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be no less bent upon preying on the flock than any of the minor harpies, it was indispensable to be in a perpetual attitude of defence against his beak and claws. The aim, therefore, of patriots, was to set limits to the power which the ruler should be suffered to exercise over the community; and this limitation was what they meant by liberty. It was attempted in two ways. First, by obtaining a recognition of certain immunities, called political liberties or rights, which it was to be regarded as a breach of duty in the ruler to infringe, and which, if he did infringe, specific resistance, or general rebellion, was held to be justifiable. A second, and generally a later expedient, was the establishment of constitutional checks; by which the consent of the community, or of a body of some sort supposed to represent its interests, was made a necessary condition to some of the more important acts of the governing power. To the first of these modes of limitation, the ruling power, in most European countries, was compelled, more or less, to submit. It was not so with the second; and to attain this, or when already in some degree possessed, to attain it more completely, became everywhere the principal object of the lovers of liberty. And so long as mankind were content to combat one enemy by an

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other, and to be ruled by a master, on condition of being guaranteed more or less efficaciously against his tyranny, they did not carry their aspirations beyond this point.

A time, however, came, in the progress of human affairs, when men ceased to think it a necessity of nature that their governors should be an independent power, opposed in interest to themselves. It appeared to them much better that the various magistrates of the State should be their tenants or delegates, revocable at their pleasure. In that way alone, it seemed, could they have complete security that the powers of government would never be abused to their disadvantage. By degrees, this new demand for elective and temporary rulers became the prominent object of the exertions of the popular party, wherever any such party existed; and superseded, to a considerable extent, the previous efforts to limit the power of rulers. As the struggle proceeded for making the ruling power emanate from the periodical choice of the ruled, some persons began to think that too much importance had been attached to the limitation of the power itself. That (it might seem) was a resource against rulers whose interests were habitually opposed to those of the people. What was now wanted was, that the rulers should be As Majority Rule


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identified with the people; that their interest
and will should be the interest and will of the
nation. The nation did not need to be pro-
There was no
tected against its own will.
fear of its tyrannizing over itself. Let the
rulers be effectually responsible to it, promptly
removable by it, and it could afford to trust
them with power of which it could itself dic-
tate the use to be made. Their power was
but the nation's own power, concentrated, and
in a form convenient for exercise. This mode
of thought, or rather perhaps of feeling, was
common among the last generation of Euro-
pean liberalism, in the Continental section of
which, it still apparently predominates. Those
who admit any limit to what a government
may do, except in the case of such govern-
ments as they think ought not to exist, stand
out as brilliant exceptions among the political
thinkers of the Continent. A similar tone of
sentiment might by this time have been preva-
lent in our own country, if the circumstances
which for a time encouraged it had continued

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But, in political and philosophical theories, as well as in persons, success discloses faults and infirmities which failure might have concealed from observation. The notion, that the people have no need to limit their power over

themselves, might seem axiomatic, when pop-
ular government was a thing only dreamed
about, or read of as having existed at some
distant period of the past. Neither was that
notion necessarily disturbed by such temporary
aberrations as those of the French Revolution,
the worst of which were the work of an usurp-
ing few, and which, in any case, belonged, not
to the permanent working of popular institu-
tions, but to a sudden and convulsive outbreak
against monarchical and aristocratic despot-
ism. In time, however, a democratic republic
came to occupy a large portion of the earth's
surface, and made itself felt as one
one of the
most powerful members of the community of
nations; and elective and responsible govern-
ment became subject to the observations and
criticisms which wait upon a great existing
fact. It was now perceived that such phrases
as "self-government," and "the power of the
people over themselves," do not express the
true state of the case. The "people" who
exercise the power, are not always the same
people with those over whom it is exercised;
and the "self-government" spoken of, is not
the government of each by himself, but of each
by all the rest. The will of the people, more-
over, practically means, the will of the most
numerous or the most active part of the peo-

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ple; the majority, or those who succeed in making themselves accepted as the majority: the people, consequently, may desire to oppress a part of their number; and precautions are as much needed against this, as against any other abuse of power. The limitation, therefore, of the power of government over individuals, loses none of its importance when the holders of power are regularly accountable to the com munity, that is, to the strongest party therein. This view of things, recommending itself equally to the intelligence of thinkers and to the inclination of those important classes in European society to whose real or supposed interests democracy is adverse, has had no difficulty in establishing itself; and in political speculations "the tyranny of the majority" is now generally included among the evils against which society requires to be on its guard.

Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant -society collectively, over the separate individuals who compose it- its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own

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