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tion of allowing him to dispose of himself. | lowed by consequences to others; if it has He is no longer free; but is thenceforth in a placed third parties in any peculiar position, position which has no longer the presumption or, as in the case of marriage, has even called in its favor, that would be afforded by his vol- third parties into existence, obligations arise untarily remaining in it.
on the part of both the contracting parties The principle of freedom cannot require towards those third persons, the fulfilment of that he should be free not to be free. It is not which, or at all events the mode of fulfilment, freedom, to be allowed to alienate his free must be greatly affected by the continuance dom. These reasons, the force of which is so or disruption of the relation between the origconspicuous in this peculiar case, are evidently inal parties to the contract. It does not folof far wider application; yet a limit is every-blow, nor can 'I admit, that these obligations where set to them by the necessities of life, extend to requiring the fulfilment of the conwhich continually require, not indeed that we tract at all costs to the happiness of the reshould resign our freedom, but that we should luctant party; but they are a necessary eleconsent to this and the other limitation of it. ment in the question; and even if, as Von The principle, however, which demands un- Humboldt maintains, they ought to make no controlled freedom of action in all that con- difference in the legal freedom of the parties cerns only the agents themselves, requires to release themselves from the engagement that those who have become bound to one an- (and I also hold that they ought not to make other, in things which concern no third party, much difference), they necessarily make a should be able to release one another from great difference in the moral freedom. A the engagement: and even without such vol | person is bound to take all these circumuntary release, there are perhaps no contracts stances into account, before resolving on a or engagements. except those that relate to step which may affect such important intermoney or money's worth, of which one can ests of others; and if he does not allow proper venture to say that there ought to be no lib- weight to those interests, he is morally reerty whatever of retractation. Baron Wilhelm sponsible for the wrong. I have made these von Humboldt, in the excellent essay from obvious remarks for the better illustration of which I have already quoted, states it as his the general principle of liberty, and not beconviction, that engagements which involve cause they are at all needed on the particular personal relations or services, should never question, which, on the contrary, is usually be legally binding beyond a limited duration discussed as if the interest of children was of time; and that the most important of everything, and that of grown persons noththese engagements, marriage, having the pe- ing. culiarity that its objects are frustrated unless I have already observed that, owing to the the feelings of both the parties are in har- absence of any recognized general principles, mony with it, should require nothing more liberty is often granted where it should be than the declared will of either party to dis- withheld, as well as withheld where it should solve it. This subject is too important, and be granted; and one of the cases in which, in too complicated, to be discussed in a paren- the modern European world, the sentiment of thesis, and I touch on it only so far as is nec- liberty is the strongest, is a case where, in essary for purposes of illustration. If the my view, it is altogether misplaced. A perconciseness and generality of Baron Hum- son should be free to do as he likes in his own boldt's dissertation had not obliged him in concerns; but he ought not to be free to do this instance to content himself with enun- as he likes in acting for another, under the ciating his conclusion without discussing the pretext that the affairs of the other are his premises, he would doubtless have recognized own affairs. The State, while it respects the that the question cannot be decided on grounds liberty of each in what specially regards himso simple as those to which he confines him- self, is bound to maintain a vigilant control self.
over his exercise of any power which it allows When a person, either by express prom-him to possess over others. This obligation ise or by conduct, has encouraged another is almost entirely disregarded in the case of to rely upon his continuing to act in a certain the family relations, a case, in its direct inway-to build expectations and calculations, fluence on human happiness, more important and stake any part of his plan of life upon than all others taken together. The almost that supposition-a new series of moral obli- despotic power of husbands over wives needs gations arises on his part towards that per- not be enlarged upon here, because nothing son, which may possibly be overruled, but more is needed for the complete removal of cannot be ignored. And again, if the relation the evil, than that wives should have the same between two contracting parties has been fol- rights, and should receive the protection of law in the same manner, as all other persons; ing the entire school expenses of those who and because, on this subject, the defenders of have no one else to pay for them. The objecestablished injustice do not avail themselves tions which are urged with reason against of the plea of liberty, but stand forth openly State education, do not apply to the enforceas the champions of power. It is in the case ment of education by the State, but to the of children, that misapplied notions of liberty State's taking upon itself to direct that educaare a real obstacle to the fulfilment by the tion: which is a totally different thing. That State of its duties. One would almost think the whole or any large part of the education that a man's children were supposed to be lit- of the people should be in State hands, I go erally, and not metaphorically, a part of him- as far as any one in deprecating. All that self, so jealous is opinion of the smallest has been said of the importance of individuinterference of law with his absolute and ex- ality of character, and diversity in opinions clusive control over them; more jealous than and modes of conduct, involves, as of the of almost any interference with his own free- same unspeakable importance, diversity of dom of action: so much less do the generality