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THE HOME AND ITS AFFECTIONS.
Society. Of Divine institution.--Coeval with Man.—Man's nature answer
ing to it, and it answering to Man's nature.—The fiction of a Social Contract examined and refuted.
We have in the foregoing book examined the Affections as existing in the heart of the individual man. We have defined them as finding their ends in Persons, and these persons existing in Society. We have again and again expressed our opinion that Society is of a threefold organization, the Home, the Nation, the Church: that it is a divine institution, and coeval with man, an organization for fixed and determined purposes, and in set and determinate forms. These opinions of ours are familiar, as opinions, to our readers.
We have also, at different parts of this book, as it came up according to the subject, shown the uses of Society; that Society in itself is one grand school of teaching, divided into three, which teaches in the Family, Love; in the Nation, Justice and Equity; in the Church, Holiness. These uses we have, at various periods of our work, illustrated. The uses, however, manifestly are facts; they could exist as uses of Society, whatsoever its origin: the question now is of its origin. Our opinion that we have expressed is, that it is of Divine Institution, coeval and congenital with man; the organization, just as much as the individual, an existence made of God for set purposes, and in fixed, unchangeable forms.
This it must be, or else made of and by man; not of divine origin, but made by a multitude of men consenting thereunto, as men, after an unanimous plan, frame and build a house.
There is no alternative—either Society is by God intended for the purposes that we see it fulfil, and is of his building; or else it is made by man after his own will: one thing or the other must be true.
Now of this latter opinion there have been in modern times many advocates; their theory is called the “theory of the Social Contract.” It is, we conceive, in its main features fairly represented thus :
“There was a time when there was no Society, but men were in a State of Nature. Then they came voluntarily together, and by contract they constituted Society. Hence that agreement is called the Social Contract: and so doing they each renounced a portion of their individual rights, as the price to Society for the securing of the others." These three clauses will embrace, We believe, all the elements of this theory.
We shall examine these asseverations one by one.
Now with regard to the fact of contract, what evidence is there that this which we call Society was constituted by contract among individuals, who formerly not being in society contracted to make it, and after it was made were thenceforth in it? What evidence is there of the contract which the theory takes to be a fact ?
Of such a fact there is in existence neither record, witnesses, registry, evidence of time, or place, or any one of those circumstances which are requisite to the proof of the fact of contract.
Let us go back, and we shall see there is no evidence to the effect that the theory requires. We go back to our American Constitution, established at the Revolution. We do not see that this answers at all to the “Social Contract,” for the theory says that by that contract, Society was constituted ; that previously there was no Society, but men were in a State of Nature. Now before the American Revolution there was Society, there were families, churches, magistrates: the change then was from ono form of Government to another, not from no-government to go vernment; not from no-society to society. Men were not in a State of Nature before the Revolution, and after it stepped at once into the Social State. Whatsoever the Social Contract may be, and whensoever it may be imagined to have been made, it certainly was not made at the time of the establishment of our Government, and our Constitution does not answer to the description given of it.
We go back, then, to our English ancestors. We have the history of the nation for a thousand years at least. If a fact so remarkable as this, of a Social Contract, by which a whole nation stepped from a State of Nature in which no Society existed, into the Social state; if a fact so remarkable ever occurred in that people, we should have, in all reason and common sense, some record of its happening. But there is no record of time or place, nor of any thing that can prove this alleged fact of a Contract, in the history of the English nation.
But we may have evidence of it, perhaps, in the times anterior to the national existence of England : and lo! in the historical records of the whole world there is not the slightest evidence of such a transaction, such a Contract! The matter is a supposition, a theory, a fiction, so far as evidence or record of it is required or searched for—not a matter of fact.
Wherever, even in the fewest numbers, the Man is seen, there is he seen in Society; he enters into Society as member of a Family; where there are only two or three families, there is Government in the Tribe, which is the Nation in little; and there is Worship. Where there is, either from newness or from desolation by famine, pestilence, war, or emigration, only one family in the land, the three elements are seen coexisting in the one social organization, which is at once a Family, a Nation in little, and a Church; and the head at once is Father, and King or Chief Magistrate, and Priest. These relations are not made by any supposed compact, but are coeval with man, for as far back as we go we see them to exist, and we see no evidence of Contract constituting them.
