of wool was cherished as the most valuable of
all. It had grown with the growth and wealth of England
, and flourished in every part of the island; at Kidderminster
, and Wilton
, and Norwich
, not less than in the West Riding of Yorkshire
It had been privileged by King Stephen, and regulated by the lion-hearted Richard.
Its protection was as much a part of the statute-book as the game laws, and was older than Magna Charta
To foster it was an ancient custom of the country, coeval with the English
constitution, and it was so interwoven with the condition of life in England
that it seemed to form an intimate dependency of the aristocracy.
The land-owner, whose rich lawns produced the fleece, sympathized with the industry that wrought it into beautiful fabrics.
Mutual confidence was established between the classes of society; no chasm divided its orders.
Thus unity of character marked the constitution and the social life of England
The sum of the whole was an intense nationality in its people.
They were happy in their form of government, and were justly proud of it; for they enjoyed more perfect freedom than the world up to that time had known.
In spite of all the glaring defects of their system, Greece
, in the days of Pericles
, had not been blessed with such liberty.
, in the fairest days of her ill-starred republics, had not possessed such security of property and person, so pure an administration of justice, such unlicensed expression of thought.
These benefits were held by a firm tenure; safe against revolutions and sudden changes in the state the laws reigned, and not men; and the laws had been the growth of centuries, yielding to amendment only