cducation. A general State education is a of mankind value liberty than power. Con- mere contrivance for moulding people to be sider, for example, the case of education. Is exactly like one another: and as the mould it not almost a self-evident axiom, that the in which it casts them is that which pleases State should require and compel the educa- the predominant power in the government, tion, up to a certain standard, of every hu- whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an man being who is born its citizen? Yet who aristocracy, or the majority of the existing is there that is not afraid to recognize and as-generation; in proportion as it is efficient and sert this truth? Hardly any one indeed will successful, it establishes a despotism over the deny that it is one of the most sacred duties mind, leading by natural tendency to one of the parents (or as law and usage now stand, over the body. An education established and the father), after summoning a human being controlled by the State should only exist, if it into the world, to give to that being an educa- exist at all, as one among many competing tion fitting him to perform his part well in experiments, carried on for the purpose of exlife towards others and towards himself. I ample and stimulus, to keep the others up to But while this is unanimously declared to be a certain standard of excellence. Unless, inthe father's duty, scarcely anybody, in this deed, when society in general is in so backcountry, will bear to hear of obliging him toward a state that it could not or would not perform it. Instead of his being required to provide for itself any proper institutions of make any exertion or sacrifice for securing education, unless the government undertook education to his child, it is left to his choice the task: then, indeed, the government may, to accept it or not when it is provided gratis! as the less of two great evils, take upon itself It still remains unrecognized, that to bring a the business of schools and universities, as it child into existence without a fair prospect of may that of joint stock companies, when pribeing able, not only to provide food for its vate enterprise, in a shape fitted for underbody, but instruction and training for its taking great works of industry, does not exmind, is a moral crime, both against the un- ist in the country. But in general, if the fortunate offspring and against society; and country contains a sufficient number of perthat if the parent does not fulfil this obligation, sons qualified to provide education under the State ought to see it fulfilled, at the charge, government auspices, the same persons would as far as possible, of the parent.
be able and willing to give an equally good Were the duty of enforcing universal edu- education on the voluntary principle, under cation once admitted, there would be an end the assurance of remuneration afforded by a to the difficulties about what the State should law-rendering education compulsory, comteach, and how it should teach, which now bined with State aid to those unable to defray convert the subject into a mere battle field for the expense. sects and parties, causing the time and labor The instrument for enforcing the law could which should have been spent in educating, be no other than public examinations, extendto be wasted in quarrelling about education. ing to all children, and beginning at an early If the government would make up its mind to age. An age might be fixed at which every require for every child a good education, it child must be examined, to ascertain if he (or might save itself the trouble of providing one. she) is able to read. If a child proves unable, It might leave to parents to obtain the educa- the father, unless he has some sufficient tion where and how they pleased, and con- ground of excuse, might be subjected to a tent itself with helping to pay the school fees moderate fine, to be worked out, if necessary, of the poorer classes of children, and defray- by his labor, and the child might be put to school at his expense. Once in every year the the weight which may be attached to their examination should be renewed, with a gradu- testimony by public opinion. ally extending range of subjects, so as to It is not in the matter of education only, make the universal acquisition, and what is that misplaced notions of liberty prevent more, retention, of a certain minimum of gen- moral obligations on the part of parents from eral knowledge, virtually compulsory. Be- being recognized, and legal obligations from yond that minimum, there should be volun- being imposed, where there are the strongest tary examinations on all subjects, at which grounds for the former always, and in many all who come up to a certain standard of cases for the latter also. The fact itself, of proficiency might claim a certificate. To causing the existence of a human being, is one prevent the State from exercising, through of the most responsible actions in the range these arrangements, an improper influence of human life. To undertake this responsiover opinion, the knowledge required for pass-bility-to bestow a life which may be either ing an examination (beyond the merely instru- a curse or a blessing-unless the being on mental parts of knowledge, such as languages whom it is to be bestowed will have at least and their use) should, even in the higher the ordinary chances of a desirable existence, classes of examinations, be confined to facts is a crime against that being. And in a counand positive science exclusively. The exam- try either over-peopled, or threatened with inations on religion, politics, or other disputed being so, to produce children, beyond a very topics, should not turn on the truth or false- small number, with the effect of reducing the hood of opinions, but on the matter of fact reward of labor by their competition, is a sethat such and such an opinion is held; on such rious offence against all who live by the regrounds, by such authors, or schools, or muneration of their labor. The laws which, churches. Under this system, the rising gen- in many countries on the Continent, forbid eration would be no worse off in regard to all marriage unless the parties can show that disputed truths, than they are at present; they have the means of supporting a family, they would be brought up either churchmen do not exceed the legitimate powers of the or dissenters as they now are, the State State: and whether such laws be expedient or merely taking care that they should be in- not (a question mainly dependent on local cirstructed churchmen, or instructed