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These contracts for apprentices are made before a magistrate, who regulates the agreement according to reason and justice; and, having in view the forma-. tion of a future useful citizen, obliges the master to engage by a written indenture, not only that, during the time of service stipulated, the apprentice shall be duly provided with meat, drink, apparal, washing and lodging, and at its expiration with a complete new suit of clothes, but also, that he shall be taught to read, write, and cast accounts; and that he shall be well instructed in the art or profession of his master, or some other, by which he may afterwards gain a livelihood, and be able in his turn to raise a family. A copy of this indenture is given to the apprentice or his friends, and the magistrate keeps a record of it, to which recourse may be had, in case of failure by the master in any point of performance. This desire among the masters to have more, hands employed in working for them, induces them to pay the pas sage of young persons of both sexes, who, on their ar rival, agree to serve them one, two, three, or four years; those who have already learned a trade, agreeing for a shorter term, in proportion to their skill, and the consequent immediate value of their service; and those who have none, agreeing for a longer term, in consideration of being taught an art their poverty would not permit them to acquire in their own country.
The almost general mediocrity of fortune that prevails in America, obliging its people to follow some business for subsistence, those vices that arise usually from idleness, are in a great measure prevented. Industry and constant employment are great preservatives of the morals and virtue of a nation. Heuce bad examples to youth are more rare in America, which must be a comfortable consideration to parents. To this may be truly added, that serious religion, under its various denominations, is not only tolerated, but respected and practised Atheisin is unknown there; and infidelity rare and secret; so that persons may live to a great age in that country without having their piety shocked by meeting with
either an athiest or an infidel. And the Divine Pe: ing seems to have manifested his approbation of the inutual forbearance and kindness with which the different sects treat each other, by the remarkable. prosperity with which he has been pleased to favour the whole country.
THOUGHTS ON COMMERCIAL
Qf Embargoes upon Corn, and of the Poor.
IN inland high countries, remote from the sea, and whose rivers are small, running from the country, and not to it, as is the case with Switzerland; great distress may arise from a course of bad harvests, if public graneries are not provided, and kept well stored. Anciently, too, before navigation was so general, ships so plenty, and commercial transactions so well established; even maratime countries might be occasionally distressed by bad crops. But such is now the facility of communication between those countries, than an unrestrained commerce can scarce ever fail of procuring a sufficiency for any of them. If indeed any government is so imprudent as to lay its hands on imported corn, forbid its exportation, or compel its sale at limited prices, there the people may suffer some famine from merchants avoiding their ports. But wherever commerce is known to be always free, and the merchant absolute master of his commodity, as in Holland, there will always be a reasonable supply.
When an exportation of corn takes place, occa. sioned by a higher price in some foreign countries, it
common to raise a clamour, on the supposition that we shall thereby produce a domestic famine. Then follows a prohibition, founded on the imaginary dis tresses of the poor. The poor, to be sure, if in distress, should be relieved; but if the farmer could have a high price for his corn from the foreign demand, must he by a prohibition of exportation be compelled to take a low price, not of the poor only, but of every one that eats bread, even the richest? The duty o relieving the poor is incumbent on the rich; but by this operation the whole burden 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 need relief; and these should be tak n 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 corn, 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.
Of the Effect of Dearness of Provisions upon Working, and upon Manufactures.
The common people do not work for pleasure generally, but from necessity. Cheapness of provisions make them more idle; less work is then done, it is then more in demand proportionally, and of course the price rises. 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 cheaper, and the manufactures in consequence.
Of an Open Trade.
Perhaps, in general, it would be better if govern ment meddled no further with trade, than to protect Most of the statutes of it, and let it take its course. 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 advantages under pretence of public good. When Colbert assembled some of the wise oid 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 politics, who knows the full force of that maxim, Pas trop gouverner, "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 countries 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 in. dustry 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.
Of the Prohibition with respect to the Exportation of Gold and Silver.
Could Spain and Portugal have succeeded in executing their foolish laws for hedging in the cuckoo, as 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 favour from our trade with foreign nations to be paid in money, and laws to prevent the necessity of exporting that money, which if they could be thoroughly executed, would make money as plenty, and of as little value; I say, are not such laws a-kin to those Spanish edicts; follies of the same family.
Of the Returns for Foreign Articles.
In fact, the produce of other countries can hardly e obtained, unless by fraud and rapine, without givng the produce of our land or our industry in ex change 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 for 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