Page images
PDF
EPUB

cure your love of sin, -would it not deter you from the practjce of it? But' suppose this person were familiarly acquainted with all your wishes, with every imagination of your heart, what would you do? Whither would you go? Perhaps exasperated at length, you turn to bid the officious stranger defiance. But suppose at that moment of your impotent rage he assume the appearance which struck Saul of Tarsus to the ground; suppose he at onco appeared bright as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners; would not the joints of your loins be loosened r would not your knees smite one against another? But what T have supposed is actually the case; the invisible God follows you, he is the mysterious stranger, he knows thy down-sitting, and thy up-rising; and hast thou been resisting him I hast thou been trampling on his laws? then he is thine enemy, an omnipotent enemy constantly behind thee, armed with the sword of vengeance: O, sinner, he may strike, his patience may be wearied: what wilt thou do if his wrath be kindled but a little ;—unhappy man khou: canst not escape—there is but one expedient—" acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace." The God who is a spirit, is also merciful; "God is love," he pities thee, he has long sought thee in kindness. Thou hast made him a stranger, he is now waiting to be gracious; he offers thee pardon; " Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salva-ion."

Art. XIX. The Dangers of the Country. By the Author of War in Disguise, 8vo. pp. 227. Price 5s. Butterworth. 1807.

Art. XX. Nezu Reasons for abolishing the SlaveTrnde; being the last Section of a larger Work now first published, entitled The Dangers of the Countiy. pp. 67. Price Is. 6d. Butterwoith. 1807.

""THE idea of clanger, in any case, is, strictly, an estimate of the supposed evil, divided by the probability of its occurrence. It is therefore evident, that even the certainty of a small evil, may be far less important, than a small chance of incurring a very great one. Where the chance, however, is either small or indefinite, we have lamentable proof every day that mankind are disposed to neglect the possible evil, though its magnitude should be infinite. This apathy, with regard to the welfare of Britain, our patriotic author earnestly deprecates, and labours to dispel. The probability of invasion, and still more of conquest, by a French force, way be comparatively small; but if there be a possibility, an assignable chance, of either event, the nature of its consequences should be distinctly understood, that the danger may be duly appreciated, and the efforts to prevent it may not be disproportionately feeble. A time like the present, is no season for frivolous security, with respect to the chance, or stupified terror, with respect to the calamity; the interval between the menace and the blow, demands vigilance* prudence, and vigour; and he is the genuine patriot, who mouses to foresee, who instructs to avert, who animates to repel, the horrors which yet threaten at a distance. "Oh for that warning voice," might be the motto for this eloquent

pamphlet 5 whose object is to fortify the public mind against that lethargic indifference, which has so often closed the eye* of a devoted nation, and, even iu the crisis of difficulty* unstrung the sinews of resistance.

With this view, the author has drawn a most impressive and awfully accurate pictureof the ruin, which must result from the events which he presumes to be possible and not very unlikely; and in thus describing the dreadful magnitude of those evils, which are vaguely conceived,or inconsideratelydepreciated, he hasprovidedthe strongest inducements to undertake vigorously, and endure with patience, the toils and hardships which constitute the means of safety. This prospective representation is divided into several sections: the usurpation of the throne— the overthrow of the constitution—subversion of liberty and laws—destruction of the funds and general ruin of property—• extent and effects of exactions—merciless and lawless government—subversion of religious liberties—corruption of morals. These various parts of the sketch are filled up with a force, a fidelity, and a warmth of colouring, which no detached paragraph can adequately represent to the reader. We confess it has highly interested us; yet we have sometimes wished, that the scenes had been depicted in a style more chaste and sober, yet equally bold and distinct. Where some decisive action is to' be instantly consecutive, it may be well to stimulate the passions ; but in cases which allow time to recover from this excitement, the faculties relapse into listless debility, despise the intoxication, and sometimes loath the cause of it. We do not condemn the tone of exaggeration and rhetorical vehemence because the effect will be too powerful, but because it will necessarily be transient. If there are persons whom it will rouse, to feel and fear, those are exactly the persons on whom such an influence is become necessary. We see no barm in the diffusion £ven of alarming truth, among the giddy and indifferent; invasion and conquest are not the more probable because their consequences are truly represented as terrific; on the contrary, to pourtray the evil accurately, is to reduce its probability, by calling into active operation every moral and physical resource to avert it. ,

