Page images
PDF
EPUB

them to observe. Thus, having both seen and experienced, CHA P.
the good effects of the foregoing rules, I may hope to be in-
dulged in recommending them so warmly to others.

VII.

[blocks in formation]

GENERAL REFLECTIONS ON COLONIES, AND THE MEANS OF PRO.

MOTING THEM.

98.
“TH

HE idea of glory,” says the Abbé Raynal, “ is in- Definition of
separable from that of

glory, by

great difficulty overcome, Kaynal. great utility resulting from success, and a proportionate increase of the happiness of mankind, or of one's country.”

_“ Glory essentially belongs to God on high. Upon earth it is the portion of virtue, not of genius; of a virtue useful, great, beneficent, shining, heroic. It is the lot of a monarch who, during the perils of a boisterous reign, labours, and successfully labours, to promote the felicity of his subjects. It is the lot of a subject who sacrifices his life for the good of the community. It belongs to a nation which nobly refolves to die free, rather than to live in slavery. It is the reward, not of a Cæsar or a Pompey, but of a Regulus or a Cato. It is the just recompense of a Henry IV.”

99. “ Thanks to the spirit of humanity which now be-
gins to inspire all sensible men; conquerors, both ancient
and modern, are finking to the level of the most detestable
of mankind*. And I have not a doubt that posterity, which
will pronounce an impartial sentence on our discoveries in
the New World, will doom our barbarous navigators to a

“ Heroes are all the same, it is agreed,
From Macedonia's madman to the Swede;
The whole strange purpose of their lives to find,
Or make, an enemy--of all inankind.''-

lower

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

VII.

dern Eu. rope contracted.

C H A P. lower state of abasement than even conquerors themselves.

Did the love of mankind, or did sordid avarice, actuate them? And can enterprizes, even though good in them. selves, be thought deserving of praise, if the motives of them

be vicious *." Colonial po

100. But were navigators alone blameable in this respect ? licy of mo

And can we candidly affirm that the governments of the colonizing nations of Europe have seriously laboured, as they ought, to give to the selfishness of their subjects, a direction favourable to the real interests of mankind? I fear not. That enlarged policy which, imitating the fource of all perfection, endeavours to extract good out of evil, order out of confusion, seems to have had too little influence on the conduct of those statesmen, who took a part in projecting the modern colonies of Europe.-We will send our superfluous people to South America, said the court of Spain, to explore it's treasures, and, by their means, we will possess ourselves exclusively of the finews of war, and the medium of commerce, and thus render Spain the arbitress of Europe.-The court of Portugal held similar language. We, said the Dutch, will get possession of the spices of the East, and not a clove or a nutmeg shall the Europeans receive, except through our hands.---The British, with more good sense, but perhaps not with less selfishness, resolved to form colonies in North America, to serve as consumers of their manufactures, and providers of raw materials and naval stores, which, from their bulk, might employ a numerous body of mariners, and give to Britain the empire of the ocean. France, seeing the accession of wealth and power, which Britain seemed to derive from her colonies, but

* Hift. Phil. & Pol. T. VI. p. 285.

VII.

which she principally did derive from her liberty and con- C HA P. sequent industry, at home, was not slow in following the steps of her rival. The Swedes, the Danes, the Prullians, and the Austrians, have also had their colonizing schemes ; but not to the same extent with the nations already mentioned.

101. All those schemes were formed upon a similar principle. Contracted views of commercial and financial advantage, narrowed their foundations, and fuffered them not to spread beyond the limits of a partial and local policy. For, as far as I can learn, the founders of the modern European colonies scarcely ever entertained a thought of enlarging the sphere of human felicity, and extending the blessings of civilization and religion to distant nations. On the contrary, it is melancholy to trace the progress of the modern European colonization, marked, as it is, with injustice, rapine and murder, in various shapes.

102. And what advantages have the respe&ive mother Consequencountries derived from their plundering schemes? Why,

narrow polithe Spaniards and the Portuguese gained gold, and they cyn gained pride; but they lost their home-consumers by excessive emigrations; and their remaining people lost their industry, and their enterprizing fpirit, which before had made them so respectable in Europe. The Dutch gained the Spice INands, on which indeed they formed settlements, or factories, rather than colonies *. But in the West Indies

ces of this

* I think it right to distinguish colonies from settlements or factories. A colony fignifies a number of families, formed into a regular community, who have fixed themselves on an unoccupied spot, with a view to cultivate the soil, and rear pofte. rity. The words colony and settlement have sometimes the same meaning; but as the latter is very often used for the word factory, I wish to restrict it to this last signification.-Factories (or settlements) having only commercial, temporary ends in view, remove as soon as those ends are answered, leaving wholly out of fight eve. ry kind of cultivation and improvement, either of the people or the land.

they

VII.

CHA P. they formed real colonies, which may perhaps have contri

buted to fill the bags of the Amsterdam Bank. With money, however, they multiplied drones in their industrious hive, acquired a taste for high living, increased their taxes, banished several of their manufactures, and have brought upon themselves evident symptoms of national decay. The French and the British gained an increased marine which each employed in watching the motions of the other, in taking and retaking West Indian colonies and East Indian settlements, and in desolating some of the finest countries in the world with famine, fire, and sword. We cannot enter into particulars. Suffice it to say, that these two great nations have, by their quarrels about colonies, well nigh ruined one another. The French politicians succeeded in feparating the British colonies from their Mother Country; but, in this enterprize, they ruined their finances. . All Europe knows the rest. All Europe has seen the French government subverted; and has heard of the national debt of Great Britain. May Heaven avert from this highly favoured nation, any ruinous catastrophe! !

103. Colonies, as hitherto established and supported, have cost commercial nations nearly as great a sacrifice of people as the most destructive wars. For it must be owned, that colonists have been too often regarded by the monopolizing companies, or private merchants, who have generally directed them, in the light in which soldiers and failors are considered by statesmen; that is, merely as the instruments of their schemes. It therefore becoines a matter of serious consideration, when, where and how to form new ones, which, in their commencement, shall not be so destructive to the human race. While the principals are aiming at the acquisition of wealth, they ought not, as unfortunately has

hitherto

hitherto been too much the case, to treat with indifference CHA P.

VII. and neglect those whom Providence has placed in the humbler, but not less useful, station of executers of their plans.

rents and

ator.

104. Though it be usual to compare nations and their comparison colonies to parents and their children; yet, as things now and their cofand, I apprehend the analogy is very far from being just.

lonies, to paIn every family, the procreation and education of children children. are innate principles, and the evident intention of the Cre

Where is the sensible parent who does not strive to give his children an education as good, at least, as he himself has received, and to elevate them into a situation in life equal, or even superior, to that which he himself fills. Acting thus, has he any other end than their good; any other purpose to serve than that of establishing them in fociety, and enabling them, in due time, to become the.

provident and beneficent fathers of future families?

105. From such obligations, it would be a contradiction to infer, that children, arrived at maturity, ought, from a principle of false gratitude, inseparably to abide by their parents throughout life. No! Nature herself then emancipates them from parental authority, and justifies their claim to a separate residence, even though opposed by their parents. Without this procedure, fociety could not exist, and the human race would soon become extinct. In a word, children are fruit hanging on the tree : men are ripe fruit, qualified to produce, in their turn, new groups to grace the forest.

106. The gratitude and filial attachment which children preserve for their parents is, or ought to be, proportioned to K

the

« PreviousContinue »