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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 injusice to a single scaman. 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. 66 Private mischief must be borne with « patience, for preventing a national calamity." 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 mischief, which, prevent a national calamity, ought to be generously compensated by the nation, one might understand it: but that such prirate mischiefs are only to be borne with patience, is absurd!
16. “ 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, irdeed, like a lie, stands but upon one foot; truth upo: two.
Page 160. “Full wages.”_Probably the same 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 sailor only suffering hardship (as he tenderly calls it) in some par. ticular 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 sail. or who is pressed, and obliged to serve for the defence of tr ide, at the rate of twenty five shillings a month, could get three pounds fifteen shillings in the mer. chant's 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 250,000l. 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 sailors among the rest) in proportion to their profits by it; but this three millions is more than their share, if they did not pay with their persons; but when you force that, methinks you should excuse the other.
But it may be said, to give the king's seamen merchant's 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 them 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 pursuade myself that it is equitable. I will, however, own for the present, that it may be lawful when necessary; but when I contend that it may be used so as to produce the same good effects-the public securi'y without doing so much intolerable injustice as attends the impressing common seameo.--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 impress captains, lieutenants, second lieutenants, midshipmen, pursers, nor many other officers. Why but that the profits of their places, or the emoluments expected, are sufficient inducements ? The busiDess then is, to find money, by impressing, 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 salt beef, pork, and pease-pudding, being found sufficient for the subsis
tance of a hard-working seaman, it will certainly be so for a sedentary scholar or a gentleman I would then propose 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 example, to show how much impressing ought to be borne with; for he would certainly 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 501. a year salary, up to 50,0001. which would throw an immense sum into our treasury: and these gentlemen could not complain, since they would receive twentyfive shillings a month, and their rations; and this without being obliged to fight. Lastly, I think I would impress***
ON THE CRIMINAL LAWS,
THE PRACTICE OF PRIVATEERING.
LETTER TO BENJAMIN VAUGHAN, Esq.
March 14, 1785.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
AMONG the pamphlets you lately sent me, was one, entitled, Thoughs on Executive Justice. In return for that, I send you one on the same subject, Observations concernant ľExécution de l Article II. de la Déclaration sur le Vol. They are both addressed to the judges, and written, as you will see, in a very different spirit. 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 dictates 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 restitution of four-fold? 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 pueir un délit contre la societé par un crime contre la nature.
Superfluous property is the creature of society. Simple and mild laws were sufficient to guard the pro
perty that was merely necessary. The savage'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 accumulated 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 society, 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 no deer. of your own, 6 and being hungry, should kill one, an infamous death “must be the consequence:"-he would probably have preferred his liberty, and his common right of killing 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 suffering innocence, must «« awaken all our tenderest and most compassionate « feelings, and at the same time raise our highest in« dignation against the instruments of it. But, (he adds, there is no dangar of either, from a strict adherence to the laws." Really! Is it then impossible to make an unjust law? and if the law itself be unjust, may it not be the very " instrument” which ought to “ raise the author's and every body's highest indignation ?" I see, in the last newspapers from London, that a woman is capitally convicted at the Old Bailey, for privately stealing out of a shop some 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 gibbit ? Might not that woman, by her labour, have made the repa.