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ther, that what we have quoted from these great authors, is all fudge and nonsense. Liberty is unattainable; and if attainable, not desirable.
Liberty of locomotion, which Blackstone boasts of as one of the rights of Englishmen, belongs to the mass of them less than to other people. For five hundred years the poor laws have confined the poor to their parishes, denied them the right to bargain for their own wages, and as late as 1725, set them up in stalls and shambles for hire, like cattle. Liberty in England, as in Rome and Greece, has been, and is now, the privilege of the few-not the right of the many. But in Rome, Greece, and the Southern States of America, the many have gained in protection what they lost in liberty. In England, the masses have neither liberty nor protection. They are slaves without masters. This right of locomotion, of choosing or changing their domicil, is not only denied to the mass of the poor, but in all countries as well as in England, to wives, to children, to wards, apprentices, soldiers, sailors, convicts, lunatics and idiots. Take, then, this test of liberty, and how little of it is there in England! But, in fact, there is a very large nomadic class of beggars, rogues, and journeymen workmen, who are always wandering, and yet, who are the most wretched members of society and its greatest pests. So much for locomotion.
Great as the difficulty is to determine what is
Liberty, to ascertain and agree on what constitutes Slavery is still greater. Slavery, in its technical form, has been almost universal, yet not exactly alike in all its circumstances and all its regulations in any two ages, or in any two countries. In very many ancient States, the power of life and death was vested in the master. In most countries, the slave cannot acquire or hold property legally. In all, he holds more or less by the permission. In many, his legal right to separate property is protected by law. Even in Cuba, he can compel his master to emancipate him, upon offering an adequate price; and in some cases of irreconcilable disagreement, force his master to sell him to another master. It is remarkable at first view, that in Cuba, where the law attempts to secure mild treatment to the slave, he is inhumanly treated; and in Virginia, where there is scarce any law to protect him, he is very humanely governed and provided for. In Cuba, many of the slaves are savages, and do not elicit the domestic affection of the master, who sees in them little more than brutes. The master is, besides, often an absentee, and tho' overseers be far more humane than Irish rent-collectors, they have neither the interests nor feelings of resident masters. But the most efficient cause of cruelty and neglect, is the African slave trade, which makes it cheaper to buy than to rear slaves. In Virginia, the slaves have advanced much in mo
rality, religion and intelligence, and their masters and mistresses, living on the farm with them, naturally become attached to them. Self-interest, however, is everywhere the strongest motive to human conduct. Negroes are immensely valuable, and in crease rapidly in value and in numbers when well treated. The law of self-interest secures kind and humane treatment to Southern slaves. All the legislative ingenuity in the world will never enact so efficient a law in behalf of free laborers.
During the decline of the Roman Empire, slavery became colonial or prædial. The slaves occupied the place of tenants or serfs, were "adscripti soli," and could only be sold with the farm. Many antiquarians consider the colonial slavery of the Romans as the true origin of the feudal system. This kind of slavery was universal in Europe till a few centuries since, and now prevails to a great extent. The serfs of Russia, Poland, Turkey, and Hungary, are happier and better provided for than the free laborers of Western Europe. They have homes, and lands to cultivate. They work but little, because their wants are few and simple. They are not over-worked and under-fed, as are the free laborers of Western Europe. Hence, they never rise in riots and insurrections, burn houses, commit strikes,-nor do they emigrate.
This form of slavery, however, makes the master an idle absentee, depriving the slaves of his guar
dianship, his government, and his protection. By throwing large masses of the ignorant into exclusive association with each other, it promotes and increases ignorance, negligence and idleness. Men will not improve their condition who have no examples to emulate and no teachers to instruct. Were their farms conducted as ours of the South, the wealthy would have ample employment, and the slaves or serfs find in their masters examples, governors, teachers and protectors.
The right to sell one's children, or one's self, into slavery has been very common, and is now practiced in China. The ancient Germans used to even stake their liberty at games of hazard. This would never have been done, nor would the laws have permitted it, if the situation of the slave had been greatly inferior to that of the free. But how shall we class wives, children, wards, apprentices, prisoners, soldiers and sailors? They are not free, because their personal liberty is controlled by the will of a superior; not by mere law. They are liable to confinement and punishment by their superiors, whose will stands in place of law as to them. They have no right of locomotion like that enjoyed by the free. They have no liberty secured by law;—they are not free. Are they, therefore, slaves?
Paley defines slavery to be, "An obligation to labor for the benefit of the master, without the
contract or consent of the servant." The sick, the superannuated, the infirm, and the infant slaves are under no such obligation in theory or practice. The master is under an obligation, legally, theoretically and practically, to labor for them. Therefore, the master of twenty slaves is always a slave himself. If he be a good man, he is the happier for performing his duties as slave to those classes of his slaves. But what becomes of that slavery of the ancients and of China, where the slave, by actual contract, sells himself? This is not slavery according to Paley.
The great and glaring defect, however, of Paley's definition is, that he omits the obligation on the master to provide for and protect the slave. 'Tis but half of a definition, and that half false. It does often happen that the obligations of the master are more onerous than those of the slave. Yet Paley omits those obligations altogether. The slave, when capable to do so, must work for the master; but the master, at all times, must provide for the slave. If incapable of doing so, the law gives the slave a new master and protector. His situation is less honorable, but far more secure than that of the master. Definitions are perilous attempts. We never read one that a seventy-four with all sail set might not drive through. We shall define nothing ourselves, for we know that this is the