the humblest commoner; so that the universities in
their whole organization, at once upheld the institutions of England
, and found in them the security of their own privileges.
It might be supposed that the gates of the cities would have been barred against the influence of the aristocracy.
But it was not so. That influence was interwoven with the prosperity of the towns.
Entails were not perpetual; but land was always in the market; estates were often encumbered; and the national debt, which was intimately connected with all private credit and commercial transactions, was also in fact a mortgage upon all the soil of the kingdom.
The swelling expenses of the government increased its dependence on the moneyed class; and the leading minister needed the confidence of the city as well as of the country and the court.
Besides, it was not uncommon to see a wealthy citizen, toiling to amass yet greater wealth that he might purchase land and found a family, or giving his richly dowered daughter in marriage to a peer.
Every body formed a part of the aristocratic organization: a few desired to enter the higher class; the rest sought fortune in serving it.
Moreover; the interests of the trade of the nation had precedence of the political interests of the princes.
The members of the legislature watched popular excitements and listened readily to the petitions of the merchants; and these in their turn did not desire to see one of their own number charged with the conduct of the finances as chancellor of the exchequer; but wished rather for some member of the aristocracy, friendly to their interests.
They preferred to speak through such