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corn. With this if I feed a family that does nothing, my com 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 manufacture remains to augment the wealth and convenience of the family; I shall, therefore, be the poorer for this fiddling inan, 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 employed 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 buildings, 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 com fortably without them.
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 is still uncultivated. Many hundred millions of acres in Asia, Africa, and America, are still in a forest; and a great deal even in Europe. On a hur dred acres of this forest, a man might become a substantial farmer; and a hundred thousand men em ployed in clearing each his hundred acres, would hardly brighten a spot large 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 buldings, farms cultivated, and populous cities filled with wealth, all over Europe, which a few ages since were only to to be found on the coast 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 no be the ruin of America.
One reflection more, and I will end this long ram bling letter. Almost all the parts of our bodies re. quire some expense. The feet demands 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 assistance 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 furniture.
ON THE SLAVE TRADE.
READING in the newspapers the speech of Mr. 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 one hundred years since, by Sidi Mahomet 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 piracy 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 not only show that men's interests operate, and are operated on
with surprising similarity, in all countries and climates, whenever they are under similar circumstances. The African speech, as translated, is as follows:
"Alia Bismillah, &c. God is great and Mahomet is his prophet."
"Have these Erika considered the consequences of granting their petition? If we cease our cruizes 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? Who 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 infidels' ships, and making slaves of the seamen 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 anore 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 pollute themselves by inter-marrying with them. Must we maintain them as beggars in our streets; or suffer our properties to be the prey of their pillage? for men accustomed to slavery will not work for a livelihood
when not compelled. And what is there so pitiable in their present condition? Were they not slaves in their own countries? Are not Spain, Portugal, France, and the Italian states, governed by despots, who hold all their subjects in slavery, without exception? Even England treats her sailors as slaves; for they are, whenever the government pleases, seize and confined in ships of war, coudemned not only to work, but to fight for small wages, or a mere subsistence, not better than our slaves are allowed by us. Is their condition then made worse by their falling inta our hands? No: they have only exchanged one slavery for another; and I may say a better: for here they are brought into a land where the sun of Islamism gives forth its light, and shines in full splendour, and they have an opportunity of making themselves acquainted with the true doctrine, and thereby save their immortal souls. Those who remain at home have not that happiness. Sending the slaves home, then, would be sending them out of light into darkness.
"I repeat the question, what is to be done with them? I have heard it suggested, that they may be planted in the wilderness, where there is plenty of land for them to subsist on, and where they may flourish as a free state.-But they are, I doubt, too little disposed to labour without compulsion, as well as too ignorant to establish good government; and the wild Arabs would soon molest and destroy, or again enslave them. While serving us, we take care to provide them with every thing; and they are treated with humanity. The labourers in their own countries are, as I am informed, worse fed, lodged, and clothed. The condition of most of them is therefore already mended, and requires no further improvement. Here their lives are in safety. They are not liable to be impressed for soldiers, and forced to cut one another's Christian throats, as in the wars of their own countrics. If some of the religious mad bigots who now tease us with their silly petitions, have, in a fit of blind zeal, freed their slaves, it was not gene rosity, it was not humanity, that moved them to the action; it was from the conscious burden of a ludof
sins, and hope, from the supposed merits of so good a work, to be excused from damnation.-How grossly are they mistaken, in imagining slavery to be disavowed by the Alcoran! Are not the two precepts, to quote no more, Masters, treat your slaves with kindness-Slaves, serve your masters with cheerfulness and fidelity,' clear proofs to the contrary? Nor can the plundering of infidels be in that sacred book forbidden; since it is well known from it, that God has given the world, and all that it contains, to his faithful Musselmen, who are to enjoy it, of right, as fast as they conquer it. Let us then hear no more of this detestable proposition, the manumission of Christian slaves, the adoption of which would, by depreciating our lands and houses, and thereby depriving so many good citizens of their properties, create universal discontent, and provoke insurrections, to the endangering of government, and producing general confusion. I have, therefore, no doubt, that this wise council will prefer the comfort and happiness of a whole nation of true believers, to the whim of a few Erika, and dismiss their petition."
The result was, as Martin tells us, that the Divan came to this resolution: "That the doctrine, that the plundering and enslaving the Christians is unjust, is at best problematical: but that it is the interest of this state to continue the practice, is clear: therefore, let the petition be rejected.”—And it was rejected accordingly.
And since like motives are apt to produce, in the minds of men, like opinions and resolutions, may we not venture to predict, from this account, that the petitions to the parliament of England for abolishing the slave trade, to say nothing of other legislatures, and the debates upon them, will have a similar conclusion.
March 23, 1790.