Imatges de pàgina

nificance for safety, we should have taken fome pains to have pointed out the numerous errors both in the facts and reasoning of the Rights of Man.' We could not think that such a Work would have gained the lightest attention, and to laugh at the author for his folly seemed only neceffary in our account of his crude attempt. It has happened otherwise; and this event has contributed to how that, when malevolence and disappointment join in a design, no tool is so mean and despicable but they will condescend to employ it. We shall therefore be a little more pointed in our examination of this second part, though the absurdity is too glaring to keep us at all times ferious.

The preface might afford us fome subject of remark, if nonfense could be either true or false. Paine triumphs in the number of copies fold of the first part, and estimates its merit by the fupposed inferior sale of an answer. If, however, he takes into the account the number circulated at a general expence, for purposes too base to mention; those, which the acclamations of a party have contributed to sell, and those which have been purchased by surreptitious recommendations, he will find that the merit derived from this fource will fink very low. The introduction contains only a few flowers of this author's peculiar rhetoric, and we particularly learn, that fear makes people afraid.

The first great object is to fhow what may be imputed to government, and what to civilization. In this enquiry, a common author would have stated what government is; but it is not written in the roll of the book, and therefore, by his own reasoning, in the invaluable first part, there can be no such thing, But we have much about government- The old government was an assumption of power for the aggrandirement of itself;'the new 'a delegation of power for the benefit of the whole'Government must be a thing in full maturity ;'- but it is • sometimes a thorn in the flesh, that produces a fermentalion which endeavours to discharge it,' In fhort, it seems every thing, and any thing; and this is exceedingly convenient, for the reasoning about it must be consequently dark and mysterious. It may either have a head or not, as suits the circumstances; and, when we attempt to seize it, like Ixion, we find that we only grasp a cloud,

• Great part of that order which seigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It has its origin in the principles of society and the natural constitution of man. It exifted prior to government, and would exiit if the formality of government was abolithed. The mutual dependence and reciprocal interest which man has upan man, and all the parts of a 'civilized community upon


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

each other, create that great chain of connection which holds it together. The landholder, the farmer, the manufacturer, the merchant, the tradesman, and every occupation, prospers by the aid which each receives from the other, and from the whole.' Common interelt regulates their concerns, and forms their law : and the laws which common usage ordains, have a greater infuence than the laws of government. In fine, society performs for itself almost every thing which is ascribed to government.

• To vnderstand the nature and quantity of government proper for man, it is necessary to attend to his character. As nature creared him for social life, she fitted him for the station the inten ded. In all cases she made his natural wants greater than'his individual powers. No one man is capable, without the aid of fociety, of supplying his own wants ; and those wants, acting upon every individual, impel the whole of them into society, as na. turally as gravitation acts to a center.

• Bat she has gone further. She has not only forced man into fociety, by a diversity of wants, which the reciprocal aid of each other can supply, but she has implanted in him a system of Social affections, which, though not necessary to his existence, are effential to his happiness. There is no period in life when this love for society ceases to act. It begins and ends with our being.

• If we examine, with attention, into the composition and con. ftitution of man, the diversity of his wants, and the diver lity of talents in different men for reciprocally accommodating the wants of each other, his propensity to society, and consequently to pre. ferve the advantages resulting from it, we shall easily discover, that a great part of what is called government is mere impoli. tion.

• Government is no farther necessary than to supply the few cases to which society and civilization are not conveniently compe. tent; and initances are not wanting to shew, that every thing which government can usefully add thereto, has been performed by the common consent of society, without government."

This is a little specimen of the jargon that blazed fo gloriously in • Common Sense,' and the first part of the Rights of Man. It is needless to examine the reasoning minutely, for it will be obvious that the author confounds the effects of continued social intercourse, regulated by government, with the influence of the social tendency alone. He quotes the example of America; and we need only refer him to the back woodmen, where the influence of government has not reached : the present state of the other colonies is not an instance to the pur. pofe. The principles of social intercourse were well underitood by the first colonists; they had been formed under regu. lated governments, and continued, for ages, in the same train.


When he produces similar effects from the social intercourse of nations that were never regulated by a government, we shall cease to think his reasoning absurd, and his designs pernicious.

The subsequent part of the reasoning is of a fimilar kind. Society is considered, contrary to the experience of every age, as previous to government, merely to prove that the latter is useless. If we obferve, he says, what the principles are which condense men into society, and what the motives which regulate their mutual intercourse afterwards, we shall find, by the time we arrive at what is called government, that nearly the whole of the business is performed by the natural operation of the parts upon each other. Thus government being found uleless, it is afterwards proved to be pernicious; and, at last, it is pronounced to be the generating cause of the riots and tumults that, at different times, happened in England. Was government the generating, that is, if words have a meaning, the active cause of the late riots at Birmingham? Was it the active cause of the riots in 1780? Did it rouze Jack Cade and the levellers of former ages, the renowned predecessors of the French levellers and their humble imitators in England ? Certainly, in one sense it did fo; for if there was no government there would be no oppofition, and the king in the same view is the generating cause of Paine's pamphlet: – Such is the reasoning that is to make converts of the whole kingdom!

