Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

coinages ought to be recommended, as of the very best form which has ever yet appeared.

*As to the obverse, the decorating a modern prince with a crown of laurel, an ornament never now used, is truly childish; as is the Roman armour,

and every circumstance not belonging to real life, Want of genius is the only plea an artist can offer for the stupid practice of following models at the expence of nature.

“On the reverse, the poor presentation of the arms of a country may be considered as a proof that Europe wants yet fome centuries of eloping from barbarism. Of all possible reverses this must be al. lowed the most Gothic, and empty of all thought or design. Room for the highest elegance ought to be given upon the reverses of coin, and objects of delight and instruction delineated.

“ The legends ought always to be in the language of the country. where the coin is struck; for the money is made for it, and not for foreign nations ; and every inhabitant ought to be enabled to read the legends of the coin, which is made for him, and every day passes through his hands. It is surprizing that, when the scripture was given in English, the coin was not likewise translated: but the night of ignorance drops at once; while it is with many a long and arduous struggle that even the dawn of science

appears. Suppofing, for the sake of a reverie, an alteration in the British eoin upon these principles, the obverse might throughout, as at present, contain the king's portrait, but without armour, or laurel crown, till he wears them. Around would run the illustrious title, GEORGE III. KING OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND : the other titles, of which the initials cut so aukward a figure upon the reverse of our gold and silver, might be left out of the coin without inconvenience.

But the reverses, if historical events are not allowed, in imitation of the Roman, should be varied, in every species, something in this way. The guinea might present a figure of Liberty, as the most precious of our poffeffions, and worthy of the analogy of gold; the legend might be, THE GUARDIAN OF BRITAIN. On the half guinea, suppose an image of Fortitude, THE GUARDIAN OF LIBERTY. The crown piece might bear Liberty, Agriculture, and Commerce,

TO BLESS: the half-crown, the king, a peer, and a commoner, emblematic of our happy constitution, with the legend,

The shilling might be charged with a fhip of war conveying a merchant vessel, WEALTH, AND POWER: the fixpence with an oak in a storm, STRONGER FROM The halfpenny may remain as it is, with regard to the impression, only doubling the size of the coin ; the Britannia should hold a trident in her right hand, and let the other recline upon the helm of a ship, instead of holding both aloft, with impertinent articles in each, a posture very Gothic, and unknown to the ancients. What is the meaning of her long spear? What of her olive branch, with which she fits, like an old lady in a Gothic picture with a flower in her hand? The farthing, of the fize of the present halfpenny, might present an husbandman' fowing, with this legend, BY IN

UNITED

UNITED TO PROTECT.

THE TEMPEST.

DUSTRY SMALL THINGS GROW GREAT,

6 But

But any effectual improvement of our coinage must be left till God help us; together with the more important improvements of the police of London, of our waste lands, and of parliamentary representation.'

In this extract, the reader will perceive several instances of the attempt at point, which we have noticed above. There is something ludicrous in saying, that God must help us, to improve our taste in coinage ; but the author's criticism on our coin is perfectly just, and his proposed improvements might be attended to by government with ad, vantage.

Upon the whole, the medallic ftudent has great obligations to the author of the present Essay, who is at the same time, short, clear and comprehensive.

!

Art, III. An Elay on the Polity of England: with a view to

discover the true Principles of the Government, what Remedies
might be likely to cure the Grievances complained of; and why
the several Provisions made by the Legislature, and those recom,
mended by Individuals have failed. 8vo. 6s. boards Cadell.
THE author of this performance disclaims all ideas of

party and faction ; nor indeed, do we perceive from its țenour that he has any purpose to gain, but that of fubmiting with candour his sentiments to the public. He reprobates the distinction of the king's friend,' and the friend of the people,' and is willing to clafs himself in the number of those who are friends both to the king and the kingdom.

He employs the first division of his volume, in inquiring into the dangerous tenets of those who seem to wish for the annihilation of monarchy. Under this general head, he treats of the executive power; and from his fcrutiny into this topic, he is led to conclude, that the English government though it bears a monarchical form is essentially a Rea public. He then turns his attention to the origin of our constitution, and to its judicial and legislative powers. His next care is extended to the rise, the progress, and the consequences of the authority and importance gradually acquired by the House of Commons.

His second book or division, is allotted to the examination of the caution and delicacy which seem to be neceffary in reducing either the prerogative or the influence of the crown. In his third book, he unfolds the nature of the grievances now complained of, with a view not only to discover thc principle from which they originate, but the remedies of which the application is the most likcly to be efficacious. Here his discussions are ample; and he delivers it as the re

sult

fult of his reasonings, that if improvements are to be made in our government, they must have a reference to its nature and principles; that a will or authority, independent of the people, is a violence to the spirit of democracy; that virtuo in the commons, and power in the king are indespensable principles ; that there is a danger, left the executive power by the means of corruption should engrofs to itself the whole legislative authority; that there is a hazard left legislative afsemblies, by the operation of faction, should exalt themselves into the enjoyment of the executive power ; and he is certain with Montesquieu and other writers, that if the executive and legislative branches should be united, there would enfue 4 general anarchy and confusion. Bụt while our author points out these evils, he is of opinion that they may be prevented by the destruction of private views; by abolishing the boroughs, and commanding members to be returned by fuitable districts; by Thortening the duration of parliaments; by communicating freedom and frequency to elections; and in fine by drawing a line between liberty and power that should be too facred to be infringed upon by the legislative or the executive powers of government.

In his fourth book, our author exhibits a view of the precautions of the legislature at different periods to remedy the grievances complained of. The statutes containing these, engage his scrutiny, and he exposes their inefficiency and partial operation.

