ePub 版

story. I think the cap was nevertheless an advantage to us ; for it was the first thing that put our girls upon knitting worsted mittens for sale at Philadelphia, that they might have wherewithal to buy caps and ribbons there ; and you know that that industry has continued, and is likely to continue and increase to a much greater value, and answer better purposes.”_Upon the whole, I was more reconciled to this little piece of luxury, since not only the girls were made happier by fine caps, but the Philadelphians by the supply of warm mittens.

In our commercial towns upon the sea-cvast, fortunes will occasionally be made. Some of those who grow rich will be prudent, live within bounds, and pre. serve what they have gained for their posterity : others fond of shewing their wealth, will be extravagant and ruin themselves. Laws cannot prevent this : and per. haps it is not always an evil to the public. A shilling spent idly by a fool, may be picked up by a wiser per son, w 10 knows better what to do with it. It is therefore not lost. A vain, silly fellow builds a fine house, furnishes it richly, lives in it expensively, and in a few years ruins himself : but the masons, carpenters, smiths, and other honest tradesmen, have been by his employ assisted in maintaining and raising their families; the farmer has been paid for his labour and encouraged, and the estate is now in better hands. In some cases, indeed, certain modes of luxury may be a public evil, in the same manner as it is a private one. If there be a nation, for instance, that exports its beef and linen, to pay for the importation of claret and porter, while a great part of its people live upon potatoes, and wear no shirts ; wherein does it differ from the sot who lets his family starve, and sells his clothes to buy drink? Our American commerce is, I confess, a lit. tle in this way. We sell our victuals to the islands for rum and sugar; the substantial necessaries of life for superfluities. But we have plenty, and live well

nevertheless, though, by being soberer, we might be richer.

The vast quantity of forest land we have yet to clear, and put in order for cultivation, will for a long time keep the body of our nation laborious and frugal. Forming an opinion of our people and their manners, by what is seen among the inhabitants of the sea-ports, is judging from an improper sample. The people of the trading towns may be rich and luxurious, while the country possesses all the virtues that tend to promote happiness and public prosperity. Those towns are not much regarded by the country ; they are hardly considered as an essential part of the states ; and the experience of the last war has shewn, that their being in possession of the enemy did not necessasily draw on the subjection of the country ; which bravely continued to maintain its freedom and independence notwithstanding.

It has been computed by some political arithmetitian, that if every man and woman would work for four hours each day on something useful, that labour would produce sufficient to procure all the necessaries and comforts of life ; want and misery would be ban. ished out of the world, and the rest of the twenty-four hours might be leisure and pleasure.

What occasions then so much want and misery? It is the employment of men and women in works that produce neither the necessaries or conveniences of life, who, with those that do nothing, consume neces. saries raised by the laborious. To explain this :

The first elements of wealth are maintained by labour, from the earth and waters. I have land, and raise corn. With this, if I feed a family that does nothing, my corn will be consumed, and at the end of the year I shall be no richer than I was at the beginning. But if while I feed them, I employ them, some in spinning, others in making bricks, &c. for building, the value of my corn will be arrested and remain with me, and at the end of the year we may be all better clothed and better lodged. And if, instead of employing a man I feed in making bricks, I employ him in fiddling for me, the corn he eats is gone, and no part of his manufactúre remains to augment the wealth and convenience of the family ; I shall therefore be the poorer for this fiddling man, unless the rest of my family work more, or eat less, to make up the deficiency he occasions.

Look round the world, and see the millions employ. ed in doing nothing, or in something that amounts to nothing, when the necessaries and conveniences of life are in question.

What is the bulk of commerce, for which we fight and destroy each other, but the toil of millions for superfluities, to the great hazard and loss of many lives, by the constant dangers of the sea How much labour is spent in building and fitting great ships to go to China and Arabia for tea and coffee, to the West Indies for sugar, to America for tobacco ? These things cannot be called the necessaries of life, for our ancestors lived very comfortably without thèm.

A question may be asked: Could all these people now employed in raising, making, or carrying superfluities, be subsisted by raising necessaries? I think they might. The world is large, and a great part of it uncultivated. Many hundred millions of acres in Asia, Africa, and America, are still in a forest ; and a great dcal even in Europe. On a hundred acres of this forest, a man might become a substantial farmer; and a hundred thousand men employed in clearing each his hundred acres, would hardly brighten a spot big enough to be visible from the moon, unless with Herschel's. telescope , so vast are the regions still in wood.

It is however some comfort to reflect, that, upon the whole, the quantity of industry and prudence among mankind exceeds the quantity of idleness and folly.Hence the increase of good buildings, farms cultivatedy. and populous cities filled with wealth, all over Europe, which a few ages since were only to be found on the coasts of the Mediterranean ; and this notwithstanding the mad wars continually raging, by which are-often destroyed in one year the works of many years peace. So that we may hope, the luxury of a few merchants on the coast will not be the ruin of America.

One reflection more, and I will end this long ramba ling letter. Almost all the parts of our bodies require , some expence. The feet demand shoes; the legs. stockings; the rest of the body clothing ; and the belly a good deal of victuals. Our eyes, though exceedingly useful, ask, when reasonable, only the cheap assista ance of spectacles, which could not much impair our finances. But the eyes of other people are the eyes, that ruin us, If all but myself were blind, I should want neither fine clothes, fine houses, nor fine furnityre.



EADING in the newspapers the speech of Mre

Jackson in Congress, against meddling with the affair of slavery, or attempting to mend the condition. of slaves, it put me in mind of a similar speech, made about an hundred years since, by Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim, 'a member of the Divan of Algiers, which may be seen in Martin's account of his consulship, 1687.It was against granting the petition of the sect called Erika or Purists, who prayed for the abolition of pira.. cy and slavery, as being unjust.-Mr Jackson does not quote it; perhaps he has not seen it. If therefore, some of its reasonings are to be found in his eloquent speech, it may only shew that men's interests operate; and are operated on, with surprising similarity, in all puntries and cliinates, whenever they are under simu

ilar circumstances. The African speech, as translated, is as foilows:

“ Alla Bismillah, &c. God is great, and Mahomet is his prophet.

66 Have these Erika considered the consequences of granting their petition? If we cease our cruises against the Christians, how shall we be furnished with the commodities their countries produce, and which are so necessary for us? If we forbear to make slaves of their people, who, in this hot climate, are to cultivate our lands ? 'ho are to perform the common labours of our city, and of our families ? Must we not then be our own slaves ?

And is there not more compassion and more favour due to us Mussulmen than to those Christian dogs ?-We have now above fifty thousand slaves in and near Algiers. This number, if not kept up by fresh supplies, will soon diminish, and be gradually annihilated. If, then, we cease taking and plundering the infidel ships, and making slaves of the sea. inen and passengers, our lands will become of no value, for want of cultivation ; the rents of houses in the city will sink one half; and the revenues of government, arising from the share of prizes, must be totally destroyed. And for what? To gratify the whim of a whimsical sect, who would have us not only forbear making more slaves, but even manumit those we have. But who is to indemnify their masters for the loss; will the state do it? Is our treasury sufficient ? Will the Erika do it ? Can they do it? Or would they, to do what they think justice to the slaves, do a greater injustice to the owners? And if we set our slaves free what is to be done with them! Few of them will return to their native countries ? they know too well the greater hardships they must there be subject to, They will not embrace our holy religion : they will not adopt our manners : our people will not polo lute themselves by intermarrying with them. Must we maintain them as beggars in our streets ? or suffer

« 上一頁繼續 »