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chapter xxi 237 tices tending to raise the price of provisions,—to which practices the Romans applied the expressionsannonamincendere,comprimere,vexare.76 Every man may naturally chuse the person to whom he would leave his property after his death, as long as his right is not limited by some indispensable obligation,—as, for instance, that of providing for the subsistence of his children. The children also have naturally a right to inherit their father’s property in equal portions. But this is no reason why particular laws may not be established in a state, with regard to testaments and inheritances,—a respect being however paid to the essential laws of nature. Thus, by a rule established in many places with a view to support noble families, the eldest son is, of right, his father’s principal heir. Lands, perpetually appropriated to the eldest male heir of a family, belong to him by virtue of anotherright, whichhasitssource in the will of the person, who, being sole owner of those lands, has bequeathed them in that manner. chapter xxi Of the Alienation of the public Property, or the Domain, and that of a Part of the State. The nation being the sole mistress of the property inher possession,may dispose of it as she thinks proper, and may lawfully alienate or mortgage it. This right is a necessary consequence of the full and absolutedomain: the exercise of it is restrained by the law of nature, only with respect to proprietors who have not the use of reason necessary for the management of their affairs; which is not the case with a nation. Those who think otherwise cannot allege any solid reason for their opinion; and it would follow from their principles, that no safe contract can be entered into with any nation;—a conclusion, which attacks the foundation of all public treaties. 76. “To increase, lower [compress], or alter the marketrate[of theyear’sharvest].”§256. Inheritances.§257. The nation may alienate its public property. 238 book i: nations in themselves But it is very just to say that the nation ought carefully to preserve her public property,—to make a proper use of it,—not to dispose of it without good reasons, nor to alienate or mortgage it but for a manifest public advantage, or in case of a pressing necessity. This is an evident consequence of the duties a nation owes to herself. The public property is extremely useful and even necessary to the nation; and she cannot squander it improperly, without injuring herself, and shamefully neglecting the duty of self-preservation. I speak of the public property strictly so called, or the domain of the state. Alienating its revenues is cutting the sinews of government. As to the property common to all the citizens, the nation does an injury to those who derive advan-tage from it, if she alienates it without necessity, or without cogent reasons. She has a right to do this as proprietor of thesepossessions;butsheought not to dispose of them except in a manner that is consistent with the duties which the body owes to its members. The same duties lie on the prince, the director of the nation:heought to watch over the preservation and prudent management of the public property,—to stop and prevent all waste of it,—and not suffer it to be applied to improper uses. The prince, or the superior of the society, whatever he is, being naturally no more than the administrator, and not the proprietor of the state, his authority, as sovereign or head of the nation, does not of itself give him a right to alienate or mortgage the public property. The general rule then is, that the superior cannot dispose of the public property, as to its substance,—the right to do this being reserved to the proprietor alone, since proprietorship is defined to be the right to dispose of athing substantially. If the superior exceeds his powerswithrespecttothisproperty , the alienation he makes of it will be invalid, and may at any time be revoked by his successor, or by the nation. This is the law generally received in France; and it was upon this principle that the duke of Sully* advised Henry IV. to resume the possession of all the domains of the crown alienated by his predecessors. * See his Memoirs.§258. Duties of a nation in this respect.§259. Duties of the prince.§260. He cannot alienate the public property. chapter xxi 239 The nation having...


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