abuse of language to say, in any ordinary case, that it was the right of the criminal to be hung!
because for no reason that we can imagine does it confer any benefit or privilege upon the criminal.
To be acquired rights
, therefore, they must not only be of the nature of the good — that is, actual benefits — but this good must result from the performance of duty, and not from the non-performance of duty, as in the example given.
The definition corresponds with the language of common sense.
All men, in speaking of cases which are supposed to involve the question of rights
, employ the term in this sense.
You say, of a farmer in a given case, that he had no right
to an abundant harvest: why?
because he neglected his farm: his lands were not properly prepared, and the growing crop was left open to depredations from stock: that is, he neglected his duty; he had no right
to the benefit of an abundant harvest.
And again, you say to a neighbor, You should have paid a certain sum of money to A., in a given case.
He had a right
to the money, because he complied with the conditions on which the money was to be paid.
He did his duty
, and therefore had a right
to the money.
Thus, the neglect of duty negatives right
in the one case, and the performance affirms it in the other, according to the common usage of language.