Continued from the previous post:
The double contest against the oppressors of the Church and State was too appalling for the vigor, or too comprehensive for the faculties of the reformers of the European Continent. In Britain alone was it undertaken, and in, Britain but partially succeeded.
It was in the midst of that fermentation of the human intellect which brought right and power in direct and deadly conflict with each other, that the rival crowns of the two portions of the British Island, were united on the same head. It was then that, released from the manacles of ecclesiastical domination, the minds of men began to investigate the foundations of civil government.
But the mass of the nation surveyed the fabric of their institutions as it existed in fact. It had been founded in conquest ; it had been cemented in servitude, and so broken and moulded had been the minds of this brave and intelligent people to their actual condition, that instead of solving civil society into its first elements in search of their rights, they looked back only to conquest as the origin of their liberties, and claimed their rights but as donations from their kings.
This faltering assertion of freedom is not chargeable indeed upon the whole nation. There were spirits capable of tracing civil government to its foundation in the moral and physical nature of man ; but conquest and servitude were so mingled up in every particle of the social existence of the nation, that they had become vitally necessary to them, as a portion of the fluid, itself destructive of life, is indispensably blended with the atmosphere in which we live.