In his fifth book, he enumerates the different projects of private politicians to remedy the public grievances, and treats each of them in due form. He canvafles them in the following series. '1. An equal representation, or a ! representation proportioned to the number of the people,

For adding an hundred members to the counties and the metropolis. 3. For limiting the number of the peerage. 4. For chuling into the ministry neutral men, and men of capacity, impartiality, and disinterestedness. 5. An

equal representation and annual parliaments.' Of all thesa propositions, it is the opinion of our author that they are pernicious.

He is alike hostile to the provisions of the legiflature, and to the plans of private individuals. It is his with that the inhabitants of every confiderable place were fairly represented in parliament. He is anxious that the representatives of the people should have a common interest with the community; that they should be removable at the end of every session, if their behaviour ihould be found to be reprehensible; that the conftitutional boundaries of their duty thould be clearly ascertained; that faction and corruption Thould be banished

from

2.

from the House of Commons; and that the people confident of the virtue of the Commons should enjoy liberty and happiness. He is positive that our public treasure is profusely Iquandered ; and he is afided that we thould be unsuccessful abroad, and dissatisfied at home. He is an enemy to penfions, contracts, loans, subscriptions, lottery tickets, and secret service money. He is scandalized that some late prosecutions Thould have miscarried, and that the fortunes of many public men should not have been enquired into with sufficient diligence. He is convinced that there is a criminality in the expenditure of the public money; and he is satisfied that we are governed by men who are deftitute of sufficient, legal, and constitutional knowledge.

Such in general is the outline of the present performance ; and as a specimen of the composition of our author we shall lay before our readers what he has remarked concerning the consequences of the power which may be alluined by the House of Commons.

· The statute of 12 Cha. II. c. 24. having finally abolished the feodal tenures, with all their flaviih coniequences, which formerly used to increate the fplendor of the throne, and, at the same time, to keep the inferior land holders in fubjection to the lords they held 'under; let us see what may now be the power of the House of Commons.

• James I. in preferring Sir John Saville, laid a fure foundation for opposition to the measures of the crown ; and the subsequent impeachment of the earl of Middlesex in the fame reign, and in the next that of the earl of Strafford, seem to have ensured its fuccefs, By the first, opposition is inspired with hope ; by the latt, any minister must be dismayed with fear.

• Bills respecting the personal liberty of individuals may be passed quietly; but if they relate to the neceifury requisites for giving en. ergy to the measures of government, they have too often mer with a violent opposition.

• The present times, it is to be hoped, are an exception to fuch conduct." In so momentous a concern, however, it may behove the people to be upon their guard against every poffible danger,

Numerous connections may be united, and grow into a powerful and formidable faction ; private views may supplant all public virtue, and no one avenue to power be left unaitempted. A party, perhaps, may try to seize upon government; and, it very considerable, the several members of it may begin to consider themselves as in, vested with royal power, or at leait

, intitled to hold the supreme inagistrate in tutelage. In comparison of this important object, they may look upon the privilege of propofing laws, and inquiring into the execution of thein ; of granting money, and the administration of it, as matters of tritling concern. These events, it is hoped, are yet at a great distance. But if it should ever be the lot of this country to endure so hard a fortune, it may be of use to the present generation, in order to guard against the approach of so

grea:

great an evil, to take a short view of its prognosticks. They seem to be these. Should the debates in parliainent be constantly carried on with heat and animosity, and every measure of government be opposed and thusarred; should a faction garble the debates for publication, and editors of new.papers be taken into pay ;

should

every ministry, without exception, and without any one direct and specific

charge brought against them, be grossly abused and calumniated ; should the true principles of government, the found maxims of policy, and the real interests of the community, be lost in the eager pursuit of private interest or ambition ; fiould men, because they are of a particular party, or potlessed of talents for debate, though en, dowed only with superficial abilities, be sought for, in preference to persons of real knowledge and integrity, and even brought from other countries to fill the family boroughs; fhould eloquence, the great engine of faction, be confidered of the same importance as in the days of Cicero, when Rome lost her liberty ; ad venality or corruption, (which is indeed the infeparable companion of faction) become equally prevalent; should lawyers, because in the habit of public speaking, be brought into both houses of parliament; and even the highest offices in the law be bestowed, not so much on account of merit in the profession, as of certain conduct or connections in parliament ; should the qualification required for members to fit in parliament be evaded, and instead of wages being paid by the electors, the most corrupt bribery be practi ed upon them.

• Should the supreme magistrate be deprived of many of his prerogatives; should a cabal be able to force him to take into his fervice, political, maritime, and military men, utterly disagreeable to him ; and the order of things be inverted, and instead of commanding, he himself be obliged to obey ; should he be compelled to grant places, pensions, and honours, to the very men that have treated him with indignity ; should those who have been distinguish, ed by the royal favour, appear at public meetings to do things known to be offensive to their sovereign should faction, as in the time of Charles I. call into their aid inflammatory petitions and infiammatory motions in parliament; and even the km-g's own ministers openly attempt to fubvert his authority. • Should the inqusitorial power draw every

branch of the execus tive authority into the house of commons, and the inquisitorial confequently become the executive power; should the royal prerogative be barely nominal, and actually performed by the ministry; and the : miniítry, awed by the terror of impeachment, or of clamorous and pertinacious invective, become afraid of exerciting their functions,

and the choice of the ministry, and the direction of their conduct qirtually devolve upon the house of commons; and that power, which was designed to watch and impeach any misconduct in the administration, become, in effect, the administration itself, and the inquisitors of its own conduct.

• Should the public councils, depending upon the fluctuating strength or weakness of contending parties, become fluctuating aiso; and in order to give some stability to government, some members be

brought

1

« ForrigeFortsæt »