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ADVERTISEMENT. - Thomas Hodgskin, The Natural and Artificial Right of Property Contrasted 
The Natural and Artificial Right of Property Contrasted. A Series of Letters, addressed without permission to H. Brougham, Esq. M.P. F.R.S. (London: B. Steil, 1832).
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The present letters, except verbal alterations, were written in the year 1829, and consequently in ignorance of those political convulsions which have led the author to think that this is a proper time to publish them. In his opinion, the contest now going on in society, the preternatural throes and heavings which frightfully convulse it from one end to the other, arise exclusively and altogether from the right of property, and can be neither understood nor relieved, but by attending to the great distinction he has endeavoured to establish between the natural and the legal right of property. Whether his voice be listened to or not is of trifling moment; but it is of infinite importance to every man to listen to the voice of nature, let who will be its interpreter.
To elucidate some of the following remarks, it is right to add, that the present is only an episode in a larger work relating to criminal law. Legislators are yet completely ignorant of the first elements of criminal legislation, and the correct and philosophic answer to the meaning question, “What is crime?” throws down at one blow the whole theoretical structure of penal enactments. By a deduction from principles not here enunciated, the author has satisfied himself that all law-making, except gradually and quietly to repeal all existing laws, is arrant humbug. Such being his well weighed and long cherished conviction, he cannot possibly feel any respect for titles, dignities, offices, individuals, or acts which have and can have no other possible claim to approbation, than the supposition that legislation and its consequences are of vital importance to the welfare of society. He mentions this circumstance, to account for some, perhaps, strong expressions and peculiar opinions, while he hopes by demonstrating, that even property is not regulated and determined by human laws, to prepare the mind of the reader to admit the general principle, that society can exist and prosper without the lawmaker, and consequently without the tax-gatherer. He is quite aware that such a conclusion, generally adopted, must be the work of time, and of a mightier artist than ever wrote with pen, but he is not without hope, that the present and his meditated work, should he find leisure and encouragement to undertake the publication, may contribute to what he thinks so desirable a result.
He is aware also, that speculations of this kind have no charm for the multitude. He has learnt, by experience, that books of this description are not and cannot be much read. Popular displays of popular errors, or of these truths which have been long enough known to form a part of the general creed, pretended illustrations of the progress of society, drawn up in the form of novels, pictures of individual life, biographies, as it were, of any particular state or condition, may have a strong charm for many readers, and sell so extensively, as to procure an ample remuneration for author, publisher, and bookseller. But works unfolding a dawning truth, which is afterwards to become a part of the general stock of knowledge, which lay claim to increase the extent of abstract moral science, which announce a discovery, and because it is a discovery, or an extension of knowledge, it cannot be immediately understood, much less immediately popular—works of this kind cannot be much read; and therefore, with the prudence of a tradesman and the calculation of a poor man, he has put a large price on this book, and printed only a small number of copies, in order that he may not lose a great sum by his speculation. The book will, undoubtedly, by compared, as to size and price, with numerous popular books of the classes just mentioned, and will be tried by the price of those which are expected to sell to the extent of several thousand copies. Compared, therefore, to volumes of the “Library of Entertaining Knowledge, or of the “Family Library,” it must appear out-rageously high priced. This will, however, shew that it is not intended for the poor. It is not likely, indeed, to be popular with any class. It flatters no passions. It neither proves that the wealth of the rich is in the order of the nature, nor justifies the desire of spoliation in the poor. It encourages no hopes of finding a speedy remedy for present evils, and seems destined to find no favour with any one class, because all look only to the law either for protection or improvement. Flattering no popular prejudice, and basing itself on no popular creed, it appeals to reasen; and the author knows the judges in that court are few, and too indolent to inquire diligently into the causes which are brought before it. Such as the book is, conscious of meaning well, however the execution may have fallen short, or gone wide of his intentions, the author commits his production to the mercy of the law and the justice of his countrymen.