Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION VII: Taxes for advancing Industry and Commerce. 15 - Sketches of the History of Man, vol. 2
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SECTION VII: Taxes for advancing Industry and Commerce. 15 - Henry Home, Lord Kames, Sketches of the History of Man, vol. 2 
Sketches of the History of Man Considerably enlarged by the last additions and corrections of the author, edited and with an Introduction by James A. Harris (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007). 3 Vols. Vol. 2.
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Taxes for advancing Industry and Commerce.15
Of all sciences, that of politics is the most intricate; and its progress toward maturity is slow in proportion. In the present section, taxes on exportation of native commodities take the lead; and nothing can set in a stronger light the gross ignorance of former ages, than a maxim universally adopted, That to tax exportation, or to prohibit it altogether, is the best means for having plenty at home. In Scotland, we were not satisfied with prohibiting the exportation of corn, of fish, and of horses: the prohibition was extended to manufactures, linen cloth, candle, butter, cheese, barked hides, shoes (a) .*
Duties on exportation are in great favour, from a notion that they are paid by foreigners. This holds sometimes, as in the above mentioned case of coal exported to Holland: but it fails in every case where the foreign market can be supplied by others; for, whatever be the duty, the merchant must regulate his price by the market. And, even supposing the market-price at present to be sufficient for the duty, with a reasonable profit to the exporter; those who pay no duty will strain every nerve of rivalship, till they cut us out by low prices. The duty on French wine exported from France, is in effect a bounty to the wines of neighbouring countries. The duty is unskilfully imposed, being the same upon all wines exported, without regard to flavour or strength; which bars the commerce of small wines, tho’ they far exceed the strong in quantity. A moderate duty on exportation, such as small wines can bear, would add a greater sum to the revenue, and also be more beneficial to commerce. To improve the commerce of wine in France, the exportation ought to be free, or at most charged with a moderate duty ad valorem. In Spain an excessive duty is laid upon the plant barrile when exported; from an opinion, that it will not grow in any other country. It is not considered, that this tax, by lessening the demand, is a discouragement to its culture. A moderate duty would raise more money to the public, would employ more hands, and would make that plant a permanent article of commerce. The excessive duty has set invention at work, for some material in place of that plant. If such a material shall be discovered, the Spanish ministry will be convinced of a salutary maxim, That it is not always safe to interrupt by high duties the free course of commerce. Formerly in Britain, the exportation of manufactured copper was prohibited. That blunder in commercial politics was corrected by a statute in the reign of King William, permitting such copper to be exported, on paying a duty of four shillings the hundred weight. The exportation ought to have been declared free; which was done by a statute of Queen Anne. But, as the heat of improvement tends naturally to excess, this statute permits even unwrought copper, a raw material, to be exported. This probably was done to favour copper-mines: but did it not also favour foreign copper-manufactures? Goods and merchandise of the product or manufacture of Great Britain, may be exported duty-free (a) . A few years ago, the East India Company procured an act of parliament, prohibiting the exportation of cannon to the East Indies; which was very short sighted: the Dutch and Danes purchase cannon here, of which they make a profitable trade by exporting them to the East Indies. A cannon is purchased in Scotland for about L. 14 per ton, and sold to the Nabobs of Hindostan for between L. 50 and L. 70 per ton. And the only effect of the act of parliament, is to cut the British out of that profitable branch of commerce.16 Allum, lead, and some other commodities specified in the statute, are excepted; and a duty formerly paid on exportation is continued, for encouraging such of our own manufactures as employ any of the articles specified. In Ireland, to this day, goods exported are loaded with a high duty, without even distinguishing made work from raw materials; corn, for example, fish, hops, butter, horned cattle, wrought iron, leather and every thing made of it, &c. &c. And, that nothing may escape, all goods exported that are not contained in the book of rates, pay five per cent. ad valorem.
When Sully entered on the administra-tion of the French finances, corn in France was at an exorbitant price, occasioned by neglect of husbandry during the civil war. That sagacious minister discovered the secret of re-establishing agriculture, and of reducing the price of corn, which is, to allow a free exportation. So rapid was the success of that bold but politic measure, that in a few years France became the granary of Europe; and, what at present may appear wonderful, we find in the English records, anno 1621, bitter complaints of the French underselling them in their own markets. Colbert, who, fortunately for us, had imbibed the common error, renewed the ancient prohibition of exporting corn, hoping to have it cheap at home for his manufacturers. But he was in a gross mistake; for that prohibition has been the chief cause of many famines in France since that time. The corn-trade in France, by that means, lay long under great discouragements; and the French ministry continued long blind to the interest of their country. At last, edicts were issued, authorising the commerce of corn to be absolutely free, whether sold within the kingdom or exported. The generality, however, continued blind. In the year 1768, the badness of the harvest having occasioned a famine, the distresses of the people were excessive, and their complaints universal. Overlooking altogether the bad harvest, they attributed their misery to the new law. It was in vain urged, that freedom in the corn-trade encourages acriculture: the popular opinion was adopted, even by most of the parliaments: so difficult it is to eradicate established prejudices. In Turky, about thirty years ago, a grand vizir permitted corn to be exported more freely than had been done formerly, a bushel of wheat being sold at that time under seventeen pence. Every nation flocked to Turky for corn; and, in particular, no fewer than three hundred French vessels, from twenty to two hundred tons, entered Smyrna bay in one day. The Janissaries and populace took the alarm, fearing that all the corn would be exported, and that a famine would ensue. In Constantinople they grew mutinous, and were not appeased till the vizir was strangled, and his body thrown out to them. His successor, cautious of splitting on the same rock, prohibited exportation absolutely. In that country, rent is paid in proportion to the product; and the farmers, who saw no demand, neglected tillage. In less than three years, the bushel of wheat rose to six shillings; and the distresses of the people became intolerable. To this day, the fate of the good visir is lamented.
We have improved upon Sully’s discovery, by a bounty on corn exported, which has answered our most sanguine expectations. A great increase of gold and silver subsequent to the said bounty, which has raised the price of many other commodities, must have also raised that of corn, had not a still greater increase of corn, occasioned by the bounty, reduced its price even below what it was formerly; and, by that means, our manufactures have profited by the bounty, no less than our husbandry. The bounty is still more important in another respect: our wheat can be afforded in the French markets cheaper than their own; by which agriculture in France is in a languishing state. And it is in our power, during a war, to dash all the French schemes for conquest, by depriving them of bread.* This bounty, therefore, is our palladium, which we ought religiously to guard, if we would avoid being a province of France. Some sage politicians have begun of late to mutter against it, as feeding our rival manufacturers cheaper than our own; which is doubtful, as the expence of exportation commonly equals the bounty. But, supposing it true, will the evil be remedied by withdrawing the bounty? On the contrary, it will discourage manufacturers, by raising the price of wheat at home. It will beside encourage French husbandry, so as in all probability to reduce the price of their wheat below what we afford it to them. In France, labour is cheaper than in England, the people are more frugal, they possess a better soil and climate: what have we to balance these signal advantages but our bounty? and were that bounty withdrawn, I should not be surprised to see French corn poured in upon us, at a lower price than it can be furnished at home; the very evil that was felt during Sully’s administration.*
The exportation of British manufactures to our American colonies, ought to meet with such encouragement as to prevent them from rivalling us: it would be a gross blunder to encourage their manufactures, by imposing a duty on what we export to them. We ought rather to give a bounty on exportation; which, by underselling them in their own markets, would quash every attempt to rivalship.
As the duty on foreign linen imported into Britain is drawn back when exported to America, our legislature gave a bounty on our coarse linen exported to that country, which enables us to cope with the Germans in the American markets. The staining or printing linen cloth has of late become a considerable article in the ma-nufactures of Britain: and there is no sort of linen more proper for that manufacture than our own. The duty of foreign linen is drawn back when exported to America, whether plain or stamped: and, as we lose the bounty on our coarse linen when stamped, none but foreign linen is employed in the stamping manufacture. This is an oversight, such as our legislature is guilty of sometimes.†
It is not always true policy to discourage the exportation of our own rude materials: liberty of exportation gives an encouragement to produce them in greater plenty at home; which consequently low-ers the price to our manufacturers. Upon that principle, the exporting corn is permitted, and in Britain even encouraged with a bounty. But, where exportation of a rude material will not increase its quantity, the prohibition is good policy. For example, the exporting of rags for paper may be prohibited; because liberty of exporting will not occasion one yard more of linen cloth to be consumed.
Lyons is the city of Europe where the greatest quantity of silk stuffs is made: it is at the same time the greatest staple of raw silk; the silk of Italy, of Spain, of the Levant, and of the south of France, being there collected. The exportation of raw silk is prohibited in France, with a view to lessen its price at home, and to obstruct the silk manufacture among foreigners. The first is a gross error; the prohibition of exportation producing scarcity, not plenty: and, with respect to the other view, it seems to have been overlooked, that the commerce of the silks of Italy, of Spain, and of the Levant, is open to all trading nations. This prohibition is indeed so injudicious, that, without any benefit to France, it has done irreparable mischief to the city of Lyons: while the commerce of raw silk, both buying and selling, was monopolized by the merchants of that city, they had it in their power to regulate the price; but to compel foreigners to go to the fountain-head, not only raises the price by concurrence of purchasers, but deprives Lyons of a lucrative monopoly. The same blunder is repeated with respect to raw silk spun and dyed. In Lyons, silk is prepared for the loom with more art than any where else; and, to secure the silk manufacture, the exportation of spun silk is prohibited; which must rouse foreigners to bestow their utmost attention upon improving the spinning and dressing of silk: and who knows whether reiterated trials by persons of genius may not, in England, for example, bring these branches of the manufacture to greater perfection than they are even in Lyons?
Whether we have not committed a blunder of the same kind in prohibiting exportation of our wool, is a very serious question, which I proceed to examine. A spirit for husbandry, and for every sort of improvement, is in France turning more and more general. In several provinces there are societies, who have command of public money for promoting agriculture; and about no other article are these societies more solicitous, than about improving their wool. A book lately published in Sweden, and translated into French, has inspired them with sanguine hopes of success; as it contains an account of the Swedish wool being greatly improved in quality, as well as in quantity, by importing Spanish and English sheep for breed. Now, as France is an extensive country, situated between Spain and England, two excellent wool countries, it would be strange, if there should not be found a single corner in all France that can produce good wool. Britain may be justly apprehensive of these attempts; for, if France can cope with us under the disadvantage of procuring our wool by smuggling, how far will they exceed us with good wool of their own! The woollen cloth of England has always been esteemed its capital manufacture; and patriotism calls on every one to prevent, if possible, the loss of that valuable branch. Till something better be discovered, I venture to propose what at first may be thought a strange measure; and that is, to permit the exportation of our wool upon a moderate duty, such as will raise the price to the French, but not such as to encourage smuggling. The opportunity of procuring wool in the neighbourhood at a moderate price, joined with several unsuccessful attempts to improve their own wool, would soon make the French abandon thoughts of that improvement.
Experience has unfolded the advantages of liberty to export corn: that liberty has greatly encouraged agriculture, and, by increasing the quantity of corn, has made it even cheaper at home than formerly. Have we not reason to expect a similar consequence, from the same measure, with respect to wool? A new vent for that commodity would improve the breed of our sheep, increase their number, meliorate the land by their dung, and probably bring down the price of our wool at home. It would be proper indeed to prohibit the exportation of wool, as of corn, when the price rises above a certain sum. This measure would give us the command of that valuable commodity: it would secure plenty to ourselves, and distress our rivals, at critical times, when the commodity is scarce.
There is one reason that should influence our legislature to permit the exportation of wool, even supposing the foregoing arguments to be inconclusive: very long experience may teach us, if we can be taught by experience, that vain are our endeavours to prevent wool from being exported: it holds true with respect to all prohibitions, that smuggling will always prevail, where the profit rises above the risk. Why not then make a virtue of necessity, by permitting exportation under a duty? The sum yearly expended for preventing the exportation of wool is above L. 20,000. The fourth part of that sum would be sufficient to make effectual a moderate duty.17 Let the remainder, with the duty, be applied as a premium for exporting our woollen manufactures: such a premium would make them flourish more than ever. Were that measure adopted, the liberty of exporting wool would prove a singular blessing to England.
I close this branch with a commercial lesson, to which every other consideration ought to yield. The trade of a nation depends, for the most part, on very delicate circumstances, and requires to be carefully nursed. Foreigners, in particular, ought to be flattered and encouraged, that they may prefer us before others. Nor ought we ever to rely entirely on our natural advantages; for it is not easy to foresee what may occur to overbalance them. As this reflection is no less obvious than weighty, facts will be more effectual than argument for making a deep impression. Before the time of the famous Colbert, Holland was the chief market for French manufactures. That minister, in order to monopolize every article of commerce, laid a high duty on Dutch goods brought into France. The Dutch, resenting this measure, prohibited totally some French manufactures, and laid a high duty on others; which had the effect to encourage these manufactures at home. The revocation of the edict of Nantz, drove a vast number of French manufacturers into Holland; and perfected various manufactures formerly brought from France. In a word, this measure intended by Colbert to turn the balance of trade entirely on the side of his country, had the effect of turning it more for the Dutch than formerly.18 The Swiss, some years ago, imported all their wines from the King of Sardinia’s dominions. The King laid a high duty on these wines, knowing that the Swiss had not ready access to any other wine-country. He did not foresee, that this high duty was equal to a premium for cultivating the vine at home. They succeeded; and now are provided with wine of their own growth. The city of Lyons, by making silver-thread in perfection, had maintained a monopoly of that article against foreigners, as well as natives. But a high duty on its exportation, in order to monopolize also the manufacture of silver-lace, will probably excite foreigners to improve their own silver-thread and silver-lace; and France will be deprived of both monopolies, by the very means employed for securing both. English goods, purchased by Spaniards for the American market, pay to the King of Spain on exportation a duty equal to their value. This impolitic measure opens a wide door to smuggling; as English goods can be furnished 50 per cent. cheaper from Jamaica. The Spanish go-vernor of Mexico joins under-hand in the smuggling; which is commonly carried on in the following manner. The governor, to whom early notice is given, gives notice to others by a proclamation, that a foreign ship, with English goods on board, every article being specified, is hovering on the coast; and prohibiting, under severe penalties, any person to be a purchaser, that public proclamation has the desired effect: all flock to the shore, and purchase in perfect tranquility.
Beside heavy duties, commerce with foreigners has been distressed by many unwary regulations. The herring-fishery, which is now an article of immense commerce, was ingrossed originally by the Scots. But, grasping at all advantages, the royal boroughs of Scotland, in the reign of the second James, prohibited their fishermen to sell herrings at sea to foreigners; ordering, that they should be first landed, in order that they themselves might be first provided. Such was the policy of those times. But behold the consequence. The Netherlanders and people of the Hanse towns, being prohibited to purchase as formerly, became fishers themselves, and cut the Scots out of that profitable branch of trade. The tar-company of Sweden, taking it for granted that the English could not be otherwise supplied, refused to let them have any pitch or tar, even for ready money, unless permitted to be imported into England in Swedish bottoms; and consequently in such quantities only as the company should be pleased to furnish. This hardship moved the parliament to give a bounty for pitch and tar made in our own colonies. And, if we be not already, we shall soon be altogether independent of Sweden. The Dutch, excited by the profitable trade of Portugal with the East Indies, attempted a northeast passage to China; and that proving abortive, they set on foot a trade with Lisbon for East-India commodities. Portugal was at that time subject to the King of Spain; and the Dutch, though at war with Spain, did not doubt of their being well received in Portugal, with which kingdom they had no cause of quarrel. But the King of Spain, overlooking not only the law of nations, but even his own interest as King of Portugal, confiscated at short-hand the Dutch ships and their car-goes, in the harbour of Lisbon. That unjust and impolitic treatment provoked the Dutch to attempt an East-India trade, which probably they would not otherwise have thought of; and they were so successful, as to supplant the Portuguese in every quarter. Thus the King of Spain, by a gross error in policy, exalted his enemies to be a powerful maritime state. Had he encouraged the Dutch to trade with Lisbon, other nations must have resorted to the same market. Portugal would have been raised to such a height of maritime power as to be afraid of no rival: the Dutch would not have thought of coping with it, nor would any other nation.
We proceed to foreign commodities. The measures laid down for regulating their importation, have different views. One is, to keep down a rival power; in which view, it is prudent to prohibit importation from one country, and to encourage it from another. It is judicious in the British legislature to load French wines with a higher duty than those of Portugal; and in France it would be a proper measure to prefer the beef of Holstein, or of Russia, before that of Ireland; and the tobacco of the Ukraine or of the Palatinate, before that of Virginia. But such measures of government ought to be sparingly exercised, for fear of retaliation.
There is no cause more cogent for regulating importation, than an unfavourable balance, by permitting French goods to be imported free of duty, the balance against England was computed to be a million Sterling yearly. In the year 1678, that importation was regulated; which, with a prohibition of wearing East-India manufactures, did in twenty years turn the balance of trade in favour of England.
Most of the British regulations concerning goods imported, are contrived for promoting our own manufactures, or those of our Colonies. A statute, 3° Edward IV. cap. 4. entitled, “Certain merchandises not lawful to be brought ready wrought into the kingdom,” contains a large list of such merchandises; indicating the good sense of the English in an early period, intent on promoting their own manufactures. To favour a new manufacture of our own, it is proper to lay a duty on the same manufacture imported. To encourage the art of throwing silk, the duty on raw silk imported is reduced, and that on thrown silk is heightened. But such a measure ought to be taken with precaution, lest it recoil against ourselves. The Swedes, some years ago, intent on raising manufactures at home, prohibited at once foreign manufactures, without due preparation. Smuggling ensued; for people must import what they cannot find at home; and the home manufactures were not benefited. But the consequences were still more severe. Foreign manufactures were formerly purchased with their copper, iron, timber, pitch, tar, &c.: but now, as foreigners cannot procure these commodities but with ready money, they resort to Russia and Norway, where commodities of the same kind are procured by barter. The Swedish government, perceiving their error, permit several foreign manufactures to be imported as formerly. But it is now too late; for the trade flows into another channel: and at present, the Swedish copper and iron works are far from flourishing as they once did. In the year 1768, an ordinance was issued by the court of Spain, prohibiting printed or painted linen and cotton to be imported; intended for encouraging a manufacture of printed cottons projected in Catalonia and Arragon. The Spanish ministry have been ever singularly unlucky in their commercial regulations. It is easy to foresee, that such a prohibition will have no effect, but to raise the price on the subjects of Spain; for the prohibited goods will be smuggled, discouraging as much as ever the intended manufacture. The prudent measure would have been, to lay a duty upon printed cottons and linens imported, so small as not to encourage smuggling; and to apply that duty for nursing the infant manufacture. A foreign manufacture ought never to be totally prohibited, till that at home be in such plenty, as nearly to supply the wants of the natives. During ignorance of political principles, a new manufacture was commonly encouraged with an exclusive privilege for a certain number of years. Thus in Scotland, an exclusive privilege of exporting woollen and linen manufactures, was given to some private societies (a) . Such a monopoly is ruinous to a nation; and frequently to the manufacture itself (b) . I know no monopoly that in sound policy can be justified, except that given to authors of books for fourteen years by an act of Queen Anne.* Exemption from duty, premiums to the best workmen, a bounty on exportation, joined with a duty on goods of the same kind imported, and at last a total prohibition, are the proper encouragements to a new manufacture.
The importation of raw materials ought to be encouraged in every manufacturing country, permitting only a moderate duty for encouraging our own rude materials of the same kind. By a French edict 1654, for encouraging ship-building, ship-timber imported pays no duty. But perhaps a moderate duty would have been better, in order to encourage such timber of the growth of France. Deal timber accordingly, and other timber, imported into Britain from any part of Europe, Ireland excepted, pays a moderate duty. And oak-bark imported pays a duty, which is an encouragement to propagate oak at home. The importation of lean cattle from Ireland, which in effect are raw materials, is, by a statute of Charles II. declared a public nuisance. What gross ignorance! Is it not evident, that, to feed cattle, is more profitable than to breed them? The chief promoter of that notable statute was Sir John Knight, famous, or rather infamous, for an insolent speech in King William’s reign against naturalizing foreign Protestants, and proposing to kick out of the kingdom those already settled. Experience hath made evident the advantage of importing lean cattle into England; witness the vast quantities imported yearly from Scotland. Diamonds, pearls, and jewels of every kind, paid formerly, upon importation, a duty of ten per cent. ad valorem; which, by act 6° George II. cap. 7. was taken off, upon the following preamble, “That London is now become a great mart for diamonds and other precious stones, from whence most foreign countries are supplied; that great numbers of rough diamonds are sent here to be cut and polished; and that a free importation would increase the trade.”
Sorry I am to observe, that several of our duties on importation are far from being conformable to the foregoing rule; many raw materials necessary for our manufactures being loaded with a duty on importation, and some with a heavy duty. Barilla, for example, is a raw material used in the glass-manufacture: the exportation from Spain is loaded with a very high duty: and to raise the price still higher, we add a duty on importation; without having the pretext of encouraging a raw material of our own growth, for barilla grows not in this island. Hair is a raw material employed in several manufactures; and yet every kind of it, human hair, horse hair, goat’s hair, &c. pays a duty on importation; which consequently raises the price of our own hair, as well as of what is imported. Nor has this duty, more than the former, the pretext of being an encouragement to our own product; for surely there will not on that account be reared one child more, or foal, or kid. The same objection lies against the duty on foreign kelp, which is very high. Rancid oil of olives, fit for soap and woollen manufactures, pays upon importation a high duty: were it free of duty, we should be able to serve ourselves with Castile soap of home manufacture; and likewise our colonies, which are partly supplied by the French. Each of the following raw materials ought in sound policy to be free of duty on importation; and yet they are loaded with a duty, some with a high duty; pot-ashes, elephant’s teeth, raw-silk from the East Indies, lamp-black, bristles dressed or undressed, horns of beeves. Undressed skins, though a rude material, pay a duty on importation; and French kid-skins are honoured above others with a high duty: to reject a great benefit to ourselves rather than afford a small benefit to a rival nation, savours more of peevishness than of prudence.
For encouraging our colonies, coffee is permitted to be imported from the plantations free of duty, while other coffee pays sixpence per pound. The heavy duty on whale-bone and whale-oil imported, which was laid on for encouraging our own whale-fishing, is taken off with respect to the importation from our American colonies (a) . This may put an end to our own whale-fishery: but it will enable the Americans to cope with the Dutch; and who knows whether they may not at last prevail? For encouraging the culture of hemp and flax in America, there is a bounty given upon what is imported into Britain. One would imagine, that our legislature intended to enable the colonies to rival us in a staple manufacture, contrary to the fundamental principle of colonization. But we did not see so far: we only foresaw a benefit to Britain, in being supplied with hemp and flax from our colonies, rather than from Russia and the Low Countries. But, even abstracting from rivalship, was it not obvious, that a bounty for encouraging the culture of hemp and flax at home, would be more successful, than for encouraging the culture in America, where the price of labour is excessively high, not to talk of the freight?*
The encouragement given to foreign linen-yarn, by taking off the duty on importation, is a measure that greatly concerns Britain; and how far salutary, shall be strictly examined, after stating some preliminary observations. The first is, That our own commodities will never draw a greater price in a market, than imported commodities of the same goodness. Therefore, the price of imported linen, must regulate the price of home-made linen. The next is, That though the duty on importation is paid by the merchant at the first instance, he relieves himself of it, by raising the price on the purchaser; which of course raises the price of the same sort of goods made at home; and accordingly a duty on importation is in effect a bounty to our own manufacturers. A third observation is, That the market-price of our linen-cloth ought to be divided between the spinner and the weaver, in such proportion as to afford bread to both. If the yarn be too high, the weaver is undone: if too low, the spinner is undone. This was not attended to, when, for encouraging our spinners, a duty of three pence was laid on every pound of imported linen-yarn; which had the effect to raise the price of our own yarn beyond what the weaver could afford. This mystery being unvailed, the duty was first lowered to two pence, and then to a penny: our spinners had tolerable bread, and our weavers were not oppressed with paying too high a price for yarn.
Some patriotic gentlemen, who had more zeal than knowledge, finding the linen-manufacture benefited by the several reductions of the duty, rashly concluded, that it would be still more benefited by a total abolition of the duty. The penny accordingly was taken off (a) , and linen yarn was permitted to be imported duty free. Had matters continued as at the date of the act, this impolitic measure would have left us not a single spinner by profession; because it would have reduced the price of our yarn below what could afford bread to them. Lucky it has been for our linen-manufacture, that the German war,19 which soon followed, suspended all their manufactures, and spinning in particular; which proved to us a favourable opportunity for diffusing widely the art of spinning, and for making our spin-ners more and more dextrous. And yet, now that the war is at an end, it is far from being certain, that our yarn can be afforded as cheap as what is imported from Silesia. We have good authority for asserting, that the English spinners have suffered by that statute: from the books of many parishes it appears, that soon after the statute, a number of women, who had lived by spinning, became a burden upon the parish. One thing is evident, that as spinning is the occupation of females who cannot otherwise be so usefully employed, and as more hands are required for spinning than for weaving, the former is the more valuable branch of the manufacture. Very little attention however seems to have been given to that branch, in passing the act under consideration. Why was it not inquired into, whether the intended reduction of the price of yarn, would leave bread to the British spinner? The result of that inquiry would have been fatal to the intended act; for it would have been clearly seen, that the Scotch spinner could not make bread by her work, far less the English. Other particulars ought also to have been suggested to the legislature; that flax-spinning is of all occupations the fittest for women of a certain class, confined within small houses; that a flax-wheel requires less space than a wheel for wool; and that the toughness of British flax makes it excel for sail-cloth, dowlas, ticking, and sheeting. The British spinner might, in a British statute, have expected the cast of the scale, had it been but a halfpenny per pound on importation.
At the same time, it is a national reproach that there should be any inconsistency in our commercial regulations, when the wisest heads of the nation are employed about them. Flax rough or undressed, being a rude material, is imported duty-free, but dressed flax pays a high duty; both of them calculated for encouraging our own manufacturers. Behold now a glaring inconsistency: though dressed flax, for the reason given, pays a high duty; yet when by additional labour it is converted into yarn, it pays no duty. Further, foreign yarn is not only made welcome duty-free, but even receives a bounty when converted into linen, and exported to our plantations. What absurdities are here! Have we no reason to be afraid, that such indulgence to foreign yarn will deprive us of foreign rough flax? The difference of bulk and freight will determine the Germans to send us nothing but their yarn, and equally determine our importers to commission that commodity only.
Goods imported, if subjected to a duty, are generally of the best kind; because the duty bears a less proportion to such than to meaner sorts. The best French wines are imported into Britain, where the duty is higher than in any other country. For that reason, the best linen-yarn was imported while the duty subsisted; but now the German yarn is sorted into different kinds, of which the worst is reserved for the English market.
