Abbildungen der Seite

mented by numbers joining it who really had no claim on our country. Every debtor in Britain, engaged in whatever trade, when he had no better excuse to give for delay of payment, accused the want of returns from America; and the indignation thus excited against us, now appears so general among the English, that one would imagine their nation, which is so exact in expecting punctual payment from all the rest of the world, must be at home the model of justice, the very pattern of punctuality. Yet if one were disposed to recriminate, it would not be difficult to find sufficient matter in several parts of their conduct. But this I forbear : the two separate nations are now at peace, and there can be mo use in mutual provocations to fresh enmity, If I have shown clearly that the present inability of many American merchants to discharge their debts contracted before the war, is not so much their fault, as the fault of the crediting nation, who, by making an unjust war on them, obstructing their commerce, plundering and devastating their country, were the cause of that inability, I have answered the purpose of writing this paper. How far the refusal of the British court to execute the treaty, in delivering up the frontier posts, may, on account of that deficiency of payment, be justifiable, is cheerfully submitted to the world's impartial judgment.


SIR, It is with reluctance that I rise to express a disapprobation of any one article of the plan for which we are so much obliged to the honourable gentleman who laid it before us From its first reading, I have borne a good will to it, and in general wished it success. In this particular of salaries to the executive branch I happen to differ; and as my opinion may appear new and chimerical, it is only from a persuasion that it is right, and from a sense of duty, that I hazard it. The committee will judge of my reasons when they have heard them, and their judgment may possibly change mine. I think I see inconveniences in the appointment of salaries; I see mone in refusing them ; but, on the contrary, great advantages.

Sir, there are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men : these are ambition and avarice ; the love of power, and the love of momey. Separately, each of these has great force in prompting men to action ; but when united in view of the same object, they have in many minds the most violent effects. Place before the eyes of such men a post of honour, that shall at the same time be a place of profit, and they will move heaven and earth to obtain it. The vast number of such places it is that renders the British government so tempestuous. The struggles for them are the true source of all those factions which are perpetually dividing

the nation, distracting its councils, hurrying it sometimes into fruitless wars, and often compelling a submission to dishonourable terms of peace. And of what kind are the men that will strive for this profitable pre-eminence, through all the bustle of cabal, the heat of contention, the infinite mutual abuse of parties, tearing to pieces the best of characters ? It will not be the wise and moderate, the lovers of peace and good order, the men fittest for the trust : it will be the bold and the violent, the men of strong passions, and indefatigable activity in their selfish pursuits. These will thrust themselves into your government, and be your rulers; and these too will be mistaken in the expected happiness of their situation ; for their vanquished competitors, of the same spirit, and from the same motive, will perpetually be endeavouring to distress their administration, thwart their measures, and render them odious to the people. Besides these evils, though we may set out in the beginning with moderate salaries, we shall find that such will not be of long continuance. Reasons will never be wanting for proposed augmentations, and there will always be a party for giving more to the rulers, that the rulers may be able in return to give more to them: hence, as all history informs us, there has been in every state and kingdom, a constant kind of warfare between the governing and the governed; the one striving to obtain more for its support, and the other to pay less; and this has alone occasioned great convulsions, actual civil wars, ending either in dethroning of the princes or enslaving of the people. Generally, indeed, the ruling power carries its point and we see the revenues of princes constantly increasing, and we see that they are never satisfied, but always in want of more. The more the people are discontented with the oppression of taxes, the greater need the prince has of money to distribute among his partisans, and pay the troops that are to suppress all resistance, and enable him to plunder at pleasure. There is scarce a king in a hundred, who would not if he could, follow the example of Pharaoh ; get first all the people's money, then all their lands, and then make them and their children servants for ever. It will be said, that we do not propose to establish kings. I know it. But there is a natural inclination in mankind to kingly government. It sometimes relieves them from aristocratic domination. They had rather have one tyrant than five hundred. It gives more of the appearance of equality among citizens; and that they like. I am apprehensive, therefore, perhaps too apprehensive, that the government of these states may in future times end in a monarchy: but this catastrophe, I think, may be long delayed, if in our proposed system we do not sow the seeds of contention, faction, and tumult, by making our posts of honour places of profit. If we do, I fear that though we employ at first a number, and not a single person, the number will in time be set aside; it will only mourish the foetus of a king, (as the honourable gentleman from Virginia very aptly expressed it,) and a king will the sooner be set over use

It may be imagined by some that this is an Utopian idea, and that we can never find men to serve us in the executive department, without paying them well for their services. I conceive this to be a mistake. Some existing facts present themselves to me, which incline me to a contrary opinion. The high sheriff of a county in England is an honourable office; but it is not a profitable one : it is rather expensive, and therefore not sought for: but yet it is executed, and well executed, and usually by some of the principal gentlemen of the county. In France, the office of counsellor, or member of their judiciary parliaments, is more honourable: it is therefore purchased at a high price: there are indeed sees on the law proceedings, which are divided among them ; but these fees do not amount to more than 3 per cent. on the sum paid for the place. Therefore, as legal interest is there at 5 per cent, they in fact pay 2 per cent. for being allowed to do the justiciary business of the nation, which is at the same time entirely exempt from the burthen of paying them any salaries for their services. I do not, however, mean to recommend this as an eligible mode for our justiciary department ; I only bring the instance to show that the pleasure of doing good and serving their country, and the respect such conduct entitles them to, are sufficient motives with some minds to give up a great part of their time to the public, without the induce. ment of pecuniary satisfaction.

Another instance is that of a respectable society, who have made the experiment, and practised it with success now more than a hundred years: I mean the

« ZurückWeiter »