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I Do not suppose that those who first heard the parable of Dives and Lazarus thought the position of the beggar monstrous or even abnormal. "Paucis humanum vivit genus," was the true account of that antique world. How could it be otherwise in a social order based upon slavery? The well-nigh two thousand years which have passed away since the parable was spoken have witnessed the evolution of a new idea of human personality. Its essential dignity, its inalienable rights, have been increasingly recognized as the centuries have rolled on. Aristotle's definition of the free man is: "One who belongs to himself, and not to another." It is now recognized by the foremost peoples of the world, and the leaders of the rest, that such freedom is man's sacred birthright, and that in virtue of it he should never be used merely as a NEW SERIES.-VOL. LIX., No. 2.


means, but must always be an end unto himself. This view of human nature is fatal to slavery. And as it has prevailed, slavery has disappeared. But is the right to personal freedom the only aboriginal prerogative of man? The framers of the famous Declaration which announced to the world the French Revolution as an accomplished fact thought not. 'Security and resistance to oppression," they proclaimed, were also his natural and imprescriptible rights. I do not propose here to discuss what value rightly attaches to this formula, or to the proposition which precedes it, that men are born and continue equal in rights. This is certain: whatever the extravagancies, the sophistries, the blunders, the ignorances and negligences, the crimes and atrocities of the Revolutionary legislators, they vindicated, as none before


them had vindicated, the august verity that man, as man, has aboriginal rights. This was their message to the human race, and, as Mr. Mill has well observed, it wrought a great change in man himself. It fell upon the ears of Lazarus, and set him thinking about his own condition. Was it in accordance with his rights, he began to ask himself, that he should lie at the gate in rags scantily covering his sores, vainly desiring even the crumbs which fell from the well spread table of Dives?

It was the beginning of the movement called Socialism. No doubt we may, in some sense, trace the movement, like the great Revolution itself, to Rousseau; his Discourse on the Origin of Inequality contains the germ of it. But its first set exponent appears to have been the Abbé Fauchet, who in the early days of the Revolution delivered orations at a club called the "Cercle Social," and edited a journal entitled La Bouche de Fer. He insisted "that all the world ought to live; that everybody should have something and nobody too much," and denounced "the wretch who desires the continuance of the present infernal régime, where you may count outcasts by millions, and by dozens the upstarts (les insolents) who possess everything without having done anything for it." The guillotine cut short the Abbé's eloquence in 1793-he appears to have been suspected of Girondism but others carried on his work. Thus Marat pleaded in the Ami du Peuple: "Either stifle the work-people, or feed them. But how find work for them? Find it any way you like. How pay them? With the salary of M. Bailly. Bailly, it will be remembered, was the patriot mayor who floridly harangued poor Louis XVI. at the barrier of Passy, congratulating the wretched monarch upon being" conquered by his people, and was himself put to death three years afterward by the same "people," with circumstances of revolting cruelty. Chaumette, too, praised by Mr. John Morley as showing "the natural effect of abandoning belief in another life by his energetic interest for improving the lot of men in this life," urged that, though we have destroyed the nobles and the Capets, there is another aris

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tocracy to be overthrown-the aristocracy of the rich." The poor had the same gospel preached unto them by Tallien, who demanded "full and entire equality," and insisted that "the owners of property should be sent to the dungeons as public thieves"; by Fouché, afterward Duke of Otranto and Police Minister to the First Napoleon, who maintained that "equality ought not to be a deceitful illusion;" that "all citizens ought to have a like right to the advantages of society"; and by Joseph Babeuf, who sought to realize his doctrines by a conspiracy, and was executed for his pains by the Directory, and who changed his Christian name to Caius Gracchus: "Pourquoi vouloir me forcer à conserver St. Joseph pour mon patron?" he explained. "Je ne veux pas les vertus de ce brave homme-là." But perhaps. the most memorable of these Revolutionary Socialists was Brissot de Warville, for it is to him that we owe the famous formula about property and theft which every one now knows. "La propriété exclusive c'est le vol,” was the original text of the dictum which for sixty years lay buried and forgotten in Brissot's not very meritorious work, Recherches Philosophiques sur la Propriété et sur le Vol. Then Prudhon discovered it and made it current coin in the shortened form, “La propriété c'est le vol," appropriating it, however, without acknowledgment; perhaps, M. Janet conjectures,* in virtue of the natural right, alleged by Brissot, of everybody to everything.

This is the corner-stone, precious elect, upon which all Socialism rests. Doubtless, as Professor Luigi Cossa observes, there is an ambiguity about the word which is puzzling, since the "party of Socialism, so called, includes a rather heterogeneous number of groups, which are named according to the aims they have in view, the means they propose to use, and the manner in which they hold together." No doubt, too, the Professor is well warranted in his complaint that "classification has a hard road to travel when it enters the tangle of jarring socialistic sects."

* See his Les Origines du Socialisme Contemporain, which I have before me as I write.

