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exposing the fallacy and the pernicious tendency of those false principles, which have produced such mischievous consequences; and by enforcing those found fundamental principles, the prevalence of which would have afforded security against the existing evils, and have blessed the world with reposé and happiness. This being the object of the present work, the author begins, with peculiar propriety, by a disquisition on the importance of “first Principles,” which is the subject of the first chapter. He justly observes that
“ The benighted traveller looks anxiously forward to the light which may direct his footiteps in safety through the bewildering shades and unexplored recerles of the foreft : The mariner views, with attentive eye, the needle, ever conftant to its invisible ruler in the north, and steers securely by its guidance through the dangers of the trackless ocean; but, in the moral world, men are frequently content to wander through the forest of uncertainty, and to be tofled on the waves of life, without searching for a steady light to illuminate their paths, or a guide to direct their course."
This difference he thus explains.
“ Reason is nothing more than the power of comparing our ideas, and de. ducing inferences for the purpose of instruction ; but this comparison implies the existence of a standard to which we may refer, and according to which we may decide. All men must have some standard for the direction of their judgement, but it will vary with the degrees of their knowledge and reflection,
“ How can we reason but from what we know ?" « It is frequently assumed without examination ; sometimes from the opinions of a leading character ; sometimes from the common opinions of the world, and often from some intermediate proposition readily admitted as a criterion in its popular sense, but not carried back, as it ought, to the original standard from whence it is supposed to be derived. Of the victims of madness it has frequently and justly been asserted, that they reason right upon wrong prine ciples. It is possible, therefore, to reason, and to reason ably, without ad. vancing to the discovery of truth.
“ Hence, then, arises the greatest, the most important, though not the most obvious, difference between man and man. Some, through ignorance, are incapable, and more, through indolence and want of reflection, are re. gardless of looking back to those First Principles, which form the true standard of reference and decision."
After justly appreciating the various endowments of the mind, which are noít esteemed by men, he says, with equal force, and justness that
“ Wisdom consists in the possession of a standard by which we can estimate the value of all things within the range of our comprehension, and regulate the conduct of life.”
The following distinction deserves particular attention,
“ The difference is obvious between those first principles which respect the conduct of the individual, and those which form the foundation of a science. The former are necessary to all-; the latter are requisite only for those who
are called to the study and exercise of that particular science, and are useful to others only as they are adopted among the grounds of general knowledge, and employed for the advantage of mankind. The peasant may possess the former. He is graciously furnished with the means of acquiring them. He can read, or he can listen to the voice of truth, and to this sacred standard he may refer for instruction. The peafant with these principles is wiser than the subtlest arguer without them.”
The author Thews himself well acquainted with the character of the present age, when he says that" A general diffusion of the lowest species of knowledge, a dashing style of composition, a tinsel sort of eloquence, together with a deficiency of solid thought, a want of logical precision, and an ignorance of original principles, mark the features of the times with colours too glaring to be mistaken, with foreign tints which shame the modeft fimplicity of nature, and disguise the genuine dignity of truth."
Respecting the origin, progress, and effect of erroneous opinions on political subjects, the following observations deserve the particular attention of those persons, who suffer their notions on such subjects to be formed without reflection, or to be derived from the specious and captivating addresses of popular declaimers.
