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ters on questions of practical concern, questions of law and usage, brought to a focus by the flagrant miscarriage of that organisation of Christendom that has brought the War upon the civilised nations. The paramount question just now is, what to do to save the civilised nations from irretrievable disaster, and what further may be accomplished by taking thought so that no similar epoch of calamities shall be put in train for the next generation. It is realised that there must be something in the way of a "reconstruction" of the scheme of things; and it is also realised, though more dimly, that the reconstruction must be carried out with a view to the security of life under such conditions as men will put up with, rather than with a view to the impeccable preservation of the received scheme of law and custom. All of which is only saying that the constituent principles of the modern point of view are to be taken under advisement, reviewed and-conceivably revised and brought into line, in so far as these principles are constituent elements of that received scheme of law and custom that is spoken of as the status quo. It is the status quo in respect of law and custom, not in respect of science and technology or of knowledge and belief, that is to be brought under review. Law and custom, it is believed, may be revised to meet the requirements of civilised men's knowledge and belief; but no man of sound mind hopes to revise the modern system of knowledge and belief so as to bring it all into conformity with the time-worn scheme of law and custom of the status quo.
Therefore the bearing of this stabilised modern
point of view, stabilised in the eighteenth century, on these questions of practical concern is of present interest, its practical value as ground for a reasonably hopeful reconstruction of the war-shattered scheme of use and wont; its possible serviceability as a basis of enduring settlement; as well as the share which its constituent principles have had in the creation of that status quo out of which this epoch of calamities has been precipitated. The status quo ante, in which the roots of this growth of misfortunes and impossibilities are to be found, lies within the modern era, of course, and it is nowise to be decried as an alien, or even as an unforeseen, outgrowth of this modern era. By and large, this eighteenth-century stabilised modern point of view has governed men's dealings within this era, and its constituent principles of right and honest living must therefore, presumptively, be held answerable for the disastrous event of it all, at least to the extent that they have permissively countenanced the growth of those sinister conditions which have now ripened into a state of world-wide shame and confusion.
How and how far is this modern point of view, this body of legal and moral principles established in the eighteenth century, to be accounted an accessory to this crime? And if it be argued that this complication of atrocities has come on, not because of these principles of conduct which are so dear to civilised men and so blameless in their sight, but only in spite of them; then, what is the particular weakness or shortcoming inherent in this body of principles which has allowed such a growth of malignant conditions to go on and gather head? If the mod
ern point of view, these settled principles of conduct by which modern men collectively are actuated in what they will do and in what they will permit,- if these canons and standards of clean and honest living have proved to be a fatal snare; then it becomes an urgent question: Is it safe, or sane to go into the future by the light of these same established canons of right, equity, and propriety that so have been tried and found wanting?
Perhaps the question should rather take the less didactic form: Will the present experience of calamities induce men to revise these established principles of conduct, and the specifications of the code based on them, so effectually as to guard against any chance of return to the same desperate situation in the calculable future? Can the discipline of recent experience and the insight bred by the new order of knowledge and belief, reenforced by the shock of the present miscarriage, be counted on to bring such a revision of these principles of law and custom as will preclude a return to that status quo ante from which this miscarriage of civilisation has resulted? The latter question is more to the point. History teaches that men, taken collectively, learn by habituation rather than by precept and reflection; particularly as touches those underlying principles of truth and validity on which the effectual scheme of law and custom finally rests.
In the last analysis it resolves itself into a question as to how and how far the habituation of the recent past, mobilised by the shock of the present conjuncture, will have affected the frame of mind. of the common man in these civilised countries; for
in the last analysis and with due allowance for a margin of tolerance it is the frame of mind of the common man that makes the foundation of society in the modern world; even though the elder statesmen continue to direct its motions from day to day by the light of those principles that were found good some time before yesterday. And the fortunes of the civilised world, for good or ill, have come to turn on the deeds of commission and of omission of these advanced peoples among whom the frame of mind of the common man is the finally conditioning circumstance in what may safely be done or left undone. The advice and consent of the common run has latterly come to be indispensable to the conduct of affairs among civilised men, somewhat in the same degree in which the community is to be accounted a civilised people. It is indispensable at least in a permissive way, at least to the extent that no line of policy can long be pursued successfully without the permissive tolerance of the common run; and the margin of tolerance in the case appears to be narrower the more alert and the more matter-of-fact the frame of mind of the common man.
THE STABILITY OF LAW AND CUSTOM
IN so far as concerns the present question, that is to say as regards those standards and principles which underlie the established system of law and custom, the modern point of view was stabilised and given a definitive formulation in the eighteenth century; and in so far as concerns the subsequent conduct of practical affairs, its constituent principles have stood over without material change or revision since that time. So that for practical purposes it is fair to say that the modern point of view is now some one hundred and fifty years old.
It will not do to say that it is that much behind the times; because its time-worn standards of truth and validity are a very material factor in the makeup of "our time." That such is the case is due in great part to the fact that this body of principles was stabilised at that time and that they have therefore stood over intact, in spite of other changes that have taken place. It is only that the principles which had been tested and found good under the conditions of life in the modern era up to that time were at that time held fast, canvassed, defined, approved, and stabilised by being reduced to documentary form. In some sense they were then written