prudence is unequipped with a theory either of administration in general or of local administration in particular. So far as English (apart from American) literature is concerned with local government, it takes the form either of commentaries upon Acts of Parliament with the corresponding case-law, or of essays, pamphlets, and newspaper articles upon debatable problems of local government, such as municipal trading or the management of voluntary schools and of public-houses, or the organisation of secondary education, to mention a few of the sharpest and most recent controversies between philanthropists, political parties, and interested groups. That the jurisprudence and political science of Germany has an entirely The political different conception of the State is a proposition jurisprudence of Germany. which requires no elaborate proof. In the course of the nineteenth century German theorists have piled, one upon another, widely different doctrines of Staat und Recht, which have no indissoluble connection with the political development of the German confederation, nor with the evolution of its political parties, nor with the aspirations which they embody. But, strange to say, these conceptions and doctrines about the State and its authority have been deeply influenced, both directly and indirectly, by the course of political events in England. This influence is only one of the many effects (never yet correlated and comprehended in all their bearings) which the development of the English constitution and the spectacle of a free parliamentary government have exerted upon Germany and other continental countries during the last hundred and fifty years. With the movement as a whole we are not concerned; but there is one aspect of the influence of English institutions upon the political conceptions of German jurists which belongs to our subject, and has had most profound and important consequences. Self-government in England is a simple and intelligible expression. But in the course of transshipment to Germany it has become a mystery. It is "the problem of communal organisation for administrative purposes and of its proper relationship to the central


authority." Not only has information about the Importance of actual structure of English local government more than once influenced German, and especially Prussian, legislation; but definite descriptions of the English system of

administration, and definite judgments upon it, have played a dominant part in an extensive controversy, which traverses the whole field of German political science. A single author has been the principal and almost the sole channel for the communication of English "self-government" to modern Germany. That author is Rudolf von Gneist. In the present book a picture has been drawn of English administration, which in many of its main features presents a complete contrast to the authorised version of Gneist. No one aware of the strong and indisputable influence exerted by Gneist's teaching upon German theories of administration will have failed to discern the outlines of the task that remains to be accomplished. That task is a thorough criticism of Gneist's teaching, with a view to illustrating and clearing up by the light of a conflicting theory the results of our own investigation.

and the purpose

But let us first make sure of what is here meant by theory. Nothing seems to be more dangerous, and at the same time more difficult to extirpate, than the idea that it is possible to deposit certain dogmas about the State which will not only be universally applicable and eternally valid, but will serve as an absolute basis of political science and constitutional learning. Such was the idea with which Gneist started on his tour of investigation, and with that idea fixed firmly in his mind he was able to hang on to the peg of his descriptive account of English government a theory of self-government which he supposed himself to have put together of criticising from the actual and working principles of English self-government. To find a substitute for Gneist's theory is far from our purpose. Our investigation rather points to the conclusion that all attempts to derive a universal principle from a description of the development of one State are attempts beyond the range and the power of scientific inquiry. On the other hand it is, without doubt, the purpose of political science, by a historical analysis and comparison of individual States, to obtain a better and more actual conception of what a State is and of the laws and institutions which compose it. But in so doing, it should constantly be borne in mind that in treating of societies-the State as the highest form of collective life is to be regarded as a society—the task

his theory.

of science is not to construct rigid formulas or logical conceptions which, as they become more general and comprehensive, are only the more empty and futile. The best thing is to learn to recognise the turning-points of history, and endeavour, by comparing the lives of different States, to disclose those laws of movement which seem to underlie the developments of civilised government. No such comprehensive task is before us now. We are concerned merely with one element in the development of one government. A criticism of the theory put forward by Gneist will of itself lead us once more to take a bird's-eye view of the great landmarks which tell how England has set out to solve those problems of internal administration which confront modern society. This will give a firm standpoint for criticising the German doctrine of "Self-Government," and it is only the standpoint that we have to gain. To draw the landscape in detail, or to make an exhaustive critical inquiry into the various distinct ramifications of the German doctrine of "Self-Government," is very far from our intention; for English Local Government is our subject. To criticise its critic and expose its exponent is subsidiary to the main purpose.




Gneist's authority.

THE great authority which Gneist's writings upon English government have won and so long maintained on the whole Continent is largely due to the circumstance that Gneist has not been content merely to give a historical picture of the internal administration of England, but has used the results of his historical researches to formulate a new and complete theory of self-government, as a kind of abstraction from the peculiarly English form of local organisation, and has made this theory of self-government a postulate and criterion of political philosophy. Gneist has developed this theory, however, with the help, and on the basis of, a definite conception of the State, which conception serves as an axiomatic starting-point for the doctrine that runs through all his historical and descriptive work. All the results of his researches march under the banner of his theory, and take colour from it. The theory also makes itself decisively felt in another way. standard by which to judge and measure, not only all previous

It gives him a fixed

1 The works of Gneist considered in this chapter are Self-Government, 1871, and Englische Verfassungsgeschichte, 1882. The latter is only a new edition, with slight alterations, of the historical part of his earlier work, Englisches Verwaltungsrecht, i., ii., 1867. Much of Gneist's work was written in order to influence Prussian legislation; and in these writings, especially in his book Verwaltung, Justiz, Rechtsweg, Berlin, 1869, he is in the habit of repeating, word for word, passages about English government which occur in his more important works. His short history of the English Parliament, Das`Englische Parlament in tausend-jährigen Wandlungen, is a concise and comprehensive survey of a great mass of material; but, though it far surpasses Gneist's other works in lucidity and literary form, it is based entirely upon them.


and Society.

epochs of legal and constitutional development in England, but also those modern reforms which have changed the face of the English constitution, and in particular the organisation of government. And so it comes about that in Gneist's picture neither the past nor the present is objectively drawn, but is always coloured by his philosophy. If, then, Gneist's conception of English self-government is to be criticised, it is indispensable that the main outlines of his general theory should be traced, and these, as far as possible, in Gneist's own language. "The historical self-government of England establishes the organic connection of State and Society." With these words Gneist begins his discussion of "Self-Government" in a chapter which is entitled "The Practical Principles of SelfGovernment." But the expression "Society," as understood by him, is the symbol of men's relationship to the economic world; the whole of their actual dealings with one another is comprised under the expression “social relations." Whatever the distribution of property, antithesis of State it results in a dependence of those who have not upon those who have. Hence an opposition of interests and a conflict waged by the propertied classes to maintain their position and by the dependent classes to improve theirs. Society as such is not capable itself of harmonising these interests. But according to Gneist, it is as much the duty of the community to subdue this warfare, as for " the individual to exercise his free choice in overcoming the struggle of his desires and passions with his sense of duty." Therefore, 'mankind is always destined to get the mastery of this conflict of interests, and win its way to freedom through the organism of the State," that is to say, through a "system of public duties which is constantly being transformed as the structure of Society develops," but is always opposed to the system of social interests. Between the State and Society there is a permanent antithesis. All the machinery of the State is intended to compel the individual, and to prosecute a purpose far beyond him. That purpose, or end, is to found, fortify, and maintain the legal and social freedom of the community and of the individual. On the other hand, "each social group always uses its share of the will of the State to promote its own interests, constantly lays claim to power,

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