“ There are generally a set of opinions floating loose in the world, adopted without consideration, and uttered without thought, which have been handed down in the same form, from age to age, and received as established maxims by the unthinking, and the indolent. Many of these are specious sophisms, employed only by the eloquent orators of the day, as they suited their addresses to the passions of the populace, and favoured their opposition to some existing evil, or some preponderating power. Though unable to bear the test of Atrict examination, they have never been refuted and exposed, merely because the pressure of no peculiar circumstances has called for their refutation or exposure. These maxims are eagerly seized by the conceited smatterers in knowledge, and the ardent spirits of turbulence and faction. They are magnified into undeniable axioms, and felf-evident truths. They are expanded into gigantic shape, and displayed before the eyes of the people. They are sharpened or rounded into weapons of attack, and this artillery is charged with every, inflammable substance which malice or ingenuity can furnish. The watch-word of conspiracy is given out-the trumpet of fedition is founded and the enthufiaitic demagogues hurry their deluded followers into battle with established usages and conitituted authorities, undismayed, though the hostile forms of wisdom and experience are drawn out in array against them. If the ramparts of the fortress they attack are neglected or decayedif the works are weakly defended, or difficult of defence, down falls the edifice with a mighty ruin, and shakes the astonished earth around. But if the venerable fabrick' be constructed of more durable materials, and its garxison be vigilant and ardent in its defence, it frowns unhurt at the impotent attack, and bids defiance to all the storms which assail it. Yet not even in this case easily discouraged, though baffled in his first attempts, the practised enemy, perhaps, only changes his mode of warfare, and lays aside the open front of hoftility for the secret fap and the insidious mine,"
The second chapter consists of a most valuable essay on liberty a subject, which more than any other, has excited the paffions, and bewildered the reafon, of mankind.
Whoever pays any attention to what is passing on the political theatre, will readily subscribe to the following remark.
Iso Were we to listen to the declamatory arguments of popular orators, wę should be taught to believe that the establishnient of Liberty alone was the froper end and design of government. No other object is ever held up by them to admiration, no higher good is ever proposed for acquisition. They are convinced that this mode of address is the surest passport to the hearts of the people ; and the appeal is made fo frequently, and with so much enthufiafm, that they sometimes argue themselves into a persuasion of the truth of the doctrines which they have so cloquently maintained. But, surely, it requires no very great portion of discernment and reflection to discover the false. hood of fuch an abtract position, and even be brought to wonder at its de tected absurdity."
This is one of those errors which have chiefly contributed to social infelicity, and the author gives it a most complete refutation. He admits that “the true end of government is the public good, or the general happiness of the community.” But to produce that end, he Thews that it must operate by means of restraint-the very name of government, he observes, “ implies controul upon the actions of men.” It is, therefore, in its essence, " incompatible with the possession of abstract liberty.”
« Restraint, therefore, is the first and most essential quality of government. It is inseparable from its nature--it is government itself.”—? Such alas ! is the wid extent of vice and folly, of ignorance and error, that the majority of mankind must be subject to perpetual controul. In a system well constructed, and well administered, this controal operates fo insensibly, that it is sometines overlooked, and sometimes attributed to the power of human reason over hu. man conduct; but alter the system, abolish the government; and the necesity for exterior restraint becomes dreadfully apparent. All wife and good men, therefore, look up to government with an eye of reverence and awe. Thev consider it in fome respects as a sacred subject, and they fear rafhly to lay
their hands on the ark of venerable authority."
The author then shews, by a happy and beautiful mode of illustration, that the power of controul, which is effentially inherent in government, is the real source of true and falutary freedom.
“ But if restraint be thus requisite for man, and submission be a duty in. cumbent upon him, what becomes of the fair form of freedom, 'who lately presented herself to our fight, attired in all her feducing graces, attracted our love and admiration, and claimed a precedence among the principles of government? Is not her image banished? Is not her nature annihilated by the presence of restraint ? No, her serene 'and virtuous power rises from the midit of fetters with unincrumbered dignity ; and converts the chains of controul into the wreaths of pleasure : nay, paradoxical as it may appear, the freedorn which conduces to happiness regards restraint as her parent, companion, and
friend. If restraint be directed to the attainment of its proper object, the public good, it will ftay the hand of oppression, defeat the designs of fraud, destroy the combinations of tyranny, and check the numerous evils of vice; but will it not, in so doing, give freedom of action, and security of poffeßion, to the juft, the peaceable, and the innocent; and can such freedom be enjoyed without such restraint? The answer is obvious : Under the protection of a good government, the virtuous man walks through the prison of the world unmolested and unhurt ; but liberate the captives of vice, and he would be affaulted, plundered, and abused.
“ Liberty then, in the first place, must be considered as the consequence of restraint. General Liberty is the effect of restraint upon every individual
; particular liberty is the consequence of general restraint : it looks up to government as its author, to law as its guardian. Independent of a syitem of Law, the Liberty of a nation is an empty found.”
