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explain these doubts of mine better, but a that if a man be thoroughly acquainted with more Irisher must be content to support the various objects which constitute his more them by repetition. If the debt be 600 mil. immediate avocation in life, he is not to be lions: "If the capital be 100: If part of that termed ignorant, although utterly unable eicapital be taken up and applied to the pay- ther to read or to write . At least, if such ment of part of the debt, then is the debt are your sentiments, I will enter my ready - less, but the capital not more, although the protest against them; as I conceive the operation be repeated to infinity, or the term ignorant, is very properly applied to whole debt paid. As the oceans and rivers any man even in that situation Surely it is , -are always flowing, why are we not fearful not your intention to argue, that man's views that water must at last be too abundant should be merely circumscribed to the pre. Because we think that a certain quantity is des- sent transitory scene; that his attention , tined to the uses of this world, that all should be wholly engrossed by his worldly which flows is gradually taken up at the line | concerns; and that any attention to his owes. in vapour, and restored by the winds to its lasting situation should be quite disregarded. first sources, that they may continue to flow | If this, then, is not the case, you must redand to be supplied for ever; but one drop of dily admit that, in order that a man may sucincrease or decrease, in the whole system is cessfully obviate the appellation of ignorant, impossible. Pray, Mr. Cobbett, shew how it is not merely sufficient that he hearket to such an operation can make the certain a short discourse from his pastor on Sun”, quantity more; but, if you cannot prove but that he must likewise search the scop: that, if the constant and regular depreciation tures and judge for himself, as many lo of money cannot be the effect of such a courses (without intending any insinuation cause as C. S. has stated, then all his terrible against pastors in general) may be merely - anticipations of the sinking fund bubble va- considered as the theoretic declamations of - nish; and then you will seek a better foun- the individuals themselves, to judge of which dation for the boldest of all your speculations. it is necessary to search into the scriptures
—I am, &c.—Osguk, of Leinster. We are indeed, enjoined in these sacred wri-- tings “ to try the spirits whether they bed o POOR LAws. - God, to search diligently into the scriptures*
SIR ;—Having observed, in several of your they contain the words of eternal life,” and late publications, several severe animadver- how is it possible that a man con do so wo ! sions on the conductors of the Edinburgh is unable to read 2 I think enough ho Review. Although I am by no means a par- ready been stated to expose the fallacy." the tisan of theirs, or do not for the most part foundation upon which your former specula: coincide with them in political sentiment; tions are founded ; but should you yo" ob. yet, when I see them thus undeservedly at- stinately perscvere in the promulgation of tacked on the score of nationality alone; them ; all that I shall say in addition." merely on account of the country which has this that they will thus serve to place your given them birth : I feel myself impelled to principles in their genuine light.--You. &C. step forth and expose the unworthy motive Scottis-Edinburgh, November 7, 1807. by which you would appear to be actuated, ---- - ---You seem thereby exceedingly inclined to - DOM IN ION OF THE SEA. rekindle that spirit of reciprocl jarring be- || Sir ;—An absence from London has Pro , tween the two countries, which have hippi. vented me till this morning from perusing ly for a long time been totaly bushed — the letter of your correspondent R. R; in an: Your own confession as to your never hav- swer to the objections raised by Wroc and ing been an inmate of Scotland, renders you myself against the positions he laid down in completely disqualified from giving any just a former letter; in order to shew that we opinion as to the internai circumstances of had no right to the Dominion of the Sea. her situation, and more especially from in- R. R.'s. conclusion to his letter, I confess, dulging in invidious comparisons, which made a singular impression upon my mind; are predetermined to resolve to her disad. he says he never undertook a more painful vantage. . Yet even with the trifling intelli- task in his life, than by endeavouring." gence which you possess on the subject, shew that we are unjustifiable in exercising which has served to excite in your breast the Dominion of the Sea. Now, the genik. such a heated animcsity toward the natives man is certainly doubly unfortunate; firs; of Scotland, and that not from any fault on to have been the victim of a conspiracy." their part, but merely on account of a well wild fallacies which have produced the pain; merited compliment, intended to have been and secondly, to labour under a most cahamipassed toward them ; I can scarcely con- tous pertinacity which occasions its conticeive you totally serious in your assertion, " nuation. The observations that occurred to
