previous next
[44] bishops in the church, of officers in the navy, and still
chap. III.} 1763.
more in the army, in which even boys at school held commissions, and we shall find that the aristocracy of England absorbed all the functions of administration.

Yet, even here, the spirit of aristocracy was reined in. Every man claimed a right to sit in judgment on the administration; and the mighty power of public opinion,1 embodied in a free press, pervaded, checked, and, in the last resort, nearly governed the whole. Nor must he who will understand the English institutions leave out of view the character of the enduring works which had sprung from the salient energy of the English mind. Literature had been left to develope itself. William of Orange was foreign to it; Anne cared not for it; the first George knew no English; the second, not much. Devotedness to the monarch is not impressed on English literature; but it willingly bore the mark of its own aristocracy.

Envy must own I live among the great,

was the boast of the most finished English poet of the eighteenth century. Neither the earlier nor the later literature put itself at war with the country or its classes. The philosophy of Bacon, brilliant with the richest lustre of a creative imagination and extensive learning, is marked by moderation as well as grandeur; and, like that principle of English institutions which consults

1 ‘He who, speculating on the British constitution, should omit from his enumeration the mighty power of public opinion, embodied in a free press, which pervades, and checks, and perhaps, in the last resort, nearly governs the whole, would give but an imperfect view of the government of England.’—Speech, at Liverpool, of Canning, who died before the reform of parliament.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Orange, N. J. (New Jersey, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
English (1)
Canning (1)
Bacon (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1763 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: