Front Page Titles (by Subject) OBJECTION IV. - A Treatise Concerning Civil Government in Three Parts
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OBJECTION IV. - Josiah Tucker, A Treatise Concerning Civil Government in Three Parts 
A Treatise Concerning Civil Government in Three Parts (London: T. Cadell, 1781).
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“One plain Matter of Fact is better than a thousand Arguments spun out of the Cobwebs of Metaphysics. And therefore the surest Way, in all Cases of Dispute, is to recur to the Fountain-Head, if we can; which in the present Case we may easily do, by appealing to an established Custom among the Savages of America. For it is an historical Fact, universally acknowledged, that the Individuals in each of their Tribes live in a State of absolute Freedom and Equality among themselves, in Times of Peace, without Subordination. Jurisdiction, or Legislation of any Kind: And that they only act in Concert, and submit to some Kind of Authority during a War. When that is over, the Power of their Chief, or Leader ceases of Course; and each returns to his original Equality and Independence. Here therefore we have the fullest Proof, and the clearest Illustration of the distinct Existence of the two Societies above-mentioned, namely, of that natural Society which is founded on the Attractions of instinctive Love,—and of that political Union, which arises from Fear, which operates by Consent, and is grounded on actual Compact.”
Is it fair, just, or reasonable, That any of the peculiar Customs of this savage People, [with whose History natural, moral, or political we are very little acquainted] should be urged in the present Debate, as Patterns of, or Examples to, the rest of Mankind? Before America was ever discovered we had the Customs and Manners of almost all Europe, Asia, and Africa, to descant upon;—a Field, one would have thought, large enough for every Theory of Government, and for all possible Investigations of Civil Society, without having Recourse to another Part of the World, which was discovered but as Yesterday. And now it is in * Part discovered, we have the Mortification to find, that the original Natives, far from being the Ornament, are almost universally the Disgrace of Human Nature;—as having many Defects and Vices peculiar to themselves, with few, or no Virtues and Excellencies to counterbalance them. Surely then, our modern Patriots, and zealot Republicans might have spared both themselves and us the Trouble of going into this Part of the World in Search after Models of Government worthy of Imitation.
But nevertheless, as our Adversaries, after having been defeated every where else, have chosen to entrench themselves on this Spot, and to set us at Defiance, let us not avoid the Combat even on their own Ground, and let us not despair of being able to wrest the Tomahoc, their favourite Weapon, out of their Hands.
Now all that we know of America, relative to the present Subject, seems to be this, That the far greater Part of the Native Indians [Indians I mean, as they were formerly, before their Subjection, or those at present, who are not in Subjection to any European Power] may be divided into three different Ranks, or Classes, mere Savages,—half Savages,—and almost civilized. I do not mention these Distinctions, or Classes, as accurate Definitions, according to logical Rules, but as Descriptions of Men, and Manners sufficiently exact for our present Purpose.
To begin therefore with those in the most perfect State of American Society, whom I call almost civilized. The Reason of giving them this Denomination is, because they had a permanent Government, Legislation, and Jurisdiction of their own before the Spanish Conquests, and enjoyed many Blessings to which the rest of the Natives of that vast Country were almost Strangers. These were the Subjects of the two great Empires of Mexico and Peru. The Question therefore is, How were these Empires formed? Did they arise from the actual and express Consent [I do not say, each Individual, but even of] the Majority of the Individuals, who composed them? Or were these Empires owing to some other Cause or Causes?—The Empire of Mexico, it must be owned, before Montezuma’s Usurpation, was a limited Constitution: and therefore here, if any where, we may expect to find that solemn League and Covenant between the Sovereign and all his Subjects, which we have been so long searching after. But alas! here likewise we must be prepared to meet with a Disappointment. For the Restraints and Limitations laid upon the Emperors did not arise from any Compact solemnly entered into between the Sovereign and the People, or the Mass of the People, or even any Representatives chosen by the People,—but from the Aristocratical Power of the Nobles, or Princes of the Empire;—who, like the Barons of the Gothic Constitution in Europe, chose to have no other Tyrants than themselves: And that their * Tyranny was very great is beyond a Doubt. Granting therefore, for Argument’s Sake, that some solemn Convention had passed between the Emperor and the mighty Princes of his Empire, whereby he was bound to observe certain Conditions stipulated between them,—still the Question returns again, Who elected these Princes, alias great Mexican Barons? And what social Compact had they to shew for exercising any Authority whatever, much less despotic Authority, over their respective Slaves, and numerous Dependents? Or, are we to suppose, that these Slaves and Vassals first met to elect their respective Masters, and then told them, “We prescribe such and such Terms to you; and then you may, if you please, prescribe the like to your Master the Emperor?” Something like this must certainly be made to appear, before these Cases can be allowed to be any Kind of Confirmation of the Lockian System. In the mean Time, I will bring a Case in Point, which is a decisive Proof of the contrary in similar Circumstances. The King of Bohemia, for Example, and the Marquess of Brandenburgh (at War with each other in the Year 1777) are the two greatest Electors in the German Empire; the former of whom was likewise chosen Emperor a few Years before; and the latter is better known by the Stile and Title of the King of Prussia. Now there are extant Volumes of Imperial Bulls and Capitulars, which plainly shew, that the Electors have reduced the Powers and Prerogatives of the Emperor to little more than a Shadow. But what Benefits or Advantage can the oppressed Subjects of Brandenburgh, and of Bohemia, derive from these Limitations? And do the poor Peasants, and other Vassals of either of these great Princes dare to say, “You have no Right to reign over us, but what we voluntarily gave you by such and such Acts of our Assemblies? And therefore we will limit your Power over us, in the same Manner, as you limit the Power of the Emperor over you?” Dare they say these Things? Or indeed can they say with Truth, that either the Bohemians, or the Brandenburghers did ever elect the Houses of Austria, or Brandenburgh to be their respective Sovereign Lords and Masters?
