« ForrigeFortsett »
known abilities, and conformably to the sentiments of the govern. ment, which are ours also, upon that subject.
With all our appro. bation of this discourse, in general, we must declare that, in the three or four concluding pages, there is a want of precision, both in thought and language, that ought to be noticed.
In p. 15 his Lordship has this sentence :
“ I cannot think those men profitable servants to their country, nor do I think their country disposed to regard them as friends, who would weaken, in the breasts of Englishmen, the native and rooted love of our boasted government and laws, and direct the fertled allegiance of the happieft people upon earth from the eftablished Sovereignty of Parliament, in which, however, is inseparably bound up the whole of the security, prosperity, and freedom, present and to come, of the British nation."
Surely his Lordship, who is a lawyer, will not, upon considera. tion, think that allegiance is due to the Parliament, in any sense in which Parliament can be used. Allegiance is due, not to the Parliament, but to the Sovereign on the throne, who is the object of the oath of allegiance taken by all Members of Parliament, upon their coming to fit there ; in what sense, then, can allegiance be due to the Parliament of which they are members? And in what sense is the Parliament Sovereign, when the members of it swear allegiance to the King, as their Sovereign? This is all misconception, to say no worse of it; but it may lead to worse; for, a little lower down, his Lordship has these words :
“ The deareft birth-right of Englishmen, which consists, according to me, in the right to be governed by the Parliaments, and by no other human means."
Now, we had always thought, that government was an active principle; and that Parliament, being a deliberative affembly, was not looked up to, as the government of the country, but that the terin executive had been invented, to signify those powers of action, which were reposed in the hands of the King's Ministers, and whici, in the understanding of all men, constitute the government. Hence, “according to us,"' (to use his Lordship's French phrase,) it is the birth-right of Englishmen not to be governed by Parliament, but by “ some other human means," namely, the executive power of the state.
These errors of his Lordship are not merely in language, but in principle, and they are fundamental. He might have expressed him. felf otherwise, and attained the full effect he proposed by his argument. He is contending for the competency of Parliament, to con. lider and determine on the Union; no doubt the two Houses are competent to propound such a measure to the King, and the King is competent to pass any such bill into a law; and all his Lordship wanted was, to maintain such deliberative power in the one, and Sovereign power in the other, without any transfer or participation of allegiance, as seems to be made in the first of the sentences quoted. The true notion of our conftitution is, that the Sovereign power of ,
the state resides in the King; this he exercises sometimes in Parlia. ment, as in the making of laws, by and with the advice and confent of the Lords and Commons; more ordinarily out of Parliament, in carrying on the various concerns of the whole government, with the advice of his Ministers and other officers. Any notion of allegi. ance, or sovereignty, or government, not conformable with this fundamental principle, we venture to pronounce false and unconftitutional; and so we think the two passages quoted from his Lordship’s speech.
It is perceivable, from what his Lordship fays in P. 153, that he values himself upon being an Old Whig; and he passes a proper censure upon the counterfeit Whigs of the present time, as well as the fpurious philosophy and sophistical principles, fo fatal to liberty. We agree with him entirely in this preference, and are glad to see Whiggism, or any thing else, subscribe to maintaining our happy establishment. But we cannot help saying, that if Whiggism gives countenance to such mittakes as his Lordship has been thewn to make, there is a want of correctness
which is very much to be lamented; and we shall, more than ever, recommend persons not to look either to Whigs nor Tories for sound principles, but to that which neither Whigs or Tories seem much to study ; namely, “the conftitution as established by law,” and as it is to be found in public records, and in daily practice. We should not, then, fee fuch errors committed, both in speaking and writing, by persons of rank and consideration. We shall never suffer errors of this gross and unconftitutional character to pass without condemnation,
Art. X. Substance of the Speech of Lord Auckland, in the House
of Peers, April 11, 1799, on the proposed Address to His Ma. jesty, respecting the Resolutions adopted by the iwo Houses of Parliament, as the Basis of an Union between Great Britain
and Ireland. 8vo. Pp. 70. Price is. Wright, London.
THE mode which has lately prevailed of printing Parliamentary orations, replete with political and commercial information, is highly favourable to the propagation of useful knowledge on the one hand, and to the correction of misrepresentations on the other. The speech before us contains a most able disquisition of a most interesting subject, neither weakened by declamatory rant, nor disguised by affected pompofity of diction. It is highly interesting to all who wish to acquire a correct idea of the Irish trade, and of the nature of the commercial connection between the two countries. All the facts which his Lordship adduces, and all the calculations into which he enters, clearly demonstrate the necessity of an Union, and the im. mense advantages which Ireland must derive from such a connection,
Art. XI. The Wrangling Philosophers; or, Volney's Answer to
Doctor Priestley, on his Pamphlet, entitled “ Observations on the Increase of Infidelity,” 7. With Notes by the Editor. 8vo. Pp. 16. Price 6. Chapple, London. 1799.
