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uniform. And were it uniform, there is no reason to think that it would be correct. On the contrary, if any thing is to be gathered from surrounding facts, very erroneous estimates would be formed by it. Can confidence be placed in the judgments of men who subscribe Hudsontestimonials, and yet leave the original projector of railways to die in poverty? Are those fit to decide upon comparative greatness who ornament their drawing-room tables with a copy of Burke's Peerage; who read though the lists of court presentations, and gossip about the movements the haut ton—people who would trace back their lineage to some bandit baron-some Front-de-bauf, rather than to a Watt or an Arkwright? Is any dependence to be placed on the decision of an authority which has erected half-a-dozen public monuments to its Wellington, and none to its Shakspeare, its Newton, or its Bacon? -an authority that awards to the doorkeeper of its House of Commons £74 a year more than to its astronomer royal ? According to Johnson, “the chief glory of every people arises from its authors : " yet our literary men are less honoured than people of title; the writers of our leading journals are unknown; and we see much more respect shown to a Rothschild or a Baring than to our Faradays and our Owens.
If, then, public opinion is so fallible a test of relative merits, where shall a trustworthy test be found ? Manifestly, if the freedom to which each is entitled varies with his worth, some satisfactory mode of estimating worth must be discovered before any settlement of men's right relationships can become possible. Who now will point out such a mode?
$ 7. Even were a still further admission made even were we to assume that men's respective claims could be fairly rated-it would still be impossible to re
THEORY OF UNEQUAL RIGHTS.
duce the theory of unequal rights to practice. We should yet have to find a rule by which to allot these different shares of privilege. Where is the scale that would enable us to mark off the portion proper for each individual ? What unit of measure must be used for this kind of division? Supposing a shopkeeper's rights to be symbolized by ten and a fraction, what number will represent those of a doctor? What multiple are the liberties of a banker, of those of a seamstress? Given two artists, one half as clever again as the other, it is required to find the limits within which each may exercise his faculties. As the greatness of a prime minister is to that of a ploughboy, so is full freedom of action to—the desired answer. Here are a few out of numberless like questions. When a method for their solution has been found, it will be time enough to reconsider the theory of unequal rights,
$ 8. Thus to the several positive reasons for affirming that every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man, we must now add the foregoing negative ones. Neither of the alternatives, to which the rejection of this first principle leaves us, is acceptable. The doctrine that men have naturally no rights leads to the awkward inferences, that might makes right, and that the Deity is a malevolent being. Whilst to say that men have unequal rights is to assume two impossibilities; namely, that we are able to determine the ratios of men's merits; and have ing done this, to assign to each his due proportion of privilege.
APPLICATION OF THIS FIRST PRINCIPLE.
§ 1. The process by which we may develop this first principle into a system of equity, is sufficiently obvious. We have just to distinguish the actions that are included under its permit, from those which are excluded by it—to find what lies inside the sphere appointed for each individual, and what outside. Our aim must be to discover how far the territory of may extends, and where it borders upon that of may not. We shall have to consider of every deed, whether, in committing it, a man does, or does not, trespass upon the ordained freedom of his neighbourwhether, when placed side by side, the shares of liberty the two parties respectively assume are equal. And by thus separating that which can be done by each without trenching on the privileges of others, from that which can. not be so done, we may classify actions into lawful and unlawful.
§ 2. Difficulties
may now and then occur in the per. formance of this process. We shall, perhaps, occasionally find ourselves unable to decide whether a given action does or does not trespass against the law of equal freedom. But such an admission by no means implies any defect in that law. It merely implies human incapacity -an incapacity which puts a limit to our discovery of physical as well as of moral truth. It is, for instance, quite beyond the power of any mathematician to state in degrees and minutes, the angle at which a man may lean without falling. Not being able to find accurately the centre of gravity of a man's body he cannot say with
CONCLUSIONS DEDUCED FROM IT.
certainty whether, at a given inclination, the line of direction will or will not fall outside the base. But we do not, therefore, take exception to the first principles of mechanies. We know that, in spite of our inability to follow out those first principles to all their consequences, the stability or instability of a man's attitude might still be accurately determined by them, were our perceptions competent to take in all the conditions of such a problem. Similarly, it is argued that, although there may possibly arise out of the more complex social relationships, questions that are apparently not soluble by comparing the respective amounts of freedom the concerned parties assume, it must nevertheless be granted that, whether we see it or not, their claims are either equal or unequal, and the dependent actions right or wrong accordingly.
§ 3. For those who have faith in the abstract, and who dare to follow wherever an acknowledged doctrine may lead, it will be sufficient to point out the several conclusions which may be drawn from this first principle, and to leave those conclusions to stand or fall by the logicalness of their deduction. It is to be feared, however, that results arrived at by so purely philosophical a process, will weigh but little with the majority. People who “cannot understand a principle until its light falls upon a fact,” are not to be swayed by inferences so deduced. Wedded as they are to the guidance of a superficial experience, they are deaf to the enunciation of those laws, of which the complex phenomena they draw their experience from are the workings out. We have, nevertheless, to deal with such as best we may; and, to meet their case, evidence of a so-called “practical” nature must be adduced. Whenever, therefore, we arrive at inferences conflicting with the general opinion, it is intended to fol
low up the argument by showing that “experience," rightly interpreted, enforces these inferences.
THE RIGHTS OF LIFE AND PERSONAL LIBERTY.
§ 1. These are such self-evident corollaries from our first principle as scarcely to need a separate statement. If every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man, it is manifest that he has a claim to his life: for without it he can do nothing that he has willed; and to his personal liberty: for the withdrawal of it partially, if not wholly, restrains him from the fulfilment of his will. It is just as clear, too, that each man is forbidden to deprive his fellow of life or liberty : inasmuch as he cannot do this without breaking the law, which, in asserting his freedom, declares that he shall not infringe " the equal freedom of any other." For he who is killed or enslaved is obviously no longer equally free with his killer or enslaver.
§ 2. It is unnecessary to commend these conclusions by any exposition of advantages. All spontaneously assent to them. There are a few simple truths of which the moral sense gives a sufficiently clear perception without the aid of logic; and these are of the number. The time was, indeed, when the law of adaptation having as yet produced but little effect, the feelings that respond to these truths were comparatively undeveloped, and consequently produced no spontaneous recognition of them. And did we live in the old Assyrian days when a subject