Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

As a short and seasonable specimen of this work, we shall insert the following observations on the last event in the history of Virginia, which threatened to prove fatal to that colony:

'Thus terminated an insurrection, which, in the annals of Virginia, is distinguished by the name of Bacon's rebellion. During seven months this daring leader was master of the colony, while the royal governor was shut up in a remote and ill-peopled corner of it. What were the real motives that prompted him to take arms, and to what length he intended to carry his plans of reformation, either in commerce or government, it is not easy to discover, in the scanty materials from which we derive our information with respect to this transaction. It is probable, that his conduct, like that of other adventurers in faction, would have been regulated chiefly by events; and accordingly as these proved favourable or adverse, his views and requisitions would have been extended or circumscribed.

• Sir William Berkeley, as soon as he was re-instated in his office, Called together the representatives of the people, that by their advice and authority public tranquillity and order might be perfectly established. Though this assembly met a few weeks after the death of Bacon, while the memory of reciprocal injuries was still recent, and when the passions excited by such a fierce contest ha d but little time to subside, its proceedings were conducted with a moderation seldom exercised by the successful party in a civil war. No man suffered capitally; a small number were subjected to fines; other* were declared incapable of holding any office of trust; and with those exceptions, the promise of general indemnity was confirmed by law. Soon after, Berkeley was recalled, and Colonel Jefferys was appointed his successor.'

In comparing Dr. R.'s work with preceding histories of America, the reader will perceive his superior skill in combining the transactions of the new world with contemporary events in Europe; in shewing the intimate connection beween them; and in pointing out those peculiar circumstances in the establishment of the colonies of Virginia and New England, which gave to them respectively their distinctive characters. The Virginians were the last of the king's subjects who renounced their allegiance, and the first who returned to their duty. The New Englanders exhibited political principles of a directly opposite nature; and in the following quotation, the reader will see among other curious particulars, the origin of the tree of liberty itself; a tree so propitious to America, but the influence of which, from a difference of moral as well as local circumstances, threatens to be pestilential to Europe.

* Relying on the indulgent partiality with which all their proceedings were viewed by men (the popular leaders in parliament ) thus closely united with them, in sentiments and wishes, the people or" New England ventured on a measure, which not only increased their security rity and power, but may be regarded as a considerable step towards . independence. Under the impression or pretext of the danger to . which they were exposed from the surrounding tribes of Indians, the four colonies of Massachusets, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New-.haven, entered into a league of perpetual confederacy, offensive and defensive; an idea familiar to several leading men in the colonies, as it was framed in imitation of the famous bond of union among the Dutch provinces, in whose dominions the Brownists had long resided. It was stipulated, that the confederates should henceforth be distinguished by the name of the United Colonies of New England; that each colony shall remain separate and distinct, and have exclusive jurisdiction within its own territory; that in every war offensive or defensive, each of the confederates shall furnish its quota of men, provisions, and money, at a rate to be fixed from time to time, in proportion to the number of people in each settlement; that an assembly composed of two commissioners from each colony shall be held annually, with power to deliberate and decide in all points of common concern to the confederacy; and every determination, in which six of their number concur, shall be binding on the whole *. In this transaction the colonies of New England seem to have considered themselves as independent societies, possessing all' the rights of sovereignty, and free from the controul of any superior power. The governing party in England, occupied with affairs of more urgent concern, and nowise disposed to observe the conduct of their brethren in America with any jealous attention, suffered the measure to pass without animadversion.

* Emboldened by this connivance the spirit of independence gathered strength, and soon displayed itself more openly: some persons of note in the colony of Massachusets, averse to the system of ecclesiastical polity established there, and preferring to it the government and discipline of the churches of England or Scotland, having remonstrated to the general court against the injustice of depriving them of their rights as freemen, and of their privileges as Christians, because they could not join as members with any of the congregational churches, petitioned that they might no longer be bound to obey laws to which they had not assented, nor be subject to taxes imposed by an assembly in which they were not represented. Their demands were not only rejected, but they were imprisoned and fined as disturbers of the public peace; and when they appointed some of their number to lay their grievances before parliament, the annual court, in order to prevent this appeal to the supreme power, attempted first to seize their papers, and then to obstruct their embarkation for England. But though neither of these could be accomplished, such was the address and influence of the colonies' agents in England, that no inquiry seems to have been made into this transaction f. This was followed by an indication,

* * Neal's History of New England, i. 202, &c. Hutchinson, p. 124. Chalmers' Ann. p. 177.'

'f Neal's Hist. N. Eng. i. 213. Hutchinson's Hist. 145, &c. Collect. 188, &c. Chalm. Ann. 179. Mather, Magnal. B. iii. ch. i. p. 30.'

Ma 'still

still less ambiguous, of the aspiring spirit prevalent among the people of Massachusets. Underevery form of government the right of coining money has been considered as a prerogative peculiar to sovereignty, and which no subordinate member in any state is entitled to claim. Regardless of this established maxim, the general court ordered a coinage of silver money at Boston, stamped with the name of the colony, and a tree as an apt symbol of its progressive vigour *. Even this usurpation escaped without notice. The Independents, having now humbled all rival sects, engrossed the whole direction of affairs in Great Britain; and long accustomed to admire the government of New England, framed agreeably to those principles which they had adopted as the most perfect model of civil and ecclesiastical polity, they were unwilling to stain its reputation, by censuring any part of its conduct.” The passages above cited will afford sufficient proof that this

posthumous publication is worthy of accompanying Dr. R.'s former history of America, and will occasion sincere regret to the friends of literature, that this elegant and judicious historian should have been prevented, by public or private considerations, from completing his original plan ; which not only comprehended an account of the discovery of America and of the conquests and colonies of the Spaniards, but embraced also the history of the British and Portuguese establishments in the new world, and of the settlements made by the several nations of Europe in the West India islands.

