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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 277



χ.] GROWTH OF IDEAS. 271 to me to differ from that of. the two preceding divisions, byJ the prominence and real importance of ideas, as compared^ with the earlier reigns of right and force. I need not repeat \ that the prominence and real importance, the theoretical and practical weight, of political ideas being admitted, we need not suppose either of the preceding principles to be extinguished ; nor, on the other hand, need we suppose that the ideas which latterly come to the forefront were either unknown or unappreciated in the earlier periods. I have just said that liberty, nationality, and the like were strong agents before they became the strongest ; we may freely admit that both force and right still exercise a strong influence, though not the strongest, in modern politics. Keeping this in mind, you will not expect me to discuss the origin and growth of the ideas in question ; rather it will be enough to indicate the point at which they seem to take such hold on the political mind as to presage their future importance. It seems to me that the partition of Poland, in the last century, was the event that forced the idea of nationality upon the world, and the revolt of the American provinces of the British empire that which forced the idea of self-government, not as a local British invention, but as a sort of political gospel, upon general belief. You will not suspect me of being a believer in the ' rights of man,' or in the legal position of the American revolutionists ; you will not, I trust, suspect me of believing that territorial right can ever be made a justification of moral iniquity or of abandoned misgovernment and tyranny: and yet I may insist more strongly on territorial right and believe more strongly in the universality of true principles than others who talk politics more fluently than I can deliver public statutory lectures. But to stick to facts: as the suppression of Poland, on the one side, forced on the world the conscience that nationality is more than a geographical formula, on the


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