dissenters. cumstances and feelings), they are not objecThere would be nothing to hinder them from tionable as violations of liberty. Such laws being taught religion, if their parents chose, at are interferences of the State to prohibit a the same schools where they were taught mischievous act-an act injurious to others, other things. All attempts by the State to which ought to be a subject of reprobation, bias the conclusions of its citizens on disputed and social stigma, even when it is not deemed subjects, are evil; but it may very properly expedient to superadd legal punishment. Yet offer to ascertain and certify that a person the current ideas of liberty, which bend so possesses the knowledge, requisite to make easily to real infringements of the freedom of his conclusions, on any given subject, worth the individual in things which concern only attending to. A student of philosophy would himself, would repel the attempt to put any be the better for being able to stand an exam- restraint upon his inclinations when the conination both in Locke and in Kant, whichever sequence of their indulgence is a life or lives of the two he takes up with, or even if with of wretchedness and depravity to the offspring, neither: and there is no reasonable objection with manifold evils to those sufficiently withto examining an atheist in the evidences of in reach to be in any way affected by their acChristianity, provided he is not required to tions. When we compare the strange respect profess a belief in them. The examinations, of mankind for liberty, with their strange however, in the higher branches of knowl- want of respect for it, we might imagine that edge should, I conceive, be entirely voluntary. a man had an indispensable right to do harm It would be giving too dangerous a power to to others, and no right at all to please himself governments, were they allowed to exclude without giving pain to any one. any one from professions, even from the pro- I have reserved for the last place a large fession of teacher, for alleged deficiency of class of questions respecting the limits of govqualifications: and I think, with Wilhelm von ernment interference, which, though closely Humboldt, that degrees, or other public cer-connected with the subject of this Essay, do tificates of scientific or professional acquire- not, in strictness, belong to it. These are ments, should be given to all who present cases in which the reasons against interference themselves for examination, and stand the do not turn upon the principle of liberty: the test; but that such certificates should confer question is not about restraining the actions no advantage over competitors, other than of individuals, but about helping them: it is
asked whether the government should do, orties, and of the great enterprises of industry by cause to be done, something for their bene- the union of those who voluntarily supply the fit, instead of leaving it to be done by them- pecuniary means, is further recommended by selves, individually or in voluntary combina- all the advantages which have been set forth
in this Essay as belonging to individuality of The objections to government interference, development, and diversity of modes of acwhen it is not such as to involve infringe- tion. Government operations tend to be ment of liberty, may be of three kinds. everywhere alike. With individuals and vol
The first is, when the thing to be done is untary associations, on the contrary, there likely to be better done by individuals than are varied experiments, and endless diversity by the government. Speaking generally, of experience. What the State can usefully there is no one so fit to conduct any business, do is to make itself a central depository, and or to determine how or by whom it shall be active circulator and diffuser, of the expericonducted, as those who are personally inter- ence resulting from many trials. Its business ested in it. This principle condemns the in- is to enable each experimentalist to benefit by terferences, once so common, of the legisla- the experiments of others; instead of toleratture, or the officers of government, with the ing no experiments but its own. ordinary processes of industry. But this part. The third, and most cogent reason for reof the subject has been sufficiently enlarged stricting the interference of government, is upon by political economists, and is not par- the great evil of adding unnecessarily to its ticularly related to the principles of this power. Every function superadded to those Essay.
already exercised by the government, causes The second objection is more nearly allied its influence over hopes and fears to be more to our subject. In many cases, though indi- widely diffused, and converts, more and more, viduals may not do the particular thing so the active and ambitious part of the public well, on the average, as the officers of govern- into hangers-on of the government, or of some ment, it is nevertheless desirable that it should party which aims at becoming the governbe done by them, rather than by the govern- ment. If the roads, the railways, the banks, ment, as a means to their own mental educa- the insurance offices, the great joint-stock comtion-a mode of strengthening their active panies, the universities, and the public charifaculties, exercising their judgment, and giv- ties, were all of them branches of the governing them a familiar knowledge of the subjects ment; if, in addition, the municipal corporawith which they are thus left to deal. This is tions and local boards, with all that now dea principal, though not the sole, recommenda- volves on them, became departments of the tion of jury trial (in cases not political); of central administration; if the employés of all free and popular local and municipal institu- these different enterprises were appointed and tions; of the conduct of industrial and philan- paid by the government, and looked to the thropic enterprises by voluntary associations. government for every rise in life; not all the These are not questions of liberty, and are freedom of the press and popular constitution connected with that subject only by remote of the legislature would make this or any tendencies; but they are questions of develop- other country free otherwise than in name. ment. It belongs to a different occasion from And the evil would be greater, the more effithe present to dwell on these things as parts ciently and scientifically the administrative of national education; as being, in truth, the machinery was constructed—the more skilful peculiar training of a citizen, the