« PreviousContinue »
The RIGHT hand is, that which custom and those who have brought us up have ordered or directed us to use in preference, when one hand only is employed: and the LEFT hand is, that which is leaved, leav'd, left; or, which we are taught to leave out of use on such an occasion. So that LEFT, you see, is also a past participle.
F. But if the laws or education or custom of any country should order or direct its inhabitants to use the left hand in preference; how would your explanation of RIGHT hand apply to them ? And I remember to have read in a voyage of De Gama's to Kalekut, (the first made by the Portuguese round Africa) that the people of Melinda, a polished and flourishing people, are all left-handed.
H. With reference to the European custom, the author describes them truly. But the people of Melinda are as right-handed as the Portuguese : for they use that hand in preference which is ordered by their custom, and leave out of employ the other: which is therefore their LEFT hand.
F. Surely the word right is sometimes used in some other sense. And see, in this newspaper before us(f), M. Portalis, contending for the concordat, says...." The multitude are much more “ impressed with what they are commanded to obey, “ than what is proved to them to be right and “ JUST.” This will be compleat nonsense, if RIGHT and just mean ordered and commanded.
(f) London Morning Chronicle of April 12, 1802. The allusion to the concord at concluded between Bonaparte and the Pope.
H. I will not undertake to make sense of the arguments of M. Portalis. The whole of his speech is a piece of wretched mummery, employed to bring back again to France the more wretched mummery of Pope and Popery. Writers on such subjects are not very anxious about the meaning of their words. Ambiguity and equivocation are their strong holds. Explanations would undo them.
F. Well; but Mr. Locke uses the word in a manner hardly to be reconciled with your account of it. He says....“ God has a right to do it, we
are his creatures."
H. It appears to me highly improper to say, that God has a RIGHT: as it is also to say, that God is JUST. For nothing is ordered, directed, or commanded concerning God. The expressions are inapplicable to the Deity; though they are common, and those who use them have the best intentions. They are applicable only to men; to whom alone language belongs, and of whose sensations only words are the representatives; to men, who are by nature the subjects of orders and commands(5), and whose chief merit is obedience.
F. Every thing then that is ordered and commanded is right and just!
JUST H. Surely : for that is only affirming that what is ordered and commanded, is....ordered and commanded.
(6) What Ariosto fabled of his horses, is true of mankind :
« Si che in poche ore fur tutti montati,
Orl. Fur. Canto. XXXVIII, st. 34.
F. Now what becomes of your vaunted Rights of man ? According to you, the chief merit of men is obedience: and whatever is ordered and commanded is right and JUST! This is pretty well for a democrat!...... And these have always been your sentiments ?
H. Always: and these sentiments confirm my democracy.
F. These sentiments do not appear to have made you very conspicuous for obedience. There are not a few passages, I believe, in your life, where you have opposed what was ordered and commanded. Upon your own principles, was that right?
F. How now! Was it ordered and commanded that you should oppose what was ordered and commanded? Can the same thing be at the same time both RIGHT and WRONG?
H. Travel back to Melinda, and you will find the difficulty most easily solved. A thing may be at the same time both RIGHT and wrong, as well as RIGHT and LEFT("). It may be commanded to be done, and commanded not to be done. The LAW,
(1) In an action for damages the counsel pleaded..... My “ client was travelling from Wimbledon to London: he kept “ the LEFT sicle of the road, and that was RIGHT. The plaintiff « travelling from London to Wimbledon: he kept the RIGHT « side of the road, and that was wrong."
« The rule of the road is a paradox quite ;....
“ In driving your carriage along,
If you keep to the right....you go wrong."
læg, lag, i. e. that which is laid down, may be different by different authorities. (?)
I have always been most obedient when most taxed with disobedience. But my right hand is not the RIGHT hand of Melinda The RIGHT I revere is not the right adored by sycophants; the jus vagum, the capricious command of princes or ministers. I follow the Law of God (what is laid down by him for the rule of my conduct) when I follow the LAWS of human nature; which, without any human testimony, we know must proceed from God: and upon these are founded the RIGHTS of man, or what is ordered for man. 1 revere the constitution and constitutional Laws of England ; because they are in conformity with the LAWS of God and nature: and upon these are founded the rational rights of Englishmen. If princes or ministers or the corrupted sham representatives of a people, order, command, or lay down any thing contrary to that which is ordered, commanded, or laid down by God, human nature, or the constitution of this government; I will still hold fast by the higher authorities. If the meaner authorities are offended, they can only destroy the body of the individual; but never can affect the RIGHT, or that which is ordered by their superiors.
(2) Whether the legislature of Pennsylvania was actuated by a spirit of revolutionary opposition to the laws and usages of England ; or a rigid sense of right and wrong; or with the severity of the Quakers were not willing to call right things by wrong names; the laws of Pennsylvania order and command, that the right side of the road shall be the right side, and that the left shall be the wrong side. See Turnpike Gates.
ΕΠΕΑ ΠΤΕΡΟΕΝΤΑ. &c.
F. WELL, well! I did not mean to touch that string which vibrates with you so strongly: I wish for a different sort of information. Your political principles at present are as much out of fashion as your clothes.
H. I know it: I have good reason to know it: but the fashion must one day return, or the nation be undone. For without these principles, it is impossible that the individuals of any country should long be happy, or any society prosperous.
F. I do not intend to dispute it with you. I see evidently that, not he who demands Rights, but he who abjures them, is an anarchist. For, before there can be any thing RECT-um there must be reg-en’s, reg's, rex(i), i. e. qui or quod reg-it.
(1) The following lines have more good sense than metre:
« Dum rex a regere dicatur nomen habere,
“ Nomen habet sine re, nisi studet jura tenere.” So Judicans,
Judic's. Judix. Judex.
Vindic's, Vindix. Vindex.
Indic's. Indix. Index.
Duplic's. Duplix. Duplex.