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VAUGHAN'S REVOLUTIONS IN ENGLISH HISTORY.
This is a second instalment of a he may select and arrange his events work which we took an early oppor- according to his conception of their tunity of commending to the per- importance in the national developusal of our readers. We may remind ment. It is this last, we presume, them that Dr Vaughan surveys the which our author proposes to himhistory of England in order espe- self. Whether he always keeps in cially to answer the question, “Why mind this principle of selection, we England is England ?” Why this are not prepared to say. people have grown to be what they In his first volume, Dr Vaughan are? In other words, his object is described that admixture of races to to select from English history what- which we are generally supposed to ever has had a permanent influence be so much indebted. In the preupon the nation. In carrying out sent volume, he deals with those this philosophical design, he will phases of the Christian religion differ from other historians in the which, appearing either synchronlimits which he imposes on himself. ously or successively, have wrought All historians worthy of the name so potently on the moral character seek to show through what process of the people. And most assuredly, by what great events or great if we are justified in saying that a thoughts, a nation has advanced to variety of races has been conducive eminence; but if they are faithful to a good breed of men in these to their character of annalist, they islands, we may still more safely must necessarily admit into their assert that the moral character of the pages much that has had no such people has received a fortunate inpermanent influence. It is not for fluence from the various forms of the complete historian to decide for Christianity which have struggled all others what may or may not have for pre-eminence amongst them. left an enduring trace in the charac. We, for our own part, feel ourselves ter or destinies of a people. What- on surer ground when we speculate ever has greatly interested mankind, on the influence of a creed or church he is bound to perpetuate the record on the national character, than when of. He will form and state his own we theorise on the effect produced opinion of its importance; but he by the admixture of Celt and Saxon will know that others may arrive at and Norman. The difference of a quite different conclusion to his race is marked enough when you own, and will not take upon him- have an aboriginal Australian on the self the responsibility of expunging one hand and the English emigrant from the record what, to another on the other; and whether these are reasoner, may appear an event of two different species of men, or their great moment or full of political difference is to be accounted for by significance. He has the twofold the prolonged influence of climate duty imposed upon him of faithful and culture, the distinction is equalannalist and philosophical historian. ly marked; and an admixture of the But it does not follow that a writer two would probably result in a terwho aspires to no such complete tium quid of no very pleasing nature. ness may not limit himself to one But when we come down to races of these duties : he may content that so nearly resemble each other himself with being a full and exact as Celt and Saxon, we seem to be chronicler ; or, foregoing the claim remitted almost entirely to the for his work of a complete history, great causes of climate, food, geo
Revolutions in English History. volutions in Religion."
By ROBERT Vaughan, D.D. Vol. II.—“Re
graphical position, government, and enabled to give us a more just and religion, for the diversities between candid outline of the whole history nations. What part is there in than had before been possible. To European civilisation which a Celt this class our present author belongs. and a Saxon have not equally well Availing himself of the labours of fulfilled ? What religious faith is his contemporaries, and correcting it that they have not held, indivi- them by his own conscientious readdually at least, with equal tenacity? ing, we believe he has produced as What art is it that they have not fair a statement of our ecclesiastical practised with equal success? The transactions during this eventful sea makes them sailors alike; a period as could be expected from favourable position converts them any one pen. For, of course, our both into merchants. One does author has his religious convictions, not see why it was necessary that which must be allowed, in some dethese islands should have been peo- gree, to colour his narrative. pled by a variety of races. The But with strong religious convicadmixture of Celtic and Saxon blood tion he unites a liberal and phimay, or may not, have been essential losophic spirit. We quote with to the present Englishman : we do pleasure a few of the opening sennot pretend to decide on such a tences on the progressive developquestion ; but, at all events, it is ment of religion, which merit attenmuch more certain that the admix- tion from two classes of writers : ture of Catholic and Puritan modes from those who are loud and unof thinking was necessary to form compromising in their censures of the present national character of the past, and those who refuse to England.
us any hope of religious progress in “Revolutions in Religion !” The the future. It is often, indeed, the title itself suggests endless trains of very same writer who most vehethought. It is a topic which might mently denounces the persecuting tempt one to wander, with specula- spirit of the past, and also most retive gaze, over the whole history of solutely resists every progressive mankind. But we must limit our movement in the present. selves to the few revolutions in that
“We never fail to find religion in period of English history which is
some form wherever we find humanity. here brought under our view. It is The wants of our nature, in regard to a period of history which, to English social life and religious life, have the same readers, seems to be of inexhaustible spontaneous origin, and develop theminterest. Historian follows historian selves according to the same laws. When over the same ground—from the Re a people once come under influences faformation, commenced under Henry
vourable to progress, it is natural that
they should go on from bad to better, VIII., to the final settlement of our and from better to better still. It is so affairs, political and religious, at the with religion—even with revealed reliRevolution of 1688—and all appa- gion. There are social influences by rently find readers. All, or almost which even that may be deteriorated, all, will doubtless be found to have and others by which it may be purified contributed something to our clearer and elevated. Motives coming from our knowledge of this important period
i physical and moral nature contribute
alike to make intelligence progressive; in our annals. Some are discoverers: and the growth of intelligence tends, in on the faith of documents they have its turn, to insure a growth of cultivated brought to light, they present the feeling. So men come by degrees to old familiar characters and events have new convictions in regard to the in a novel aspect : such, for instance, just in social life, and to the true and in our own times, is Mr Froude pure in religious life, and are prepared to Others, following these, and having
endure much, and to dare much, in de
laying fence of such convictions. the advantage of their researches, " It is a narrow philosophy-a phiwithout the bias which invariably losophy falsely so called—which contents attends upon the first discovery, are itself with holding up the ignorance, the
VOL. XC.-NO. DL.
