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                                        CHAPTER XIV.


General principles regarding sump-
tuary laws and their application to

553. The question of prohibiting the growth of the hemp plant and the sale
of ganja and allied drugs is one which stands in the
forefront of the present inquiry. It has been
remarked by a well known historian* that "no laws
are of any service which are above the working level of public morality, and
the deeper they are carried down into life, the larger become the opportunities of
evasion." If these words are true as applied to England under a feudal system,
they are much more true in the present day as applied to British India. The Gov-
ernment of this country has not grown out of the forces contained within it, but
has been superimposed upon them, and the paternal system of government
which may have been suitable in England during the sixteenth century, and in
the initial development of some Indian provinces during the period immediately
following their annexation, becomes purely visionary when public opinion is in
process of formation and the needs of the people are year by year finding more
ready expression. Occasionally, no doubt, the Legislature in India has anti-
cipated a standard of morality not universally accepted by the people, as in
the case of laws relating to infanticide or the burning of Hindu widows; but these
measures were passed under an overwhelming sense of the necessity of correct-
ing popular notions of morality in matters coming well within the sphere
of Government, and in the assurance that in the course of time they could
not fail to secure the assent of all intelligent members of the community.
In the chapter of Mill's Political Economy which treats of the non-inter-
ference principle, a distinction is made between two kinds of intervention by
the Government—the one authoritative interference, and the other giving advice
or promulgating information. And the following remarks are made regarding
the former: "It is evident, even at first sight, that the authoritative form of
Government intervention has a much more limited sphere of legitimate action
than the other. It requires a much stronger necessity to justify it in any case,
while there are large departments of human life from which it must be unre-
servedly and imperiously excluded. Whatever theory we adopt respecting
the foundation of the social union, and under whatever political institutions we
live, there is a circle around every individual human being which no Government,
be it that of one, or of few, or of the many, ought to be permitted to overstep:
there is a part of the life of every person who has come to years of discretion
within which the individuality of that person ought to reign uncontrolled either
by any other individual or by the public collectively. That there is, or ought to
be, some space in human existence thus entrenched around no one who professes
the smallest regard to human freedom or dignity will call in question: the point
to be determined is where the limit should be placed; how large a province of
human life this reserved territory should include. I apprehend that it ought to
include all that part which concerns only the life, whether inward or outward, of
the individual, and does not affect the interests of others, or affects them only
through the moral influence of example. With respect to the domain of the in-
ward consciousness, the thoughts and feelings, and as much of external conduct

        *J. A. Froude's History of England, 2nd Edition, Chapter I, page 57.


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