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nite idea to the inquisitive mind. Indeed, unless it be in the passage from M. Turgot, quoted above, the reader scarcely acquires any information concerning the conftitution of the American States : nor is he any where told, in a diftinct manner, what is the nature of that British constitution, which, in general terms, is held forth to our admiration, in every part of the book.
It is scarcely possible for us to conceive how a man of Dr. Adams's parts and knowledge, fhould have been led to offer to the world, a book containing so many contradictions and absurdities as we meet with in this volume. He observes (Preface, p. ii.) that in so general a refinement, or rather reformation of man. ners and improvement of knowledge (speaking of modern Eu. rope), is it not unaccountable, that the knowledge of the principles and construction of free governments, in which the hap. piness of life, and even the farther progress of improvement in education and society, in knowledge and virtue, are so deeply interefted, should have remained at a full stand for two or three thousand years ?'-How is this to be reconciled with the following passage from the same Preface, p. xxv.? •The English have in reality blended together the feudal institutions with those of the Greeks and Romans; and out of all have made that noble com. pofition, which avoids the inconveniencies, and retains the advantages of both. Again, p. 76. “I only contend that the English conAitution is, in theory, the most ftupendous fabric of the human invention, both for the adjustment of the balance, and the prevention of its vibrations; and that the Americans ought to be applauded instead of censured, for imitating it as far as they bave. Not the formation of languages, not the whole art of navigation and shipbuilding, does more honour to the human understanding than this system of government.' And has this been no improvement? -He proceeds : The Americans have not indeed imitated it in giving a negative upon their legislature to the executive power ; in this respect their balances are incomplete, very much to my mortification : in other respects they have fallen short of perfection, by giving the choice of some mi. litia officers, &c. to the people these are however small matiers at present. They have not made their first magiftrates heredi. tary, nor their senators : here they differ from the Englich conftitution, and with greaf propriety."
We are glad to collect together the scattered hints that occur in different parts of the book on the subject announced in its title. They are very few, and might be cumprised in a small compass; yet few as they are, they do not correspond with each other. Our Author's idea of the means of perfecting the British constitution, wbich occurs at p. 371, neither accords with the improvements of it above fuggetted, nor with the ideas entertained
by most of the conftitution-menders in Britain, who lately of fered to the public their thoughts on that subject.
• The improvements to be made in the English conftitution lie entirely in the House of Commons.' (Here we find no objection to the hereditary king and nobles.] If county members were abolished, and representatives proportionally and frequently chosen in small districts, and if no candidate could be chosen but an established long lettled inhabitant of that diftrict, it would be impoffible to corrupt the people of England, and the House of Commons might be an immortal guardian of the national liberty. Instead of projects to abolish Kings and Lords, if the House of Commons had been atiended to, wild wars would not have been engaged in, nor counsless millions thrown away, nor would there have remained an imperfection, perhaps, in the English combo Aitution. Those who have reflecled deeply on the science of
government, and carefully attended to facis, will no doubt smile at the sanguine expectations of this speculative reformer. They know that perfection in human affairs cannot be thus easily artained.
The great object that Dr. Adams contends for, throughout all this work, is the necessity of a balance of powers in every government. It may,' says he (p. 87.),' be laid down as a universal maxim, that every government that has not three independent branches in its legislature, will soon become an absolute monarchy; or an arrogant nobility, increasing every day in a rage for splendor and magnificence, will annihilate the people, and attended with their horses, hounds, and vassals, will run down the King as they would hunt a deer, withing for nothing so much as to be in at the death.' The same sentiment is continually repeated in this volume. The balances, the balances, are perpetually rung in our ears; but in all the constitutions here pasled in review before the reader, those of America and England not excepted, there is not given a diftin& account of the real balancing powers of any itate, or the particulars in which that balance conlisted. The following account of a baJance of power, if it does not instruct, may at least entertain the reader : it occurs in p. 100.
• The true meaning of a balance of power is beft conceived by confidering what the nature of a balance is. It supposes three things; first, the part which is held, together with the hand that holds it; and then the two scales, with whatever is weighed therein. In a fute within itself the balance must be held by a third hand, who is to deal the remaining power [Qu. What remaining power ? ] with the utmost exactness into the several scales. The balance may be held by the weakeft, who by his address, removing from either scale and adding bis own, may keep the scales duly poised, &c.' In thort (probably from this fanciful analogy) with our Author, three balancing powers, and neither more nor less, are always necessary; but who does not know, that not only three, but thirty, or three hundred, different political powers, may poffibly be so balanced as to be kept firm and steady? Even in the British conftitution, to which
he so often refers, the balancing powers, though nominally three • only, viz. King, Lords, and Commons (by which laft term is
meant the lower house of parliament), yet in reality consist virtually of four powers, in all questions of great importance at leaft, where the great body of the people take a part, and by their influence have a power to give a decided advantage to whatever party they fhall espouse. - This was finely illustrated not long ago, when the King and the Upper House opposed the will of the House of Commons-who, by a great majority of their own body, insisted on claiming a privilege which the nation at Jarge thought they were not entitled to exercise: and though the King and the Lords must of necessity, on that occafion, have given up the conteft, but for the almost unanimous support of ihe nation, yet by means of that support they obtained a conplete victory, and the Commons were obliged to yield.
