history of england_david hume

Were we not assured of the solidity of his genius and

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Unformatted text preview: rebellion, by which they expected to acquire new confiscations and forfeitures, and to gratify those unbounded hopes, which they had formed in entering on this enterprize.y It is evident, that the chief reason of this alteration in the sentiments of the English, must be ascribed to the departure of William, who was alone able to curb the violence of his captains, and to overawe the mutinies of the people. Nothing indeed appears more strange, than that this prince, in less than three months after the conquest of a great, warlike, and turbulent nation, should absent himself, in order to revisit his own country, which remained in profound tranquillity, and was not menaced by any of its neighbours; and should so long leave his jealous subjects at the mercy of an insolent and licentious army. Were we not assured of the solidity of his genius, and the good sense displayed in all other circumstances of his conduct, we might ascribe this measure to a vain ostentation, which rendered him impatient to display his pomp and magnificence among his ancient subjects. It is therefore more natural to believe, that, in so extraordinary a step, he was guided by a concealed policy; and that, though he had thought proper at first to allure the people to submission by the semblance of a legal administration, he found, that he could neither satisfy his rapacious captains, nor secure his unstable government, without farther exerting the rights of conquest, and seizing the possessions of the English. In order to have a pretext for this violence, he endeavoured, without discovering his intentions, to provoke and allure them into insurrections, which, he thought, could never prove dangerous, while he detained all the principal nobility in Normandy, while a great and victorious army was quartered in England, and while he himself was so near to suppress any tumult or rebellion. But as no ancient writer has ascribed this tyrannical purpose to William, it scarcely seems allowable, from conjecture alone, to throw such an imputation upon him. But whether we are to account for that measure from the king’s Their insurrections. vanity or from his policy, it was the immediate cause of all the calamities which the English endured during this and the subsequent reigns, and gave rise to those mutual jealousies and animosities between them and the Normans, which were never appeased, till a long tract of time had gradually united the two nations, and made them one people. The inhabitants of Kent, who had first submitted to the Conqueror, were the first that attempted to throw off the yoke; and in confederacy with Eustace, count of Bologne, who had also been disgusted by the Normans, they made an attempt, though without success, on the garrison of Dover.z Edric, the Forester, whose possessions lay on the banks of the Severne, being provoked at the depredations of some Norman captains in his neighbourhood, formed an alliance with Blethyn and Rowallan, two Welsh princes; and endeavoured, with their assistance, to repel force by force.a But though these open hostilities were not very considerable, the disaffection...
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