Imágenes de página
[ocr errors]

ber of useful regulations; many I have already specified (in " the course of these Memoirs] and I shall sum up all, by " saying, that there were no conditions, employments, or

professions, to which his reflections did not extend ; and o that with such clearness and penetration, that the changes • he projected could not be overthrown by the death of their "author. It was his defire, he said, that glory might influ

ence his last years, and make them, at once, useful to the

world, and acceptable to God: bis was a mind, in which - the ideas of what is great, uncommon, and beautiful, seem«ed to rise of themselves ; hence it was, that he looked upon - adversity as a mere transitory evil, and prosperity as his na6 tural state. He had drained fens, in order to a greater < work than any he had yet undertaken ; which was, to

make, by canals, a communication from sea to sea, and « from river to river: he wanted only time to complete his s noble project.

" I should destroy all I have now said of this great Prince, sif, after having praised him for an infinite number of quali“ ties well worthy to be praised, I did not acknowlege that « they were ballanced by faults, and those, indeed, very great.

I have not [in these Memoirs] concealed, or even palliated, his paifion for women; his attachment to gaming ;

his gentleness (which] often carried him to weaknels; nor « his propensity to every kind of pleasure: I have neither dif'guised the faults they made him commit, the foolish ex

pences they led him into, nor the time they made him "waite: but I have likewise observed, to do justice on both < fides, that his enemies have greatly exaggerated all these

If he was, as they say, a slave to women, yet they never regulated his choice of Ministers, decided the defti(nies of his fervants, or influenced the deliberations of his ' council. As much may be said in extenuation of all his 6 other faults. And to sum up all, in a word, what he has « done is sufficient to shew, that the good and bad in his cha{ racter had no proportion to each other; and that since honour ' and fame have always had power enough to tear him from

pleasure, we ought to acknowlege them to be his great s and real paffionsa

[ocr errors]



Inftitutes of Natural Law, being the substance of a course of lec

tures on Grotius de Jure Belli & Pacis, read in St. John's College, Cambridge. By T. Rutherforth, D. D. FR. S. Archdeacon of Essex, and Chaplain to her Royal Highness the Princess Dowager of Wales. Volume the Second. 8vo. 7s. Innys, &c.


TOR an account of the First Volume of this work, we refer our Readers to our Review, Vol XI.

p. 293. In the first volume were explained, the rights and obligations of mankind, considered as individuals : but in this second volume, Dr. Rutherforth proceeds to take another view of thofe rights and obligations, by considering man, not as an independent, solitary individual, but as a social Being, united to some community. And, indeed, human nature is fo little fitted to find ease and security, much less pleafure and happiness, in solitude, that it is no less urged by its wants, and need of mutual succour, than prompted and impelled by benevolent affections, tender propenfities, and the love of beauty and order, to form itself into focieties, and contribute all it can to the advancement of a general good.

The Doctor, in his first chapter, which treats of societies in general, observing, that a society may sometimes be founded in property, even when the members of it have unequal shares in the joint stock; cites the opinion of Grotius, that each person's vote, in regard to the management of affairs, should, in that case, be estimated, not upon the footing of equality, but exactly in proportion to the share that each has in the capital. But he remarks, that altho this feems to be equitable, yet reason is on the other side, since there is no more likelihood that a man should judge rightly about the management of such stock, because he has ten fhares in it, than there would be, had he only one.

Were we to assume the decision of this contested point betwixt Grotius and our Doctor, we should incline to declare in favour of the former. For altho' we admit, with the Doctor, that wealth cannot, merely as a possession, improve a man's understanding, or endow him with a superiority of judgment; and therefore ought not, considered precisely in this view, to raise the authority of any one man above that of another, or make his vote of more importance than another's: yet allowing the man who has a fuperior share of property to be of equal capacity as to intellectual abilities, and of equal worth as to moral, with the man of less property in the fame

joint stock; (for poverty no more exalts a man's understanding or virtue, than riches do) is it not reafonable to presume, in this case, that the man who will be the greatest gainer by the society's success, and the greatest loser by its misfortunes, will also be the man most attached to its welfare; and from intereft, superior interest, exert his faculties with superior ardour, constancy, and vigour, in its service? And has not the man, who may reasonably be supposed to act in this manner, a natural claim upon the society to a higher degree of respect? And would not the society be very imprudent, not to distinguish such a man's vote, by giving it fome pre-eminence, and making it of superior import to that of others ?

