are unalterable, that the
action of the various parts of a state depends. The machine may vary as
to its dimensions; but its movement and acting springs still remain
intrinsically the same." Elsewhere he speaks of government as "a great
ballet or dance in which ... everything depends upon the disposition of
the figures." He does not deal, that is to say, with men as men, but
only as inert adjuncts of a machine by which they are controlled. Such
an attitude is bound to suffer from the patent vices of all abstraction.
It regards historic forces as distinct from the men related to them.
Every mob, he says, must have its Spartacus; every republic will tend to
unstability. The English avoid these dangers by playing off the royal
power against the popular. The King's interest is safeguarded by the
division of Parliament into two Houses, each of which rejects the
encroachment of the other upon the executive. His power is limited by
parliamentary privilege, freedom of the press, the right of taxation and
so forth. The theory was not true; though it represented with some
accuracy the ideals of the time.

Nor must we belittle what insight De Lolme possessed. He saw that the
early concentration of power in the royal hands prevented the
continental type of feudalism from developing in England; with the
result that while French nobles were massacring each other, the English
people could unite to wrest privileges from the superior power. He
understood that one of the mainsprings of the system was the
independence of the judges. He realized that the party-system--he never
used the actual term--while it provides room for men's ambitions at the
same time prevents the equation of ambition with indispensability. "Woe
to him," says De Lolme, "... who should endeavor to make the people
believe that their fate depends on the persevering virtue of a single
citizen." He sees the paramount value of freedom of the press. This, as
he says, with the necessity that members should be re-elected, "has
delivered into the hands of the people at large the exercise of the
censorial power." He has no doubt but that resistance is the remedy
whereby governmental encroachment can be prevented; "resistance," he
says, "is the ultimate and lawful resource against the violences of
power." He points out how real is the guarantee of liberty where the
onus of proof in criminal cases is thrown upon the government. He
regards with admiration the supremacy of the civil over the military
arm, and the skillful way in which, contrary to French experience, it
has been found possible to maintain a standing army without adding to
the royal power. Nor can he fail to admire the insight which organizes
"the agitation of the popular mind," not as "the forerunner of violent
commotions" but to "animate all parts of the state." Therein De Lolme
had grasped the real essence of party government.

It was, of course, no more than symptomatic of his time that cabinet and
prime minister should have escaped his notice. A more serious defect was
his inability, with the Wilkes contest prominently in his notice, to
see that the people had assumed a new importance. For the masses,
indeed, De Lolme had no enthusiasm. "A passive share," he thought, "was
the only one that could, with safety to the state, be trusted" to the
humble man. "The greater part," he wrote, "of those who compose this
multitude, taken up with the care of providing for their subsistence,
have neither sufficient leisure, nor even, in consequence of their
imperfect education, the degree of information, requisite for functions
of this kind." Such an attitude blinded him to the significance of the
American conflict, which he saw unattended by its moral implications. He
trusted too emphatically to the power of mechanisms to realize that
institutions which allowed of such manipulation as that of George III
could not be satisfactory once the people had awakened to a sense of its
own power. The real social forces of the time found there no channels of
activity; and the difference between De Lolme and Bagehot is the
latter's power to go behind the screen of statute to the inner sources
of power.


The basis of revolutionary doctrine was already present in England when,
in 1762, Rousseau published his _Contrat Social_. With its fundamental
doctrines Locke had already made his countrymen familiar; and what was
needed for the appreciation of its teaching was less a renaissance than
discontent. So soon as men are dissatisfied with the traditional
foundations of the State, a gospel of natural rights is certain to make
its appearance. And, once the design of George III had been made
familiar by his treatment of Chatham and Wilkes, the discontent did not
fail to show itself. Indeed, in the year before the publication of
Rousseau's book, Robert Wallace, a Scottish chaplain royal, had written
in his _Various Prospects_ (1761) a series of essays which are at once
an anticipation of the main thesis of Malthus and a plea for the
integration of social forces by which alone the mass of men could be
raised from misery. In the light of later experience it is difficult not
to be impressed by the modernist flavour of Wallace's attack. He
insists upon the capacity of men and the disproportion between their
potential achievement and that which is secured by actual society. Men
are in the mass condemned to ignorance and toil; and the lust of power
sets man against his neighbor to the profit of the rich. Wallace traces
these evils to private property and the individualistic organization of
work, and he sees no remedy save community of possessions and a
renovated educational system. Yet he does not conceal from himself that
it is to the interest of the governing class to prevent a revolution
which, beneficent to the masses, would be fatal to themselves; nor does
he conceive it possible until the fertility of men has been reduced to
the capacity of the soil. He speculates upon the chances of a new spirit
among men, of an all-wise legislator, and of the beneficent example of
colonies upon the later Owenite model. But his book is contemporaneous
with our own ideas rather than with the thoughts of his generation. Nor
does it seem to have excited any general attention.

It is five years after Rousseau that we see the first clear signs of his
influence. Naturally enough the men amongst whom the new spirit spread
abroad were the Nonconformists. For more than seventy years they had
been allowed existence without recognition. None had more faithfully
supported the new dynasty than they; none had been paid less for their
allegiance. Their utmost effort could secure only a sparing mitigation
of the Test Act. All of them were Whigs, and the doctrines of Locke
suited exactly their temper and their wants. There were amongst them
able men in every walk of life, and they were apt to publication. Joseph
Priestley, in particular, gave up with willingness to mankind what was
obviously meant for chemical science. A few years previously Brown of
the _Estimate_ had submitted a scheme for national education, in which
the essential principle was Church control. Priestley had answered him,
and was encouraged by friends to expand his argument into a general
treatise. His _Essay on the First Principles of Government_ appeared in
1768; and, if for nothing else, it would be noteworthy because it was
therein that the significance of the "greatest happiness principle"
first flashed across Bentham's mind. But the book shows more than this.
"I had placed," says Priestley with due modesty, "the foundation of some
of the most valuable interests of mankind on a broader and firmer basis
than Mr. Locke"; and the breadth and firmness are Rousseau's

Certainly we herein meet new elements. On the very threshold of the book
we meet the dogma of the perfectibility of man. "Whatever," Priestley
rhapsodizes, "was the beginning of this world, the end will be glorious
and paradisaical, beyond what our imaginations can now conceive." "The
instrument of this progress ... towards this glorious state" is
government; though a little later we are to find that the main business
of government is noninterference. Men are all equal, and their natural
rights are indefeasible. Government must be restrained in the interests
of liberty. No man can be governed without his consent; for government
is founded upon a contract by which civil liberty is surrendered in
exchange for a power to share in public decisions. It thus follows that
the people must be sovereign, and interference with their natural
rights will justify resistance. Every government, he says, is "in its
original principles, and antecedent to its present form an equal
republic"; wherefore, of course, it follows that we must restore to men
the equality they have lost. And, equally, of course, this would bestow
upon the Nonconformists their full citizenship; for Warburton's
_Alliance_, to attack which Priestley exhausts all the resources of his
ingenuity, has been one of the main instruments in their degradation.
"Unbounded liberty in matters of religion," which means the abolition of
the Establishment, promises to be "very favorable to the best interests
of mankind."

So far the book might well be called an edition of Rousseau for English
Nonconformists; but there are divergences of import. It can never be
forgotten in the history of political ideas that the alliance of Church
and State made Nonconformists suspicious of government interference.
Their original desire to be left unimpeded was soon exalted into a
definite theory; and since political conditions had confined them so
largely to trade none felt as they did the hampering influence of
State-restrictions. The result has been a great difficulty in making
liberal doctrines in England realize, until after 1870, the organic
nature of the State. It remains for them almost entirely a police
institution which, once it aims at the realization of right, usurps a
function far better performed by individuals. There is no sense of the
community; all that exists is a sum of private sentiments. "Civil
liberty," says Priestley, "has been greatly impaired by an abuse of the
maxim that the joint understanding of all the members of a State,
properly collected, must be preferable to that of individuals; and
consequently that the more the cases are in which mankind are governed
by this united reason of the whole community, so much the better;
whereas, in truth, the greater part of human actions are of such a
nature, that more inconvenience would follow from their being fixed by
laws than from their being left to every man's arbitrary will." If my
neighbor assaults me, he suggests, I may usefully call in the police;
but where the object is the discovery of truth, the means of education,
the method of religious belief, individual initiative is superior to
State action. The latter produces an uniform result "incompatible with
the spirit of discovery." Nor is such attempt at uniform conditions just
to posterity; men have no natural right to judge for the future. Men are
too ignorant to fix their own ideas as the basis of all action.

Priestley could not escape entirely the bondage of past tradition; and
the metaphysics which Bentham abhorred are scattered broadcast over his
pages. Nevertheless the basis upon which he defended his ideas was a
utilitarianism hardly less complete than that which Bentham made the
instrument of revolution. "Regard to the general good," he says, "is the
main method by which natural rights are to be defended." "The good and
happiness of the members, that is, the majority of the members of any
State, is the great standard by which everything relating to that state
must finally be determined." In substance, that is to say, if not
completely in theory, we pass with Priestley from arguments of right to
those of expediency. His chief attack upon religious legislation is
similarly based upon considerations of policy. His view of the
individual as a never-ending source of fruitful innovation anticipates
all the later Benthamite arguments about the well-spring of individual
energy. Interference and stagnation are equated in exactly similar
fashion to Adam Smith and his followers. Priestley, of course, was
inconsistent in urging at the outset that government is the chief
instrument of progress; but what he seems to mean is less that
government has the future in its hands than that government action may
well be decisive for good or evil. Typical, too, of the later Benthamism
is his glorification of reason as the great key which is to unlock all
doors. That is, of course, natural in a scientist who had himself made
discoveries of vital import; but it was characteristic also of a school
which scanned a limitless horizon with serene confidence in a future of
unbounded good. Even if it be said that Priestley has all the vices of
that rationalism which, as with Bentham, oversimplifies every problem it
encounters, it is yet adequate to retort that a confidence in the
energies of men was better than the complacent stagnation of the
previous age.

It is difficult to measure the precise influence that Priestley exerted;
certainly among Nonconformists it cannot have been small. Dr. Richard
Price is a lesser figure; and much of the standing he might have had has
been obliterated by two unfortunate incidents. His sinking-fund scheme
was taken up by the younger Pitt, and proved, though the latter believed
in it to the last, to be founded upon an arithmetical fallacy which did
not sit well upon a fellow of the Royal Society. His sermon on the
French Revolution provoked the _Reflections_ of Burke; and, though much
of the right was on the side of Price, it can hardly be said that he
survived Burke's onslaught. Yet he was a considerable figure in his day,
and he shows, like Priestley, how deep-rooted was the English
revolutionary temper. He has not, indeed, Priestley's superb optimism;
for the rigid _a priori_ morality of which he was the somewhat muddled
defender was less favorable to a confidence in reason. He had a good
deal of John Brown's fear that luxury was the seed of English
degeneration; the proof of which he saw in the decline of the
population. His figures, in fact, were false; but they were unessential
to the general thesis he had to make.

Price, like Priestley a leading Nonconformist, was stirred to print by
the American Revolution; and if his views were not widely popular, his
_Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty_ (1776) attained its eighth
edition within a decade. This, with its supplement _Additional
Observations_ (1777), presents a perfectly coherent theory. Nor is their
ancestry concealed. They represent the tradition of Locke, modified by
the importations of Rousseau. Price owes much to Priestley and to Hume,
and he takes sentences from Montesquieu where they aid him. But he has
little or nothing of Priestley's utilitarianism and the whole argument
is upon the abstract basis of right. Liberty means self-government, and
self-government means the right of every man to be his own legislator.
Price, with strict logic, follows out this doctrine to its last
consequence. Taxes become "free gifts for public services"; laws are
"particular provisions or regulations established by Common Consent for
gaining protection and safety"; magistrates are "trustees or deputies
for carrying these regulations into execution." And almost in the words
of Rousseau, Price goes on to admit that liberty, "in its most perfect
degree, can be enjoyed only in small states where every independent
agent is capable of giving his suffrage in person and of being chosen
into public offices." He knows that large States are inevitable, though
he thinks that representation may be made so adequate as to minimize the
sacrifice of liberty involved.

But the limitation upon government is everywhere emphasized.
"Government," he says, "... is in the very nature of it a trust; and
all its powers a Delegation for particular ends." He rejects the theory
of parliamentary sovereignty as incompatible with self-government; if
the Parliament, for instance, prolonged its life, it would betray its
constituents and dissolve itself. "If omnipotence," he writes, "can with
any sense be ascribed to a legislature, it must be lodged where all
legislative authority originates; that is, in the People." Such a
system is alone compatible with the ends of government, since it cannot
be supposed that men "combine into communities and institute government"
for self-enslavement. Nor is any other political system "consistent with
the natural equality of mankind"; by which Price means that no man "is
constituted by the author of nature the vassal or subject of another, or
has any right to give law to him, or, without his consent, to take away
any part of his property or to abridge him of his liberty." From all of
which it is concluded that liberty is inalienable; and a people which
has lost it "must have a right to emancipate themselves as soon as they
can." The aptness of the argument to the American situation is obvious
enough; and nowhere is Price more happy or more formidable than when he
applies his precepts to phrases like "the unity of the empire" and the
"honor of the kingdom" which were so freely used to cover up the
inevitable results of George's obstinacy.

The _Essay on the Right of Property in Land_ (1781) of William Ogilvie
deserves at least a passing notice. The author, who published his book
anonymously, was a Professor of Latin in the University of Aberdeen and
an agriculturist of some success. His own career was distinctly
honorable. The teacher of Sir James Mackintosh, he had a high reputation
as a classical scholar and deserves to be remembered for his effort to
reform a college which had practically ceased to perform its proper
academic functions. His book is virtually an essay upon the natural
right of men to the soil. He does not doubt that the distress of the
times is due to the land monopoly. The earth being given to men in
common, its invasion by private ownership is a dangerous perversion. Men
have the right to the full product of their labor; but the privileges of
the landowner prevent the enjoyment of that right. The primary duty of
every State is the increase of public happiness; and the happiest nation
is that which has the greatest number of free and independent
cultivators. But governments attend rather to the interest of the higher
classes, even while they hold out the protection of the common people as
the main pretext of their authority. The result is their maintenance of
land-monopoly even though it affects the prime material of all essential
industries, prevents the growth of population, and makes the rich
wealthier at the expense of the poor. It breeds oppression and
ignorance, and poisons improvement by preventing individual initiative.
He points out how a nation is dominated by its landlords, and how they
have consistently evaded the fiscal burdens they should bear. Only in a
return to a nation of freeholders can Ogilvie see the real source of an
increase in happiness.

Such criticism is revolutionary enough, though when he comes to speak of
actual changes, he had little more to propose than a system of peasant
proprietorship. What is striking in the book is its sense of great,
impending changes, its thorough grasp of the principle of utility, its
realization of the immense agricultural improvement that is possible if
the landed system can be so changed as to bring into play the impulses
of humble men. He sees clearly enough that wealth dominates the State;
and his interpretation of history is throughout economic. Ogilvie is
one of the first of those agrarian Socialists who, chiefly through
Spence and Paine, are responsible for a special current of their own in
the great tide of protest against the unjust situation of labor. Like
them, he builds his system upon natural rights; though, unlike them, his
natural rights are defended by expediency and in a style that is always
clear and logical. The book itself has rather a curious history. At its
appearance, it seems to have excited no notice of any kind. Mackintosh
knew of its authorship; for he warned its author against the amiable
delusion that its excellence would persuade the British government to
force a system of peasant proprietorship upon the East India Company.
Reprinted in 1838 as the work of John Ogilby, it was intended to
instruct the Chartists in the secret of their oppression; and therein it
may well have contributed to the tragicomic land-scheme of Feargus
O'Connor. In 1891 the problem of the land was again eagerly debated
under the stimulus of Mr. Henry George; and a patriotic Scotchman
published the book with biographical notes that constitute one of the
most amazing curiosities in English political literature.


