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society. We should then quickly see many useful monuments of our reason, which would much better perpetuate the memory of things worthy of being transmitted to posterity, and would be much more glorious to humanity than all these tumultuous preparations of feasts, entertainments, and other rejoicings used upon such occasions."
The same proposal was long before confirmed by a Chinese emperor, who lived in the last century; who, upon an occasion of extraordinary joy, forbade his subjects to make the usual illuminations, either with a design of sparing their substance, or of turning them to some more durable indications of joy, more glorious for him, and more advantageous to his people.
After such instances of political frugality, can we then continue to blame the Dutch ambassador at a certain court, who receiving, at his departure, the portrait of the king, enriched with diamonds, asked what this fine thing might be worth? Being told that it might amount to about two thousand pounds, “ And why,” cries he, “cannot his majesty keep the picture, and give the money ?" This simplicity may be ridiculed at first; but when we come to examine it more closely, men of sense will at once confess, that he had reason in what he said, and that a purse of two thousand guineas is much more serviceable than a picture.
Should we follow the same method of state frugality in other respects, what numberless savings might not be the result! How many possibilities of saving in the administration of justice, which now burdens the subject, and enriches some members of society, who are useful only from its corruption !
were to be wished, that they who govern kingdoms, would imitate artisans. When at London a new stuff has been invented, it is immediately counterfeited in France. How happy were it for society, if a first minister were equally solicitous to trans
plant the laws of other countries into his own. We are arrived at a perfect imitation of porcelain ; let us endeavor to imitate the good to society that our neighbors are found to practise, and let our neighbors also imitate those parts of duty in which we excel.
There are some men, who in their garden, attempt to raise those fruits which nature has adapted only to the sultry climates beneath the line. We have at our very doors a thousand laws and customs infinitely useful: these are the fruits we should endeavor to transplant; these the exotics that would speedily become naturalized to the soil. They might grow in every climate, and benefit every possessor.
The best and the most useful laws I have ever seen, are generally practised in Holland. When two men are determined to go to law with each other, they are first obliged to go before the reconciling judges, called the peace-makers. If the parties come attended with an advocate or a solicitor, they are obliged to retire, as we take fuel from the fire we are desirous of extinguishing
The peace-makers then begin advising the parties, by assuring them, that it is the height of folly to waste their substance, and make themselves mutually miserable, by having recourse to the tribunals of justice: “follow but our direction, and we will accommodate matters without any expense to either.” If the rage of debate is too strong upon either party, they are remitted back for another day, in order that time may soften their tempers, and produce a reconciliation. They are thus sent for twice or thrice; if their folly happens to be incurable, they are permitted to go to law, and as we give up to amputation such members as cannot be cured by art, justice is permitted to take its course.
It is unnecessary to make here long declamations, or calculate what society would save, were this law adopted. I am sensible, that the man who advises any reformation, only serves to make himself ridiculous. What! mankind will be apt to say, adopt the customs of countries that have not so much real liberty as our own !our present customs, what are they to any man; we are very happy under them; this must be a very pleasant fellow, who attempts to make us happier than we already are! Does he not know, that abuses are the patrimony of a great part of the nation? Why deprive us of a malady by which such members find their account? This, I must own, is an argument to which I have nothing to reply.
What numberless savings might there not be made in both arts and commerce, particularly in the liberty of exercising trade, without the necessary prerequisites of freedom! Such useless obstructions have crept into every state, from a spirit of monopoly, a narrow selfish spirit of gain, without the least attention to general society. Such a clog upon industry frequently drives the poor from labor, and reduces them by degrees to a state of hopeless indigence. We have already a more than sufficient repugnance to labor; we should by no means increase the obstacles, or make excuses in a state for idleness. Such faults have ever crept into a state, under wrong or needy administrations.
Exclusive of the masters, there are numberless faulty expenses among the workmen; clubs, garnishes, freedoms, and suchlike impositions, which are not too minute even for law to take notice of, and which should be abolished without mercy, since they are ever the inlets to excess and idleness, and are the parent of all those outrages which naturally fall upon the more useful part of society. In the towns and countries I have
I never saw a city or village yet, whose miseries were not in proportion to the number of its public houses. In Rotterdam, you may go through eight or ten streets without finding a public house. In Antwerp, almost every second house seems an alehouse. In the one city, all wears the appearance of happiness and warm afilu: ence ; in the other, the young fellows walk about the streets in shabby finery, their fathers sit at the door darning or knitting stockings, while their ports are filled with dunghills.
Alehouses are ever an occasion of debauchery and excess; and either in a religious or political light, it would be our highest interest to have the greatest part of them suppressed. They should be put under laws of not continuing open beyond a certain hour, and harboring only proper persons. These rules, it may be said, will diminish the necessary taxes; but this is false reasoning, since what was consumed in debauchery abroad, would, if such a regulation took place, be more justly, and perhaps more equitably for the workman's family, spent at home; and this cheaper to them, and without loss of time. On the other hand, our alehouses being ever open, interrupt business; the workman is never certain who frequents them, nor can the master be sure of having what was begun, finished at the convenient time.
A habit of frugality among the lower orders of mankind is much more beneficial to society than the unreflecting might imagine. The pawnbroker, the attorney, and other pests of society, might, by proper management, be turned into serviceable members; and, were their trades abolished, it is possible the same avarice that conducts the one, or the same chicanery that characterizes the other, might, by proper regulations, be converted into frugality and commendable prudence.
But some have made the eulogium of luxury, have represented it as the natural consequence of every country that is become rich. Did we not employ our extraordinary wealth in superfluities, say they, what other means would there be to employ it in? To which it may be answered, if frugality were established in the state, if our expenses were laid out rather in the necessaries than the superfluities of life, there might be fewer wants, and even fewer pleasures, but intinitely more happiness. The rich and the great would be better able to satisfy their creditors; they would be better able to marry their children, and instead of one marriage at present, there might be two, if such regulations took place.
The imaginary calls of vanity, which in reality contribute nothing to our real felicity, would not then be attended to, while the real calls of nature might be always and universally supplied. The difference of employment in the subject is what, in reality, produces the good of society. If the subject be engaged in providing only the luxuries, the necessaries must be deficient in pro portion. If, neglecting the produce of our own country, our minds are set upon the productions of another, we increase our wants, but not our means; and every new imported delicacy for our tables, or ornament in our equipage, is a tax upon the
poor. The true interest of every government is to cultivate the necessaries, by which is always meant every happiness our own country can produce; and suppress all the luxuries, by which is meant, on the other hand, every happiness imported from abroad. Commerce has, therefore, its bounds; and every new import, instead of receiving encouragement, should be first examined, whether it be conducive to the interest of society.
Among the many publications with which the press is every day burthened, I have often wondered why we never had, as in other countries, an Economical Journal, which might at once direct to all the useful discoveries in other countries, and spread those of our own. As other journals serve to amuse the learned, or, what is more often the case, to make them quarrel, while they only serve to give us the history of the mischievous world, for so I call our warriors; or the idle world, for so may the learned be called ; they never trouble their heads about the most useful part of mankind, our peasants and our artisans. Were such a work carried into execution with proper management and just