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In the eighth commandment God forbiddeth every kind of theft and injustice; and requireth, that to promote the general good, we should regard our neighbour's interest as our own.
There are three kinds of theft.
The life of man can neither be free from danger, nor happy, if his property is not preserved from thieves; but under the word theft are to be understood different kinds of dishonesty, that is, different ways, whatever they may be, in which one man unlawfully appropriates to himself that which belongs to another. There are three kinds of dishonesty, viz.open, secret, and that which is accomplished by deceit.
1. Open dishonesty is when any one takes by force that which is the property of another, as highwaymen, who commit robbery, or as potentates who take by force from their subjects, and the powerful from the weak, their estates, houses, servants, or lands, &c. or oblige them to sell that which they wish not to dispose of, or to sell it below its value. They too are chargeable with open dishonesty, who oblige their labourers to work more than they agreed to, or than corresponds with the reward they give them, or who, by intrigue, reduce free people into slavery, or,
without permission, make use of other people's property, such as clothes, or any other articles, or who plough on other people's grounds, or unlawfully demand waggons, * or hold back part of the wages due for work or for service. Similar to these also are those unprincipled monopolizers, who, when people are in extreme need, for instance in the time of scarcity, refuse to sell corn except at an exorbitant price; or those who take houses, or lands, or horses in pawn; or such as will not grant assistance except upon heavy conditions, even when persons are in the utmost distress, and though the help required be not great, as for instance, to draw near with a boat to him that is drowning in the water, &c. Those also belong to this class, who, seeing their neighbour in need, will not lend him either money, or bread, or any thing else, or who withhold those things that have been given in pawn; and by other such ways openly rob their neighbour, and treat with unkindness.
2. Secret dishonesty. or theft, is when any one carries off an article without the will or know
* Here a reference seems to be made to a practice which is not unfrequent amongst the lower officers of government, of obliging the peasantry to furnish them with horses and waggons to carry them from one place to another, without giving them payment for so doing.
ledge of the owner. Such thieves are those deceitful fellows who plunder houses, shops, barns, farm-yards, fisheries, gardens, forests, hay-fields, &c. But there are thieves upon a greater scale, who cause loss to the nation at large; for instance, such as import contraband goods, or rob the national treasury, or take away the precious articles belonging to churches or monasteries; which last kind of theft is called sacrilege. They also are guilty of the crime of stealing, who, though they have found articles that are lost, and know to whom they belong, do not return them, or who conceal strayed cattle, or runaway slaves, * and appropriate them to themselves. But those are dreadfully inhuman thieves, who steal in the time of a fire, and thereby aggravate the distress of such as are already ruined by the conflagration.
3. Cunning dishonesty, consists in getting possession of another's property through deceit. Such dishonesty takes place in various ways; namely, when any one sells an article dearer than it is worth, or deceives by measure or weight, or sells bad commodities for good. Instances of this are the mixing chaff among corn, and water with
* A practice which is not unfrequent, particularly on the borders of Poland.
wine, or giving false money for good, and particularly the secret coinage of base money, or the taking more custom than is lawful. To this class belong those judges who take bribes, and thus, whether they give a right or wrong sentence, they steal; also those who appoint unworthy and unfit persons to public offices; for thereby the worthy are excluded, the public offices are filled with improper characters, and the treasury becomes the prey of thieves.
The spiritual powers are guilty of the same sin, when they ordain a person to the office of a bishop, or archbishop, or to any other office of the church for a reward; such wickedness is denominated Simony. Those also steal who, being stewards or overseers, conceal the incomes, or add unjustly to the expenditure on the estate; or who, by their negligence, lessen their masters' income. Those also belong to this class who make false testaments, and unjustly appropriate to themselves property which does not belong to them, or who falsely stile themselves the nearest relations of a person deceased, in order to become his heirs.
Such likewise should be accounted thieves, as having been engaged to work for a sufficient reward, unjustly and carelessly spend their time in loitering in place of labour. Also those de
ceitful beggars, who being healthy, and in no need, pretend to be diseased and poor, or feign some kind of lying stories, as being ruined by fire,* or robbed; or who beg alms falsely in the name of others, as, for instance, to support hospitals, or to ransom prisoners, or for such other benevolent purposes. Hypocrites ought also to be ranked with these deceivers, who, under the garb of false sanctity, or by unlawful devices, represent Mosches, † of saints, and pictures, as wonder-workérs, and thereby deceive the common people, and get them to give alms. Such are also flatterers and fawners, who, though they receive never so
*The houses of the peasantry in Russia being all built of wood, it frequently happens in the great heats of summer, that whole villages are almost instantaneously reduced to ashes. In such circumstances, should the proprietor of the peasants be unable or unwilling to assist them to procure materials for new huts, they divide into parties, and go about the towns and villages collecting money for this purpose; and hence such as are disposed to idleness frequently attempt to obtain alms under a false pretext of this kind.
+ Mosche signifies the uncorrupted body of a favourite of God; for, according to the general belief of the common Russians, the bodies of eminent saints, " do not see corruption." Hence they affirm, that after a course of years, the body of a favourite saint, as a mark of his being canonized in heaven, is, by a supernatural power, raised by degrees out of its grave, and at last appears above ground uncorrupt, and miracles are immediately begun to be wrought by it. Thus in Kieff, Moscow, and different other places, many of the wonder-working bodies of the saints are preserved in the monasteries and cathedral churches, and are disclosed on certain holidays,