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improvements of the last ten years, at sixteen or seventeen millions, Art. 26. Exposition of one principal Cause of the National Distress,
particularly in manufacturing Districts; with some Suggestions for its Removal. 8vo. pp. 44.
Is. 6d. Darton and Co. 1817. A vague and desultory performance, professing by its title to aim at something specific, but containing a variety of miscellaneous or rather extraneous matter, and even attempting to revive a number of antiquated prejudices. What shall we say of a writer who sees no other remedy for the relief of the poor than an immediate advance in the price of labour, and who considers that as an evil hour in which machinery was introduced into our domestic manufactures ? Art. 27. A Letter to the Right Hon. Lord Rolle, on the present
Distresses of the Country. By John Edye. 8vo. pp. 24. Longman and Co. 1817.
This pamphlet has scarcely any advantage over the foregoing, the writers being much on a par with regard to their stock of political knowlege, and as to the expediency of the means which they recommend for the relief of the lower orders. Mr. Edye points his chief antipathy at the fund-holder, and conceives himself to be very eloquent when he gives the reins to his fancy, and expatiates on the inefficacy of paper-money to accomplish the
extraordinary exertions by which, as our ministers say, we effected the deliverance of Europe." • What is our national debt? nothing bụt a few rags. Can paper fight? Can these modern-trained bands of the Bank of England shoulder a musket, storm a breach, or fire a cannon ?? Yet Mr. Edye does not carry his unkindness so far as to wish (p. 19.) for a national bankruptcy; he is generous enough to propose to leave the fund-holder one part of his property, if he will relinquish the other. He does not condescend to specify the quantum of the deduction, but it must be very considerable indeed, if we are to judge from the following significant admonition: · I would recommend him, then, to descend from that aerial height, where he can no longer sustain himself, and where he can no longer be sustained, with
the same sincerity that I would give that advice to one of my children, whom I saw on the topmost bough of a tree, which I knew to be incapable of supporting him. The fall of the giddy child of fortune in the one case (unless he take timely warning) is as inevitable as that of the sportive child of nature in the other.' Art. 28. Correspondence of the Duke of Otranto with the Duke of
Wellington, Letter I. Dresden, Jan. 1. 1816. 8vo. 5s, sewed. Colburn,
We take notice of this · Correspondence' merely to record our belief that the whole is a fabrication of a Parisian or London bookmaker, the reflections being frequently common-place, and the style inflated and unnatural. If it be worth while to settle the question, to which side of the Channe! we are to give the credit of the invention, the Gallicisms are so frequent that they leave little reason to doubt the propriety of assigning the whole to our neighbours. Most readers will be of such an opinion, when informed that this epistle begins by invoking the authority of Solon, and ends with the elegant phrase, “Ill is almost always executed under hallowed pretexts.' Art. 29. The Monarchy according to the Charter. By the
Viscount de Chateaubriand, Peer of France, Minister of State, Chevalier of the Royal and Military Order of St. Louis, Menaber of the Royal Institute of France. 8vo. pp. 268. 78.6d. Boards. Murray.
Another political effusion from the pen of this indefatigable writer ! - a writer, too, who complains that the press is in shackles ! - We have often occasion to regret the want of method and subdivision in the temporary productions of the day:but M. de C. is determined that no reviewer shall have to censure him on that ground: for the present volume, a thin octavo, is divided into ninety-two chapters, a fresh title being adopted not only at every change of subject, but at almost every nuance in the discussion. The topics treated in this series of essays are very multifarious; some relating to the royal prerogative; others to the privileges of the representative body; many to the conduct of the three administrations which have guided the affairs of France since the restoration of the Bourbong; others to the liberty of the press and the state of public feeling in that disunited country, &c. All these matters are discussed with the characteristic boldness of this writer, who is never at a loss for a decisive opinion, and who has no scruple in advocating his present doctrines at the expence of those of his former situation. He maintains, among other things, that the French parliament should have, like ours, the initiative, or right of originating public bills ; a right which, however natural it may appear to Englishmen, would be productive of very dangerous consequences among an unsettled and credulous people. M. de C. is less objectionable in maintaining (p.51.) the doctrine, that “no Committee of the French parliament ought to go the length of proposing a new tax; but that the representative body should confine itself to the question of adopting or rejecting, leaving the task of the original proposition to the finance-minister.' Men in office can scarcely be expected to do justice to a project that is not their own; or to avoid indulging a secret triumph on the failure of a plan introduced without their concurrence.
