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141
WHO IS FREE?

poets have also used the birds of the air as symbols of liberty, and the philosophers have assumed that the original savage enjoyed the same liberty as the beasts and the birds. They have judged like the schoolboy. The schoolboy would find little of the liberty he imagines if he could run in the fields but had no one to earn his living for him. In fact, one of the first disillusions which awaits the civilized schoolboy, when his schooldays are over, and he gets liberty, is to find that the necessity of earning a living proves all his visions of freedom to be silly and empty. If he had known more about the bird, he would have known that the bird does not move through the air with much more freedom than a stone. The beast has no freedom because he has no intelligent and conscious choice. In like manner, the savage acts from instinct and unreflectively, and the notion of liberty, as we understand it, does not apply to him. He moves about, it is true, out-of-doors, with a certain degree of unrestraint, but his life is automatic and unreflective; it offers no room for the exercise of choice; it is, in general, absorbed in the desire of getting enough to eat—it is devoted to this business with an intensity and directness which leave no room for liberty of choice.

The mediæval formula of emancipation consisted in declaring that the emancipated person might go where he chose. This seems to indicate that the mediæval notion of liberty was freedom of going and coming. It would accord, then, with the sort of freedom envied by the schoolboy, and enjoyed by the savage; but the serf who had been emancipated found that after all he must go where he could earn his living; that his freedom of movement was soon exhausted; and that whatever he had won consisted, not in wandering about, not in becom-