Regulations concerning the exportation of commodities formerly imported, come next in order. And for encouraging such exportation, one method practised with success, is, to restore to the merchant the whole or part of the duty paid at importation; which is termed a drawback. This in particular is done with respect to tobacco the product of our own colonies; which by that means can be afforded to foreigners at two pence halfpenny per pound, when the price at home is eight pence halfpenny. By this regulation, luxury is repressed at home, and at the same time our colonies are encouraged. But by an omission in the act of parliament, a drawback is only given for raw tobacco; which bars the exportation of snuff or manufactured tobacco, as foreigners can undersell us five-and-thirty per cent. Tobacco being an article of luxury, it was well judged to lay a heavier duty on what is consumed at home, than on what is exported. Upon the same principle, the duty that is paid on the importation of coffee and cocoa from our American plantations, is wholly drawn back when exported (a) . But as China earthen ware is not entitled to any encouragement from us, and as it is an article of luxury, it gets no drawback even when exported to America (a) . The exporter of rice from Britain, first imported from America, is entitled to draw back but half the duty paid on importation. Rice imported duty-free might rival our wheat-crop. But the whole duty ought to be drawn back on exportation: it ought to be afforded to our neighbours at the lowest rate, partly to rival their wheat-crop, and partly to encourage our rice-colonies.
Tobacco is an article of luxury; and it is well ordered, that it should come dearer to us than to foreigners. But every wise administration will take the opposite side, with respect to articles that concern our manufactures. Quicksilver pays upon importation a duty of about 8 d. per pound; 7 d. of which is drawn back upon exportation. The intention of the drawback was to encourage the commerce of quicksilver; without adverting, that to af-ford quicksilver to foreign manufacturers cheaper than to our own, is a gross blunder in commercial politics. Again, when quicksilver is manufactured into vermilion or sublimate, no drawback is allowed; which effectually bars their exportation: we ought to be ashamed of such a regulation. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, dyers were prohibited to use logwood, which was ordered to be openly burnt. But the English dyers having acquired the art of fixing colours made of logwood, it was permitted to be imported (b) , every ton paying on importation L. 5; L. 4 of which was to be drawn back upon exportation. That law, made in the days of ignorance, was intended to encourage the commerce of logwood; and had that effect: but the blunder of discouraging our own manufactures, by furnishing logwood cheaper to our rivals, was overlooked. Both articles were put upon a better footing (c) , giving a greater encouragement to the commerce of logwood, by allowing it to be imported duty-free; and by giving an advantage to our own manufactures, by laying a duty of 40 s. upon every hundred weight exported. Lastly, Still more to encourage the commerce of logwood (d) , the duty upon exportation is discontinued. It will have the effect proposed: but will not that benefit be more than balanced by the encouragement it gives to foreign manufactures? By the late peace,20 we have obtained the monopoly of gum-senega; and proper measures have been taken for turning it to the best account: the exportation from Africa is confined to Great Britain; and the duty on importation is only six pence per hundred weight: but the duty on exportation from Britain is thirty shillings per hundred weight (a) ; which, with freight, commission, and insurance, makes it come dear to foreigners. Formerly, every beaver’s skin paid upon importation seven pence of duty; and the exporter received a drawback of four pence; as if it had been the purpose of the legislature, to make our own people pay more for that useful commodity than foreigners. Upon obtaining a monopoly of beaver-skins by the late peace, that absurd regulation was altered: a penny per skin of duty is laid on importation, and seven pence on exportation (b) . By that means beaver-skins are cheaper here than in any other country of Europe. A similar regulation is established with respect to gum-arabic. A hundred weight pays on importation six pence, and on exportation L. 1, 10 s. (c) . As the foregoing articles are used in various manufactures, their cheapness in Britain, by means of these regulations, will probably balance the high price of labour, so as to keep open to us the foreign market.
James I. of England issued a proclamation, prohibiting the exportation of gold and silver whether in coin or plate, of goldsmith’s work, or of bullion. Not to mention the unconstitutional step of an English King usurping the legislative power, it was a glaring absurdity to prohibit manufactured work from being exported. Gold and silver, coined or uncoined, are to this day prohibited to be exported from France; a ridiculous prohibition: a merchant will never willingly export gold and silver; but if the balance be against him, the exportation is unavoidable. The only effect of the prohibition is, to swell the merchant’s debt; for he must bribe a smuggler to undertake the exportation. It is still more absurd that in Spain, which has the command of more silver mines than any other nation, silver is prohibited to be exported under the pain of death. Necessity forces it to be exported; and the absurdity of the prohibition prevails to make it be exported even in open day.21
A French author remarks, that in no country are commercial regulations better contrived than in Britain; and instances the following particulars. 1st, Foreign commodities, such as may rival their own, are prohibited, or burdened with duties. 2d, Their manufactures are encouraged by a free exportation. 3d, Raw materials which cannot be produced at home, cochineal, for example, indigo, &c. are imported free of duty. 4th, Raw materials of their own growth, such as wool, fuller’s earth, &c. are prohibited to be exported. 5th, Every commodity has a free course through the kingdom, without duty. And lastly, Duties paid on importation, are repaid on exportation. This remark is for the most part well founded: and yet the facts above set forth will not permit us to say, that the English commercial laws have as yet arrived at perfection.
Having thus gone through the several articles that enter into the present sketch, I shall close with some general reflections. The management of the finances is a most important branch of government; and no less delicate than important. Taxes may be so contrived as to promote in a high degree the prosperity of a state; and unless well contrived, they may do much mischief. The latter, by rendering the sovereign odious and the people miserable, effectually eradicate patriotism: no other cause is more fruitful of rebellion; and no other cause reduces a country to be a more easy prey to an invader. To that cause were the Mahometans chiefly indebted for their conquest of the Greek empire. The people were glad to change their master; because, instead of multiplied, intricate, and vexatious duties, they found themselves subjected to a simple tribute, easily collected, and easily paid. Had the art of oppressive taxes been known to the Romans, when the utmost perfidy and cruelty were practised against the Carthaginians, to make them abandon their city, the sober method of high duties on exportation and importation- would have been chosen. This method, beside gratifying Roman avarice, would infallibly have ruined Carthage.22
From the union of the different Spanish kingdoms under one monarch, there was reason to expect an exertion of spirit, similar to that of the Romans when peace was restored under Augustus. Spain was at that period the most potent kingdom in Europe, or perhaps in the world; and yet, instead of flourishing in that advantageous condition, it was by oppressive taxes reduced to poverty and depopulation. The political history of that kingdom with respect to its finances, ought to be kept in perpetual remembrance; that kings, and their ministers, may shun the destructive rock upon which Spain hath been wrecked. The cortes of Spain had once as extensive powers as ever were enjoyed by an English parliament; but at the time of the union their power being sunk to a shadow, the king and his ministers governed without much control. Britain cannot be too thankful to Providence for her parliament. From the history of every modern European nation, an instructive lesson may be gathered, that the three estates, or in our language a parliament, are the only proper check to the ignorance and rapacity of ministers. The fertility of the Spanish soil is well known. Notwithstanding frequent droughts to which it is liable, it would produce greatly with diligent culture; and in fact, during the time of the Roman domination, produced corn sufficient for its numerous inhabitants, and a great surplus, which was annually exported to Italy. During the domination of the Moors, Arabian authors agree, that Spain was extremely populous. An author of that nation, who wrote in the tenth century, reports, that in his time there were in Spain 80 capital cities, 300 of the second and third orders, beside villages so frequent, that one could not go a mile without meeting one or more of them. In Cordova alone, the capital of the Moorish empire, he reckons 200,000 houses,* 600 mosques, and 900 public baths. In the eleventh century, another author mentions no fewer than 12,000 villages in the plain of Seville. High must have been the perfection of agriculture in Spain, when it could feed such multitudes. What was the extent of their internal commerce, is not recorded; but all authors agree, that their foreign commerce was immense. Beside many articles of smaller value, they exported raw silk, oil, sugar, a sort of cochineal, quicksilver, iron wrought and unwrought, manufactures of silk, of wool, &c. The annual revenue of Abdoulrahman III. one of the Spanish califs, was in money 12,045,000 dinares, above five millions Sterling, beside large quantities of corn, wine, oil, and other fruits. That prince’s revenue must indeed have been immense, to supply the sums expended by him. Beside the annual charges of government, fleets, and armies, he laid out great sums on his private amusements. Though engaged continually in war, he had money to spare for building a new town three miles from Cordova, named Zehra after his favourite mistress. In that town he erected a magnificent palace, sufficiently capacious for his whole seraglio of 6300 persons. There were in it 1400 columns of African and Spanish marble, 19 of Italian marble, and 140 of the finest kind, a present from the Greek Emperor. In the middle of the great saloon, were many images of birds and beasts in pure gold adorned with precious stones, pouring water into a large marble bason. That prince must have had immense stables for horses, when he entertained for his constant guard no fewer than 12,000 horsemen, having sabres and belts enriched with gold. Upon the city of Zehra alone, including the palace and gardens, were expended annually 300,000 dinares, which make above L. 100,000 Sterling; and it required twenty-five years to complete these works.*
The great fertility of the soil, the industry of the Moors, and their advantage-ous situation for trade, carried on the prosperity of Spain down to the time that they were subdued by Ferdinand of Aragon. Of this we have undoubted evidence, from the condition of Spain in the days of Charles V. and of his son Philip, being esteemed at that period the richest country in the universe. We have the authority of Ustariz, that the town of Seville, in the period mentioned, contained 60,000 silk looms. During the sixteenth century, the woollen cloth of Segovia was esteemed the finest in Europe; and that of Catalonia long maintained its preference in the Levant, in Italy, and in the adjacent islands. In a memorial addressed to the second Philip, Louis Valle de la Cerda reports, that in the fair of Medina he had negotiated bills of exchange to the extent of one hundred and fifty-five millions of crowns; and in Spain at that time there were several other fairs, no less frequented.
The expulsion of the Moors deprived Spain of six or seven hundred thousand frugal and industrious inhabitants; a wound that touched its vitals, but not mortal: tender care, with proper remedies, would have restored Spain to its former vigour. But unhappily for that kingdom, its political physicians were not skilled in the method of cure: instead of applying healing medicines, they enflamed the disease, and rendered it incurable. The ministry, instigated by the clergy, had prevailed on the King to banish the Moors. Dreading loss of favour if the King’s revenues should fall, they were forced in self-defence to heighten the taxes upon the remaining inhabitants. And what could be expected from that fatal measure, but utter ruin; when the poor Christians, who were too proud to be industrious, had scarce been able to crawl under the load of former taxes?
But a matter that affords a lesson so instructive, merits a more particular detail. The extensive plantations of sugar in the kingdom of Granada, were, upon the oc-casion mentioned, deeply taxed, so as that the duty amounted to 36 per cent. of the value. This branch of husbandry, which could not fail to languish under such oppression, was in a deep consumption when the first American sugars were imported into Europe, and was totally extinguished by the lower price of these sugars. Spain once enjoyed a most extensive commerce of spirits manufactured at home, perhaps more extensive than France does at present. But two causes concurred to ruin that manufacture; first, oppressive taxes; and next, a prohibition to the manufacturer, of vending his spirits to any but to the farmers of the revenue. Could more effectual means be invented to destroy the manufacture, root and branch? Spanish salt is superior in quality to that of Portugal, and still more to that of France: when refined in Holland, it produces 10 per cent. more than the former, and 20 per cent. more than the latter; and the making of salt, requires in Spain less labour than in Portugal or in France. Thus Spanish salt may be afforded the cheapest, as requiring less labour; and yet may draw the highest price, as superior in quality: notwithstand-ing which shining advantages, scarce any salt is exported from Spain; and no wonder, for an exorbitant duty makes it come dearer to the purchaser than any other salt. A more moderate duty would bring more profit to the public; beside easing the labouring poor, and employing them in the manufacture. The superior quality of Spanish raw silk, makes it in great request; but as the duty upon it exceeds 60 per cent. it can find no vent in a foreign market: nor is there almost any demand for it at home, as its high price has reduced the silk-manufacture in Spain to the lowest ebb. But the greatest oppression of all, as it affects every sort of manufacture, is the famous tax, known by the name of alcavala, upon every thing bought and sold, which was laid on in the fifteenth century by a cortes or parliament. It was limited expressly to eight years; and yet was kept up, contrary to law, merely by the King’s authority. This monstrous tax, originally 10 per cent. ad valorem, was by the two Philips, III. and IV. augmented to 14 per cent. sufficient of itself to annihilate every branch of internal commerce, by the encouragement it gives to smuggling.* The difficulty of recovering payment of such oppressive taxes, heightened the brutality of the farmers; which hastened the downfal of the manufactures: poverty and distress banished workmen that could find bread elsewhere; and reduced the rest to beggary. The poor husbandmen sunk under the weight of taxes: and, as if this had not been sufficient to ruin agriculture totally, the Spanish ministry superadded an absolute prohibition of exporting corn. The most amazing article of all, is a practice that has subsisted more than three centuries, of setting a price on corn; which ruins the farmer when the price is low, and yet refuses him the relief of a high price. That agriculture in Spain should be in a deep consumption, is far from being a wonder: it is rather a wonder that it has not long ago died of that disease. Formerly there was plenty of corn for twenty millions of inhabitants, with a surplus for the great city of Rome; and yet at present, and for very many years back, there has not been corn for seven millions, its present inhabitants. Their only resource for procuring even the necessaries of life, were the treasures of the new world, which could not last for ever; and Spain became so miserably poor, that Philip IV. was necessitated to give a currency to his copper coin, almost equal to that of silver. Thus in Spain, the downfal of husbandry, arts, and commerce, was not occasioned by expulsion of the Moors, and far less by discovery of a new world,* of which the gold and silver were favourable to husbandry at least; but by exorbitant taxes, a voracious monster, which, after swallowing up the whole riches of the kingdom, has left nothing for itself to feed on. The following picture is drawn by a writer of that nation, who may be depended on for veracity as well as knowledge (a) . “Poverty and distress dispeople a country, by banishing all thoughts of marriage. They even destroy sucking children; for what nourishment can a woman afford to her infant, who herself is reduced to bread and water, and is overwhelmed with labour and despair? A greater proportion accordingly die here in infancy, than where the labouring poor are more at ease; and of those who escape by strength of constitution, the scarcity of cloathing and of nourishment makes them commonly short-lived.”
So blind however are the Spaniards in the administration of their finances, that the present ministry are following out the same measures in America, that have brought their native country to the brink of ruin. Cochineal, cocoa, sugar, &c. imported into Spain duty-free, would be a vast fund of commerce with other nations: but a heavy duty on importation is an absolute bar to that commerce, by forcing the other European nations to provide themselves elsewhere. Spanish oil exported to America would be a great article of commerce, were it not barred by a heavy duty on exportation, equal almost to a prohibition: and the Spanish Americans, for want of oil, are reduced to use fat and butter, very improper for a hot climate. The prohibition of planting vines in Mexico, and the excessive duty on the importation of Spanish wines into that country, have introduced a spirit drawn from the sugar-cane; which, being more destructive than a pestilence, is prohibited under severe penalties. The prohibition however has no effect, but to give the governors of the provinces a monopoly of these spirits, which, under their protection, are sold publicly.*23
But this subject seems to be inexhaustible. The silver and gold mines in the Spanish West Indies are, by improper taxes, rendered less profitable, both to the King and to the proprietors, than they ought to be. The King’s share is the fifth part of the silver that the mines produce, and the tenth part of the gold. There is, beside, a duty of eighty piasters upon every quintal of mercury employed in the mines. These heavy exactions have occasioned all mines to be given up but of the richest sort. The inhabitants pay 33 per cent. on the goods imported to them from Spain, and they are subjected beside to the alcavala, which is 14 per cent. of every thing bought and sold within the country. The most provoking tax of all is what is termed la cruciade, being a sum paid for indulgence to eat eggs, butter, and cheese, during Lent, which is yielded by the Pope to the King of Spain. The government, it is true, obliges no person to take out such an indulgence: but the priests refuse every religious consolation to those who do not purchase; and there is not perhaps a single person in Spanish America who is bold enough to stand out against such compulsion.
There is recorded in history, another example of destructive taxes similar to that now mentioned. Augustus, on his conquest of Egypt, having brought to Rome the treasure of its kings, gold and silver overflowed in Italy; the bulk of which found its way to Constantinople, when it became the seat of empire. By these means, Italy was sadly impoverished: the whole ground had been covered with gardens and villas, now deserted; and there was neither corn nor manufactures to exchange for money. Gold and silver became as rare in Italy as they had been of old; and yet the same taxes that had been paid with ease during plenty of money, were rigidly exacted, which ruined all. The duchy of Ferrara, in a narrower compass, affords a later example of the same kind. It was one of the richest and most populous districts in Italy, when governed by its own princes; but at present, under the Papal despotism, it is reduced to poverty and depopulation. There may be seen extensive meadows without a hand to cut down the grass, or a beast to eat it. The water-passages are not kept open: the stagnating waters are putrid, and infect the air with a poisonous steam. In a word, that duchy is approaching to the unwholesome state of the Compagna di Roma, and soon like it will become uninhabitable. Well may it be said, that oppressive taxation is a monster, which, after devouring every other thing, devours itself at last. Bologna surrendered to the Pope upon terms, reserving many of its most valuable privileges. Bologna continues a rich and populous city; and by moderate taxes the Pope draws from it ten times the sum that can be squeezed out of Ferrara by all the engines of oppression.24
end of the Second Volume.
HISTORY OF MAN.
by the last additions
of the author.
in four volumes.
printed for a. strahan and t. cadell, london;
and for william creech, edinburgh.
Military Branch of Government
During the infancy of a nation, every member depends on his own industry for procuring the necessaries of life: he is his own mason, his own tailor, his own physician; and on himself he chiefly relies for offence as well as defence. Every savage can say, what few beggars among us can say, Omnia mea mecum porto;1 and hence the apti-tude of a savage for war, which makes little alteration in his manner of living. In early times accordingly, the men were all warriors, and every known art was exercised by women; which continues to be the case of American savages. And even after arts were so much improved as to be exercised by men, none who could bear arms were exempted from war. In feudal governments, the military spirit was carried to a great height: all gentlemen were soldiers by profession; and every other art was despised, as low, if not contemptible.
Even in the unnatural state of the feudal system, arts made some progress, not excepting those for amusement; and many conveniencies, formerly unknown, became necessary to comfortable living. A man accustomed to manifold conveniencies, cannot bear with patience to be deprived of them: he hates war, and clings to the sweets of peace. Hence the necessity of a military establishment, hardening men by strict discipline to endure the fatigues of war. By a standing army, war is carried on more regularly and scientifically than in a feudal government; but as it is carried on with infinitely greater expence, na-tions are more reserved in declaring war than formerly. Long experience has at the same time made it evident, that a nation seldom gains by war; and that agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, are the only solid foundations of power and grandeur. These arts accordingly have become the chief objects of European governments, and the only rational causes of war. Among the warlike nations of Greece and Italy, how would it have sounded, that their effeminate descendents would employ soldiers by profession to fight their battles! And yet this is unavoidable in every country where arts and manufactures flourish; which, requiring little exercise, tend to enervate the body, and of course the mind. Gain, at the same time, being the sole object of industry, advances selfishness to be the ruling passion, and brings on a timid anxiety about property and self-preservation. Cyrus, tho’ enflamed with resentment against the Lydians for revolting, listened to the following advice, offered by Croesus, their former King. “O Cyrus, destroy not Sardis, an ancient city, famous for arts and arms; but, pardoning what is past, demand all their arms, encourage luxury, and exhort them to instruct their children in every art of gainful commerce. You will soon see, O King, that instead of men, they will be women.” The Arabians, a brave and generous people, conquered Spain; and drove into the inaccessible mountains of Biscay and Asturia, the few natives who stood out. When no longer an enemy appeared, they turned their swords into ploughshares, and became a rich and flourishing nation. The inhabitants of the mountains, hardened by poverty and situation, ventured, after a long interval, to peep out from their strong holds, and to lie in wait for straggling parties. Finding themselves now a match for a people, whom opulence had betrayed to luxury, and the arts of peace to cowardice; they took courage to display their banners in the open field; and after many military atchievements, succeeded in reconquering Spain. The Scots, inhabiting the mountainous parts of Caledonia, were an overmatch for the Picts, who occupied the fertile plains, and at last subdued them.*2
Benjamin de Tudele, a Spanish Jew, who wrote in the twelfth century, observes, that by luxury and effeminacy the Greeks had contracted a degree of softness, more proper for women than for men; and that the Greek Emperor was reduced to the necessity of employing mercenary troops, to defend his country against the Turks.3 In the year 1453, the city of Constantinople, defended by a garrison not exceeding 6000 men, was besieged by the Turks, and reduced to extremity; yet not a single inhabitant had courage to take arms, all waiting with torpid despondence the hour of utter extirpation. Venice, Genoa, and other small Italian states, became so effeminate by long and successful commerce, that not a citizen ever thought of serving in the army; which obliged them to employ mercenaries, officers as well as private men. These mercenaries at first, fought conscientiously for their pay; but reflecting, that the victors were no better paid than the vanquished, they learned to play booty. In a battle particularly between the Pisans and Florentines, which lasted from sun-rising to sun-setting, there was but a single man lost, who, having accidentally fallen from his horse, was trodden under foot. Men at that time fought on horseback, covered with iron from head to heel. Machiavel mentions a battle between the Florentines and Venetians which lasted half a day, neither party giving ground; some horses wounded, not a man slain. He observes, that such cowardice and disorder was in the armies of those times, that the turning of a single horse either to charge or retreat, would have decided a battle.4 Charles VIII. of France, when he invaded Italy anno 1498, understood not such mock battles; and his men were held to be devils incarnate, who seemed to take delight in shedding human blood. The Dutch, who for many years have been reduced to mercenary troops, are more indebted to the mutual jealousy of their neighbours for their independence, than to their own army. In the year 1672, Lewis of France invaded Holland, and in forty days took forty walled towns. That country was saved, not by its army, but by being laid under water. Frost, which is usual at that season, would have put an end to the seven United Provinces.
The small principality of Palmyra is the only instance known in history, where the military spirit was not enervated by opulence. Pliny describes that country as extremely pleasant, and blessed with plenty of springs, tho’ surrounded with dry and sandy deserts. The commerce of the Indies was at that time carried on by land; and the city of Palmyra was the centre of that commerce between the East and the West. Its territory being very small, little more than sufficient for villas and plea-sure-grounds, the inhabitants, like those of Hamburgh, had no way to employ their riches for profit but in trade. At the same time, being situated between the two mighty empires of Rome and Parthia; it required great address and the most assiduous military discipline, to guard it from being swallowed up by the one or the other. This ticklish situation preserved the inhabitants from luxury and effeminacy, the usual concomitants of riches. Their superfluous wealth was laid out on magnificent buildings, and on embellishing their country-seats. The fine arts were among them carried to a high degree of perfection. The famous Zenobia, their Queen, being led captive to Rome after being deprived of her dominions, was admired and celebrated for spirit, for learning, and for an exquisite taste in the fine arts.
Thus, by accumulating wealth, a manufacturing and commercial people become a tempting object for conquest; and by effeminacy become an easy conquest. The military spirit seems to be at a low ebb in Britain: will no phantom appear, even in a dream, to disturb our downy rest? Formerly, plenty of corn in the temperate regions of Europe and Asia, proved a tempting bait to northern savages who wanted bread: have we no cause to dread a similar fate from some warlike neighbour, impelled by hunger, or by ambition, to extend his dominions? The difficulty of providing for defence, consistent with industry, has produced a general opinion among political writers, that a nation, to preserve its military spirit, must give up industry; and to preserve industry, must give up a military spirit. In the former case, we are secure against any invader: in the latter, we lie open to every invader. A military plan that would secure us against enemies, without hurting our industry and manufactures, would be a rich present to Britain. That such a plan is possible, will appear from what follows; tho’ I am far from hoping that it will meet with universal approbation. To prepare the reader, I shall premise an account of the different military establishments that exist, and have existed, in Europe, with the advantages and disadvantages of each. In examining these, who knows whether some hint may not occur of a plan more perfect than any of them.
The most illustrious military establishment of antiquity is that of the Romans, by which they subdued almost all the known world. The citizens of Rome were all of them soldiers: they lived upon their pay when in the field; but if they happened not to be successful in plundering, they starved at home. An annual distribution of corn among them, became necessary; which in effect corresponded to the halfpay of our officers. It is believed, that such a constitution would not be adopted by any modern state. It was a forc’d constitution; contrary to nature, which gives different dispositions to men, in order to supply hands for every necessary art. It was a hazardous constitution, having no medium between universal conquest and wretched slavery. Had the Gauls who conquered Rome, entertained any view but of plunder, Rome would never have been heard of. It was on the brink of ruin in the war with Hannibal. What would have happened had Hannibal been victorious? It is easy to judge, by comparing it with Carthage. Carthage was a commercial state, the people all employ’d in arts, manufactures, and navigation. The Carthaginians were subdued; but they could not be reduced to extremity, while they had access to the sea. In fact, they prospered so much by commerce, even after they were subdued, as to raise jealousy in their masters; who thought themselves not secure while a house remained in Carthage. On the other hand, what resource for the inhabitants of Rome, had they been subdued? They must have perished by hunger; for they could not work. In a word, ancient Rome resembles a gamester who ventures all upon one decisive throw: if he lose, he is undone.
I take it for granted, that our feudal system will not have a single vote. It was a system that led to confusion and anarchy, as little fitted for war as for peace. And as for mercenary troops, it is unnecessary to bring them again into the field, after what is said of them above.
The only remaining forms that merit attention, are a standing army, and a militia; which I shall examine in their order, with the objections that lie against each. The first standing army in modern times was established by Charles VII. of France, on a very imperfect plan. He began with a body of cavalry termed companies of ordonnance. And as for infantry, he, anno 1448, appointed each parish to furnish an archer: these were termed francarchers, because they were exempted from all taxes. This little army was intended for restoring peace and order at home, not for disturbing neighbouring states. The King had been forc’d into many perilous wars, some of them for restraining the turbulent spirit of his vassals, and most of them for defending his crown against an ambitious adversary, Henry V. of England. As these wars were carried on in the feudal mode, the soldiers, who had no pay, could not be restrained from plundering; and inveterate practice rendered them equally licentious in peace and in war. Charles, to leave no pretext for free quarters, laid upon his subjects a small tax, no more than sufficient for regular pay to his little army.*
First attempts are commonly crude and defective. The franc-archers, dispersed one by one in different villages, and never collected but in time of action, could not easily be brought under regular discipline: in the field, they display’d nothing but vicious habits, a spirit of laziness, of disorder, and of pilfering. Neither in peace were they of any use: their character of soldier made them despise agriculture, without being qualified for war: in the army they were no better than peasants: at the plough, no better than idle soldiers. But in the hands of a monarch, a standing army is an instrument of power, too valuable ever to be abandoned: if one sove-reign entertain such an army, others in self-defence must follow. Standing armies are now established in every European state, and are brought to a competent degree of perfection.
