Imatges de pàgina

separation, and the manners of polished and commercial nations. The fifth part is employed upon considerations on the decline of nations. In this are included stritures upon national eminence and the vicissitudes of human affairs, the temporary efforts and relaxations of national spirit ; nor can we present our readers with a more pleasing entertainment than our author's thoughts on that subject.

Of the temporary efforts and relaxations of the national Spirit.

• From what we have already observed on the general chara teristics of human nature, it has appeared, that man is not made for repose. In him, every amiable and respectable quality is an active power, and every subject of commendation an effort. If his errors and his crimes are the movements of an' active being, his virtues and his happiness confist likewise in the employment of his inind; and all the lustre which he casts around him, to captivate or engage the attention of his fellowcreatures, like the flame of a meteor, shines only while his motion continues: the moments of rest and of obscurity are the fame. We know, that the tasks assigned him frequently may exceed, as well as come short of his powers ; that he may be agitated too much, as well as too little ; but cannot ascertain a precise medium between the fituations in which he would be harrassed, and those in which he would fall into languor. We' know, that we may be employed on a great variety of subjects, which occupy different passions : and that, in consequence of habit, he becomes reconciled to very different scenes. All we' can determine in general is, that whatever be the subjects with which he is engaged, the frame of his nature requires him to be occupied, and his happiness requires him to be just.

! We are now to inquire, why nations cease to be eminent; and why societies which have drawn the attention of mankind by great examples of magnanimity, conduct, and national fuccess, jould sink from the height of their honours, and yield, in one age, the palm which they had won in a former. Many reasons will probably occur. One may be taken from the frekleness and inconstancy of mankind, who becomne tired of their pursuits and exertions, even while the occasions that gave rise to those pursuits, in fome measure continue : another, from the change of situations, and the removal of objects which served to excite their spirit.

The public safety, and the relative interests of states ; political establishments, the pretensions of party, commerce, and arts, are subjects which engage the attention of nations. The advantages gained in some of these particulars, determine

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the degree of national prosperity. The ardour and vigour with which they are at any one time pursued, is the measure of a national spirit. When those objects cease to animate, nations may be said to languish ; when they are during any considerable time neglected, states must decline, and their people degenerate.

' In the most forward, enterprising, inventive, and industrious nations, this spirit is Auctuating ; and they who continue longest to gain advantages, or to preserve them, have periods of remiffness, as well as of ardour. The desire of public safety, is, at all times, a powerful motive of conduct; but it operates most, when combined with occasional paffions, when provocations inflame, when successes encourage, or mortifications exasperate.

L'A whole people, like the individuals of whom they are composed, act under the influence of temporary humours, fanguine hopes, or vehement animofities. They are disposed, at one time, to enter on national struggles with vehemence ; at another, to drop them from mere lassitude and disgust. In their civil debates and contentions at home, they are occasion: ally ardent or remiss. Epidemical passions arise or subfide, on trivial, as well as important, grounds.' Parties are ready, at one time, to take their names, and the pretence of their oppolițions, from mere caprice or accident; at another time, they suffer the most serious occasions to pass in filence. If a. vein of literary genius be casually opened, or a new subject of disquisition be started, real or pretended discoveries suddenly multiply, and every conversation is inquisitive and animated. If a new fource of wealth be found, or a prospect of conquest be offered, the imaginations of men are inflamed, and the whole quarters of the globe are suddenly engaged in ruinous or in successful adventures.

Could we recall the spirit that was exerted, or enter into the views that were entertained, by our ancestors, when they burst, like a deluge, from their ancient seats, and poured into the Roman empire, we should probably, after their first successes, at least, find a ferment in the minds of men, for which no attempt was too arduous, no difficulties insurmountable.

The subsequent ages of enterprise in Europe, were those in which the aların of enthusiasm was rung, and the followers of the cross invaded the East, 10 plunder a country, and to recaves a fepulchre ; those in which the people in different states contended for freedom, and affaulted the fabric of civil or religious usurpation ; that in which having found means to cross the Atlantic, and to double the cape of Good Hope, the inha3


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bitants of one half the world were let loose on the other, and parties from every quarter, wading in blood, and at the expence of every crime, and of every danger, traversed the earth in search of gold.

« Even the weak and the remiss are roused to enterprise, by the contagion of such remarkable ages; and states which have not in their form the principles of a continued exertion, either favourable or adverse to the welfare of mankind, may have paroxysms of ardour, and a temporary appearance of national vigour. In the case of such nations, indeed, the returns of moderation are but a relapse to obscurity, and the presumption of one age is turned to dejection in that which succeeds.

• But in the case of states that are fortunate in their domestic policy, even madness itself may, in the result of violent convulsions, subside into wisdom; and a people return to their ordinary mood, cured of their follies, and wifer by experience: or, with talents improved, in conducting the very scenes which frenzy had opened, they may then appear best qualified to pursue with fuccess the object of nations. Like the ancient republics, immediately after some alarming sedition, or like the kingdom of Great Britain, at the close of its civil wars, they retain the spirit of activity, which was recently awakened, and are equally vigorous in every pursuit, whether of policy, learning, or arts. From having appeared on the brink of ruin, they pass to the greatest prosperity.

