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among other things, to determine, whether the Northern Lights, seen at the same time, in different places, are in reality, the same meteors placed at a great height, or different phenomena, merely local, and not much elevated, as is the opinion of some modern authors who have treated this subject fince M. DE MAIRAN. In this discusfion, our Author will draw considerable assistance from the comparison of phenomena perceived, at the same time, in different places, and also from three learned dissertations, published by M. BERGMAN, in the Memoirs of the Academy of Sweden.
4. As to the influences of the Northern Light upon certain phenomena, such as magnetism, the electricity of the atmosphere, and the temperature of the atmosphere, M. VAN SWINDEN proposes to treat largely on these interesting subjects. The article of magnetism has attracted, particularly, his attention, and the observations he has made, during eight years past, on that phenomenon, will be employed with advantage in the present investigation. Under the article of eletricity, he will have occasion to discuss the following question, Whether the air is more charged with the electrical fluid, during the appearance or the approach of the Northern Light, than at other times? And as to the influence of this meteor on the temperature of the atmoSphere, he means to inquire, whether it be true, as some observers have affirmed, that the appearance of the Northern Light is ordinarily followed by high winds; an observation that has been made by some navigators, and which Dr. Franklin * has endeavoured to explain.
5. The causes that have been supposed to produce the northern light may be reduced to five :-ihe vapours and exhalations of the earth, which hypothesis is now almost entirely rejected the ice and snow of the polar zone, which opinion has been revived by the learned Abbé Hell, in his Ephemerides of 1777-the effluvia of magnetic particles, which was Halley's system-the zodiacal light, which is the system of De Mairan—and the eleEtrical Äuid, which has, since his time, put in boid pretenfions to the honour of producing the aurora borealis. All these causes our learned Profeffor proposes to discuss with attention, as also to consider the doubts and conjectures which may arise from these difcuffions.
We cannot here in sert, for want of room, a specimen of the table, or chronological lift of the northern lights, which we find at the end of M. VAN SWINDEN's plan; but we have seen nothing of the kind so accurate, so circumftantial, and so com
For the Doctor's hypothesis, relative to the Aurora Borealis, see his miscellaneous and philofophical pieces, lately published; or our account of it, in the Review for last month, p. 207.
plete. It is, beyond all comparison, superior to that of M. DE Mairan in every respect.
Before we close this Article, we should observe that the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris have applauded the undertaking of Professor Van Swinden, and expressed their desire of seeing it speedily executed, as they think it must contribute, in such judicious hands, to encrease our knowledge of the curious phenomenon in question, and of the effects which result from and depend upon it.
M. VAN SWINDEN has lately published an academical dircourse concerning the Newtonian philosophy, of which we shall give an account in a subsequent Review. We feel a peculiar pleasure in embracing every occasion that offers of doing justice to the eminent merit of this excellent philofopher.
For APRIL, 1780.
L A Art. II. Considerations on the Laws between Debtors and Creditors;
and an Abitract of the Insolvent Aêts. With Thoughts on a Bill to enable Creditors to recover the Effects of their Debtors, and to abolish Imprisonment for Debt. 8vo.
I s. 6d. Bew. 1779. THIS Writer is not sufficiently master of his own opinion, to be
able to inform or regulate that of the public. He appears indeed convinced himself, and takes some pains to convince others, that great abuses flow from the laws between debtors and creditors; but till he can point out in human fociety, any inftitution which fraud and villany cannot pervert against the ends for which it was designed, he most content bimself with pathetically lamenting the evils which he cannot remedy. Laws are in their nature general. We see the mischiefs that their promiscuous operation produces in particular initances. We forget, or do not perceive, the good effects with which they are attended upon the whole.
