« AnteriorContinua »
Mr. Warton's version.
“ Hast thou a living rill, or stagnant lake?
And their wet wings to tepid suns expand.”
• In the mid water, if it stand, or flow,
Scatter'd, and whelm'd beneath the watry waste.' The first three lines are unexceptionable ; the fourth is equal to the original; the two last are stiff and affected.
From these instances, the reader may perceive how difficult it is to preserve the genuine graces, the purity and fimplicity of the original. The story of Orpheus and Eurydice is told with inimitable delicacy by the Roman poet; but we see the tranflator like the unhappy lover--
“ Prensantem neQUIQUAM umbras." The reader shall judge for himself.
And now had Orpheus, measuring back his way,
feeble hands, thy wife, alas ! no more. These words scarce finish'd, sudden from his view, Like smoke with thin air mixt, she diverse flew ;
No more to meet her Orpheus, who essay'd
• No love, no joys connubial touch'd his foul ;
X. Loose Remarks on Certain Positions to be found in Mr. Hobbes's
Philosophical Rudiments of Government and Society. With a Short Sketch of a Democratical Form of Government. In a Letter to Signior Paoli. 8vo.
Cadell. WE are singular enough to confess ourselves unable, from
perusing the works of Mr. Hobbes, to discern where that fund of knowledge lies, which has procured him lo. confiderable a rank among modern philosophers. Those who are acquainted with his private history know himn to have been vain and peevish, and fo inconftant in his principles, that from
violent republican even to democracy, he became a mo
narchist even to tyranny. It is, however, justly doubted, whe.. ther this veering from one extreme to another did not proceed from venality more than inconstancy.
In this pamphlet he is attacked as a monarchist. He has afferted, that man is not a creature fit for society, and endea vours to prove it by arguments which, according to this writer, are equally absurd as the following string of fyllogisms.
• New born infants are incapable of walking ; Therefore man, being born an infant, is not born a creature
fit for walking. But infants are born with two legs, and the power of motion,
which are the means for that action when it becomes ne
ceffary to their state; Therefore man,
by being born with the necessary means, cannot be said to be born unfit for walking. -And infants, tho' born incapable of reason, by being born
with human attributes, are born with the means necessary
for attaining it ; Therefore man, by being born with the necessary means, is
born a creature apt for reason; and a creature apt for rea, son is a creature apt for society.
• We apprehend Mr. Hobbes's reasoning is mere quibbling ; and this, because it is obvious that the meaning of the philosophers whom Mr. Hobbes attempts to confute, is, that man is born a creature fit for society, notwithstanding his reasoning faculties do not immediately arrive at maturity. In his infant state, society is the only means of preserving his being; this makes him love it. In his maturer age, what Mr. Hobbes calls the dictate of right reason makes him capable of it. This reason, according to the fame author, is given by God to every man for the rule of his actions ; therefore no man is exempt froin this capability. This amounts to what the philosophers have advanced, that man is born a creature fit for society.'
Our limits will not admit multiplying quotations from this excellent pamphlet ;, and it becomes the less necessary, as the principles of liberty are now fo well understood, that Hobbism is every where fufficiently exploded ; but at the same time this author's precision and accuracy in confuting it cannot be sufficiently commended. We should be forry if the revival of any arbitrary principles in government should render this publication particularly feasonable at this time, and we conjecture, that it is chiefly defigned to remove any objections which may be formed against the mort Sketch of a Democratical Forin of Government, in a Letter to Signior Paoli.
In this sketch the democratical fyftem is recommended, because, in the author's opinion, when rightly balanced, it is the
only one which can secure the virtue, liberty, and happiness of fociety. The sketch is divided into two parts: the first treats of those things essential to the proper form of this species of government; and the second explains that part of the constitution which defends it from corruption. The senate and the people are the two capital essentials of the former, for obvious reafons which our author has explained. It is proposed that the debate (by which we imagine the writer means the delibetation upon public affairs) be in the senate, and the result in the people, with a power of debating likewise. The number of the senators is limited to fifty, to prevent confusion ; and the island of Corsica is proposed to be divided into certain districts, and the people represented by a certain number of men, not under two hundred and fifty. Generals, admirals, civil magistrates, and great officers, are to be taken from those who have served in the senate; and though not elected senators, they are to remain fo ex officio ; but the election of all officers and magistrates is to be vested in the representative body. The senate, or its committee, is to meet thrice every week, or oca casionally, and the representatives of the people occasionally. An appeal may lie to the senate, and from thence to the re- ; presentatives of the people.
• Let the affairs of commerce, says this author, and all matters relative to the state and executive powers of government, be determined by the representative body, after they have been first debated in the senate ; but let not the representative assembly have the power of determining peace and war, imposing taxes, the making and altering laws, till these subjects have been first debated by the senate, and proposed by them to the collective body of the people. Let these proposals be promulged a fortnight before the meeting of the representatives towards the passing them; that the people may have time to deliberate on them, and give what directions they shall judge proper to their representatives.'
The defence of this constitution against corruption is next considered under two articles, viz. the rotation of all places of trust, and the fixing the Agrarian on a proper balance. The author thinks, that the Romans, dispensing with the rotation of power, thereby ruined their republic; witness the prolongation of the commands of Marius, Sylla, Pompey, and Cæfar. The Agrarian, according to this writer, was never fixed on a proper balance, under the Roman republic ; and had the generous efforts made by the Gracchi to remove this defect prevailed, their republic must have been as immortal as time itself. The best method of fixing the rotation and proper Agrarian is thus explained by our author.
• First, the rotation. Let the whole senate be changed once in three years, by a third part at a tiine yearly. Let the vacant posts be supplied from the body of the representatives, by the eletion of the people. Let that body undergo the fame rotation, and be supplied from the people. If any of the representative members should be elected into the senate, that are not by the course of the rotation to go out of the representative council, their places must be supplied froin the people. Let no member of either the senatorial or representative body, be capable of re-election under the space of three years. Let the admirals, generals, civil magistratès, and all the officers of imrportant posts, lay down their commission at the end of the year, nor be capable of re-election under the aforesaid time of probation. The rotation thus settled, we come to the second consideration, viz. the proper Agrarian.
• Let the Agrarian be settled in such a manner, that the balance of land inclines in favor of the popular fide. To prevent the alteration which time would make in this balance, let the landed and personal effects of every man be equally divided at his decease, between the males, heirs of his body; in den fault of such heirs, between his male heirs in the first and se. cond degree of relationship.
• If any man during his life-time, by gift, make a distribution of his estate or effects contrary to the meaning of this law ; let his heirs, by fuit in the proper courts of justice, obtain a lawful distribution, and let the penalty incurred by the offender be an immediate dispossession of his estate and effects to his lawful heirs.
I.et no females be capable of inheriting or bringing any dower in marriage.
· The provision for every female, who, through any natural defect, is not capable of marriage, inust be made by way of annuity by the male heirs neareit of kin. These, I think, are irresistible bars to the alteration which time would otherwise inake in the balance.
. If the exigencies of the republic should ever find it necessary to lodge the executive powers of government in the hands of one person, let there be a law made to limit it to one month. Let the representative assembly have the power of nominating the person, and continuing this command from month to month, if the exigencies of the itate demands it; but let not any one person be capable of holding this office above a year.
The remedy of a dictator should never be made use of, but in the most desperate cases; and, indeed, it is not probable that such a government should ever be in a situation to want it.'.