leaving his people divided into castes, made the welfare
of the kingdom paramount to privilege.
He challenged justice under the law for the humblest against the highest.
He among Protestants set the bright pattern of the equality of Catholics
in worship and in civil condition.
To heal the conflict of franchises in the several provinces of his realm, he planned a general code, of which the faults are chiefly due to the narrowness of the lawyers of his day. His ear was open to the sorrows of the poor and the complaint of the crushed; and as in time of war he shared peril and want with the common soldier, in peace the peasant that knocked at his palace gate was welcome to a hearing.
‘I love the lineage of heroes,’ he would say, ‘but I love merit more.’
‘Patents of nobility are but phantoms; true worth is within.’
As he studied the history of the human race, the distinctions of rank vanished before his eyes; so that he would say, ‘Kings
are nothing but men, and all men are equal.’
Thus he arraigned the haughtiness of hereditary station, yet without forming purposes or clear conceptions of useful change.
Not forfeiting the affection of his people, and not exciting their restless impatience, he yet made no effort to soften the glaring contrast between his philosophy and the political constitution of his kingdom.
In the age of doubt he was its hero.
Full of hope for the people, yet distrusting them for their blind superstitions; scoffing at the arrogance of the nobility and the bigoted pride of legitimate kings, yet never devising their overthrow; rejecting atheism as an absurdity1
, yet never achieving the serene repose of an unwavering faith;