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An Hiftory of England, in a Series of Letters from a Nobleman
to his Son. 12mo. 2 Vols. 6s. Newbery.
E are informed, in a kind of epistolary advertisement
prefixed to these Letters, that the greater part of them were for some time handed about in manuscript; having been originally written by a Nobleman, to his son at the university, Who this Nobleman was, we are not informed; nor, indeed, is it any great matter; as the reputation his Grace or his Lordship might justly acquire by this performance, would be no very diftinguishing feather in the cap even of a Commoner. The anonymous Editor, however, who hath taken upon him to compleat the Letter-Writer's design, by adding to the number of these epistles, takes upon him also to assure the Publisher, and, at the same time, the public, “ that they are written with more judgment, spirit, and accuracy, than any which have yet appeared upon this subject.” But this encomium, he possibly thought himself entitled to make, on account of his modest confession that his own were inferiour to his Lordship’s. We conceive he might be offended, nevertheless, should we say, ne'er a barrel the better herring : but, in truth, we are so far inclined to be of his opinion, that we think some of the former Letters much better than some of the last; but, whether they are the labours of the same or a different hand, whether of an honourable Peer or a professed Author, we judge it too problematical for us to determine,
Be this, however, as it may, the work feems well enough calculated for the use of schools; for, as the Editor observes, the more voluminous Histories of England are quite unsuited to a juvenile capacity; and the shorter abridgments are chiefly a crowded collection of facts, totally dry and unentertaining.
How far these inconveniencies are here removed, by throwing history into the form of letters, our Readers inay judge from the ensuing specimens.
In one of the Letters, attributed to the anonymous noble Writer, we have the following account of the ancient inhabitants of this island.
• All that we find related by credible witnesses and sufficient authority, before the Romans entered this island, is, that the country was filled with incredible numbers of people, and their fields stored with great plenty of animals, favage and domestic, Their houses were meanly built, and scattered, as if accidentally, over the country, without observance, distance, or order, The only motives of their choice, were the peculiar fertility of
some happy spot, or the convenience of wood and water. They lived upon milk, and Aefh procured by the chace; for corn was scarcely known among them. What cloaths they wore, were skins of beasts, but a great part of their bodies was left always' exposed to the injuries of the weather; all that was naked being painted with blue. This custom of painting was univerfal among them, either in order to strike terror into their enemies, or to defend the pores of the naked skin from the viciffitudes of the season.
Their towns, if a collection of huts could deserve that name, were mostly built upon the coasts, in such places as strangers generally resorted to for the sake of commerce. The commodities exported, were chiefly hides and tin, and, probably, other spontaneous productions of the soil, which required no art in the preparation.
• Their governinent, like that of the ancient Gauls, confifted of several petty principalities, which seem to be the original governments of mankind, and deduced from the natural right of paternal dominion: but whether these little principalities defcended by succeflion, or were elected by the consent of the people, is not recorded. Upon great or uncommon dangers, indeed, the chief commander of all their forces was chosen by common consent, in a general assembly, as Cæsar relates of Caflibetanus, upon his invasion. The same was done upon their revolts against the Roman colonies, under Caractacus and their Queen Boadicea; for among them, women were admitted to their principalities, and general commands, by the right of fucceffion, merit, or nobility.
Such were the customs of the ancient Britons, and the same may serve for a description of every other barbarous nation, of which we have any knowlege. Savage man, is an animal in almost every country the same; and all the difference between nations, results from cuftonis introduced by luxury, or cultivated by refinement. What the inh. bitant of Britain was at that time, the inhabitant of South America, or Cafraria, may be at this day. But there was one custom among the ancient inhabia tants of this island, which seems peculiar to themselves, and is not to be found in the accounts of any other ancient or modern nation. The custom I mean, was a community of wives, among certain numbers, and by common consent. Every man marricd, indeed, but one woman, who was always after, and alone, esteemed his wife: but, it was usual for five or fix, ten, twelve, or more, either brothers or friends, as they could agree, to have all their wives in common. But this, though calculated for their mutual happiness, in fact proved their greatest disturb
ance; and we have some instances, in which this community of wives produced diffentions, jealoufies, and death. Every woman's children, however, were the property of him who had married her; but all claimed a share in the care and defence of the whole society, since no man knew which were his own.'