This new instrument of government, has produced a surprising change in manners. We now rely on a standing army, for defence as well as offence: none but those who are trained to war, ever think of handling arms, or even of defending themselves against an enemy: our people have become altogether effeminate, terrified at the very sight of a hostile weapon. It is true, they are not the less qualified for the arts of peace; and if manufacturers be protected from being obliged to serve in the army, I discover not any incompatibility between a standing army and the highest industry. Husbandmen at the same time make the best soldiers: a military spirit in the lower classes arises from bodily strength, and from affection to their natal soil. Both are eminent in the husbandman: constant exercise in the open air renders him hardy and robust; and fondness for the place where he finds comfort and plenty, attaches him to his country in general.* An artist or manufacturer, on the contrary, is attached to no country but where he finds the best bread; and a sedentary life, enervating his body, renders him pusillanimous. For these reasons, among many, agriculture ought to be honoured and cherished above all other arts. It is not only a fine preparation for war, by breeding men who love their country, and whom labour and sobriety qualify for being soldiers; but is also the best foundation for commerce, by furnishing both food and materials to the industrious.
But several objections occur against a standing army, that call aloud for a better model than has hitherto been established, at least in Britain. The subject is interesting, and I hope for attention from every man who loves his country. During the vigour of the feudal system, which made every land-proprietor a soldier, every inch of ground was tenaciously disputed with an invader: and while a sovereign retained any part of his dominions, he never lost hopes of recovering the whole. At present, we rely entirely on a standing army, for defence as well as offence; which has reduced every nation in Europe to a precarious state. If the army of a nation happen to be defeated, even at the most distant frontier, there is little resource against a total conquest. Compare the history of Charles VII. with that of Lewis XIV. Kings of France. The former, tho’ driven into a corner by Henry V. of England, was however far from yielding: on the contrary, relying on the military spirit of his people, and indefatigably intent on stratagem and surprise, he recovered all he had lost. When Lewis XIV. succeeded to the crown, the military spirit of the people was contracted within the narrow span of a standing army. Behold the consequence. That ambitious monarch, having provoked his neighbours into an alliance against him, had no resource against a more numerous army, but to purchase peace by an abandon of all his conquests, upon which he had lavished much blood and treasure (a) . France at that period contained several millions capable of bearing arms; and yet was not in a condition to make head against a disciplined army of 70,000 men. Poland, which continues upon the ancient military establishment, wearied out Charles XII. of Sweden; and had done the same to several of his predecessors. But Saxony, defended only by a standing army, could not hold out a single day against the prince now mentioned, at the head of a greater army. Mercenary troops are a defence still more feeble, against troops that fight for glory, or for their country. Unhappy was the invention of a standing army; which, without being any strong bulwark against enemies, is a grievous burden on the people; and turns daily more and more so. Listen to a first-rate author on that point. “Sitôt qu’ un état augmente ce qu’il appelle ses troupes, les autres augmentent les leurs; de façon qu’on ne gagne rien par-là que la ruine commune. Chaque monarque tient sur pied toutes les armées qu’il pourroit avoir si ses peuples étoient en danger d’ être exterminées; et on nomme paix cet état d’effort de tous contre tous. Nous sommes pauvres avec les richesses et le commerce de tout l’univers; et bientôt à force d’avoir des soldats, nous n’aurons plus que des soldats, et nous serons comme de Tartares” (b) .*
But with respect to Britain, and every free nation, there is an objection still more formidable; which is, that a standing army is dangerous to liberty. It avails very little to be secure against foreign enemies, supposing a standing army to afford security, if we have no security against an enemy at home. If a warlike king, heading his own troops, be ambitious to render himself absolute, there are no means to evade the impending blow; for what avail the greatest number of effeminate cowards against a disciplined army, devoted to their prince, and ready implicitly to execute his commands? In a word, by relying entirely on a standing army, and by trusting the sword in the hands of men who abhor the restraints of civil law, a solid foundation is laid for military government. Thus a standing army is dangerous to liberty, and yet no sufficient bulwark against powerful neighbours.
Deeply sensible of the foregoing objections, Harrington proposes a militia as a remedy. Every male between eighteen and thirty, is to be trained to military exercises, by frequent meetings, where the youth are excited by premiums to contend in running, wrestling, shooting at a mark, &c. &c. But Harrington did not advert, that such meetings, enflaming the military spirit, must create an aversion in the people to dull and fatiguing labour. His plan evidently is inconsistent with industry and manufactures: it would be so at least in Britain. An unexceptionable plan it would be, were defence our sole object; and not the less so by reducing Britain to such poverty as scarce to be a tempting conquest. Our late war with France is a conspicuous instance of the power of a commercial state, entire in its credit; a power that amaz’d all the world, and ourselves no less than others. Politicians begin to consider Britain, and not France, to be the formidable power that threatens universal monarchy. Had Harrington’s plan been adopted, Britain must have been reduced to a level with Sweden or Denmark, having no ambition but to draw subsidies from its more potent neighbours.
In Switzerland, it is true, boys are, from the age of twelve, exercised in running, wrestling, and shooting. Every male who can bear arms is regimented, and subjected to military discipline. Here is a militia in perfection upon Harrington’s plan, a militia neither forc’d nor mercenary; invincible when fighting for their country. And as the Swiss are not an idle people, we learn from this instance, that the martial spirit is not an invincible obstruction to industry. But the original barrenness of Switzerland, compelled the inhabitants to be sober and industrious: and industry hath among them become a second nature; there scarcely being a child above six years of age but who is employ’d, not excepting children of opulent families. England differs widely in the nature of its soil, and of its people. But there is little occasion to insist upon that difference; as Switzerland affords no clear evidence, that a spirit of industry is perfectly compatible with a militia: the Swiss, it is true, may be termed industrious; but their industry is confined to necessaries and conveniencies: they are less ambitious of wealth than of military glory; and they have few arts or manufactures, either to support foreign commerce, or to excite luxury.
Fletcher of Salton’s plan of a militia, differs little from that of Harrington. Three camps are to be constantly kept up in England, and a fourth in Scotland; into one or other of which, every man must enter upon completing his one and twentieth year. In these camps, the art of war is to be acquired and practised: those who can maintain themselves must continue there two years, others but a single year. Secondly, Those who have been thus educated, shall for ever after have fifty yearly meetings, and shall exercise four hours every meeting. It is not said, by what means young men are compelled to resort to the camp; nor is any exception mentioned of persons destin’d for the church, for liberal sciences, or for the fine arts. The weak and the sickly must be exempted; and yet no regulation is proposed against those who absent themselves on a false pretext. But waving these, the capital objection against Harrington’s plan strikes equally against Fletcher’s, That by rousing a military spirit, it would alienate the minds of our people from arts and manufactures, and from constant and uniform occupation. The author himself remarks, that the use and exercise of arms, would make the youth place their honour upon that art, and would enflame them with love of military glory; not adverting, that love of military glory, diffused through the whole mass of the people, would unqualify Britain for being a manufacturing and commercial country, rendering it of little weight or consideration in Europe.
The military branch is essential to every species of government: The Quakers are the only people who ever doubted of it. Is it not then mortifying, that a capital branch of government, should to this day remain in a state so imperfect? One would suspect some inherent vice in the nature of government, that counteracts every effort of genius to produce a more perfect mode. I am not disposed to admit any such defect, especially in an article essential to the well-being of society; and rather than yield to the charge, I venture to propose the following plan, even at the hazard of being thought an idle projector. And what animates me greatly to make the attempt, is a firm conviction that a military and an industrious spirit are of equal importance to Britain; and that if either of them be lost, we are undone. To reconcile these seeming antagonists, is my chief view in the following plan; to which I shall proceed, after paving the way by some preliminary considerations.
The first is, that as military force is essential to every state, no man is exempted from bearing arms for his country: all are bound; because no person has right to be exempted more than another. Were any difference to be made, persons of figure and fortune ought first to be called to that service, as being the most interested in the welfare of their country. Listen to a good soldier delivering his opinion on that subject.
Les levées qui se sont par supercherie sont tout aussi odieuses; on met de l’argent dans la pochette d’un homme, et on lui dit qu’il est soldat. Celles qui se font par force, le sont encore plus; c’est une desolation publique, dont le bourgeois et l’habitant ne se sauvent qu’à force d’argent, et dont le fond est toujours un moyen odieux. Ne voudroit-il pas mieux établer, par une loi, que tout homme, de quelque condition qu’il fût, seroit obligé de servir son prince et sa patrie pendant cinq ans? Cette loi ne sçauroit être desapprouvée, parce qu’il est naturel et juste que les citoyens s’emploient pour la défense de l’état. Cette methode de lever des troupes seroit un fond inépuisable de belles et bonnes recrues, qui ne seroient pas sujetes a déserter. L’on se feroit même, par la suite, un honneur et un devoir de servir sa tâche. Mais, pour y parvenir, il faudroit n’en excepter aucune condition, être sévére sur ce point, et s’attacher a faire exécuter cette loi de préférence aux nobles et aux riches. Personne n’en murmureroit. Alors ceux qui auroient servi leur temps, verroient avec mépris ceux qui repugneroient à cette loi, et insensiblement on se feroit un honneur de servir: le pauvre bourgeois seroit consolé par l’example du riche; et celui-ci n’oseroit se plaindre, voyant servir le noble (a) .*
Take another preliminary consideration. While there were any remains among us of a martial spirit, the difficulty was not great of recruiting the army. But that task hath of late years become troublesome; and more disagreeable still than troublesome, by the necessity of using deceitful arts for trepanning the unwary youth. Nor are such arts always successful: in our late war with France, we were necessitated to give up even the appearance of voluntary service, and to recruit the army on the solid principle, that every man should fight for his country; the justices of peace being empowered to force into the service such as could be best spared from civil occupation. If a single clause had been added, limiting the service to five or seven years, the measure would have been unexceptionable, even in a land of liberty. To relieve officers of the army from the necessity of practising deceitful arts, by substituting a fair and constitutional mode of recruiting the army, was a valuable improvement. It was of importance with respect to its direct intendment; but of much greater, with respect to its consequences. One of the few disadvantages of a free state, is licentiousness in the common people, who may wallow in disorder and profligacy without control, if they but refrain from gross crimes, punishable by law. Now, as it appears to me, there never was devised a plan more efficacious for restoring industry and sobriety, than that under consideration. Its salutary effects were conspicuous, even during the short time it subsisted. The dread of being forc’d into the service, rendered the populace peaceable and orderly: it did more; it rendered them industrious in order to conciliate favour. The most beneficial discoveries have been accidental: without having any view but for recruiting the army, our legislature stumbled upon an excellent plan for reclaiming the idle and the profligate; a matter, in the present depravity of manners, of greater importance than any other that concerns the police of Britain. A perpetual law of that kind, by promoting industry, would prove a sovereign remedy against mobs and riots, diseases of a free state, full of people and of manufactures.* Why were the foregoing statutes, for there were two of them, limited to a temporary existence? There is not on record another statute better intitled to immortality.
And now to the project, which after all my efforts I produce with trepidation; not from any doubt of its solidity, but as ill suited to the present manners of this island. To hope that it will be put in practice, would indeed be highly ridiculous: this can never happen, till patriotism flourish more in Britain than it has done for some time past. Supposing now an army of 60,000 men to be sufficient for Britain, a rational method for raising such an army, were there no standing forces, would be, that land-proprietors, in proportion to their valued rents, should furnish men to serve seven years, and no longer.† But as it would be no less unjust than imprudent, to disband at once our present army, we begin with moulding gradually the old army into the new, by filling up vacancies with men bound to serve seven years and no longer. And for raising proper men, a matter of much delicacy, it is proposed, that in every shire a special commission be given to certain landholders of rank and figure, to raise recruits out of the lower classes, selecting always those who are the least useful at home.
Second. Those who claim to be dismissed after serving the appointed time, shall never again be called to the service, ex-cept in case of an actual invasion. They shall be intitled each of them to a premium of eight or ten pounds, for enabling them to follow a trade or calling, without being subjected to corporation-laws. The private men in France are inlisted but for six years; and that mode has never been attended with any inconvenience.‡
Third. With respect to the private men, idleness must be totally and for ever banished. Supposing three months yearly to be sufficient for military discipline; the men, during the rest of the year, ought to be employ’d upon public works, forming roads, erecting bridges, making rivers navigable, clearing harbours, &c. &c. Why not also furnish men for half-pay to private undertakers of useful works? And supposing the daily pay of a soldier to be ten pence, it would greatly encourage extensive improvements, to have at command a number of stout fellows under strict discipline, at the low wages of five pence a-day. An army of 60,000 men thus employ’d, would not be so expensive to the public, as 20,000 men upon the present establishment: for beside the money contributed by private undertakers, public works carried on by soldiers would be miserably ill contrived, if not cheaply purchased with their pay.*
It has more than once been under deliberation, whether the tolls may not be added to the public revenue, after paying the expence of keeping the turnpike-roads in good order. But as ministers frequently are more intent upon serving themselves than their country, it may happen that the tolls will be levied and the roads neglected. Upon the plan here proposed of a military establishment, the reparation of the roads would contribute to keep the sol-diers in constant employment. And as it would be difficult otherwise to find constant exercise for threescore thousand men, no minister surely, for the sake of his own character, will suffer men in government-pay to remain idle, when they can be employed so usefully for the public service. Now, were a law made permitting no wheel-carriages on a toll-road that require more than one horse, it would lessen wonderfully the expence of reparation. Nor would such a law be a hardship, as goods can be carried cheaper that way than in huge waggons, requiring from six to ten horses (a) . By such a law the tolls would make a capital branch of the public revenue, being levied without any deduction but for carrying gravel, or stones where gravel is not to be had.5
The most important branch of the project, is what regards the officers. The necessity of reviving in our people of rank some military spirit, will be acknowledged by every person of reflection; and in that view, the following articles are proposed. First, That there be two classes of officers, one serving for pay, one without pay. In filling up every vacant office of cornet or ensign, the latter are to be preferred; but in progressive advancement, no distinction is to be made between the classes. An officer who has served seven years without pay, may retire with honour.
Second. No man shall be privileged to represent a county in parliament, who has not served seven years without pay; and, excepting an actual burgess, none but those who have performed that service, shall be privileged to represent a borough. The same qualification shall be necessary to every one who aspires to serve the public or the King in an office of dignity; excepting only churchmen and lawyers with regard to offices in their respective professions. In old Rome, none were admitted candidates for any civil employment, till they had served ten years in the army.
Third. Officers of this class are to be exempted from the taxes imposed on land, coaches, windows, and plate; not for saving a trifling sum, but as a mark of distinction.
The military spirit must in Britain be miserably low, if such regulations prove not effectual to decorate the army with officers of figure and fortune. Nor need we to apprehend any bad consequence from a number of raw officers who serve without pay: among men of birth, emulation will have a more commanding influence than pay or profit; and at any rate, there will always be a sufficiency of old and experienc’d officers receiving pay, ready to take the lead in every difficult enterprise.
To improve this army in military discipline, it is proposed, that when occasion offers, 5 or 6000 of them be maintained by Great Britain, as auxiliaries to some ally at war. And if that body be changed from time to time, knowledge and practice in war will be diffused thro’ the whole army.
Officers who serve for pay, will be greatly benefited by this plan: frequent removes of those who serve without pay, make way for them; and the very nature of the plan excludes buying and selling.
I proceed to the alterations necessary for accommodating this plan to our present military establishment. As a total revolution at one instant would breed confusion, the first step ought to be a specimen only, such as the levying two or three regiments on the new model; the expence of which ought not to be grudged, as the forces presently in pay, are not sufficient, even in peace, to answer the ordinary demands of government. And as the prospect of civil employments, will excite more men of rank to offer their service than can be taken in, the choice must be in the crown, not only with respect to the new regiments, but with respect to the vacant offices of cornet and ensign in the old army. But as these regulations will not instantly produce men qualified to be secretaries of state or commissioners of treasury, so numerous as to afford his Majesty a satisfactory choice; that branch of the plan may be suspended, till those who have served seven years without pay, amount to one hundred at least. The article that concerns members of parliament must be still longer suspended: it may however, after the first seven years, receive execution in part, by privileging those who have served without pay to represent a borough, refusing that privilege to others, except to actual burgesses. We may proceed one step farther, That if in a county there be five gentlemen who have the qualification under consideration, over and above the ordinary legal qualifications; one of the five must be chosen, leaving the electors free as to their other representative.
With respect to the private men of the old army, a thousand of such as have served the longest may be disbanded annually, if so many be willing to retire; and in their stead an equal number may be inlisted to serve but seven years. Upon such a plan, it will not be difficult to find recruits.
The advantage of this plan, in one particular, is eminent. It will infallibly fill the army with gallant officers: Other advantages concerning the officers themselves, shall be mentioned afterward. An appetite for military glory, cannot fail to be roused in officers who serve without pay, when their service is the only passport to employments of trust and honour. And may we not hope, that officers who serve for pay, will, by force of imitation, be inspired with the same appetite? No-thing ought to be more sedulously inculcated into every officer, than to despise riches, as a mercantile object below the dignity of a soldier. Often has the courage of victorious troops been blunted by the pillage of an opulent city; and may not rich captures at sea have the same effect? Some sea-commanders have been suspected, of bestowing their fire more willingly upon a merchantman, than upon a ship of war. A triumph, an ovation, a civic crown, or some such mark of honour, were in old Rome the only rewards for military atchievements.* Money, it is true, was sometimes distributed among the private men, as an addition to their pay, after a fatiguing campaign; but not as a recom-pence for their good behaviour, because all shared alike. It did not escape the penetrating Romans, that wealth, the parent of luxury and selfishness, fails not to eradicate the military spirit. The soldier who to recover his baggage performed a bold action, gave an instructive lesson to all princes. Being invited by his general to try his fortune a second time; “Invite (says the soldier) one who has lost his baggage.” Many a bold adventurer goes to the Indies, who, returning with a fortune, is afraid of every breeze. Britain, I suspect, is too much infected with the spirit of gain. Will it be thought ridiculous in any man of figure, to prefer reputation and respect before riches; provided only he can afford a frugal meal, and a warm garment? Let us compare an old officer, who never deserted his friend nor his country, and a wealthy merchant, who never indulged a thought but of gain: the wealth is tempting;—and yet does there exist a man of spirit, who would not be the officer rather than the merchant, even with his millions? Sultan Mechmet granted to the Janisaries a privilege of importing foreign commodities free of duty: was it his intention to metamorphose soldiers into merchants, loving peace, and hating war?
In the war 1672 carried on by Lewis XIV. against the Dutch, Dupas was made governor of Naerden, recommended by the Duke of Luxembourg; who wrote to M. de Louvois, that he wished nothing more ardently, than that the Prince of Orange would besiege Naerden, being certain of a defence so skilful and vigorous, as to furnish an opportunity for another victory over the Prince. Dupas had served long in honourable poverty; but in this rich town he made a shift to amass a considerable sum. Terrified to be reduced to his former poverty, he surrendered the town on the first summons. He was degraded in a court-martial, and condemned to perpetual prison and poverty. Having obtained his liberty at the solicitation of the Viscount de Turenne, he recovered his former valour, and ventured his life freely on all occasions.6
But tho’ I declare against large appointments beforehand, which, instead of promoting service, excite luxury and effeminacy; yet to an officer of character, who has spent his younger years in serving his king and country, a government or other suitable employment that enables him to pass the remainder of his life in ease and affluence, is a proper reward for merit, reflecting equal honour on the prince who bestows, and on the subject who receives; beside affording an enlivening prospect to others, who have it at heart to do well.
With respect to the private men, the rotation proposed, aims at improvements far more important than that of making military service fall light upon individuals. It tends to unite the spirit of industry with that of war; and to form the same man to be an industrious labourer, and a good soldier. The continual exercise recommended, cannot fail to produce a spirit of industry; which will occasion a demand for the private men after their seven years service, as valuable above all other labourers, not only for regularity, but for activity. And with respect to service in war, constant exercise is the life of an army, in the literal as well as metaphorical sense. Boldness is inspired by strength and agility, to which constant motion mainly contributes. The Roman citizens, trained to arms from their infancy and never allowed to rest, were invincible. To mention no other works, spacious and durable roads carried to the very extremities of that vast empire, show clearly how the soldiers were employ’d during peace; which hardened them for war, and made them orderly and submissive (a) . So essential was labour held by the Romans for training an army, that they never ventured to face an enemy with troops debilitated with idleness. The Roman army in Spain, having been worsted in several engagements and confined within their entrenchments, were sunk in idleness and luxury. Scipio Nasica, having demolished Carthage, took the command of that army; but durst not oppose it to the enemy, till he had accustomed the soldiers to temperance and hard labour. He exercised them without relaxation, in marching and countermarching, in fortifying camps and demolishing them, in digging trenches and filling them up, in building high walls and pulling them down; he himself, from morning till evening, going about, and directing every operation. Marius, before engaging the Cimbri, exercised his army in turning the course of a river. Appian relates, that Antiochus, during his winter-quarters at Calchis, having married a beautiful virgin with whom he was greatly enamoured, spent the whole winter in pleasure, abandoning his army to vice and idleness; and that when the time of action returned with the spring, he found his soldiers unfit for service. It is reported of Hannibal, that to preserve his troops from the infection of idleness, he employ’d them in making large plantations of olive trees. The Emperor Probus exercised his legions in covering with vineyards the hills of Gaul and Pannonia.7 The idleness of our soldiers in time of peace, promoting debauchery and licentiousness, is no less destructive to health than to discipline. Unable for the fatigues of a first campaign, our private men die in thousands, as if smitten with a pestilence.* We never read of any mortality in the Roman legions, though frequently engaged in climates very different from their own. Let us listen to a judicious writer, to whom every one listens with delight:
Nous remarquons aujourd’hui, que nos armées périssent beaucoup par le travail immodéré des soldats; et cependant c’étoit par un travail immense que les Romains se conservoient. La raison en est, je croix, que leurs fatigues étoient continuelles; au lieu que nos soldats passent sans cesse d’un travail extreme à une extreme oisivété, ce qui est la chose du monde la plus propre à les faire perir. Il faut que je rapporte ici ce que les auteurs, nous disent de l’education de soldats Romains. On les accoutumoit à aller le pas militaire, c’est-a-dire, à faire en cinq heures vingt milles, et quelquefois vingt-quatre. Pendant ces marches, on leur faisoit porter de poids de soixante livres. On les entretenoit dans l’habitude de courir et de sauter tout armés; ils prenoient dans leurs exercices des epées, de javelots, de flêches, d’une pésanteur double des armes ordinaires; et ces exercices étoient continuels. Des hommes si endurcis étoient ordinairement sains; on ne remarque pas dans les auteurs que les armées Romaines, qui faisoient la guerre en tant de climats, perissoient beaucoup par les maladies; au lieu qu’il arrive presque continuellement aujourd’hui, que des armées, sans avoir combattu, se fondent, pour ainsi dire, dans une campagne (a) .*
Our author must be here understood of the early times of the Roman state. Military discipline was much sunk in the fourth century when Vegetius wrote (Lib. 3. cap. 14. 15.). The sword and pilum, these formidable weapons of their forefathers, were totally laid aside for slings and bows, the weapons of effeminate people. About this time it was, that the Romans left off fortifying their camps, a work too laborious for their weakly constitutions.8 Mareschal Saxe, a soldier, not a physician, ascribes to the use of vinegar the healthiness of the Roman legions: were vinegar so salutary, it would of all liquors be the most in request. Exercise without intermission, during peace as well as during war, produced that salutary effect; which every prince will find, who is disposed to copy the Roman discipline.* The Mareschal guesses better with respect to a horse. Discoursing of cavalry, he observes, that a horse becomes hardy and healthful by constant exercise, and that a young horse is unable to bear fatigue; for which reason he declares against young horses for the service of an army.
That the military branch of the British government is susceptible of improvements, all the world will admit. To improve it, I have contributed my mite; which is humbly submitted to the public, a judge from which there lies no appeal. It is submitted in three views. The first is, Whether an army modelled as above, would not secure us against the boldest invader; the next, Whether such an army be as dangerous to liberty, as an army in its present form; and the last, Whether it would not be a school of industry and moderation to our people.
With respect to the first, we should, after a few years, have not only an army of sixty thousand well-disciplined troops, but the command of another army, equally numerous and equally well disciplined. It is true, that troops inured to war have an advantage over troops that have not the same experience: but with assurance it may be pronounced impracticable, to land at once in Britain an army that can stand against 100,000 British soldiers well disciplined, fighting, even the first time, for their country, and for their wives and children.
A war with France raises a panic on every slight threatening of an invasion. The security afforded by the proposed plan, would enable us to act offensively at sea, instead of being reduced to keep our ships at home for guarding our coasts. Would Britain any longer be obliged to support her continental connections? No sooner does an European prince augment his army, or improve military discipline, than his neighbours, taking fright, must do the same. May not one hope, that by the plan proposed, or by some such, Britain would be relieved from jealousy and solicitude about its neighbours?
This is a subject that deserves deep attention, being of the utmost importance to Great Britain. The importance will clearly appear upon considering our late war with France, and our present war with France, Spain, and our American colonies, all united against us.9 France and Britain have made frequent attempts to distress one another by threatening an invasion. But they are not upon an equal footing: England has many good harbours, not a single fortified town; France has few harbours and many fortified towns. It is provided with a standing army much greater in proportion than Britain; and above all, our capital is open to a sudden attack by sea, which the capital of France is not. Our Bank may in an instant be ruined, and public credit suffer a stupifying blow. We accordingly are terrified at the very thought of a flat-bottom’d boat; and it is acknowledged on all hands, that we have no security against an invasion but a superior fleet. This unhappy situation has, in the present war, thrown our ministers into great perplexity. Our field of action is America and the West Indies, and yet our grand fleet is locked up at home, while the French and Spaniards are at liberty to direct all their force to that part of the world. Our intelligence of the motions of our enemies must be always late, often uncertain; and in fact several capital blows have been struck before we could give any reinforcement to our fleets in those parts. Now if the military branch proposed above had been adopted early during intervals of peace, our ministry would have been at liberty to employ our whole naval force where it could do the greatest execution, and would soon have brought the war to an end.10
With respect to the second view, having long enjoy’d the sweets of a free government under a succession of mild princes, we begin to forget that our liberties ever were in danger. But drousy security is of all conditions the most dangerous; because the state may be overwhelmed before we even dream of danger. Suppose only, that a British King, accomplished in the art of war and beloved by his soldiers, heads his own troops in a war with France; and after more than one successful campaign, gives peace to his enemy, on terms advantageous to his people: what security have we for our liberties, when he returns with a victorious army, devoted to his will? I am talking of a standing army in its present form. Troops modelled as above would not be so obsequious: a number of the prime nobility and gentry serving without pay, who could be under no temptation to enslave themselves and their country, would prove a firm barrier against the ambitious views of such a prince. And even supposing that army to be totally corrupted, the prince could have little hope of success against the nation, supported by a veteran army, that might be relied on as champions for their country.*
And as to the last view mentioned, the plan proposed would promote industry and virtue, not only among the soldiers, but among the working people in general. To avoid hard labour and severe discipline in the army, men would be sober and industrious at home; and such untractable spirits as cannot be reached by the mild laws of a free government, would be effectually tamed by military law. At the same time, as sobriety and innocence are constant attendants upon industry, the manners of our people would be much purified; a circumstance of infinite importance to Britain. The salutary influence of the plan, would reach persons in a higher sphere. A young gentleman, whipt at school, or falling behind at college, contracts an aversion to study; and flies to the army, where he is kept in countenance by numbers, idle and ignorant like himself. How many young men are thus daily ruined, who, but for the temptation of idleness and gaiety in the army, would have become useful subjects! In the plan under consideration, the officers who serve for pay would be so few in number, and their prospect of advancement so clear, that it would require much interest to be admitted into the army. None would be admitted but those who have been regularly educated in every branch of military knowledge; and idle boys would be remitted to their studies.
