« PreviousContinue »
ENGLISH SCENES, AND ESSAYS ON SUBJECTS OF
LIVES OF EMINENT ENGLISH PHILOSOPHERS
AND PATRIOTIC POETRY.
BEING A SELECTION FROM THE ORIGINAL ARTICLES
PRINTED FOR CHARLES KNIGHT,
7, PALL-MALL EAST.
THE People of England are distinguished by a zeal for knowledge, for which they are mainly indebted to that happy Constitution in Church and State, which not only permits but encourages a generous spirit of inquiry, essential to the attainment of enlightened views and sound principles. So long as they were oppressed by papal superstition and arbitrary power, the progress of national intelligence was checked by those restraints which still impede the advancement of other nations; but when civil and religious freedom were firmly established in this favoured land-when the liberty of the subject and the rights of property were protected by equal laws, and the light of the Reformation dispelled the errors of the Church of Rome, by opening the Sacred Scriptures to the understandings of the people, they eagerly burst through the chains of ignorance, in which they had so long been held, and pressed forward with an energy and an ardour in the pursuit of knowledge, which enabled them to surpass every other country in the variety, extent, and solidity of those acquirements, which have raised the British character to a preeminence at once felt and acknowledged throughout the world.