prejudice, and the intolerance too often ject as religion. In some way or found in religious men, as demonstrating other it must be led. Any power that everything belonging to the history that is able to secure a wide conforof religion must be contemptible or vicious. The folly and crime which be
mity of opinion, and establish a long to the history of civil government faith conducive to morality, may be do not demonstrate that government considered, in certain ages, as acting itself is a folly and a crime. The evils beneficently. “The susceptibiliof bad government may be great, but ties," as our author says, “that lead the evils of no government would be
us into error and intolerance are greater. Horrors have been perpetrated in the name of religion; and what horrors
from the Creator: kings and priests have not been perpetrated in the name do not create, could not eradicate of order and liberty? The susceptibili. them.” ties of religious thought and feeling in Even after a nation has passed man which have made errors connected through its stages of barbarism, with religion possible are from the
there is a certain blind instinctive Creator: kings and priests do not create
effort, so to speak, to organise itself them, could not eradicate them.”—P. 2.
under some uniform faith, which All this is most true, and worthy deserves our respect. It is by its of our reflection. Not only does universality that a faith becomes the general advance of intelligence strong. Men are conscious of this; have its legitimate influence on re- they feel that their own sense of ligious convictions, but it should be certainty is shaken by the contraunderstood that the errors and in- dictions of others. They dimly tolerance of past ages, which it is feel that, if not truth, there will be our business to hold up to view as peace and sense of certainty for all, things to be altogether avoided for if all will but think alike. the future, may often be regarded, This general observation of Dr historically, as having their neces- Vaughan's, which teaches us tolersary place in the development of ance for the intolerance of the past, human society. The analogy which soon receives an application. The the author suggests to us between first revolution which he is called a cruel military despotism and a upon to notice is that nationalism, persecuting priestly religion, is a as he designates it, which was invery fair analogy, and worth pon- augurated by Henry VIII. Here dering on. No one wants an abso- we assuredly find a very harsh lute and capricious despot-no one exercise of power, leading to what hesitates a moment in denouncing has been generally recognised, both such a government; and yet there by English politicians and English was a time in the annals of man- tbeologians, as a good result. For kind when the military tyrant, by this nationalism not only separated uniting great multitudes of men the Anglican from the Universal or under one common rule, was really Catholic Church, and thus led the advancing the cause of peace and of way to the Reformation, but it also jurisprudence, and when his tyranny stamped the character of the Reforwas really the best possible govern- mation in after years. Nationalism ment. In like manner, the writer came first, and a national and schoor the orator of the nineteenth lastic Protestantism afterwards. century cannot be better employed But though Henry VIII. and a than in denouncing persecution and small party in the legislature may the tyranny of priesthoods; yet here have been desirous of constructing a also it is clear that tyrannical priest national church which should have hoods have in times past provided differed from the Catholic only in for the mass of the people the best its ecclesiastical organisation, it is religion they were capable of re- plain that they could not have succeiving. A very rude and ignorant ceeded, even in the first step of dispeople has no rational conviction, ruption, if they had not been supand can have none, on such a sub- ported by a large party amongst the people who were bent on a change political movement which opened a in the doctrines themselves of the way for it, but wbich modified its Catholic Church. It was this con- action, and under the protection of temporary religious movement that which it was compelled to come to enabled Henry to sever England some compromise even with the from the great European hierarchy, doctrines of the Catholic Church. and surmount his crown by some But there was always a party semblance of a tiara. It was the amongst the Protestants who would hope of finally shaking off alto- not submit to any such compromise: gether the yoke of Catholic doctrine these bear the name of Puritans. which made serious and religious The power which the Tudors assummen view with complacency the ed over the religious worship, and transfer of a spiritual power to the even the religious faith or profesmonarch. There was always, indeed, sions, of the people, was in itself as à class of civilians and jurists who grievous and tyrannical as that looked with jealousy on the “Italian power of the Pope it displaced. priest,” who resented the interfer- Nay, it was something still more ence of the foreigner and the en- formidable, for it lay close at hand, croachment of the ecclesiastics and could send its victim most exThese would follow with pleasure peditiously to the stake, or the block, the nationalising policy of Henry. or the prison. But, on the other But no faithful and religious Catho- hand, it probably relieved the nation lic could have been otherwise than from a new priestly tyranny that scandalised and outraged by it. might otherwise spring out of the And it was the widespread defec- Reformation itself. If our Refortion amongst religiously disposed mation had proceeded entirely from people that alone accounts for the the people, as led by their favourite almost passive acquiescence of a pastors—if it had been exclusively a nation still bearing the name of religious movement—the Reformed Catholic in a measure so directly Church, according to the strong tenrepugnant to all Catholic sentiment. dency of the times, would have Nationalism and Protestantism went sought, not freedom only, but on side by side; and at first nation- predominance over the State. All alism, which triumphed by the churches, all religious bodies, resecret aid of Protestantism, seemed semble each other in one respect : to triumph also over its modest ally. they naturally develop for themAfterwards their relative positions selves an organisation based excluwere somewhat changed. But the sively on religious ideas, and they history of these two movements, quite as naturally regard this orending in the compromise of our ganisation as having a supremacy present Church of England, consti- over all merely mundane or tempotutes the history of our Reforma- ral institutions. The Catholic and tion.
