JOB xxxii. ver. 10.
THE RIGHTS OF MAN, BY QUESTION AND ANSWER.
Q. WHAT is Man?
A. An irrational, unsocial, cowardly, and covetous animal.
Q. How do you prove he is irrational?
A. His actions are as much influenced by present passions and interests as are the actions of other ani∣mals deemed irrational.
Page 262Q. How is it that he is unsocial?
A. His ridiculous pride makes him imagine him∣self in an infinite variety of ways superior to others of his species, and of course too noble for every company.
Q. Give some instances?
A. Some prefer themselves for being born of pa∣rents in this or that station, or in some particular country, or for being more tall, handsome, &c. and therefore refuse to associate with their supposed in∣feriors in these respects (excepting to serve some sinister purpose), nor will they allow those despised people equal privileges.
Q. How do you make it appear, that man is a cowardly animal?
A. Because he hunts in packs like hounds, the most cowardly of all dogs. He seldom attacks singly either his own or any other species without manifest superiority of situation or arms. When a company of them make a booty, they do not all boldly fall on to partake, each according to what his hunger or necessity requires, but sneakingly keep at a distance, till the strongest or most presumptuous think proper to allow them to partake.
Q. Do the herds or companies of other animals be∣have in the same timid manner to certain individuals among them?
A. By no means; they are not half so complaisant. A company of hounds or wolves will partake equally of their prey, or else they will fight for it, and wage eternal war till they gain their rights. A hungry beast will attempt again and again, whereas men have been frequently known to starve rather than help themselves to the common provisions of nature monopolized by their arrogant fellow-creatures.
Q. Do we not frequently see a striking difference in sleekness and fatness among a herd of cattle feed∣ing together in the same pasture, owing to the pre∣sumption of some of them driving away the weaker animals from their victuals?
Page 263A. No. None of them will submit to suffer thus far by others. The most voracious and mischievous will only fill his own belly. And while he is sight∣ing and driving off one, another will have the as∣surance to come in for a share, and thus, either by force or stealth, they are sure to partake pretty equally.
Q. Are not droves of hogs frequently seen passing through London of different appearance among them∣selves; some being hardly able to walk with fat, while others are like greyhounds for thinness?
A. No, never. Swine living together are all alike, either all fat or all lean.
Q. Are mankind living in the same neighbour∣hood all of the same liking too?
A. No; very far from it. Some are like to hurst with fat and saticty, while others appear like shadows, and frequently die of want, and dis∣eases flowing from scarcity, or unwholsome diet.
Q. Did not Edmund Burke then very improperly term his starving fellow-creatures the Swinish Multi∣tude?
A. Yes, he therein blundered most egregiously. For on very flight observation, he would find real Swine to be more noble animals, and far from being so obsequeous. They will not quietly suffer want on any account, much less by the encroachments of their fellow-creatures. If any great hog offer to thrust them from the trough, they will scream most sedi∣tiously, and will, without regard to consequence, in∣sist on having their noses in, on one side or the other. Besides, if men were like swine, how would they be drilled into soldiers? Could an army of hogs be disciplined and marched against another army of hogs? No, they are not so fond of armour and trapping as to dance in them to their destruction. They leave such stupid bravery to the rational be∣ing called Man. They do not understand slaying each other for masters. They only know bravery in Page 264persisting in what they think tends to their own happiness, and that they will most obstinately do. Mr. Burke must think of some other name for his filly brethren, for they will never have the sense or spirit to defend their Rights and Interests like Swine. —Thus much for the cowardliness of mankind above other animals.
Q. Have men no other way of shewing their pe∣culiar meanness, than by tamely giving up their Rights to the first usurper?
A. Yes. By insulting decrepid individuals or small numbers of their own species, when they are in company with other malicious beings like them∣selves. But this they never venture upon except emboldened by their numbers. No single man could ever yet venture to be insolent or witty upon another, without his own companions. As observed before, they are like hounds—they always hunt in packs.
Q. How does it appear that men are covetous animals?
A. Nay, they are so much so, that this passion seems to be the source of all their other bad quali∣ties. Other animals only covet till their present ap∣petite is satisfied, and then leave the world in peace to others. But man is insatiable. He is like the grave, he never saith he hath enough.
Q. Does his covetousness induce him to take things not absolutely necessary to life, from his species by force?
A. Yes: for the sake of mere superfluities to hoard up, and which are of no manner of use but to look at, he will destroy his fellow creatures in num∣bers to the utmost of his power.
Q. He is a vicious, dangerous, and detestable animal. Does he ever compel others of the species to toil for him, in procuring him food and raiment, and those superfluous articles which he covets?
A. Does he, aye. He was not long in the world Page 265till he reduced his fellows to slavery. He continues to do so still, and while the world lasts he will con∣tinue such injustice if the species do not acquire more spirit to resist the usurpations of each other. If there is not universal and individual spirit to resist universal and individual presumption and covetous∣ness, a great portion of men must always be in sub∣jection to the assuming few. For mankind are not very likely to relinquish their injustice and avarice.
Q. What pity that they are not rational! For then might this universal injustice and covetousness spur them on to invent some preventative against their common encroachments on the rights and properties of each other?
A. Certainly. A small portion of reason might suffice for that purpose.
Q. What are the specific rights of the animal called Man?
A. Though the species, by their inconsistent be∣haviour to each other, may raise doubts concerning their rationality, yet, by their superior form of body, and inventive powers of mind, they seem qualified to turn all nature to their advantage, and may not im∣properly be termed the Lords of the Creation. And the Psalmist (Psal. viii. ver. 5.) says, God has made man but a little lower than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honour. Has made him to have do∣minion over the works of his hands, and has put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea. Again, in Psal. cxv. ver. 16, it is said, The Heaven, even the Heavens are the Lord's: BUT THE EARTH HATH HE GIVEN TO THE CHILDREN OF MEN.
Q. If then the earth be given to the children of men, what pity it is that they cannot agree on some equitable mode of enjoying their common property, and be content to live and let live, like other crea∣tures?
Page 266A. Nothing seems more easy than to devise such a mode, were men honest enough to be content with equality of rights and privileges.
Q. Whether such a plan may or may not be adopted, it ought to be presented to them, and then they will be left without excuse?
A. There is no more requisite to render mankind as happy as they can be on earth than simply this: That the people in every district or parish should appoint collectors to receive the rents, and divide them equally among themselves, or apply them to what public uses they may think proper.
Q. Can any tyranny or abuses flow from such a principle?
A. No, none can exist where such a principle is adhered to.
Q. Ought every one to pay rent to those col∣lectors?
A, Every one should pay according to the full value of the premises which he occupied, whether farm, house, or apartment.
Q. How would the value of those tenements be known?
A. By letting them by public auction to the best bidder.
Q. For how long a term would the public pro∣bably let their tenements?
A. For the life of the occupier, if he so long make good his payments, that he might enjoy the fruits of any improvements he might make during his re∣sidence.
Q. But what if an occupier or tenant should not make good his payments?
A. Then the parish agents would let the premises by public auction to the best bidder, that the people might receive no damage.
Q. Who would build and repair the houses, &c.?
A. The parish agents, who would have to state the accounts of these and all other expences to the peo∣ple, by whose orders alone they could act.
Page 267Q. Would such a people pay taxes as usual for sup∣port of the state, or would they supply the state immediately out of the parish rents?
A. That they might do as they chose. If they wished not to be shackled by revenue laws, or pestered by excisemen and informers, they would probably pay the state a sum of money as their quota at once, and have done with it.
Q. Would such a people build bridges, make roads, or rather public works, with their money?
A. They might if they would.