Letters on England eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 113 pages of information about Letters on England.

That which rises to a revolution in England is no more than a sedition in other countries.  A city in Spain, in Barbary, or in Turkey, takes up arms in defence of its privileges, when immediately it is stormed by mercenary troops, it is punished by executioners, and the rest of the nation kiss the chains they are loaded with.  The French are of opinion that the government of this island is more tempestuous than the sea which surrounds it, which indeed is true; but then it is never so but when the king raises the storm—­when he attempts to seize the ship of which he is only the chief pilot.  The civil wars of France lasted longer, were more cruel, and productive of greater evils than those of England; but none of these civil wars had a wise and prudent liberty for their object.

In the detestable reigns of Charles IX. and Henry III. the whole affair was only whether the people should be slaves to the Guises.  With regard to the last war of Paris, it deserves only to be hooted at.  Methinks I see a crowd of schoolboys rising up in arms against their master, and afterwards whipped for it.  Cardinal de Retz, who was witty and brave (but to no purpose), rebellious without a cause, factious without design, and head of a defenceless party, caballed for caballing sake, and seemed to foment the civil war merely out of diversion.  The Parliament did not know what he intended, nor what he did not intend.  He levied troops by Act of Parliament, and the next moment cashiered them.  He threatened, he begged pardon; he set a price upon Cardinal Mazarin’s head, and afterwards congratulated him in a public manner.  Our civil wars under Charles VI. were bloody and cruel, those of the League execrable, and that of the Frondeurs ridiculous.

That for which the French chiefly reproach the English nation is the murder of King Charles I., whom his subjects treated exactly as he would have treated them had his reign been prosperous.  After all, consider on one side Charles I., defeated in a pitched battle, imprisoned, tried, sentenced to die in Westminster Hall, and then beheaded.  And on the other, the Emperor Henry VII., poisoned by his chaplain at his receiving the Sacrament; Henry III. stabbed by a monk; thirty assassinations projected against Henry IV., several of them put in execution, and the last bereaving that great monarch of his life.  Weigh, I say, all these wicked attempts, and then judge.

LETTER IX.—­ON THE GOVERNMENT

That mixture in the English Government, that harmony between King, Lords, and commons, did not always subsist.  England was enslaved for a long series of years by the Romans, the Saxons, the Danes, and the French successively.  William the Conqueror particularly, ruled them with a rod of iron.  He disposed as absolutely of the lives and fortunes of his conquered subjects as an eastern monarch; and forbade, upon pain of death, the English either fire or candle in their

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Letters on England from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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