Imatges de pÓgina

cocoas; pine-apples, and oysters, I consider the case to be very allowable. The Jew accordingly married his sister, and had a daughter by her, notwithstanding all the protestations of the Essenian; and this was the only offspring of a marriage which one of them thought very legitimate, and the other absolutely abominable.

After the expiration of fourteen years the mother died; and the father said to the almoner: “ Have you at length got rid of your old prejudices? Will you marry my daughter?" “ God preserve me from it,” said the Essenian. “ Then,” said the father, “ I will marry her myself, come what will of it; for I cannot bear that the seed of Abraham should be totally annihilated.” The Essenian, struck with inexpressible horror at such a proposition, would dwell no longer with a man who thus violated and defiled the law, and féd. The new-married man loudly called after him, saying, “Stay here, my friend. I am observing the law of nature, and doing good to my country; do not abandon your friends." The other suffered him to call, and continue to call, in vain ; his head was full of the law; and he stopped not till he had reached, by swimming, another island.

This was the large island of Attola, highly populous and civilized; as soon as he landed he was made a slave. He complained bitterly of the inhospitable manner in which he had been received; he was told that such was the law, and that ever since the island had been very nearly surprised and taken by the inhabitants of that of Ada, it had been wisely enacted that all strangers landing at Attola should be made slaves. “ It is impossible that can ever be a law,” said the Essenian, " for it is not in the Pentateuch." He was told in reply,“ that it was to be found in the digest of the country," and he remained a slave: fortunately he had a kind and wealthy master, who treated him very well, and to whom he became strongly atta'ched.

Some murderers once came to the house in which he lived, to kill his master and carry off his treasure. They enquired of the slaves if he was at home, and VOL. IV.


had much money there. “ We assure you on our oaths,” said the slaves, “ that he is not at home.” But the Essenian said, • The law does not allow lying; I swear to you that he is at home, and that he has a great deal of money.” The master was in consequence robbed and murdered; the slaves accused the Essenian, before the judges, of having betrayed his master; the Essenian said, that he would tell no lies, and that nothing in the world should induce him to tell one; and he was hanged.

This history was related to me, with many similar ones, on the last voyage I made from India to France. When I arrived, I went to Versailles on business, and saw in the street a beautiful woman, followed by many others who were also beautiful. 6. Who is that beautiful woman?” said I to the barrister who had accompanied me; for I had a cause then depending before the parliament of Paris about some dresses that I had had made in India, and I was desirous of having my counsel as much with me as possible. “ She is the daughter of the king,” said he, “ she is amiable and beneficent; it is a great pity that in no case or circumstance whatever, such a woman as that can become queen of France." - What!” I replied, “ if we had the misfortune to lose all her relations and the princes of the blood (which God forbid) would not she, in that case, succeed to the throne of her father ?” “ No,” said the counsellor; “ the Salic law expressly forbids it.” “And who made this Salic law?" said I to the counsellor. “I do not at all know," said he; " but it is pretended, that among an ancient people called the Salii, who were unable either to read or write, there existed a written law, which enacted, that in the Salic territory a daughter should not inherit any freehold.” I,” said I to him, “ I abolish that law; you assure me that this princess is amiable and beneficent; she would therefore, should the calamity occur of her being the last existing personage of royal blood, have an incontestable right to the crown: my mother inherited from her father, and in the case supposed, I

" And 66 there are

am resolved that this princess shall inherit from hers.”

On the ensuing day my suit was decided in one of the chambers of parliament, and I lost everything by a single vote; my counsellor told me that in another chamber I should have gained everything by a single vote. “ That is a very curious circumstance,” said I :) " at that rate each chamber proceeds by a different law." “ That is just the case,” said he: twenty-five commentaries on the common law of Paris; that is to say, it is proved five-and-twenty times over, that the common law of Paris is equivocal, and if there had been five-and-twenty chambers of judges, there would be just as many different systems of jurisprudence."

