صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

The descendants and successors of such royal and noble robbers, were naturally induced to extol the sanguinary exploits of their fathers, by which they obtained wealth and power. Thus the delusive influence has been transmitted from father to son, and from age to age.

When rulers, such as we have described, professed the Christian religion, from motives of policy rather than love to its precepts; they of course retained their passion for military fame, and made their religion a cloak for their crimes. The laws of war were originally the laws of barbarians-made according to their own hearts. These laws, with some modifications and improvements, are


sity of public war. As soon as the several governments shall prefer “ the wisdom that is from above," to the diabolical wisdom which descended from robbers and pirates, they may safely commence the work of beating their swords into ploughshares. And blessed will be those rulers who shall lead the way to such a reformation.

Let Christians then of every name unite in one grand and benevolent effort, to persuade and enable the rulers of nations to abandon the policy of ancient robbers,-and to adopt, as the rule of their conduct towards each other, the just and benign precepts of the Prince of peace.

[From the Tatler.]

now the laws of war among nations Mons. Colbert's Advice to Louis XIV. called civilized; but they are still a "barbarous code," and far more worthy to be denominated the laws of robbers and pirates, than the laws of Christian nations. For they justify deeds as horrible and unrighteous as any pirate or murderer can desire to perpetrate

We may also remark, as a melancholy fact, that among the numerous descendants and successors of those

barbarian Chiefs who acquired crowns,

there have been but few who were worthy of the name of Christians, or who appear to have been governed by purer motives or better principles than those by which their ancestors acquired dominion. Hence, the rights, the property, and the lives of subjects, and the principles of humanity, religion and justice, have all been made subordinate to the glory of the military profession, and wantonly sacrificed to the Juggernaut, martial glory!-an IDOL which is at once the boast

and the reproach of every Christian


On such grounds we may rationally account for the frequent appeals to arms-for the inhuman character of the laws of war, and for the baneful popularity of the military profession. On the same grounds, also, we may account for all the supposed neces

WHERESOEVER in reading or conversation, I observe any thing that is curious and uncommon, useful or entertaining, I resolve to give it to the public.

The greatest part of this very paper is an extract from a French manuscript, which was lent me by my good friend Mr. Charwell.* He tells me he has had it about these twenty years in his possession: and he seems to me to have taken from it very many of the maxims he has pursued in the new settlement, I have heretofore spoken of upon his lands. He has given me full liberty to make what

use of it I shall think fit: either to

publish it entire, or to retail it out by pennyworths. I have determined to retail it, and for that end I have the words livre, sous, translated divers passages, rendering and of known signification in France, into others many their equivalent sense, that I the better be understood by my English


readers. The book contains several memoirs concerning monsieur Colbert, who had the honour to be secretary of state to his most christian majesty, and superintendant or chief director of the arts and manufactures

* Edward Colston, Esq. of Bristol, M. P. for that city.

of his kingdom. The passage for to-day is as follows:

It happened that the king was one day expressing his wonder to this minister, that the United Provinces should give him so much trouble, that so great a monarch as he was should not be able to reduce so small a state, with half the power of his whole dominions.' To which monsieur Colbert is said to have made the following


"Sir, I presume upon your indulgence to speak what I have thought upon this subject, with that freedom which becomes a faithful servant, and one who has nothing more at heart than your majesty's glory, and the prosperity of your whole people.Your territories are vastly greater than the United Netherlands; but, sir, it is not land that fights against land, but the strength and riches of our nation, against the strength and riches of another. I should have said only riches, since it is money that feeds and clothes the soldier, furnishes the magazine, provides the train of artillery, and answers the charge of all other military preparations. Now the riches of a prince, or state, are just so much as they can levy upon their subjects, still leaving them sufficient for their subsistence. If this shall not be left, they will desert to other countries for better usage; and I am sorry to say it, that too many of your majesty's subjects are already among your neighbours, in the condition of footmen and valets for their daily bread; many of your artisans too are fled from the severity of your collectors, they are at this time improving the manufactures of your enemies. France has lost the benefit of their hands for ever, and your majesty all hopes of any future excises by their consumption. For the extraordinary sums of one year, you have parted with an inheritance. I am never able, without the utmost indignation, to think of that minister, who had the confidence to tell your father, his sub

jects were but too happy, that they were not reduced to eat grass: as if starving his people, were the only way to free himself from their seditions. But people will not starve in France, as long as bread is to be had in any other country. How much more worthy of a prince was that saying of your grandfather of glorious memory,* that he hoped to see that day, when every housekeeper in his dominions should be able to allow his family a capon for their Sunday's supper? I lay down this therefore as my first principle, that your taxes upon your subjects must leave them sufficient for their subsistence, at least as comfortable a subsistence as they will find among your neighbours.


