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will of God as the foundation of morality, and the moral sense or faculty of discernment between right and wrong as the instrument by which he acts upon our natures, thus manifesting himself as our builder and inaker, our moral and natural sovereign, the lord of life and reason, the father of lights, the author and finisher of our faith? After running the round of these contentious systems, the mind at the close of its labours is only where it was, and has still to choose its principle of action. The advice of the preacher seems, surely, under all these circumstances, the most to be recommended, “ Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter, Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of inan.'
These discussions on morals and metaphysics, never ending, still beginning, and which Lord Bacon has so aptly denominated vain affectations, vain altercations, vain imaginations, have bewildered the faculties of the German students for these last fifty years. At length a new philosophy was with great pomp announced, which was to put an end to all disputes by ascertaining the source of error, and conducting to a road of infallible certainty. This was the philosophy of Mr. Professor Kant, which had the merit at least of driving others out of the field for a time, and fixing attention upon one instead of many vanities.
ti Et sola in sicca secum spatiatur arena.”.
“Greedily they pluck
Chewed bitter ashes."
the founder of the new Platonic system, made the experiment of selection upon a great scale; and we know what the success has been. If we can dare to contemplate that melior dies when these affinities, which belong to heavenly truth, shall be made to rush into union from all corners of the great intellectual world, we deem it most likely to happen froin that paramount influence which the book of truth is daily acquiring by the exertions, under God, of associations so happily formed in this country for its diffusion. This is to do that which Lord Bacon recommendsto suspend from the ceiling a branching chandelier, instead of running about after truth with a watch-light, which, while it illumines a corner of the apartment, leaves the remaiuder in aggravated gloom.
We cannot leave Madame de Staël without extracting a passage, which will recommend her work wherever the value of virtuous emotion is acknowledged, while it exbibits a faithful specimen of the high sentimental colouring of the German morality. Much of it is truly adınirable, it only wants a beginning and end more distinctly traced and defined. We have generally to complain that the commonplacé, well bred, creditable, complacent religion of good people is made up of elements too gross to become a religion of the soul ;--of the religion of Madame de Staël and her German friends we have to lament that it is too volatile, vague, attenuated, and airy, to submit itself to our touch and enjoyment. We will make our extract from the translation, for the sake of giving it a wider interest.
“ We cannot grow weary of admiring those writings of Kant, in which the supreme law of duty is held up as sacred: what genuine warmth, what animated eloquence, upon a subject, where the only ordinary endeavour is restraint! We feel penetrated with a profound respect for the austerity of an aged philosopher, constantly submitted to the invisible power of virtue, which has no empire but that of conscience, no arms but those of remorse ; no treasures to distribute but the inward enjoyments of the soul; the hope of which cannot be offered as a motive for their attainment, because they are incomprehensible until they are experienced.
“ Among the German philosophers, some men of virtue, not inferior to Kant, and who approach nearer to religion in their inclinations, have attributed the origin of the moral law to religious sentiment. This sentiment cannot be of the nature of those which may grow into passions. Seneca has depicted its calmness and profundity hy saying, In the bosom of the virtuous man I know not what God, but a God has habitation.'
“ Kant pretended, that it was to impair the disinterested purity of morals, to present the perspective of a future life, as the end of our actions : many German writers have completely refuted him on this point, In effect, the immortality of heaven has no relation to the rewards and punishments, of which we form an idea on this earth. The sentiment which makes us aspire to immortality is as disinterested as that which makes us find our happiness in devoting ours selves to the happiness of others; for the first offering to religious felicity is the sacrifice of self; and it is thus necessarily removed from every species of selfishness. Whatever we may attempt, we must return to the acknowledgment, that religion is the true foundation of morality; it is that sensible and real object within us, which can alone divert our attention from external objects. If piety did not excite sublime emotions, who would sacrifice even sensual pleasures, however vulgar they might be, to the cold dignity of reason? We must begin the internal history of man with religion, or with sensation ; for there is nothing animated besides. The moral system, founded upon personal interest, would be as evident as a mathematical truth, were it not for its exercising more control over the passions which overturn all calculations : nothing but a sentiment can triumph over a sentiment; the violence of nature can only be conquered by its exaltation. Reasoning, in such a case, is like the schoolmaster in Fontaine ; nobody listens to him, and all the world is crying out for help.
“ Jacobi, as I shall show in the analysis of his works, has opposed the arguments which Kant uses, in order to avoid the admission of religious sentiment as the basis of morality. He believes, on the contrary, that the Divinity reveals himself to every man in particular, as he revealed himself to the human race, when prayers and works have prepared the heart to comprehend him. Another philosopher asserts, that immortality already commences upon this earth, for him who desires and feels in himself the taste for eternal thing another affirms, that nature forces man to understand the will of God; and that there is in the universe a groaning and imprisoned voice, which invites us to deliver the world and ourselves, by combating the principle of evil, under all its fatal appearances. These different systems are influenced by the imagination of each writer, and are adopted by those who sympathize with him; but the general direction of these opinions is ever the same: to free the soul from the influence of external objects; to place the empire of ourselves within us; and to make duty the law of this enipire, and its hope another life.” (Vol. III. p. 203-211.)
