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But, however the invention was suggested, it must on all hands be acknowledged, that it possesses as large a share of mechanical excellence as any single contrivance whatsoever ; and does as much credit to the ingenuity of the inventor...
On the whole, when we look back on what is here so improperly called a description of the steam engine, and which, in reality, is nothing else than a coarse and illiberal invective against the inventor, full of hints and surmises that cannot be supported, or of affirmations that can be completely disproved ;-though we can form some notion of the motives by which the author was actuated, we are utterly at a loss to discover those by which the editor was influenced, or to find out any argument by which he can justify his conduct. Had the memoir he has now chosen to give to the world contained any valuable and new information, the manner, however clumsy and rude, might have been overlooked ; though the attempt to do injustice ought not, even on that account, to have been tolerated. But we can perceive no inducement whatever for the insertion of the memoir. Considered as a description of a mechanical contrivance, it is exceedingly defective; its parts are ill arranged, and loosely connected; the reasonings vague, and the information inaccurate; so that it is in every thing a model of the taste, temper, and style which ought carefully to be avoided by any one who would explain the principles, or relate the history of improvements, whether in science or in art.
The man who countenances such illiberal proceedings, not only injures an individual, but, in reality, does all he can to obstruct the progress of those improvements which he professes to explain. It is of the utmost consequence to that progress, that every inventor should be as much as possible assured of the reward to which his discoveries naturally entitle him. In estimating the extent of that reward, we must give the first place to: the satisfaction a man feels from the exercise of his own ingé. nuity, from the activity he exerts, and from the prospect of being serviceable to mankind. This greatest and most direct reward, which nature has inseparably connected with the exertions of genius, it is happily not in the power of malignity or accident to disappoint. The second branch of the reward, is the fame, the honour and reputation, to which invention in the sciences or the arts has a just claim. The emolument and wealth to which it may occasionally lead, comes only in the third place; and, with the men most likely to invent or to discover, will readily be postponed to both the other two.
These two last branches of the reward of merit, are not, like the first, necessarily or constantly secured to it. The se
gressing the law ; and that, before trial, the accused person is to be considered as innocent, and is to have every fair chance of esta blishing his innocence. He must be no common defendant, however, who does not contend against such a society with very fearful odds. The best counsel engaged for his opponents,---great practice in the particular court and particular species of cause, witnesses thoroughly hackneyed in a court of justice,--and an unliinited command of money. It by no means follows, that the legislature, in allowing individuals to be informers, meant to subject the accused person to the superior weight and power of such societies. The very influence of names must have a considerable weight with the jury. Lord Dartmouth, Lord Radstock, and the Bishop of Durham, versus a Whitechapel butcher or a publican ! Is this a fair contest before a jury? It is not so even in London ; and what must it be in the country, where a society for the suppression of vice may consist of all the principal persons in the neighbourhood ?. These societies are now established in York, in Reading, and in many other large towns. Wherever this is the case, it is far from improbable that the same persons, at the Quarter or Town sessions, may be both judges and accusers ; and still more fatally so, if the offence is tried by a special jury. This is already most notoriously the case in societies for the preservation of game. They prosecute a poacher ;--the jury is special; and the poor wretch is found guilty by the very same persons who have accused him.
If it is lawful for respectable men to combine for the purpose of turning informers, it is lawful for the lowest and most despicable race of informers to do the same thing; and then it is quite clear that every species of wickedness and extortion would be the consequence. We are rather surprised that no society of perjured attornies and fraudulent bankrupts has risen up in this metropolis for the suppression of vice. A chairman, deputychairman, subscriptions, and an annual sermon, would give great dignity to their proceedings; and they would soon begin to take some rank in the world.
It is true that it is the duty of grand juries to inform against vice; but the law knows the probable number of grand jurymen, the times of their meeting, and the description of persons of whom they consist. Of voluntary societies it can know nothing, -their numbers, their wealth, or the character of their members. It may therefore trust to a grand jury, what it would by no means trust to an unknown combination. A vast distinction is to be made, too, between official duties and voluntary duties. The first are commonly carried on with calmness and moderation ; the latter often characterized, in their execution, by rash and iria temperate zeal.
The The present Society receives no members but those who are of the Church of England. As we are now arguing the question generally, we have a right to make any supposition. It is equally free, therefore, upon general principles, for a society of sectarians to combine, and exclude members of the church of England; and the suppression of vice may thus come in aid of Methodism, of Jacobinism, or of any set of principles, however perilous, either to church or state. The present Society may perhaps consist of persons whose sentiments on these points are rational and respectable. Combinations however of this sort may give birth to something far different; and such a supposition is the fair way of trying the question.
We doubt if there be not some mischief in averting the fears and hopes of the people from the known and constituted authorities of the country to those self-created powers ;-a Society that punishes in the Strand, -another which rewards at Lloyd's CoffeeHouse! If these things get to any great height, they throw an air of insignificance over those branches of the government to whom these cares properly devolve, and whose authority is by these means assisted, till it is supersetled. It is supposed that a project'must necessarily be good, because it is intended for the aid of law and government. At this rate, there should be a society in aid of the government, for procuring intelligence from foreign parts, with accredited agents all over Europe. There should be a voiuntary transport board, and a gratuitous victualling office. There should be a duplicate, in short, of every department of the state,the one appointed by the King, and the other by itself. There should be a real Lord Glenbervie in the woods and forests,—and with him a monster, a voluntary Lord Glenbervie, serving without pay, and guiding gratis, with secret counsel, the axe of his prototype. If it be asked, who are the constituted authorities who are legally appointed to watch over morals, and whose functions the Society usurp? Our answer is, that there are in England about 12,000 clergy, not unhandsomely paid for persuading the people, and about 4000 justices, 30 grand juries, and 40,000 constables, whose duty and whose inclination it is to compel them to do right. Under such circumstances, a voluntary moral society does indeed seem to be the purest result of volition ; for there certainly is not the smallest particle of necessity mingled with its existence.
It is hardly possible that a society for the suppression of vice can ever be kept within the bounds of good sense and moderation. If there are many members who have really become so. from a feeling of duty, there will necessarily be some who enter the Society to hide a bad character, and others whose object it is to re