] SOCIAL CONTRACT.
the origin of " lawful by implication contains the notion that some governments are not lawful, whereas all men must and do admit that all govern ments which can maintain themselves are, governments, and the term lawful is not applicable to that power which can de clare what is lawful. The two objections which Locke mentions as being made to the theory are, 1—" That there are no instances to be found in story of a com pany of men independent and equal one amongst another, that met together, and in this way began and set up a govern ment." 2. That " it is impossible of right that men should do so, because all men being born under government, they are to submit to that, and are not at liberty to begin a new one." Locke replies to both objections with consider able ingenuity, but there are few political writers at present who will be inclined to consider his answer conclusive.
Hume, in his Essay on the Original Contract,' admits that " the people, if we trace government to its first origin in the woods and deserts, are the source of all power and jurisdiction, and voluntarily, for the sake of peace and order, abandoned their native liberty, and received laws from their equal and companion. The conditions upon which they were willing to submit were either expressed or were so ,clear and obvious that it might well be esteemed superfluous to express them. If this, then, be meant by the original contract, it cannot be denied that all government is at first founded on a con tract, and that the most antient rude combinations of mankind were formed entirely by that principle." And yet he adds, " in vain are we sent to seek for this charter of our liberties—it preceded the use of writing and all the other civilised arts of life." Consequently we cannot trace " government to its first origin," and therefore we cannot tell how Government originated. But we do know, as Hume shows, that all governments of which we can trace the origin have been founded in some other way than by an original contract among all the members who are included in them. Hume fur ther says, " that if the agreement by which savage men first associated and conjoined their force be meant (by the term Original Contract), this is acknow ledged to be real ; but being so antient, and being obliterated by a thousand changes of government and princes, it cannot now be supposed to retain any authority. If we would say anything to the purpose, we must assert that every particular government which is lawful, and which imposes any duty of allegiance on the subject, was at first founded on consent and a voluntary compact." This is the real question. Those who found what they very incorrectly term " lawful government " on an original contract, must show us the contract. So far
Hume's objection is good, and whether there was an original contract or not is immaterial. The question is, what was the origin of any particular government? Those who maintain that any particular government originated in a contract of all the persons who, at the time of the formation of the government, were in cluded in it, cannot prove their case. Those who deny the original contract can show that many particular govern ments have originated "without any pre tence of a fair consent or voluntary sub jection of the people." But an original contract, such as Hume admits, is as far removed from the possi bility of proof as the origin of any par ticular government by virtue of a con tract ; nor have we any record of savage men associating to form a government If one set of savage men did this, others would do it, and there must have been many original contracts, which contracts are the remote origin of all particular governments ; but inasmuch as that origin of any particular government, which we do know, was not made by contract, and did not recognise the original contract, such government is unlawfid, as those who contend for the theory of an original contract would affirm, or ought to affirm, if they would be consistent Thus the practical consequences of the doctrine of an original contract, if we rigorously fol low them out, are almost as mischievous as the doctrine that every particular go vernment was founded on an original contract. It is true that the theory of an original contract of savage people being the foundation of government is a mere harmless absurdity, when at the same time we deny that any particular meat has so originated, provided admit that such particular government is not to be resisted simply because it is not founded on contract Those who main tain that all existing governments rest on no other foundation than a contract, affirm that all men are still born equal— that they owe no allegiance to a power or government, unless they are bound by a promise—that they give up their na tural liberty for some advantage—that the sovereign promises him these advan tages, and if he fails in the execution, he has broken the articles of engagement, and has freed his subjects from all obli gations to allegiance. " Such, according to these philosophers, is the foundation of authority in every government; and such is the right of resistance possessed by the subject" (Hume). This is a good exposition of the consequences that follow from the theory of every government being founded on contract.