« ForrigeFortsæt »
and attacks, if they are objects of jealousy and hatred to their neighbours. A reputation, on the other hand, for moderation and justice, conciliates the confidence and good will of their neighbours, and leaves them in the undisturbed poffeffion of the arts that improve and bless mankind. If a nation be characterised for breach of faith to its engagements, and ambitious designs against its neighbours, every other state will naturally be its enemies. But, when sovereign powers, both in their internal and external political ceconomy, pay regard to the law of nature and nations, they thereby conciliate confidence and approbation among their neighbours, which is of infinite consequence to them in the whole conduct of their affairs.
It is true, that civil and political rights avail but little against the overbearing force of conquering arms. But, in the present state of Europe, when the vigilant eye of political jealousy watches every movement of flates and princes, the poffeffion of just claims is of mighty advantage as a veil to conceal or to prevent all apprehension of inordinate ambition. It is not, therefore, either impertinent or useless' for men of letters, even while contending powers have made provifion for war, and stand in a threatening posture with their hands on their swords, to discuss their claims, and to appeal to those great principles of reason and justice from which states and princes, any more than individuals are not exempted.
In the performance under review, which is divided into eight chapters, Mr. Linguet, justly celebrated for his political abilities, considers the famous question concerning the opening of the Scheldt, both on the principles of the law of nature and nations, and on the more confined maxims of particular states, concerned for their own particular interests. In the first chapter, entitled “ State of the Queition now agitated between his Imperial Majesty and the United Proe,' vinces, on the Subject of the Scheldt;" our author makes a number of general observations on the present declining an! melancholy state of the Austrian Nethcrlands; and is decidedly of opinion, that nothing more, is necessary than the opening of the Scheldt to reitore them to their formar grandeur. He also makes a number of remarks on the inutility of the Scheldt, under the restrictions now impofei on its navigation ; pays some juit compliments to the emper ror, and gives a summary view of the reasons which the Dutch alledge for their exclufive right to the use of that river: namely, that it was granted to them by the treaty of Munfter, and that the republic has rendereu emigent services to the House of Austria.
In the second chapter our author discusses the question, Whether gratitude for the services done to the House of Austria by the United Provinces can be a motive for permitting the exclusive navigation of the Scheldt? The Dutch are represented as pleading their services to the Auftrians. But our author thinks, that all these services have been compensated by other's not less essential.
In the third chapter Mr. Linguet examines the question, Whether the treaty of Munster is, on the principles of justice, an invincible obstacle to the opening of the Scheldt? In the course of his reasoning on this question, our author arks “ Suppose the emperor were to tell the Dutch, I open the Scheldt in virtue of the same right by which you became an independent republic, what reply could they make ?" It is very true, that iniquitous promises or compacts even between individuals, extorted by violence, are not, in the judgment of most moralifts, binding; much less are such compacts obligatory among sovereign princes; for the order of society may require such sacrifices, in certain circumstances, from individuals ; but no reason can be given why a just privilege may not be resumed by sovereign powers by the faine means with which it was extorted; yet, still we cannot but object to the reasoning implied in the question put by Mr. Linguet; for the reply to that question is exceedingly plain-" When we erected ourselves into an independent republic, we broke no treaty, were under no allegiance to any sovereign. It is true indeed, we once wer: fubject to Spain : but Philip II. by his unheard of cruelties, infringed that tacit compact of reciprocal protection and obedience which incorporates the supreme powers into one body with their subjeéts. That bigotted and inhuman tyrant, instead of affording protection and promoting the happiness of his people, inflicted on them numberlels miseries. They had therefore recourse to the law of nature : they took up arms in their own defence, and with equal justice and success maintained the rights and liberties of freemen. But if you open the Seheldt, the exclusive navigation of which was granted by our cruel oppressors, as some finall compensation for former severities, and as the price of peace; you violate the treaty of Munfter."
In the fourth chapter our author inquires, whether that clause of the treaty of Munfter which ftipulates to the Dutch the exclusive navigation of the Scheldt, be agreeable to the law of nature; and concludes in the negative.
In the fifth chapter he inquires, whether the shutting of the Scheldt be not contrary to the law of nations? On this question he observes, that the sea is free, and that therefore
all rivers which make a part of the sea ought to be free likewise. This appears to be a kind of sophism. The dispute is not concerning the property of the water in the river Scheldt, but who Thall have a right to fail on it. Navigable rivers ought to be open to all nations, not because they
flow into the ocean, but because like the ocean they may be failed on by all.
In the fixth chapter Mr. Linguet confiders, whether the opening of the Scheldt would be as hurtful to the states as they seem to apprehend, and whether, in every respect, they ought not to prefer this option to war. He endeavours to Thew, that the free navigation of the Scheld would be for the advantage of the Dutch themselves, as well as of the emperor. His reasoning on this point is at once ingenious and satisfactory.
In the seventh chapter our author considers the effect of the opening of the Scheldt on the interests of the other powers : in other words, the part they would probably take, if hoftilities between the emperor and the Dutch were commenced. He confines his reasoning and conjectures on this part of his subject to the king of Prussia and the court of Versailles. Frederic, he phews, has not the same motive for oppofing the emperor in his claims on the United Provinces, that he had for refifting his attack on the Bavarian, The ties of blood naturally tend to keep peace for some time between Auftria and France ; nor would it be found. policy, he thinks, in the court of Versailles, on account of the opening of the Scheldt, to hazard a war.
