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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, 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 an other; 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 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 fourish as a free state.—But they are, I doubt, too little disposed to labor 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 farther improvement. Here their lives are in safety. They are not liable to be impressed for soldiers, and forced to cut one another's Chris
tian throats as in the wars of their own countries. 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 generosity, it was not humanity that moved them to the action ; it was from the conscious burthen of a load of 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, 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 can conquer it. Let us then hear no more of this detestable proposition, the manumission of Christian slaves, the adoption of which would be 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,
HISTORICUS. March 23, 1790.
OBSERVATIONS ON WAR.
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 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 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 being profitable to all engaged in it, or to the nation that authorises it. In the beginning of a war some rich ships are surprised and taken. This encourages the first adventurers to fit out more armed vessels ; and many others to do the same.
But the 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 subject 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 of adventurers 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 babits 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 having wantonly and unfeelingly ruined many honest, innocent traders and their families, whose substance was employed in serving the common interest of mankind.
ON THE IMPRESS OF SEAMEN.
Notes copied from Dr. Franklin's writing in pencil in the mar
gin of Judge Foster's celebrated argument in favour of the Impressing of Seamen, (published in the folio edition of his works.)
Judge Foster, p. 158. 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.
Ib. "Employ.”—If you please. The word signifies engaging a man to work for me, by offering him
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 employments and service are not the same-Under the merchant he goes in an unarmed vessel, not obliged to fight, but to transport merchandize. 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 seaman. 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.