Hodgskin on the Natural Right to Property (1832)
LETTER THE SECOND. THE NATURAL RIGHT OF PROPERTY ILLUSTRATED.
Mr. Locke's opinion of this right adopted and confirmed—Proofs of its existence at all times and places—Proof that M. Dumont is wrong in ascribing a sense of security to legislation.
TO H. BROUGHAM, ESQ. M. P. F.R.S. &c.Sir,
As the right of property includes many other rights, being connected with some of our strongest emotions, and the source of some most inveterate prejudices, it requires to be handled with great discretion. If it were not the very foundation of systems of government, and of theories of political philosophy—and if there were any rational hope, that the former could be amended, and the latter constructed on correct principles, without digging down to the very bottom—I, for one, should carefully avoid meddling with so great and, perhaps, dangerous a work. But after much and anxious deliberation, I am satisfied that it is not possible to meliorate our political condition, or even to save society from convulsions, more terrible perhaps than have ever been known, unless all classes attain correct notions of the natural right of property, and endeavour gradually to adapt their conduct and social institutions to what nature decrees. Allow me, however, at once to declare (as there have been in almost every age individuals, such as Beccaria and Rousseau—and sects, some existing at present, such as Mr. Owen's cooperative societies, the Saint Simonians in France, and the Moravians, who have asserted that all the evils of society arise from a right of property, the utility of which they have accordingly and utterly denied) allow me to separate myself entirely from them, by declaring that I look on a right of property—on the right of individuals, to have and to own, for their own separate and selfish use and enjoyment, the produce of their own industry, with power freely to dispose of the whole of that in the manner most agreeable to themselves, as essential to the welfare and even to the continued existence of society. If, therefore, I did not suppose, with Mr. Locke, that nature establishes such a right—if I were not prepared to shew that she not merely establishes, but also protects and preserves it, so far as never to suffer it to be violated with impunity—I should at once take refuge in Mr. Bentham's impious theory, and admit that the legislator who established and preserved a right of property, deserved little less adoration than the Divinity himself. Believing, however, that nature establishes such a right, I can neither join those who vituperate it as the source of all our social misery, nor those who claim for the legislator the high honour of being “the author of the finest triumph of humanity over itself.”
I heartily and cordially concur with Mr. Locke, in his view of the origin and foundation of a right of property. “Every man,” he says, “has a property in his own person that nobody has any right to but himself. The labour of his body and the work of his hand are his property. Whatsoever, then, he removes out of the state that nature hath provided and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with it and joined to something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common state nature hath placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it that excludes the common right of other men. For the labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is joined to—at least, where there is enough and as good left in common for others.”
“He that is nourished by the acorn he picked up under an oak, or the apple he gathered from the trees in the wood, has certainly appropriated them to himself. Nobody can deny but the nourishment is his. I ask, then, when they began to be his? When he digested? Or when he eat, or when he boiled? Or when he brought them home? Or when he picked them up? And it is plain, that if the first gathering made them not his, nothing else could. That labour put a distinction between them and common, that added something to them more than nature—the common mother of all—had done, and so they became his private right.”∗
“Thus the law of reason makes the deer that Indian's who hath killed it; it is allowed to be his goods who hath bestowed his labour upon it, though before it was the common right of every one. And amongst those who are accounted the civilized part of mankind—who have made and multiplied laws to determine property—this original law of nature for the beginning of property in what was before common, still takes place; and by virtue thereof, what fish any one catches in the ocean—that great and still remaining common of mankind,—or what ambergris any one takes up here, is, by the labour that removes it out of the common state nature left it, made his property who takes that pains about it.“∗
“But the chief matter of property being now,” he goes on, “not the fruits of the earth and the beasts that subsist on it, but the earth itself as that which takes and carries with it all the rest, I think it plain that property in that too is (ought to be?) acquired as the former. As much land as a man tills, plants, cultivates, and can use the products of, so much is his property. He, by his labour, does, as it were, inclose it from the common.”†
Thus the principle Mr. Locke lays down is, that nature gives to each individual his body and his labour; and what he can make or obtain by his labour naturally belongs to him. Though I cannot make this principle any clearer by repeating the statement in my own way, yet as different minds are effected by different means, the object I have in view may, perhaps, be promoted, by putting it in a somewhat different, even if it be not so clear a form. The power to labour is the gift of nature to each individual; and the power which belongs to each, cannot be confounded with that which belongs to another: The natural wants of man, particularly of food and clothing, are the natural stimulus to exert this power; and the means of gratifying them, which it provides, is the natural reward of the exertion. The power to labour and the natural wants which stimulate labour, are generally found together; thus we see that the motive to labour—the power to labour—and the produce of labour—all exist exclusive of all legislation.
