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of government with alncrity, provided they have no reason to complain of oppression. When injured, their resentment is quick, sudden and impatient: they arc conquered, not broken hearted; reduced to obedience, not subdued to slavery."
Now the Britons, at the time of which these writers speak, were hy no means in the so-called "state of nature." They lived under kings and such governments as were demanded by their society; hence, the liberty they enjoyed, and of which they are described as being so tenacious, was not the "natural liberty" which "God hath given them." And, although a critical definition of the word is not desired here, it is well to have some general understanding on the subject. It admits of both a positive and negative explanation. Dr. Ferguson describes it at various places thus :*
"Liberty, in one sense, appears to be the portion of polished nations alone. The savage is personally free, because he lives unrestuiined, and acts with the members of his tribe on terms of equality. The barbarian is frequently independent, from a continuance of the same circumstances, or because he has courage and a sword. But good policy alone can provide for the regular administration of justice, or constitute a force in the state, which is ready on every occasion to defend the rights of its mem tiers." h Liberty results, we say, from I he government of laws; and we are apt to consider statutes not merely as the resolutions and maxims of a people determined to be free, not as the writings by which their rights are kept on record, but as a power erected to guard them, and as a barrier which the caprice of men cannot transgress." Besides, "Liberty is a right which every individual must be ready to vindicate for himself, and which he who pretends to bestow as a favour, has by that very act in reality denied. Even political establishments, though they appear to be independent of the will and arbitration of men, cannot be relied on for the preservation of freedom; they may nourish, but should not supersede, that firm and*resolute spirit with which the liberal mind is always prepared to resist indignities, and to refer its safety to itself."
"Were a nation, therefore, given to be moulded by a sovereign, as the clay is put into the hands of the potter, this project of bestowing liberty on a people who are actually servile, is, perhaps, of all others the most difficult, and requires most to be executed in silence and with the deepest reserve. Men are qualified to receive this blessing only in proportion as they are made to apprehend their own rights; and are made to respect the just pretensions of mankind, in proportion as they are willing to sustain, in their own persons, the burden of government and of national defence; and are willing to prefer the engagements of a
• Section V., pages 437, 439 and 444.
lilteral mind to tlio enjoyment of sloth, or tho delusive hopes of a safety purchased by submission and fear."
Dr. Licber, in his recent elaborate and highly valuable treatise, gives the same explanation as his learned co-labourer of Edinburgh. He says:*
"In a general wny, it may hero be stated as an explanation—not offered as a definition—that when the term civil liberty is nsed, there is now always meant a high degree of mutually guaranteed protection against interference with the interests and rights held dear and important hy large classes of civilized men, or by all the members of a state, together with an effectual share in the making and administration of the laws, as the best apparatus to secure that protection, and constituting tho most dignified government of men who are conscious of their rights and of the destiny of humanity. But what are these guarantees? these interests and rights? Who are civilized men? In what does that share consist? Which are the men that are conscious of their rights? What is the destiny of humanity? Who are the large classes?
"I mean by civil liberty, that liberty which plainly results from the application of the general idea of freedom to the civil state of man, that », to his relations as a political being—a being obliged by his nature. and destined by his Creator, to live in society. Civil liberty is the remit of man's twofold character, as an individual and social being, so soon as both are equally respected.
"Some have confounded liberty, the status of the freeman, as opposed to slavery, with civil liberty. But every one is aware that, while we Freak of freemen in Asia, meaning only non-slaves, we would bo very unwilling to speak of civil liberty in that part of the globe.
••The Roman lawyers Ray that liberty is the power (authority) of'doing that which is not forbidden by the law. That the supremacy of the law and exclusion of arbitrary interference is a necessary element of all liberty,every ono will readily admit; but if no additional characteristics be given, we have, indeed, no more than a definition of the status of a non-slave. It does not state whence the laws ought to come, or what spirit ought to pervade them. The same lawyers say: Whatever may please the ruler has the force of law. They might have said with equal correctness: Freeman is ho who is directly subject to the emperor; slave is he who is subject to the emperor through an individual master. It settles nothing as to what we call liberty, as little as the other dictum of the civil law, which divides all men into freemen and slaves. The meaning of freemen in this case is nothing more than non-slave, while, our word freemen, when we use it in connection with civil liberty, means not merely a negation of slavery, but the enjoyment of positive and high civil privileges and rights.
"Liberty ha< not unfrequently been defined as consisting in the rule of tho majority—or it l.-js been said, where the people rule there is lib
• Vol. 1, pages 34, 36, 37, 33, 42 and S3.
erty. The rule of the majority, of itself, indicates the power of a certain body; but power is not liberty. Suppose the majority bid you drink hemlock, is there liberty for you? Or suppose the majority give away liberty, and establish a despot? We might say with greater truth, that where the minority is protected, although the majority rule, there, probably, liberty exists. But in this latter case it is the protection, or, in other words, rights beyond the reach of the majority, which constitute liberty, not the power of the majority. There can bo no doubt that the majority ruled in the French massacres of the Protestants; was there liberty in France on that account?
