Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/57

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47
THE STUDY OF SOCIOLOGY.

Row is nearly vacant, and the drives not one-third filled. In this, anyone unconcerned may see the influence of the class-bias. But he will have an inadequate conception of its distorting power unless he turns to some letters from members of the ruling class published in the Times in November last, when the question of the Park Rules was being agitated. One writer, signing himself "A Liberal M. P.," expressing his disgust at certain addresses he heard, proposed, if others would join him, to give the offensive speakers punishment by force of fists; and then, on a subsequent day, another legislator, similarly moved, writes:

"If ’M.P.’ is in earnest in his desire to get some honest men together to take the law into their own hands, I can promise him a pretty good backing from those who are not afraid to take all the consequences.

 "I am, sir, your obedient servant, AN EX-M.P."

And thus we find class-feeling extinguishing rational political thinking so completely that, wonderful to relate, two law-makers propose to support the law by breaking the law!

In larger ways we have of late seen the class-bias doing the same thing—causing contempt for those principles of constitutional government slowly and laboriously established, and prompting a return to barbaric forms of government. Read the debate respecting the payment of Governor Eyre's expenses, and study the division-lists, and you see that acts which, according to the Lord Chief-Justice, "have brought reproach not only on those who were parties to them, but on the very name of England," can, nevertheless, find numerous defenders among men whose class-positions, military, naval, official, etc., make them love power and detest resistance. Nay, more, by raising an Eyre-Testimonial Fund, and in other ways, there was shown a deliberate approval of acts which needlessly suspended orderly government and substituted unrestrained despotism. There was shown a deliberate ignoring of the essential question raised, which was—whether an executive head might, at will, set aside all those forms of administration by which men's lives and liberties are guarded against tyranny.

More recently, this same class-bias has been shown by the protest made when Mr. Cowan was dismissed for executing the Kooka rioters who had surrendered. The Indian Government, having inquired into the particulars, found that this killing of many men, without form of law and contrary to orders, could not be defended on the plea of pressing danger; and, finding this, it ceased to employ the officer who had committed so astounding a deed, and removed to another province the superior officer who had approved of the deed. Not excessive punishment, one would say. Some might contend that extreme mildness was shown in thus inflicting no greater evil than is inflicted on a laborer when he does not execute his work properly. But now mark what is thought by one who gives utterance to the bias of the govern-