תמונות בעמוד

depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain oi Jordan, that it was well watered every where. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan: and they separated themselves the one from the other.”

[ocr errors]

Even after agriculture became known and was practised in some imperfect degree, still the land continued to be the common property of the association. Cecrops, who emigrated from civilized Egypt, was the first to teach the wandering hunters or shepherds of Attica to unite in villages of husbandmen. After their union, their agricultural labours were carried on in common; and the soil, together with its immediate productions, corn, and wine, and oil, were regarded as a common property. i Agreeably to the same spirit and the same policy, we are told, that during the heroick ages of Greece, when a tribe sallied from its woods and mountains to take possession of a more fertile territory, the soldiers fought and conquered, not for their leaders, but for themselves—that the land acquired by their joint valour was their common right-and that it was cultivated by the united labour and assiduity of all the members of the tribe. ;

In this stage of society, land was considered as the property of the community, rather than of individuals ; and the inhabitants were connected with the country which they inhabited, only as members of the same association. In this view of things, the famed establishment

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]

of a community of property, which Lycurgus made at Sparta, may be deemed nothing more than a renewal of their primitive institutions, of which some traces probably remained among the simple Spartans."

The Scythians, it is well known, appropriated their cattle and tents, but occupied their land in common. Such, to this day, are the laws and customs of the Tara tars.

Of the Suevi," the largest and most powerful tribe of the ancient Germans, we are informed by Cæsar, that they had no private or separate property in their land; that, every year, they sent out a proportion of their warriours in order to make war; while the rest remained at home, and cultivated the ground for all ; that these war. like enterprises and peaceful occupations were pursued, in alternate years, by the different divisions of the warriours; that the tribe continued only one year in the same place; that they used corn very little; but lived chiefly on milk and flesh; and were much employed in hunting. From the pen of Tacitus " we have nearly the same description. They change, says he, from spot to spot; and make new appropriations according to the number of hands, and to the condition and quality of cach. As the plains are very spacious, the allotments are easily assigned: for though they shift their situation annually, they have still lands to spare.

1 1. Gill. 96.

m Suevorum gens est longe maxima et bellicosissima Germanorum omnium-privati ac separati agri apud eos nihil est, quotannis singula millia armatorum, bellandi causa, suis ex finibus educunt: reliqui domi manent; pro se atque illis colunt. Hi rursus invicim anno post in armis sunt: illi domi remanent-neque longius anno remanere uno in loco, incolendi causa, licet; neque multum frumento, sed maximam partem lacte atque pecore vivunt, multumque sunt in venationibus. Cæs. 1.4. c. 1. 1. 6. c. 21.

ñ Agri pro numero cultorum ab universis per vices occupantur, quos mox inter se secundum dignationem partiuntur. Facilitatem partiendi camporum spatia' prestant. Arva per annos mutant; et superest ager. Tac, de mor: Ger. c. 26.

In Tacitus, however, we begin to discover some appearances, among the Germans, of a private property in lands. To a certain class of their slaves, we are told, their masters assigned habitations; and from them, as from tenants, demanded in return a certain quantity of grain, or cattle, or cloth. This presupposes, in the masters, a separate property in the lands let to those slaves.

In the Highlands of Scotland, we are told, common possession of the cultivated soil, as well as of the pasture grounds, is known to this day. The arable lands are divided into as many parts, as there are tenants entitled to an equal share of possession. The stock of cattle belonging to each tenant is considered as equal : the advantages accruing to the several partitions from manure are deemed also to be equivalent ; yet some portion of these divisions shifts annually from one possessor to another, in such a manner, that, in a certain period of years, every tenant of the village has occupied and eaped crops from all the lands belonging to the village. P

• Servis utuntur. Suam quisque sedem, suos penates regit. Frumenti modum dominus, aut pecoris, aut vestis, ut colono injungit. Tac, de mor. Gor.c. 25.

P Grant's Ess. 97.

It is said, that, among the Indians of Peru, the territory occupied was the property of the state, and was regulated by the magistrate ; and that, when individuals were permitted to possess particular spots, these, in default of male issue, returned to the community. 9 Formerly, says Mr. Adair, the Indian law obliged every town to work together in one body, in sowing or planting their crops; though their fields are divided by proper marks, and their harvest is gathered and appropriated separately." The ideas and opinions of private and exclusive property are, as we have reason to believe, extend. ing gradually among the Indians; though their uncultivated territory is still considered as the common property of the nation or tribe.

From the detail which we have given, we are justified in deducing this general remark—that in the early and rude periods of society among all nations, the same family or association enjoyed and were understood to enjoy in many things a community of property, especially of landed property; and that, as to individuals, property was conceived to extend no farther than to those degrees, which comprehend the right of possession and temporary use of the soil.

But agriculture, and the industry attendant on agri. culture, introduced gradually a new scene of things, and a new train of sentiments. This first of arts was not unknown to the restorer of mankind. Noah, after the deluge, began to be a husbandman, and he planted a vineyard. ' Before the confusion of languages, the whole human race dwelt in the plain of Shinar. In that plain

9 Stu. V. 158. cites Com. Per. b. 5. c. 1, 3.

r Id. ibid.

& Gen. ix. 20.


and its neighbourhood, the knowledge of agriculture was never entirely lost. Among the Babylonians, it is traced to the most early periods of their history. In the fertile territories of Egypt, watered by the Nile, the soil was cultivated with much assiduity and success. When a famine, in the days of Abram, was grievous in the land of Canaan, the patriarch went down into Egypt to sojourn there. On a similar occasion, Jacob said to his sons, who, with unavailing anguish, beheld the distressed situation of the family-Why do ye look one upon another? I have heard that there is corn in Egypt; get ye down thither, and buy for us from thence, that we may live, and not die."

[ocr errors]

From Egypt, as we have already seen, the art of agri. culture was transplanted into Attica by Cecrops. Before his arrival, the inhabitants had relied on the reproductions of the uncultivated soil for their annual subsistence; but, by the example of the Egyptians, skilled in agriculture, they were induced to submit to labour, and contract habits of useful industry. W

It is the observation of Cicero, that the greatest part of the arts and discoveries, which are necessary or ornana 10 life and society, were derived from the Athe. nians into the other parts of Greece, and then into fo- ; reign countries, for the general advantage and refinement

t Osiris, one of the kings of Egypt, is regarded as the inventor of the plough.

Primus aratra manu solerti fecit Osiris. Tibul. 1. 1. Eleg. 7. v. 29.

Gen, xii. 10.

v Gen. xlii. 1, 2.

w 1. Anac. 6.

« הקודםהמשך »