In a few minute particulars of this general calamity, we have thought the author had imprudently assumed some questionable positions. There are miseries enough to apprehend, with-out supposing that a victorious enemy would endeavour to establish popery in this country, and subvert the protestant faith. What ground is there to expect it from the fate of any of his victims? or from the treatment which the prorestants have met with in France? Without presuming any thing in favour of Napoleon's personal religion, we see no reason to. think that he is a bigot to any creed, even to the creed of infidelity. Infidels, it is true, have always shewn more tenderness toward superstitions which they despised, like those of popery and paganism, than to any system of religion which pretended to he rational; but we do not believe that this lawless and ambitious warrior, is an enemy to Christianity. Frederick II. was a man of far more dangerous character: yet even he was too wise to persecute for religious opinions.

Our moral estimate, however, of this extraordinary man, may not reuch higher than the Author's; we warmly recommend the description of Napoleon, to his enemies, as a feast, and to his friends, if he has friends, as a medicine. Having happily described the character of Toussaint, our author ex-* claims-^

• Who that ever pretended to the'appellation of Great, except the vile Bonaparte, could have torn such a captive from his beloved family, and thrown Jiim into a dungeon to perish 1! A Csesar or Alexander would have honoured, aTimur or an Attila would have spared, him; but it was his hard Jot to fall into the hands of an enemy, who adds to the ferocity of a savage, the apathy of a sceptic, and the baseness of a sham renegado.

When we add to this want of every generous and elevated sentiment, the numberless positive crimes against humanity, justice, and honour, by which Napoleon is disgraced, it seems astonishing, and is truly opprobrious to the moral taste of the age, that he should still find any admirers.

Let us distinguish and revere the appropriate justice of Heaven. We would have morals without religion; and God has sent us ambition without dignity in return. We admire talents more than morals ; and he has chastised us by means of a mind born to illustrate the pestilent effects of their disunion. We have rebelled against him, by opposing publicly to his laws the idolatrous worship of expediency; and he has put the scourge into a, hand which dishonours, while it chastises our proud and boastful age.' pp, 103—105.

The second part of the pamphlet is devoted to an investigation of the means, by which these calamities are to be avertv ed. The author avows his disapprobation of the late sincere, we believe, but unsuccessful effort of tlie British Government to negotiate a peace; not that he is a friend to war, not that he js a haughty asserter of the honour and glory of Britain.in the terms of pacification, but that he conceives a safe peace, in $he present state of Europe, to be utterly impracticable. His objections to any treaty with Bonaparte, are, "that it will enable him to prepare new means for our destruction ;—it cannot abate his inclination to use them ;—it can bring us no security what, ever against his pursuing a hostile and treacherous conduct towards us." On the other hand, there are some obvious questions which the author will be expected to answer; have we not tried war long enough? can we promise ourselves better •uccess? shall we continue to maintain a defensive war at incal

l'

culable expense, while our enemy is making conquests at the cost of the vanquished? To this it is replied, If the continent be lost irrecoverably, we may well look to the security of Britain; peace affords us no hope of redeeming the one, or protecting the other. Whatever be the financial difficulties of war, a peace cannot prevent them; a peace in which it would be madness to disarm, and in which our commerce must be ruined. The. increase of such a power as that of France is not so much to be feared, as its consolidation. "The momentum of the vast machine, even on its present scale, is more than we can hope finally to resist; but every enlargement of its dimensions, and multiplication of its intricate movements, increases its tendencies to interior derangement, and therefore, without adding to our immediate peril, improves our chance of escape."

