Page images

its institution, has been, with respect to its leading members, a band of systematic traitors; that no possible means would have been adequate to their suppression but the most unremitting coercion.'

The latter essays contain Thoughts on the Will of the People. These thoughts are little more than contemptuous expressions. Of the public will, or will of the people, the author says, 6 we are sometimes told, that law is or ought to be the expression; of this, it has been said, that the Legislature should be the organ,' &c.


The principle that the general or public will is the only legitimate source of law, the author denies, and claims the merit of disproving. Mr. Knox has chosen, in this dissertation, to assume that the general will is the will of a mob. Let us,' he says, suppose the people, a mixed multitude, set completely free from every restraint which had been imposed upon them by the habits and customs of regular society, the gradations of rank, the institutions of civil polity, and the autho rity of government, and in a situation not only to pronounce their will, but, when pronounced, to enforce it.' From the sequel, it is evident that Mr. K. has not deceived himself into a belief that, in such a situation, the will of a nation could be expressed; for, in the same page, he declares that in no state of society would freedom of speech be more completely annihilated. He nevertheless proceeds, arguing on this as being the empire of the public will.

In a preface, we are told that most of these essays were originally written for insertion in news-papers, or for circulation in the form of hand-bills;' and that they are now republished in order to the present restoration of tranquillity, and for the purpose of future information and instruction.' We are of opinion that neither the subjects, nor the manner in which the author has treated them, are well adapted to answer the purposes professed; and that the perusal of this publication will afford little either of pleasure or of instruction to readers of a liberal and temperate disposition.

Art. 35. Considerations upon the State of Public Affairs in the Year 1799. IRELAND. 8vo. 28. Rivingtons.

When we inforni our readers that these Considerations respecting Ireland are from the same pen which produced the "Considerations on the State of Public Affairs in France," noticed in our Review, N. S. vol. xxv. p. 456. some expectations will naturally be excited in their favour; and by a perusal of them it is probable that these expectations will not, in any respect, be disappointed. The author possesses the first requisite for good writing, a thorough knowlege of his subject. Those who wish to see the expediency of the proposed incorporation of Ireland placed in a luminous point of view would do well to peruse this pamphlet, which contains strong facts and sound reasoning, a lucid arrangement and an elegant and spirited style; arising from that liberal and expansive contemplation of the subject, which mounts above and despises all the mean barriers of party; winging a strait course to the public good. It may not be prudent for a man in a public or ostensible situation, to speak so plainly and without com. pliment, as our author does: but he conceives that from the calm and privacy of the closet,' he may safely speak out, and deliver the truth without the necessity of using varnish and false colouring.

Capt. B...y.

The great measure of an incorporate union between the two countries, our author considers on the first view as resolved into these two questions, decisive of its fate; "Whether the parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland were competent to treat for their constituents?" and "Whether the treaty proposed were beneficial to the contracting parties?"

The conduct of the parliament of Ireland, in rejecting the discus sion of these questions, is reprobated as precipitate, as well as disrespectful to the crown. A proper allowance, however, is made for the prejudices which operate in Ireland against this measure, at the same time that it is proved that they are carried to an unreasonable length.

The author considers Ireland as composed of two distinct parts; the native Irish, and the English colony settled there by conquest, in whose hands are all the powers of government. Towards the former, he says, we have not done our duty. It is certainly a matter very little to our honour, in any point of view, that after a period of six hundred years, so little progress should have been made in the conciliation of the minds of the Irish, or in their fusion and intermixture with the colony-it is our cruel indifference to the instruction and well-being of the native, and our obsequious tenderness to the settler, that the final settlement" of Ireland has been deferred through so many reigns, and that we are now attempting that which ought to have been perfected by every Prince, at least since the Reformation.'

There cannot be a doubt that a very defective, if not vicious, policy has prevailed with regard to Ireland; and that, under these circumstances, the hostility of the native Irish must be deemed more unwise than unnatural.' It is time, however, that we should be wise; and the way to be wise is to be just, and by justice we shall conciliate their affections.