The following passage is taken from one of the Letters ima puted to the Editor. In speaking of the administration of Sir Robert Walpole, he gives an account of the project for licencing the Theatre; ' a blow, says he, levelled at the little wit remaining, which has effe&tually banished all taste from the Stage, and from which it has never since recovered. When Walpole entered into power, he resolved to despise that set of under-rate Writers, who live by arraigning every Ministry, and disseminate scandal and abuse. For a time he prosecuted that intention; but at last found it necessary to employ a set of mean hirelings, to answer calumny with calumny. He wanted judgment to diftinguish genius; or none possessed of such a gift were mean enough to applaud his measures. From hence he took an im. placable aversion to the press, which so severely exposed his corruprion, and branded his follies. But the Press alone was not the only scourge he had to fear; the Theatre joined all its ridicule, and he saw himself exposed as the object of scorn, as well as hatred. When licence once tranfgrefles the rules of decency, it knows no bounds. Some of the pieces exhibited at that time, were not only severe, but immoral also. This was what the Minister held to; he brought in a bill to limit the number of play-houtes; to subject all dramatic writings to the inspection of the Lord Chamberlain, whose license was to be obtained before any work could appear. Among those who undertook to oppose this bill, was the Earl of Chesterfield, who obľerved, that the laws already in being for keeping the Stage within due bounds, were every way fufficient. “ If, says he, our stage. players at any time exceed those bounds, they ought to be profecuted, and may be punished. A new law, therefore is, in the present instance, unnecellary; and every unneceflary law is dangerous. Wit, my Lords, is the property of thole that have it; and it is too often the only property they have. It is unjust therefore to rob a man at any raie of his posiessions; but it is cruelty to spoil him, if already pocr. If Poets and Players are to be restrained, let them be settrained like other subjects ; let them be tried by their Peers, and let not a Lord Chamberlain be made the fovereign judge of wit. A power lodged in the . hands of a single man to determine, without limitation or ap. peal, is a privilege unknown to our laws, and inconsistent with our constitution.' The House applauded his wit and cloquence; and the question was carried against him.'
The Reader will see that this work promises more entertains ment than those Histories which are divided into Question and Answer; it is, however, much to be doubted, whether many of the reflections interspersed throughout these Letters, are not too far-fetched and refined, for the comprehension of schoolboys. Jt is also farther to be doubted, whether a simple narrative of facts, without the intermixture of political observations, and delineation of characters, would not be much more useful, if it were made equally engaging.
An Elay on the more common West-Iiidia Diseases; and the Reme
dies which that Country itfeif produces. To which are added, fome Hints on the Management of Negroes. By a Physician in the West-Indies. 8vo. Is. 6 d. Becket.
HE Writer of this judicious little treatise, probably inour American illands within the Tropic, for which it is properly calculated, and where it cannot fail of being very use
as no Physician, who had not resided for some time there, could have been sufficiently acquainted with the diseases peculiar to the Negroes in that climate, and with all the indigenous medical productions of it, to have given such full and particular directions. It is adapted, with a judicious plainners and simplicity, to the understanding of all Proprietors, Managers, and even Overseers of flaves ; being, as the Author fays in his preface, 'wholly divested of the parade of learning, and purposely written with as much shortneis as was consistent with perspicuity.'
Three or four of the sections are employed in directions for choosing Negroes; for the treatment of their infarits; and on the proper dom tic regulations, particularly of new, or, as they are called, falt-water Negrocs, and on the construciion of a particular house for the reception of those that are sick. About thirty other fections are appropriated to other diseases, and chiefly such as the flaves are most liable to, with their proper regimen and remedies; a large proportion of which are of the growth of the climate, and some of thein considerably rowerful.
In treating of the leprosy, which our learned and humane Writer laments, as too generally incurable, he says, page 54,
- I am, not wishlanding, persuaded, that the antidote of the leprofy is to be found in the West Indies. What profit, what pleasure wouid accrue to the happy Discoerer!' And, in his 7
prefacc, preface; he seems to think, a suitable encouragement for discoveries in the Materia Medica, a great Defideratum ;, ' as if every art, he adds, (with respect to their various premiums) - was more necessary than physic, and every object more considerable than the health of the community. On this occasion we may reflect however, that the multitude, and many pretensions, of Noftrum-mongers, and imaginary Discoverers, would cost no little time and trouble to discuss properly; and that the real Discoverers of a certain cure for any reputedly incurable disease, would be sure to find their account fufficiently, in the gratitude and munificence of their wealthiest Patients.
The conclusion of this treatise gives a catalogue of such Officinal Simples and Compositions, as have not medicines equivalent to be substituted for them, in the medical productions of that climate; mentioning also the small, but necessary, apparatus, for the exhibition or application of them : of all which our Author thinks no plantation should be unprovided.
A Treatise on Fevers in general, their Nature and Treatment. On
Fever's in particular, as the Intermittent and Rheumatic Fevers, and their Cure, by Means absolutely new, &c. &c. By John Hawkridge, Surgeon. 8vo. IS,
8vo. Is, Printed at York. Sold by Crowder.
HIS pamphlet presents us an uncommon, yet considerable
proof, that a writer's practical notions in his business may be generally right, and his ideas distinct and rational, even while bis expression of them is very defective. It also shews, that where a person's experience and correspondence are much limited, he may suppose he is teaching his Readers, of the same profession, something new (which may be true with respect to a few of them) but of which many others could have informed him, before the birth, and even before the very conception, of his performance. This last allertion is clearly proved from his preface, which assures us that the frequent outcries and prejudices against the grand febrifuge (the Bark] first induced him to write and publish this treatise ;—and which prejudices he thinks to lie not in the medicine, but for want of knowing how to use it.' This is the ignorance then he determines to cure, by informing them, p. 27. & seq.-that' they are to give in the intervals, between two fits of an intermitting fever, fix drachms of the Bark in substance, or ten in decoction, to a common adult p.:tient; but to a lusty strong boned man, a good deal relax. d, pne full ounce in subitance, within the same interval : and tisdi,