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centuries ago, trials for high treason were surrounded with peculiar safeguards, besides those known in common criminal trials, in favor of the accused, an exception the very reverse of which we observe in all other European countries down to the most recent times, and in most to this day. In England, we first see applied in practice and on a grand scale, the idea which came originally from the Netherlands, that liberty must not be a boon of the government, but that government must derive its rights from the people. Here, too, the people always clung to the right to tax themselves, and here, from the earliest times, the administration of justice has been separated from the other functions of government and devolved upon magistrates set apart for this end, a separation not yet found in all countries. In England, power of all kind, even of the crown, has ever bowed, at least theoretically, to the supremacy of the law, and that country may claim the imperish
1 I do not only allude to such bodies as the French parliaments, but to the fact that down to this century the continental courts of justice conducted, in innumerable cases, what is now frequently called the administrative business, such as collecting taxes, letting crown domains, superintending roads and bridges. The early separation of the English judge—I do not speak of his independence, which is of much later date-and the early, comparatively speaking, independent position of the English church, seem to me two of the most significant facts in English history
2 Even a Henry the Eighth took care to have first the law changed when it could not be bent to his tyrannical acts. Despots in other countries did not take this trouble, and I do not know whether the history of any other period impresses the student with that peculiar meaning which the English word Law has acquired, more forcibly than this very reign of tyranny and royal bloodshed.
able glory of having formed a national representative system of two houses, governed by a parliamentary law of their own, with that important element, at once conservative and progressive, of a lawful, loyal opposition. It is that country which alone saved judicial and political publicity, when secrecy prevailed everywhere else; which retained a self-developing common law and established the trial by jury. In England, the principles of self-government were not swept away, and all the chief principles and guarantees of her great charter and the petition of rights have passed over into our constitutions.
We belong to the Anglican tribe, which carries Anglican principles and liberty over the globe, because wherever it moves liberal institutions and a common law full of manly rights and instinct with the principle of an expansive life accompany it. We belong to that race whose obvious task it is among other proud and sacred tasks, to rear and spread civil liberty over vast regions in every part of the earth, on continent and isle. We belong to that tribe which alone has the word Self-Government. We belong to that nation whose great lot it is to be placed with the full inheritance of freedom on the freshest soil, in the noblest site, between Europe and Asia, a nation young, whose kindred countries, powerful in wealth, armies, and intellect, are old, It is a period when a peaceful migration of nations, similar in the weight of numbers to the warlike migration of the early middle ages, pours its crowd into the lap of our more favored land, there to try and at times to test to the utmost our institutions
institutions which are our foundations and buttresses, as the law which they embody and organize is our sole and sovereign master.
These are the reasons why it is incumbent upon every American again and again to present to his mind what his own liberty is, how he must guard and maintain it, and why, if he neglect it, he resem., bles the missionary that should proceed to convert the world without bible or prayer-book. These are the reasons why I feel called upon to write this work in addition to what I have given long ago in another place on the subjects of Justice, Law, the State, Liberty and Right, and to which, therefore, I must refer my reader for many preliminary particulars; and these, too, are the reasons why I ask for an attention, corresponding to the sense of responsibility with which I approach the great theme of political vitality—the leading subject of western history and the characteristic stamp and feature of our tribe, our age, our own country and its calling.
3 In my Political Ethics.
* I ask permission to draw the attention of the scholar to a subject which appears to me important. I have used the term Western History, yet it is so indistinct that I must explain what is meant by it. It ought not to be so. I mean by western history, the history of all historically active, non-Asiatic nations and tribes
the history of the Europeans and their descendants in other parts of the world. In the grouping and division of comprehensive subjects, clearness depends in a great measure upon the distinctness of well-chosen terms. Many students of civilization have probably felt with me the desirableness of a concise term, which should comprehend within the bounds of one word, capable of furnishing us with an acceptable adjective, the whole of the
western Caucasian portion of mankind—the Europeans and all their descendants in whatever part of the world, in America, Australia, Africa, India, the Indian Archipelago and the Pacific Islands. It is an idea which constantly recurs, and makes the necessity of a proper and brief term daily felt. Bacon said that “the wise question is half the science,” and may we not add that a wise division and apt terminology is its completion? In my private papers I use the term Occidental, in a sufficiently natural contradistinction to Oriental. But Occidental like Western, indicates geographical position; nor did I feel otherwise authorized to use it here. Europides, would not be readily accepted either. Japhethian would comprehend more tribes than we wish to designate. That some term or other must soon be adopted seems to me clear, and I am ready to accept any expressive name formed in the spirit and according to the taste of our language. The chemist and natural historian are not the only ones that stand in need of distinct names for their subjects, but they are less exacting than scholars.
DEFINITIONS OF LIBERTY.
A DISTINGUISHED writer has said that every one desires liberty, but it is impossible to say what it is.' If he meant by liberty, civil liberty, and that it is impossible to give a definition of it, using the term definition in its strictest sense, he was right, but he was mistaken if he intended to say that we cannot state and explain what is meant by civil liberty in certain periods, by certain tribes, and that we cannot collect something general from these different views. Civil liberty does not fare worse in this respect than all other terms which designate the collective amount of different applications of the same principle, such as Fine Arts, Religion, Property, Republic. The definitions of all these terms imply the use of others variable in their nature. The time however is passed when, as in the age of the scholastic philosophy, it was believed that everything was strictly definable, and must be compressed within the narrow limits of an absolute definition before it could be entitled to
1 I believe this is said by Mr. de Chateaubriand in his Etudes Historiques, but I quote from memory, and a hurried glance at the work has not brought again the passage under my eye.