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claim the whole tree, or the whole stock, and exe' clude me from any share of them, and plead this general intention for what you do. The plea will not serve you: you 'muft shew, by probable argu.. ments at least, that it is God's intention, that these things should be parcelled out to individuals'; and that the established distribution, under which you claim, should be upheld. Shew me this and I am satisfied. But until this be shewn, the general in. tention, which has been made appear, and which is all that does appear, must prevail ; and, under that, my title is as good as yours. Now there is no argument to induce such a presumption, but one that the thing cannot be enjoyed at all, or enjoyed with the same, or with nearly the same advantage, while it continues in common, as when appropriated. This is true, where there is not enough for all, or where the article in question requires care or labour in the production or preservation : but where no such reason obtains, and the thing is in its nature capable of being enjoyed by las many as will, it seems an arbitrary usurpation' upon the rights of miankind, to confine the use of it to'any. '.* owiony
If a medicinal spring were discovered in a piece of ground which was private property, copious enough for every purpole which it could be applied to, I would award a compenlation to the owner of the field, and a liberal profit to the author of the discovery, especially, if he had bestowed pains or expence upon the search ; but I question, whether aný hunian laws would be justified, or would justify the owner, in prohibiting mankind from the use of the water, or setting such a price upon it, as would almost amount to a prohibition.
If there be fisheries, which are inexhaustible; as the cod-fiMery upon the Banks of Newfoundland, and the herring-fishery in the British seas are said to be; then all those conventions, by which one or two nations claim to themselves, and guarantee ito F 2
each other, the exclufire ecojment of these fifh. cries, are so many encroachments upo: the geacral riches of markind.
. l'pon tbe fa.de principle may be determined a queition, which makes a great figure in books of natural law, uirum fase di Locrum? that is, as I understand it, wbether ibe excluare rigbt of savie gaisg particular itas, or a control over the naviga. tion of these stas, can be claimed, confiftently with the law of nature, by any nation? What is necef sary for each nation's safety we allow; as their own bays, crecks, and harbours, the sea contiguous to, that is within cannon (hoz, or three leagues of their coalt: and, upon this principle of general safety (if upon any principle) must be defended, the claim of the Venetian state to the Adriatic, of Den. Thark to the Baltic sea, and of Great Britain to the seas wbicb inveft the island. But, when Spain af. serts a right to the Pacific ocean, or Portugal to the lodian scas, or when any nation extends its preten. fions much beyond the limits of its own territories, they ered a claim, ubich interferes with the bene. volent designs of Providence, and which no human authority can juttily.
III. Agorber righi, which may be called a gene. ral right, as it is incidental to every man who is in a situation to claim it, is the right of extreme nc. ceflity: by wbich is meant a right to use or destroy another's property, when it is neceflary for our own preservation to do so; as a right to take, with. out or against the owner's leave, the first food, ciorbes, or lielier we meet with, when we are in danger of perithing through want of them ; a right to throw goods overboard, to save the ship; or 10 pull down a house, in order to stop the progress of a fire; and a few other instances of the same kind. Of which right the foundation scems in be this, tliat, when property was first instituted, the inftitu. lion was not intended to operate to the destruction
of any: therefore when fach circumstances would follow, all regard to it is superseded. Or rather, perhaps, these are the few cases, where the parti. cular consequence exceeds the general consequence; where the remote mischief resulting from the violation of the general rule, is over-balanced by the immediate advantage.
Restitution however is due, when in our power ; because the laws of property are to be adhered to, so far as consists with safety; and because restitution, which is one of those laws, fupposes the dan. ger to be over. But what is to be restored ? not the full value of the property destroyed, but what it was worth at the time of deftroying it ; which, considering the danger it was in of perishing, might be very little.
TF you should see a flock of pigeons in a field of
I corn;, and if (instead of each picking where, and what it liked, taking just as inuch as it wanted, and no more) you should fee ninety-nine of them gathering all they got into a heap; reserving nothing for themselves, but the chaff and refuse; keeping this heap for one, and that the weakest perhaps and worst pigeon of the flock; fitting round, and look
ing ing on all the winter, whilst this one was devour. ing, throwing about and wasting it ; and, if a pi. geon more hardy or hungry than the rest, touched a grain of the hoard, all the others instantly flying upon it and tearing it to pieces : if you should see this, you would see nothing more, than what is every day practised and eftablished among men. Among men you see the ninety and nine, toiling and scraping together a heap of superfluities for one; getting nothing for themselves all the while, but a little of the coarsest of the provision, which their own labour produces ; and this one too, oftentimes the feebleft and worst of the whole fet, a child, a woman, a madman, or a fool ; looking quietly on, while they see the fruits of all their labour spent or spoiled, and if one of them take or touch a particle of it, the others join against him, and bang him for the theft.