페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

tained in our law-writs, but which has now no application. The nobility were compelled to follow, in this respect, the example of the church; and thus the commons were the joint-proprietors, in fact, of the whole country; they acknowledged the owner as lord of the soil; but they held the estates for lives; they had rents or fines to pay, at stated times, but with this reservation, the estates were theirs ; they could not, like rack renters, be turned out at the pleasure of the owner; and, of course, they were independent, free, and bold, just the reverse of the rackrenters of the present day. Another great cause of public happiness, arising out of this distribution of property, was, that those great landlords, the clergy, always, from the very nature of the institutions, resided in the midst of their estates, and, of course, expended their revenues there, returning to those who laboured the fair share of the fruits of their labour ; and, though the aristocracy had no such positive ties with regard to residence, example must have had, in this respect also, great effect upon them.

9. The Reformation broke up this state of society in England; and it has, at last, produced that state which we now behold; a state of rack-renters, of paupers, and of an aristocracy making the laws and burdening the commons, or people, at their pleasure. The Reformation took from the church, that is, in fact, from the

people at large, of whom the clergy were the trustees, all their share of the property of the country. If the makers of this Reformation had divided this property amongst the people; if they had sold it and applied the proceeds to the use of the nation at large, as was done by the makers of the French Revolution of 1789,' there would have been no real injury done to the conimons ; but this is what the makers of the Reformation did not do; they did precisely the contrary ;

and this too from a very obvious cause. The French Revolution was made by the people ; the English Reformation was made by the aristocracy against the wishes of the people. The French revolutionists divided the property amongst the people; the English aristocracy took the property to themselves!

10. But this was not all that they did against the people. Having become the lords of the immense estates of the church, they, as was natural, began to put an end to that joint-proprietorship which had before existed, and, the lives dying off, they assumed the absolute possession: the race of yeomen was, little by little, swept away, and the occupants became rackrenters, wholly dependent on the will of the aristocracy. From even the parochial clergy the aristocracy had taken a great part of their revenue, while, at the same time, they allowed them to marry; and thus were the poor left

without relief, and the churches without revenues to keep them in repair. Yet it was absolutely necessary, that provision should be made for these objects ; for, in the reign of Elizabeth, so great and so general was become the misery of the people, and so manifestly was open rebellion approaching, that it was, after numerous efforts to avoid it, finally resolved on to make by law an effectual and permanent provision for the poor, and for the repair of the churches. And how did reason and justice say that this ought to be done? By a tax, certainly, exclusively on the property taken from the church and given to the aristocracy. This is what ought to have been done; and even this would have been but a poor compensation for all that the coinmons had lost; but instead of this a law was marle to tax all the people for the relief of the poor and for the repairing of the churches; and this tax, for England alone, now amounts to the enormous sum of seven millions and a half of pounds sterling in a year.

11. The STUARTS, who came to the throne immediately after the making of this law, besides being a feeble race of men, had not the protection which Elizabeth had found in the dread which the people had had of seeing the crown on the head of a Frenchman. The Stuarts, neither loved nor respected, had not the power to withstand the effects of the old grudge against

the aristocracy, combined, as it now was, with the most furious fanaticism, hardly got quietly along through the reign of James I.; and, in that of Charles I., had to undergo all the sufferings of a revolution. The REPUBLICANS, amidst all their fury against the remains of the Catholic church, did not forget its estates ; and, in spite of the arguments of the Royalists, proceeded very coolly, and, as all the world must say, very justly, to take the estates back again for public use.

12. The restoration of the STUARTS, which, like that of Louis XVIII., was produced partly by the tyranny of the man at the head of affairs and partly by treachery, restored these immense estates to the aristocracy; but did not restore to the Crown the estate which the Republicans had taken from it; so that, while the aristocracy retained all their enormous increase of wealth and power, the king, like the

poor,

became a charge on the public revenue; and thus were king as well as people placed at the mercy of the aristocracy; a state in which they have remained from that day to this,

13. Next came the “GLORIOUS REVOLUTION of 1688; and here the reader must have his senses at command to enable hiin to set the delusion of names at defiance. This revolution was made by the aristocracy, and for their sole benefit, and, like the Reformation, against the wish

of the people. It was forced upon the nation by an army brought from abroad; it was made by laws, passed by those who had not been chosen by the people to make laws; and that the revolution was for the benefit of the aristocracy, what need we of more proof than is contained in the following facts, well known to all the world ; that James II., who was a Catholic himself, wished to place Catholics upon a level with Protestants as to all civil rights ; that the nation was then but at only about fifty years from the death of many who had witnessed the transfer of the churchestates to the aristocracy, only at about forty years

from the time when those estates had been taken from the aristocracy by the republicans, and applied to public uses, and only at about thirty years from the time when the estates had been given back to the aristocracy again; that it was evident, that if the king could be a Catholic himself, and were permitted to place Catholics upon a level with Protestants, all inen would

say,

that the Reformation was unnecessary, and that the estates had been taken from the Catholic church unjustly, from which conclusion there could be but one step to the resumption of those estates by the nation.

14. To these facts add the following ; that the Prince of Orange was not invited to England by any meeting or assemblage of the people, nor by any person or body of persons chosen by the peo

« 이전계속 »