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we have at hand the only philosophical apology for the doctrine which we have ever met with; and, as it comes from a good source, we shall make use of it. It is somewhat remarkable that the great difference between the French and English liberty may be traced to the rejection of the doctrine by the latter, and the tenacious grasping at it by the former. "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," is the watchword of the Parisian mob. Kings, Lords and Commons, are the landmarks of the United Kingdom. A happy medium between these, is the beauty of our school. We, of Carolina, have followed closely the policy of nature; the surest and easiest guide. We have rejected the evil, and retained the good. Having neither kings nor lords, nor " equality," nor "fraternity," we yet have liberty and commons.
Some little merit has been extracted, by straining, out of "equality," in a most ingenious manner, by Judge Grimke" of Ohio, in his excellent work on Free Institutions, but just enough to make men cautious of the dogma. He explains as follows :*
"All human exertions to better the social organization, must necessarily be bounded within certain limits. Something must be taken for granted, as the elements of all our reasoning in politics, as well a3 in other sciences. We cannot be permitted to construct ideas, which a fertile imagination has suggested, and which only approach toward being verified in part, because they cannot be verified universally.
"Let us suppose that all those who have succeeded in life, and who are placed in good circumstances, were to go among the poor and ignorant, open up all the secrets of their hearts, recount the whole train of circumstances which contributed to elevate their condition, I can conceive of nothing which, for the time being, would so much expand the bosoms of those who believed, either rightly or erroneously, that fortune had frowned upon them. But, first: the thing cannot be done. Such a fearless and unreserved revelation of one's whole thoughts and actions, can proceed from none but angels. Second: the exposition of so great an amount of infirmities as the revelation would disclose, and as would be shown to attend frequently the most enviable condition, would cause the vicious and the ignorant to hug vice and ignorance still closer. The greater part would become more bold and confident than ever, since there was no such broad mark of distinction, as had been imagined, between the highest and lowest condition. And one great
* Nature and Tendency of Free Institutions, by Frederick Grimke'. Cincinnati: 1848. page 52.
check to irregularities of conduct, would be removed. The counsellors and the counselled, in such an enterprise, are equally covered with all sorts of infirmities. And the true way to get rid of these, is to proceed upon the belief that they do not exist, or, at any rate, that they are only adventitious. In this way, every one will be nerved to a greater amount of exertion than would otherwise be the case. If those who are placed in what is termed low life, could penetrate the gaudy exterior of high life, they would find as little enjoyment as in their own humble sphere. Wealth creates full as many disquietudes as it heals. Fortunately, they are unable to lift the veil; for then, perhaps, all human exertions would speedily come to an end.
"It may then be enquired, why do legislators constantly inculcate the maxim, that all men are equal. And the answer is plain: First. Because to teach and to act upon it is the only way of attaining equality, to the extent to which it is actually attained. Second. Beeause it is not in the power of government to make anything like an accurate discrimination between the inequalities of different men; and the attempt to do so, would be to encroach upon those points in which there is no inequality. Third. Because the principle of equality may very well be recognised as the rule among men as citizens—as members of a political community—although, as individuals, there may be great and numerous inequalities between them. The utmost which the citizen can demand, is that no law shall be passed to obstruct his rise, and to impede his progress through life. He has, then, an even chance with all his fellows. If he does not become their equal, his case is beyond the reach of society, and to complain, would be to quarrel with his own nature.
"It cannot be concealed that a difficulty now presents itself, which is entitled to particular attention. Here are two sets of ideas which do not quadrate with each other: equality proclaimed by the laws, and inequality in fact. And as, notwithstanding the artificial distinctions which we may make between the individual and the citizen, the former may be disposed to carry all his prejudices, narrow views and selfish interests, into the arena of politics, it might be supposed that a sense of discord would be introduced, which, after lasting for a given period, must terminate in the ascendency of one or other of these rival principles. Hence, the misgivings of many persons, otherwise possessing good sense and reflection in an eminent degree. If they do not believe, they at any rate doubt, whether the undisguised recognition, of the principle of equality in America, is not destined to take entire possession of society, and ultimately to level the whole fabric of its institutions. The masses are put in possession of the same privileges as the educated and the wealthy; and, in the event of a struggle between the two orders, will not numbers be sure to gain the advantage.
"But the principle of equality is itself the parent of another principle, which sets bounds to it, and limits its operation in practice. The same laws which declare that all men are equal, give unbounded scope to the enterprise and industry of all. Neither family, nor rank, confer any peculiar advantages in running the career which is now opened. In many respects, they even throw obstacles in the way. Men, without education, with ordinary faculties, and who commenced life with little or nothing, are continually emerging from obscurity, and displacing those who have acquired fortunes by inheritance. They constitute, emphatically, the class of the rich in the United States. It is the principle of equality there, which introduces all the inequality which is established in that country. The effects are visible to every one, and are understood and appreciated by the most ignorant men. Every one is a witness to the miracles which industry and common sagacity produce. No one distrusts himself; no one can perceive those minute shades of character and disposition, which determine the destiny of some individuals, making some rich, and leaving others poor. All place an equal reliance upon their own efforts to carve out their fortunes, until, at length, the period of life begins to shorten; when cool reflection and judgment take the place of the passions; and whether they have succeeded or failed, a new feeling comes over every one—a disposition to submit quietly to what is the inevitable, because it is the natural progress of things.