Here is display’d an agreeable scene with relation to industry. Supposing the whole threescore thousand men to be absolutely idle; yet, by doubling the industry of those who remain, I affirm, that the sum of industry would be much greater than before. And the scene becomes en-chanting, when we consider, that these threescore thousand men, would not only be of all the most industrious, but be patterns of industry to others.
Upon conclusion of a foreign war, we suffer grievously by disbanded soldiers, who must plunder or starve. The present plan is an effectual remedy: men accustomed to hard labour under strict discipline, can never be in want of bread: they will be sought for every where, even at higher than ordinary wages; and they will prove excellent masters for training the peasants to hard labour.
A man indulges emulation more freely in behalf of his friend or his country, than of himself: emulation in the latter case is selfish; in the former, is social. Doth not that give us reason to hope, that the separating military officers into different classes will excite a laudable emulation, prompting individuals to exert themselves on every occasion for the honour of their class? Nor will such emulation, a virtuous passion, be any obstruction to private friendship between members of different classes. May it not be expected, that young officers of birth and fortune, zea-lous to qualify themselves at their own expence for serving their country, will cling for instruction to officers of experience, who have no inheritance but personal merit? Both find their account in that connection: men of rank become adepts in military affairs, a valuable branch of education for them; and officers who serve for pay, acquire friends at court, who will embrace every opportunity of testifying their gratitude.
The advantages mentioned are great and extensive; and yet are not the only advantages. Will it be thought extravagant to hope, that the proposed plan would form a better system of education for young men of fortune, than hitherto has been known in Britain? Before pronouncing sentence against me, let the following considerations be weigh’d. Our youth go abroad to see the world in the literal sense; for to pierce deeper than eyesight, cannot be expected of boys. They resort to gay courts, where nothing is found for imitation but pomp, luxury, dissembled virtues, and real vices: such scenes make an impression too deep on young men of a warm imagination. Our plan would be an antidote to such poisonous education. Supposing eighteen to be the earliest time for the army; here is an object held up to our youth of fortune, for rousing their ambition: they will endeavour to make a figure, and emulation will animate them to excel: supposing a young man to have no ambition, shame however will push him on. To acquire the military art, to discipline their men, to direct the execution of public works, and to conduct other military operations, would occupy their whole time, and banish idleness. A young gentleman, thus guarded against the enticing vices and sauntering follies of youth, must be sadly deficient in genius, if, during his seven years service, reading and meditation have been totally neglected. Hoping better things from our youth of fortune, I take for granted, that during their service they have made some progress, not only in military knowledge, but in morals, and in the fine arts, so as at the age of twenty-five to be qualified for profiting, instead of being undone, by seeing the world.*
Further, young men of birth and fortune, acquire indeed the smoothness and suppleness of a court, with respect to their superiors; but the restraint of such manners, makes their temper break out against inferiors, where there is no restraint. Insolence of rank, is not so visible in Britain as in countries of less freedom; but it is sufficiently visible to require correction. To that end, no method promises more success than military service; as command and obedience alternately, are the best discipline for acquiring temper and moderation. Can pride and insolence be more effectually stemmed, than to be under command of an inferior?
Still upon the important article of education. Where pleasure is the ruling passion in youth, interest will be the ruling passion in age: the selfish principle is the foundation of both; the object only is varied. This observation is sadly verified in Britain: our young men of rank, loathing an irksome and fatiguing course of education, abandon themselves to pleasure. Trace these very men through the more settled part of life, and they will be found grasping at power and profit, by means of court-favour; with no regard to their country, and with very little to their friends. The education proposed, holding up a tempting prize to virtuous ambition, is an excellent fence against a life of indolent pleasure. A youth of fortune, engaged with many rivals in a train of public service, acquires a habit of business; and as he is constantly employ’d for the public, patriotism becomes his ruling passion.*
A number of noblemen and gentlemen, led by ambition, did lately join in parliament to oppose the King’s measures; and with true antipatriotic zeal stood up as champions for the American rebels.11 Charity leads me to think, that they would have acted very differently had they been trained in the military line, and consequently been employed during a course of years in the service of their country.12
The advantages of a military education, such as that proposed, are not yet exhausted. Under regular government promoting the arts of peace, social intercourse refines, and fondness for company increases in proportion. And hence it is, that the capital is crowded with every person who can afford to live there. A man of fortune, who has no taste but for a city life, happens to be forc’d into the country by business: finding business and the country equally insipid, he turns impatient, and flies to town, with a disgust at every rural amusement. In France, the country has been long deserted: in Britain the same fondness for a town-life is gaining ground. A stranger considering the immense sums expended in England upon country-seats, would conclude, in appearance with great certainty, that the English spend most of their time in the country. But how would it surprise him to be told, not only that people of fashion in England pass little of their time there, but that the immense sums laid out upon gardening and pleasure-grounds, are the effect of vanity more than of taste! In fact, such embellishments are beginning to wear out of fashion; appetite for society leaving neither time nor inclination for rural pleasures. If the progress of that disease can be stayed, the only means is military education. In youth lasting impressions are made; and men of fortune who take to the army, being confined mostly to the country in prime of life, contract a liking for country occupations and amusements: which withdraw them from the capital, and contribute to the health of the mind, no less than of the body.
A military life is the only cure for a disease much more dangerous. Most men of rank are ambitious of shining in public. They may assume the patriot at the beginning; but it is a false appearance, for their patriotism is only a disguise to favour their ambition. A court life becomes habitual and engrosses their whole soul: the minister’s nod is a law to them: they dare not disobey; for to be reduced to a private station, would to them be a cruel misfortune. This impotence of mind is in France so excessive, that to banish a courtier to his country seat, is held an adequate punishment for the highest misdemeanor. This sort of slavery is gaining ground in Britain; and it ought to be dreaded, for scarce another circumstance will more readily pave the way to absolute power, if adverse fate shall afflict us with an ambitious King. There is no effectual remedy to the servility of a court life, but the military education here recommended.13
A military education would contribute equally to moderation in social enjoyments. The pomp, ceremony, and ex-pence, necessary to those who adhere to a court and live always in public, are not a little fatiguing and oppressive. Man is naturally moderate in his desire of enjoyment; and it requires much practice to make him bear excess without satiety and disgust. The pain of excess, prompts men of opulence to pass some part of their time in a snug retirement, where they live at ease, free from pomp and ceremony. Here is a retirement, which can be reached without any painful circuit; a port of safety and of peace, to which we are piloted by military education, avoiding every dangerous rock, and every fatiguing agitation.
Reflecting on the advantages of military education above display’d, is it foolish to think, that our plan might produce a total alteration of manners in our youth of birth and fortune? the idler, the gamester, the profligate, compared with our military men, would make a despicable figure; shame, not to talk of pride, would compel them to reform.
How conducive to good government might the proposed plan be, in the hands of a virtuous king, supported by a public-spirited ministry! In the present course of advancement, a youth of quality who aspires to serve his country in a civil employment, has nothing to rely on but parliamentary interest. The military education proposed, would afford him opportunity to improve his talents, and to convince the world of his merit. Honour and applause thus acquired, would intitle him to demand preferment; and he ought to be employed, not only as deserving, but as an encouragement to others. Frequent instances of neglecting men who are patronized by the public, might perhaps prove dangerous to a British minister.
If I have not all this while been dreaming, here are display’d illustrious advantages of the military education proposed. Fondness for the subject excites me to prolong the entertainment; and I add the following reflection on the education of such men as are disposed to serve in a public station. The sciences are mutually connected: a man cannot be perfect in any one, without being in some degree acquainted with every one. The science of politics in particular, being not a little intricate, cannot be acquired in perfection by any one whose studies have been confined to a single branch, whether relative to peace or to war. The Duke of Marlborough made an eminent figure in the cabinet, as well as in the field; and so did equally the illustrious Sully, who may serve as a model to all ministers. The great aim in modern politics is, to split government into the greatest number possible of departments, trusting nothing to genius. China affords such a government in perfection. National affairs are there so simplified by division, as to require scarce any capacity in the mandarines. These officers, having little occasion for activity either of mind or of body, sink down into sloth and sensuality: motives of ambition or of fame make no impression: they have not even the delicacy to blush when they err: and as no punishment is regarded but what touches the person or the purse, it is not unusual to see a mandarine beaten with many stripes, sometimes for a very slight transgression. Let arts be subdivided into many parts: the more subdivisions the better. But I venture to pronounce, that no man ever did, nor ever will, make a capital figure in the government of a state, whether as a judge, a general, or a minister, whose education is rigidly confined to one science.*
Sensible I am that the foregoing plan is in several respects imperfect; but if it be sound at bottom, polish and improvement are easy operations. My capital aim has been, to obviate the objections that press hard against every military plan, hitherto embraced or proposed. A standing army in its present form, is dangerous to liberty; and but a feeble bulwark against superior force. On the other hand, a nation in which every subject is a soldier, must not indulge any hopes of becoming powerful by manufactures and commerce: it is indeed vigorously defended, but is scarce worthy of being defended. The golden mean of rotation and constant labour in a standing army, would discipline multitudes for peace as well as for war. And a nation so defended would be invincible.
Public Police with respect to the Poor
Among the industrious nations of Europe, regulations for the poor make a considerable branch of public police. These regulations are so multiplied and so anxiously framed, as to move one to think, that there cannot remain a single person under a necessity to beg. It is however a sad truth, that the disease of poverty, instead of being eradicated, has become more and more inveterate. England in particular overflows with beggars, tho’ in no other country are the indigent so amply provided for. Some radical defect there must be in these regulations, when, after endless attempts to perfect them, they prove abortive. Every writer, dissatisfied with former plans, fails not to produce one of his own; which, in its turn, meets with as little approbation as any of the foregoing.
The first regulation of the states of Hol-land concerning the poor, was in the year 1614 prohibiting all begging. The next was in the year 1649. “It is enacted, That every town, village, or parish, shall maintain its poor out of the income of its charitable foundations and collections. And in case these means fall short, the magistrates shall maintain them at the general expence of the inhabitants, as can most conveniently be done: Provided always, that the poor be obliged to work either to merchants, farmers, or others, for reasonable wages, in order that they may, as far as possible, be supported that way; provided also, that they be indulged in no idleness nor insolence.” The advice or instruction here given to magistrates, is sensible; but falls short of what may be termed a law, the execution of which can be enforc’d in a court of justice.
In France, the precarious charity of monasteries proving ineffectual, a hospital was erected in the city of Paris anno 1656, having different apartments; one for the innocent poor, one for putting vagabonds to hard labour, one for foundlings, and one for the sick and maimed; with cer-tain funds for defraying the expence of each, which produce annually much about the same sum. In imitation of Paris, hospitals of the same kind were erected in every great town of the kingdom.
The English began more early to think of their poor; and in a country without industry, the necessity probably arose more early. The first English statute bears date in the year 1496, directing, “That every beggar unable to work, shall resort to the hundred where he last dwelt or was born; and there shall remain, upon pain of being set in the stocks three days and three nights, with only bread and water, and then shall be put out of town.” This was a law against vagrants, for the sake of order. There was little occasion, at that period, to provide for the innocent poor; their maintenance being a burden upon monasteries. But monasteries being put down by Henry VIII. a statute, 22d year of his reign, cap. 12. empowered the justices of every county, to license poor aged and impotent persons to beg within a certain district; those who beg without it, to be whipt, or set in the stocks. In the first year of Edward VI. cap. 3. a statute was made in favour of impotent, maimed, and aged persons, that they shall have convenient houses provided for them, in the cities or towns where they were born, or where they resided for three years, to be relieved by the willing and charitable disposition of the parishioners. By 2d and 3d Philip and Mary, cap. 5. the former statutes of Henry VIII. and Edward VI. were confirmed, of gathering weekly relief for the poor by charitable collections. “A man licensed to beg, shall wear a badge on his breast and back openly.”
The first compulsory statute was 5° Elisab. cap. 3. empowering justices of peace to raise a weekly sum for the poor, by taxing such persons as obstinately refuse to contribute, after repeated admonitions from the pulpit. In the next statute, 14° Elisab. cap. 5. a bolder step was made, empowering justices to tax the inhabitants of every parish, in a weekly sum for their poor. And taxations for the poor being now in some degree familiar, the remarkable statutes, 39° Elisab. cap. 3. and 43° Elisab. cap. 2. were enacted, which are the ground-work of all the subsequent statutes concerning the poor. By these statutes, certain householders, named by the justices, are, in conjunction with the church-wardens, appointed overseers for the poor; and these overseers, with consent of two justices, are empowered to tax the parish in what sums they think proper, for maintaining the poor.
Among a people so tenacious of liberty as the English are, and so impatient of oppression, is it not surprising, to find a law, that without ceremony subjects individuals to be taxed at the arbitrary will of men, who seldom either by birth or education deserve that important trust; and without even providing any effectual check against embezzlement? At present, a British parliament would reject with scorn such an absurd plan; and yet, being familiarized to it, they never seriously have attempted a repeal. We have been always on the watch to prevent the sovereign’s encroachments, especially with regard to taxes: but as parish-officers are low persons who inspire no dread, we submit to have our pockets pick’d by them, almost without repining. There is provided, it is true, an appeal to the general sessions for redressing inequalities in taxing the parishioners. But it is no effectual remedy: artful overseers will not over-rate any man so grossly as to make it his interest to complain, considering that these overseers have the poor’s money to defend themselves with. Nor will the general sessions readily listen to a complaint, that cannot be verified but with much time and trouble. If the appeal have any effect, it makes a still greater inequality, by relieving men of figure at the expence of their inferiors; who must submit, having little interest to obtain redress.
The English plan, beside being oppressive, is grossly unjust. If it should be reported of some distant nation, that the burden of maintaining the idle and profligate, is laid upon the frugal and industrious, who work hard for a maintenance to themselves; what would one think of such a nation? Yet this is literally the case of England. I say more: the plan is not only oppressive and unjust, but miserably defective in the checking of maladministration. In fact, great sums are levied beyond what the poor receive: it requires briguing to be named a church-warden; the nomination, in London especially, gives him credit at once; and however meagre at the commencement of his office, he is round and plump before it ends. To wax fat and rich by robbing the poor! Let us turn our eyes from a scene so horrid.*
Inequality in taxing, and embezzlement of the money levied, which are notorious, poison the minds of the people; and impress them with a notion, that all taxes raised by public authority are ill managed.
These evils are great, and yet are but slight compared with what follow. As the number of poor in England, as well as the expence of maintenance, are increasing daily; proprietors of land, in order to be relieved of a burden so grievous, drive the poor out of the parish, and prevent all persons from settling in it who are likely to become a burden: cottages are demolished, and marriage obstructed. Influenced by the present evil, they look not forward to depopulation, nor to the downfall of husbandry and manufactures by scarcity of hands. Every parish is in a state of war with every other parish, concerning pauper settlements and removals.*
At an average, England by its various products can maintain more than its present inhabitants. How comes it then that it is not more populous, according to the noted observation that where-ever there is food men will be found? I can discover no cause but the poor’s rates, which make the people thoughtless and idle. Idleness begets profligacy; and the profligate avoid loading themselves with wives and children.1
The price of labour is generally the same in the different shires of Scotland, and in the different parishes. A few exceptions are occasioned by the neighbourhood of a great town, or by some extensive manufacture that requires many hands. In Scotland, the price of labour resembles water, which always levels itself: if high in any one corner, an influx of hands brings it down. The price of labour varies in every parish of England: a labourer who has gain’d a settlement in a parish, on which he depends for bread when he inclines to be idle, dares not remove to another parish where wages are higher, fearing to be cut out of a settlement altogether. England is in the same condition with respect to labour, that France lately was with respect to corn; which, however plentiful in one province, could not be exported to supply the wants of another. The pernicious effects of the latter with respect to food, are not more obvious, than of the former with respect to manufactures.
English manufactures labour under a still greater hardship than inequality of wages. In a country where there is no fund for the poor but what nature provides, the labourer must be satisfied with such wages as are customary: he has no resource; for pity is not moved by idleness. In England, the labourers command the market: if not satisfied with customary wages, they have a tempting resource; which is, to abandon work altogether, and to put themselves on the parish. Labour is much cheaper in France than in England: several plausible reasons have been assigned; but in my judgement, the difference arises from the poor-laws. In England, every man is entitled to be idle; because every idler is entitled to a maintenance. In France, the funds allotted for the poor, yield the same sum annually: that sum is always preoccupied; and France, with respect to all but those on the list, is a nation that has no fund provided by law for the poor.
Depopulation, inequality in the price of labour, and extravagant wages, are deplorable evils. But the English poor laws are productive of evils still more deplorable: they are subversive both of morality and industry. This is a heavy charge, but no less true than heavy. Fear of want is the only effectual motive to industry with the labouring poor: remove that fear, and they cease to be industrious. The ruling passion of those who live by bodily labour, is to save a pittance for their children, and for supporting themselves in old age: stimulated by desire of accomplishing these ends, they are frugal and industrious; and the prospect of success is to them a continual feast. Now, what worse can malice invent against such a man, under colour of friendship, than to secure bread to him and his children whenever he takes a dislike to work; which effectually deadens his sole ambition, and with it his honest industry? Relying on the certainty of a provision against want, he relaxes gradually till he sinks into idleness: idleness leads to profligacy: profligacy begets diseases: and the wretch becomes an object of public charity before he has run half his course. Such are the genuine effects of the English tax for the poor, under a mistaken notion of charity. There never was known in any country, a scheme for the poor more contradictory to sound policy. Might it not have been foreseen, that to a groveling creature, who has no sense of honour and scarce any of shame, the certainty of maintenance would prove an irresistible temptation to idleness and debauchery? The poor-house at Lyons contained originally but forty beds, of which twenty only were occupied. The eight hundred beds it contains at present, are not sufficient for those who demand admittance. A premium is not more successful in any case, than where given to promote idleness.* A house for the poor was erected in a French village, the revenue of which by economy became considerable. Upon a representation by the curate of the parish that more beds were necessary, the proprietor undertook the management. He sold the house, with the furniture; and to every proper object of charity, he ordered a moderate proportion of bread and beef. The poor and sick were more comfortably lodged at home, than formerly in the poor-house. And by that management, the parish-poor decreased, instead of increasing as at Lyons. How few English manufacturers labour the whole week, if the work of four or five days afford them maintenance? Is not this a demonstration, that the malady of idleness is widely spread? In Bristol, the parish-poor twenty years ago did not exceed four thousand: at present, they amount to more than ten thousand. But as a malady, when left to itself, commonly effectuates its own cure; so it will be in this case: when, by prevailing idleness, every one without shame claims parish-charity, the burden will become intolerable, and the poor will be left to their shifts.
The immoral effects of public charity are not confined to those who depend on it, but extend to their children. The constant anxiety of a labouring man to provide for his issue, endears them to him. Being relieved of that anxiety by the tax for the poor, his affection cools gradually, and he turns at last indifferent about them. Their independence, on the other hand, weans them from their duty to him. And thus, affection between parent and child, which is the corner-stone of society, is in a great measure obliterated among the labouring poor. In a plan published by the Earl of Hilsborough, an article is proposed to oblige parents to maintain their indigent children, and children to maintain their indigent parents. Natural affection must be at a low ebb, where such a regulation is necessary: but it is necessary, at least in London, where it is common to see men in good business neglecting their aged and diseased parents, for no better reason than that the parish is bound to find them bread: Proh tempora, proh mores!
The immoral effects of public charity spread still wider. It fails not to extinguish the virtue of charity among the rich; who never think of giving charity, when the public undertakes for all. In a scheme published by Mr. Hay, one article is, to raise a stock for the poor by volun-tary contributions, and to make up the deficiency by a parish-tax. Will individuals ever contribute, when it is not to relieve the poor, but to relieve the parish? Every hospital has a poor-box, which seldom produces any thing.* The great comfort of society is assistance in time of need; and its firmest cement is, the bestowing and receiving kindly offices, especially in distress. Now to unhinge or suspend the exercise of charity by rendering it unnecessary, relaxes every social virtue by supplanting the chief of them. The consequence is dismal: exercise of benevolence to the distressed is our firmest guard against the encroachments of selfishness: if that guard be withdrawn, selfishness will prevail, and become the ruling passion. In fact, the tax for the poor has contributed greatly to the growth of that groveling passion, so conspicuous at present in England.
English authors who turn their thoughts to the poor, make heavy complaints of decaying charity, and increasing poverty: never once dreaming, that these are the genuine effects of a legal provision for the poor; which on the one hand eradicates the virtue of charity, and on the other is a violent temptation to idleness. Wonderfully ill contrived must the English charity-laws be, when their consequences are to sap the foundation of voluntary charity; to deprive the labouring poor of their chief comfort, that of providing for themselves and children; to relax mutual affection between parent and child; and to reward, instead of punishing, idleness and vice. Consider whether a legal provision for the poor, be sufficient to atone for so many evils.
No man had better opportunity than Fielding to be acquainted with the state of the poor: let us listen to him.
That the poor are a very great burden, and even a nuisance to the kingdom; that the laws for relieving their distresses and restraining their vices, have not answered; and that they are at present very ill provided for and much worse governed, are truths which every one will acknowledge. Every person who hath property, must feel the weight of the tax that is levied for the poor; and every person of understanding, must see how absurdly it is applied. So useless indeed is this heavy tax, and so wretched its disposition, that it is a question, whether the poor or rich are actually more dissatisfied; since the plunder of the one serves so little to the real advantage of the other; for while a million yearly is raised among the rich, many of the poor are starved; many more languish in want and misery; of the rest, numbers are found begging or pilfering in the streets to-day, and tomorrow are locked up in gaols and Bridewells. If we were to make a progress through the outskirts of the metropolis and look into the habitations of the poor, we should there behold such pictures of human misery, as must move the compassion of every heart that deserves the name of human. What indeed must be his composition, who could see whole families in want of every necessary of life, oppressed with hunger, cold, nakedness, and filth; and with diseases, the certain consequence of all these! The sufferings indeed of the poor are less known than their misdeeds; and therefore we are less apt to pity them. They starve, and freeze, and rot, among themselves; but they beg, and steal, and rob, among their betters. There is not a parish in the liberty of Westminster, which doth not raise thousands annually for the poor; and there is not a street in that liberty, which doth not swarm all day with beggars, and all night with thieves.
There is not a single beggar to be seen in Pensylvania. Luxury and idleness have got no footing in that happy country; and those who suffer by misfortune, have maintenance out of the public treasury. But luxury and idleness cannot for ever be excluded; and when they prevail, this regulation will be as pernicious in Pensylvania, as the poor-rates are in Britain.
Of the many proposals that have been published for reforming the poor-laws, not one has pierced to the root of the evil. None of the authors entertain the slightest doubt of a legal provision being necessary, tho’ all our distresses arise evidently from that very cause. Travellers complain, of being infested with an endless number of beggars in every English town; a very different scene from what they meet with in Holland or Switzerland. How would it surprise them to be told, that this proceeds from an overflow of charity in the good people of England!
Few institutions are more ticklish than those of charity. In London, common prostitutes are treated with singular humanity: a hospital for them when pregnant, disburdens them of their load, and nurses them till they be again fit for business: another hospital cures them of the venereal disease: and a third receives them with open arms, when, instead of desire, they become objects of aversion. Would not one imagine, that these hospitals have been erected for encouraging prostitution? They undoubtedly have that effect, tho’ far from being intended. Mr. Stirling, superintendant of the Edinburgh poor-house, deserves a statue for a scheme he contrived to reform common prostitutes. A number of them were confined in a house of correction, on a daily allowance of three pence; and even part of that small pittance was embezzled by the servants of the house. Pinching hunger did not reform their manners; for being absolutely idle, they encouraged each other in vice, waiting impatiently for the hour of deliverance. Mr. Stirling, with consent of the magistrates, removed them to a clean house; and instead of money, which is apt to be squandered, appointed for each a pound of oat-meal daily, with salt, water, and fire for cooking. Relieved now from distress, they longed for comfort: what would they not give for milk or ale? Work, says he, will procure you plenty. To some who offered to spin, he gave flax and wheels, engaging to pay them half the price of their yarn, retaining the other half for the materials furnished. The spinners earned about nine pence weekly, a comfortable addition to what they had before. The rest undertook to spin, one after another; and before the end of the first quarter, they were all of them intent upon work. It was a branch of his plan, to set free such as merited that favour; and some of them appeared so thoroughly reformed, as to be in no danger of a relapse.
The ingenious author of The Police ofFrance, who wrote in the year 1753,2 observes, that notwithstanding the plentiful provision for the poor in that kingdom, mentioned above, there was a general complaint of the increase of beggars and vagrants; and adds, that the French political writers, dissatisfied with their own plan, had presented several memorials to the ministry, proposing to adopt the English parochial assessments, as greatly preferable. This is a curious fact; for at that very time, people in London, no less dissatisfied with these assessments, were writing pamphlets in praise of the French hospitals. One thing is certain, that no plan hitherto invented, has given satisfaction. Whether an unexceptionable plan is at all possible, seems extremely doubtful.
In every plan for the poor that I have seen, workhouses make one article; to provide work for those who are willing, and to make those work who are unwilling. With respect to the former, men need never be idle in England for want of employment; and they always succeed the best at the employment they chuse for themselves. With respect to the latter, punishment will not compel a man to labour: he may assume the appearance, but will make no progress; and the pretext of sickness or weakness is ever at hand for an excuse. The only compulsion to make a man work seriously, is fear of want.