The author proceeds to point out four principal means of de»~ fence, military vigour, patience, unanimity, reformation. His notice is niostiy confined to the first and last of these particulars, and his speculations on each will be found important and highly worthy of attention. He believes, with great reason, that the successes of the French are to be ascribed in a considerable measure to the juvenility of their troops; "they have wisely turned war, (as he observes) from a minuet into a race; for they are sure that their veteran enemies will be first Out of breath." It is therefore recommended to promote, in the most yigorous manner, the enlargement of the irregular force, by the enrollment chiefly of young men, and to compel the attainment of far greater discipline and expertness, than have hitherto been general- There is another consideration in military matters, which is so common among the people of England, that we are surprised it should be so much overlooked by her statesv men, and even by our author:—Of what description are the officers of the British Army, and especially of the irregular force? What kind of education do they receive? What are the qualifications for obtaining a company and a regiment? Their bravery is never disputed; of this their passion for duels, iu courageous defiance of divine and human sanctions, is a notable specimen; but is the expertness of an engineer and a tactician, as easily acquired, or even as carefully sought, as that of an excellent.shot ?—But considerations of this nature, important as they are, even to such ignorant querists, belong less to the critic, than to the war minister.

We therefore pass on to a very different discussion,—a discussion, which, as might be presumed, we perceive, with no small satisfaction, in a political pamphlet. Leaving all other branches of reform to other advocates, our author proclaims the Slave Trade to be one of the most awful symptoms of national danger, and urges its abolition, to propitiate Divine Mercy, as one of the most efficacious means of defence. These "New Reasons," are published separately, in order to obtain more distinct and immediate attention to this topic. Not satisfied with a simple recognition, or assumption, of the principle, that nations are treated in the dispensations of Providence, as responsible bodies, (for on this his arguments are obviously founded) he exhibits a forcible proof and application of thatprinciple.

t Never, to be sure, can phenomena more strikingly support any hypothesis of this kind, than the.dates, the nature, and the extent, of our public calamities, the opinion that they are providential chastisements for the slave trade.—A guilty, though highly-favoured people, are called upon to renounce a criminal and cruel, but long-established practice, as repugnant to the laws of God.—They hear—deliberate—disobey. While they still hesitate, a tremendous scourge is weaving for them in a neighbouring land— the moment they actually disobey, that scourge commences its inflictions.

«The abolition of the Slave Trade was first virtually refused by Parltaliament, in April, 17,92. Immediately, We were engaged in those stormy contentions within the realm, and those disputes with France, which soon terminated in the last calamitous war.- In February, 1793, the House of Commons more openly and clearly declared against reformation, by postponing for six months a motion made by Mr. Wilberforce, for going into a Committee on the Slave Trade; which was in effect to refuse even the gradual abolition voted in the preceding year.—In the Same month, a sword was definitely drawn, which was not during nine years returned to its scabbard; and which is now redrawn, perhaps to be sheathed no more till England has ceased to exist.—Within that period of six months, during which the claims of justice and mercy were contemptuously adjourned, events took place in France, fertile to us of unprecedented evils, as we already feel; and perhaps decisive of our fate.

• We have since gone on in the same path, rejecting motion upon .motion, and bill after bill, upon the same obdurate principles; and a chastising providence has kept pace with our temerity; heaping misfortune on misfortune, and adding danger to danger. As we multiplied and aggravnted the impious crime, God multiplied and aggravated the punishment. Treason, famine, mutiny, civil war, the loss of our specie, the sale of our land tax, the enormous growth of our national debt, the intolerable pressure of taxation, the discomfiture of our military enterprises, the destruction of our armies by disease, the deplorable ruin of our allies, the stupendous exaltation of our enemies; these and other plagues followed, like those of Egypt, in a rapid succession, upon every iteration of our refusals to obey the voice of Godj by renouncing the execrable Slave-trade.

'We obtained at length a breathing time of peace; but we were still contumacious to the behests of the Almighty; for such, I dare to call the plain demands of justice and humanity. He sent us therefore a new war; and tremendous have been its events.

« PreviousContinue »