Against the school of Rousseau's English disciples it is comparatively
easy to multiply criticisms. They lacked any historic sense. Government,
for them, was simply an instrument which was made and unmade at the
volition of men. How complex were its psychological foundations they had
no conception; with the single factor of consent they could explain the
most marvellous edifice of any time. They were buried beneath a mountain
of metaphysical right which they never related to legal facts or to
political possibility. They pursued relentlessly the logical conclusions
of the doctrines they abhorred without being willing carefully to
investigate the results to which their own doctrines in logic led. They
overestimated the extent to which men are willing to occupy themselves
with political affairs. They made no proper allowance for the protective
armour each social system must acquire by the mere force of
prescription. Nor is there sufficient allowance in their attitude for
those limiting conditions of circumstance of which every statesman must
of necessity take account. They occupy themselves, that is to say, so
completely with _staatslehre_ that they do not admit the mollifying
influence of _politik_. They search for principles of universal right,
without the perception that a right which is to be universal must
necessarily be so general in character as to be useless in its

Yet such defects must not blind us to the general rightness of their
insight. They were protesting against a system strongly upheld on
grounds which now appear to have been simply indefensible. The business
of government had been made the private possession of a privileged
class; and eagerness for desirable change was, in the mass, absent from
the minds of most men engaged in its direction. The loss of America, the
heartless treatment of Ireland, the unconstitutional practices in the
Wilkes affair, the heightening of corruption undertaken by Henry Fox and
North at the direct instance of the king, had blinded the eyes of most
to the fact that principle is a vital part of policy. The revolutionists
recalled men to the need of explaining, no less than carrying on, the
government of the Crown. They represented the new sense of power felt by
elements of which the importance had been forgotten in the sordid
intrigues of the previous half-century. Their emphasis upon government
as in its nature a public trust was at least accompanied by a useful
reminder that, after all, ultimate power must rest upon the side of the
governed. For twenty years Whigs and Tories alike carried on political
controversy as though no public opinion existed outside the small circle
of the aristocracy. The mob which made Wilkes its idol was, in a blind
and unconscious way, enforcing the lesson that Price and Priestley had
in mind. For the moment, they were unsuccessful. Cartwright, with his
Constitutional Societies, might capture the support of an eccentric peer
like the Duke of Richmond; but the vast majority remained, if irritated,
unconvinced. It needed the realization that the new doctrines were part
of a vaster synthesis which swept within its purview the fortunes of
Europe and America before they would give serious heed; and even then
they met antagonism with nothing save oppression and hate. Yet the
doctrines remained; for thought, after all, is killed by reasoned answer
alone. And when the first gusts of war and revolution had passed, the
cause for which they stood was found to have permeated all classes save
that which had all to lose by learning.

We must not, however, commit the error of thinking of Price and
Priestley as representing more than an important segment of opinion. The
opposition to their theories was not less articulate than their own
defence of them. Some, like Burke, desired a purification of the
existing system; others, like Dr. Johnson, had no sort of sympathy with
new-fangled ideas. One thinker, at least, deserves some mention less for
the inherent value of what he had to say, than for the nature of the
opinions he expounded. Josiah Tucker, the Dean of Gloucester, has a
reputation alike in political and economic enquiry. He represents the
sturdy nationalism of Arbuthnot's _John Bull_, the unreasoned prejudice
against all foreigners, the hatred of all metaphysics as inconsistent
with common sense, the desire to let things be on the ground that the
effort after change is worse than the evil of which men complain. His
_Treatise on Civil Government_ (1781) is in many ways a delightful book,
bluff, hardy, full of common sense, with, at times, a quaint humor that
is all its own. He had really two objects in view; to deal, in the first
place, faithfully with the American problem, and, in the second, to
explode the new bubble of Rousseau's followers. The second point takes
the form of an examination of Locke, to whom, as Tucker shrewdly saw,
the theories of the school may trace their ancestry. He analyses the
theory of consent in such fashion as to show that if its adherents could
be persuaded to be logical, they would have to admit themselves
anarchists. He has no sympathy with the state of nature; the noble
savage, on investigation, turns out to be a barbaric creature with a
club and scalping knife. Government, he does not doubt, is a trust, or,
as he prefers, somewhat oddly, to call it, a quasi-contract; but that
does not mean that the actual governors can be dismissed when any
eccentric happens to take exception to their views. He has no sympathy
with parliamentary reform. Give the mob an increase of power, he says,
and nothing is to be expected but outrage and violence. He thinks the
constitution very well as it is, and those who preach the evils of
corruption ought to prove their charges instead of blasphemously
asserting that the voice of the people is the voice of God.

Upon America Tucker has doctrines all his own. He does not doubt that
the Americans deserve the worst epithets that can be showered upon them.
Their right to self-government he denied as stoutly as ever George III
himself could have desired. But not for one moment would he fight them
to compel their return to British allegiance. If the American colonies
want to go, let them by all means cut adrift. They are only a useless
source of expenditure. The trade they represent does not depend upon
allegiance but upon wants that England can supply if she keeps shop in
the proper way, if, that is, she makes it to their interest to buy in
her market. Indeed, colonies of all kinds seem to him quite useless.
They ever are, he says, and ever were, "a drain to and an incumbrance on
the Mother-country, requiring perpetual and expensive nursing in their
infancy, and becoming headstrong and ungovernable in proportion as they
grow up." All wise relations depend upon self-interest, and that needs
no compulsion. If Gibraltar and Port Mahon and the rest were given up,
the result would be "multitudes of places ... abolished, jobs and
contracts effectually prevented, millions of money saved, universal
industry encouraged, and the influence of the Crown reduced to that
mediocrity it ought to have." Here is pure Manchesterism half-a-century
before its time; and one can imagine the good Dean crustily explaining
his notions to the merchants of Bristol who had just rejected Edmund
Burke for advocating free trade with Ireland.

No word on Toryism would be complete without mention of Dr. Johnson.
Here, indeed, we meet less with opinion than with a set of gloomy
prejudices, acceptable only because of the stout honesty of the source
from which they come. He thought life a poor thing at the best and took
a low view of human nature. "The notion of liberty," he told the
faithful Boswell, "amuses the people of England and helps to keep off
the _tedium vitae_." The idea of a society properly organized into ranks
and societies he always esteemed highly. "I am a friend to
subordination," he said, "as most conducive to the happiness of
society." He was a Jacobite and Tory to the end. Whiggism was the
offspring of the devil, the "negation of all principle"; and he seems to
have implied that it led to atheism, which he regarded as the worst of
sins. He did not believe in the honesty of republicans; they levelled
down, but were never inclined to level up. Men, he felt, had a part to
act in society, and their business was to fulfil their allotted station.
Rousseau was a very bad man: "I would sooner sign a sentence for his
transportation than that of any fellow who has gone from the Old Bailey
these many years." Political liberty was worthless; the only thing worth
while was freedom in private concerns. He blessed the government in the
case of general warrants and thought the power of the Crown too small.
Toleration he considered due to an inapt distinction between freedom to
think and freedom to talk, and any magistrate "while he thinks himself
right ... ought to enforce what he thinks." The American revolt he
ascribed to selfish faction; and in his _Taxation no Tyranny_ (1775) he
defended the British government root and branch upon his favorite ground
of the necessity of subordination. He was willing, he said, to love all
mankind except an American.

Yet Dr. Johnson was the friend of Burke, and he found pleasure in an
acquaintance with Wilkes. Nor, in all his admiration for rank and
fortune, is there a single element of meanness. The man who wrote the
letter to Lord Chesterfield need never fear the charge of abasement. He
knew that there was "a remedy in human nature that will keep us safe
under every form of government." He defined a courtier in the _Idler_ as
one "whose business it is to watch the looks of a being weak and foolish
as himself." Much of what he felt was in part a revolt against the
sentimental aspect of contemporary liberalism, in part a sturdy contempt
for the talk of degeneracy that men such as Brown had made popular.
There is, indeed, in all his political observations a strong sense of
the virtue of order, and a perception that the radicalism of the time
was too abstract to provide an adequate basis for government. Here, as
elsewhere, Johnson hated all speculation which raised the fundamental
questions. What he did not see was the important truth that in no age
are fundamental questions raised save where the body politic is
diseased. Rousseau and Voltaire, even Priestley and Price, require
something more for answer than unreasoned prejudice. Johnson's attitude
would have been admirable where there were no questions to debate; but
where Pelham ruled, or Grenville, or North, it had nothing to
contribute. Thought, after all, is the one certain weapon of utility in
a different and complex world; and it was because the age refused to
look it in the face that it invited the approach of revolution.




It is the special merit of the English constitutional system that the
king stands outside the categories of political conflict. He is the
dignified emollient of an organized quarrel which, at least in theory,
is due to the clash of antagonistic principle. The merit, indeed, is
largely accidental; and we shall miss the real fashion in which it came
to be established unless we remark the vicissitudes through which it has
passed. The foreign birth of the first two Hanoverians, the insistent
widowhood of Queen Victoria, these rather than deliberate foresight have
secured the elevated nullification of the Crown. Yet the first
twenty-five years of George III's reign represent the deliberate effort
of an obstinate man to stem the progress of fifty years and secure once
more the balance of power. Nor was the effort defeated without a
struggle which went to the root of constitutional principle.

And George III attempted the realization of his ambition at a time
highly favorable to its success. Party government had lost much credit
during Walpole's administration. Men like Bolingbroke, Carteret and the
elder Pitt were all of them dissatisfied with a system which depended
for its existence upon the exclusion of able men from power. A
generation of corrupt practice and the final defeat of Stuart hopes had
already deprived the Whigs of any special hold on their past ideals.
They were divided already into factions the purpose of which was no more
than the avid pursuit of place and pension. Government by connection
proved itself irreconcilable with good government. But it showed also
that once corruption was centralized there was no limit to its
influence, granted only the absence of great questions. When George III
transferred that organization from the office of the minister to his own
court, there was already a tolerable certainty of his success. For more
than forty years the Tories had been excluded from office; and they
were more than eager to sell their support. The Church had become the
creature of the State. The drift of opinion in continental Europe was
towards benevolent despotism. The narrow, obstinate and ungenerous mind
of George had been fed on high notions of the power he might exert. He
had been taught the kingship of Bolingbroke's glowing picture; and a
reading in manuscript of the seventh chapter of Blackstone's first book
can only have confirmed the ideals he found there. Nor was it obvious
that a genuine kingship would have been worse than the oligarchy of the
great Whig families.

What made it worse, and finally impossible, was the character of the
king. The pathetic circumstances of his old age have combined somewhat
to obscure the viciousness of his maturity. He was excessively ignorant
and as obstinate as arbitrary. He trusted no one but himself, and he
totally misunderstood the true nature of his office. There is no
question which arose in the first forty years of his reign in which he
was not upon the wrong side and proud of his error. He was wrong about
Wilkes, wrong about America, wrong about Ireland, wrong about France. He
demanded servants instead of ministers. He attacked every measure for
the purification of the political system. He supported the Slave trade
and he opposed the repeal of the Test Act. He prevented the grant of
Catholic emancipation at the one moment when it might have genuinely
healed the wounds of Ireland. He destroyed by his perverse creations the
value of the House of Lords as a legislative assembly. He was clearly
determined to make his will the criterion of policy; and his design
might have succeeded had his ability and temper been proportionate to
its greatness. It was not likely that the mass of men would have seen
with regret the destruction of the aristocratic monopoly in politics.
The elder Pitt might well have based a ministry of the court upon a
broad bottom of popularity. The House of Commons, as the event proved,
could be as subservient to the king as to his minister.

Yet the design failed; and it failed because, with characteristic
stupidity, the king did not know the proper instruments for his
purpose. Whatever he touched he mismanaged. He aroused the suspicion of
the people by enforcing the resignation of the elder Pitt. In the Wilkes
affair he threw the clearest light of the century upon the true nature
of the House of Commons. His own system of proscription restored to the
Whig party not a little of the idealism it had lost; and Burke came to
supply them with a philosophy. Chatham remained the idol of the people
despite his hatred. He raised Wilkes to be the champion of
representative government and of personal liberty. He lost America and
it was not his fault that Ireland was retained. The early popularity he
received he never recovered until increasing years and madness had made
him too pathetic for dislike. The real result of his attempt was to
compel attention once again to the foundations of politics; and George's
effort, in the light of his immense failures, could not, in the nature
of things, survive that analysis.

Not, of course, that George ever lacked defenders. As early as 1761, the
old rival of Walpole, Pulteney, whom a peerage had condemned to
obsolescence, published his _Seasonable Hints from an Honest Man on the
new Reign_. Pulteney urged the sovereign no longer to be content with
the "shadow of royalty." He should use his "legal prerogatives" to check
"the illegal claims of factious oligarchy." Government had become the
private possession of a few powerful men. The king was but a puppet in
leading strings. The basis of government should be widened, for every
honest man was aware that distinctions of party were now merely nominal.
The Tories should be admitted to place. They were now friendly to the
accession and they no longer boasted their hostility to dissent. They
knew that Toleration and the Establishment were of the essence of the
Constitution. Were once the Whig oligarchy overthrown, corruption would
cease and Parliament could no longer hope to dominate the kingdom. "The
ministers," he said, "will depend on the Crown not the Crown on
ministers" if George but showed "his resolution to break all factitious
connections and confederacies." The tone is Bolingbroke's, and it was
the lesson George had insistently heard from early youth. How sinister
was the advice, men did not see until the elder Pitt was in political
exile, with Wilkes an outlaw, and general warrants threatening the whole
basis of past liberties.

The first writer who pointed out in unmistakable terms the meaning of
the new synthesis was Junius. That his anonymity concealed the malignant
talent of Sir Philip Francis seems now beyond denial. Junius, indeed,
can hardly claim a place in the history of political ideas. His genius
lay not in the discussion of principle but the dissection of
personality. His power lay in his style and the knowledge that enabled
him to inform the general public of facts which were the private
possession of the inner political circle. His mind was narrow and
pedantic. He stood with Grenville on American taxation; and he
maintained without perceiving what it meant that a nomination borough
was a freehold beyond the competence of the legislature to abolish. He
was never generous, always abusive, and truth did not enter into his
calculations. But he saw with unsurpassed clearness the nature of the
issue and he was a powerful instrument in the discomfiture of the king.
He won a new audience for political conflict and that audience was the
unenfranchised populace of England. His letters, moreover, appearing as
they did in the daily journals gave the press a significance in politics
which it has never lost. He made the significance of George's effort
known to the mass of men at a time when no other means of information
was at hand. The opposition was divided; the king's friends were in a
vast majority; the publication of debates was all but impossible.
English government was a secret conflict in which the entrance of
spectators was forbidden even though they were the subjects of debate.
It was the glory of Junius that he destroyed that system. Not even the
combined influence of the Crown and Commons, not even Lord Mansfield's
doctrine of the law of libel, could break the power of his vituperation
and Wilkes' courage. Bad men have sometimes been the instruments of
noble destiny; and there are few more curious episodes in English
history than the result of this alliance between revengeful hate and
insolent ambition.


