« PreviousContinue »
Art. 36. Thoughts on the Dearness of Provifions, and the most certaix
Method to reduce the present high Price of IV heal; addrefTid to the principal Inhabitants of Great Britain. 8vo. 15 pp. 6d. Robin
These Thoughts, at the price of fixpence, are dearer, in our opinion, than provisions have ever been ; and the certain method to reduce the present high price of wheat," is of less value than one handful of the most damaged wheat we have seen. ART. 37. Refutation of certain Misrepresentations relative to be Na
ture and Influence of Bank- Notes, and of the Stoppage of Ifues in Spe cie, at rbe Bank of England, upon the Prices of Provisions, as stated
in the Pampblets of Walter Boyd, Esq. and Mr. William Frend. By T. S. Surr. 8vo. 44 PP.
is. 68. Hurst. 1801. The author's purpose is to show, that, from the very nature of the operations of the Bank, ic is impossible that the Directors can have availed themselves of the restriction, to have issued a single pound more than they could have done, had it never existed. (P. 42) And his conclufion is, that the restriction of the Bank from payment in [pecie, has not increafed the circulating medium. (P.43) This tract appears to have been written with the best intentions ; but the author cha. facterizes it juftly, when he speaks of it as “ touching too lightly or the subject.” P. 21.
ART. 38. The Question, as to the Admission of Catholics to Parliament,
considered upon the Principles of existing Laws; with supplemental Obfervations on the Coronation Oaih. To which is annexed, a further Supplement, occafioned by the Second Edition of Mr. Reeves's Confiderations on the fame Subject. By John Joseph Dillon, Esq. Barrister at Law. 8vo. 53 pp. 35. 6d. Booker. 1801.
The reasons which, on * a former occasion, we alledged for declining to enter into a full discussion of the Catholic Question, fubfiit in their full force, and must necessarily abridge our account of the tract before us. It is, however, but justice to say, that it is written not only with ability and information, but with candour and temper.
The claim of the Carholics to be rendered eligible to seats in the legislature, is the point chiefly urged by this writer ; and his principal argument is drawn from the circumstance, that Protestant Diffenters, though incapacitared (by the Test A&t) from holding ofices, or being members of corp rations, are not disqualified (as the Catholics are by another ftarute) from fitting in Parliament. Thence he infers, that " by no principle of the British Constitution, are those who exercise parliamentary functions obliged to profess the religion of the fate;"
* See Brit. Crit, for May, 1801, p. 549.
and he infifts, that “ the principle on which Catholics were originally excluded from Parliament has ceased to exist, being destroyed by mo. dern Acts of Parliament, and that the Legislature itself has acknowledged the persons who take the Catholic Test to be good subjects of . his Majesty, and has declared, that, as such, they ought to be relieved from disabilities imposed solely and peculiarly on them." We ftate not these arguments exactly in the same order in which Mr. D. has arranged them, but as the course which his reasoning seems to us to take.
Without examining the validity of his interence from the case of the Dissenters (though we think is too much to draw an omission, perhaps casual, perhaps owing to some peculiar circumstances, into a fixed conftitutional principle) it will, we apprehend, be obvious, that the cases of the Protestant Dirrinters, and of the Roiran Catholics, differ widely from each other, inalinuch as the former do not acknowledge the juris, diction or authority of any foreign prince or potentate, either in temporal or spiritual concerns within this kingdom.
As to the argument that because the penalties, and some even of the disabilities, imposed on Roman Catholics, have been taken away, no diftinction whatever between them and the members of the established church should remain; but that they must be invested, in all its plenitude, with political porver, the discussion of it would lead us far beyond the limits within which we have hitherto judged it proper to confine ourselves on this great Question. Mr. Dilion's reasonings, we have admitted to be ingenious, as they are elaborate. They have not, however, convinced us that it can be expedient or safe to admit the professors of a religion, ever hostile to our own, into that assembly, on which the maintenance of the established conftitution, boch in church and state, so effentially depends. On this point, fome of the arguments of Dr. Duigenan, and others, appear to us unanswerable. Much of this treatise, as of most others on the same side of the Question, is ema' ployed in replying to Mr. Reeves's tract on the Coronation Oath. We have (in the article referred to) already expressed our opinion opon that subject. Art. 39. Obfervations on the Income Tax; with Regulations, fuggeft
ed for the Security of the Revenue, and preventing the Wafte of public Money. Together with a proposed Plan for an Auxiliary to the Sinking Fund. By Jofeph Burchell, One of the Joint Clerks to the Commiffioners of Taxes for Holborn Divifon, Middlefex. 8vo. 24 pp. Jordan, 1801.