· Men engage in pursuits with degrees of ardour not proportioned to the importance of their object. When they are stated in opposition, or joined in confederacy, they only with for pretences to act. They forget, in the heat of their animosities, the subject of their controversy; or they seek, in their formal reasonings concerning it, only a disguise for their passions. When the heart is inflamed, no consideration can repress its ardour; when its fervour fubfides, no reasoning can excite, and no eloquence awaken, its former emotions.

· The continuance of emulation among states, must depend on the degree of equality by which their forces are balanced ; or on the incentives by which either party, or all, are urged to continue their struggles. Long intermissions of war, fuffer, equally in every period of civil society, the military spirit to languish. The reduction of Athens by Lysander, struck a fatal blow at the institutions of Lycurgus; and the quiet pofTeffion of Italy, happily, perhaps, for mankind, had almost put an end to the military progress of the Romans. After some

years of repose, Hannibal found Italy unprepared for his onset, and the Romans in a disposition likely to drop, on the banks of the


Po, that martial ambition, which, being ruused by the fenfe of a new danger, afterwards carried them to the Euphrates and the Rhine.

States even distinguished for military prowess, sometimes lay down their arms from lassitude, and are weary of fruitless contentions : but if they maintain the station of independent communities, they will have frequent occafions to recall, and exert their vigour. Even under popular governments, men Sometimes drop the confideration of their political rights, and appear at times remiss or supine ; but if they have reserved the power to defend themselves, the intermission of its exercise cannot be of long duration. Political rights, when 'neglected, are always invaded ; and alarms from this quarter muft fre-quently come to renew the attention of parties. The love of learning, and of arts, may change its pursuits, or droop for a season, but while men are poffefled of freedom, and while the exercises of ingenuity are not superseded, the public may proceed, at different times, with unequal fervour ; but its progress is feldom altogether discontinued, or the advantages gained in one age are seldom entirely lost to the following.

• If we would find the causes of final corruption, we must examine those revolutions of state that remove or with hold the objeets of every ingenious study, or liberal pursuit ; that deprive the citizen of occasions to act as the member of a public; thar crush his spirit; that debase his sentiments, and disqualify his mind for affairs.?

Our author next treats of national wealth ; and his laft part contains a kind of history of corruption and political flavery.

The sentiments of philanthropy with which this essay abounds, are as distinguished as the writer's learning and judgment in arranging his facts and stating his arguments. His work, in short, exhibits a plan of national policy upon folid, that is, virtuous, principles; and we hope will be considered as such by the rulers and ministers of a people who, having reached the summit.of glory, have nothing now so much to apprehend as that very attainment, because, in the 'course of earthly things, it leads to a decadence. Its utility to readers of every other denomination is so perceptible, that we wilt venture to say, none can sit down to the perusal of it without rising a better man and citizen, or without finding himself improved in fense, sentiment, and stile.

IV: The

35. 6d.

IV. The Sick Man's Companion : or, the Clergyman's Affant in Vifiting the Sock. With a Preliminary Differtation on Prayer, By William Dodwell, D. D. Archdeacon of Berks. 8vo. Pr.

HIS performance is introduced by an excellent Differta-

tion, in which the author has obviated all the most material objections which have been urged against prayer ; and has clearly evinced the obligations of this duty, and the wisdom of its appointment.

• The effect, he says, of habitual prayer upon ourselves is great and evident, and an undoubted proof of the obligation and advantage of it. This is the great method of keeping up in ourselves a sense of duty and of the obje&t of it; the only means of promoting both our piety and our satisfaction in this world. It reminds us daily of our obligations to our Maker, of our transgreflions against Him, of the importance of our return to Him, and of the necessity of his gracious affiftance to enable us to return to Him in the ways of holiness and virtue. It is a continual call to religious meditations, to serious recollections of the perfections of the Creator and the imperfections of all his creatures ; and it fixes in our hearts a stronger impression of these momentous truths, than any other method that can be devised.

* And of what great importance is even this circumstance? If men continually remembered what they habitually believe, concerning their dependence upon Providence, the means of fecuring the divine favour, and the infinite consequences of it, would it be possible that they Mould live, as too many of them do? Would not such recollection either preserve them unis formły in a regular course, or recover them speedily to it? And is not this the happy tendency and immediate influence of fre: quent devotion ? Are not those who are most punctual in their prayers, in general, the most exemplary in their lives ? and are not the open contemners of this holy exercise usually found to be as diffolute in their morals, as they are irreligious in their professions ? Is not this the plain and well-known effect of attendance on publick-and private worship amongst the general professors of our religion and may we not farther appeal to the experience of the moft pious amongst them, whether they have not felt, very rationally felt, an immediate good effect from a serious and attentive application to devotion ? Have not their hearts burned within them with divine love and gratitude, whilst they have been pouring them out to their great Friend and Benefactor ? and have they not risen from their prayers better disposed, and even more confirmed in their goad


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