Page images

subject, we should consume all the space deftined for the rest of this article, and many valuable parts of this work must be left unnoticed.

The next chapter is on the administration of justice, and several modes by which improper partialities may be best avoided. It does not detract from the diligence of the author, but it adds an additional luftre to the condud of British jurisprudence, that all his precautions are fuggefted by the conftitution, or the practice of the several courts in this kingdom. The author then enquires into the cause of so many doubts in the application of natural justice, whose rules are lo few and evident. He concludes with mentioning two peculiari. ties in the judicial conftitution of this country, which do not appear equally unexceptionable with the other parts of it; one, the required unanimity of the jury, the other, the ul. timate appeal to the house of peers. The foundation of each is, however, obvious; the firit to guard against every doubt of guilt, the second is derived from the civil jurisdiction of the barons in their own districts, from whence their collective judicial capacity may be easily deduced.

On the fabject of crimes and punishments, Mr. Paley adverts to a circumstance which has lately attracted our attention. The second method mentioned of adminiftering penal justice, alligns capital punishment to many offences, but executes it on few. This, he observes, is founded on the confideration, that no offender may escape the punishment due to his crimes; but that allowance may, on the other hand, be made for those nu. merous alleviations of the offence, which 10 legislator could foresee or provide for ; yet he at last allows that

• The certainty of punisment is of more consequence than the feverity. Criminais do not so much flatter themselves with the lenity of the sentence, as with the hope of escaping. They are not fo apt to compare what they gain by the crime, as what they may suffer from the punishment, as to encourage thamselves with the chance of concealment or Aight. For which reason, a vigilant magistracy, an accurate police, a proper diltribution of force and intelligence, together with due rewards for the discovery and apprehension of malefactors, and an una deviating impartiality in carrying the laws into execution, contribute more to the restraint and suppression of crimes, thaa any violent exacerbations of punishment.'

Indeed the whole chapter is an excellent commentary or our penal laws. It points out their imperfections with that pene. trating spirit whore inquisitions no delufive covering can refit.

Our author next proceeds to religious establishments; and

• The argument, then, by which ccclefiaftical establishments are defended, proceeds by these fteps. I he knowledge and


[ocr errors]

profession of Christianity cannot be upheld without a clergy; a clergy cannot be supported without a legal provision ; a legal provifion for the clergy cannot be constituted without the preference of one feet of Christians to the rest : and the conclulion will be satisfactory in the degree in which the truth of these several propositions has been made out.'

In all Mr. Paley's arguments on this subject, we perceive fo strong a conviction of the utility of establishments, that we fear, in fome eyes, it will detract from the merit of his work. We have repeatedly perused his arguments with attention, but we can detet no error. We shall transcribe a paffage, as a Specimen of his reasoning on these fubjects.

• After the fate has once established a particular fystem of faith as a national religion, a question will foon occur, concern. ing the treatment and toleration of those who diffent from it. And this question is properly preceded by another, concerning the righe which the civil magistrate poffeffes to interfere in matters of religion at all, for although this right be acknowledged whilft he is employed folely in providing means of public inftruction, it will probably be disputed, indeed it ever has been, when he proceeds to inflict penalties, to impose restraints or incapacities on the account of religious distinctions. They who acknowledge no other just original of civil government, than what is founded in some ftipulation with its Subjects, inay with probability contend that the concerns of religion were excepted out of the focial compact ; that in an affair which is transacted between God and man's own confcience, no commission or authority was ever delegated to the civil magistrate, or could indeed be transferred from the person himself to any other. We, however, who have rejected this theory, because we cannot discover any actual contract between the itate and the people, and be cause we cannot allow an arbitrary fiction to be made the foundation of real rights and of real obligations, find ourfelves precluded from this distinction. The reasoning which deduces the authority of civil government from the will of God, and which collects that will from public expediency alone, binds us to the unreserved conclusion, that the jurisdiction of the magistrate is limited by no confideration but that of general utility : in plainer terms, that whatever be the subject to be regulated, it is lawful for him to interfere; whenever his interference, in its general tendency, appears to be conducive to the common interest. There is nothing in the nature of religion, as such, which exempts it from the authority of the legislator, when the safety or welfare of the community requires his interpofition, It has been said indeed, that religion, pertaining to the interells of a life to come, lies out of the province of civil government, the office of which is confined to the affairs of this life. But in reply to this objection, it may be observed, that when the laws interfere even in religion, they interfere only with


[ocr errors]

temporals : their effects terminate, their power acts only upon
those rights and interests, which confèfledly belong to their
disposal. The resolutions of the legislature, the edicts of the
prince, the sentence of the judge, cannot affect


; nor do they, without the moft absurd arrogance, pretend to any such power : but they may deprive me of liberty; of property, and even of life itself, on account of my religion ; and however I may complain of the injustice of the sentence, by which I am condemned, I cannot alledge, that the magittrate has transgressed the boundaries of his jurisdiction, because the property, the liberty, and the life of the subject, may be taken away by the authority of the laws, for any reason, which, in the judgment of the legislature, tenders such a measure necessary to the common welfare. Moreover, as the precepts of religion may regulate all the offices of life, or may be fo construed as to extend to all, the exemption of religion from the control of hu.' man laws might afford a plea, which would exclude civil go. vernment from all authority over the conduct of its subjects. Religious liberty is like civil liberty, not an immunity from restraini, but the being reitrained by no law, but what in a greater degree conduces to the public welfare."

