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chapter xi 331 charges his duty to mankind in general, will at the same time render essential services to his country. Glory is the certain reward of virtue; and the good-will which is gained by an amiable character, is often productive of consequences highly important to the state. No nation is entitled to greater praise in this respect than the French: foreigners nowhere meet a reception more agreeable, or better calculated to prevent their regretting the immense sums they annually spend at Paris. chapter xi Of Usucaption and Prescription among Nations. Let us conclude what relates to domain and property with an examination of a celebrated question on which the learned are much divided. It is asked whether usucaption and prescription can take place between independent nations and states? Usucaption is the acquisition of domain founded on a long possession , uninterruptedandundisputed,—thatistosay,anacquisitionsolely proved by this possession. Wolf defines it, an acquisition of domain founded on a presumed desertion. His definition explains the manner in which a long and peaceable possession may serve to establish the acquisition of domain. Modestinus,27 Digest. lib. 3. de Usurp. & Usucap. says, in conformity to the principles of the Roman law, that usucaption is the acquisition of domain by possession continued during a certain period prescribed by law. These three definitions are by no means incompatible with each other; and it is easy to reconcile them by setting aside what relates to the civil law in the last of the three. In the first of them, we have endeavoured clearly to express the idea commonlyaffixed to the term usucaption. Prescription is the exclusion of all pretensions to a right,—an exclusion founded on the length of time during which that right has been neglected; or, according to Wolf’s definition, it is the loss of an inherent 27. Herennius Modestinus, ca. a.d. 250, jurist and significant contributor to the Corpus Juris Civilis.§140. Definition of usucaption and prescription. 332 book ii: nations in relation to other states right by virtue of a presumed consent. This definition, too, is just; that is, it explains how a right may be forfeited by long neglect; and it agrees with the nominal definition we give of the term, prescription, in which we confine ourselves to the meaning usually annexed to the word. As to the rest, the term usucaption is but little used in French; and the word prescription implies, in that language, every thing expressed by the Latin terms usucapio and praescriptio: wherefore we shall make useof theword prescription wherever we have not particular reasons for employing the other. Now, to decide the question we have proposed, we must first see whether usucaption and prescription are derived from the law of nature. Many illustrious authors have asserted and proved them to be so.* Though in this treatise we frequentlysupposethereaderacquaintedwith the law of nature, it is proper in this place to establish the decision,since the affair is disputed. Nature has not herself established a private property over any of her gifts, and particularly over land: she only approves its establishment, for the advantage of the human race. On this ground, then, it would be absurd to suppose, that, after the introduction of domain and property , the law of nature can secure to a proprietor any right capable of introducing disorder into human society. Such would be the right of entirely neglecting a thing that belongs to him,—of leaving it during a long space of time, under all the appearances of a thing utterly abandoned or not belonging to him,—and of coming at length to wrest it from a bona-fide possessor, who has perhaps dearly purchased his title to it,—who has received it as an inheritance from his progenitors, or as a portion with his wife,—and who might have made other acquisitions, had he been able to discover that the one in question was neither solid nor lawful. Far from giving such a right, the law of nature lays an injunction on the proprietor to take care of his property, and imposes on him an obligation to make known his rights, that others may not be led into error: it is on these conditions alone that she approves of the prop- * See Grotius de Jure Belli & Pacis, lib. ii. cap. iv.—Puffendorf, Jus Nat. & Gent. lib. iv. cap. xii.—and especially Wolfius [[Wolff]], Jus Nat. part iii. cap. vii.§141. Usucaption and prescription derived from the law of nature. chapter xi 333 erty...


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