A BASELESS CHARGE.
[Liberty, October 15, 1881.]
My dear Mr. Tucker:
It is entirely immaterial in this discussion whether my position is "odd" or otherwise. The question at issue must be settled, if settled at all, on its own merits; and no prejudice either for or against capital can affect the argument. Let us burden it with no irrelevant matter. My question was simply this; Is a man who loans a plough entitled in equity to compensation for its use; and if not, why not?
This question (I say it with all respect) you evade. But, until it is answered, no progress can be made in this inquiry, It is no answer to say, "Let him sell his plough." He does not sell it; he loans it, as he has a natural right to do. Another borrows it, as he has a natural right to do. I repeat: Is it just to pay for its use?
You gain nothing when you say, "Let him sell"; for, if I followed you there, it would only be to present the same question substantially in another form. You might then suggest another alternative, until we "swung round the circle," and came back to the first. So let us save time and meet it at once. If it cannot be met where I proposed it, I do not see that It can be answered anywhere. If your theory will not bear an application to the example I stated, what is it good for? I have never seen a good reason why the plough-maker is not entitled to pay for the use of his plough.
You refer me to certain "authorities,"—Brown and Ruskin. I do not bow to authorities on questions of this nature; and I supposed you did not. I ask for a reason, not a name. Brown's proposition, which I affirm as stoutly as he does, does not answer my question. Ruskin is equally remote. He concludes that the case he examines is one of sale and purchase. That is not the case I stated at all. If there be an answer to my question, I am sure you are capable of stating it.
J. M. L. Babcock.
We have no wish to waste these columns in repetition; but this charge of evasion is a serious one, which can be thoroughly examined only by reviewing ground already traversed. One of the objects that we had in view in beginning the publication of this journal was the annihilation of usury. If in our first direct conflict with a supporter of usury we have been guilty of evasion, we are unfitted for our task, and ought to abandon it to hands more competent. But we unhesitatingly plead "not guilty."
Mr. Babcock argued that the man who makes a plough and lends it is entitled to a portion of the loaf subsequently produced in addition to the return of his plough intact. He now asserts that we answered this by saying, "Let him sell his
plough." No, we did not. On the principle that only labor can