But to return: The great Empire of Peru comes the next under our Consideration. And we read, that Manco Capac, and his Consort Mama Ocollo, were the Founders of it, by making the People believe, that they were the Children of the Sun: Which illustrious Pedigree, and imperial Title, the Incas, their Successors, laid Claim to ever after. Now a rank Republican may, if he pleases, spy out a social Compact even here: For he may assert, with his usual Confidence, that the Peruvians first met together in Congress, and after solemn Debate, and impartially scrutinizing the Matter, allowed the Proofs to be valid, which Manco and his Consort there exhibited of their lineal Descent from that glorious Luminary; and recognized their Title to the Empire. For my Part, I can discern nothing like a social Contract between equal, and independent Beings, in the Formation of this Empire: But I can see plainly enough, that Manco used, what may be called a pious Fraud, as Minos, Numa, and Lycurgus had done before him, in the like Circumstances. All which Examples evidently prove, that these Legislators were conscious to themselves, that their Plans even of doing Good, and of being of Service to Mankind, would have miscarried, had they trusted only to the Consent of the People, convened together a la MonsieurLocke, and had they not had Recourse to Measures of a very different Nature, by availing themselves of the popular Ignorance and Superstition.
So much as to the first Class of original Americans, the almost civilized.
The next is, the half Savages. Now these People may be so termed, because they were in a Kind of Medium State, between the more refined Inhabitants of the great Empires of Mexico, and Peru, and the gross Savages of the Woods and Deserts. They had a Property in Lands and Goods, and consequently some Sort of Industry, together with a Species of Legislation and Jurisdiction within themselves. The Countries, in which they principally dwelt, were Florida, and along the Banks of Mississipi, some Part of the great Continent, and particularly a District called Bagota, Hispaniola, Cuba, and all the greater Islands: Of whom in general one striking Observation may be made; that they had noble Families among them, who enjoyed hereditary Honours, and were possessed of ample Patrimonies, Dignities, and Prerogatives, which they transmitted from Father to Son, without any actual Consent, or Election of the People. Now whether these distinguished Personages [Some of whom claimed also to be descended from the Sun, like the Incas of Peru] Whether, I say, these great Personages, and Heads of their respective Tribes, Clans, or Vassals, ought to be called Chieftains, or Princes, or Kings, is very immaterial, and nothing to the Purpose. Evident enough it is, let them be called by what Name you please, that neither they, nor the People over whom they presided, ever dreamt of a social Compact, as the Foundation of their hereditary Power and Pre-eminence. Whether therefore their Fore-fathers acquired this Ascendency, and these Prerogatives, by Means of a certain Superiority of natural Endowments [according to the Supposition of the foregoing Chapter] which elevated them above the rest of their Species,—Or whether by Virtue of a patriarchal, regular Descent, or by what other unknown Means, is not worth the Inquiry; since it is obvious, that the Merits of the Cause cannot turn on these Points, that all of them are equally repugnant to the Lockian Hypothesis of Contracts and Conventions.
However, we may from hence take Occasion to make one very useful Remark, that the Antiquity of some Families, and the Respect and Veneration every where shewn them, is another distinct Proof, that Mr. Locke and his Followers had not sufficiently studied human Nature, when they ascribed [at least their Arguments, and Train of Reasoning tend to ascribe] the general Pre-eminence of some Families over others to Contracts, Covenants, and Conventions. For it is not consistent with any Degree of common Sense to suppose, that the Dignity and Elevation of some Families, and the servile Condition and mean Estate of others, ever were, or ever could be settled by the mutual Consent of all Parties concerned, who met together in Congress for that Purpose;—each of them equal to, and all independent one of another. Moreover, what makes this Affair still the more extraordinary is, that such Respect paid to Family-Antiquity is greatest, by far, in those Countries, whose Inhabitants are the least removed from the original State of Nature. In rich Countries, for Example, such as England and Holland, the Honour of a long Pedigree is much lessened to what it formerly was, in Proportion as Riches and Opulence have encreased among the People: In Scotland and Ireland it still retains its Influence in the poorer Parts, but is evidently losing Ground in the richer, according as Manufactures and Commerce have begun to spread. In France, the Influence of Family is still considerable; in Germany much more, and in Hungary, Poland, Moscovy, &c. the most of all.
Now, what shall we say to these Things? For the Fact is really so, reason how you please upon it: And therefore, whether this Notion of antient Blood is well, or ill supported in particular Cases, still as it is generally so prevalent throughout the World, we ought, I think, to conclude, that it hath its Foundation in human Nature; Providence graciously intending to stimulate us to great and good Actions, and to prevent us from doing any Thing base and unworthy of our Ancestors. At the same Time, as such a Predilection in Favour of what is not properly our own, is liable to great Abuse, we ought to be the more watchful in guarding against the Abuses and Perversions of it.