The remaining part of this work contains two chapters; one on Democracy, and the other on the Party Denominations of Whig and Tory, both of which we should be happy to notice more particularly. But we hope we have said enough to give our readers a general idea of the merit and utility of the publication, and to induce them to give it an attentive perusas. The stile is clear, nervous, and correct. We observe with great pleasure, that the author has it in contemplation to proceed further“ in the execution of his plan."
A Practical Improvement of the Divine Counsel and Conduct; attempted
in a Sermon, occasioned by the Deceale of William Cowper, Esq. preached at Olney, 18th May, 1800. By Samuel Greatheed. 8vo. Pp. 47: Is. Newport Pagnel. Wakefield. Williams. London. T is imposible for us to describe the mingled sensations of pain discourse excited in us. As a compofition, it has all the defects which might be expected in an extempore narangue, delivered before an independent congregation, by the Lord knows who, educated and ordained the Lord knows where. It is, by turns, pious, awful, ridi. culous, sensible, filly, elevated, colloquial, vulgar. Our feelings have nevertheless been greatly interested by it, fince it contains many melancholy traits of character in an eminent writer, who was not altogether unknown to us, the author of the Talk. The biographical part, therefore, of the fermon we will give to our readers, as briefly as may be; interspersing facts and observations, which we are able to furnish from our own knowledge and recoļlection. We begin our extracts in p. 10. at the cominencement of a passage for which we must fufpect that the author is indebted to a pen more able than his
If we do him wrong, we can only say, in reproof of his general negligence, O fi fic omnia.
But to Mr, Cowper, • Born of amiable and respectable parents, of noble affinity, and connected with persons of great worldly intiuence, his advancement in temporal
affluence and honour seemed to demand no extraordinary mental endowe ments. His opening genius, however, discovered a capacity for elegant literature, and he enjoyed the best advantages for improvement. With uncommon abilities, he possessed a most amiable temper; and he became not only the darling of his relations, but beloved and admired by his associates in éducation ; fome of whom, with inferior prospects, have since risen to distinguished reputation, and even to the highest professional rank!”
Allusion is here evidently made to the intimacy which subfifted, through life between Mr. Cowper and Lord Thurlow. To the peer, we believe the poet to have been principally indebted for the royal pension bestowed on him some time previous to his death. In the success of his ingenious friend, we know that the Chancellor felt him- · felf peculiarly interested; and it is a circumstance which ought to be recorded, that while the translation of Homer was going forward, he could relax from the severities of office, to communicate to his poetical correspondent his private remarks as a man of reading and taste.
66 But the towering hopes which were naturally built on so flattering a ground, were undermined at an early period. From childhood, during which he lost a much-loved parent, his fpirits were always very tender, and often greatly dejected. His natural diffidence and depression of mind were increaled to a most distrefling degree, by the turbulence of his elder comrades, at the most celebrated public school in the kingdom!"
Mr. Cowper was bred at Westminster school.
" When (at mature age) he was appointed to a lucrative and honourable fituation in the law, he firunk, with the greatest terror, from the appearance which it required him to make before the Upper House of Parliament, Several affecting circumstances concurred to increase the agony of his mind, while revolving the consequences of relinquishing the post to which he had been nominated.”
Mr. Cowper was one of the shyest of mankind; yet was he destined, by want of proper feeling and discernment on the part of his friends, to fill a conspicuous post in the House of Lords. A blunder of the fame kind was committed, by the admirers of Mr. Addison, when he was appointed one of the Secretaries of State. Mr. Cowper (as we have heard the story) when the office, to the reversion of which he was to succeed, became vacant, fecreted himself, and was no where to be found. When the office was filled, he again made his appearance ; but with a boson in which there was no peace, because he had spontaneously deprived himself of an independent situation in life, at a time when it was his wish to have made the object of his attachment happy, by an offer of marriage. Such is the tale of his incipient fufferings, as it has been related to us. Under such impressions,
“ He wished for madness, as the only apparent means by which his perplexity and distress could be "terminated. A desperation, of which few among mankind can form a iuitable conception, but which it may be hoped many will regard with tender pity, drove him to attempt felf-murder !"