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Having made some pertinent remarks on the disadvantage* attending the Monarchical, Aristocratic, and Democratic forms of government, he observes, that, * as they are all so very imperfect, it is easy to imagine that a fourth, built with such imperfect materials, cannot be free from imperfections. This is the cafe with the British constitution; it is a medley of all the others. The fabric may possibly be considered as a master piece of human wisdom, and in this light the English in general consider it; yet manifold are the faults discoverable in it. The incessant contests, and permanent parties, that keep the nation in a species of ferment, and the revolutions that have taken place, are indubitable proof* that a constitution, composed of such jarring elements, contains within itself the principles of commotion. Before I had acquired a more accurate knowledge of affairs, I was used to think, that if the maxims of the constitution were strictly adhered to, the People might be happy, and the King both beloved and honoured. Yet as often as I expressed these thoughts, the answer was invariably,— this is impossible; England must be governed bj parties. Indeed, considering the form of government, it is scarcely possible to do without them. Power and authority are things which have too much influence upon mankind; and the desire cf limiting the power of sovereigns is as strong as their eagerness to rule uncontrouled. The King's power is in itself, according to the constitution, very great ; and although the power and privileges of Parliament, particularly of the Lower House, appear great, yet the influence of the Crown will always be so prevalent as to secure a majority of votes; and thus it may become in fact the chief legislative power, acting uncontrouled under the appearance of a perfect conformity to the principles of the constitution. It is therefore evident, that, if the King did not enjoy an influence that both furnishes the means, and prompts the desire to corrupt; and if there was not an Upper House perpetually inclining to the side of the King, the House of Commons would be more patriotic, and the will of the community at large would be the grand object of every motion and of every law.'
The truth of some of the above positions will be readily allowed; but others will be litigated by almost every Englishman. That several millions of people cannot be fully and properly represented by a Parliament, chosen by merely 260,060 votes, of which some thousands, from their offices, are at the beck of the Court; and some thousands more liable to be seduced by the most unworthy candidates, who generally bribe the highest: and that an ambitious King, wicked Ministry, and venal Parliament, may endanger our liberties, are truths which few will deny; and they prove that the constitution is not so perfect but it is still capable of some amendment; which is the cafe with all human affairs. But the question is, whether, with all these disadvantages, the form of government be not upon the whole better than that of any other hitherto established? Can the vices of one man, or of a few individuals, so speedily produce the. most fatal effects? Must there not be a general depravity
of of manners amongst us before our liberties can be subverted? If we can only be (laves by selling ourselves, then must our morals be more in fault than our government. It were devoutly to be wished that such regulation could be made, as to remove all temptations to corruption; in the mean time, we must deem ourselves peculiarly fortunate in a constitution that secures us from every thing but our own depravity. In short, if better care be taken to check that lust of power so natural to man, and if the means of redress remain much longer in our hands than in most other states, the superiority of our government will be manifest. The axiom, that a constitution formed out of the union of three others must in its nature be imperfect, is by no; means conclusive. This was the opinion of Tacitus, and it is, according to our judgment, satisfactorily confuted by Blackstone *, who observes, that " although, in a Democracy, public virtue is more likely to be found; yet popular assemblies are frequently foolish in their contrivance, and weak in their execution ;" (and, may we not add, are liable to be under the absolute direction of a few interested individuals, who assume the garb of patriotism?} "In Aristocracies there is more wisdom, but less honesty and less strength than in a Monarchy. A Monarchy is the most powerful of any, all the sinews of government being knit together, and united in the hands of the prince; but then there is imminent danger of his employing that strength to improvident and oppressive purposes. The imperfections of each," he adds, "are happily avoided in our constitution. The executive power being lodged in a single person, all the advantages of strength and dispatch are enjoyed: and as the legislature of the kingdom is entrusted to three distinct powers, actuated by different springs, and attentive to different interests, no inconvenience can be attempted by either of the three branches, but will be withstood by one of the other two; each branch being armed with a negative power, sufficient to repel any innovation which it shall think inexpedient or dangerous, &c. &c." Av*
,lft4fc%W. enumerates, with the warmest approbation, the me- Gf, thods proposed, some years ago, to render the Parliament more independent of the Crown. He then enquires into the state of patriotism; the different parties that subsist among us, the origin of JVhigs and Tories, and the motives which influence the different denominations of men to incline toward monarchical or republican principles.
Our Author next proceeds to give a circumstantial account of the land and sea forces of the kingdom. Under this head, he observes the great caution which is taken by our laws against the bad effects of a standing army. He traces the origin of a na
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tional militia, the changes this establishment has undergone at different times, and states the laws by which it is now regulated. He justly observes, that the security of a nation, fi'uated like Great Britain, must consist in the force of its navy; which is not only better calculated to protect its extensive coasts from invasion than the largest army, but also renders the use of fortifications unnecessary; which too frequently prove treacherous friends, and may be employed to enjlave a people, as well as to protect them. Speaking of the state of the navy, he observes, that Sir Edward Coke thought that England had reason to boast of the strength of her navy in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when it consisted of 33 ships of war. But what would he have f%id, had he lived in the present times; when, according to the Register of the Admiralty, it appears to consist of no less than 170 ships of the line! He gives his countrymen a circumstantial account of the number of sailors allotted to each (hip; the division of the navy into squadrons, the different ranks of Admirals arid other officers, with their appointments; the order of battle, various mpdes of engaging, &c. Under the article of Manning the navy, he tikes occasion to make some very pointed observations upon the horrid custom of pressing freemen to protect our liberties; and of treating those as felons, who support the national glory. And he justly expresses his astonishment that men, compelled to the service, should yet be so strongly actuated by the amor patria; a truth this, which renders oppressive measures still more unjustifiable.