Other parts of the publication are appropriated to arguments against the revolutionists; who, in the author's opinion, have enjoyed too much of the confidence of the court; and who, he thinks, would still be ready to join in a conspiracy against legitimate monarchy. Nothing makes him, and the French noblesse in general, feel so sore as the charge of inaptitude for business, and the assertion that the balance of talents rests with their opponents. It is curious to see M. de C. profess himself very desirous (p. 239.) to plead the cause of moderation, and urging that ministers should bc indulgent, tolerant, and humane; while, in the very next page,
he mixes with these kind hints certain admonitions of a less friendly, and of an extremely vague description; such as that they should give a preference to virtue over vice; that they should not put an honest man at one desk, and a rogue at the next; with a string of other common-places, which have been re-echoed in France during thirty years, without the people ever becoming aware of the endless perversion that may be made of such undefined language.
This tract is certainly less absurd than some others from the same pen, particularly the Viscount's incomprehensible book on the subject of “Revolutions :" but we can by no means recommend it to the attention of our readers, at least to those among them who prefer deliberate inquiry and sober reasoning to the glitter of bold metaphors and well-rounded periods. Art. 30.
On the Political Doctrine calculated to unile Parties in France ; by Benjamin de Constant. Translated by Thomas Elde Darby, under the Inspection of the Author. 8vo. pp. 44. 25. 6d. Ridgway. 1817.
In this little tract, we see the usual features of M. de Constant's camposition, vivacity of conception, bold assertion, and abrupt transition: all indicative of a mind of energy, but all failing to produce full and deliberate conviction. We have here in miniature the spirit discovered en grand three years ago by his publication (M. R. Vol. lxxv. p. 454.) on the “ Folly of Conquest and offensive War;" a publication which, we must remark, was followed so early as the succeeding year by the author's adherence to the government of the very man whom he had thus held up to public indignation. M. de C. cannot refuse to acknowlege this inconsistency, but he would fain urge (p. 23.) a plea of disinterestedness; I accepted,' he says, 'a seat in Bonaparte's council, at the I. time when France was threatened by 1,200,000 foreigners.' - The scope of the present pamphlet is to lay down a kind of creed for both parties; and to adopt the fundamental rule that, whatever might be the excesses of a few individual revolutionists, the great majority of them are men who do honour to their country, and deserve the confidence of their sovereign: ‘not, however, to the exclusion of the noblesse, a class polished in its manners and rich in its honours.'
M. de Constant inveighs strongly against M. de Chateaubriand ; who has made, he says, the rare discovery that the press of France is in shackles at the very time that he is sending forth through its medium a diatribe for almost every month ; à mode of writing which has the mischievous effect of keeping up in the breast of the emigrants, the clergy, and the noblesse, that rankling spirit which would otherwise give way to the operation of time and the conciliating policy of Louis XVIII. On the whole, though commendable in its intention, this pamphlet is unsatisfactory from a want of completeness in its argument and illustrations. Art. 31. Further Observations on the State of the Nation ; the Means of Employment of Labour; the Sinking Fnnd, and its
Application ; Pauperism; and the Protection requisite to the Landed and Agricultural Interests, By Richard Preston, Esq., M.P. 8vo. pp. 46. 25. Longman and Co.