Yet, in the long run, the real weapon which defeated George was the
ideas of Edmund Burke; for he gave to the political conflict its real
place in philosophy. There is no immortality save in ideas; and it was
Burke who gave a permanent form to the debate in which he was the
liberal protagonist. His career is illustrative at once of the merits
and defects of English politics in the eighteenth century. The son of an
Irish Protestant lawyer and a Catholic mother, he served, after learning
what Trinity College, Dublin, could offer him, a long apprenticeship to
politics in the upper part of Grub Street. The story that he applied,
along with Hume, for Adam Smith's chair at Glasgow seems apocryphal;
though the _Dissertation on the Sublime and the Beautiful_ (1756) shows
his singular fitness for the studies that Hutcheson had made the special
possession of the Scottish school. It was in Grub Street that he appears
to have attained that amazing amount of varied yet profound knowledge
which made him without equal in the House of Commons. His earliest
production was a _Vindication of Natural Society_ (1756), written in the
manner of Lord Bolingbroke, and successful enough in its imitative
satire not only to deceive its immediate public, but also to become the
basis of Godwin's _Political Justice_. After a vain attempt to serve in
Ireland with "Single-Speech" Hamilton, he became the private secretary
to Lord Rockingham, the leader of the one section of the Whig party to
which an honorable record still remained. That connection secured for
him a seat in Parliament at the comparatively late age of thirty-six;
and henceforward, until his death in 1797, he was among its leading
members. His intellectual pre-eminence, indeed, seems from the very
outset to have been recognized on all hands; though he was still, in the
eyes of the system, enough of an outsider to be given, in the short
months during which he held office, the minor office of
Paymaster-General, without a seat in the Cabinet. The man of whom all
England was the political pupil was denied without discussion a place at
the council board. Yet when Fox is little more than a memory of great
lovableness and Pitt a marvellous youth of apt quotations, Burke has
endured as the permanent manual of political wisdom without which
statesmen are as sailors on an uncharted sea.

For it has been the singular good fortune of Burke not merely to obtain
acceptance as the apostle of philosophic conservatism, but to give deep
comfort to men of liberal temper. He is, indeed, a singularly lovable
figure. "His stream of mind is perpetual," said Johnson; and Goldsmith
has told us how he wound his way into a subject like a serpent. Macaulay
thought him the greatest man since Milton, Lord Morley the "greatest
master of civil wisdom in our tongue." "No English writer," says Sir
Leslie Stephen, "has received or has deserved more splendid panegyrics."
Even when the last criticism has been made, detraction from these
estimates is impossible. It is easy to show how irritable and violent
was his temperament. There is evidence and to spare of the way in which
he allowed the spirit of party to cloud his judgment. His relations with
Lord Chatham give lamentable proof of the violence of his personal
antipathies. As an orator, his speeches are often turgid, wanting in
self-control, and full of those ample digressions in which Mr. Gladstone
delighted to obscure his principles. Yet the irritation did not conceal
a magnificent loyalty to his friends, and it was in his days of
comparative poverty that he shared his means with Barry and with Crabbe.
His alliance with Fox is the classic partnership in English politics,
unmarried, even enriched, by the tragedy of its close. He was never
guilty of mean ambition. He thought of nothing save the public welfare.
No man has ever more consistently devoted his energies to the service of
the nation with less regard for personal advancement. No English
statesman has ever more firmly moved amid a mass of details to the
principle they involve.

He was a member of no school of thought, and there is no influence to
whom his outlook can be directly traced. His politics, indeed, bear upon
their face the preoccupation with the immediate problems of the House of
Commons. Yet through them all the principles that emerge form a
consistent whole. Nor is this all. He hated oppression with all the
passion of a generous moral nature. He cared for the good as he saw it
with a steadfastness which Bright and Cobden only can claim to
challenge. What he had to say he said in sentences which form the maxims
of administrative wisdom. His horizon reached from London out to India
and America; and he cared as deeply for the Indian ryot's wrongs as for
the iniquities of English policy to Ireland. With less width of mind
than Hume and less intensity of gaze than Adam Smith, he yet had a width
and intensity which, fused with his own imaginative sympathy, gave him
more insight than either. He had an unerring eye for the eternal
principles of politics. He knew that ideals must be harnessed to an Act
of Parliament if they are not to cease their influence. Admitting while
he did that politics must rest upon expediency, he never failed to find
good reason why expediency should be identified with what he saw as
right. It is a stainless and a splendid record. There are men in English
politics to whom a greater immediate influence may be ascribed, just as
in political philosophy he cannot claim the persistent inspiration of
Hobbes and Locke. But in that middle ground between the facts and
speculation his supremacy is unapproached. There had been nothing like
him before in English politics; and in continental politics Royer
Collard alone has something of his moral fibre, though his practical
insight was far less profound. Hamilton had Burke's full grasp of
political wisdom, but he lacked his moral elevation. So that he remains
a figure of uniqueness. He may, as Goldsmith said, have expended upon
his party talents that should have illuminated the universal aspect of
the State. Yet there is no question with which he dealt that he did not
leave the richer for his enquiry.


The liberalism of Burke is most apparent in his handling of the
immediate issues of the age. Upon Ireland, America and India, he was at
every point upon the side of the future. Where constitutional reform was
in debate no man saw more clearly than he the evils that needed remedy;
though, to a later generation, his own schemes bear the mark of timid
conservatism. In the last decade of his life he encountered the greatest
cataclysm unloosed upon Europe since the Reformation, and it is not too
much to say that at every point he missed the essence of its meaning.
Yet even upon France and the English Constitution he was full of
practical sagacity. Had his warning been uttered without the fury of
hate that accompanied it, he might well have guided the forces of the
Revolution into channels that would have left no space for the military
dictatorship he so marvellously foresaw. Had he perceived the real evils
of the aristocratic monopoly against which he so eloquently inveighed,
forty barren years might well have been a fruitful epoch of wise and
continuous reform. But Burke was not a democrat, and, at bottom, he had
little regard for that popular sense of right which, upon occasion, he
was ready to praise. What impressed him was less the evils of the
constitution than its possibilities, could the defects quite alien from
its nature but be pruned away. Moments, indeed, there are of a deeper
vision, and it is not untrue to say that the best answer to Burke's
conservatism is to be found in his own pages. But he was too much the
apostle of order to watch with calm the struggles involved in the
overthrow of privilege. He had too much the sense of a Divine Providence
taking thought for the welfare of men to interfere with violence in his
handiwork. The tinge of caution is never absent, even from his most
liberal moments; and he was willing to endure great evil if it seemed
dangerous to estimate the cost of change.

His American speeches are the true text-book for colonial
administration. He put aside the empty plea of right which satisfied
legal pedants like George Grenville. What moved him was the tragic
fashion in which men clung to the shadow of a power they could not
maintain instead of searching for the roots of freedom. He never
concealed from himself that the success of America was bound up with the
maintenance of English liberties. "Armies," he said many years later,
"first victorious over Englishmen, in a conflict for English
constitutional rights and privileges, and afterwards habituated (though
in America) to keep an English people in a state of abject subjection,
would prove fatal in the end to the liberties of England itself." He had
firm hold of that insidious danger which belittles freedom itself in the
interest of curtailing some special desire. "In order to prove that the
Americans have no right to their liberties," he said in the famous
_Speech on Conciliation with America_ (1775), "we are every day
endeavoring to subvert the maxims which preserve the whole spirit of our
own." The way for the later despotism of the younger Pitt, was, as Burke
saw, prepared by those who persuaded Englishmen of the paltry character
of the American contest. His own receipt was sounder. In the _Speech on
American Taxation_ (1774) he had riddled the view that the fiscal
methods of Lord North were likely to succeed. The true method was to
find a way of peace. "Nobody shall persuade me," he told a hostile House
of Commons, "when a whole people are concerned that acts of lenity are
not means of conciliation." "Magnanimity in politics," he said in the
next year, "is not seldom the truest wisdom; and a great empire and
little minds go ill together." He did not know, in the most superb of
all his maxims, how to draw up an indictment against a whole people. He
would win the colonies by binding them to England with the ties of
freedom. "The question with me," he said, "is not whether you have a
right to render your people miserable, but whether it is not your
interest to make them happy." The problem, in fact, was one not of
abstract right but of expediency; and nothing could be lost by
satisfying American desire. Save for Johnson and Gibbon, that was
apparent to every first-class mind in England. But the obstinate king
prevailed; and Burke's great protest remained no more than material for
the legislation of the future. Yet it was something that ninety years
after his speech the British North America Act should have given his
dreams full substance.

Ireland had always a place apart in Burke's affections, and when he
first entered the House of Commons he admitted that uppermost in his
thoughts was the desire to assist its freedom. He saw that here, as in
America, no man will be argued into slavery. A government which defied
the fundamental impulses of men was bound to court disaster. How could
it seek security where it defied the desires of the vast majority of its
subjects? Why is the Irish Catholic to have less justice than the
Catholic of Quebec or the Indian Mohammedan? The system of Protestant
control, he said in the _Letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe_ (1792), was
"well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a
people, and the debasement in them of human nature itself." The
Catholics paid their taxes; they served with glory in the army and navy.
Yet they were denied a share in the commonwealth. "Common sense," he
said, "and common justice dictate ... some sort of compensation to a
people for their slavery." The British Constitution was not made "for
great, general and proscriptive exclusions; sooner or later it will
destroy them, or they will destroy the constitution." The argument that
the body of Catholics was prone to sedition was no reason to oppress
them. "No man will assert seriously," he said, "that when people are of
a turbulent spirit the best way to keep them in order is to furnish them
with something to complain of." The advantages of subjects were, as he
urged, their right; and a wise government would regard "all their
reasonable wishes as so many claims." To neglect them was to have a
nation full of uneasiness; and the end was bound to be disaster.

There is nothing more noble in Burke's career than his long attempt to
mitigate the evils of Company rule in India. Research may well have
shown that in some details he pressed the case too far; yet nothing has
so far come to light to cast doubt upon the principles he there
maintained. He was the first English statesman fully to understand the
moral import of the problem of subject races; and if he did not make
impossible the Joseph Sedleys of the future, at least he flung an
eternal challenge to their malignant complacency. He did not ask the
abandonment of British dominion in India, though he may have doubted the
wisdom of its conquest. All that he insisted upon was this, that in
imperial adventure the conquering race must abide by a moral code. A
lie was a lie whether its victim be black or white. The European must
respect the powers and rights of the Hindu as he would be compelled by
law to respect them in his own State. "If we are not able," he said, "to
contrive some method of governing India well which will not of necessity
become the means of governing Great Britain ill, a ground is laid for
their eternal separation, but none for sacrificing the people of that
country to our constitution." England must be in India for India's
benefit or not at all; political power and commercial monopoly such as
the East India Company enjoyed could be had only insofar as they are
instruments of right and not of violence. The Company's system was the
antithesis of this. "There is nothing," he said in a magnificent
passage, "before the eyes of the natives but an endless, hopeless
prospect of new flights of birds of prey and passage, with appetites
continually renewing for a food that is continually wasting." Sympathy
with the native, regard for his habits and wants, the Company's servants
failed to display. "The English youth in India drink the intoxicating
draught of authority and dominion before their heads are able to bear
it, and as they are full grown in fortune long before they are ripe in
principle, neither nature nor reason have any opportunity to exert
themselves for the excesses of their premature power. The consequences
of their conduct, which in good minds (and many of theirs are probably
such) might produce penitence or amendment, are unable to pursue the
rapidity of their flight. Their prey is lodged in England; and the cries
of India are given to seas and winds to be blown about in every breaking
up of the monsoon over a remote and unhearing ocean." More than a
century was to pass before the wisest of Burke's interpreters attempted
the translation of his maxims into statute. But there has never, in any
language, been drawn a clearer picture of the danger implicit in
imperial adventure. "The situation of man," said Burke, "is the
preceptor of his duty." He saw how a nation might become corrupted by
the spoils of other lands. He knew that cruelty abroad is the parent of
a later cruelty at home. Men will complain of their wrongdoing in the
remoter empire; and imperialism will employ the means Burke painted in
unforgettable terms in his picture of Paul Benfield. He denied that the
government of subject races can be regarded as a commercial transaction.
Its problem was not to secure dividends but to accomplish moral benefit.
He abhorred the politics of prestige. He knew the difficulties involved
in administering distant territories, the ignorance and apathy of the
public, the consequent erosion of responsibility, the chance that wrong
will fail of discovery. But he did not shrink from his conclusion. "Let
us do what we please," he said, "to put India from our thoughts, we can
do nothing to separate it from our public interest and our national
reputation." That is a general truth not less in Africa and China than
in India itself. The main thought in Burke's mind was the danger lest
colonial dominion become the breeding-ground of arbitrary ideas. That
his own safeguards were inadequate is clear enough at the present time.
He knew that the need was good government. He did not nor could he
realize how intimately that ideal was connected with self-government.
Yet the latest lesson is no more than the final outcome of his teaching.


A background so consistent as this in the inflexible determination to
moralize political action resulted in a noble edifice. Yet, through it
all, the principles of policy are rather implied than admitted. It was
when he came to deal with domestic problems and the French Revolution
that Burke most clearly showed the real trend of his thought. That trend
is unmistakable. Burke was a utilitarian who was convinced that what was
old was valuable by the mere fact of its arrival at maturity. The State
appeared to him an organic compound that came but slowly to its full
splendour. It was easy to destroy; creation was impossible. Political
philosophy was nothing for him but accurate generalization from
experience; and he held the presumption to be against novelty. While he
did not belittle the value of reason, he was always impressed by the
immense part played by prejudice in the determination of policy. He had
no doubt that property was a rightful index to power; and to disturb
prescription seemed to him the opening of the flood gates. Nor must we
miss the religious aspect of his philosophy. He never doubted that
religion was the foundation of the English State. "Englishmen," he said
in the _Reflections on the French Revolution_ (1790), "know, and what is
better, we feel inwardly, that religion is the basis of civil society
and the source of all good and of all comfort." The utterance is
characteristic, not merely in its depreciation of reason, but in its
ultimate reliance upon a mystic explanation of social facts. Nothing was
more alien from Burke's temper than deductive thinking in politics. The
only safeguard he could find was in empiricism.

This hatred of abstraction is, of course, the basis of his earliest
publication; but it remained with him to the end. He would not discuss
America in terms of right. "I do not enter into these metaphysical
distinctions," he said in the _Speech on American Taxation_, "I hate the
very sound of them." "One sure symptom of an ill-conducted state," he
wrote in the _Reflections_, "is the propensity of the people to resort
to theories." "It is always to be lamented," he said in a _Speech on the
Duration of Parliament_, "when men are driven to search into the
foundations of the commonwealth." The theory of a social contract he
declared "at best a confusion of judicial with civil principles," and he
found no sense in the doctrine of popular sovereignty. "The lines of
morality," he said in the _Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs_ (1791),
"are not like ideal lines of mathematics. They are broad and deep as
well as long. They admit of exceptions; they demand modifications. These
exceptions and modifications are made, not by the process of logic but
by the rules of prudence. Prudence is not only first in rank of the
virtues political and moral, but she is the director, the regulator, the
standard of them all." Nor did he hesitate to draw the obvious
conclusion. "This," he said, "is the true touchstone of all theories
which regard man and the affairs of men--does it suit his nature in
general, does it suit his nature as modified by his habits?"

