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encourage persons of genuine merit. But a government has little direct power of influencing opinion, except by preventing the free expression of thought, and by thus producing an intellectual stagnation, such as prevails in Spain, and, to a certain extent, even in Italy. No government of a civilised country, for example, could now, either by punishment or reward, by persecution or endowment, restore a general belief in the Ptolemaic system of the world, or in judicial astrology, within its dominions. Adam Smith remarks, that the most richly endowed universities have been the slowest in adopting improvements in the different branches of philosophy, and have been the most prone to retain exploded errors in their course of education.1 Even if this statement were true, it would not prove that the endowment produced the effect of giving currency and authority to antiquated errors and obsolete systems. The probability is that the endowment, thus misapplied, would be merely wasted; and that the doctrines taught would gain little or no acceptance among the public, if it was known that they were rejected by the competent scientific judges, and that they were still maintained by the university merely through the influence of its endowed chairs.

§ 15. A government may likewise countenance sound opinions by upholding institutions which imply those opinions, and are founded upon them. A criminal law in which the definitions of crimes, and the gradations of their punishments, are derived from correct principles respecting the grounds of moral imputation and the measure of moral guilt, tends powerfully to establish a good ethical standard in the minds of the community. The same may be said of the civil law: its definitions of contracts, rights of property, fraud, &c., tend to fix and enlighten men's ideas as to honesty and good faith in their mutual dealings. The theory of the criminal and civil law, and its application in practice, when governed by sound principles, thus contribute materially to the establishment of a good code of morals for the public. In like manner, the observance of good faith by the government, in its relations with foreign countries, tends to accredit sound maxims of international law, and to inculcate their observance upon other nations. Every good system of municipal laws, faithfully administered-every steady observance of sound rules of international law-tends to

1 Wealth of Nations, b. V. ch. 1, art. 2. On this subject, so far as regards the English universities, see the remarks of Dr. Whewell, Hist. of the Ind. Sciences, b. VII. c. 3, § 2.

create a real, not an ideal, model of government, which serves for the imitation of other nations and future times.1

On the other hand, a government, by adopting erroneous opinions as the basis of its legislation, may not only give them the currency arising from its countenance, but also that strength which arises from the existence of vested interests. This is particularly perceptible with regard to the economical principles, which are involved in legislation upon commerce, navigation, taxation, public charity, &c.

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§ 16. But although (as we remarked above) it has not been thought the duty of the State to take an active and impulsive part in propagating the truth upon secular subjects, it has not been held that the State could with propriety be equally passive with respect to the permission of error. The censorship of the press was, from the first invention of printing, exercised by all the European governments for preventing the circulation of dangerous and unsound opinions. As has been already stated, it was employed, in the first instance, and principally, for the repression of religious error; but it has also been used for the prohibition of writings upon philosophical, political, and historical subjects. It was thought, at one time, that the government rendered itself responsible for the errors which it permitted to be propagated through the press; and that one of its duties was to protect the public against the diffusion of false opinions by means of books, as it was its duty to adopt measures for preventing the diffusion of pestilential diseases, or the passing of false coins.2 There is no

1 Adam Smith adverts to the good moral influence exercised upon the character of the Romans, by the excellent constitution of their judicatories: 'The superiority of character in the Romans over that of the Greeks, so much remarked by Polybius, and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, was probably more owing to the better constitution of their courts of justice, than to any of the circumstances to which those writers ascribe it.'- Wealth of Nations, b. V. e. 1, art. 2. See Polyb. VI. 56. The influence of laws upon the morals and usages of a people is considered by Matter, in his treatise De l'Influence des Maurs sur les Lois, et de l'Influence des Lois sur les Mœurs. (Paris, 1832.) Part III.

2 On the censorship of books, see Hoffmann's Treatise; and Beckmann, Hist. of Inv. vol. III. p. 93, art. Book Censors. In p. 98, a passage is quoted from a letter of Hermolaus Barbarus, written in 1480, in which he expresses an opinion favourable to the adoption of Plato's recommendation in his Laws, that no person should publish anything without previous examination and permission of persons appointed by the government. The present multitude of inferior books, he says, causes good authors to be neglected: Et quod calamitosissimum est, periti juxta imperitique de studiis impune ac promiscue judicant.' The passage of Plato refers to poets exclusively, but supposes a regular censorship.-Leg. VII. p. 801.


doubt that this office was undertaken by the European governments with a sincere desire of purging the productions of the press from all peccant matter, and of performing a preliminary work of selection, by authorising useful and suppressing pernicious books. But, as in the case of religion, experience has proved that the State cannot advantageously discharge the office of a censor of public discussion in matters of a secular character, and that society makes more progress towards the discovery and recognition of truth when it is unassisted by the well-meant, though ill-directed, efforts of a government censorship of the press. At present, it is only in the Italian States and Austria that philosophical and historical discussion is regulated by the censorship. In Prussia and the other German States, in which a censorship of the press has, until lately, subsisted, its practical exercise has been limited to the current political discussion of the day; and it has, in fact, been used by the government only as a means of suppressing unfavourable criticism upon their own acts and policy. It was to this purpose that the censorship of the press was turned by Napoleon, who, however, did not content himself with suppressing all adverse criticism, but retained in the pay of the government all the writers whose articles were permitted to appear in the newspapers. By thus poisoning all the channels of information at their source, he rendered the periodical press the mere engine of his despotism; and all securities for truth of statement, and fairness or completeness of discussion, were thus, during his ascendancy, suspended in France.1

If the State be fitted at all for establishing a standard of opinion, there is no function which it can so properly assume as that of authorising printed works, or prohibiting their publication.2

In discussing the question of the prohibition of books at the Council of Trent, one of the members observed, that there had been already too many books printed since the invention of printing; and that it was better to prohibit a thousand books which did not deserve it, than to permit one which deserved to be prohibited.—SARPI, 1. VI. c. 5, (t. II. p. 139, ed. Courayer).