.".“ We have a province," continued he, To fifteen leagues distant from Paris, called Normandy, where the judgment in your cause would have been very different from what it was here.” This statement excited in me a strong desire to see Normandy; and I accordingly went thither with one of my brothers. At the first inn we met with a young man who was almost in a state of despair. I enquired of him what was his misfortune; he told me it was having an elder brother. “ Where," said I, “can be the great calamity of having an elder brother? The brother I have is my elder, and yet we live very happily together.” “Alas! sir,” said he to me, “the law of this place gives everything to the elder brother, and of course leaves nothing for the younger ones.”

“ That," said I, “ is enough, indeed, to disturb and distress you; among us everything is divided equally; and yet sometimes brothers have no great affection for one another."

These little adventures occasioned me to make some observations, which of course were very ingenious and profound, upon the subject of laws; and I easily perceived that it was with them as it is with our garments: I must wear a Doliman at Constantinople, and a coat at Paris.

“ If all human laws," said I, “are matters of con. vention, nothing is necessary but to make a good bargain.” The citizens of Delhi and Agra say, that they have made a very bad one with Tamerlane: those of London congratulate themselves on having made a very good one with king William of Orange. A citizen of London once said to me, “ Laws are made by necessity, and observed through force.' I asked him if force did not also occasionally make laws, and if William, the bastard and conqueror, had not chosen simply to issue his orders without condescending to make any convention or bargain with the English at all. “ True,” said he, " it was so : we were oxen at that time; William brought us under the yoke, and drove us with a goad; since that period we have been metamorphosed into men; the horns however remain with us still, and we use them as weapons against every man who attempts making us work for him and not for ourselves.” With

my mind full of all these reflections, I could not help feeling a sensible gratification in thinking, that there exists a natural law entirely independent of all human conventions:— The fruit of my labour ought to be my own: I am bound to honour my father and mother; I have no right over the life of my neighbour, nor has my neighbour over mine, &c. But when I considered, that from Chedorlaomer to Mentzel,* colonel of hussars, every one kills and plunders his neighbour according to law, and with his patent in his pocket, I was greatly distressed.

I was told that laws existed even among robbers, and that there were laws also in war. I asked what were the laws of war. They are," said some one, “ to hang up a brave officer for maintaining a weak post without cannon; to hang a prisoner, if the enemy have hanged any of yours; to ravage with fire and sword those villages which shall not have delivered up their means of subsistence by an appointed day, agreeably to the commands of the gracious sovereign of the vicinage." Good,” said I, “ that is the true spirit of laws.” After acquiring a good deal of information, I found that there existed some wise laws, by which a shepherd is condemned to nine years imprisonment and labour in the galleys, for having given his sheep a little foreign salt. My neighbour was ruined by a suit on account of two oaks belonging to him, which he had cut down in his wood, because he had omitted a mere form or technicality with which it was almost impossible that he should have been acquainted; his wife died in consequence in misery; and his son is languishing out a painful existence. I admit that these laws are just, although their execution is a little severe; but I must acknowledge I am no friend to laws which authorize a hundred thousand neighbours loyally to set about cutting one another's throats. It appears to me, that the greater part of mankind have received from nature a sufficient portion of what is called common sense for making laws, but that the whole world has not justice enough to make good laws.

* Chedorlaomer was king of the Elamites in the time of Abraham.

Mentzel was a famous chief of Austrian partizans in the war of 1741. At the head of five thousand men, he effected the capitu.'' lation of Munich, on the thirteenth of February, 1742.

Simple and tranquil cultivators, collected from every part of the world, would easily agree that every one should be free to sell the superfluity of his own corn to his neighbour, and that every law contrary to it is both inhuman and absurd; that the value of money, being the representative of commodities, ought no more to be tampered with than the produce of the earth; that the father of a family should be master in his own house; that religion should collect men together, to unite them in kindness and friendship, and not to make them fanatics and persecutors; and that those who labour ought not to be deprived of the fruits of their labour, to endow superstition and idleness. In the course of an hour thirty laws of this description, all of a nature beneficial to mankind, would be unanimously agreed to.

But let Tamerlane arrive and subjugate India, and you will then see nothing but arbitrary laws. One will oppress and grind down a whole province, merely to

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