THIS is a republication of the letter which appeared in our former numbers, with the addition of some notes by the editor, principally relating to the use, or rather misuse, which Mr. Volney has made of Mr. Locke's principles. One of these we shall extract. The author having stated his constant disbelief of every thing he does not comprehend to have originated in the adoption of the fentiments advanced by Locke, in his discussion of the Allociation of Ideas, the editor obferves :
“Much perversion of intellect, we knew, had been occasioned by an hasty and inconfiderate adoption of the crude and undigcfed political tenets of Locke, whose promulgated sentiments on civil government relulted more from a wish to crush an adversary, than from a desire to establish truth; but we were not aware that his religious principles could be so open to misconception, as to be thus publicly urged as the ground of infidelity. We were first difpored to think that Mr. Volney had not read Locke's Cfay on the Human Understanding; but adınitting him to have read it, it is clear, that he did not undertiand it. In the chapter on the Affociation of Ideas, there is nothing which can lead any fober mind to make human comprehension the standard of human belief in spiritual affairs. But there is much to thew the facility with which hunan reason may, by early impresiions, by the force of education, by long custom, by a variety of fortuitous circumstances, in short, be perverted, and rendered wholly inadequate to the purposes for which it was destined by Providence.
“ In the chapter of Reafon,' Locke expret:ly points out cafes in which reafon, that infallible standard of infidels, ' fails us,' and among these he mentions infinity, and the operation of God, which are certainly above human comprehenfion, and yet subjects of human belief that is, to ininds not infected with the philosophism of infidelity. But this rejection of all that exceeds the comprehention of men is, as was before observed, founded in vanity: it results from a mistaken notion, nurtured by pride, that the human mind is the standard of perfection ; and hence, instead of seeking to acquire improvement by elevating itself to a contemplation of the Divine Nature, it arrogantly teeks to reduce omnipotence to a level with its own circumscribed faculties." P.11.
Mr. Volney reprobates adherence to a first received opinion, as productive of fanaticism and falsehood, and scepticism as favourable to the cause of truth, which position draws forth the following re. mark from the editor :
“ Humility is assuredly well suited to the weakness of the human mind; but Mr. Volney seems to confound humility with scepticism, which is, niost commonly, the offspring of arrogance. It is a curious fpecimen of infidel-logic to inter that a man who adheres to a first received opinion must, of necesity, fall into error or falsehood. It has been the constant aim of the modern philoso phers of France to destroy all tettled notions of religion and politics ; to unhinge, as it were, the minds of men, and to keep them in a perpetual ttate of restletine's and doubt. By the success of their schemes, in their own country, they first converted a nation of Christians into a nation of sceptics, and a nation of social beings into a nation of licentious democrats; what has ensued! the sceptics' have become atheists; and the democrats political fanatics. “A Spirit of Doubt,' we make the affertion at the risk of incurring the high displeasure of Mr.
Volney—is neither calculated to make men good subjects nor good Chriftians ; 'while a spirit of confidence' in the divine truths of Revelation will at once render them useful members of society, and qualify them for a better life."
Art. XXXI. Confiderations upon Frauds on the Revenue. Ad.
drefed to the jerious good Sense of the People of Great Britain.
8vo, Pp. 40. Price is: Hatchard, London. 1799. THE conduct of some leading members of Opposition, relative to the triple assessment of last year, and the language of the fame gentlemen in the two great councils of the nation, on the right of tricking the revenue, under the present Income Bill, have arouzed the indignant feelings of a found moralist and learned civilian, who has here inflicted such scourges on these defenders of public fraud as must agonize all those advocates that have not « feared consciences,” This writer traces the source of the general criminal evasion of taxes to the civil wars, the disputed fuccellion, the revolution, and the rebellion which followed it. The Royaliit would not be taxed at Westminster, nor his enemy at Oxford or Newcattle. These, when compared with the present, he confiders as pious frauds, and, during the protectorate, the evasion of the cavaliers cannot be deemed as very criininal. He then proceeds to the other periods, and, defcending to the present times, he observes, that-
“ With the cessation of the cause it might have ceased, had it not become, in every sense, effect, and tendency, the great engine of opposition ; and been nurled, in the spirit of secret hoftility, to Ministers, as it began in avowed hofcility to the Crown." Þ. 17.
