Page images

habits is entirely lost, and through which we have almost already been conducted into the premature decrepitude of age. It is a melancholy reflection, my dear Sir, that my answer to the supposed question must involve in the same common censure, not so much perhaps the individuals which compose the whole, as the whole which is made up of the individuals; a paradoxical sort of expression, which I can only explain by saying, that the fault is not so much in the man who takes the poison, as in the community which permits it to be administered. If practices which strike at the foundation of individual happiness are openly permitted to exist, let us not affect astonishment at the imbecility, the corruption, the degeneracy of any nation;—for when the silent growth and insinuating progress of the fungus steals away the moisture, and carries rottenness into the beams, the edifice must totter, and at last crumble into atoms.

Has it not often surprised you, Sir, that in a country like this, where all the moral and religious virtues are abundantly cherished, and that by an example emanating from the highest rank, and shedding its influence upon every order of society; has it not astonished you, I say, to observe, that a narrow policy is constantly endangering the very existence of those blessings, upon which the honour, the dignity, the happiness and every thing valuable in a nation depend ? Shall I be told that a few paltry millions of revenue are to be put in competition with almost the same number of invaluable lives which are annually sacrificed to sustain it? Shall I be told that the population of a country constitutes one of its greatest sources of riches, when I see that population not only exposed but even invited to that cup of which whoever takes, drinks poison? But if in a mere arithmetical point of view, the common indulgence in the use of Spirituous Liquors, is most deplorable and destructive, what shall we say to the baneful influence of such a practice on moral and religious duties? Here the evil is incalculableEvery thing which should bind man to man, every thing which should connect him in social intercourse with his family, and in relative atfection with his neighbours, every thing which should maintain him in his loyalty to his king and love of his country, in his submission to the laws and obedience to constituted authority, all these are but as dust in the balance against the preponderating weight of animal indulgence: the fair portion and boasted birthright of a proud and indep pendent Briton, is basely bartered for a Glass of Liquor ; this at once alienates his liberty and his honour: the “enemy which he puts into his mouth steals away his brains,” his strength, and his good name; and he exists for a few short years despising and despised by all. But is this a solitary instance ? No, no; it is the case of nearly one half of the whole population of the united kingdom--of nearly one haif of those poor mortals whose distinctive appellation (do we not blush to own it) is that of Christian. But if the moral duties are thus so voefully neglected, is it not in vain for us to expect any attention to those of Religion ? He that feels no obligation to keep the second table of the decalogue, has long ago made up his mind with respect to the ob. servance of the first : He that so lives as to forsake and be forsaken by his neighbour, is most likely also so to live as to forsake (I must not, dare to add, and be forsaken by) his God.

« I must, " I must leave to you, Sir, and to others more conversant than I can pretend to be with economical calculation, to consider how much a nation may sufier in its finances by the abstraction of the labours of even one man-that man's incapacity involves his wife, and perhaps also a large family in want, and this whole family must be supported in what it needs by and from the labours of others; and thus the usual means of subsistence being withdrawn, though but in the person of a single individual, a whole neighbourhood may be disturbed, and its comforts almost immediately subverted : for when the wheel loses one of its indentations, the adaptation to its fellow becomes instantly incorrect, and the movement being more unequal and consequently more rapid, the whole machinery is deranged and perhaps broken to pieces.

“But what is the remedy for the evils which you have depicted, will be the obvious enquiry of every one ;-a prohibition of ardent spirit is my ready answer; for nothing in a pecuniary way can compensate a nation for the loss of millions of its subjects who are the victims of indulgence in its use; nothing in financial considerations ought to be considered as equivalent to the loss of national character and strength, nothing should be maintained for a moment in competition with the dereliction of all moral duties, and above all with the total neglect of Religion.

