Page:On Liberty (4th Edition).djvu/103

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103
THE ELEMENTS OF WELL-BEING.

as they now are (for it is they who make them what they are), cannot comprehend why those ways should not be good enough for everybody; and what is more, spontaneity forms no part of the ideal of the majority of moral and social reformers, but is rather looked on with jealousy, as a troublesome and perhaps rebellious obstruction to the general acceptance of what these reformers, in their own judgment, think would be best for mankind. Few persons, out of Germany, even comprehend the meaning of the doctrine which Wilhelm Von Humboldt, so eminent both as a savant and as a politician, made the text of a treatise—that ‘the end of man, or that which is prescribed by the eternal or immutable dictates of reason, and not suggested by vague and transient desires, is the highest and most harmonious development of his powers to a complete and consistent whole;’ that, therefore, the object ‘towards which every human being must ceaselessly direct his efforts, and on which especially those who design to influence their fellow-men must ever keep their eyes, is the individuality of power and development;’ that for this there are two requisites, ‘freedom, and variety of situations;’ and that from the union of these arise ‘individual vigour and manifold diversity,’ which combine themselves in ‘originality.’[1]

  1. The Sphere and Duties of Government, from the German of Baron Wilhelm von Humboldt, pp. 11-13.