« PreviousContinue »
speak of those rights, which are attributable to The exercise of man in the civilized state of society. Thus every rights imports the neceffity of discussion of the actual exercise of the Rights fociety.
of Man imports necessarily the * contemplation of the social civil man, and no other. And accordingly, Mr. Payne, having derided the futile and ineptattempt to deduce the Rights of Man from any given period of antiquity, says, +“ The fact is, that portions of antiquity, by proving every thing, establish nothing. It is authority against authority all the way, till we come to the divine origin of the Rights of Man at the creation. Here our enquiries find a resting place, and our reason finds a home. If a dispute about the Rights of Man had arose at the distance of an hundred years from the creation, it is to this source of authority they must have referred, and it is to the fame source of authority, that we must now refer."
Having thus distinctly marked the line of difference between the state of nature and the state of civil society, I shall proceed to state fully and clearly what rights are attributable to, or inherent in man in this state of nature, When writers talk of the transition of man
Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, p. 87. + Payne's Rights of Man, p. 45.
from one of these states to the other, they do not mean to allude to any given time or occasion, in which mankind actually passed from the one to the other; but they do it by way of methodizing their ideas upon the subject; as philosophers, in discussing the nature of man, or any other created being, first consider the existence, before they enter upon the peculiar properties or attributes of the existing being, upon this axiom, that prius eft effe, quam effe talis; although it be known to every one, that the physical existence and specific modification of every created being are in reality simultaneous. In the like manner do they mention, in this supposed transition, the retention of some of their rights, and the surrender of others. *« From this short review, it will be easy to distinguish between that class of natural rights, which man retains after entering into fociety, and those, which he throws into common stock, as a member of society. Of the distinction of these two forts of rights I shall hereafter have occasion to take notice."
In this theoretic state of pure nature, the most Men viewed in perfect equality of mankind must necessarily equal, are to be exist; because it represents man in a general sentially in the abstract point of view, that essentially pre
Itate of nature. • Payne's Rights of Man, p. 49. C 3
cludes all those circumstances, which, in the civilized state of fociety, form the various grounds of distinction, superiority, and preeminence, amongst individuals. * The fundamental idea of man, in this state of nature, must have been that of equality with his fellow creatures; and, as a rational being, he must have been impressed with a conscious idea of his superiority over all irrational objects; and, by inference, he must have inclined rather to a similar precedency over his „fellow creatures, than to a submission to them; for the effects of weakness, apprehension, and fear, which some philosophers have attributed to man in the state of nature, must have arisen from the internal sense of, and reflection upon mortality, and the principle of self preservation; not from an original or innate tendency to subjection to any created object. The idea of superiority was prior in man to that of dependence. The latter could never have occurred to him, till he
had found out his wants, till he had felt his Independence insufficiency to supply them. Independence state of nature. then was essential to the state of nature; and
hence is deduced the original right of option,
* Letter to Sir George Savile upon the Allegiance of a British Subject, by the Author. Printed in 1778.
rights are fup.
to that of 10
to whom each one shall chuse to surrender his independence by a voluntary submission and subjection.
In this theoretical, or supposed transition What natural of man from the state of nature to the state pored to be re
tained by man, of society, such natural rights, as the individual after his tranfiactually retains independently of the society, of state of nature which he is a member, are said to be retained ciety. by him, as a part of those rights, which he is supposed to have possessed in the state of nature. Such are the free and uncontrouled power of directing all his animal motions ; such the uninterrupted communication and intercourse of the soul with its Creator; such the unrestrained freedom of his own thoughts: for so long as an individual occasions no harm, and offers no offence to his neighbour, by the exercise of any of these rights, the society cannot controul nor check him in the free exercise of them. *“ The natural rights, which he retains, are all those, in which the power to execute is as perfect in the individual, as the right itself. Among this class, as is before mentioned, are all the intellectual rights, or rights of the mind; consequently, religion is one of those rights. The natural rights, which are not retained, are all those,
• Payne's Rights of Man, p. 49.
in which, though the right is perfect in the individual, the power to execute it is defective : they answer not his purpose. A man, by natural right, has a right to judge in his own cause ; and so far, as the right of the mind is concerned, he never surrenders it; but what availeth it him to judge, if he has not power to redress ? He therefore deposits this right in the common stock of society, and takes the arm of society, of which he is a part, in preference and addition to his own. Society grants him nothing. Every man is a proprietor in society, and draws on the capital as a matter of right.”
*“ We have now, in a few words, traced man from a natural individual to a member of society; and shewn, or endeavoured to shew, the quality of the natural rights retained, and of those which are exchanged for civil rights." But in this transition, the sur. rendered or exchanged rights were so irrevocably transferred from the individual to the body at large, that it no longer remained at the liberty or option of individuals to reclaim, either in the whole, or in part,
those rights, which had so becoine unalienably yested in the community.
Payne's Rights of Man, p. 50.