The literature of the subject is immense, and is rapidly growing every day. Herr Stamhammer, in his Bibliographie des Socialismus, enumerates some five thousand works more or less immediately dealing with it, and the catalogue is by no means complete. But whatever diversities of operation these volumes present, in all worketh one and the self-same spirit. All bring the same charge, substantially, against Dives-that he is a thief; that is the head and front of his offending; their first count in the indictment against him. "Property is theft." Is this


We must distinguish. It certainly is not true of private property in the abstract. The philosophical justification of private property is that it is necessary for the explication of personality in this work-a day world. A desire to appropriate things external to us, to convert them into lasting instruments of our will, is one of the elements of our nature. We cannot picture to our selves a state of existence in which man does not exclusively possess things needful for self-preservation. The ultimate ground of private property is necessity arising from the reason of things. Man alone of all animals is a person, selfconscious, self-determined, morally responsible. And the word person denotes the individual as capable of rights (rechtsfähig). We cannot, in strictness, predicate rights of the lower animals, because they are not persons; although we may attribute to them quasi rights in proportion as they approximate to personality. They are not an end to themselves. Man is an end to himself. He has an indefeasible right to live out his own life as a man; he has an indefeasible right to all that is necessary to enable him to do that. Property is necessary. It belongs to the moral realm, the realm of rights, and springs from human personalitythe ethical idea and psychological being of man. But the person is found only in society, which is man's natural state. And it is in the social organism that rights become valid. Only in civil society is the right to property, like all rights, realized. So much must suffice here as to the right to property considered in the abstract. I may be per

mitted to refer those who would follow the subject further to what I have elsewhere written concerning it.*

But if we turn to property in the concrete I fear the indictment against Dives rests on only too good grounds. Property in its original idea is the guarantee to a man of the fruit of his own labor and abstinence. A great deal of it, as it exists, is due to the labor and abstinence of others, and has come into the possession of those who own it by theft or by worse offences. A writer of high economic authority, not the least of whose many merits is that he carefully weighs his words, tells us, "As a fact, much of the wealth of the rich classes in modern Europe has been gathered together, and is kept together, by dreadful deeds of cruelty, extortion, and fraud." To take this country only, how many noble houses derive their abundant possessions from the ruthless spoliation of the religious foundations under Henry VIII. foundations which were so many centres of Christian charity throughout the land, which were, in the strictest sense, the patrimony of the poor. "To the rapacity of the aristocratic camarilla of adventurers," as Professor Rogers writes, surrounding the nonage of Edward VI., we owe the destruction of the thirty thousand religious guilds which had been the great institutions of thrift and self-help-" the benefit societies of the Middle Ages," the Professor calls them-and the foundation of English pauperism. Or, to come down to our own times, what a tale is written in the pages of William Cobbett, of Robert Owen, of the Reports of Royal Commissions, concerning the way in which colossal fortunes were accumulated at the beginning of the century! Men, women, and little children offered up in hecatombs to Mammon, "the master idol of this realm." think of the "sweating" system as it actually exists among us. I use the word in its widest sense. I mean by it not only what takes place in the dens of Whitechapel where suits of clothes are made for half-a-crown and a gross


*See On Right and Wrong, Chapter VIII, and On Shibboleths, Chapter VII.

t Groundwork of Economics, by C. S. Dewas, sec. 261.

of match-boxes for twopence farthing, but of the general denial of the worker's right to a justum pretium, an equitable hire, a living wage." For the process is the same, in principle, to whatever department of human industry it is applied. It is the robbery of the poor because they are poor: an


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offence not less but more heinous because it is masked under a jargon of supply and demand," "the laws of competition, "the course of trade." I must take leave to quote on this subject words which I wrote three years ago, because I can find no others to express my meaning so well :

"The cheapening of commodities by unrestricted competition has been the guiding idea of English manufacture, and of English commerce, during the last half-century. To get out of men the utmost exertion of which they are capable, for the smallest wages which they can be induced to accept, is very widely supposed to sum up the whole duty of an employer toward his 'hands.' We have forgotten that these hands' are men. We have treated

them as merely animated machines. Well, I say, unhesitatingly, that to pit a destitute man against his destitute fellows, and to wring from him his labor for the scantiest pittance to which he can be ground down, is wrong. The necessity of the seller does not make it right to underpay him.

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by those of right."
by those of right." The facts have
been tersely summed up by Mr. Cham-
berlain: "The vast wealth which mod-
ern progress has created has run into
pockets; the great majority of the toil-
ers, and spinners, have derived no pro-
portionate advantage from the pros-
perity which they have helped to cre-
ate. But to withhold that " propor
tionate advantage," or, in other words,
fair share, is a wrong. And unques-
tionably by such wrong a vast amount
of existing property has been heaped

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It would seem, then, that there is an unpleasant amount of truth in this count of the indictment against Dives. The answer appears to be that, however unethically he may have gained the wealth of which his purple and fine linen, his sumptuous fare and gorgeous palaces, are the emblem, he has kept

the windy side of the law," and therefore must not be meddled with. Let us hear Herr Lasson expand the argument: "Existing property is lawful otherwise it might be assailed in the courts of law. It has all been