A hospital for the sick, for the wounded, and for the maimed, is a right establishment; being productive of good, without doing any harm. Such a hospital should depend partly on voluntary charity; to procure which, a conviction of its being well managed, is necessary. Hospitals that have a sufficient fund of their own, and that have no dependence on the good will of others, are commonly ill managed.
Lies there any objection against a workhouse, for training to labour, destitute orphans, and begging children? It is an article in Mr. Hay’s plan, that the workhouse should relieve poor families of all their children above three. This has an enticing appearance, but is unsound at bottom. Children require the tenderness of a mother, during the period of infantine diseases; and are far from being safe in the hands of mercenaries, who study nothing but their own ease and interest. Would it not be better, to distribute small sums from time to time among poor families overburdened with children, so as to relieve them from famine, not from labour? And with respect to orphans and begging children, I incline to think, that it would be a more salutary measure, to encourage mechanicks, manufacturers, and farmers above all, to educate such children. A premium for each, the half in hand, and the other half when they can work for themselves, would be a proper encouragement. The best-regulated orphan-hospital I am acquainted with, is that of Edinburgh. Orphans are taken in from every corner, provided only they be not under the age of seven, nor above that of twelve: under seven, they are too tender for a hospital; above twelve their relations can find employment for them. Beside the being taught to read and write, they are carefully instructed in some art, that may afford them comfortable subsistence.
No man ever called in question the utility of the marine society; which will reflect honour on the members as long as we have a navy to protect us: they de-serve a rank above that of gartered knights. That institution is the most judicious exertion of charity and patriotism, that ever existed in any country.
A sort of hospital for servants who for twenty years have faithfully adhered to the same master, would be much to my taste; with a few adjoining acres for a kitchen-garden. The fund for purchasing, building, and maintenance, must be raised by contribution; and none but the contributors should be entitled to offer servants to the house. By such encouragement, a malady would be remedied, that of wandering from master to master for better wages, or easier service; which seldom fail to corrupt servants. They ought to be comfortably provided for, adding to the allowance of the house what pot-herbs are raised by their own labour. A number of virtuous men thus associated, would end their days in comfort; and the prospect of attaining a settlement so agreeable, would form excellent servants. How advantageous would such a hospital prove to husbandry in particular! But I confine this hospital to servants who are single. Men who have a family will be better provided separately.3
Of all the mischiefs that have been engendered by over-anxiety about the poor, none have proved more fatal than a foundling-hospital. They tend to cool affection for children, still more effectually than the English parish-charity. At every occasional pinch for food, away goes a child to the hospital; and parental affection among the lower sort turns so languid, that many who are in no pinch, relieve themselves of trouble by the same means. It is affirmed, that of the children born annually in Paris, about a third part are sent to the foundling-hospital. The Paris almanack for the year 1768, mentions, that there were baptised 18,576 infants, of whom the foundling-hospital received 6025. The same almanack for the year 1773 bears, that of 18,518 children born and baptised, 5989 were sent to the foundling-hospital.4 The proportion originally was much less; but vice advances with a swift pace. How enormous must be the degeneracy of the Parisian populace, and their want of parental affection!
Let us next turn to infants shut up in this hospital. Of all animals, infants of the human race are the weakest: they require a mother’s affection to guard them against numberless diseases and accidents; a wise appointment of Providence to connect parents and children in the strictest union. In a foundling-hospital, there is no fond mother to watch over her tender babe; and the hireling nurse has no fondness but for her own little profit. Need we any other cause for the destruction of infants in a foundling-hospital, much greater in proportion than of those under the care of a mother? And yet there is another cause equally potent, which is corrupted air. What Mr. Hanway observes upon parish-workhouses, is equally applicable to a foundling-hospital. “To attempt,” says he, “to nourish an infant in a workhouse, where a number of nurses are congregated into one room, and consequently the air become putrid, I will pronounce, from intimate knowledge of the subject, to be but a small remove from slaughter; for the child must die.” It is computed, that of the children in the London foundling-hospital, the half do not live a year. It appears by an account given in to parliament, that the money bestow’d on that hospital from its commencement till December 1757 amounted to L. 166,000; and yet during that period, 105 persons only were put out to do for themselves.5 Down then with foundling-hospitals, more noxious than pestilence or famine. An infant exposed at the door of a dwelling-house, must be taken up: but in that case, which seldom happens, the infant has a better chance for life with a hired nurse than in a hospital; and a chance perhaps little worse, bad as it is, than with an unnatural mother. I approve not indeed of a quarterly payment to such a nurse: would it not do better to furnish her bare maintenance for three years; and if the child be alive at the end of that time, to give her a handsome addition?
A house of correction is necessary for good order; but belongs not to the present essay, which concerns maintenance of the poor, not punishment of vagrants. I shall only by the way borrow a thought from Fielding, that fasting is the proper punishment of profligacy, not any punishment that is attended with shame. Pu-nishment, he observes, that deprives a man of all sense of honour, never will contribute to make him virtuous.
Charity-schools may have been proper, when few could read, and fewer write; but these arts are now so common, that in most families children may be taught to read at home, and to write in a private school at little expence. Charity-schools at present are more hurtful than beneficial: young persons who continue there so long as to read and write fluently, become too delicate for hard labour, and too proud for ordinary labour. Knowledge is a dangerous acquisition to the labouring poor: the more of it that is possessed by a shepherd, a ploughman, or any drudge, the less satisfaction he will have in labour. The only plausible argument for a charity-school, is, “That children of the labouring poor are taught there the principles of religion and of morality, which they cannot acquire at home.” The argument would be invincible, if without regular education we could have no knowledge of these principles. But Providence has not left man in a state so imperfect: religion and mora-lity are stamped on his heart; and none can be ignorant of them, who attend to their own perceptions. Education is indeed of use to ripen such perceptions; and it is of singular use to those who have time for reading and thinking: but education in a charity-school is so slight, as to render it doubtful, whether it be not more hurtful by fostering laziness, than advantageous by conveying instruction. The natural impressions of religion and morality, if not obscured by vitious habits, are sufficient for good conduct: preserve a man from vice by constant labour, and he will not be deficient in his duty either to God or to man. Hesiod, an ancient and respectable poet, says, that God hath placed labour as a guard to virtue. More integrity accordingly will be found among a number of industrious poor, taken at random, than among the same number in any other class.
I heartily approve every regulation that tends to prevent idleness. Chief Justice Hale says, “That prevention of poverty and idleness would do more good than all the gibbets, whipping-posts, and gaols in the kingdom.” In that view, gaming-houses ought to be heavily taxed, as well as horse-racing, cock-fighting, and all meetings that encourage idleness. The admitting low people to vote for members of parliament, is a source of idleness, corruption, and poverty. The same privilege is ruinous to every small parliament-borough. Nor have I any difficulty to pronounce, that the admitting the populace to vote in the election of a parish-minister, a frequent practice in Scotland, is productive of the same pernicious effects.
What then is to be the result of the foregoing enquiry? Is it from defect of invention that a good legal establishment for the poor is not yet discovered? or is it impracticable to make any legal establishment that is not fraught with corruption? I incline to the latter, for the following reason, no less obvious than solid, That in a legal establishment for the poor, no distinction can be made between virtue and vice; and consequently that every such establishment must be a premium for idleness. And where is the necessity, after all, of any public establishment? By what unhappy prejudice have people been led to think, that the Author of our na-ture, so beneficent to his favourite man in every other respect, has abandoned the indigent to famine and death, if municipal law interpose not? We need but inspect the human heart to be convinced, that persons in distress are his peculiar care. Not only has he made it our duty to afford them relief, but has superadded the passion of pity to enforce the performance of that duty. This branch of our nature fulfils in perfection all the salutary purposes of charity, without admitting any one of the evils that a legal provision is fraught with. The contrivance, at the same time, is extremely simple: it leaves to every man the objects as well as measure of his charity. No man esteems it a duty to relieve wretches reduced to poverty by idleness and profligacy: they move not our pity; nor do they expect any good from us. Wisely therefore is it ordered by Providence, that charity should in every respect be voluntary, to prevent the idle and profligate from depending on it for support.
This plan is in many respects excellent. The exercise of charity, when free from compulsion, is highly pleasant. There is indeed little pleasure where charity is rendered unnecessary by municipal law; but were that law laid aside, the gratification of pity would become one of our sweetest enjoyments. Charity, like other affections, is envigorated by exercise, and no less enfeebled by disuse. Providence withal hath scattered benevolence among the sons of men with a liberal hand: and notwithstanding the obstruction of municipal law, seldom is there found one so obdurate, as to resist the impulse of compassion, when a proper object is presented. In a well-regulated government, promoting industry and virtue, the persons who need charity are not many; and such persons may with assurance depend on the charity of their neighbours.*
It may at the same time be boldly affirmed, that those who need charity, would be more comfortably provided for by the plan of Providence, than by any legal establishment. Creatures loathsome by dis-ease or nastiness, affect the air in a poor-house; and have little chance for life, without more care and kindliness than can be expected from servants, rendered callous by continual scenes of misery. Consider, on the other hand, the consequences of voluntary charity, equally agreeable to the giver and receiver. The kindly connection it forms between them, grows stronger and stronger by reiteration; and squallid poverty, far from being an obstruction, excites a degree of pity, proportioned to the distress. It may happen for a wonder, that an indigent person is overlooked; but for one who will suffer by such neglect, multitudes suffer by compelled charity.
But what I insist on with peculiar satisfaction is, that natural charity is an illustrious support to virtue. Indigent virtue can never fail of relief, because it never fails to enflame compassion. Indigent vice, on the contrary, raises indignation more than pity (a) ; and therefore can have little prospect of relief. What a glorious encitement to industry and virtue, and how discouraging to idleness and vice! Will it be thought chimerical to observe further, that to leave the indigent on Providence, will tend to improve manners as well as virtue among the lower classes? No man can think himself secure against being reduced to depend on his neighbours for bread. The influence of that thought, will make every one solicitous to acquire the good will of others.6 Lamentable it is, that so beautiful a structure should be razed to the foundation by municipal law, which, in providing for the poor, makes no distinction between virtue and vice. The execution of the poor-laws would be impracticable, were such a distinction attempted by enquiring into the conduct and character of every pauper. Where are judges to be found who will patiently follow out such a dark and intricate expiscation? To accomplish the task, a man must abandon every other concern.
In the first English statutes mentioned above, the legislature appear carefully to have avoided compulsory charity: every measure for promoting voluntary charity was first try’d, before the fatal blow was struck, empowering parish-officers to im-pose a tax for the poor. The legislature certainly did not foresee the baneful consequences: but how came they not to see that they were distrusting Providence, declaring in effect, that the plan established by our Maker for the poor, is insufficient? Many are the municipal laws that enforce the laws of nature, by additional rewards and punishments; but it was singularly bold to abolish the natural law of charity, by establishing a legal tax in its stead. Men will always be mending: what a confused jumble do they make, when they attempt to mend the laws of Nature! Leave Nature to her own operations: she understands them the best.
Few regulations are more plausible than what are political; and yet few are more deceitful. A writer, blind with partiality for his country, makes the following observations upon the 43° Elisab. establishing a maintenance for the poor. “Laws have been enacted in many other countries, which have punished the idle beggar, and exhorted the rich to extend their charity to the poor: but it is peculiar to the humanity of England, to have made their support a matter of obligation and necessity on the more wealthy. The English seem to be the first nation in Europe in science, arts, and arms: they likewise are possessed of the freest and most perfect of constitutions, and the blessings consequential to that freedom. If virtues in an individual are sometimes supposed to be rewarded in this world, I do not think it too presumptuous to suppose, that national virtues may likewise meet with their reward. England hath, to its peculiar honour, not only made their poor free, but hath provided a certain and solid establishment to prevent their necessities and indigence, when they arise from what the law calls the act of God: and are not these beneficent and humane attentions to the miseries of our fellow-creatures, the first of those poor pleas which we are capable of offering, in behalf of our imperfections, to an all-wise and merciful Creator!” To this writer I oppose another, whose reflections are more sound. “In England, there is an act of the legislature, obliging every parish to maintain its own poor. Scarce any man living, who has not seen the effects of this law, but must approve of it; and yet such are its effects, that the streets of London are filled with objects of misery beyond what is seen in any other city. The labouring poor, depending on this law to be provided in sickness and old age, are little solicitous to save, and become habitually profuse. The principle of charity is established by Providence in the human heart, for relieving those who are disabled to work for themselves. And if the labouring poor had no dependence but on the principle of charity, they would be more religious; and if they were influenced by religion, they would be less abandoned in their behaviour. Thus this seeming-good act turns to a national evil: there is more distress among the poor in London than any where in Europe; and more drunkenness both in males and females” (a) .
I am aware, that during the reign of Elisabeth, some compulsion might be necessary to preserve the poor from starving. Her father Henry had sequestered all the hospitals, a hundred and ten in number, and squandered their revenues; he had also demolished all the abbeys. By these means, the poor were reduced to a miserable condition; especially as private charity, for want of exercise, was at a low ebb. That critical juncture required indeed help from the legislature: and a temporary provision for the poor would have been a proper measure; so contrived as not to supersede voluntary charity, but rather to promote it. Unlucky it is for England, that such a measure was overlooked; but Queen Elisabeth and her parliaments had not the talent of foreseeing consequences without the aid of experience. A perpetual tax for the poor was imposed, the most pernicious tax that ever was imposed in any country.
With respect to the present times, the reason now given pleads against abolishing at once a legal provision for the poor. It may be taken for granted, that charity is in England not more vigorous at present, than it was in the days of Elisabeth. Would our ministry but lead the way, by showing some zeal for a reformation, ex-pedients would probably be invented for supporting the poor, without unhinging voluntary charity. The following expedient is proposed, merely as a specimen. Let a tax be imposed by parliament on every parish for their poor, variable in proportion to the number; but not to exceed the half of what is necessary: directing the landholders to make up quarterly, a list of the names and condition of such persons as in their opinion deserve charity; with an estimate of what each ought to have weekly. The public tax makes the half, and the other half is to be raised by voluntary contribution. To prevent collusion, the roll of the poor, and their weekly appointment, with a subscription of gentlemen for their part of the sum, shall be examined by the justices of peace at a quarterly meeting; who, on receiving satisfaction, must order the sum arising from the public tax to be distributed among the poor contained in the roll, according to the estimate of the landholders. As the public fund lies dead till the subscription be completed, it is not to be imagined that any gentleman will stand out; it would be a public imputation on his character. Far from apprehending any deficiency, confident I am, that every gentleman would consider it as honourable to contribute largely. This agreeable work must be blended with some degree of severity, that of excluding from the roll every profligate, male or female. If that rule be strictly followed out, the innocent poor will diminish daily; so as in time to be safely left upon voluntary charity, without necessity of any tax.
But must miserable wretches, reduced to poverty by idleness or intemperance, be, in a Christian country, abandoned to diseases and famine. This is the argument, shallow as it is, that has corrupted the industry of England, and reduced multitudes to diseases and famine. Those who are able to work, may be locked up in a house of correction, to be fed with bread and water; but with liberty of working for themselves. And as for the remainder, their case is not desperate, when they have access to such tender-hearted persons as are more eminent for pity than for principle. If by neglect or oversight any happen to die of want, the example will tend more to reformation, than the most pathetic discourse from the pulpit.
Even at the hazard of losing a few lives by neglect or oversight, common begging ought absolutely to be prohibited. The most profligate, are the most impudent and the most expert at feigning distress. If begging be indulged to any, all will rush into the public: idlers are fond of that wandering and indolent sort of life; and there is no temptation to idleness more successful, than liberty to beg. In order to be relieved from common beggars, it has been proposed, to fine those who give them alms. Little penetration must they have, to whom the insufficiency of such a remedy is not palpable. It is easy to give alms without being seen; and compassion will extort alms, even at the hazard of suffering for it; not to mention, that every one in such a case would avoid the odious character of an informer. The following remedy is suggested, as what probably may answer. An officer must be appointed in every parish, with a competent salary, for apprehending and carrying to the workhouse every strolling beggar; under the penalty of losing his office, with what sa-lary is due to him, if any beggar be found strolling four and twenty hours after the fact comes to his knowledge. In the workhouse such beggars shall be fed with bread and water for a year, but with liberty of working for themselves.
I declare resolutely against a perpetual tax for the poor. But if there must be such a tax, I know of none less subversive of industry and morals than that established in Scotland, obliging the landholders in every parish to meet at stated times, in order to provide a fund for the poor; but leaving the objects of their charity, and the measure, to their own humanity and discretion. In this plan, there is no encroachment on the natural duty of charity, but only that the minority must submit to the opinion of the majority.
In large towns, where the character and circumstances of the poor are not so well known as in country-parishes, the following variation is proposed. Instead of landholders, who are proper in country-parishes; let there be in each town-parish a standing committee chosen by the proprietors of houses, the third part to be changed annually. This committee with the minister, make up a list of such as deserve charity, adding an estimate of what, with their own labour, may be sufficient for each of them. The minister, with one or two of the committee, carry about this list to every family that can afford charity, suggesting what may be proper for each to contribute. This list, with an addition of the sum contributed or promised by each householder, must be affixed on the principal door of the parish-church, to honour the contributors, and to inform the poor of the provision made for them. Some such mode may probably be effectual, without transgressing the bounds of voluntary charity. But if any one obstinately refuse to contribute after several applications, the committee at their discretion may tax him. If it be the possessor who declines contributing, the tax must be laid upon him, reserving relief against his landlord.
In great towns, the poor, who ought to be prohibited from begging, are less known than in country-parishes: and among a croud of inhabitants, it is easier for an individual to escape the public eye when he with-holds charity, than in country-pa-rishes. Both defects would be remedied by the plan above proposed: it will bring to light, in great cities, the poor who deserve charity; and it will bring to light every person who with-holds charity.7
In every regulation for the poor, English and Scotch, it is taken for granted, that the poor are to be maintained in their own houses. Parochial poor-houses are creeping into fashion: a few are already erected both in England and Scotland; and there is depending in parliament a plan for establishing poor-houses in every part of England. Yet whether they ought to be preferred to the accustomed mode, deserves serious consideration. The erection and management of a poor-house are expensive articles; and if they do not upon the whole appear clearly beneficial, it is better to stop short in time.
Economy is the great motive that inclines people to this new mode of providing for the poor. It is imagined, that numbers collected at a common table, can be maintained at less expence than in separate houses; and foot-soldiers are given for an example, who could not live on their pay if they did not mess together. But the cases are not parallel. Soldiers, having the management of their pay, can club for a bit of meat. But as the inhabitants of a poor-house are maintained by the public, the same quantity of provisions must be allotted to each; as there can be no good rule for separating those who eat much from those who eat little. The consequence is what may be expected: the bulk of them reserve part of their victuals for purchasing ale or spirits. It is vain to expect work from them: poor wretches void of shame will never work seriously, where the profit accrues to the public, not to themselves. Hunger is the only effectual means for compelling such persons to work.
Where the poor are supported in their own houses, the first thing that is done, or ought to be done, is to estimate what each can earn by their own labour; and as far only as that falls short of maintenance, is there place for charity. They will be as industrious as possible, because they work for themselves; and a weekly sum of charity under their own management, will turn to better account, than in a poor-house, under the direction of mercenaries. The quantity of food for health depends greatly on custom. Busbequius observes, that the Turks eat very little flesh-meat; and that the Janizaries in particular, at that time a most formidable infantry, were maintained at an expence far below that of a German. Wafers, cakes, boiled rice, with small bits of mutton or pullet, were their highest entertainment, fermented liquors being absolutely prohibited. The famous Montecuculi says, that the Janizaries eat but once a-day, about sun-set; and that custom makes it easy. Negroes are maintained in the West Indies at a very small expence. A bit of ground is allotted to them for raising vegetables, which they cultivate on Sunday, being employed all the rest of the week in labouring for their masters. They receive a weekly allowance of dry’d fish, about a pound and a half; and their only drink is water. Yet by vegetables and water with a morsel of dry’d fish, these people are sufficiently nourished to perform the hardest labour in a most enervating climate. I would not have the poor to be pampered, which might prove a bad example to the industrious: if they be sup-ported in the most frugal manner, the duty of charity is fulfilled. And in no other manner can they be supported so frugally, as to leave to their own disposal what they receive in charity. Not a penny will be laid out on fermented liquors, unless perhaps as a medicine in sickness. Nor does their low fare call for pity. Ale makes no part of the maintenance of those in Scotland who live by the sweat of their brows. Water is their only drink; and yet they live comfortably, without ever thinking of pitying themselves. Many gentlemen drink nothing but water; who feel no decay either in health or vigour. The person however who should propose to banish ale from a poor-house, would be exclaimed against as hard-hearted and void of charity. The difference indeed is great between what is done voluntarily, and what is done by compulsion. It is provoking to hear of the petulance and even luxury of the English poor. Not a person in London who lives by the parish-charity will deign to eat brown bread; and in several parts of England, many who receive large sums from that fund, are in the constant custom of drinking tea twice a-day. Will one incline to labour where idleness and beggary are so much encouraged?
But what objection, it will be urged, lies against adopting in a poor-house the plan mentioned, giving to no person in money more than what his work, justly estimated, falls short of maintenance? It is easy to foresee, that this plan can never answer in a poor-house. The materials for work must be provided by mercenary officers; who must also be trusted with the disposal of the made work, for behoof of the poor people. These operations may go on sweetly a year or two, under the influence of novelty and zeal for improvement; but it would be chimerical to expect for ever strict fidelity in mercenary officers, whose management cannot easily be checked. Computing the expence of this operose management, and giving allowance for endless frauds in purchasing and selling, I boldly affirm, that the plan would turn to no account. Consider next the weekly sum given in charity: people confined in a poor-house have no means for purchasing necessaries but at a sutlery, where they will certainly be imposed on, and their money go no length.
We are now ripe for a comparison with respect to economy. Many a householder in Edinburgh makes a shift to maintain a family with their gain of four shillings per week, amounting to ten pounds eight shillings yearly. Seldom are there fewer than four or five persons in such a family; the husband, the wife, and two or three children. Thus four or five persons can be maintain’d under eleven pounds yearly. But are they maintain’d so cheap in the Edinburgh poor-house? Not a single person there but at an average costs the public at least four pounds yearly. Nor is this all. A great sum remains to be taken into the computation, the interest of the sum for building, yearly reparations, expence of management, wages to servants, male and female. A proportion of this great sum must be laid upon each person, which swells the expence of their maintenance. And when every particular is taken into the account, I have no hesitation to pronounce, that laying aside labour altogether, a man can make a shift to maintain himself privately at half of the expence that is necessary in a poor-house.
So far we have travelled on solid ground; and what follows is equally solid. Among the industrious, not many are reduced so low, but that they can make some shift for themselves. The quantity of labour that can be performed by those who require aid, cannot be brought under any accurate estimation. To pave the way to a conjecture, those who are reduced to poverty by dissoluteness or sheer idleness, ought absolutely to be rejected as unworthy of public charity. If such wretches can prevail on the tender-hearted to relieve them privately, so far well: they ought not to be indulged with any other hope. Now laying these aside, the quantity of labour may be fairly computed as half maintenance. Here then is another great article saved to the public. If a man can be maintained privately at half of what is necessary in a poor-house, his work, reckoning it half of his maintenance, brings down the sum to the fourth part of what is necessary in a poor-house.
Undistinguished charity to the deserving and undeserving, has multiply’d the poor; and will multiply them more and more without end. Let it be publicly known that the dissolute and idle have no chance to be put on a charity-roll; the poor, instead of increasing, will gradually diminish, till none be left but proper objects of charity, such as have been reduced to indigence by old age or innocent misfortune. And if that rule be strictly adhered to, the maintenance of the poor will not be a heavy burden. After all, a house for the poor may possibly be a frugal scheme in England where the parish-rates are high, in the town of Bedford for example. In Scotland, it is undoubtedly a very unfrugal scheme.
Hitherto of a poor-house with respect to economy. There is another point of still greater moment; which is to consider the influence it has on the manners of the inhabitants. A number of persons, strangers to each other, and differing in temper and manners, can never live comfortably together: will ever the sober and innocent make a tolerable society with the idle and profligate? In our poor-houses accordingly, quarrels and complaints are endless. The family society and that of a nation under government, are prompted by the common nature of man; and none other. In monasteries and nunneries, envy, detraction, and heart-burning, never cease. Sorry I am to observe, that in seminaries of learning concord and good-will do not always prevail, even among the professors. What adds greatly to the disease in a poor-house, is that the people shut up there, being secure of maintenance, are reduced to a state of absolute idleness, for it is in vain to think of making them work: they have no care, nothing to keep the blood in motion. Attend to a state so different from what is natural to us. Those who are innocent and harmless, will languish, turn dispirited, and tire of life. Those of a bustling and restless temper, will turn sour and peevish for want of occupation: they will murmur against their superiors, pick quarrels with their neighbours, and sow discord every where. The worst of all is, that a poor-house never fails to corrupt the morals of the inhabitants: nothing tends so much to promote vice and immorality, as idleness among a number of low people collected in one place. Among no set of people does profligacy more a-bound, than among the seamen in Greenwich hospital.
A poor-house tends to corrupt the body no less than the mind. It is a nursery of diseases, fostered by dirtiness and crouding.
To this scene let us oppose the condition of those who are supported in their own houses. They are laid under the necessity of working with as much assiduity as ever; and as the sum given them in charity is at their own disposal, they are careful to lay it out in the most frugal manner. If by parsimony they can save any small part, it is their own; and the hope of encreasing this little stock, supports their spirits and redoubles their industry. They live innocently and comfortably, because they live industriously; and industry, as every one knows, is the chief pleasure of life to those who have acquired the habit of being constantly employ’d.
A Great City considered in Physical, Moral, and Political Views
In all ages an opinion has been prevalent, that a great city is a great evil; and that a capital may be too great for the state, as a head may be for the body. Considering however the very shallow reasons that have been given for this opinion, it should seem to be but slightly founded. There are several ordinances limiting the extent of Paris, and prohibiting new buildings beyond the prescribed bounds; the first of which is by Henry II. ann. 1549. These ordinances have been renewed from time to time, down to 1672, in which year there is an edict of Louis XIV. to the same purpose. The reasons assigned are, “First, That by enlarging the city, the air would be rendered unwholesome. Second, That cleaning the streets would prove a great additional labour. Third, That adding to the number of inhabitants would raise the price of provi-sions, of labour, and of manufactures. Fourth, That ground would be covered with buildings instead of corn, which might hazard a scarcity. Fifth, That the country would be depopulated by the desire that people have to resort to the capital. And, lastly, That the difficulty of governing such numbers, would be an encouragement to robbery and murder.”
