Imatges de pàgina

• I cannot fing with lib’ral hand the graiit,

And tell the feather'd race fo bleft around,
For me, ere night, you feel of death the pain ;

With broken necks you flutter on the ground.”
How vile !-- Go, creatures of th' Almighty's hands

Enjoy the fruits that bounteous nature yields;
Graze at your ease along the sunny land;

Skim the free air, and search the fruitful fields
“ Go, and be happy in your mutual loves ;

No violence shall Shake your shelter'd home ; 'Tis life and liberty shall glad my groves;

The cry of murder shall not damn my dome." The Elegy on my dying Afs’ abounds with reflections in teresting, pathetic, and natural. The following lines contain a mixture of tenderness and humour: the poet's eyes are full of tears, but a fatirical smile plays about his mouth : the patody is well executed, and its object need not be pointed out.

« Oft to the field as health my footstep draws,

Thy turf shall surely catch thy master's eye;
There on thy sleep of death fhall friendship pause,

Dwell on past days, and leave thee with a figh.
• Sweet is remembrance of our youthful hours, :

When innocence upon our actions (mild !-
What though ambition Scorn'd our humble pow'rs,

Thou a wild cub, and I a cub as wild ?
• Pleas'd will I tell how oft we ús’d to roam ;

How oft we wander'd at the peep of morn;
Till night would wrap the world in spectred gloom,

And silence listen’d to the beetle's horn.
• Thy vi&tories will I recount with joy ;

The various trophies by thy feetness won;
And boat that I, thy playfellow, a boy,

Beheld the feats by nametake Peter done.' The Academic Ode, on the Danger of Criticism; the Pro-:: gress of Admiration, or the Windsor Cardeners, in other words, the Progress of the Windsor Gardener's Admiration of Ma. jesty; the Progress of Knowledge, in which a neighbouring monarch is wickedly represented as going to Eton, to enquire about the actions of Cæsar; and to introduce, by his questions, some of the ridiculous traits, which Squire Peter and others, not yet taken,' have industriously invented or embellished, fol. low. They have the true Pindaric relish, and will be laughed or frowned at, according to the humour or the party of the acader. The Address to the Virtus is highly humourous, and


we shall transcribe a few lines. If Peter objects to our quotations, we must remind him of his first address to the Reo viewers in his "Supplicating Epistle.'

• Quote from my works whate'er you please ;

For extraes lo—I'll put no angry face on,
Nor fill a hungry lawyer's gripe with fees,

To trounce a bookseller like
Thele, however, must be the last;' finis chartæque viæque

I know your parentage and education
Born in the skies-- a lofty habitation-
But for a perfect system were intended,
Where people never needed to be mended.

How could you think the pallions to withstand,
Those roaring blades, so out of all command,
Whose Dightest touch would pull you all to pieces?
I bey are Goliahs— you but little misses !
Then pray go home again, each pretty dear
You but disgrace yourself by coming bere.'

An entire and complete History, political and personal, of the

Boroughs of Great Britain. Vol. I. 8vo. 103. 6d. Boards. Riley. 1792. .? A Reform in parliamentary representation has undergone

1 much difcution of late years; and though some of its advocates have brought discredit upon the measure, by the chimerical pians they proposed, and the vehemence with which they were actuated, yet the subject is undoubtedly of the greatest importance to a free constitution, and deierves, when temperately treated, the most serious attention of the public. The chief complaint with regard to the rights of the people, is the inequality of representation, by which, in its prefent itate, only a small part of the commons is entitled to a fuffrage at the election of members of parliament. This partial and exclusive privilege, it is contended, is inconsistent with liberty; the nature of which requires, that all the inhabitants of a free state fhould enjoy in an equal degree every privilege eilential to the constitution of such a government. · Against this general and indiscriminate equality of right, it is argued, on the other hand, that ail men do not, either by nature or fortune, enjoy the same capacity of exercising the right of election, to their own political advan‘age, or that of the community; and that, even admitting the existence of such a capacity, the conftitution of parliament, established by dong prescription, has placed the right of elestion in the hands

Y 3


of a few, whom to deprive of this ancient inheritance, would therefore be an act of injustice.

It will readily be acknowledged by all impartia! enquirers, that however great, and almost unsurmountable, may be the difficulties annexed to a general right of election, yet such a right is actually inseparable from the idea of perfect liberty. Upon the same principle it may be argued, that any charter granted by the crown, lo confer the privilege of sending mem, bers to parliament, is a violation of general freedom, by re. ftricting to local distriēts a privilege which belongs equally and unalienably to every part of the nation. And it will thence likewise follow, that no prescription, however ancient, can justly be urged as a fanction to such a mode of representation as is inconfiltent with the general equality of the people, con sidered in a political view,

In whatever light this great public question be considered, the final determination of it is attended with no small embar rassment; and political theory and practice seem to be at variance in the decision. If we admit the universal right of election, it will be found extremely difficult to regulate the exercise of that right, in such a manner as not only to render it beneficial, but to prevent it from becoming actually injurious to public freedom. If, on the other hand, we attempt to avoid those effects, by any limitation of right, even under the most plausible pretext, we should offer violence to a principle which is, in fact, the basis of liberty. In such a dilemma, it might be prudent to make a compromise, between what is strictly just in speculation, and what may be practised with the greatest advantage to the community. For this purpose, perhaps, a reform of apparent abuses only, is the expedient which ought to be aimed at by a politician of moderate prin ciples, without attempting, especially all at once, a total re. novation of what may seem to have been the original constitution of the country. "This temperate conduct is the more ad, viseable, when we consider not only the great prosperity of the nation, but the length of time during which it has maintained its liberties, under the prelent mode of representation ; and those liberties never can be infringed, while there sublists that jealousy of the executive power, which is natural to a mixed form of government, and is the distinguishing characteristic of British subjects. Let us now proceed to give an account of the work before us.

