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ART. V. An Inquiry into the Origin and Consequences of the Influence of the Crown over Parliament. Submitted to the Confideration of the Electors of Great Britain. 8vo. 1 s. 6d. Dodsley. 1780.
Our profound Inquirer tells us, that ‘ this country has been evidently brought into its present unhappy fituation by the war with America;’ while some shallow politicians will have it, that it has been occasioned by a combination of causes; among which they reckon a previous debt of 140 millions, an influence in the crown over parliament previously established, parliaments previously lengthened, and representation previously abridged. But by the time the Reader arı İves at p. 37, he is to learn from our Inquirer, that it is not the American war which has brought our evils upon us, but that it is influence; and that * shortening the duration of parliaments, or changing the manner of choosing representatives, are partial and ineffectual applit cations, * Which will but skin and film the ulcerous part, While rank corruption, mining all within, Infects unseen.” * The malady lies deeper; it lies in the charaćter and principles of the people.” What were but a moment ago ‘violent remedies,” are now, on a sudden, become gentle cordials and lenitives; they were first * too strong;' — now they are not strong enough, and mere * partial and ineffectual applications.” Our Author’s only sovereign remedy, it seems, is a return to wisdom and virtue in the people; and yet the very ačt which evidently would argue the greatest wisdom and the most virtuous disposition in the people, viz. a constitutional reformation of the legislature, he does all he can to dissuade them from. What he says on the necessity of virtue in the people we highly approve, except that he carries it not far enough ; for that which he inculcates seems to be merely the virtue of MEN excluded from those privileges which bring with them the duties of citize Ns.-Of the rights of citizens, by which they claim, as an unalienable birthright, a share, either personally or by representation, in the government of their country, this Inquirer seems to have no idea. With regard to that “reverence for their governors,” which our Writer thinks so essential in the people, we believe it is inseparable from the chara&ter of any people, so long as those on their part reverence the com/litution, and hold sacred the form of government entrusted to their care and direction. But were governors to seek to destroy them, in order to inslave their country, it would denote baseness and folly to make such governors the objects of reverence. The criterion of political virtue in a people, we apprehend to be—not reverence for men, but for the laws. As the objećtions of our sagacious Inquirer to shortening the duration of parliaments, although neither new nor unanswered, are yet of a most singular nature, we shall once more - . f endeavour