Of the truth of this general attitude it is difficult to make denial.
But when Burke came to apply it to the British Constitution the "rules
of prudence" he was willing to admit are narrow enough to cause
surprised enquiry. He did not doubt that the true end of a legislature
was "to give a direction, a form, a technical dress ... to the general
sense of the community"; he admitted that popular revolt is so much the
outcome of suffering that in any dispute between government and people,
the presumption is at least equal in the latter's favor. He urged the
acceptance of Grenville's bill for improving the method of decision upon
disputed elections. He made a magnificent defence of the popular cause
in the Middlesex election. He was in favor of the publication of
parliamentary debates and of the voting lists in divisions. He supported
almost with passion the ending of that iniquitous system by which the
enfranchisement of revenue officers gave government a corrupt reservoir
of electoral support. His _Speech on Economical Reform_ (1780) was the
prelude to a nobly-planned and successful attack upon the waste of the
Civil list.

Yet beyond these measures Burke could never be persuaded to go. He was
against the demand for shorter Parliaments on the excellent ground that
the elections would be more corrupt and the Commons less responsible. He
opposed the remedy of a Place Bill for the good and sufficient reason
that it gave the executive an interest against the legislature. He would
not, as in the great speech at Bristol (1774), accept the doctrine that
a member of Parliament was a mere delegate of his constituents rather
than a representative of his own convictions. "Government and
legislation," he said, "are matters of reason and of judgment"; and once
the private member had honorably arrived at a decision which he thought
was for the interest of the whole community, his duty was done. All
this, in itself, is unexceptionable; and it shows Burke's admirable
grasp of the practical application of attractive theories to the event.
But it is to be read in conjunction with a general hostility to basic
constitutional change which is more dubious. He had no sympathy with the
Radicals. "The bane of the Whigs," he said, "has been the admission
among them of the corps of schemers ... who do us infinite mischief by
persuading many sober and well-meaning people that we have designs
inconsistent with the Constitution left us by our forefathers." "If the
nation at large," he wrote in another letter, "has disposition enough to
oppose all bad principles and all bad men, its form of government is, in
my opinion, fully sufficient for it; but if the general disposition be
against a virtuous and manly line of public conduct, there is no form
into which it can be thrown that will improve its nature or add to its
energy"; and in the same letter he foreshadows a possible retirement
from the House of Commons as a protest against the growth of radical
opinion in his party. He resisted every effort to reduce the suffrage
qualification. He had no sympathy with the effort either to add to the
county representation or to abolish the rotten boroughs. The framework
of the parliamentary system seemed to him excellent. He deplored all
criticism of Parliament, and even the discussion of its essentials. "Our
representation," he said, "is as nearly perfect as the necessary
imperfections of human affairs and of human creatures will suffer it to
be." It was in the same temper that he resisted all effort at the
political relief of the Protestant dissenters. "The machine itself," he
had said, "is well enough to answer any good purpose, provided the
materials were sound"; and he never moved from that opinion.

Burke's attitude was obsolete even while he wrote; yet the
suggestiveness of his very errors makes examination of their ground
important. Broadly, he was protesting against natural right in the name
of expediency. His opponents argued that, since men are by nature equal,
it must follow that they have an equal right to self-government. To
Burke, the admission of this principle would have meant the overthrow of
the British constitution. Its implication was that every institution not
of immediate popular origin should be destroyed. To secure their ends,
he thought, the radicals were compelled to preach the injustice of those
institutions and thus to injure that affection for government upon which
peace and security depend. Here was an effort to bring all institutions
to the test of logic which he thought highly dangerous. "No rational man
ever did govern himself," he said, "by abstractions and universals." The
question for him was not the abstract rightness of the system upon some
set of _a priori_ principles but whether, on the whole, that system
worked for the happiness of the community. He did not doubt that it did;
and to overthrow a structure so nobly tested by the pressure of events
in favor of some theories outside historic experience seemed to him
ruinous to society. Government, for him, was the general harmony of
diverse interests; and the continual adjustments and exquisite
modifications of which it stood in need were admirably discovered in the
existing system. Principles were thus unimportant compared to the
problem of their application. "The major," he said of all political
premises, "makes a pompous figure in the battle, but the victory depends
upon the little minor of circumstances."

To abstract natural right he therefore opposed prescription. The
presumption of wisdom is on the side of the past, and when we change,
we act at our peril. "Prescription," he said in 1782, "is the most solid
of all titles, not only to property, but to what is to secure that
property, to government." Because he saw the State organically he was
impressed by the smallness both of the present moment and the
individual's thought. It is built upon the wisdom of the past for "the
species is wise, and when time is given to it, as a species it almost
always acts right." And since it is the past alone which has had the
opportunity to accumulate this rightness our disposition should be to
preserve all ancient things. They could not be without a reason; and
that reason is grounded upon ancestral experience. So the prescriptive
title becomes "not the creature, but the master, of positive law ... the
soundest, the most general and the most recognized title between man and
man that is known in municipal or public jurisprudence." It is by
prescription that he defends the existence of Catholicism in Ireland not
less than the supposed deformities of the British Constitution. So, too,
his main attack on atheism is its implication that "everything is to be
discussed." He does not say that all which is has rightness in it; but
at least he urges that to doubt it is to doubt the construction of a
past experience which built according to the general need. Nor does he
doubt the chance that what he urges may be wrong. Rather does he insist
that at least it gives us security, for him the highest good. "Truth,"
he said, "may be far better ... but as we have scarcely ever that
certainty in the one that we have in the other, I would, unless the
truth were evident indeed, hold fast to peace, which has in her company
charity, the highest of the virtues."

Such a philosophy, indeed, so barely stated, would seem a defence of
political immobility; but Burke attempted safeguards against that
danger. His insistence upon the superior value of past experience was
balanced by a general admission that particular circumstances must
always govern the immediate decision. "When the reason of old
establishments is gone," he said in his _Speech on Economical Reform_,
"it is absurd to preserve nothing but the burden of them." "A
disposition to preserve and an ability to improve," he wrote in the
_Reflections on the French Revolution_, "taken together would be my
standard of a statesman." But that "ability to improve" conceals two
principles of which Burke never relaxed his hold. "All the reformations
we have hitherto made," he said, "have proceeded upon the principle of
reference to antiquity"; and the _Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs_,
which is the most elaborate exposition of his general attitude, proceeds
upon the general basis that 1688 is a perpetual model for the future.
Nor is this all. "If I cannot reform with equity," said Burke, "I will
not reform at all"; and equity seems here to mean a sacrifice of the
present and its passionate demands to the selfish errors of past policy.

Burke, indeed, was never a democrat, and that is the real root of his
philosophy. He saw the value of the party-system, and he admitted the
necessity of some degree of popular representation. But he was entirely
satisfied with current Whig principles, could they but be purged of
their grosser deformities. He knew too well how little reason is wont to
enter into the formation of political opinion to make the sacrifice of
innovation to its power. He saw so much of virtue in the old order, that
he insisted upon the equation of virtue with quintessence. Men of great
property and position using their influence as a public trust, delicate
in their sense of honor, and acting only from motives of right--these
seemed to him the men who should with justice exercise political power.
He did not doubt that "there is no qualification for government but
virtue and wisdom ... wherever they are actually found, they have, in
whatever state, condition, profession or trade, the passport to heaven";
but he is careful to dissociate the possibility that they can be found
in those who practice the mechanical arts. He did not mean that his
aristocracy should govern without response to popular demand. He had no
objection to criticism, nor to the public exercise of government. There
was no reason even for agreement, so long as each party was guided by an
honorable sense of the public good. This, so he urged, was the system
which underlay the temporary evils of the British Constitution. An
aristocracy delegated to do its work by the mass of men was the best
form of government his imagination could conceive. It meant that
property must be dominant in the system of government, that, while
office should be open to all, it should be out of the reach of most.
"The characteristic essence of property," he wrote in the _Reflections_,
"... is to be unequal"; and he thought the perpetuation of that
inequality by inheritance "that which tends most to the perpetuation of
society itself." The system was difficult to maintain, and it must be
put out of the reach of popular temptation. "Our constitution," he said
in the _Present Discontents_, "stands on a nice equipoise, with sharp
precipices and deep waters on all sides of it. In removing it from a
dangerous leaning towards one side, there may be a danger towards
oversething it on the other." In straining, that is to say, after too
large a purification, we may end with destruction. And Burke, of course,
was emphatic upon the need that property should be undisturbed. It was
always, he thought, at a great disadvantage in any struggle with
ability; and there are many passages in which he urges the consequent
special representation which the adequate defence of property requires.

The argument, at bottom, is common to all thinkers over-impressed by the
sanctity of past experience. Hegel and Savigny in Germany, Taine and
Renan in France, Sir Henry Maine and Lecky in England, have all urged
what is in effect a similar plea. We must not break what Bagehot called
the cake of custom, for men have been trained to its digestion, and new
food breeds trouble. Laws are the offspring of the original genius of a
people, and while we may renovate, we must not unduly reform. The true
idea of national development is always latent in the past experience of
the race and it is from that perpetual spring alone that wisdom can be
drawn. We render obedience to what is with effortless unconsciousness;
and without this loyalty to inherited institutions the fabric of society
would be dissolved. Civilization, in fact, depends upon the performance
of actions defined in preconceived channels; and if we obeyed those novel
impulses of right which seem, at times, to contradict our inheritance,
we should disturb beyond repair the intricate equilibrium of countless
ages. The experience of the past rather than the desires of the present
is thus the true guide to our policy. "We ought," he said in a famous
sentence, "to venerate where we are unable presently to comprehend."

It is easy to see why a mind so attuned recoiled from horror at the
French Revolution. There is something almost sinister in the destiny
which confronted Burke with the one great spectacle of the eighteenth
century which he was certain not merely to misunderstand but also to
hate. He could not endure the most fragmentary change in tests of
religious belief; and the Revolution swept overboard the whole religious
edifice. He would not support the abolition even of the most flagrant
abuses in the system of representation; and he was to see in France an
overthrow of a monarchy even more august in its prescriptive rights than
the English Parliament. Privileges were scattered to the winds in a
single night. Peace was sacrificed to exactly those metaphysical
theories of equality and justice which he most deeply abhorred. The
doctrine of progress found an eloquent defender in that last and
noblest utterance of Condorcet which is still perhaps its most perfect
justification. On all hands there was the sense of a new world built by
the immediate thought of man upon the wholehearted rejection of past
history. Politics was emphatically declared to be a system of which the
truths could be stated in terms of mathematical certainty. The religious
spirit which Burke was convinced lay at the root of good gave way before
a general scepticism which, from the outset of his life, he had declared
incompatible with social order. Justice was asserted to be the centre of
social right; and it was defined as the overthrow of those prescriptive
privileges which Burke regarded as the protective armour of the body
politic. Above all, the men who seized the reins of power became
convinced that theirs was a specific of universal application. Their
disciples in England seemed in the same diabolic frenzy with themselves.
In a moment of time, the England which had been the example to Europe of
ordered popular liberty became, for these enthusiasts, only less
barbaric than the despotic princes of the continent. That Price and
Priestley should suffer the infection was, even for Burke, a not
unnatural thing. But when Charles Fox cast aside the teaching of twenty
years for its antithesis, Burke must have felt that no price was too
great to pay for the overthrow of the Revolution.

Certainly his pamphlets on events in France are at every point
consistent with his earlier doctrine. The charge that he supported the
Revolution in America and deserted it in France is without meaning; for
in the one there is no word that can honorably be twisted to support the
other. And when we make allowances for the grave errors of personal
taste, the gross exaggeration, the inability to see the Revolution as
something more than a single point in time, it becomes obvious enough
that his criticism, de Maistre's apart, is by far the soundest we
possess from the generation which knew the movement as a living thing.
The attempt to produce an artificial equality upon which he seized as
the essence of the Revolution was, as Mirabeau was urging in private to
the king, the inevitable precursor of dictatorship. He realized that
freedom is born of a certain spontaneity for which the rigid lines of
doctrinaire thinkers left no room. That worship of symmetrical form
which underlies the constitutional experiments of the next few years he
exposed in a sentence which has in it the essence of political wisdom.
"The nature of man is intricate"; he wrote in the _Reflections_, "the
objects of society are of the greatest possible complexity; and
therefore no simple disposition or direction of power can be suitable
either to man's nature or to the quality of his affairs." The note
recurs in substance throughout his criticism. Much of its application,
indeed, will not stand for one moment the test of inquiry; as when, for
instance, he correlates the monarchical government of France with the
English constitutional system and extols the perpetual virtues of 1688.
The French made every effort to find the secret of English principles,
but the roots were absent from their national experience.

A year after the publication of the _Reflections_ he himself perceived
the narrowness of that judgment. In the _Thoughts on French Affairs_
(1791) he saw that the essence of the Revolution was its foundation in
theoretic dogma. It was like nothing else in the history of the world
except the Reformation; which last event it especially resembles in its
genius for self-propagation. Herein he has already envisaged the
importance of that "_patrie intellectuelle_" which Tocqueville
emphasized as born of the Revolution. That led Burke once again to
insist upon the peculiar genius of each separate state, the difficulties
of a change, the danger of grafting novelties upon an ancient fabric. He
saw the certainty that in adhering to an abstract metaphysical scheme
the French were in truth omitting human nature from their political
equation; for general ideas can find embodiment in institutional forms
only after they have been moulded by a thousand varieties of
circumstance. The French created an universal man not less destructive
of their practical sagacity than the Frankenstein of the economists.
They omitted, as Burke saw, the elements which objective experience must
demand; with the result that, despite themselves, they came rather to
destroy than to fulfil. Napoleon, as Burke prophesied, reaped the
harvest of their failure.

Nor was he less right in his denunciation of that distrust of the past
which played so large a part in the revolutionary consciousness. "We are
afraid," he wrote in the _Reflections_, "to put men to live and trade
each on his own private stock of reason, because we suspect that this
stock in each man is small, and that the individuals would do better to
avail themselves of the general bank and capital of nations and of
ages." Of Siéyès' building constitutions overnight, this is no unfair
picture; but it points a more general truth never long absent from
Burke's mind. Man is for him so much the creature of prejudice, so much
a mosaic of ancestral tradition, that the chance of novel thought
finding a peaceful place among his institutions is always small. For
Burke, thought is always at the service of the instincts, and these lie
buried in the remote experience of the state. So that men like
Robespierre were asking from their subjects an impossible task. That
which they had conceived in the gray abstractness of their speculations
was too little related to what the average Frenchman knew and desired to
be enduring. Burke looks with sober admiration at the way in which the
English revolution related itself at every point to ideas and theories
with which the average man was as familiar as with the physical
landmarks of his own neighborhood. For the motives which underlie all
human effort are, he thought, sufficiently constant to compel regard.
That upon which they feed submits to change; but the effort is slow and
the disappointments many. The Revolution taught the populace the thirst
for power. But it failed to remember that sense of continuity in human
effort without which new constructions are built on sand. The power it
exercised lacked that horizon of the past through which alone it suffers
limitation to right ends.

