"Until August 1914 a sensible, law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the state, beyond the post office and the policeman. He could live where he liked and as he liked. He had no official number or identity card. He could travel abroad or leave his country for ever without a passport or any sort of official permission. He could exchange his money for any other currency without restriction or limit. He could buy goods from any country in the world on the same terms as he bought goods at home. For that matter, a foreigner could spend his life in this country without permit and without informing the police. Unlike the countries of the European continent, the state did not require its citizens to perform military service. An Englishman could enlist, if he chose, in the regular army, the navy, or the territorials. He could also ignore, if he chose, the demands of national defence. Substantial householders were occasionally called on for jury service. Otherwise, only those helped the state who wished to do so. The Englishman paid taxes on a modest scale: nearly £200 million in 1913-14, or rather less than 8% of the national income. ... broadly speaking, the state acted only to help those who could not help themselves. It left the adult citizen alone."
|My friend, the late|
I met a retired British Colonel 40 years ago who as a young man set off without a passport to see the world and went wherever he wished. (We struck up an acquaintance because he approved my bike pedaling using the ball of the foot instead of the arch.) Remember also that the fictional Sherlock Holmes carried an unlicensed handgun