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perhaps inveloped in a novel, where the sentiments of the writer are detailed by some favourite character, the splendor of whose virtues embellishes the principles which he holds. He, therefore, who in these times professes to treat of the rise and progress of French opinions, to examine their truth, or to trace their consequences, may be known even by his title-page to write against them; and to aim at guarding the public against their malignant influence.
The writer before us applies himself very seriously to this important labour; and if his arm be not as strong as that of him who first applied the lever to shake the colossal mass of revolutionary maxims, he is yet far from being an inefficient L auxiliary. On the contrary, this tract is not only written with some logical accuracy and considerable strength of understanding, but has contributed to render still more palpable many of the dangerous sophisms and incongruous principles of the French philosophes. Perhaps, the author does not always succeed in proving that their abstract positions are false; nor is he always secure from the imputation of having himself advanced propositions which, abstractedly considered, are indefensible: but he generally attains what seems to be his great object, namely, to prove that in fact and in practice those opinions and principles lead to what is either impracticable or dangerous.
In the introductory remarks, we find some indications of a candid and philosophic mind. The possibility of improvement, even on the best existing political systems, is confessed; and the wisdom of examining, before we reject, new opinions in politics, is freely admitted:
If,' says the writer, we trace history back to the beginning of authentic records, we shall find, that though many revolutions have taken place; though civilized nations have been over-run by barbarians; and though knowledge has often been eclipsed by ignorance; the arts and sciences have been making a gradual and perceptible progress from the commencement of history to the present time. There is no reason to suppose that politics, considered either as an art or as a science, has yet attained its greatest height. Since the institution of the feudal system, all the states of Europe have made considerable progress towards improvement. Our own laws and government, in particular, have been every century receiving importaut corrections and additions; and there is reason to expect, that if they shall continue to be amended with caution and wisdom, they will be much more perfect before the end of the next century than they are at present. We ought not then to dismiss without examination ali new opinions in politics; for if every thing new is rejected, there is an end of all improvement.'
After this liberal preface, the author proceeds to consider the declaration of the Rights of Man; in which, he says, most of the new principles that prevail in France are contained. This examination occupies the first nine chapters of the work, and is prosecuted in a succinct and methodical way. The se cond chapter gives a short history of that declaration, of its authors, of its adoption, and of the changes which it has undergone since its first formation. The following chapters, to the ninth inclusive, analyze and comment on the different articles of which the declaration is composed. The doctrines of "Government being instituted to secure to man the enjoyment of his rights" of "Liberty and Equality"-of" Law being the declaration of the general will"-of Public Security consisting in "the action of ALL to assure to each the enjoyment and preservation of his rights"-the French Definition of Property, which admits the right of the state to violate the property of the individual when PUBLIC NECESSITY requires itand finally the "Sovereignty of the People"-are here analyzed and criticized with various degrees of acuteness and success.Our limits will not suffer us to enter so minutely into the merits of the work, as to give a summary detail of the author's We shall therefore content ourreasoning in each instance. selves with extracting a specimen of his argumentative powers from his Observations on Equality:
It is needless to trace any farther the means employed to establish liberty and equality. In the historical facts which have been related, a sufficient specimen has been given of the characters of the men who patronized these principles, and of the unjust and barbarous methods employed to disseminate them. It will therefore now be proper to inquire, What was the equality which so many men have been pursuing, and for what reason is it considered as one of the rights of man? Is it a mere phantom, or is it a reality? Is it worth purchasing with the blood of millions, and by the horrors of anarchy, famine, and assassination? And after it is purchased at so dear a price, are there any means by which it can be retained?
In whatever sense we employ the word equality, it is difficult to It has not been perceive how it can be one of the rights of man. generally admitted by philosophers, nor known to the common people. It is not, therefore, a self-evident principle. God has not made men equal; society has not made them equal; neither can any What, then, does equality laws nor education preserve men equal. mean, when considered as a right of man? Not, surely, equality of understanding; for men are born with different capacities; and no standard has yet been invented by which the understandings of men can be reduced to one scale. It is indeed surprising, that the French, who have lately made the wonderful discovery, that mind is composed of a fine species of crystals*, should not also have found out
* See a Paper by La Metherie in the Journal de Physique.'
some process by which those crystals could be reduced to one stand.
Equality cannot mean equality in knowledge and virtue; for some men will be wise, and some men will be fools; some will be good, and some will be wicked, whatever new laws and forms of government shall be devised.
Neither can equality mean an equal distribution of property; for supposing you were to make all men equal in wealth to-day, they would be unequal to-morrow. Some would increase it by industry, and others would squander it in extravagance or folly. One man makes a fortune by his abilities, by his diligence, or by a happy coincidence of circumstances, and he bequeaths it at his death to his children. Is not this natural ? Is it not fair and just that a man should leave his property to his children? Yet from this it necessarily happens, that a person is often born to wealth before it can be known whether he be a wise man or a fool. A community of goods is a mere chimera, which could not enter into the imagination of any but an indolent spendthrift, or an indigent villain. If it were possible to establish a community of goods, which, happily for society, it is impossible to do, men would lose their industry, their talents, and their virtues, and would become wild beasts watching for their prey, and tearing each other to pieces in order to obtain it.