Having said thus much, I leave it to every Reader to determine, towards which Extreme, that of paying too great,—or too little a Deference to the Antiquity of Family, and the Notions of high Blood, we of this Age and Country are leaning most at present.—For my own Part, I make no Secret of declaring, that had I now the Option, whether I would chuse to obey the Powers that be, or those that wish to be, I should have a mortal Aversion against submitting to the upstart Sway of an Adams, or a Laurens, or of any other of that Tribe. And Experience hath taught us long ago, that such Sort of newly exalted Beings grow to be the most insolent of Men, and prove the worst of Tyrants.
But to return: It is said, that besides these Aristocratical, or Patriarchal Governments in America, there were others subsisting [that of the Thlascallans in particular] which bore a nearer Resemblance to a Republic, than to any other Form. But even of Republicks, there are so many different Species, that it is hard to say, to which of our European Common-Wealths, the American could be supposed to bear the nearest Resemblance. Suffice it therefore to observe once for all, that neither in the old, nor in the new world, in antient, or in modern Times, was there ever, as far as appears, any one Republic, which was literally democratical, in the Lockian Sense of the Word, For even at Geneva. the most popular of all Governments, which I can think of, a Moiety at least of the Male and adult Inhabitants [not to mention Females, and Male Youths] are excluded from giving Suffrages by the Constitution of the Place:—None but Citizens being permitted to enjoy that Privilege; mere Commorantes, and Sojourners, though of ever so long standing, and Natives of the Place, being all excluded. And were we to mount up into high Antiquity, and ransack the most celebrated Republics of Greece, for Proofs and Illustrations of this Matter, we should find that their Exclusions and Rejections were still greater,
Having now, it is to be hoped, had tolerable Success in this Part of our American Warfare, let us at last have the Courage to face that fell Monster himself with his Scalping Knife; the mere Savage;—of whom we have heard so much from Mr. Locke, and all his Followers, that in Times of Peace he bravely disdains all Subordination, because he is duly sensible of of his natural Rights, and (to use Dr. Priestly’s emphatic Words) feeling his own Importance, he considers himself as fully equal to any other Person whatever.
Well: The Scalping Knife, if you please, we will here lay aside, as having nothing to do with such an Instrument in this Dispute: Nor yet need we descrbe the canibal Feasts which these celebrated, independent Beings used to make on their Prisoners, after having roasted them alive. For as Mr. Locke and all his Followers not only allow but even insist, that the Savages generally elect a Chief, and submit to his Authority during a War, but return to their original Equality after it is over,—our Business is to find out, if we can, how it comes to pass, that they live in a State of absolute Independance, and without the Controul of Authority in Times of Peace;—those very Times, when the Advantages arising from Government and Law would have been productive of the most Good, and the least Evil, both to themselves, and others.
Now, in order to prosecute this Inquiry in such a Manner as would bring us the nearest to the Truth, we ought to compare these human Beings with others of their Kind, in every Point, which can give us any Light. For by so doing we have a better Chance of discovering the real Cause of this surprising Phænomenon, this grand Omission of a Civil Government for Ages upon Ages;—after the rest of the World, all Nations, People, and Languages, had established one every where, of some Kind, or other. If, for Example, this capital Defect is, in a great Measure, owing to some radical Weakness, or Imbecility in the corporeal and mental Powers, or moral Tempers of this singular People,—it is a Disease the more difficult to be cured, in Proportion as it proceeds from those natural Imperfections, which human Art and Instruction may correct in some Degree, but cannot totally remove. But then, if this be the Case, surely the Lockians have not dealt very ingenuously by us, in holding forth this defective Race, as a Sample of the Progenitors of other Men in their original State of Nature: And the Inferences and Conclusion, which they draw from this Instance of the American Savages, must pass for nothing.
1st.Bodily Constitutions: We will begin with these, because all Men, as well as Rousseau, are led almost naturally to suppose, that a Savage is a brawny Creature, healthy, vigorous, and long lived. His simple Diet, his Way of Life, and continual Exercise in the open Air;—and above all his happy Ignorance of the Delicacies, Luxuries, and Debaucheries of populous Towns and Cities, seem to indicate, that he must have a Constitution such, or nearly such as here described. How great therefore is our Disappointment, when we are informed by the united Voice of History, that the Savages of America are in general, a loose-jointed, and weakly Race of Men, frequently afflicted with various Kinds of Diseases, and the least capable of under-going any Degree of hard, and constant Labour, of any Human Creatures upon Earth: And moreover, that they are, in general, very far from being long-lived. Add to this, that their beardless Faces, and smooth Skins betray evident Symptoms of a cold Habit, and a lax Frame; inasmuch as they are destitute of the usual Signs and Characteristics of Vigour and Robustness in other Men. All this is surely ominous at first setting out: And yet every Tittle of it is true. Multitudes of Authorities might here be adduced to corroborate these Points. But I shall content myself with two, both of which for their Singularity, and for the Opening they give to various Speculations, eclipse all the rest.
The first is, the total Ineptitude of the Savages in general for Labour and Toil.