In the first chapter, the author considers the neceffity, propriety, and chief principles of enquiring into the original itate of our representation. His purpose is, to prove that our liberticu may be renovated without the deftruction of the constitue

tion or personal facrifice, by a free, equal, and entire representation of the people.

In the second chapter he treats of parliament; its meaning power, and privileges, with attendant observations.

As our face-abuses, fays he, are not in the laws--but in their admioistration, we are not under the same necessity of creating a new system ; nor need we, to restrain unjust influence, intrench upon just prerogative. The evil resides more in ourselves than in the government. Were every voter in the kingdom to resolve never, from this moment, to receive a bribe or gratuity, or to choose a placeman or pensioner, the constitution would recover its energy, and corruption would cease. But as human nature in general is more likely to be seduced by the offer of a prefent advantage, and is very little affected by the prospect of diftant consequences, while bribes are offered they will be received. The remedy is, therefore, to prevent all possibility of tempting the voter by either reward or promise ; and to effect this, with safety to the constitution, requires the united wisdom and disinterested efforts of the nation.'

In the three succeeding chapters the author examines the right of representation before the conquest. It has been alserted by some political writers, that the commons of England were no part of the ancient commune concilium before the 49th of Henry the Third, and that it was then introduced by rebellion ; but the author endeavours to prove, and in our opinion with success, that the mickle-gemote, wittenagemote, commune concilium, and baronagium Angliæ, were chiefly constituted by the commons or people of England during the time of the Britons and Saxons.

The fixth chapter treats of ancient right to landed property, This the author concludes to have been allodial, and possessed free from all those services and incumbrances which afterwards distinguished feudal tenures. Some writers have maintained, that lands held by allodial tenure were only annual possessions; but our author justly observes, that as they were deviseable by sale, or deed of gift, they must have been an inheritance. The following extract from this part of the work, will give our readers an idea of the author's principles, at the same time that it shows the difficulty of correcting the abuses which he wishes to be eradicated :

The country being, thus, divided into two fpecies of individuals, one posselling the land as the proprietor, and the other culcivating it as their vassals, the privilege of attending the legisla. tive assemblies, as well as having a share in the proceedings of the judiciary courts, were necefarily confined to the land-holders. But it muß be observed, that this privilege of land-holders extended to every freeman of the country. War and agris culture being their chief employments, there were no other but pofiestors of land to claim the privilege. Arts and commerce had not then created other ranks to claim the exercise of this invalu. able hlessing. The ancient right, therefore, of freeholders atiend. ing their leiler parliaments of the county courts, and the greater of the witiena-gemotes, has been falsely urged as a precedent to srove, that none but poffeXors of such estates were competent to th: exercise of elective franchise,-unless they were freemen of chartered horoughs. As land was the only original policlion of our Saxon anceitors, it was this species of property alone which could entitle them to the right of freemen. But had they owned any value of merchandize that claimed the protection of their government, as free and independent members of the community, they would equally have had the power of making their own laws, Not merely poliesling the right of electing representatives, they would have been, as they were, their own legisla:ors. The Saxon right of election was not confined to the choice of a member of parliament. Every officer, whether civil, military, eccle. fiaftical, and even regal, they appointed. And this right of election, which our ancestors brought with them from Germany, ítill exists in that country. The election of the emperor is the remains of that noble and distinguished privilege. Thus, while the de. scendants of Saxons in England have so lost their ancient right, as not one in thirty-tuo has the power of choosing a member for a paltry borough, one Saxon in Germany has a vote in the choice of his sovereign. Such is the different tenour of liberty in Enga land and Saxony. But this is not the fault of our constituzioni it is the corrupt practices which have turned even our privileges against our interests. According to the present system of election, a small part of us have the power of voting for those who sacrifice us to their own ambition. And if such be the consequence of our elective rights, is it not insanity to be desirous of claiming a favour which, according to the present system of influence, we must exercise to our destruction? We should first restore the practice to its original purity, before we can expect to resume our rights with the least advantage to ourselves or the community. We may prove that every copyholder, as well as freeholder-every householder as well as every hurgess of a chartered city or borough have, according to the firit principles of our constitution, an equal right in the legislature. We may prove that cbarters were only infringements on the univcrial liberties of the people, in favour of such as were in the immediate interest, or under the arbitrary controul, of fovereignty. But all these evidences will not restore our rights, unless all parties unanimously join in the renovation of the state. The corrupt influence of contending ambition, must be changed


« AnteriorContinua »