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The phrases in their context!


It may therefore be thought, that these phaenomena are objections to the foregoing hypothesis, THAT THE ASCRIBING OF PROPERTY TO ACCESSION IS NOTHING BUT AN AFFECT OF THE RELATIONS OF IDEAS, AND OF THE SMOOTH TRANSITION OF THE IMAGINATION.
It will be easy to solve this objection, if we consider the agility and unsteadiness of the imagination, with the different views, in which it is continually placing its objects.
When we attribute to a person a property in two objects, we do not always pass from the person to one object, and from that to the other related to it.
The objects being here to be considered as the property of the person, we are apt to join them together, and place them in the same light.
Suppose, therefore, a great and a small object to be related together; if a person be strongly related to the great object, he will likewise be strongly related to both the objects, considered together, because he Is related to the most considerable part.
On the contrary, if he be only related to the small object, he will not be strongly related to both, considered together, since his relation lies only with the most trivial part, which is not apt to strike us in any great degree, when we consider the whole.
And this Is the reason, why small objects become accessions to great ones, and not great to small.
It is the general opinion of philosophers and civilians, that the sea is incapable of becoming the property of any nation; and that because it is impossible to take possession of it, or form any such distinct relation with it, as may be the foundation of property.
Where this reason ceases, property immediately takes place.
Thus the most strenuous advocates for the liberty of the seas universally allow, that friths and hays naturally belong as an accession to the proprietors of the surrounding continent.
These have properly no more bond or union with the land, than the pacific ocean would have; but having an union in the fancy, and being at the same time inferior, they are of course regarded as an accession.
The property of rivers, by the laws of most nations, and by the natural turn of our thought, Is attributed to the proprietors of their banks, excepting such vast rivers as the Rhine or the Danube, which seem too large to the imagination to follow as an accession the property of the neighbouring fields.
Yet even these rivers are considered as the property of that nation, thro' whose dominions they run; the idea of a nation being of a suitable bulk to correspond with them, and bear them such a relation in the fancy.
The accessions, which are made to lands bordering upon rivers, follow the land, say the civilians, provided it be made by what they call alluvion, that is, Insensibly and Imperceptibly; which are circumstances that mightily assist the imagination in the conjunction.
Where there Is any considerable portion torn at once from one bank, and joined to another, it becomes not his property, whose land it falls on, till it unite with the land, and till the trees or plants have spread their roots into both.
Before that, the imagination does not sufficiently join them.
There are other cases, which somewhat resemble this of accession, but which, at the bottom, are considerably different, and merit our attention.
Of this kind Is the conjunction of the properties of different persons, after such a manner as not to admit of separation.
The question is, to whom the united mass must belong.
Where this conjunction is of such a nature as to admit of division, but not of separation, the decision is natural and easy.
The whole mass must be supposed to be common betwixt the proprietors of the several parts, and afterwards must be divided according to the proportions of these parts.