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Falsification Of English History
by [?]


[1] This is remarked by her editor and descendant Julius Hutchinson, who adds some words to this effect–‘that if the patriot of that day were the inventors of the maxim [The king can do no wrong], we are much indebted to them.’ The patriots certainly did not invent the maxim, for they found it already current: but they gave it its new and constitutional sense. I refer to the book, however, as I do to almost all books in these notes, from memory; writing most of them in situations where I have no access to books. By the way, Charles I., who used the maxim in the most odious sense, furnished the most colorable excuse for his own execution. He constantly maintained the irresponsibility of his ministers: but, if that were conceded, it would then follow that the king must be made responsible in his own person:–and that construction led of necessity to his trial and death.

[2] Amongst these Mr. D’Israeli in one of the latter volumes of his ‘Curiosities of Literature’ has dedicated a chapter or so to a formal proof of this proposition. A reader who is familiar with the history of that age comes to the chapter with a previous indignation, knowing what sort of proof he has to expect. This indignation is not likely to be mitigated by what he will there find. Because some one madman, fool, or scoundrel makes a monstrous proposal–which dies of itself unsupported, and is in violent contrast to all the acts and the temper of those times, –this is to sully the character of the parliament and three-fourths of the people of England. If this proposal had grown out of the spirit of the age, that spirit would have produced many more proposals of the same character and acts corresponding to them. Yet upon this one infamous proposal, and two or three scandalous anecdotes from the libels of the day, does the whole onus of Mr. D’Israeli’s parallel depend. Tantamne rem tam negligenter?–in the general character of an Englishman I have a right to complain that so heavy an attack upon the honor of England and her most virtuous patriots in her most virtuous age should be made with so much levity: a charge so solemn in its matter should have been prosecuted with a proportionate solemnity of manner. Mr. D’Israeli refers with just applause to the opinions of Mr. Coleridge: I wish that he would have allowed a little more weight to the striking passage in which that gentleman contrasts the French revolution with the English revolution of 1640-8. However, the general tone of honor and upright principle, which marks Mr. D’Israeli’s’ work, encourages me and others to hope that he will cancel the chapter–and not persist in wounding the honor of a great people for the sake of a parallelism, which–even if it were true–is a thousand times too slight and feebly supported to satisfy the most accommodating reader.

[3] Sir William and his cousin Sir Hardress Waller, were both remarkable men. Sir Hardress had no conscience at all; Sir William a very scrupulous one; which, however, he was for ever tampering with–and generally succeeded in reducing into compliance with his immediate interest. He was, however, an accomplished gentleman: and as a man of talents worthy of the highest admiration.

[4] Until after the year 1688, I do not remember ever to have found the term Whig applied except to the religious characteristics of that party: whatever reference it might have to their political distinctions was only secondary and by implication.

[5] Sir William had quoted to Charles a saying from Gourville (a Frenchman whom the king esteemed, and whom Sir William himself considered the only foreigner he had ever known that understood England) to this effect: ‘That a king of England who will be the man of his people, is the greatest king in the world; but, if he will be something more, by G– he is nothing at all.’