Page images
PDF
EPUB

watch over themselves.” Did any other people keep a strict watch over themselves ? Will any people ever keep a strict watch over themselves ? No, furely. Is not this then, a sufficient reason for inftituting a senate for keeping a strict warch over them? Is not this a fufficient reason for feparating the whole executive power from them, which they know will and must corrupt them, throw them off their guard, and render it impossible for them to keep a strict watch over themselves ? « They did not observe the rules of a free state.” Did any people that ever attempted to exercise unlimited power, observe the rules of a free ftate? Is it possible they should, any more than obey, without fin, the law of nature and nature's God?...“ The people were won by specious pretences, and deluded by created neceflities, to intrust the management of affairs into some particular hands.” And will not the people always be won by specious pretences, when they are anchecked? Is any people more sagacious or sensible than the Athenians, those ten thousand citizens who had four hun. dred thousand saves to maintain them at leisure and study? Will not a few capital characters in a fingle assembly always have the power to excite a war, and thus create a neceflity of commanders? Has not a General a party of course ? Are not all his officers and men at his devotion so long as to acquire habits of it? When a General faves a nation from destruction, as the people think, and brings home triumph, peace, glory, and prosperity to his country, is there not an affe&tion, veneration, gratitude, admiration, and adoration of him, that no people can refilt? It is want of patriotism not to adore himit is enmity to liberty-it is treason. His judgment, which is his will, becomes the law : reason will allay a hurricane as soon ; and if the executive and judicial power are in the people, they at once give him both, in substance at first, and not long afterwards in form. The representatives lose all authority before him; if they disoblige him, they are left out by their conftituents at the next election, and one of his idolaters is chosen.'

Though the judicious reader will perceive that there observa. tions are the dictates of sound sense, grounded on experience, yet, if we judge of the sentiments of the people of America by the writings that are popular among them, we fear that such remarks will not, at the present moment, be received with all the cordiality which he may with. The Author seems, himself, to think so; and, if we mistake not, he has employed his utmost address to express them so as not to give disgust. Probably, many of those passages which we consider as defects, may be ascribed to this cause. The regal authority, it is well known, is exceedingly difiked by many of the Americans; and an hereditary nobility is looked on as little less deftructive the community ;-yet it is plain, from innumerable parts of his work, that Dr. Adams confiders these two classes of men, as being, under certain circumstances, not only harmless, but most useful, as bulwarks of freedom. Openly to avow these principles might have frustrated his aim, and to suppress his notions on that head would have been mean and difingenuous. He has chosen to fteer a middle course ; and he thus explains himself:

* The words within double commas, are Nedham's arguments. U 4

have

• It may be, and is admitted, that a free government is most natural, and only suitable to the reason of mankind; but it by no means follows, “ that the other forms, as a standing power in the hands of a particular person, as a King; or of a set number of great ones, as in a Senate;" much less that a mixture of the three fimple forms “ are, beside the dietates of nature, and mere artificial devices of great men, squared only to serve the ends and interests of the avarice, pride, and ambition of a few, to a vassaling of the community.” If the original and fountain of all power and government is the people, as undoubtedly it is, the people have as clear a right to erect a fimple monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy, or an equal mixture, or any other mixture of all three, if they judge it for their liberty, happi. ness, and prosperity, as they have to erect a democracy; and infinitely greater and better men than Marchamont Nedham, and the wiseft nations that ever lived, have preferred such mixtures, and even with such fanding powers, as ingredients in their compositions. But even those nations who choose to reserve in their own hands the periodical choice of the first magistrate, senate, and assembly, at certain stated periods, have as clear a right to appoint a first magistrate for life as for years, and for perpetuity in his descendants as for life, When I say for perpetuity, or for life, it is always meant to imply, that the same people have at all times a right to interpose, and to depose for mal-adminiftration--to appoint a new. No appointment of a king or senare, or any standing power, can be, in the nature of things, for a longer period than quamdiu bene gefferit, the whole nation being judge. 'An appointment for life, or perpetuity, can be no more than an appointment till further order; but further order can only be given by the nation; and until the nation shall have given the order, an estate for life, or in fee, is held in the office. It must be a great occasion which can induce a nation to take fuch a subject into consideration, and make a change. Until a change is made, an hereditary limited monarch is the representative of the whole nation, for the management of the executive power, as much as the house of representatives is, as one branch of the legislature, and as guardian of the public purse; and a house of lords too, or a standing senate, represents the nation for other purposes, viz. as a watch set upon both the representatives and the executive power. The people are the fountain and original of the power of kings and lords, governors and senates, as well as the house of commons, or assembly of representatives : AND IF THE PEOPLE ARE SUFFICIENTLY ENLIGHTENED TO SEE ALL THE DANGERS THAT SURROUND Them, they will always be represented, by a distinct personage to maпаде the whole of the executive power, a diftinet jenate, to be guardians of property againft levellers for the purposes of plunder, to be a repository of the national tradition of public maxims, customs, and manners, and to be controulers in turn both of kings and their ministers on one side, and the representatives of the people on the other, when either discover a difpofition to do wrong; and a diffinĉt house of representatives, to be the guardians of the public purje, and to protect the people in their turn; 6

