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The firft which we shall notice, as the one most arbitrary and decifive in its influence, is the defection of the publisher. To dwell on the grounds of this would only lead us into a difgufting detail of all thofe arts of intimidation which have been fo fedulously and fo fuccefsfully practifed upon this clafs of men ever fince the plan was adopted of attempting to regulate principles of faith by the ftatutes of a penal code, and to circumscribe the province. of inquiry by the barriers of a dungeon..
Another circumftance, of important though fecondary influence in affixing this hafty period to the purfuit of our work, has been the flow acceffion of public fupport. It belongs not to our prefent purpose to affign our own conjectures as to the caufe of this. Whether it be imputable to want of merit on our part, or to want of fpirit on the part of the public-whether it ought to be attributed more to the vigour of enemies or to the languor of friends-whether its caufe be of a perfonal and individual nature, or muft be looked for in the general character of the times-are fubjects of speculation, on which it were useless to pronounce a vague opinion, and not eafy perhaps to establish a decifive one.
But there is yet another confideration, which has had no fmall fhare in influencing the difcontinuance of this undertaking, and which we think it important to explain. -Political difcuffion becomes dangerous only by being confined. The great fource of error in political, as in every other, fcience, is never the too free, but in all inftances the too partial examination of the fubjects which it involves. Nothing can be more obvious than that all principles thus formed muft abound with difproportions, with inconfiftencies, and with falfehoods: and that, fo long as this radical defect fubfifts, and especially where it is perpetuated and confecrated by the fhort fighted policy of tyrannic inftitutions, no energy of thought, however ftrong, no powers of reafoning, however fkilful, can counteract its pernicious influence, or obviate its erroneous refults. Where the mind is conftrained to this partial view of the fubjects of its inveftigation, every new train of reafoning is but a new
avenue to error; every new turn of fentiment but a new modification of prejudice. It is with the intellectual, as it is with the bodily, conftitution. The organs of either may be fo fettered that even their moft ordinary exertions fhall be attended with violent and feverish irritation :-the range of exercise allowed to either may be fo confined, that the most temperate motion fhall produce dizziness and laffitude, inftead of infpiring energy and animation. The mind, fettered in its powers, and circumfcribed in its action, by an authority as alien from it in nature as it is hoftile to it in its influence, is mocked in its every effort by the dizzinefs of fophiftical delufion, or debilitated by the feverish irritation of prejudice and paffion.
The alternative which this view of the state of human intellect presents to us is painful to contemplate, but not difficult to decide upon. Whilft the only mode which is left to us of influencing the fentiments of men is by leading them to facrifice one prejudice in favour of another, and by engaging their paffions in fupport of principles of which their reafon is not allowed the examination, whilft we are denied to enter into a rational and full difcuffion of the fubjects in which the interests of man are most intimately involved, and are permitted only to guide him either by the more refined delufions of fophiftry, or by the groffer ones of selfish intereft,-we feel no hefitation in renouncing at once both expedients. We disclaim an office fo humiliating to human nature; fo equivocally conducive, even in its beft exercife, to any objects of rational folicitude. We fhelter ourfelves in the fecret hope that man will ere long awaken from his lethargy; that, refuming the exercife of a privilege which he cannot delegate to others, and which, without the groffeft dereliction of duty, he cannot abdicate himfelf, he will learn that to fubject his opinion to any jurifdiction but that of truth is a treachery for which he ftands cognizable to a tribunal, of greater than any human authority; and that, his faculties of intellect reorganized, he will proceed to tread the paths of reafon and philofophy, without owning any control but that of truth, or acknowledging any guide but his own conviction. If
this be a hope little correfponding with the prefent afpect of fociety, it is yet one in which its prefent afpect most forcibly invites us to indulge. Whilft we are continually reminded of the danger of venturing upon a ftream, rough, turbulent, and perilous, is it poffible for us to forget that, before that ftream was diverted into unnatural channels, and confined within artificial embankments, its progrefs was calm, and clear, and tranquil; through all its course, an object of ever-varied beauty; through all its extent, a fource of inexhaustible fertility?
In the mean time, it is our confolation to reflect that however neglected, or however oppofed; however feebly fupported, or however partially defeated; however abused by its enemies, or however difgraced by its friends; the ultimate and effential interefts of truth can never be either facrificed by the one or deftroyed by the other. And it is a fubject of interefting and awful contemplation to trace the felf-deftructive effects of that power, whofe progress we now view only in its haughty triumph over the exercife of reason, and in its defolating ravages in the fair field of human improvement.
The grand immediate agents of revolution have, at all times, been thofe very prejudices, those diseased paffions, thofe intellectual depravities, which it is the deadly quality of oppreffion to generate and to fofter. Sophiftry and prejudice are weeds which feldom arrive at maturity in the natural climate of opinion; but which fpring up with exuberant fertility in the hot-beds of tyranny and fuperftition. They are the great and dreadful re-agents, which nature has appointed to control the exceffes of the corruption which produces them,-which blindly nurtures whilft it dreads them-which generates whilft it feeks to ftifle them.