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We cannot help observing, that the style of this work is not less contemptible than its contents are disgusting : so that it will probably foon fink into that oblivion, to which we most heartily wish it configned.
Art. VII. Gerh. Nicolai HERKENS, de Valitudine Literats.
rum; i.e. On the Influence of Study on the Health of the Learned, a Poem, in Three Books. By Gerh. Nic. HEER
8vo. pp. 240. Groninguen. 1792. To 'o be at once dida&tic and poetic, requires talents of a pe
culiar kind, which few, comparatively, pofless; in this difficult line, M. HEERKENS makes a respectable figure, and has here given a pleasing and interesting poem on a subject which we had not imagined capable of so much embellishment. He writes in the elegiac Hexameter and Pentameter verse, and has illustrated his text by a great number of notes, which contain curious and entertaining literary anecdotes.
Art. VIII. Lettres sur les Dangers, &c. i.e. Letters on the Dan
ger of altering the primitive Conftitution of an Established Government; written to a Dutch Patriot. 8vo. Pp. 400. Londen.
[ A Pretence.] 1792. TH *HE lamentable state of confusion in which France has for
some time past been involved, together with the wild notions and violent conduct of the Jacobines and their adherents, must be deplored by every moderate and good man, not only on account of the evils of which they are the immediate occaa fion, but also as they furnish the advocates for arbitrary government with a pretence for vindicating its oppression, and for representing liberty as in every case incompatible with the peace and order of society.
The design of these letters is sufficiently evident from their title: the writer appears to be a native of Holland, who, dread. ing left his countrymen, infected with the madness of pseudo. patriotism, should attempt to overturn the political constitution of their country, in order to attain a government purely democratical, endeavours to convince them that such an undertaking must be productive of great and innumerable evils, and is not likely to secure the liberty which is its object. With this view, he uses the argumentum ad hominem, and sets out with admitting the right of a people, when intolerably oppressed, to rise against their sovereign and vindicate their freedom ; in this case, be grants, as true, the maxim of Barbeirac, that the ge
neral infurrection of a natión ought not to be termed a rebelliox : but, after having made these concessions, he inquires into the expedience of such measures, and endeavours to thew that the evil produced by resistance to an oppressive government, is much greater than can result from submission. For this purpose, he takes an historical view of the ancient republics of Greece, which unfortunately furnish but too many examples of the instability and misery of ill-constituted republics; and which, though not liable to the hereditary despotism of a single tyrant, were exposed to the oppression and violence of many.
The author's discussions of these subjects fhew him to be well acquainted with ancient history: but we think that he would have given greater force to his arguments, if he had been more attentive to arrangement, instead of writing in a de. fultory and digressive manner, without order and perfpicuity of method.
It is, however, no more than justice to acknowlege, that he has amply illustrated this important thesis, that political revolu. tions generally produce great evils; and that the people, even after they have succeeded in shaking off the yoke under which they had groaned, are, in many cales, either from their own levity and inconstancy, or from the treachery and ambition of those in whom they confide, forced to submit to a despotism worse than that to which they had before been subject. In this view, the letters before us have their utility, as a seasonable warning to guard mankind against those restless spirits, who miftake licentiousness for liberty, and, under pretence of opposing the exertions of arbitrary power, endeavour to throw off all those legal restraints, and that political subordination, which social order indispensably requires, and without which there can, in fact, be no liberty.
While, however, we bestow due praise on this author's intention, we must observe that, like many writers on this fubject, he weakens his arguments by endeavouring to prove too much, and advances principles to which we cannot affent without renouncing all attachment to those on which every free conftitution is founded.
We allow, with the utmost concern, that the term liberty has too often been misunderstood ; that wrong ideas of it have been the cause of much disorder, of many and great evils; and that an attachment to it has frequently been made a pretence for destroying the peace of society, and for committing the worst of crimes. We grant that nothing can be more useful, especially in these times, than to rectify mischievous errors of this nature, which tend to the subversion of all order :--but if, to do this, we run into the other extreme, and say, that liberty is a mere phantom which never did and never can exist, w! fhall frustrate our own endeavours; and our readers, shocked at the false principles on which we set out, will be prejudiced against all the arguments that we can offer. We allow, with the author of these letters, that, among the ancients, the word liberty was often used to express the freedom of the state fron foreign controul: but we deny that this is the only sense in which it was employed, or in which liberty can be said to exift. If our author be right, and liderty, as applied to the subjects of a limited political constitution, be a word without any meaning, it follows that the States of the United Provinces, as well as our own King and Parliament, must have fallen into the grofieft absurdity, when they have represented the liberties of their subjects, (that is, their freedom from the arbitrary controul of their own governors as well as from that of foreign powers,) as something real and highly valuable.
Another circumstance, which we must blame in this letterwriter, is his indiscriminate censure of all resistance to a bad government, and of all revolutions whatever. What degree of oppression will vindicate a people in opposing a bad government, and in attempting to establith a milder constitution, is difficult to determine; and indeed it is one of those questions which must be left theoretically undecided :--but the assertion, that no such case can poflibly happen, is peculiarly absurd either in Dutchmen or Britons, who are greatly indebted to such revolutions for whatever is valuable in the political conftitutions under which they severally live. Our author does indeed promise to enter into a particular view of the revolt of the United Provinces from Spain: but, instead of doing this, he turns his attention to the late civil dissenfions in the Austrian Netherlands; in which we readily allow that the word liberty was most wretchedly abused, to favour the detestable projects of ambitious aristocrats, and superstitious monks.