This able author then submits, with some degree of confidence, (as he states,) these important questions to the good sense and honeity of the British character :
* Is the present a lawful government, and are we bound to obey and maintain it? Can it be maintained without public contributions ? If we withhold our due proportion, do we not both defraud the government, and íuch of our fellowcitizens as are more just and honourable than ourselves ? Must not the deficicncy of one tax be made up by the produce of another? Do we, therefore, make profit of the whole sum we withhold, or only of a Imall part of it? Is it, therefore, to much for our advantage (even if we escape detection and our fine) to commit this fraud, fince we must contribute to another tax, to supply the deficiency we occasion in this? If we owe duty and allegiance to the government, and are bound to maintain it, and to pay the taxes; if our re'igion commands it ; if reason, common sense, and the experience of all the world, convince us of the neceffity and the right-can we think it no crime to avoid or refuse its performance? Does the levity with which this crime has been treated proceed from a ferious opinion of its innocence, or from malevolence and defign againit a government to which we owe duty and support? Did it originate in any just or formal examination ; did it follow any precedent enquiry or decree ; has it been deciared trifting and venial by any competent authority, or any state, church, council, or even political affembly? Did it not originate in avowed dilatfertion to the Sovereign on the throne, and to the establishment in church and state? Has it any root, but in civil blood, and the worst calamities of our country? Has it been watered by any showers but the tears of hypocrites, or fanned by any breath but that of faction and malevolence? Are those persons good fubiects of the state, or the people's friends, who defend the public crimes, and encourage the people's immorality? Can the state be prosperous, or the
people happy, if the one be cheated and the other guilty? Can the effential quality of crimes be diminished, or be changed by any fashionable or party-mode of contidering them? Is fraud a crime? Is falsehood one? Is perjury? Can we lay this unction to our heart, that we are ready to defraud the government, to which we owe every thing, and incapable of defrauding the customer, or the neighbour, or the ftranger, to whom we owe nothing? Would we, or could we, repofe confidence, or give credit to any one, whom we knew or suspected to have defrauded another? Is there any material difference, if this other is the King or the public? Is it not rather the firft and most incumbent duty to acquit our debe to the state, before even that to an individual? If our duty to our country is ranked in morals even before that to our parents, is not our debt to our country more sacred than what we owe to any other creditor ? Are we not indebted to the ftate the moment we are born? Does not our debt increase with the protection we receive in our helpless state, with our childhood, and our education? Does the state guard our life, even in our mother's womb; does it feed our infancy; does it appoint our guardians, preserve our inheritance, cover us with protection and benefits, and we owe nothing in return? Is it not our own interest and advantage to maintain our benefactor in our turn? And are we not false to one another when we defraud our common parent? Can our private opinion of men or measures alter our public duties to the state? Can success, os failure, or wisdom, or error, in the measures of the government, alter his duty to the subject ? Does being in opposition, or connected with it, induce any right to withhold our contributions, and defraud one another? Was it not defect in the King's title, not disapprobation of his Minifters or his measures, that made the firft defaultes easy and satisfied in their conscience? Do not they, therefore, who affert the right and innocence of defrauding the revenue, imply, and virtually confess, their disaffection to the constitution, and their defire of change? Can any one, confiftently with common sense, (to leave conscience out of the queftion,) refuse support to the constitution, if he acknowledges and loves it? If he acknowledges it to be lawful, and loves it for the benefits he derives from it? Is it not naturally and practically disloyalty to refuse or evade our contingent? Does it not favour the enemy; does it not conspire with the traitor ? If we have no motive in disaffection and hoftility to the government, for refufing our contribution, how can we diftinguish this from any other fraud ? What right, then, can we poffefs, to think of it with levity, if we will not treat every fraud with levity ? and, can the manner of our treating it alter the nature of one crime more than of another?" Pp. 21-25.
We certainly concur in opinion with this writer relative to the moral guilt of cheating the revenue, a crime which has been treated with too much lenity, both by divines and civilians, in our pulpit and our senate. The church has declared no penalty against it, the legislature has not ftamped it with any marks of infamy. But every good man must be convinced that it is not posible to elude our public duties, the duty of “ rendering unto Cæfar the things that be Cæsar's,” without incurring guilt, and the reproaches of a guilty mind. Having shewn that the system of the evasion of taxes originated with the malcontents and rebels, he thus concludes :
“ I trust we shall no longer, in any general and public sense, partake this dirgraceful crime with a few conspirators, as much bencath the virtues of former rebels, as they are in numbers or in talents—Men that can only be compared in their principles, and in genius or abilities, to the Cades, and Straws, and Tylers, of the fourteenth century-men who have not even the merit of invention in their wickedness, but have blindly borrowed, and impudently stolen, their difcoveries from unacquitted felons and philosophers, whom the ignorance and injustice of English juries, four hundred years ago, miftook for traitors, and condemned to be hanged, and drawn, and quartered, upon gibbets, and hurdles, and scaffolds :-Just as if they were not the friends of humanity, and the benefactors