Page images
PDF
EPUB

25. 6d..

Obfervations on the Importance of the American Revolution, and

the Means of making it a Benefit to the World. To which is added, A Letter from M. Turgot, late Comptroiler-general of the Finances of France : with an Appendix, containing a Translation of the Will of M. Fortuné Ricard, lately published in France. By Richard Price, D. D. LL. D. 8vo.

Cadell. IF

we have fometimes difered in opinion from Dr. Price, we

have never questioned his candour and fincerity: if he has mistaken the proper means to attain his end, and, in that career, injured the country to which his first allegiance was due, he probably was infuenced by a warmth of zeal for what might appear to him, the cause of virtue and innocence; a warmth that often milleads, and a zeal that frequently blinds the judgment. The cause of our disagreement is now at an end ; and we can look on the United States as a new nation, in its infancy ; on America as a new world, which requires to be fostered and instructed. In the discussions on this subject, we would wish to avoid all reasoning from events : the impartial pen of history will delincate the late scenes of war in different colours from those which either the warmth of enthusiasm, or the gloom of disappointment may employ ; America will probably not appear the land of patriotism and virtue, nor England the haughty tyrant and un. just oppressor. If we exclude then, theie little points, the • veteris veftigia flammæ,' and look on the Americans with an impartial eye, as citizens of the world, we must allow a considerable share of merit to these Observations : they are often clear, candid, and judicious. The author, however, is not always able to avoid the extravagancies of speculative politi. cians; and in the management of his new Utopia, he seems to expect more than those who are acquainted with the natural depravity of mankind will allow.

Perhaps the author's title promises too much; for the great object of his precepts is to secure the happiness and prosperity of America. The world' in general may be benefited by their example ; but it is not easy to say, how far his advice can be with advantage adopted in different states of society. Perhaps Dr. Price, in his fondness for this new world, having been engaged in rearing it, at the risk of much abuse, and Some danger,' may have forgot that there is any other : we are sorry to have had reason for supposing that there was a time when, in the same enthusiasm, he forgot that he had a coun. try. There is another oversight in this pamphlet. The United States are supposed to be exempted from the danger of wars;

£nce

14

fince their vaft extent of territory, its various foils and productions, will secure to them all their wants. Dr. Price is not aware of a powerful and jealous neighbour, on the southern part of the continent; he does not reflect on the temptations to an illicit trade ; on the habits of some of the inhabitants of North America in this way, and their probable ccnfequences.

It is a liberal and just maxim, that reason, properly regulated, will not mislead; and, on this foundation, Dr. Price allows the free liberty of discussion. But this is a dangerous topic. Reason is feldom well regulated; we know that improper propensities will often influence our opinions, and human wit is so fubtle, that it can easily give the imposing appearance of demonstration to the most dangerous tenets. We will - allow, that the delusive mask may be drawn afide by a judicious reasoner; but the contest is very unequal between reason and passion, between the cool philosopher and the eager libertine. At the same time, we are equally averse with Dr. Price, to any controuling power; and can only determine, that this liberty of discussion, though tacitly allowed, should not be encouraged : it should not be restrained by a civil magistrate ; but those should not be urged to an examination who are unable properly to decide.

The will of Mr. Ricard was lately published in France, and conveyed by Dr. Franklin to Dr. Price, who juftly observes,

at the turn of humour in it undoubtedly renders it a composition not perfectly suitable to the other parts of this painphlet.'--His grandfather gave him twenty-four livres, and, at the death of the grandfon, it amounted to five hundred, This sum is directed to be divided into five parts. The firit, with the accumulated compound interesi, to be applied at the end of one century; the second at the end of two; and the last at the end of five hundred years. The application is particularly directed to useful and benevolent purposes, Among the destinations of the last sum, the testator has ordered the public debts of France and England to be paid, There is one devise that, for its benevolence and humanity, we muft transcribe.

• I intreat the managers of these public work-houses to give the greatest encouragement to such trades as can be performed by women. This fex, so dear to all sensible minds, has been neglected or oppreffed by all our inftitutions.--Seductions cf all kinds seem to consp:re against their virtue.- Neceflity precipitates them involuntarily

into an abyss of infamy and milery, -The low price which is set upon the labour of women is out of all proportion to the inferiority of their bodily strength. Let the public work-houses set the example of paying them beiter.

• There

1

« There are in France many houses of correction where the misconduct of women is feverely punished, but where in reality it is only suspended, mere confinement having no tendency to eradicate vice. Why should there not be one establishment where a young woman, conquered by temptation, and on the brink of despair, might present herself, and say~" Vice offers me gold : I only ask for labour and bread. In compassion to my remorse afliit and strengthen me. Open an asylum for me where I may weep without being feen, expiate those faults which pursue and overwhelm me, and recover a shadow of, peace."-Such an institution exists no where-I appoint, therefore,' a thousand millions towards establishing one.

• The snares which are laid by vice for women without fortunes, would make fewer victims if more asistance was given them. We have an infinity of establishments for persons in the higher ranks of life which do honour to the generosity of our forefathers. Why have we none for this purpose ?-I desire, therefore, that two thousand millions be employed in establishing in the kingdom a hundred hospitals, which shall be called Hospitals of Angels. There shall be admitted into each a hundred females of the age of seven or eight years, and of che molt engaging forms. They shall receive the most perfect education in regard to morals, useful knowledge, and agreeable accomplishments. At the age of eighteen they may quit the hospital in order to be married ; at which period they shall each be paid a portion of 40,000 livres. I mention this moderate sụm because it is my wish that they be neither reproached for want of fortune, nor espoused from interest. An annual income of 2000 livres shall be given also to their parents. **** Except once in the year at a folemn and Splendid procesion, they fhail rarely appear in public, but shall be constantly employed in their afylum in learning all that can render thein one day excellent wives and mothers.

