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Essay on “Liberty” Complete Essay for Class 9, Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.


Nothing is more apt to surprise a foreigner, than the extreme liberty, which  we enjoy in this country, of communicating whatever we please to the public, and of openly censuring every measure, entered into by the king or his ministers. If the administration resolves upon war, it is affirmed, that, either will fully or ignorantly, they mistake the interests of the nation, and that peace, in the present situation of affairs, is infinitely preferable. If the passion of the ministers lies towards peace, our political writers breathe nothing but war and devastation, and represent the pacific conduct of the government as mean pusillanimous. As this liberty is not indulged in any other government, either republican or monarchical, in Holland and Venice, more than in France or Spain; it may very naturally give occasion to a question , how it happens that Great Britain alone enjoys this peculiar privilege? 

The reason, why the laws indulge us in such liberty seems to be derived from our mixed form of government, which is neither wholly monarchical, nor wholly republican. It will be found, a true observation in politics, that the two extremes in government , liberty and slavery, commonly approach nearest to each other ; and that as you depart from the extremes, and mix a little of monarchy with liberty, the government becomes always the more free; and on the other hand, when you mix a little of liberty with monarchy, the yoke becomes always the more grievous and intolerable. Thus it seems evident, that the two extremes of absolute monarchy and of a republic, approach near to each other in some material circumstances. In the first, the magistrate has no jealousy of the people: in the second, the people have none of the magistrate : which want of jealousy begets a mutual confidence and trust in both cases, and produces a species of liberty in monarchies, and of arbitrary power in republics.

To justify the other part of the foregoing observation , that, in every government, the means are most wide of each other, and that the mixture of monarchy and liberty render the yoke either more easy or more grievous; here the remark made in Tacitus with regard to the Romans under the emperors  could be considered, that they neither could bear total slavery nor total liberty. According to these remarks, we are to consider the Roman government under the emperors as a mixture  of despotism and liberty, where the despotism prevailed; and the English government as a mixture of the same kind, where the liberty predominates. The Roman emperors were, many of them, the most frightful tyrants that ever disgraced human nature; and it is evident, that their cruelty was great men of Rome bore with impatience the dominion of a family, which, but a little before was  no wise superior to their own. On the other hand, as the republican part of the government prevails in England, though with a great mixture of monarchy, it is obliged, magistrates, to remove all discretionary powers, and to secure every one’s  life and fortune by general and inflexible laws. No action must be deemed a crime but what the law has plainly determined  to be such: no crime must be imputed to a man but from a legal proof before his judges; and even these judges must be his fellow. Subjects, who are obliged, by their own interest, to have a watchful these causes it proceeds, that there is as much liberty, and even perhaps, licentiousness in Great Britain, as there were formerly slavery and tyranny in Rome.

These principles account for the great liberty of the Press in these kingdoms, beyond what is indulged in any other government. It is apprehended, that arbitrary power would steal in upon us, were we not careful to prevent its progress, and were there not an easy method of conveying the alarm from one end of the kingdom to the other. The spirit of the people must frequently be roused; in order to curb the ambition of the court; and the dread of rousing this spirit must be employed to prevent that ambition. Nothing so effectual to this purpose as the liberty of the press, by which all the learning, wit, and genius of the nation may be employed on the side of freedom, and everyone be animated to its defence. As long, therefore, as the republican part of our government can maintain itself against the monarchical,  it will naturally be careful to keep the press open, as of importance to its own preservation. The liberty of Press is an essential to guard our liberties.


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