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WILLIAM STUBBS Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects

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WILLIAM STUBBS
Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 276



27° GROWTH OF IDEAS IN POLICY. [X. But as the old influence of right lingered on, the new influence of idea was from time to time giving distinct warnings of a further change. There was an idea of religion, there was an idea of liberty, struggles for the vindication of historical nationalities, although, as ideas, they were overborne or absorbed by the mightier forces which played around them. It could scarcely be but that strong government should force up premature longings for liberty, or that ι, religious repression should compel a desire for tolerance. Yet we must not make too much of the first glimmerings of the changes that were coming. The revolt of the Netherlands was perhaps the most resolute attempt at liberty that had been seen since the middle ages opened ; the idea of nationality was strong in the Spanish provinces of the Hapsburg inheritance and in the Bohemia of the Thirty Years' War. But they never became ruling principles; nor were they likely to do so until they were emancipated from the mere selfish and localised interests with which they were bound up. Class liberties, isolated nationalities, local privileges, may keep up the memory, the tradition, of liberty, nationality, and privilege, but they do not become leading ideas until they have been accepted as universally just and desireable, until they can command assent and inspire sympathy. The religions that demanded toleration but meant tyranny were no true exponents of religious liberty: the classes that would limit royal prerogative to lay their hand heavier on their own vassals were no true exponents of constitutional government. The hand that cherishes nation-^ ality in Italy, and represses it in Greece, is no true defender of nationality. But the clock and the limit of my paper warn me to proceed at once, imperfectly as I must have indicated or suggested my view, to the third portion of the subject. _Later modern history, the history of the last hundred years, seems


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