This case of a society's being founded in property, is not only what happens fometimes among particular bodies of men in civil societies, but is, to a very extensive degree, the case even of civil society itself, in all its forms; nay, these very forms seem principally to arise from the manner in which property is distributed. When the property of a country, or the Jarger part of it, is in the hands of a King, it makes him an ablolute master; when in the hands of nobles, it forms an Aristocracy; and when in the hands of a people, becomes the firmest basis of liberty, and popular happiness. We wish the Doctor had touched upon this : it would not have been impertinent to his subject. But our Readers, such of them as defire farther information, may consult the celebrated Harrington's Oceana; where they will find the effects of property, and the rights arising from it, accurately described, and enumerated : of landed property particularly, which was the sort of property that, in Harrington's time, bore the greatest fway. We wish we could recommend our Readers to any system, or differtation, upon the monied intereft, which is now much better understood than it was in Harrington's time, of equal value to that writer's, upon the landed intereft.

The Doctor having in his second chapter treated of the nature and origin of civil society, enters upon the confideration of civil power in his third; where he observes, that as men were originally led to unite themselves, in civil societies, by a desire of ascertaining their several rights, and duties, in a joint way, and under the direction of a common understanding, as also with a view of securing themselves under the protection of a joint or common force; they must of course, upon their civil union, erect and establish such powers as are necessary for these purposes, viz. a power to settle, or ascertain, by its joint or common understanding, the several rights and du• 5


[ocr errors]

ties of the members of the society, and a power to act with a joint or common force, for the society's defence or security. The former of these is called the Legislative, the latter the Executive power. The former implies in it the power of making, altering, or repealing laws, of enacting penalties, and of taxing the subject. The latter may be distinguished into internal, external, and mixed. It may be called internal, when exercised upon members of the society; external, when exercised upon persons neither belonging to the society, nor residing in it; and mixed, when the same supreme magistrate, or executive power, that appoints subordinates in the external administration of that power, appoints them also in the internal; that is, appoints subordinates in the civil, as well as in the military, function.

With respect to these great and leading powers in fociety, the Legislative and Executive, our Doctor having described and distinguished them by their peculiar and separate employment, and tendency to procure and establish the security and well-being of society, considers, in the next place, how they are connected together, and which of them may be justly looked upon as the superior. The Doctor is of opinion, that the executive power is derived from, and ought always to be held, as, in a very great measure, dependent upon, and originally subordinate to, the legislative. To prove this, as the executive power had been described as spreading into three branches, internal, external, and mixed; and as the nature of the latter must be determined by that of the two former, which are its component parts, he, in the first place, takes a view of internal executive power, as connected with the legislative, and observes, that if the judicial or civil branch, that is the internal of executive power, were not under the check and controul of the legislative, it would be more dangerous than useful; because it must be, in that case, either a brute force, uninformed and unguided by any intelligent principle; or else a discretionary power. In the former case, the wrong or right application of it would be merely accidental; and in the latter, it would probably be oftner made use of as an instrument of private interest and undue favour, of avarice or oppression, of revenge or cruelty, than as the means of doing justice to the public, and its several members. And fecondly, he remarks, concerning external executive power, that as a right to direct such affairs as relate to external jurisdiction, is naturally implied in the notion of legislative power, it follows, that in those particular focieties, where those entrusted with the external executive power act at their own dif


cretion, and without controul, this sort of power must be confidered as connected, at least thus far, with the legislative, that tho' the fundamental laws of the constitution may make it unconstitutional for the legislative body to reassume this power in after times; yet there was originally no natural reason, no reason drawn from the nature of civil society, against preventing such discretionary power from being established. And as to prerogative, tho' it belong to the legislative power, considered as the common understanding, or joint sense of the body politic, to determine and direct what ought to be done; and to the executive, considered as the common or joint strength of the whole, to carry what is resolved upon

into execution

; yet in those particular civil societies, where the legislative and executive powers are lodged in different hands, it is usual, especially when the legislative body is very extensive, to allow those who have the executive power to act discretionally in fome cases : that is, in some instances, to have prerogative. And the only intelligible subject of dispute about prerogative, is between the executive and legislative body, concerning the instances where it takes place, and how far it does, or ought to extend.

In the fourth chapter, where the different forms of civil governnent are taken notice of, the Doctor, speaking of the legislative and executive powers, fays, if we consider their nature, there will be no great difficulty in judging which of them is fupreme. The legislative is the joint understanding of the society, directing what is proper to be done, and is therefore naturally superior to the executive, which is the joint strength of the society, exerting itself in performing what it has been directed to do. As to despotism, the Doctor thus explains the matter. When the legislative and executive powers, instead of being placed in different persons or bodies of men, are vested in the same, the constitution becomes then despotic; for when these powers are vested in one man, it is an absolute monarchy; when in a select body of nobility, it is a despotic Aristocracy; when in the representatives of a people, or in any part of them, not a majority of the whole it may properly enough be called a despotic Democracy; and lastly, when in a body compounded of any two, or of all these parts, the constitution, tho' mixed, will still be despotic.

We cannot stop here, but must accompany our judicious Doctor in the following noble reflection, worthy of a British Professor, and fit to be communicated to British readers.-In all these cases, says he, the fame body which prescribes what is to be done, having the public force in its hands to compel the exe

« AnteriorContinuar »