Nature, not the legislator, creates man with these wants, and conjoins with them the power to gratify them. The unpleasant feeling of hunger may be properly called a command or admonition to labour. Nature gives also to each individual: and her separate gifts—as, for example, the fish she bestows on him who baits a hook and watches the line—can no more be confounded with those she gives to another, than the distinct and separate wants they are intended to gratify. The commodities which labour, acting in obedience to this command, creates or obtains, nature—or God, (for it is better to use the latter term than the former)—bestows on labour; and He gives to labour, if violence and wrong interfere not, whatever it can make. On the naked savage, and on him alone, the Almighty primarily bestows the wild fruits he gathers, and the game he kills; to him, exclusively, the Creator gives the branch he rends from the parent stem, and confirms it in his possession, while he fashions it into a club, by the stone hatchet he has previously made, and therefore calls his: as well as guarantees its use to him by the wish and power He continually engenders to retain and use it. A savage, stronger than the labourer or more cunning, may undoubtedly take the fruit of his industry from him by force or fraud; but antecedently to the use of force or fraud, and antece dently to all legislation, nature bestows on every individual what his labour produces, just as she gives him his own body. She bestows the wish and the power to produce, she couples them with the expectation of enjoying that which is produced, and she confirms in the labourer's possession, if no wrong be practised, as long as he wishes to possess, whatever he makes or produces. All these are natural circumstances—the existence of any other person than the labourer not being necessary to the full accomplishment of them. The enjoyment is secured by the individual's own means. No contract, no legislation, is required. Whatever is made by human industry, is naturally appropriated as made, and belongs to the maker. In substance, I would feign hope, there is no difference between this statement and that of Mr. Locke; but I wish to mark, stronger than I think he has done, the fact, that, antecedently to all legislation, and to any possible interference by the legislator, nature establishes a law of appropriation by bestowing, as she creates individuality, the produce of labour on the labourer.
Mr. Locke says, that every man has a property in his own person; in fact, individuality—which is signified by the word own—cannot be disjoined from the person. Each individual learns his own shape and form, and even the existence of his limbs and body, from seeing and feeling them.∗ These constitute his notion of personal identity, both for himself and others; and it is impossible to conceive—it is in fact a contradiction to say—that a man's limbs and body do not belong to himself: for the words him, self, and his body, signify the same material thing.
As we learn the existence of our own bodies from seeing and feeling them, and as we see and feel the bodies of others, we have precisely similar grounds for believing in the individuality or identity of other persons, as for believing in our own identity. The ideas expressed by the words mine and thine, as applied to the produce of labour, are simply then an extended form of the ideas of personal identity and individuality. We readily spread them from our hands and other limbs, to the things the hands seize, or fashion, or create, or the legs hunt down and overtake. Nor is this extension limited to material objects. Were it not the practice to despise the sententious wisdom of proverbs, I might quote several: such as this—“As you make your bed, so you must lie in it”—to shew that these ideas are generally extended to the immaterial consequences of our actions. In the popular creed, the pleasure or pain that results from an individual's conduct, his hopes or his despair, his remorse or his self approbation, are properly deemed to belong to him, equally with the book he writes or the game he kills. In fact, the material objects are only sought after for the immaterial pleasure they bestow.