practical the arrangements for obtaining the best part of the political education of a free people, qualified hands and heads with which to taking them out of the narrow circle of per- work it. sonal and family selfishness, and accustoming In England it has of late been proposed that them to the comprehension of joint interests, all the members of the civil service of governthe management of joint concerns-habituat- ment should be selected by competitive examing them to act from public or semi-public ination, to obtain for those employments motives, and guide their conduct by aims the most intelligent and instructed persons which unite instead of isolating them from procurable; and much has been said and writone another. Without these habits and pow- ten for and against this proposal. One of the ers, a free constitution can neither be worked arguments most insisted on by its opponents, nor preserved; as is exemplified by the too- is that the occupation of a permanent official often transitory nature of political freedom in servant of the State does not hold out sufcountries where it does not rest upon a suffi- ficient prospects of emolument and imporcient basis of local liberties. The manage- tance to attract the highest talents, which will ment of purely local business by the locali- always be able to find a more inviting career in the professions, or in the service of compa- reaucracy being unchanged, and nobody else nies and other public bodies. One would not being capable of taking their place. have been surprised if this argument had been A very different spectacle is exhibited among used by the friends of the proposition, as an a people accustomed to transact their own answer to its principal difficulty. Coming business. In France, a large part of the from the opponents it is strange enough. people having been engaged in military serWhat is urged as an objection is the safety- vice, many of whom have held at least the valve of the proposed system. If indeed all rank of non-commissioned officers, there are the high talent of the country could be drawn in every popular insurrection several persons into the service of the government, a proposal competent to take the lead, and improvise tending to bring about that result might well some tolerable plan of action. What the inspire uneasiness. If every part of the French are in military affairs, the Americans business of society.which required organized are in every kind of civil business; let them concert, or large and comprehensive views, be left without a government, every body of were in the hands of the government, and if Americans is able to improvise one, and to government offices were universally filled by carry on that or any other public business the ablest men, all the enlarged culture and with a sufficient amount of intelligence, orpractised intelligence in the country, except der, and decision. This is what every free the purely speculative, would be concentrated people ought to be: and a people capable of in a numerous bureaucracy, to whom alone this is certain to be free; it will never let itthe rest of the community would look for all self be enslaved by any man or body of men things: the multitude for direction and dicta- because these are able to seize and pull the 'tion in all they had to do; the able and aspir reins of the central administration. No buing for personal advancement. To be admit- reaucracy can hope to make such a people as ted into the ranks of this bureaucracy, and this do or undergo anything that they do not when admitted, to rise therein, would be the like. But where everything is done through sole objects of ambition. Under this régime, the bureaucracy, nothing to which the bunot only is the outside public ill-qualified, for reaucracy is really adverse can be done at all. want of practical experience, to criticise or The constitution of such countries is an orcheck the mode of operation of the bureau-ganization of the experience and practical cracy, but even if the accidents of despotic or ability of the nation, into a disciplined body the natural working of popular institutions for the purpose of governing the rest; and occasionally raise to the summit a ruler or the more perfect that organization is in itself, rulers of reforming inclinations, no reform the more successful in drawing to itself and can be effected which is contrary to the in- educating for itself the persons of greatest terest of the bureaucracy. Such is the mel-capacity from all ranks of the community, ancholy condition of the Russian empire, as the more complete is the bondage of all, the shown in the accounts of those who have had members of the bureaucracy included. For sufficient opportunity of observation. The the governors are as much the slaves of their Czar himself is powerless against the bureau- organization and discipline, as the governed cratic body; he can send any one of them to are of the governors. A Chinese mandarir Siberia, but he cannot govern without them, is as much the tool and creature of a despot or against their will. On every decree of his ism as the humblest cultivator. An indithey have a tacit veto, by merely refraining vidual Jesuit is to the utmost degree of abasefrom carrying it into effect. In countries of ment the slave of his order, though the order more advanced civilization and of a more in- itself exists for the collective power and imsurrectionary spirit, the public, accustomed portance of its members. to expect everything to be done for them by It is not, also, to be forgotten, that the abthe State, or at least to do nothing for them- sorption of all the principal ability of the selves without asking from the State not only country into the governing body is fatal, leave to do it, but even how it is to be done, sooner or later, to the mental activity and naturally hold the State responsible for all progressiveness of the body itself. Bandevil which befalls them, and when the evil ed together as they are working a system exceeds their amount of patience, they rise which, like all systems, necessarily proceeds against the government, and make what is in a great measure by fixed rules--the official called a revolution; whereupon somebody body are under the constant temptation of else, with or without legitimate authority sinking into indolent routine, or, if they now from the nation, vaults into the seat, issues and then desert that mill-horse round, of his orders to the bureaucracy, and every- rushing into some half-examined crudity thing goes on much as it did before; the bu-which has struck the fancy of some leading