Excerpt from The Province of Government: An Address Delivered Before the Liberty Property Defence League
My Lords and Gentlemen, I have been requested to take the chair on this occasion, with the view of laying before you the Annual Report of the Liberty and Property Defence League, and with a view also, I hope, of advancing the objects of that League, and of considering how best those objects can be promoted by a short discussion here to-day. Looking at this matter in a general way I cannot help observing that in the history of modern Europe, and in fact of the world, there has been an extraordinary change in the last 100 years in respect of freedom. The contest which has been carried on for more than that period, beginning, perhaps, in the American colonies and taking place in most countries of Europe, and even within the shores of our own country, has been one for political freedom. It has been one for a greater share of the right of governing, for the extension of the privilege of taking a part in directing the affairs of the nation, so that by degrees, in the course of time, a very large proportion of our countrymen here - a large proportion of mankind in the civilised countries of Europe, have gradually acquired a share in the directing power of the State. This has practically been a great revolution. It has been a revolution accompanied by violence in many cases, by great civil convulsions in others, while in some cases it has been a quiet revolution. But not the less has it been a revolution; and the result has been that practically we may say, that in most of those countries and in our own the majority rules.
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