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from the observance of the general rule; and it is sufficient, if compensation be thereby made for all the ills and inconveniences which flow from particular characters and situations.
Cyrus, young and unexperienced, considered only the individual case before him, and reflected on a limited fitness and convenience, when he assigned the long coat to the tall boy, and the short coat to the other of smaller size. His governor instructed him better; while he pointed out more enlarged views and consequences, and informed his pupil of the general, inflexible rules, necessary to support general peace and order in society,
The happiness and prosperity of mankind, arising from the social virtue of benevolence and its subdivisions, may be compared to a wall, built by many hands; which still rises by each stone that is heaped upon it, and receives increase proportional to the diligence and care of each workman. The same happiness, raised by the social vistue of justice and its subdivisions, may be compared to the building of a vault, where each individual stone would, of itself, fall to the ground; nor is the whole fabric supported but by the mutual allịfțance and combination of its corresponding parts.
All the laws of nature, which regulate property, as well as all civil laws, are general, and regard alone some essential circumstances of the case, without taking into consideration the characters, situations, and connections of the person concerned, or any particular consequences which may result from the determination of these laws, in any particular case which offers. They deprive, without scruple, a beneficent man of all his poffessions, if acquired by mistake, without a good title ; in order to bestow them on a selfish miser, who has already heaped up immense stores of superfluous riches. Public utility requires, that property Tould be regulated by geBeral inflexible rules; and though such rules are adopt
ed as best serve the fame end of public utility, it is impossible for them to prevent all particular hardships, or make beneficial consequences result from every individual case. It is sufficient, if the whole plan or scheme be necessary to the support of civil fociety, and if the balance of good, in the main, do thereby preponderate much above that of evil. Éven the general laws of the universe, though planned by infinite wisdom, cannot exclude all evil or inconvenience in every particular operation.
It has been asserted by fome, that justice arises from HUMAN CONVENTIONS, and proceeds from the voluntary choice, consent, or combination of mankind." If by convention be here meant a promise (which is the most usual sense of the word), nothing can be more abfurd than this position. The observance of promises is itself one of the most confiderable parts of justice; and we are not surely bound to keep our word, because we have given our word to keep it. But if by convention be meant a sense of common interest; which sense each man feels in his own breast, which he remarks in his fellows, and which carries him, in concurrence with others, into a general plan or system of actions, which tends to public'utility; it must be owned, that, in this sense, justice arises from human conventions. For if it be allowed (what is, indeed, evident), that the particular consequences of a particular act of justice may be hurtful to the public as well as to individuals; it follows, that every man, in embracing that virtue, must have an eye to the whole plan or system, and must expect the concurrence of his fellows in the same conduct and behaviour. Did all his views terminate in the consequences of each act of his own, his benevolence and humanity, as well as his self-love, might often prescribe to him measures of conduct very different from those which are agreeable to the strict rules of right and justice.
Thus two men pull the oars of a boat by common convention, for common interest, without any pro
mise 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 felf-love, if benevolence, be natural to man; if reafon and forethought be also natural; then may the fame epithét be applied to justice, order, fidelity, property, society. Mens inclination, their necellities, lead them to combine; their understanding and experience tell them, that this combination is imposlible, where each governs hịmself 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 infalJibly and certainly had place, to some degree or other, in every individual of the human species. In so fa. gacious an animal, what necessarily arises from the exertion of his intellectual faculties, may justly be esteemed natural t.
Among all civilized nations, it has been the constant endeavour to remove every thing arbitrary and partial from the decision of property, and to fix the sentence of judges by such general 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 magiftrates and
judges. * See NOTE (PP].
+ See NOTE 20).
330 APPENDIX III. 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 two fail, as often happens, precedents are called for ; and a former decision, though given itself without any sufficient reason, justly becomes a sufficient reafon 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 fimilitudes and correspondences, which are often more fanciful than real. In general, it may safely be affirmed, that jurisprudence is, in this respect, different from all the sciences; and that in many of its nicer questions, there cannot properly be said to be truth or falsehood on either fide. 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 controversies: 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 fource 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 poffeffion: I reckon on the secure
enjoyment [* See NOTE RR].
enjoyment of it: By depriving me of it, you disappoint my expectations, and doubly difplease 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 confideration 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
Α Ρ Ρ Ε Ν DI X
Of SOME VERBAL DISPUTES,
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 utmost 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