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despots, even more monstrous than those who claimed to rule by divine right.
In the midst of anarchy and confusion, one mighty hand seizes upon the reins of government, and calling to his aid the force of the bayonet, subjects the whole country to his sway. His grasping ambition arouses the nations, and he, too, is prostrated, like a pyramid hurled into atoms, and levelled with the dust.
The ancient monarchy is now restored. Again the king resorts to an act of tyranny, and again the tempest of revolution bursts upon the people. But, amid all this confusion, something has been learned. Some progress has been made in the education of the people in the art of self-government, and now they are able to secure the advantages of their triumph over a despotic ruler. The result of this second revolution in France, was the securing of a charter, or a constitution, which is a barrier to the power of the crown, and a protection to the liberties of the people. Thus the government of France has become a limited, or constitutional, monarchy, instead of a despotic one, as it was, in effect, down to the time of Louis XVI.
The lower house, in the legislative branch, is called the Chamber of Deputies; the upper house, the Chamber of Peers. The peers are nominated by the king. The whole number of persons who vote for deputies, is but about 130,000. The forms and modes of proceeding in the French parliament, are similar to those in the British narliament,
The political history of Great Britain is worthy of the most attentive perusal; for here we shall see the best delineations of the struggles of mankind for liberty, to be found in the records of the human family. Here we shall also find the germs of our own political institutions; and seeing how mighty has been the cost at which freedom has been discovered and vindicated, we shall learn to appreciate the blessings we enjoy.
The first knowledge of Britain appears to have been acquired in the time of Cæsar, who partially conquered the country about fifty years before Christ. Succeeding generals completed this conquest, and it became a Roman province.
Rome held possession of the country till about A. D. 450, when she was herself prostrated by the Goths and Vandals. During this period she had partially civilized the Britons, who, like the Gauls, were Celts, living in a nearly savage state. No longer protected by the Romans, Britain fell a prey to the Danes, and afterwards to the Saxons, who established their dominion in the country.
During these events, the population of England became a mixture of the original Britons, Romans, Danes and Saxons, though the last constitute by far the largest ingredient. Alfred the great, of the Saxon line, may be regarded as the founder of the English monarchy, and as the author of many of its best institutions.
He was the youngest son of Ethelwolf, king of the west Saxons, and was born at Wantage, in Berkshire. He went to Rome at the age of five years, and was anointed by the pope, although he then had an elder brother. However, in 872 he ascended the throne.
This was an unpropitious time, for the power of the Danes was then great and employed in harassing the Saxons, whose country they ravaged in various directions. Alfred concluded some treaties with them, but they were not kept; and, unable to make head against the invaders, he was compelled to fly, and in concealment to await a moment when his re-appearance would be advantageous for his country.
In the disguise of a harper he penetrated the Danish camp, to gain information of the strength of his foes, and, having satisfied himself, directed his nobles and their vassals to assemble at Selwood. Here he headed the troops, and attacking
the Danes at Eddington, gained a signal victory. He permitted those Danes who were willing to embrace the Christian religion, to remain in the kingdom of East Anglia, which he surrendered to them.
He built forts to secure his subjects, augmented and strengthened his navy, and established the prosperity of London on a firm basis. He met and defeated the Danes, who still persisted in attempting to obtain footing in England, and made his name a terror to the pirates; he fought fiftysix battles by sea and land, in every one of which he was personally engaged.
His zeal for the reformation of laws and manners, is as honorable to him as his military prow
He composed a code of laws, instituted the trial by jury, and divided England'into shires and tithings. So successful were his regulations that it is said the crime of robbery was unknown, and the most valuable goods might be exposed upon the highway, without any dread of thieves. Alfred formed a parliament, which met at London semi-annually.
He was an ardent lover of learning, and was himself a distinguished scholar. To promote it he invited learned men from all parts, and established schools throughout his kingdom. He is said to have been the founder of the University of Oxford, or, at least, to have exalted it to a height which it had never before attained. He composed several works, and translated others for the benefit of his subjects.
He was industrious and fond of order, dividing the twenty-four hours into three portions; one devoted to religious duties, another to public affairs,
and the third, to rest. Alfred laid the foundation of the navy of England, by building galleys of a size superior to any others of the age. In private life he was distinguished by piety, affability, and cheerfulness. His person was commanding and stately.
William, duke of Normandy, laid claim to the crown of England in 1066. Landing with an army he triumphed in the famous battle of Hastings, and was seated upon the throne, thus establishing a dynasty of French kings. He brought with him many French nobles, and encouraged others to settle in the country. He also adopted the French language as that of the court, the government, and the bar. Thus French manners became grafted upon those of the English; and the English tongue received that infusion of French words and idioms which appear to the present day.
JOHN came to the throne 1199.. He was a detestable tyrant, and even the barons, usually the supporters of the crown, right or wrong, united against him. Tired out with his exactions and his weaknesses, they called on him to sign a paper, securing certain rights and privileges to themselves and the people.
This John refused to do, but at last, finding himself abandoned by everybody, and in a most