Page images

whether maids or married, not scrupling to use even violence.'In short, our Author seems very thankful to Divine Providence, that so laudable an example had but little influence with him : for, drinking he had no inclination to, and as to connections with the fair fex, he took care to keep within such. bounds as served to secure his character from reproach on that head.

Proceeding with his personal History, our Adventurer informs us, that he had continued about fix years in England, without engaging in a laudable way of earning his subsistence; when a scheme was propofed to him by one Pattenden, for carrying on a manufactory of a white sort of Japan, which Pattenden had found out, and was then in vain endeavouring to recommend to the world. Psalmanazar was now to father it, and accordingly it was advertised as the Curious White Formosan Work, which our Author had learnt the art of making in his country: but notwithstanding it was greatly admired and puffed, the undertaking did not succeed.

He next attempted to get money by praalising a kind of empyrical physic, and by teaching the modern languages, fortification, &c. But these failing, he then became a Clerk in a regiment of dragoons, employed in the North of England, about the time of the Rebellion in 1715. This drew him into a ram·bling kind of life, which proved very agreeable to hiin, as it gave hiin an opportunity of visiting various parts of the kingdom; but at length the regiment being ordered to Ireland, he quitted it at Bristol; and was again at a loss what to do with himself.

Having a little smattering of painting and drawing, he now took it into his head to turn Fan-painter. His present industry was laudable, but the trade was poor, and he found it impossible to live by it. At this time a worthy Clergyman proposed to him, to betake himself in good earneit, to the study of Divinity; and towards enabling him to do this to advantage, he of. fered to raise a subscription for him; which he actually did, to the amount of about thirty pounds per annum, This, with the help of what he otherwise earned, by teaching several branches of learning, amounted to a tolerable competency. Nevertheless, he tells us, this subscription foon began to lie heavy on his conscience, as it arose from his fraudulent pretences of being a Formosan, and a real Convert to the Church of England, by which the pious intentions of his Subscribers were scandalously imposed on. His uneasiness still increased, as he now and then met with people, even at the houses of his Subfcribers, whose behaviour, and objections, gave him to understand, that they had not the fame charitable opinion of him.


Gg 2

This made him, as he says, often wish and pray, that he might fall into some more honest way of living, without this undeserved subscription.

At length he grew acquainted with a person concerned in the printing business; by whose means he became a Translator of books; and by this new employment he was soon enabled to gain a very comfortable subsistence. From translating other people's works, he at length came to print some of his own; and his Subscribers dying, one after the other, and his busine's increasing, he never applied to the survivors for a continuance of their benevolence, but declined it where it was offered, as being now able to live without it.

Our Author now enters into a long detail of the acquisitions he had made by the study of the Hebrew tongue, and his critical application to the sacred Books; also of his religious improvement, by the help of Hicks's Reformed Devotions, Nelson's Method of Devotion, and Law's Serious Call; of which last he is very warm in his commendations. As to the Hebrew, he informs us by what iinproved means he attained his extenfive knowlege of that language, in preference to the common methods of learning it: but the article grows too long to admit of our entering into particulars on this head. Suffice it to observe, that he composed a tragi-comic piece in Hebrew verse, entitled David and Michol; of the plan of which he gives a particular account; but it was never published. He likewise formed a design of compiling some scriptural Hebrew Dialogues, in imitation of the Latin ones of Castalio; and a set of others on more common subjects, like those of Corderius, tho' not so puerile, for the use of young Beginners; and a third, between a Jew and a Christian, on the most material parts of controversy between both : but here falling into, and infifting much on, the doctrine of the Millennium, which he found every where spoken against, he thought the time unfavourable for the work, and laid it on the shelf. He, however, more earnestly set about a new edition of the Pfalms, with Leusden's Latin version over against it, fome critical notes for the use of Learners, with others of a more curious nature į and a preface, giving an account of the method by which he had, chiefly by means of the Psalms, attained to his knowlege of the facred language.--Bishop Hare, however, got the start of our Author, and, first, out came his well-known metrical Psalter, which Psalmanazar fell upon, and a controversy ensued; but for the particulars thereof, we refer to his Mcmoirs at large.

About this time it was that our Author was engaged to assist in writing the celebrated Univerlal History; which was conducted in a strange, confused, injudicious manner : so that the Booksellers were like to be great sufferers by the undertaking, Pfalmanazar, however, by his prudence, punctuality, and good advice, reduced this chaos into some order, and put the work upon the reputable footing on which it now stands. He was also to have been engaged in the modern part of this voluminous compilation; and the anecdotes which he relates concerning the proceedings both of the Authors and Proprietors of it, their quarrels, reconciliations, disorderly management, deviations from their plan, and the irreparable defects of the work, are many and tedious, filling up a number* of sheets, towards the conclusion of the book : which, after all, breaks off abruptly, with mentioning fome circumstances about the intended modern part of the Universal History, (at that time only in embryo) and then, fans ceremonie, off walks our extraordinary Author, without so much as bidding his Readers good b’ye !-From hence we may conclude, that our fraudulent, penitent, and pious Writer, died without finishing his narrative in the manner be possibly designed. His death, as we find by the Magazines, happened August 3, 1763, at the age of eighty-four.