again, againf both kings and nobles. A science certainly comprehends all the principles in nature which belong to the subject. The principles in nature which relate to government cannot all be known, without a knowledge of the history of mankind. The English constitution is the only one which has confidered and provided for all cases that are known to have GENERALLY, indeed to have ALWAYS happened in the progress of every nation; it is therefore the only scientific government, To say then" that standing powers have been erected as mere arti. ficial devices of great men, to serve the ends of avarice, pride, and ambition of a few, to the vaffalizing of the community, claim and abuse. Standing powers have been instituted to avoid greater evils, corruption, fedition, war, and blood fhed in elections; it is the people's business, therefore, to find out some method of avoiding them, without ftanding powers. The Americans flatter themselves they have hit upon it; and no doubt they have for a time, perhaps a long one : but this remains to be proved by experience.'

From there extracts the reader will be able to form an idea of the general tendency of this work, and the mode of reasoning adopte the Author. It is not, indeed, as its title says, a defence of the American conflitutions ; but it is a warm defence of the conftirution of Great Britain. It is the belt anti-democratical treatise that we have seen ; for Dr. Adams appears to dread that that is the extreme to which his countrymen will naturally lean-and he has exerted his best endeavours to obviate that evil.

The volume concludes with a copy of the new conftitution of government for the United States of America now under the confideration of the different States, and agreed to by most of them. In the last section, he ably refuses fome notions of Montesquieu, which have been too long acquiesced in without examination. A copious Index to the three volumes is fubjoined.

On the whole, we consider this latter part of the work, as a valuable addition to the public stock of political writings. The Author here discovers a great extent of reading ; not that kind of reading which consists of ftoring up names and dates only, but that which discriminates between realities and appearances, and diftinguishes pretexts from actual caufes. Hiftory has been so feldom studied in this way, that we are of opinion, if Dr. Adams 1hould ever find leisure to re-digest this part of his work, and give it its highest polish and best arrangement, it will be an acceptable prelent to the republic of letters, as it would tend to correct many popular errors that have been too long current among mankind.

ART.

ART. II. Archeologia: or, Miscellaneous Tracts relating to Anti

quity. Publiibed by the Society of Antiquaries of London. Vol. VIII. 4to. il. is. Boards. White, &c. 1787. TE

the Antiquarian Society sometimes favour the Public, and did the nature of our work allow it, would willingly devote a few more pages to them than we can now spare. An account of the last volume will be found in the Reviews for February and April 1786, p. 116 & 266. The number of articles in this publication is thirty-seven, beside an Appendix: we proceed, as usual, to give some diftinct account of each.

