Will the readers of this little work please bear in mind the difficulties which must attend the painting of a very large picture, with multitudinous characters and details, upon a very small canvas! This book is mainly an attempt to trace to their sources some of the currents which enter into the life of England to-day; and to indicate the starting-points of some among the various threads—legislative, judicial, social, etc.—which are gathered into the imposing strand of English Civilization in this closing 19th Century.
The reader will please observe that there seem to have been two things most closely interwoven with the life of England. RELIGION and MONEY have been the great evolutionary factors in her development.
It has been, first, the resistance of the people to the extortions of money by the ruling class, and second, the violating of their religious instincts, which has made nearly all that is vital in English History.
The lines upon which the government has developed to its present Constitutional form are chiefly lines of resistance to oppressive enactments in these two matters. The dynastic and military history of England, although picturesque and interesting, is really only a narrative of the external causes which have impeded the Nation's growth toward its ideal of "the greatest possible good to the greatest possible number."
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