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but to which they ran in crowds to gain money, as soon as Alexander condescended to allow them to settle there. The reverend Dom Calmet says, that we must understand in this passage, “intrinsic servitude,' an explanation which by no means renders it more comprehensible.
Italy, the Gauls, Spain, and a part of Germany, were inhabited by strangers, by foreigners become masters, and natives reduced to serfs. When the bishop of Seville, Opas, and count Julian, called over the Mahometan Moors against the christian kings of the Visigoths, who reigned in the Pyrenees, the Mahometans, according to their custom, proposed to the natives, either to receive circumcision, give battle, or pay tribute in money and girls. King Roderick was vanquished, and slaves were made of those who were taken captive.
The conquered preserved their wealth and their religion by paying; and it is thus that the Turks have since treated Greece except that they imposed upon
the latter a tribute of children of both sexes, the boys of which they circumcise and transform into pages and janissaries, while the girls are devoted to the harems. This tribute has since been compromised for money. The Turks have only a few slaves for the interior service of their houses, and these they purchase from the Circassians, Mingrelians, and nations of Lesser Tartary.
Between the African Mahometans and the European christians, the custom of piracy, and of making slaves of all who could be seized on the high seas, has always subsisted. They are birds of prey who feed upon one another; the Algerines, natives of Morocco, and Tunisians, all live by piracy. The knights of Malta, successors to those of Rhodes, formally swear to rob and enslave all the Mahometans whom they can meet with ; and the galleys of the pope cruise for Algerines on the northern coasts of Africa. Those who call themselves whites and christians proceed to purchase negroes at a good market, in order to sell them dear in America. The Pennsylvanians alone have renounced this traffic, which they account flagitious.*
I read a short time ago at Mount Krapak, where it is known that I reside, a book written at Paris, abounding in wit and paradoxes, bold views and hardihood, resembling in some respects those of Montesquieu, against whom it is written.t In this book, slavery is decidedly preferred to domesticity, and above all to the free labour. This book exceedingly pities those unhappy free men who earn a subsistence where they please, by the labour for which man is born, and which is the guardian of innocence as well as the support of life. It is incumbent on no one, says the author, either to nourish or to succour them; whereas, slaves are fed and protected by their masters like their horses. All this is true; but human beings would rather provide for themselves than depend upon others; and horses bred in the forests prefer them to stables.
He justly remarks, that artisans lose many days in which they are forbidden to work, which is very true; but this is not because they are free, but because ridiculous laws exist in regard to holidays.
He says most truly, that it is not christian charity which has broken the fetters of servitude, since the same charity has rivetted them for more than twelve centuries; and that christians, and even monks, all charitable as they are, still possess slaves reduced to a frightful state of bondage, under the name of ‘mortaillables, mainmortables,' and serfs of the soil.I.
He asserts that which is very true, that christian princes only affranchised their serfs through avarice. It was in fact to obtain the money laboriously amassed
* Happily, that opinion is much extended since the time this article was written ; yet the practice still prevails ; and, owing to the duplicity and insincerity of the French and other governments, will probably long prevail.-T.
+ Theorie des Lois Civiles, par M. Linguet.
# It is unnecessary to add, that the revolution has swept away these intolerable christian scandals.-T.
by these unhappy persons, that they signed their letters of manumission. They did not bestow liberty, but sold it. The emperor Henry V. began: he freed the serfs of Spires and Wurms in the twelfth century. The kings of France followed his example; and nothing tends more to prove the value of liberty than the high price these gross men paid for it.
Lastly, it is for the men on whose condition the dispute turns, to decide upon which state they prefer. İnterrogate the lowest labourer covered with rags, fed upon black bread, and sleeping on straw, in a hut half open to the elements, -ask this man, whether he will be a slave, better fed, clothed, and bedded ; not only will he recoil with horror at the proposal, but regard you with horror for making the proposal. Ask a slave if he is willing to be free, and you
will hear his answer. This alone ought to decide the question.