In these reasons, the limiting the extent of the city and the limiting the number of inhabitants are jumbled together, as if they were the same. The only reasons that regard the former, are the second and fourth;1 and these, at best, are trifling. The first reason urged against enlarging the city, is a solid reason for enlarging it, supposing the numbers to be limited; for crouding is an infallible means to render the air unwholesome. Paris, with the same number of inhabitants that were in the days of the fourth Henry, occupies thrice the space, much to the health as well as comfort of the inhabitants. Had the ordinances mentioned been made effectual, the houses in Paris must all have been built story above story, ascending to the sky like the tower of Babel. Before the great fire anno 1666, the plague was frequent in London; but by widening the streets and enlarging the houses, there has not since been known in that great city, any contagious distemper that deserves the name of a plague. The third, fifth, and last reasons, conclude against permitting any addition to the number of inhabitants; but conclude nothing against enlarging the town. In a word, the measure adopted in these ordinances has little or no tendency to correct the evils complained of; and infallibly would enflame the chief of them. The measure that ought to have been adopted, is to limit the number of inhabitants, not the extent of the town.
Queen Elisabeth of England, copying the French ordinances, issued a proclamation anno 1602, prohibiting any new buildings within three miles of London. The preamble is in the following words: “That foreseeing the great and manifold inconveniencies and mischiefs which daily grow, and are likely to increase, in the city and suburbs of London, by confluence of people to inhabit the same; not only by reason that such multitudes can hardly be governed, to serve God and obey her Majesty, without constituting an addition of new officers, and enlarging their authority; but also can hardly be provided of food and other necessaries at a reasonable price; and finally, that as such multitudes of people, many of them poor who must live by begging or worse means, are heaped up together, and in a sort smothered with many children and servants in one house or small tenement; it must needs follow, if any plague or other universal sickness come amongst them, that it would presently spread through the whole city and confines, and also into all parts of the realm.”
There appears as little accuracy in this proclamation, as in the French ordinances. The same error is observable in both, which is the limiting the extent of the city, instead of limiting the number of inhabitants. True it is indeed, that the regulation would have a better effect in London than in Paris. As stone is in plenty about Paris, houses there may be carried to a very great height; and are actually so carried in the old town: but there being no stone about London, the houses formerly were built of timber, now of brick; materials too frail for a lofty edifice.
Proceeding to particulars, the first objection, which is the expence of governing a great multitude, concludes against the number of inhabitants not against the extent of the city. At the same time, the objection is at best doubtful in point of fact. Tho’ vices abound in a great city, requiring the strictest attention of the magistrate; yet with a well-regulated police, it appears less expensive to govern 600,000 in one city, than the same number in ten different cities. The second objection, viz. the high price of provisions, strikes only against numbers, not extent. Beside, whatever might have been the case in the days of Elisabeth, when agriculture and internal commerce were in their infancy; there are at present not many towns in England, where a temperate man may live cheaper than in London. The hazard of contagious distempers, which is the third objection, is an invincible argument against limiting the extent of a great town. It is mentioned above, that from the year 1666, when the streets were widened and the houses enlarged, London has never been once visited by the plague. If the proclamation had taken effect, the houses must have been so crouded upon each other, and the streets so contracted, as to have occasioned plagues still more frequently than before the year 1666.
The Queen’s immediate successors were not more clear-sighted than she had been. In the year 1624, King James issued a proclamation against building in London upon new foundations. Charles I. issued two proclamations to the same purpose; one in the year 1625, and one in the year 1630.
The progress of political knowledge has unfolded many bad effects of a great city, more weighty than any urged in these proclamations. The first I shall mention, is, that people born and bred in a great city are commonly weak and effeminate. Vegetius (a) observing, that men bred to husbandry make the best soldiers, adds what follows. “Interdum tamen necessitas exigit, etiam urbanos ad ar-ma compelli: qui ubi nomen dedere militiae, primum laborare, decurrere, portare pondus, et solem pulveremque ferre, condiscant; parco victu utantur et rustico; interdum sub divo, interdum sub papilionibus, commorentur. Tunc demum ad usum erudiantur armorum: et si longior expeditio emergit, in angariis plurimum detinendi sunt, proculque habendi a civitatis illecebris: ut eo modo, et corporibus eorum robur accedat, et animis.”* The luxury of a great city descends from the highest to the lowest, infecting all ranks of men; and there is little opportunity in it for such exercise as to render the body vigorous and robust.
The foregoing is a physical objection against a great city: the next regards morality. Virtue is exerted chiefly in restraint: vice, in giving freedom to desire. Moderation and self-command form a character the most susceptible of virtue: superfluity of animal spirits, and love of pleasure, form a character the most liable to vice. Low vices, pilfering for example, or lying, draw few or no imitators; but vices that indicate a soul above restraint, produce many admirers. Where a man boldly struggles against unlawful restraint, he is justly applauded and imitated; and the vulgar are not apt to distinguish nicely between lawful and unlawful restraint: the boldness is visible, and they pierce no deeper. It is the unruly boy, full of animal spirits, who at public school is admired and imitated; not the virtuous and modest. Vices accordingly that show spirit, are extremely infectious; virtue very little. Hence the corruption of a great city, which increases more and more in proportion to the number of inhabitants. But it is sufficient here barely to mention that objection, because it has been formerly insisted on.
The following bad effects are more of a political nature. A great town is a professed enemy to the free circulation of money. The current coin is accumulated in the capital: and distant provinces must sink into idleness; for without ready money neither arts nor manufactures can flourish. Thus we find less and less activity, in proportion commonly to the distance from the capital; and an absolute torpor in the extremities. The city of Milan affords a good proof of this observation. The money that the Emperor of Germany draws from it in taxes is carried to Vienna; not a farthing left but what is barely sufficient to defray the expence of government. Manufactures and commerce have gradually declined in proportion to the scarcity of money; and that city which the last century contained 300,000 inhabitants, cannot now muster above 90,000.*2 It may be observed beside, that as horses in a great city must be provided with provender from a distance, the country is robbed of its dung, which goes to the rich fields round the city. But as manure laid upon poor land, is of more advantage to the farmer, than upon what is already highly improved, the depriving distant parts of manure is a loss to the nation in general. Nor is this all: The dung of an extensive city, the bulk of it at least, is so remote from the fields to which it must be carried, that the expence of carriage swallows up the profit.
Another bad effect of accumulating money in the capital is, that it raises the price of labour. The temptation of high wages in the capital, robs the country of its best hands. And as they who resort to the ca-pital are commonly young people, who remove as soon as they are fit for work, distant provinces are burdened with their maintenance, without reaping any benefit by their labour.
But of all, the most deplorable effect of a great city, is the preventing of population, by shortening the lives of its inhabitants. Does a capital swell in proportion to the numbers that are drained from the country? Far from it. The air of a populous city is infected by multitudes crouded together; and people there seldom make out the usual time of life. With respect to London in particular, the fact cannot be dissembled. The burials in that immense city greatly exceed the births: the difference some affirm to be no less than ten thousand yearly: by the most moderate computation, not under seven or eight thousand. As London is far from being on the decline, that number must be supplied by the country; and the annual supply amounts probably to a greater number, than were needed annually for recruiting our armies and navies in the late war with France. If so, London is a greater enemy to population, than a bloody war would be, supposing it even to be perpetual. What an enormous tax is Britain thus subjected to for supporting her capital! The rearing and educating yearly for London 7 or 8000 persons, require an immense sum.
In Paris, if the bills of mortality can be relied on, the births and burials are nearly equal, being each of them about 19,000 yearly; and according to that computation, Paris should need no recruits from the country. But in that city, the bills of mortality cannot be depended on for burials. It is there universally the practice of high and low, to have their infants nursed in the country, till they be three years of age; and consequently those who die before that age, are not inlisted. What proportion these bear to the whole is uncertain. But a guess may be made from such as die in London before the age of three, which are computed to be one half of the whole that die (a) . Now giving the utmost allowance for the healthiness of the country above that of a town, children from Paris that die in the country before the age of three, cannot be brought so low as a third of those who die. On the other hand, the London bills of mortality are less to be depended on for births than for burials. None are inlisted but infants baptised by clergymen of the English church; and the numerous children of Papists, Dissenters, and other sectaries, are left out of the account. Upon the whole, the difference between the births and burials in Paris and in London, is much less than it appears to be on comparing the bills of mortality of these two cities.
At the same time, giving full allowance for children who are not brought into the London bills of mortality, there is the highest probability that a greater number of children are born in Paris than in London; and consequently that the former requires fewer recruits from the country than the latter. In Paris, domestic servants are encouraged to marry: they are observed to be more settled than when bachelors, and more attentive to their duty. In London, such marriages are discouraged, as rendering a servant more attentive to his own family than to that of his master. But a servant attentive to his own family, will not, for his own sake, neglect that of his master. At any rate, is he not more to be depended on, than a servant who continues single? What can be expected of idle and pampered bachelors, but debauchery and every sort of corruption? Nothing restrains them from absolute profligacy, but the eye of the master; who for that reason is their aversion not their love. If the poor-laws be named the folio of corruption, bachelor-servants in London may well be considered as a large appendix. And this attracts the eye to the poor-laws, which indeed make the chief difference between Paris and London, with respect to the present point. In Paris, certain funds are established for the poor, the yearly produce of which admits but a limited number. As that fund is always pre-occupied, the low people who are not on the list, have little or no prospect of bread, but from their own industry; and to the industrious, marriage is in a great measure necessary. In London, a parish is taxed in proportion to the number of its poor; and every person who is pleased to be idle, is intitled to maintenance. Most things thrive by encou-ragement, and idleness above all. Certainty of maintenance, renders the low people in England idle and profligate; especially in London, where luxury prevails, and infects every rank. So insolent are the London poor, that scarce one of them will condescend to eat brown bread. There are accordingly in London, a much greater number of idle and profligate wretches, than in Paris, or in any other town, in proportion to the number of inhabitants. These wretches, in Doctor Swift’s style, never think of posterity, because posterity never thinks of them: men who hunt after pleasure, and live from day to day, have no notion of submitting to the burden of a family. These causes produce a greater number of children in Paris than in London; tho’ probably they differ not much in populousness.
I shall add but one other objection to a great city, which is not slight. An overgrown capital, far above a rival, has, by numbers and riches, a distressing influence in public affairs. The populace are ductile, and easily misled by ambitious and designing magistrates. Nor are there wanting critical times, in which such magistrates, acquiring artificial influence, may have power to disturb the public peace. That an overgrown capital may prove dangerous to sovereignty, has more than once been experienced both in Paris and London.
It would give one the spleen, to hear the French and English zealously disputing about the extent of their capitals, as if the prosperity of their country depended on that circumstance. To me it appears like one glorying in the king’s-evil, or in any contagious distemper. Much better employ’d would they be, in contriving means for lessening these cities. There is not a political measure, that would tend more to aggrandize the kingdom of France, or of Britain, than to split its capital into several great towns. My plan would be, to confine the inhabitants of London to 100,000, composed of the King and his household, supreme courts of justice, government-boards, prime nobility and gentry, with necessary shopkeepers, artists, and other dependents. Let the rest of the inhabitants be distributed into nine towns properly situated, some for internal commerce, some for foreign. Such a plan would diffuse life and vigour through every corner of the island.
To execute such a plan, would, I acknowledge, require great penetration and much perseverance. I shall suggest what occurs at present. The first step must be, to mark proper spots for the nine towns, the most advantageous for trade, or for manufactures. If any of these spots be occupied already with small towns, so much the better. The next step is a capitation-tax on the inhabitants of London; the sum levied to be appropriated for encouraging the new towns. One encouragement would have a good effect; which is, a premium to every man who builds in any of these towns, more or less, in proportion to the size of the house. This tax would banish from London, every manufacture but of the most lucrative kind. When by this means, the inhabitants of London are reduced to a number not much above 100,000, the near prospect of being relieved from the tax, will make householders active to banish all above that number: and to prevent a renewal of the tax, a greater number will never again be permitted. It would require much political skill to proportion the sums to be levied and distributed, so as to have their proper effect, without overburdening the capital on the one hand, or giving too great encouragement for building on the other, which might tempt people to build for the premium merely, without any further view. Much will depend on an advantageous situation: houses built there will always find inhabitants.
The two great cities of London and Westminster are extremely ill fitted for local union. The latter, the seat of government and of the noblesse, infects the former with luxury and with love of show. The former, the seat of commerce, infects the latter with love of gain. The mixture of these opposite passions, is productive of every groveling vice.
Origin and Progress of American Nations
Having no authentic materials for a natural history of all the Americans, the following observations are confined to a few tribes, the best known; and to the kingdoms of Peru and Mexico, as they were at the date of the Spanish conquest.
As there has not been discovered any passage by land to America from the old world, no problem has more embarrassed the learned, than to account for the origin of American nations: there are as many different opinions as there are writers. Many attempts have been made for discovering a passage by land; but hitherto in vain. Kamskatka, it is true, is divided from America by a narrow strait, full of islands: and M. Buffon, to render the passage still more easy than by these islands, conjectures, that thereabout there may formerly have been a land-passage, swallowed up in later times by the ocean. There is indeed great appearance of truth in this conjecture; as all the quadrupeds of the north of Asia seem to have made their way to America; the bear, for example, the roe, the deer, the rain-deer, the beaver, the wolf, the fox, the hare, the rat, the mole. He admits, that in America there is not to be seen a lion, a tiger, a panther, or any other Asiatic quadruped of a hot climate: not, says he, for want of a land-passage; but because the cold climate of Tartary, in which such animals cannot subsist, is an effectual bar against them.*
But to give satisfaction upon this subject, more is required than a passage from Kamskatka to America, whether by land or sea. An inquiry much more decisive is totally overlooked, relative to the people on the two sides of the strait; particularly, whether they have the same language. Now by late accounts from Russia we are informed, that there is no affinity between the Kamskatkan tongue, and that of the Americans on the opposite side of the strait. Whence we may assuredly conclude, that the latter are not a colony of the former.
But further. There are several cogent arguments to evince, that the Americans are not descended from any people in the north of Asia or in the north of Europe. Were they descended from either, Labrador, or the adjacent countries, must have been first peopled. And as savages are remarkably fond of their natal soil, they would have continued there, till compelled by over-population to spread wider for food. But the fact is directly contrary. When America was discovered by the Spaniards, Mexico and Peru were fully peopled; and the other parts less and less, in proportion to their distance from these central countries. Fabry reports, that one may travel one or two hundred leagues north-west from the Missisippi, without seeing a human face, or any vestige of a house. And some French officers say, that they travelled more than a hundred leagues from the delicious country watered by the Ohio, through Louisiana, without meeting a single family of savages. The civilization of the Mexicans and Peruvians, as well as their populousness, make it extremely probable that they were the first inhabitants of America. In travelling northward, the people are more and more ignorant and savage: the Esquimaux, the most northern of all, are the most savage. In travelling southward, the Patagonians, the most southern of all, are so stupid as to go naked in a bitter cold region.
I venture still farther; which is, to indulge a conjecture, that America has not been peopled from any part of the old world. The external appearance of the inhabitants, makes this conjecture approach to a certainty; as they are widely different in appearance from any other known people. Excepting the eye-lashes, eye-brows, and hair of the head, which is invariably jet black, there is not a single hair on the body of any American: no appearance of a beard.* Another distin-guishing mark is their copper colour, uniformly the same in all climates, hot and cold; and differing from the colour of every other nation. Ulloa remarks, that the Americans of Cape Breton, resemble the Peruvians, in complexion, in manners, and in customs; the only visible difference being, that the former are of a larger stature. A third circumstance no less distinguishing is, that American children are born with down upon the skin, which disappears the eighth or ninth day, and never grows again. Children of the old world are born with skins smooth and polished, and no down appears till puberty.
The Esquimaux are a different race from the rest of the Americans, if we can have any reliance on the most striking characteristical marks.1 Of all the northern nations, not excepting the Laplanders, they are of the smallest size, few of them exceeding four feet in height. They have a head extremely gross, hands and feet very small. That they are tame and gentle appears from what Ellis says in his account of a voyage, anno 1747, for discovering a north-west passage, that they offered their wives to the sailors, with expressions of satisfaction for being able to accommodate them. But above all, their beard and complexion make the strongest evidence of a distinct race. There were lately at London, two Esquimaux men and their wives; and I have the best authority to affirm, that the men had a beard, thin indeed like that of a Nogayan Tartar; that they were not of a copper colour like the other Americans, but yellow like people in the North of Asia.2
It has been lately discovered, that the language of the Esquimaux is the same with that of the Greenlanders. A Danish missionary, who by some years residence in Greenland had acquired the language of that country, made a voyage with Commodore Palliser to Newfoundland ann. 1764. Meeting a company of about two hundred Esquimaux, he was agreeably surprised to hear the Greenland tongue. They received him kindly, and drew from him a promise to return the next year. And we are informed by Crantz, in his history of Greenland, that the same Danish missionary visited them the next year, in company with the Rev. Mr. Drachart. They agreed, that the difference between the Esquimaux language and that of Greenland, was not greater than between the dialects of North and South Greenland, which differ not so much as the High and Low Dutch. Both nations call themselves Innuit or Karalit, and call the Europeans Kablunet. Their stature, features, manners, dress, tents, darts, and boats, are entirely the same. As the language of Greenland resembles not the language of Finland, Lapland, Norway, Tartary, nor that of the Samoides, it is evident, that neither the Esquimaux nor Greenlanders are a colony from any of the countries mentioned. Geographers begin now to conjecture, that Greenland is a part of the continent of North America, without intervention of any sea.*
From the preceding facts it may be concluded with the highest probability, that the continent of America south of the river St. Laurence was not peopled from Asia. Labrador on the north side of that river, is thin of inhabitants; no people having been discovered there but the Esquimaux, who are far from being numerous. As they have plenty of food at home, they never could have had any temptation to send colonies abroad. And there is not the slightest probability, that any other people more remote would, without necessity, wander far from home to people Canada or any country farther south. But we are scarce left to a conjecture. The copper colour of the Canadians, their want of beard, and other characteristical marks above mentioned, demonstrate them to be a race different from the Esquimaux, and different from any people inhabiting a country on the other side of Labrador. These distinguishing marks cannot be owing to the climate, which is the same on both sides of the river St. Laurence.3 I add, that as the copper colour and want of beard continue invariably the same in every variety of climate, hot and cold, moist and dry, they must depend on some invariable cause acting uniformly; which may be a singularity in the race of people (a) , but cannot proceed from the climate.
If we can rely on the conjectures of an eminent writer (b) , America emerged from the sea later than any other part of the known world: and supposing the human race to have been planted in America by the hand of God later than the days of Moses, Adam and Eve might have been the first parents of mankind, i.e. of all who at that time existed, without being the first parents of the Americans. The Terra Australis incognita is separated from the rest of the world by a wide ocean, which carries a ship round the earth without interruption.* How has that con-tinent been peopled? There is not the slightest probability, that it ever has been joined to any other land. Here a local creation, if it may be termed so, appears unavoidable; and if we must admit more than one act of creation, even the appearance of difficulty, from reiteration of acts, totally vanisheth. M. Buffon in his natural history affirms, that not a single American quadruped of a hot climate is found in any other part of the earth: with respect to these we must unavoidably admit a local creation; and nothing seems more natural, than under the same act to comprehend the first parents of the American people.
It is possible, indeed, that a ship with men and women may, by contrary winds, be carried to a very distant shore. But to account thus for the peopling of America, will not be much relished. Mexico and Peru must have been planted before navigation was known in the old world, at least before a ship was brought to such perfection as to bear a long course of bad weather. Will it be thought, that any supposition ought to be embraced, however improbable, rather than admit a se-parate creation. We are, it is true, much in the dark as to the conduct of creative providence; but every rational conjecture leans to a separate creation. America and the Terra Australis must have been planted by the Almighty with a number of animals and vegetables, some of them peculiar to those vast continents: and when such care has been taken about inferior life, can so wild a thought be admitted, as that man, the noblest work of terrestrial creation, would be left to chance? But it is scarce necessary to insist upon that topic, as the external characters of the Americans above mentioned reject the supposition of their being descended from any people of the old world.
It is highly probable, that the fertile and delicious plains of Peru and Mexico, were the first planted of all the American countries; being more populous at the time of the Spanish invasion, than any other part of that great continent. This conjecture is supported by analogy: we believe that a spot, not centrical only but extremely fertile, was chosen for the parents of the old world; and there is not in America, a spot more centrical or more fertile for the parents of the new world, than Mexico or Peru.
Having thus ventured to state what occurred upon the origin of the Americans, without pretending to affirm any thing as certain, we proceed to their progress. The North-American tribes are remarkable with respect to one branch of their history, that, instead of advancing, like other nations, toward the maturity of society and government, they continue to this hour in their original state of hunting and fishing. A case so singular rouses our curiosity; and we wish to be made acquainted with the cause.
It is not the want of animals capable to be domesticated, that obliges them to remain hunters and fishers. The horse, it is true, the sheep, the goat, were imported from Europe; but there are plenty of American quadrupeds no less docile than those mentioned. There is in particular a species of horned cattle peculiar to America, having long wool instead of hair, and an excrescence upon the shoulder like that of the East-India buffalo. These wild cattle multiply exceedingly in the fertile countries which the Missisippi traverses; and Hennepin reports, that the Indians, after killing numbers, take no part away but the tongue, which is reckoned a delicious morsel. These creatures are not extremely wild; and, if taken young, are easily tamed: a calf, when its dam is killed, will follow the hunter, and lick his hand. The wool, the hide, the tallow, would be of great value in the British colonies.
If the shepherd-state be not obstructed in America by want of proper cattle, the only account that can or need be given, is paucity of inhabitants. Consider only the influence of custom, in rivetting men to their local situation and manner of life: once hunters, they will always be hunters, till some cause more potent than custom force them out of that state. Want of food, occasioned by rapid population, brought on the shepherd-state in the old world. That cause has not hitherto existed in North America: the inhabitants, few in number, remain hunters and fishers, because that state affords them a competency of food. I am aware, that the natives have been decreasing in number from the time of the first European settle-ments. But even at that time, the country was ill-peopled: take for example the country above described, stretching northwest from the Missisippi: the Europeans never had any footing there, and yet to this day it is little better than a desert. I give other examples. The Indians who surround the lake Nippisong, from whence the river St. Laurence issues, are in whole but five or six thousand; and yet their country is of great extent: they live by hunting and fishing, having bows and arrows, but no fire-arms; and their cloathing is the skins of beasts: they are seldom, if ever, engaged in war; have no commerce with any other people, Indian or European, but live as if they had a world to themselves (a) . If that country be ill peopled, it is not from scarcity of food; for the country is extensive, and well stored with every sort of game. On the south and west of the lake Superior, the country is level and fruitful all the way to the Missisippi, having large plains covered with rank grass, and scarce a tree for hundreds of miles: the inhabitants enjoy the greatest plenty of fish, fowl, deer, &c.; and yet their numbers are far from being in proportion to their means of subsistence. In short, it is the conjecture of the ablest writers, that in the vast extent of North America, when discovered, there were not as many people, laying aside Mexico, as in the half of Europe.
Paucity of inhabitants explains clearly why the North-American tribes remain hunters and fishers, without advancing to the shepherd-state. But if the foregoing difficulty be removed, another starts up, no less puzzling, viz. By what adverse fate are so rich countries so ill peopled? It is a conjecture of M. Buffon, mentioned above, that America has been planted later than the other parts of this globe. But supposing the fact, it has however not been planted so late as to prevent a great population; witness Mexico and Peru, fully peopled at the era of the Spanish invasion. We must therefore search for another cause; and none occurs but the infecundity of the North-American savages. M. Buffon, a respectable author, and for that reason often quoted, remarks, that the males are feeble in their organs of generation, that they have no ardor for the female sex, and that they have few children; to enforce which remark he adds, that the quadrupeds of America, both native and transplanted, are of a diminutive size, compared with those of the old world. A woman never admits her husband, till the child she is nursing be three years old; and this led Frenchmen to go often astray from their Canadian wives. The case was reported by the priests to their superiors in France: what regulation was made has escaped my memory. Among the males, it is an inviolable law, to abstain from females while they are engaged in a military expedition. This is pregnant evidence of their frigidity; for among savages the authority of law, or of opinion, seldom prevails over any strong appetite: vain would be the attempt to restrain them from spirituous liquers, tho’ much more debilitating. Neither is there any instance, of violence offered by any North-American savage, to European women taken captives in war.
Mexico and Peru, when conquered by the Spaniards, afforded to their numerous inhabitants the necessaries of life in profu-sion. Cotton was in plenty, more than sufficient for the cloathing needed in warm climates: Indian wheat was universal, and was cultivated without much labour. The natural wants of the inhabitants were thus easily supplied; and artificial wants had made no progress. But the present state of these countries is very different. The Indians have learned from their conquerors a multitude of artificial wants, good houses, variety of food, and rich cloaths; which must be imported, because they are prohibited from exercising any art or calling except agriculture, which scarce affords them necessaries; and this obliges a great proportion of them to live single. Even agriculture itself is cramped; for in most of the provinces there is a prohibition to plant vines or olives. In short, it is believed that the inhabitants are reduced to a fourth part of what they were at the time of the Spanish invasion. The savages also of North America who border on the European settlements, are visibly diminishing. When the English settled in America, the five nations could raise 15,000 fighting men: at present they are not able to raise 2000. Upon the whole, it is computed by able writers, that the present inhabitants of America amount not to a twentieth part of those who existed when that continent was discovered by Columbus. This decay is ascribed to the intemperate use of spirits, and to the small-pox, both of them introduced by the Europeans.*
It is observable, that every sort of plague becomes more virulent by transplantation. The plague commits less ravage in Egypt, its native place, than in any other country. The venereal disease was for many ages more violent and destructive in Europe, than in America where it was first known. The people who sailed with Christopher Columbus, brought it to Spain from Hispaniola. Columbus, with thirty or forty of his sailors, went directly to Barcelona, where the King then was, to render an account of his voyage. All the inhabitants, who at that time tripled the present number, were immediately seized with the venereal disease, which raged so furiously as to threaten destruction to all. The small pox comes under the same observation; for it has swept away many more in America, than ever it did in Europe. In 1713, the crew of a Dutch vessel infected the Hottentots with the small pox; which left scarce a third of the inhabitants. And the same fate befel the Laplanders and Greenlanders. In all appearance, that disease, if it abate not soon of its transplanted virulence, will extirpate the natives of North America; for they know little of inoculation.