By the operations of nature, then, it being, indeed, the necessary consequence of existence, there arises in every individual, unwilled by any lawgiver, a distinct notion of his own individuality and of the individuality of others. By the same operations, we extend this idea, first for ourselves and afterwards for others, to the things we make or create, or have given to us, including the pleasure or pain resulting from our own conduct. Thus, the natural idea of property is a mere extension of that of individuality; and it embraces all the mental as well as all the physical consequences of muscular exertion. As nature gives to labour whatever it produces—as we extend the idea of personal individuality to what is produced by every individual—not merely is a right of property established by nature, we see also that she takes means to make known the existence of that right. It is as impossible for men not to have a notion of a right of property, as it is for them to want the idea of personal identity. When either is totally absent man is insane.
Nature, or God—for I use these terms as one—having thus established a right of property, and having effectually provided for our attaining a knowledge of its existence, we must ask, has she, independently of all human legislation, provided men with motives mutually to respect this right, and mutually to abstain from any actions that would weaken or destroy the sense of security? She has. As far as we know, the great mass of mankind seem to have been created nearly equal to each other: at least, the members of every single community are so nearly equal in capacity and skill, that it must be at all times more difficult for one man to take, by force, from another what the latter has already made, than to make something similar for himself. In the latter case, he has only to overcome the resistance of nature, who invites rather than repels his exertions; in the former, he must surmount all the opposition of an equal, who, if openly conquered, may secretly find a means of revenge. Nature creates the majority of individuals nearly equal in bodily strength, skill, and capacity, and gives to all nearly the same facilities for acquiring knowledge; and thus, making it generally more difficult and dangerous to take from another, than for each, by his labour, to provide for himself, she creates in all men motives to respect that right of property which she, by bestowing on labour all its produce, every where establishes, and every where makes known.
Moreover, you will observe, as a general rule, that the inequality of productive power in indi viduals, by which one might obtain greater wealth than another, exciting, as is supposed, the cupidity of those who are comparatively destitute is almost always accompanied by corresponding means of defending its acquisitions. The same strength or skill which enables one man to catch more game or fish, or create more wealth, than his less skilful or weaker compatriot, will enable him to defend his acquisitions. This rule also holds good with nations, the most wealthy being the most skilful, the most ingenious, and the most powerful. By tracing analogies and harmonies of this description in the moral world, we acquire a strong conviction of the folly of setting up our wisdom in opposition to the benevolent decrees by which every part of creation appears to be equally regulated. When we cannot, as in this case, easily trace such regulations, we may infer them. “We see,” says Lord Bolingbroke, “in so many instances, a just proportion of things, according to their several relations to one another, that philosophy should lead us to conclude this proportion preserved, even where we cannot discern it.”∗
By some persons it seems to be supposed that motives, like those I have just alluded to can only exist in savage life, that they disappear in the progress of society, and that it has become, at present, more easy, generally speaking, to take from another, than to produce for one's self. One object I propose is to shew that this supposition is incorrect, and that the principles just mentioned are so powerful in their operation that they have silently overcome the greatest obstacles thrown in their way by legislation. With reference to the source of the error fallen into by these persons, it may not be premature, even at present, to remark, that the right of property, which they call natural, and which they can perceive no motives to respect, is merely legal, and is established and sanctioned by the law-giver only. That there are natural motives to respect the legal right, I do not contend: I even deny it, and cannot believe, that the right is founded on justice. The power of making laws was long vested in those—and still is vested in their descendants—who followed no trade but war, and knew no handicraft but robbery and plunder. I make no exception to this assertion: for even those who, under the influence of a wish to share the power of legislation, fight their way, by honest industry, into the rank of legislators, have adopted the principles of their former masters and despoilers. The present legislators of Europe are the descendants of men—cherishing their opinions and habits, and acting on their principles—who were unacquainted with any wealth-creating arts, and who lived by appropriating the produce of others. On them nature bestowed no property; all which they possessed they took, by force, from those on whom she had bestowed it. Even to this day, in many countries of Europe, a nobleman or legislator loses caste if he engage in any useful, wealth-creating business, or endeavour to gain his own livelihood by his own labour. I state these facts now, in order, at once, to account for the origin of the supposition, that the motives to respect the natural right of property, which are acknowleged to prevail in the infancy of society, do not exist in its advanced stages. They do exist: but they are so overgrown with legislation that we can only detect them by their operation through long periods of time. They are like the precession of the equinox, which must be observed for ages before it can be ascertained. They, of course, do not apply to the legal right of property, for which nature inspires no respect.