Puritan would perfectly agree in What was essentially the Refor- this, that no civil power ought to mation? It was the revival of the interfere with spiritual affairs; and, Seriptures, and the exalting them moreover, that wherever the spiritinto a position they never apparent- ual power has a word to say on ly had occupied before, as sole temporal affairs, that word should teachers of the religious faith of be of supreme authority, and find, mankind. The enthusiastic men in the civil magistrate, a faithful who received these oracles, giving servant and administrator. The their exclusive and unlimited faith strong hand of Henry VIII. placed to them-whether they are called the political power of King and ParLutherans or Calvinists—form the liament above the priesthood or the real religious and aggressive ele- clergy. It may be said that the diment of the Reformation. In Eng- versity of sects that would have land this party was preceded by a spontaneously arisen under the Reformation (if the civil power had to be a coarse, dogmatic, brutal exercised no control over the forma- tyrant. Mr Froude has opened a tion of opinion) would have pre- discussion on the character of this vented any one sect from obtaining monarch. We think that the proa predominance in the state. But blem, such as it is, had been already carrying our minds back to the in- solved by Sharon Turner, who, in tellectual condition of the people his history of this reign, draws atunder the Tudors, we can hardly tention to the marked difference wish that there had been at that between the earlier and later portime a perfect freedom for sectarian tions of it-between the youngerand development. The action of the the older king-between the Henry State, in labouring for some unifor- who had Wolsey for his minister, mity of creed amongst the people, and the Henry who sent Sir Thomas appears to us upon the whole to More to the scaffold. Having once have been beneficent, although we broken with the Pope, and resolved certainly cannot always trace a very to be Pope in his own dominions, benevolent spirit in the actors them- no man ever trod more ruthlessly selves.
on the religious convictions of Nothing could be more weak or others. And, because his own deshallow, as Dr Vaughan justly ob- sign was one essentially of political serves, than to attribute the Refor- ambition, he persisted in declaring mation in England to the angry that the conscientious and religious passions of Henry VIII. On the opposition he met with was essenother hand, it would be equally ab- tially treason and rebellion. What surd to attribute to Henry VIII. had the poor Carthusians, for inany desire to reform our religion at stance, to do with treason and reall. His rupture with the Court of bellion, who desired only to proceed Rome was with him a quite personal with their prayers in peace, and affair : he found himself the sport were dragged from their retirement of Pope and Emperor, and resolved merely to make a declaration that at last, like a bold monarch as he violated one of their most rooted was, to do without a Pope. The convictions and strongest of religistate of public opinion at the time ous sentiments ? It may be worth enabled him to have his will ; and while to recall this characteristic we, looking back, are well content incident as recorded by Dr Vaugthat he should have seized for him- han :self, and for succeeding governments in England, a legislative and admi- “Haughton and his monks appear nistrative supremacy over the affairs to have been pious, conscientious, and of the Church. But we cannot ad
not ad simple-minded men. They had hesi.
tated to take the Succession Oath, and mire for a moment the conduct of
the prior had been sent to the Tower on the man. It was cruel, unreason that ground. But after a painful able, tyrannical. We have no wish struggle, he had conformed, and the to represent this monarch as alto brotherhood under him had followed his gether divested of princely virtues. example. The Oath of Supremacy, howIn the earlier period of his life he
ever, was, to consciences already some. won the golden opinions of the
what ill at ease, a still greater difficulty.
The conclusion of the inmates of the world, and he appears to have en
Charter House was, that they could not tered on his kingly office with some take it. Being thus resolved, they consense of kingly duty: he was then fessed themselves one to another, partook a conscientious man ; but his na- of the Eucharist together, and awaited tural temper was not benign. their fate as men already condemned. Fretted by the Pope, spoilt by the
"When examined, they declined to
take the prescribed bath. Reasonings, people, unhappy in his matrimonial
persuasions, terror, produced no impresrelations, soured and hardened (as
sion on those men. So their fate was most men are who enter them) by sealed; and Haughton then stated plainly, theological controversies, he grew in behalf of himself and his brethren, the