Upon this principle I shall be able to make some comparison between the revenues of your majesty, and those of the States-general. Your territories are nearly thirty times as great, your people more than four times as many, yet your revenues are not thirty, no, nor four times as great, nor indeed as great again, as those of the United Netherlands.

"In what one article are you able to raise twice as much from your subjects as the states can do from theirs? Can you take twice as much from the rents of the lands and houses? What are the yearly rents of your whole kingdom? and how much of these will your majesty be able to take without ruining the landed interest! You have, sir, above a hundred millions of acres, and not above thirteen millions of subjects-eight acres to every subject; how inconsiderable must be the value of land, where so many acres are to provide for a single person! where a single person is the whole market for the product of so much land! And what sort of customers are your subjects to these lands? what clothes is it that they wear? what provisions do they consume? Black bread, onions, and

[blocks in formation]

other roots, are the usual diet of the generality of your people; their common drink the pure element; they are dressed in canvass and wooden shoes, I mean such of them as are not barefoot, and half naked. How very mean must be the eight acres which will afford no better subsistence to a single person! Yet so many of your people live in this despicable manner, that four pounds will be easily believed to exceed the annual expences of every one of them at a medium. And how little of this expence will be coming to the landowner for his rent? or, which is the same thing, for the mere product of his land? Of every thing that is consumed, the greatest part of the value is the price of labour that is bestowed upon it; and it is not a very small part of their price that is paid to your majesty in your excises. Of the four pounds expence of every subject, it can hardly be thought that more than four and twenty shillings are paid for the mere product of the land. Then if there are eight acres to every subject, and every subject for his consumption pays no more than four and twenty shillings to the land, three shillings at a medium must be the full yearly value of every acre in your kingdom. Your lands, separated from the buildings, cannot be valued higher.

"And what then shall be thought the yearly value of the houses, or, which is the same thing, of the lodg ings of your thirteen millions of subjects? What numbers of these are begging their bread throughout your kingdom? If your majesty were to walk incognito through the very streets of your capital, and would give a farthing to every beggar that asks you alms in a walk of one hour, you would have nothing left of a pistole. How miserable must be the lodgings of these wretches! even those that will not ask you charity, are huddled together, four or five families in a house. Such is the lodging in your capital. That of your other towns

is yet of less value; but nothing can be more ruinous than the cottages in the villages. the villages. Six shillings for the lodgings of every one of your thirteen millions of subjects, at a medium, must needs be the full yearly value of all the houses. So that at four shillings for every acre, and six shillings for the lodging of every subject, the rents of your whole kingdom will be less than twenty millions, and yet a great deal more than they were ever yet found to be, by the most exact survey that has been taken.

"The next question then is, how much of these rents your majesty will think fit to take to your own use? Six of the twenty millions are in the hands of the clergy; and little enough for the support of three hundred thousand ecclesiastics, with all their necessary attendants; it is no more than twenty pounds a year for every one of the masters. These, sir, are your best guards; they keep your subjects loyal in the midst of all their misery. Your majesty will not think it your interest to take any thing from the church. From that which remains in the hands of your lay subjects, will you be able to take more than five millions to your own use? This is more than seven shillings in the pound; and then, after necessary reparations, together with losses by the failing of tenants, how very little will be left to the owners! These are gentlemen who have never been bred either to trade or manufactures, they have no other way of living than by their rents; and when these shall be taken from them, they must fly to your armies, as to an hospital, for their daily bread.

"Now, sir, your majesty will give me leave to examine what are the rents of the United Netherlands, and how great a part of these their governors may take to themselves, without oppression of the owners. There are in those provinces three millions of acres, and as many millions of subjects, a subject for every acre. Why should not then the single

acre there be as valuable as the eight acres in France, since it is to provide for as many mouths? Or if great part of the provisions of the people are fetched in by their trade from the sea or foreign countries, they will end at last in the improvement of their lands. I have often heard, and am ready to believe, that thirty shillings, one with another, is less than the yearly value of every acre in those provinces.

"And how much less than this will be the yearly value of lodging, for every one of their subjects? There are no beggars in their streets, scarce a single one in a whole province. Their families in great towns are lodged in palaces, in comparison with those of Paris. Even the houses in their villages are more costly than in many of your cities. If such is the value of their three millions of acres, and of lodging for as many millions of subjects, the yearly rents of lands and houses are nine millions in those provinces.

"Then how much of this may the States take without ruining the landowners, for the defence of their people? Their lands there, by the custom of descending in equal shares to all the children, are distributed into so many hands, that few or no persons are subsisted by their rents; landowners, as well as others, are chiefly subsisted by trade and manufactures; and they can therefore with as much ease part with half of their whole rents, as your majesty's subjects can a quarter. The States-general may as well take four millions and a half from their rents, as your majesty can five from those of your subjects.