ducted fore

Having thus given an abstract of the principal facts containeď in bis narrative, we shall conclude with briefly remarking, that as to its authenticity, there can be no doubt. In respect of his candour, in the confeflion of his impoftures, and the contrition he has expressed, there is no room to question, that he was as' fincere as he seems to be unreserved. We are perfuaded, that the man was not, in all respects, a profigate. He had his virtues, as well as his failings; and, in regard to the latter, ample allowance ought to be made for the unpromising circumstances in which he first launched on the ocean of life. Though he w.s: once the vilest of hypocrites, charity would hope, that the impressions which, according to his many folemn protestations, religion afterwards made upon his mind, were unfeigned. Indeed, he appears to have gone into the opposite extreme of the loose principles by which his younger years were guided, and to have fallen into no finall degree of fanaticism. Hence, in this his tedious tale, the old man has been led to talk his penitentials over so very often, that the Reader's patience is continually exercised; and it will be well if the more uncourteous fort are not, sometimes, provoked to set him down for a canting pretender to that piety which they may think foreign to his real character. We, however, who have perused his book with some attention, are not of that opinion. We verily believe ,

* Including also bis account of the share he had in compiling the Compleat System of Geography, 2 Vols. Folio, 1747.

G 3

that he became, at length, sincerely sorry for the crimes of his younger days; and that, in the decline of life, he did all in his power to atone for his part offences, by the integrity of his conJuct toward man, and the ardour of his devotion toward God,


An Enquiry into the Doctrine, lately propagated, corcerning Libels,

Warrants, and the Seizure of Papers; with a view to Gonne kite Proceedings, and the Defence of them by the Majority; upon the Principles of Law and the Conjtitution. In a Letter to Mr. ALMON from the Father of CANDOR *. . 8vo. 2s. 6 d. Almon.


HE spirited and intelligent Author of this Enquiry, has

thrown new light on the subjects which of late have been fo much canvalled, and which are so well deserving the public attention. It is to be wished, however, for the sake of the Cause he defends, that he had taken more pains to reduce and methodize his arguments : and likewise, that he had not so frequently indulged a vein of levity, which does not seem natural to his character, and is altogether unsuitable to his subject.

In the outset he observes, that by the old Conftitution, and afterwards by Magna Charta, no man could be tried for any ofience, till a Grand Jury had found a Bill of Indictment, or made a Presentment of their own knowlege; upon which Indictment or Presentment he was to be tried by a Petit Jury of his Peers. By degrees, however, and by virtue of particular statutes, crimes against the peace became presentable by Conservators or Justices of the Peace, and the persons accused were to be tried thereupon by a petit Jury. In process of time, some few offences, under special acts of parliament, came to be prosecuted by information; and, in fome very enormous cases, the Court of King's Bench, upon motion in open court, fupported by affidavit, and opportunity given to the party charged to deiend himself, would sometimes grant leave for filing an information, A Jury was afterwards to try the truth of every such charge. But Henry the 7th, one of the worst Princes this nation ever knew, procured an act of parliament which, after reciting many defects and abuses in trials by Jury, and pretending a remedy for the same, gives a summary jurisdiction to certain great Officers of State, taking to their aid a Bishop, to fummon, try, and punilh, of their own mere discretion and authority, any persons who shall be accused of the offences

See a Litter from CADOR 10 the Public Advertiser; Review for October; Catalogee.


therein very generally named and described. In short, the Court of Star-chamber is, by this act, fo enlarged in its jurisdiction, that it may be said to be erected, and both grand and petit Juries, in Crown matters, are in great measure iad afide, as the Attorney-general now brings every thing of that fort before this Court, which, by its conititution, never can make use of either. In lieu of an indictment or presentment of their peers, or informations by leave of the King's bench, after hearing both parties upon affidavits, people of all degrees are now put on their trial by a charge framed at the pleasure of the Attorney-general, called an information, and filed by him, without even the sanction of an oath, or the leave of any Court whatever ; and the Star-chamber decide thereupon most conscienciously, but as most true Courtiers would with to do, without the intervention of any Jury at a'l. The faces of the subject are so ground by this proceeding, that every body at length is alarmed, and the people in struggling with the Crown, hap pening to get the better, the Patriots of the time seized an occafion, towards the latter end of the reign of Charles the first, to extort from that martyr to obstinacy, an act for the abolition of this most oppreffive and intolerable jurisdiction. But, by some fatality or other, the method of proceeding by an Attorney-general's information, filed at discretion, without oath, an offspring of the Star-chamber, was overlooked, and suffered ftill to remain ; and the use that is now commonly made of it, every body knows. It is reported, however, that my Lord Chief Justice Hale had so little opinion of the legality of this kind of informations, that he used to say, “ If ever they came in dispute, they could not stand, but must necessarily fall to the ground.” Indeed, there is this very dreadful circumstance attending this mode of prosecution, that as the Attorney-general can file an information for what he pleases, and the Crown never pays any costs, so it is in the power of this Officer of the Law, to harrass the peace of any man in the realm, at his pleasure, and put him to a grievous expence, without ever trying the matter at all, and without any possibility of redress or retaliation. Most Bookfellers and Printers know this very well, and hence so few of them can be got to publish any stricture whatever upon any Administration, dreading this arbitrary scourge of the Crown, and regarding the same as a perpetual injunction, and as terrible as a drawn sword fufpended by a thread, hanging over their' heads. The oppression, however, can go no farther, unless, indeed, fureties for the peace be demanded, and that can only be in actual breaches of the peace, threatening the death, or bodily hurt, of fomebody: for, if the trial proceeds, that security of Englishmen's rights, a Jury,


« PreviousContinue »