The security, peace, and decorum of the city are in charge of the authorities at all times, having provided for the police, the safety of life and property, and for the basic statute and common law, and their administration—always first in order. It is likewise proper that they protect to every individual his right to worship, reasonably free from any noise or molestation.
For the city or state to become the overseer and dry nurse of a man, and coerce him, any further than before mentioned, into how he must behave himself, would be to make a poor thing of man.
The ulterior object and mission of government is not repression alone, and not authority alone, not even of law, nor the rule of the best men (as if such ever, or one time out of a hundred, get into the big places, elective or dynastic)—but to train communities through all their grades, beginning with individuals and ending there again, to rule themselves;
To bring forward and modify everything else with the idea of that something a man is, divine in his own right, and a woman in hers, sole and untouchable by any canons of authority, or any rule derived from precedent, the acts of legislatures, or even from what is called religion;
To develop that aspiration for independence, and the pride and self-respect latent in all characters. (Or, if there be exceptions, we cannot, fixing our eyes on them alone, make theirs the rule for all.)
The democratic principle is the only effectual method for surely, however slowly, training people on a large scale toward voluntarily ruling and managing themselves—the ultimate aim of political and all other development.
To be a voter with the rest is not so much, and this, like every institute, will have its imperfections;
Though it is no doubt important who is elected governor, mayor, or legislator, there are other, quieter contingencies, infinitely more important.
To become an enfranchised man, and now, impediments removed, to stand and start without humiliation, and equal with the rest; to commence, or have the road clear’d to commence, the grand experiment of development, whose end, (perhaps requiring several generations,) may be the forming of a full-grown man or woman—that is something.
Produce great persons and the producers of great persons,
The rest surely follows;
If the greatnesses are in conjunction in a man or woman it is enough,
The fact will prevail through the universe.
He or she is greatest who contributes the greatest original practical example,
(The cleanest expression is that which finds no sphere worthy of itself and makes one.)
We do not want prohibitions. The citizen must have room. He must learn to be muscular and self-possessed, to rely more on the restrictions of himself than any restrictions of statute books. This is the feeling that will make live men and superior women. This will make a great, spirited, athletic city of noble and marked character.
What is a great city, or a great house, without great men? great women?
A great city is that which has the greatest men and women,
If it be a few ragged huts it is still the greatest city in the whole world.
Where the slave ceases, and the master of slaves ceases,
Where fierce men and women pour forth,
Where the populace rise at once against the never-ending audacity of elected persons,
Where the men and women think lightly of the laws,
Where outside authority enters always after the precedence of inside authority,
Where children are taught to be laws to themselves, and to depend on themselves,
There the great city stands—
A free and original life there,
Native scorn of grossness and gain there,
Litheness, majestic faces, clear eyes, and perfect physique there,
These songs, well understood there.
I enjoin for you whoever you are to build inside, invisible forts,
Counseling every man and woman to become the fortress, the lord and sovereign, of himself or herself, properly train’d in sanest, highest freedom,
A law, and series of laws, unto himself or herself, surrounding and providing for, not only personal control, but all relations to other individuals, and to the state.
The remedy is not in authority but in the throwing off of authority—
Let every man look to himself; then society will take care of itself.
Instead of being ruled by the old complex laws, and the involved machinery of all governments, the people shall be ruled mainly by individual character and conviction.
The recognized character of the citizen shall be so pervaded by the best qualities of law and power that law and power shall be superseded from the government and transferred to the citizen—
The centuries, and all authority, to be trod under the foot-soles of one man or woman,
Riches, opinions, politics, institutions, to part obediently from the path of one man or woman whom laws, theories, conventions, can never master!
What is always wanted is a few strong-handed, big-brained, practical, honest men at the lead of affairs.
I can conceive a community, today and here, in which, on a sufficient scale, the perfect personalities, without noise, meet. I can conceive such a community organized in running order, powers judiciously delegated—farming, building, trade, courts, mails, schools, elections, all attended to; and then the rest of life, the main thing, freely branching and blossoming in each individual, and bearing golden fruit.
I can see there, in every young and old man, after his kind, and in every woman after hers, a true personality, develop’d, exercised proportionately in body, mind, and spirit. I can imagine this case as one not necessarily rare or difficult.
Perhaps, unsung, undramatized—perhaps even some such community already exists somewhere, practically fulfilling itself, and thus outvying, in cheapest vulgar life, all that has been hitherto shown in best ideal pictures.