The Rev. Samuel Pegge introduces them by, A Sketch of the History of the Asylum, or Sanctuary, from its Origin to the final Abolition of it in the Reign of James 1. This dissertation is divided into two parts; the first takes a general view of sanctuary, as in use anciently and abroad;' the second examines how matters were carried here in our own iAand.' A Mhort but just relation is given of the Mosaic inftitution of this kind, which appears wholly different from what prevailed in other countries, and to have had its foundation in wisdom and compaffion. The Greeks, and also the Romans, had their Asyla ; but they often were productive of great evil. It could hardly have been expected, that in such a reign as that of Tiberius, they should have been regulated, if not fuppressed, at least for a time, as we are told by Suetonius and Tacitus. Mr. Pegge very properly points out the different motives of the institution in Judea and in Greece; in the former, he observes, it sprung from a motive of tenderness toward innocent men; in the latter, it proceeded from a blind severence and devotion to the sacredness of the place of refuge, and the deity or hero supposed to preside over it. Christianity ought to have checked the practice, and certainly would, had its dictates been really regarded; but ftate-policy knows too well the benefit that may arise from fuperftition; and interested churchmen were very sensible that great advantages might flow from the institution for the aggrandisement of their order, and the increase of their power. To what excess it was carried, and what wickedness it occasioned, is in some degree known to every one who is at all conversant with history. Boniface V.* is commonly reputed the founder, says Mr. Pegge, of that peftilent mode of sanctuary which afterward prevailed lo generally in the Welt. It is rather wonderful that the Reformation did not entirely diffolve the practice in this country : this is here ascribed to the exceffive clamour which the body of the clergy would have made at such an attempt. In the reign of James I. the

* About the beginning of the 7th century.

old

old vlage of fan&uary was, however, wisely and totally abo. lished,

The article which follows is of a more critical and learned kind, and to some readers will be interesting. It is written by Francis Philip Gourdin, a Benedictine of the congregation of St. Maur, who styles his tract, Reafons for doubting whether the Genii of particular Persons, or Lares properly lo called, be really Panthea: by the latter word, we are probably to underland such Gods as have the symbols or attributes of several deities belonging to them. We cannot pretend to accompany bim in his enquiry, which he concludes by adding, I ihink therefore I have reason on my side, when I say that the name of Lares, or Dii Domestici, was only bestowed on the Dii Majores, because their images were placed in houses in the Lararium, but that they were never confounded with the Lares properly so called.'

Mr. Pegge appears again in Obfervations on the Stanton Moor Urns; in a letter to Major Rooke * He takes particular dotice of the fingular discovery of one urn enclosed, or buried as it were, within another. He supposes that it appertained to the Britons, who, if not before, yer certainly after, they were Roi manized, used urn-burial. He adds some remarks on the pofi. tions of the circles and barrows, which he considers as myiterious, and worthy of farther attention.

An Account of Stone Coffins, &c. found on making some Alterations and Repairs in Cambridge Cafile, by the Rev. Robert Mafters, B. D. Rector of Landbeach, contains nothing particularly curi

Another letter on the same subject, relating to a similar discovery, forms the 5th number in this volume,

Miscellaneous Observations on Parish Registers ; addressed by John Bowle, F. S. A. to the honourable Daines Barrington. Here it appears that parochial registers had been in use in Spain fome years before their introduction to England, which was in consequence of the injunction of Thomas Lord Cromwell. But though Mr. Bowle remarks that registers were kept in Spain thirty-two years earlier than in England, we observe that they were enjoined by Lord Cromwell in the year 1538 ; and that among burials in the register of Sherborne, we are told of William Howell, permit of St. John the Baptist, 1538.

The letter to the Rev. James Douglas, from John Pownal, Esq. on a Roman Tile found at Reculver in Kent, requires only to be mentioned; there are some rude scrawls on it which may perhaps be intended as an inscription, and may therefore serve to engage the attention of those who have ingenuity and leisure.

Dr. Glass's letter to Mr. Marsden furnishes a more curious, or more important, subject of enquiry: it is on the Afinity of cer

pus.

* Şee Rev, for April 1984, p. 265; and Feb. 1786, p. 124.

« PreviousContinue »