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convicted of murder, such expressions as “ Let us abolish the courts," “ Let us burn down the court-house,” “ Hereafter we will take the law in our own hands,” were rife. Such lawless expressions resembled the echoes of the violent rhetoric of an overheated court house orator. Is it ever prudent, for the sake of success in a present contest, or “to tickle the ears of the groundlings,” or to nurse a nascent political boom, to step beyond the limits of the proprieties of debate, and to feed the passions and prejudices of the vicious ? There will always be fanatics and fools and all sorts of cranks and disturbers of the peace of society; nor will demagogues, in the pulpit, at the bar and upon the hustings, be wanting to supply them with arguments, to impose upon their ignorance and weaknesses, and inflame their prejudices. The proverbial conservatism of the profession, rightly apprehending its responsibility, will be exerted to restrain and to modify, if not to control.

Seldom, if ever, has there been greater need in this country for the exercise of conservative influences than now. A variety of industries, conflicting interests and different races are asserting, more or less aggressively, their rights and claims of right, and our civilization is becoming more and more complex. It will be generally conceded that, until within a comparatively recent period, a jealous regard for the most untrammeled freedom of the citizen, the largest liberty to contract and the policy of non-interference with the conduct of private business, whether of individuals or firms or corporations, prevailed in Georgia. Practical politicians may delude themselves with the idea that such jealousy still exists and inspires their course. But while they may profess this political creed, their practice has widely departed from it. Practice and theory are as widely separate, in this regard, as some men's business and their religion. Our statute books begin to bristle with statutes affecting the conduct of almost every branch of business and controlling the private conduct of men in all relations of life. But the other day, there was a heated debate in our Legislature over a bill proposing to regulate the sale and purchase of commercial fertilizers, and which, in the opinion of some of the debaters, practically deprived seller and purchaser of the ability to make a binding contract.

A distinguished English writer, Mr. Herbert Spencer, has written upon regulative legislation in the United Kingdom. The drift of what he has written may be briefly indicated as follows: Popular demands are embodied in modified form in regulative statutes. These are advo. cated and defended by ambitious politicians looking chiefly to their own interests and popularity. They are also supported by the advocacy of a portion of the press, which becomes daily more pronounced. Some journalists, chary of displeasing their readers, drift with the current and add to its rapidity and force. Those who regard the regulative policy as disastrous in its ultiniate results are silenced by the apparent hopelessness of any attempt to reason with a people in a state of political intoxication. Practical politicians fail to see the far-reaching consequences of their yielding to popular exactions. Those legislators who, in 1833, voted thirty thousand pounds a year to aid in building school houses in England did not suppose that that step would lead to forced contributions now aggregating six million pounds annually. They did not intend to establish the principle that one man should be responsible for the education of the offspring of another. Those who, in 1834, enacted a law regulating the labor of women and children in certain factories, did not dream that they were taking the initial step that would lead to the inspection and regulation of labor in all produc. ing establishments employing above fifty persons. The politicians, a portion of the press and legislative precedents give momentum to such movements. These influences are pushing regulative legislation, and extending it in divers directions and over diverse objects. It is regulating the hours of employment and dictating the treatment and the wages of the workers. It is buying and working telegraph lines. Its advo-, cates propose that the State take entire control of railways. “They exclaim against the shareholders' who have been allowed to lay hands upon our great railway communications," and against great manufac. turing corporations and firms whose shareholders have been allowed to lay hands upon our great producing agencies, and against land-owners who have been allowed to lay hands upon our agricultural resources ! They propose to supply gratuitously food for the minds of children, upon the theory that an intelligent population is essential to the wellbeing of the State. Why not supply also food for their bodies, upon the idea that good bodies as well as good minds are needful to make good citizens ? This regulative policy involves an addition to the number of regulative agents-commissions, a growth of officialism and its powers, and the establishment of bureaucracies. These statements of fact and opinion, though in reference to another country, pretty nearly describe the trend of popular demands in some portions of this country, and which is beginning to be felt to some extent in our own State.

Legislatures and courts have discovered a wonderful elasticity in those provisions of our written constitutions conferring and limiting legislative powers. Under the pressure of real or apparent necessity or

of imperative popular demand, this elasticity is made available. In this statement no imputation upon the honesty of legislators or judges is implied. In the glare of intense popular sentiment, the cold letter of constitutions has a different reading from that which it bears in the steady light of intelligent, conservative public opinion, even to the clear, discriminating judicial eye.

The strong probability is that a quarter of a century ago, the majority of the best legal minds in Georgia would have pronounced against the constitutionality of the statute creating our Railroad Commission, with its arbitrary powers. The same is true of our prohibition laws, forbidding the manufacture and sale of spirituous, malt and vinous liquors (the proposition now is to forbid their transportation, virtually forbidding their use by all classes of citizens). Yet these laws have been sustained by the courts, and there is almost universal acquiescence in their sustaining decisions.

While the principle of the Railroad Commission is correct, it is farreaching, and may be extended so far as to destroy the healthful effect of competition, to the injury of various industries and sections of country, as seems likely to be the practical effect of the Inter-State Commerce bill.

