position, men stand upon the basis of what are supposed their original rights
! What is that?
Why, the right that each man has to do as he may please.
They form a government: that is, give up a part, more or less, of their original right
. Of course a part remains ungiven up, and the giving up cannot be to secure the possession of that which is already in possession!
What is it that invests these questions with difficulty?
Is it not the ambiguity of the term rights?
Let us then define rights
, if we would not be for ever entoiled by these absurdities.
And still again: Is liberty the right of self-control?
Is not man — accountable man — free in virtue of his very humanity?
Does this freedom imply absolute liberty?
If so, absolute liberty is inherent in his very constitution — it is inalienable.
What right, then, can he have to give it up, or any part of it?
If so, he has the right to do that which subjectively he cannot do. If, then, government be a concession of the right
of self-control in this sense, it is the concession of an inalienable right, and should be abandoned as a piece of folly.
It is entirely obvious, therefore, that we cannot advance in these inquiries at all without first settling the question, What are rights
The English language is allowed to be one of great power, compass, and accuracy, and therefore