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could get three pounds fifteen fhillings in the merchant's fervice, you take from him fifty fhillings a month; and if you have a 100,000 in your fervice, you rob this honeft induftrious part of fociety and their poor families of 250,000l. per month, or three millions a year, and at the fame 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 reft) in proportion to their profits by it; but this three millions is more than their fhare, if they did not pay with their perfons; but when you force that, methinks you fhould excufe the other.
But it may be faid, to give the king's feamen merchant's wages would coft the nation too much, and call for more taxes. The queftion then will amount to this: whether it be juft in a community, that the richer part fhould compel the poorer to fight in defence of them and their properties, for fuch wages as they think fit to allow, and punish them if they refufe? Our author tells us that it is "legal." I have not law enough to difpute his authorities, but I cannot perfuade myfelf 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 fo as to produce the fame good effects-the public fecurity, without doing fo much intolerable injuftice as attends the impreffing common feamen.
In order to be better understood I would premife two things; First, that voluntary feamen may be had for the fervice, if they were fufficiently paid. The proof is, that to ferve in the fame fhip, and incur the fame dangers, you have no occafion to imprefs captains, lieutenants, fecond lieutenants, midfhipmen, purfers, 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, fufficient to make the failors all volunteers, as well as their officers; and this without any fresh burthen upon trade. -The fecond of my premifes is, that twenty-five fhillings a month, with his fhare of the falt beef, pork, and peas-pudding, being found fufficient for the fubfiftence of a hard-working feaman, it will certainly be fo for a fedentary scholar or gentleman. I would then propofe to form a treafury, out of which encouragements to feamen fhould be paid. To fill this treafury, I would impress a number of civil officers who at prefent have great falaries, oblige them to ferve in their refpective offices for twenty-five fhillings a month with their fhares of mefs provisions, and throw the reft of their falaries into the feamen's treasury. If fuch a prefs-warrant were given me to execute, the firft I would prefs fhould be a Recorder of Bristol, or a Mr. Juftice Fofter, because I might have need of his edifying example, to fhow how much impreffing ought to be borne with; for he would certaily find, that though to be reduced to twenty-five fhillings a month might be a "private mifchief," 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 prefs the reft of the Judges; and, opening the red book, I would prefs every civil officer of government from 50l. a year falary, up to 50,000l. which would throw an immenfe fum into our treasury: and these gentlemen could not complain, fince they would receive twenty-five fhillings a month, and their rations: and this without being obliged to fight. Laftly, I think I would imprefs ***
ON THE CRIMINAL LAWS, AND THE PRACTICE OF PRIVATEERING.
LETTER TO BENJAMIN VAUGHAN, ESQ.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
March 14th, 1785,
AMONG the pamphlets you lately sent me, was one, entitled, Thoughts on Executive Justice. In return for that, I fend you a French one on the fame fubject, Obfervations concernant l'Exécution de l'Article II. de la Déclaration fur le Vol. They are both addreffed to the judges, but written, as you will fee, 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 profefs to believe, that the law of Mofes was the law of God, the dictate of divine wisdom, infinitely fuperior 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 deserve death, is it not a murder? And, as the French writer says, Doit-on punir un délit contre la focieté par un crime contre la nature?
Superfluous property is the creature of fociety: Simple and mild laws were fufficient to guard the property that was merely neceffary. The favage's bow, his hatchet, and his coat of fkins, were fufficiently fecured, without law, by the fear of perfonal refentment and retaliation. When, by virtue of the firft laws, part of the fociety accu
mulated wealth and grew powerful, they enacted others more fevere, and would protect their property at the expence of humanity. This was abufing their power, and commencing a tyranny. If a favage, before he entered into fociety, had been told "Your neighbour, by this means, “ may become owner of an hundred deer; but if CC your brother, or your fon, or yourself, having "no deer of your own, and being hungry, "fhould kill one, an infamous death must be the "confequence:" he would probably have preferred his liberty, and his common right of killing any deer, to all the advantages of fociety that might be proposed to him.
That it is better a hundred guilty perfons should escape, than that one innocent person should fuffer, is a maxim that has been long and generally approved; never, that I know of, controverted. Even the fanguinary author of the Thoughts agrees to it, adding well," that the very thought of ❝ injured innocence, and much more that of fuffer❝ing innocence, muft awaken all our tendereft " and moft compaffionate feelings, and at the
fame time raise our highest indignation against "the inftruments of it. But," he adds, "there
is no danger of either, from a strict adherence "to the laws."-Really!-Is it then impoffible to make an unjuft law? and if the law itself be unjuft, may it not be the very "inftrument" which ought to raise the author's, and every "body's higheft indignation?" I fee, in the laf newspapers from London, that a woman is capitally convicted at the Old Bailey, for privately ftealing out of a fhop fome gauze, value fourteen fhillings and three-pence: Is there any proportion between the injury done by a theft, value fourteen fhillings and three-pence, and the punifhment of a human creature, by death, on a gibbet?
Might not that woman, by her labour, have made the reparation ordained by God, in paying fourfold? Is not all punishment inflicted beyond the merit of the offence, fo much punishment of innocence? In this light, how vaft is the annual quantity, of not only injured but suffering innocence, in almost all the civilized ftates of Europe!
But it seems to have been thought, that this kind of innocence may be punished by way of preventing crimes. I have read, indeed, of a cruel Turk in Barbary, who, whenever he bought a new Christian flave, ordered him immediately to be hung up by the legs, and to receive a hundred blows of a cudgel on the foles of his feet, that the fevere fenfe of the punishment, and fear of incurring it thereafter, might prevent the faults that fhould merit it. Our author himself would hardly approve entirely of this Turk's conduct in the government of flaves; and yet he appears to recommend fomething like it for the government of English fubjects, when he applauds the reply of Judge Burnet to the convict horfe-ftealer; who being asked what he had to fay why judgment of death fhould not pafs against him, and anfwering, that it was hard to hang a man for only ftealing a horse, was told by the judge, "Man, thou art "not to be hanged only for ftealing a horse, but "that horfes may not be ftolen." The man's anfwer, if candidly examined, will, I imagine, appear reasonable, as being founded on the eternal principle of justice and equity, that punishments hould be proportioned to offences; and the judge's reply brutal and unreasonable, though the writer" wishes all judges to carry it with them "whenever they go the circuit, and to bear it in "their minds, as containing a wife reason for all "the penal ftatutes which they are called upon to "put in execution. It at once illuftrates," fays