But again, this theory supposes that there was in existence antecedent to the Social State, a State of Nature! This is a fact asserted, a thing of which we ought to have evidence. It is supposed to be a state opposite to that of Society, a state in which there was no society, but only individuals; in which, of course, there were no Families, no Nations, no Worships; in which therefore there were no husbands and no wives, no property, no magistrates, nothing, in short, but the individual man eating and drinking, and freely doing whatever his heart moved him to ! Was there ever such a state as this?
As a matter of fact, there never was: because, as we have said, the very first sight we get of man in the records of our race,
sacred or profane, shows him in Society; shows all its three forms to exist; and shows his nature too, so framed and adapted for Society, that it is manifest that he was made and organized for it, and it was made and organized for him. So far with regard to the fancied State of Nature as supposed to exist before and in opposition to the Social State.
But again, the “Man,” in acceding to the “Social Contract,” and entering into the Social State, is supposed to have surrendered a portion of his “ Original Rights.” I confess I do not see that in Society any rights belonging to the individual are surrendered. Life and Liberty and Property are certainly secured against outrage, which, if the Nation did not exist, they would endure. Except, perhaps, that which society makes a crime, is a “right original ;" except “rapine," and "theft," and "brutality," and contempt of the marriage bond, except these, which Society calls “ Crimes," are “ Original Rights."*
I cannot see how Man in Society “surrenders a portion of his rights.” To secure life at the expense of contributing perhaps three days' labour in a whole year, instead of being perpetually in peril and constantly in arms; to secure property by a like expenditure of time, instead of being able only to possess that which with armed hand we can take and hold ; this, so far from a “Surrender of Rights," seems to me an enlargement of them.
And looking steadfastly at the civilized man and at the man
* IIere is the immoral element in this theory, the concealed premise, always held back yet always implied and insinuated in various forms, by Rousseau and his followers, the doctrine that the Law of Society only made those actions vicious, which, before that law, were not only not vicious, but rights of the individual man, at that period, the golden age of Rousseau, when
“ Wild in woods the noble savage ran,
Ere arts and manners first corrupted man."
And so, it seems, murder, theft, rapine, promiscuous concubinage, all these are "original rights” of the individual man, which he surrenders to society by being under the Social Contract, -not wrong in themselves by any means ! The evils of this theory are thus manifest to any mind; they were in fact and reality manifested in the corruption of manners that preceded the French Revolution. This vile theory had taken possession of the whole mind of the nation of France, and such was its result.
Such is the power unto evil of one base, “bad-hearted” man of Genius. In this has Rousseau a bad pre-eminence. He is the one, the only thoroughly bad-hearted man of true Genius the experience of the past reveals to us.
who approaches nearest to that fancied “State of Nature," so far from a “surrender of rights,” the consequence of Society is an enlarging, developing, securing of rights,—and the man in a Social State has a thousand rights the savage cannot possess.
Never, in fact, did this fancied State of Nature exist; never did a “Social Contract" take place either between men to make Society, or between any Individual to enter into Society; never were any rights original to man surrendered. And the facts which they twist into proofs of a contract are proofs of this only, " that the Individual Man' is made for Society-suited and adapted by his nature to dwell therein always and for ever; and that Society is made for him, so that his nature responds to the organization and the organization to his nature:” and this, in accordance with the principle so often laid down in this book, and urged as a primary one in Morals, that all things are double, one against another, and God hath made nothing imperfect. In fact, the whole theory existed only in the brain of that man whom before we noticed as the most base and bad-hearted of all writers :
"The self-torturing sophist, vain Rousseau.”
It was a fiction and a theory, for the time and for the place. When the tyranny of the king and aristocracy of France had become so oppressive as to shake the very grounds of all confidence; when faith had become a mockery to intellect; and the conduct of men of rank a base and filthy scandal; so that all things were preparing for downfall and ruin, then came forth this theory of the “Social Contract," as a banner to men who seemed to themselves to see no hope of justice or equity save in the destruction of all things.
And these men took this theory for granted, because thus they were enabled to say, “You are bound to us as we to you, by contract; do that duty, or we shall break our contract; we are entitled to do it, and if you compel us, why then we recur to our original rights, and one of them is the holy right of insurrection," à phrase ten thousand times employed in the French Revolution.
It was a theory for the times; it may be as well put aside now: we may as well found our duties and rights upon truth, and holiness, and equity, and the nature of Man, of God, and of Society, as upon Contract.
The theory of the “Social Contract” having thus been ex