EveryEuropean Nation, which in their Wars with the native Indians has taken any of them Prisoners, hath attempted to make them work; but to very little Purpose. For after repeated Trials, and after using them smoothly, as well as roughly, it has been found, that the weakly Frame of an Indian would sink under that Portion of Labour, which was no more than Exercise to another Man. An old Planter from South Carolina told me about 35 Years ago, that the Carolinians being at War with a Tribe of Indians, had made the Experiment on some of their Prisoners; and found this Observation to be strictly true. “It appears to me, said he, that the Indians have the Agility of a Beast of Prey, but not the Strength of a Beast of Burden. They are light and nimble, and can march at a vast Rate for two or three Days; provided they have no heavy Burdens to carry: They can also subsist without Victuals for as many Days, and perhaps longer, by drawing their Belts closer and closer. But here ends all their Excellence. For when you take them out of this fauntring Life, and put them to any Kind of Labour, their Spirits droop, and they soon die.” Now, this strange Debility of Body was the very Circumstance, which gave rise to that most inhuman Custom of making Slaves of the Negroes of Africa, in order to spare the Americans:—of which detestible Practice the English, those prosessed Patrons, and Guardians of the unalienable Rights of Mankind, are, alas! more guilty than any Nation under Heaven: For they carry on a greater Slave-Trade than any others.
Las Casas. the Dominican Missionary, afterwards Bishop of Chiapa, was the first who began this Practice. And what is really astonishing, he began it from a good Motive. Shocked at the prodigious Numbers of native Americans, who were salling Victims to the Cruelty of the Spaniards in Mexico and Peru, by being made to work beyond their Strength, he conceived a Plan for hiring robust Labourers from Old Spain. But the Landed Interest both of the new, and the old World violently opposed this Scheme, through different Motives;—the former, lest their Country should be drained of its useful Hands by such prodigious Emigrations; and the latter, lest they should be obliged to give up that Power over the Natives, which they had so unjustly usurped, and of which they had made an Use barbarous, and cruel beyond Example. Being therefore defeated in this Project, he conceived another, in which he had none of his former Antagonists to oppose him:—Nay, unhappily for Mankind, he found them ready enough to join him; as soon as they perceived that his Scheme was practicable, and attended with much Profit and Advantage: That was, To purchase Slaves on the Coast of Africa, and transport them to America. And thus it came to pass, that this misguided Zealot became the Author of that very Slavery, of those innumerable Murders, and Calamities to Millions and Millions of his Fellow-Creatures born on one Part of the Globe, which he was endeavouring to prevent, and exclaiming against, in another.—As if the black Inhabitants of Africa had not as good a Title to Life, and Liberty, as the copper-coloured Natives of America, or even the Whites of Europe.
The other Thing remarkable is the sickly Habit of these Indians. Indeed a sickly Habit, and a weak and tender Frame, are very often both the Cause and Effect of each other. But, to pass over this, let it be observed, that there were various Disorders to which the Savages were subject from their Mode of Living. For not having that constant Supply of Food, which is to be found in a civilized State, by Means of Agriculture, and regular Markets; but depending altogether on the precarious Events of their Fishing, and Hunting Expeditions, they sometimes abounded, and then they gorged most voraciously, eating their Fish and Meat almost raw: At other Times they suffered great Want, and were forced to fast for several Days. Hence Palsies, Pleurisies, Consumptions, and all other Diseases, which date their Origin from Indigestions, Repletions, and Inanitions, were very rife among them. Not to mention that terrible Malady, which once was peculiar to America, but now is diffused over every Part of the Globe, to the farthest Part of Siberia, and Tartary. [See the Abbè Chappe’s Account of his Journey into Siberia.] But what is stranger still, these Diseases, and others of the same Stock, continued to make Havock among several of them, even after they had altered their former Modes of Living (at least in Part) by their Conversion to Christianity, thro’ the indefatigable Zeal of the Jesuit Missionaries of Paraguay.
Muratori* is the Author to whom I appeal on this Occasion: And his Testimony is the more to be depended on, as he is reputed not only a very faithful and exact Historian, but also as he particularly endeavoured in this Treatise, to set forth the Contrast in the strongest Point of Light, between the Indians of Paraguay in their converted, and unconverted State. His Words are these: “Hitherto it has been impossible to moderate their ravenous Appetites. Custom, and a craving Stomach, which has a great Power over them, have prevailed constantly against all the Instructions they have had, with regard to the Advantages for the Preservation of Health: And so they continue to eat without Moderation.—This Irregularity is the Cause of many Infirmities, that descend from Father to Son. What is worse, the Indians, when indisposed, cannot take the least Care of themselves. A Reduction [This is a Name given to a Number of Savages converted to Christianity by the Missionaries, and incorporated in one Politico-Ecclesiastical Community] of seven or eight Thousand Souls is esteemed very happy, that has only two Hundred sick at once, or reduced to keep their Beds.” Now, I say, this Circumstance is a very strange one, and not to be accounted for according to the common Vicissitudes of Health, and Sickness here in Europe. For even in those Sinks of Vice, Debauchery, and Disease, London and Paris, there hardly ever is an Instance, unless during the Violence of some epidemical Distemper, that out of a Parish consisting of seven or eight Thousand Souls, two Hundred of them, at an Average, are always sick, and obliged to keep their Beds. And were we to compare this American Account, with the Bills of Health of our large and populous Parishes in Country Towns and Villages, we should find that there are not sixty Persons always sick, out of eight Thousand, taking the whole Year together. Thus much as to the Bodily Constitutions of these poor miserable People.