"It remains now only to compare the excises of both countries. And what excises can your majesty hope to receive by the consumption of the half-starved, and half-naked beggars in your streets? How great a part of the price of all that is eat, or drunk, or consumed by those wretched creatures! how great a part of the price of canvas cloth and wooden

shoes, that are every where worn throughout the country! how great a part of the price of their water, or their black bread and onions, the general diet of your people! If your majesty were to receive the whole price of those things, your exchequer would hardly run over. Yet so much the greatest part of your subjects live in this despicable manner, that the annual expence of every one at a medium, can be no more than I have mentioned. One would almost think that they starve themselves to defraud your majesty of your revenues. is impossible to conceive that more than an eighth part can be excised from the expences from the expences of your subjects, who live so very poorly, and then, for thirteen millions of people, your whole revenue by excises will amount to no more than six millions and a half.


"And how much less than this sum will the States be able to levy by the same tax upon their subjects? There are no beggars in that country. The people of their great towns live at a vastly greater charge than yours. And even those in their villages are better fed and clothed, than the people of your towns. At a medium, every one of their subjects live at twice the cost of those of France. Trade and manufactures are the things that furnish them with money for this expence: Therefore if thrice as much shall be excised from the expence of the Hollanders, yet still they will have more left than the subjects of your majesty, though you should take nothing at all from them. I must believe therefore that it will be as easy to levy thrice as much by excises upon the Dutch subject as the French, thirty shillings upon the former, as easily as ten upon the latter, and consequently four millions and a half of pounds upon their three millions of subjects; so that in the whole, by rents and excises, they will be able to raise nine millions within the year. If of this sum, for the maintenance of their clergy, which are not so numerous as in France, the charge

of their civil list, and the preservation of their dikes, one million is to be deducted; yet still they will have eight for their defence, a revenue equal to two-thirds of your majesty's. "Your majesty will now no longer wonder that you have not been able to reduce these provinces with half the power of your whole dominions, yet half is as much as you will be ever able to employ against them; Spain and Germany will be always ready. to espouse their quarrel, their forces will be sufficient to cut out work for the other half; and I wish too you could be quiet on the side of Italy, and England.

[ocr errors]

What then is the advice I would presume to give to your majesty? To disband the greatest part of your forces, and save so many taxes to your people. Your very dominions make you too powerful to fear any insult from your neighbours. To turn your thoughts from war, and cultivate the arts of peace, the trade and manufactures of your people; this shall make you the most powerful prince, and at the same time your subjects the richest of all other subjects. In the space of twenty years they will be able to give your majesty greater sums with ease, than you can now draw from them with the greatest difficulty. You have abundant materials in your kingdom to employ your people, and they do not want capacity to be employed. Peace and trade shall carry out their labour to all the parts of Europe, and bring back yearly treasures to your subjects. There will be always fools enough to purchase the manufactures of France, though France should be prohibited to purchase those of other countries. In the mean time your majesty shall never want sufficient sums to buy now and then an important fortress from one or other of your indigent neighbours. But, above all, peace shall ingratiate your majesty with the Spanish nation, during the life of their crazy king; and after his death a few seasonable presents


among his courtiers shall purchase the reversion of his crowns, with all the treasures of the Indies, and then the world must be your own."

This was the substance of what was then said by monsieur Colbert. The king was not at all offended with this liberty of his minister. He knew the value of the man, and soon after made him the chief director of the trade and manufactures of his people.'

Progress of Public Sentiment.

So recently as 1770, the African Slave-trade was popular in Europe and America; it was encouraged and supported as a lucrative, laudable, and necessary commerce. The few philanthropists who then opposed this traffic were deemed fanatics.

Prior to 1780 considerable light was thrown on the subject, by the discussions which accompanied the American Revolution.

In 1783 the Federal Constitution was formed. Its venerated framers, having fought seven years for liberty, were ashamed explicitly to name the traffick in slaves as a thing to be tolerated among a free people; and they had a presentiment that the time was at hand when such a commerce would be exploded, and abhorred as a crime. But so imperfect or so limited was the light which then prevailed, that an article, cautiously expressed but well understood, was inserted in the Constitution, to restrain Congress from making any law to suppress the slave trade prior to 1808. As soon, however, as it was permitted by the Constitution, an act was passed prohibiting the further importation of Slaves into the United States. But this law has often been evaded, and too frequently violated with impunity.

Since the commencement of 1820, provisions have been made by Congress, more effectually to suppress the Slave-trade; and it is now declared to be piracy, and punishable with death.

2 E

« السابقةمتابعة »