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adopt a persuasion, in any the remotest degree detrimental to public liberty.'
The ensuing chapter, respects the rights and duties of subordinate magistrates, and having treated of persons as they stand in the public relations of magistrates, he proceeds to confider such persons as fall under the denomination of the people, (in which body the subordinate magistrates are included) and explains their rights and duties in all their various relations.
Having already transgressed our bounds, we must, for these , explanations, refer the Řeader to the work itself; which, from the extracts herein given, he will no doubt be curious to peruse,
We cannot conclude without observing that Mr. Blackstone is perhaps the first who has treated of the body of law in a liberal, elegant, and constitutional manner. A vein of good fenfe and moderation runs through every page, and he shews himself equally free from that servile attachment to prerogative which is generally imputed to lawyers, especially such as are fervants of the crown, without giving loose to that undistinguishing factious zeal for liberty, which too often wears the mask of patriotism. Upon the whole he has acquitted himself as a sound lawyer, an able Writer, a good subject, and a wore thy citizen.
The Freedom of Speech and Writing upon Public Affairs, considered.
4to. 45. Baker, IN
N the whole compass of political subjects, there is no question
of greater importance than that which our Author hath here undertaken to consider. Freedom of speech and writing on public affairs, is the true standard of the state of public liberty ; and may not improperly be called the political barometer. Un. der the absolute and despotic forms of government, where the will of the prince is the supreme law, and the people have no concern in the business of legislation, it is extremely low, or rather hath no existence at all. In aristocratic and oligarchic governments it rises but to a small and inconfiderable degree, and for the very fame reason, in proportion, that it is never to be found in monarchies. It is in popular governments alone, where the people have power in enacting laws, granting fupplies, debating on public measures, and judging of the conduct of their governors, that this valuable and manly species of freedom is ever to be met with in any considerable extent. Where subjects are immediately interested in the administration of affairs ; where, from the structure of their government they are frequently
called together to consult for the common good, and feel their own importance in approving and supporting, or in condemning and rejecting any particular measures, we may expect to find the free and independent senator bravely opposing the pernicious schemes of a wicked and corrupt minister; or in a more public manner, from the press, calling upon his fellow-citizens to unite their influence in opposing the destructive, and countenancing the wife and falutary measures that are proposed. And wherever, in a free government, we observe an attempt to suppress or bear down this species of freedom; where every man is not protected in the fullest manner in the exercise of it; but the people are intimidated by the infamy of corporal punishment, fines, imprisonment, banishment, &c. it is then the public jealousy ought to be awakened; it is then the wicked sons of ambition and tyranny are meditating the destruction of every thing dear and valuable to us as men. That this liberty may be abused to the most ungenerous and unworthy purposes will not be denied, and so have the best blessings and most valuable privileges which kind heaven hath bestowed on the children of men, and were we to be at once deprived of every blessing we abuse, it is easy to see what must have been our condition long ago: but the benevolent and righteous governor of the world judgeth not as men judge; he continueth our misimproved privileges; and in imitation of his wisdom and goodness should our earthly governors continue to protect us in those liberties, which are too often abused indeed; but cannot be taken away without the introduction of greater evils; and of which moreover, though abused, it is an unjust and wicked extension of their power to attempt to deprive us.
The manner in which the work before us is conducted will appear from the following analysis of it.
Our Author sets out with observing the excellence of truth, and the difficulty of discovering it; from whence he rightly infer's the necessity of a free use of the means of discovering it, which are speech and writing. As power is progressive, restraint on the latter would soon extend to the suppression of the former: and he well observes, the more injurious the designs and actions of men are, the greater will be their solicitude to preve!t a free examination of them.
This general introduction is followed by an enumeration of the laws against libels under the Roman emperors; from whence he passes to an account of the revival of the civil law in Europe, which he imputes not so much to its utility and excellence, as to its being favourable to the power of princes and ecclefiaftics, of which he gives several instances from the Digest and Justinian's Institutes : he thinks therefore that we ought to revere the Rev. May, 1766.
memory of those, who prevented the further reception of these laws in England. As for Scotland, he says, the civil law obtained there in all criminal matters without exception.
Our Author next proceeds to 'consider the laws relating to' toriure. Libelling being made a capital crime, their authors became naturally exposed to torture, which according to the civil laws was used in all cases punishable with death. This cruel and absurd method of examining by torture crept into the German courts along with the civil law, according to Schilter; though others suppose it was introduced long before that time, by the rage of the clergy against heretics. In Scotland this inhuman practice continued till the union, and some endeavours were made to introduce it into England; for which purpose a rack was formerly brought into the Tower, and is known by the name of the Duke of Exeter's Daughter. Our Author very humanely laments its being suffered to continue there, and thinks it ought to be brought forth and publicly burnt.
We are next presented with some of those imperial laws relating to reproachful words uttered against the emperor: which are followed by the mention of those conftitutions that were made against heretics; of which there are no less than fixty-fix in the Theodosian code. We then have Lord Coke's opinion about libels, and cases relating to them in the star-chamber; which leads our Author to give a pretty large account of the inftitution and forms of proceeding in that iniquitous court, with its final abolition in 16 Ciarles 1. when there was an express inhibition to erect for the future any court with the same or like jurisdictions ; from whence our Author infers very justly and pertinently, that no precedents taken from that court fhould be made use of in any modern proceedings in cases of libcis.', The power of the ftar-chamber was greatly increased under James, who endeavoured to establish despotism in EngJand, in conformity to the government of Scotland, where, according to Sir James Mackenzie, whom our Author follows, the king was, by the laws, pofseffed of absolute power. The next reign ftill aggravated matters further, as appears in the cases of Bastwick, Prynne, Lilbourn, Bp. Williams, &c. &c. which, whenever a true Englishman reads, ' let him cry, Praise and glory on their heads who delivered this country from such execrable tyranny.'
