Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
LICENSE AND LIBERTY have their common origin in the human will, but, at the same time, liberty proceeds from reason, and license from passion. As a consequence, liberty is naturally well regulated, circumspect and moderate, without requiring the intervention of any restrictive law. Liberty, legally unlimited, keeps within the bounds which the general welfare, morality and self-respect assign to it, of its own accord, and almost without effort. It emanates from a sentiment of our own dignity, and is its most powerful safeguard. License knows neither rule nor moderation; it recognizes no law; neither morality nor human respect restrains it. It is inspired by caprice, seeks only momentary gratification, and makes no sacrifice in the interests of the future.
—Can license always be distinguished from liberty? We believe it can; and the characteristic marks which we have enumerated will enable any person to distinguish the one from the other, if he will but examine the facts impartially. Unfortunately, this impartiality is not always found, and the enemies of progress do not hesitate to attribute to liberty the faults of license. Consequently we have to oppose license as well as despotism, though with different means. We employ firmness, self-respect and love of equality against despotism; against license our only resource is to extend political education and to enlighten men as to their true interests.
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