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1b: " I am very sensible, &c"-Here are two things put in comparison that are not comparable: viz. injury to seamen, and inconvenience to trade. Inconvenience to the whole trade of a nation will not justify injustice to a single seaman. If the trade would suffer without his fervice, it is able and ought to be willing to offer him such wages as may induce him to afford his service voluntarily:
Page 159.“ Private mischief must be borne " with patience, for preventing a national cala“ mity.”—Where is this maxim in law and good policy to be found? And how can that be a maxim which is not consistent with common sense? If the maxim had been, that private mischiefs, which prevent a national calamity, ought to be generously compensated by the nation, one might understand it: but that such private mischiefs are only to be borne with patience, is absurd !
Ib. 6 The expedient, &c. And, &c.” (Paragraphs 2 and 3). — Twenty ineffectual or inconvenient schemes will not justify one that is unjust.
Ib. " Upon the foot of, &c.”—Your reasoning, indeed, like a lie, ftands but upon one foot; truth
Page 160. “ Full wages.”—Probably the fame they had in the merchant's service.
Page 174.“ I hardly admit, &c." (Paragraph 5).
When this author speaks of impressing, page 158, he diminishes the horror of the practice as much as possible, by presenting to the mind one failor only suffering a “ hardship” (as he tenderly calls it) in some “ particular cases” only ; and he places against this private mischief the in convenience to the trade of the kingdom.-But if, as he supposes is often the case, the sailor who is pressed, and obliged to serve for the defence of trade, at the rate of twenty-five shillings a month,
could get three pounds fifteen fhillings in the merchant's service, you take from him fifty shillings a month; and if you have a 100,000 in your fervice, you rob this honeft induftrious part of society and their poor families of 250,000l. per month, or three millions a year, and at the same time oblige them to hazard their lives in fighting for the defence of your trade; to the defence of which all ought indeed to contribute (and failors. among the rest) in proportion to their profits by it ; but this three millions is more than their fhare, if they did not pay with their persons; but when you force that, methinks you should excause the other.
But it may be said, to give the king's feamen merchant's wages would coft the nation too much, and call for more taxes. The question then will amount to this: whether it be just in a community, that the richer' part fhould compel the poorer to fight in defence of them and their properties, for such wages as they think sit to allow, and punish them if they refuse? Qur author tells us that it is “ legal.” I have not law enough to dispute his authorities, but I cannot perfuade myself that it is equitable. I will; however, own for the present, that it may be lawful when necessary; but then I contend that it may be used so as to produce the fame good effects-the public security, without doing so much intolerable injustice as attends the impressing common seamen. In order to be better understood I would
premise two things ; First, that voluntary feamen may be had for the service, if they were sufficiently paid. The proof is, that to serve in the fame thip, and incur the fame dangers, you
have no occafion to impress captains, lieutenants, fecond lieutenants, midfhipmen, pursers, nor many other officers. Why, but that the profits of their places, or the emoluments expected, are fufficient inducements? The business then is, to
find money, by impreffing, sufficient to make the sailors all volunteers, as well as their officers; and this without any fresh burthen upon trade. -The second of my premises is, that twenty-five shillings a month, with his Share of the falt beef, pork, and peas-pudding, being found fuffici. ent for the subsistence of a hard-working seaman, it will certainly be fo for a fedentary scholar or gentleman. I would then propofe to form a treasury, out of which encouragements to seamen should be paid. To fill this treasury, I would impress a number of civil officers who at present have great salaries, oblige them to serve in their respective offices for twenty-five shillings a month with their shares of mess provisions, and throw the rest of their salaries into the seamen's treasury. If such a press-warrant were given me to execute, the first I would press should be a Recorder of Bristol, or a Mr. Justice Foster, because I might have need of his edifying exam. ple, to show how much imprefsing ought to be borne with ; for he would certaily find, that though to be reduced to twenty-five shillings a month might be a “private mischief,” yet that, agreeably to his maxim of law and good policy, it" ought to be borne with patience," for preventing a national calamity. Then I would press the rest of the Judges; and, opening the red book, I would press every civil officer of government from 5ol. a year salary, up to 50,000l. which would throw an immense fum into our treasury: and thefe gentlemen could not complain, since they would receive twenty-five shillings a month, and their rations : and this without being obliged to fight. Lastly, I think I would imprels ***
ON ON THE CRIMINAL LAWS, AND THE PRACTICE
LETTER TO BENJAMIN VAUCHAN, ESQ:
March 14th, 1785
MY DEAR TRIEND,
AMONG the pamphlets you lately fent me, was one, entitled, Thoughts on Executive Justice. In return for that, I send you a French one on the same subject, Observations concernant l'Exécution de l’Article II. de la Déclaration sur le Vol. They are both addressed to the judges, but written, as you will see, in a very different fpirit. The English author is for hanging all thieves. The Frenchman is for proportioning punishments to offences.
If we really believe, as we profess to believe, that the law of Moses was the law of God, the dictate of divine wisdom, infinitely superior to human; on what principles do we ordain death as the punishment of an offence, which, according to that law, was only to be punished by a reftitution of fourfold? To put a man to death for an offence which does not deferve death, is it not a murder? And, as the French writer says, Doit-on punir un délit contre la societé par un crime contre la nature?
Superfluous property is the creature of fociety: Simple and mild laws were sufficient to guard the property that was merely necessary. The favage's bow, his hatchet, and his coat of skins, were sufficiently secured, without law, by the fear of personal resentment and retaliation. When, by virtue of the first laws, part of the society accu
mulated wealth and grew powerful, they enacted others more severe, and would protect their property at the expence of humanity. This was abusing their power, and commencing a tyranny. If a savage, before he entered into fociety, had been told—“ Your neighbour, by this means,
may become owner of an hundred deer ; but if
your brother, or your son, or yourself, having 6 no deer of your own, and being hungry, “ should kill one, an infamous death must be the ç consequence :” he would probably have preferred his liberty, and his common right of kill. ing any deer, to all the advantages of society that might be proposed to him.
That it is better a hundred guilty persons should escape, than that one innocent person should suffer, is a maxim that has been long and generally approved; never, that I know of, controverted. Even the sanguinary author of the Thoughts agrees to it, adding well, “ that the very thought of
injured innocence, and much more that of suffer
ing innocence, must awaken all our tendereft. « and most compassionate feelings, and at the s same time raise our highest indignation against " the instruments of it. But,” he adds, “ there
is no danger of either, from a strict adherence “ to the laws.”-Really Is it then impossible to make an unjuft law ? and if the law itself be unjuft, may it not be the very “ instrument" which ought “ to raise the author's, and every “ body's highest indignation?" I fee, in the last newspapers from London, that a woman is capitally convicted at the Old Bailey, for privately ftealing out of a shop fome gauze, value fourteen shillings and three-pence: Is there any proportion between the injury done by a theft, value fourteen shillings and three-pence, and the punishment of a human creature, by death, on a gibbet ?