This pamphlet embraces a twofold obje&t, and each is dictated by humanity. The Author (whose humanity, though it be greater than his judgment, certainly merits praise) first takes the side of the creditor against the arts of the dishonest and fraudulent debtor: and afterwards, that of the debtor against the cruel and unrelenting creditor. In one case, the laws, it seems, are too severe against the debtor. In the former case, they are too mild, and too easily evaded. To correct these opposite defe&ts (if the charge do not destroy itself by its inconsistency), and to find a middle pash between them, rcquires the matureft political wisdom. We are afraid that no human laws can reach the human heart; and when an artful head and a corrupt heart meet, they must always prove an over.match for undeligning simplicity, though guarded by all the legislative cautions and provisos that ever were suggested. The Laws between Debrors and Creditors will be found like others,
“ Still for the strong too weak, the weak too strong."
We have a better opinion of this Writer's powers of description, than of his talents for legislation. However, as he recommends a landing legislative provision on the principles of the late insolvent alls, we may here safely trust him less on his own credit than on the wisdom of Parliament, which, by pafling these acts so frequently, has, in effect, shewn the neceflity of a perpetual insolvent act. The chief impediment to this great object, this Writer imagines to be the profefors (we suppose, he means the law prallifers) of the law; whose gains, he tells us, rise in proportion to the losses of others, and to whom the legislature leaves the subjects of the state, “ as theep to the dogs of their drivers: they are fleeced of all that can be got, and then barked into prison, that gaolers and their followers may take wbat lawyers and their subordinates have left behind.
“ There are a part of his Majesty's subjects, forty thousand or so, whose revenues rise in part from the law that arrests the person, and leaves the property of the debtor in his hands, to contend with the creditor. Every man that is arrested, if he is not under a necesity, is generally in a humour, to go to law with his creditor. Every writ is a dividend to the profession of the law; and an act to give liberty to debtors, and their property to their creditors, would be a law, though neither offen live to justice, mercy, or the good of his Majelty's induftrious subjects, yet it would prejudice the interest of a numerous learned profession, who live with great, good management on the labours of their fellow-subjects. This is the great objection against the Bill proposed; and if the learned profession unite together in one scale, they will probably be found to outweigh che moit evident interests of the whole community in che other.”
To take off the edge from thele harth and illiberal reflections, we thall just observe, that the present Bill, now depending before Parliament (called Lord Beauchamp's Bill), was not only penned by à great lawyer * of the present day, but has been also warmly supported by bim in the House of Commons; the truth is, the most formidable opposition to it has arisen not from the tribe of men above alluded to (whom the Author wildly reckons at forty thousand or fo"), but from the trading part of the community, who were apprehensive that such a mealure would clip che wings of credit.
We hope, however, the experiment will be tried; and that the call of humanity, now so powerfully made on the legislature, will not be deadened by the clamours of mistaken selfishness in some creditors, and the vindi&tive tyranny of others. Art. 12. A Brief Inquiry into the Justice and Policy of Long Confinement for Debt. With a View of all the Insolvené Acis. 8vo. IS, Bew.
Exbibits in a clear manner the ill policy, inutility, and cruelty, of vesting creditors with a power of confining insolvent debtors, to the utter ruin of individuals and their families, and the injury of the community in general.
Mr. Wallace, Solicitor General.
POLITICAL, with us,
Respecting IRELAND. Art. 13. A Letter to the Right Honourable Lord North, on his
Propofitions in favour of Ireland. By Francis Dobbs, Erg; Barrister at Law. Dublin, printed ; London, reprinted. 8vo. 6 d. Bladon. 1778.
If Ireland does not affame the language and conduct of North America, the fault will not rest with Mr. Dobbs, who seems ready to dye his bar.gown red to obtain a nominal diminutive independency, which could not perhaps be permanent. Art. 14. Seasonable Advice to the People of Ireland, during the
present Recess of Parliament. Dublin printed, London reprinted. Evo. 6d. Wilkie. 1:80.
A fenfible, temperate representation, calculated to conciliate the minds of the two nations. Art. 15. Thoughts on a Fund for the Improvement of Credit in
Great Britain, and the Ettablithment of a National Bank in Ireland. 8vo. is. Murray. 1780.
