Imatges de pàgina
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too far: it produced the race of Cynics, who are well known. We need only observe, that their contempt of luxuries led them to indecorum and impropriety; but there is no reason to suppose that they debased or injured the cause of virtue. Diogenes, the most surly of the Cynics, was respected by Xeniades and his sons, whose preceptor he was.

The Cynic morality assumed a milder and more complacent form in the hands of Zeno, founder of the fect of Stoics. It was, however, scarcely altered; and the speculative doctrines of Zeno form the principal novelty in this part of the history. It was the fashionable philosophy of Rome, when in her zenith, and is expanded and adorned by the most elegant of the Latin writers. For this reason it will not detain us long; and, indeed, the great bulk of the article, relating to the Stoic philosophy in Brucker, is owing to a comparative abstract of the tenets of different ancient philosophers, which, before the examination of the system of Pythagoras, we are not sufficiently prepared to examine. Zeno, it is said, was a Phoenician, who went to Athens, in consequence of his fondness for philosopliy, and attended the different lecturers, with a view of forming a new feet of his own.

The philofophy of Zeno was quibbling and sophistical ; and the terms often vague and ill defined. Yet there was something noble and imposing in the conceptions of the Stoics, and truly moral in their precepts. They certainly perplexed and corrupted in form the morality of Socrates, but if we except suicide, their doctrines and their practice were highly salutary. Brucker thinks that the pompous words and splendid sentences of the Stoics are fascinating only when separated owe their chief credit to their feparation from the context: in their proper places they are idle, jejune, and insignificant. But this is the language of censure under the veil of criticism. The latter Stoics have indeed given subtle glosses to the doctrines of Zeno, and rendered his lystem more specious, perhaps more valuable. The succeffors of Zeno were numerous, and of the highest credit.

(To be coritinucd.)

Essays, Philosophical, Historical, and Literary. Vol. II. (Cona

cluded from Vol. IIl. New Arrangement, p. 392.) . W HEN we arrive at the unstable ground of political dif

quisition, a subject of so fleeting a nature as scarcely to present a proper point from which two enquirers may securely view it together, and of so camelion-like a texture, as to borrow a hue from the surrounding lights, or from the situation of the observer, with all our respect for Mr. Bellham,

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we are occasionally obliged to differ from him. We have already dissented from some of his doctrines, and we trust that our diflent has been distinguished by a proper candour, divesto ed of hafty petulance or unreasonable pertinacity. We shall endeavour to pursue the same line.

In the 29th Effay on the Government of India,' our author explains Mr. Fox's bill, as well as that of Mr. Pitt. Mr. Fox's plan was bold, open, and decided ; but it is with great propriety condemned, for wresting from the company the whole government, and vesting it in the hands of parliamentary commissioners, who must soon become independent of parliament, and fubfervient to the minister who raised them; of course exalting the minister above the company and the crown. We agree with Mr. Belsham, that Mr. For did not probably foresee the whole extent of the power of the engine which he had constructed. His measure was well adapted to the situaticn of the company and the kingdom ; nor can a man of integrity, on the spur of the moment, perceive, what cool reflection may afterwards suggest, or the crafty unprincipled politician immediately conceive. There was, however, suspicion or discernment enough in the house to defeat the measure and the minister, to give room for a new plan, and a very different arrangement. Mr. Belsham gives Mr. Pitt his due credit. The situation was indeed a dangerous one, and Mr. Pitt met it with trembling indecision. His board of control ultimately depended on the crown, and his declaratory act, vested it with the full command of the government and revenucs of India. The influence of the crown may, in this way, be considered as too much increased; but the author distinguishes very correctly between constitutional and unconstitutional influence, limiting the former to whatever is connected with the whole undivided exercise of the executive power. This instance, however, seems to resemble more the king's power of choosing his servants, which must be ultimately ratified by parliament. The minister, with this assistance, cannot oppose the sense of the nation; and the decision of the representatives, which can change the political servant, may change also the members of the board. We agree with Mr. Belsham, that there are many constitutional ways of lessening the influence of the crown, and these ought to be kept in view. But a wise minister, when the minds of Europe are thus agitated, will be cautious of exerting that influence improperly : if he be really wise, he will keep within the limits, rather than step an atom beyond them. Of late, government have not seemed particularly, not indeed sufficiently, cautious in this respect.

On the subject of the regency, we very unexpectedly find ourselves in opposition to Mr. Belsham. He first enquires,

whether whether any positive law exists, or even sufficient precedents, to determine the legal and constitutional method of acting. The precedent of Henry VI. is certainly not sufficiently decifive; and the Revolution, our author contends, was a subversion of government, and a re-election ; nor can any constitution provide for cases which suppose its previous subversion. On this latter subject we have had occafion to give a different opinion, and we lee no reason to change it. The second object is, to determine the most constitutional mode of procedure; and this, Mr. Belsham thinks, was to vest the prince of Wales with the whole undivided sovereignty. The election of a regent implies, we are told, a dangerous power in the house of commons: if it can elect a regent, it can elect a king, and the executive power would become subject to the legislative, or dangerous parties and divisions would be the consequence. In the whole of this discussion, however, he confounds a measure, confessedly temporary, and which, if carried into execution, should have been renewed, at short intervals, with a permanent one. Part of the reasoning we shall select.

