DIRECTOR   Panfilo Wade


It is as a subsidiary support to this great original basis of power that the idea of thity comes in. To the reflecting mind the absolute necessity of some sort of government is sufficiently obvious — so obvious, indeed, that many speculative writers have assumed that government took its origin in the perception of its utility, men having deliberately established it because they felt its necessity. But in this case, as in many others essential to the existence of the race, mankind have not been left to the slow deductions of reason, governments having sprung up out of the very constitution of human nature, long before men had become reflective enough to perceive their practical benefits. Yet those benefits, once perceived, and especially when made the more striking by the contrast of recent commotions or civil war, come to constitute a very strong argument in favor of upholding and strengthening the hands of any such government as happens to exist, since the mere fact of its existence goes very far to prove its rightfulness and legality. For, as actual superiority on the part of the rulers constitutes the only basis upon which government can securely rest, so the might to govern must of necessity carry with it the right to govern ; and in this sense,—and a very important sense it is, too, — Might does actually make Right. Nor, when taken with its proper restrictions, will this maxim appear so very paradoxical. Those who have the might to govern have the right to govern, but not the right to govern tyrannically. As is the case of a father with respect to his children, so all rulers are morally bound to use that power which the constitution of nature has put into their hands, not to the injury of others, or for their own special benefit, but for the common good of the nation — the joint benefit of all concerned; not in accordance with their own arbitrary will and pleasure, but in conformity to the higher law of moral obligation; and every exercise of power of a different character, from whomsoever it may come, is, and always will be, none the less, on that account, tyrannical and wicked. Yet every mere abuse of power is by no means to be made an excuse for attempts at the overturn of existing governments, which can be justified only by some fair prospect of success, and of the substitution of a better one in the place of that overturned. And, as actual success affords the best proof—in fact, the only satisfactory proof—that the enterprise was not rashly undertaken, hence does it mainly depend upon the ultimate result, whether the leaders in such undertakings sink into obloquy as unsuccessful rebels, or rise to renown as patriotic heroes. Thus, in the Christian theology as set forth in Milton's great poem, the right of God to govern, and the duty of men and angels to obey, are made to rest upon the power of God, who is represented as having created men and angels solely for his own pleasure and glory; while the guilt of Satan's rebellion grows out of the hopelessness of it. In the heathen mythology, on the other hand, Jupiter dethrones his father, Saturn, and becomes his rightful successor. His might makes and proves his right. In all cases, historical as well as mythological, an authority or possession de facto, if it continue to be maintained, soon passes into an authority or possession de jure. The maintenance of it proves the might, and the might proves the right. Nor, indeed, is any very great length of time necessary to produce that effect. Robespierre, having been able to maintain the sovereign authority for less than a twelvemonth, is generally regarded as a usurper and tyrant; while Bonaparte, by holding it for sony fourteen years, passes, with many of these very same persons, into the rank of a legitimate sovereign.