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ships better, and to render them not so easy to be taken: they go also more under the protection of convoys. Thus, while the privateers to take thein are multiplied, the vessels subjected to be taken, and the chances of profit, are diminished; soʻthat many cruises are made, wherein the expenses overgo the gains; and, as is the case in other lotteries, though particulars have got prizes, the mass of adventurers are losers, the whole expence of fitting out all the privateers during a war, being much greater than the whole amount of goods taken.
Then there is the national loss of all the labour of so many men during the time they have been employed in robbing ; who, besides, spend what they get in riot, drunkenness and debauchery; lose their habits of industry ; are rarely fit for any sober business after a peace, and serve only to increase the number of highwaymen and house breakers. Even the undertakers, who have been fortunate, are by sudden wealth led into expensive living, the habit of which continues when the means of supporting it cease, and finally ruins them: a just punishment for their having wantonly and unfeelingly ruined many honest, innocent traders and their families, whose substance was employed in serving the common interest of mankind.
ON THE IMPRESS OF SEAMEN.
Notes copied from DR. FRANKLIN's writing in pencil in
the margin of JUDGE FOSTER's celebrated “ Argument in Favour of the Impressing Seamen,” published in the folio edition of his works.]
JUDGE Foster, p. 158, “Every man.”-The conclusion here, from the whole to a part, does not seem to be good logic. If the alphabet should say, Let us all fight for the detence of the whole; that is equal,
and may therefore be just. But if they should say, Let A BC and D go out and fight for us, while we stay at home and sleep in whole skins; that is not equal, and therefore cannot be just.
Ib. “ Employ, "-if you please. The word signifies engaging a man to work for me, by offering Kim such wages as are sufficient to induce him to prefer my service, This is very different from compelling him to work on such terms as I think proper.
Ib. “ This service and employment,” &c.— These are false facts. His employment and service are not
the same.--Under the merchant he goes in an unarmed vessel, not obliged to fight, but to transport merchandise. In the king's service he is obliged to fight, and to hazard all the dangers of battle. Sickness on board of king's ships is also more common and more mortal The merchants' service, too, he can quit at the end of the voyage; not the king's. Also, the merchants’ wages are much higher.
Ib. “ I am very sensible,” &c.—Here are two things put in comparison that are not comparable: viz. injury to seamen, and inconvenience to trade. Inconvenience to the whole trade of a nation will not justify injustice to a single seaman.-If the trade would suffer without his service, it is able and ought to be willing to offer him such' wages as may induce him to afford his service voluntarily. Page 159.
" Private mischief must be borne with patience for preventing a national calamity.” Where is this maxim in law and good policy to be found ? And how can that be a maxim which is not consistent with common sense? If the maxim had been, that private mischiefs, which prevent a national calamity, ought to be generously compensated by the nation, one might understand it : but that such private mischiefs are only to be borne with patience, is absurd !
Ib. “ The expedient,” &c.“ And,” &c. (Paragraphs 2 and 3.)-Twenty ineffectual or inconvenient schemes will not justify one that is unjust.
16. “ Upon the foot of,” &c.-Your reasoning, indeed, like a lie, stands but upon one foot; truth upon two.
Page 160. “ Full wages.”—Probably the same they had in the merchants' service.
Page 174. “I hardly admit," &c.-(Paragraph 5.) -When this author speaks of impressing, page 158, he diminishes the horror of the practice as much as possible, by representing to the mind one sailor only suffering a “hardship,” as he tenderly calls it) in some “particular cases" only; and he places against this private mischtef the inconvenience to the trade of the kingdom.-But if, as he supposes is often the case, the sailor who is pressed and obliged to serve for the defence of trade, at the rate of twenty-five shillings a month, could get three pounds fifteen shillings in the. merchants' service, you take from him fifty shillings a month ; and if you have 100,000 in your service, you rob this honest industrious part of society and their poor families of £250,000, per month, or three millions a year, and at the same time oblige them to hazard their lives ia fighting for the defence of your trade; to
the defence of which all ought indeed to contribute (and sailors among the rest,) in proportion to their profits by it; but this three millions is more than their share, if they do not pay with their persons; but when you force that, methinks you should excuse the other.
