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try the principles of the plan by calculation on other supposed cases will find its effect to be a more equable, gradual, and regular repartition of the public burdens than would be produced by any other system yet proposed, together with a considerable diminution of their amount.
But as respecting our present situation, according ta this plan, these united sources of addition to our separated and appropriated pational estate, if the war continues, will soon increase it to such an amount that it will become great enough for all the purposes of such a regular and permanent fund as we have described; after which any revenue set free' by future redemptions may revert to the nation, and equivalent taxes may be abolished. But not until the appropriated annual fund has been augmented, if necessary, by such additions of interest of cancelled debts as may make it great enough to justify a confident hope that, afterwards, any debts contracted during war may be redeemed by it during peace, with out needing any imposition of new taxes for that purpose, or for their annual interest:
Such a revenue may not, perhaps, be strictly called a hoarded treasure, but it is something far more useful; it is capable of being extended to a much greater mágnitude of value, and instead of starving industry by a substraction of circulating capital, it has the quality of giving to it additional facilities.
If hereafter, and when the present enormous debt has been reduced within convenient limits, such an annual fund or estate created by taxes should be (as it may be) made great enough to provide at all times for the alternations of war and peace, the effect in a political view cannot but be beneficial; the powers of the state may then be exerted on any fit'occasions without a fear of eshausting its pecuniary resources: and so far as depends on these political causes, the mischief of sudden changes in the value of money, and the grievances of sudden calls by new tases on incomes, perhaps, decreasing in efficient value, by the same causes, will be prevented.
Some objections have been made to Mr. Vansittart's plan, because for some years it diminishes the amount of the sinking fund, although withont any doubt it increases, while it regulates, its future efficacy. This, however, as we have before observed, arises not from the principles of the plan itself, but from the time when it has been adopted, which, with great and obvious advantages, brought with it some circumstances of a less favourable nature. We ourselves think, that even as a dry arithmetical question of loss and gain, the future benefit greatly out balances any immediate practical inconvenience, if any should arise, which we do not think probable: but when we consider its political
consequences, in our present situation, we have no doubt of the benefit which will result from its establishment.
In the first instance it has furnished the means, without imposing fresh burdens on the people, of providing for the interest, and of greatly accelerating the redemption, of the debt contracted during two years of unparalleled exertion; at a period in which, beyond any other in our history, exertion was the most called for, and its effects were likely to be, as in fact, under the blessing of Providence, they have been, most important and decisive. Political consequences, though they may be considered as collateral to the immediate effects of measures of finance, can at no time be dismissed from the mind of a practical statesman in preparing such measures of finance, because they are necessarily the principal objects to which such measures are directed; but in the consideration of the measure now before
ve a more distinct and immediate connection from their influence on public credit.
The only forcible argument urged against the plan, either in or out of parliament, was its danger to public credit-its political advantages were too obvious to be denied. It could not be charged with not making provision for the ultimate liquidation of the public debt, at least as speedily as the former system, because the contrary was shewn by the clearest arithmetical proof; but it was contended that it would have injurious effects on public credit, and this was a question which could only be decided by experience. Happily for the country, there never has been a period in which public credit has so rapidly improved, and been found capable of such extraordinary efforts, as in that which has elapsed since the proposal of Mr. Vavsittart's plan to parliament.
If the war can be brought to a termination before the amount of redeemed debt applicable to the public service is exhausted, every object will be obtained. The relief to the public from further burdens will be complete; the foundation of great future resources will be laid; and a more regular and practicable reduction of the public debt established.
If, unhappily for mankind, and, as we cannot forbear to say, contrary to present appearances, the war should still continue beyond those limits, the two latter objects will be equally secured; while the public, who may still be called upon to contribute to the defence and honour of their country, will have the satisfaction of reflecting that all means have been tried of securing them from unnecessary sacrifices, and that seven millions a year of permanent taxes have in the interval been saved to them by the wisdom of parliament.
The plan, therefore, has the great advantage of adapting the
system of the sinking fund to our present situation, without, in the smallest degree, abandoning its principle. We trust that its consequences will verify the remark of an ancient historian
• Κρατιστα οικείται πολις ή προς τα πραγματα μεθαρμoτίομενη."
ART. XXV.-The Family Instructor; or, a regular Course of
Scriptural Readings, with familiar Explanations and practical Improvements, adapted to the Purpose of domestic and private Education for every Day in the year. By Jolin Watkins, LL.D. 3 Vols. 12mo. London. ' 1814.
Our sentiments on the value of the extraordinary and successful exertions which have been made in this country, during a period of
great national difficulties, to diffuse the Bible among the poor and uninstructed of all parts of the globe, have been on various occasions obtruded upon our readers. It has always been our opinion that the mere dispersion of the Scriptures, independently of all help from instruction, must necessarily serve the cause of religion and virtue. We have been persuaded that the command which has been given us by infallible lips, to “search the Scriptures,” was not nugatory, but included a promise of assistance, provided we carry to that search a right disposition of the heart. We have always thought the Bible an excellent interpreter of itself when read systematically, in due order, and without such long intermissions as to prevent the memory from presenting the whole together to the understanding. Unless this be done the reader of the Bible is often led by that docility which arises from a religious frame of mnd, to erect his creed upon too narrow a basis, and to adopt, as the very hinge of his orthodoxy, some insulated, or occasional text, some passage, or even single phrase or word, detached from, or unmodified by, other parts of the sacred book, with which to be safely and soberly understood it ought to be compared and compounded.