The second chapter is on the origin of old and new governments. The origin of the old is shortly discussed. While the chief employment of men was that of attending flocks and herds, a banditti of ruffians overrun the country, and the principal robber became the monarch.' We might look back to history, and find every word of this account inconsistent with its records. - But, if almost all were shepherds, who were the robbers ? the rest certainly.-But then, how did the few conquer the greater number? The shepherds of antiquity were warriors. It is too fevere to call on him for proofs, who is not aware even of de extent of his own principles.

The particular properties and advantages of the old and new governments are next discusied; and we find that the new fyltem is, in reality, the oldest, because most consistent with the natural rights of man. Allowing the principle, it is as easy to prove that the Georgium Sidus was known to Pythagoras, because it really existed ; in other words, what is right and true must have been discovered in the earliest stage of existence. Hereditary governments, he tells us, are injurious, because they are impositions, and inadequate to the purposes for which government is necessary. .". With respell to the first of thefe lread Cannot be proved by what right hereditary government could brgin : neither does there exist within the compass of mortal power, a right to establith it. Man has no authority over posterity in matters of person nal right; and therefore, no man, or body of men, had, or cap have, a right to set up hereditary government. Were even our. silves to come again into existence, instead of being fucceeded by poster rity, we have not now the right of taking from ourselves ibe rights which would then be ours. On what ground, then, do we pretend to take rhem from others?

• All hereditary government is in its nature tyranny. An hes ritable crown, or an heritable throne, or by what other fanciful name such things may be called, have no other fignificant explanation than that mankind are heritable property. To inherit a government, is to inherit the people, as if they were flocks and beids.

With respect to the second head, that of being inadequate to the purposes for which government is neceíTary, we have only to consider what government essentially is, and compare it with the circumítances to which hereditary succession is subject.

Government ought io be a rhing always in full maturity. It ought to be so conitructed as to be superior to all the accidents to which individual man is subject; and therefore, hereditary fucceffion, by being subject 10 them all, is the moit irregular and im. perfect of all the systems of government.'.

We were unwilling to deprive our readers of this precious -morsel of reasoning, and shall leave it to their own refiećtions.

A cool-reasoner would have concluded that hereditary monarchies were preferable, on the very principle adduced, that of not being subject to accidents. Our reformers, however, do nothing in the common way: they are too eager to be cool. The initances are chosen with equal skill. . Poland, as an elective monarchy, has had fewer foreign wars: but is the nation more prosperous, or the people happier? Paine laughs at he reditary monarchs, and compares them to hereditary authors; but is monarchy a science, and are not all men, on his own principle, equal? These are, however, excelled by his subfequent discoveries: a republic is no particular form of goe vernment: the government of Athens was the 'wonder of the ancient world;' and America is the same on an extended scale.

-Such is the trash that we are compelled to read and examine; but we must halten on a little more rapidly, for, to non tice every absurdity would fill our whole Number..

In the following chapter on constitutions, we find Mr. Paine talking more reasonably. They are distinct, he says, from governments, and he states, properly, that the assumed powers of some of the kings of England were repugnant to the consti

tution, tution, while the Bill of Rights, &c. were resumptions which the people claimed and obtained. Government is certainly a fubordinate part of a constitution; but, when he considers the origin of the American government as the origin of all governments, and refers to it as an example, a copy of the first prototype, he wanders in his usual absurdity. The particu. far remarks on constitutions, and the invectives against the English governments, we shall pass over with a smile of contempt: it remains by experience to be feeri, whether the science of government is in its infancy, or whether the modern reformers are lunatics. By their fruits we must know them; but, if they are wise, Aristotle, Locke, and Montesquieu have lived in vain. The comparison between the prelident of the United States of America and the British monarch is particularly absurd: the parallel would scarcely hold between the former and the speaker of the house of commons.

, The fifth chapter is entitled, 'ways and means of improving the condition of Europe'-As our reformer has boasted of his political and scientific commercial knowledge, we were particularly attentive to these remarks. As usual, we shall collect a few of the beauties.

• The inhabitants of every country, under the civilization of Jaws, casily civilize together, but governments being yet in an unrivilized state, and almost continually at war, they pervert the abundance which civilized life produces to carry on the uncivilized part to a greater extent. By thus engrafting the barbarism of government upon the internal civilization of a country, it draws from the latter, and more especially from the poor, a great portion of those carnings, which should be applied to their own sub. fistence and comfort.- Apart from all reflections of morality and philosophy, it is a melancholy fact, that more than one-fourth of the labour of mankind is annually consumed by this barbarous system.

What has served to continue this evil, is the pecuniary advantage, which all the governments of Europe have found in keeping up this state of uncivilization. It affords to them pretences for power, and revenue, for which there would be neither occasion nor apology, if the circle of civilization were rendered compleat. Civil government alone, or the government of laws, is not productive of pretences for many taxes; it operates at home, directly under the eye of the country, and precludes the possibility of much imposition. But when the scene is laid in the unciviliz. cd contention of governments, the field of pretences is enlarged, and the country, being no longer a judge, is open to every im. position, which governments please to act.' A plain reasoner would have asked, what government was.


« AnteriorContinua »