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The plea will not serve you; you must show something more. You must show, by probable arguments, at least, that it is God's intention that these things should be parcelled out to individuals; and that the established distribution, under which you claim, should be upholden. Show me this, and I am satisfied. But until this be shown, the general intention, which has been made to ap ar, and which is all that does appear, must prevail; and, under that, my title is as good as yours. Now there is no argument to induce such a presumption, but one; that the thing cannot be enjoyed at all, or enjoyed with the same, or with nearly the same advantage, while it continues in common as when appropriated. This is true, where there is not enough for all, or where the article in question requires care or labour in the production or preservation; but where no such reason obtains, and the thing is in its nature capable of being enjoyed by as many as will, it seems an arbitrary usurpation upon the rights of mankind, to confine the use of it to any.
If a medicinal spring were discovered in a piece of ground which was private property, copious enough for every purpose to which it could be applied, I would award a compensation to the owner of the field, and a liberal profit to the author of the discovery, especially if he had bestowed pains or expense upon the search: but I question whether any human laws would be justified, or would justify the owner, in prohibiting mankind from the use of the water, or setting such a price upon it as would almost amount to a prohibition.
If there be fisheries which are inexhaustible, as the cod fishery upon the Banks of Newfoundland, and the herring fishery in the British seas, are said to be; then all those conventions, by which one or two nations claim to themselves, and guarantee to each other, the exclusive enjoyment of these fisheries, are so many encroachments upon the general rights of mankind.
Upon the same principle may be determined a question, which makes a great figure in books of natural law, utrum mare sit liberum? that is, as I understand it, whether the exclusive right of navi-` gating paticular seas, or a control over the navigation of these seas, can be claimed, consistently with
the law of nature, by any nation? What is necessary for each nation's safety, we allow; as their own bays, creeks, and harbours, the sea contiguous to, that is, within cannon-shot, or three leagues, of their coast; and upon this principle of safety (if upon any principle) must be defended the claim of the Venetian State to the Adriatic, of Denmark to the Baltic Sea, and of Great Britain to the seas which invest the island. But when Spain asserts a right to the Pacific Ocean, or Portugal to the Indian Seas, or when any nation extends its pretentions much beyond the limits of its own territories, they erect a claim which interferes with the benevolent designs of Providence, and ..which no human authority can justify.
3. Another right, which may be called a general right, as it is incidental to every man who is in situation to claim it, is the right of extreme necessity; by which is meant, a right to use or destroy another's property, when it is necessary for our own preservation to do so; as a right to take, without or against the owner's leave, the first food, clothes, or shelter we meet with, when we are in danger of perishing through want of them; a right to throw goods overboard, to save the ship; or to pull down a house, in order to stop the progress of a fire; and a few other instances of the same kind. Of which right the foundation seems to be this: that when property was first instituted, the institution was not intended to operate to the destruction of any; therefore, when such consequences would follow, all regard to it is superseded. Or rather, perhaps, these are the few cases, where the particular consequence exceeds the general consequence; where the remote mischief resulting from the violation of the general rule is overbalanced by the immediate advantage.
Restitation however is due, when in our power; because the laws of property are to be adhered to, so far as consists with safety; and because restitution, which is one of those laws, supposes the danger to be over. But what is to be restored? Not the full value
of the property destroyed, but what it was worth at the time of destroying it; which, considering the danger it was in of perishing, might be very little.
OF RELATIVE DUTIES WHICH ARE DETERMINATE.
Ir you should see a flock of pigeons in a field of corn; and if (instead of each picking where and what it liked, taking just as much as it wanted, and no more) you should see ninety-nine of them gathering all they got into a heap; reserving nothing for themselves but the chaff and the refuse; keeping this heap for one, and that the weakest, perhaps worst, pigeon of the flock; sitting round, and looking on, all the winter, whilst this one was devouring, throwing about, and wasteing it; and if a pigeon, more hardy or hungry than the rest, touched a grain of the hoard, all the others instantly flying upon it, and tearing it to pieces; if you should see this, you would see nothing more than what is every day practised and established among men. Among men, you see the ninety and nine toiling and scraping together a heap of superfluities for one (and this one too, oftentimes,
the feeblest and worst of the whole set-a child, a woman, a madman, or a fool;) getting nothing for themselves all the while, but a little of the coarsest of the provision which their own industry produces; looking quietly on, while they see the fruits of all their labour spent or spoiled; and if one of the number take or touch a particle of the hoard, the others joining against him, and hanging him for the theft.
THE USE OF THE INSTITUTION OF PROPERTY.
THERE must be some very important advantages to account for an institution, which, in the view of it above given, is so paradoxical and unnatural.
The principal of these advantages are the following:
1. It increases the produce of the earth.
The earth, in climates like ours, produces little without cultivation: and none would be found willing to cultivate the ground, if others were to be admitted to an equal share of the produce. The same is true of the care of flocks and herds of tame animals.
Crabs and acorns, red deer, rabbits, game, and fish are all which we should have to subsist upon in this country, if we trusted to the spontaneous productions of the soil; and it fares not much better with other countries. A nation of North American savages, consisting of two or three hundred, will take up, and be half starved upon a tract of land which, in Europe, and with European management, would be sufficient for the maintainance of as many thousands.
In some fertile soils, together with great abundance of fish upon their coasts, and in regions where clothes are unnecessary, a considerable degree of population may subsist without property in land, which is the case in the islands of Otaheite: but in less favoured situations, as in the country of New Zealand, though
this sort of property obtain in a small degree, the inhabitants, for want of a more secure and regular establishment of it, are driven oftentimes by the scarcity of provision to devour one another.
2. It preserves the produce of the earth to maturity.
We may judge what would be the effects of a community of right to the productions of the earth, from the trifling specimens which we see of it at present. A cherry tree in a hedgerow, nuts in a wood, the grass of an unstinted pasture, are seldom of much advantage to any body, because people do not wait for the proper season of reaping them. Corn, if any were sown, would never ripen; lambs and calves would never grow up to sheep and cows, because the first person that met them would reflect that he had better take them as they are, than leave them for another.
3. It prevents contests.
War and waste, tumult and confusion, must be unavoidable and eternal, where there is not enough for all, and where there are no rules to adjust the division. 4. It improves the conveniency of living.
This it does two ways. It enables mankind to divide themselves into distinct professions; which is impossible, unless a man can exchange the productions of his own art for what he wants from others; and exchange implies property. Much of the advantage of civilized over savage life depends upon this. When a man is from necessity his own tailor, tentmaker, carpenter, cook, huntsman, and fisherman, it is not probable that he will be expert at any of his callings. Hence the rude habitations, furniture, clothing, and implements of savages; and the tedious length of time which all their operations require.
It likewise encourages those arts by which the accommodations of human life are supplied, by appropriating to the artist the benefit of his discoveries and improvements; without which appropriation ingenuity will never be exerted with effect.
Upon these several accounts we may venture, with a few exceptions, to pronounce that even the poorest and the worst provided, in countries where property