« PreviousContinue »
that every smuggled manufacture or commodity is, in fact, a proportionable tax upon the makers and venders of that commodity here; a cafe which we think this author has not fully difcuffed.
In his ninth chapter, he has fully proved that an abolition of taxes must be the ruin of all industry, and consequently of the English nation. In the tenth chapter he examines whether taxes are a spur to industry, and pronounces in the affirmative. In the eleventh chapter he observes, that to render a land tax equal and easily borne, the imposition ought to be preceded by a fair valuation of every article of revenue intended to be taxed, and no other income but that proceeding from an immoveable fund of property, ought to be affected by it. From this I am led, fays he, to disapprove of the method of affeffment eftablished in England by the land tax.' It would be doing this author injuftice to omit the three following paragraphs of this laborious work.
• I have now concluded this Inquiry, according to the plan I at firft propofed. It is the fruit of eighteen years close, tho' agreeable application; interrupted only by many intervals of bad health, and many strokes of adverse fortune.
It never was, till lately, my intention to offer to the public, during my life, what I had compofed purely for my own instruction and amusement. But upon comparing my fentiments in several points with thofe of the generality of my friends, they have been found fo widely different, that I was thought in duty bound to my country, to fubmit them to the criticism of the public.
To this I have the more willingly fubmitted, as I thereby fhall pursue my first intention in taking my pen; which was, to clear up my ideas on this fubject And fince I can now draw no farther knowledge from my own inquiries, I must expect it from the criticisms of those who may think it worth their while to animadvert upon my notions.'
In our review of this Inquiry into the Principles of Political Oeconomy, we have laboured under peculiar difficulties. The author's chief ftudies are of a caft not common in literary difquifitions, particularly in what relates to the coinage. Lowndes, Newton, and Locke, were, indeed, great mafters of that fubject, but then we fhould remember that all of them had pofts immediately connected with it under the government; and it may therefore be confidered as their employment as well as ftudy. The next inconveniency that prefented to us was, our inability to point out the found reafoning contained in this work. The concatenation of facts cannot be detached from the body of the publication, without disfiguring the fabrick; and to
The Ants a Rhapsody.
have exhibited, had it been poffible, even a few of his excellencies, was not to be done within the compass of our review. The few strictures we have made, supposing them to be juft, never can affect the principal merit of this publication, which has combined into one enquiry the various systems of political œconomy which now prevail in Europe, and with great precifion pointed out their uses and abuses, their defects and excellencies. Upon the whole, we must confider this work as a code for future statesmen and minifters in Great Britain, and as opening fources of political knowledge not hitherto investigated, that at fome time (which perhaps is not very diftant) may be attended with the most falutary effects to her interests.
IV. The Ants: a Rhapfody. In 2 Vols.
Davis and Reymers.
HIS publication is fuppofed to have been communicated to the editor in St. James's Park, by a tall thin gentleman, of a serious afpect, dreffed in a long black cloak and a flapped hat, with a fword by his fide, the point of which extended a full yard beyond the extremity of his cloak. We are not wrapped up in great admiration of the author's invention in ufhering this rhapfody into the world, nor of the stale advertisement prefixed to it, by which he endeavours to fecure it from the cenfures of critics and reviewers. Perhaps as little praise is due to the choice he has made of the allegory, which is as trite as any we meet with in all the circle of literature. An industrious emblematist might have furely discovered fomething new to figure out all he intended to inculcate, without giving witlings an opportunity of reproaching him with having followed Solomon's advice, Go to the ant, thou fluggard. But let us attend to the condu& of the allegory.
One Eugenio, a philofopher, while he walks by the fide of a forest in a clear ftar light night, ftrikes his foot into an ant hillock, where he thought he discovered in every part of the fettlement that anarchy and confufion which, amongst higher orders of beings, called men and chriftians, proceed generally from the want of principle, the contempt of laws, or the neglect of those peculiar manners and customs which enter intimately into the genius of every well governed and peaceable fociety; or from that ardent thirft for power and domination which is the certain effort of every genius, both in the human and the emmet world, who entertains any exalted opinion of his own abilities and merits, at the expence of thofe, of his neighbours and fellow-beings.
Struck with the uncommon phænomenon, the philofopher difmiffed the paft fubject of his high contemplation, and directed his attention to the furprising object which presented itself beneath his feet, with a view to investigate and account for, if poffible, those strange and uncommon appearances.
He faw the confufion plain enough, and the violent commotions that agitated the countenances and conduct of these diminutive animals; and amongst other things equally remarkable and furprising he could difcover by the clear light of the moon, a long track, or path-way, which seemed to be making with the greatest diligence, affiduity, and attention, quite thro' the whole extent of the colony from east to weft. He also particularly took notice of various motions and counter-motions of several ants, who feemed to merit or affume fome diftination in the colony, towards the weft end of the territory.
These feemed to indicate caution and apprehenfion on both fides, and a warm and violent conteft between the inhabitants of two diftinct diftricts of the colony, which bordered upon one another. Their countenances expressed a tenacious difpofition, and a firm resolution in both parties to support their own fide in the dispute against all oppofition.'
This Mr. Eugenio must surely have had the most extraordinary eye fight that any human creature ever poffeffed, if by the help of a star-light night he could perceive plain enough the "violent commotions which agitated the countenances of those diminutive animals," and likewife" the tenacious dispositions which their countenances expreffed." As to the confufion and hurry which he describes among those ants upon their being difturbed, they are common-place observations upon what we are told by naturalifts concerning those induftrious infects; though we cannot recollect that any of thofe philofophers ever pretended the paffions of an ant were depicted upon its countenance.
