The Necessity, Beneficence and Beauty of Law. Paper Read at Opening Meeting of Ossoli Circle, Monday, October 26th, by Mrs. L.C. French.
"Ever the Rock of Ages melts
Into the mineral air,
To be the quarry whence is built
Thought and its mansions fair."
These lines indicate to us that poe
try, no less than religion, science and
philosophy, teaches the indestructabil-
ity of matter, the correlation and con
servation of force and the development
of the lower into higner forms; in
short, the oneness ot the universe.
Accept this statement as true and
the conclusion is inevitable that the
universe is governed by law, inexorable and eternal law, or it might be
more exact to say, the universe is law
Emerson calls the world "a fagot of
laws," immortal and seif-protecting.
If this be true the work of man is to
acquire a knowledge of law so as to
keep himself in harmony with it.
The assertion has been made that
the instinct for law is primal and exists in every order of creatio. Ruskin
shows us in his Ethics of the Dust,
that clay following out the laws of its
being becomes the sapphire, that sand
reaches up to the opal, while soot or
charcoal becomes transfigured into the
The rock crumbles and makes the
soil, from whence springs plant life,
that gives sustenance to the animal
which in its turn on the one hand
gives its refuse to enrich the soil and
on the other its body for food for man,
while the latter by the use of thought
improves himself as well as the animal and the plant.
When the soul of man passes into
the unknown his body mingles again
with the soil and the circle is complete. Thus we see that in nature
every debt is paid to the uttermost
farthing. The necessity of lavv is then
self-evident. the failure of one kingdom to supply the needs of another
would turn the universe into chaos.
Mineral, animal, vegetable and human
all work together for the good of all.
Thus can we truly sing witn the poet;
"Ever the Rock af Ages melts
Into the mineral air
To be the quarry whence is built
Thought and its mansions fair."
Victor Hugo has beautifully said:—-
"The human intellect radiates and li1--
tie by little wins, subdues ami humanizes matter." ]
"Sublime domestication." What, ben
*tne.ent and beautiful laws is science
revealing to us dav by Gay. How our
lives are enrched by its .improvements,
discoveries and inventions. J.t tea c he*
us that law exact and inexorable governs both great and small. Tnai m«
bee in its work is as exact and inva- ;.
liable as the stars in their course. Thr
microbe performs its function with th-"
like promptness and preeus.-don tna<
the sun does his.
Religion teaches us that the recog
nition of law and obedience to it is the
proof of the great and the good of
Philosophers have devoted the.Jr.
lives to the study of universal theo !
ries concerning it tending: alvvavs to
the end of contributing to the instruction and hauDines.s of ma.n-kind.
Prom all great teachers do we learn
that the practice of virtue is as necessary to the well being of man as
is sufficient food. that, the universe is
founded on morality and surrounded
Says IViarcus Aurelius:—"No longer
let thy breathing only act in concert
"with the air which surrounds thee. hat.
let thy intelligence aiso now he m
harmony with the intelligence which
embraces all things. For the intelligent power is no less diffused in all
parts and pervades all things for him
who is willing to draw it to him
and we will know the right and it,
i will make us free. It is the personal
| consideration which blinds the eye and
\ obscures the vision.
J Let i:s now consider the divisions
; ef law:
Webster's definition:—"A law is
that which is laid, sot or fixed, a rule |
of being or conduct established bv an
authority able td enforce its will,"
Eurke says:—-"Law is beneficence]
. working by rule."
Cosmic or Divine law is that of the j
universe. Natural law is that of the j
individual; eclesiasticai law that of the j
policy of a church; civil law that
which applies to members of a community; political law that of the government of said community; national
law that of communities in their relation to each other.
To formulate these laws, to study
them to shape our lives in harmony
with them and transmit this knowledge and power to posterity is
the first duty of the least as well as
of the greatest. Ignorance of the. law
either human or divine, furnishes no
immunity to the one who violates it.
Recognizing this Shakespeare wrote:—i
"There is no darkness, but ignorance."
Ignorance of law is that dark shadow
which men have named evil. Evil has
>■,/-, c n V. c* f o >^ <"> <~, :»p,v^1 ,-ific-+"—"if"." Ac rln^l.
jr.. .-ul'^'-rtii!-!. rvrt-l tr.^.i.- ca-lll.tr. .10 uttiiv*
ness is simply the absence of light, so
evil is the absence of good or law or
harm, on v. Where knowledge is light
and the. shadows disappear. The first
mandate of Ihe creator we are told:
was "Let there be light."
The last orv of Goethe was:"Light, i
more light," and it is the great need j
of us a'l
Now we ccme to the con'siderat'on !
of those laws which have been formulated for the government, of those
who are banded together to transact
business of whatsoever kind. The code,
having been compiled from the rules!
which govern the law rnakirg body the
lawmaking body of England has been
by common consent called parliamentary law, which is intended to tpach—■
Accuracy in business, economy of time, i
impartiality, uniformity, order Are
any of these pve needed in the con**
ducting of a woman's club, or are the^
only for "mere men's." I ask the
question because T or.ce hea~d a lady
say that she thought the enforcement
of parliamentary law in women's
meetings was ridiculous.
Are women so accurate in buMnrsi
that they need no guides? Do they ex-
pedite matters in such a way as to
lose no time? Are they' by instinct
perfectly just and impartial?
Order is heaven's first law, is it also
woman's so that she needs no instruction, no riding in this direction'7
My friends I am not a pessimist, F
have an abounding faith in humanity,
a belief in the power and ability of the
human soul or mind to overcome
every obstacle, but I cannot sco the
lergth of the person just quoted. I
believe that women are not yet so
perfect that they can dispense with
the rule of conducting meetings such
as eur greatest men have found s?
necessary. For these great one* know'
that where there is no law, but every
one does according to her own sweet
will, tRerm is the least of real liberty
In conclusion let me exnress the s
wish and the belief that the ladies
who are to present for your consider-1
i'V-nn this Ossoli session, the general
rules which should govern meetings
will be able to show yon most conclu- '
sively the necessity^ the benefit and
beauty of parliamentary law
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