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those commercial advantages, to which its climate, produce, or situation naturally entitle it; the magnitude of the particular evil induces us to call in question the obligation of the general rule. Moral philosophy furnishes no precise folution to these doubts. She cannot pronounce that any rule of morality is so rigid as to bend to no exceptions; nor, on the other hand, can she comprise these exceptions within any previous description. She confesses that the obligation of every law depends upon its ultimate utility; that this utility having a finite and determinate value, situations may be feigned, and consequently may possibly arise, in which the general tendency is outweighed by the enormity of the particular mischief: but she recalls, at the same time, to the consideration of the inquirer, the almost inestimable importance, as of other general rules of relative justice, fo especially of national and personal fidelity; the unseen, if not unbounded extent of the mischief, which must follow from the want of it; the danger of leaving it to the sufferer to decide upon the comparison of particular and general consequences, and the still greater danger of such decisions being drawn into future precedents. If treaties, for instance, be no longer binding than whilst
they they are convenient, or until the inconveniency ascend to a certain point, which point must be fixed by the judgment, or rather by the feelings of the complaining party; or if such an opinion, after being authorized by a few examples, come at length to prevail; one and almost the only method of averting or closing the calamities of war, of either preventing, or putting a stop to the destruction of mankind, is lost to the world for ever. · We do not say that no evil can exceed this, nor any possible advantage compensate it; but we say that a loss, which affects all, will scarcely be made up to the common stock of human happiness, by any benefit that can be procured to a single nation, which, however respectable when compared with any other single nation, bears an inconsiderable proportion to the whole. These, however, are the principles upon which the calculation is to be formed. It is enough, in this place, to remark the cause which produces the hesitation that we sometimes feel, in applying rules of personal probity to the conduct of nations.
As between individuals it is found impossible to ascertain every duty by an immediate reference to public utility, not only because such reference is oftentimes too remote for the di
rection of private consciences, 'but because a multitude of cases arife, in which it is indifferent to the general interest by what rule men act, though it be absolutely necessary that they act by some constant and known rule or other ; and as for these reasons certain positive constitutions are wont to be established in every fociety, which, when established, become as obligatory as the original principles of natural justice themselves; so, likewise, it is between independent communities. Together with those maxims of universal equity which are common to states and to individuals, and by which the rights and conduct of the one as well as of the other ought to be adjusted, when they fall within the scope and application of such maxims; there exists also amongst fovereigns a system of artificial jurisprudence, under the name of the law of nations. In this code are found the rules which determine the right to vacant or newly discovered countries; those which relate to the protection of fugitives, the privileges of ambaffadors, the condition and duties of neutrality, the immunities of neutral ships, ports, and coasts, the distance from shore to which these immunities extend, the distinction between free and contraband goods, and a variety of subjects of
the same kind. Concerning which examples and indeed the principal part of what is called the jus gentium, it may be observed; that the rules derive their moral force, by which I mean the regard that ought to be paid to them by the consciences of sovereigns, not from their internal reasonableness or justice, for many of them are perfectly arbitrary; nor yet from the authority by which they were established, for the greater part have grown insensibly into usage, without any public compact, formal acknowledgment, or even known original ; but fimply from the fact of their being established, and the general duty of conforming to established rules upon questions, and between parties, where nothing but positive regulations can prevent disputes, and where disputes are followed by such destructive consequences. The first of the instances, which we have just now enumerated, may be selected for the illustration of this remark. Thé nations of Europe consider the sovereignty of newly discovered countries as belonging to the prince or state whose subject makes the discovery; and, in pursuance of this rule, it is usual for a navigator, who falls upon an unknown fhore, te take possession of it, in the name of his sovereign at home, by erecting his standard, or displaying
his flag upon a desert coast. Now nothing can be more fanciful, or less substantiated by any considerations of reason or justice, than the right which such discovery, or the transient occupa tion and idle ceremony that accompany it, confer upon the country of the discoverer. Nor can any stipulation be produced, by which the rest of the world have bound themselves to fubmit to this pretension. Yet when we reflect that the claims to newly discovered countries can hardly be settled, between the different nations which frequent them, without some positive rule or other ; that such claims, if left unsettled, would prove sources of ruinous and fatal contentions ; that the rule already proposed, however arbitrary, poffesses one principal quality of a rule-determination and certainty; above all, that it is acquiesced in, and that no one has power to substitute another, however he might contrive a better in its place: when we reflect upon these properties of the rule, or rather upon these consequences of rejecting its authority, we are led to ascribe to it the virtue and obligation of a precept of natural justice, because we perceive in it, that which is the foundation of justice itself, public importance and utility. And a prince who should dispute this rule, for the want