The author next attends to that part of the inhabitants of Ireland which he has distinguished as the colony; and he exposes the folly and ingratitude of their opposition to the proposed legislative union. The state of America, which has separated from us, is considered, and contrasted with the state of Scotland, which is incorporated with us; and from the consequent prosperity of the latter, a strong argument is drawn in favour of the projected measure respecting Ireland. Scotland preferred the substantial useful glory of a common sceptre and an imperial legislature, to the dull privilege of provincial greatness and municipal ambition; and she has not repented, but has rather had reason for exulting in her prudence and true magnanimity.' After having dwelt on the blessings which have resulted to Scotland in consequence of the union, the author adds; If all this experi ence is lost and thrown away, if this analogy and contrast are both ineffectual, I know not what argument can reach the deep-rooted prejudice of Ireland.'


The question of the competency of the two parliaments is treated as it deserves. The writer is not for assembling the population of an empire on every new case and occurrence, to collect the votes of labourers and shepherds.


As to the adjustment of 1782, he condemns it as the most unjust as well as the most unwise on the statute-book, the calamities and crimes springing from which an union only can cure;' and his dislike and aversion to this act is only diminished by his regarding it as having prepared and accelerated that happy and desirable event.

We cannot refrain from transcribing what he says respecting the change produced by the act of 1782, and the actual state of Ireland.


The real change that was operated in the colony by this pretended experiment in the gift of independence, was the mere substi tution of influence in the room of prerogative, and of ministerial favour for parliamentary controul. The dependence was not, nor could be changed; but the mode and application of the principle were adopted to a new and a worse position, and transferred from the constitution to the treasury. Dependence is the natural and the necessary order for every colony that ever was or can be planted, so long, at least, as it requires the aid and protection of the parent country; and to give it the name and qualification of independence, while na-. ture and necessity forbid the substance of the thing, is to betray and expose it to corruption, and all the base and little passions of avarice and left-handed ambition. Did the Irish colony receive nothing, then, by the act of 1782? Did we confer nothing by this highsounding term of independence? Unfortunately we gave a fatal boon, the kindness of which will be better conjectured than explained, when we consider the present state of the independent parliament! There are, or there were at the time when the union was first proposed in the House of Commons, one hundred and sixteen placemen in that Assembly, whose complete number does not exceed three hundred. I will not comment upon this blushing text, nor will I search into the red-book of the civil-list of Ireland. I wish only to be understood, and I draw a veil over every thing that can disgust or inflame. The privilege obtained, therefore, was not to be independent, which was impossible, but the privilege to be paid for obedience, which was Prerogative had disappeared with the statute of George the First, and corruption by the law-politic had taken its place. I withdraw my eyes from this filthy spectacle; I leave to others to detail a veral peerage, and pensioned lubricity; the empire of the custom-house, and commissions in the army given for sale to provosts or to priests.'

but too easy.

We cannot gratify our readers with farther extracts, but we recommend the whole to the consideration of Catholics and Protestants, of England and of Ireland.

Art. 36. A Demonstration of the Necessity of a Legislative Union of Great Britain and Ireland; involving a Refutation of every Argument which has been or can be urged against that Measure. By a Philosopher. 8vo. pp. 40. Dublin, 1799.

This very uncommon production places the subject in a light in which, we think, it has been seldom viewed. There seems to be something of irony in the title-page, whence the reader who has seen only the Advertisement may be led to conclude that the





author has taken rank under the ministerial standard: but this is by no means the case. He treats the question philosophically; in order to demonstrate that the event of a legislative union between Great Britain and Ireland is inevitable as effect from cause; and probably not far distant; and this consummation he considers as the political death of Ireland.'-It were needless to add that, (as the evident advocate for Irish independency,) he does not himself rejoice in the prospect which he opens to the view of his countrymen.-Without entering with the writer into the depths of his politico-philosophic discussion, we only add that, considered as a literary composition, we regard his performance as a master-piece of eloquent writing.


Art. 37. Gortz of Berlingen, with the Iron Hand. An Historical - Drama, of the Fifteenth Century. Translated from the German of Goethe. 8vo. 3s. 6d. Cadell jun. and Davies.