In a hundred places, perhaps, of this work, Dr. Adams repeats, that liberty can only exist in a state where there are three indes pendent balancing powers; and in as many places he explains what constitutes, in his opinion, the necessary independence of these powers, viz. the being pofseffed, each of them, of a nega. tive voice with regard to the enacting of laws. This circumftance alone he thinks entirely sufficient to answer all the pură poses of a perfect balance. In conformity with this idea, talking of Rome, he observes, p. 335, that if the Consuls bad been pofTeffed of a negative in the legislature, and of all the executive authority, and the senate and people had been made equal and independent in the firft establishment of the commonwealth, it is impossible for any man to prove that the republic would not have remained in vigour and in glory at this hour.' This will readily be granted; but we hope he will not be able to deny, 'that, although all these regulations had been eftablished, it would be equally, impossible for any man to prove that the republic would have remained in vigour and in glory at this hour. The fact is, that all thele regulations might have taken place, and the republic might notwithstanding have been of thorter duration than it was; for before any thing decisive on this fubject can be said, a great many circumstances must be attended to that he has overlooked. A particular order of men in the state may be authorised by the conftitution to have a negative on all acts of legiflation, and yet may be so circumstanced as never to be able to exercise that 'power. This is, in fact, very nearly the case in Britain, at this present moment for though the King has doubtless a full right
to negative any law, yet when did he exercise that power? And in how few cases could he do it with effect, however dispored to do so? 'Those therefore who represent this as the dir, criminating feature, and peculiar mark of excellence in the British conftitution, look no farther than the surface, and can give to others no proper idea either of its excellencies or defects. This, we are sorry to say, is the case with our Author; for he does not ance, in the course of this work, that we could observe (and we have read it all with care), so much as couch at the leading springs which constituted the concealed though real balance of power in any of those states whose revolutions he recites. Had the book been written by a youth, with a view to obtain some academical prize, we should have said it afforded indications of an active mind that gave hopes of future acquirements; but that the young man, too eager to discover the extent of his reading, had carelessly adopted some confused notions of government, and hastily skimmed the surface of the subject, without having taken time deliberately to investigate particulars, and lift the matter to the bottom. This we should, in that caje, have said. But we cannot bring ourselves to think that a man of Dr. Adams's known abilities could polibly be in the same predicament; for which reason we conclude that he must have some point to carry, fome object in view, beyond the Atlantic, with which we are not acquainted, and that he has been fenfible that a book of the nature of this which now lies before us, is well calculated to answer his purpose. It may indeed amuse the ignorant, it may mislead the unwary, but it neither can inform nor entertain the philosopher, nor the man of letters.
We are the more confirmed in our opinion, by observing, that, in the letter which he entitles conclufion, there are some pertinent and judicious remarks on the bad consequences that must be expected to result from authorizing a popular assembly to nominate officers in a state. These remarks are evidently dictated by good sense and attentive observation, which fatisfies us it was not from inability in the Author, that the rest of his book confifts of materials lo exceedingly different from this part.
It would give us great pleasure to see some judicious treatise on the subject of government, peculiarly calculated for the fituation and circumstances of the Americans, by a man of such inAuence among them as might induce them to adopt some pradi. cable plan ; for it pains us to see a numerous people, once our fellow subjects, fill our fellow Christians, and who (we trust) will long continue our commercial friends, involved in diftreffes from which they evidently know not how to extricate themselves. We hoped that this might have been the book, and we regret exceedingly that we have been so much disappointed.
Art. VI. Sermons on the Christian Duerint, as received by the
different Denominations of Christians: to which are added, Sermons on the Security and Happiness of a virtuous Course, on the Goodness of God, and on the Resurrection of Lazarus. By Richard Price, D.D. F. R. S. and Fellow of the American Philosophical Societies at Philadelphia and Boston. 8vo. 55. Boards. Cadell. 1787.
taught mankind many valuable leffons; among wbich, one of the most important, is, the folly of persecution. Another lesson, which this pacient Instructor has for many ages been inculcating, but which the world seems exceedingly loath to learn, is, the unprofitableness of theological disputation. The subtleties of abstract metaphyfics, which have exercised the ingenuity of philosophers and schoolmen, from the days of Pythagoras, are indeed at last found to be so foreign from all the purposes of life, that notwithstanding some late attempts to revive them, they are in a fair way to be consigned to oblivion: we shall probably hear very little more of the TAH IP2TH of Aristotle, and shall, in future, be seldom difturbed with disputes, to determine whether universals are real, or merely nominal, entities. But the experience of near two thousand years, during which time theologians have been contending with each other concerning points of faith, without having ever been able to bring the conteft to a clear issue, has not been sufficient to convince the world, that these disputes do not merit that degree of attention and zeal, which has been bestowed upon them. We still see the advocates for different systems confidently maintaining their respective opinions, each party pofleffing the fullest conviction that they are in the right, and Aattering themselves that all rational men will, in time, be brought over to their persuasion. One writer is of opinion that the minds of men are now so much enlightened as to leave no room to doubt of the speedy prevalence of the fimple and unincumbered system of Socinianism : another thinks himself peculiarly fortunate in having taken what he conceives to be the middle path of Arianism : wbilst a third “declares before God, in the fincerity of his soul, that after having paffed many years in studies of this kind, he is verily persuaded of the proper divinity of our Lord.” Each party charges the rest wish prejudice, presumption, or vanily. And the probability is, that each party will continue to do so, till they are become heartily tired of controverfies, which, for want of agreeing in some common principles respecting the mode of interprering Scripture, or from other causes, not to be removed or prevented, they find themfelves incapable of deciding :-an issue, in which fruitless disputations muft neceffarily, sooner or later, terminate.