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apparent, and probably its true and real motive and encouragement.

Justice is as strictly due between neighbour nations as between neighbour citizens. A highwayman is as much a robber when he plunders in a gang, as when single ; and a nation that makes an unjust war, is only a great gang After employing your people in robbing the Dutch, strange is it, that, being put out of that employ by peace, they still continue robbing, and rob one another! Piraterie, as the French call it, or privateering, is the universal bent of the English nation, at home and abroad, wherever settled. No less than seven hundred privateers were, it is said, commissioned in the last war! These were fitted out by merchants, to prey upon other merchants, who had never done them any injury. Is there probably any one of those privateering merchants of London, who were so ready to rob the merchants of Amsterdam, that would not readily plunder another London merchant of the next street, if he could do it with impunity ? The avidity, the alieni appetens, is the same; it is the fear alone of the gallows that makes the difference. How then can a nation, which, among the honestest of its people, has so many thieves by inclination, and whose government encouraged and commissioned no less than seven hundred gangs of robbers; how can such a nation have the face to condemn the crime in individuals, and hang up twenty of them in a morning? It naturally puts one in mind of a Newgate anecdote. One of the prisoners complained, that in the night somebody had taken his buckles out of his shoes; “ What, the devil ! ” says another, “ have we then thieves among us? It must not be suffered ; let us search out the rogue,

and pump him to death.”

There is, however, one late instance of an English

merchant who will not profit by such ill-gotten gain. He was, it seems, part-owner of a ship, which the other owners thought fit to employ as a letter of marque, and which took a number of French prizes. The booty being shared, he has now an agent here inquiring, by an advertisement in the gazetie, for those who suffered the loss, in order to make them, as far as in him lies, restitution. This conscientious man is a Quaker. The Scotch Presbyterians were formerly as tender; for there is still extant an ordinance of the town-council of Edinburgh, made soon after the Reformation, “ forbidding the purchase of prize goods, under pain of losing the freedom of the burgh for ever, with other punishment at the will of the magistrate; the practice of making prizes being contrary to good conscience, and the rule of treating Christian brethren as we would wish to be treated; and such goods are not to be sold by any godly men within this burgh." The race of these godly men in Scotland is probably extinct, or their principles abandoned; since, as far as that nation had a hand in promoting the war against the colonies, prizes and confiscations are believed to have been a considerable motive.

It has been for some time a generally received opinion, that a military man is not to inquire whether a war be just or unjust; he is to execute his orders. All princes who are disposed to become tyrants must probably approve of this opinion, and be willing to establish it; but is it not a dangerous one ? since, on that principle, if the tyrant commands his army to attack and destroy, not only an unoffending neighbour nation, but even his own subjects, the army is bound to obey. A negro slave, in our colonies, being commanded by his master to rob or murder a neight our, or do any other immoral act, may refuse, and the


magistrate will protect him in his refusal. The slavery then of a soldier is worse than that of a negro! A conscientious officer, if not restrained by the apprehension of its being imputed to another cause, may indeed resign, rather than be employed in an unjust war; but the private men are slaves for life ; and they are perhaps incapable of judging for themselves. We can only lament their fate, and still more that of a sailor, who is often dragged by force from his honest occupation, and compelled to imbrue his hands in, perhaps, innocent blood.

But methinks it well behoves merchants (men more enlightened by their education, and perfectly free from any such force or obligation,) to consider well of the justice of a war, before they voluntarily engage a gang of ruffians to attack their fellow merchants of a neighbouring nation, to plunder them of their property, and perhaps ruin them and their families, if they yield it; or to wound, maim, or murder them, if they endeavour to defend it. Yet these things are done by Christian merchants, whether a war be just or unjust; and it can hardly be just on both sides. They are done by English and American merchants, who, nevertheless, complain of private theft, and hang by dozens the thieves they have taught by their own example.

It is high time, for the sake of humanity, that a stop were put to this enormity. The United States of America, though better situated than any European nation to make profit by privateering (most of the trade of Europe, with the West Indies, passing before their doors), are, as far as in them lies, endeavouring to abolish the practice, by offering, in all their treaties with other powers, an article, engaging solemnly, that, in case of future war, no privateer shall be commissioned on either side; and that unarmed merchant-ships, on both sides, shall pursue their voyages unmolested.* This will

* be a happy improvement of the law of nations. The humane and the just cannot but wish general success to the proposition. With unchangeable esteem and affection, ever yours,


* This offer having been accepted by the late King of Prussia, a treaty of amity and commerce was concluded between that monarch and the United States, containing the following humane, philanthropic article; in the formation of which Dr. Franklin, as one of the American plenipotentiaries, was principally concerned, viz.

ART. XXIII. “ If war should arise between the two contracting parties, the merchants of either country, then residing in the other, shall be allowed to remain nine months to collect their debts and settle their affairs, and may depart freely, carrying off all their effects without molestation or hindrance; and all women and children, scholars of every faculty, cultivators of the earth, artisans, manufacturers, and fishermen, unarmed and inhabiting unfortified towns, villages, or places, and in general all others, whose occupations are for the common subsistence and benefit of mankind, shall be allowed to continue their respective employments, and shall not be molested in their persons, nor shall their houses and goods be burnt, or otherwise destroyed, nor their fields wasted, by the armed force of the enemy into whose power, by the events of war, they may happen to fall; but, if any thing is necessary to be taken from them for the use of such armed force, the same shall be paid for at a reasonable price. And all merchants and trading vessels employed in exchanging the products of different places, and thereby rendering the necessaries, conveniences, and comforts of human life more easy to be obtained, and more general, shall be allowed to pass free and un molested; and neither of the contracting powers shall grant or issue any cɔmmission to any private armed vessels, empowering them to take or des oy such trading vessels, or interrupt such commerce.”. W.T.F.


By the original law of nations, war and extirpation were the punishment of injury. Humanizing by degrees, it admitted slavery instead of death ; a farther step was, the exchange of prisoners instead of slavery; another, to respect more the property of private persons under conquest, and be content with acquired dominion. Why should not this law of nations go on improving? Ages have intervened between its several steps; but as knowledge of late increases rapidly, why should not those steps be quickened? Why should it not be agreed to, as the future law of nations, that in any war hereafter, the following description of men should be undisturbed, have the protection of both sides, and be permitted to follow their employments in security ? viz.

1. Cultivators of the earth, because they labor for the subsistence of mankind.

2. Fishermen, for the same reason.

3. Merchants and traders in unarmed ships, who accommodate different nations by communicating and exchanging the necessaries and conveniences of life.

4. Artists and mechanics, inhabiting and working in

open towns.

It is hardly necessary to add, that the hospitals of enemies should be unmolested; — they ought to be assisted. It is for the interest of humanity in general, that the occasions of war, and the inducements to it, should be diminished. If rapine be abolished, one of the encouragements to war is taken away; and peace therefore more likely to continue and be lasting.

The practice of robbing merchants on the high seas, a remnant of the ancient piracy,—though it may be accidentally beneficial to particular persons, is far from

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