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The Ifs of History
written by "Chamberlin, Joseph Edgar" Mary, Queen of Scots. She was a zealous Catholic, and England had just fully established its religious independence. It is true that Mary's son and heir, James, who afterward became King of England, as well as of Scotland, was a Protestant, but the loyalty of the adhesion of his house to the new confession might well have been distrusted. There was no promise of happiness for England in the accession of a prince or princess of this house to its throne. But the Stuarts came—and the troubles of England began in real[Pg 53] earnest. Elizabeth's reign had been, as it then seemed to all Englishmen, and as in very many respects it was, the golden age of Britain. Never had art, and literature, and material prosperity, risen to so high a level. The world seemed opening to a new and glorious life, like a rose bursting into bloom. In literature it had been the age of Shakespeare and Bacon. But with the Stuarts, literature and art passed into a long eclipse. Shakespeare's light may be said to have gone out for a hundred years, to be lighted again only from the borrowed torch of German culture. Let us suppose that Elizabeth had been able to find a consort as wise and as harmless as was Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. Let us suppose that the pair had left behind them a thoroughly English prince, their own son, a man who would have been capable of continuing Elizabeth's prudent rule and of holding England to its traditions[Pg 54] while maintaining the extraordinary advance that had marked her splendid reign. Without James's mingled poltroonery and tyranny to nurse and stimulate it, it is doubtful if Puritanism would have had its spasm of ascendency. English history would have been spared an epoch of chaos, of wild experimentation, of political empirics. At the same time it would have been deprived of a form of political genius which was hammered out of the fire of rebellion. English Whiggism, Eng...

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