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remain the sole collective power, and that all the citizens should enjoy the same rights, and without distinction be subject to the same duties.
Splendid promises! Can any thing appear more equitable than the last proposition, the equality of rights and duties? Can any thing be conceived more simple in the idea ? But the execution—! Let the four or five quarto volumes of the Conscript Code be the comment! But as briefly as possible I shall prove, that this system, as an exclusive total, is under any form impracticable ; and that if it were realized, and as far as it were realized, it would necessarily lead to general barbarism and the most grinding oppression, and that the final result of a general attempt to introduce it, must be a military despotism inconsistent with the peace and safety of mankind. That reason should be our guide and governor is an undeniable truth, and all our notion of right and wrong is built thereon : for reason is one of the two fountain-heads in which the whole moral nature of man originated and subsists. From reason alone can we derive the principles which our understandings are to apply, the ideal to which by means of our understandings we should endeavor to approximate. This, however, gives no proof that reason alone ought to govern and direct human beings, either as individuals or as states. It ought not to do this, because it can not. The laws of reason are unable to satisfy the first conditions of human society. We will admit that the shortest code of the law is the best, and that the citizen finds himself most at ease where the government least intermeddles with his affairs, and confines its efforts to the preservation of public tranquillity ; we will suffer this to pass at present undisputed, though the examples of England, and before the late events, of Holland and Switzerland, -surely the three happiest nations of the world—to which perhaps we might add the major part of the former German free towns, furnish stubborn facts in presumption of the contrary,—yet still the proof is want.ing that the first and most general applications and exertions of the power of man can be definitely regulated by reason unaided by the positive and conventional laws in the formation of which the understanding must be our guide, and which become just because they happen to be expedient.
The chief object for which men first formed themselves into a state was not the protection of their lives, but of their property.
Where the nature of the soil and climate precludes all property but personal, and permits that only in its simplest forms, as in Greenland, men remain in the domestic state and form neighborhoods, but not governments. And in North America the chiefs appear to exercise government in those tribes only which possess individual landed property. Among the rest the chief is their general; but government is exercised only in families by the fathers of families. But where individual landed property exists, there must be inequality of property : the nature of the earth and the nature of the mind unite to make the contrary impossible. But to suppose the land the property of the state, and the labor and the produce to be equally divided among all the members of the state, involves more than one contradiction: for it could not subsist without gross injustice, except where the reason of all and of each was absolute master of the selfish passions of sloth, envy, and the like ; and yet the same state would preclude the greater part of the means by which the reason of man is developed. In whatever state of society you would place it, from the most savage to the most refined, it would be found equally unjust and impossible; and were there a race of men, a country, and a climate, that permitted such an order of things, the same causes would render all government superfluous.. .
To property, therefore, and to its inequalities all human laws directly or indirectly relate, which would not be equally laws in the state of nature. Now it is impossible to deduce the right of property * from pure reason. The utmost which reason could give would be a property in the forms of things, as far as the forms were produced by individual power. In the matter it could give no property. We regard angels and glorified spirits as beings of pure reason : and who ever thought of property in heaven? Even the simplest and most moral form of it, namely, marriage. (we know from the highest authority), is excluded from the state of pure reason. Rousseau himself expressly admits that property can not be deduced from the laws of reason and nature; and he ought therefore to have admitted at the same time that his whole theory was a thing of air. In the most respectable point of view
* I mean, practically and with the inequalities inseparable from the actual existence of property. Abstractedly, the right to property is deducible from the free-agency of man. If to act freely be a right, a sphere of action must be so too.
he could regard his system as analogous to geometry. If indeed
frage can not exist ; but if not to universal suffrage, there can exist no natural right to suffrage at all. In whatever way he would obviate this objection, he must admit expedience founded on experience and particular circumstances, which will vary in every different nation, and in the same nation at different times, as the maxim of all legislation and the ground of all legislative power. For his universal principles, as far as they are principles and universal, necessarily suppose uniform and perfect subjects, which are to be found in the ideas of pure geometry and, I trust, in the realities of heaven, but never, never, in creatures of flesh and blood.
ON THE ERRORS OF PARTY SPIRIT: OR EXTREMES MEET.
And it was no wonder if some good and innocent men, especially such as he (Lightfoot) who was generally more concerned about what was done in Judea many centuries ago, than what was transacted in his own time in his own country-it is no wonder if some such were for a while borne away to the approval of opinions which they, after more sedate reflection, disowned. Yet his innocency from any self-interest or design, together with his learning, secured him from the extravagances of demagogues, the people's oracles.-LIGHTFOOT'S Works, Publisher's Preface to the Reader.
I HAVE never seen Major Cartwright, much less enjoy the honor of his acquaintance; but I know enough of his character, from the testimony of others and from his own writings, to respect his talents, and revere the purity of his motives. I am fully persuaded that there are few better men, few more fervent or disinterested adherents of their country or the laws of their country, of whatsoever things are lovely, of whatsoever things are honorable. It would give me great pain should I be supposed to have introduced, disrespectfully, a name, which from my early youth I never heard mentioned without a feeling of affectionate admiration. I have indeed quoted from this venerable patriot, as from the most respectable English advocate for the theory, which derives the rights of government, and the duties of obedience to it, exclusively from principles of pure reason. It was of consequence to my cause that I should not be thought to have been waging war against a straw image of my own setting up, or even against a foreign idol that had neither worshipers nor advocates in our own country; and it was not less my object to keep my discussion aloof from those passions, which more unpopular names might have excited. I therefore introduced the name of Cartwright, as I had previously done that of Luther, in order to give every fair advantage to a theory, which I thought it of importance to confute; and as an instance that though the system might be made tempting to the vulgar, yet that, taken unmixed and entire, it was chiefly fascinating for lofty and imaginative spirits, who mistook their own virtues and powers for the average character of men in general.
Neither by fair statements nor by fair reasoning should I ever give offence to Major Cartwright himself, nor to his judicious friends. If I am in danger of offending them, it must arise from one or other of two causes ; either that I have falsely represented his principles, or his motives and the tendency of his writings. In the book from which I quoted, “ The People's Barrier against undue Influence” (the only one of Major Cartwright's which I possess), I am conscious that there are six foundations stated of constitutional government. Therefore, it may be urged, the author can not be justly classed with those who deduce our social rights and correlative duties exclusively from principles of pure reason, or unavoidable conclusions from such. My answer is ready. Of these six foundations three are but different words for one and the same, namely, the law of reason, the law of God, and first principles : and the three that remain can not be taken as indifferent, inasmuch as they are afterwards affirmed to be of no validity except as far as they are evidently deduced from the former; that is, from the principles implanted by God in the universal reason of man. These three latter foundations are, the general customs of the realm, particular customs, and acts of Parliament. It might be supposed that the author had not used his terms in the precise and single sense in which they are defined in my former essay; and that self-evident principles may be meant to include the dictates of manifest expedience, the inductions of the understanding as well as the prescripts of the pure reason. But no; Major Cartwright has guarded against the possibility of this interpretation, and has expressed himself