[ocr errors]

Arr. V. A Survey of the Turkish Empire. In which are considered, 1. Its Government, Finances, Military and Naval Force, Religion, History, Arts, Sciences, Manners, Commerce, and Population. 2. The State of the Provinces, including the antient Government of the Krim Tartars, the Subjection of the Greeks, their Efforts towards Emancipation, and the Interest of other Nations, particularly of Great Britain, in their Success. 3. The Causes of the Decline of Turkey, and those which tend to the Prolongation of its Existence, with a Developement of the Political System of the hate on press of Russia. . 4. The British Commerce with Turkey, the Necessity of abolishing the Levant Company, and the Danger of our Quarantine Regulations. With many other important Particulars. By W. Eton, Esq. many Years resident in Turkey and in Russia. 8vo. Pp. 516. 8s. Boards. Cadell jun., and IJavies. 1798. Ao having cleared itself from much censure thrown on it ** at its first publication, the work of Baron de Tott is now generally allowcq to afford the best and most faithful account of the government and manners of the Turks. He possessed various advantages, towards facilitating his inquiries

- - —a * * Hutchinson, 177, 178. Chalmers’ Annal, p. 18.1.” - into

[ocr errors]

into the true character of that people and the state of knowlege among them. He spoke their language fluently, they looked up to him with respect and complacency, and he lived on a more intimate footing with them than any foreigner had done for many years; and, as the author of the volume before us justly observes, had he talked less of himself we should have lost those little stories that he tells, which give more insight into the true character of the people with whom he was concerned, than could perhaps be obtained from volumes of dissertations. Mr. E. who himself draws a hideous portrait of the Ottomans, adds that he needs only refer to the Baron 'for a picture of Turkey, faithful enough to be relied on, and yet sufficiently forcible to excite our disgust at such monsters in human shape.' He is aware that many writers have seen things in a different light; and therefore that he may be accused o£ treating the Turks too severely, and particularly by those who admire Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's elegant descriptions, and similar productions of a warm imagination : but he draws conclusions from facts recorded in their own history; and there cannot be a more horrible picture than that which they have themselves delineated. The sentiments (he says) expressed by the Sultans and Muftis, in their own words, are so repugnant to justice, to humanity, to every principle of virtue, and to those laws which all civilized nations have respected, that nothing worse can be said of them. The effects produced (continues Mr. E.) by this monstrous government, in the provinces, are shocking to behold !' We seek in vain for a population, sufficient to compose those numerous kingdoms and states, which flourished when the Turks usurped their dominion: we find the country literally a desert; we perceive vast cities reduced to beggarly villages, and of many hundreds no traces remain. The empire in its. flourishing state was one vast camp. The first Sultans 'dated, and their feeble successors still date, their decrees from the Imperial stirrop. The iron sceptre, imbrued in blood, could only be wielded by warlike sovereigns, the idol and the terror of the soldiery, whose discipline alone was tUeir politics^ and whose rapine alone their resources.'

What follows is of great importance to the English reader; and we cannot but express our hopes that the British cabinet will afford it that attention which the subject deserves. It relates to nothing less than the reported design of the French to revolutionize the islands of the Archipelago and the whole continent of Greece; and if they can accomplish this, the consequences to this country are most.alarming, as the accession of force and of commerce, that will accrue to our enemy, will

M 3 doubtless doubtless be immense *. Let us see what our author says in his preface on this topic: we shall afterward judge of his arguments. It must be confessed, however, that he wishes our ■ministry to undertake a very arduous work in the present state of affairs,—that of driving the Turks out of Europe.

* With respect to the Greeks, there will be found much matter wholly new to the public, but not to the Directory; for no one was better informed of the state of Greece than citizen (heretofore chevalier de) Truguet, lately minister of the marine department. He was for a long time employed in the Archipelago, under the direction of M. de Choiscul Gouffier, and was sent to JEgypt to negotiate with the Beys for leave to trade to India through that country, and to counteract the Ruffian intrigues with them.—I shall, I hope, plainly prove that the expulsion of the Turks from Europe, and the recstablishment of the Greek empire, is more the advantage of Britain ■than even of Russia itself; that so far from being an usurpation, it is an act of justice; and that, according to the laws of nations, the Turks have not, by length of possession, acquired a right to the dominion of the countries they conquered.'—'The views of the French with regard to Greece now too plainly appear, and the emperor of Rufiia is in danger of being attacked in the Black Sea by a French fleet. If it be said, that we ought, as much as may depend on us, to, prevent the increase of naval power in every other nation; without denying the proposition, I affirm, that it is not applicable to the present case: Ruffia never can be formidable in the Baltic j Nature has forbid it. In the Black Sea she may, and she will, in spite of all we can do to prevent it. The question then is, since we cannot prevent it, which is the mode of its existence which will be the least hurtful to us? That the Greeks will emancipate themselves from the yoke of Turkey is equally certain. If this event take place by the assistance of the French, we shall certainly have an enemy in Greece j if through Russia, and with our concurrence, a friend.'

Mr. E. now offers a compliment to the English ministry ; he talks of Hardy, of Thelwall, of acquittals at Haverford, of the villanies of the French; and he even ventures to conclude, his preface with a wish to see introduced into the British dominions, a temporary government divested of the use of juries composed of private persons, and apparently partaking of that form of ruling under which he has been so long accustomed to live. This, however, being a sortof excrescence, and not properly a part of the book, we shall pass it, and present the reader with some extracts from the work itself; which has afforded usj much entertainment in the perusal;—and first of the particular character of the Turkish despotism. 9

* This article was written before the information was received of Admiral Sir H. Nelson's important victory over the French fleet.

< It

« AnteriorContinuar »