The title of the eighth chapter, is “ A speech delivered, or to be delivered by a French minister, to the council of state at Versailles, with respect to the opening of the Scheldt." In this chapter the interests of France, in relation to this subject, are very fully and very ably pointed out by our author.
With regard to our author's morality, it is evident that, he is not, willing to relax the severity of general principles. in favour of particular claims in particular circumstances. The vast variety of incidents in the history of nations, the effential changes which fo often happen in h eir situations seem to emancipate them in some cases from those laws which regulate the conduct and preserve order among individuals in society. And, if we were to have respect only to the interests of states, we should, perhaps, conclude with Mr. Hume--that virtue is founded in utility. As justice is the general good of particular communities, fo, in an enlarged view, it is also the good of the great community forined by all the nations in the world. In general, there is Eng. Rev, Vol. V. JUNE. 1785:
nothing that so eminently conduces to this good, as the preservation of good faith. But faith pledged, in certain situations, for the fulfilment of engagements, iniquitous in themselves, but necessary at the time to the public tranquillity, may, without any violation of metaphyfical or moral truth, be recalled in circumstances where the general good of the world requires its rovocation. If we consider the world as one great commonwealth, Holland with all its dependencies, will appear like a single city, whose good muft give way to that of the public. This was exaêly the idea entertained by Henry the Great, in his grand project for keeping Europe in perpetual peace. The dominium eminens of a state is founded on the same principle as that on which a canal is cut through a country for the improvement of trade and navigation. There is a dominium eminens in the republics composed of the diiferent nations, which is rightly exercised when any one of them appropriates' to itself such gifts of nature as, without injury to one, may be enjoyed by the whole. In the navigation of seas and rivers the whole world has an interest; the ships of one nation may float on the waters without excluding those of another. Monopolies of common benefits are unjust. Let the capitals and industry of Holland flow through the Scheldt, as well as those of other states; or, if that be necessary, let them be diverted into other channels : but let nota bridle be imposed Upon the industry of the Germans, as a fpur to excite and to support that of the Hollanders.
Although the dignity of the subject naturally elevates the stile of general politics, yet there is an unvaried pomp in that of Mr. Linguet which cannot be approved. Notwithstanding his professions of impartiality in his advertisement, it is very clear that he is a warm advocate for the emperor. At the same time, he is a lively, ingenious, and well-informd writer.
MONTHLY CA TAL OG U E.
P O L I TI CA L. Art. 17. Mr. Fox's Reply to Mr. Pitt, upon reporting the Fourth
Propofition of the Irish System; purporting that all laws for the Regulation of Trade and Navigation shall have equal Force in
Ireland as, in England. On Tuesday May 31, 1785. 8vo. 6d. Kearfley. HIS Reply coincides, almost entirely, with a publication, which
first appeared in a *morning paper, as the report of a speech, highly celebrated by those who heard it in the senate ; and which,
gratified, in an eminent degree, at the expence of the minister, Mr. Fox's numerous admirers.
The re-publication of the speech, in the present form, in which some errors in the former impressons are corrected, has been suggested, probably, by the spirit of party. Yet it will, no doubt, be acceptable, on more liberal considerations, to the lovers of ingenious' and animated declamation.
Mr. Fox's allusion to a former debate, which was somewhat misplaced and disfigured in the daily papers, appears here to more ad vantage.
“ I cannot help (says Mr. Fox) remarking the vast disparity ir, the tone of temper, and the style of expression, exhibited by the Hon. Gentleman upon this night, from those which he deemed it expedient to adopt when he opened the eighteen propofitions to this House. On that night I quoted a passage,
« Telephus aut Peleus cum pauper, et exul uterque,
' Projicit ampullas et sesquipedalia verba.' And I quoted it to exemplify the change which the deplorable situation into which his rashness, his ignorance, or what is not more reputable than either, a servile adoption of other men's fancies, and thrusting forward the crude heap of discordant and dangerous materials, which form this miserable project, had involved the Hon. Gentleman. Upon that occasion I could not help observing, that the ampullæ and the Sesquipedalia verba= that the Hon. Gentleman's magnificent terms, his verbose periods, and those big bombastic sentiments which constitute in general the principal part of his orations, had for once forsaken him, or been relinquished, for language and for manners better accommodated to his disastrous condition. Then we saw the avowed confederacy of the Hon. Gentleman, with those about him, (meaning Mr. Jenkinson) whose co-operation in the general system of his government the Hon. Gentleman is fo commonly anxious to disavow, but whose opinions he fo uniformly propagates and afferts,— Then we saw that preposterous ambition, that gaudy pride, and vaulting vanity, which glare upon the observer beyond all the other characteristic features of the Hon. Gentleman, and which prompt him to look down with contempt upon his political coadjutors--to fancy himself the great overseer, the surveyorgeneral, of the British government, We faw this glittering afsemblage melt away, and that Hon. Gentleman descend to a curious and most affecting sympathy with the other supporters of this system, as well as into something like a modest and civil demeanour towards those who opposed it. But alas ! the Hon. Gentleman's deviation into a moderate and humble course of argument, into a courle befitting a man detected in ten thousand instances of folly, precipitancy, rashness, weakness, and consummate ignorance of the subject in discussion, was but tranfient and temporary. The hopes of reform in his conduct were as delusive and fallacious, even as the many hopes of other reforms which that Hon. Gentleman has gulled a variety of persons in this country to entertain upon points of more importance. Upon this night the Hon. Gentleman has relapsed into his own favourite and darling habits---the ampulle and fefquipedalia verba are again resumed with additional redundancy. Nerved Gg 2