The later part of Burke's attack upon the Revolution does not belong to
political philosophy. No man is more responsible than he for the temper
which drew England into war. He came to write rather with the zeal of a
fanatic waging a holy war than in the temper of a statesman confronted
with new ideas. Yet even the _Letters on a Regicide Peace_ (1796) have
flashes of the old, incomparable insight; and they show that even in the
midst of his excesses he did not war for love of it. So that it is
permissible to think he did not lightly pen those sentences on peace
which stand as oases of wisdom in a desert of extravagant rhetoric. "War
never leaves where it found a nation," he wrote, "it is never to be
entered upon without mature deliberation." That was a lesson his
generation had still to learn; nor did it take to heart the even nobler
passage that follows. "The blood of man," he said, "should never be shed
but to redeem the blood of man. It is well shed for our family, for our
friends, for our God, for our country, for mankind. The rest is vanity;
the rest is crime." It is perhaps the most tragic wrong in that
century's history that these words were written to justify an effort of
which they supply an irrefutable condemnation.


Criticism of Burke's theories can be made from at least two angles. It
is easy to show that his picture of the British Constitution was remote
from the facts even when he wrote. Every change that he opposed was
essential to the security of the next generation; and there followed
none of the disastrous consequences he had foreshadowed. Such criticism
would be at almost every point just; and yet it would fail to touch the
heart of Burke's position. What is mainly needed is analysis at once of
his omissions and of the underlying assumptions of what he wrote. Burke
came to his maturity upon the eve of the Industrial Revolution; and we
have it upon the authority of Adam Smith himself that no one had so
clearly apprehended his own economic principles. Yet there is no word in
what Burke had to say of their significance. The vast agrarian changes
of the time contained, as it appears, no special moment even for him who
burdened himself unduly to restore the Beaconsfield estate. No man was
more eager than he that the public should be admitted to the mysteries
of political debate; yet he steadfastly refused to draw the obvious
inference that once the means of government were made known those who
possessed the knowledge would demand their share in its application. He
did not see that the metaphysics he so profoundly distrusted was itself
the offspring of that contemptible worship of expediency which
Blackstone generalized into a legalistic jargon. Men never move to the
adumbration of general right until the conquest of political rights has
been proved inadequate. That Burke himself may be said in a sense to
have seen when he insisted upon the danger of examining the foundations
of the State. Yet a man who refuses to admit that the constant
dissatisfaction with those foundations his age expressed is the
expression of serious ill in the body politic is wilfully blind to the
facts at issue. No one had more faithfully than Burke himself explained
why the Whig oligarchy was obsolete; yet nothing would induce him ever
to realize that the alternative to aristocratic government is democracy
and that its absence was the cause of that disquiet of which he realized
that Wilkes was but the symptom.

Broadly, that is to say, Burke would not realize that the reign of
political privilege was drawing to its close. That is the real meaning
of the French Revolution and therein it represents a stream of tendency
not less active in England than abroad. In France, indeed, the lines
were more sharply drawn than elsewhere. The rights men craved were not,
as Burke insisted, the immediate offspring of metaphysic fancy, but the
result of a determination to end the malignant wrong of centuries. A
power that knew no responsibility, war and intolerance that derived only
from the accidental caprice of the court, arrest that bore no relation
to offence, taxation inversely proportionate to the ability to pay,
these were the prescriptive privileges that Burke invited his generation
to accept as part of the accumulated wisdom of the past. It is not
difficult to see why those who swore their oath in the tennis-court at
Versailles should have felt such wisdom worthy to be condemned. Burke's
caution was for them the timidity of one who embraces existent evils
rather than fly to the refuge of an accessible good. In a less degree,
the same is true of England. The constitution that Burke called upon
men to worship was the constitution which made the Duke of Bedford
powerful, that gave no representation to Manchester and a member to Old
Sarum, which enacted the game laws and left upon the statute-book a
penal code which hardly yielded to the noble attack of Romilly. These,
which were for Burke merely the accidental excrescences of a noble
ideal, were for them its inner essence; and where they could not reform
they were willing to destroy.

The revolutionary spirit, in fact, was as much the product of the past
as the very institutions it came to condemn. The innovations were the
inevitable outcome of past oppression. Burke refused to see that aspect
of the picture. He ascribed to the crime of the present what was due to
the half-wilful errors of the past. The man who grounded his faith in
historic experience refused to admit as history the elements alien from
his special outlook. He took that liberty not to venerate where he was
unable to comprehend which he denied to his opponents. Nor did he admit
the uses to which his doctrine of prescription was bound to be put in
the hands of selfish and unscrupulous men. No one will object to
privilege for a Chatham; but privilege for the Duke of Grafton is a
different thing, and Burke's doctrine safeguards the innumerable men of
whom Grafton is the type in the hope that by happy accident some Chatham
will one day emerge. He justifies the privileges of the English Church
in the name of religious well-being; but it is difficult to see what men
like Watson or Archbishop Cornwallis have got to do with religion. The
doctrine of prescription might be admirable if all statesmen were so
wise as Burke; but in the hands of lesser men it becomes no more than
the protective armour of vested interests into the ethics of which it
refuses us leave to examine.

That suspicion of thought is integral to Burke's philosophy, and it
deserves more examination than it has received. In part it is a
rejection of the Benthamite position that man is a reasoning animal. It
puts its trust in habit as the chief source of human action; and it
thus is distrustful of thought as leading into channels to which the
nature of man is not adapted. Novelty, which is assumed to be the
outcome of thought, it regards as subversive of the routine upon which
civilization depends. Thought is destructive of peace; and it is argued
that we know too little of political phenomena to make us venture into
the untried places to which thought invites us. Yet the first of many
answers is surely the most obvious fact that if man is so much the
creature of his custom no reason would prevail save where they proved
inadequate. If thought is simply a reserve power in society, its
strength must obviously depend upon common acceptance; and that can only
come when some routine has failed to satisfy the impulses of men. But we
may urge a difficulty that is even more decisive. No system of habits
can ever hope to endure long in a world where the cumulative power of
memory enables change to be so swift; and no system of habits can endure
at all unless its underlying idea represents the satisfaction of a
general desire. It must, that is to say, make rational appeal; and,
indeed, as Aristotle said, it can have virtue only to the point where it
is conscious of itself. The uncritical routine of which Burke is the
sponsor would here deprive the mass of men of virtue. Yet in modern
civilization the whole strength of any custom depends upon exactly that
consciousness of right which Burke restricted to his aristocracy. Our
real need is less the automatic response to ancient stimulus than power
to know what stimulus has social value. We need, that is to say, the
gift of criticism rather than the gift of inert acceptance. Not, of
course, that the habits which Burke so earnestly admired are at all part
of our nervous endowment in any integral sense. The short space of the
French Revolution made the habit of thinking in terms of progress an
essential part of our intellectual inheritance; and where the Burkian
school proclaims how exceptional progress has been in history, we take
that as proof of the ease with which essential habit may be acquired.
Habit, in fact, without philosophy destroys the finer side of civilized
life. It may leave a stratum to whom its riches have been discovered;
but it leaves the mass of men soulless automata without spontaneous
response to the chords struck by another hand.

Burke's answer would, of course, have been that he was not a democrat.
He did not trust the people and he rated their capacity as low. He
thought of the people--it was obviously a generalization from his
time--as consistently prone to disorder and checked only by the force of
ancient habit. Yet he has himself supplied the answer to that attitude.
"My observation," he said in his _Speech on the East India Bill_, "has
furnished me with nothing that is to be found in any habits of life or
education which tends wholly to disqualify men for the functions of
government." We can go further than that sober caution. We know that
there is one technique only capable of securing good government and that
is the training of the mass of men to interest in it. We know that no
State can hope for peace in which large types of experience are without
representation. Indeed, if proof were here wanting, an examination of
the eighteenth century would supply it. Few would deny that statesmen
are capable of disinterested sacrifice for classes of whose inner life
they are ignorant; yet the relation between law and the interest of the
dominant class is too intimate to permit with safety the exclusion of a
part of the State from sharing in its guidance. Nor did Burke remember
his own wise saying that "in all disputes between the people and their
rulers the presumption is at least upon a par in favor of the people";
and he quotes with agreement that great sentence of Sully's which traces
popular violence to popular suffering. No one can watch the economic
struggles of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries or calculate the
pain they have involved to humble men, without admitting that they
represent the final protest of an outraged mind against oppression too
intolerable to be borne. Burke himself, as his own speeches show, knew
little or nothing of the pain involved in the agrarian changes of his
age. The one way to avoid violent outbreak is not exclusion of the
people from power but their participation in it. The popular sense of
right may often, as Aristotle saw, be wiser than the opinion of
statesmen. It is not necessary to equate the worth of untrained
commonsense with experienced wisdom to suggest that, in the long run,
neglect of common sense will make the effort of that wisdom fruitless.

This, indeed, is to take the lowest ground. For the case against Burke's
aristocracy has a moral aspect with which he did not deal. He did not
inquire by what right a handful of men were to be hereditary governors
of a whole people. Expediency is no answer to the question, for Bentham
was presently to show how shallow was that basis of consent. Once it is
admitted that the personality of men is entitled to respect
institutional room must be found for its expression. The State is
morally stunted where their powers go undeveloped. There is something
curious here in Burke's inability to suspect deformity in a system which
gave his talents but partial place. He must have known that no one in
the House of Commons was his equal. He must have known how few of those
he called upon to recognize the splendor of their function were capable
of playing the part he pictured for them. The answer to a morally
bankrupt aristocracy is surely not the overwhelming effort required in
its purification when the plaintiff is the people; for the mere fact
that the people is the plaintiff is already evidence of its fitness for
power. Burke gave no hint of how the level of his governing class could
be maintained. He said nothing of what education might accomplish for
the people. He did not examine the obvious consequences of their
economic status. Had his eyes not been obscured by passion the work of
that States-General the names in which appeared to him so astonishing in
their inexperience, might have given him pause. The "obscure provincial
advocates ... stewards of petty local jurisdictions ... the fomenters
and conductors of the petty war of village vexation" legislated, out of
their inexperience, for the world. Their resolution, their constancy,
their high sense of the national need, were precisely the qualities
Burke demanded in his governing class; and the States-General did not
move from the straight path he laid down until they met with intrigue
from those of whom Burke became the licensed champion.

Nor is it in the least clear that his emphasis upon expediency is, in
any real way, a release from metaphysical inquiry. Rather may it be
urged that what was needed in Burke's philosophy was the clear avowal
of the metaphysic it implied. Nothing is more greatly wanted in
political inquiry than discovery of that "intuition more subtle than any
articulate major premise" which, as Mr. Justice Holmes has said, is the
true foundation of so many of our political judgments. The theory of
natural rights upon which Burke heaped such contempt was wrong rather in
its form than in its substance. It clearly suffered from its mistaken
effort to trace to an imaginary state of nature what was due to a
complex experience. It suffered also from its desire to lay down
universal formulæ. It needed to state the rights demanded in terms of
the social interests they involved rather than in the abstract ethic
they implied. But the demands which underlay the thought of men like
Price and Priestley was as much the offspring of experience as Burke's
own doctrine. They made, indeed, the tactical mistake of seeking to give
an unripe philosophic form to a political strategy wherein, clearly
enough, Burke was their master. But no one can read the answers of Paine
and Mackintosh, who both were careful to avoid the panoply of
metaphysics, to the _Reflections_, without feeling that Burke failed
to move them from their main position. Expediency may be admirable in
telling the statesmen what to do; but it does not explain the sources of
his ultimate act, nor justify the thing finally done. The unconscious
deeps which lie beneath the surface of the mind are rarely less urgent
than the motives that are avowed. Action is less their elimination than
their index; and we must penetrate within their recesses before we have
the full materials for judgment.

Considered in this fashion, the case for natural rights is surely
unanswerable. The things that men desire correspond, in some rough
fashion, to the things they need. Natural rights are nothing more than
the armour evolved to protect their vital interests. Upon the narrow
basis of legal history it is, of course, impossible to protect them.
History is rather the record of the thwarting of human desire than of
its achievement. But upon the value of certain things there is a
sufficient and constant opinion to give us assurance that repression
will ultimately involve disorder. Nor is there any difference between
the classes of men in this regard. Forms, indeed, will vary; and the
power we have of answering demand will always wait upon the discoveries
of science. Our natural rights, that is to say, will have a changing
content simply because this is not a static world. But that does not
mean, as Burke insisted, that they are empty of experience. They come,
of course, mainly from men who have been excluded from intimate contact
with the fruits of power. Nonconformists in religion, workers without
land or capital save the power of their own hands, it is from the
disinherited that they draw, as demands, their strength. Yet it is
difficult to see, as Burke would undoubtedly have insisted, that they
are the worse from the source whence they derive. Rather do they point
to grave inadequacy in the substance of the state, inadequacy neglect of
which has led to the cataclysms of historic experience. The
unwillingness of Burke to examine into their foundation reveals his lack
of moral insight into the problem he confronted.

That lack of insight must, of course, be given some explanation; and its
cause seems rooted in Burke's metaphysic outlook. He was profoundly
religious; and he did not doubt that the order of the universe was the
command of God. It was, as a consequence, beneficent; and to deny its
validity was, for him, to doubt the wisdom of God. "Having disposed," he
wrote, "and marshalled us by a divine tactic, not according to our will,
but to His, He had, in and by that disposition, vitally subjected us to
act the part which belongs to the place assigned us." The State, in
fact, it is to be built upon the sacrifice of men; and this they must
accept as of the will of God. We are to do our duty in our allotted
station without repining, in anticipation, doubtless, of a later reward.
What we are is thus the expression of his goodness; and there is a real
sense in which Burke may be said to have maintained the inherent
rightness of the existing order. Certainly he throws a cloak of
religious veneration about the purely metaphysical concept of property;
and his insistence upon the value of peace as opposed to truth is surely
part of the same attitude. Nor is it erroneous to connect this
background with his antagonism to the French Revolution. What there was
most distressing to him was the overthrowal of the Church, and he did
not hesitate, in very striking fashion, to connect revolutionary opinion
with infidelity. Indeed Burke, like Locke, seems to have been convinced
that a social sense was impossible in an atheist; and his _Letters on a
Regicide Peace_ have a good deal of that relentless illogic which made
de Maistre connect the first sign of dissent from ultramontanism with
the road to a denial of all faith. Nothing is more difficult than to
deal with a thinker who has had a revelation; and this sense that the
universe was a divine mystery not to be too nearly scrutinized by man
grew greatly upon Burke in his later years. It was not an attitude which
reason could overthrow; for its first principle was an awe in the
presence of facts to which reason is a stranger.

There is, moreover, in Burke a Platonic idealism which made him, like
later thinkers of the school, regard existing difficulties with
something akin to complacent benevolence. What interested him was the
idea of the English State; and whatever, as he thought, deformed it,
was not of the essence of its nature. He denied, that is to say, that
the degree to which a purpose is fulfilled is as important as the
purpose itself. A thing becomes good by the end it has in view; and the
deformities of time and place ought not to lead us to deny the beauty of
the end. It is the great defect of all idealistic philosophy that it
should come to the examination of facts in so optimistic a temper. It
never sufficiently realizes that in the transition from theoretic
purpose to practical realization a significant transformation may occur.
We do not come to grips with the facts. What we are bidden to remember
is the splendor of what the facts are trying to be. The existing order
is beatified as a necessary stage in a beneficent process. We are not to
separate out the constituent elements therein, and judge them as facts
in time and space. Society is one and indivisible; and the defects do
not at any point impair the ultimate integrity of the social bond.