me were extremely general, but the ingenibus and elaborate detail of Wroc might have cured a more diseased mind, (I should have thought) than even the painful one of R. R.'s. As the defence of the arguments of Wroc can fall into no hands more able than his own, I shall merely consider the observations thrown out by myself which R. R. has opposed. The question of the Dominion of the Sea turned upon the point of right, or rather it was made to turn upon it, as I imagined, unnecessarily. You had insisted, Mr. Cobbett, that “ force cenferred “ right," and R. R. had advanced an opiaion that “ occupancy or first possession “ conferred it ;” and I, with more boldness probably than wisdom or prudence, ventured to dissent from both doctrines, and contended that neither the one nor the other established a right. Perhaps upon this as upon many other occasions, it may remove some obstacles in the field of contest, if I were to state what appeared to me the definition of rightas applicable to the argument in question. It seemed pretty well agreed that whatever the law of nations might be; whether it could subsist or not without a tribunal to enforce obedience, it certainly was dissolved from the instant that any one nation could infringe the law (as France is perpetually doing) with impunity. The right therefore in question, derives no part of its definition from any human compact or law, but is simply a natural or moral right, affecting equally all the inhabitants of the earth: It implies a rule of conduct which the Chinese, the African, and the European, are alike called upon to observe. I notice my interpretation of the word right as used in this argument, because R. R. evidently adheres to no definite meaning; he mingles indiscriminately the interpretation of right, as applicable to an arbitrary compact, with that of the law of nature as divested of all arbitrary compact; when therefore I said, that in the case of a few emigrants seizing upon some uninhabited territory which produced a subsistence for numbers exceeding themselves, such emigrants could not of right resist the claims of an half-starved traveller, either to satisfy his hunger with the surplus produce, or to adopt a part of the soil for his local habitation, your correspondent R. R. answers, that upon such principle, “ Frenchmen, Germans, and “every other nation, have a right to come “ among us and enjoy all the privileges in “common with us which we possess.”
Now, in this instance R. R. confuses himself, by confounding the two distinct and different meanings of right which I have before noticed. With respect to our laws it would be wrong for Germans and other nations to insist on a communion with us of enjoyments on our own soil; but how is it with respect to the law of nature ?—I know that we defend by force our exclusive enjoyment of the cultivated and uncultivated parts of this soil against the inroads of every foreigner, whether he come from civilized Europe or the deserts of Arabia; but, by that same law of nature, I am at a loss to discover the exclusive right: I am bewildered to find
out the punishment that either conscience
or religion denounces against the shivering Icelander who should wander from the inclemency of his own country to shelter and solace himselfin our milder hemisphere. Here however, upon this very ground, R. R. brands his spear, and bids defiance: his armour indeed seems weak and unavailing. I must give his own words. He says, “the Almighty when he created the world gave to man dominion over the sea, and endowed him with reason ; and that reason, shews that those gifts which were intended for all mankind, belong to him who first has the good fortune to possess himself of them, or such a portion . f them as is necessary for his use and enjoyment; and it further shews, that it is unjust to molest him in that possession or to deprive him of it.” How far the intuitive judgment of R. R. may afford him the indisputable conclusion he has laid down, it is impossible for me to venture a conjecture; but that reason flowing from a consideration of the admitted fact, that “ God gave man dominion over the sea" can attain to the same conclusion I must be permitted very much to question. Because the Deity gave man dominion over the whole habitable globe, does it follow as a consequence, that the man who precedes me in his nativity. half-a-dozen years, should be stamped by Providence with the prerogative of monopolizing those means of subsistence which shall satiate him and leave me, in squalid wretchedness? Reason and such an argument surely pursue different ways. I can't catch even a faint glimpse of reason in the adoption of such a position. R. R. however stumbles through this rugged path, which he has too preciptiately consecrated to reason, and rests himself on a support which shakes to its very base : R. R. iotroduces that useful companion of wavering judgments,
=-|-- -se Supplement to No. 20, Pol. XII.-Price 10a,
objection he has taken.
