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272. The wealth segment.-The discussion has now reached the third and final segment of our circle-the last grand division of the science of economy.

We have seen how human wants, always advancing and multiplying with the advancement of civilization, have multiplied the demands for wealth, and set in motion the arts which produce it. We have followed these arts and industries in their growth, from small and rude beginnings, to the enormous activity and splendid power which at this hour fill the world of work. We turn now to study more attentively that countless mass and variety of valuable goods and products which coustitute the world of wealth.

Wealth, confined, in its infancy, to the few fruits gathered from the fields, and to the rude contrivances with which primeval man sought to sustain his life and to defend himself, or attack his foes, was of but little weight as a motive to action. These slender possessions scarcely appealing to his cupidity, rarely moved man to industry, or even to robbery. To-day wealth stands upon the earth, the most conspicuous object which meets the eyes or tempts the hearts of men. The globe seems covered with it. Thousands of cities--solid masses of wealth-crowd the continents. An infinitude of fabrics of every material, name, and use, are massed in storehouses, or are borne over land and sea. Man walks, lives, and works amid the rich and various creations of his own


hands; and these perpetually excite him to new efforts. mightiest power upon the globe to-day is the money power, which is only the right-hand of the wealth-power. This power controls society, impels industry, and governs states.

So imposing and potential is this wealth, so conspicuous and dazzling among the industrial phenomena, that many economists, as we have seen, have agreed in calling economic science the Science of Wealth.

We have surveyed the wants which call wealth into existence and give to it utility, and have discussed the great agencies of work by which its values have been shaped; but there remains a large segment of economic facts and truths which attach to wealth after it has issued from the creative hand of industry, and comes to stand before us an independent economic phenomenon.

The following outline will serve to introduce us to this last field of our study:

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273. The right of property.-Ancient view. - The earlier economists accepted the right of property as a fact, and left its discussion to the philosophers and lawyers. Modern economics, more searching and more profound, must meet this question also; must explain and defend property, not simply as a production, but also as a possession.

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It will seem strange to many to be told that the true notion of property, as now accepted among men, was not fully understood nor received till near the close of the last century. Some of the opinions held will show how the minds of men groped in the dark, in their efforts to discover the truth. Montesquieu said: "Men renounced their natural independence that they might live under political laws; they renounced community of goods in order to live under civil laws. The first laws gained for them liberty; the second, property.' Jeremy Bentham, agreeing with Montesquieu, affirmed that: Property does not exist in nature; it is consequently the product of the laws." "I can not count," said he, "upon the enjoyment of that which I regard as mine, only on the promise of the law which guarantees it to me." Mirabeau said: "Private property is goods acquired by virtue of the laws. The law alone constitutes property." Robespierre affirmed: "Property is the right which each citizen has to enjoy the goods guaranteed to him by the laws." Grotius (1583-1645), nearly two hundred years earlier, taught that God had conferred upon the human race a general or common right to all things; that each took for his own use what he wished, and consumed what he chose; that matters remained in this state till the multiplication of men and of animals upon the earth caused the lands which had been divided among the nations to be parted among families, and each appropriated that which he was able to seize. All these writers, it will be observed, leave out of sight the labor which creates property, and confound the right of property with the security which the law gives to that right.

These views will seem less strange if we consider the loose and uncertain tenure under which property was held in olden times.

In the beginning, men take what they require, from the common stock of nature, and abandon what they can not use. The idea of property scarcely enters the mind. The occupa

tion of the soil was at first for a night; then, for a single harvest season; finally, for life. Land belonged to the tribe before it belonged to the family; to the family before it belonged to the individual.

When movable property began to accumulate, it was held by force, and taken by violence. In the middle ages, fortunes The labor which produced

were obtained by craft or force. property was the labor of serfs or of slaves, who were seized and sold with the goods they produced. Land, labor, and harvests were seized and held by the strongest. The only notion of property likely to exist in such a state of society, was that it belonged of right to him that had the power to take it and keep it. When at length law came to restrain violence and to protect men in their rights, property was naturally thought of as the gift of law. The feudal chieftain owned, in some sense, the labor and the chattels of his feudatories; and the rights of the laborer to the products of his industry were only partial rights, liable at any moment to be resumed by his lord. When the law took the place of the chieftain, it became, like him, the source of rights and privileges. Only careful scholars can appreciate how slowly the ideas of property, liberty, and personal independence have made their way in the world.

Sir Henry Maine and Emile de Laveleye have proved that the village community system of land-holding was once common in England, Germany, and, indeed, throughout Europe, as also at the foot of the Himalayas, among the Hindoos; and as the idea of property, or of rightful possession, first developed itself in connection with land and the products of

land, community of property must have been, and was, as naturally held as community of land. All investigations of the German and other European scholars show that this was the case. Individual property had little or no place or sacred

ness in the system.

274. The right of property. - Modern view. The emergence of the rights of man brought with it, as its necessary corollary, the emergence of the right of private property. The right of man to himself obviously includes the right to what he produces. This right embraces possession, enjoyment, and the power of alienation by gift or exchange. Such is the modern view.

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The right of property, like that of liberty, is a personal right. It rests upon nature, and not upon law. Law, or rather society acting under law, may be summoned to defend these rights; but law does not create them. Property comes from labor, and labor is the free effort of the laborer. free man he may labor or not, as he chooses. If he does not labor, nothing is produced; if he labors successfully, some value results, and this value belongs to him that created it. The laborer may sell his labor to another, taking in place of the product the wages which his employer gives. His sale of his labor is a virtual sale of the product, and this product belongs to him who bought it from its rightful owner.

It is admitted that there is a kind of property which seems to be held by no right save the right of prior occupancy. Such is the right of the man who first takes a piece of land, or who appropriates any of nature's gifts which he may find unappropriated. It is against this kind of property that most complaint is made, and the complaint is sometimes extended to all property by the skillful confounding all other property with this.

It must be admitted that simple occupancy can not give a permanent right to the thing occupied. So long as the occupancy continues, the man has a claim to remain undisturbed,

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