Glorious Revolution

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The Glorious Revolution, or Revolution of 1688, was the deposition and replacement of James II and VII as ruler of England, Scotland and Ireland by his daughter Mary II and his Dutch nephew and Mary's husband, William III of Orange, which took place between November 1688 and May 1689. The outcome of events in all three kingdoms and Europe, the Revolution was quick and relatively bloodless, though establishing the new regime took much longer and led to significant casualties. The term was first used by John Hampden in late 1689.

Quotes[edit]

  • [T]he Revolution of 1688...is the greatest thing done by the English nation. It established the State upon a contract, and set up the doctrine that a breach of contract forfeited the crown. ... Parliament gave the crown, and gave it under conditions. Parliament became supreme in administration as well as in legislation. The king became its servant on good behaviour, liable to dismissal for himself or his ministers. All this was not restitution, but inversion. Passive obedience had been the law of England. Conditional obedience and the right of resistance became the law. Authority was limited and regulated and controlled. The Whig theory of government was substituted for the Tory theory on the fundamental points of political science. The great achievement is that this was done without bloodshed, without vengeance, without exclusion of entire parties, with so little definiteness in point of doctrine that it could be accepted, and the consequences could be left to work themselves out.
    • Lord Acton, ‘The English Revolution’ (c. 1899–1901), quoted in Lectures on Modern History (1906), pp. 231–32
  • The Revolution was made to preserve our antient indisputable laws and liberties and that antient constitution of government which is our only security for law and liberty. ... The very idea of the fabrication of a new government is enough to fill us with disgust and horror. We wished at the period of the Revolution, and do now wish, to derive all we possess as an inheritance from our forefathers. Upon that body and stock of inheritance we have taken care not to inoculate any cyon alien to the nature of the original plant. All the reformations we have hitherto made have proceeded upon the principle of reverence to antiquity; and I hope, nay, I am persuaded, that all those which possibly may be made hereafter will be carefully formed upon analogical precedent, authority, and example.
  • Let their lordships look to the revolution of 1688, and then he would ask them, if it could have been carried into effect without the combinations of those great men, who restored and secured our religion, our laws, and our liberties, and without such mutual communications among them as would bring them under the description of a sect or party?
    • Lord Grey, speech in the House of Lords (19 February 1821), quoted in Parliamentary Debates, N.S. iv, pp. 744-59, quoted in Alan Bullock and Maurice Shock (ed.), The Liberal Tradition from Fox to Keynes (1967), pp. 13-16
  • My principles are, as I believe, the Whig principles of the revolution. The main foundation of them is the irresponsibility of the crown, the consequent responsibility of ministers, and the preservation of the power and dignity of parliament as constituted by law and custom. With a heap of modern additions, interpolations, facts and fictions, I have nothing to do.
    • Lord Melbourne to Lord Holland (10 December 1815), quoted in Philip Ziegler, Melbourne: A Biography of William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne (1976), p. 70
  • I reverence, as much as any one can do, the memory of those great men who effected the Revolution of 1688, and who rescued themselves and us from the thraldom of religious intolerance, and the tyranny of arbitrary power; but I think we are not rendering an appropriate homage to them, when we practice that very intolerance which they successfully resisted, and when we withhold from our fellow-subjects the blessings of that Constitution, which they established with so much courage and wisdom. ...[T]hat great religious radical, King William...intended to raise a goodly fabric of charity, of concord, and of peace, and upon which his admirers of the present day are endeavouring to build the dungeon of their Protestant Constitution. If the views and intentions of King William had been such as are now imputed to him, instead of blessing his arrival as an epoch of glory and happiness to England, we should have had reason to curse the hour when first he printed his footstep on our strand. But he came not here a bigoted polemic, with religious tracts in one hand, and civil persecution in the other; he came to regenerate and avenge the prostrate and insulted liberties of England; he came with peace and toleration on his lips, and with civil and religious liberty in his heart.
    • Lord Palmerston, speech in the House of Commons (18 March 1829) in favour of Catholic Emancipation, quoted in George Henry Francis, Opinions and Policy of the Right Honourable Viscount Palmerston, G.C.B., M.P., &c. as Minister, Diplomatist, and Statesman, During More Than Forty Years of Public Life (1852), pp. 84-85
  • The English tradition of liberty...grew over the centuries: its most marked features are continuity, respect for law and a sense of balance, as demonstrated by the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

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