Gradually the people by continual struggles won for themselves a voice in public affairs, the right to legislate for themselves and perfect liberty of individual speech and action, so long as that action did not conflict with the interests of their neighbours or of the nation at large, until England became the home of freedom.
To all countries, which have come under the rule or influence of the British, the English ideas of freedom have been carried and put into operation. Her colonists and her subjects enjoy, in all essentials, the same liberty of action as the Englishman. The result in some cases has not been altogether happy.
The English Won their privileges one by one, in a wise and constitutional manner, by hard struggles, and learnt not to abuse them, so that at the present day England is not only the freest but the most law- abiding nation in the world.
People who have been slaves for centuries, when suddenly permitted to indulge in free thought, speech, and action, often do not know how to use their liberty. Their old standards and rules of life are changed. They do not recognize readily what is honourable and expedient, and what is not. Liberty degenerates into licence.
Freedom of speech is interpreted as permission to pour scurrilous abuse upon any one who may excite their dislike. Freedom of action results in crimes of the worst description, assassination, arson, and rapine.
The virtues of discipline and self-control become objects of contempt. Progress is impossible until the strong arm of the law steps in, and it is recognized that license can only mean tyranny and that general freedom is a fraud and a delusion unless.
It is restricted by wise laws which forbid crime, slander and mob-interference with the liberties of others; and until the social conditions discourage childish and petulant outbursts and insist upon education, sober self-control and a proper respect for constituted authority.