“ or,” and intimates that if God did not intend the first occupier to possess All the gifts of the earth, he at least intended he should possess such a portion of them as are necessary to his use and enjoyment: but how miserably is the first part of the argument frittered away in the latter. Take this latter part alone to be true, and let the advocate for first occupancy defend my possession, if he can, to the mansion I inhabit. If my right only extends to what is necessary to my use and enjoyment, upon what tenure do I hold a capacious house, my gardens, and my pleasure grounds ; are the whole necessary to my use and enjoyment, or will R. R. tell me what portion I can of right preserve 2 I think I may leave my opponent here just to rouse himself amid the cloudy maze of right in which he has enveloped himself, and proceed to the only other R. R. observes, tha: I have asserted (what I still contend is true) that neither occupancy not force confer right; and he argues from thence that “ as we have undeniably acquired the dominion of the sea by force,” and as there occurs to him “ only two ways in which that could be done, namely, rightfully and wrongfully; if it has not been effected rightfully" as he insists I have contended, “it must,” he says, “ have been effected wrongfully, and therefore that we are according to my contession wrongfully in the possession of the dominion
of the sea ; and that in fact we agree in the
same conclusion.” Now, R. R. is convinced, I have no doubt, that he has placed me in a strange dileroma, but he must excuse me when I inform him, that a perverted judgment has led him throughout into erroneous conclusions : that he travels from fallacy to sophism until he arrives at the acmé of misapprehension, of which I think in this instance I shall satisfy bion. I asserted it is true that neither force nor occupancy con
ferred right; abstractedly I contend they do not; and I am still inclined to hold that opinion, which I believe to be correct; but I no where asserted that neither force nor occupancy accompanied with other collateral circumstances did not create a right, which it would evince the want of wisdoon to abandon; on the contrary, I thought the peculiar situation of this country did justify that coercion by which we should acquire the dominion of the sea; and I insisted therefore that we were “urged by every ray of reason and policy to inaintain such dominion.” R. R. will pardon me if I have been plain and exot with him ; and he must not attrił, toe was oth of argument to intentional o, so a y if the former be an offence
I must plead guity, but the latter I diclaim. Feeling therefore I trust, as much for the honour of my country as R. R., and anxious equally with him for its preservation, I am solicitous that the dominion of the sea should be sustained upon fair and honourable grounds ; that it can be so sustained, I have myself a full and clear conviction; and though our dominion of the sea may fret the sceptic sensibility of the casuist, it will not I think offer much violence to the feelings of an Ho NEs.T MAN ; and as in the latter class I have every reason for placing our friend R. R. I entertain a hope that in a future letter, I shall find his conscience upon this subject in perfect coincidence with my own. CANdIDUs.— Lincoln's Inn October 26, 1807.
DOMINION OF THE SEAs.
Sir ; Two of your correspondents entered into a discussion of, and attempted to controvert the doctrine advanced by me relative to the dominion of the seas; and, in your Register of the 18th inst. I inserted an answer to their arguments, which has had the effect to silence one, and would, I think, have produced a similar effect on the other, if he bad possessed equal good sense—It is my intention now to confine myself to the remarks of your correspondent Wroc, which
appeared in your last number; and, in doing
this, I will also be as brief as possible; but, before I come to the consideration of the subject of occupancy, a proper acknowledg: ment is due for the kindness which has been expressed for me. Having in my first let: ter stated, that occupancy or first possession confers right, Wroc states, that he kindly agreed to accept my real meaning to be oc. cupancy or present possession. Now, in what does this kindness consist It is imagined that I give a wrong meaning to the we id occupancy, when I state it to be first possession; (on which I shall make an ob. servation or two hereaster) your correspondent Wroc, therefore kindly agrees to give it a different interpretation, which has this ef. fect: he raises a gross charge of inconsistency, and makes my own arguments demo
lish my doctrine of occupancy, thereby com
mitting suicide. This is the kindness for which I am indebted, and which, I certainly feel, has laid me under vast obligations. No, Wroc' No more of your kindness; as much open, honourable, and manly contention as you please, but no more kindness; “ for you are kind only to be cruel." I come now to consider the meaning of the word occupancy; and, I certainly did think at the time I wrote my first letter, that oc'
