Изображения страниц

haps he may find another way of employing his talents for irony, if he is really in joke.


3. The View and Conduct of a Minifier of the Gospel reprefented-At Lewin's Mead, Briftol, May 28, 1776, in an Affembly of Proteftant Diffenting Minifters of different Denominations, and published at their Requeft. By John Ward. 8vo. 6d. Printed for Cadell at Briftol, and fold in London by Johnson.

Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be faved: from thefe, words the Preacher takes occafion to vindicate the character of the apostle Paul from the charge of selfishness and criminal accommodation to the humours and tempers of men; and then to recommend his example as an excellent model of imitation. The fpirit of the Preacher is equally liberal and pious;. his reafoning juft and forcible; and his addrefs, animated and affectionate.

II. The Importance of Sincerity in Public Worship to Truth, Morals, and Chriflianity-Preached Feb. 25, 1776, before the the Society at the Octagon Chapel, Liverpool, explaining the Views with which their Liturgy was compofed, the Reasons for laying it afide, and for their Union with the Proteftant Diffentors at Benn's Garden. By N. Clayton. 8vo. 6d. Liverpool printed. Sold in London by Dilly.

A rational representation of the nature and defign of public worship; concluding with an account of the first introduction of a liturgy at the Octagon chapel, and an apology for the difcontinuance of it, in order to an union with a neighbouring congregation. As this is a local concern, we shall not trouble our Readers with particulars. III. The Remembrance of our Creator in the Days of our Youth, opened

and enforced-On the Death of Mr. Thomas Wilton, who departed this Life, Aug. 5, 1776, in the 31st Year of his Age. By Tho. mas Gibbons, D. D. To which is added, the Addrefs at the Interment, by Abraham Booth. 8vo. 6d. Buckland.

[ocr errors]



N the Review for laft September, at page 210, you say, “ and there we find that the temple of Pandrofus was near the Propy lea." Here instead of Pandrofus, the Reviewer of this article should have faid Aglaurus. This learned Reviewer fhould be reprimanded for his carelessness; which is the more cenfurable, as in the note referred to by the afterifm, he has given the name as it ought to have been written in the text. Yours, &c.

Oa. 18, 1776.

At a General Court of Criticifm held, by the Worshipful Society of
Monday, Oct. 21, 1776,


That the Reviewer of Dr. Chandler's Travels in Greece, a Member of this Society, be reprimanded for his carelessness; and he is hereby reprimanded. TB. Secretary.

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

ART. I. A Fragment on Government; being an Examination of what is delivered on the Subject of Government in general, in the Introduction to Sir William Blackstone's Cominentaries; with a Preface, in which is given a Critique on the Work at large. 8vo. 3 s. 6 d. Payne. 1776.


HOUGH we are fufficiently fenfible that nothing can be more destructive of the freedom of criticifm, or a greater obftruction to the progrefs of fcience, than a tame fubmiffion to the authority of illuftrious names; though we acknowledge that it is much to be defired that critics would always fteadily adhere to the character which they profefs to affume, Nullius additus jurare in verba magiftri; it always gives us pain, when the refpect which is due to diftinguifhed merit is violated, and thofe on whom the general voice of the Public has bestowed deferved applaufe, are treated with contempt. The Author of the Commentaries on the Laws of England has undoubtedly rendered fuch important fervices to his country, by teaching the law to speak the language of the scholar and the gentleman,' as certainly entitle him to decent treatment even from his opponents. If in the fcience of ethics and natural law, this ingenious Writer hath not fhewn himself a perfect adept; if in the execution of his extenfive and difficult undertaking, he has fallen into fome mistakes, or advanced fome doubtful or erroneous pofitions; it muft neverthelefs be acknowledged, that he is an able master of the fcience of which he treats, and that his work is, on the whole, exceedingly judicious and useful: and this ought, furely, to have been a fufficient protection from infult.

We cannot therefore avoid expreffing our difguft at the feverity with which the juftly admired Commentator is treated in the critique now before us. In order to convict him of obfcuVOL. LV. Ꮓ


rity and inaccuracy, this anonymous Writer has taken much pains -it must be owned, with fome ingenuity-to analyse those paffages in the introduction to his work which treat of the fubject of Government in general: and has ferutinized every word and idea with a degree of rigour, which few even of the most admired writings would be able to endure. The more effectually to accomplish his purpose, he freely employs the weapons of ridicule, and even fometimes condefcends to adopt the language of illiberal fufpicion and abufe: particularly where, after expreffing his approbation of the cenfure which Sir W. B. had paffed on fome articles in the English law, he intimates a doubt concerning the authenticity of the paffage.

So little, fays he, are these particular remarks of a piece with the general difpofition that fhews itself fo ftrongly through the work that I can scarce bring myself to attribute them to our Author. Not only disorder is announced by them, but remedies, well imagined remedies are pointed out, One would think that fome angel had been fowing wheat among our Author's tares."

After having thus freely expreffed our difapprobation of the temper with which the work is written, we muft, in justice to the Author, proceed to remark, that he has difcovered a confiderable share of fagacity and penetration, and that many of his obfervations are fuch as merit the attention of the Public, and will probably not be thought unworthy of notice by the Author of the Commentaries. In the preface we meet with fenfible remarks on the right of individuals to scrutinize and censure the laws of their country; and on the most natural arrangement of the materials for a digeft of law. In the body of the work the Author diftinctly examines Sir W. Blackstone's obfervations concerning government, under the following heads; the formation of government; the forms of government; the British conftitution; the right of the fupreme power to make laws; the duty of the fupreme power to make laws.

