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nite idea to the inquifitive mind. Indeed, unless it be in the paffage 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 conftitution, which, in general terms, is held forth to our admiration, in every part of the book.
It is fcarcely poffible 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 fo many contradictions and abfurdities as we meet with in this volume. He obferves (Preface, p. ii.) that in fo general a refinement, or rather reformation of manners and improvement of knowledge (fpeaking of modern Eu rope), is it not unaccountable, that the knowledge of the principles and conftruction of free governments, in which the hap pinefs of life, and even the farther progress of improvement in education and fociety, in knowledge and virtue, are so deeply interefted, fhould have remained at a full ftand for two or three thousand years?'-How is this to be reconciled with the following paffage from the fame Preface, p. xxv.? The English have in reality blended together the feudal inftitutions with thofe of the Greeks and Romans; and out of all have made that noble compofition, which avoids the inconveniencies, and retains the advantages of both. Again, p. 76. I only contend that the English conAtitution is, in theory, the moft 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 cenfured, for imitating it as far as they have. Not the formation of languages, not the whole art of navigation and fhipbuilding, does more honour to the human understanding than this fyftem of government.' And has this been no im provement?-He proceeds: The Americans have not indeed imitated it in giving a negative upon their legislature to the executive power; in this refpect their balances are incomplete, very much to my mortification: in other respects they have fallen fhort of perfection, by giving the choice of fome militia officers, &c. to the people-thefe are however small matters at prefent. They have not made their firft magiftrates hereditary, nor their fenators: here they differ from the English conftitution, and with great propriety.'
We are glad to collect together the fcattered hints that occur in different parts of the book on the fubject announced in its title. They are very few, and might be comprifed in a small compafs; yet few as they are, they do not correspond with each other. Our Author's idea of the means of perfecting the British conftitution, which occurs at p. 371, neither accords with the improvements of it above fuggefted, nor with the ideas entertained
by most of the conftitution-menders in Britain, who lately offered to the public their thoughts on that fubject.
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 reprefentatives proportionally and frequently chofen in fmall diftricts, and if no candidate could be chofen but an established long fettled inhabitant of that district, it would be impoffible to corrupt the people of England, and the House of Commons might be an immortal guardian of the national liberty. Inftead of projects to abolish Kings and Lords, if the Houfe of Commons had been attended to, wild wars would not have been engaged in, nor countless millions thrown away, nor would there have remained an imperfection, perhaps, in the English conAitution. Those who have reflecled deeply on the fcience of government, and carefully attended to facts, will no doubt fmile at the fanguine expectations of this fpeculative reformer. They know that perfection in human affairs cannot be thus eafily attained.
The great object that Dr. Adams contends for, throughout all this work, is the neceffity of a balance of powers in every government. It may,' fays he (p. 87.), be laid down as a univerfal maxim, that every government that has not three independent branches in its legislature, will foon become an abfolute monarchy; or an arrogant nobility, increasing every day in a rage for fplendor and magnificence, will annihilate the people, and attended with their horfes, hounds, and vaffals, will run down the King as they would hunt a deer, wishing for nothing fo much as to be in at the death.' The fame fentiment is continually repeated in this volume. The balances, the balances, are perpetually rung in our ears; but in all the conftitutions here pafled in review before the reader, thofe of America and England not excepted, there is not given a diftinct account of the real balancing powers of any state, or the particulars in which that balance confifted. The following account of a balance of power, if it does not inftruct, may at leaft 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 fuppofes three things; first, the part which is held, together with the hand that holds it; and then the two fcales, with whatever is weighed therein. In a fate within itfelf the balance must be held by a third hand, who is to deal the remaining power [Qu. What remaining power?] with the utmoft exactnefs into the feveral scales. The balance may be held by the weakeft, who by his addrefs, removing from either fcale and adding his own, may keep the foales duly poifed, &c.' In fhort (probably
from this fanciful analogy) with our Author, three balancing powers, and neither more nor less, are always neceffary; but who does not know, that not only three, but thirty, or three hundred, different political powers, may poffibly be fo balanced as to be kept firm and fteady? Even in the British conftitution, to which he fo 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 queftions 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 efpoufe.-This was finely illustrated not long ago, when the King and the Upper Houfe opposed the will of the Houfe of Commons-who, by a great majority of their own body, infifted on claiming a privilege which the nation at large thought they were not entitled to exercife: and though the King and the Lords muft of neceffity, on that occafion, have given up the conteft, but for the almoft unanimous fupport of the nation, yet by means of that fupport they obtained a complete victory, and the Commons were obliged to yield.