It is the opinion of our Author, that all the records of this court were purposely destroyed, that no proof might remain to pofterity of the abominations practised in it. It was natural to pass from hence to the liberty of the press, which, as is justly observed, had it prevailed, would have prevented many unjust and pernicious acts of the governing powers, acts fatal in their
consequences consequences to the governors themselves, as well as to the unhappy subjects who groaned under them. Matters of public and common concernment are proper obje&ts of public knowlege and common debate ; but this knowledge cannot be acquired, nor can such debate be carried on, without the freedom of speaking and writing.
The book concludes with some remarks, neither new nor uncommon, on the present state of the colonies. The Author appears to be a hearty but sober friend to public liberty, and his treatise contains several judicious and important remarks ; but it is written in a verbose declamatory style ; the transitions from one subject to another are immethodical and abrupt; and the whole bears the evident marks of a hafty compofition.
For M A Y, 1766.
M i Ś C È LLANEOUS Art. 13. The Philosophy of History. By M. de Voltaire. 8vo.
55. Allcock. A
have had an account in the Appendix to our 32d Vol. The name of Bazin, printed in the title-page of the original French, is probably mere invention. Art. 14. An Answer to the Case of the Mills Frigate. 8vo. 1S.
Willock. Relates to the contefied insurance on the good ship mentioned in the title-page. This cause is not to be determined in the court of criticism, but in a court of law. Art. 15. Arithmetical Collections and Improvements. Being a com
plete System of Practical Arithmetic. By Anthony and John Birks ; late Masters of a Boarding-school at Gofferton, and now of the Free-writing-school at Donnington Lincolnshire. 6s. Hawes, &c.
This compilement seems to be very judiciously performed; and, as the ingenious Authors say, in their preface, properly adapied to the use of the gentleman and the scholar, as well as the man of business. Art. 16. A Letter from Mr. Voltaire to M. Jean Jaques Rousseau.
12mo. is. 6d. Payne. This pretended letter from Mr. Voltaire is founded on some passages in the anecdotes relating to Mr. Rousseau, of which we gave an ab. ftract* in our last Appendix. Mr. Voltaire had, in those anecdotes,
• This abstract is subjoined to the present letter, by way of illustration Dd 2
IS. 6 d.
been accused as acceffory to the persecution of the celebrated citizen of Geneva ; and, in revenge of that accusation, the latter is ridiculed and abused in the present performance: which is here printed both in French and English, to give it the greater air of originality and authenticity. We can, however, by no means look upon this production as the genuine offspring of Voltaire's pen; and therefore shall enter into no fare ther particulars concerning it. Art. 17. An earnest Address to the People of England. Containing
an Enquiry into the Cause of the great Scarcity of Timber throughout the Dominions
belonging to his Majesty. With some Hints to wards the more effectually securing and preserving the fame, particularly that Part of it used in Ship-building, which may prove of the last Importance to these Kingdoms. 8vo. Noble.
There are fome particulars in this addrefs which deserve not only the notice of the people of England in general, but of the legislature especially. We have often heard of the great waste and havock made of the mip-timber in the royal dock-yards ; but this Author's account exceeds every thing we could have supposed. He computes, at the lowest, • that it must have cost the government within these 50 years latt past, between tuound three millions of money to supply the artificers of the feveral dock-yards with fuel-wood,'out of which might have been saved, ' a quantity of timber fufficient to have built 50 men of war of the line.'--As this tract is inscribed to the Earl of Egmont, first lord commissioner of the admiralty, it is to be hoped the endeavours of this public spirited Writer towards a reformation of the dock-yards will not be vain. Art. 18. A Narrative of what passed between General Sir Harry
Erskine and Phillip Thicknesse Esq; in Consequence of a Letter written by the latter to the Earl of Bute, relative to the Publication of some original Letters and Poetry of Lady Mary Wortley Montague's, then in Mr. Thicknesse's Pollion. 8vo. Williams.
About two years ago, Capt. Thicknesse had the misfortune to be engaged in a quarrel with Lord Orwell; the consequence of which was, a vigorous prosecution of the former, in the court of king's bench. The defendant had in vain applied to his lordship, to accommodate their differences ; and, at last, he had recourse to the Earl of Bute, whose interposition with Lord Orwell he requested ; but without success. His hopes with respect to Lord B. were founded on the circumstance of his being in postation of some original letters and poems written by the late very ingenious Lady Mary W. M. mother to the Countess of B. His firit intention was to publish these papers *; and he had actually begun to print them, when it occurred to his reflection, that posibly it might be more agreeable to the family, that the letters, &c. Thould be withheld from the public eye. In pursuit of this idea, he politely wrote to Lord B, on the subject; and his lordship employed Sir H. Erskine to speak As a supplement to her other Letters : see Review, Vol. 28 and 29.