It would lead us beyond the limits we are obliged to prefcribe to ourfelves, to enter at large into the merits of our Author's critique. Leaving the caufe in the able hands to which it more properly belongs, we fhall therefore content ourselves with laying before our Readers the following extract, on the interefting fubject of the original compact between governors and the governed.

A compact, it is faid, was made by the king and people : the terms of it were to this effect. The people, on their part, promised to the king a general obedience. The king, on his part, promifed to govern the people in fuch a particular manner always, as should be fubfervient to their happiness. I infift not on the words: I undertake only for the fenfe; as far as an


Imaginary engagement, fo loofely and fo varioufly worded by thofe who have imagined it, is capable of any decided fignification. Affuming then, as a general rule, that promifes, when made, ought to be obferved; and, as a point of fact, that a promise to this effect in particular had been made by the party in queftion, men were more ready to deem themselves qualified to judge when it was fuch a promife was broken, than to decide directly and avowedly on the delicate queftion, when it was that a king acted fo far in oppofition to the happiness of his people, that it were better no longer to obey him.

It is manifeft, on a very little confideration, that nothing was gained by this manoeuvre after all: no difficulty removed by it. It was ftill neceffary, and that as much as ever, that the question men ftudied to avoid fhould be determined, in order to determine the queftion they thought to fubftitute in its room. It was ftill neceflary to determine, whether the king in queftion had, or had not, acted fo far in oppofition to the happinefs of his people, that it were better no longer to obey him; in order to determine, whether the promife he was fuppofed to have made, had or had not been broken. For what was the fuppofed purport of this promife? It was no other than what has just been mentioned.

Let it be faid, that part at leaft of this promife was to govern in fubfervience to law: that hereby a more precife rule was laid down for his conduct, by means of this fuppofal of a promife, than that other loofe and general rule to govern in fubfervience to the happiness of his people: and that, by this means, it is the letter of the law that forms the tenor of the rule. Now true it is, that the governing in oppofition to law, is one way of governing in oppofition to the happiness of the people the natural effect of fuch a contempt of the law being, if not actually to deftroy, at least to threaten with deftruction, all thofe rights and privileges that are founded on it rights and privileges on the enjoyment of which that happiness depends. But ftill it is not this that can be fafely taken for the entire purport of the promise here in queftion: and that for feveral reasons. First, because the most mifchievous, and under certain conftitutions the moft feasible, method of governing in oppofition to the happinefs of the people, is, by fetting the law itfelf in oppofition to their happiness. Secondly, because it is a cafe very conceivable, that a king may, to a great degree, impair the happinefs of his people without violating the letter of any fingle law. Thirdly, becaule extraordinary occafions may now and then occur, in which the happiness of the people may be better promoted by acting, for the moment, in oppofition to the law, than in fubfervience to it. Fourthly, becaufe

it is not any fingle violation of the law, as fuch, that can pro perly be taken for a breach of his part of the contract, so as to be understood to have releafed the people from the obligation of performing theirs. For, to quit the fiction, and resume the language of plain truth, it is fcarce ever any fingle violation of the law that, by being fubmitted to, can produce fo much mil chief as fhall furpafs the probable mischief of refifting it. If every fingle inftance whatever of fuch a violation were to be deemed an entire diffolution of the contract, a man who reflects at all would fcarce find any where, I believe, under the fun, that government which he could allow to fubfift for twenty years together. It is plain, therefore, that to pass any found decifion upon the question which the inventors of this fiction substituted instead of the true one, the latter was still neceffary to be decided. All they gained by their contrivance was, the convenience of deciding it obliquely, as it were, and by a fide wind-that is, in a crude and hafty way, without any direc and steady examination.

But, after all, for what reafon is it, that men ought to keep their promises? The moment any intelligent reason is given, it is this: that it is for the advantage of fociety they fhould keep them; and if they do not, that, as far as punishment will go, they fhould be made to keep them. It is for the advantage of the whole number that the promises of each individual fhould be kept; and, rather than they should not be kept, that fuch individuals as fail to keep them should be punished. If it be afked, how this appears? the answer is at hand-Such is the benefit to gain, and mifchief to avoid, by keeping them, as much more than compenfates the mischief of fo much punishment as is requifite to oblige men to it. Whether the dependence of benefit and mifchief (that is, of pleasure and pain) upon mens conduct in this behalf, be as here stated, is a queftion of fact, to be decided in the fame manner that all other queftions of fact ought to be decided, by teftimony, obfervation, and experience.

[ocr errors]

6 This then, and no other, being the reafon why men should be made to keep their promifes, viz. that it is for the advantage of fociety that they fhould, is a reason that may as well be given at once, why kings, on the one hand, in governing, hould in general keep within established laws, and (to speak univerfally) abftain from all fuch measures as tend to the unhappiness of their fubjects and, on the other hand, why subjects should obey kings as long as they fo conduct themselves, and no longer; why they fhould obey in fhort fo long as the probable mifchiefs of obedience are lefs than the probable mifchiefs of refiftance: why, in a word, taking the whole body together, it is their duty to obey, juft fo long as it is their in



« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »