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THE INDIVIDUAL, SOCIETY, AND THE STATE.

effective it may be and through whatever ignorance it may be resorted to, is a strictly defensive act,—at least in theory. Of course compulsory institutions often make it a weapon of offence, but that does not affect the question of capital punishment per se as distinguished from other forms of punishment.

For one, I object to this distinction unless it is based on rational grounds. In doing so, I am not moved by any desire to defend the horrors of the gallows, the guillotine, or the electric chair. They are as repulsive to me as to any one. And the conduct of the physicians, the ministers, the news- papers, and the officials disgusts me. These horrors all tell most powerfully against the expediency and efficiency of capital punishment. But nevertheless they do not make it murder. I insist that there is nothing sacred in the life of an invader, and there is no valid principle of human society that forbids the invaded to protect themselves in whatever way they can.

 

 

NO PLACE FOR A PROMISE.

[Liberty, November 12, 1892.]

A Promise, according to the common acceptation of the term, is a binding declaration made by one person to another to do, or not to do, a certain act at some future time. According to this definition, there can, I think, be no place for a promise in a harmonious, progressive world. Promises and progress are incompatible, unless all the parties are, at all times, as free to break them as they were to make them; and this admission eliminates the binding element, and, therefore, destroys the popular meaning of a promise.

In a progressive world we know more to-morrow than we know to-day. Also harmony implies absence of external coercion; for, all coercion being social discord, a promise that appears just and feels agreeable when measured with to-day's knowledge may appear unjust and become disagreeable when measured with the standard of to-morrow's knowledge; and in so far as the fulfilment of a promise becomes disagreeable or impossible, it is an element of discord, and discord is the opposite of harmony.

H. Olerich, Jr.

Holstein, Iowa.

But it is equally true, my good friend, that the non-fulfilment of a promise is disagreeable to the promisee, and in so far it is an element of discord, and discord is the opposite of harmony. You need not look for harmony until people are disposed to be harmonious. But justice, or a close approximation thereto, can be secured even from ill-disposed

people. I have no doubt of the right of any man to whom, for a