We lately took occasion (see our February Review) to animadvert on Mr. Preston's former pamphlet; and to express our regret that a writer, who is certainly not devoid of capacity, had allowed himself to become the vehicle of a series of crude and upsupported allegations. He does not, we are sorry to add, belong to the rare number who take warning by advice; the present pamphlet being in all respects a worthy rival of its predecessor ; discussing the most difficult topics with the greatest confidence, and advancing the strongest assertions without any scruple as to the weakness of the arguments by which he supports them. A late traveller, in delineating the behaviour of Frenchmen in a mixed company, says (see our Number for December, p. 373.) that it makes not the smallest difference to them whether the subject under discussion be new to them or not, but that they take a part in the conversation with as much ease, and lay down the law on it with as much confidence, as if it had been long familiar to them. Mr.P., we fear, must plead guilty to a similar charge: for what less than a complete unacquaintance with the very complicated and difficult nature of political economy could induce him to attempt so wide a range of topics, or to treat them in so decisive a tone ? To endeavour to follow him through his never-ending labyrinth would be hopeless; and we shall merely observe that, at a time when ministers and the majority of our representatives are aware of the policy of taking off all restriction on the rate of interest, Mr. P. demands (pp. 6. 43.) that the reins of compulsion shall be drawn still tighter; and that, instead of five, the capitalist shall be restricted to four per cent. Again, in the case of the corn-laws, he calls for a repeal of that most important and beneficial clause which permits the warehousing of foreign corn at all seasons; and he sums up with requiring (p. 9.) a permanent duty of not less than twenty shillings per quarter on foreign wheat: a measure which, he has the kindness to tell us, would benefit and not injure the public.' Art. 32. An Essay concerning Parliaments at a Certainty; or the
Kalends of May. By Samuel Johnson, Author of a Vindication of Magna Charta, &c. Reprinted from the Edition published in 1694, with Notes by the Editor. 8vo. 28. Hunter. 1817.
It is always of importance, in the consideration of any question, that the data on which an argument is founded should be fully established and acknowleged by both parties. The fact discussed in this little pamphlet was, previously to its re-appearance, openly contradicted: but we have observed that, in the recent debates in our House of Commons, this denial has not been repeated. Whether this silence on the subject is purely accidental, or arises from a conviction obtained in a perusal of the publication before us, we know not: but no reader can close its pages with a doubt remaining on his mind. The question of the expediency of annual
parliaments, in the present stage of our political existence, may still remain undecided : but the fact that they were a part of the constitution of the kingdom can no longer be a subject of dispute.
Mr. Johnson shews most clearly, by reference to various authorities, that parliaments were originally assembled “ two times yearly, or oftener if need were,” and that the practice so continued down to Edward I. ; - that subsequently, and as low as the reign of Charles I., the law was “ that a parliament should yearly be holden;" — that “these yearly parliaments were fresh and fresh;”and that, in consequence of the long discontinuance of parliaments by Charles, the nation found the necessity of having a cautionary parliament every three years to secure their annual parliaments for the two years immediately preceding,” when it was accordingly provided in the 16th year of his reign " that, in case the two first years' parliaments should fail, then came a peremptory parliament, which the King and Keeper might call if they pleased, but, if they did not, the Counties and Boroughs of England were forced to send.” The 16 Charles II. c. 1. repeals this act: but, “ because by the antient laws and statutes of this realm made in the reign of King Edward III, parliaments are to be held very often,” it proceeds to enact that they shall not be intermitted or discontinued above three years at the most.”. These statutes were the origin of the triennial parliaments, by which however the interval between one parliament and another was all that was determined ; it not being till the 6 William and Mary, C. 2., that the continuance of them for that period was enacted. This was in 1694, the year
in which the edition was published from which this pamphlet is reprinted.
The history of the author is well known, in consequence of the persecution which he suffered under Charles II. and James II, for his writings against the Papists, and against the succession of the latter king
He was chaplain to the great Lord William Russel, and had a small living in Essex; of which he was deprived when he was degraded from his order of priesthood, previously to suffering the pillory and being whipped from Newgate to Tyburn, in pursuance of the iniquitous sentence pronounced by the Court of King's Bench. Soon after the accession of William III., his benefice was restored; and, though he did not obtain any
farther clerical preferment, he was rewarded by the King with a substantial pension. He died in May 1703 ; so that he did not witness the additional extension of the duration of parliaments to seven years, which was not rendered law till i George I. st. ii. c. 38., being the year of the rebellion (1715) to which the preamble alludes.
We are indebted to the present editor for this re-print; and also for some notes and an appendix, the former of which consists of references and illustrations materially assisting the proof, and the latter renders it conclusive by producing extracts from three lists of representatives for Kent, London, and Norwich, during the reigns of Edward III. and Henry V. and VI., in which not only different returns in immediately successive years occur, but even two and sometimes three in several parliaments during the same year.