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First, to make the means of subsistence more easy to each individual :-Secondly, that in addition to the necessaries of life he should derive from the union and division of labor a share of the comforts and conveniences which humanize and ennoble his nature; and at the same time the power of perfecting himself in his own branch of industry by having those things which he needs provided for him by others among his fellow-citizens ; the tools and raw or manufactured materials necessary for his own employment being included. I knew a profound mathematician in Sicily, who had devoted a full third of his life to the discovery of the longitude, and who had convinced not only himself but the principal mathematicians of Messina and Palermo that he had succeeded : but neither throughout Sicily nor Naples could he find a single artist capable of constructing the instrument which he had invented :*_Thirdly, the hope of bettering his own condition and that of his children. The civilized man gives up those stimulants of hope and fear which constitute the chief charm of the savage life : and yet his Maker has distinguished him from the brute that perishes, by making hope an instinct of his nature, and an indispensable condition of his moral and intellectual progression. But a natural instinct constitutes a natural right, as far as its gratification is compatible with the equal rights of others. Hence our ancestors classed those who were bound to the soil (adscriptitii gleba) and incapable by law of altering their condition from that of their parents, as bondsmen or villeins, however advantageously they might otherwise be situated. Reflect on the direful effects of castes in Hindostan, and then transfer yourself in fancy to an English cottage, -.
* The good old man, who is poor, old, and blind, universally esteemed for the innocence and austerity of his life not less than for his learning, and yet universally neglected, except by persons almost as poor as himself, strongly reminded me of a German epigrain on Kepler, which may be thus translated :
No mortal spirit yet had clomb so high
And so the bodies left him without bread. The good old man presented me with the book in which he has described and demonstrated his invention : and I should with great pleasure transmit it to any mathematician who would feel an interest in examining it and communicating his opinion on its merits.
Where o'er the cradled infant bending
Hope has fix'd her wishful gaze,and the fond mother dreams of her child's future fortunes.--Who knows but he may come home a rich merchant, like such a one, or be a bishop or a judge ? The prizes are indeed few and rare, but still they are possible : and the hope is universal, and perhaps occasions more happiness than even its fulfilment :-Lastly, the development of those faculties which are essential to his human nature by the knowledge of his moral and religious duties, and the increase of his intellectual powers in as great a degree as is compatible with the other ends of social union, and does not involve a contradiction. The poorest Briton possesses much and important knowledge, which he would not have had, if Luther, Calvin, Newton, and their compeers had not existed; but it is evident that the means of science and learning could not exist, if all men had a right to be made profound mathematicians or men of extensive erudition. Still instruction is one of the ends of government; for it is that only which makes the abandonment of the savage state an absolute duty: and that constitution is the best, under which the average sum of useful knowledge is the greatest, and the causes that awaken and encourage talent and genius, the most powerful and various.
These were my preparatory notions. The influences under which I proceeded to re-examine our own constitution, were the following, which I give, not exactly as they occurred, but in the order in which they will be illustrative of the different articles of the preceding paragraph. That we are better and happier than others is indeed no reason for our not becoming still better ; especially as with states, as well as individuals, not to be progressive is to be retrograde. Yet the comparison will usefully temper the desire of improvement with love and a sense of gratitude for what we already are.
I. A LETTER RECEIVED, AT MALTA, FROM AN AMERICAN OFFICER OF
HIGH RANK,* WHO HAS SINCE RECEIVED THE THANKS AND REWARDS OF CONGRESS FOR HIS SERVICES IN THE MEDITERRANEAN.
GRAND CAIRO, Dec. 13, 1804. The same reason, which induced me to request letters of introduction to his Britannic Majesty's agents here, suggested the propriety of showing an English jack at the main top-gallant mast-head, on entering the port of Alexandria on the 26th ult. The signal was recognized ; and Mr. B — was immediately on board.
* Decatur.- Ed.
We found in port, a Turkish Vice Admiral, with a ship of the line, and six frigates; a part of which squadron is stationed there to preserve the tranquillity of the country; with just as much inAuence as the same number of pelicans would have on the same station.
