If a right of Dominion were esteemed Hereditary according to the Law of Nature, a multitude of destructive and inextricable Controversies would thereupon arise.

THERE being no such thing therefore, according to the law of nature, as an hereditary right to the dominion of the world, or any part of it; nor one man that can derive to himself a title from the first fathers of mankind, by which he can rightly pretend to be preferred before others to that command, or a part of it, and none can be derived from Nimrod, or other usurpers, who had none in themselves; we may justly spare our pains of seeking farther into that matter. But as things of the highest importance can never be too fully explained; it may not be amiss to observe, that if mankind could be brought to believe that such a right of dominion were by the law of God and nature hereditary, a great number of the most destructive and inextricable controversies must thereupon arise, which the wisdom and goodness of God can never enjoin, and nature, which is reason, can never intend; but at present I shall only mention two, from whence others must perpetually spring. First if there be such a law, no human constitution can alter it: No length of time can be a defence against it: All governments that are not conformable to it are vicious and void even in their root, and must be so forever: That which is originally unjust may be justly overthrown. We do not know of any (at least in that part of the world in which we are most concerned) that is established, or exercised with an absolute power, as by the authors of those opinions is esteemed inseparable from it: Many, as the empire, and other states, are directly contrary; and on that account can have no justice in them. It being certain therefore that he or they who exercise those governments have no right: that there is a man to whom it doth belong, and no man knowing who he is, there is no one man who has not as good a title to it as any other: There is not therefore one who hath not a right, as well as any, to overthrow that which hath none at all. He that hath no part in the government may destroy it as well as he that has the greatest; for he neither has that which God ordained he should have, nor can shew a title to that which he enjoys from that original prerogative of birth, from whence it can only be derived.

If it be said, that some governments are arbitrary, as they ought to be, and France, Turkey, and the like be alleged as instances, the matter is not mended: for we do not only know when those, who deserve to be regarded by us, were not absolute, and how they came to be so; but also, that those very families which are now in possession are not of very long continuance, had no more title to the original right we speak of than any other men, and consequently can have none to this day. And tho we cannot perhaps say that the governments of the barbarous Eastern nations were ever other than they are, yet the known original of them deprives them of all pretence to the patriarchical inheritance, and they may be as justly as any other deprived of the power to which they have no title.

In the second place, tho all men's genealogies were extant, and fully verified, and it were allowed that the dominion of the world, or every part of it did belong to the right heir of the first progenitor, or any other to whom the first did rightly assign the parcel, which is under question; yet it were impossible to know who should be esteemed the true heir, or according to what rule he should be judged so to be: for God hath not by a precise word determined it, and men cannot agree about it, as appears by the various laws and customs of several nations, disposing severally of hereditary dominions.

'Tis a folly to say, they ought to go to the next in blood; for 'tis not known who is that next. Some give the preference to him who amongst many competitors is the fewest degrees removed from their common progenitor who first obtained the crown: Others look only upon the last that possessed it. Some admit of representation, by which means the grandchild of a king by his eldest son, is preferred before his second son, he being said to represent his dead father, who was the eldest: Others exclude these, and advance the younger son, who is nearer by one degree to the common progenitor that last enjoyed the crown than the grandchild. According to the first rule, Richard the second was advanced to the crown of England, as son of the eldest son of Edward the third, before his uncles, who by one degree were nearer to the last possessor: And in pursuance of the second, Sancho surnamed the Brave, second son of Alfonso the Wise, King of Castile, was preferred before Alfonso son of Ferdinand his elder brother, according to the law of tanistry, which was in force in Spain ever since we have had any knowledge of that country, as appears by the contest between Corbis and Orsua, decided by combat before Scipio Africanus; continued in full force as long as the kingdom of the Goths lasted, and was ever highly valued, till the House of Austria got possession of that country, and introduced laws and customs formerly unknown to the inhabitants.

The histories of all nations furnish us with innumerable examples of both sorts; and whosoever takes upon him to determine which side is in the right, ought to shew by what authority he undertakes to be the judge of mankind, and how the infinite breaches thereby made upon the rights of the governing families shall be cured, without the overthrow of those that he shall condemn, and of the nations where such laws have been in force as he dislikes: and till that be done, in my opinion, no place will afford a better lodging for him that shall impudently assume such a power, than the new buildings in Moor-Fields.

