North America - Volume 1 By Anthony Trollope 

 -   The
gentleman who scorned my wife for hugging her chains had certainly
not done so, and yet he conceived that - Page 8
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The Gentleman Who Scorned My Wife For Hugging Her Chains Had Certainly Not Done So, And Yet He Conceived That He Had Studied The Subject. The Matter Is One Most Difficult Of Comprehension.

How many Englishmen have failed to understand accurately their own constitution, or the true bearing of their own politics!

But when this knowledge has been attained, it has generally been filtered into the mind slowly, and has come from the unconscious study of many years. An Englishman handles a newspaper for a quarter of an hour daily, and daily exchanges some few words in politics with those around him, till drop by drop the pleasant springs of his liberty creep into his mind and water his heart; and thus, earlier or later in life, according to the nature of his intelligence, he understands why it is that he is at all points a free man. But if this be so of our own politics; if it be so rare a thing to find a foreigner who understands them in all their niceties, why is it that we are so confident in our remarks on all the niceties of those of other nations?

I hope that I may not be misunderstood as saying that we should not discuss foreign politics in our press, our parliament, our public meetings, or our private houses. No man could be mad enough to preach such a doctrine. As regards our parliament, that is probably the best British school of foreign politics, seeing that the subject is not there often taken up by men who are absolutely ignorant, and that mistakes when made are subject to a correction which is both rough and ready.

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