1 For an account of the measures of Napoleon for regulating and managing the press, see Madame de Stael, Consid. sur la Révol. Française, Part IV. ch. 4 and 16.

2 He [the king of Brobdignag] laughed at my odd kind of arithmetic, as he was pleased to call it, in reckoning the numbers of our people by a computation drawn from the several sects among us in religion and politics. He said he knew no reason why those who entertain opinions prejudicial to the public should be obliged to change, or should not be obliged to conceal them. And as it was tyranny in any government to require the first, so it was weakness not to enforce the second; for a man may be allowed to keep poisons in his closet, but not to vend them about for cordials.'SWIFT.

A similar image is employed in the Bull of Leo X. against the abuses of the press,

If it is ever to make itself the promoter of truth and the discourager of error, no less objectionable instrument than a censorship of the press can be devised. The practical abandonment of this system in all countries under a free government, and the general discredit into which it has fallen over the civilised world, afford a strong ground for thinking that the State is incapable of discharging the duty of a censor of opinion with success-that the accumulation of experience is adverse to the system, and that there is a radical defect in the theory which extends the dominion of the State over the regions of speculative truth.

§ 17. Not only may the State, by its patronage, assist in promoting the diffusion of sound knowledge, both in the upper and lower strata of society; but it may also authenticate certain persons, as possessing a competent amount of skill for the practice of a profession or calling.

Thus it may, by proper examinations, ascertain the qualifications of candidates to practise medicine or law; and upon those who come up to the prescribed mark of fitness, it may confer diplomas, or other authorities to practise. A similar process may be applied to schoolmasters and teachers of youth, to masters of merchant-vessels, and others who have difficult and important functions to perform. The granting of diplomas by universities, or other learned bodies, proceeds on the supposition, that the public require some assistance to their judgment in the choice of professional services, and that such an official scrutiny into the qualifications of practitioners is a useful security against the imposture or incompetency of mere pretenders to skill. For the practice of medicine in particular, a public authentication, by a board of competent and disinterested examiners, cannot fail to be an important safeguard against imposture, inasmuch as the public are scarcely able to form an unassisted judgment as to the qualifications of medical men. Such degrees or diplomas, however, do not of themselves import more than an authentication by duly appointed public officers; they are like a public seal or stamp

issued in the year 1515: 'Nos itaque (the Pope says), ne id, quod in Dei gloriam et fidei argumentum ac bonarum artium propagationem salubriter est inventum, in contrarium convertatur, ac Christi fidelium saluti detrimentum pariat, super librorum impressione curam nostram habendam fore duximus, ne de cætero cum bonis seminibus spine coalescant, vel medicinis venena intermisceantur.'-HOFFMANN, ubi sup. p. 47.

1 See the remarks of Dr. Cullen upon the value of medical degrees, in answer to Adam Smith, cited in note XX. to Mr. M'Culloch's edition of the Wealth of Nations, p. 587.

affixed to goods for the purpose of attesting their genuineness, or like the mark impressed on the coin of the State, in order to serve as a public guarantee of its weight and fineness. Hence, they are not necessarily licences to practise, and do not imply any exclusive right. In this country, for example, any quack doctor may legally practise medicine: the diplomas of the public bodies which preside over the medical profession merely serve as guides to the public in the choice of their medical advisers.

M. Dunoyer, in his work On the Liberty of Labour, maintains, not only that medical diplomas ought to confer no exclusive right of practising medicine, but that they serve merely as screens for incapacity, and substitutes for real knowledge, and ought therefore to be discontinued altogether. But although the examinations and licences of artisans, and the exclusive rights of members of guilds, have been rightly abolished by modern nations, it does not follow that a public authentication of medical practitioners is either mischievous or superfluous. People in general can, by proper means, form a judgment as to the products of the useful arts without the assistance of the government: 2 the appointment of public weighers and measurers, the stamping and marking of goods before sale, and other legislative interferences between the buyer and seller, intended to prevent fraud, and to insure the quality of goods, are indeed, (except in such cases as those of coin and plate,) productive of more harm than benefit. But where intellectual fitness is concerned, the public may have less facility for guarding against imposture; and they may be aided in the selection of their medical advisers by the certificate of a board of competent examiners, who have ascertained the qualifications of the practitioner, and given them a solemn and authentic attestation.

§ 18. II. With respect to the influence exercised by the heads of a church, or religious community, over opinion in religious and ecclesiastical matters, we refer generally to the remarks in Chapter IV.

As has been there shown, no merely human authority is recognised by all the Christian churches. The authority of the heads and doctors of each church is confined to the members of their own communion, and does not pervade all Christendom. Each church or section of Christianity possesses its own authorities.

1 De la Liberté du Travail, tom. III. p. 47-55.

2 See above, p. 88.

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