• In order to fit them, in particular, for domestic economy, I desire that after they have been taught the most accurate ideas of expences of all kinds, questions be proposed to them from time to time, to which they fall be obliged to give answers by word of mouth, and also in writing; as for example-“If you had such or such an income, under such or such circum-. stances, how much would you appropriate to your table, your house-rent, your maintenance, and the education of your children? How many servants would you keep? How much would you reserve for fickness and unforeseen expences ? How much would you consecrate to the relief of the unfortunate and the public good ?-If your income depended either entirely or in part upon a transient advantage or a place which was not assured to you, how much would you expend annually? What sum would you reserve for forming a capital !” &c. &c. Prizes publicly given to the best answers to queitions of this kind, would constitute, in my opinion, an exercise equally engaging and more useful

than

than the little comedies and novels with which young persons in the higher stations are generally entertained.'

The whole will is extremely curious and entertaining. Need we add, that the author was a teacher of arithmetic ? He endeavours to secure the performance of the different devises ; but the whole is rather à lecture on the great power of com. pound interest, than a plan likely to be executed.

Considérations fur. l'Ordre de Cincinnatus, ou Imitation d'un Pan.'

phlet Anglo-Américain. Par le Compte De Mirabeau. . 8vo.

55. in Boards. Johnson. A Uthors have seized with eagernefs on the independence of

America, as the fcene in which every vifonary scheme,' either of finance or government, may be realised. In this new world, the world which the French have aided the Amesicans to acquire, they have offered their assistance to govern: in this moment of liberty, their enthusiasm was eager to display itself; for it was supposed that enthusiasm, in favour of American liberty at least, might be allowed ; but congress has, looked on them with a cool suspicion, and the ardor of their , efforts is found to be displeasng to their own rulers. The spark of liberty imported from America might be raised into an alarming conflagration at home. The present work, which probably on this account was published here, contains several pieces relative to this new kingdom, or rather this imperfect' union of different states. The principal one relates' to the new Order of Cincinnatus, which, under the appearance of a patriotic union of the defenders of their country, in cur anthor's opinion, conceals designs hostile to its liberty. The number which composes this body cannot be less than ten thousand, as they have adopted the French officers who have served in America ; and, since its first institution, have ad-. mitted honorary members. The count supposes, that this numerous fociety will join in every design; and, as the honours are hereditary, the flightest misfortune resulting from the union wilt be a rifing nobility, a body of patricians, distinguished by the deserts of their ancestors, if not by their own. Perhaps there were really few more noble acts than Washington's resignation of his command : if it was inferior to that of Sylla, it was because he had borne his faculties more meekly,' and had less tò fear from the mortifications of disappointed ambition, or the revenge of a mutilated party. The situations were in many respects similar ; yet the same man is now prefident of this suspected society. The count de Mirabeau's ad. dress to him on this subject is animated and strong. The

day

day on which it was determined to admit honorary members, Washington, fo great when he returned to the itation of a simple individual,-- Washington, the first citizen and benefactor of a people whom he had freed froin slavery, wished to distinguifh himielf from that people! Why did he not see, that his name Was beyond all diftinction ? Hero of the revolution which broke the chains of half the world, why did he not depise the dangerous, the guilty, the vulgar, honour of being the hero of a party?'

In this language, the count examines the several rules which connect this famous society, or rather, if our author is noc mistaken, this infamous confederacy; and it must be acknowleged that, in many parts of them, there are suspicious pala sages, either accidentally or designedly interspersed. But, though we allow the full force of the count's fufpicions, the guilt may be in some measure evaded. -A successful revolution is no longer a rebellion, as an established heresy becomes a reformation; so that we must use the popular language on this subject, though the event has not in reality changed our former opinions.

Those who are most conversant with the politics of the American continent perceive that, instead of one empire, these new states are divided, jealous of each other, and each assuming the supreme power, with little regard to the authority of that body, 'which the urgency of impending deftru&ion conftituted, and which was supported during the common calaa mities. Another body, with some inherent power of its own, became therefore necessary, to connect the disjointed limbs, and to make a respectable whole of several infignificant parts. This probably would have been one effect of the new order; and it would have been a salutary one : that it was anticipated by several of the states, seems probable, from their oppoîtion to its establishment. In its present situation, America may be a commercial nation ; but it will be ever at the

mercy

of an intriguing or warlike prince. It can never be great, powerful, or even secure, except it be more perfectly united.

The next tract in this volume is the Letter of Monf. Turgot to Dr. Price. It contains, in our opipion, some trilling (peculations on what America may be, and the steps which the ought to pursue ; but little of consequence enough to induce us to analyse, or make any extracts from it.

Dr. Price's pamphlet, on the Revolution of America, and the Means of rendering it useful to the World, is next tranf: lated, with notes, by count de Mirabeau. The pamphlet itself we have already reviewed ; and the observations contain about eighty pages. The first part of these is a commentary,

the

« PreviousContinue »