M. Dumont, indeed, says, and, of course, he is only the expounder of Mr. Bentham's theories, that “the conviction or persuasion, that we shall be able to derive appropriate advantages from the things we make, can only be the work of human laws;” but such a persuasion or conviction is obviously as much the natural and necessary result of individual organization, as our notion of personal identity, or the want which prompts to exertion. It is the spontaneous growth of every mind, antecedent to all legislation. The savage never suspects, till his game has been once taken from him, that he shall not be allowed to enjoy it. Men never would have made any thing—not even laws—unless a persuasion had naturally arisen, that they should be enabled to enjoy the advantages of what they make. In fact, this conviction is a component part of the idea of individual production. The making, with which the expectation of enjoyment is combined, is effected by individuals, and the expectation exists as universally as the wants which excite labour. Doubt or fear of not enjoying, is the offspring of wrong doing in others, and could not have existed till the expectation had been frustrated and the enjoyment unjustly disturbed. The persuasion or expectation then is natural and necessary—the doubt or suspicion is incidental—and is, very generally, the result of wrong done by those who have afterwards made laws to protect their usurpations.
On the principle that property is altogether the creature of the law, we could not know what is ours and what is another's, unless we were benevolently informed of it by a parliament or a king. I know that literary men, by whom such an opinion is generally countenanced, are capable of making any false statement look like truth; but their ingenuity could scarcely persuade the smith, or the carpenter, that his right to own the horse-shoe, or the gate, he makes, has been conferred on him by the statutes and the judges. Poor simple man! he never supposes that his right is even guaranteed by the law; though in case it were infringed, he would appeal to the law as a last, but still ruinous, resource to compel those who infringed his right to make him a compensation. Ideas of property are truly instinctive, and are acquired by children long before they ever hear of law. If they do not belong to the mind, as the legs and the tongue belong to the body, like the habit of walking or speaking, they are so early acquired, and so continually present to us that they appear innate. The continual possession and use by one person of any one thing, generates in another the idea that it belongs to the former. The manner in which each individual acquires what he possesses, leaving him free or not from apprehension in the enjoyment of it, informs him whether or not it properly belongs to him or to another. Such ideas are neither created nor confirmed by decrees; but, as the source of apprehension is always the opposition of those whom we have injured, the enjoyment of that which is acquired according to law being free from such apprehension, because there is no one powerful enough to overturn the law, is also free, though it be unjustly acquired, from any notion of wrong. The general consent, then, when expressed in laws, does not establish right, but being the chief means of informing individuals what is regarded as right, it may and does, when wrong itself, prevent them from knowing what is right, and it makes injustice legal.
These quotations from Mr. Locke, and these remarks, have probably established the following truths. Without the intervention of any law, contract, or agreement between individuals, as to what shall belong to each, Nature produces in each the idea of individuality, which she extends to ownership, by bestow ing on each individual, and exclusively, whatever he produces.∗ She provides a principle of general security, by making it easier for all men to obtain from her, than to plunder from one another. And she begets antecedently to all law an expectation in every one that he shall be able to enjoy what he produces. All the fruits of industry she bestows on industry, and bestows them in proportion commensurate to the labour and skill employed. All these truths show the foundation of a natural right of property. It is the right of each individual to own for his separate and selfish use whatever he can make.
