Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

( 5 ) sail of a windmill, and the wheel of a water-mill in action : we know also, that these machines grind corn, and reduce the bark of trees to powder : but we know nothing of the structure of them, and can hardly help confounding a carpenter with an hewer of wood."

We all carry watches in our pockets, but do we know the mechanism of the fusee round which the chain is wound? Do we understand the use of the spiral line which accompanies the balance ? It is just the same as to the most common trades: we know the names of them, and no more. Instead of endeavouring to gain a reasonable knowledge of commerce, manufactures, and mechanics, which are the delight and ornament of that fociety wherein we are to spend our lives, we pique ourselves on attaining all the niceties of quadrille, or bury ourselves in folitude, upon speculations that have no foundation but ia our whimsical imaginations. And, if little judgment is shewn in the choice of our pleasures, a ftill greater want of it will probably appear in our studies. We run after whatever makes the most noise, and the most sensible people are at last obliged to confess, that they repent more the loss of the time they have employed in studying the subtleties and fooleries of the schools, the arts of pedantry, and the crack-brained altercations of enthusiastic zealots, than of what they have spent in the learning of music, which is sometimes an amusement to them.”

6. The father or mother of a family, the head of a community, a merchant, a lawyer, a justice of peace, or any of those who have the government either of the actions or consciences of others, may be never the worse for not understanding the monades of Leibnits, or the disputative bombast of the dogmatists; but there is no one who would not acquit himself better in his employment, was he to acquire a true knowledge of the arts and trades wherein the common people are bufied. This kind of philosophy is a thousand times more to be, esteemed, than those systems whose inutility is their least fault.” Poftlethwayt's Dictionary of Trade and Commerce. Article, Manufačturers.

66 The

[ocr errors]

5:- The principle end of a political survey of any country, is, to point out its capacity, under the regulation of a wife policy, to render the inhabitants thereof independent, potent, and happy. In regard to a matter of this importance, more especially in an age so enlightened as this, affertions are not regarded as arguments; and even arguments, however specious or plausible, if unsupported by facts, are not looked upon as conclusive. As far as rhetoric, panegyric, and al} the powers of eloquence could reach, BRITAIN, as we have more than once had occafion to thew, has been as highly celebrated as any country could be. But how much foever fuch pieces may please, they feldom carry in thern any great degree of information, and will by no means furnish any satisfactory answers to objections, In order to accomplish this, it is requisite to pursue another method, to go to the bottom of things, to enter, and even to enter minutely into particulars, and by thus proeeeding step by step, to render whatever is affirmed as clear and as certain as possible. It must be allowed, that this, as well as other countries, hath l'een subject to very great vicissitudes, and to frequcnt revolutions, in confequence of which, not only the condition of the inhabitants, but the very fade and appearance of the country itself, hath been in different periods greatly altered, which in such a survey ought to be remarked and explained. Many of its natural advantages were at all times too obvious not to be discerned ; and yet some of these have never been im. proved, while others again, pafling wholly unnoticed, have been of course totally neglected. But within these two lait centuries, fince the reformacion produced the revival of useful fcience, the eyes of men have been in a great measure opened , ani in consequence of this, much more has been done within that period than in many ages before. These improvements, how great foever, ought only to be considered as so many laudable models, calealated to excite a ftill stronger principle of public spirit and emulation; as there ftill remain various of our native prerogatives unexerted, several great resources unexplored, and not a few means yet untried, by which even great

er

[ocr errors]

er things than have been yet done, might be ftill effected in agriculture, minufactures, and commerce, by prosecuting the aptitude this country has for almost every possible species of ima provement, and thereby rendering it the noble and respectable center of as extensive, flourishing, and well governed an empire, as any on which, since launched from the hand of the Creator, the sun has ever shone."

As a basis for such a superstructure, we hazarded some poli. tical sketches of the great empires in antiquity, and shewed from facts that such stupendous edifices might be erected; and descending from these countries, which, both in time and fituation were less remote, we made it equally evident, that these powers

of construction were not confined to any quarter of the globe, or at all constrained to the particular circumfta of foil or climate. But that wisdom and industry, prudence and perseverance, were engines capable of overcoming almost any obstacle and removing every defect, and even in some case of converting apparent defect into real advantages. We also ventured to draw the veil a little, and to render it manifest, that these amazing effects were not performeil by those mysterious and refined arts which have 14surped the name of policy in modern ages; but by simple und folid maxims, inspired by genius, approved by reason, and confirmed by experience. From these sprung a system of rule, founded on a few well-weighed principles, suited to the genius and circumstances of the peo, ple, and invariably tending to the public good. Institutions, plain, succinct, and agreable to the natural notions that all men have of justice; by which a sense of shame was made as much as possible to serve instead of punishment. Idleness was profcribed as the infamous mother of vices; benevolence considered as the visible image of virtue ; and industry respected as the parent of independency: which, by affording a comfortable support to private families, maintained order, vigor, harmony, and of course the welfare and stability of the state. In a word, the constitution prescribing their duty to magistrates, the laws controuling the actions of individuals, and the manners diffused from those, either honoured with titles, or trusted with power, conveyed a spirit of obedience through all ranks, from a consciousness that, in pursuing the public weals they took the best and surest method of pursuing their private interests. By the operations of these systems, vast countries became full of people, lodged in cities, towns, and villages ; while to furnish those with subsistence, their lands of every kind grew by continual cultivation to look like gardens; but when these were overborn by violence, or undermined by corruption, those lands followed the fate of their inhabitants; and as they relapfed into a state of nature, or which is little better, into a state of servitude, those likewise became, in comparison of what they were, so many wilderneffes deformed with ruins." Dr. Cambell's Political Survey of Great Britain. Vol. I. Seat. IX. page 705.

ners

[ocr errors]

September, 261h, 1795.

ON THE DUTCH NATION. THOSE

HOSE who would have it that the frugality of that nation flows not so much from necessity, as a general aversion to vice and luxury, will put us in mind of their public administration and smallness of saleries, their prudence in bargaining for and buying stores and other necessaries, the great care they take not to be imposed upon by those that serve them, and their severity against them that break their contracts. But what they would afcribe to the virtue and honesty of ministers, is wholly due to their strict regulations concerning the management of the public treafure, from which their admirable form of government will not suffer them to depart; and indeed one good man may take another's word, if they so agree, but a whole nation ought never to trust to any honesty, but what 'is built upon neceflity; for unhappy is the people, and their constitution will be ever precarious, whose welfare must depend upon the virtue and consciences of Ministers and Politicians.

No. 31.

THE PHILANTHROPIST.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 2; 1795.

.

LONDON: Printed for and sold by DANIEL ISAAC EATON, Printer and

Bookseller to the Supreme Majesty of the People, at the Cock and Swine, No. 74, Newgate street.

1795.

PRICE ONE PENNY.

For the PHILANTHROPIST.

ON LIBERTY;
-Translated from the French of Montesquieu.
THER

HERE is no word which admits of more various fignifications, and has made more different impressions on the human mind, than that of Liberty. Some have taken it for a facility of deposing a person on whom they had conferred a tyrannical authority; others, for the power of chufing a superior whom they are obliged to obey; others, for the right of bearing arms, and of being thereby enabled to use violence; others, in fine, for the privilege of being governed by a native of their own country, or by their own laws.

A certain nation, for a long time, thought liberty consisted in the privilege of wearing a long beard. Some have annexed this name to one form of government, exclusive of all others : --those who had a republican taste, applied it to this species of polity; those who liked a monarchical state, gave it to monarchy. Thus they have all applied the name of liberty to the government most suitable to their own customs and inclinations :

and

« PreviousContinue »