It is also to be considered, that a labourer may become a farmer, and a farmer a proprietor. In France, he may even become a counsellor of the king, if he acquire riches. In England, he may become a freeholder, or a member of parliament. In Sweden, he may become a member of the national states. These possibilities are of more value than that of dying neglected in the corner of his master's stable,
SECTION III. Puffendorff says, that slavery has been established “by the free consent
opposing parties.”+ I will believe Puffendorff, when he shows me the original contract.
Grotius inquires, whether a man who is taken captive in war has a right to escape; and it is to be remarked, that he speaks not of a prisoner on his parole of honour. He decides, that he has no such right;
* It is very possible for a man to prefer slavery to misery; but this alternative is not a necessary condition of humanity. Moreover, it is possible to be at once a slave and miserable, -French Ed.
+ Book vi. c. 3.
which is about as much as to say, that a wounded man has no right to get cured. Nature decides against Grotius.
Attend to the following observations of the author of the Spirit of Laws, after painting negro slavery with the pencil of Molière
"Mr. Perry says, that the Muscovites sell themselves readily: I can guess the reason--their liberty is worth nothing."
Captain John Perry, an Englishman, who wrote an account of the state of Russia in 1714, says noI thing of that which the Spirit of Laws makes him say.
Perry contains a few lines only on the subject of Russian bondage, which are as follows-—“The czar has ordered, that throughout his states, in future, no one is to be called golup or slave; but only “raab,' which signifies subject. However, the people derive no real advantage from this order, being still in reality slaves.”
The author of the Spirit of Laws adds, that according to captain Dampier, “every body sells himself in the kingdom of Achem.” This would be a singular species of commerce, and I have seen nothing in the voyage of Dampier which conveys such a notion. It is a pity, that a man so replete with wit, should hazard so many crudities, and so frequently quote incorrectly.
It is commonly asserted, that there are no more slaves in France; that it is the kingdom of the Franks, and that slave and Frank are contradictory terms; that people are so free there, many financiers die worth more than thirty millions of francs, acquired at the expense of the descendants of the ancient Franks. Happy French nation to be thus free! But how, in the mean time, is so much freedom compatible with so many species of servitude, as for instance that of the main mort?
Many a fine lady at Paris, who sparkles in her box at the opera, is ignorant that she descends from a family of Burgundy, the Bourbonnais, Franche Comté,
Marche, or Auvergne, which family is still enslaved, mortaillable and mainmortable.
Of these slaves, some are obliged to work three days a week for the lord, and others two. If they die without children, their wealth belongs to the lord; if they leave children, the lord only takes the finest cattle and, according to more than one custom, the most valuable moveables. According to other customs, if the son of a mainmortable slave visits not the house of his father within a year and a day from his death, he loses all his father's property, yet still remains a slave; that is to say, whatever wealth he may acquire by his industry, becomes at his death the property of the lord.
What follows is still better: An honest Parisian pays a visit to his parents in Burgundy and in Franche Comté, resides a year and a day in a mainmortable house, and returning to Paris, finds that his property, wherever situated, belongs to the lord, in case he dies without issue.
It is very properly asked, how the province of Burgundy obtained the nickname of free,' while distin- guished by such a species of servitude? It is without
doubt upon the principle that the Greeks called the furies Eumenides, good-hearts.'
But the most curious and most consolatory circumstance attendant on this jurisprudence is, that the lords of half these mainmortable territories are monks.
If by chance a prince of the blood, a minister of state, or a chancellor, cast his eyes upon this article, it will be well for him to recollect, that the king of France, in his ordinance of the 18th May, 1731, declares to the nation, “ that the monks and endowments possess more than half of the property of Franche Comté."
The marquis d'Argenson, in Le Droit Public Ecclesiastique,' says, that in Artois, out of eighteen ploughs, the monks possess thirteen.
The monks themselves are called mainmortables, and yet possess slaves. Let us refer these monkish possessions to the chapter of contradictions.