« PoprzedniaDalej »
excludes an equal partition of the services of the inferior creatures of the world, or an equivalent of this partition, we have, therefore, not found them in their true and natural state, because we have not found them in the possession of their rights.
If we have found men in a state which does not establish them in a kind of natural felicity, we have not dicovered them in their true and natural state, because we have not found them as happy as they naturally ought to be. Nay, if we have found them in a state opposite to that equal partition of the services of the inferior creatures, or to an equivalent of such an equal partition; if we have found them in a state of misery and trouble, far distant from, and opposite to, that natural felicity which is due to them, we have consequently found them in a state far distant from, and opposite to, their competent and natural state, and of course, out of their proper order, out of their natural collocation, in a state of injustice, of ignorance, of ruin, and of misery.
XLV. Man, even if he wished, cannot return to his true and
Since all men are so wretched, and, since the great mass of their miseries is occasioned by this system of exclusive property, it seems to me I hear them say, why do you not, ye sovereigns of the world, ye philosophers of the earth, unite to find out means of banishing this ill-fated property, and of restoring all men to that equality, which naturally is due to them ?*
* We are here speaking of an equality of the fruits of the goods, called the goods of fortune, or of the services of inferior creatures, but, by no means, of an equality, which takes away all dependence and subordination. The true and natural state of man, which requires, that all men should, according
Why do you not raise your voice, employ your reason and your force, to regenerate entirely all mankind? Was there ever a project formed more useful, more just, more glorious ? It is perhaps impossible, but how impossible !*
Let us suppose, for a moment, that all men, some by threats, some by reasoning, others again by force, be finally prevailed upon to return to their true natural state: behold then all men equally receiving the homage of the inferior creatures, and congratulating each other on their common sovereignty. Meadows, fields, fisheries, animals, &c. no longer belong to one man only, but to the whole society at large; behold beggary and superfluity at last banished, and all men placed under a system of reciprocal assistance, of concord, of love, and of peace! What a beautiful prospect! But what! Is it not true, that all individuals are bound to contribute honestly, and as far as they are able, to the general good of society, and to the particular welfare of their own department? But what is the reason, that in this system, that judge, who is chargeed to watch over the good order of the community, is softly prolonging his sleep more than his office will allow, and more than he was used to do before? What is the reason that that husbandman, that farmer, or planter, who had an hundred eyes, and an hundred hands, to gather the harvest, and is now in the same line of business, yawning all the day, loitering away his time in idleness, and seemingly unwilling to put his hands to any thing? The reason is manifestly this, because
to their wants and employments in society, equally enjoy the services of the inferior creatures, requires likewise that among them, as social beings, there should reign proper order and reciprocal dependence, without which, it does not seem possible, that any society whatever could subsist.
* We shall not find, at any time, in all the revolutions of states, in all the most terrible popular seditions, that any one in his senses ever attempted or projected to abolish the right of property, because every one is sensible of the impossibility of such a project. Let us not confound matters. The Agrarian laws, which were once projected, but not executed, subdivided the property, but did not annual or abrogate its claims.
the judge, in the former system, hoped to advance and increase his own property, through the applause of his fellowmen, and to live with more comfort than others; but now he is satisfied with saving appearances, because he is sensible that his comforts will increase but little or not at all, whether he fully discharge his duty or not; because the comforts, which he now enjoys, he enjoys for the most part, because he is man, not because he is judge. And that husbandman, who formerly was so busy and so indefatigable, when he was supported by the hope of procuring a better livelihood for his family, and of increasing his own substance above his neighbours, deems it now enough for him to save appearances, because he is aware that, if he can make it appear to the community that he does what he is absolutely bound to do, the mediocrity of his pleasures, and of his comforts, will not be curtailed.
But the judge is much concerned that the cultivator should do his duty, in order to enjoy more abundantly the fruits that are collected in the society, and the cultivator of lands is not less concerned, that the judge should fully comply with his charge, in order, that, in proper time and place, he may receive that portion of emoluments, that falls to his lot in the society. But neither the one, nor the other, would wish to do his own duty; and, if they do it in part, they do it against their will; they set about it for form sake, but they do not feel a strong inclination to do it. "
But the principle of duty, that principle which should govern all rational beings? The principle of duty has scarcely any influence whatever on the heart of man: the law of personal interest is what rules him, what masters him.
But how does it come to pass, that the principle of duty has scarcely any power on the heart of man, and that the law of personal interest governs and masters him altogether? This is a subversion of natural order; but, pray, let us not lose sight of our survey. What do we behold? We behold, that most men reciprocally act, as we have seen the above judge and husbandman act: In a word, they would wish that
every body else should do his duty, because they feel interested that this should be so, but they do not wish to comply with their own, because they find no interest in complying with it? What is the result of this? The result?—I see that, by little and little every one retires---society is disbanded and men have again returned to their former state, to a state of personal and exclusive property, to a state of corruption and misery; therefore there is no medium, no remedy: man is necessarily and naturally miserable. But why is he thus miserable? The reason of it is, because he cannot remain in the felicity of his true and natural state. But why can he not remain in the felicity of his true and natural state? Because the law of personal interest, contrary to all order, domineers in his heart, over the rule of duty ; because man is corrupted and disordered, and it is, precisely, because he is cor rupted and disordered, that he cannot remain in his true and natural state, and he is, of course, by necessity, in the midst of misery and degradation, of injustice and oppression.
All the systems of philosophers, all the efforts of the united sovereigns of the earth, in fine, the unanimous consent of mankind, will never be able to re-establish and consolidate all men in their true natural state, or even in a due state of fe
licity. • We have, moreover, seen, that in the present hypothesis,
however this system of the right of property be contrary to the natural state of men, still it cannot, in any manner whatever, be abolished, and if men were to attempt to abrogate it, the evils, that would thence ensue, would be incomparably greater than those which it produces, and, of course, it is needful to make use of it as a necessary preservative against an infinity of miseries, the first of which would be a total dissolution of society; but from this it does not follow that it is not an evil, and an evil the more sensibly felt, because unavoidable.
The only means of establishing mankind in their primitive order, would be to prevent the law of personal interest from prevailing over the rule of duty, and to cause the rule of duty to
be in unison with the law of personal interest. They should naturally support each other after such a manner, that every duty of man should always terminate in the evident interest of the same man, and every interest of man should terminate in the performance of his duty. Then all mankind would happily move in their true and natural state : but to re-establish such an equilibrium is impossible, except to Him alone, who can change the heart of man and regenerate it. This disorder, this inward corruption is, therefore, the sole reason of the greatest part of the miseries of man.
[To be continued.]