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The most obvious difference between the two editions of this voyage is to be found in their size and price. The volumes before us form the handsomer library-book for the man of fortune; and the octavo translation will content the man of moderate income and moderate desires.
ART. IX. A Philosophic Discourse on Providence ; addressed to the
Modern Philosophers of Great Britain. By the Rev. Mr. Archard, Author of the Essay on the French Nobility, &c. 8vo. Johnson. 1798.
is the dictate of revelation, and not the result of rational investigation. That faculty, which enables man to trace out the Almighty by thinking, is insufficient to the discovery of a moral Governor of the world. This important dogma is the gift of heaven.' Yet he maintains, with an apparent contradiction, that the antient stoics inculcated a system so analogous, in many respects, to the Christian scheme of Providence, that it would be difficult for the most acute reasoner to discover any essential difference between them.
* Bath admit (he says) the existence of an infinite series of events predestined from all eternity: both inculcate a cheerful and unqualified submission to the various dispensations of heaven. In these their great outlines, the two theories agree ; in other respects they differ. What is speculation only in the one, is certainty in the other. Ia sioicism we have only the hypothetical, though sublime, conclusions of philosophy; in Christianity we have the infallible dictates of revelation. In the one, obedience is recommended from a sense of propriely; in the other it is enforced from the prospect of future rewards and punishments. In a word, the two theories appear similar in their leading principles-dissimilar in their sanctions.'
Whence, it may be naturally inquired, could this system originate? If reason be inadequate to the discovery of a moral Providence, how could so sublime a theory as the system of stoicism be formed? The author imagines that it was first suggested by the harmony that prevails in the natural worldas all, even the smallest, of the co-existent parts of the universe, conspire to form one great harmonious whole.
So, says Antoninus, all, even apparently the most insignificant, of the successive events which follow one another, make parts, and necessary parts, of that great chain of causes and effects which had no beginning, and which will have no end.' Excellent as this system seems to have been, however, it was nothing else, says the author, 'than a sublime and ingenious fiction.'
• With regard to moral sublimity, the two systems, that of Christianity and that of Stoicism, are nearly co-ordinate. But the Christe Rev. May, 1799.
ian has a superior claim to our approbation, on account of its supe rior sanctions. On this ground rests its superiority over all human systems, and on this ground, morally and politically speaking, it recommends itself to you, my friends, who should all, for the sake of peace, for the sake of social harmony, in detestation of anarchy, and in imitation of the great examples of antiquity, constantly assert, at all times and in all places a pairibus acceptos Deos placet coli. Let this Ciceronian principle be your motto; let it be your polar star as often as you are engaged inter sylvas Academi quærere
verum.' Without discussing the origin of the stoical system, or inquiring how far the powers of reason might exert themselves independently of revelation, and more especially with the assistance which they might have derived from it by means of tradition, we cannot forbear protesting against the unrestricted and unqualified conclusions suggested by the author in the paragraph last cited; and which is more particularly deserving of notice, because it is more diffusely inculcated'in another part of this discourse. We allow, with him, that the belief of a moral Providence, whencesoever it was derived, very generally prevailed. This belief originating, as some may say, in a false conception of the Divine Omnipotence, and fostered in after-ages by human policy, has spred itself with the spreading of civil society, and maintains, at this day, an undisputed empire over the mind.' Admitting this to be the case, that men entertain erroneous notions of the doctrine of Providence, or of the reasons on which the belief of it is founded, are we prohibited by a rational and laudable policy from a calm and sober discussion of the subject ? Mr. Archard seems to intimate that a discussion, which extends itself to the lower orders of society, is dangerous and prejudicial.
« Of the various classes that compose a community, the far greater. part, from their very situation and its attendant privations, are doomed to a state of ignorance or moral imbecility. These have no principles; they have only prejudices, which the wise will smile at, or lament, but which the statesman must always respect.'--' It should seem, therefore, viewing man as he really is in society, that there is a certain link in the social chain, beyond which speculative science is not communicable, or cannot be communicated for any good purpose. Where speculative science ends, the empire of religious science begins. Truths or propositions of this latter kind are analogous with the grossness of vulgar intellect; they are palpable; they are, as it were, targible, and find their way into the hearts and understandings of those pour individuals, who, involved in even more than Egyptian darkness, must either be coerced or allured to become good citizens, by the servile motives of future rewards and punishments. Hence it is, that religiors establishments are coeval with the formation of civil society, and that history has not yet exhibited to our view a people that had kot a popular religion. Now to expose the unreasonableness of sucha
on Providence. religions, when their effects are good; or to endeavour to weaken the popular confidence'; would be doing an irreparable injury to the state, and to those poor individuals :-to the individuals, by unhinging their confidence in that system, which alone can administer consolation to their unenlightened and desponding' minds, and to the state, by raising and diffusing a spirit of wild and unprincipled independence.