But spirituous liquors are a still more effectual cause of depopulation. The American savages, male and female, are inordinately fond of spirituous liquors; and savages generally abandon themselves to appetite, without the least control from shame. The noxious effects of intemperance in spirits, are too well known, from fatal experience among ourselves: before the use of gin was prohibited, the populace of London were debilitated by it to a degree of losing, in a great measure, the power of procreation. Lucky it is for the human species, that the invention of savages never reached the production of gin; for spirits, in that early period, would have left not one person alive, not a single Noah to restore the race of men: in order to accomplish the plan of Providence, creation must have been renewed oftener than once.*
In the temperate climates of the old world, there is great uniformity in the gradual progress of men from the savage state to the highest civilization; beginning with hunting and fishing, advancing to flocks and herds, and then to agriculture and commerce. One will be much disappointed, if he expect the same progress in America. Among the northern tribes, there is nothing that resembles the shepherd-state: they continue hunters and fishers as originally; because there is no cause so potent as to force them from that state to become shepherds. So far clear. But there is another fact of which we have no example in the old world, that seems not so easily explained: these people, without passing through the shepherd-state, have advanced to some degree of agriculture. Before the seventeenth century, the Iroquois or Five Nations had villages, and cultivated Indian corn: the Cherokees have many small towns; they raise corn in abundance, and enclose their fields: they breed poultry, and have orchards of peach trees. The Chickesaws and Creek Indians live pretty much in the same manner. The Apalachites sow and reap in common; and put up the corn in granaries, to be distributed among individuals when they want food. The Hurons raise great quantities of corn, not only for their own use, but for commerce. Many of these nations, particularly the Cherokees, have of late got horses, swine, and tame cattle; an improvement borrowed from the Europeans. But corn is of an earlier date: when Sir Richard Greenville took possession of Virginia in the reign of Queen Elisabeth, the natives had corn; and Hennepin assures us, that the nations bordering on the Missisippi had corn long before they were visited by any European. Hus-bandry, it is true, is among those people still in its infancy; being left to the women, who sow, who reap, who store up in public granaries, and who distribute as need requires. The inhabitants of Guiana in South America, continue to this day hunters and fishers. But though they have neither flocks nor herds, they have some husbandry; for the women plant cassava, yams, and plantains. They make a liquor like our ale, termed piworee, which they drink with their food. And tho’ they are extremely fond of that liquor, their indolence makes them often neglect to provide against the want of it. To a people having a violent propensity to intemperance, as all savages have, this improvidence is a blessing; for otherwise they would wallow in perpetual drunkenness. They are by no means singular; for unconcern about futurity is the characteristic of all savages: to forego an immediate for a distant enjoyment, can only be suggested by cultivated reason. When the Canary Islands were first visited by Europeans, which was in the fourteenth century, the inhabitants had corn; for which the ground was prepared in the following manner. They had a wooden instrument, not unlike a hoe, with a spur or tooth at the end, on which was fixed a goat’s horn. With this instrument the ground was stirred; and if rain came not in its proper season, water was brought by canals from the rivulets. It was the women’s province to reap the corn: they took only the ears; which they threshed with sticks, or beat with their feet, and then winnowed in their hands. Husbandry probably will remain in that state among American savages; for as they are decreasing daily, they can have no difficulty about food. The fact however is singular, of a people using corn before tame cattle: there must be a cause, which on better acquaintance with that people will probably be discovered.
America is full of political wonders. At the time of the Spanish invasion, the Mexicans and Peruvians had made great advances toward the perfection of society; while the northern tribes, separated from them by distance only, were only hunters and fishers, and continue so to this day. To explain the difference, appears difficult. It is still more difficult to explain, why the Mexicans and Peruvians, inhabitants of the torrid zone, were highly polished in the arts of society and government; considering that in the old world, the inhabitants of the torrid zone are for the most part little better than savages. We are not sufficiently acquainted with the natural history of America, nor with that of its people, to attempt an explanation of these wonders: it is however part of our task, to state the progress of society among the Mexicans and Peruvians; which cannot fail to amuse the reader, as he will find these two nations differing essentially from the North-American tribes, in every article of manners, government, and police.
When the Spaniards invaded America, the Mexicans were skilful in agriculture. Maize was their chief grain, which by good culture produced great plenty, even in the mountainous country of Tlascalla. They had gardening and botany, as well as agriculture: a physic-garden belonging to the Emperor was open to every one for gathering medicinal plants.
The art of cookery was far advanced among that people. Montezuma’s table was for ordinary covered with 200 dishes, many of them exquisitely dressed in the opinion even of the Spaniards. They used salt, which was made with the sun.
The women were dextrous at spinning; and manufactures of cotton and hair abounded every where.
The populousness of Mexico and Peru afford irrefragable evidence, that the arts of peace were there carried to a great height. The city of Mexico contained 60,000 families;* and Montezuma had thirty vassals who could bring into the field, each of them, 100,000 fighting men. Tlascalla, a neighbouring republic, governed by a senate, was so populous as to be almost a match for the Emperor of Mexico.
The public edifices in the city of Mexico and houses of the nobility, were of stone, and well built. The royal palace had thirty gates opening to as many streets. The principal front was of jasper, black, red, and white, well polished. Three squares, built and adorned like the front, led to Montezuma’s apartment, having large rooms, floors covered with mats of different kinds, walls hung with a mixture of cotton-cloth and rabbit-furs; the innermost room adorned with hangings of feathers, beautified with various figures in lively colours. In that building large ceilings were formed so artificially without nails, as to make the planks sustain each other. Water was brought into the city of Mexico, from a mountain at a league’s distance.
Gold and silver were in so high esteem, that vessels made of these metals were permitted to none but to the Emperor. Considering the value put upon gold and silver, the want of current coin would argue great dulness in that nation, if instances did not daily occur of improvements, after being carried to a considerable height, stopping short at the very threshold of perfection. The want of current coin made fairs the more necessary, which were carried on with the most perfect regularity: judges on the spot decided mercantile differences; and inferior officers, making constant circuits, preserved peace and order. The abundance and variety of the commodities brought to market, and the order preserved by such multitudes, amazed the Spaniards; a spectacle deserving admiration, as a testimony of the grandeur and good government of that extensive empire.
The fine arts were not unknown in Mexico. Their goldsmiths were excellent workmen, particularly in moulding gold and silver into the form of animals. Their painters made landscapes and other imitations of nature, with feathers so artfully mixed as to bestow both life and colouring; of which sort of work, there were instances no less extraordinary for patience than for skill. Their drinking-cups were of the finest earth exquisitely made, differing from each other in colour, and even in smell. Of the same materials, they made great variety of vessels both for use and ornament.
They were not ignorant either of music or of poetry; and one of their capital amusements was songs set to music relating the atchievements of their kings and ancestors.
With such a progress both in the useful and fine arts, is it not surprising, that tho’ they had measures, they knew nothing of weights?
As to the art of writing, it was no farther advanced than the using figures composed of painted feathers, by which they made a shift to communicate some simple thoughts; and in that manner was Montezuma informed of the Spanish invasion.
There was great ingenuity shewn in regulating the calendar: the Mexican year was divided into 365 days; and into 18 months, containing 20 days each, which made 360; the remaining five intercalary days were added at the end of the year, for making it correspond to the course of the sun. They religiously employ’d these five days upon diversions, being of opinion that they were appropriated to that end by their ancestors.
Murder, theft, and corruption in officers of state, were capital crimes. Adultery also was capital; for female chastity was in high estimation. At the same time, consent was deemed a sufficient cause of divorce, the law leaving it to the parties concerned, who ought to be the best judges. In case of a divorce, the father took care of the male children, leaving the female children with the mother. But to prevent rash separations, it was capital for them to unite again.
It may be gathered from what has been said, that there was a distinction of rank among the Mexicans. So strictly was it observed, as to be display’d even in their buildings: the city of Mexico was divided into two parts, one appropriated to the Emperor and nobility, and one left to plebeians.
Education of children was an important article in the Mexican police. Public schools were allotted for plebeian children; and colleges well endowed for the sons of the nobility, where they continued till they were fit for business. The masters were considered as officers of state; not without reason, as their office was to qualify young men for serving their king and country. Such of the young nobles as made choice of a military life, were sent to the army, and made to suffer great hardships before they could be inlisted. They had indeed a powerful motive for perseverance, the most honourable of all employments being that of a soldier. Young women of quality were educated with no less care, by proper matrons chosen with the utmost circumspection.
As hereditary nobility and an extensive empire, lead both of them to monarchy, the government of Mexico was monarchical; and as the progress of monarchy is from being elective to be hereditary, Mexico had advanced no farther than to be an elective monarchy, of which Montezuma was the eleventh king. And it was an example of an elective monarchy that approaches the nearest to hereditary; for the power of election, as well as the privilege of being elected, were confined to the princes of the blood-royal. As a talent for war was chiefly regarded in chusing a successor to the throne, the Mexican kings always commanded their own armies. The Emperorelect, before his coronation, was obliged to make some conquest, or perform some warlike exploit; a custom that supported the military spirit, and enlarged the kingdom. From every king was exacted a coronation-oath, to adhere to the religion of his ancestors, to maintain the laws and customs of the empire, and to be a father to his people.
Matters of government were distributed among different boards with great propriety. The management of the royal patrimony was allotted to one board; appeals from inferior tribunals, to another; the levying of troops and the providing of magazines, to a third: affairs of supreme importance were reserved to a council of state, held commonly in the King’s presence. These boards, all of them, were composed of men experienced in the arts of war and of peace: the council of state was composed of those who elected the Emperor.
Concerning the patrimony of the crown, mines of gold and silver belonged to the Emperor; and the duty on salt brought in a great revenue. But the capital duty was a third of the land-rents, the estates of the nobles excepted; upon whom no tribute was imposed, but to serve in the army with a number of their vassals, and to guard the Emperor’s person. Goods manufactured and sold were subjected to a duty; which was not prejudicial to their manufactures, because there was no rival nation within reach.
Montezuma introduced a multitude of ceremonies into his court, tending to inspire veneration for his person; an excellent artifice in rude times, of however little significancy among nations enlightened and rational. Veneration and humility were so much the tone of the court, that it was even thought indecent in the Mexican lords, to appear before the King in their richest habits. Vessels of gold and silver were appropriated to his table, and not permitted even to the princes of the blood. The table-cloths and napkins, made of the finest cotton, with the earthen ware, never made a second appearance at the Emperor’s table, but were distributed among the servants.
In war, their offensive weapons were bows and arrows; and as iron was not known in America, their arrows were headed with bones sharpened at the point. They used also darts and long wooden swords, in which were fixed sharp flints; and men of more than ordinary strength fought with clubs. They beside had slingers, who threw stones with great force and dexterity. Their defensive arms, used only by commanders and persons of distinction, were a coat of quilted cotton, a sort of breast-plate, and a shield of wood or tortoise-shell, adorned with plates of such metal as they could procure. The private men fought naked; their faces and bodies being deformed with paint, in order to strike terror. They had warlike instruments of music, such as sea-shells, flutes made of large canes, and a sort of drum made of the trunk of a tree hollow’d. Their battalions consisted of great numbers crouded together, without even the appearance of order. They attacked with terrible outcries in order to intimidate the enemy; a practice prompted by nature, and formerly used by many nations. It was not despised even by the Romans; for Cato the elder was wont to say, that he had obtained more victories by the throats of his soldiers, than by their swords; and Caesar applauds his own soldiers, above those of Pompey, for their warlike shouts. Eagerness to engage is vented in loud cries: and the effects are excellent: they redouble the ardor of those who attack, and strike terror into the enemy.
Their armies were formed with ease: the princes of the empire, with the cacics or governors of provinces, were obliged to repair to the general rendezvous, each with his quota of men.
Their fortifications were trunks of large trees, fixed in the ground like palisades, leaving no intervals but what were barely sufficient for discharging their arrows upon the enemy.
Military orders were instituted, with peculiar habits as marks of distinction and honour; and each cavalier bore the device of his order, painted upon his robe, or fixed to it. Montezuma founded a new order of knighthood, into which princes only were admitted, or nobles descended from the royal stock; and as a token of its superiority, he became one of its members. The knights of that order had part of their hair bound with a red ribbon, to which a tassel was fixed hanging down to the shoulder. Every new exploit was honoured with an additional tassel; which made the knights with ardor embrace every opportunity to signalize themselves. As no-thing can be better contrived than such a regulation for supporting a military spirit, the Mexicans would have been invincible had they understood the order of battle: for want of which that potent empire fell a prey to a handful of strangers. I differ from those who ascribe that event to the fire-arms of the Spaniards, and to their horses. These could not be more terrible to the Mexicans, than elephants were at first to the Romans: but familiarity with these unwieldy animals, restored to the Romans their wonted courage; and the Mexicans probably would have behaved like the Romans, had they equalled the Romans in the art of war.
When that illustrious people, by their own genius without borrowing from others, had made such proficiency in the arts of peace, as well as of war; is it not strange, that with respect to religion they were no better than savages? They not only practised human sacrifices, but dressed and ate the flesh of those that were sacrificed. Their great temple was contrived to raise horror: upon the walls were crouded the figures of noxious serpents: the heads of persons sacrificed were stuck up in different places, and carefully renewed when wasted by time. There were eight temples in the city, nearly of the same architecture; 2000 of a smaller size, dedicated to different idols; scarce a street without a tutelar deity; nor a calamity that had not an altar, to which the distressed might have recourse for a remedy. Unparallelled ignorance and stupidity obliged every Emperor, at his coronation, to swear, that there should be no unseasonable rains, no overflowing of rivers, no fields affected with sterility, nor any man hurt with the bad influences of the sun. In short, it was a slavish religion, built upon fear, not love. At the same time, they believed the immortality of the soul, and rewards and punishments in a future state; which made them bury with their dead, quantities of gold and silver for defraying the expence of their journey; and also made them put to death some of their servants to attend them. Women sometimes, actuated with the same belief, were authors of their own death, in order to accompany their husbands.
The author we chiefly rely on for an account of Peru is Garcilasso de la Vega: though he may be justly suspected of partiality; for, being of the Inca race, he bestows on the Peruvian government, improvements of later times. The articles that appear the least suspicious are what follow.
The principle of the Peruvian constitution seems to have been an Agrarian law of the strictest kind. To the sovereign was first allotted a large proportion of land, for defraying the expences of government; and the remainder was divided among his subjects, in proportion to the number of each family. These portions were not alienable: the sovereign was held proprietor of the whole, as in the feudal system; and from time to time the distribution was varied according to the circumstances of families. This Agrarian law contributed undoubtedly to the populousness of the kingdom of Peru.
It is a sure sign of improved agriculture, that aqueducts were made by the Peruvians for watering their land. Their plough was of wood, a yard long, flat before, round behind, and pointed at the end for piercing the ground. Agriculture seems to have been carried on by united labour: lands appropriated for maintaining the poor were first ploughed; next the portion allotted to soldiers performing duty in the field; then every man separately ploughed his own field; after which he assisted his neighbour: they proceeded to the portion of the curaca or lord; and lastly to the King’s portion. In the month of March they reaped their maize, and celebrated the harvest with joy and feasting.
There being no artist nor manufacturer by profession, individuals were taught to do every thing for themselves. Every one knew how to plough and manure the land: every one was a carpenter, a mason, a shoemaker, a weaver, &c.; and the women were the most ingenious and diligent of all. Blas Valera mentions a law, named the law of brotherhood, which, without the prospect of reward, obliged them to be mutually aiding and assisting in ploughing, sowing, and reaping, in building their houses, and in every sort of occupation.
As the art was unknown of melting down metals by means of bellows, long copper pipes were contrived, contracted at the end next the fire, that the breath might act the more forcibly on it; and they used ten or twelve of these pipes together, when they wanted a very hot fire. Having no iron, their hatchets and pick-axes were of copper; they had neither saw nor augre, nor any instrument that requires iron: ignorant of the use of nails, they tied their timber with cords of hemp. The tool they had for cutting stone, was a sharp flint; and with that tool they shaped the stone by continual rubbing, more than by cutting. Having no engines for raising stones, they did all by strength of arm. These defects notwithstanding, they erected great edifices; witness the fortress of Cusco, a stupendous fabric. It passes all understanding, by what means the stones, or rather great rocks, employ’d in that building, were brought from the quarry. One of these stones, measured by Acosta, was thirty feet in length, eighteen in breadth, and six in thickness.
Having neither scissars nor needles of metal, they used a certain long thorn for a needle. The mirrors used by ladies of quality were of burnished copper: but such implements of dress were reckoned too effeminate for men.
With respect to music, they had an instrument of hollow canes glew’d together, the notes of which were like those of an organ. They had love-songs accompanied with a pipe; and war-songs, which were their festival entertainment. They composed and acted comedies and tragedies. The art of writing was unknown: but silken threads, with knots cast upon them of divers colours, enabled them to keep exact accounts, and to sum them up with a readiness that would have rivalled an expert European arithmetician. They had also attained to as much geometry as to measure their fields.
In war, their offensive arms were the bow and arrow, lance, dart, club, and bill. Their defensive arms, were the helmet and target. The army was provided from the King’s stores, and no burden was laid on the people.
In philosophy, they had made no progress. An eclipse of the moon was attributed to her being sick; and they fancied the milky way to be a ewe giving suck to a lamb. With regard to the setting sun, they said, that he was a good swimmer, and that he pierced through the waves, to rise next morning in the east. But such ignorance is not wonderful; for no branch of science can make a progress without writing.
The people were divided into small bodies of ten families each: every division had a head, and a register was kept of the whole; a branch of public police, that very much resembles the English decennaries.
They made but two meals, one between eight and nine in the morning, the other before sunset. Idleness was punished with infamy: even children were employ’d according to their capacity. Public visitors or monitors were appointed, having access to every house, for inspecting the manners of the inhabitants; who were rewarded or punished according to their behaviour. Moderation and industry were so effectually enforc’d by this article of police, that few were reduced to indigence; and these got their food and cloathing out of the King’s stores.
With respect to their laws and customs, children were bound to serve their parents until the age of twenty-five; and marriage contracted before that time, without consent of parents, was null. Polygamy was prohibited, and persons were confined to marry within their own tribe. The tradition, that the Inca family were children of the sun, introduced incest among them; for it was a matter of religion to preserve their divine blood pure, without mixture.
It was the chief article of the Peruvian creed, upon which every other article of their religion depended, that the Inca family were children of their great god the sun, and sent by him to spread his worship and his laws among them. Nothing could have a greater influence upon an ignorant and credulous people, than such a doctrine. The sanctity of the Inca family was so deeply rooted in the hearts of the Peruvians, that no person of that family was thought capable of committing a crime. Such blind veneration for a family, makes it probable, that the government of Peru under the Incas had not subsisted many years; for a government founded upon deceit and superstition, cannot long subsist in vigour. However that be, such belief of the origin of the Incas, is evidence of great virtue and modera-tion in that family; for any gross act of tyranny or injustice, would have opened the eyes of the people to see their error. Moderation in the sovereign and obedience without reserve in the subjects, cannot fail to produce a government mild and gentle; which was verified in that of Peru; so mild and gentle, that to manure and cultivate the lands of the Inca and to lay up the produce in storehouses, were the only burdens imposed upon the people, if it was not sometimes to make cloaths and weapons for the army. At the same time, their kings were so revered, that these articles of labour were performed with affection and alacrity.
The government was equally gentle with regard to punishments. Indeed very few crimes were committed, being considered as a sort of rebellion against their great god the sun. The only crime that seems to have been punished with severity, is the marauding of soldiers; for death was inflicted, however inconsiderable the damage.
In this empire, there appears to have been the most perfect union between law and religion; which could not fail to produce obedience, order, and tranquillity, among that people, tho’ extremely numerous. The Inca family was fam’d for moderation: they made conquests in order to civilize their neighbours; and as they seldom if ever transgressed the bounds of morality, no other art was necessary to preserve the government entire, but to keep the people ignorant of true religion. They had virgins dedicated to the sun, who, like the vestal virgins in Rome, were under a vow of perpetual chastity.
This subject shall be concluded with some slight observations on the two governments I have been describing. Comparing them together, the Mexican government seems to have been supported by arms; that of Peru by religion.
The kings of Peru were hereditary and absolute: those of Mexico elective. In contradiction however to political principles, the government of Peru was by far the milder. It is mentioned above, that the electors of the Mexican kings were hereditary princes; and the same electors composed the great council of state. Montesquieu therefore has been misinformed when he terms this a despotic monarchy (a) : a monarchy can never be despotic, where the sovereign is limited by a great council, the members of which are independent of him. As little reason has he to term Peru despotic. An absolute monarchy it was, but the farthest in the world from being despotic: on the contrary, we find not in history any government so well contrived for the good of the people. An Agrarian law, firmly rooted, was a firm bar against such inequality of rank and riches, as lead to luxury and dissolution of manners: a commonwealth is naturally the result of such a constitution; but in Peru it was prevented by a theocratical government under a family sent from heaven to make them happy. This wild opinion, supported by ignorance and superstition, proved an effectual bar against tyranny in the monarch; a most exemplary conduct on his part being necessary for supporting the opinion of his divinity. Upon the whole, comprehending king and subject, there perhaps never existed more virtue in any other government, whether monarchical or republican.
In Peru there are traces of some distinction of ranks, arising probably from office merely, which, as in France, was a bulwark to the monarch against the peasants. The great superiority of the Peruvian Incas, as demi-gods, did not admit a hereditary nobility.
With respect to the progress of arts and manufactures, the two nations differed widely: in Mexico, arts and manufactures were carried to a surprising height, considering the tools they had to work with: in Peru, they had made no progress; every man, as among mere savages, providing the necessaries of life for himself. As the world goes at present, our multiplied wants require such numbers, that not above one of a hundred can be spared for war. In ancient times, when these wants were few and not much enlarged beyond nature, it is computed that an eighth part could be spared for war: and hence the numerous armies we read of in the history of ancient nations. The Peruvians had it in their power to go still farther: it was possible to arm the whole males capable of service: leaving the women to supply the few necessaries that might be wanted during a short campaign; and accordingly we find that the Incas were great conquerors.
The religion of the Peruvians, considered in a political light, was excellent. The veneration they paid their sovereign upon a false religious principle, was their only superstition; and that superstition contributed greatly to improve their morals and their manners: on the other hand, the religion of Mexico was execrable.
Upon the whole, there never was a country destitute of iron, where arts seem to have been carried higher than in Mexico: and, bating their religion, there never was a country destitute of writing, where government seems to have been more perfect. I except not the government of Peru, which, not being founded on political principles, but on superstition, might be more mild, but was far from being so solidly founded.
[15. ]In 1st edition: “Regulations for advancing Industry and Commerce.”
[(a) ]Act 59. parl. 1573.
[* ]Oil was the only commodity that by the laws of Solon was permitted to be exported from Africa. The figs of that country, which are delicious, came to be produced in such plenty, that there was not consumpt for them at home; and yet the law prohibiting exportation was not abrogated. Sycophant denotes a person who informs against the exporter of figs: but the prohibition appearing absurd, sycophant became a term of reproach.
[(a) ]George I. cap. 14. act 8.
[16. ]“A few years . . . branch of commerce”: added in 2nd edition.
[* ]Between the years 1715 and 1755, there was of wheat exported from England to France twenty-one millions of septiers, estimated at two hundred millions of livres. The bounty for exporting corn has sometimes amounted to L. 150,000 for a single year. But this sum is not all lost to the revenue; for frequently our corn is exchanged with goods that pay a high duty on importation.
[* ]Public granaries, which rest on a principle contrary to that of exportation, are hurtful in a fertile and extensive country like Britain, being a discouragement to agriculture; but are beneficial in great towns, which have no corn of their own. Swisserland could not exist without granaries. [[Note added in 3rd edition.]]
[† ]Early in the year 1774, an application was made to parliament for supporting the linen manufacture, at that time in a declining state; praying in particular that stamped linen should be comprehended under the bounty for coarse linen exported to America: in order that his Majesty’s loyal subjects might have the same favour that is bestowed on foreigners. From an ill-grounded jealousy, that this application might be of some prejudice to the English woolen manufactures, the bill, in a peevish fit, was rejected by the House of Commons. With respect, at least, to the prayer concerning stamped linen, I may boldly affirm, that it was doing wrong, without even a pretext. There is nothing perfect of human invention. Where the legislature consists of a single person, arbitrary and oppressive measures always prevail; where it consists of a great number, passion and prejudice cannot always be prevented. [[Note added in 2nd edition.]]
[17. ]“The sum yearly . . . a moderate duty”: added in 3rd edition.
[18. ]“Before the time . . . Dutch than formerly”: added in 2nd edition.
[(a) ]Act 42. parl. 1661.
[(b) ]See Elemens du Commerce [[by Forbonnais, tom. 1. p. 334.]]
[* ]That act is judiciously contrived, not only for the benefit of authors, but for that of learning in general. It encourages men of genius to write, and multiplies books, both of instruction and amusement; which, by concurrence of many editors, after the monopoly is at an end, are sold at the cheapest rate. Many well disposed persons complain, that the exclusive privilege bestowed by the statute upon authors, is too short, and that it ought to be perpetual. Nay, it is asserted, that authors have a perpetual privilege at common law; and it was so determined lately in the court of king’s bench. Nothing more frequently happens, than by grasping at the shadow, to lose the substance; for I have no difficulty to maintain, that a perpetual monopoly of books would prove more destructive to learning, and even to authors, than a second irruption of Goths and vandals. It is the nature of a monopoly to raise the price of commodities; and by a perpetual monopoly in the commerce of books, the price of good books would be raised far beyond the reach of most readers; they would be sold like pictures of the great masters. The works of Shakespeare, for example, or of Milton, would be seen in very few libraries. In short, the only purchasers of good books would be a few learned men, such as have money to spare, and a few rich men, who buy out of vanity, as they buy a diamond, or a fine coat. Fashions at the same time are variable; and books, even the most splendid, would wear out of fashion with men of opulence, and be despised as antiquated furniture. And, with respect to men of taste, their number is so small, as not to afford encouragement even for the most frugal edition. Thus booksellers, by grasping too much, would put an end to their trade altogether. At the same time, our present authors and booksellers would not be much benefited by such a monopoly. Not many books have so long a run as fourteen years; and the success of a book on the first publication is so uncertain, that a bookseller will give little more for a perpetuity, than for the temporary privilege of the statute. This was foreseen by the legislature; and the privilege was wisely confined to fourteen years, equally beneficial to the public and to authors.
[(a) ]4° Geo. III. Cap. 29.