On entering and passing the streets of Alexandria, I could not but notice the very marked satisfaction, which every expression and every countenance of all denominations of people, Turks and Frenchmen only excepted, manifested under an impression that we were the avant-couriers of an English army. They had conceived this from observing the English jack at our main, taking our flag perhaps for that of a feint, and because as is common enough everywhere, they were ready to believe what they wished. It would have been cruel to have undeceived them: consequently without positively assuming it, we passed in the character of Englishmen among the middle and lower orders of society, and as their allies among those of better information. Wherever we entered or wherever halted, we were surrounded by the wretched inhabitants; and stunned with their benedictions and prayers for blessings on us. “ Will the English come? Are they coming ? God grant the English may come ! we have no commerce-we have no money—we have no bread! When will the English arrive ?” My answer was uniformly, Patience ! The same tone was heard at Rosetta as among the Alexandrians, indicative of the same dispositions ; only it was not so loud, because the inhabitants are less miserable, although without any traits of happiness. On the fourth, we left that village for Cairo, and as well for our security as to facilitate our procurement of accommodations during our voyage, and our stay there, the resident directed his secretary, Capt. V-, to accompany us, and to give us lodgings in his house. We ascended the Nile leisurely, and calling at several villages, we plainly perceived that the national partiality, the strong and open expression of which proclaimed so loudly the feelings of the Egyptians of the sea-coast, was general throughout the country; and the prayers for the return of the English as earnest as universal.
On the morning of the sixth we went on shore at the village of Sabour. The villagers expressed an enthusiastic gladness at seeing red and blue uniforms and round hats ;—(the French, I believe, wear three-cornered ones.) Two days before, five hundred Albanian deserters from the Viceroy's army had pillaged and left this village ; at which they had lived at free quarters about four weeks. The famishing inhabitants were now distressed with apprehensions from another quarter. A company of wild Arabs were encamped in sight. They dreaded their ravages and apprized us of danger from them. We were eighteen in the party; well armed; and a pretty brisk fire which we raised among the numerous flocks of pigeons and other small fowl in the environs, must have deterred them from mischief, if, as is most probable, they had meditated any against us. Scarcely, however, were we on board and under weigh, when we saw these mounted marauders of the desert fall furiously upon the herds of camels, buffaloes, and cattle of the village, and drive many of them off wholly unannoyed on the part of the unresisting inhabitants, unless their shrieks could be deemed an annoyance. They afterwards attacked and robbed several unarmed boats, which were a few hours astern of us. The most insensible must surely have been moved by the situation of the peasants of that village. While we were listening to their complaints, they kissed our hands, and with prostrations to the ground, rendered more affecting by the inflamed state of the eyes almost universal among them, and which the new traveller might venially imagine to have been the immediate effect of weeping and anguish, they all implored English succor. Their shrieks at the assault of the wild Arabs seemed to implore the same still more forcibly, while it testified what multiplied reasons they had to implore it. I confess, I felt an almost insurmountable impulse to bring our little party to their relief, and might perhaps have done a rash act, had it not been for the calm and just observation of Captain V-, that “these were common occurrences, and that any relief which we could afford, would not merely be only temporary, but would exasperate the plunderers to still more atrocious outrages after our departure.”
On the morning of the seventh we landed near a village. At our approach the villagers fled: signals of friendship brought some of them to us. When they were told that we were English
men, they flocked around us with demonstrations of joy, offered their services, and raised loud ejaculations for our establishment in the country. Here we could not procure a pint of milk for our coffee. The inhabitants had been plundered and chased from their habitations by the Albanians and desert Arabs, and it was but the preceding day, they had returned to their naked cottages. - Grand Cairo differs from the places already passed, only as the presence of the tyrant stamps silence on the lips of misery with the seal of terror. Wretchedness here assumes the form of melancholy; but the few whispers that are hazarded, convey the same feelings and the same wishes. And wherein does this misery and consequent spirit of revolution consist ? Not in any form of government but in a formless despotism, an anarchy indeed, for it amounts literally to an annihilation of every thing that can merit the name of government or justify the use of the word even in the laxest sense. Egypt is under the most frightful despotism, yet has no master. The Turkish soldiery, restrained by no discipline, seize every thing by violence, not only all that their necessities dictate, but whatever their caprices suggest. The Mamelukes, who dispute with these the right of domination, procure themselves subsistence by means as lawless though less insupportably oppressive ; and the wild Arabs availing themselves of the occasion, plunder the defenceless wherever they find plunder.
To finish the whole, the talons of the Viceroy fix on every thing which can be changed into currency, in order to find the means of supporting an ungoverned, disorganized banditti of foreign troops, who receive the harvest of his oppression, desert and betray him. Of all this rapine, robbery, and extortion, the wretched cultivators of the soil are the perpetual victims. A spirit of revolution is the natural consequence.
The reason the inhabitants of this country give for preferring the English to the French, whether true or false, is as natural as it is simple, and às influential as natural. “The English,” say they, “pay for every thing,—the French pay nothing, and take every thing.” They do not like this kind of deliverers.
Well, thought I, after the perusal of this letter, the slave-trade, —which had not then been abolished,-is a dreadful crime, an English iniquity, and to sanction its continuance under full conviction and parliamentary confession of its injustice and inhu