Squire Eugenio, it seems, faw better by the moon than he did by day-light; for after his minute and wonderful discoveries by night, we find him directing his fteps homewards, with a firm refolution to revifit the hillock the following day, with a proper apparatus of microscopical inftruments. This grimalkin philofopher, however, when he reached home, was faved that trouble by his good genius, who becomes the evil genius of .the reader, to whom we shall confign the drudgery of attending him through all his fantastic speeches and legerdemain tricks. The well known doctrine of fylphs and gnomes is revived. Eugenio is endued with new optics, and reconducted to the ant hill, which we perceive to be no other than a ininiature map of Great Britain, France, and America, their trade, policies, and differences.
VOL. XXIV. July, 1767.
What could prompt the author to endeavour to shadow but thofe kingdoms under the allegory of emmets and ant-hills, we cannot pretend to fay; but there furely never was a detail purfued with more impropriety, or executed with greater awkwardnefs. So far as we can collect from the author's manner, there is not a fingle fact he mentions, or an obfervation he makes, which requires the veil of allegory. Had he honestly tranfcribed from regifters and magazines, and preferved the original names of perfons, places, and things, his performance muft have been more fatisfactory to the reader, and more ufeful to the public; but to attempt to connect the ideas of the perfons, manners, looks, and fentiments of men, statesmen, and generals, with thofe of emmets, is extremely disgusting to the mind, unless the author had greater powers of writing than this Mr. Eugenio or his good genius feems to poffefs.
We are next entertained with the hiftory of the stamp a in America, from its firft impofition to its repeal, and the feveral speeches fuppofed to be made on that fubject. Upon the whole, this writer's defect lies rather in his judgment than his abilities. His language, though incorrect, may be formed into a good stile by proper attention; and his zeal for the public good, when divested of the rant which inexperience gene-. rally makes ufe cf, may some time or other become useful to the public.
V. The Hiftory of Nourjahad. By the Editor of Sidney Bidulph. 12mo. Pr. 3. Dodfley.
HIS is another attempt at allegory, occafioned by a furfeit of reading novels, romances, and Eastern tales, without that knowledge of men and books which is neceffary for their proper digeftion. We have already mentioned this author with uncommon applaufe; but we cannot think that her fuccefs in the prefent performance is equal to her productions in other walks of fiction. We must be of opinion that she has thrown away many valuable materials, both ornamental and useful, upon an ill-contrived, ill-judged fabric.
Nourjahad was the engaging young favourite of Schemzeddin, the sultan of Perfia: both were about the fame age. The prince had some thoughts of making him his prime minifter, but his choice was difapproved by the old counsellors with whom he advised, who left fome doubts in the fultan's mind concerning his favourite's merits. Schemzeddin, to P. 186.
* See vol. xi.
try him thoroughly, asked him once, when they were by them: Telves, Tell me, Nourjahad, and tell me truly, what would fatisfy thy wishes, if thou wert certain of poffeffing whatfoever thou shouldft defire? Nourjahad remaining filent for fome time, the fultan, fmiling, repeated his queftion. My wishes, anfwered the favourite, are fo boundless, that it is impoffible for me to tell you directly; but in two words, I should defire to be poffeffed of inexhauftible riches, and to enable me to enjoy them to the utmoft, to have my life prolonged to eternity. Wouldst thou then, faid Schemzeddin, forego thy hopes of paradife? I would, anfwered the favourite, make a paradife of this earthly globe whilst it lafted, and take my chance for the other afterwards.
The fultan, at hearing these words, ftarted up from his feat, and knitting his brow, Be gone, faid he, fternly, thou art no longer worthy of my love or my confidence: I thought to have promoted thee to the highest honours, but fuch a wretch does not deferve to live. Ambition, though a vice, is yet the vice of great minds; but avarice, and an infatiable thirst for pleasure, degrades a man below the brutes.'
The favourite endeavoured to appease the fultan's indignation, but retired home full of disquietude; when lo! what should appear to him, gentle reader, but even that guardian genius which is always fo ready to help us authors at a pinch, either when we know not how to reconcile matters to fenfe or credibility, or when we long for a ramble in the tim-whisky of imagination. This fame aerial having discovered that riches and immortality were the real wishes of Nourjahad's heart;
Rash mortal, replied the fhining vision, reflect once more, before you receive the fatal boon; for once granted, you will wish perhaps, and wifh in vain, to have it recalled. have I to fear, answered Nourjahad, poffeffed of endless riches and of immortality? Your own paffions, faid the heavenly youth. I will fubmit to all the evils arifing from them, replied Nourjahad, give me but the power of gratifying them in their full extent. Take thy wish then, cried the genius, with a look of difcontent. The contents of this vial will confer immortality on thee, and to morrow's fun fhall behold thee richer than all the kings of the Eaft. Nourjahad ftretched his hands out eagerly to receive a veffel of gold, enriched with precious ftones, which the angel took from under his mantle. Stop, cried the aerial being, and hear the condition, with which thou must accept the wondrous gift I am now about to beftow. Know then, that your existence here fhall equal the date of this fublunary globe; yet to enjoy life all that while, is not in my power to grant. Nourjahad was going to interrupt the ce