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Full text of "Political Science Of The State"

INSTITUTIONS,  LOCAL AND SELF GOVERNMENTS.

merits from time to time, but on advice of the intendants,
sanctioned special laws, often without knowledge of the
people (chap, iii.). One of the most striking features of
city administration " in the eighteenth century is, not the ab-
sence of all representation and intervention of the public in
city business, but the extreme variability of the rules govern-
ing such administration. Civic rights were constantly bestowed,
taken away, restored, increased, modified in a thousand ways
and unceasingly. No better indication of the contempt into
which all local liberties had fallen can be found than these
eternal changes of laws, which no one seemed to notice.
This mobility would alone have sufficed to destroy all initia-
tive or recuperative energy, and all local patriotism in the in-
stitution which is best adapted to it. It helped to prepare
the great work of destruction, which was to be effected by
Jhe re volution. " (Note to chap, iii., p. 66, of the Amer. transl.)
No better example could be given of the evil of meddling
with municipal liberties by a despotical government, and of
doing this without rule or general system, just as the cities at
their origin in the middle ages had acquired their liberties,
each for itself without rule or general system.

The subject thus far, in its relations to local government,
Advantages of io- ^as borne both upon the government of cities
cat self-government.   an(J    of   places    chiefly   agricultural,    where   the
population is for the most part scattered. We shall in a
word or two consider the advantages of investing these with
the privilege of self-government, and then treat of the two,
each by itself.
The great advantage is that It trains up a people for the
exercise of its political rights, in all parts of a country, so
that, if there were a perfect general or central government
possible, some participation of each city or township in local
affairs would still be desirable. To grant political rights, as
the suffrage, and restrict them to occasions where the indi-
vidual judgment has no experience or knowledge to guide it,