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læg, lag, i. e. that which is laid down, may be different by different authorities.(2)
I have always been most obedient when most taxed with disobedience. But my RIGHT hand is not the RIGHT hand of Melinda. The RIGHT I revere is not the RIGHT adored by sycophants; the jus vagum, the capricious command of princes or ministers. I follow the LAW of God (what is laid down by him for the rule of my conduct) when I follow the LAWS of human nature; which, without any human testimony, we know must proceed from God: and upon these are founded the RIGHTS of man, or what is ordered for man. I revere the constitution and constitutional LAWS of England; because they are in conformity with the LAWS of God and nature: and upon these are founded the rational RIGHTS of Englishmen. If princes or ministers or the corrupted sham representatives of a people, order, command, or lay down any thing contrary to that which is ordered, commanded, or laid down by God, human nature, or the constitution of this government; I will still hold fast by the higher authorities. If the meaner authorities are offended, they can only destroy the body of the individual; but never can affect the RIGHT, or that which is ordered by their superiors.
(2) Whether the legislature of Pennsylvania was actuated by a spirit of revolutionary opposition to the laws and usages of England; or a rigid sense of right and wrong; or with the severity of the Quakers were not willing to call right things by wrong names; the laws of Pennsylvania order and command, that the right side of the road shall be the right side, and that the left shall be the wrong side. See Turnpike Gates,
ΕΠΕΑ ΠΤΕΡΟΕΝΤΑ. &c.
F. WELL, well! I did not mean to touch that string which vibrates with you so strongly: I wish for a different sort of information. Your political principles at present are as much out of fashion as
H. I know it: I have good reason to know it: but the fashion must one day return, or the nation be undone. For without these principles, it is impossible that the individuals of any country should long be happy, or any society prosperous.
F. I do not intend to dispute it with you. I see evidently that, not he who demands rights, but he who abjures them, is an anarchist. For, before there can be any thing RECT-um there must be reg-en’s, reg's, rex(i), i. e. qui or quod reg-it.
(i) The following lines have more good sense than metre:
“ Dum rex a regere dicatur nomen habere,
“ Nomen habet sine re, nisi studet jura tenere.” So Judicans,
Judic's. Judix. Judex.
Vindic's, Vindix. Vindex.
Indic's. Indix. Index.
Duplic's. Duplix. Duplex.
And I admire more than ever your favourite maxim of....rex, rex loquens; rex, rex mutus. I acknowledge the senses he has given us....the experience of those senses....and reason (the effect and result of those senses and that experience )....to be the assured testimony of God : against which no human testimony ever can prevail. And I think I can discover, by the help of this etymology, a shorter method of determining disputes between well-meaning men, concerning questions of Right : for, if RIGHT and just mean ordered and commanded, we must at once refer to the order and command; and to the authority which ordered and commanded.
But I wish at present for a different sort of information. Is this manner of explaining RIGHT and JUST
and Law and DROIT and DRITTO, peculiarly applicable to those words only, or will it apply to others? Will it enable us to account for what is called abstraction, and for abstract ideas, whose existence you deny ?
H. I think it will : and, if it must have a name, it should rather be called subaudition than abstraction; though I mean not to quarrel about a title.
The terms you speak of, however denominated in construction, are generally (I say generally) participles or adjectives, used without tive to which they can be joined : and are therefore, in construction, considered as substantives. An Act,
(aliquid) Act-um. A Fact,
(aliquid) Fact-um. A Debt,
(aliquid) Debit-um. Rent,
(aliquid) Rendit-um, redditum.
(aliquid) Tribut-um. An Attribute, (aliquid) Attribut-um. Incense, (aliquid) Incens-um. An Expanse,
(aliquid) Expans-um, &c.(k): Such words compose the bulk of every language. In English, those which are borrowed from the Latin, French, and Italian, are easily recognized; because those languages are sufficiently familiar to us, and not so familiar as our own : those from the Greek are more striking; because more unusual : but those which are original in our own language have been almost wholly overlooked, and are quite unsuspected.
These words, these participles and adjectives, not understood as such, have caused a metaphysical jargon and a false morality, which can only be dissipated by etymology: and, when they come to be examined, you will find that the ridicule which Dr. Conyers Middleton has justly bestowed upon the papists for their absurd coinage of saints, is equally applicable to ourselves, and to all other metaphysicians; whose moral deities, moral causes, and moral qualities, are not less ridiculously coined and imposed upon their followers. Fate,
(k) It will easily be perceived, that we adopt the whole Latin word, omitting only the sequent Latin article ; because we use a precedent article of our own. For a similar reason we properly say.... The Koran, and not the Al-koran.
Fault, &c. &c. as well as JUST, RIGHT, and WRONG, are all merely participles poetically embodied, and substantiated by those who use them.
So Church, for instance, (Dominicum, aliquid) is an adjective; and formerly a most wicked one; whose misinterpretation caused more slaughter and pillage of mankind than all the other cheats together.
F. Something of this sort I can easily perceive; but not to the extent you carry it. I see that those sham deities FATE and DESTINY....aliquid fatum, quelque chose destinée....are merely the past participles of fari and destiner.
That CHANCE(TM) (“ high arbiter”(m) as Milton calls him) and his twin-brother ACCIDENT, are merely the participles of escheoir, cheoir, and cadere. And that to say....“ It befell me by CHANCE or by “ ACCIDENT,”....is absurdly saying...." It fell by
(1) CHANCE....( Escheance.)
“ The daie is go, the nightes CHAUNCE
Gower, lib. 8, fol. 179, pag. 1, col. 2.
Paradise Lost, book 2.