It is a pity that the advocates for power, as well as the friends of liberty, have, in their writings, given way to the influence of passion, and have dealt more in declamation than argument: by attributing to each other views and designs, which probably neither of them at first entertained, they have introduced suspicions and averfions, which have already had terrible effects, and which may tend to produce the very evils that they profeffed to dread. This is remarkably the case with some of those whom the French revolution called into the field of controversy; and especially with those who may be confidered as principals in the quarrel ; for such it unfortunately became; we mean Mr. Burke and Mr. Paine. Both these writers have advanced many important truths and observations:
but they are both chargeable with many exaggerated and dangerous affertions. If the latter be accused of endeavouring to render us discontented with our excellent constitution, and of fomenting a spirit of sedition ; the former is not less guilty of roufing the passions of the people in a manner equally unjuftifiable, and not less dangerous ; for by absurdly connecting the idea of enmity to our constitution in church and state, with the mere approbation and commemoration of the probable deliverance of the French from their former yoke, he contributed greatly, though no doubt unintentionally, to excite that horrid fpirit which inspired the Birmingham rioters.
There were certainly many, and the writer of this article acknowleges himself of that number, who, from motives of the purest benevolence, rejoiced in the French revolution. They fincerely disapproved of every circumstance of cruelty which might attend it, and lamented the unfortunate victions of popular resentment, with as much compassion as they had before mourned over the sufferings of the martyrs to regal or mini. sterial oppression :-but, as they were not so romantic as to expect that so great and sudden a change could be effected with out producing some disorder, they consoled themselves with the hope, that these would be compensated by greater good, when momentary confusion and anarchy should give way to the regular administration of laws founded on just and equal principles. If they approved of the constitution afterward established, it was only because it appeared to be in the main, and as far as circumstances would permit, founded on these principles; though they saw its deficiency in some points of political arrangement, which, they hoped, experience might lead the nation to rectify :--but, alas!
“ Quid leges fine moribus
Vanæ proficiunt ?" The vices, which were formerly almost confined within the limits of the court, seem now to have over-run the whole na. tion. The constitution, which might have rendered it happy, is overturned ; and, instead of the empire of the laws, we see only at present the cruel tyranny of a mob. These scenes are too melancholy for us to dwell on them; and we are sorry to observe the indecent triumph with which they inspire the enemies of freedom :--but to represent these horrid excesses as the necessary consequences of a love of liberty, is as absurd, as to say, that oppreffion is the inseparable effect of government, or perfecution that of Christianity.
When, after deploring the distracted and calamitous fituation of France, we turn our views to our own country, we feel the warmest gratitude for the conftitution with which it is APP. REY. VOL.VIII,
blessed, and of which we entertain the highest admiration, without being blindly partial to those defects which have crept into its administration. While we consider those as the worst enemies to the happiness of mankind, who, in pursuit of an Utopian plan of government, which can never be realized, with to subvert this beautiful political fabric, we cannot regard all in this hateful point of view, who are desirous of a more equal representation in parliament, and of abolishing those venal boroughs, than which nothing can be more inconsistent with the spirit of the English constitution. They who affect to apprehend danger to the government from every one who wishes that the abuses, which have crept into it, may be reformed, would do well to consider, that nothing is more likely to produce discontent among a free people, than that extreme jealousy in government, which prompts it to watch every sentiment of liberty with an invidious vigilance, which deems the common course of the laws insufficient to support its prerogatives, and which eagerly embraces every pretence for supplying their supposed inefficacy, by temporary expedients.
Art. IX. Recherches Phyfico-chymiques. i. e. Physico-chemical Inquiries. Memoir I. Small Quarto. Pp. 40.
Pp. 40. Amsterdam. 1792. To pursue chemical experiments with advantage, not only
requires much time and application, but sometimes also de mands greater pecuniary facrifices than a private individual may think consistent with prudence. Influenced by these confiderations, and desirous that such inquiries may be prosecuted in the manner most likely to extend the limits of science, fix of the most respectable gentlemen in Amsterdam have established a laboratory, under the direction of the ingenious Messrs. DeiMAN, TROOST WYK, NIEUWLAND, and Bondt. The me. moir before us is the first fruit of their labours; to which they bave, with great propriety, prefixed a short dedication to the very liberal patrons of their undertaking; these are, HENRY HOPE, THOMAS HOPE, HENRY MUILMAN, PETER MuilMAN, Peter De Smeth, and WILLIAM Six, Esquires. We mention the names of these gentlemen with the utmost pleasure, as they afford an example highly' worthy of imitation; for it is the employment, and not the mere poffeffion, of affluence, that reflects honour or disgrace on the rich; and certainly the promotion of useful knowlege is one of the noblest purposes to which wealth can be applied.
These ingenious chemists introduce their memoir by remarking, that, though the property of rendering atmospheric