You do not require to be informed, though I may state the fact for the benefit of less enlightened persons, that all the wealth of the world, the whole means of subsistence, whatever contributes to clothe and to feed man, is the produce of labour, and is annually created and annually consumed. Even those useful instruments, such as ships, houses, &c. which last for several years, require to be continually kept in repair by the hand of labour, which is tantamount to continual production. The field that has been once cleared and ploughed, is soon overrun with useless weeds, if it be not continually cultivated. There is no other wealth in the world but what is created by labour, and by it continually renewed. This principle, now universally acknowledged, makes the right of property appear more absolute and definite than it was in Mr. Locke's comprehension, because the right to own land is in fact only the right to own what agricultural or other labour produces. The natural law of appropriation, therefore, exists in full force at all times and places; and at this moment constitutes a rule for appropriating every part of the wealth which is continually created. The wants which can only be gratified by labour always exist, or are always renewed, the necessity to gratify them by labour is never suspended; and now, as at the beginning, nature bestows on the labour intended to gratify these wants whatever it can produce. Thus a right of property is founded on principles that are universal, and always in operation; and even at this day in our very artificial communities, by extending observation over long periods, we shall be convinced that they continue in force, and continually subvert the institutions of the human lawgiver.
If this view be correct, a right of property ought to be known and established among all mankind; and it may, I believe, be affirmed that no people, however rude, have yet been discovered, or ever were known, among whom a right of property, in the things they had made by their industry, was not established. Major Collins says, in his work on New South Wales, a country in which there is the nearest approach to the absence of a right of property I have ever read of, “that the savages left their spears and things of that kind lying about, but they had a strong notion of ownership, and resisted the appropriation of these things by the people of Captain Phillips' vessel.” They comprehended the right of property which springs from labour; but agriculture not being known amongst them, and they not having vested any labour in the soil, they had not established a right of property in land.
Savages have been discovered who had no ideas of religion or of God, or only such as were copied from their own wretched existence and untamed passions; but even of their community each member was as sensible that the stone hatchet he had made, the canoe he had hollowed out with it, or the bow he had bought with a hatchet of his own making, was his, as are the members of the most law-regulated community, that they have a right to enjoy what the law confirms in the possession of each person. So certain have voyagers and travellers been of this fact, that they have not thought inquiry concerning it necessary, any more than inquiry to ascertain if savages comprehended identity and individuality. They have asked if the savage had any knowledge of God, but that he had ideas of thine and mine they have always taken for granted. Even those tribes, like the people of Nootka Sound, who were so delighted with the possessions of the Europeans, that they furtively appropriated whatever they could lay their hands on, were sensible that they took what did not belong to them. They respected a right of property among themselves, and acknowledged, though they did not respect, that right in the strangers.
Similar to the people of Nootka the Esquimaux seem latterly to have thought that they might take the cargoes of one of Captain Franklin's boats;∗ but the manner in which they attempted it, intimated a clear conviction on their part that the things did not belong to them. A comparison between civilized and uncivilized men, as to the respect of each for a right of property, cannot be established; but there is reason to believe that the respect among the latter for the property of each other, as far as the individuals of their own tribe are concerned,—though they may have no written law, and no regular establishments for the administration of law,—is stronger than the respect for the right of property among the former, which their lawgivers have endeavoured in vain for ages, by all the terrors at their command, to preserve from infraction. The inhabitants of Nootka Sound wished to appropriate the numberless useful instruments they saw in the possession of Captain Cook's people. The Esquimaux were perhaps unable to resist their desire to possess the glittering objects they beheld for the first time lying before them. The people of the Ladrone islands, dazzled by the novelty of the things their first European visitors displayed to their view, might greedily seize them; but it is not said that these people, though ready to plunder the strangers, were in the habit of thieving from each other. Without wishing to magnify the virtues of savage, and exaggerate the vices of civilized society, I must say that of the latter a continual violation both of the natural and artificial right of property seems the most wide spread and distinguishing evil.
