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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/645

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POLITICAL FORMS AND FORCES.

according to his glory in war or his eloquence, is listened to, speaking rather by the influence of persuasion than by the power of commanding. If their opinions give offense, they are thrust aside with a shout; if they are approved, the hearers clash their spears."

Similarly among the Scandinavians, as shown us in Iceland, where, besides the general Al-thing annually held, which it was "disreputable for a freeman not to attend," and at which "people of all classes in fact pitched their tents," there were local assemblies called Var-things "attended by all the freemen of the district, with a crowd of retainers . . . both for the discussion of public affairs and the administration of justice. . . . Within the circle [formed for administering justice] sat the judges, the people standing on the outside." In the account given by Mr. Freeman of the yearly meetings in the Swiss cantons of Uri and Appenzell, we may trace this primitive political form as still existing; for though the presence of the people at large is the fact principally pointed out, yet there is named, in the case of Uri, the body of magistrates or chosen chiefs who form the second element, as well as the head magistrate who is the first element. And that in ancient England there was a kindred constitution of the Wittenagemót, is indirectly proved; as witness the following passage from Freeman's "Growth of the English Constitution": "No ancient record gives us any clear or formal account of the constitution of that body. It is commonly spoken of in a vague way as a gathering of the wise, the noble, the great men. But, alongside of passages like these, we find other passages which speak of it in a way which implies a far more popular constitution. King Eadward is said to be chosen king by 'all folk.' Earl Godwine 'makes his speech before the king and all the people of the land.'" And the implication, as Mr. Freeman points out, is that the share taken by the people in the proceedings was that of expressing by shouts their approval or disapproval.

This form of ruling agency is thus shown to be the fundamental form, by its presence at the outset of social life and by its continuance under various conditions. Not among peoples of superior types only, such as Aryans and some Semites, do we find it, but also among sundry Malayo-Polynesians, among the red men of North America, the Dravidian tribes of the Indian hills, the aborigines of Australia. In fact, as already implied, governmental organization could not possibly begin in any other way. On the one hand, no controlling force at first exists save that of the aggregate will as manifested in the assembled horde. On the other hand, leading parts in determining this aggregate will are inevitably taken by the few whose superiority is recognized. And of these predominant men some one is sure to be most predominant. That which we have to note as specially significant, is not that a free form of government is the primitive form; though this is an implication which may be dwelt upon. Nor are we chiefly concerned with the fact that at the very beginning there