Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/564

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stimulating influence of the independent pursuit of their calling as a trade.

The French government was extraordinarily successful in consolidating the nation by these means. Separate and local interests were cared for; but they were always kept in conscious subordination to the prosperity of the entire realm. The views of Henry were on the whole most judicious, and the suddenness of the revival of French prosperity is a testimony to the effectiveness of the administration. But a heavy price was being paid for these advantages; the national economic life was rendered dependent on royal initiative and royal supervision; in subsequent times French industry suffered from the over-elaboration of administrative machinery, while the commercial and colonial development of the country was destitute of the healthy vigour called out where private enterprise was allowed free play.

The success of the royal policy in England and France presents a marked contrast to the failure of the Spanish monarch, whose ultimate aim was nevertheless the same; each prince desired to raise the whole land over which he ruled into the highest pitch of prosperity. It was impossible for Charles V or Philip II to accumulate the treasure which was so necessary for the country, and with the aid of which each hoped in his turn to become the most powerful ruler in the world. The American silver could not be kept in Spain, and there was so little native capital for use in that widely extended empire, that it declined. England, on the other hand, was consciously developed by the great middle class, who were ready to invest comparatively small sums in promising undertakings, while the government gave active support to the foreign capitalists and workers whose experience was so valuable. The English minister, Cecil, nursed the realm as carefully as if he were the steward of a private estate, but he was hampered by the poverty of the Crown, and his great work lay in stimulating other people to take the initiative and trust to themselves for their own remuneration.

As we have just seen the revival of France was due to the capital in the hands of the King, whose measures were largely innovations and experiments carried out in spite of opposition. In England the development of the country was carried on by the people, in France for the people; but both countries attained a high degree of national prosperity. Huge empires, like those of Macedonia and Rome, had already been familiar in the ancient world, but nations constituted like France and England were something quite new. The intimate union of all parts of such large areas and the interdependence of each part on the other, as well as the conscious subordination of local interests to the larger idea of "the realm,"—these were conceptions not merely distinct from the civic policy of the Middle Ages but equally foreign to the idea of the great polities of ancient days.