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the courtier;") and when you have observed the amazing waste which is made there, you will no longer wonder at the scarcity, and consequently dearness, of the things which they use so much art to destroy.
7. But why is land so dear? Because on all these accounts, gentlemen cannot live as they have been accustomed to do without increasing their income; which most of them cannot do, but by raising their rents. And then the farmer, paying a higher rent for the land, must have a higher price for the produce of it. This again tends to raise the price of land; and so the wheel runs round.
8. But why is it, that not only provisions and land, but well nigh every thing else, is so dear? Because of the enormous taxes, which are laid on almost every thing that can be named. Not only abundant taxes are raised from earth, and fire, and water ; but in England, the ingenious statesmen have found a way to lay a tax upon the
very light! Yet one element remains : And surely some man of honour will find a way to tax this also. For how long shall the saucy air strike a gentleman on the face, nay, a lord, without paying for it?
9. But why are the taxes so high? Because of the national debt. They must be so while this continues. I have heard that the national expense, seventy years ago, was, in time of peace, three millions a year. And now the bare interest of the public debt amounts yearly to above four millions! to raise which, with the other stated expenses of government, those taxes are absolutely necessary;
To sum up the whole : Thousands of people throughout the land are perishing for want of food. This is owing to various causes; but above all, to distilling, taxes, and luxury.
Here is the evil, and the undeniable causes of it. But where is the remedy?
Perhaps it exceeds all the wisdom of man to tell : But it may not be amiss to offer a few hints on the subject.
II. 1. What remedy is there for this sore evil,-many thousand poor people are starving? Find them work, and you will find them meat. They will then earn and eat their own bread.
2. But how can the masters give them work without ruining themselves? Procure vent for what is wrought, and the masters will give them as much work as they can do. And this would be done by sinking the price of provisions ; for then people would have money to buy other things too.
3. But how can the price of wheat and barley be reduced ? By prohibiting for ever, by making a full end of that bane of health, that destroyer of strength, of life, and of virtue,--distilling. Perhaps this alone might go a great way toward answering the whole design. It is not improbable, it would speedily sink the price of corn, at least one part in three. If any thing more were required, might not all starch be made of rice, and the importation of this, as well as of corn, be encouraged ?
4. How can the price of oats be reduced ? By reducing the number of horses. And may not this be effectually done, (without affecting the ploughman, the waggoner, or any of those who keep horses for common work,) (1.) By laying a tax of ten pounds on every horse exported to France, for which (notwithstanding an artful paragraph in a late public paper) there is as great a demand as ever ? (2.) By laying an additional tax on gentlemen's carriages ? Not so much on every wheel, (barefaced, shameless partiality!) but five pounds yearly upon every horse. And would not these two taxes alone supply near as much as is now paid for leave to poison his majesty's liege subjects ?
5. How can the price of beef and mutton be reduced? By increasing the breed of sheep and horned cattle. And this would soon be increased seven-fold, if the price of horses was reduced; which it surely would be, half in half, by the method above mentioned.
6. How can the price of pork and poultry be reduced? Whether it ever will, is another question. But it can be done, (1.) By letting no farms of above a hundred pounds a year: (2.) By repressing luxury; whether by laws, by example, or by both. I had almost said by the grace of God; but to mention this has been long out of fashion.
7. How may the price of land be reduced ? By all the methods above named, as each tends to lessen the expense of house-keeping: But especially the last; by restraining luxury, which is the grand and general source of want.
8. How may the taxes be reduced ? (1.) By discharging half the national debt, and so saving, by this single means, above two millions a year. (2.) By abolishing all useless pensions, as fast as those who now enjoy them die: Especially those ridiculous ones given to some hundreds of idle men, as governors of forts or castles; which forts have answered no end for above these hundred years, unless to shelter jackdaws and crows. Might not good part of a million more be saved in this very article ?
But will this ever be done? I fear not: At least, we have no reason to hope for it shortly; for what good can we expect (suppose the Scriptures are true) for such a nation as this, where there is no fear of God, where there is such a deep, avowed, thorough contempt of all religion, as I never saw, never heard or read of, in any other nation, whether Christian, Mohammedan, or Pagan? It seems as if God must shortly arise and maintain bis own cause. But, if so, let us fall into the hands of God, and not into the hands of men.
Lewisham, January 20, 1773.
THOUGHTS UPON SLAVERY.
