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[33] Voltaire ripened the speculative views which he pub-
chap. III.} 1763.
lished as English Letters; there Montesquieu sketched a government which should make liberty its end; and from English writings and example Rousseau derived the idea of a social compact. Every Englishman discussed public affairs; busy politicians thronged the coffee-houses; petitions were sent to parliament from popular assemblies; cities, boroughs, and counties framed addresses to the king: and yet, such was the stability of the institutions of England amidst the factious conflicts of parties, such her loyalty to law even in her change of dynasties, such her self-control while resisting power, such the fixedness of purpose lying beneath the restless enterprise of her intelligence, that the ideas which were preparing radical changes in the social system of other monarchies, held their course harmlessly within her borders, as winds playing capriciously round some ancient structure whose massive buttresses tranquilly bear up its roof, and towers, and pinnacles, and spires.

The Catholic kingdoms sanctified the kingly power by connecting it with the church and deriving its title-deed directly from heaven: Prussia was as yet the only great modern instance of a warlike state resting on an army; England limited her monarchy by law. Her constitution was venerable from its antiquity. Some traced it to Magna Charta, some to the Norman conquest, and some to the forests of Germany, where acts of legislation were debated and assented to by the people and by the nobles; but it was at the revolution of 1688, that the legislature definitively assumed the sovereignty by dismissing a monarch from the kingdom, as a landlord might dismiss

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