In respect to the intellectual Powers of these Savages,—very narrow and confined they are, according to the Relation of all Historians. Muratori observes, “That the Indians, before they were taught Christianity, had no Word to signify any Number above four: If they would signify five, they held up one Hand, if ten, both: To express twenty, they pointed to both hands and feet: Any number above twenty was expressed by a generical Word, that signified many. They could not distinguish a Number of Years, Persons, or Things, that should be told exactly. But now they learn Arithmetic from their Infancy. Nor is this all: On Sundays, after Divine-Service, the Numeration-Table is repeated to the People in the Church, that the Indians may retain better what they learned in their Infancy.”—Surely a more convincing Proof need not be given of a slow and dull Understanding, than what is here mentioned. Indeed Dr. Robertson takes Notice, that the very Negroes consider themselves as a Race of Men much superior to the Indians in Point of mental Endowments; and therefore treat them with no small Scorn on that Account. In short the original Natives can hardly be said to discover either a fertile Genius, or a solid Judgment, in any thing they either say or do:—At the same Time, that they are remarkable for Patience, and Perseverence almost invincible in prosecuting such things, as they have undertaken to accomplish, be they what they may. But the worst Part of their Character is yet to come,—Namely,
1st,—Their Want of Tenderness, Sympathy, and Affection;
2dly,—Their astonishing Laziness and Improvidence;
And 3dly,—Their Gloominess, Sullenness, and Taciturnity.
With respect to the first Class of these bad Qualities, all Historians agree, without one Exception, that the Savages in general are very cruel and vindictive, full of Spite and Malice; and that they have little, or no Fellow-feeling for the Distresses even of a Brother of the same Tribe,—and none at all, no not a Spark of Benevolence towards the distressed Members of an hostile Tribe. But the Missionaries, to their eternal Praise be it spoken, have converted these bloodthirsty, unfeeling Animals, into a very different Sort of Beings: So that if the Accounts given of them are true, or even near the Truth, there can be hardly a more liumane and benevolent People upon Earth, than the Indian Converts of Paraguay.
But in Regard to the second Class, namely, Their Indolence, Laziness, and astonishing Improvidence,—here alas! it may be asked, Can the Ethiopian change his Skin, or the Leopard his Spots? For with respect to these Evils, the Missionaries, with all their Zeal and Emulation, with all their Arts of alluring the Passions, and captivating the Imaginations of an ignorant, and simple People, have not been able to work a radical Cure;—if indeed it can be called any Cure at all. Muratori’s Observations are very striking on this Head; and after him I will refer to others.
“After having assigned, says he, (Page 141,) a Parcel of Land, more than sufficient to maintain each Family, they [the Missionaries] distribute among them the Quantity of Grain that is necessary to sow their Ground, but on this Condition, that after Harvest, they shall bring to the public Stores as much Grain as they have received, that the common Fund of Seed-Grain may be always kept up. ☞ Without this Precaution the Indians would certainly eat all their Grain, and leave themselves even without Hopes of another Harvest.
“Every Family has a Pair, or two of Oxen lent them for their Husbandry. ☞ If they were the Property of the Indians, the poor Animals would soon be passed all Service. For it has often happened, that some Indians, to spare themselves the daily Trouble of putting the Yoke on their Cattle, never took it off. Others would knock them down, and soon eat them up, without giving any Reason, but that they were hungry. Now indeed they are more careful of them, as they are obliged at the Expiration of a certain Term, to restore them in good Plight. Whatever Care is taken, Provisions are wanted by many about the Middle of the Year, either through Sickness, or some private Misfortune they have suffered; or it is owing to their imprudent Profusion,—To sence against these Inconveniencies, they [the Missionaries] take this Method. Besides the Lands assigned to Particulars, there is a considerable Extent of Ground, the best, and most fruitful that they can find, which the Indians call Tupambae, that is, the Possession of God. The Management is committed to some understanding laborious Indians. This is cultivated under their Direction, by the Children of the Reduction, who to the Age of fifteen are employed in this Work, and who supply by their Numbers, what they want in Strength—All Grains. Fruit, and Cotton gathered from the Tupambae, are deposited in the public Granaries and Store-Houses, in order to be distributed in the Course of the Year to the Sick, the Orphans, the Handicraft’s Men, who have no Profit from their Labour but being fed and maintained at the public Cost; in a Word to all such as are any Ways dispensed from Tillage by their Imployment and Business, and even to those, who thro’ their own Negligence, or some Casualty reach the End of their Provisions before that of the Year.”