The next subjects of attention are • Population and Pro- . vision; and of Agriculture and Commerce as fubfervient thereto.' The remarks on population are not new, but they are so plainly and connectedly delivered, that their force will probably be felt inore sensibly than when they have appeared in other forms. The most striking and useful part of this chapter is, on the connection between population and einployment; and again,on that between population and trade, even where no one article of human subsistence is imported. There are few speculations more pleasing, than to trace these remote connections in subjects fo greatly subservient to human happiness, and almost to our existence. We would, on account of its intrinfic merit, strongly recommend this part of Mr. Paley's work. The chapter concludes with mentioning some impedio ments to agriculture; among which are the rights of common, (he should rather have said manerial rights, for those of common are not so generally injurious) and tythes. The last

opetate, in Mr. Paley's opinion, as'a bounty on pasturage, and

• The burthen of the tax falls with its chief, if not with its whole weight, upon tillage; that is to fay, upon that preéise mode of cultivation, which, as it hath been shown above, it is the bufiness of the state to relieve and remunerate, in preference to every other. No measure of such extensive concern, appears to me lo practicable, nor any single alteration fo benes ficial, as the conversion of tithes into corn-rents. This con: mutation, I am convinced, might be so adjusted, as to secure to the tithe-holder a complete and perpetual equivalent for his Vozó LX. Sept. 17850

P. interefts

[ocr errors]

interest, and to leave to industry its full operation and entire reward.'

The volume concludes with Remarks on War and Military Establishments ; but, as the pen of the moralift will be little regarded in the eager claims of contending nations, we need not enlarge on this subject. That part of the chapter which is more interesting, as it relates more nearly to domestic polity, and of course to human happiness, is on the comparative ad. vantages and disadvantages of a standing army: These are enumerated with judgment and propriety.

We have now pursued our author, in a brief detail, through this large volume, in which we have found much to praise, and little, very little, to blame. Those, indeed, who may be more dissatisfied than ourselves with feparate parts, should read the whole with attention ; for the reasoning is conducted with so much art and precision, the connections are so minute, that we sometimes begin to doubt of the corollary, though we afterwards find it drawn with accuracy, from an unexceptionable proposition. We mention this precaution against hasty and partial criticism, because we have been more than once on the brink of the precipice.

We need not now repeat those commendations which we have so freely intermixed with our account of the work itself; and we shalt only add, that the language is as clear and accurate as the principles are just and unexceptionable. It is always to be distinguished for its precision, and that kind of elegance, which arises • from proper words in proper places.” There are few fentences which a critic would wish to amend; and there is sometimes an expreslive energy, which few could reach.


La Pucelle; or, the Maid of Orleans : From the French of Voli

taire. , Tbe First Cantá. 4to. Wilkie. HOSE works whose merit depend on the brilliancy of wit,

the acuteness of satire, and peculiar turns of language, are translated with dificulty, and their beauties are very imperfectly preserved. On this account, the humorous works of Swift, the inimitable Hudibras, and some others of the fanie kind,, lose their spirit in the translation ; and our neighbours, with little success, look for that humour wirh which we are so much delighted. La Pucelle, on the contrary, has hitherto had no proper: representative in English ; and we approach only to the sprightliness and fimplicity of Fontaine. In our forty-ninth volume, we reviewed a probationary canto of the former, which stepped forward with an epic dignity, and seemed to disdain the quirks, the quips, and wanton smiles,' of the original. It wàs Cato at the Floralia. Our present translator comes nearer the author in his form. His Hudibrastic suits better with the comic vein of the story, and his fancy is ready to finish what Voltaire sometimes leaves incomplete : yet, on the whole, he is a faithful, and often a happy, translator. He has with-held the rest of the poem, from a diffidence of fuccess : but professes that he is not' studious of profit,' though his affluence is not sufficient to make him indifferent to loss.

• There are two very respectable descriptions of men to whom the translator must particularly address himself: the periodical critics, who avow themselves the guardians of the public talle; and the men of grave characters, who, alarmed at the name of Voltaire, may, on this occasion, feel themselves the guardians, and prepare to enter the lifts as the champions, of the public morals. To the former the tranflator muft announce himself the writer of amusement, and not of profession ; but he wishes not, under any pretences, to obtain more than his, due, and his object is not to preclude criticism, but to depreciate feve. rity. Acquainted with the original, the style of which, like that of all satyrical writings in French verse, is close, comprelt, and abrupt; they muft be sensible of the difficulties of the undertaking, and it is only for the iodulgences to which these may be entitled, that he presumes to folicit. If, therefore, in adapiing the poem to an English dress, the translator has here and there been tempted to use some little latitude in the construction, he has only to throw himself on the candour of his judges, and to hope that he has neither been so frequent, nor so licentious in the use of it, as to destroy the general sense and spirit of the author, to amplify his compression into weakness, or overlay the character of his wit with superfiuous ornament. To the latter, the translator finds it less difficult to address himself, for his literary delinquency he feels to be greater than his moral. The Pucelle is usually marked with the most exceptionable of its extraordinary author's productions, but the tranllator cannot

scribe to the propriety of this disposition ; he allows, indeed, that the poet's wit is sometimes too wanton, and his fatire sometimes too undistinguishing; but the frippery of a declining fue perstition, the abuses and corruptions of popery in particular, and of priestcrafe in general, seem to be the juft object of the one; and to entertain the fancy rather than taint the mind, is the obvious tendency of the other. It was under this aspect of the work, that the translation was undertaken, in which the translator trusts nothing will appear to justify clasing him amongst the open, or the insidious, enemies of virtue or rem ligion.'

We have preserved the author's defence entire, because we think it candid, and in general juft; but we fear, that though P 2


« PreviousContinue »