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Written Las the Security and Happiness of a Free State. 410.
There is anuch propriety in the arguments of this writer, who contends for the practice of abiding Itrialy by the written law in our courts of judicature; in opposition to that, introduced by certain judges, of deciding in some cases in courts of law on the principles of equity, 'It were worth his attention, however, to consider how far the letter of the law is in such cases consistent with the spirit of it; and whether, in all cases, the spirit of the law be not perfectly consistent with equity.
Affis Ears: Å Fable. Addressed to the author of the Goat's * Beard. 4to. 6d. Riley."
A retort courteous on the Poet-laurcat for his fable, entipled The Goat's Beard; of which we took notice in our laft Revicw. The censure passed on that may serve, mutatis mutandis, with a little variation, for this: the asses-ears and goat's-beard being appendages to animals not highly distinguished for either sagacity or delicacy,
* * *
A True Account of the Trial of Mr. Samuel Bruckshaw's Asien
for falfe Imprisonment, in Guildhall, London, June 13, 1776: and also of all the farmer Proceedings in the Courts of Law. Folio. 6d. Keartley
A cause that has been so long in agitation, and of which fo much has been published, in most of the news papers throughout the kingdom, must have been heard of by most of our rcadlers. The account of it, here presented to the public, appears to be genuine, and affords a melancholy proof what injustice may be done to individuals under colour of law, and how in-effectual are the legal atteinpts.of.the oppressed to obtain redress. Not that we think there were not too much grounds for the original cause of action, both on the side of plaintiff and defendant; as is too frequently the case in such personal litigations,
may be comine, and attit, here preocard of by papers throu
Reflektions on Gaming, Anxuities, and Ufurious Contratis, 8vo,
A prelude to the late Bill, brought into parliament by Mr. Solicitor General, for abolishing ufurious contracts on the plan
of granting annuities. The mischiefs attending this species of gaming are here properly and ably exposed, and prove how necessary it is for the legislature to interfere to put a stop to them.
A Letter from Edmund Burke, Esq; one of the Representatives
in Parliament for the City of Bristol, 10 John Farr and John Harris, Efqrs. Sheriffs of that City, on the Affairs of America. 8vo. Is. 6d. Dodsley,
“ God be thanked for these Rebels ! They offend none but the virtuous I laud thein-I praise them." _So said that heterogenous compound of wit, whim, and sophistry, Sir John Falstaff. And so says that ingenious sophist, Mr. Edmund Burke, concerning the rebels in America. Falstaff, indeed, who was as wicked as witty, and cared for nobody but himself, seems to have his own emolument merely in view, in this cordial commendation of rebellion. Our friend Edmund, “ in act more graceful and humane,” feels for the honeft rebels themselves, and expresses the most affecting apprehensions left, in consequence of the two late acts of parliainent, any of our English brethren * should come to be hanged as pirates; when they ought only to be hanged, drawn and quartered, as traitors. A just and alarining ground of apprehenfion truly! It is, therefore, with great propriety and humanity he condemns the passing those acts as a harsh and incongruous inethod of proceding.
Such a procedure,” says he, “ would have appeared (in any other legislature than ours) a strain of the most insulting and most unnatural cruelty and injustice.''-" I assure you," (continues he, addressing hiinself particularly to his friends the two worthy sheriffs of Bristol,) I do not remember to have heard any thing like it in any time or country." - Nor we neither, we proteft ; it is, in fazt, as bad as the letter-writer observes iť would have been, to have tried Lord Balmerino as a cow-stealer, when he was an arch-traitor of the first magnitude. Or, to come nearer home, it is as bad as the sending that frantic fellow D-- to hard labour for a fraud, when he might have been hanged for forgery. But so sunk, it seems,
is the dignity of the British Legislature, and so degraded the · administration of the English laws, that both minister and magistrate lole all respect for the situation of criminals. By “ confounding the unhappiness of civil diffention, with the
Home For so Mr. Burke affects constantly to stile the Americans. But he might with equal propriety call them Irishmen, or at least Dutchmen, or Germans. • Vol. V,
criine of treason,” they perplex the public with strange inconia gruities : by punishing a highwayman as they would do a pickpocket, they abolish all professional pre-eminence, and destroy all degrees of distinction in “ mistaken virtue.” How infinitéJy more amiable and delicate is Mr. Burke's mode of thinking and feeling on these occasions !
.“ Though piracy may be, in the eye of the law, a kels offence than treason ; yet as buth are, in efect, punished with the same death, the faine forfeiture, and the same corruption of blood, I never would take from any fellow-creature whatever, any sort of advantage, which he may derive to his fafety the pity of mankind, or to his reputation froin from their general feelings, by degrading his offence, when I cannot foften bis punishment. The general sense of mankind tells me, that those offences, which may poilibly arise from miltaken virtue, are not in the class of infamous actions. Lord Coke, the oracle of the English law, conforms to that general fense, where he says, that “thole things which are of the higheit criininality may be of ihe least disgrace."
With due deference, however, to the judgement of this celcbrated fcnator, and we hope without injury to his finer feelings, we must beg leave to reinark, that Lord Coke is hete fpeaking of a circumitance, that really obtained, or sometimes took place, in the law, not that which ought generally so to do; of a circumstance which, tho' actually legal, was rather to de fa£lı, than de jure; it being inconsistent with the very nature of crimes and intention of punishment, that the greatest criine mould be, however it might be, the least, of all others, disgraceful.
Again, the want of dignity and consistency in the British Legitlature and Government'is exposed in the lenity, with which the present unjust, oppressive, cruel, and destructive war is carried on against the American Kebels !
