Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/655

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
637
LAW AS A DISTURBER OF SOCIAL ORDER.

reciprocal confidence, the latter leading to renewed watchfulness or inducing retaliatory aggressions.

Primitive man, being unrestricted except by the wills of others, would find himself in an environment in which his will would be moderated by the desires of others; and, whether the first bond of union had its origin in accident or experimental degrees of association, it is evident that, so soon as the advantages of the new conditions were experienced, the new duties involved in the new trust were readily acknowledged and willingly performed: and this coming together from a state of isolation, until by slow and gradual growth a visible bond of union was established, must have been a dual development, in which trusts and duties balanced, for mutual benefits give rise to mutual obligations, and not until a breach of duty revealed the existence of new dangers would an enforced compliance, much less a compact, be suggested.

"Do as you would be done by" is the natural inclination of man, and, though weakened and impaired by legislation, its many features still endure, for upon the operation of the golden rule does the permanency of all bonds of union rest. The dishonest gambler is watchful of the play, expecting to be cheated; he does not hesitate to cheat in turn, but he holds with sacred regard the debts of honor contracted at the table. The Texan cow-boy who shoots his man at sight would scorn to hide himself from the fury of an antagonist; careless in taking the lives of others, he is equally reckless concerning his own. The Indian neither extends to others nor hopes himself for mercy. The untrusting are unworthy of our confidence; thus love begets love, confidence inspires confidence, and with our higher types of manhood those superior to the law will transgress its mandates rather than violate their conscience, of which class we have records of many notable examples.

The whole history of human development is replete with the recognition of new duties, and the primitive bonds of savage union have been successively extended from families to tribes and clans, thence to states, which have further united into nations, while the final evolution points to a universal brotherhood. As previously stated, these two forces are met with everywhere—the active and the reactive, the positive and the negative, the aggressive and the permissive, the individual and the social—but they have been separated by legislation, much as you would separate the electricities by friction, and, as with the electricities, the like forces are repellent, while the unlike are mutually attracted.

Let us apply this law of nature to a well-known and familiar evil. I refer to joint-stock companies and corporations. The corporation of to-day differs from those of the Elizabethan period, in so far as such grants were then regarded as special favors, often