While with local option laws and the pending fight against the saloons no just quarrel can be had by one who has a due regard to the morals, the health and good order of communities, yet, is there no danger of pushing the reform 10 the extent of forcing the moral ideas of the majority upon the minority in their private conduct? The people of the South, in view of the history of this country for the last three decades, need not be warned against the moral guardianship of majorities.

While the education of the masses at public expense, at least to the limit prescribed by our Constitution, is the settled and wise policy of the State, is it wise or just or right to burden the property of cities, counties or the State to the extent of providing high schools, academies, colleges or universities for all classes or any class of the youth of the States? While labor should be amply protected in the enjoyment of its rights against the exactions of capital, has any emergency arisen, or is any likely to occur in the near future, which would justify any interference with the largest freedom to contract ? But it is rapidly coming to the point where there is no legislation which any class of voters supposed to hold the balance of political power may not secure, of they intelligently and plausibly unite in demanding it, however unjustly it may cut against the interests or infringe upon the rights of other classes of citizens, less numerous and less powerful at the polls. The tendency is to extremes. Politicians are too often mere weather-vanes, sensitive to the slightest changes in the drift of public opinion. The mixed character of our voting population offers great inducements to hobby-riders, fanatics and self-seeking politicians, who would force their selfish and often foolish and oftener unjust measures into statute-books. The ambition of a few legislators "to make a record” by proposing and pushing through radical measures, is fatal to the peace of society and its prosperity. The restless demagogue is a dangerous enemy to the repose necessary to the highest prosperity of the country. As the possibilities for class legislation, and legislation infringing upon the personal freedom and property rights of the citizen, increase, the responsibility of those who infuse the element of conservatism into public opinion increases in like measure. Public opinion of to day becomes the statute law of to-morrow, Without the leaven of conservatism, which it is the peculiar office of the legal profession to infuse into society, a government of the people, by the people and for the people tends towards the government of enthusiasts, led by extremists, and its laws tend to reflect the popular sentiment of fanatics.

If any considerable number of those who, by virtue of their intelligence and life study of the principles and philosophy of government, and of the spirit of the laws, may be the leaders of public opinion, and who should be the conservators of human rights, whether of person or property, abandon their trust and ignore their responsibility, the rights of minorities will be endangered. And yet, worse must it be, should they become the high priests of passion and prejudice and intolerance.

The maxims of the common law—the crystalizations of the wisdom of centuries, which have stood the tests of time and are embalmed in the decisions of the sages of the law, are the premises from which lawyers begin their reasonings. In the aggregate of the decisions of the fathers of our jurisprudence may be found a comprehensive chart which clearly defines the rights of a free people-rights of individual freedom and private property. To the professional mind, not blinded by ambition or avarice, it seems to be the sheerest folly to make those solemn sanctions subject to the impulses of the restless and lawless members of society or the extreme notions of fanatical reformers. Where vast and vital interests are concerned is it well to destroy the chart, which marks with precision the dangerous reefs and the safe channels, and trust to the passion, or prejudice, or enthusiasm of the hour, for a safe voyage ? This chart which the law has laid down has been of slow growthproof that it is well considered, and trustworthy. The impulses of overwrought popular sentiment are capricious and short-sighted. been well said that to be governed by such impulses is something like steering an ocean steamship by the theromometer instead of the compass.

The foregoing has not been written in a spirit of hostility to government interference so far as it has been extended in Georgia. Most of our statutory restrictions and regulations have subserved the aggregate public good. But are not the tendencies to a too free employment of the government prerogative? And is not its too liberal exercise the more dangerous from the peculiar composition of society in Georgia ? Proposed legislation which fails of enactment is often as significant of the tendencies of public opinion as are the laws which are enacted. Every statute which touches the practices or business of the whole people or of any considerable class of the people is an evolution of pubiic sentiment.

There is, in the Bill of Rights which prefaces our State Constitution, this declaration : “The social status of the citizen shall never be the subject of legislation.” Is it not necessarily and manifestly true that the social relations of the people must wholly depend upon the consent of the parties interested (not of one party only), and will not that choice be controlled in large degree by public opinion? Is not legislation which seeks indirectly to control these relations, while not falling directly under the constitutional inhibition, likely to prove mischievous ? Increased vigilance and increased zeal for the preservation of right public opinion upon social and economic questions, is the peculiar demand of the times.

If, as has been assumed, lawyers are, in an important sense, “trustees of public opinion,” and largely responsible for it, can any portion of the profession afford to be indifferent or inactive? Shall their sense of security lull them into apathy and indifference, or shall their forecast of danger unnerve or paralyze their efforts to guide the rising flood of social and economic questions? A few there may be who, regardless of the public good, would mount the crest of any wave of passion, or prejudice, or fanaticism, to be borne into office upon it. Such ambitious demagogues, if such there be, who with feigned words would make merchandise of unreasoning passion, or unjust prejudice, or false philanthropy, are traitors to their trust.

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