Samuel Johnson said, "I would not give half a guinea to live under one form of government rather than another. It is of no moment to the happiness of the individual." In commenting on that utterance John Morley wrote: "The strange undying passion for the word 'republic,' and all the blood and tears that have been shed in adoration of that symbolic name, give the verdict of the world against him."
However it may be with the forms of government, and one is inclined to think that Morley has the best side of the argument, there can be no doubt about the passion of men for independence. However long they have been in subjugation, however inured to its restrictions and limitations, races and nations have a strange undying passion for independent existence, both as individuals and as groups. William Cowper wrote:
'Tis liberty alone that gives the flower
Of fleeting life its luster and perfume,
And we are weeds without it. All constraint,
Except what wisdom lays on evil men,
During the dark days of the struggle for liberty in Italy, most of the people looked upon Garibaldi as their great liberator. Prisoners, hurried away to loathesome dungeons, would be encouraged as they passed along the streets, by friends whispering in their ears, 'Courage! Garibaldi is coming.' Men would steal out at night and chalk on the walls and pavements, 'Garibaldi is coming!' And when the news of his approach to the city was announced, they would shout, 'Garibaldi is coming.' He came, and they regained their freedom, never to be enslaved again. But someone far greater than Garibaldi has come, the great Deliverer, bringing redemption and liberty to the slaves of sin and Satan.
(Rom. 7. 24, 25; 8.2; Gal. 3. 13; Heb. 2. 14, 15)
There are in London three sorts of dogs; there is the dog on a chain with a master who regularly pays his tax; this dog has law but no liberty; there is the stray dog for whom no tax is paid, who steals his meals where he can, and he has liberty but no law; and, lastly, there is the dog that has, and understands, the law of liberty.
In like manner these three classes are exemplified in the young life of this great metropolis. We have thousands of young men and women who, in their parents' country homes, are under strict law with little liberty. These come up to London, and find themselves at liberty with no law, and unless they join the third class who understand the law of liberty, their liberty soon degrades into license, and they, like the dogs of which we have spoken, soon alas! reach their inglorious end.
Some years ago I had a collie called 'Jock', a thoroughbred; a beautiful dog, with large lustrous eyes, sent to me by a dear friend, and when he arrived in London, he was perfectly wild, for he had never seen a city. The first thing, therefore, that I had to do was to buy a strong collar and chain, and put him at once `under law'. Within the four walls of the house he could not go far wrong, and whenever he went out he held up his neck to have the chain put on, which gave him no more than six feet of liberty. He would give a bound on the doorstep as if to go right away, but was at once pulled up by the chain, which alone prevented his liberty degenerating into licence.
There can be no doubt that law is a most valuable power for keeping both dogs and men clean and respectable; and indeed, as we shall see, it is essential up to a certain point. But one day my dog reached that point; he came to me in the hall as usual to have his chain put on, but I knew a great change had taken place in that dog's spirit. I said, 'No chain today, Jock, you can go where you like.' I opened the door and for the first time he was apparently free. I say apparently, because he was not really free, although he had no chain. He bounded away and vanished round the corner, but in a moment or two back he came, and without my saying a word trotted quietly by me.
What was the invisible chain that brought him back without fail? It was the simple fact that the dog had given me his heart from which he could not run away. There is nothing on earth like the heart of a dog for faithfulness and unflinching loyalty, quite irrespective of the worthiness of the master. Once it has given its heart it cannot take it back; and the only language it knows and expresses in its beautiful eyes are the words of Ruth: 'Where thou goest I will go, where thou lodgest I will lodge.' This, then is the law of liberty, for the law of liberty is the law of love.—Dr. A. T. Schofield
(Prov. 23. 26; Rom. 6. 14; Gal. 5. 13; James 2. 12; 1 Pet. 2. 16)
No savage is free. For all over the world his daily life is regulated by a complicated and apparently most inconvenient set of customs as forcible as laws.—Lubbock
Bless Thou the truth, dear Lord, to me,
As thou didst bless the bread, By Galilee;
Then shall all bondage cease, All fetters fall,
And I shall find my peace, My All in all.—Mary A. Lathbury
He that will go as near the ditch as he can, will at some time or other fall in; so he that will take all liberty that possibly he may lawfully, cannot but fall into many unlawful things.—Augustine
Liberty is being free from the things we don't like in order to be slaves of the things we do like.
A day, an hour, of virtuous liberty
Is worth a whole eternity in bondage.—Addison.
Where liberty dwells, there is my country.—Benjamin Franklin.