Imagens das páginas

broad a 2 what has any one of them perpetrated, which will make him be remembered, out of the sphere of his private virtues, six months after his decease ? Surely, scholars and gentlemen can drink tea with each other, and eat bread and butter, without all this laudatory cackling. Philopatris has employed a great deal of time upon the subject of capital punishments, and has evinced a great deal of very laudable tenderness and humanity in discussing it. We are scarcely, however, converts to that system which would totally abolish the punishment of death. That it is much too frequently inflicted in this country, we readily admit; but we suspect it will be always necessary to reserve it for the most pernicious crimes. Death is the most terrible punishment to the common people, and therefore the most preventive. It does not perpetually outrage the feelings of those who are innocent, and likely to remain innocent, as would be the case from the spectacle of convicts working in the high roads and public places. Death is the most irrevocable punishment, which is in some sense a good; for, however necessary it might be to inflict labour and imprisonment for life, it would never be done. Kings and Legislatures would take pity after a great lapse of years; the punishment would be remitted, and its preventive efficacy, therefore, destroyed. We agree with Philopatris, that the executions should be more solemn; but still the English are not of a very dramatic turn, and the thing must not be got up too finely. Philopatris, and Mr. Jeremy Bentham before him, lay a vast stress upon the promulgation of laws, and treat the inattention of the English Government to this point as a serious evil. It may be so — but we do not happen to remember any man punished for an offence which he did not know to be an offence; though he might not know exactly the degree in which it was punishable. Who are to read the laws to the people 2 who would listen to them if they were read 2 who would comprehend them if they listened 2 . In a science like law there must be technical phrases, known only to professional men : business could not be carried on without them: and of what avail would it be to repeat such phrases to the people 2 Again, what laws are to be repeated, and in what places 2 Is a law respecting the number of threads on the shuttle of a Spitalfields weaver to be read to the corn-growers of the Isle of Thanet 2 If not, who is to make the selection ? If the law cannot be comprehended by listening to the vivá voce repetition, is the reader to explain it, and are there to be law lectures all over the kingdom ? The fact is, that the evil does not exist. Those who are likely to commit the offence soon scent out the newly-devised punishments, and have been long thoroughly acquainted with the old ones. Of the nice applications of the law they are indeed ignorant; but they purchase the requisite skill of some man whose business it is to acquire it; and so they get into less mischief by trusting to others than they would do if they pretended to inform themselves. The people, it is true, are ignorant of the laws; but they are ignorant only of the laws which do not concern them. A poacher knows nothing of the penalties to which he exposes himself by stealing ten thousand pounds from . public. Commissioners of public boards are unacquainted with all the decretals of our ancestors respecting the wiring of hares; but the one pockets his extra per-centage, and the other his leveret, with a perfect knowledge of the laws — the particular laws which it is his business to elude. Philopatris will excuse us for differing from him upon a subject where he seems to entertain such strong opinions. We have a real respect for all his opinions: — no man could form them who had not a good heart and a sound understanding. If we have been severe upon his style of writing, it is because we know his weight in the commonwealth: and we wish that the many young persons who justly admire and imitate him should be turned to the difficult task of imitating his many excellences, rather than the useless and easy one of copying his few defects.


Observations on the Historical Work of the Right Honourable Charles James Fow. By the Right Honourable George Rose. pp. 215. With a Narrative of the Events which occurred in the Enterprise of the Earl of Argyle in 1685. By Sir Patrick Hume. London, 1809.