But though this is our opinion of the substantive efficacy of a mere perusal and study of the Scriptures by themselves, if read systematically, and considered as a representation of a series of sublime verities, possessing a sort of dramatic unity of action, yet we have never doubted the incalculable benefit of following up this distribution of Bibles, with a proportionate distribution of instruction; and it has always appeared to us, that this diffusion of the Bible by the vast aggregations of Christians, which have created themselves into societies for that purpose, imposed
upon every individual member thereof who governs a family of his own, an obligation to read and explain in that family, according to his leisure and ability, this holy source of light and knowledge. To qualify for this undertaking those who stand in such relation to others, as well as to assist the solitary studies of the individual whose age or arocations, habits or means, require a short and easy road to the acquisition of saving knowledge to be pointed out 10 him, we have often wished to see a publication issue from the hands of some competent person, framed upon the plan of this work of Dr. Waikins. The volumes before us supply a progressive series of compendious essays upon all those incidents, prophecies, precepts, and doctrines of the Bible, which are most apt to interest curiosity, and most fraught with instructive truth. They are designed for very general use, and are peculiarly fitted by their style and matter to awaken thought, and suggest a trair of meditations, which the mind may easily pursue by itself, when it has once been taught to make a right beginning. These essays are so divided as to furnish to each day its appropriate exercise, and promises to be of singular advantage to those (and we believe the number of such persons daily increases) who are in the habit of beginning every day with the perusal of, and meditation upon, some chapters or portions of the holy writings.
As a specimen of the clear judgment and sound sentiments of the author, we will select a passage from his preface, which we think is illustrative of a truth, than which we know none of greater importance to the right conduct of the human understanding.
“ The advocates for the unbounded freedom of the human mind, the strength of its powers, and the native purity of its character, are therefore compelled to allow that from a variety of causes reason is too weak for the passions, and that philosophy makes but slow progress in civilization. They confess, in fact, that man is so constituted as to render even moral instruction necessary to his well-being, and to the safety of the community. To this conclusion have all our uvise men arrived, after their ingenious speculations upon the innate beauty of virtue and their attempts to demonstrate what is called the law of nature, by arguments which go to prove, if indeed they can be said to prove any thing, that while the Creator of the universe has given instinct to other animals, he has left man to the sport of opinion and the impulse of chance. Conscious, then, that the rising generation should be prepared for the social relations of life, our enlightened sages, who contemn all revealed religion as such, are willing to maintain, for the want of something better, the preceptive parts of Scripture as well calculated to answer the purposes of tuition. Thus far the utility of the Inspired Volume is admitted; but nothing more of its contents must be adopted, it seems, than the practical lessons which it affords for the government of the temper, lest the mind should be filled with notions and prejudices which philosophy may find it difficult to eradicate. Here, however, it may be asked, of what service can that system be which is deprived of all authority, and how can reason be so powerful as is stated, if after all its researches it must be indebted to revelation for institutes to keep men from injuring one another? It is surely strange that any one should be laid under the obligation of a 2w, the origin of which he is at liberty to treat as a fable; and that while he is enjoined to live by the maxims of the Gospel, he may deny the doctrines upon which they are founded. The obvious tendency of such a course must be this, that when a man is brought to question the authenticity of the Scripture as a Divine Record, it will not be long before he discards it as a moral rule, If the dictates of virtue are stripped from the principles which give them the force of eternal truth, they will soon cease to have any influence upon the heart, and will only be submitted to as the mere contrivances of ancient wisdom, which may be modified and regulated in conformity to the mutations of time and the improvements of society. Now, as a nation of philosophers has not yet been found, we must content ourselves with taking men as they are; and such is the state of things, that whatever may be in the womb of futurity, nothing at present appears to warrant the removal of religion from its place in the systein of education any more than from that of legislation. Even they .who carry
the licentiousness of sentiment to the greatest pitch have so much respect for Christianity as to be desirous of its protection from barbarism, and are willing to see it so far predominant that they may sleep quietly in their beds. Such is the homage which Scripture receives from its adversaries, that while they endeavour invalidate what it relates, they admit the excellence of what it teaches and the justice of what it commands."
We have not the remotest acquaintance with the author of this work; but we think that its spirit, its objects, and its execution distinguish him as the common friend of all his countrymen, and particularly of the young. We shall be glad to hear that this book tinds its way into every reading family in the country, and that as it has been composed " amidst the gloom of sorrow, and the languor of sickness," the entertainment and consolation with which it abounds may be reflected upon himself.
XXVI.- The Corsair, a Tale. By Lord Byron. London. 1814.
We can scarcely criticise as fast as Lord Byron can write; but in the present case we are relieved from the necessity of any repetition of our critical labour, by the convenient uniformity of his lordship's productions. The only important difference between