Equality according to the doctrines of the Illuminati and Jacobins, means equality in power. It rejects all kings, princes, and magistrates; it destroys all distinction of ranks, abolishes the names of master and servant, annihilates all laws, and leaves every man to the guidance of his own passions. This is a plan to destroy society under the pretence of improving it; it is to make men savages in or der to civilize them; it is to increase their power of doing mischief, to multiply temptations to vice, in order to make them good; to expose their property to plunder, and their life to the mercy of the assassin; under the vain pretence of raising the dignity, and extend. ing the happiness of the human race. This is to reverse the nature of things, to make virtue become vice, and vice become virtue, to convert misery into happiness, and happiness into misery. It is to oppose the experience of fifty centuries, and is a presumptuous, but vain attempt, to overturn the Moral Government of God. But behold the villany of these men, observe them when possessed of power, and you will see that equality is the most despotic and tremendous tyranny, that it is the besom of destruction, which is to sweep away all the comforts of this life, and the delightful prospects of the next.
It is evident, then, that equality in understanding, in knowledge, in virtue, in wealth, and power, is impossible. In these qualities men never were equal, and by nothing that man can do can they be made equal.'
Interwoven with this part of the work, the reader will find a succinct history of the Illuminés and of Jacobinism, as given in the writings of the Abbé Barruel, Professor Robison, &c. on which, as we have already offered our opinion of them at considerable length, it is not now necessary to make any
remark. It may suffice to say that this author, whose imagination seems to be deeply, but, we trust, needlessly, impressed with the danger of revealed religion and of established government, gives full credit to the strangest tales which even those learned gentlemen have thought fit to publish.
Having examined the exceptionable articles of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, with the view of proving that the French Legislators have mistaken the end of government; that their enumeration of the Rights of Man is defective and false; that the definition of Liberty is imperfect; that their Equality is an artful fraud; that their Security is an ambiguous and dangerous right; that some of their ideas respecting Property are fit only for those who live by confiscations and plunder; and that the title of "Sovereign People" is a title of mockmajesty ;-the author proceeds, in the tenth and eleventh chapters, to examine what effects these new opinions have produced on the character and situation of the French Nation, and on their conduct towards foreign states.
On this latter subject, he draws a picture in which the ambition, the oppression, the injustice, and the perfidy of the French government, are delineated with a glowing pencil.. Its conduct towards Switzerland, in particular, is described with those feelings of indignation which it was so well calculated to excite in every honest breast.
In the 12th chapter, the writer gives an account of the conspiracies which, he says, have been formed by the Jacobins in those countries with which France is engaged in war. He attributes the death of the Emperor Leopold in 1792, and that of Gustavus King of Sweden shortly afterward in the same year, to assassins employed for the purpose by the Jacobin Club*. All the discontents which have prevailed in these countries, and particularly the rebellion in Ireland, and the mutiny in the British Fleet, he seems to consider as resulting from a cause of the same kind,-the influence of the Jacobins, or the contagious nature of their principles.
The work concludes with a chapter which, we think, is far less valuable than the former part, and indeed is very puerile. In this the author points out the means which he deems necessary to check the ambitious projects and dangerous principles of the French. Among these the chief are a vigorous prosecution of the war (which, the author thinks, must undoubtedly in the end be successful, because, though vice may flou rish for a time, it cannot prosper for ever,')-an abolition of all
See a similar opinion asserted by a foreign writer, Appendix to Monthly Review, vol. xxix. N. S. p. 548.
secret societies, and, among the rest, the Freemasons,—and the regulation of the press, limiting the number of booksellers, requiring a qualification of them, and that they shall at the end of every year give in a complete list of the books which they have published in the course of it. He also recommends that all printers should be obliged to put their names to every work which they print: a regulation which has been enforced by a late act of parliament.
Another of his proposals is that Reviewers shall be made to disclose their names, and their qualifications for criticism; in order that the public may ascertain the merit of their remarks by the excellence of their political and literary character *. On reading this sagacious advice to the government, we immediately turned to the title-page for the name of the author, resolving to try him by his own rule :-but he who insists on the disclosure of the names of others keeps his own a secret. We therefore may tell our readers, in his own words, that they will be highly censurable, and guilty of the most criminal negligence and dangerous credulity, if they place confidence in the advice or assertions of a writer of whose judgment and honesty they are entirely ignorant.' (See p. 265.)- Other means here prescribed, to resist the projects and principles of France, are, to discountenance the pantomime of Blue Beard, on account of the indecency of the dresses used in it; to insist on stage-dancers dressing more modestly; and, finally, to diffuse more widely, and teach more attentively, the nature of CHRISTIANITY, which is the noblest of all the SCIENCES, and the most useful of all the ARTS.'
On this last point, he adds:
But it may be inquired, who ought to be the instructors of the young in religion and morality? The discourses of the clergy are certainly of the highest importance to society; but it must be acknowledged, that they are not suited to the capacity of the young. The young are not accustomed to follow a continued train of thought; their knowledge is at first entirely acquired by conversation, by hearing the opinions of others, by proposing questions of their own, and by the frequent perusal of books adapted to their modes of thinking. These things ought to be attended to by schoolmasters, by tutors, and by teachers of every description. But public or professional teachers are not the persons whom nature has appointed as the instructors and guardians of the morals of the young. Professional teachers ought indeed to contribute their assistance, which on all occasions may be of the highest consequence; but the duty is too
The writer says; These observations are made by one who has never been connected with any reviewers;' an assertion which we can readily believe, for otherwise he could not have made a proposal so totally incompatible with the nature of a critical work.