Toʻmuch the same purpose, are the sentiments which occur in the following paragraph:
" When the emperor Theodosius proposed to the Roman senate the substitution of Christianity in the place of the religion of their fathers, the proposition was negatived, from the consideration, that Rome had flourished twelve hundred years under the protection of ker gods, and had enjoyed, during that period,' every' kind of prosperity. An answer this, which could only have been suggested by the most refined policy, arising from enlarged views of human nature. For what is man but the creature of habit, or of early impressions ; and if the habits, which he has contracted, though originating in false principles, have a tendency to meliorate the individual, and render him a good member of civil society, what legislator, or legislative body, can, without incurring the imputation of ignorance or impolicy, attempt to weaken or suspend the influence of those habits, by the introduction of a new order of things, which, at best, could only operate the same effects, but which, in its progress towards stability, might expose the state to all the horrors of intestine war. For these reasons Socrates was a Conformist, the Roman Senate were Conformists, and the initiated of all countries and of all ages, have ever been and will be Conformists'
The reader will indulge his own reflections on this kind of reasoning. To us it seems to be adapted to obstruct every kind of inquiry and improvement, and if mankind in former ages had been influenced by it, Christianity could never have been introduced into the world the reformation must have been stifled in its birth; --and the empire of ignorance and superstition must have been universal and perpetual. Wherever that accommodating spirit prevails, which the author seems to us to vindicate and recommend, integrity can resist no trial, and can have no sufficient encouragement and support. Those who have suffered, in any period of time, or in any nation of the world, on account of attachment to their principles, and who have been generally honoured both by contemporaries and posterity, have been chargeable' with'a degree of 'folly which would excite the sneer or the anathema of the initiated. Confore mity to the religion of the state, whatsoever it be, and in whatever country our lot is cast, is our wisdom and duty; and we are allowed, nay. we are required, to profess the national faith, whatever
may be our private sentiments. If we belong to the author's 'class of initiated persons, we shall have no
scruples to perplex and distress our minds. We shall be prepared to make any submission, which convenience or interest may require; and by degrees our supple consciences will raise no obstacles in the way of our conformity to any religious system, however unscriptural or irrational.
In any state of society, it is the duty of the members of it to adopt, for their motto and guide, a maxim of higher autho. rity than that of Cicero which the author recommends; we mean, let every man be fully persanded in his own mind; and no anarchy nor disorder can be apprehended from the uncontrol. led exercise of the understanding in the province of religion ; nor even from those alterations and improvements in national creeds and forms, which the progress of inquiry and knowlege may demand.
Art. X. Flora Bedfordiensis; comprehending such Plants as grow
wild in the County of Bedford, arranged according to the System of Linnus; with occasional Remarks. By Charles Abbot, M. A. F. L. S. Vicar of Oakley Raynes in Bedfordshire. 8vo. 6s. 6d. Boards. Robinsons. 1798. OWEVER
containing an account of those plants only which grow in a narrow district, can be attended with much general utility, we believe that there are very few botanists who will not allow that the natural history of this country is deeply indebted to the truly valuable Flora Cantabrigiensis, published by the learned but unfortunate Mr. Relhan; and if we turn our eyes for a moment to the books on this subject which hold the highest rank on the Continent, we shall find few more esteemed than those of which the limits are bounded by a circle almost as contracted as that now before us. Bedfordshire, though one of the smallest among the English counties, contains a wonderful diversity of soil, and necessarily an almost equal diversity of plants; the number described by Mr. Abbot being 1225, whereas the Flora Cantabrigiensis, including its three supplements, comprises only 1211; a difference which, though in itself trifling, may be considered as very great, when we reflect that no part of this kingdom has been so thoroughly examined as the latter, and that, Mr. Abbot has taken ground little trodden by botanic feet, where he has been almost entirely obliged to rely “ 5110 marte." The Flora Bedfordiensis, as it is observed in the preface, is not intended to be a copy of either Dr. Sibthorpe's or Mr. Relhan's work, but to hold an intermediate place: nothing but the specific descriptions being given to the plants, except where the author has himself observed any thing remarkable. Though these observations do not occur sufficiently often, they are for the most part very neat; and we were much pleased to find them most frequent in the class Cryptogamia : particularly in the genus Agaricus, where some little note is subjoined to almost every species ; which cannot but tend to throw considerable light on a subject that, till within a very few years, has been considered as a disgrace to science,-a mere
it HO may
-“ Pondus iners, congestaque eodem
Non bene junclarum discordia semina rerum.” Ovid. Metam. Mr. Abbot has followed the example set by some authors in the Linnæan Transactions, of occasionally adopting our own language for natural history; as a motive for which, he alleges his desire to render his work intelligible to his fair countrywomen. We join with him most sincerely in a wish to promote, among the ladies of Britain, a taste for the beauties of natural history; by devoting their leisure to which, they would be prompted to exercise their neglected talents, and to abstract their minds from those frivolous amusements, which their imperfect education often enables to take a fast hold of them. Perhaps, however, there is not so much difference in the difficulty of learning the two tongues; for stigma, whether used as a Latin or English word, is equally incomprehensible to an unlettered ear; and ovate appears to us nearly as difficult to be understood as ovation.
The preface is written in a pleasant style ; and we were extremely gratified to find that, while the author acknowleges his obligations to those friends who have assisted him, he does not forget to introduce a most affectionate remembrance of his wife: to the truth of which we can add our testimony, as we have seen a few specimens expanded by Mrs. Abbot, and can safely say that we have seldom known their rivals in beauty, never their superiors.
The work is neatly printed, and is ornamented with six plates; which do not seem to us well chosen, as four of them have already appeared in Mr. Sowerby's English Botany and English Fungi, two books with which few British botanists are unac: quainted. The plants figured are, Alchemilla vulgaris, Convalla. ria majalis, Viola palustris, Hydnum imbricatum, Peziza cornucopioides, and Lycoperdon carpobolus : but, though these are for the most part rarely found wild in our island, surely it is unpardonable to figure plants so common in every garden.-- It would have been better to have given plates either of those which the author first discovered ; or, at all events, of some which have not yet been published in this country. F 3