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arts, trades, professions, farms, &c., are so full, that it is difficult for a poor man, who has children, to place them where they may gain, or learn to gain, a decent livelihood. The artisans, who fear creating future rivals in business, refuse to take apprentices, but upon conditions of money, maintenance, or the like, which the parents are unable to comply with. Hence the youth are dragged up in ignorance of every gainful art, and obliged to become soldiers, or servants, or thieves, for a subsistence. In America, the rapid increase of inhabitants takes away that fear of rivalship, and artisans willingly receive apprentices from the hope of profit by their labour, during the remainder of the time stipulated, after they shall be instructed. Hence it is easy for poor families to get their children instructed; for the artisans are so desirous of apprentices, that many of them will even give money to the parents, to have boys from ten to fifteen years of age, bound apprentices to them, till the age of twenty-one; and many poor parents have, by that means, on their arrival in the country, raised money enough to buy land sufficient to establish themselves, and to subsist the rest of the family by agriculture. These contracts for apprentices are made before a magistrate, who regulates the agreement according to reason and justice; and, having in view the formation of a future useful citizen, obliges the master to engage, by a written indenture, not only that, during the time of service stipulated, the apprentice shall be duly provided with meat, drink, apparel, washing, and lodging, and at its expiration with a complete new suit of clothes, but also, that he shall be taught to read, write, and cast accounts; and that he shall be well instructed
in the art or profession of his master, or some other, by which he may afterward gain a livelihood, and be able in his turn to raise a family. A copy of this indenture is given to the apprentice or his friends, and the magistrate keeps a record of it, to which recourse may be had, in case of failure by the master in any point of performance. This desire among the masters to have more hands employed in working for them, induces them to pay the passage of young persons of both sexes, who, on their arrival, agree to serve them one, two, three, or four years; those who have already learned a trade, agreeing for a shorter term, in proportion to their skill, and the consequent immediate value of their service; and those who have none, agreeing for a longer term, in consideration of being taught an art their poverty would not permit them to acquire in their own country.
The almost general mediocrity of fortune that prevails in America, obliging its people to follow some business for subsistence, those vices that arise usually from idleness are, in a great measure, prevented. Industry and constant employment are great preservatives of the morals and virtue of a nation. Hence bad examples to youth are more rare in America, which must be a comfortable consideration to parents. To this may be truly added, that serious religion, under its various denominations, is not only tolerated, but respected and practised. Atheism is unknown there; and infidelity rare and secret; so that persons may live to a great age in that country without having their piety shocked by meeting with either an atheist or infidel. And the Divine Being seems to have manifested his approbation of the mutual forbearance and kindness
with which the different sects treat each other, by the remarkable prosperity with which he has been pleased to favour the whole country.
THOUGHTS ON COMMERCIAL SUBJECTS.
OF EMBARGOES UPON CORN, AND OF THE poor. IN inland high countries, remote from the sea, and whose rivers are small, running from the country, and not to it, as is the case with Switzerland, great distress may arise from a course of bad harvests, if public granaries are not provided and kept well stored. Anciently, too, before navigation was so general, ships so plenty, and commercial transactions so well established, even maritime countries might be occasionally distressed by bad crops. But such is now the facility of communication between those countries, that an unrestrained commerce can scarce ever fail of procuring a sufficiency for any of them. If indeed any government is so imprudent as to lay its hands on imported corn, forbid its exportation, or compel its sale at limited prices, there the people may suffer some famine from merchants avoiding their ports. But wherever commerce is known to be always free, and the merchant absolute master of his commodity, as in Holland, there will always be a reasonable supply.
When an exportation of corn takes place, occasioned by a higher price in some foreign countries, it is common to raise a clamour, on the supposition that we shall thereby produce a domestic famine. Then follows a prohibition, founded on the imaginary distresses of the poor. The poor, to be sure, if in distress, should be relieved; but if the farmer could have a high price for his corn from the foreign
demand, must he, by a prohibition of exportation, be compelled to take a low price, not of the poor only, but of every person that eats bread, even the richest ? The duty of relieving the poor is incumbent on the rich; but by this operation the whole burden of it is laid on the farmer, who is to relieve the rich at the same time. Of the poor, too, those who are maintained by the parishes have no right to claim this sacrifice of the farmer; as while they have their allowance, it makes no difference to them whether bread be cheap or dear. Those working poor, who now mind business only five or four days in the week, if bread should be so dear as to oblige them to work the whole six required by the commandment, do not seem to be aggrieved, so as to have a right to public redress. There will then remain, comparatively, only a few families in every district, who, from sickness, or a great number of children, will be so distressed by a high price of corn, as to need relief; and these should be taken care of by particular benefactions, without restraining the farmer's profit.
Those who fear that exportation may so far drain the country of corn as to starve ourselves, fear what never did nor never can happen. They may as well when they view the tide ebbing towards the sea, fear that all the water will leave the river. The price of corn, like water, will find its own level. The more we export, the dearer it becomes at home; the more is received abroad, the cheaper it becomes there; and, as soon as these prices are equal, the exportation stops of course. As the seasons vary in different countries, the calamity of a bad harvest is never universal. If, then, all ports were always open, and all commerce free, every maritime country would
generally eat bread at the medium price, or average of all the harvests; which would probably be more equal than we can make by our artificial regulations, and therefore a more steady encouragement to agriculture. The nation would all have bread at this middle price; and that nation, which at any time inhumanly refuses to relieve the distresses of another nation deserves no compassion when in distress itself.
OF THE EFFECTS OF DEARNESS OF PROVISIONS UPON WORKING, AND UPON MANUFACTURES.
The common people do not work for pleasure generally, but from necessity. Cheapness of provisions makes them more idle; less work is then done, it is then more in demand proportionally, and of course the price rises. Dearness of provisions obliges the manufacturer to work more days and more hours; thus more work is done than equals the usual demand: of course it becomes cheaper, and the manufactures in consequence.
OF AN OPEN TRADE.
Perhaps, in general, it would be better if government meddled no farther with trade than to protect it, and let it take its course. Most of the statutes or acts, edicts, or arrests, and placards of parliaments, princes, and states, for regulating, directing, or restraining of trade, have, we think, been either political blunders, or jobs obtained by artful men for private advantage under pretence of public good. When Colbert assembled some of the wise old merchants of France, and desired their advice and opinion how he could best serve and promote commerce their answer, after consultation, was in three