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[291] Their followers already constituted a powerful politi-
Chap. VIII.}
cal party; inquired into the nature of government, in parliament opposed monopolies, limited the royal prerogatives, and demanded a reform of ecclesiastical abuses. ‘The precious spark of liberty,’ says an historian who was never accused of favoring the Puritans, ‘had been kindled and was preserved by the Puritans alone.’ Popular liberty, which used to animate its friends by appeals to the examples of ancient republics, now listened to a voice from the grave of Wickliffe, from the ashes of Huss, from the vigils of Calvin. Victorious over her foreign enemies, Elizabeth never could crush the religious sect, of which the increase seemed dangerous to the state. Her career was full of glory abroad; it was unsuccessful against the progress of opinion at home. In the latter years of her reign, her popularity declined; and her death was the occasion of little regret. ‘In four days, she was forgotten.’1 The multitude, fond of change, welcomed her successor with shouts; but when the character of that successor was better known, they persuaded themselves that they had revered Elizabeth to the last, and that her death had been honored by inconsolable grief.

The accession of King James would, it was be-

1603 April 3.
lieved, introduce a milder system; and the Puritans might hope even for favor. But the personal character of the new monarch could not inspire confidence.

The pupil of Buchanan was not destitute of learning nor unskilled in rhetoric. Protected from profligate debauchery by the austerity of public morals in Scotland, and incapable of acting the part of a statesman, he had aimed at the reputation of a ‘most learned ’

1 Cartes England, III. 707

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