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An Account of the first Settlement, Laws, Form of Government,
and Police of the Cefares, a People of South-America. In Nine Letters, from Mr. Vander Neck, one of the Senators of that Nation, to his Friend in Holland. With Notes by the Edi
8vo. Is. 6d. Payne.
HEN we consider how very simple and obvious the
ends of civil Government are, it seems strange that fo many various forms of policy should have been instituted, and that so few have approached any tolerable degree of perfection, while the far greater part have been diametrically opposite to what ought to have been the design of their inftitution. But when we reflect on the baneful influence of the selfish affections of mankind, we shall not wonder, that the art of Government still remains in this deplorable state of imperfection.
It is not owing to the ignorance of Legislators that good and equal laws were never instituted in any State. But it arises from wilful errors in the original frame of political constitutions, or to accidental revolutions, which establish an interest in the Governors, fuperior to, and distinct from, the interest of the governed.
At the first institution of civil Governments, whether they are supposed to be established by usurpation or compact ; that is, in other words, whether they are despotic or comparatively free, the interest of the Rulers is the first, or at least too much the principal object of policy. If they are founded on usurpation, the Usurper maintains by terror what he acquires by force: and thus fear, as Mountesquieu obferves, is the principle of despotism. If they are established by compact, the people are apt to compliment the Magistrate in whom they confide, with too great a share of power and infuence.
As it is the nature of Power to be encroaching, the Rulers watch all opportunities, and take advantage of every circumstance, to extend their sway. Encroachments of this nature sometimes pass in filence, nay, perhaps, are countenanced by the public voice of a deluded multitude, till at length they are claimed as prerogatives, and confirmed as part of the constitution, under the fanction of fevere penalties.
Thus the generality of Governments seem to be founded on the reasoning of Thrasymachus in Plato's Republic, who there defines Justice to be,-" That which is for the interest of the Superior." When such systems, however, are once established, various
causes contribute to their support. The prejudices of education incline many to think that those regulations must be just and expedient which their grandfires agreed to, and their fathers approved. The timidity of others, and their indifference towards public concerns, make them quietly submit to institutions which their judgments condemn. Thus men of philofophic tempers, cultivate the arts and sciences, leaving the wheels of government to the rotation of Chance. The ambition or avarice of another class, make it their interest to uphold a partial system, which affords them an ample and dangerous fcope of acting as petty tyrants, public plunderers, and oppressors.
These circumstances ever have prevented, and it is to be feared ever will prevent the establishment of a system of Government founded on the enlarged basis of public welfare: and mankind seem so conscious of the obstacles against such a benevolent plan, that they are ready to condemn every scheme as Utopian, which proposes this glorious end for its object. Thus Plato, More, Harrington, and others, have been censured as visionary Projectors. But though, perhaps, there may be some foundation for this reflection, yet their models afford many excellent regulations, worthy the attention of Legislators.
We are glad, however, to find, that the ill-placed ridicule which has been cast on these speculative Politicians, does not deter others from publishing schemes for the improvement of civil society : for we consider these Letters from Mr. Vander Neck in no other light than that of a new.plan of Police.
Whether there ever were such people as the Ceffares, or such a person as Mr. Vander Neck, is not material to the Reader. It is sufficient; that some excellent regulations are here offered, for improving the interest and happiness of society. And though we cannot say, that many of them have the merit of novelty to recommend them, or that they are conveyed in a very elegant or striking manner, yet the Reader will find many precepts in the science of LegiNation, which might be carried into practice, at least in some of our newly-acquired Colonies.
The Writer, in the first Letter, gives the reasons which induced him and his friends to leave Holland, and settle in an uninhabited country. This detail is very fat and uninteresting; and the same may be faid of the far greater part of the second Letter.
In the third Letter, we find the form of government they established, consisting of a Governor, who is hereditary, and of Senators, who are chosen by the Citizens. We likewise meet with several objections against Aristocracy, Democracy, and Monarchy, which are worthy of notice.
The following Letters relate more particularly to the laws concerning the respective Magistrates, and to the distribution of property.
But we choose to select extracts, as a specimen of this work, from the seventh Letter; as the regulations therein contained, are of most general import.
" When any persons attain to the age of twenty-one years, their service or apprenticeship is diffolved.
« The same freedom extends also to every married person, though under that age, provided the marriage is with the consent of the Master or Mistress.
• No cock-fighting nor horse-races, nor any thing that is contrary to the rules of humanity and decency of manners, is allowed of among us, or that has the least tendency to render the mind cruel. And whoever treats his beast with cruelty or barbarity, forfeits that animal to the public, and is farther fined according to the nature of the crime; for to treat the creatures (which are in our power) with kindness, and while we make them subservient to our use, to be pleased with adding to their felicity, shews a truly good and divine temper.
• Whoever shall endeavour to destroy the liberties of the people, and the constitution of the state; or discover to our enemies the passages which lead to our country, shall be put to death as a traytor, even though he were the Governor himfelf. Murder and adultery also are punished with death; unless it fhould appear in the last case, that the guilty party was drawn into the commission of that crime, by the art and contrivance of the husband and wife.' And all attempts to commit any of these crimes shall be severely punished with a fine and imprisonment.