“Keeping the Indians in Clothes does not require less Attention. Were this left to them [the converted Indians] they would soon go naked like the Savages.” Pages 143, 144, 145. Thus far Muhatori: To whom we might add Abundance of other Authorities, were we not apprehensive of having been too tedious already. Suffice it therefore, briefly to observe, from Dr. Robertson, and other Historians, that this inbred Laziness, and unaccountable Indolence, so visible throughout all the original Natives of America, do not arise from the Want of Mementoes of every Kind, were this Class of Men but wise enough to take the proper Warning. Thus for Example, the Indians dwelling in the higher Latitudes both in North and South America, feel the Colds, and Frosts, and Snows of Winter, as sensible as any People whatever: Indeed perhaps more so, as their smooth Skins are evident Symptoms of a cold Constitution: Yet all this is not enough to teach them to get a Stock of warm Cloathing in Readiness, against the Approach of cold Weather. The same Observations may be made with respect to Dwelling. For the return of every Autumn might put them in Mind, that that is the Season for them to repair their Cabins, and to make them strong, warm, and comfortable, before the Rains, and Snows fall, and Frost sets in;—yet the lazy Indian puts off these necessary Repairs from Day to Day, ’till it becomes too late, or at least so late in the Season, that he cannot do it effectually, if he would. In short, he seems to be incapable of using any Forecast: For even the Example of the provident, and industrious Beaver, in a like Situation, tho’ continually before his Eyes, is lost upon him. Lastly, if any Teaching could suffice, respecting Food, one would think that the voracious Stomach of an Indian, and his frequent Disappointments, might tell him, that it would be much better to cultivate some Spots of Ground near his Cabin, and to tame some Animals for domestic Use (which he might do by Way of Amusement and Recreation) than to depend on the uncertain Events of Fishing and Hunting, which he knows must cease at some Seasons of the Year, and which so often sail, that hundreds of Indians are annually obliged to live on the bad Food of wild Roots, Plants, and Berries, and even of the most nauseous Reptiles, for a considerable Time, till Death itself puts an End to their Misery.—Yet alas! plain, and instructive as this Voice of Nature is, it is ineffectual to work a practical Conviction on the Minds of this stupid, and unthinking People. Nay more; the Missionaries themselves, who according to the Faith of the converted Indians, are invested with the Keys both of Heaven and Hell, and can dispense either Happiness or Misery both in this Life and the next;—these Missionaries, I say, who have civilized the Savages, and have wrought great, and happy Changes in them in several Respects; who are therefore beloved almost to Adoration—yet even they are not able to work any tolerable Reformation respecting the capital Points of Laziness and Improvidence, so deeply rooted in the Constitution of an Indian: So that the utmost they can do, is to palliate an unhappy, hereditary Disorder, instead of performing a radical Cure.
Hence therefore it comes to pass, that when the Savages in their natural State, are destitute of the Benefit of such faithful Monitors, such wise and able Governors, as the Missionaries have proved themselves to be, they frequently kill their infant Children, because they are not provided with the Means of rearing them up. Thus for Instance, if a Mother should die before her Child is weaned, the Child must be destroyed, there being no Nurse for it: And then it is buried in the same Grave with its Mother. A like Circumstance happens, when a Woman is delivered of Twins; for one, or other of these Innocents must be put to Death, because she cannot rear them both. And as she receives no Assistance from her Consort, or next to none, towards the Support of their common Offspring [he on the contrary always using her as his Drudge, and expecting, when he kills the Game, even at the Distance of several Miles from their Cabin, that his Squaw should go to fetch it Home.] She herself frequently procures Abortion, in order to be freed from the excessive Fatigue of rearing up Children, and of providing for their Sustenance by her own Toil. Nay, we are informed, that there have been Instances of Mothers having murdered their female Infants, through mere Tenderness, foreseeing the perpetual Misery to which they would be exposed, after they were grown up. For this, and for other Reasons it is observable, that savage Nation, ☞ never increase, and multiply like other Men. Nay more, Muratori, and all the Historians agree, that when the Savages have been unsuccessful in their hunting Expeditions, and are extremely pinched with Hunger, they hunt, kill, and eat one another. See particularly the Lord Bishop of Oxford [Secker’s] Sermon preached before the Society for propagating the Gospel, 1740-1. Page 8.
Now, as one Evil follows another, all these horrid Consequences, and perhaps many more, derive their Origin from that almost unconquerable Aversion to Labour, which prevails so universally in this defective Race. For were they but frugal, and industrious, even in a moderate Degree, they might not only prevent those Calamities, with which they are often so grievously afflicted, but also abound in all the Necessaries, and in many of the Conveniencies, and Elegancies of Life. But alas! industrious, and provident they will not be: Indeed their very Natures seem to be repugnant to it: For we find, that the Missionaries themselves would have failed of Success, had they urged no other than rational Motives to induce the Indians to Labour; and then had they left it to their own Choice, whether they would work, or not, without using any Sort of Compulsion.
