« ZurückWeiter »
OBSERVATIONS ON WAR.
By the original laws 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 ac quired 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 labour 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 geneTal, 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 being profitable to all engaged in it, or to the nation that authorizes it. In the beginning of a war some rich ships are surprised and taken. This encourages the first adventures to fit out more arined vessels and many others to do the same.
enemy at the same time become more careful, arm their merchant ships better, and render them not so easy to be taken: they go also more under the protection of convoys. Thus, while the privateers to take them are multiplied, the vessels subjected to be taken, and the chances of profit, are diminished; so that many cruises are made wherein the expenses overgo the gains; and, as is the case in other lotteries, though particulars have got prizes, the mass o adventures are losers, the whole expense of fitting out all the privateers during a war being much greater than the whole amount of goods taken.
Then there is the national loss of all the labour of so many men during the time they have been employed in robbing; who besides spend what they get in riot, drunkenness and debauchery; lose their habits of industry; are rarely fit for any sober business after a peace, and serve only to increase the number of highwaymen and house-breakers. Even the undertakers, who have been fortunate, are by sudden wealth led into expensive living, the habit of which continues when the means of supporting it cease, and finally ruins them: a just punishment for their having wantonly and unfeelingly ruined many honest, innocent traders and their families, whose substance was employed in serving the common in⚫ terests of mankind.
ON THE IMPRESS OF SEAMEN.
Notes copied from Dr. Franklin's writing in pencl in the margin of Judge Foster's celebrated argu ment in favor of the Impressing of Seamen (published in the folio edition of his works.)
JUDGE FOSTER, p. 153. "Every man.--The conclusion here from the whole to a part, does not seem to be good logic. If the alphabet should say, Let us all fight for the defence of the whole; that is equal, and may, therefore, be just. But if they should say,
let A B C and D go out and fight for us, while we stay at home and. sleep in whole skins; that is not equal, and therefore cannot be just. 1b, " Employ."-If you please. The word signifies engaging a man to work for me, by offering him such wages as are sufficient to induce him to prefer my service. This is very different from compelling him to work on such terms as I think proper.
Ib. "This service and employment," &c.-These are false facts. His employment and service are not the same. Under the merchant he goes in an unarmed vessel, not obliged to fight, but to transport Inerchandize. In the king's service he is obliged to fight, and to hazard all the dangers of battle. Sickness on board of king's ships is also more common and more mortal. The merchant's service, too, he can quit at the end of the voyage; not the king's. Also, the merchant's wages are much higher.
Ib. "I am very sensible," &c.-Here are two things put in comparison that are not comparable: viz. injury to seamen, and inconvenience to trade. Inconvenience to the whole trade of a nation will not justify injustice to a single seamen. If the trade would suffer without his service, it is able and ought to be willing to offer him such wages as may induce him to afford his service voluntarily.
Page 153. "Private mischief must be borne with patience, for preventing a national calamity." Where is this maxim in law and good policy to be found? And how can that be a maxim which is not consistent with common sense? If the maxim had been, that private mischiefs, which prevent a national calamity, bught to be generously compensated by the nation, one might understand it; but that such private mischiefs are only to be borne with patience is absurd!
Ib. "The expedient, &c. And," &c. (Paragraphs 2 and 3.)-Twenty ineffectual or inconvenient schemes will not justify one that is unjust.
Ib. "Upon the foot of &c.--Your reasoning, indeed, like a lie, stands but upon one foot; truth upon two.
Page 160. "Full wages."-Probably the same they had in the merchants' service.
Page 174. "I hardly admit," &c.-(Paragraph 5). When this author speaks of impressing, page 158, he diminishes the horror of the practice as much as possible, by presenting to the mind one sailor only suffering a "hardship" (as he tenderly calls it) in some "particular cases" only; and he places against this private mischief the inconvenience to the trade of the kingdom.-But if, as he supposes is often the case, the sailor who is pressed and obliged to serve for the defence of trade, at twenty-five shilling a month, could get three pounds fifteen shillings in the merchants' service, you take from him fifty shillings a month; and if you have 100,000 in your service you rob this honest industrious part of society and their poor families of 250,0001. per month, or three millions a year, and at the same time oblige them to hazard their lives in fighting for the defence of your trade; to the defence of which all ought indeed to contribute (and sailors among the rest) in proportion to their profits by it: but this three millions is more than their share, if they do not pay with their persons; but when you force that, methinks you should excuse the other.
But, it may be said, to give the king's seamen merchants' wages would cost the nation too much, and and call for more taxes. The question then will amount to this: whether it be just in a community, that the richer part should compel the poorer to fight in defence of them and their properties, for such wages as they think fit to allow, and punish them if they refuse? Our author tells us that it is "legal." I have not law enough to dispute his authorities, but I cannot persuade myself that it it is equitable. I will, however, own for the present, that may be lawful when necessary; but then I contend that it may be used so as to produce the same good effects -the public security, without doing so much intolerable injustice as attends the impressing common seamen. In order to be better understood I would premise two things:-First, That voluntary seamen may be had for the service, if they were sufficiently paid. The proof is, that to serve in the same ship, and incur the same dangers, you have no occasion to im
press captams, lieutenants, second lieutenants, midShipmen, pursers, nor many other officers. Why, but that the profits of their places, or the emoluments expected, are sufficient inducements? The business then is, to find money, by impressing sufficient to make the sailors all volunteers, as well as their officers: and this without any fresh burden upon trade. The second of my premises is, that twenty-five shillings a month, with his share of the the salt beef, pork, and peas-pudding, being found sufficient for the subsistence of a hard-working seaman, it will certainly be so for a sedentary scholar or `gentleman. I would then propose to form a treasury, out of which encouragements to seamen should be paid. To fill this treasury, I would impress a number of civil officers, who at present have great salaries, oblige them to serve in their respective offices for twenty-five shillings a month with their share of mess provisions, and throw the rest of their salaries into the seamen's treasury. If such a press warrant were given me to execute, the first I would press should be a Recorder of Bristol, or a Mr. Justice Foster, because I might have need of his edifying example, to show how much impressing ought to be borne with; for he would certainly find, that though to be reduced to twenty-five shilling a month might be a "private mischief" yet that, agreeably to his maxim of law and good policy, it "ought to be borne with patience," for preventing a national calamity. Then I would press the rest of the judges; and, opening the red book, I would press every civil officer of government from 501. a year salary up to 50,000). which would throw an immense sum into our treasury and these gentlemen could not complain, since they would receive twenty-five shillings a month, and their rations; and this without being obliged to fight. Lastly, I think I would impress * * *