cupancy technically (if I may be allowed the expression) did mean first possession ; al. though I knew that in strictness and in common parlance, it meant possession generally. This impression on my mind was made by a perusal of that chapter which treats on the subject in Blackstone's Commentaries, about ten years ago. - But, I was not positively of that opinion, and certainly entertained some dout,ts respecting it. And not having it in my power, immediately to have recourse to Birckstone to satisfy myself; I therefore added “ first possession;” explaining my meaning of the term occupancy to be first possession; but it is rather ludicrotis, that Wroc, who in such a triumphant manner exposed the error I had fallen into, (if it be one, for I yet have not referred to the learned judge's work) should have committed one fully as absurd, and in him perfectly unjustifiable, for he defines occupancy to be present possession. Now, if the term has not the meaning which I attributed to it, it unquestionably can only mean possession generally. Wroc having stated, that when there are two claimants, the first possessor and present possessor, they would find themselves puzzled to determine to which of them the right belonged, by referring to my rule for a guide; to this I replied, “that “ there could not be any puzzle, for if a ship occupy a certain station, and is dis* possessed by force by another ship, my “ rule being that first possession confers right, the first occupant has the right.” This I thought was a satisfactory answer; and not withstanding the sneer of your correspondent at Mr. Whitbread and myself, I still entertain the same opinion. But why introduce the name of Mr. Whitbread 2 What has he to do with the question : Or, if he have, why ill naturedly sneer at him for his profession I see no reason why a brewer is not as fit a person to be a legislator as any other man. If, indeed, Mr. Whitbread drank his own porter, there might be some reason for it; for 1 have heard that this beVerage possesses a stupifying property. But, Mr. Whitbread, you may rely on it, drinks enerous and costly wines, and other liquors. With regard to the charge of having “drop“ ped half the rule,” by omitting the word occupancy, this was merely a casual omis*ion, nor do I consider it to be of the smallest importance, for either of the expressions occupancy or first possession, (they being According to my definition synonymous) will Without the other make the rule complete. ! further observed, “if the first ship had o left the station, and the other had taken Possession of it, and the first had returned
and claimed it, the present occupier would clearly be entitled to retain it; because, in abandoning the station, the first possessor relinquished his right to it, and it again became common.” Wroc observes on this part of my answer, that when he asserted in opposition to my doctrine, that a first possessor could not transmit the right which he acquired by such possession, I did positively assert, “ that it was never “ stated by me that the right ceased with “ the possession." This is perfectly correct, and there is not that inconsistency in the position which your correspondent Wroc seems to infer, Does it follow, because I stated in general terms, “ that I never said “ that right ceases with possession ;" that I meant to say that cases might not arise in which the right would so cease ? This obviously could not have been the case, for I have more than once taken notice of such cases. And I have stated with regard to the principal question, that vessels acquire a temporary right to that part of the sea which they occupy, but the moment they abandon the possession the right ceases. My meaning obviously was, that it was never stated by me that the right always ceased with the possession. I trust that I have once more removed the rubbish which Wroc has thrown in the way of a fair investigation of the subject. The charges of inconsistency, rage, absurdity, subterfuge, and dunghill cock, which he has brought against me, are of a serious and startling nature, and might prove fatal to the cause of a person less acquainted than myself with the finesse of many gentlemen learned in the law, who conscious of the weakness of their own cause, endeavour to find defects in that of their adversaries, and not succeeding in the attempt, adopt bold assertion, though utterly unsupported by the fact, following the advice of the Scotch advocate mentioned in your last number, “hoot away mon, admit the fact for “ the sake of the argument.” But, I take the liberty of informing your correspondent, that such conduct is utterly harmless, as it affects myself; and that I am not thms to be turned aside from my pursuit after truth. I stated in my last communication. that the sea from its nature, was incapable of occupancy. Wroc inquires in what this consists, and intimates that the sea is as capable of occupancy as the land. The teason that I did not state why the sea was not capable of being occupied was, that I conceived it to be sufficiently obvicus. But, it is this, and the best way to explain it is, to show how the land is capable of occupanc. This unay be done by in losing it, sowieg,