• When any one is unable to pay his debts, his Creditors are to make an application to the proper Inspectors, who are carefully to examine into the cause of such a failure, and report it to the Senate. If the Senate finds it to rise from losses, illness, or unavoidable misfortunes, his debts are to be discharged out of the public stock. But if he is found to be reduced by a criminal and faulty conduct, his goods are to be publicly sold to pay
his debts, and he is farther to be punished for his ill behaviour.
· Whoever challenges another to fight a duel, and whoever accepts of such a challenge, is not only to be filled and imprifoned for one year, but also to be turned out of their citizen. fhip, the first for seven years, and the other for three ; and during the year of their imprisonment, must stand exposed to public shame four times, for the space of one hour cach time, at Rev. Ca. 1764.
our quarterly public meetings in the chief town. But if any one kills another in a duel, he is accounted guilty of wilful murder, and is punished with death.
All sorts of fish in the rivers, and all fowls, birds and animals which are wild, are free for every one to take and kill. But the Senate has power to limit the seasons for fishing, hunting, and shooting, and also the fize of the fish, under which they ought not to be killed, that the game and fishery be not destroyed.
" Whoever hurts or injures another, either in his person, house, goods, &c. through folly or carelessness, is obliged to make him such a satisfa&tion and recompense, as the jury or senate Hall determine. But if it is done designedly, he must make a full satisfaction, and pay a fine alfo. And whoever mocks or affronts any one, merely on account of lameness, blindness, or any other natural infirmity, must make a proper acknowlegement to the injured person for his offence.
As we live upon our own small estates, with very little trade, no one can receive any usury or interest from another, for any money or goods lent to himn; unless for good reasons, and with the consent of the senate.
Whoever wilfully spreads any lies or false reports of another, to injure his character and reputation, must publicly alk his pardon, and pay a fine both to the person injured, and also to the public. And also if any one falsely asperses another's character, only for want of prudence and better confideration, he shall be punished as the jury or senate shall direct, that it may lead all persons to a habit of caution upon fo very tender a point.
• Since we are all brethren, and God has given to all men a natural right to liberty, we allow of no slavery among us : unless a person forfeits bis freedom by his crimes.
" Whoever steals any thing from another, or cheats or overreaches him, inust make fome reftitution to the perfon, and pay a fine to the public. If the thief or cheat cannot be found, then the town or parish must make such a satisfaction to the person for his loss, as the Judges or Senate shall determine.
• The Senate is enjoined to establish fumptuary laws, and carefully to guard against the first introduction of all sorts of luxury; and to prohibit all those arts and trades which minister only to idleness and pride, and the unnecessary refinements and embellishments of life, which are the certain fore-runners of the ruin of every State. And though it is very commendable to be neat and cleanly in our apparel, yet nothing is more contrary to a wife and rational conduct, than to lay out too much thought and expence upon it; and a frequent change of fashions, fhews a vain and trifling mind. The Serate have therefore regulated every one's dress, according to their age and fex: it is plain, decent, and becoming : but no diamonds or jewels, no gold or silver lace, or other finery, are allowed of; left pride and vanity, the love of thew and pomp, should steal in among us by imperceptible degrees. Only fools and idcots are obliged to wear some gold, silver, or fine laces, to distinguish them from those of better sense. An effeminate fop or beau (being a difgrace to men) is to be fined and employed in the bettering house, in some dirty and laborious public works: and the more etfectually to curb the desires of the female sex, and keep them in due bounds in these particulars, it is decreed, that if they dress above their rank, or contrary to the laws, they shall not only be fined for it, but shall be obliged to appear abroad for one year afterwards, in a dress below their station, as a just punishment for their vanity and love of ostentation.'
The eighth and ninth Letters treat of the several employments of the inhabitants, which are fo regulated, as to prevent any from being poor, or in want, among them: and likewise give an account of the marriages among them, which they are encou-. raged to contract very early: with several other particolars, which our limits will not allow us to take notice of.
Though we cannot highly extol this work as a matter of composition, yet we read it with pleasure, on account of the end proposed. Every man of humanity must lament, when he confiders how many of his fellow-creatures are cruelly deprived of every benefit for which civil Society was, or ought to have been, instituted.
The Two Books of Apolémius Pergaus, concerning Tangencies, as they have been restored by Franciscus Vieta, and Marines Ghetal
With a Supplement. By John Lawson, B. D. 400.
APPUS, in the preface to his seventh book of Mathema
tical Collections, mentions twelve analytical treatises, of which very few of the originals have reached our hands, Euclid's Data being the only piece compleat, tho' we have fragınents of some others, particularly of the Conics of Apollonius. Several able Mathematicians have, therefore, laboured to supply this Joss, from the account of them given by Pappus. The wo k before us is a translation of one of those pieces, entitled de toca