The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Volume 1 cover

The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Volume 1

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?)

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    THE COLLECTED WORKS OFAMBROSE BIERCEVOLUME 11909CONTENTSASHES OF THE BEACONTHE LAND BEYOND THE BLOW THITHER SONS OF THE FAIR STAR AN INTERVIEW WITH GNARMAG ZOTE THE TAMTONIANS MAROONED ON UG THE DOG IN GANGEWAG A CONFLAGRATION IN GHARGAROO AN EXECUTION IN BATRUGIA THE JUMJUM OF GOKEETLE GUK THE KINGDOM OF TORTIRRA HITHERFOR THE AHKOONDJOHN SMITH, LIBERATORBITS OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY ON A MOUNTAIN WHAT I SAW OF SHILOH A LITTLE OF CHICKAMAUCA THE CRIME AT PICKETT'S MILL FOUR DAYS IN DIXIE WHAT OCCURRED AT FRANKLIN 'WAY DOWN IN ALABAM' WORKING FOR AN EMPRESS ACROSS THE PLAINS THE MIRAGE A SOLE SURVIVORASHES OF THE BEACONASHES OF THE BEACONAN HISTORICAL MONOGRAPH WRITTEN IN 4930Of the many causes that conspired to bring about the lamentable failure of "self government" in ancient America the most general and comprehensive was, of course, the impracticable nature of the system itself. In the light of modern culture, and instructed by history, we readily discern the folly of those crude ideas upon which the ancient Americans based what they knew as "republican institutions," and maintained, as long as maintenance was possible, with something of a religious fervor, even when the results were visibly disastrous. To us of to day it is clear that the word "self government" involves a contradiction, for government means control by something other than the thing to be controlled. When the thing governed is the same as the thing governing there is no government, though for a time there may be, as in the case under consideration there was, a considerable degree of forbearance, giving a misleading appearance of public order. This, however, soon must, as in fact it soon did, pass away with the delusion that gave it birth. The habit of obedience to written law, inculcated by generations of respect for actual government able to enforce its authority, will persist for a long time, with an ever lessening power upon the imagination of the people; but there comes a time when the tradition is forgotten and the delusion exhausted...