plant'ng, or stocking it with cattle, &c. &c. But none of those methods can be adopted with regard to the sea. , Land, too, let me observe, is permanent and fixed; and, therefore, when taken possession of it is capable of being retained; but this is not the case with water, which is only temporary and fugitive. The water which constitutes this or that sea, is not the water which did constitute it a twelvemonth ago, nor which will constitute it a twelvemonth hence; and, therefore, if the act were not ridiculous in itself, should Denmark, Sweden, or Russia, for instance, take possession of the Baltic sea, how could it be retained 2 But, let us grant for the sake of the argument, that the sea is capable of occupancy; I would ask, if any such act of occupancy has ever been committed by this country? It unquestionably never has. Every nation has always, if I may be allowed the expression, stocked in common. With regard to my observation, that a certain portion of the sea may belong exclusively to nations, as far as may be necessary for navigating their vessels, I have to remark, that the construction Wroc has put on it is nearly correct; namely, “that so “ much of the sea as any particular vessel “ covers for the time being, belongs exclu“sively not to the nation to which the ves‘sel belongs, but to the owner of the ves* sel.” If the vessel is a national one, the part of the sea which it occupies belongs for the time being to the nation which is the owner of the vessel; but, if it be a private one, the right belongs to the owner of it or to the captain. I only mentioned the above instance to shew that the sea was capable of being o F. and in what manner; but, I did not mean to intimate that there are not other cases of a similar nature, as fisheries, &c.; for such there undoubtedly are.—I have been charged with subterfuge, in not noticing a case put by Wroc. My reason for not doing it was, because I considered it to be virtually demolished by the answer, which I had attempted to give to other arguments, and not from the dirty motive ascribed to me. The case is this, “sup“ pose, that when all things were in common, two individuals, or two tribes, were equally desirous of possessing any particular undccupied spot of territory, natural “ reason would not dictate that it belonged “ to oue of them rather than to the other ; and there would be no established law in such a state to be appealed to, or to which either would be bound to submit, what is * to determine the point but force " Why, occupancy. if two persons or two clans, or any other bodies of persons be desirous of
enjoying a particular spot of land, let them run a race for it, and let the person or persons who first arrive there e^joy it; for they are entitled to it by occupancy. This I stated virtually in my last communication; and, therefore, virtually answered this case which has brought down upon me the unmerited censure of Wroc. Besides, even granting to that gentleman all the benefit which he expected from this case, as far as respects the question being determinable by force, I deny that it would establish the principle that force confers right. It does not follow that if a case arises to which the general principle of occupancy is inapplicable, force must be had recourse to, that in those cases towhich it does apply, force must likewise be used. That case would be supported and determined by its own particular circumstances. A case has just occurred to me, which though I conceive to be unnecessary, and rather out of method, I cannot forbear inserting on account of its analogy. When Mrs. Siddons, Mr. Kemble, or any other of our most excellent actors and actresses, ars announced to perform some part at the theatre, in which they excel, crowds assemble at the doors before they are opened, all anxious to get commodious seats. The doors fly open, the crowd rushes in, then what ensues? They who are fortunate to take the first tossession of the most convenient placed keep them uninterruptedly during all the time of the performance, if they think proper to do so. And this would be the case with the particular spot of land, or in justice ought to be so. I have now gone through all the arguments advanced by Wroc, which I conceive are applicable to the point in dispute, but there are some expressions contained in the latter part of his last communications which I mean to make an observation or two on. It is stated, “it shall be conceded “ to him” (to me) “that the sea was like the earth, originally in common, and (for “ arguments sake) that the sea unlike the “ earth did not from its nature, admit of a sovereignty being acquired in it by occupancy merely, would it follow, that this nation cannot have acquired a right to such a sovereignty by any other means, or upon any other ground ! Is the writer ignorant that other nations have fought and struggled hard with us in order that they might themselves possess that very sovereignty which we have conquered. Is he indeed ignorant, that after such a contest “ right to the object contended for is with. “ the conqueror.” I have uo quarrel with the sovereignty we possess at sea; I hope it will always remain as decisive as it is at pre