To explain, not to excuse the conduct of those savages, who have been too eager to acquire the tempting possessions of European voyagers, to comport themselves according to our idea of justice, allow me to observe, that prior to the arrival of strangers among them, the great majority of the objects, either pleasing or useful, with which they were acquainted, had not been previously appropriated, and were therefore readily yielded to their exertions. They might hence, practically, but too rashly conclude, that the property of the strangers, like the gifts of nature, would become theirs by the trouble of putting forth their hands to take them. To appropriate whatever is pleasing is natural, to refrain from seizing what has been already appropriated, implies knowledge, and restraint, and is a habit of action, formed by a continual apprehension of suffering, if we do not so refrain. Such a habit could not have been formed among the people just mentioned, in regard to the wealth of the Europeans; and coupling this with the fact, that every thing useful which they had before seen had been readily yielded to their wishes, we cannot be surprised that their desire to possess the new objects they beheld was stronger than their respect for property.
Originally whatever one man thought useful, such as wild-fowls and game, he might appropriate without wronging another; but by an act of appropriation the original relation of man to the spontaneous productions of nature is altered; and after they are appropriated, to take them would be to injure another. At present, the great mass of objects is appropriated, and the relation thus established must be learnt. As new arts, as new instruments are invented, new wealth is created; and as men are multiplied filling the whole earth, supplying their mutual wants by mutual exchange, the original relation gradually ceases, and disappears altogether. There is now hardly any thing about us on which the labour of man has not been employed, and of course hardly any thing except fish and game to appropriate. Between the original and present condition of mankind, the alteration—from all which existed, though scanty, being unappropriated, to all which exists, though abundant, being appropriated,—must have been gradual, and could not have been provided for before hand by the legislator. Not only was he necessarily ignorant that the alteration was to take place, but when it did occur he was mistrustful of its utility. New branches of industry, and the new wealth they create,—as for example—printing, have generally been looked on by him with great suspicion. He supposes that social order and happiness depend upon his enactments, and what does not flow from them, must in his opinion be evil. All novelties lie beyond his previous statutes, and must necessarily form no part of the organization which springs from him. But we have just seen, that as new wealth is formed, and as labour multiplies the conveniences of life, mingling with all the things of creation, and modifying them so as to adapt them to the supply of our wants, a new relation between man and all surrounding objects is called into existence. As the legislator cannot before hand provide means to secure the enjoyment of this new relation, it is fair to presume that nature, who plans the whole frame work of society, and gives rise to new arts, and new wealth, provides such means. Indeed, it may be boldly asserted from this view of the legislator's limited knowledge, that if nature did not at all times provide motives for respecting the new relation of man to the work of his hands, as it is continually called into existence by the creation of new wealth, society could not hold together. On examining the subject we actually find, which is one of the many beautiful harmonies of the moral world, that as the relation alters between man and appropriated objects,—as the change takes place from savage to civilized life, (which, looking at its universality, we must regard as dependent on natural laws) so a powerful motive arises for forming a habit of restraint, and for respecting the new right of property, which is continually called into existence. As mankind are multiplied, the moral influence of the mass increases over individuals, and each one, feeling the impossibility of resisting a great many, is humbly submissive to the general voice, and therefore prone to respect that right of property, which is acknowledged by all.