Who could presume to separate the just from the unjust in what is all conformable to law? It is the very

business of law to cut short this untenable thinking and deeming about right.

gained under the authority of legislation. If I give him less than a justum pretium, an equitable price, for his work, I do in fact rob him. And this is at once the most common and the most disgraceful form of theft: the most common, for it is found in all departments of life; the most disgraceful, because it is the most cow. ardly. It is a duty of strict justice for the employer to give to his work-people a justum pretium. The violation of this duty is reck oned by the Catholic Church among the sins that cry to Heaven. And the measure of the justum pretium is the means of living a decent life, morally and materially which includes not merely food and clothing, house and home, but leisure and spiritual cultivation : not merely, as the schoolmen speak, bona naturæ necessaria, but also bona statui necessaria. But the very notion of a justum pretium has well nigh died out of the popular mind, which sums up its code of commercial morality in the maxim: 'Buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest,'


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Does any one object, Must not "the laws of supply and demand rule"? The sufficient answer is given by Mr. Ruskin: "It is the privilege of the fishes, as it is of rats and wolves, to live by the laws of demand and supply, but the distinction of humanity to live

*On Right and Wrong, p. 194. I have pursued the subject, at some length, in Chapter VII, of my books On Shibboleths.

The principal and most weighty thing is that we should recognize the sacredness of existing property, for with it all law-abiding, all civilized life would fall."* For my own part, I am quite content to accept the view thus expounded by this learned man. But probably it will not appeal with so much force to Lazarus as it does to us of "the classes." And thanks to the remarkable political arrangements now existing in the greater part of the civilized world, Lazarus, in his millions, is our master. Nor is it surprising if he turns a willing ear to those who promise him, in exchange for his vote, the transformation of his material condition. When I was last in Paris a song which declared, with a significant disregard of grammatical nicety

"Ce n'est pas toujours les mêmes
Qu'aura l'assiette au beurre"

* Rechtsphilosophie, p. 609.

was very popular among " the masses." It set me thinking. As a matter of historical fact, property has always followed political power. But this is the first time in the world's annals that power has been lodged in the hands which now hold it. And the quantity of butter is limited.

But there is another count in the indictment against Dives. It is this that supposing, or, for the sake of argument, admitting, the source of his wealth to be untainted, he holds it on conditions which he too frequently forgets; that he converts to his own use what was bestowed upon him in trust for others; and this is what the law characterizes as embezzlement. The charge will seem monstrous to many good people who, as the French say, " mangent leur rentes" in all good conscience, apparently supposing that they were sent into the world for that purpose alone. That duties attach to the possession of land is a belief which has never been wholly effaced from the general mind. That this holds good of all kinds of property would seem to many, perhaps to most an amazing, an irrational doctrine. And yet it is true. Does any one object, "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own?" The answer is, No, there is One alone who can say that He, namely, into whose mouth the words are put in the Gospel. Absolute ownership can spring only from creation. Has Dives created the lands, the mines, the skilful hands, the strong arms, which supply his revenues? The right of property, like all our rights, is limited and fiduciary. There is no human right which is not conditioned by human duties. A man's moral claim to his rights ceases if he cease to perform the correlative duties. And if it is wrong, then, to deprive him of them-I am speaking from the point of view not of human law, but of ethics, whence, however, all our legislation derives its very life-the wrong lies not in any injury which would be done to him, but in the tendency of the measures that would have to be employed against him, to unloose the bonds of the social order. The justification of private property is the general good. If it could be shown-which it cannot --that individual ownership is incom


patible with the general good, no effectual defence of it would be possible. The claims of the social organism, in which rights acquire validity, come before those of the individual. Salus populi suprema lex." And the test whereby the advantages of one proprietary system over another-for example, of the ryotwary over the zemindary

must be determined is in its results to the community at large. The right to property is not a right of the same primary and aboriginal kind as the right, say, to existence. And even that right is not absolute. It is conditioned by the duty to work. It is limited by the obligation to respect the like right in other men. It is fiduciary and must be exercised for the benefit of, and in subordination to, the community, which may, for a just cause, take the life of any one of its members, or require him to lay down his life for it. The same principles apply, even more strongly, to the right of private property, which belongs to what the schoolmen call the secondary sphere of natural law. It is a great, an indispensable social institution, ordained by human reason for the common good. But the respect due to the form in which it exists, in any given state of society, depends upon its practical working. If its owners forget the tenure on which they hold it, if by selfishness, by rapacity, by luxury, they make their ownership a public mischief instead of a public benefit, they are undermining the existing order of proprietary rights, and are preparing the ruin of the present constitution of society. Such are the first principles applicable to this grave question. And, in the light of them, who can look at the existing state of things without amazement, without terror? How sad and strange the spectacle presented by the unemployed poor in these dreary November days, roaming up and down our streets, seeking work and finding none; or finding it, if at all, on the conditions we know of! "Never," said Mr. Chamberlain, a few years ago—and his words are even truer nowthe misery of the very poor more intense, never were the conditions of their daily life more hopeless or degraded." Still more sad and strange is the spectacle presented by the unemployed rich—

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never was

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