" I have desired," Elizabeth said proudly to her Parliament, "to have the obedience of my subjects by love, and not by compulsion." It was a love fairly won by justice and good government. Buried as she seemed in foreign negotiations and intrigues, Elizabeth was above all an English sovereign. She devoted herself ably and energetically to the task of civil administration. At the first moment of relief from the pressure of outer troubles, she faced the two main causesof internal disorder. The debasement of the coinage was brought to an end in 1560. In 1561 a commission was issued to inquire into the best means of facing the problem of social discontent. Time, and the natural development of new branches of industry, were working quietly for the relief of the glutted labour-market; but a vast mass of disorder still existed in England, which found a constant ground of resentment in the enclosures and evictions which accompanied the progress of agricultural change. It was on this host of "broken men " that every rebellion could count for support; their mere existence indeed was an encouragement to civil war; while in peace their presence was felt in the insecurity of life and property, in gangs of marauders which held whole counties in terror, an din "sturdy beggars "who stripped travellers on the road.
Under Elizabeth as under her predecessors the terrible measures of repression, whose uselessness More had in vain pointed out, went pitilessly on: we find the magistrates of Somersetshire capturing a gang of a hundred at a stroke, hanging fifty at once on the gallows, and complaining bitterly to the Council of the neces-sity for waiting till the Assizes before they could enjoy the spectacle of the fifty others hanging beside them. But the Government were dealing with the difficulty in a wiser and more effectual way. The old powers to enforce labour on the idle and settlement on the vagrant class were continued; and each town and parish was held responsible for the relief of its indigent and disabled poor, as well as for the employment of able-bodied mendicants. But a more efficient machinery was gradually devised for carrying out the relief and employment of the poor. Funds for this purpose had been provided by the collection of alms in church; but the mayor of each town and th churchwardens of each country parish were now directed to draw up lists of all inhabitants able to contribute to such a fund, and on a persistent refusal the justices in sessions were empowered to assess the offender at a fitting sum and to enforce its payment by imprisonment.
[Authorities. - For our constitutional history we have D'Ewes' Journals and Townshend's "Journal of Parliamentary Proceedings from 1580 to 1601," the first detailed account we possess of the proceedings of our House of Commons. The general survey given by Hallam ("Constitutional History") is as judicious as it is able. Macpherson in his "Annals of Commerce " gives details of the expansion of English trade; and Hakluyt's "Collection of Voyages" tells of its activity. Some valuable details are added by Mr. Froude. The general literary history is given by Craik ("History of English Literature"), who has devoted a separate work to Spenser and his times; and the sober but narrow estimate of Mr. Hallam ("Literary History ") may be contrasted with the more brilliant though less balanced comments of M. Taine on the writers of the Renascence. A crowd of biographers mark the new importance of individual life and action].
The principles embodied in these measures, that of local responsibility for local distress, and that of a distinction between the pauper and the vagabond, were more clearly defined in a statute of 1572. By this Act the justices in the country districts nd mayors and other officers in towns were directed to register the impotent poor, to settle them in fitting habitations and to assess all inhabitants for their support. Overseers were appointed to enforce and superintend their labour, for which wool, hemp, flax, or other stuff was to be provided at the expense of the inhabitants; and houses of correction were established in every county for obstinate vagabonds or for paupers refusing to work at the overseer's bidding. A subsequent Act transferred to these overseers the collection of the poor rate, and powers were given to bind poor children as apprentices, to erect buildings for the improvident poor, and to force the parents and children of such paupers to maintain them. The well-known Act which matured and finally established this system, the 43rd of Elizabeth, remained the base of our system of pauper-administration until a time within the recollection of living men.
Whatever flaws a later experience has found in these measures, their wise and humane character formed a striking contrast to the legislation which had degraded our statute-book from the date of the Statute of Labourers; and their efficacy at the time was proved by the cessation of the social danger against which they were intended to provide.
Its cessation however was owing, not merely to law, but to the natural growth of wealth and industry throughout the country. The change in the mode of cultivation, whatever social embarrassment it might bring about, undoubtedly favoured production. Not only was a larger capital brought to bear upon the land, but the mere change in the system introduced a taste for new and better modes of agriculture; the breed of horses and of cattle was improved, and a far greater use made of manure and dressings. One acre under the new system produced, it was said, as much as two under the old. As a more careful and constant cultivation was introduced, a greater number of hands were required on every farm; and much of the surplus labour which had been flung off the land in the commencement of the new system was thus recalled to it. But a far more efficient agency in absorbing the unemployed was found in the de-velopement of manufactures. The linen trade was as yet of small value, and that of silk-weaving was only just introduced. But the woollen manufacture was fast becoming an important element in the national wealth.