"Thus, as it is impossible, among millions, to say who, in running the career of wisdom, influence or wealth, will attain the goal, government very rightly establishes the broad and indiscriminate rules of equality, and the very means which it makes use of to effect this object, obliterates all artificial distinctions, and brings out in bolder relief, all the natural inequalities of men. And as a large proportion of the envious are constantly rising into the ranks of the envied, a powerful check is imposed upon the revolutionary tendencies of the former. They cannot reach, nor after reaching, will they be able to enjoy, that which is the constant aim of all their efforts, without lending an earnest and vigorous support to the laws under which they live. And in this way, free institutions are saved from shipwreck, by the thorough and undisguised adoption of a principle which seemed calculated to produce precisely opposite effects."
If the mass of the people in this country, who believe in the doctrine of equality, could only be brought to an understanding of the matter, such as the above long quotation unfolds, it would be fortunate for society. But we very much fear they would, even with these views, confound equality with liberty, and fall into the error which Mr. Calhoun so justly exposes. Nor will the mass of mankind ever be brought to comprehend the philosophy of declaring equality for the sake of inequality. And it may well be questioned, which will be accomplished first—the "quadrature" of the circle, to the satisfaction of mathematicians, or the "quadrature" of opposing laws and facts to the satisfaction of mankind. It would seem by far the wisest plan to content ourselves with exposing errors, and leaving their correction to the sure operations of civilized society; for it is there, at last, that even government itself must seek refuge from false doctrines and heresy. If we are unequal, let not the laws offend our understanding, by telling us that we are equal. Let them protect us and our property as they find us; they have nothing else to care for. Protect our person and our property; our position among men will protect itself. And inequality of condition, means simply difference in position. This brings us to the consideration of the self-sustaining power of society, which will now be explained.
Society, as has already been stated, is founded in the nature of man, and it is out of society that not only government, but all the principles of justice, morality and virtue, spring. It is utterly impossible to bring together a number of men, and associate them under any circumstances, without there immediately appearing a standard of conduct; common lines of discrimination between excellence and mediocrity, and pure deficiency; a general understanding that this is good, and that is bad; this is admirable, that execrable. Nor is this all. The sentiment soon prevails, that their common good should be their common aim. Virtue and talents will be deemed good and excellent, wealth will be admirable. Each of these will be sure to give influence, ease and contentment; and the possessors can never fail to appreciate their value. The most beautiful and sacred emotion of our carnal nature, now prompts us to secure these to those frail and helpless beings whom we have brought into the arena of earthly turmoil—our children. And thus is the main spring of progress set. Great as is the amount of avarice and ambition, in the grand category of motives to human exertion, the search after wealth, and the thirst for distinction, which constitute the right and left arms of civilization, spring more frequently from a desire to bequeath blessings to our offspring, than from a lust for our own aggrandizement. The result of this is, that virtue, talent and wealth will create for themselves a degree of influence and power in society, which government can neither bestow nor prevent; and this will continue so long as man is mortal. From this evident fact, it appears that there must ever be an extent to which human affairs may be safely conducted by society alone, unaided by government. It was too magnified a view of this simple truth, which caused Rousseau to exclaim:
"Love your country. Sink the personal existence of individuals in the existence of the community. Make little account of the particular men of whom the society consists, but aim at the general wealth, prosperity and glory. Purify your mind from the gross ideas of sense, and elevate it to the single contemplation of that abstract individual of which particular men are so many detached members, valuable only for the place they fill."
And it was owing to a total disregard of it, that another declared:
"Society is an ideal existence, and not on its own account, entitled to the smallest regard. The wealth, prosperity and glory of the whole, are unintelligible chimeras. Set no value on any thing, but in proportion as you are convinced of its tendency to make individual men happy and virtuous—benefit, by every practical mode, man wherever he exists; but be not deceived by the specious idea of affording services to a body of men, for which no individual man is the better. Society was instituted, not for the sake of glory, not to furnish splendid materials for the page of history, but for the benefit of its members. The love of our country, if wo would speak accurately, is another of those specious illusions, which have been invented by impostors, in order to render the multitude the blind instruments of their crooked designs."
A calm and dispassionate view, however, of human affairs, will readily expose the morbid proclivity of those who advance either of these extreme absurdities, and satisfy all that society is the great preservative of human existence, and too much government the very Pandora's box, arraying hosts of enemies against all advancement. The uselessness of such laws as declare white to be black, when every body knows white is not black, and the great utility of government's limiting its operations to those matters which society, unaided, cannot so easily control, will require but little argument for their vindication. The first suggestion which offers itself, is that society is the primary, government only the secondary principle of human economy. The latter is designed to do no more than that which society needs an