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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

He founded a supreme court independent of popular agitation


This

precisely corresponded to the idea of his government. After all had become doubtful owing to the alternate fluctuations of parties he had established his personal claim by the fortune of arms, and made it the central point of his government. Was he to allow it to be again endangered by the ceaseless ebb and flow of popular opinion? He founded a supreme court independent of popular agitation, a finance system independent of the grants of a popular assembly.

But he thus found himself under the disadvantage of having to apply compulsion unceasingly: his government bore throughout the bitter and hateful character of a party-government. With untiring jealousy he watched the secret opponents who still looked out for some movement from abroad, as a signal for fresh revolt: he kept diaries of their doings and conduct: it was said he availed himself of the confessional for this purpose: men whose names were from time to time solemnly cursed at S. Paul's on account of past treasons, so that they counted for open enemies, became useful to him as spies. If the decision lay between services received and suspicious conduct, the latter easily weighed down the balance, to the ruin of the victim. William Stanley, who had played the most important part in the battle which decided the fate of the crown, and was regarded as almost the first man in the realm after the King, had at the appearance of Perkin Warbeck (who gave himself out as Edward's younger son, Richard

of York) let slip the words, 'he would take his side, if he were the person he gave himself out to be.' He had to atone for these words by his death, since he had intimated a doubt as to the King's lawful right, which might mislead others into sedition. Gradually the movements ceased: the high nobility showed a loyal submission to the King: yet it did not attach itself to him, it let him and his government alone. The King's principle was, to execute the laws most strictly, yet he was not cruel by nature; if men implored his mercy, he was ready to grant it. The contracted position of a sovereign, who maintains his authority with the utmost strictness, does not however exclude a paternal care for the country. Henry clipped his people's wings, to accustom them to obedience, and then was glad when they grew again. We find even that he made out a sketch of how the land should be cultivated so that every man might be able to live. The people did not love him, but it did not exactly hate him either: this was quite enough for Henry VII.

A slight man, somewhat tall, with thin light-coloured hair, whose countenance bore the traces of the storms he had passed through; in his appearance he gave the impression of being a high ecclesiastic rather than a chivalrous King. He was in this almost the exact opposite of Edward IV. He too certainly arranged public festivities and spared no expense to make them splendid, since his dignity demanded it, but his soul took no pleasure in them, he left them as soon as ever he could; he lived only in business. In his council sat men of mark, sagacious bishops, experienced generals, magistrates learned in the law: he held it to be his duty and his interest to hear their advice. And they were not without influence: one or two were noted as able to restrain his self-seeking will. But the main affairs he kept in his own hands. All that he undertook he conducted with great foresight and as a rule he carried it through. Foreigners regarded him as cunning and deceitful; to his own people his successful prudence seemed to have something supernatural about it. If he had personal passions, he knew how to keep them under; he seemed always calm and sober, sparing of words and yet affable.


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