"We come thus to the conclusion that liberty applied to political man, practically means, in the main, protection or checks against undue interference, whether this be from individuals, from masses, or from government. The highest amount of liberty comes to signify the safest guarantees of undisturbed legitimate action, and the most efficient checks against undue interference. Men, however, do not occupy themselves with that which is unnecessary. Breathing is unquestionably a right of each individual, proved by his existence; but, since no power has yet interfered with the undoubted right of respiration, no one has ever thought it necessary to guarantee this elementary right. We advance, then, a step farther in practically considering civil liberty, and find that it chiefly consists in guarantees (and corresponding checks) of those rights which experience has proved to bo most exposed to interference, and which men hold dearest and most important."
And Mr. Calhoun, our great philosophic statesman, gives the result of his profound thought, and long experience, in the following clear exposition :*
"A community may possess all the necessary qualifications in so high a degree as to be capable of self-government under the most adverse circumstances; while, on the other hand, another may be so sunk in ignorance and vice as to be incapable of forming a conception of liberty, or of living, even when most favoured by circumstances, under any other than an absolute or despotic government. The principle, in all communities, according to these numerous and various causes, assigns to power and liberty their proper spheres. To allow to liberty, in any case, a sphere of action more extended than this assigns, would lead to anarchy; and this, probably, in the end, to a contraction instead of an enlargement of its sphere. Liberty, then, when forced on a people unfit for it, would, instead of a blessing, be a curse; as it would, in its reaction, lead directly to anarchy—the greatest of all curses. No people, indeed, can long enjoy more liberty than that to which their situation and advanced intelligence and morals fairly entitle them. If more than this be allowed, they must soon fall into confusion and disorder—to be followed, if not by anarchy and despotism, by a change to a form of government more simple and absolute; and, therefore, better suited to their
• Calhoun's Works. Vol. 1, page 54.
condition. And, hence, although it may be true that a people may not have as much liberty as they are fairly entitled to, and are capable of enjoying, yet the reverse is unquestionably true, that no people can long possess more than they are fairly entitled to.
"Liberty, indeed, though among the greatest of blessings, is not so great as that of protection; inasmuch as the end of the former is the progress and improvement of the race—while that of the latter is its preservation and perpetuation. And, hence, when the two come into conflict, liberty must, and ever ought, to yield to protection; as the existence of the race is of greater moment than its improvement.
"It follows, from what has been stated, that it is a great and dangerous error to suppose that all people are equally entitled to liberty. It is a reward to be earned, not a blessing to be gratuitously lavished on all alike;—a reward reserved for the intelligent, the patriotic, the virtuous and deserving;—and not a boon to be bestowed on a people too ignorant, degraded and vicious, to be capable either of appreciating or of enjoying it. Nor is it any disparagement to liberty that such is, and ought to be, the case. On the contrary, its greatest praise—its proudest distinction is, that an all-wise Providence has reserved it, as the noblest and highest reward for the development of our faculties, moral and intellectual. A reward more appropriate than liberty could not be conferred on the deserving;—nor a punishment inflicted on the undeserving more just, than to be subject to lawless and despotic rule. This dispensation seems to be the result of some fixed law;—and every effort to disturb or defeat it, by attempting to elevate a people in the scale of liberty, above the point to which they are entitled to rise, must ever prove abortive, and end in disappointment."
With all this evidence before us, we are left no room to doubt that there is a law in our nature which regulates the balance between power and liberty here described ;—a law which makes the liberty we enjoy commensurate with our capacity for enjoying it; and which, when resolved into principle, must be found to be the great cardinal principle of government. We have but to remember that the great end of life is happiness, and the problem is solved. It is neither liberty, nor property, nor fame, that is the grand object of life; these are but the means to be used, and used by those only who are capable of applying them. We all aim at happiness, and he that can attain it, in a state of subjection were wise to hug his chains, for liberty, any change, however promising, could not improve his fortunes, and might entail misery upon him. Some of the older writers have unwittingly established the doctrine, when they defined liberty to be the security of person and property. They saw that happiness was not attainable without the rrquisite means; thpy naturally identified liberty with hnppiiipss, and hence their imperfect definition. Security is, indeed, inseparable from liberty, but it is only that liberty which has essential limitations placed upon it by a good and strong government. This is English liberty, and the sort we enjoy in Carolina. But there is a French liberty which is as terrible as it is absurd, and which is as void of virtue as of intelligence ;—the very essence of which is the insecurity of every thing, and the abasement of all that is great and virtuous in our nature. A liberty which revels in lawless riot—
"While sin holds carnival and wit keeps lent."
A liberty, indeed, which only serves to intoxicate, madden and destroy men, and then itself lies down to expire, from excess, at the feet of the first usurper who is bold enough to mount upon the ruins and desolation of a revolution.
With these explanations, then, we are prepared to receive Sidney's definition:—Liberty is an exemption from all human laws to which we have not given our assent. This is the liberty which is meant, when, in the second section, ninth article, of the Constitution of South-Carolina, it is declared that—"No freeman of this State shall betaken or imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, liberties or privileges, or outlawed or exiled, or in any manner destroyed or deprived of his life, liberty or property, but by the judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land ;"—and, in the preamble to the Federal Constitution, where H is set forth that the compact was designed, among other things, to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."
Let not the demagogue, however, or any champion of the various new-fangled doctrines of the day, lay up the flattering unction to his soul, that the great Sidney was disposed to invest every citizen with an individual veto, at least as to himself and those under his authority, over every law which may not please him. Individuals may enjoy all the liberty that an intelligent being can desire, and yet be forced to obey laws of which they highly disapprove. The merchant