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RIGHTS OF MAN.
WHETHER we consider natural reason, which
God has given the earth to the children of men, and he has undoubtedly in giving it to them, given them what is abundantly sufficient for all their exigencies, not' a scanty, but a most liberal provision for them all. The Author of our nature has written it strongly in that nature, and has promulgated the same law in his written word, that man shall eat his bread by his labour; and I am pera suaded that no man and no combinations of men, for their own ideas of their particular profit, can, without great impiety, undertake to say, that he shall not do so; that they have no sort of right
either to prevent the labour or to withhold the
Every man has naturally a right to every thing which is necessary to his subsistence.
To allow to the first occupier of land as much as • he can cultivate, and is necessary to his subsistence,
is certainly carrying the matter as far as is reasonable: otherwise we know not how to set bounds to this right.
The social system, instead of annihilating the natural equality of mankind, substitutes, on the contrary, a moral and legal equality. This equality indeed is, under bad governments, merely apparent and delusive, serving only to keep the poor in misery, and favour the oppression of the rich. In fact, the laws are always useful to persons of fortune, and hurtful to those who are destitute. Whence it follows, that a state of society is advantageous to mankind in general, only when they all possess something, and none of thein have any thing too much.
No father can transmit to his son the right of being useless to his fellow creatures.—In a state of society, where every man must be necessarily maintained at the expence of the community, he certainly owes the state so much labour as will pay for his subsistence, and this without exception of
rank or persons. Rich or poor, strong or weak, every idle citizen is a knave.
The man who earns not his subsistence, but eats the bread of idleness, is no better than a thief; and a pensioner who is paid by the state for doing nothing, differs little from a robber who is supported by the plunder he makes on the highway.
Emile, liv. 3. In the hive of human society, to preserve order and justice, and to banish vice and corruption, it is necessary that all the individuals be equally employed, and obliged to concur equally in the general good; and that the labour be equally divided
; If there be any whose riches and birth exempt them from all employment, there will be divisions and unhappiness in the hive. Their idleness is destructive to the general welfare.
Helvetius. De l'Homme, vol. ii. sect. vi. ch.
Every man is entitled, so far as the general stock will suffice, not only to the means of being, but' of well being. It is unjust, if one man labour to the destruction of his health, that another may abound in luxuries. It is unjust, if one man be deprived of leisure to cultivate his rational powers, while another man contributes not a single effort to add to the common stock. The faculties of
one man are like the faculties of another. Justice 5.directs, that each, unless perhaps he be employed 2.17« more beneficially to the public, should contribute
to the cultivation of the common harvest, of which each consumes a share. This reciprocity is of the very essence of justice.
All men are born free ; liberty is a gift which they received from God himself, nor can they alienate the same by consent, though possibly they may forfeit it by crimes.
No man has power over his own life, or to dispose of his own religion, and cannot consequently transfer the power of either to any body else, much less can he give away the lives, liberties, religion,
of his posterity, who will be born as free as himself, and can never be bound by his wicked and ridiculous bargain.
Cato's Letters, vol. ii. No.59. THERE are people who have disputed, whether liberty be a positive or negative idea; whether it does not consist in being governed by laws; without considering what are the laws or who are the
makers; whether man has any rights by nature; and whether all the property he enjoys, be not the alms of his government, and his life itself their favour and indulgence. Others corrupting reigion, as these have perverted philosophy, contend that Christians are redeemed into captivity, and the blood of the Saviour of mankind has been shed to make them the slaves of a few proud and insolent sinners.
Civil freedom is not, as many have endeavoured to persuade you, a thing that lies hid in the depth of abstruse science. It is a blessing and a benefit, not an abstract speculation; and all the just reasoning that can be upon it, is of so coarse a texture, as perfectly to suit the ordinary capacities of those who are to enjoy and those who are to defend it.
It is not only a private blessing, but the vital spring and energy of the state itself, which has just as much life and vigour as there is liberty in it.
BURKE. Letter to Sheriffs of Bristol, p. 56,7,8. All government is founded on compromise and barter. We balance inconveniences; we give and take; we remit some rights that we may enjoy others. But in all fair dealings, the thing bought must bear some proportion to the purchase paid. None will barter away the immediate jewel of the soul.
IDEM. Speecb on Conciliation with the Colonies, p. 85.