« AnteriorContinuar »
THE THIRD EDITION.
The first edition of “Civil Liberty and Self-Government" was published in 1853, when Dr. Lieber was a professor in the University of South Carolina; the second, enlarged by notes and corrected, appeared in 1859, two years after he had accepted a chair in Columbia College, New York. The second edition was exhausted when he died, October 2, 1872; and if he had lived, he would, I think, have prepared a third edition, for the work had come pretty extensively into the hands both of college students and of mature men of literary culture. But the last years of Dr. Lieber's life, after the war, with the duties and studies which it laid upon him, was over, were occupied with other literary work. And so there has been for some time an important gap in the works which can be recommended to the student of political science. The author of this preface was requested by the family of Dr. Lieber to undertake the office of preparing both the “Civil Liberty and Self-Government,” and the “Political Ethics," for a new edition. The former, as being most in demand, it was thought best to get in readiness for the press first; the other, it is probable, will be given to the public after no very long interval.
The writer of these lines had long been familiar with this work. Soon after its appearance, he wrote a somewhat extended review of it, in which he spoke with plainness, perhaps with undue emphasis, of certain minor inaccuracies in the first
edition, which had escaped its author's notice. But the review was the means of bringing him into acquaintance, and afterwards into friendly relations, with Dr. Lieber: perceiving the merits of the work, and its suitableness for the wants of young men in the United States, he was the first, or among the first, to recommend it to students, so that as early as 1854 or 1855 he put it into the hands of his pupils in Yale College. And he has had very good reason to believe that the general effect of the work upon young men has been of the most salutary kind.
The work now appears in all important particulars as the author left it. A few slight corrections have been silently introduced into the text; the notes have received additions where explanations of the text seemed to be required, and where the progress of events threw light on the author's views. One or two notes are put in the place of notes in the last edition, for special reasons, which are indicated in the notes themselves. These changes and additions, in all but few, are denoted by brackets. On the whole, while the work has been carefully examined, the amount of alterations has been very small, and throughout nothing is obtruded on the author.
It would be a grateful task to speak at length here of the services which Dr. Lieber rendered to political science in this country. But we must refer our readers to the charming sketch of his life and character, given by his friend Judge M. Russell Thayer in an address before the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. He was indeed the founder of this science in this country, in so far as by his method, his fulness of historical illustration, his noble ethical feeling, his sound practical judgment, which was of the English rather than of the German type, he secured readers among the first men of the land, influenced political thought more than any one of his contemporaries in the United States, and made, I think, a lasting impression on many students who were forming themselves for the work of life. Severely scientific he could not be called; he was sometimes a little verbose, and his abundant stores of knowledge and reading were poured profusely out on his readers; but I am not sure that a writer so full of illustration, so transparent in his
INTRODUCTION TO THE THIRD EDITION.
feelings, and with so little reserve, is not the fittest to leave a genial remembrance and a happy impression in the minds of the largest number of men.
Dr. Lieber's vicissitudes of life were of a kind to cultivate in him practical judgment concerning political matters. Sharing in his early youth in that inspiration of patriotism which drove so many young Germans into the field, and partaking of the toils of the Waterloo campaign, during which, at the battle of Namur, he was wounded; then returning to his native city, Berlin, to fall under the suspicion of the government on account of his connection with the ardent patriot Jahn; next, after his graduation at Jena, making his way into Greece, as a volunteer in the cause of Greek independence; thereupon, disappointed and destitute, taking refuge in Italy, where the historian Niebuhr invited him to act as tutor of his son; then returning into Prussia with promises of protection, which were fulfilled by his imprisonment, and gladly, on his release, going to London, where he supported himself for a year by writing and teaching, he at length, in 1827, found a permanent domicile in the United States. But here for some time he had no fixed dwelling-place. From Boston, where he stayed five years, he removed to New York in 1832, then to Philadelphia in 1833, and then, in 1835, accepted the chair of History and Political Economy in the University of South Carolina. One more transplantation, from this scene of his professional as well as literary labors, brought him, as we have seen, to New York, in 1858, where he ended his days. Thus, resembling the Greek
“Qui multorum hominum mores et vidit et urbes,"
he was enabled to add to the treasures of history with which his education had enriched his mind, the experience of a man versed in life, acquainted with mankind under many forms of society, having the best opportunities to observe governments and political institutions, and stimulated by intercourse with a person like Barthold Niebuhr. It is worth noticing here that his life in the United States was almost equally diversified with
his earlier life passed in Europe. Especially he had an opportunity, such as few have had, of seeing life in a State where slavery existed, in a State at the very head of Southern institutions, where a large number of refined men, given to politics, had reduced Southern principles to a doctrine, which they sought to engraft on the Constitution of the country, under the guidance of so accomplished and deep-thinking a statesman as Calhoun.
Dr. Lieber's native traits of mind seem to have been such that he was able readily to assimilate the impressions which a great diversity of institutions made upon him. We are wont to contrast the German mind, deep but not clear, prone to speculation, unpractical, with our practical, clear-sighted, but short-sighted English mind. But Dr. Lieber, while he had a scientific "anlage," had an eminently practical spirit, capable of gathering from history and experience their lessons, and of reconciling scientific truth with the demands and possibilities of an existing state of things. The science of politics rests on the idea of justice and of rights; but the questions, What is the best possible state? How far can the experience of one state be applied with advantage to another? What securities are needed by a nation against a government ? and What power is needed by a government for the highest welfare of the nation ?-these and many others are purely practical questions, which must be answered by the experience, the knowledge, the wisdom of thoughtful men, or else abstractionists and political revolutionists will answer them to a nation's ruin. Dr. Lieber felt that English liberty had been under a remarkable guidance of the divine Ruler of men; that justice, order, stability, freedom, had been reconciled in it in a wonderful way; that its capacity of progress without revolution set it up as a model and guide to the nations; while yet, everywhere, the best men ought to judge, with all the light and candor possible, how far these principles of the Anglican race could be adopted and engrafted on other constitutions. He was thus no German, except in justly estimating the excellent Itraits of his fatherland : in his political judgments he was