This being the Case, can we want a Reason, why Civil Government is not introduced among the Tribes of Savage Indians?—Yea rather, might it not be very properly asked, How can it be introduced among such a Sort of People?—that is, How can the Expences of Government be supported by a Race of Men, who will not work enough to support themselves? Besides; Of what Use, would it be to them? For as to * Property, that great Source of Litigation among other Men. They have nothing to contend about; because they have no Labour, which is the Foundation of Riches: So that they are all equal, because equally poor. Having therefore no special Right to Lands, Woods, or Waters, one more than another, there can be no Disputes concerning them. And as to their Wives and Children, the mere Savages seem to be quite careless and indifferent about such Sorts of Chattels. In short, their general Mode of Life is this: They fish, and hunt wherever they think it most likely for them to get Plenty of Fish, or Game: Then they greedily devour what they have caught: After this they sleep; and when they are hungry, they fish, or hunt again; giving themselves little, or no Concern, what is to become of them, or how they are to subsist, when these Resources shall fail. Now, whilst they remain in this Situation, and follow such a Course of Life, Civil Government must be almost, if not altogether an useless Thing:—In fact, it never can be of any real Service, unless it causes them to forsake their savage Manner of living, and to become civilized. Then, indeed, notwithstanding the Ravings of Rousseau, it must be owned that it would be of signal Advantage to them, and a great Blessing. But in order to accomplish these good Ends, there are very great Difficulties to be encountered. For first, you must either change and alter the whole Frame of their Constitutions, if I may so speak, in order to render them fitter for receiving a good and liberal Plan of Civil Government: Or, 2dly. You must oblige them to submit to those Terms which you shall prescribe, by the mere Dint of absolute Power, according to the fundamental Maxims of the great Empires of Mexico, and Peru:—Or 3dly. You must win them to cooperate with your Measures, by such Combinations of Force and Persuasion, happily blended together, as the Jesuit Missionaries have devised and practiced in the Countries of Paraguay. The first of these is, I think, beyond the Reach of any human Power to effect.—The second is certainly no actual Compact, voluntarily entered into between equal and independent Beings;—the Lockians themselves being Judges: And as to the third,—If these enlightened, and benevolent Philosophers will undertake the Province of Missionaries to Paraguay, or to any other American Country, now the Jessuits are expelled, may good Success attend them! And may no one detract from the Merits of their Labours!
In the mean Time, and ’till they shall have returned from this Expedition, let them learn a little Modesty here at Home; and not boast of Victories, which they never won. Let them in short, be silent for the future, on this Topic: And let them not din our Ears with the Examples of the Savages of America, as being any Proofs and Illustrations of their Hypothesis;—which, when thoroughly discussed, and accurately examined, prove and illustrate just the contrary.
Respecting the third Class of bad Qualities, their native Sullenness and Taciturnity;—It has been frequently observed by Travellers, that the Savages of North-America are, in general, a joyless Race, seldom discovering any Symptoms of Gladness, unless when exulting over a vanquished Foe, and contriving to inflict some new Torture. Moreover, it has been noted, that they are such Strangers to the Pleasantries of Conversation, and so sparing of Speech, [except, when haranguing in Public, in order to prepare for, or to give an Account of, some hostile Expedition] that they will spend whole Days without uttering a Word, contenting themselves with dumb Signs and Nods.
Surely, surely Mr. Locke and his Followers either did not know what they were about, when they ventured to produce these unhappy, defective Beings, as the Prototypes of Mankind in all other Countries;—or they must have acted a very disingenuous Part, if they knew better, and yet wished to serve their Cause at the Expence of Truth.
A Comparison of the different Forms of Government with each other,—A Preference given to the Mixt, and the Reasons why,—The Republics of Sparta, Athens, and Rome, proved to be improper Models for a Commercial State,—The supposed unalienable Right of each Individual to be self-governed in the Affairs of Legislation, examined, and refuted.
ACCORDING to the Lockian System there ought to be no other Legislators but the People themselves,—or those at least whom the People had expressly commissioned for that Purpose;—nor ought there to be any Magistrates, Judges, Justices of the Peace, civil or military Officers, or any executive Powers whatever, but such only, as either mediately or immediately receive their Commissions from the People. Every other Species of Legislation or of Government is, it seems, a manifest Usurpation of the unalienable Rights of Mankind, let the Antiquity of it be ever so remote, or the System and Administration of it ever so productive of public Peace and Happiness.
It is to be hoped, that these idle Notions have received a full and satisfactory Confutation in the former Part of this Work. However, though we must reject the absurd Doctrine of personal Contracts between Prince and People, as a Thing which never existed in any State, and which never can (except perhaps in a very small Village for a few Days, or rather Hours) yet as all Governments whatever are so many public Trusts for the Good of the Governed;—therefore there is a Contract implied, though not exprest, a quasi, tho’ not an actual Contract always subsisting between all Sovereigns, and every one of their Subjects. The Consequence of which is, as hath been afore observed, That these Quasi-Contractors ought to be made responsible to each other, for the due Performance of their respective Engagements.
This being the Case, we are now to consider which is the best Method of obliging these reciprocal Contractors to perform their respective Duties;—the best I mean, as being the safest and easiest, as well as the most effectual.
In respect to one Side of the Obligation, viz. The Duty and Obedience of the People,—the Rulers themselves are to enforce this Part of the Covenant, and no others. For as they are to enact the Laws, and as they likewise, or their Deputies, are to put them in Execution, it is their Duty, as well as their Interest, to see, that none but good Laws are made, and when made, that they are impartially and universally obeyed. Therefore, if they should permit the People wantonly to trample upon legal Authority, and to transgress with Impunity, the Blame must rest upon themselves. For Lenity in such a Case is only another Name for Timidity; and Timidity and Government, where the public Good is concerned, are inconsistent Things. Only let me add, that those Laws are the readiest obeyed, and therefore the easiest to be executed, which are plain and simple, and obviously calculated for the general Good,—not to serve a present Turn, or gratify a Faction. Therefore great Care should be taken to enact such only as will stand the Test, and bear to be examined by this Rule. For when any of the Laws in being are of such a Nature, that it would be better to connive at their Infraction, than to enforce their Observance, it is high Time that such Laws should be repealed. Indeed every Plea or Pretence for their Continuance, is only so many Evidences, that Mankind had much rather find out Excuses to gloss over that System, which they know they cannot defend, than ingenuously to acknowledge themselves in the wrong, and alter their Conduct. Thus much as to the Governing Part in all Societies, let the Form of the Government he whatever it may.