Yet it is surely evident that in the heat and stress of social life, we
cannot afford so long a period as the basis for our judgment. We may
well enough regard the corruption of the monarchy under the later
Hanoverians as the necessary prelude to its purification under Victoria;
but that does not make it any the less corrupt. We may even see how a
monistic view of society is possible to one who, like Burke, is uniquely
occupied with the public good. But the men who, like Muir and Hardy in
the treason trials of the Revolution, think rather in terms of the
existing disharmonies than the beauty of the purpose upon which they
rest, are only human if they think those disharmonies more real than the
purpose they do not meet. They were surely to be pardoned if, reading
the _Reflections_ of Burke, they regarded class distinctions as more
vital than their harmony of interest, when they saw the tenacity with
which privileges they did not share were defended. It is even possible
to understand why some insisted that if those privileges were, as Burke
had argued, essential to the construction of the whole, it was against
that whole, alike in purpose and in realization, that they were in
revolt. For them the fact of discontinuity was vital. They could not but
ask for happiness in their own individual lives no less than in the
State of which they were part. They came to see that without
self-government in the sense of their own active participation in power,
such happiness must go unfulfilled. The State, in fact, may have the
noblest purpose; but its object is attempted by agents who are also
mortal men. The basis of their scrutiny became at once pragmatic. The
test of allegiance to established institutions became immediately the
achievement for which they were responsible. The achievement, as they
urged, was hardly written with adequacy in terms of the lives of humble
men. That was why they judged no attitude of worth which sought the
equation of the real and the ideal. The first lesson of their own
experience of power was the need for its limitation by the instructed
judgment of free minds.[18]

[Footnote 18: Cf. my _Authority in the Modern State_, pp. 65-9.]


No man was more deeply hostile to the early politics of the romantic
movement, to the _Contrat Social_ of Rousseau and the _Political
Justice_ of Godwin, than was Burke; yet, on the whole, it is with the
romantics that Burke's fundamental influence remains. His attitude to
reason, his exaltation of passion and imagination over the conscious
logic of men, were of the inmost stuff of which they were made. In that
sense, at least, his kinship is with the great conservative revolution
of the generation which followed him. Hegel and Savigny in Germany, de
Maistre and Bonald in France, Coleridge and the later Wordsworth in
England, are in a true sense his disciples. That does not mean that any
of them were directly conscious of his work but that the movement he
directed had its necessary outcome in their defence of his ideals. The
path of history is strewn with undistributed middles; and it is possible
that in the clash between his attitude and that of Bentham there were
the materials for a fuller synthesis in a later time. Certainly there is
no more admirable corrective in historical politics that the contrast
they afford.

It is easy to praise Burke and easier still to miss the greatness of his
effort. Perspective apart, he is destined doubtless to live rather as
the author of some maxims that few statesmen will dare to forget than
as the creator of a system which, even in its unfinished implications,
is hardly less gigantic than that of Hobbes or Bentham. His very defects
are lessons in themselves. His unhesitating inability to see how
dangerous is the concentration of property is standing proof that men
are over-prone to judge the rightness of a State by their own wishes.
His own contempt for the results of reasonable inquiry is a ceaseless
lesson in the virtue of consistent scrutiny of our inheritance. His
disregard of popular desire suggests the fatal ease with which we
neglect the opinion of those who stand outside the active centre of
political conflict. Above all, his hostility to the Revolution should at
least make later generations beware lest novelty of outlook be unduly
confounded with erroneous doctrine.

Yet even when such deduction has been made, there is hardly a greater
figure in the history of political thought in England. Without the
relentless logic of Hobbes, the acuteness of Hume, the moral insight of
T.H. Green, he has a large part of the faculties of each. He brought to
the political philosophy of his generation a sense of its direction, a
lofty vigour of purpose, and a full knowledge of its complexity, such as
no other statesman has ever possessed. His flashes of insight are things
that go, as few men have ever gone, into the hidden deeps of political
complexity. Unquestionably, his speculation is rather that of the orator
in the tribune than of the thinker in his study. He never forgot his
party, and he wrote always in that House of Commons atmosphere which
makes a man unjust to the argument and motives of his opponent. Yet,
when the last word of criticism has been made, the balance of
illumination is immense. He illustrates at its best the value of that
party-system the worth of which made so deep an impression on all he
wrote. He showed that government by discussion can be made to illuminate
great principles. He showed also that allegiance to party is never
inconsistent with the deeper allegiance to the demand of conscience.
When he came to the House of Commons, the prospects of representative
government were very dark; and it is mainly to his emphasis upon its
virtues that its victory must be attributed. Institutional change is
likely to be more rapid than in his generation; for we seem to have
reached that moment when, as he foresaw, "they who persist in opposing
that mighty current will appear rather to resist the decrees of
Providence itself than the mere designs of men." The principles upon
which we proceed are doubtless different from those that he commended;
yet his very challenge to their wisdom only gives to his warning a
deeper inspiration for our effort.




The Industrial Revolution is hardly less a fundamental change in the
habits of English thought than in the technique of commercial
production. Alongside the discoveries of Hargreaves and Crompton, the
ideas of Hume and Adam Smith shifted the whole perspective of men's
minds. The Revolution, indeed, like all great movements, did not
originate at any given moment. There was no sudden invention which made
the hampering system of government-control seem incompatible with
industrial advance. The mercantilism against which the work of Adam
Smith was so magistral a protest was already rather a matter of external
than internal commerce when he wrote. He triumphed less because he
suddenly opened men's eyes to a truth hitherto concealed than because he
represented the culmination of certain principles which, under various
aspects, were common to his time. The movement for religious toleration
is not only paralleled in the next century by the movement for economic
freedom, but is itself in a real sense the parent of the latter. For it
is not without significance that the pre-Adamite economists were almost
without exception the urgent defenders of religious toleration. The
landowners were churchmen, the men of commerce largely Nonconformist;
and religious proscription interfered with the balance of trade. When
the roots of religious freedom had been secured, it was easy for them to
transfer their argument to the secular sphere.

Nothing, indeed, is more important in the history of English political
philosophy than to realize that from Stuart times the Nonconformists
were deeply bitten with distrust of government. Its courts of special
instance hampered industrial life at every turn in the interest of
religious conformity. Their heavy fines and irritating restrictions upon
foreign workmen were nothing so much as a tax upon industrial progress.
What the Nonconformists wanted was to be left alone; and Davenant
explained the root of their desire when he tells of the gaols crowded
with substantial tradesmen whose imprisonment spelt unemployment for
thousands of workmen. Sir William Temple, in his description of Holland,
represents economic prosperity as the child of toleration. The movement
for ecclesiastical freedom in England, moreover, became causally linked
with that protest against the system of monopolies with which it was the
habit of the court to reward its favorites. Freedom in economic matters,
like freedom in religion, came rapidly to mean permission that diversity
shall exist; and economic diversity soon came to mean free competition.
The latter easily became imbued with religious significance. English
puritanism, as Troeltsch has shown us, insisted that work was the will
of God and its performance the test of grace. The greater the energy of
its performance, the greater the likelihood of prosperity; and thence it
is but a step to argue that the free development of a man's industrial
worth is the law of God. Success in business, indeed, became for many a
test of religious grace, and poverty the proof of God's disfavor. Books
like Steele's _Religious Tradesman_ (1684) show clearly how close is the
connection. The hostility of the English landowners to the commercial
classes in the eighteenth century is at bottom the inheritance of
religious antagonism. The typical qualities of dissent became a certain
pushful exertion by which the external criteria of salvation could be

Much of the contemporary philosophy, moreover, fits in with this
attitude. From the time of Bacon, the main object of speculation was to
disrupt the scholastic teleology. In the result the State becomes
dissolved into a discrete mass of individuals, and the self-interest of
each is the starting-point of all inquiry. Hobbes built his state upon
the selfishness of men; even Locke makes the individual enter political
life for the benefits that accrue therefrom. The cynicism of Mandeville,
the utilitarianism of Hume, are only bypaths of the same tradition. The
organic society of the middle ages gives place to an individual who
builds the State out of his own desires. Liberty becomes their
realization; and the object of the State is to enable men in the
fullest sense to secure the satisfaction of their private wants. How far
is that conception from the Anglican outlook of the seventeenth century,
a sermon of Laud's makes clear. "If any man," he said,[19] "be so
addicted to his private interest that he neglects the common State, he
is void of the sense of piety, and wishes peace and happiness for
himself in vain. For, whoever he be, he must live in the body of the
commonwealth and in the body of the Church." So Platonic an outlook was
utterly alien from the temper of puritanism. They had no thought of
sacrificing themselves to an institution which they had much ground for
thinking existed only for their torment. The development of the
religious instinct to the level of salvation found its philosophic
analogue in the development of the economic sense of fitness. The State
became the servant of the individual from being his master; and service
became equated with an internal policy of _laissez-faire_.

[Footnote 19: Sermon of June 19, 1621. Works (ed. of 1847), p. 28.]

Such summary, indeed, abridges the long process of release from which
the eighteenth century had still to suffer; nor does it sufficiently
insist upon the degree to which the old idea of state control still held
sway in external policies of trade. Mercantilism was still in the
ascendant when Adam Smith came to write. Few statesmen of importance
before the younger Pitt had learned the secret of its fallacies; and,
indeed, the chief ground for difference between Chatham and Burke was
the former's suspicion that Burke had embraced the noxious doctrine of
free trade. Mercantilism, by the time of Locke, is not the simple error
that wealth consists in bullion but the insistence that the balance of
trade must be preserved. Partly it was doubtless derived from the
methods of the old political arithmetic of men like Petty and Davenant;
the individual seeks a balance at the end of his year's accounting and
so, too, the State must have a balance. "A Kingdom," said Locke, "grows
rich or poor just as a farmer does, and no other way"; and while there
is a sense in which this is wholly true, the meaning attached to it by
the mercantilists was that foreign competition meant national weakness.
They could not conceive a commercial bargain which was profitable to
both sides. Nations grow prosperous at each other's expense; wherefore a
woolen trade in Ireland necessarily spells English unemployment. Even
Davenant, who was in many respects on the high road to free trade, was
in this problem adamant. Protection was essential in the colonial
market; for unless the trade of the colonies was directed through
England they might be dangerous rivals. So Ireland and America were
sacrificed to the fear of British merchants, with the inevitable result
that repression brought from both the obvious search for remedy.

Herein it might appear that Adam Smith had novelty to contribute; yet
nothing is more certain than that his full sense of the world as the
only true unit of marketing was fully grasped before him. In 1691 Sir
Dudley North published his _Discourses upon Trade_. Therein he clearly
sees that commercial barriers between Great Britain and France are
basically as senseless as would be commercial barriers between Yorkshire
and Middlesex. Indeed, in one sense, North goes even further than Adam
Smith, for he argues against the usury laws in terms Bentham would
hardly have disowned. Ten years later an anonymous writer in a tract
entitled _Considerations on the East India Trade_ (1701) has no
illusions about the evil of monopoly. He sees with striking clarity that
the real problem is not at any cost to maintain the industries a nation
actually possesses, but to have the national capital applied in the most
efficient channels. So, too, Hume dismissed the Mercantile theory with
the contemptuous remark that it was trying to keep water beyond its
proper level. Tucker, as has been pointed out, was a free trader, and
his opinion of the American war was that it was as mad as those who
fought "under the peaceful Cross to recover the Holy Land"; and he
urged, indeed, prophesied, the union with Ireland in the interest of
commercial amity. Nor must the emphasis of the Physiocrats upon free
trade be forgotten. There is no evidence now that Adam Smith owed this
perception to his acquaintance with Quesnay and Turgot; but they may
well have confirmed him in it, and they show that the older philosophy
was attacked on every side.

Nor must we miss the general atmosphere of the time. On the whole his
age was a conservative one, convinced, without due reason, that
happiness was independent of birth or wealth and that natural law
somehow could be made to justify existing institutions. The poets, like
Pope, were singing of the small part of life which kings and laws may
hope to cure; and that attitude is written in the general absence of
economic legislation during the period. Religiously, the Church exalted
the _status quo_; and where, as with Wesley, there was revolt, its
impetus directed the mind to the source of salvation in the individual
act. It may, indeed, be generally argued that the religious teachers
acted as a social soporific. Where riches accumulated, they could be
regarded as the blessing of God; where they were absent their
unimportance for eternal happiness could be emphasized. Burke's early
attack on a system which condemned "two hundred thousand innocent
persons ... to so intolerable slavery" was, in truth, a justification of
the existing order. The social question which, in the previous century,
men like Bellers and Winstanley had brought into view, dropped out of
notice until the last quarter of the century. There was, that is to say,
no organized resistance possible to the power of individualism; and
resistance was unlikely to make itself heard once the resources of the
Industrial Revolution were brought into play. Men discovered with
something akin to ecstasy the possibilities of the new inventions; and
when the protest came against the misery they effected, it was answered
that they represented the working of that natural law by which the
energies of men may raise them to success. And discontent could easily,
as with the saintly Wilberforce, be countered by the assertion that it
was revolt against the will of God.


Few lives represent more splendidly than that of Adam Smith the
speculative ideal of a dispassionate study of philosophy. He was
fortunate in his teachers and his friends. At Glasgow he was the pupil
of Francis Hutcheson; and even if he was taught nothing at Oxford, at
least six years of leisure gave him ample opportunity to learn. His
professorship at Glasgow not only brought him into contact with men like
Hume, but also admitted him to intercourse with a group of business men
whose liberal sentiments on commerce undoubtedly strengthened, if they
did not originate, his own liberal views. At Glasgow, too, in 1759, he
published his _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, written with sufficient
power of style to obscure its inner poverty of thought. The book brought
him immediately a distinguished reputation from a public which exalted
elegance of diction beyond all literary virtues. The volatile Charles
Townshend made him tutor to the Duke of Buccleuch, through whom Smith
not only secured comparative affluence for the rest of his days, but
also a French tour in which he met at its best the most brilliant
society in Europe. The germ of his _Wealth of Nations_ already lay
hidden in those Glasgow lectures which Mr. Cannan has so happily
recovered for us; and it was in a moment of leisure in France that he
set to work to put them together in systematic fashion. Not, indeed,
that the Frenchmen whom he met, Turgot, Quesnay and Dupont de Nemours,
can be said to have done more than confirm the truths he had already
been teaching. When he returned to Scotland and a competence ten years
of constant labor were necessary before the _Wealth of Nations_ was
complete. After its publication, in 1776, Adam Smith did little save
attend to the administrative duties of a minor, but lucrative office in
the Customs. Until the end, indeed, he never quite gave up the hope,
foreshadowed first in the _Moral Sentiments_ of completing a gigantic
survey of civilized institutions. But he was a slow worker, and his
health was never robust. It was enough that he should have written his
book and cherished friendships such as it is given to few men to
possess. Hume and Burke, Millar the jurist, James Watt, Foulis the
printer, Black the chemist and Hutton of geological fame--it is an
enviable circle. He had known Turgot on intimate terms and visited
Voltaire on Lake Geneva. Hume had told him that his book had "depth and
solidity and acuteness"; the younger Pitt had consulted him on public
affairs. Few men have moved amid such happy peace within the very centre
of what was most illustrious in their age.

