ePub 版

into Egypt, in case we do not succeed in reducing the Canaanites.

On the whole, it appears that the Israelites were a people jealous of their newly acquired liberty, which jealousy was in itself vo fault ; but when they suffered it to be worked upon by al'tful men, pretending pubiic good, with nothing really in view but private interest, they were led to oppose the establishment of the new constitution, whereby they brought upon theinselves much inconvenience and misfortune. It farther appears from the same inestimable bustory, that when, af er many ages, the constituiion had become old and much abused, and an amendment of it was proposed, the populace, as they had accused Moses of the ambition of making himself a prince, and cried out, stone him, stove him ; so, excited by their high-priests and scribe's, they exclaimed against the Messiah, that he aimed at becoming king of the Jews, and cried, crucify him, crucify him. From all wlich we may gather, that popular opposition to a public measure is no proof of its impropriety, even though the opposition be excited and headed by men of distinction).

To conclude, I beg I may not be understood to infer, that our general convention was divinely inspired when it formed the new federal constitution, merely because that constitution has been unreasonably and vehemently opposed : yet, I must own, I have so much faith in the general government of the world by Providence, that I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance to the welfare of millions now existing, and to exist in the posterity of a great nation, would be suffered to pass without being in some degree intiuenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent and beneficent Ruler, in whom all inferior spirits live, and move, and have their being.

THE INTERNAL STATE OF AMERICA. Being a true Description of the Interest and Policy

of that vast Continent. There is a tradition, that, in the planting of NewEngland, the first settlers met with many difficulties and hardships; as is generally the case when a civilized people attempt establishing themselves in a wilderness country. Being piously disposed, they sought relief from heaven, by laying their wants and distresses before the Lord, in frequent set days of fasting and prayer. Constant meditation and discourse on these subjects kept their minds gloomy and discontented; and, like the children of Israel, there were many disposed to return to that Egypt which persecution had induced them to abandon. At length, when it was proposed in the Assembly to proclaim another fast, a farmer of plain sense rose, and remarked, that the inconveniences, they suffered, and concerning which they had so often wearied heaven with their complaints, were: pot so great as they might have expected, and were diminishing every day as the colony strengthened ; that the earth began to reward their labour, and to furnish liberally for their subsistence; that the seas and rivers. were found full of fish, the air sweet, and the climate healthy; and, above all, that they were there in full enjoyment of liberty, civil and religious: he therefore thought, that reflecting and conversing on these subjects would be more comfortable, as tending more to make them contented with their situation ; and that it would be more becoming the gratitude they owed to the Divine Being, if instead of a fast, they should proclaim-a thanksgiving. His advice was taken, and from that day to this they have, in every year, observed circumstances of public felicity sufficient to furnish employment for a thanksgiving day, which is therefore constantly ordered and religiously observed.

I see in the public newspapers of different states fre-quent complaints of hard times, deadness of trade, scare city of money, &c. &c. It is not my intention to assert

or maintain that these complaints are without foundation. There can be no country or nation existing, in which there will not be some people so circumstanced as to find it hard to gain a livelihood ; people who are not in the way of any profitable trade, and with whom money is scarce, because they have nothing to give in exchange for it; and it is always in the power of a small number to make a great clamor. But let us take a cool view of the general state of our affairs, and perhaps the prospect will appear less gloomy than has been imagined.

The great business of the continent is agriculture. For one artisan, or merchant, I suppose, we have at Jeast one hundred farmers, and by far the greatest part cultivators of their own fertile lands, from whence many of them draw not only food necessary for their subsistence, but the materials for their clothing, so as to nced very few foreign supplies; while they have a surplus of productions to dispose of, whereby wealth is gradually accumulated. Such has been the goodness of Divine Providence to these regions, and so favourable the climate, that, since the three or four years of hardship in the first setlement of our fathers here, a famine or scarcity has never been heard of among us; on the contrary, though some years have been more, and other's less plentiful, there has always been provision enough for ourselves, and a quantity to spare for exportation. And although the crops of last year werd generally good, never was the farmer better paid for the part he can spare commerce, as the publisiied price-currents abundantly testify. The lands he possesses are also continually rising in value with :he increase of population; and, on the whole, he is enabled to give such good wages to those who work for him, that all who are acquamted with the old world must agree, that in no part of it are the labouring poor so generally vuiì feci, well clothed, well lodged, and well paid, as in the United States of America.

If we enter the cities, we find that, since the revoc

lution, the owners of those houses and lots of ground have had their interest vastly augmented in value ; rents have'arisen to an astonishing height, and thence encouragement to increase building, which gives employment to an abundance of workmen, as does also the increased luxury and splendor of living of the inhabitants thus made richer. These workmen all demand and obtain much higher wages than any other part of the world could afford them, and are paid in ready money. This rank of people therefore do not, or ought not, to complain of hard times ; and they make a very considerable part of the city inhabitants.

At the distance I live from our American fisheries, I cannot speak of them with any degree of certainty : but I have not heard that the labour of the valuable race of men employed in them is worse paid, or that they meet with less success, than before the revolution. The whale-men indeed have been deprived of one mar. ket for their oil: but another, I hear, is opening for them, which it is hoped may be equally advantageous; and the demand is constantly increaing for their sper. maceti candles, which there bear a much higher price than formerly.

There reinain the merchants and slop keepers. Of these, though they make but a small part of lie whole nation, the number is considerable, too griat indeed for the business they are employed in ; for the consumption of goods in every country has its limits ; the faculties of the people, that is, their ability to buy aid pay, is equal only to a certain quantity of merchandise. If merchants calculate amiss on proportion, and import too much, they will of course find the sale dull for the overplus, and some of them will say that trade languishes. They should, and doubtless will, giowy wiser by experience, and import less. If too many artificers in town, and farmers from the country, fiallering themselves with the idea of leading easier lives, turn shopkeepers, the whole natural quaniity of that business di. vided among them all play afford 100 small a share

for each, and occasion complaints that trading is dead ; these may also suppose that it is owing to scarcity of money, while in fact, it is not so much from the fewness of buyers, as from the excessive number of sellers, that the mischief arises ; and, if every shopkeeping farmer and mechanic would return to the use of his plough and working tools, there would remain of wi. dows, and other women, shopkeepers sufficient for the business, which might then afford them a comfortable maintenance.

Whoever has travelled through the various parts of Europe, and observed how small is the proportion of people in affluence or easy circumstances there, compared with those in poverty and misery ; the few rich and haughty landlords, the multilude of poor, abject, rack-rented, tythe paying tenants, and half-paid and half-starved ragged labourers; and view here the happy mediocrity that so generally prevails throughout these states, where the cultivator works for himself, and supports his family in decent plenty; will, methinks, see abundant reason to bless Divine Providence for the evident and great difference in our favour, and be convinced that no nation known to us enjoys a greater share of human felicity.

It is true, that in some of the states there are parties, and discords ; but let us look back, and ask if we were ever without them? Slich will exist wherever there is liberty ; and perhaps they help to preserve it. By the collision of different sentiments, sparks of truth are struck out, and political light is obtained. The different factions, which at present divide us, aim all at the public good ; the differences are only about the various modes of promoting it. Things, actions, measures, and objects of all kinds, present themselves to the minds of men in such a variety of lights, that it is not possible we should all think alike at the same time on every subject, when hardly the same man retains at all times the same ideas of it. Parties are therefore the common lot of humanity; and ours are by no means more mia

« 上一頁繼續 »