We lament our want of room to do more justice to this extraordinary work. We must now close our commentary; but yet one short passage on public honesty, which now catches our eye as we shut up the voluine, shall be produced, and Englishmen may make the application of it to that set of political men with whose characters they think at this juncture it best corresponds. This, again, for notoriety sake we will take from the translation.
“ If it was once generally acknowledged, that national interest ita self ought to be subordinate to those nobler thoughts which constitute virtue, how would the conscientious man be at his ease ! how would every thing in politics appear clear to him, when, before, a continual hesitation made him tremble at every step! It is this very hesitation which has caused honest men to be thought incapable of state-affairs; they have been accused of pusillanimity, of weakness, of fear; and, on the contrary, those who have carelessly sacrificed the weak to the powerful, and their scruples 10 their interests, have been called men of an energetic nature. It is, however, an easy energy which tends to our own advantage; or, at least, to that of the ruling faction; for every thing that is done according to the sense of the inultitude invariably partakes of weakness, let it appear ever so violent,” (Vol. III. p. 199, 200.)
Our readers cannot, in justice, complain that we have not given room enough in this number of our Review to Madame de Staël; our consciences, however, still tell us that we have not paid all the debt we owe to her talents, ner discharged all the duty of circumspection which they require at our hands. We still regret that although so much has been written by us on the subject of her performances so much has been left unnoticed. We shall, probably, have other opportunities of discussing her merits. In the mean time we fatter ourselves with the hope, that during her residence among us she may improve her acquaintance with English literature, and particularly with the works of our great theologians. We trust that in the denser divinity of tủese writers hier intellect will breathe more freely than in the thin abstractions of German metaphysics.' It will brace the constitution of her mind; and though it may tend to lower the pulse of sensibility, it will render it more regular and more tonic. It is in such company that she will soon learn to prefer practical goodness to scientific morality, and her genius may acquire one ariditional charm-the charm of suber simplicity.
Art. XXIV.-An Inquiry concerning the Rise, Progress, the
Redemption, and present State, and the Management of the National Debt of Great Britain. By Robert Hamilton, LL.D. F.R.S.E. Professor of Natural Philosophy in the Ma
rischal College and University of Aberdeen. 1813. Before we resume our review of Piofessor Hamilton's inquiry respecting the national debt of Great Britain, iie must apologise to our readers for having inadvertently omitted in our former article on this work to inform them that the subject would be continued and concluded in this number. We shall not often divide in this manner our remarks on any question, for ive are aware that it is inconvenient; but as it appears to us that in general the subject now unider consideration is very imperfectly understood, we have wished to take a wide and an attentive view of it, which has carried our remarks to a greater length than usual, although we hare endeavoured to compress them as much as possible. We are indeed more apprehensive that by endeavouring to reduce a great deal of matter into a Jimited space we may have failed in perspicuity, than that we shall be accused of having espanded trite remarks, or of having introduced such as have too slight a relation to the subject.
To the account, given by the professor, of the progress and manner of conducting the funded debt (page 59, &c.) we wish to add some circumstances which we believe are very little known, even to those who have a general acquaintance with the history of our finances; many of whom will perhaps be surprised to hear that the plan of roviding one per cent, in addition to the interest or perpetual annuity for the redeemable capital of debt incurred, was actually adopted in the very first instance in which any such debt was created. It was not indeed persevered in, and appears to have been totally forgotten; nor is there any reason to suppose that Mr. Pitt was aware of it in the year 1792, when he adopted precisely the same principle in his modification of his system for extinguishing the national debt, as applied to any future increase of it.
During many years after the revolution money was obtained for the public service, in addition to the revenue, by selling annuities for lives or for terms of years. Portions of the revenųe were appropriated as funds for securing the regular payment of those annuities; and lience the origin of the distinction between funded and unfunded public debt.
Large sums also had been borrowed of the bank of England, and other trading companies, at stipulated rates of interest until redeemed; but without any specific provision for their repayment.
The first instance of proçuring money for the public use by creating what have since been called perpetual annuities was in the year 1711, when Harley, afterwards Earl of Oxford, was chancellor of the exchequer. The legal interest of money at that time was six per cent.; and in the preceding year 1,500,0001. had been procured by giving for it annuities to continue thirty-two years, at the rate of nine per cent. during that period.
Two acts were passed in the year 1711 (ninth of Queen Anne), for borrowing money at “ șix per cent. interest, and the princi.pal to be repaid."
As in the former year the annuities created were only to last during 32 years, and consequently the burthen on the public which was caused by them would then terminate, so in this year a provision for the debt and its interest was made, to continue only during an equal term of 32 years, beyond which period no fund or security was provided, either to discharge the interest, or repay the priucipal money which had been borrowed.
Instead of this, however, so much public revenue was created