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F. Must we always be seeking after the meaning of words?
H. Of important words we must, if we wish to avoid important error. The meaning of these words especially is of the greatest consequence to mankind; and seems to have been strangely neglected by those who have made the most use of them.
F. The meaning of the word RIGHT ?.... Why.... It is used so variously, as substantive, adjective, and adverb; and has such apparently different sig. nifications; (I think they reckon between thirty and forty) that I should hardly imagine any one single explanation of the term would be applicable to all its uses. We say....A man's RIGHT.
A RIGHT conduct.
The RIGHT hand. Right itself is an abstract idea : and, not referring to any sensible objects, the terms which are the representatives of abstract ideas are sometimes very difficult to define or explain.
H. Oh! Then you are for returning again to your convenient abstract ideas; and so getting rid of the question.
F. No: I think it worth consideration. Let us see how Johnson handles it. He did not indeed acknowledge any RIGHTS of the people ; but he was very clear concerning ghosts and witches, (') all the mysteries of divinity, and the sacred, indefeasible, inherent, hereditary RIGHTS of monarchy. Let us see how he explains the term.
No: he gives no explanation :(*)....Except of RIGHT hand.
H. How does he explain that ?
F. He says, RIGHT hand means...." Not the teft.”
H. You must look then for LEFT hand. What says he there?
F. He says.... LEFT......“ sinistrous, not right.”
H. Aye! So he tells us again that right is.... “ Not wrong," and WRONG is....“ Not right.” )
(1) Dr. S. Johnson was one of those who about the commencement of the reign of George III. was duped by what was called the Cock Lane Ghost, to the reality of this imposture as a supernatural phenomenon he gave implicit credit.
AMER. Edit. (a) Johnson is as bold and profuse in assertion, as he is shy and sparing in explanation. He says that night means.... « true.” Again, that it means...“ passing truc judgment," and ...." passing a judgment according to the truth of things.” Again, that it means...." happy.” And again, that it means...“ perpen6 dicular.” And again, that it means...." in a great degree."
All false, absurd, and impossible.
(b) Our lawyers gives us equal satisfaction! Say they.... “ Droit est, ou lun al chose que fuit tolle d'auter per tort; le 66 challenge ou le claim de luy que doit aver ceo, est terme * DROIT.”
But seek no farther for intelligence in that quarter; where nothing but fraud, and cant, and folly is to be found.... misleading, mischievous folly ; because it has a sham appearance of labour, learning, and piety
Right is no other than RECT-um (regitum), the past participle of the Latin verb regere("). Whence in Italian you have RITTO; and from dirigere, DIRITTO, DRITTO: whence the French have their antient DROICT, and their modern DROIT: the Italian DRITTO and the French DROIT, being no other than the past participle direct-um.
In the same manner our English word JUST, is the past participle of the verb jubere(").
« Right is, where one hath a thing that was taken from “ another wrong fully ; the challenge or claim of him that 6 ought to have it, is called RIGHT.” Termes de la Ley.
() It cannot be repeated too often, that, in Latin, g should always be pronounced as the Greek r; and C as the Greek K. If regere had been pronounced in our manner, i. e. redjere; its past participle would have been redjitum, retchtum not rectum. And if facere, instead of fakere, had been pronounced fassere ; its past participle would have been fassitum, fastum not fakitum, faktum.
(d) This important word 'RECTUM is unnoticed by Vossius. And of the etymology of Justum he himself hazards no opinion. What he collects from others concerning rego and jus, will serve to let the reader know what sort of etymology he may expect from them on other occasions.
“ Rego, et rex (quod ex regis contractum) quibusdam placet esse, a gotowe id est, facio. Insidorus regem ait dici a recté agendo. Sed hæc stoica est allusio. Nam planum est esse a rego.
Hoc Caninius et Nunnesius non absurdè pro rago dici -“ putant : esseque id ab aç Xü, xæta LETĄ0:01. Sed imprimis
DECREE, EDICT, STATUTE, INSTITUTE, MANDATE, PRECEPT, are all past participles.
F. What then is Law ?
H. In our antient books it was written laugh, lagh, lage, and ley; as inlaugh, utlage, hundredlagh, &c.
It is merely the past tense and past participle lag or læg, of the Gothic and Anglo-Saxon verb WrGAN Lecgan ponere: and it means (something or any thing, chose, cosa, aliquid) laid down.... as a rule of conduct.
Thus, when a man demands his RIGHT; he asks only that which it is ordered he shall have. 66 assentio doctissimo Francisco Junio, qui suspicatur REGO, “ omniaque ejus conjugata, venire a nomine Rac, quod Babyloniis regem notabat, &c.
« Jus forense a juvando aut jubendo dici putant. Alii jus « quidem culinarium a juvando deducunt; forense autem a jubendo. “ Recentiores quidam mirificas originationes commenti sunt. 66 Sanè Franciscus Conanus jus civile dici ait a juxta ; quia juxta " legem sit, et ei ad æquetur et accommodetur, veluti suæ :
regulæ : quod etiam etymon adfert Jod. de Salas. At Galeo« tus Martius et Franciscus Sanctius tradunt, jus primâ suâ « significatione signare olera aut pultem: sed quia in conviviis
pares unicuique partes dabantur, ideo metaphoricè Jus voca« tum, quod suum unicuique tribuit. Scipio Gentilis scribit.... “ cùm prisci in agris viverent, sæpeque infirmiores opprime“ rentur a potentioribus, eos qui afficerentur, ad misericordiam 6 excitandam 18 w solitos exclamare, Vult igitur ab 18, JOUS “ (ut veteres loquebantur) dictum esse; quia infirmiores nil nisi Jus cupiant atque expostulent.
“ Alteram quoque etuuooylov idem adfert; ut a Jove sit JUS; “ quemadmodum Græcis dixen (ut aiunt) quasi Alos uspn, Jovis “ filia. Sanè verisimilior hæc etymologia, quam prior; quam 6 et ii sequuntur, qui 185 dici volunt quasi Jovis Os ; quia nempe “ id demum justum sit, quod Deus sit profatus."
A RIGHT conduct is, that which is ordered.
A RIGHT line is, that which is ordered or directed ....(not a random extension, but) the shortest between two points.
The right road is, that ordered or directed to be pursued (for the object you have in view.)
To do RIGHT is, to do that which is ordered to be done.
To be in the RIGHT is, to be in such situation or circumstances as are ordered.
To have RIGHT or Law on one's side is, to have in one's favour that which is ordered or laid down.
A RIGHT and JUST action is, such a one as is ordered and commanded.
A just man is, such as he is commanded to be ...qui leges juraque servat(©)....who observes and obeys the things laid down and commanded.
ie) It will be found hereafter that the Latin lex (i. e. legs) is no other than our ancestors past participle læg. But this intimation (though in its proper place here) comes before the reader can be ripe for it.
In the mean time he may, if he pleases, trifle with Vossius, concerning lex:
“ Lex, ut Cic. I de Leg. et Varro, v de L. L. testantur, ita < dicta; quia legi solent, quo omnibus innotescat. Sunt quibus
a legendo quidem dici placeat; sed quatenus legere est eligere. " Augustinus, sive alius, in quxst. Novi Testam. “ LEX ab “ electione dicta est, ut e multis quod eligas sumas.” Aliqui “ etiam sic dici volunt, non quia populo legeretur, cum ferretur: “ ....quod verum etymon putamus :....sed quia scriberetur, legendaque proponeretur. At minimè audiendus Thomas,
quæst. xc. art. 1. ubi LEGEM dici ait a ligando. Quod etymon “ plerique etiam scholasticorum adferunt.”