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If the practice of privateering could be profitable to any civilized nation, it might be so to us Americans, since we are so situated on the globe as that the rich commerce of Europe with the West Indies, consisting of manufactures, sugars, &c., is obliged to pass before our doors, which enables us to make short and cheap cruises, while our own commerce is in such bulky, low-priced articles, as that ten of our ships taken by you are not equal in value to one of yours, and you must come far from home at a great expense to look for them. I hope, therefore, that this proposition, if made by us, will api pear in its true light, as having humanity only for its motive. I do not wish to see a new Barbary rising in America, and our long-extended coast occupied by piratical states. I fear lest our privateering success in the last two wars should already have given our people too strong a relish for that most mischievous kind of gaming, mixed blood; and if a stop is not now put to the practice, mankind may hereafter be more plagued with American corsairs than they have been and are with the Turkish. Try, my friend, what you can do in procuriug for your nation the glory of being, though the greatest naval power, the first who voluntarily relinquished the advantage that power seems to give them, of plundering others, and thereby impeding the mutual cominunications among men of the gifts of God, and rendering miserable multitudes of merchants and their families, artisans, and cultivators of the earth, the most peaceable and innocent part of the human species.
" Dr. Percival
Passy, July 17, 1784. 4 DEAR SIR, "I received yesterday, by Mr. White, your kind
letter of May 11th, with the most agreeable present of your new book. I read it all before I slept, which is a proof of the good effects your happy manner has of drawing your reader on, by mixing little anecdotes and historical facts with your instructions. Be pleased to accept my grateful acknowledgments for the pleasure it has afforded me.
"It is astonishing that the murderous practice of duelling, which you so justly condema, should continue so long in vogue. Formerly, when duels were used to determine lawsuits, from an opinion that Providence would in every instance favour truth and right with victory, they were excusable. At present they decide nothing. A man says something which another tells him is a lie. They fight; but, whichever is killed, the point in dispute remains unsettled.
How can such miserable sinners as we are entertain so much pride as to conceit that every offence against our imagined honour merits death? These petty princes, in their own opinion, would call that sovereign a tyrant who would put one of them to death for a little uncivil language, though pointed at his sacred person: yet every one of them makes himself judge in his own cause, condemns the offender without a jury, and undertakes himself to be the executioner.
“With sincere and great esteem, I have the honour to be, sir, your most obedient and humble servant,
“Sir Joseph Banks.
“ Passy, July 27, 1783. “ DEAR SIR, "I received your very kind letter by Dr. Blagden, and esteem myself much honoured by your friendly remembrance. I have been too much and too closesy engaged in public affairs since his being here to
enjoy all the benefit of his conversation you were so good as to intend me. I hope soon to have more leisure, and to spend a part of it in those studies that are much more agreeable to me than political operations.
“I join with you most cordially in rejoicing at the return of peace. I hope it will be lasting, and that mankind will at length, as they call themselves reasonable creatures, have reason and sense enough to settle their differences without cutting throats: for, in my opinion, there never was a good war nor a bad peace. What vast additions to the conveniences and comforts of living might mankind have acquired, if the money spent in wars had been employed in works of public utility. What an extension of agriculture even to the tops of our mountains; what rivers rendered navigable, or joined by canals; what bridges, aqueducts, new roads, and other public works, edifices and improvements, rendering England a complete paradise, might not have been obtained, by spending those millions in doing good which in the last war have been spent in doing mischief; in bringing misery into thousands of families, and destroying the lives of so many thousands of working people, who might have performed the useful labour !
“I am pleased with the late astronomical disa coveries made by our society. Furnished as all Europe now is with academies of science, with nice instruments and the spirit of experiment, the progress of human knowledge will be rapid, and discoveries made of which we have at present no conception. I begin to be almost sorry I was born so soon, since I cannot have the happiness of knowing what will be known one hundred years hence.
“I wish continued success to the labours of the Royal Society, and that you may long adorn their chair; being, with the highest esteem, dear sir, &C.,
« Dr. Blagden will acquaint you with the experiment of a vast globe sent up into the air, much talked of here, and which, if prosecuted, may furnish means of new knowledge.”
* Robert Morris, Esq.
“Passy, Dec. 25, 1783. “The remissness of our people in paying taxes is highly blameable, the unwillingness to pay them is still more so. I see in some resolutions of town meetings a remonstrance against giving Congress a power to take, as they call it, the people's money out of their pockets, though only to pay the interest and principal of debts duly contracted. They seem to mistake the point. Money justly due from the people is their creditor's money, and no longer the money of the people, who, if they withhold
it, should be compelled to pay by some law. All property, indeed, except the savages' temporary cabin, his bow, his matchuat, and other little acquisitions absolutely necessary for his subsistence, seems to me to be the creature of public convention. Hence the public has the right of regulating descents, and all other conveyances of property, and even of limiting the quantity and the uses of it. All the property that is necessary to a man for the conservation of the individual and the propagation of the species, is his natural right, which none can justly deprive him of; but all property superfluous to such purposes is the property of the public, who, by their laws, have created it, and who may therefore, by other laws, dispose of it whenever the welfare of the public shall desire such disposition. He that does not like, civil society on these terms, let him retire and live among savages. He can have no
right to the benefits of society who will not pay his club towards the support of it.
“The Marquis de Lafayette, who loves to be employed in our affairs, and is often very useful, has lately had several conversations with the ministers and persons concerned in forming new regulations. respecting the commerce between our two countries, which are not yet concluded. I thought it, therefore, well to communicate to him a copy of your letter which contains so many sensible and just observations on that subject. He will make a proper use of them, and perhaps they may have more weight, as appearing to come from a Frenchman, than they would have if it were known that they were the observations of an American. I perfectly agree with all the sentiments you have expressed on this occasion.
“I am sorry, for the public's sake, that you are about to quit your office, but on personal considerations I shall congratulate you. For I cannot conceive of a more happy man than he who, having been long loaded with public cares, finds himself relieved from them, and enjoying private repose in the bosom of his friends and family.
“ With sincere regard and attachment, I am ever, dear sir, yours, &c.,
“ To Dr. Mather, Boston.
“Passy, May 12, 1784. " Rev. Sir, “I received your kind letter with your excellent advice to the people of the United States, which I read with great pleasure, and hope it will be duly regarded. Such writings, though they may be lightly passed over by many readers, yet if they make a deep impression on one active mind in a hundred, the effects may be considerable. Permit