Although the public are, no doubt, obliged to every individual who, with honelt purposes, applies his mind to so important an object as the improvement and easier collection of the revenue, yet, of the numerous volunteers in finance, few have the fagacity to devise beneficial measures, or the clearness of mind to elucidate and digeft them.
The writer before us objects to what he calls “ an equal tax on an unequal income," ftating, that " an equal charge, of a tenth only, on an income of forty thousand pounds, and one of iwo hundred a year, mult tend to privation and destruction of one class, while another en
joys BRIT. CRIT. VOL. XVII, JUNE, 1801.
joys every luxury.". As " men of the pen," who are not likely to be in the highest classes of income, our feelings accord entirely with his opinion; and posibly the scale of taxation might be regulated in a manner more consistent with the ease of the classes moft affected by it, and equally productive to the state. Yet, as the very large incomes are comparatively few, much could not be done for the relief of perfons of this description, without a considerable defalcation in the sevenue. The temporary nature of this tax also renders it the less necessary to hazard doubtful experiments. These difficulties are, how. ever, trifling compared with that of applying the assessment to the cature of every man's income, and even (as this author seems to propose! to his rank, profesion, and habits of life. The mode of taxing cosmercial men according to the same rule as land owners, and an increafing no higher than a ftationary income, may, in fome degree, produce the consequences here described ; but, we conceive, an attempt to prevent them by such alterations as could alone be effectual (and which must be founded on doubtful speculations) would be a remedy far worse than the disease.
The next proposal is to fimplify schedules of property, and to re. quire a verification, on oath, in the first instance, appointing persons of character in every parish to adminifter it. These measures, the writer thinks, would in many instances) render printed notices, and even Commissioners of Appeal, unnecessary, as every man would chas charge himself. We fear this great confidence would often be extremely abused, and an additional temptation to perjury would be held out, which many persons, now perhaps deterred by the dread of a subsequent examination, would find it dificult to resift. Other regulations, of less conkquence, are suggested ; one or two of which it might perhaps be ad. viseable to adopt. The proposed Auxiliary to the Sinking Kund (which confifts in charging interest for public money in private hands, and introducing the law of set off) seems unexcepcionable, but not likely to have, as this author supposes, a powerful effect. Art. 40. Thoughts on Parliamentary Reform, and on Reform in Gene
ral : in which ihe Nature of the British Conftitution, the Government, its component Parts and Efiabliboments, &c. &c. &c. are freely, but briefly considered. By an Ex-Member of the present Parliament. Svo. 52 pp. 18. Jordan, 1801.
Of this Ex-Member it may be faid, that he appears rather excentric, that his arguments are frequently extraneous, and his work, upon the whole, somewhat extravagans. He proposes, in the first place, to " add to the splendor of the Monarchy," and yet “ reduce the expences of it:" 'two very defirable objects, we admit, but not perbaps to easily attainable as this worthy gentleman concludes. He begins, by striking off the whole salaries from four great offices, giving the poffeffors in return four ribbands, with precedence above other peers, From inferior officers in the houshold, and (as the author terms it) “ mere stately departments," he would deduct only a part of their salaries, or rather a part of the overplus beyond a certain income. Whether the four great officers thus noformed (as the modern term is) would be as well pleased to barter “ solid pudding for empty praise,”
as this writer imagines, and whether the saving in salaries would arnourt, : upon the whole, io any thing that could be deemed a national object,
we will not at present discuss; but we think it right to inform him, that the part of his plan on which he seems most to rely, namely, the proposal " to take on the public account, every fee, and every emolument possessed by every individual," arises fr. im a misapprehension (we had almoit faid ignorance) of the subject in question. We believe there is no subject on which greater pains have been taken, both by Government and Parliament, to form a juft and uniform system, and none which is involved in more difficulties. At all events, the sweeping mode which this writer proposes, would not answer his purpose fince, if all tees and emoluments were taken on the public account, che individuals concerned must be compensated, in some degree at least, by additional salaries, or they would, in many instances, literally want bread. If such additional salaries, on the one hand, a nounted to less than the fees before received, the fees themselves would be very difficult to collect, when they no longer produced that alertness and disa patch of business for which the persons concerned had voluntarily and cheerfully paid thein. But this matter has fome time since been regaTated in moit of the public offices (though not by one uniform mode in all) and it yet we believe is doubtful, whether any saving to the revenue, or any improvement in the dispatch of business, will be the concequence. The remainder of this defultory tract confilts of a long speech which the author would make to the King if he were Minister; fome trifling remarks on finecure places, penfions, and grants; a scheme for a new office for army agency (on which we do not feel ou felves competent to decide) some general observations on the duty of Peers ; 'complaints' of abuses in boroughs; and arguments againit imprisonmeni for debt. Some of the parliamentary regulations proposed, particularly as to a bribery oath, and qualifications of inembers, seem not unworthy of attention.
