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The History of England.

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The advantages, which result from an acquaintance with the history of our own country, are too obvious to require many previous obfervations. Such knowledge is of the greatest importance to all those who take an active part in the public fervice, either as officers of the army or navy, magiftrates, or members of parliament. And to perfons of all other descriptions it is equally agreeable, if not equally necessary; because, as every Englishman finds a peculiar gratification in deciding upon the propriety of political measures, and estimating the merits of those who direct the helm of

government; he cannot form correct opinions, by adverting to the plaus which have for ages been pursued, as conducive to the best interests of the nation, or by contemplating the caufes of national disgrace or glory, if he neglects to lay the foundation, upon which such correct opinions can alone be built.

The love of our country naturally awakens in us -a spirit of curiosity to inquire into the conduct of




our ancestors, and to learn the memorable events of their history: and this is certainly a far more urgent motive, than any which usually prompts us to the pursuit of other historical researches. Nothing that happened to our forefathers can be a matter of indifference to us. It is natural to indulge the mixed emotions of veneration and esteem for them; and our regard is not founded upon blind partiality, but results from the most steady and rational attachment. We are their descendants, we reap the fruits of their public and private labours, and we not only share the inheritance of their property, but derive reputatiou from their noble actions. A Russian or a Turk may have a strong predilection for his country, and entertain a profound veneration for his ancestors; but, destitutę as he finds himfelf of an equal share of the blessings which result from fecurity, liberty, and impartial laws, he can never feel the same generous and pure patriotism, which glows in the breast of a Briton.

If an Englishman, said the great Frederic of Prufia, has no knowledge of those kings that filled the throne of Perfa; if his memory is embarrassed with that infinite number of popes that ruled the church, we are ready to excuse him : but we fall hardly have the same indulgence for him, if he is a Stranger to the origin of parliaments, to the customs of his country, and to the different lines of kings who have reigned in England". Memoirs of the House of Brandenburg.

In the eventful pages of her history, England presents fome of the most interesting scenes that the annals of the world can produce. In this country liberty has maintained frequent and bloody conflicts with despotism; sometimes the has funk oppressed under the chains of tyrants, and sometimes reared her head in triumph. Here Charles the first brought, in defiance of all justice, to the scaffold, and James the second compelled by the voice of his injured people to abdicatë his throne, have given awful lessons to the sovereigns of the world. Here kings and subjects, after engaging in the warmest opposition of interests, have made mutual concessions; and the prerogative of the 'one, and the privileges of the other, have been fixed upon the folid basis of the general good. In the midst of civil conimotions, as well as in the intervals of tranquillity, Science, Genius, and Arts have flourished, and advanced the national character above that of the neighbouring states. For this is the country of men defervedly renowned for their talents, learning, and discoveries in the various branches of art and science; to whom future generations will bow with respect and veneration, as to their guides and instructors. In this island Shakespeare and Milton displayed their vast powers of original genius, Locke developed the faculties of the mind, and Newton explained and illustrated the laws of nature. Here were trained those ad venturous Navigators, who have conveyed the British flag to the extremities of the globe, added new dominions to their native land, extended the



rauge of nautical fcience, and spread the blessings of civilization among the most remote people. Here mankind at large may contemplate a ConSTITUTION, which is propitious to the higheft advancement of the moral and intellectual powers of man, which ensures personal fafety, maintains perfonal dignity, and combines the public and private advantages of all other governments

This constitution, which has fo powerful and so happy an influence upon the character, sentiments, and prosperity of the British nation, arose from the conflict of discordant interests, and was meliorated by the wisdom of the most fagacious and enlightened legisators.

Reserving a more exact inquiry into the regular train of events for future studies, let us at present confine our attention to a short view of those memorable reigns, during which the principles of the present constitution were developed, and those laws' were enacted which form its support.


the Constitution is to be understood, « that collection of laws, establishments, and customs, derived from certain principles of expediency and justice, and directed to certain objects of public utility, according to which the majority of the British people have agreed to be governed.". Or, according to a more popular mode of definition, it is “ the legislative and executive government of Great Britain, consisting of the King, the House of Peers, and the House of Commons, as established at the Revolution, and as their privileges have been explained by subsequent acts of parliament."


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