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The phrases in their context!


Of this there are many parallel instances.
[Footnote 20 In examining the different titles to authority in government, we shall meet with many reasons to convince us, that the right of succession depends, in a great measure on the imagination.
Mean while I shall rest contented with observing one example, which belongs to the present subject.
Suppose that a person die without children, and that a dispute arises among his relations concerning his inheritance; it is evident, that if his riches be deriv'd partly from his father, partly from his mother, the most natural way of determining such a dispute, is, to divide his possessions, and assign each part to the family, from whence it is deriv'd.
Now as the person is suppos'd to have been once the full and entire proprietor of those goods; I ask, what is it makes us find a certain equity and natural reason in this partition, except it be the imagination? His affection to these families does not depend upon his possessions; for which reason his consent can never be presum'd precisely for such a partition.
And as to the public interest, it seems not to be in the least concern'd on the one side or the other.]
However useful, or even necessary, the stability of possession may be to human society, it is attended with very considerable inconveniences.
The relation of fitness or suitableness ought never to enter into consideration, in distributing the properties of mankind; but we must govern ourselves by rules, which are more general in their application, and more free from doubt and uncertainty.
Of this kind is present possession upon the first establishment of society; and afterwards occupation, prescription, accession, and succession.
As these depend very much on chance, they must frequently prove contradictory both to men's wants and desires; and persons and possessions must often be very ill adjusted.
This is a grand inconvenience, which calls for a remedy.
To apply one directly, and allow every man to seize by violence what he judges to be fit for him, would destroy society; and therefore the rules of justice seek some medium betwixt a rigid stability, and this changeable and uncertain adjustment.
But there is no medium better than that obvious one, that possession and property should always be stable, except when the proprietor consents to bestow them on some other person.
This rule can have no ill consequence, in occasioning wars and dissentions; since the proprietor's consent, who alone is concerned, is taken along in the alienation: And it may serve to many good purposes in adjusting property to persons.
Different parts of the earth produce different commodities; and not only so, but different men both are by nature fitted for different employments, and attain to greater perfection in any one, when they confine themselves to it alone.
All this requires a mutual exchange and commerce; for which reason the translation of property by consent is founded on a law of nature, as well as its stability without such a consent.
So far is determined by a plain utility and interest.
But perhaps it is from more trivial reasons, that delivery, or a sensible transference of the object is commonly required by civil laws, and also by the laws of nature, according to most authors, as a requisite circumstance in the translation of property.
The property of an object, when taken for something real, without any reference to morality, or the sentiments of the mind, is a quality perfectly insensible, and even inconceivable; nor can we form any distinct notion, either of its stability or translation.
This imperfection of our ideas is less sensibly felt with regard to its stability, as it engages less our attention, and is easily past over by the mind, without any scrupulous examination.