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changes, the fierceness of despotism, war, and superstition continued to waste the earth “as an open sepulchre,” beyond which no purity, no peace, no liberation, had been anew revealed. Even the deities in whom men believed were at variance with one another; and the religions, of which they formed the crown, were efficacious against the good rather than against the evil in the world. This rapid account of the three great labors of mankind in the legendary and the historical eras of antiquity will be, it is hoped, sufficiently clear to explain the natural principles of growth which ancient liberty obeyed. Each successive period was marked, not only by the undertaking of larger enterprises, but by the development of increased powers; both which imply, without the need of explanation, that the freedom of each successive race must have surpassed, in some degree, the freedom of its predecessors. The attempt will by and by be made to describe more particularly the part which liberty sustained in the advancement of the ancient nations;” but for the present, it must be our aim to define as accurately as possible the limits within which this great principle of human progress would be itself restricted, before the coming of a Saviour through whom it first appeared that the growth of liberty alone was not the growth of thorough truth. The idea of liberty is inseparable from the idea of power. Liberty, in fact, is the means of exercising power; while the possession of power is worth. nothing without its employment in liberty. The ability is nearly synonymous with the freedom to do any thing which is the natural work of human hands or human minds. An individual may, indeed, be free, but to no good purpose, without capacity and cultivation; nor will a nation, though free, make any use of its liberty, unless it have strength and civilization. On the other hand, neither an individual nor a people can be accounted powerful, unless both have the freedom in which their powers are subject to no unnecessary control. Now there are different degrees of power, as of liberty. One is physical, implying muscular and rugged force which can be turned to use only in a violent and barbarous freedom. It may be power over nature or over man; but wherever it exists by itself, it is always the growth of an early period and the possession of an uncivilized race. The second degree is intellectual, and is joined to a wiser freedom and a larger civilization. It must be physical as well as intellectual, in order to be firm and useful; but its firmness and its usefulness arise from the sources of industry and knowledge and law. Far above both is moral power, more gentle and more peaceful, yet a thousand fold more mighty and more beneficent. With one man or with a whole nation, this power, if it be free, is sure to be employed in the justest and purest liberty, because it is the worker of all purity and justice. As physical power issues from the appetites and the vigor of the body, and as intellectual power springs from the desires and the ability of the mind, so moral power has its origin in the affections and the holiness of the soul.
9 See Chapter VIII.
“”T is liberty of heart derived from Heaven,
The purpose of starting with these definitions of liberty, in connection with the power to which mankind is capable of attaining, will be more apparent as we come to comprehend the measure and the character of ancient freedom, through the measure and the character of the faculties whose exercise and development it supplied. But there are other subdivisions of liberty which are more commonly regarded as corresponding with the various periods of history, because they are in more immediate relation with the laws on which all liberty depends. The idea of law is twofold, inasmuch as it always suggests both constraint and security. According to the predominance of one effect over the other in any body of laws, it may be generally said that they establish a greater or a less amount of liberty. If a code, for instance, be devised by man to restrain a people from the possession or the employment of the rights we suppose to be given them by God, they are virtually a people of bondmen. On the contrary, wherever human institutions are framed in order to preserve the rights and the hopes of Divine bestowal, there liberty exists in all the completeness to which it can aspire. It may be observed, parenthetically, that the spirit to conceive and to adopt these better institutions is derived from religion. One often hears that the savage is distinguished from the civilized man by his greater freedom, or, at least, his greater personal freedom, - as if the action of laws were necessarily so hostile to liberty as to make their absence favorable to its widest, though not, as all agree, to its most beneficent expansion. It is, however, to be remarked, that, if the barbarian be not constrained by laws, he is utterly subject to the force or the violence which the want of laws allows; he may not be constrained, but he is certainly not protected. And, to connect the foregoing with the present considerations, it may be added, that, supposing the savage to be free as the air he breathes, he has no faculties save those of ferocity, craft, and sometimes foresight, to employ in his desert liberty. One illustration will be sufficient to lead the reader to the reflections it is desirable he should make at the outset of a history of liberty; but it might be argued, in the same manner, that freedom fails or flourishes, whether in a democracy or under a despotism, according to the nature of the laws from which it springs, and that of the powers in which it may be said to flow. We must return, however, to trace the various degrees of liberty which relate more immediately to the various laws by which men live in civilization. One is personal, another social, and a third political; not that these are the only names which liberty bears, but that they may here be taken as describing the three divisions under which all others may be numbered. Personal liberty belongs to the individual, as the freedom to think, to speak, and to act as he will; its measure depends, more than that of any other freedom, upon the capacities with which the individual is endowed, but its enjoyment, of course, like that of all freedom, is secured through the laws by which society is controlled and upheld. Social liberty belongs to men as members of society; it does not make them citizens, but protects their persons and their possessions, and unites them, whether of a larger or a smaller number, in industry and general prosperity. Political liberty belongs to citizens, that is, to men who bear their parts in government as well as in society; nor does it simply effect participation in public affairs and public privileges, but, where rightly employed, assists its possessors to activity and knowledge in all the concerns of life. This rightful use of political liberty is as simple as it is here important to be defined. Based upon laws that must indispensably maintain the public and the private privileges of the country or the race on which it is bestowed or by which it is acquired, it further needs to be raised by the virtue and the capacity of the individual, as well as by the strength and the integrity of the nation, into whose hands it has been committed. In other words, a state may be called free, because it possesses political liberty, when its freedom, the existence of which cannot be denied, is of shallow springs, of turbid courses, and of bitter ends. The investigation of this apparent anomaly
4 Cowper. VOL. I. 2