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with only half wages, to a great number of honest men. The public inconvenience is merely a higher rate of seamen's wages. He who thinks such private injustice must be done to avoid public inconvenience, may understand law, but seems imperfect in his knowledge of equity. Let us apply this author's doctrine to his own case. It is for the public service that courts should be had and judges appointed to administer the laws. The judges should be bred to the law and skilled in it, but their great salaries are a public inconvenience. To remove the inconvenience, let presswarrants issue to arrest and apprehend the best lawyers, and compel them to serve as judges for half the money they would have made at the bar. Then tell them, that, though this is to them a private mischief, it must be submitted to for avoiding a public inconvenience. Would the learned judge approve such use of his doctrine 7 When the 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 I suppose is often the case, the sailor who is pressed and obliged to serve for the defence of this trade at the rate of 25s. a month, could have £3.15s, in the merchant's service, you take from him 50s. a month; and if you have 100,000 in your service, you rob that honest part of society and their poor families of £250,000. 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 did not pay with their persons; and, when you force that, methinks you
should excuse the other. But it may be said, to give the king's seamen mer
chant's wages would cost the nation too much, 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 for them and their properties, for such wages as they think fit to allow, and punish them if they refuse ! Our author tells us it is legal. I have not law enough to dispute his authority, but I cannot persuade myself it is equitable. I will however own for the present, that pressing may be lawful when necessary; but then I contend that it may be used so as to produce the same good effect, the public security, without doing so much horrible injustice as attends the impressing common seamen. In order to be better understood, I would premise two things. First, that voluntary seamen might be had for the service, if they were sufficiently paid. The proof of this is, that to serve in the same ships, and incur the same dangers, you have no occasion to impress captains, lieutenants, second lieutenants, midshipmen, pursers, nor any other officers. Why, but that the profit of their places, or the emoluments expected, are sufficient inducements? The business then is by impressing to find money sufficient to make the sailors all volunteers, as well as their officers; and this without any fresh burthen upon trade. The second of my premises is, that, 25s. a month, with his share of the salt beef, pork, and pease-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 encouragement to seamen should be paid. To fill this treasury I would impress a number of civil WOL. II. 43 CC
officers who at present have great salaries, oblige them to serve in their respective offices for 25s. per month, with their share of the mess provisions, and throw the rest of their salaries into the seaman's treasury. If such a press-warrant was given me to execute, the first person 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 such impressing ought to be borne with ; for he would certainly find, that, though to be reduced to 25s. per month might be a private mischief, yet that, agreeably to his marim 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 £50. a year up to £50,000., which would throw an immense sum into our treasury; and these gentlemen could not well complain, since they would receive their 25s. a month and their rations, and that too without being obliged to fight. Lastly, I think I would impress the King, and confiscate his salary; but, from an ancient prejudice I have in favor of that title, I would allow him the gentleman merchant's pay. I could not go farther in his favor; for, to say the truth, I am not quite satisfied of the necessity or utility of that office in Great Britain, as I see many flourishing states in the world governed well and happy without it. Page 177. “For I freely declare, that ancient precedents alone, unless supported by modern practice, weigh very little with me in questions of this nature.” The modern practice, supported by ancient precedents, weigh as little with me. Both the one and the other only show that the constitution is yet imperfect, since in so general a case it doth not secure liberty, but destroys it; and the parliaments are unjust, conniving at oppression of the poor, where the rich are to be gainers or savers by such oppression. Page 179. “I make no apology for the length of my argument, because I hope the importance of the question will be thought a sufficient excuse for me in this respect.” The author could not well have made his argument shorter. It required a long discourse to throw dust in the eyes of common sense, confound all our ideas of right and wrong, make black seem white, and the worse appear the better opinion.
Mr. Waughan says, in his edition of the author's writings; “The best account I can give of the occasion of the Report, to which this paper is a reply, is as follows. During the war there had been a considerable and unusual trade to America, in consequence of the great fleets and armies on foot there, and the clandestine dealings with the enemy, who were cut off from their own supplies. This made great debts. The briskness of the trade ceasing with the war, the merchants were anxious for payment; which occasioned some confusion in the colonies, and stirred up a clamor here against paper money. The Board of Trade, of which Lord Hillsborough was the chief, joined in this opposition to paper money, as appears by the Report. Dr. Franklin, being asked to draw up an answer to their Report, wrote the following paper.”
In addition to the facts here communicated on the general subject of American paper money, the author explains the causes of the various denominations of the currency in the different colonies; that is, why the number of shillings and pence assigned to a dollar was larger or smaller in one colony than in others. This topic is curious, if not important, even at the present day; since the practice of forty years, founded on a coin of the decimal notation, universally adopted in the transactions of the government, has done little to effect a change in the habits of the people, who, in many parts of the country, still adhere to the old mode of reckoning by shillings and pence. —Editor.
This paper is a very able vindication of the provincial papermoney system. The mere authority of Franklin's opinion at this period of his life, as he was now fifty-eight years old, with all his sagacity, practical good sense, activity of observation, and great experience, is of itself of great weight. His arguments are, besides, of great cogency. It is to be observed that he vindicates the system