« PreviousContinue »
an improper fample. The people of the trading towns may be rich and luxurious, while the country poffeffes all the virtues that tend to promote happiness and public profperity. Thofe towns are not much regarded by the country; they are hardly confidered as an effential part of the States; and the experience of the laft war has fhewn, that their being in the poffeflion of the enemy did not neceffarily draw on the fubjection of the country; which bravely continued to maintain its freedom and independence notwithstanding.
it has been computed by fome political arithmetician, that if every man and woman would work for four hours each day on fomething useful, that labour would produce fufficient o procure all the neceffaries and comforts of life; want and mifery would be banished out of the world, and the reft of the twenty-four hours might be leifure and pleasure.
What occafions then fo much want and misery? It is the employment of men and women in works that produce neither the neceffaries nor conveniences of life, who, with those who do nothing, confume' neceffaries raifed by the laborious. To explain this:
The firft elements of wealth are obtained by labour, from the earth and waters. I have land, and raife corn. With this, if I feed a family that does nothing, my corn will be confumed, and at the end of the year I fhall be no richer than I was at the beginning. But if, while I feed them, I employ them, fome in fpinning, others in making bricks, &c. for building, the value of my corn will be arrested and remain with me, and at the end of the year we may all be better clothed and better lodged. And if, inftead of employing a man I feed in making
bricks, I employ him in fiddling for me, the corn he eats is gone, and no part of his manufacture remains to augment the wealth and convenience of the family: I fhall therefore be the poorer for this fiddling man, unless the rest of my family work more, or eat lefs, to make up the deficiency he occafions.
Look round the world, and fee the millions employed in doing nothing, or in fomething that amounts to nothing, when the neceffaries and conveniences of life are in queftion. What is the bulk of commerce, for which we fight and deftroy each other, but the toil of millions for fuperfluities, to the great hazard and lofs of many lives, by the conftant dangers of the sea? How much labour is fpent in building and fitting great fhips, to go to China and Arabia for tea and coffee, to the Weft Indies for fugar, to America for tobacco? These things cannot be called the neceffaries of life, for our ancestors lived very comfortably without them.
A queftion may be afked: Could all thefe people now employed in raifing, making, or carrying fuperfluities, be fubfifted by raifing neceffaries? I think they might. The world is large, and a great part of it ftill uncultivated. Many hundred millions of acres in Afia, Africa and America, are ftill in a forest; and a great deal even in Europe. On a hundred acres of this foreft a man might become a fubftantial farmer; and a hundred thousand men employed in clearing each his hundred acres, would hardly brighten a spot big enough to be visible from the moon, unleís with Herfchel's telescope; fo vaft are the regions ftill in wood.
It is however fome comfort to reflect, that, upon the whole, the quantity of industry and prudence among mankind exceeds the quantity
of idleness and folly. Hence the increase of good buildings, farms cultivated, and populous cities filled with wealth, all over Europe, which a few ages fince were only to be found on the coafts of the Mediterranean; and this notwithstanding the mad wars continually raging, by which are often destroyed in one year the works of many years peace. So that we may hope, the luxury of a few merchants on the coaft will not be the ruin of America.
One reflection more, and I will end this long rambling letter. Almoft all the parts of our bodies require fome expence. The feet demand fhoes; the legs ftockings; the reft of the body clothing; and the belly a good deal of victuals. Our eyes, though exceedingly useful, afk when reasonable, only the cheap afliftance of fpectacles, which could not much impair our finances. But the eyes of other people are the eyes that ruin If all but myself were blind, I should want neither fine clothes, fine houfes, nor fine furniture.
ON THE SLAVE TRADE.
READING in the newspapers the fpeech of Mr. Jackfon in congrefs, againft meddling with the affair of flavery, or attempting to mend the condition of flaves, it put me in mind of a fimilar fpeech, made about one hundred years fince, by Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim, a member of the Divan of Algiers, which may be feen in Martin's account of his confulfhip, 1687. It was against granting the petition of the fect called Erika, oṛ Purifis, who prayed for the abolition of piracy and flavery as being unjuft.-Mr. Jackfon does not quote it; perhaps he has not feen it. If, therefore, fome of its reafonings are to be found in his eloquent fpeech, it may only fhew that nen's interefts operate, and are operated on, with furprising fimilarity, in all countries and climates, whenever they are under fimilar circumftances. The African speech, as tranflated, is as follows:
“Alla Bismillah, &c. God is great, and Mahomet is his prophet.
"Have thefe Erika confidered the confequences of granting their petition? If we ceafe our cruifes against the Chriftians, how fhall we be furnished with the commodities their countries produce, and which are fo neceflary for us? If we forbear to make flaves of their people, who, in this hot climate, are to cultivate our lands? Who are to perform the common labours of our city, and of our families? Muft we not then be our own flaves? And is there not more compaffion and more favour due to us Muffulmen, than to thofe Chriftian dogs?-We have now above fifty thousand flaves in and near Algiers. This
number, if not kept up by fresh fupplies, will foon diminish, and be gradually annihilated. If, then, we cease taking and plundering the infidel fhips, and making flaves of the feamen and paffengers, our lands will become of no value, for want of cultivation; the rents of houfes in the city will fink one half; and the revenues of government, arifing from the fhare of prizes, must be totally deftroyed. And for what? To gratify the whim of a whimsical fect, who would have us not only forbear making more flaves, but even manumit thofe we have. But who is to indemnify their mafters for the lofs? Will the state do it ; Is our treasury fufficient? Will the Erika do it? Can they do it? Or would they, to do what they think juftice to the flaves, do a greater injaftice to the owners? And if we fet our flaves free, what is to be done with them? Few of them . will return to their native countries; they know too well the greater hardships they must there be fubject to. They will not embrace our holy religion: they will not adopt our manners: our people will not pollute themselves by intermarrying with them. Muft we maintain them as beggars in our streets? or fuffer our properties to be the prey of their pillage? for men accustomed to flavery will not work for a livelihood, when not compelled. And what is there fo pitiable in their prefent condition? Were they not flaves in their own countries? Are not Spain, Portugal, France, and the Italian ftates, governed by defpots, who hold all their fubjects in flavery, without exception? Even England treats her failors as flaves, for they are, whenever the government pleases, feized and confined in fhips of war, condemned not only to work, but to fight for fmall wages, or a mere fubfiftence, not better than our flaves are allowed by us. Is their condition then made worfe