History of England, Part III, William and Mary to 1887

Tout, T. F. --Powell, F. York

1898

INTRODUCTION 1689-1760.

THE Revolution completed the work that the Long Parliament had already more than half done, but which in some ways the Restoration bade fair to undo.

It put an end to the doctrines of Divine Right and Passive Obedience which had raised the monarchy into a sort of sacred position far above human law. It made the king the first magistrate of a free state, with definite work to do. If he neglected it he could be sent about his business. It cut down his legal powers wherever they seemed dangerous.

It secured the triumph of Parliament over the Crown. The triumph of Parliament meant, in the long run, the triumph of the Commons, who now gradually got into their hands most of the powers that the Constitution still left to the king. The king's ministers soon became in reality the ministers of the Commons, who thus got the control of the executive power. But the Commons were a close body, mostly consisting of landlords and rich gentlemen. Their triumph made England an aristocracy instead of a monarchy. Side by side with the legal constitution grew a new customary constitution that superseded it. Cabinet government, aristocratic influence, constitutional monarchy were the chief notes of the new period. But the changes were less in form than in spirit.

The Revolution brought about equal changes in the Church. It destroyed the strong priestly power which for a century had been the one great support of monarchy. But Puritanism as well as Anglicanism gave way before the new spirit of Rationalism. The Dissenters got Toleration.

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Yet the constitution of the Church was not altered, despite the new spirit that came over it.

The Revolution brought some sort of civil liberty to Scotland with that form of church government which the Scots liked best. It finally led to the union of Scotland with England. To Ireland it simply renewed in a more grievous form the Protestant and English ascendency.

The Revolution restored England to its right place as a great power in Europe. The first result was the fall of the French supremacy over Europe.

The Revolution made England the greatest commercial and maritime state in Europe. When waging war to uphold her political interests and the balance of power, England now keeps a keen eye on winning advantages for her trade. Her navy now becomes her chief care. Her colonies and trading stations spread her name and tongue over every continent.

But tendencies work slowly, and in England perhaps more slowly than anywhere. It took two generations for all these great changes to be carried out, and even then plenty of traces remained of the old state of things.

The new system makes a fair start under Under we seem in some ways to be back in 's time. The reigns of the two Georges mark the completion of the change.

 
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