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self bound to observe towards them; ought we to shew to those, who, in the casting of the parts of human society, happen to be placed within our power, or to depend upon us.
Another reflection of a like tendency with the former is, that our obligation to them is much greater than theirs to us. It is a mistake to suppose, that the rich man maintains his fervants, tradesmen, tenants, and labourers: the truth is, they maintain him. It is their industry which supplies his table, furnishes his wardrobe, builds his houses, adorns his equipage; provides his amusements. It is not his estate, but the labour employed upon it, that pays his rent. All that he does, is to distribute what others produce ; which is the least part of the business.
Nor do I perceive any foundation for an opinion, which is often handed round in genteel company, that good usage is thrown away upon low and ordinary minds; that they are insensible of kindness, and incapable of gratitude. If by “ low and ordinary minds” are meant the minds of men in low and ordinary stations, they seem to be affected by benefits in the same way that all others are; and to be no less ready to requite them: and it would be a very unaccountable law pf nature, if it were otherwise.
Whatever uneasiness we occasion to our domeltics, which neither promotes our service, nor answers the just ends of punishment, is manifestly wrong; were it only upon the general principle of diminishing the sum of human hap.. piness.
By which rule we are forbidden,
1. To enjoin unnecessary labour or confinement, from the mere love and wantonness of domination.
2. To insult our servants by harsh, scornful, or opprobrious language.
3. To refuse them any harmless pleasures.
And by the same principle are also forbidden causeless or immoderate anger, habitual peevishness, and groundless suspicion.
CH A P. III.
SL A VERY.
THE prohibitions of the last chapter ex
I tend to the treatment of flaves, being founded upon a principle independent of the contract between masters and servants
I define slavery to be " an obligation to labour “ for the benefit of the master, without the con66 tract or consent of the servant."
This obligation may arise, consistently with the law of nature, from three causes.
1. From crimes.
In the first case, the continuance of the slavery, as of any other punishment, ought to be proportioned to the crime; in the second and third cafes, it ought to cease, as soon as the demand of the injured nation or private creditor is fatisfied,
The Nave-trade upon the coast of Africa is not excufed by these principles. When slaves in that country are brought to market, no questions, I believe, are asked about the origin or justice of the vendor's title. It may be presumed therefore, that this title is not always, if it be ever, founded in any of the causes above assigned.
But defect of right in the first purchase is the least crime, with which this traffic is chargeable. The natives are excited to war and mutual depredation, for the sake of supplying their contracts, or furnishing the market with slaves. With this the wickedness begins. The slaves, torn away from parents, wives, children, from their friends and companions, their fields and flocks, their home and country, are transported to the European settlements in America, with no other accommodation on shipboard, than what is provided for brutes. This is the second stage of cruelty : from which the miserable exiles are delivered, only to be placed, and that for life, in subjection to a dominion and system of laws, the most merciless and tyrannical that ever were tolerated upon the face of the earth: and from all that can be learned by the accounts of people upon the spot, the inordinate authority, which the plantation laws confer upon the slave-holder, is exercised, by the English slave-holder especially, with rigour and brutality. But necessity is pretended; the name under
which every enormity is attempted to be justified. And after all, what is the necessity ? It has never been proved that the land could not be cultivated there, as it is here, by hired servants.. It is said that it could not be cultivated with quite the same conveniency and cheapness, as by the labour of slaves : by which means, a pound of sugar, which the planter now sells for fixpence, could not be afforded under fixpence halfpenny—and this is the necesity.
The great revolution which has taken place in the Western world may probably conduce (and who knows but that it was designed ?) to accelerate the fall of this abominable tyranny : and now that this contest, and the passions which attend it are no more, there may succeed perhaps a season for reflecting, whether a legislature, which had so long lent its assistance to the support of an institution replete with human misery, was fit to be trusted with an empire, the most extensive that ever obtained in any age or quarter of the world.
Slavery was a part of the civil constitution of most countries, when Christianity appeared; yet no passage is to be found in the Christian scriptures, by which it is condemned or prohibited. This is true; for Christianity, soliciting admis