Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

in it on the ground of submission. We do not obey
a person whom as individual we know to be no more
than ourselves, but we obey the institution of which
we know ourselves to be as integral a part as the
superior, clothed with authority. The religious duty
of obeying for conscience sake is not excluded from
this obedience. On the contrary, it forms an import-
ant element. The term “law-abiding people” could
never have become so favorite an expression with us,
and be inscribed even on the banners of some who
defy the law, were we-not an institutional people
under the authority of institutional self-government.

Rulers over twenty millions of people, like our presidents, could not be easily changed, without shock or convulsion, were not the twenty millions trained by institutional self-government, were not the ousted minority conscious that, in the spontaneous act of submitting, they obey an institution of which they form as important a part as the ruling party, and did not their own obedience 'foreshadow the obedience which the others must yield, when their turn comes. The principle of authority” has become for the time being as popular, at least as often repeated a phrase in France, as “abiding by the law” is with us. Pamphlets are written on it, the journals descant on it. If the object of these writings is to prove that there must be authority where there is society, it would prove that the writers must consider the opinion of some communists, that all government is to be done away with, far more serious and disseminated than people at a distance can believe, to whom such absurdity appears as a mere paper anıl opposi

[ocr errors]

tion fanaticism. If, however, all those discourses are intended to establish the principle of authority in politics as an independent principle, such for instance as it is maintained in the catholic church, because its institutor is far above it, and has given divine commandments, it would only show that the ruling party plainly desire absolutism.3

3 There is no doubt in my mind that the institutional government is the real school of civil obedience. Whether the following remarkable passage, which I found in baron Müffling's Memoirs of the Campaign of 1813 and 1814, edited by Col. Philip Yorke, London, 1853, must be in part explained by the general self-government of England, and the fact that every English gentleman is accustomed to political self-government and consequently to obedience, I shall not decide, but I strongly incline to believe that we must do so. General Müffling was the Prussian officer in the staff of the duke of Wellington, who served as an official link between the two armies. He was, therefore, in constant personal intercourse with the English commander, and had the very best opportunity of observing that which he reports.

"I observed,” says general Müffling, “that the duke exercised far greater power in the army he commanded thán prince Blücher in the one committed to his care. The rules of the English service permitted the duke's suspending any officer and sending him back to England. The duke had used this power during the war in Spain, when disobedience showed itself among the higher officers. Sir Robert Wilson was an instance of this.

“Amongst all the generals, from the leaders of corps to the commanders of brigades, not one was to be found in the active army who had been known as refractory.

" It was not the custom in this army to criticize or control the commander-in-chief. Discipline was, strictly enforced; every one knew his rights and his duties. The duke, in matters of service, was very short and decided. He allowed questions, but dismissed all such as were unnecessary. His detractors have accused him of being inclined to encroach on the functions of others-a charge which is at variance with my experience." .

[graphic]

ON

,CIVIL LIBERTY

AND

SELF-GOVERNMENT.

BY FRANCIS LIEBER, LL.D.,

C. M. FRENCH INSTITUTE, ETC.
AUTHOR OP “POLITICAL ETHICS;” “PRINCIPLES OF LEGAL AND POLITICAL INTERPRETATION;"
“ESSAYS ON LABOR AND PROPERTY;" “ON CRIMINAL LAW;" “REMINISCENCES OF
NIEBUHR;" EDITOR OF “ PENITENTIARY SYSTEM IN THE UNITED STATES

BY DE BEAUMONT AND DE TOCQUEVILLE," ETC. ETC.

IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. II.

PHILADELPHIA,
LIPPINCOTT, GRAMBO AND CO.

MDCCCLIII.

1574, Apezif 28.

Bequest of Hon Chaw. Grimer od 3 Halla 1832.

Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1853, by

FRANCIS LIEBER, in the Office of the Clerk of the District Court of the United States in and for

the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

« ForrigeFortsett »