• It is alleged, indeed, that delicacy to the reigning sovereign ought to deter us from configning to any representative of royalty, a greater share of authority than the necessity of the case abso. lutely demands; and that a regent invested with full powers might act in a manner which would prove highly unacceptable to the monarch, should he be restored to a capacity of resuming the powers of government. Delicacy to the reigning sovereign! The constitution knows no such term as delicacy: and in all the treatises upon government which I have perused, I do not recollect ever to have met with the word. This I am bold to affirm, that delicacy to the sovereign is a motive which ought not to have the least weight, when placed in the balance in opposition to such confider. ations as are connected with the public utility and advantage, Granting that the regent should adopt measures different from those of the sovereign, is there any reason for believing, “ a pri. ori," that the regent will be endowed with less political sagacity, or that he will be less disposed to employ it for the public benefic than the sovereign? Admitting the nation, under the auspices of Mr. Pitt, to be governed with the highest wisdom and ability, ought the constitution to be sacrificed to Mr. Piti's continuance in office? or is Mr. Pitt the only man in the kingdom entitled to public confidence? If Mr. Fox was justly accused of encroaching upon the prerogative, by an attempt to establish a permanent council for the government of India, independent of the crown, is Mr. Pitt not only to escape censure, but to be admired and applauded for his effons to establish a parliamentary commillion for the government

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of the whole empire? Whether Mr. Pitt' or Mr. Fox direct the helm of the state is of little comparative importance ; but it is of the highest moment that the conftitution Mould not be endangered by the violence of the political conflict between them. And it is peculiarly incumbent upon those who are totally unconnected with party, and who are upon that account best qualified to form an acé curate and impartial judgment, to consider themselves as guardians of the constitution, and to resist, to the utmost of their ability, every hostile attack, however speciously disguised, or from whatever quarter it may happen to originate.'

On the whole, we believe the subject cannot be discussed, at this time, with proper impartiality. The ideas will be influenced by party-considerations; and those who think the beft of the ministry which was probably to have had the conduct of public measures, will be most diffatisfied with the limitations proposed. At present, we step per ignes suppositos, cineri dolofo.

Mr. Belsham has thought the late King of Prussia's Reflections on Religion' worthy of his examination ;' and he replies to the sceptical quibbles of the pupil of Voltaire, very satisfactorily. Indeed, were an author to write on any subject, fo weakly and indecilively, as Frederic and his tutor have, in opposition to Christianity, his reputation would be greatly endangered, or lost. In answer to fome of these ob. jections, Mr. Belsham shows, that the king did not advert to the Christianity of the gospel, but to those corruptions which philosophy, ignorance, or superstition had introduced: in others, he did not consider the various degrees of evidence which different subjects admitted of. In general the answers are very clear, decisive, and judicious. The whole of this essay reflects great credit on its author. .

In the essay on unitarianism, our author endeavours to support this doctrine from reason, from scripture, and antiquity. He has compacted the reasoning with his usual skill and force; but we perceive nothing particularly new in the arguments, and he has sometimes hazarded those which are untenable. It is a little surprising, when he mentioned the Gnoftics, the Platonizing Christians, as the first heretics, and noticed some passages in the Epistles directed against them, that he should not, with the generality of commentators, have considered the language of St. Paul, where he styles Christ a man, to have been dictated by the same views. The divinity of Christ, as well as his pre-existence, we have had occasion to say, is supported by the tenour of the three first Gospels, by the accusations brought against Christ, and by his own language before Pilate: nor is it surprising that the mode by

Which God became man is not even hinted at, in the unadorned narratives of facts, which in no instance (we shall confine ourselves to the three first Gospels) go beyond the facts that they or their informers witnessed. It is well known that the golpel by St. John is, in its philosophy, often Platonic, and sometimes differing from it, particularly in precisely styling the Logos, God; but we need not for this purpose, with some writers, consider Plato as a prophet, nor with our author sup: pose that the fashionable philofophy had suggested the innovation. When, in the progress of the enquiry; it became necessary to explain, in some measure, the cominunication of the divine power to man, or the incarnation of the divine effence, the language of Plato, which conveyed ideas of the same kind, and was so generally known, would of course be adopted. But this is a subject to which we must return on a future occasion; and we can only add, that, though we allow this essay great merit as an able and comprehensive one, we cannot say that we found it convincing.

In the excellent essay on virtue and moral obligation,' Mr. Belsham suffers his own opinion to appear too early, by defining virtue to be the moit excellent, or eligible; rule of life and conduct. The two system's which he particularly notices are those of Dr. Clarke and Mr. Hume. The former is certainly confused and illogical ; for certain necessary and eternal differences and relations, occasioning moral fitnesses, agreements, and proportions, is at best a jargon. Every difference; agreement, or relation of two or any number of objects, can have no connection with virtue or vice ; for these are relative, not abstract terms: the connection must be in the end, so far as moral and accountable beings are subject to their influence, and the end or ultimale relation, Dr. Clarke has not noticed : not to add that, in bis system, the free agency of the Deity is essentially taken away, and these fitnefles, agreements, and proportion, placed on the throne of the universe. The fyftem of Mr. Hume, that of utility, is undoubtedly the true one; and Mr. Belsham supports it with great propriety and accuracy. The chief objection is, that the most positive rules may thus at times be made to yield to general usefulness. In private life, this can feldom happen; and the best moralists agre: that, when a great positive good will certainly result, some deviation from the established rules may be admitted. In public life, the contrariety may more often occur; and, when the ultimate good of a nation is at itake, the eitablished laws may most certainly be sometimes dispensed with, though the des viation should be as little as poffible, and the good to be ob. tained not only considerable and general, but īcarccly, if at CRIT. Rev. N. AR. (IV.) Feb. 1792.

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