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never ripen ; lambs and calves would never grow up to sheep and cows, because the first person that met with them would reflect, that he had better take them as they are, than leave them for another.
III. It prevents contests.
War and waste, tumult and confusion, must be unavoidable and eternal, where there is not enough for all, and where there are no rules to adjust the division.
IV. It improves the conveniency of living.
This it does two ways. It enables mankind to divide themselves into distinct profeffions ; which is impossible, unless a man can exchange the productions of his own art for what he wants from others; and exchange implies, property. Much of the advantage of civilized over savage life depends upon this. When a man is from necessity his own taylor, tent-maker, carpenter, cook, huntsman, and fisherman, it is not probable that he will be expert at any of his callings. Hence the rude habitations, furniture, clothing, and implements of savages; and the tedious length of time which all their open rations require.
It likewise encourages those arts, by which the accommodations of human life are supplied,
by appropriating to the artist the benefit of his discoveries and improvements; without which appropriation, ingenuity will never be exerted with effect.
Upon these several accounts we may venture, with a few exceptions, to pronounce, that even the poorest and the worst provided in countries where property and the consequences of property prevail, are in a better situation, with refpect to food, raiment, houses, and what are called the necessaries of life, than any are, in places where most things remain in common.
The balance, therefore, upon the whole, must preponderate in favour of property with manifest and great excess.
Inequality of property in the degree in which it exists in most countries of Europe, abstractedly considered, is an evil : but it is an evil, which flows from those rules concerning the acquisition and disposal of property, by which men are incited to industry, and by which the object of their industry is rendered fecure and valuable. If there be any great inequality unconnected with this origin, it ought to be corrected.
CH A P.
CH A P. III.
THE HISTORY OF PROPERTY.
THE first objects of property were the fruits
which a man gathered, and the wild animals he caught; next to these, the tents or houses which he built, the tools he made use of to catch or prepare his food; and afterwards weapons of war and offence. Many of the savage tribes in North America have advanced no farther than this yet; for they are said to reap their harvest, and return the produce of their market with foreigners, into the common hoard or treasury of the tribe. Flocks and herds of tame animals foon became property ; Abel, the second from Adam, was a keeper of sheep ; sheep and oxen, camels, and asses, composed the wealth of the Jewish patriarchs, as they do still of the modern Arabs. As the world was first peopled in the East, where there existed a great scarcity of water, wells probably were next made property ; as we learn, from the frequent and serious mention of them in the Old Testament, the contentions and treaties about them, * and from its being recorded, among the most memorable atchievements of very eminent men, that they dug or discovered a well. Land, which is now so important a part of property, which alone our laws call real property, and regard upon all occasions with such peculiar attention, was probably not made property in any country, till long after the institution of many other species of property, that is, till the country became populous, and tillage began to be thought of. The first partition of an estate which we read of, was that which took place between Abram and Lot; and was one of the simplest imaginable: “ If thou wilt take the left hand, then “ I will go the right; or if thou depart to the “ right hand, then I will go to the left.” There are no traces of property in land in Cæsar's account of Britain ; little of it in the history of the Jewish patriarchs; none of it found amongst the nations of North America; the Scythians are expressly said to have appropriated their cattle and houses, but to have left their land in common. Property in immovables continued at first no longer than the occupation ; that is, so
long as a man's family continued in possession of a cave, or his flocks depastured upon a neighbouring hill, no one attempted, or thought he had a right, to disturb or drive them out: but when the man quitted his cave, or changed his pasture, the first who found them unoccupied, entered upon them, by the same title as his predecessor's; and made way in his turn for any one that happened to succeed him. All more permanent property in land, was probably posterior to civil government and to laws; and therefore settled by these, or according to the will of the reigning chief.