Among the scheines for national improvement and convenience, that of funding is the molt mysterious in its operations; at least to us authors, “whose studies are rather directed to overturn the unrea. sonable credit which our booksellers with to eftablish in their dealings
We therefore refer this subject to the mature confideration of the Irish patriots, whom it more immediately concerns ;-obferving only, in general terms, that the pamphlet appears to be sensibly written; and that the thoughts contained in it deserve the mature confideration of all who may be intereited in the scheme proposed, on either side of the water.
POLITICA L. Art. 16. Political Reveries, and Utopian Schemes for the Welfare
of Great Britain and Ireland. By an Idle Man. With a Plan for new modelling the British Forces by Sea and Land. 8vo. I s. 6 d. Richardson, in the Strand. 178c.
Where political schemes, various and extensive in their obje&is, are formed, they are properly characterized as of an Utopian nature, Our present Idle Man is a busy writer, and discusses many parts of our national policy, both internal and external. He decides against the probability of our reducing the continent of America, and would have our colonies to consist only of idlands, that might be con. trouled by our fleets. He proteits against draining away our men for foreign land service, and would raise German troops with British money for all such occasions, to diminish the inconveniencies of a halfe pay lit. He is for reducing our land forces according to this idea, and for increasing our marines and artillery ; properly remarking, thai, as an insular power, all our forces ought to be of an amphibious nature. But our Author does not contine himself to these ob. jects; his Reveries extend incidentally to the most effectual mode of railing taxes; the propriety of an equal land-tax; the sale of churchlands, and those in public trufts; the planting oaks for thip-build. ing; a frid application of the finking fund; a general naturalization, &c.; so that his purchasers have variety enough for their money. Without following so multifarious an author through all his meanders,
ve Mall conclude with intimating, that while a writer of any abilities indulges his reveries, he may throw out remarks, and fart hints in the course of impracticable plans, that may nevertheless deserve lerious attention. Art. 17. The Speech of Leonard Smelt, Esq; delivered by him at
the Meering of the County of York, Dec. 30, 1779, with Notes Variorum. 8vo. York printed, and fold by Faulder, in London.
The Editor observes, in his advertisement, that as this speech was not taken down in fhort-hand, the present copy is not to be confidered as pretending to be an exact copy of every word that was spoken by Mr. Smelt; but as it was put together from the notes taken by leveral gentlemen present, the Public may rely on its authenticity in point of argument and of sentiment, as much as on that of any speech in parliament that is not immediately published under the Author's own infpection. He adds, it is presumed that the Public will accordingly rely on “ it, till its inaccuracy shall be proved by another edition, so authenti“ cated." - Another edition, so autbenticated, has been published, and the difference between the two copies is great indeed (see the next article)! The notes to the present copy will, however, be esteemed by many Readers, as containing a variety of threwd political obfervations. Art. 18. An Account of some Particulars relative to the Meeting
held at York, on Thursday, the 30:h of December, 1779. By Leonard Smelt, Esq. 8vo. Is. Becket.
The public prints have fufficiently informed us of the odium which this gentleman incurred by freely declaring his sentiments in a general assembly, professedly held to collect the opinions of the county. He complains that his speech has been misrepresented, both in manner and substance, and he therefore does himself justice in this publi. cation.
No one who has ever attended a numerous assembly of this nature, will boast much of the maturity of their deliberations, or of the liberality of their proceedings. When a particular point is to be carried, any indiscreet individual who ventures to open his mouth against it, is sure to be hooted into filence, and may eteem himself happy if he escapes a&ual violence, while the favourites of the meeting may procare their eager sanction to any thing they are prepared to offer.
But when the professed advocates for liberty become arbitrary, which is sometimes the case where their predominant humour is opposed, they act like some of the early reformers, who no sooner revolted against the errors of the Romith church, and formed little ecclefiaftical establishments themselves, than up itarted such petty Popes as Calvin, who employed those faggots, they had juft escaped, against their brethren. It is a mild rebuke to apply the words in the gospel to those who have liberty in their mouths, and tyranny in their hearts -re know not what manner of Spirit ye are of.
Mr. Smelt does not, in this authentic copy of his speech, appear to be altogether the abject tool of despotism which he has been represented to be by his violent commentators on the other side of the queftion.