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Having often seen foup, when put upon the table at fea in broad flat, dishes, thrown out on every fide by the rolling of the veffel, I have wifhed that our tin-men would make our foupbafons with divifions or compartments; forming fmall plates, proper, for containing foup for one perfon only. By this difpofition, the foup, in an extraordinary roll, would not be thrown out of the plate, and would not fall into the breafts. of those who are at table, and scald them.-Having entertained you with these things of little importance, permit me now to conclude with fome general reflections upon navigation.
When navigation is employed only for tranfporting neceffary provifions from one country, where they abound, to another where they are wanting; when by this it prevents famines which were fo frequent and fo fatal before it was invented and became fo common; we cannot help confidering it as one of thofe arts which contribute moft to the happiness of mankind.-But when it is employed to tranfport things of no utility, or articles merely of luxury, it is uncertain whether the advantages refulting from it are fufficient to counterbalance the misfortunes it occafions, by expofing the lives of fo many individuals upon the vaft ocean. And when it is ufed to plunder veffels and tranfport flaves, it is evidently only the dreadful means of increafing thofe calamities which afflict human nature.
One is aftonifhed to think on the number of veffels and men who are daily expofed in going to bring tea from China, coffee from Arabia, and fugar and tobacco from America; all commodities which our ancestors lived very well without. The fugar trade employs nearly a thoufand veffels and that of tobacco almoft the fame num
ber. With regard to the utility of tobacco, little can be faid; and, with regard to fugar, how much more meritorious would it be to facrifice the momentary pleasure which we receive from drinking it once or twice a-day in our tea, than to encourage the numberless cruelties that are continually exercifed in order to procure it us?
A celebrated French moralift faid, that, when he confidered the war which we foment in Africa to get negroes, the great number who of course perifh in thefe wars; the multitude of thofe wretches who die in their paffage, by disease, bad air, and bad provifions; and laftly, how many perish by the cruel treatment they meet with in a ftate of flavery; when he faw a bit of fugar, he could not help imagining it to be covered with fpots of human blood. But, had he added to thefe confiderations the wars which we carry on against one another, to take and retake the iflands that produce this commodity, he would not have feen the fugar fimply Spotted with blood, he would have beheld it entirely tinged with it.
Thefe wars make the maritime powers of Europe, and the inhabitants of Paris and London, pay much dearer for their fugar than thofe of Vienna, though they are almoft three hundred leagues diftant from the fea. A pound of fugar, indeed, cofts the former not only the price which they give for it, but alfo what they pay in taxes, neceffary to fupport thofe fleets and armies which ferve to defend and protect the coun tries that produce it.
ON LUXURY, IDLENESS, AND INDUSTRY:
From a Letter to Benjamin Vaughan, Efq. * written in 1784.
It is wonderful how prepofterously the affairs
of this world are managed. Naturally one would imagine, that the intereft of a few individuals fhould give way to general intereft; but individuals manage their affairs with fo much more application, industry, and addrefs, than the public do theirs, that general interest most commonly gives way to particular. We affemble parliaments and councils, to have the benefit of their collected wisdom; but we neceffarily have, at the fame time, the inconvenience of their collected paffions, prejudices, and private interests. By the help of thefe, artful men overpower their wisdom, and dupe its poffeffors: and if we may judge by the acts, arrets, and edicts, all the world over, for regulating commerce, an affembly of great men is the greateft fool upon earth.
I have not yet, indeed, thought of a remedy for luxury. I am not sure that in a great state it is capable of a remedy; nor that the evil is in itself always fo great as it is represented. Suppofe we include in the definition of luxury all unneceffary expence, and then let us confider whether laws to prevent fuch expence are poffible to be executed in a great country, and whether,
*Prefent member of parliament for the borough of Calne, in Wiltshire, between whom and our author there fubfifted a very clofe friendship.
if they could be executed, our people generally would be happier, or even richer. Is not the hope of being one day able to purchase and enjoy luxuries, a great fpur to labour and industry? May not luxury therefore produce more than it confumes, if, without such a spur, people would be, as they are naturally enough inclined to be, lazy and indolent? To this purpose I remember a circumftance. The fkipper of a fhallop, employed between Cape-May and Philadelphia, had done us fome fmall fervice, for which he refused to be paid. My wife understanding that he had a daughter, fent her a prefent of a new-fafhioned cap. Three years after, this skipper being at my house with an old farmer of Cape-May, his pasfenger, he mentioned the cap, and how much his daughter had been pleased with it. "But "(faid he) it proved a dear cap to our congre"gation."-How fo?" When my daughter "appeared with it at meeting, it was fo much "admired, that all the girls refolved to get fuch caps from Philadelphia; and my wife and I "computed that the whole could not have coft "lefs than a hundred pounds."-" True (faid "the farmer), but you do not tell all the ftory. "I think the cap was nevertheless an advantage "to us; for it was the first thing that put our
girls upon knitting worsted mittens for fale at "Philadelphia, that they might have where"withal to buy caps and ribbons there; and ૮૯ you know that that industry has continued, "and is likely to continue and increase to a "much greater value, and answer better pur
pofes."-Upon the whole, I was more reconciled to this little piece of luxury, fince not only the girls were made happier by having fine caps, but the Philadelphians by the fupply of warm
In our commercial towns upon the fea-coaft, fortunes will occafionally be made. Some of those who grow rich will be prudent, live within bounds, and preserve what they have gained for their pofterity: others, fond of shewing their wealth, will be extravagant, and ruin themselves. Laws cannot prevent this: and perhaps it is not always an evil to the public. A hilling pent idly by a fool, may be picked up by a wifer perfon, who knows better what to do with it. It is therefore not loft. A vain, filly fellow builds a fine house, furnishes it richly, lives in it expenfively, and in a few years ruins himself: but the mafons, carpenters, fmiths, and other honeft tradesmen, have been by his employ affifted in maintaining and raising their families; the farmer has been paid for his labour, and encouraged, and the estate is now in better hands.-In fome cafes, indeed, certain modes of luxury may be a public evil, in the fame manner as it is a private one. If there be a nation, for inftance, that exports its beef and linen, to pay for the importation of claret and porter, while a great part of its people live upon potatoes, and wear no fhirts; wherein does it differ from the fót who lets his family ftarve, and fells his clothes to buy drink? Our American commerce is, I confefs, a little in this way. We fell our victuals to the iflands for rum and fugar; the fubftantial necessaries of life for fuperfluities. But we have plenty, and live well nevertheless; though, by being soberer, we might be richer.
The vast quantity of foreft land we have yet to clear, and put in order for cultivation, will for a long time keep the body of our nation labo rious and frugal. Forming an opinion of our people and their manners, by what is feen among the inhabitants of the fea-ports, is judging from