In treating of the national debt, and expenditures, these subjects arc circumstantially stated, from the best possible information.
The Poor pass next in review. Their alarming increase he partly ascribes to their being infected by the common contagion of luxury and extravagance, and to their total inattention, in days of prosperity, to adverse seasons that may arrive. The pro
X-. vision made for them, he observes, exceeds the revenues of many. .,, princes, and the number of the poor amounts to about one seventh of the inhabitants. In the year 1680, little more than a century ago, the poor's taxes produced no more than 665,392 /.; in 1764, they stood at about, 1,200,000/. ; and in 1773 they were estimated at 3 millions! He strongly recommends the plan of a poor-house erected in the county of Norfolk as a model worthy of imitation, and as the most likely remedy against this growing evil. Suppose (says he) that in England there are jo,coo parishes, and that a workhouse was established in each parish containing 20 poor, every one of whom stiould be able.to earn by labour but four pence per day; and allowing three hundred days in the year for labour, they would save a million per annum to the state.
On the subject of Population, our Author states the contest between Dr. Price and his opponents, and inclines to the calculations of the former, as being drawn from less dubious data. He considers the statements given by Messrs. Wales and Eden, and from which they conclude that the number of houses is increased, as depending on premises too precarious. The increase of houses, asserted by Mr. Wales, is chiefly taken from a survey of Yorkshire and Lancashire; where, as new manufactures have been established, the number of buildings must have increased in particular towns. But if the account of Mr. isales be accurate, and there be no decrease of dwellings in other provinces, then must the reports of the sworn CommisSoner be false. But it is most probable, that the cottages of the poor decrease very much, while those houses which are subject to the window-tax may be upon the increase, particularly in quarters where trade flourishes. So that when Mr. Wales asserts that, in the -year 1756, the number of houses in the North-riding of Yorkshire was only lji6, and that within 25 years there was an increase of 269 families, no notice is taken of the number of farm houses and cottages, which have been destroyed; and which (though they make no figure in the estimates of window-rates) are more favourable to population than palaces. Our Author concludes by expatiating, with all the warmth of genuine philanthropy, on the absurdity of those laws that are unfriendly to population.
Treating of Commerce, he observes, that the power and wealth of England, which excite the envy and astonishment of other nations, proceed chiefly from its commerce. This seems not. to have been attended to before the days of Queen Elizabeth; but from that period the riches and power of the nation have made a rapid increase, The famous Navigation Act, that passed a little before the restoration of King Charles, had an amazing effect. Estimating the merchant ships by the tons they carry, there was an increase of 95,266 tons in one year. At the time of the Revolution, they amounted to 190,000; and towards the end of King William's reign, to 320,000. In the years 1773 and 1774. they were estimated at 800,000. Taking Sir C. Wbituorth for his guide, our Author gives a circumstantial account of the different exports and imports of England to and from every part of the globe; by which it appears, that before the last destructive war the balance in favour of the country was no less than 3,356,411 /. It appears also, from different tables, that the average of gains for the space of thirty years may be reckoned at 5 millions per annum, which gives a sum of no less than 150 millions of clear profit. If it be asked, where this immense wealth remains, he answers, it has partly been employed in establishing plantations in North America and the West India islands, snd partly exported for the payment of interest for monies vested by foreigners
crs in the public funds, which makes a deduction of 3 millions per annum.
Notwithstanding the great loss which, it is natural to imagine, England must sustain by the independence of the colonies, and the free trade of Ireland, yet he remarks, that it is yet in her power, by commerce, and by virtue of her own natural products, to maintain her respectability, and increase her riches, supposing that she was also deprived of her possessions both in the East and West Indies. He next proceeds to enquire with what countries the balance of trade may be supposed 10 be against, or in favour of England. By Russia, Sweden, and Denmark, she loses. It is much disputed, respecting Germany, on which side the balance lies. It appears, at first, to be decidedly in favour of England; both the quantity and value of goods exported from hence to Germany, being much superior to those imported. But it must be observed that Germany is a considerable gainer upon many of these articles, by disposing of them again to the adjacent countries; and also, that several sorts of goods are entered at the Custom-house, as imported from Holland and Italy, which are the produce of Germany. With France the loss is very considerable; for although the balance appear in the books of the Custom-house much in favour of England, yet the immense contraband trade greatly preponderates in favour of France. He further suggests, that by the suppression of smuggling, and a prudent commercial treaty, both nations might be benefited, and the occasion of perpetual contentions taken away. Both these objects are now accomplished; and every friend to humanity, every lover of his country, must wish them to answer the intended purposes. This chapter contains much interesting matter, which cannot be further noticed without exceeding our present limits.
In his account of the manufactures of the kingdom, he expresses his admiration at the high degree of perfection to which they are arrived; at the incredible number of hands employed; and the expedition, elegance, and cheapness of the goods. We think, however, that he is mistaken when he asserts, that the foreign woollen cloths are scarcely inferior to the English, and seems surprised that the latter should be so much preferred. Nor can we agree with him in the assertion, that foreign dies or colours, are in general preferable.' It is readily allowed, that in the black die we are much excelled by the Dutch j but as to most other colours and particularly scarlet, blue, and garnet, we excel them both in the vividness and fixedness of the colours. The softness of the feel, which he commends in the Dutch cloths, proceeds merely from their looser contexture, and this again proceeds from their not being so firmly milled; in consequence of which defect, though there manifestly arises a considerable 11 saving