wayward wavering of the English court between Pro-
testantism and the Roman Catholic
religion, between voluptuousness and faith; least read, because least proudly national.
was the cherished poet of English aristocratic life, as it existed in the time of Bolingbroke
; flattering the great with sarcasms against kings; an optimist, proclaiming order as the first law of Heaven.
None of all these, not even Milton
, provoked to the overthrow of the institutions of England
Nor had the skepticism of modern philosophy penetrated the mass of the nation, or raised vague desires of revolution.
It kept, rather, what was held to be the best company.
It entered the palace during the licentiousness of the two former reigns; and though the court was now become decorous and devout, still the nobility, and those who, in that day, were called ‘the great,’ affected free-thinking as a mark of high breeding, and laughed at the evidence of piety in any one of their order.
But the spirit of the people rebelled against materialism; if worship, as conducted in the parish church, had no attractive warmth, they gathered round the preacher in the fields, eager to be assured that they had within themselves a spiritual nature and a warrant for their belief in immortality; yet, under the moderating influence of Wesley, giving the world the unknown spectacle of a fervid reform in religion, combined with unquestioning deference to authority in the state.
English metaphysical philosophy itself bore a character of moderation analogous to English institutions.
In open disregard to the traditions of the Catholic church, Locke
had denied that thought implies an immaterial substance; and Hartley
and the chillingly