ART. 41. Considerations on the Increase of the Poor-Rares, and the
State of the Workboule, in Kingftum-upon-Hull: to which is now added, a foort Account of ine Improvement in the Maintenance of the Pour of the Toron. 8vo. 98 pp. Robinson, &c. also the Bookfellers in Hull and York. 1800.
We have here owo tracts united. The first was published in 1799, is with a view to excite the atiention of the inhabiiants in Hull, to the numerous abuses which had lung prevailed in the maintenance of the poor of the town." P. 3, (Parı ii.) The efforị was as fuccessful as it was vigorously and judiciously made. Abuses were discovered to nu. merous and gross, that the existence of them couli scarcely have been credited, without actual demonstration. A general disposition to correct them was happily found (even in a corporate town, fenuing meine 'bers to Parliament) among those persons who had the chief power to Z z 2
do son, and in the inhabitanis of the place at large. The result bras been, that the poor-rates in Hull, which, on the ift of July, 1799, amounted to 8320l. per annum, were reduced, on the roth of January following, to 4160l. though, at the latter period, wheat was selling at 115. 6d. per bufhel. The deserving objects of charity appear to have fared better than before, vice and idleness seem to be in a great degree cxtirpated, and habits of virive and industry planted in their room. The provision for fpiritgal intruction is highly creditable to all parties concerned in it. Most just is the remark, that “ the poor-laws have often been condemned, when, in reality, the fault has been in the in• dolence or incapacity of those who ought to carry them into execucion.” P. 43. Mr. Thompson, the chief author of this reform, has well earned the high esteem of his neighbours, whether rich or poor ; nor is it easy to say to which of these classes he has been the greater benefactor. May this, and other such recent examples, peryade and animate every parith in the kingdom!
ART. 42. Infe&to-Theology; or, a Demonstration of the Being and Per
fe&lions of God, from a Confideration of the Structure and Economy of Infelis. Illustrated with a Copper. Plate. By M. Leffer : with Notes, by P. Lyonet. 8vo. 439 pp. 6s. Creech, Edinburgh ; Cadell and Davies, London.
Lesser was an author of some fame among his countrymen, the Germans, and wrote not only an Infecto-Theology, but a Litho Theology. Lyonet was the famous author of the “ Traité anatomique sur la chenille," &c.-a prodigy of physiological labour and exactness. The origin of the notes of Lyonet upon this work is thus related by himself.
« The success which this book had in Germany, and the encomiums bestowed upon it in the Leipfic Transactions, induced the publisher to have it translated into French. He requested me to revise the manufcript, and to correct those passages which the translator's ignorance of the subject might have occasioned. That I might not deprive the pube lic of the advantage to be derived from a book, intended to promote the glory of God, I undertook the talk; but I had no sooner begin than I found that the faults of the translator were not the only ones I had to correct, but that the original itself in many places stood in need of revision and elucidation." P. ix. Besides fome notes of the author, to which an asterisk is prefixed, there are several by the tranflator. The notes are placed at the end, with proper references to the text.
The word infect is used in this work with some latitude, as is explained in the following passage of the introductory advertisement, which it will be useful for readers to know. " As the original work was published before the accurate definition of an insect was given by Linnæus, the word is ufed much more loosely than at present. By Lel. fer, all the animals that compose Linnæus's class of vérmes are called infects; and even Lyonct, who defines an infect to be an animal with an external skeleton, gives the fame name to snails. The naturalift, accustomed to the Atrict acceptation of the term, will revolt at this in. accuracy ; but it was thought better to retain the expression." P. xi.