We are less concerned here with the specific economic details of the
_Wealth of Nations_ than with its general attitude to the State. But
here a limitation upon criticism must be noted. The man of whom Smith
writes is man in search of wealth; by definition the economic motive
dominates his actions. Such abuse, therefore, as Ruskin poured upon him
is really beside the point when his objective is borne in mind. What
virtually he does is to assume the existence of a natural economic order
which tends, when unrestrained by counter-tendencies, to secure the
happiness of men. "That order of things which necessity imposes in
general," he writes, "... is, in every particular country promoted by
the natural inclinations of man"; and he goes on to explain what would
have resulted "if human institutions had never thwarted those natural
inclinations." "All systems either of preference or of restraint,
therefore, being thus completely taken away," he writes again, "the
obvious and simple system of natural liberty establishes itself of its
own accord. Every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of
justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest in his own
way.... The sovereign is completely discharged from a duty in the
attempting to perform which he must always be exposed to innumerable
delusions, and for the proper performance of which no human wisdom or
knowledge would ever be sufficient; the duty of superintending the
industry of private people and of directing it towards the employments
most suitable to the interests of the society."

The State, in this conception has but three functions--defence, justice
and "the duty of erecting and maintaining certain public works and
certain public institutions which it can never be for the interest of
any individual, or small number of individuals, to erect and maintain."
The State, in fact, is simply to provide the atmosphere in which
production is possible. Nor does Smith conceal his thought that the main
function of justice is the protection of property. "The affluence of
the rich," he wrote, "excites the indignation of the poor, who are often
both driven by want and prompted by envy to invade their possessions. It
is only under the shelter of the civil magistrate that the owner of that
valuable property, acquired by the labor of many years, or perhaps many
successive generations, can sleep a single night in security." The
attitude, indeed, is intensified by his constant sense that the capital
which makes possible new productivity is the outcome of men's sacrifice;
to protect it is thus to safeguard the sources of wealth itself. And
even if the State is entrusted with education and the prevention of
disease, this is rather for the general benefit they confer and the
doubt that private enterprise would find them profitable than as the
expression of a general rule. Collective effort of every kind awakened
in him a deep distrust. Trade regulations such as the limitation of
apprenticeship he condemned as "manifest encroachment upon the just
liberty of the workman and of those who may be disposed to employ him."
Even educational establishments are suspect on the ground--not
unnatural after his own experience of Oxford--that their possibilities
of comfort may enervate the natural energies of men.

The key to this attitude is clear enough. The improvement of society is
due, he thinks not to the calculations of government but to the natural
instincts of economic man. We cannot avoid the impulse to better our
condition; and the less its effort is restrained the more certain it is
that happiness will result. We gain, in fact, some sense of its inherent
power when we bear in mind the magnitude of its accomplishment despite
the folly and extravagance of princes. Therein we have some index of
what it would achieve if left unhindered to work out its own destinies.
Human institutions continually thwart its power; for those who build
those institutions are moved rather "by the momentary fluctuations of
affairs" than their true nature. "That insidious and crafty animal,
vulgarly called a politician or statesman" meets little mercy for his
effort compared to the magic power of the natural order. "In all
countries where there is a tolerable security," he writes, "every man
of common understanding will endeavor to employ whatever stock he can
command in procuring either present enjoyment or future profit."
Individual spontaneity is thus the root of economic good; and the real
justification of the state is the protection it affords to this impulse.
Man, in fact, is by nature a trader and he is bound by nature to
discover the means most apt to progress.

Nor was he greatly troubled by differences of fortune. Like most of the
Scottish school, especially Hutcheson and Hume, he thought that men are
much alike in happiness, whatever their station or endowments. For there
is a "never-failing certainty" that "all men sooner or later accommodate
themselves to whatever becomes their permanent situation"; though he
admits that there is a certain level below which poverty and misery go
hand in hand. But, for the most part, happiness is simply a state of
mind; and he seems to have had but little suspicion that differences of
wealth might issue in dangerous social consequence. Men, moreover, he
regarded as largely equal in their original powers; and differences of
character he ascribes to the various occupations implied in the
division of labor. Each man, therefore, as he follows his self-interest
promotes the general happiness of society. That principle is inherent in
the social order. "Every man," he wrote in the _Moral Sentiments_, "is
by nature first and principally recommended to his own care" and therein
he is "led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of
his intention." The State, that is to say, is the sum of individual
goods; whereby to better ourselves is clearly to its benefit. And that
desire "which comes with us from the womb and never leaves us till we go
to the grave" is the more efficacious the less it is restrained by
governmental artifice. For we know so well what makes us happy that none
can hope to help us so much as we help ourselves.

Enlightened selfishness is thus the root of prosperity; but we must not
fall into the easy fallacy which makes Smith deaf to the plaint of the
poor. He urged the employer to have regard to the health and welfare of
the worker, a regard which was the voice of reason and humanity. Where
there was conflict between love of the _status quo_ and a social good
which Revolution alone could achieve, he did not, at least in the _Moral
Sentiments_, hesitate to choose the latter. Order was, for the most
part, indispensable; but "the greatest and noblest of all characters" he
made the reformer of the State. Yet he is too impressed by the working
of natural economic laws to belittle their influence. Employers, in his
picture, are little capable of benevolence or charity. Their rule is the
law of supply and demand and not the Sermon on the Mount. They combine
without hesitation to depress wages to the lowest point of subsistence.
They seize every occasion of commercial misfortune to make better terms
for themselves; and the greater the poverty the more submissive do
servants become so that scarcity is naturally regarded as more favorable
to industry.

Obviously enough, the inner hinge of all this argument is Smith's
conception of nature. Nor can there be much doubt of what he thought its
inner substance. Facile distinctions such as the effort of Buckle to
show that while in the _Moral Sentiments_ Adam Smith was dealing with
the unselfish side of man's nature, in the _Wealth of Nations_ he was
dealing with a group of facts which required the abstraction of such
altruistic elements, are really beside the point. Nature for Smith is
simply the spontaneous action of human character unchecked by hindrances
of State. It is, as Bonar has aptly said, "a vindication of the
unconscious law present in the separate actions of men when these
actions are directed by a certain strong personal motive." Adam Smith's
argument is an assumption that the facts can be made to show the
relative powerlessness of institutions in the face of economic laws
grounded in human psychology. The psychology itself is relatively
simple, and, at least in the _Wealth of Nations_ not greatly different
from the avowed assumptions of utilitarianism. He emphasizes the
strength of reason in the economic field, and his sense that it enables
men to judge much better of their best interests than an external
authority can hope to do. And therefore the practices accomplished by
this reason are those in which the impulses of men are to be found. The
order they represent is the natural order; and whatever hinders its full
operation is an unwise check upon the things for which men strive.

Obviously enough, this attitude runs the grave risk of seeming to
abstract a single motive--the desire for wealth--from the confused
welter of human impulses and to make it dominant at the expense of human
nature itself. A hasty reading of Adam Smith would, indeed, confirm that
impression; and that is perhaps why he seemed to Ruskin to blaspheme
human nature. But a more careful survey, particularly when the _Moral
Sentiments_ is borne in mind suggests a different conclusion. His
attitude is implicit in the general medium in which he worked. What he
was trying to do was less to emphasize that men care above all things
for the pursuit of wealth than that no institutional modifications are
able to destroy the power of that motive to labor. There is too much
history in the _Wealth of Nations_ to make tenable the hypothesis of
complete abstraction. And there is even clear a sense of a nature behind
his custom when he speaks of a "sacred regard" for life, and urges that
every man has property in his own labor. The truth here surely is that
Smith was living in a time of commercial expansion. What was evident to
him was the potential wealth to be made available if the obsolete system
of restraint could be destroyed. Liberty to him meant absence of
restraint not because its more positive aspect was concealed from him
but rather because the kind of freedom wanted in the environment in
which he moved was exactly that for which he made his plea. There is a
hint that freedom as a positive thing was known to him from the fact
that he relied upon education to relieve the evils of the division of
labor. But the general context of his book required less emphasis upon
the virtues of state-interference than upon its defects. His cue was to
show that all the benefits of regulation had been achieved despite its
interference; from which, of course, it followed that restraint was a
matter of supererogation.


It would be tedious to praise the _Wealth of Nations_. It may be
doubtful whether Buckle's ecstatic judgment that it has had more
influence than any other book in the world was justified even when he
wrote; but certainly it is one of the seminal books of the modern time.
What is more important is to note the perspective in which its main
teaching was set. He wrote in the midst of the first significant
beginnings of the Industrial Revolution; and his emphatic approval of
Watt's experiments suggests that he was not unalive to its importance.
Yet it cannot in any full sense be said that the Industrial Revolution
has a large part in his book. The picture of industrial organization and
its possibilities is too simple to suggest that he had caught any far
reaching glimpse into the future. Industry, for him, is still in the
last stage of handicraft; it is a matter of skillful workmanship and not
of mechanical appliance. Capital is still the laborious result of
parsimony. Credit is spoken of rather in the tones of one who sees it
less as a new instrument of finance than a dangerous attempt by the
aspiring needy to scale the heights of wealth. Profits are always a
justified return for productive labor; interest the payment for the use
of the owner's past parsimony. Business is still the middleman
distributing to the consumer on a small scale. He did not, or could not,
conceive of an industry either so vast or so depersonalized as at
present. He was rather writing of a system which, like the politics of
the eighteenth century, had reached an equilibrium of passable comfort.
His natural order was, at bottom, the beatification of that to which
this equilibrium tended. Its benefits might be improved by free trade
and free workmanship; but, upon the whole, he saw no reason to call in
question its fundamental dogmas.

Therein, of course, may be found the main secret of his omissions. The
problem of labor finds no place in his book. The things that the poor
have absent from their lives, that concept of a national minimum below
which no State can hope to fulfil even the meanest of its aims, of these
he has no conception. Rather the note of the book is a quiet optimism,
impressed by the possibilities of constant improvement which lie
imbedded in the human impulse to better itself. What he did not see is
the way in which the logical outcome of the system he describes may
well be the attainment of great wealth at a price in human cost that is
beyond its worth. Therein, it is clear, all individualistic theories of
the state miss the true essence of the social bond. Those who came after
Adam Smith saw only half his problem. He wrote a consumer's theory of
value. But whereas he had in mind a happy and contented people, the
economics of Ricardo and Malthus seized upon a single element in human
nature as that which alone the State must serve. Freedom from restraint
came ultimately to mean a judgment upon national well-being in terms of
the volume of trade. "It is not with happiness," said Nassau Senior,
"but with wealth that I am concerned as a political economist; and I am
not only justified in omitting, but am perhaps bound to omit, all
considerations which have no influence upon wealth."

In such an aspect, it was natural for the balance of investigation to
swing towards the study of the technique of production; and with the
growing importance of capital, as machinery was introduced, the worker,
without difficulty, became an adjunct, easily replaced, to the machine.
What was remembered then was the side of Adam Smith which looked upon
enlightened selfishness as the key to social good. Regulation became
anathema even when the evils it attempted to restrain were those which
made the mass of the people incapable of citizenship. Even national
education was regarded as likely to destroy initiative; or, as a
pauper's dole which men of self-respect would regard with due
abhorrence. The State, in short, ceased to concern itself with justice
save insofar as the administration of a judicial code spelled the
protection of the new industrial system. Nothing is more striking in the
half-century after Adam Smith than the optimism of the economist and the
business man in contrast to the hopeless despair of labor. That men can
organize to improve their lot was denied with emphasis, so that until
Francis Place even the workers themselves were half-convinced. The
manufacturers were the State; and the whole intellectual strength of
economics was massed to prove the rightness of the equation. The
literature of protest, men like Hall and Thompson, Hodgskin and Bray,
exerted no influence upon the legislation of the time; and Robert Owen
was deemed an amiable eccentric rather than the prophet of a new hope.
The men who succeeded, as Wilberforce, carried out to the letter the
unstated assumptions of Puritan economics. The poor were consigned to a
God whose dictates were by definition beneficent; and if they failed to
understand the curious incidence of his rewards that was because his
ways were inscrutable. No one who reads the tracts of writers like
Harriet Martineau can fail to see how pitiless was the operation of this
attitude. Life is made a struggle beneficent, indeed, but deriving its
ultimate meaning from the misery incident to it. The tragedy is excused
because the export-trade increases in its volume. The iron law of wages,
the assumed transition of every energetic worker to the ranks of wealth,
the danger lest the natural ability of the worker to better his
condition be sapped by giving to him that which his self-respect can
better win--these became the unconscious assumptions of all economic

In all this, as in the foundation with which Adam Smith provided it, we
must not miss the element of truth that it contains. No poison is more
subtly destructive of the democratic State than paternalism; and the
release of the creative impulses of men must always be the coping-stone
of public policy. Adam Smith is the supreme representative of a
tradition which saw that release effected by individual effort. Where
each man cautiously pursued the good as he saw it, the realization was
bound, in his view, to be splendid. A population each element of which
was active and alert to its economic problems could not escape the
achievement of greatness. All that is true; but it evades the obvious
conditions we have inherited. For even when the psychological
inadequacies of Smith's attitude are put aside, we can judge his theory
in the light of the experience it summarizes. Once it is admitted that
the object of the State is the achievement of the good life, the final
canon of politics is bound to be a moral one. We have to inquire into
the dominant conception of the good life, the number of those upon whom
it is intended that good shall be conferred.

In the light of this conception it is obvious enough that Smith's view
is impossible. No mere conflict of private interests, however pure in
motive, seems able to achieve a harmony of interest between the members
of the State. Liberty, in the sense of a positive and equal opportunity
for self-realization, is impossible save upon the basis of the
acceptance of certain minimal standards which can get accepted only
through collective effort. Smith did not see that in the processes of
politics what gets accepted is not the will that is at every moment a
part of the state-purpose, but the will of those who in fact operate the
machinery of government. In the half-century after he wrote the men who
dominated political life were, with the best intentions, moved by
motives at most points unrelated to the national well-being. The
fellow-servant doctrine would never have obtained acceptance in a state
where, as he thought, employer and workman stood upon an equal footing.
Opposition to the Factory Acts would never have developed in a community
where it was realized that below certain standards of subsistence the
very concept of humanity is impossible. Modern achievement implies a
training in the tools of life; and that, for most, is denied even in our
own day to the vast majority of men. In the absence of legislation, it
is certain that those who employ the services of men will be their
political masters; and it will follow that their Acts of Parliament will
be adapted to the needs of property. That shrinkage of the purpose of
the State will mean for most not merely hardship but degradation of all
that makes life worthy. Upon those stunted existences, indeed, a wealthy
civilization may easily be builded. Yet it will be a civilization of
slaves rather than of men.