[PUBLISHED IN THE YEAR 1774.]
I. 1. By slavery, I mean domestic slavery, or that of a servant to a master. A late ingenious writer well observes, “ The variety of forms in which slavery appears, makes it almost impossible to convey a just notion of it, by way of definition. There are, however, certain properties which have accompanied slavery in most places, whereby it is easily distinguished from that mild, domestic service which obtains in our country.” (See Mr. Hargrave's Plea for Somerset the Negro.)
2. Slavery imports an obligation of perpetual service, an obligation which only the consent of the master can dissolve. Neither in some countries can the master himself dissolve it, without the consent of
judges appointed by the law. It generally gives the master an arbitrary power of any correction, not affecting life or limb. Sometimes even these are exposed to his will, or protected only by a fine, or some slight punishment, too inconsiderable to restrain a master of a harsh temper. It creates an incapacity of acquiring any thing, except for the master's benefit. It allows the master to alienate the slave, in the same manner as his cows and horses. Lastly, it descends in its full extent from parent to child, even to the last generation.
3. The beginning of this may be dated from the remotest period of which we have an account in history. It commenced in the barbarous state of society, and in process of time spread into all nations. It prevailed particularly among the Jews, the Greeks, the Romans, and the aucient Germans; and was transmitted by them to the various kingdoms and states which arose out of the Roman empire. But after Christianity prevailed, it gradually fell into decline in almost all parts of Europe. This great change began in Spain, about the end of the eighth century; and was become general in most other kingdoms of Europe, before the middle of the fourteenth.
4. From this time slavery was nearly extinct till the commencement of the sixteenth century, when the discovery of America, and of the western and eastern coasts of Africa, gave occasion to the revival of it. It took its rise from the Portuguese, who, to supply the Spaniards with men to cultivate their new possessions in America, procured negroes from Africa, whom they sold for slaves to the American Spaniards. This began in the year 1509, when they imported the first negroes into Hispaniola. In 1540, Charles the Fifth, then king of Spain, determined to put an end to negro slavery; giving positive orders that all the negro slaves in the Spanish dominions should be set free. And this was accordingly done by Lagasca, whom he sent and empowered to free them all, on condition of continuing to labour for their masters. But soon after Lagasca returned to Spain, slavery returned and flourished as before. Afterward, other nations, as they acquired possessious in America, followed the examples of the Spaniards; and slavery has taken deep root in most of our American colonies.
II. Such is the nature of slavery; such the beginning of negro slavery in America. But some may desire to know what kind of country it is from which the negroes are brought; what sort of men, of what temper and behaviour are they in their own country ; and in what manner they are generally procured, carried to, and treated in, America.
1. And, First, what kind of country is that from whence they are brought? Is it so remarkably horrid, dreary, and barren, that it is a kindness to deliver them out of it? I believe many have apprehended 50; but it is an entire mistake, if we may give credit to those who have lived many years therein, and could have no motive to misrepresent it.
2. That part of Africa whence the negroes are brought, commonly known by the name of Guinea, extends along the coast, in the whole, between three and four thousand miles. From the river Senegal, seventeen degrees north of the line, to Cape Sierra Leone, it contains seven hundred miles. Thence it runs eastward about fifteen hundred miles, including the Grain Coast, the Ivory Coast, the Gold Coast, and the Slave Coast, with the large kingdom of Benin. From thence it runs
southward, about twelve hundred miles, and contains the kingdoms of Congo and Angola.
3. Concerning the first, the Senegal Coast, Monsieur Brue, who lived there sixteen years, after describing its fruitfulness near the sea, says, “The farther you go from the sea, the more fruitful and well-improved is the country, abounding in pulse, Indian corn, and various fruits. Here are vast meadows, which feed large herds of great and small cattle; and the villages, which lie thick, show the country is well peopled.” And again : “I was surprised to see the land so well cultivated : scarce a spot lay unimproved; the low lands, divided by small canals, were all sowed with rice; the higher grounds were planted with Indian corn, and peas of different sorts. Their beef is excellent; poultry plenty, and very cheap, as are all the necessaries of life.”
4. As to the Grain and Ivory Coast, we learn from eye witnesses, that the soil is in general fertile, producing abundance of rice and roots. Indigo and cotton thrive without cultivation ; fish is in great plenty; the flocks and herds are numerous, and the trees loaden with fruit.