'Tis no less hard to decide whether this next heir is to be sought in the male line only, or whether females also be admitted. If we follow the first as the law of God and nature, the title of our English kings is wholly abolished; for not one of them since Henry the 1st has had the least pretence to an inheritance by the masculine line; and if it were necessary, we have enough to say of those that were before them.

If it be said, that the same right belongs to females, it ought to be proved that women are as fit as men to perform the office of a king, that is, as the Israelites said to Samuel, to go in and out before us, to judge us, and to fight our battles; for it were an impious folly to say that God had ordained those for the offices on which the good of mankind so much depends, who by nature are unable to perform the duties of them. If on the other side, the sweetness, gentleness, delicacy, and tenderness of the sex render them so unfit for manly exercises, that they are accounted utterly repugnant to, and inconsistent with that modesty which does so eminently shine in all those that are good amongst them; that law of nature which should advance them to the government of men, would overthrow its own work, and make those to be the heads of nations, which cannot be the heads of private families; for, as the Apostle says, The woman is not the head of the man, but the man is the head of the woman.[1] This were no less than to oblige mankind to lay aside the name of reasonable creature: for if reason be his nature, it cannot enjoin that which is contrary to itself; if it be not, the definition homo est animal rationale,[2] is false, and ought no longer to be assumed.

If any man think these arguments to be mistaken or misapplied, I desire him to enquire of the French nation on what account they have always excluded females, and such as descended from them? How comes the house of Bourbon to be advanced to the throne before a great number of families that come from the daughters of the house of Valois? Or what title those could have before the daughters of the other lines, descended from Hugh Capet, Pepin, Meroveus, or Pharamond? I know not how such questions would be received; but I am inclined to think that the wickedness and folly of those who should thereby endeavour to overthrow the most ancient and most venerated constitutions of the greatest nations, and by that means to involve them in the most inextricable difficulties, would be requited only with stones.

It cannot be denied that the most valiant, wise, learned, and best polished nations have always followed the same rule, tho the weak and barbarous acted otherwise;[3] and no man ever heard of a queen, or a man deriving his title from a female among the ancient civilized nations: but if this be not enough, the law of God, that wholly omits females, is sufficient to shew that nature, which is his handmaid, cannot advance them. When God describes who should be the king of his people (if they would have one) and how he should govern; no mention is made of daughters.[4] The Israelites offer'd the kingdom to Gideon, and to his sons: God promised, and gave it to Saul, David, Jeroboam, Jehu and their sons. When all of them, save David, by their crimes fell from the kingdom, the males only were extirpated, and the females who had no part in the promises, did not fall under the penalties, or the vengeance that was executed upon those families: and we do not in the word of God, or in the history of the Jews, hear of any feminine reign, except that which was usurped by Athaliah; nor that any consideration was had of their descendants in relation to the kingdom: which is enough to shew that it is not according to the law of God, nor to the law of nature, which cannot differ from it. So that females, or such as derive their right by inheritance from females, must have it from some other law, or they can have none at all.

But tho this question were authentically decided, and concluded that females might or might not succeed, we should not be at the end of our contests: for if they were excluded, it would not from thence follow, as in France, that their descendants should be so also; for the privilege which is denied to them, because they cannot, without receding from the modesty and gentleness of the sex, take upon them to execute all the duties required, may be transferred to their children, as Henry the second and Henry the seventh were admitted, tho their mothers were rejected.

If it be said that every nation ought in this to follow their own constitutions, we are at an end of our controversies; for they ought not to be followed, unless they are rightly made: They cannot be rightly made, if they are contrary to the universal law of God and nature. If there be a general rule, 'tis impossible, but some of them being directly contrary to each other, must be contrary to it. If therefore all of them are to be followed, there can be no general law given to all; but every people is by God and nature left to the liberty of regulating these matters relating to themselves according to their own prudence or convenience: and this seems to be so certainly true, that whosoever does, as our author, propose doctrines to the contrary, must either be thought rashly to utter that which he does not understand, or maliciously to cast balls of division among all nations, whereby every man's sword would be drawn against every man, to the total subversion of all order and government.

[1] [Ephesians 5:23.]

[2] []

[3] reginarumque sub armis / Barbariae pars magna jacet. Lucan. Phars. [Actually in Claudian, Against Eutropius, bk. 1, li. 322.]

[4] Deut. 17.