“ If any one, however, should be inclined, upon the poor and despicable principle of profit and loss, to dispute the question with you, arguments will not be wanting on our side of it to oppose to him; and I Jave no hesitation in borrowing a phrase from the mercantile world, and saying that things would soon find their level; that the defalcation in revenue from ardent spirits would soon be made up, and an equal sum in another shape would soon find its way into the Eschequer ; that the true and wholesome beverage of the country would be increased in quantity, and consequently that the tax on malt would be more productive ;-these and many other arguments might be used if such were wanted for the defence of our position, but the exigency of our case does not require them; and it will be enough for us to observe, I trust, to those who have the management of these matters under their more immediate consideration, that however they may suppose themselves authorised by custom and long continued usage to allow the distribution and sale of Spirituous Liquors, they are allowing the sale and distribution of slow but of sure and deleterious Poisons.

“But thereare other liquors which alihough usually not denominated spirituous, are still however very prejudicial to the health of man: such of those I mean as contain a mixture of spirit; and all of which in proportion to the quantity contained, every physician of experience knows to be pernicious. If wine could be procured without the admixture of spirit, I believe there would be no difficulty in allowing that it was equally innocent with our own Ale and Beer; but when it is known that most of the imported wines have already at least a tenth part of their quantity made up of Ardent Spirit, before they come into inė possession of the British merchant, I shall not easily be convinced that the daily use of them, even in small quantities, can be considered as wholesome.

"I cannot

"I cannot conclude this letter, without expressing a hope that some time or other the subject may occupy the serious attention of the legislature, as in matters of infinitely less concern to the health of the community it has often shown itself very properly solicitous; and if in cases, comparatively speaking, of no importance at all with respect to this, there has always been a most commendable anxiety to guard against adulteration ;-as in the statute for preventing the mixture of alum with flour, which at best is now little more than a dead letter, (for notwithstanding oaths are taken, alum is still mixed with four), surely the poison which by itself and in its several admixtures is daily destroying thousands, will not long be suffered to be vended with inpunity.

“ I could say much more upon this subject, but as I must already have exhausted your patience, I will lasten to subscribe myself, &c.

“P.S. I believe it may be a fact worth enquiring about, that when the distilleries were stopped a few years ago, the increased price of spirit occasioned such a diminution in the quantity retailed, that fewer broils were committed, fewer criminals were sent to prison, and the Sessions at the Old Bailey were nearly maiden."


GENTLEMEN, I AM glad to see that the friends of good order and religion are so

generally directing their attention to the abuses which prevail ou the sabbath. Although by no means inclined to favour that puritanical strictness and severity, which would convert the holy season of rest and joy, into a day of gloom and mental fatigue, I cannot but most deeply lament the careless indifference with which it is treated in this Christian country, as though a mere cessation from worldly business, and an occasional attendance at church, were all the respect we owe. to it. This, it is to be feared, is but a too-general sentiment respecting the Christian sabbath, even among those persons who consider themselves as Christian believers, and who equally abhor infidelity and licentiousness. But let such consider that the duties of this day are positive, and that our obligation to keep it holy by practising them, is sacred and perpetual. We cannot commute for the neglect of any of the duties enjoined in the fourth commandment, by a partial obseryance of others; and he who goes to church himself, and yet suffers any of his household to wander astray, is guilty of a breach of the whole law.

The increase of immorality, prophaneness, and scepticism is universally acknowleged, and by every friend of his country deplored. Whence springs this flood of iniquity and destruction, but from a loose opinion entertained of the sabbath? No sooner is a reverence due to this day weakened in the mind, than it is followed by a disregard of divine worship and of religious instruction. The consequence is, that practical if not speculative atheism, spreads itself over the intellect, conlapia nates gvery principle, and influences the whole conduct, till the “ man at length literally lives without God in the world.” If he is the fucher of a family, and has servants under him, they are all in danger of being corrupted by his example, and are certainly exposed to the worst of temptations by his neglect.