The reputation of Goethe is so well established, by different performances which have attracted universal notice, that his name is a sufficient passport for any work. The rapid progress and great celebrity of the German drama exhibit, indeed, a singular phænomenon in literary history. A nation just emerged from barbarity offers, in the poetical compositions of its own language, models to sur rounding countries which have been long favoured both by Melpo mene and Thalia; and its first attempts to imitate foreign writers are received with an eagerness and an admiration, which would seem to announce that they have excelled their originals. The fame of our immortal Shakspeare is scarcely greater among us, at this mo ment, than that of Schiller and Goethe, who have professedly copied him. Nor is the influence of the Teutonic stage confined to the terrible and severe; the sentimental comedy has emigrated from France, to soften the proud hearts of German nobles, and has taught them to weep even for the misfortunes of those who cannot boast the honour of thirty descents.

There is a peculiar character of wildness and energy in the German tragedy, which seizes the imagination, and scarcely leaves time for the decision of the judgment. With all the bold irregularity of our older writers, there is also, in Goethe especially, a striking attention to the manners of those ages to which we are thus recalled. In the present play, the author presents us with a view of the distracted state of Germany, during the vigour of the feudal system, and under the weak guidance of Maximilian I. The insurrection of the pea sants, a theme hitherto unknown to the stage, and little regarded even in general history,-is introduced, to add interest to the piece; and the Secret Tribunal, now generally known from the romance of Herman of Unna, furnishes a very impressive scene. This tragedy, though it evidently bears the stamp of genius, is not entirely free from defects. Some of the scenes are flat and uninteresting, and consume

*If death, however, be only (as righteous and good men hope and believe) a passage to a better state, why all this fearful apprehension of the change?



the time in trifling and unnecessary details; of others, even when the action is hurried forwards, the effect must depend on the skill of the performers, since the dialogue furnishes little that is interesting. In attempting to avoid an over-strained and affected manner of writing, authors sometimes sink beneath propriety. Professor Goethe does not always appear to have distinguished between writing naturally, and writing trivially. We shall take, without selection, a complete scene, as an evidence of our assertion.

Enter a Soldier.

Soldier. We have had a tedious chace, but at last we have brought home noble game. God keep you, gracious ladies. Elizabeth. Falkenhelm is then in your power? Soldier. He, and three of his attendants. Elizabeth. How happened it you were so long away ?

Soldier. We lay in ambush for him between Nuremberg and Bamberg. He did not appear, and yet we were certain he must be on the way; at left we got intelligence that he had taken a bye road, and had arrived undiscovered at the count of Schwartzenburg's.

Elizabeth. Schwartzenburg! Do they want to excite him also to enmity against my husband?

Soldier. I told my master that was their intention, the moment I heard that Falkenhelm was on a visit there. Well, away we gallop'd to the Haslacher wood, and at length met Falkenheim attended only by four servants.

Maria. My heart trembles with apprehension.

Soldier. I and my comrade, as my master had commanded us, fastened upon Falkenhelm as if we would have grown to him, and completety prevented him stirring or freeing himself; in the mean time my Lord and Hans took care of his attendants; but one of them has escaped us.

Elizabeth. I am curious to see this Falkenhelm; will they be here immediately?

Soldier. I left them in the valley, in a quarter of an hour they must arrive.

Maria. He will be sadly dejected.

Soldier. Yes, he looks gloomy enough.

Maria. The sight of him in such circumstances will pain me to the heart.

Elizabeth. Well, I will go and prepare dinner, you will all have good appetites, I suppose.

Soldier. We are all hungry enough,

Elizabeth. Take the keys of the cellar, and fetch some of the best wine, you have well deserved it.


Charles. Aunt, I will go with you.
Maria. Come, boy!


Manet Soldier.

Soldier. The lad does not take after his father, or he would have gone with me to the stable.

Enter GORTZ of Berlingen, and ADELBERT of Falkenhelm with Attendants.

Gortz (Laying his sword and helmet on the table.) Unbuckle my cuirass here, and give me my cloak. Rest will now taste sweet to

« PreviousContinue »