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Thus two men pull the oars of a boat by com: mon convention, for common interest, without any promise or contract : Thus gold and silver are made the measures of exchange; thus speech and words and language are fixed, by human convention and agreement. Whatever is advantageous to two or more persons, if all perform their part ; but what loses all advantage, if only one perform, can arise from no other principle. There would otherwise be no motive for any one of them to enter into that scheme of conduct *.
The word, natural, is commonly taken in so many senses, and is of so loose a signification, that it seems vain to dispute, whether justice be natural or not. If self-love, if benevolence be natural to man; if reason and forethought be also natural; then may the same epithet be applied to ". justice, order, fidelity, property, society. Men's inclination, their necessities lead them to combine; their understanding and experience tell them, that this combination is impossible, where each governs himself by no rule, and pays no regard to the possessions of others : And from these passions and reflections conjoined, as soon as we observe like passions and reflections in others, the sentiment of justice, throughout all ages, has infallibly and certainly had place, to some degree or other, in every individual of the human species. In so fagacious an animal, what necessarily arises from the exertion of his intellectual faculties, may juftly be esteemed natural t.
Among all civilized' nations, it has been the constant endeavour to remove every thing arbicrary and partial from the decision of property, .. and to fix the sentence of judges by such gene
* See NOTE (PP.)
ral views and considerations, as may be equal to every member of the society. For besides, that: nothing could be more dangerous than to accustom the bench, even in the smallest instance, to regard private friendship or enmity; it is certain, that men, where they imagine, that there was no other reason for the preference of their adversary but personal favour, are apt to entertain the strongest ill-will against the magistrates and judges. When natural reason, therefore, points out no fixed view of public utility, by which a controversy of property can be decided, positive laws are often framed to supply its place, and direct the procedure of all courts of judicature. Where these too fail, as often happens, precedents are called for; and a former decision, though given itself without any sufficient reason, juftly becomes a fufficient reason for a new decision. If direct laws and precedents be wanting, imperfect and indirect ones are brought in aid; and the controverted case is ranged under them, by analogical reasonings and comparisons, and similitudes, and correspondencies, which are often more fanciful than real. In general, it may safely be affirmed, that jurifprudence is, in this respect, different from all the sciences; and that in inany of its nicer questions, there cannot properly be said to be truth or falfehood on either side. If one pleader bring the case under any former law or precedent, by a refined analogy or comparison; the opposite pleader is not at a loss to find an opposite analogy or comparison : And the preference given by the judge is often founded more on taste and imagination than on any folid argument. Public utility is the general object of all courts of judicature; and this utility too requires a stable rule in all' controverfies : But where several rules, nearly equal and indifferent, present themselves, it is a very night
turn of thought, which fixes the decision in favour of either party *
We may just observe, before we conclude this subject, that, after the laws of justice are fixed by views of general utility, the injury, the hardship, the harm, which result to any individual from a violation of them, enter very much into consideration, and are a great source of that universal blame, which attends every wrong or iniquity. By the laws of society, this coat, this horse is mine, and ought to remain perpetually in my possession : I reckon on the secure enjoyment of it : By depriving me of it, you disappoint my expectations, and doubly displease me, and offend every bystander. It is a public wrong, so far as the rules of equity are violated : It is a private harm, so far as an individual is injured. And though the second consideration could have no place, were not the former previously established : For otherwise the distinction of mine and thine would be unknown in society : Yet there is no question, but the regard to general good is much enforced by the respect to particular. What injures the community, without hurting any individual, is often more lightly thought of. But where the greatest public wrong is also conjoined with a considerable private one, no wonder the highest disapprobation attends so iniquitous a behaviour.
• See NOTE[R R).
AP P E N D I X IV.
Of SOME VERBAL DISPUTES. N othing is more usual than for philosophers to encroach upon the province of grammarians; and to engage in disputes of words, while they imagine, that they are handling controversies of the deepest importance and concern. It was in order to avoid altercations, so frivolous and endless, that I endeavoured to state with the utinost caution the object of our present enquiry; and proposed simply to collect on the one hand, a list of those mental qualities which are the object of love or esteem, and form a part of personal merit, and on the other hand, a catalogue of those qualities, which are the object of censure or reproach, and which detract from the character of the per-' fon, possessed of them; subjoining some reflecti, ons concerning the origin of these sentiments of praise or blame. On all occasions, where there might arise the least hesitation, I avoided the terms virtue and vice; because some of those qualities, which I claffed among the objects of praise, receive, in the English language, the appellation of talents, rather than of virtues; as some of the blameable or censurable qualities are often called defects, rather than vices. It may now, perhaps, be expected, that, before we conclude this moral enquiry, we should exactly separate the one from the other ; should mark the precise boundaries of