5. The Gold Coast and Slave Coast, all who have seen it agree, is exceeding fruitful and pleasant, producing vast quantities of rice and other grain, plenty of fruit and roots, palm wine and oil, and fish in great abundance, with much tame and wild cattle. The very same account is given us of the soil and produce of the kingdoms of Benin, Congo, and Angola. From all which it appears, that Guinea, in general, is far from a horrid, dreary, barren country,—is one of the most fruitful, as well as the most pleasant, countries in the known world. It is said indeed to be unhealthy; and so it is to strangers, but perfectly healthy to the native inhabitants.
6. Such is the country from which the negroes are brought. We come next to inquire what sort of men they are, of what temper and behaviour, not in our plantations, but in their native country. And here likewise the surest way is to take our account from eye and ear witnesses. Now, those who have lived in the Senegal country observe, it is inhabited by three nations, the Jalofs, Fulis, and Mandingos. The king of the Jalofs has under him several ministers, who assist in the exercise of justice. The chief justice goes in circuit through all his dominions, to hear complaints and determine controversies; and the viceroy goes with him, to inspect the behaviour of the alkadi, or governor, of each village. The Fulis are governed by their chief men, who rule with much moderation. Few of them will drink any thing stronger than water, being strict Mohammedans. The government is casy, because the people are of a quiet and good disposition, and so well instructed in what is right, that a man who wrongs another is the abomination of all. They desire no more land than they use, which they cultivate with great care and industry: if any of them are known to be made slaves by the white men, they all join to redeem them. They not only support all that are old, or blind, or lame among themselves, but have frequently supplied the necessities of the Mandingos, when they were distressed by famine.
7. “ The Mandingos,” says Monsieur Brue, "are rigid Mohammedans, drinking neither wine nor brandy. They are industrious and laborious, keeping their ground well cultivated, and breeding a good stock of cattle. Every town has a governor, and he appoints the labour of the people. The men work the ground designed for corn; the women and girls, the rice ground. He afterward divides the corn and rice among them; and decides all quarrels, if any arise. All the Mohammedan negroes constantly go to public prayers thrice a' day; there being a priest in every village, who regularly calls them together; and it is surprising to see the modesty, attention, and reverence which they observe during their worship. These three nations practise several trades ; they have smiths, saddlers, potters, and weavers; and they are very ingenious at their several occupations. Their smiths not only make all the instruments of iron which they have occasion to use, but likewise work many things neatly in gold and silver. It is chiefly the women and children who weave fine cotton cloth, which they dye blue and black.”
8. It was of these parts of Guinea that Monsieur Allanson, correspondent of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris, from 1749 to 1753, gives the following account, both as to the country and people :—“Which way soever I turned my eyes, I beheld a perfect image of pure nature: an agreeable solitude, bounded on every side by a charmirg landscape; the rural situation of cottages in the midst of trees; the ease and quietness of the negroes, reclined under the shade of the spreading foliage, with the simplicity of their dress and manners: the whole revived in my mind the idea of our first parents, and I seemed to contemplate the world in its primitive state. They are, generally speaking, very good-natured, sociable, and obliging. I was not a little pleased with my very first reception; and it fully convinced me, that there ought to be a considerable abatement made in the accounts we have of the savage character of the Africans.” He adds: “It is amazing that an illiterate people should reason so pertinently concerning the heavenly bodies. There is no doubt, but that, with proper instruments, they would become excellent astronomers."
9. The inhabitants of the Grain and Ivory Coast are represented by those that deal with them, as sensible, courteous, and the fairest traders on the coasts of Guinea. They rarely drink to excess; if any do, they are severely punished by the king's order. They are seldom troubied with war: if a difference happen between two nations, they commonly end the dispute amicably.
The inhabitants of the Gold and Slave Coast likewise, when they are not artfully incensed against each other, live in great union and friendship, being generally well tempered, civil, tractable, and ready to help any that need it. In particular, the natives of the kingdom of Whidah are civil, kind, and obliging to strangers ; and they are the most gentleman-like of all the negroes, abounding in good manners toward each other. The inferiors pay the utmost respect to their superiors; so wives to their husbands, children to their parents. And they are remarkably industrious; all are constantly employed,—the men in agriculture, the women in spinning and weaving cotton.
10. The Gold and Slave Coasts are divided into several districts, some governed by kings, others by the principal men, who take care each of their own town or village, and prevent or appease turnults. They punish murder and adultery severely; very frequently with death.