THIS is an extraordinary performance in itself;-but the reasons assigned for its publication are still more extraordinary. A person of Mr. Rose's consequence—incessantly occupied, as he assures us, “with official duties, which take equally,’ according to his elegant expression, "from the disembarrassment of the mind and the leisure of time,' thinks it absolutely necessary to explain to his country the motives which have led him to do so idle a thing as to write a book. He would not have it supposed, however, that he could be tempted to so questionable an act by any light or ordinary consideration. Mr. Fox and other literary loungers may write from a love of fame, or a relish for literature; but the official labours of Mr. Rose can only be suspended by higher calls. All his former publications, he informs us, originated in “a sense of public duty;’ and the present, in “an impulse of private friendship.' An ordinary reader may perhaps find some difficulty in comprehending how Mr. Rose could be “impelled by private friendship' to publish a heavy quarto of political observations on Mr. Fox's History:—and for our own parts, we must confess, that after the most diligent perusal of his long explanation, we do not in the least comprehend it yet. The explanation, however, which is very curious, it is our duty to lay before our readers. Mr. Rose was much patronised by the late Earl of Marchmont, who left him his family papers, with an injunction to make use of them, ‘if it should ever become necessary.' Among these papers was a narrative by Sir Patrick Hume, the Earl's grandfather, of the occurrences which befell him and his associates in the unfortunate expedition undertaken by the Earl of Argyle in 1685. Mr. Fox, in detailing the history of that expedition, has assed a censure, as Mr. Rose thinks, on the character of Sir Patrick; and, to obviate the effects of that censure, he now finds it ‘necessary’ to publish this volume. All this sounds very chivalrous and affectionate; but we have three little remarks to make. In the first place, Mr. Fox passes no censure on Sir Patrick Hume. In the second place, this publication does by no means obviate the censure of which Mr. Rose complains. And, thirdly, it is utterly absurd to ascribe Mr. Rose's part of the volume, in which Sir Patrick Hume is scarcely ever mentioned, to any anxiety about his reputation. In the first place, it is quite certain that Mr. Fox passes no censure on Sir Patrick Hume. On the contrary, he says of him, that “he had early distinguished himself in the cause of liberty;’ and afterwards rates him so very highly, as to think it a sufficient reason for construing some doubtful points in Sir John Cochrane's conduct favourably, that ‘ he had always acted in conjunction with Sir Patrick Hume, who is proved by the subsequent events, and indeed by the whole tenor of his life and conduct, to have been uniformly sincere and zealous in the cause of his country.” Such is the deliberate and unequivocal testimony which Mr. Fox has borne to the character of this gentleman; and such the historian, whose unjust censures have compelled the Right Honourable George Rose to indite 250 quarto pages, out of pure regard to the injured memory of this ancestor of his deceased patron. Such is Mr. Fox's opinion, then, of Sir Patrick Hume; and the only opinion he any where gives of his character. With regard to his conduct, he observes, indeed, in one place, that he and the other gentlemen engaged in the enterprise appear to have paid too little deference to the opinion of their noble leader; and narrates, in another, that, at the breaking up of their little army, they did not even stay to reason with him, but crossed the Clyde with such as would follow them. Now, Sir Patrick's own narrative, so far from contradicting either of these statements, confirms them both in the most remarkable manner. There is scarcely a page of it that does not show the jealous and controlling spirit which was exercised towards their leader; and, with regard to the concluding scene, Sir Patrick's own account makes infinitely more strongly against himself and Sir John Cochrane, than the general statement of Mr. Fox. So far from staying to argue with their general before parting with him, it appears that Sir Patrick did not so much as see him; and that Cochrane, at whose suggestion he deserted him, had in a manner ordered that unfortunate nobleman to leave their company. The material words of the narrative are these: –

‘On coming down to Kilpatrick, I met Sir John (Cochrane), with others accompanieing him; who takeing mee by the hand, turned mee, saying, My heart, goe you with mee? Whither goe you, said I ? Over Clide by boate, said he.—I: Wher is Argyle 2 I must see him. — He : He is gone away to his owne countrey, you cannot see him.—I: How comes this change of resolution, and that wee went not together to Glasgow?—He : It is no time to answer questions, but I shall satisfy you afterward. To the boates wee came, filled 2, and rowed over,’ &c. —‘An honest gentleman who was present told mee afterward the manner of his parting with the Erle. Argyle being in the room with Sir John, the gentleman coming in, found confusion in the Erle's countenance and speach. In end he said, Sir John, I pray advise mee what shall I doe; shall I goe over Clide with you, or shall I goe to my owne countrey ! Sir John answered, My Lord, I have told you my opinion ; you have some Highlanders here about you; it is best you goe to your owne countrey with them, for it is to no purpose for you to go over Clide. My Lord, faire you well. Then call'd the gentleman, Come away, Sir ; who followed him when I met with him.”—Sir P. Hume's Narrative, pp. 63, 64.

Such are all the censures which Mr. Fox passes upon this departed worthy; and such the contradiction which Mr. Rose now thinks it necessary to exhibit. It is very true that Mr. Fox, in the course of his narrative, is VOL. I. Y

« AnteriorContinuar »