In a hundred places, perhaps, of this work, Dr. Adams repeats, that liberty can only exift in a state where there are three inde pendent balancing powers; and in as many places he explains what conftitutes, in his opinion, the neceflary independence of thefe powers, viz. the being poffeffed, each of them, of a nega tive voice with regard to the enacting of laws. This circum ftance alone he thinks entirely fufficient to answer all the purposes of a perfect balance. In conformity with this idea, talking of Rome, he obferves, p. 335, that if the Confuls had been poffeffed of a negative in the legislature, and of all the executive authority, and the fenate and people had been made equal and independent in the firft establishment of the commonwealth, it is impoffible 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 impoffible for any man to prove that the republic would have remained in vigour and in glory at this hour. The fact is, that 'all thefe regulations might have taken place, and the republic 'might notwithstanding have been of thorter duration than it was; 'for before any thing decifive on this fubject can be faid, a great many circumstances must be attended to that he has overlooked. A particular order of men in the ftate may be authorised by the conflitution to have a negative on all acts of legiflation, and yet may be fo circumftanced as never to be able to exercife that 'power. This is, in fact, very nearly the cafe in Britain, at this prefent-moment for though the King has doubtless a full right
to negative any law, yet when did he exercife that power? And in how few cafes could he do it with effect, however difpofed to do fo? Thofe therefore who reprefent this as the dif criminating feature, and peculiar mark of excellence in the British conftitution, look no farther than the furface, and can give to others no proper idea either of its excellencies or defects. This, we are forry to fay, is the cafe with our Author; for he does not once, in the course of this work, that we could obferve (and we have read it all with care), fo much as touch at the leading fprings which constituted the concealed though real balance of power in any of thofe ftates whofe revolutions he recites. Had the book been written by a youth, with a view to obtain fome academical prize, we fhould have faid it afforded indications of an active mind that gave hopes of future acquirements; but that the young man, too eager to difcover the extent of his reading, had carelessly adopted fome confufed notions of government, and haftily fkimmed the furface of the fubject, without having taken time deliberately to inveftigate particulars, and fift the matter to the bottom. This we fhould, in that caje, have faid. But we cannot bring ourselves to think that a man of Dr. Adams's known abilities could poffibly be in the fame predicament; for which reafon we conclude that he must have fome 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 philofopher, nor the man of letters.
We are the more confirmed in our opinion, by obferving, that, in the letter which he entitles conclufion, there are fome pertinent and judicious remarks on the bad confequences that must be expected to refult from authorizing a popular affembly to nominate officers in a state. These remarks are evidently dictated by good fenfe and attentive obfervation; which fatisfies us it was not from inability in the Author, that the rest of his book confifts of materials fo exceedingly different from this part.
It would give us great pleasure to fee fome judicious treatise on the fubject of government, peculiarly calculated for the fituation and circumftances of the Americans, by a man of fuch influence among them as might induce them to adopt fome practicable plan; for it pains us to fee a numerous people, once our fellow fubjects, ftill our fellow Chriftians, and who (we truft) will long continue our commercial friends, involved in diftreffes from which they evidently know not how to extricate themfelves. We hoped that this might have been the book, and we regret exceedingly that we have been fo much difappointed.
ART. VI. Sermons on the Chriftian Doctrine, as received by the different Denominations of Chriftians: to which are added, Sermons on the Security and Happiness of a virtuous Courfe, on the Goodness of God, and on the Refurrection of Lazarus. By Richard Price, D. D. F. R. S. and Fellow of the American Philofophical Societies at Philadelphia and Boston. 8vo. 5s. Boards. Cadell. 1787.
XPERIENCE, a flow but fure Preceptor, has already taught mankind many valuable leffons;. among which, one of the most important, is, the folly of perfecution. Another leffon, which this patient Inftructor has for many ages been inculcating, but which the world feems exceedingly loath to learn, is, the unprofitableness of theological difputation. The fubtleties of abftract metaphyfics, which have exercised the ingenuity of philofophers and fchoolmen, from the days of Pythagoras, are indeed at laft found to be fo foreign from all the purposes of life, that notwithstanding fome late attempts to revive them, they are in a fair way to be configned to oblivion: we fhall probably hear very little more of the YAH ПРOTH of Ariftotle, and fhall, in future, be feldom difturbed with difputes, to determine whether univerfals 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 iffue, has not been fufficient to convince the world, that thefe difputes do not merit that degree of attention and zeal, which has been beftowed upon them. We ftill fee the advocates for different fyftems confidently maintaining their respective opinions, each party poffeffing the fulleft conviction that they are in the right, and flattering themselves that all rational men will, in time, be brought over to their perfuafion. One writer is of opinion that the minds of men are now fo much enlightened as to leave no room to doubt of the fpeedy prevalence of the fimple and unincumbered fyftem of Socinianifm: another thinks himself peculiarly fortunate in having taken what he conceives to be the middle path of Arianifm: whilft a third "declares before God, in the fincerity of his foul, that after having paffed many years in ftudies of this kind, he is verily perfuaded of the proper divinity of our Lord." Each party charges the reft with prejudice, prefumption, or vanity. And the probability is, that each party will continue to do fo, till they are become heartily tired of controverfies, which, for want of agreeing in fome common principles refpecting the mode of interpreting Scripture, or from other caufes, not to be removed or prevented, they find themfelves incapable of deciding:-an iffue, in which fruitlefs difputations muft neceffarily, fooner or later, terminate.