Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/111

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IT is a beautiful theory that man was made for society; but it is an eminently better one that society was made for man. Man was necessarily in existence before society. He contains within himself all the virtues that are an ornament to society, all the elements that strengthen government. And government, and even society itself, however consequential they may appear to the view of the haughty and superficial observer, are, notwithstanding, only means to an end. That end is the betterment of the material, moral, and intellectual conditions of the individuals composing that society and state; to confer upon them, as far as possible, the greatest amount of happiness. For this society was formed, and for this it is maintained. To protect the individual in his pursuit of happiness, governments were instituted, and when they no longer subserve that chief end they become obsolete.

The primitive and fundamental type of governmental organization and authority is the family. Therein the natural affections cement the compact between the different members of the household. Nature also compels the observance of the different duties due from each member. The duties are mutual. The natural obligation of the head of the family is to provide for the maintenance of those whom he has been instrumental in bringing into the world. And they, on their part, are bound to yield to him the respect naturally due him, and obedience in all matters in which his years of experience render him more fit to judge. This might be said to be the condition of a family in a state of nature. Such is the primitive form of government—one established by nature itself. Individuals unite into families, families into clans, clans into villages, villages into provinces, and these into states. All formations subsequent to that of the family are artificial; but the duties of the members of these corporations to each other and to their rulers or public servants, and the latter to the individual members, are analogous to those of members of a family. It is not the writer's intention to enter here into an extensive view or review of the theory of the social compact, or into a discussion of its fallacy or plausibility; suffice it to say that it illustrates the principle that the people are the source of governmental authority—a principle that, at least, is recognized by all well-informed Americans.

The different forms of political institutions in existence are due to the different phases of nature with which different peoples have been surrounded. Even the various forms of religious worship, in most cases, owe their origin to some cause produced by nature, whether of