Page images
PDF
EPUB

sins, and hope, from the supposed merits of so good a work, to be excused from damnation.-How grossly are they mistaken, in imagining slavery to be disa vowed by the Alcoran! Are not the two precepts, to quote no more, “Masters, treat your slaves with kindness-Slaves, serve your masters with cheerfulness and fidelity,' clear proofs to the contrary? Nor can the plundering of infidels be in that sacred book forbidden ; since it is well known from it, that God has given the world, and all that it contains. to his faithful Musselmen, who are to enjoy it, of right, as fast as they conquer it. Let us then hear no more of this detostable proposition, the manumission of Christian slaves, the adoption of which would, by depreciating our lands and houses, and thereby depriving so many good citizens of their properties, create universal discontent, and provoke insurrections, to the endangering of government, and producing general confusion. I have, therefore, no doubt, that this wise council will prefer the comfort and happiness of a whole nation of true believers, to the whim of a few Erika, and dismiss their petition."

The result was, as Martin tells us, that the Divan came to this resolution : “ That the doctrine, that the plundering and enslaving the Christians is unjust, is at best problematical: but that it is the interest of this state to continue the practice is clear : [there. fore let the petition be rejected."-And it was rejected accordingly.

And since like motives are apt to produce, in the minds of men, like opinions and resolutions, may we not venture to predict, from this account, that the petitions to the parliament of England for abolishing ihe slave trade, to say nothing of other legislatures, and the debates upon them, will have a similar conclusion.

HISTORICUS. March 23, 1790:

OBSERVATIONS ON WAR.

Be the original laws of nations, war and extirpation were the punishment of injury, Humanizing by degrees, admitted slavery instead of death; a far. ther step was, the exchange of prisoners instead of slavery; another, to respect more the property of private persons under conquest, and be content with acquired dominion. Why should not this law of nations go on improving? Ages have intervened be. tween its several steps ; but as knowledge of late in. creases rapidly, why should not those steps be quickened? Why should it not be agreed to, as the future law of nations, that in any war hereafter, the following description of men should be undisturbed, have the protection of both sides, and be permitted to follow their employments in security ? viz.

1. Cultivators of the earth, because they labour for the subsistence of mankind.

2. Fishermen, for the same reason.

3. Merchants and traders in unarmed ships, who accommodate different nations by communicating and exchanging the necessaries and conveniences of life.

4. Artists and mechanics, inhabiting and working in open towns.

It is hardly necessary to add, that the hospitals of enemies should be unmolested-they ought to be assisted. It is for the interest of humanity in general, that the occasions of war, and the inducements to it, should be diminished. If rapine be abolished, one of the encouragements to war is taken away; and peace therefore more likely to continue and be lasting.

The practice of robbing merchants on the high seas --a reinnant of the ancient piracy—though it may be accidentally beneficial to particular persons, is far from being profitable to all engaged in it, or to the nation that authorizes it In the beginning of a war some rich ships are surprised and taken. This en: courages the first adventurers to fit out more armed yessels; and many others to do the same. But the

enemy at the same time become more careful, arm their merchant ships better, and render them not so easy to be taken : they go also more under the protection of convoys. Thus, while the privateers to take them are multiplied, the vessels subjected to be taken, and the chances of profit, are diminished; so that many cruises are made wherein the expenses overgy the gains; and, as is the case in other lotteries, though purticulars have got prizes, the mass of adventurers are losers, the whole expense of fitting out all the privateers during a war being much greater than the whole amount of goods taken.

Then there is the national loss of all the labour of so many men during the time they have been emploved in robbing: who besides spend what they get in riot, drunkenness, and debauchery; lose their habits of industry; are rarely fit for any sober bu. siness after a peace, and serve only to increase the number of highwaymen and house-breakers. Even the undertakers, who have been fortunate, are by sudden wealth led into expensive living, the habit of which continues when the means of supporting it cease, and finally rning them : a just punishment for their having wantonly and unfeelingly ruined many honest, innocent traders and their families, whose substance was employed in serving the common interests of mankind.

ON THE IMPRESS OF SEAMEN.

Notes copied from Dr. Franklin's writing in pencil

in the margin of Judge Foster's celebrated argument in favour of the Impressing of Seamen, (pub. lished in the folio edition of his works.) JUDGE FOSTER, p. 158. “Every man.-The con. clusion here from the whole to a part, does not seem to be good logic. If the alphabet should say, Let us all fight for the defence of the whole; that is equal, and may, therefore, be just. But if they should say,

let A B C and D go out and fight for us, while we stay at home and sleep in whole skins; that is not equal, and therefore cannot be just. Ib.

“Employ."- If you please. The word signifies engaging a man to work for me, by offering him such wages as are sufficient to induce him to prefer my service.

This is very different from compelling him to work on such terms as I think proper.

Ib. “ This service and employment," &c. These are false facts. His employment and service are not the same --Under the merchant he goes in an unarmed vessel, not obliged to fight, but to transport merchandise. In the king's service he is obliged to fight, and to hazard all the dangers of battle. Sickness on board of king's ships is also more common and more mortal. The merchant's service, too, he can quit at the end of the voyage; not the king's. Also, the merchant's wages are much higher.

Ib. 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 service, 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 calamity." Where is this máxim in law and good policy to be found ? And how can that be a inaxim 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. The expedient, &c. And,” &c. (Paragraphs 2 and 3.)- Twenty ineffectual or inconve. nient schemes will not justify one that is unjust.

Ib. Upon the foot of,” &c.--Your reasoning, indeed, like a lie, stands but upon one foot; truth Page 160.

Full wages.”—Probably the same they had in the merchants service,

upon two.

Page 174. "I hardly admit,” &c.—(Pargraph 5.) When this author speaks of impressing, page 158, he diminishes the horror of the practice as much as pos: sible, by presenting to the mind one sailor only suf. fering a " hordship" (as he tenderly calls it) in some particular cases" only; and he places against this private mischief the inconvenience 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 twenty-five shillings a month, could get three pounds fifteen shillings in the mer. chants' service, you take from him fifty shillings a month; and if you have 100,000 in your service you rob this honest industrious part of society and their poor families of 250,0001. per month, or three mil. lions a year, and at the same time oblige them to hazard iheir lives in fighting for the defence of your trade; to the defence of which all ought indeed to contribute (and sailors among the rest) in proportion to their profits by it: but this three millions is more than their share, if they do not pay with their per: sons; but when you force that, methinks you should excuse the other.

But, it may be said, to give the king's seamen merchants' wages would cost 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 should compel the poorer to fight in defence of ihem and their properties, for such wages as they think fit to allow, and punish them if they refuse ? Our author tells us that it is " legal." I have not law enough to dispute his authorities but I cannot persuade 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 same good effects -the public security, without doing so much intole. rable injustice as attends the impressing common sea. In order to be better understood I would

premise two things :—First, That voluntary seamen may be had for the service, if they were sufficiently paid. The proof is, that to serve in the same ship, and incur the same dangers, you have no occasion to im

men.

« PreviousContinue »