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and honour of their nation. The next prop is the change of their ancient constitution, in the time of Charles the Seventh, by consent; for about that time, the country being so wasted by the invasion and excursions of the English, the States then assembled petitioned the King that he would give them leave to go home, and dispose of affairs himself and order the government for the future as he thought fit. Upon this his successor, Lewis the Eleventh, being a crafty prince, took an occasion to call the States no more, but to supply them with an Assemblée des Notables, which were certain men of his own nomination, like Barebones' parliament here, but that they were of better quality. These in succeeding reigns (being the best men of the kingdom) grew troublesome and intractable; so that for some years the edicts have been verified (that is, in our language, bills have been p.) in the Grand Chamber of the Parliament at aris, commonly called the Chambre d'Audience, who lately, and since the imprisonment of President Brousselles and others during this king's minority, have never refused or scrupled any edicts whatsoever. Now, whenever this great king dies, and the States of the kingdom are restored, these two great props of arbitrary power are taken away. Besides these two, the constitution of the government of France itself is somewhat better fitted than ours to permit extraordinary power in the prince; for the whole people there possessing lands are gentlemen, that is, infinitely the greater part; which was the reason why in their Assembly of Estates the deputies of the provinces (which we call here knights of the shire) were chosen by and out of the gentry, and sat with the rs in the same chamber, as representing the gentry only, called petite noblesse. Whereas our knights here (whatever their blood is) are chosen by commoners, and are commoners; our laws and government taking no notice of any nobility but the persons of the peers, whose sons are likewise commoners, even their eldest, whilst their father lives. Now gentry are ever more tractable by a prince than a wealthy and numerous commonalty; out of which our gentry (at least those we call so) are raised from time to time; for whenever either a merchant, lawyer, tradesman, grazier, farmer, or any other, gets such an estate as that he or his son can live upon his lands, without exercising of any other calling, he becomes a gentleman. I do not say but that we have men very nobly descended amongst these; but they have no
re-eminence or distinction by the laws or government.
eside this, the gentry in #. are very needy and very numerous; the reason of which is, that the elder brother, in most parts of that kingdom, hath no more share in the division of the paternal estate than the cadets or younger brothers, excepting the principal house with the orchards and gardens about it, which they call Vol de chapon, as who should say, As far as a capon can fly at once. This house gives him the title his father had, who was called Seignior, or Baron, or Count of that place; which if he sells, he parts with his baronship, and, for aught I know, becomes in time roturier, or ignoble. This practice divides the lands into so many small parcels that the possessors of them, being noble, and having little to maintain their nobility, are fain to seek their fortune, which they can find no where so well as at the court, and so become the king's servants and soldiers, for they are generally courageous, bold, and of a good mien. None of these can ever advance themselves but by their desert, which makes them hazard themselves very desperately, by which means great numbers of them are killed, and the rest come in time to be great officers, and live splendidly upon the king's purse, who is likewise very liberal to them, and, according to their respective merits, gives them often, in the beginning of a campaign, a considerable sum to furnish out their equipage. These are a great prop to the regal power, it being their interest to support it, lest their gain should cease, and they be reduced to be poor provinciaua, that is country gentlemen, again. Whereas, if . had such estates as our country gentry have, they would desire to be at home at their ease; whilst these (having ten times as much from the king as their own estate can yield them, which supply must fail if the king's revenue were reduced) are perpetually engaged to make good all exorbitances. Doctor. This is a kind of governing by property too; and it puts me in mind of a gentleman of good estate in our country, who took a tenant's son of his to be his servant, whose father not long after dying left him a living of about ten pound a-year: the young man's friends came to him, and asked him why he would serve now he had an estate of his own able to maintain him. His answer was, that his own lands would yield him but a third part of what his service was worth to him in all ; besides, that he lived a pleasant life, wore good clothes, kept good company, and had the conversation of very retty maids that were his fellow servants, which made #. very well digest the name of being a servant. Eng. Gent. This is the very case. But yet service (in both these cases) is no inheritance ; and, when there comes a peaceable king in France, who will let his neighbours be quiet, or one that is covetous, these fine gentlemen will lose their employments, and their king this prop; and the rather because these gentlemen do not depend (as was said before) in any kind upon the great lords (whose standing interest is at court), and so cannot in a change be by them carried over to advance the court designs against their own good and that of their .# And thus much is sufficient to be said concerning France. OTHER PROSE writeRs—CUDworTH, MoRE, t- BARRow, &c. The most illustrious antagonist of metaphysical Hobbism, when first promulgated, was Dr. Ralph Cudworth, the First Part of whose “True Intellectual System of the Universe, wherein all the Reason and Philosophy of Atheism is Confuted,’ was first published in 1678. As a vast storehouse of learning, and also as a display of wonderful powers of subtle and far-reaching speculation, this celebrated work is almost unrivalled in our literature; and it is also written in a style of elastic strength and compass which places its author in a high rank among our prose classics. Along with Cudworth may be mentioned his friend and brother Platonist, Dr. Henry More, the author of numerous theological and philosophical works, and remarkable for the union of some of the most mystic notions with the clearest style, and of the most singular credulity with powers of reasoning of the highest order. Other two great theological writers of this age were the voluminous Richard Baxter and the learned and eloquent Dr. Robert Leighton, Archbishop of Glasgow. “Baxter,” says Bishop Burnet, “was a man of great piety; and, if he had not meddled in too many things, would have been esteemed one of the learned men of the age. He writ near two hundred books; of these three are large folios: he had a very moving and pathetical way of writing, and was his whole life long a man of great zeal and much simplicity; but was most unhappily subtle and metaphysical in every thing.” Of Leighton, whom he knew intimately, the same writer has given a much more copious account, a few sentences of which we will transcribe :—“His preaching had a sublimity both of thought and expression in it. The grace and gravity of his pronunciation was such that few heard him without a very sensible emotion. . . . It was so different from all others, and indeed from everything that one could hope to rise up to, that it gave a man an indignation at himself and all others. . . . His style was rather too fine; but there was a majesty and beauty in it that left so deep an impression that I cannot yet forget the sermons I heard him preach * Own Time, i. 180.
thirty years ago.” The writings of Archbishop Leighton that have come down to us have been held by some of the highest minds of our own day—Coleridge for one —to bear out Burnet's affectionate panegyric. But perhaps the greatest genius among the theological writers of this age was the famous Dr. Isaac Barrow, popularly known chiefly by his admirable Sermons, but renowned also in the history of modern science as, next to Newton himself, the greatest mathematician of his time. “As a writer,” the late Professor Dugald Stewart has well said of Barrow, “he is equally distinguished by the redundancy of his matter and by the pregnant brevity of his expression; but what more peculiarly characterises his manner is a certain air of powerful and of conscious facility in the execution of whatever he undertakes. Whether the subject be mathematical, metaphysical, or theological, he seems always to bring to it a mind which feels itself superior to the occasion, and which, in contending with the greatest difficulties, puts forth but half its strength. He has somewhere spoken of his Lectiones Mathematicae (which it may, in passing, be remarked, display metaphysical talents of the highest order) as extemporaneous effusions of his pen; and I have no doubt that the same epithet is still more literally applicable to his pulpit discourses. It is, indeed, only thus that we can account for the variety and extent of his voluminous remains, when we recollect that the author died at the age of forty-six.”f To these names may be added those of John Bunyan, the author of the Pilgrim's Progress, the most interesting of allegories, and of various other re
* Own Time, i. 135.