It is fearful to observe how prevalent the profanation of the sabbath is amongst the higher circles of society; and here I cannot but call your attention to a circumstance of recent notoriety, the presentation of the colours to the Spelthorne Volunteers, by the Prince of Wales, on Sunday the 4th instant. Was there no other day so proper or convenient for the Prince and his royal brother, the commandant of that corps, to exhibit this military spectacle as the sabbath? I shall make no remark upon the Chaplain's prayer upon that occasion; but in the speech of the Prince I remark that he urges “religion,” among other motives for strenuous exertions at this awful crisis. But was it altoge. ther so consistent to mention this as a motive of defence, at a moment when every one present was violating a solemn religious duty? with what propriety could a blessing be supplicated upon the corps who were thus breaking a divine commandment? This may be reckoned strong language, but it is nevertheless true. From the field, the Princes and their suite adjourned to the inn, and the remainder of the Lord's-day was spent in conviviality. These are awful and alarming circumstances which call for exposure and reprehension in spite of our regard for high rank and the military character.

I am, &c.





"HOUGH it is not my intention to enter much into subjects, of

which we can know so little as the nature of the human soul, I cannot help suggesting to your correspondent X Y. (p. 305.) that the arguments of Mr. Locke for the sleep of the soul, to which he refers, are not so conclusive as he seem to suppose. It appears from my letter to Mr. Ludlam, inserted in your number for October, that Mr. Locke himself afterwards delivered an opinion respecting the soul, which is incompatible with the notion, that it does not always think. Whether, in the course of so long a work on so abstruse a subject, Mr. Locke had forgotten what he had said in a preceding part of it, I will not pretend to determine; but certain it is, that he afterwards (B. 2. C. 23. Sect. 17, 18,) asserts thinking to be, not merely one of the operations of the soul, but its essential quality ; to be to the soul, not what motion is to body, but what extension is to body * : whence it

* Agreeably to this, Mr. Locke (B. 2. C. 23. sect. 22.) speaks of the soul as a thinking thing," and of body as “an extended thing." But, surely to talk of a thinking thing, which sometimes does not think, is no less improper than to talk of an extended thing, which is sometimes not cxtended.




would necessarily follow, that, as body is always extended, the soul? always thinks. This, it must be acknowledged, is not decisive of the question either way; but it may be sufficient to apprize your corres, pondent, that the authority of Mr. Locke in this matter is not to be implicitly relied on. If X. Y. had looked into the very learned Dr. ' Morell's “ Notes and Annotations on Locke's Essay,published in 1794, which were compiled for the use of Queen Caroline, and prin. cipally taken (so far at least as this point is concerned) from Sect. VI. of Baxter's “ Enquiry into the nature of the human soul,” the most elaborate work, perhaps, on the subject, he would have seen, that Mr. Locke's arguments, whether satisfactorily answered or not, have not remained altogether' unanswered, and that they have not been acs quiesced in by all (whether by most, I will not say) learned and re- ' flecting men. It may be worth the while of X. Y. if he has any further curiosity on the subject, to peruse the 5th of Dr. Watts's Phi. losophical Essays,” and the 9th Sect. of Mr. Wollaston's “ Religion of Nature delineated,” in which, if he should not find grounds for cona, viction either way, he will not fail to meet with much rational entertainment.

I am, Gentlemen,

Yours, &c. Rempstone, Dec. 5. 1803.




GENTLEMEN, I WAS a good deal surprized to find that Mr. Pearson, for whom on acI count of his many excellent writings I have a sincere respect, should have brought a charge of inconsistency" against the incomparable author of the Essuy concerning human understanding,” in the pages of your last month's Magazine; but I hope that gentleman will pardon me for saying, that, as far as I am able to judge, he hath not substantiated his charge. After all the pains which had been taken by Mr. Locke, in the 1st. Chap. of his second book, to prove that “the soul does not always think,it seems hard that by a few strokes of his pen at a distant part of the same work he should be thought to have murdered his former well laboured system, which it is the tendency of the criticism above alluded to, to prove that he has done. Let us proceed to enquire how far Mr. P. has succeeded in his attempt, or fallen shiort of the object he had in view.

Mr. P. after quoting a passage from the second book of Mr. L's;, ' essay, in which Mr. L says that he thinks it is “120 more necessary for the body almuays to move than for the soul always to think,” makes him afterwards say that “thinking is (es essentiul to the soul as extension is to the body;" which, however, I think ,cannot be gathered from the passages which are cited froin his works, or from any others. Mr. Locke says Vol. V. Churchnt. Mag. Dec. 1803.

3 C ,

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »