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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 labor, 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 their 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 and 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 afterwards 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 passages 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; 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 an 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 favor the whole country.
ON THE CRIMINAL LAWS AND THE PRACTICE OF PRIVATEERING.
The following paper was written in the form of a letter to Mr. Benjamin Vaughan, and dated at Passy, March 14th, 1785. It first appeared anonymously in a small volume published by Sir Samuel Romilly, in the year 1786, being Observations on a treatise by Dr. Madan, entitled "Thoughts on Executive Justice." The letter contains remarks on the same publication It was communicated by Mr. Vaughan to Sir Samuel Romilly, who printed it at the end of his Observations, under the title of " A Letter from a Gentleman abroad to his Friend in England," and prefixed to it an explanatory advertisement.
"The writer of the foregoing Observations," says he, "having been favored with a copy of the following letter by a friend of his, to whom it was addressed, thought he should render a very acceptable service to the public by printing it. At the same time he cannot but feel it incumbent on him to make some apology for publishing it in the form of an Appendix to a work, which it very far surpasses in every kind of merit. The truth is, he was not at liberty to print it any other manner. The simplicity of style and liberality of thought, which distinguish it, cannot fail of discovering its venerable author to such as are already acquainted with his valuable writings. To those, who have not that good fortune, the editor is not permitted to say more, than that it is the production of one of the best and most eminent men of the present age."
This testimony is valuable from such a man as Sir Samuel Romilly. And indeed the letter may well be classed among the best of the author's writings, whether regarded as to the vigor and clearness of the style, the benign spirit it breathes, or its bold defence of the rights of humanity and justice. — Ebitor.
March 14th, 1785.
My Dear Friend,
Among the pamphlets you latelj sent me was one entitled "Thoughts on Executive Justice." In return
for that, I send you a French one on the same subject, Observations concemant PExecution de PJIrticle II. de la Declaration sur le Vol. They are both addressed to the judges, but 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 dictate 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 fourfold? 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 punir un delit contre la societe par un crime contre la nature ? *
Superfluous property is the creature of society. Simple and mild laws were sufficient to guard the property 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 expense 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, 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.
Ought an offence against society to be punished by a crime against
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 indignation against the instruments of it. But," he adds, "there is no danger 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 everybody'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 threepence; is there any proportion between the injury done by a theft, value fourteen shillings and threepence, and the punishment of a human creature, by death, on a gibbet? Might not the woman, by her labor, have made the reparation ordained by God, in paying fourfold? Is not all punishment inflicted beyond the merit of the offence, so much punishment of innocence? In this light, how vast is the annual quantity of not only injured, but suffering innocence, in almost all the civilized states of Europe!
But it seems to have been thought, that this kind of innocence may be punished by way of preventing crimes. I have read, indeed, of a cruel Turk in Barbary, who, whenever he bought a new Christian slave,