The individualism, that is to say, for which Adam Smith was zealous
demands a different institutional expression from that which he gave it.
We must not assume an _a priori_ justification for the forces of the
past. The customs of men may represent the thwarting of the impulses of
the many at the expense of the few not less easily than they may embody
a general desire; and it is surely a mistaken usage to dignify as
natural whatever may happen to have occurred. A man may find
self-realization not less in working for the common good than in the
limited satisfaction of his narrow desire for material advancement. And
that, indeed, is the starting-point of modern effort. Our liberty means
the consistent expression of our personality in media where we find
people like-minded with ourselves in their conception of social life.
The very scale of civilization implies collective plans and common
effort. The constant revision of our basic notions was inevitable
immediately science was applied to industry. There was thus no reason to
believe that the system of individual interests for which Smith stood
sponsor was more likely to fit requirements of a new time than one which
implied the national regulation of business enterprise. The danger in
every period of history is lest we take our own age as the term in
institutional evolution. Private enterprise has the sanction of
prescription; but since the Industrial Revolution the chief lesson we
have had to learn is the unsatisfactory character of that title. History
is an unenviable record of bad metaphysics used to defend obsolete
systems. It took almost a century after the publication of the _Wealth
of Nations_ for men to realize that its axioms represented the
experience of a definite time. Smith thought of freedom in the terms
most suitable to his generation and stated them with a largeness of view
which remains impressive even at a century's distance.

But nothing is more certain in the history of political philosophy than
that the problem of freedom changes with each age. The nineteenth
century sought release from political privilege; and it built its
success upon the system prepared by its predecessor. It can never be too
greatly emphasized that in each age the substance of liberty will be
found in what the dominating forces of that age most greatly want. With
Locke, with Smith, with Hegel and with Marx, the ultimate hypothesis is
always the summary of some special experience universalized. That does
not mean that the past is worthless. Politics, as Seeley said, are
vulgar unless they are liberalized by history; and a state which failed
to see itself as a mosaic of ancestral institutions would build its
novelties upon foundations of sand. Suspicions of collective effort in
the eighteenth century ought not to mean suspicion in the twentieth; to
think in such fashion is to fall into the error for which Lassalle so
finely criticized Hegel. It is as though one were to confound the
accidental phases of the history of property with the philosophic basis
of property itself. From such an error it is the task of history above
all to free us. For it records the ideals and doubts of earlier ages as
a perennial challenge to the coming time.

The rightness of this attitude admits of proof in terms of the double
tradition to which Adam Smith gave birth. On the one hand he is the
founder of the classic political economy. With Ricardo, the elder Mill
and Nassau Senior, the main preoccupation is the production of wealth
without regard to its moral environment; and the state for them is
merely an engine to protect the atmosphere in which business men achieve
their labors. There is nothing in them of that fine despair which made
Stuart Mill welcome socialism itself rather than allow the continuance
of the new capitalist system. Herein the State is purged of moral
purpose; and the utilitarian method achieves the greatest happiness by
insisting that the technique of production must dominate all other
circumstances. Until the Reform Act of 1867, the orthodox economists
remained unchallenged. The use of the franchise was only beginning to be
understood. The "new model" of trade unionism had not yet been tested in
the political field. But it was discovered impossible to act any longer
upon the assumptions of the abstract economic man. The infallible sense
of his own interest was discovered to be without basis in the facts for
the simple reason that the instruments of his perception obviously
required training if they were to be applied to a complex world.
Individualism, in the old, utilitarian sense, passed away because it
failed to build a State wherein a channel of expression might be found
for the creative energies of humble men.

It is only within the last two decades that we have begun to understand
the inner significance of the protest against this economic liberalism.
Adam Smith had declared the source of value to lie in labor; and, at
the moment of its deepest agony, there were men willing to point the
moral of his tale. That it represented an incautious analysis was, for
them, unimportant beside the fact that it opened once more a path
whereby economics could be reclaimed for moral science. For if labor was
the source of value, as Bray and Thompson pointed out, it seemed as
though degradation was the sole payment for its services. They did not
ask whether the organization they envisaged was economically profitable,
but whether it was ethically right. No one can read the history of these
years and fail to understand their uncompromising denial of its
rightness. Their negation fell upon unheeding ears; but twenty years
later, the tradition for which they stood came into Marx's hands and was
fashioned by him into an interpretation of history. With all its faults
of statement and of emphasis, the doctrine of the English socialists has
been, in later hands, the most fruitful hypothesis of modern politics.
It was a deliberate effort, upon the basis of Adam Smith's ideas, to
create a commonwealth in the interests of the masses. Wealth, in its
view, was less the mere production of goods than the accumulated
happiness of humble men. The impulses it praised and sought through
state-action to express were, indeed, different from those upon which
Smith laid emphasis; and he would doubtless have stood aghast at the way
in which his thought was turned to ends of which he did not dream. Yet
he can hardly have desired a greater glory. He thus made possible not
only knowledge of a State untrammelled in its economic life by moral
considerations; but also the road to those categories wherein the old
conception of co-operative effort might find a new expression. Those who
trod in his footsteps may have repudiated the ideal for which he stood,
but they made possible a larger hope in which he would have been proud
and glad to share.


This bibliography makes no pretence to completeness. It attempts only to
enumerate the more obvious sources that an interested reader would care
to examine.


LESLIE STEPHEN. _History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century_.
1876. Vol. II, Chapters IX and X.

W.E.H. LECKY. _History of England in the Eighteenth Century._

A.L. SMITH. _Political Philosophy in England in the Seventeenth and
Eighteenth Centuries_ in the _Cambridge Modern History_. Vol. VI,
Chapter XXIII.

J. BONAR. _Philosophy and Political Economy_. Chapters V-IX.

F.W. MAITLAND. _An Historical Sketch of Liberty and Equality_ in
_Collected Papers_. Vol. I.


JOHN LOCKE. _Works_ (Eleventh Edition), 10 volumes. London, 1812.

H.R. FOX-BOURNE. _Life of John Locke_. London, 1876.

T.H. GREEN. _The Principles of Political Obligation_ in _Collected
Works_. Vol. II. London, 1908.

PETER. LORD KING. _The Life and Letters of John Locke_. London, 1858.

SIR F. POLLOCK. _Locke's Theory of the State_ in _Proc. Brit. Acad._.
Vol. I. London, 1904.

S.P. LAMPRECHT. _The Moral and Political Philosophy of Locke_. New York,

A.A. SEATON. _The Theory of Toleration under the Later Stuarts_.
Cambridge, 1911.

J.N. FIGGIS. _The Divine Right of Kings_. Cambridge, 1914.


JEREMY COLLIER. _The History of Passive Obedience_. London, 1689.

WILLIAM SHERLOCK. _The Case of Resistance_. London, 1684.

CHARLES LESLIE. _The Case of the Regale_ (Collected Works). Vol. III,
                   p. 291.
                _The Rehearsal_.
                _The New Association_.
                _The Finishing Stroke_.
                _Obedience to Civil Government Clearly Stated_.
                _The Best Answer_.
                _The Best of All_.

SAMUEL GRASCOM. _A Brief Answer_.

E. SHELLINGFLEET. _A Vindication of their Majesties Authoritie_.

B. SHOWER. _A Letter to a Convocation Man._

W. WAKE. _The Authority of Christian Princes_. _The State of the Church_

FRANCIS ATTERBURY. _Rights, Powers and Privileges of an English
Convocation_ (1701).

BENJAMIN HOADLY. _Origins of Civil Government_ (1710).
                 _Preservative Against Nonjurors_ (1716).
                 _Works_, 3 vols. London (1773).

WILLIAM LAW. _A Defence of Church Principles_ (ed. Gore). Edinburgh,

W. WARBURTON. _Alliance between Church and State_ (1736).

J.H. OVERTON. _The Nonjurors._ New York, 1903.

T. LATHEBURY. _History of Convocation._ London, 1842.


BERKELEY. _Essay Towards Preventing the Ruin of Great Britain_ (1721).

H. ST. JOHN (Viscount Bolingbroke). _Works._ 5 vols. London, 1754.

LORD EGMONT. _Faction detected by the Evidence of Facts_ (1742).

DAVID HUME. _Inquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals_ (1752).
            _Essays_. (1742-1752) ed. Green & Grose. London, 1876.

W. SICHEL. _Life of Bolingbroke_. 2 vols. 1900-4.

J. CHURTON COLLINS. _Bolingbroke and Voltaire in England_.

J. HILL BURTON. _Life of Hume_.


MONTESQUIEU. _L'Esprit des Lois_ (1748).

J.J. ROUSSEAU. _Du Contrat Social_ (1762). See ed. by Vaughan, 1918.

JOHN BROWN. _Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times_

ADAM FERGUSON. _Essay on the History of Civil Society_ (1767).

WILLIAM BLACKSTONE. _Commentaries_ (1765-9).

JEREMY BENTHAM. _A Fragment on Government_ (1776). Ed. F.C. Montague,

J. DE LOLME. _The Constitution of England_ (1775).

ROBERT WALLACE. _Various Prospects_ (1761).

JOSEPH PRIESTLEY. _Essay on the First Principles of Government_ (1768).

RICHARD PRICE. _Observations on Civil Liberty_ (1776). _Additional
Observations_ (1777).

WILLIAM OGILVIE. _The Right of Property in Land_ (1781). Ed. Macdonald,

JOSIAH TUCKER. _Treatise on Civil Government_ (1781).

SAMUEL JOHNSON. _Taxation No Tyranny_ (1775).

M. BEER. _History of British Socialism_ (1919).

JAMES BOSWELL. _Life of Samuel Johnson_ (1791).


EDMUND BURKE. _Collected Works_. London, 1808.

JOHN MORLEY. _Edmund Burke_ (1867). _Life of Burke_ (1887).

J. MACCUNN. _The Political Philosophy of Burke_ (1908).

JUNIUS. _Letters_ (1769-72). London, 1812.

THOMAS PAINE. _The Rights of Man_ (1791-2).

JAMES MACKINTOSH. _Vendiciæ Gallicæ_ (1791).


CHARLES DAVENANT. _Works_. London, 1771.

SIR DUDLEY NORTH. _A Discourse upon Trade_ (1691).

ADAM SMITH. _Theory of Moral Sentiments_ (1759).
            _Wealth of Nations_ (1776).
            _Lectures on Justice and Police_. (Ed. Cannan, 1896).

W.R. SCOTT. _Life of Francis Hutcheson_ (1900).

JOHN RAE. _Life of Adam Smith_ (1895).

W. BAGEHOT. _Adam Smith as a Person_ in _Coll. Works_. Vol. VII.

F.W. HIRST. _Adam Smith_ (1904).

W. HASBACH. _Untersuchungen über Adam Smith_ (1891).

J. BONAR. _A Catalogue of Adam Smith's Library_ (1894).

T. CLIFFE LESLIE. _Adam Smith_ in _Essays in Moral and Political
Philosophy_ (1879).

E. TROELTSCH. _Die Sociallehren der Christlichen Kirchen_ (1912).


Addison, 69
Andrewes, 83
Ashley, 33-4
Atterbury, 102
Austin, 62

Bagehot, 9, 249
Barbeyrac, 68
Barrow, 84
Bellarmine, 83, 121
Bentham, 23, 62, 72, 151, 157, 175, 194
Berkeley, 10, 129
Blackstone, 163-4, 174f
Bolingbroke, 69, 131f
Bonald, 277
Bonar, 300
Bonwicke, 82
Boswell, 209
Bray, 307, 315
Brown (J.), 168
Brown (R.), 52
Burke, 7, 8, 16, 30, 157, 159, 166, 221f, 286
Burnet, 80, 87, 93
Busher, 52

Cartwright, 97
Chatham, 132, 167, 188, 262
Chillingworth, 52
Chubb, 128
Coleridge, 277
Collier, 84n
Cowper, 20
Crabbe, 20

Dalrymple, 8
Darwin, 67
Davenant, 283, 287
Defoe, 8, 128, 132
Dicey, 175, 179
Disraeli, 132
Divine Right, 7, 30
Dodwell, 82
Dupont de Nemours, 292

Egmont, 142
Eldon, 159

Ferguson, 172-4
Fielding, 160
Filmer, 7, 38

Galsworthy, 171-2
George III, 13, 15, 158, 188, 213f
Godwin, 10, 163, 222, 276
Goldsmith, 19, 223
Goodman, 57
Grascom, 86
Gray, 160
Green (T.H.), 61, 279

Haldane, 126
Hales, 52
Halifax, 8, 27
Hall, 17, 307
Hamilton (J.L. & B.), 19
Harrington, 147
Hegel, 249, 277, 212-3
Hickes, 83
Hoadly, 9, 22, 69, 107f
Hobbes, 8, 16, 30, 40f, 72, 91, 278, 284
Hodgskin, 17, 307
Holmes (O.W.), 63n, 269
Holt, 14,
Hooker, 44
Hotman, 57, 68
Hume, 8, 11, 71, 92, 143f, 278, 284, 297
Hutcheson, 11, 153, 155, 291, 297

Independents, 40

Jackson, 84
James II, 24f, 35
Johnson (Dr.), 18, 210f, 223, 230
Junius, 21, 219

Keble, 82
Kerr, 82
Knox, 57, 83, 97

Lassalle, 313
Laud, 285
Law, 22, 108f
Leslie, 80, 85, 88, 90, 97, 104, 132
Locke, 7, 11, 21, 29-76, 79, 197, 207, 273, 287
de Lolme, 10, 183f

Mackintosh, 269
Madison, 63
Maine, 66, 249
Maistre, 91, 252, 273
Malthus, 305
Mandeville, 129, 284
Mariana, 57
Martin, 69
Marx, 312, 315
Melville, 121
Mill, 157
Milton, 52
Molyneux, 68
Montesquieu, 12, 63, 160f, 173, 183
Morley, 132, 223

Newton, 37
Newman, 81, 122, 125
North, 287

Ogilvie, 199f
Owen, 17, 307
Oxford Movement, 81

Paine, 202, 269
Paley, 157
Pattison, 10
Penn, 58
Place, 306
Pope, 69, 128, 132
Price, 196f
Priestley, 72, 190f
Proast, 64
Prynne, 8, 55
Pufendorf, 68
Pulteney, 217

Quesnay, 288, 292

Renan, 249
Ricardo, 305
Richardson, 160
Richardson (S.), 52
Rousseau, 8, 74, 162f, 188, 197, 276
Royer-Collard, 226
Ruskin, 293, 301

Sanderson, 84
Savigny, 249, 277
Seeley, 312
Selden, 9
Senior, 304
Separation of Powers, 63f
Shaftesbury, 11, 128, 155
Sherlock (T.), 108
Sherlock (W.), 87
Shower, 99
Sidney, 7, 57
Smith (Adam), 9, 16, 152, 195, 258, 281f
Smith (A.L.), 140
Snape, 108
Social Contract, 57
Spelman, 9
Spence, 202
Stammler, 60
Steele, 284
Stephen (F.), 65
Stephen (L.), 108, 223
Stillingfleet, 37, 87, 93
Suarez, 57

Taylor, 52, 57
Temple, 283
Thompson, 307, 215
Tindal, 123
Tocqueville, 254
Toleration, 52, 64
Tucker, 71, 206f, 288
Turgot, 288, 292

Voltaire, 12, 132, 160

Wake, 80, 100f
Wallace, 188
Walpole, 13, 21, 128-30
Warburton, 69, 118f, 192
Wilberforce, 290
Wilkes, 167, 188, 220
William III, 25f
Williams (Roger), 52
Woolston, 128
Wordsworth, 277

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