Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

other women, shopkeepers sufficient for the business, which might then afford them a comfortable maintenance.

Whoever has travelled through the various parts of Europe, and observed how small is the proportion of people in affluence or easy circumstances there, compared with those in poverty and misery? the few rich and haughty landlords, the multitude of poor, abject, rack-rented, tythe paying tenants, and half-paid and half-starved ragged labourers; and views here the happy mediocrity that so generally prevails throughout these States, where the cultivator works for himself, and supports his family in decent plenty; will, methinks, see abundant reason to bless Divine Providence for the evident and great difference in our favour, and be convinced that no nation known to us enjoys a greater share of human felicity.

It is true, that in some of the States there are parties and discords; but let us look back, and ask if we were ever without them? Such will exist wherever there is liberty; and perhaps they help to preserve it. By the collision of different sentiments, sparks of truth are struck out, and political light is obtained. The different factions, which at present divide us, aim all at the public good; the differences are only about the various modes of promoting it. Things, actions, measures, and objects of all kinds, present themselves to the minds of men in such a variety of lights, that it is not possible we should all think alike at the same time on every subject, when hardly the same man retains at all times the same ideas of it. Parties are therefore the common lot of humanity; and ours are by no means more mischievous or less beneficial than those of other countries, nations, and ages, enjoying in the same degree the great blessing of political liberty.

Some indeed among us are not so much grieved for the present state of our affairs, as apprehensive for the future. The growth of luxury alarms them, and they think we are from that alone in the high road to

ruin. They observe, that no revenue is sufficient without economy, and that the most plentiful income of a whole people from the natural productions of their country may be dissipated in vain and needless expenses: and poverty be introduced in the place of affluence,- This may be possible. It however rarely happens; for there seems to be in every nation a greater proportion of industry and frugality, which tend to enrich, than of idleness and prodigality, which occasion poverty; so that upon the whole there is a continual accumulation. Reflect what Spain, Gaul, Germany, and Britain were in the time of the Romans inhabited by people little richer than our savages, and consider the wealth that they at present possess, in numerous well built cities, improved farms, rich moveables, magazines stocked with valuable manufactures, to say nothing of plate, jewels and coined money; and all this, notwithstanding their bad, wasteful, plundering governments, and their mad destructive wars; and yet luxury and extravagant living has never suffered much restraint in those countries. Then consider the great propos tion of industrious frugal farmers inhabiting the interior parts of these American States, and of whom the body of our nation consists, and judge whether it is possible that the ldxury of our sea-ports can be sufficient to ruin such a country. If the importation of foreign luxuries could ruin a people, we should probably have been ruined long ago; for the British nation claimed a right, and practised it, of importing among us not only the superfluities of their own production, but those of every nation under heaven; we bought and consumed them, and yet we flourished and grew rich. At present our independent governments may do what we could not then do, discourage by heavy duties, os prevent by heavy prohibitions, such importations, and thereby grow richer ;-if, indeed, which may admin of dispute, the desire of adorning ourselves with fine clothes, possessing fine furniture, with elegant houses, &c. is not, by strongly inciting to labour and industry

the occasion of producing a greater value than is consumed in the gratification of that desire.

The agriculture and fisheries of the United States are the great source of our increasing wealth. He that puts a seed into the earth is recompensed, perhaps by receiving forty out of it, and he who draws a fish out of the water draws up a piece of silver.

Let us (and there is no doubt but we shall) be attentive to these, and then the power of rivals, with all their restraining and prohibiting acts, cannot much

We are sons of the earth and seas, and, like Antæus in the fable, if in wrestling with a Her. cules, we now and then receive a fall, the touch of our parents will communicate to us fresh strength and vigour to renew the contest.

hurt us.

INFORMATION TO THOSE WHO WOULD

REMOVE TO AMERICA. Masy persons in Europe have directly, or by letters, expressed to the writer of this, who is well acquainted with North America, their desire of transporting and establishing themselves in that country, but who appear to have formed, through ignorance, mis. taken ideas and expectations of what is to be obtained there; he thinks it may be useful, and prevent inconvenient, expensive, and fruitless removals and voyages of improper persons, if he gives some clearer and truer notions of that part of the world than appear to have hitherto prevailed.

He finds it is imagined by numbers, that the inhaditants of North America are rich, capable of rewarding, and disposed to reward, all sorts of ingenuity; that they are at the same time ignorant of all the sciences, and consequently that strangers, possessing talents in the belles-lettres, fine arts, &c. must be highly esteemed, and so well paid as to become easily rich themselves; that there are also abundance of profitable offices to be disposed of which the natives

are not qualified to fill; and that having few persons of family among them, strangers of birth must be greatly respected, and of course easily obtain the best of those offices, which will make all their fore tunes; that the governments too, to encourage emigra. tions from Europe, not only pay the expense of personal transportation, but give lands gratis to strangers, with negroes to work for them, utensils of husbandry, and stocks of cattle. These are all wild imaginations; and those who go to America with expectations founded upon them, will surely find themselves disappointed.

The truth is, that though there are in that country few people so miserable as the poor of Europe, there are also very few that in Europe would be called rich: it is rather general happy mediocrity that prevails. There are few great proprietors of the soil, and few tenants; most people cultivate their own lands, or follow some handicraft or merchandise; very few rich enough to live idly upon their rents or incomes, or to pay the high prices given in Europe for painting, statues, architecture, and the other works of art that are more curious than useful. Hence the natural geniuses that have arisen in America, with such talents, have uniformly quitted that country for Europe, where they can be more suitable rewarded. It is true that letters and mathematical knowledge are in esteem there, but they are at the same time more common than is apprehended; their being already existing nine colleges, or universities, viz. four in New England, and one in each of the provinces of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia—all furnished with learned professors; besides a number of smaller academies: these edu. cate many of their youth in the languages, and those sciences that qualify men for the professions of divinity, law or physic. Strangers indeed, are by no means excluded from exercising those professions; and the quick increase of inhabitants every where gives them a chance of employ, which ihey have in common with the natives. Of civil offices or employments

there are few; no superfluous ones, as in Europe ; and it is a rule established in some of the States, that no office should be so profitable as to make it desirable. The 36th article of the constitution of Penn. sylvania runs expressly in these words : “ As every freeman, to preserve his independence (if he has not a sufficient estate), ought to have some profession, calling, trade, or farm, whereby he may honestly subsist, there can be no necessity for, nor use in establishing, offices of profit; the usual effects of which are dependence and servility; unbecoming freemen, in the possessors and expectants; faction, contention, corruption, and disorder among the people. Wherefore, whenever an office, through increase of fees or otherwise, becomes so profitable as to occasion many to apply for it, the profits ought to be lessened by the legislature.”.

This idea prevailing more or less in the United States, it cannot be worth any man's while, who has a means of living at home, to expatriate himself in hopes of obtaining a profitable civil office in America; and as to military offices, they are at an end with the war, the armies being disbanded. Much less is it adviseable for a person to go thither, who has no other quality to recommend him than his birth. In Europe it has indeed its value, but it is a commodity that cannot be carried to a worse market than to that of America, where people do not inquire concerning a stranger, What is he? but What can he do? If he has any useful art he is welcome; and if he exercises it, and behaves well, he will be respected by all that know him : but a mere man of quality, who on that account wants to live upon the public by some office or salary, will be despised and disregarded. The husbandman is in honour there and even the mechanic, because their employments are useful. The people have a saying, that God Almighty is himself a mechanic, the greatest in the universe; and he is res. pected more for the variety, ingenuity, and utility of his handicraft works, than for the antiquity of his

« ZurückWeiter »