Page images

ing the poor is incumbent on the rich; but by this operation the whole burden of it is laid on the farmer, who is to relieve the rich at the same time. Of the poor, too, those who are maintained by the parishes have no right to claim this sacrifice of the farmer; as while they have their allowance, it makes no difference to them whether bread be cheap or dear. Those working poor, who now mind business only five or four days in the week, if bread should be so dear as to oblige them to work the whole six required by the commandment, do not seem to be aggrieved, so as to have a right to public redress. There will then remain, comparatively, only a few families in every district, who, from sickness or a great number of children, will be so distressed by a high price of corn as to need relief; and these should be taken care of by particular benefactions, without restraining the farmer's profit.

Those who fear that exportation may so far drain the country of corn, as to starve ourselves, fear what never did nor never can happen. They may as well, when they view the tide ebbing towards the sea, fear that all the water will leave the river. The price of com, like water, will find its own level. The more we export, the dearer it becomes at home; the more is received abroad, the cheaper it becomes there; and as soon as these prices are equal, the exportation stops of course. As the seasons vary in different countries, the calamity of a bad harvest is never universal. If, then, all ports were always open, and all commerce free, every maritime country would generally eat bread at the medium price, or average of all the harvests, which would probably be more equal than we can make it by our artificial regulations, and therefore a more steady encouragement to agriculture. The nation would all have bread at this middle price; and that nation, which at any time inhumanly refuses to relieve the distresses of another nation, deserves no compassion when in distress itself.


WORKING, AND UPON MANUFACTURES. The common people do not work for pleasure generally, but from necessity. Cheapness of provisions makes them more idle; less work is then done, it is then more in demand proportionally, and of course the price ri

ses. Dearness of provisions obliges the manufacturer to work more days and more hours; thus more work is done than equals the usual demand; of course it becomes cheap er, and the manufactures in consequence.

OF AN OPEN TRADE. Perhaps, in general, it would be better if government · meddled no farther with trade than to protect it, and let it take its course.

Most of the statutes or acts, edicts, arrets, and placarts of parliaments, princes, and states, for regulating, directing, or restraining of trade, have, we think, been either political blunders, or jobs obtained by artful men for private advantage, under pretence of public good. When Colbert assembled some of the wise old merchants of France, and desired their advice and opinion how he could best serve and promote commerce; their answer, after consultation, was in three words only, Laissez nous faire, •Let us alone.'—It is said, by a very solid writer of the same nation, that he is well advanced in the science of politics, who knows the full force of that maxim, Pas trop gout verner, 'not to govern too much;' which perhaps would be of more use when applied to trade than in any other public concern. It were therefore to be wished, that commerce were as free between all the nations of the world as it is between the several counties of England; so would all, by mutual communications, obtain more enjoyments. Those counties do not ruin each other by trade, neither would the nations. No nation was ever ruined by trade, even, seemingly the most disadvantageous.

Wherever desirable superfluities are imported, industry is excited, and thereby plenty is produced. Were only necessaries permitted to be purchased, men would work no more than was necessary for that purpose.


ATION OF GOLD AND SILVER. Could' Spain and Portugal have succeeded in executing their foolish laws for hedging in the cuckoo, às Locke calls it, and have kept at home all their gold and silver, those metals would, by this time, have been of little more value than so much lead or iron. 'Their plenty would have lessened their value.

We see the folly of these edicts; but are not our own prohibitory and restrictive laws, that are professedly made with intention to bring a balance in our favor from our trade with foreign nations to be paid in money, and laws to prevent the ne cessity of exporting that noney, which if they could be thoroughly executed, would make money as plenty and of as little value; I say, are not such laws akin to those Spanish edicts; follies of the same family?

OF THE RETURNS FOR FOREIGN ARTICLES. In fact, the produce of other countries can hardly be ob tained, unless by fraud and rapine, without giving the produce of our land or our industry in exchange for them. If we have mines of gold and silver, gold and silver may then be called the produce of our land; if we have not, we can only fairly obtain those metals by giving fer them the produce of our land or industry. When we have them, they are then only that!produce or industry in another shape ; which we may give if the trade requires it and our other produce will not suit in exchange for the produce of some other country that furnish es what we have more occasion for, or more desire. When we have, to an inconvenient degree, parted with our gold and silver, our industry is stimulated afresh to procure more; that by its means we may contrive to procure the same ad vantages.