There is then, I conclude, a natural right of property, founded on the fact that labour is necessary to produce whatever bears the name of wealth, which right of property exists, with all its consequences, like the principles from which it flows, at all times and places. Men naturally and necessarily do, and for ever will extend the idea of individality which is derived from the human body to the things the hands make, thus constituting the idea of ownership. The operation of human laws is confined to short periods and limited spaces; they are suited to the usages of particular times and countries; and hence it is clear, as stated by Mr. Locke, though it be denied by M. Dumont and Mr. Bentham, that the right of property which exists universally, is not created by legislation. It is the result of the laws of the universe, the offspring of the will of our Creator, who made man such as he is. A complete community of goods, of food, clothing, dwellings, instruments, weapons, and utensils, or of all the produce of labour, never has existed, and never could exist, even in any family much less in any community. The use of such things, like the making of them, must be individual, not common, selfish, not general. The approximations to a community of goods among some religious, and some political societies, have always been the constrained and unhappy results of positive institutions, which have neither been of long duration, nor generally advantageous.
The relation between labour and its produce, or ownership or the right of property, as thus explained, seems to me as much a creation of the Deity,—if not immediate and perfect, yet continual and progressive,—as much a part of the universe as the great globe itself, or as the law regulating the course of the seasons. That it is essential to our happiness to regulate our conduct by the latter, clothing ourselves warmer in winter than in summer, and sowing in autumn the seed that is to ripen against the next harvest, no man doubts; and it must, I presume, be equally essential to our happiness, to regulate our conduct by the relation which the Almighty has established between labour and its produce. To desire or enforce any other species of appropriation is a presumptuous interference with the laws of nature or of the Deity, not less absurd, or wicked in principle, than to decree a new course to the winds, or a different return of the seasons. To attempt even to enforce by laws that species of appropriation which nature decrees, seems unnecessary, and an improper intervention between our ideas of individuality, and those natural results of a man's conduct, which are its ordered and appropriate rewards or punishments. Such an attempt may perhaps be called even more absurd than an attempt to regulate the winds or the seasons, because we are continually admonished against it by the pain and misery which continually ensue.
Does legislation, Sir, that legislation which you, as a member of parliament, have sworn to uphold, proceed upon a study of the principles which determine the natural right of property? Is the latter—is the natural relation between labour and its produce recognised and acted on throughout society, as we acknowledge and act on the relation between seed time and sowing? Have all the laws of society said to be intended expressly to protect property, been framed with a view to preserve this relation entire and untouched? Has government, instituted, according to Mr. Locke, for no other purpose but to guarantee the enjoyment of our natural property, fulfilled its commission? Does labour now obtain and own whatever it produces? Is every man's right to have and enjoy whatever he creates or obtains by honest exertions protected by the law? Is it that splendid achievement described. Are the natural consequences of every man's conduct allowed to come freely home to him under the guarantee of the law? Let us look at these subjects a little closer; and I shall do so with out answering the questions regularly, but by describing that right of property which the law does guarantee and protect. At present I sign myself, with much diminished respect.
[∗]Of Civil Government—Book II, Chap. 5, see. 28.
[∗]Of Civil Government—Book II, Chap. 5, sec. 30.
[†]Ibid—sec. 32. It is not a little extraordinary that every writer of any authority, since the days of Mr. Locke, has theoretically adopted this view of the origin of the right of property, and has, at the same time, in defending the present right of property in practice, continually denied it. This is the logical consistence of literary logicians.
[∗]Brown's Lectures on the Human Mind.
[∗]Of the true Use of Retirement and Study.
[∗]Should an objection be raised to this statement, on the ground that at present, owing to the great extent of division of labour, no individual completes any one thing of himself, I shall reply, that the mutual shares of any two persons engaged in producing an article, as for example, cotton-cloth, is settled by contract or bargain between them, the weaver buying the yarn from the spinner, as the spinner buys the raw material from the merchant importer. If any question be raised, as to the share of any two or more workmen engaged in the same work, or as to their wages respectively, I shall answer, that this too must be settled by the parties themselves, and is not now in any case the subject of legal enactment.
[∗]See the narrative of this intelligent voyager's second expedition.
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