But, it may be said, to give to the king's seamen merchants' wages, would cost the nation too much, and call for more taxes. The question then will amount to this; whether it be just in a community, that the richer part should compel the poorer to fight in defence of ihem and their properties, for such wages as they think fit to allow, and punish them if they refuse ? Our author tells us that it is legal.” I have not law enough to dispute his authorities, but I cannot persuade myself that it is equitable. I will, however, own for the present, that it may be lawful when necessary; but then:1 contend that it may be used so as to produce the same good effects—the public security, without do ing so much intolerable injustice as attends the impressing common seamen. In order to be better understood, I would premise two things : First, That voluntary seamen may be had for the service, if they were sufficiently paid. The proof is, that to serve in the same ship, and incur the same dangers, you have no occasiou to impress captains, lieutenants, second lieutenants, midshipmen, pursers, nor many other officers. Why, but that the profits of their places, or the emoluments expected, are sufficient inducements? The business then is, to find money, by impressing, sufficient to make the sailors all volunteers, as well as their officers; and this without any fresh burden upon trade. -The second of my premises is, that twenty-five shillings a month, with his share of the salt beef, pork, and peas-pudding, being found sufficient for the subsistence of a hard-working seaman, it will certainly be so for a sedentary scholar or gentleman. I would then propose to form a treasury, out of which encouragements to seamen should be paid. To fill this treasury, I would impress a number of civil officers who at present have great salaries, oblige them to serve in their respective offices for twenty-five shillings a month with thelt shares of mess provisions, and throw the rest of their salaries into the seamen's treasury. If such a press-warrant were given me to execute, the first I would press should be a Recorder of Bristol, or a Mr. Justice Foster, because I might have need of his edifying example, to show how much impressing ought to be borne with; for he would certainly find, that though to be reduced to twenty-five shillings a month might be a “private mischief,” yet that, agreeably lo his maxim of law and good policy, it " ought to be borne with patience,” for preventing a national calamity. Then I would press the rest of the judges; and, opening the red book, I would press every civil officer of government, from £50. a year salary up to 50,000, which would throw an immense sum into our treasury; and these gentlemen could not complain, since they would receive twenty-five shillings a month, and their rations; and this without being obliged to fight. Lastly, I think I would impress ***
ON THE CRIMINAL LAWS, AND THE PRAC
TICE OF PRIVATEERING.
LETTER TO BENJAMIN VAUGHN, Esq.
MY DEAR FRIEND:
March 14, 1785. Among the pamphlets you lately sent me was one, entitled, Thoughts on Executive Justice. In return for that, I send you a French one on the same subject, Observations concernant l' Execution del Article II de la Déclaration sur le Vol. They are both addressed to the judges, but written as you will see, in a very different spirit. The English author is for hanging all thieves. The Frenchman is for proportioning punishments to offences.
If we really believe, as we profess to believe, that the law of Moses was the law of God, the dictate of Divine wisdom, infinitely superior to human ; on what principles do we ordain death as the punishment of an offence, which, according to that law, was only to be punished by a restitution of fourfold : Ta put a man to death for an offence which does not deserve death, is it not a murder: And as the French writer says, “ Doiton punir un délit contre la société par un crime contre la nature ?"
Superfluous property is the creature of society... Simple and mild laws were sufficient to guard the property that was merely necessary: The savage's bow, his hatchet, and his coat of skins, were sufficiently secured without law, by the fear of personal resentment and retaliation. When by virtue of the first laws, part of the society accumulated wealth and grew powerful, they enacted others more severe, and would protect their property at the expense of humanity. This was abusing their power, and commencing a tyranny. If a savage, before he entered into society, had been told—“Your neighbour, by this means, may become owner of a hundred deer ; but if your brother, or your son, or yourself, having no deer of your own, and being hungry, should kill one, an infamous death must be the consequence,” he would probably have preferred his liberty, and his common right of killing any deer, to all the advantages of society that might he proposed to bim.
That it is better a hundred guilty persons should escape, than that one innocent person should suffer, is a maxim that has been long and generally approved ; never, that I know of, controverted. Even the sanguinary author of the Thoughts agrees to it, adding well, that the very thought of injured innocence, and much more that of suffering innocence, must awaken all our tenderest and most compassionate feelings, and at the same time raise our highest indignation against the instruments of it. But he adds, “ there is no danger of either, from a strict adherence to the laws.”— Really!-is'it then impossible to make an unjust law; and if the law itself be unjust, may it not be the very “ instrument which ought to raise the author's and every body's highest indignation ?" I see in the last newspapers from London, that a woman is capitally convicted at the Old Baily, for privately stealing out of a shop some gauze, value fourteen shillings and threepence. Is there any proportion between the injury done by a theft, value fourteen shillings and threepence, and the punishment of a human creature, by death, on a gibbet ? Might not that woman, by her labour have made the reparation ordained by God in paying fourfold ? Is not all punishment inflicted beyond the merit of the offence, so much punishment of inno cence: this light, how vast is the annual quantity, of not only injured but suffering innocence, in almost all the civilized states of Europe !
But it seems to have been thought, that this kind of innocence may be punished by way of preventing crimes. I have read, indeed, of a cruel Turk in Barbary, who, whenever he bought a new Christian slave, ordered him immediately to be hung up by the legs, and to receive a hundred blows of a cudgel on the soles of his feet, that the severe sense of the punishment, and fear of incurring it hereafter, might prevent the faults that should merit it. Our author himself would hardly approve entirely of this Turk's conduct in the government of slaves ; and yet he appears to recommend something like it for the government of English subjects, when he applauds the reply of Judge Burnet to the convict horse-stealer; who, being asked what he had to say why judgment of death should not pass against him, and answering, that it was hard to hang a