What is it that has hitherto preserved Europe from this lot? What has made the European family of nations an improving, instead of a stationary portion of mankind? Not any superior excellence in them, which, when it exists, exists as the effect, not as the cause; but their remarkable diversity of character and culture. Individuals, classes, nations, have been extremely unlike one another: they have struck out a great variety of paths, each leading to something valuable; and although at every period those who travelled in different paths have been intolerant of one another, and each would have thought it an excellent thing if all the rest could have been compelled to travel his road, their attempts to thwart each other’s development have rarely had any permanent success, and each has in time endured to receive the good which the others have offered. Europe is, in my judgment, wholly indebted to this plurality of paths for its progressive and many-sided development. But it already begins to possess this benefit in a considerably less degree. It is decidedly advancing towards the Chinese ideal of making all people alike. M. de Tocqueville, in his last important work, remarks how much more the Frenchmen of the present day resemble one another, than did those even of the last generation. The same remark might be made of Englishmen in a far greater degree. In a passage already quoted from Wilhelm von Humboldt, he points out two things as necessary conditions of human development, because necessary to render people unlike one another; namely, freedom, and variety of situations. The second of these two conditions is in this country every day diminishing. The circumstances which surround different classes and individuals, and shape their characters, are daily becoming more assimilated. Formerly, different ranks, different neighbourhoods, different trades and professions, lived in what might be called different worlds; at present, to a great degree in the same. Comparatively speaking, they now read the same things, listen to the same things, see the same things, go to the same places, have their hopes and fears directed to the same objects, have the same rights and liberties, and the same means of asserting them. Great as are the differences of position which remain, they are nothing to those which have ceased. And the assimilation is still proceeding. All the political changes of the age promote it, since they all tend to raise the low and to lower the high. Every extension of education promotes it, because education brings people under common influences, and gives them access to the general stock of facts and sentiments. Improvements in the means of communication promote it, by bringing the inhabitants of distant places into personal contact, and keeping up a rapid flow of changes of residence between one place and another. The increase of commerce and manufactures promotes it, by diffusing more widely the advantages of easy circumstances, and opening all objects of ambition, even the highest, to general competition, whereby the desire of rising becomes no longer the character of a particular class, but of all classes. A more powerful agency than even all these, in bringing about a general similarity among mankind, is the complete establishment, in this and other free countries, of the ascendancy of public opinion in the State. As the various social eminences which enabled persons entrenched on them to disregard the opinion of the multitude, gradually become levelled; as the very idea of resisting the will of the public, when it is positively known that they have a will, disappears more and more from the minds of practical politicians; there ceases to be any social support for nonconformity—any substantive power in society, which, itself opposed to the ascendancy of numbers, is interested in taking under its protection opinions and tendencies at variance with those of the public.
In the United States, where public functionaries have no class interest to give predominance to—the general and permanent working of the government is beneficial, although the governors are often unskilful, and sometimes despicable.
a) With the permission of court
578-9. The letter, which includes also the offer of (with a list of contents), proposes that the payment for be on the same terms as for the that is, “one edition at half profit,” with renegotiation for later editions. When a second edition was called for (it appeared in August, 1859), he wrote to Parker to say that he thought he could “fairly ask for £200 for the edition,” if 2000 copies were printed ( 630).
Insult intended to provoke a breach of the peace.
We have no space to follow M. de Tocqueville into the consideration of any of the palliatives which may be found for this evil tendency. We pass to that which he regards as the most serious of the inconveniences of democracy, and that to which, if the American republic should perish, it will owe its fall. This is, the omnipotence of the majority.
And it goes without saying: The Daughters of Naldi.
But when we put inequalities of property out of the question, it is not easy to see what sort of minority it can be, over which the majority can have any interest in tyrannizing. The only standing and organized minority which exists in any community, constituted as communities usually are, is the rich. All other minorities are fluctuating, and he who is in the majority to-day is in the minority to-morrow: each in his turn is liable to this kind of oppression; all, therefore, are interested in preventing it from having existence.