372 POLITICAL SCIENCE.
is a questionable benefit. If it should be said that ignorance
or inexperience may be a cause of great harm, even within the
small sphere of local affairs, the ready answer is that the
possibility is even greater in family affairs. Would you put-
the community under tutelage to the public lest it should
make mistakes, you ought to do the same in all similar cases.
The community must be taught by its mistakes. It has no
need to be invested with powers that might ruin its future
prosperity, as for instance with that of unlimited self-taxation ;
but, if empowered to do what its local needs require, its in-
habitants will grow in reflection, in intelligence, even touch-
ing their own private affairs, and in a sense of responsibility.
Again, the people of each community have special wants
which are better known to themselves than they could be to
some guardian chosen for them by the public. Indeed, it
would be altogether likely, if this mode of administration
were pursued, that the guardian would follow the advice of
some of the principal inhabitants, and that this would cause a
greater dissatisfaction than any decision made by the body
The same plan of self-government excites what we called
public or common spirit in a far greater degree than could be
done if the smaller communities were merely passive. Pa-
triotism is a complicated feeling, which is due in part to men's
identifying themselves with their country by a participation
in its affairs. The aid of the feelings kindled by local self-'
government is especially needed in an age when news circu-
lates everywhere, when men can think and criticise. He who,
in such an age, under a system of centralization, would grum-
ble at the government, would, in a community which manages
its own local affairs, complain of the other party.
The importance of self-government fora rural population
did not at once force itself upon the minds of reflecting men,
because the country people belonged, mostly as serfs, to the
lordship or manor, and the habits of unreasoning obedience
were enforced by church and state. All this is changed, or
is in a process of change in all Christian lands, so that .the old