‘No…nation was ever so free as the English’

Johann Wilhelm von Archenholz was the writer of the quote above. He wrote those words in 1789, in a work called ‘A Picture of England.’ In that book he said that he called a state free in which no more restraint was necessary than the minimum which was required for the preservation of the commonwealth.

Johann von Archenholz further praised England and its people in the above named work, saying “…the people of England still possess a felicity worthy to be envied, and of which perhaps other nations can scarce have a conception: so difficult it is, in living under the mildest yoke, to form just ideas of a national liberty grounded on the rights of humanity.”

Further: “Without mentioning the great number of franchises and immunities of every kind, which the Great Charter and many favourable revolutions have at different times procured to the nation, we may arrange the rights of the people under six classes, viz.:

The Liberty of the Press,
The Habeas Corpus Act,
Public Courts of Justice,
The Trial by Jury,
The Right of Being Represented in Parliament,
The Privilege of Public Remonstrances.

But how many of these ‘franchises and immunities’ remain intact in 2019? Reading the news out of the UK, it seems they exist mostly on paper, to the extent that they exist at all. (And I’m sorry to say that our American ‘rights’ exist mostly in theory, it seems).

But reading this particular news item online does illustrate the loss of the former English liberty. So now, a “rude joke” makes someone a hunted man, while people found guilty in courts of law for real crimes are set free, or receive a slap on the wrist?

And do the ‘bread-and-circuses’ distractions keep the populace lulled in the face of all this, as in our country?

Sad, how far both our ancestral country and our country of birth have slidden.

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