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whimsical sect, who would have us not only forbear making more slaves, but even to 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 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 pol. lute themselves by intermarrying 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 its sailors as slaves; for they are, whenever the government pleases, seized and confined in ships of war, condemned 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 into 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 saving their im. mortal 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 a 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 country are, as I am well informed, worse fed, lodged, and clothed. The con. dition 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 im. pressed for soldiers, and forced to cut one another's Christian throats, as in the wars of their own coun. tries. If some of the religious mad bigots who now teaze us with their silly petitions have in a fit of blind zeal freed their slaves, it was not generosity, it was not humanity that moved them to the action ; it was from the conscious burthen of a load of sins, and a hope, from the supposed merits of so good a work, to be excused from damnation.-How grossly are they mistaken to suppose slavery to be disallowed 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 Musa
sulmen, who are to enjoy it of right as fast as they can 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 but 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 : “ The doctrine, that 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, Mr. Brown, venture to predict, from this account, that the petitions to the parliament of England for abo lishing the slave trade, to say nothing of other legislatures, and the debates upon them, will have a simi. lar conclusion ? I am, sir, your constant reader and humble servant,
ENCOURAGEMENT OF SMUGGLING. What should we think of a companion, who having supped with his friends at a tavern, and partaken equally of the joys of the evening with the rest of us, would nevertheless contrive, by some artifice, to shift his share of the reckoning upon others, in order to go off scot-free? If a man who practised this would, when detected, be deemed and called a scoundrel, what ought he to be called, who can enjoy all the inestimable benefits of public society, and yet by smuggling, or dealing with smngglers, contrive to evade paying his just share of the expense, as settled by his own representatives in parliament; and wrongfully throw it upon his honester and perhaps much poorer neighbours ? He will perhaps be ready to tell me, that he does not wrong his neighbours; he scorns the imputation ; he only cheats the king a little, who is very able to bear it. This however is a mistake. The public treasure is the treasure of the nation, to be applied to national purposes. And when a duty is laid for a particular public and necessary purpose, if through smuggling that duty falls short of raising the sum required, and other duties must therefore be laid to make up the deficiency, all the additional sum laid by the new duties and paid by other people, though it should amount to no more than a halfpenny or a farthing per head, is so much actually picked out of the pockets of those other people by the smugglers and their abettors and encouragers. Are they then any better or other than pickpockets ? and what mean, low, rascally pickpockets must those be, that can pick pockets for halfpence and for farthings ?
I would not however be supposed to allow in what I have just said, that cheating the king is a less offence against honesty than cheating the public. The king and the public in this case are different names for the same thing ; but if we consider the king distinctly, it will not lessen the crime: it is no justification of a robbery, that the person robbed was rich, and able to bear it. The king has as much right to justice as the meanest of his subjects; and as he is truly the common father of his people, those that rob him fall under the scripture woe, pronounced against the son that robbeth his father, and saith it is no sin.
Mean as this practice is, do we not daily see people of character and fortune engaged in it for trifling advantages to themselves? Is any lady ashamed to request of a gentleman of her acquaintance, that when he returns from abroad, he would smuggle her home a piece of silk or lace from France or Flanders ? Is any gentleman ashamed to undertake and execute the commission ? Not in the least. They will talk of it freely, even before others whose pockets they are thus contriving to pick by this piece of knavery.
SOLITUDE. Man is a sociable being, and it is for aught I know one of the worst of punishments to be excluded from society. I have read abundance of fine things on the subject of solitude, and I know 'tis a common boast in the mouths of those that affect to be thought wise, that they are never less alone than when alone. I acknowledge solitude an agreeable refreshment to a busy mind; but were these thinking people obliged to be always alone, I am apt to think they would quickly find their very being insupportable to them. I have heard of a gentleman who underwent seven years' close confinement, in the Bastille at Paris. He was a man of some sense, he was a thinking man; but being deprived of all conversation, to what pur. pose should he think ? for he was denied even the instruments of expressing his thoughts in writing. There is no burden so grievous to man ås time that