[* ]Between the mother-country and her colonies the following rule ought to be sacred, That with respect to commodities wanted, each of them should prefer the other before all other nations. Britain should take from her colonies whatever they can furnish for her use; and they should take from Britain whatever she can furnish for their use. In a word, every thing regarding commerce ought to be reciprocal, and equal between them. To bar a colony from access to the fountain head for commodities that cannot be furnished by the mother-country but at second hand, is oppression: it is so far degrading the colonists from being free subjects to be slaves. What right, for example, has Britain to prohibit her colonies from purchasing tea or porcelane at Canton, if they can procure it cheaper there than in London? It is equally oppressive to bar them from resorting to the best markets with their own product. No connection between two nations can be so intimate, as to excuse such a restraint. Our legislature, however, have acted like a stepmother to her American colonies, by prohibiting them to have any commerce but with Britain only. They must first land in Britain all their commodities, even what are not intended to be sold there; and they must take from Britain, not only its own product, but every foreign commodity that is wanted. This regulation is not only unjust but impolitic; as by it the interest of a whole nation is sacrificed to that of a few London merchants. Our legislature have of late so far opened their eyes, as to give a partial relief. Some articles are permitted to be carried directly to the place of destination, without being first entered in Britain, wheat, for example, rice, &c. The Dutch deal more liberally with their colonists in Guiana. They are bound, indeed, to carry their sugar, coffee, cotton, and cocoa, to the mother-country, where there is a ready market for such commodities; but they are permitted to carry their other products, such as rum, melasses, timber, where they can find the best market; and, in return, to import without duty whatever they want. [[“The Dutch deal . . . whatever they want”: added in 3rd edition.]]
[(a) ]29° George II.
[19. ]The Seven Years’ War (1756–63).
[(a) ]7° George III cap. 46.
[(b) ]Act 13. and 14. Cha. II. cap. 11.§ 26. 27.
[(c) ]Act 8° George I. cap. 14.
[(d) ]7° George III. cap. 47.
[20. ]The Treaty of Paris (1763).
[(a) ]5° George III. cap. 37.
[(b) ]4° George III. cap. 9.
[(c) ]5° George III. cap. 37.
[21. ]“It is still . . . in open day”: added in 3rd edition.
[22. ]In the 1st edition the next paragraph begins: “But such taxes require not the aid of external force to subdue a nation: they alone will reduce it to the most contemptible weakness” [1:511].
[* ]Dwelling houses at that time were not so large, nor so expensive, as they came to be in later times.
[* ]A present made to Abdoulrahman by Abdoulmelik, when chosen prime vizir, is a specimen of the riches of Spain at that period. 1st, 408 pounds of virgin gold. 2d, The value of 420,000 sequins in silver ingots. 3d, 400 pounds of the wood of aloes, one piece of which weighed 180 pounds. 4th, 500 ounces of ambergrease, of which there was one piece that weighed 100 ounces. 5th, 300 ounces of the finest camphire. 6th, 300 pieces of gold-stuff, such as were prohibited to be worn but by the Caliph himself. 7th, A quantity of fine fur. 8th, Horse furniture of gold and silk, Bagdad fabric, for 48 horses. 9th, 4000 pounds of raw silk. 10th, 30 pieces Persian tapestry of surprising beauty. 11th, Complete armour for 800 war-horses. 12th, 1000 bucklers, and 100,000 arrows. 13th, Fifteen Arabian horses, with most sumptuous furniture; and a hundred other Arabian horses for the King’s attendants. 14th, Twenty mules, with suitable furniture. 15th, Forty young men, and twenty young women, complete beauties, all of them dressed in superb habits.
[* ]The following passage is from Ustariz, ch. 96. “After mature consideration of the duties imposed upon commodities, I have not discovered in France, England, or Holland, any duty laid upon the home-sale of their own manufactures, whether the first or any subsequent sale. As Spain alone groans under the burden of 14 per cent. imposed not only on the first sale of every parcel, but on each sale, I am jealous that this strange tax is the chief cause of the ruin of our manufactures.” As to the ruinous consequences of this tax, see Bernardo de Ulloa upon the manufactures and commerce of Spain, part 2. ch. 3. ch. 13. And yet so blind was Philip II. of Spain, as to impose the alcavala upon the Netherlands, a country flourishing in commerce both internal and external. It must have given a violent shock to their manufactures.
[* ]Ustariz, in his Theory and Practice of Commerce, proves, from evident facts, that the depopulation of Spain is not occasioned by the West Indies. From Castile few go to America, and yet Castile is the worst peopled country in Spain. The northern provinces, Gallicia, Asturia, Biscay, &c. send more people to Mexico and Peru than all the other provinces; and yet of all are the most populous. He ascribes the depopulation of Spain to the ruin of the manufactures by oppressive taxes; and asserts, that the West Indies tend rather to people Spain: many return home laden with riches; and of those who do not return, many remit money to their relations, which enables them to marry, and to rear children.
[(a) ]Don Gieronimo de Ustariz.
[* ]It gives me pleasure to find, for the sake of my fellow-creatures, that the Spanish ministry begin to perceive the fatal consequences of these impolitic measures. In the year 1765, the trade to the islands Cuba, Hispaniola, Porto Rico, Margarita, and Trinidad, was laid open to merchants in every province of Spain, who were released from the oppressive duties on goods exported to America, by paying only six per cent. on commodities sent from Spain. It is probable that the beneficial effects of this measure may open the eyes of the Spanish ministry to further improvements. The power of the Spanish inquisitors is reduced within moderate bounds. May we not indulge the hope, that Spain will again become both a learned and commercial country? [[Note added in 2nd edition.]]
[23. ]The 1st edition adds: “a commerce no less shameful than destructive” [1:518].
[24. ]“The duchy of . . . engines of oppression”: added in 2nd edition.
[1. ]“I carry everything I own with me.”
[* ]Before the time that all Scotland was brought under one king, the highlanders, divided into tribes or clans, made war upon each other; and continued the same practice irregularly many ages after they submitted to the king of Scotland. Open war was repressed, but it went on privately by depredations and reprisals. The clan-spirit was much depressed by their bad success in the rebellion 1715; and totally crushed by the like bad success in the rebellion 1745. The mildness with which the highlanders have been treated of late, and the pains that have been taken to introduce industry among them, have totally extirpated depredations and reprisals, and have rendered them the most peaceable people in Scotland; but have at the same time reduced their military spirit to a low ebb. To train them for war, military discipline has now become no less necessary than to others.
[2. ]In the 1st edition the following paragraph begins: “Where arts, manufactures, and commerce, have arrived at perfection, a pacific spirit prevails universally: not a spark of military ardor, nor will any man be a soldier. Hence in such a state, the necessity of mercenary troops, hired among nations less effeminate, who fight for pay, not for the state they serve” [2:4].
[3. ]Tudele’s book is included in Pieter van der Aa, Recueil de divers voyages curieux, 1729.
[4. ]“Men at that time . . . decided a battle”: added in 2nd edition.
[* ]This was the first tax imposed in France without consent of the three estates: and, however unconstitutional, it occasioned not the slightest murmur, because its visible good tendency reconciled all the world to it. Charles, beside, was a favourite of his people; and justly, as he shewed by every act his affection for them. Had our first Charles been such a favourite, who knows whether the taxes he imposed without consent of parliament, would have met with any opposition? Such taxes would have become customary, as in France; and a limited monarchy would, as in France, have become absolute. Governments, like men, are liable to many revolutions: we remain, it is true, a free people; but for that blessing we are perhaps more indebted to fortune, than to patriotic vigilance.
[* ]Nunquam credo potuisse dubitari, aptiorem armis rusticam plebem, quae sub divo et in labore nutritur; solis patiens; umbrae negligens; balnearum nescia; deliciarum ignara; simplicis animi; parvo contenta; duratis ad omnem laborum tolerantiam membris: cui gestare ferrum, fossam ducere, onus ferre, consuetudo de rure est. Nec inficiandum est, post urbem conditam, Romanos ex civitate profectos semper ad bellum: sed tunc nullis voluptatibus, nullis deliciis frangebantur. Sudorem cursu et campestri exercitio collectum nando juventus abluebat in Tybere. Idem bellator, idem agricola, genera tantum mutabat armorum. Vegetius, De re militari, l. 1. cap. 3.—[In English thus: “I believe it was never doubted, that the country-labourers were, of all others, the best soldiers. Inured to the open air, and habitual toil, subjected to the extremes of heat and cold, ignorant of the use of the bath, or any of the luxuries of life, contented with bare necessaries, there was no severity in any change they could make: their limbs, accustomed to the use of the spade and plough, and habituated to burden, were capable of the utmost extremity of toil. Indeed, in the earliest ages of the commonwealth, while the city was in her infancy, the citizens marched out from the town to the field: but at that time they were not enfeebled by pleasures, nor by luxury: The military youth, returning from their exercise and martial sports, plunged into the Tyber to wash off the sweat and dust of the field. The warrior and the husbandman were the same, they changed only the nature of their arms.”]
[(a) ]Treaty of St. Gertrudenberg.
[(b) ][[Montesquieu, L’esprit des loix. liv. 13. chap. 17.]]
[* ]“As soon as one state augments the number of its troops, the neighbouring states of course do the same; so that nothing is gained, and the effect is, the general ruin. Every prince keeps as many armies in pay, as if he dreaded the extermination of his people from a foreign invasion; and this perpetual struggle, maintained by all against all, is termed peace. With the riches and commerce of the whole universe, we are in a state of poverty; and by thus continually augmenting our troops, we shall soon have none else but soldiers, and be reduced to the same situation as the Tartars.”
[(a) ]Les reveries du Comte de Saxe.
[* ]“The method of inlisting men, by putting a trick upon them, is fully as odious. They slip a piece of money into a man’s pocket, and then tell him he is a soldier. Inlisting by force is still more odious. It is a public calamity, from which the citizen has no means of saving himself but by money; and it is consequently the worst of all the resources of government. Would it not be more expedient to enact a law, obliging every man, whatever be his rank, to serve his King and country for five years? This law could not be disapproved of, because it is consistent both with nature and justice, that every citizen should be employed in the defence of the state. Here would be an inexhaustible fund of good and able soldiers, who would not be apt to desert, as every man would reckon it both his honour and his duty to have served his time. But to effect this, it must be a fixed principle, That there shall be no exception of ranks. This point must be rigorously attended to, and the law must be enforced, by way of preference, first among the nobility and the men of wealth. There would not be a single man who would complain of it. A person who had served his time, would treat with contempt another who should show reluctance to comply with the law; and thus, by degrees, it would become a task of honour. The poor citizen would be comforted and inspirited by the example of his rich neighbour; and he again would have nothing to complain of, when he saw that the nobleman was not exempted from service.”
[* ]Several late mobs in the south of England, all of them on pretext of scarcity, greatly alarmed the administration. A fact was discovered by a private person (Six-weeks tour through the south of England [[by Arthur Young,) which our ministers ought to have discovered, that these mobs constantly happened where wages were high and provisions low; consequently that they were occasioned, not by want, but by wantonness.]]
[† ]In Denmark, every land-proprietor of a certain rent, is obliged to furnish a militiaman, whom he can withdraw at pleasure upon substituting another; an excellent method for taming the peasants, and for rendering them industrious.
[‡ ]Had the plan of discharging soldiers after a service of five or seven years been early adopted by the Emperors of Rome, the Pretorian bands would never have become masters of the state. It was a gross error to keep these troops always on foot without change of members; which gave them a confidence in one another, to unite in one solid body, and to be actuated as it were by one mind. [[Note added in 2nd edition.]]
[* ]Taking this for granted, I bring only into the computation the pay of the three months spent in military discipline; and the calculation is very simple, the pay of 20,000 for twelve months amounting to a greater sum than the pay of 60,000 for three months.
[(a) ][[Kames, Gentleman Farmer, edition second, p. 46.]]
[5. ]Paragraph added in 3rd edition.
[* ]A Roman triumph was finely contrived to excite heroism; and a sort of triumph no less splendid, was usual among the Fatemite Califs of Egypt. After returning from a successful expedition, the Calif pitched his camp in a spacious plain near his capital, where he was attended by all his grandees, in their finest equipages. Three days were commonly spent in all manner of rejoicings, feasting, music, fireworks, &c. He marched into the city with this great cavalcade, through roads covered with rich carpets, strewed with flowers, gums, and odoriferous plants, and lined on both sides with crouds of congratulating subjects.
[6. ]Paragraph added in 2nd edition.
[(a) ]Bergiere histoire des grands chemins, vol. 2. p. 152.
[7. ]“It is reported . . . Gaul and Pannonia”: added in 2nd edition.
[* ]The idleness of British soldiers appears from a transaction of the commissioners of the annexed estates in Scotland. After the late war with France, they judged, that part of the King’s rents could not be better applied, than in giving bread to the disbanded soldiers. Houses were built for them, portions of land given them to cultivate at a very low rent, and maintenance afforded them till they could reap a crop. These men could not wish to be better accommodated: but so accustomed they had been to idleness and change of place, as to be incapable of any sort of work: they deserted their farms one after another, and commenced thieves and beggars. Such as had been made serjeants must be excepted: these were sensible fellows, and prospered in their little farms.
[(a) ]Montesquieu, Grandeur de Romains, chap. 2.
[* ]“We observe now-a-days, that our armies are consumed by the fatigues and severe labour of the soldiers; and yet it was alone by labour and toil that the Romans preserved themselves from destruction. I believe the reason is, that their fatigue was continual and unremitting, while the life of our soldiers is a perpetual transition from severe labour to extreme indolence, a life the most ruinous of all others. I must here recite the account which the Roman authors give of the education of their soldiers. They were continually habituated to the military pace, which was, to march in five hours twenty, and sometimes twenty-four miles. In these marches each soldier carried sixty pounds weight. They were accustomed to run and leap in arms; and in their military exercises, their swords, javelins, and arrows, were of twice the ordinary weight. These exercises were continual, which so strengthened the constitution of the men, that they were always in health. We see no remarks in the Roman authors, that their armies, in the variety of climates where they made war, ever perished by disease; whilst now-a-days it is not unusual, that an army, without ever coming to an engagement, dwindles away by disease in one campaign.”
[8. ]“Our author must . . . their weakly constitutions”: added in 2nd edition.
[* ]Rei militaris periti, plus quotidiana armorum exercitia ad sanitatem militum putaverunt prodesse, quam medicos. Ex quo intelligitur quanto studiosius armorum artem docendus sit semper exercitus, cum ei laboris consuetudo et in castris sanitatem, et in conflictu possit praestare victoriam. Vegetius, De re militari, lib. 3. cap. 2.—[In English thus: “Our masters of the art-military were of opinion, that daily exercise in arms contributed more to the health of the troops, than the skill of the physician: from which we may judge, what care should be taken, to habituate the soldiers to the exercise of arms, to which they owe both their health in the camp, and their victory in the field.”]
[9. ]The “late war with France” was the Seven Years’ War (1756–63). France entered the American War of Independence on the American side in 1778; Spain did the same a year later.
[10. ]Paragraph added in 3rd edition.
[* ]While it was a law in Rome that a man must serve ten years in the army before he could be admitted to a civil office, the republic had nothing to dread from their armies. But when by luxury the fatigues of war appeared unsupportable to men of condition, there was a necessity to fill the legions with the low and indigent, who followed their leaders implicitly, and were as ready to overturn the republic as to protect it. Hence the civil war between Marius and Sylla; and hence the overthrow of the republic by Julius Caesar. [[Note added in 3rd edition.]]
[* ]Whether hereditary nobility may not be necessary in a monarchical government to support the King against the multitude, I take not on me to pronounce: but this I pronounce with assurance, that such a constitution is unhappy with respect to education; and appears to admit no remedy, if it be not that above mentioned, or some such. In fact, few of those who received their education while they were the eldest sons of Peers, have been duly qualified to manage public affairs.
[* ]The following portrait is sketched by a good hand, (Madame Pompadour); and if it have any resemblance, it sets our plan in a conspicuous light. The French noblesse, says that lady, spending their lives in dissipation and idleness, know as little of politics as of economy. A gentleman hunts all his life in the country, or perhaps comes to Paris to ruin himself with an opera-girl. Those who are ambitious to be of the ministry, have seldom any merit, if it be not in caballing and intrigue. The French noblesse have courage, but without any genius for war, the fatigue of a soldier’s life being to them unsupportable. The King has been reduced to the necessity of employing two strangers for the safety of his crown: had it not been for the Counts Saxe and Louendahl, the enemies of France might have laid siege to Paris.
[11. ]Kames is perhaps referring to the passing on February 27, 1781, of Henry Conway’s motion in favor of ending the war in America, an event instrumental to the downfall of North’s ministry.
[12. ]Paragraph added in 3rd edition.
[13. ]Paragraph added in 2nd edition.
[* ]Phocion is praised by ancient writers, for struggling against an abuse that had crept into his country of Attica, that of making war and politics different professions. In imitation of Aristides and of Pericles, he studied both equally.
[* ]In the parish of St. George, Hanover Square, a great reform was made some years ago. Inhabitants of figure, not excepting men of the highest rank, take it in turn to be church-wardens; which has reduced the poor-rates in that parish to a trifle. But people, after acquiring a name, soon tire of drudging for others. The drudgery will be left to low people as formerly, and the tax will again rise as high in that parish as in others. The poor-rates in Dr. Davenant’s time, were about L. 700,000 yearly. In the year 1764, they amounted to L. 2,200,000. In the year 1773, they amounted to L. 3,000,000, equal to six shillings in the pound land-tax.
[* ]In an address by Mr. Greaves to both Houses of Parliament there is the following passage: “It happens to be the mistaken policy of most of our very wise parish-officers, that as soon as a young man is married, a state of life which is the most likely to make him a good member of society, to endeavour to get him removed to the place of his legal settlement, out of pretence that he may soon have a family, which may possibly bring a charge upon the parish. Young men, intimidated by frequent examples of such cruel treatment, are unwilling to marry; and this leads them frequently to debauch young women, and then leave them with child in a very helpless condition. Thus they get into an unsettled and debauched way of life, acquire a habit of idleness, and become a burden upon the public.” [[Note added in 3rd edition.]]
[1. ]Paragraph added in 3rd edition.
[* ]A London alderman named Harper, who was cotemporary with James I. or his son Charles, bequeathed ten or twelve acres of meadow-ground in the parish of St. Andrew’s, Holborn, London, for the benefit of the poor in the town of Bedford. This ground has been long covered with houses, which yield from L. 4000 to L. 5000 yearly. That sum is laid out upon charity-schools, upon defraying the expence of apprenticeships, and upon a stock to young persons when they marry; an encouragement that attracts to the town of Bedford great numbers of the lower classes. So far well: but mark the consequence. That encouragement relaxes the industry of many, and adds greatly to the number of the poor. Hence it is, that in few places of England does the poor’s rate amount so high as in the town of Bedford. An extensive common in the parish of Charley, Sussex, is the chief cause of an extravagant assessment for the poor, no less than nine shillings in the pound of rack rent. Give a poor man access to a common for feeding two or three cows, you make him idle by a dependence upon what he does not labour for. The town of Largo in Fife has a small hospital, erected many years ago by a gentleman of the name of Wood; and confined by him to the poor of his own name. That name being rare in the neighbourhood, access to the hospital is easy. One man in particular is entertained there, whose father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, enjoy’d successively the same benefit; every one of whom probably would have been useful members of society, but for that temptation to idleness. [[Note added in 2nd edition.]]
[* ]One exception I am fond to mention. The poor-box of the Edinburgh Infirmary was neglected two or three years, little being expected from it. When opened, L. 74 and a fraction was found in it; contributed probably by the lower sort, who were ashamed to give their mite publicly.
[2. ]Sir William Mildmay.
[3. ]“But I confine . . . better provided separately”: added in 2nd edition.
[4. ]“The same almanack . . . the foundling-hospital”: added in 2nd edition.
[5. ]“It is computed . . . do for themselves”: added in 2nd edition.
[* ]The Italians are not more remarkable for a charitable disposition, than their neighbours. No fewer however than seventy thousand mendicant friars live there upon voluntary charity; and I have not heard that any one of them ever died of want.
[(a) ]Elements of Criticism, ch. 2. part 7.
[6. ]“Will it be . . . will of others”: added in 2nd edition.
[(a) ]Author of Angeloni’s letters [[i.e., John Shebbeare.]]
[7. ]In the 1st edition the sketch ends here.
[1. ]Added in 2nd edition: “In these reasons . . . second and fourth.” In 1st edition: “These reasons for confining the city of Paris within certain bounds are wonderfully shallow. The most important of them conclude justly against permitting an increase of inhabitants: the second and fourth conclude only against enlarging the city” [2:62–63].
[(a) ]De re militari, lib. 1. cap. 3.
[* ]“But sometimes there is a necessity for arming the townspeople, and calling them out to service. When this is the case, it ought to be the first care, to enure them to labour, to march them up and down the country, to make them carry heavy burdens, and to harden them against the weather. Their food should be coarse and scanty, and they should be habituated to sleep alternately in their tents, and in the open air. Then is the time to instruct them in the exercise of their arms. If the expedition is a distant one, they should be chiefly employed in the stations of posts or expresses, and removed as much as possible from the dangerous allurements that abound in large cities; that thus they may be envigorated both in mind and body.”
[* ]Is not the following inference from these premisses well founded, that it would be a ruinous measure to add Bengal to the British dominions? In what manner would the territorial revenues and other taxes be remitted to London? If in hard coin, that country would in time be drained of money, its manufactures would be annihilated, and depopulation ensue. If remitted in commodities, the public would be cheated, and little be added to the revenue. A land-tax laid on as in Britain would be preferable in every respect; for it would be paid by the East-India Company as proprietors of Bengal without deduction of a farthing.
[2. ]“The city of . . . muster above 90,000”: added (with note) in 2nd edition.
[(a) ]See Dr. Price [[Observations on Reversionary Payments, p. 362.]]
[* ]Our author, with singular candor, admits it as a strong objection to his theory, that there are no rain-deer in Asia. But it is doing no more but justice to so fair a reasoner, to observe, that according to the latest accounts, there are plenty of rain-deer in the country of Kamskatka, which of all is the nearest to America.
[* ]Some authors I am aware assert that the Americans would have beards like other people; but that the men are at great pains to pluck them out, esteeming them unbecoming. But why are they esteemed unbecoming? Plainly from the grotesque figure that some men make by having a few downy hairs here and there appearing on the chin. These look as unseemly among them as a beard upon a woman among us. [[Note added in 3rd edition.]]
[1. ]“The Esquimaux are . . . striking characteristical marks”: added in 2nd edition. In 1st edition: “That the original inhabitants are a race distinct from others, I once thought demonstrable from some reports concerning the Esquimaux. The author of a history of New France, and several other writers report, that the Esquimaux are bold, mischievous, suspicious, and untamable; that it is not even safe to converse with them but at a distance; that no European skin is whiter; and that they are bearded up to the eyes. Supposing these facts to be true, had I not reason to believe, that the Esquimaux must have sprung from some nation in the north of Europe or Asia, though I could not pretend to say, whether the transmigration was by land or sea? From the same facts, however, I was forced to conclude, that the rest of the Americans could not have had the same origin; for if the Canadians or any other American nation were of Asiatic or European extraction, they must, like the Esquimaux, have had a beard and white skin to this day. But one cannot be too cautious in giving faith to odd or singular facts, reported of different nations. It was discovered by later accounts more worthy of credit, that the foregoing description of the Esquimaux is false in every particular” [2:72–73].
[2. ]“But above all . . . North of Asia”: added in 2nd edition. In 1st edition: “But what is most to the present purpose; they are of a copper colour, like the other Americans, only a degree lighter, occasioned probably by the intense cold of their climate; and they are altogether destitute of a beard. It is common indeed among them, to bring forward the hair of the head upon the face, for preserving it from flies, which rage in that country during summer; an appearance that probably has been mistaken by travellers for a beard” [2:72–74].
[* ]The Danes had a settlement in Greenland long before Columbus saw the West Indies. Would it not appear paradoxical to say, that America was discovered by the Danes long before the time of Columbus, and long before they knew that they had made the discovery?
[3. ]“From the preceding . . . river St. Laurence”: added in 2nd edition. In 1st edition: “One thing is certain, that the Greenlanders resemble the North-Americans in every particular: they are of a copper colour, and have no beard; they are of a small size, like the Esquimaux, and have the same language. And thus I am obliged to abandon my favourite argument, for proving the Americans, the Esquimaux excepted, to be indigenous, and not indebted to the old world for their existence. At the same time, the other arguments urged above remain entire; and from what is now said a circumstance occurs, that fortifies greatly the chief of them. People, who with a bold face surmount all difficulties rather than give up a favourite opinion, make light of the copper colour and want of beard, willing to attribute all to the climate. We want data, I acknowledge, to determine with accuracy what effects can be produced by climate. But luckily we have no occasion at present to determine that difficult point. It is sufficient that the climate of Labrador is much the same with that of the northern parts of Europe and Asia. From that circumstance I conclude with certainty, that the copper colour and want of beard in the Esquimaux cannot be the result of climate. And if so, what foundation can there be for making these circumstances depend on the climate in any other part of America? Truly none at all” [2:74–75].
[(a) ]Preliminary Discourse.
[(b) ]M. Buffon.
[* ]Late discoveries have annihilated the Terra Australis incognita. The argument however remains in force, being equally applicable to many islands scattered at a great distance from the continent in the immense South Sea.
[(a) ]Account of North America by Major Robert Rogers.
[* ]In all the West-Indian colonies, the slaves continually decrease so as to make frequent recruits from Africa necessary. “This decrease,” says the author of a late account of Guiana [[i.e., Edward Bancroft, “is commonly attributed to oppression and hard labour; tho’ with little reason, as the slaves are much more robust, healthy, and vigorous, than their masters. The true cause is, the commerce of white men with young Negro wenches, who, to support that commerce, use every mean to avoid conception, and even to procure abortion. By such practices they are incapacitated to bear children when they settle in marriage with their own countrymen. That this is the true cause, will be evident, from considering, that in Virginia and Maryland, the stock of slaves is kept up without any importation; because in these countries commerce with Negro women is detested, as infamous and unnatural.” The cause here assigned may have some effect: but there is a stronger cause of depopulation, viz. the culture of sugar, laborious in the field, and unhealthy in the house by boiling, &c. The Negroes employ’d in the culture of cotton, coffee, and ginger, seldom need to be recruited. Add, that where tobacco and rice are cultivated, the stock of Negroes is kept up by procreation, without necessity of recruits. Because there, a certain portion of work is allotted to the Negroes in every plantation; and when that is performed, they are at liberty to work for themselves. The management in Jamaica is very different: no task is there assigned; and the poor slaves know no end of labour: they are followed all day long by the lower overseers with whips. And hence it is, that a plantation in Jamaica, which employs a hundred slaves, requires an annual recruit of no fewer than seven. “Add, that where . . . fewer than seven”: added in 2nd edition.]]
[* ]Charlevoix says, that an Indian of Canada will give all he is worth for a glass of brandy. And he paints thus the effect of drunkenness upon them. “Even in the streets of Montreal are seen the most shocking spectacles of ebriety; husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters, seizing one another by the throat, and tearing one another with their teeth, like so many enraged wolves.”
[* ]We cannot altogether rely on what is reported of this ancient empire with respect to numbers. The city of Mexico, tho’ considerably enlarged since the Spanish conquest, doth not at present contain more than 60,000 souls, including 20,000 Negroes and Mulattoes.
[(a) ]L’Esprit des loix, liv. 17. ch. 2.