" Whenever," says the letter-wriier, “ a rebellion really and truly exists, (which is as easly known in fact, as it is difficult to define in words) government has not entered into luch inilitary conventions; but has ever declined all intermediate treaty, which should put sebels in poslellion of the law of nations with regard to war. Commanders would receive no benefits at their hands, because they could make no return for them. Who has ever heard of capitulation, and parole of honour, and exchange of prisoners, in the late rebellions in this king. doin? The answer to all demands of that fort was, “ we can engage for nothing; you are at the king's pleasure.” We ought to rememher, thet if our present enemies te, in reality and truth, rebels, the king's generals have no right to release thein upon any conditions whatsoever; and they are themselves answerable to the law, and as much in want of a pardon for doing so, as the rebels whom they release."
To be sure, there does appear a little inconsistence in treating avowed rebels on the same footing as foreign enemies; and
he crion plea; “ that nees may justifbels in the famo
it be reth eighbuch a falure on
certain it is we did not treat the Scotch rebels' in the same manner; but surely, circumstances may juftify the measure on our author's own plea, “ that nobody can have such a fanatical zeal for the criminal justice of Henry the eighth, that he will contend for cxecutions that must be retaliated tenfold on his own friends.”—Mr. Burke will not dare to say in direct terms' that the Americans are not in open rebellion; and yet he must admit it would be downright madness, while they are as powerful as they are at present, not to admit of a cartel or exchange of prisoners,
General principles both of law and justice are frequently obliged to give way to particular situations and circumstances; and, if they did not, they would as frequently counteract the universal principles of equity and sound policy.--There needed no ghost to come to tell us that, “ indeed, our affairs are in a bad condition,” and even a politician of less authority might have fufficed. But really, tho' we no more rejoice at it than does Mr. Burke, we cannot think it so great a misfortune that the refractory Americans, to whose names we have been so long familiar, have fallen under the swords of frangers, whose naines we cannot pronounce, rather than by those of true-born Englishmen. On the contrary, that the punishment, due to their temerity, has been immediately inflicted on thein by foreigners, is a consideration that may probably prevent foine of that heart-burning and hatred againit real 'Englishmen, which may reinain after the contest is decided. His objection in the hard names, or as he calls thein “ barbarous appellations” of the strangers, is contemptible affectation, The North Americans were no strangers to German names, or German antipathies, before the Hesians were employed to subdue thern. By the natural regards so repeatedly expressed by this writer for the American rebels, one would imagine Mr. Burke was himtelf a true-born Englithman, and i he Americans, to a man, descended from native Britons, instead of being in a great degree an heterogeneous mixture of emigrants from noft countries in Europe. And yet this writer says,
" I think I know America. If I do not, my ignorance is incurable, for I have spared no pains to understand it; and I do moit folemniy afsure those of my Conttituents who put any sort of contidence in my industry and integrity, that every thing that has been done there has ariten from a total misconception of the object."
How! Every thing, that has been done, arisen from a total misconception of the object !-- This is much! Horridly out of luck, indeed, must have been the advisers, as well as the executors, of our Ainerican projects to have failed in every thing. If we are not mistaken, the best advisers are called in: those Ddd 2
who, having long resided and been employed on the spot, must be lupposed to have known fomething of the objell; and that all these should to:ally misconceive it, and that every thing that has been done, should be done in consequence of such misconception, is what we can hardly conceive : Unless, indeed, one over-ruling cause might effect the whole; and of this, our letter-writer gives a Threwd hint in the following striking description of a charactcr, under which we would have the reader, helping out a bad painter, subfcribe the name.
" It is no excu'e for presumptuous ignorance, that it is directed by infolent passion. The pooreit being thar crawls on earth, contending to save itself from injustice and oppreilion, is an object respectable in the eyes of God and man. But I cannot conceive any existence under heaven, (which, in the depths of its wisdom tolerates all forts of things) that is more truly odious and disgustiny, than an impotent helpless crea: ture, without civil wi:doon or military skill, without a conicioufnels of any other qualification for power but his fervility to it, bloated with pride and arrogance, calling for battles which he is not tu fight, contending for a vio'ent dominion which he can never exercile, and latiss fied to be himself niçan and miserable, in order to render others contemprible and wietched.”
We do not proíume to know whom the author here affects to describe; but, in our own opinion, he affects to know other persons and things inuch better than he knows himself. And yet, unfortunately for him, he takes some pains to thew that he does know himself. Hear him-am
"I am charged with being an American, f warm affection, towards those over whom I claim any Mare of authority *, be a crime, I am 'guilty of this charge. But I do affure you and they, who know me publickly and privately will bear wiireis in me) that it ever - one man lived more zealous than another, for the iupremacy of parliament, and the righıs of this imperial Crown it was mytelt. Many ohers indeed might be more knowing in the extent, or in the founda. rion of thele rights. I do not pretend to be an amiquary, or a lawyer, or qualified for the chair of Proietlor io Metaphyfics. I never ventured to put your folid iniereils upon fpeculative grounds, My having con:
lactly declined to du fo, his been a tributed to my incapaciry for such di quifitions ; and I am inclined to believe it is partly the cause.! perer shall be asainet to conieis, that where I am iguorant i ama diffident,
* We should be glad to know what pare, and what kind of authority, Mr, Burke claims over the Amciicans, Not surely, as their agent, for in that refpect, he can only act in authority under them. If as a memixer of the British Lexilarure; he ought to know, that as an individual commoner, he is the tervant, not the maitiroflis conftituents; and tho' the Legillative acts inay wind in all cates whatever, it is the minister or magistrate only, wio is vefice with authorits over hole whom they bind, and not the indie vaals of the Legislature,