We are now to turn to the opposite Side, the Case and Circumstance of the Governed.—Here therefore we must set out with this Inquiry, How shall the People receive a reasonable Security, that the Powers, wherewith their Governors are entrusted for their Good, both in making Laws, and in executing them, shall not be misapplied?—That there is a Danger of Misapplication is, alas! a Case too apparent to admit of any Doubt. And therefore the Question comes to this;—First, What is to be done, in order to prevent, as far as human Foresight can reach, the Misapplication of such a Trust? And 2dly. What Methods should be taken to cure those Evils, or redress those Abuses, which either were not, or could not be prevented at the first, so that Government in general may be restored to its original Ends and Uses, the Good of the Governed?
To solve these Questions in any Manner, that can bear some Proportion to the Importance of the Subject, several Points ought to be previously considered:
As 1st. What are those essential Principles, on which every Government must be founded, and by Virtue of which it doth actually subsist?
2dly.What are those Forms, or exterior Modes of Administration, which give distinct Denominations to different Governments?
And 3dly. Which Form affords the best, and most reasonable Security to the People, that they shall be well and happily governed?
With respect to the first Branch of the Inquiry, there must be Power, Wisdom, and Goodness, subsisting in one Degree or other, in every Government worthy to be so called, let the exterior Form of it be whatever it may.
For Example, without Power the very Idea of Government is annihilated; and there are no Traces of it left.
WithoutWisdom to conduct this Power towards some certain End, or Object, the Thing itself would not be Power, in a moral Sense, but blind Impulse, or mechanic Force.
And without Goodness to influence and incline the Operations both of Wisdom and Power towards some benevolent Uses, conducive to public Happiness, the Efforts of Wisdom would in effect be Knavery, Trick, and Cunning; and the Display of Power mere Tyranny and Oppression. There must therefore be a Coalition, or Co-operation of all three, in order to form a Government fit to rule over such a Creature as Man.
Secondly, as to the several Forms, or external Modes of Government, they are almost as complicated and various, and their Origins as different, as the Degrees of parental Authority may be supposed to vary in different Cases,—or as the Skill and Foresight of discerning and good Men may be found to be greater or less in others,—or as the Caprice and Humour of the giddy Populace,—or lastly, as the Intrigues, Wiles, and Address of popular Leaders, or daring Usurpers, may happen to prevail. But notwithstanding this great Variety, and these different Origins, all Sorts of Governments may be reduced to four Classes,—the Monarchical,—the Aristocratical, the Democratical, and the Mixt. Let us therefore endeavour to investigate the Quasi-Contracts contained or implied in each of these Forms, in order to discover their respective Excellencies or Imperfections.
Now this very Attempt will usher in the third grand Inquiry, namely, which of the several Modes of Government affords to the People the best and most reasonable Security against the Misapplication of the Trust reposed in the Governors for the Sake of the Governed.
[* ]See Dr. Robertson’s excellent and impartial History of America, Vol. I. Book IV. viz. Condition and Character of the Americans, Pages 281—409. I myself have heard Mons. Condamine at Paris confirming almost all the Particulars mentioned in these Pages. He added likewise one Circumstance, which I ought not to omit: Speaking of the Indians in the Empires of Mexico and Peru, whom the Spaniards had converted to Christianity for several Generations past. “They make, says he, excellent Catholics; for they are charmed with the Pomp and Ceremonies of Religion, and never think. Indeed it appears to me, that they are incapable of much Thought: For they are Children all their Lives.—Toujours Enfans.”
[* ]See Robertson’s History of America, Vol. I. Book 7, concerning the State of the Mexican Empire before the Invasion of the Spaniards.—See also the same concerning the State of the Empire of Peru.
[* ]Muratori’s Relation of the Missions of Paraguay. The English Translation printed for J. Marmaduke, 1759. P. 101—102:
[* ]The Savage Indians occupy no Lands in severalty: Therefore there is neither Tillage, nor Planting among them; except perhaps what their Wives may do in little Spots near their Cabins. In fact, as the whole Country lies open before them, in the Nature of a great Common, they hunt and fish whereever they please. But tho’ these Lands, Woods, and Waters are considered as common to all the Individuals of the same, Tribe;—yet, in their public Capacity, or as a collective Body, they claim an exclusive Right to vast Tracts of Country against other Tribes. In this respect they are so greedy, that perhaps an Extent of Wastes, Forests, and Deserts as large as England, is hardly judged sufficient for a few Hundreds of these Vagabonds to roam about. And it is the Invasion of this [supposed] public Property, which furnishes them with Pretences for their frequent, bloody, and scalping Wars: For the better Management of which, they elect a Chief, or Governor. Hence therefore we see, even from this imperfect State of Things, that wherever the Idea of Property prevails, Government must follow, as a necessary Consequence for the Preservation of it. N. B. Since their Commerce with the Europeans, the Indians have begun to use Horses, not for the Purposes of Husbandry, but for their Journies. They treat these Creatures with shocking Inhumanity; and indeed they seem to exhibit very little Fondness or Affection for any Sort of Beings whatever, but for self. In this they are quite the Reverse of the wild Arabs, who are as remarkable for their Kindness and Attachment to all their domestic Animals, and particularly to their Horses, as the Indians are for the contrary.