When princes make war by prohibiting commerce, each may hurt himself as much as his enemy. 'Traders, who by their business are promoting the common good of mankind, as well as farmers and fishermen, who labor for the subsistence of all, should never be interrupted or molested in their business, but enjoy the protection of all in the time of war, as well as in time of peace.

This policy, those we are pleased to call barbarians have in a great measure adopted: for the trading subjects of any power with whom the Emperor of Morocco may be at war, - are not liable to capture, when within sight of his land, going or coming; and have otherwise free liberty to trade and reside in his dominions.

As a maritime power, we presume it is not thought right that Great Britain should grant such freedom except

partially, as in the case of war with France, when tobacco is allowed to be sent thither under the sanction of passports.



In transactions of trade it is not to be supposed that, like gaming, what one party gains the other must necessarily lose. The gain to each may be equal. If A has more corn than he can consuine, but wants cattle; and B has more cattle, but wants corn, exchange is gain to each: hereby the common stock of comforts in life is increased.

OF PAPER CREDIT. It is impossible for government to circumscribe or fix the extent of paper credit, which must of course Auctuate. Government may as well pretend to lay down rules for the operations or the confidence of every individual in the course of his trade. Any seeming temporary evil arising must naturally work. its own cure.


WHITE-WASHING, ATTRIBUTED TO THE PEN OF DR. FRANKLIN. ALTHOUGH the following article has not yet appeared in any collection of the works of this great philosopher, we are inclined to receive the general opinion (from the plainness of the style, and the humor which characterizes it,) to be the performance of Dr. Franklin.

My wish is to you give some account of the people of these new states, but I am far from being qualified for the purpose, having as yet seen little more than the cities of N. York and Philadelphia. I have discovered but few national singularities among them. Their customs and manners are nearly the same with those of England, which they have long been used to copy. For, previous to the Revolution, the Americans were, from their infancy, taught to look up to the Eng

lish as patterns of perfection in all things. I have observed, however, one custom, which, for aught I know, is peculiar to this country; an account of it will serve to fill up the remainder of this sheet, and may afford you some amusement.

When a young couple are about to enter into the matriinonial state, a never-failing article in the marriage treaty is, that the lady shall have and enjoy the free and unmolested exercise of the rights of white-washing, with all its ceremonials, privileges, and appurtenances. A young woman would forego the most advantageous connexion, and even disappoint the warmest wish of her heart, rather than resign the invaluable right. You would wonder what this privilge of white-washing is: I will endeavor to give you some idea of the ceremony, as I have seen it performed.

There is no season of the year in which the lady may not claim her privilege, if she pleases; but the latter end of May is most generally fixed upon for the purpose. The attentive husband may judge by certain prognostics when the storm is nigh at hand. When the lady is unusually fretful, finds fault with the servants, is discontented with the chi! dren, and complains much of the filthiness of every thing about her—these are signs which ought not to be neglected; yet they are not decisive, as they sometimes come on and go off again, without producing any farther effect. But if, wher the husband rises in the morning, he should observe in the yard a wheelbarrow with a quantily of lime in it, or should see certain buckets with lime dissolved in water, there is then no time to be lost; he immediately locks up the apartment or closet where his papers or his private property is kept, and putting the key in his pocket, betakes himself to flight: for, a husband, however beloved, becomes a perfect nuisance during this season of female rage, his authority is superseded, his commission is suspended, and the very scullion, who cleans the brasses in the kitchen, becomes of more consideration and importance than him. He has nothing for it, but to abdicate and run from an evil which he can neither prevent nor mollify.

The husband gone, the ceremony begins. The walls are in a few minutes stripped of their fumiture; paintings, prints, and looking-glasses lie in a huddled heap about the doors; the curtains are torn from the testers, the beds cram

[ocr errors]
« EelmineJätka »