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goes far beyond themselves: it goes, in our opinion, to the cause for which they were profecuted. The Attorney-general was unquestionably able to prove that they were members of focieties eftablished for the purpofe of effecting a reform in parliament; he could prove them to have concurred in various refolutions tending to that object,-resolutions which he confidered as fo many overt-acts of an intention in them to fubvert the conftitution; he could prove that they had on various occafions pointed out and specified defects and abuses in the exifting state of the reprefentation of the people in the House of Commons, that they had afcertained the existence of an undue interference on the part of the peers in the elections of members of the lower house, and had contended for the neceffity of an immediate and radical reform: all this he could prove; and he might say that it manifefted a defign to deftroy the conftitution: why then did he not proceed? Is it unfair to furmise that it was because he feared that what he deemed a defign to overthrow the conftitution would be confidered by a jury as a defign only to improve it, and confequently as praise-worthy, not traiterous, in those who were concerned in it? In this point of view, we are of opinion that the late profecutions may be thought of the highest importance, with refpect to the events to which they may be the occasion of giving birth.
From the uniform tenor of Mr. Holcroft's writings, we think it may be fairly inferred that, though no man can be more ardent in the pursuit of what he conceives to be for the good of mankind, yet his principles would not allow him to employ force even for the attainment of fuch an object; and confequently we feel ourselves ftrongly difpofed to condemn the judgment of those, who could deem a person of this description a proper fubject for a profecution for the alledged crime of, confpiring to murder the king, and forcibly to diffolve the prefent conftitution of this country. Thofe who differ moft from this gentleman, in political and speculative opinions, readily admit that his motives are humane; and that even fuch of his fyftems as appear to them moft Utopian are founded on notions of univerfal benevolence and philanthropy. His aim is to meliorate the condition of mankind, and to extend the fphere of their happiness; which leads him to attack fuch inftitutions as he conceives to ftand in the way of this great end:-but his only weapons are arguments; all others he difclaims; he addrefles himself directly to the understanding, and labours not to inflame, but to convince. The heart of fuch a man, we were perfuaded, could not harbour defigns of murder and civil war; and therefore, when we found that he was involved in a profecution for high treason, we were induced to think that the REV. JAN. 1795. Attorney.
Attorney-general had but weak grounds to fupport the general charge of a conspiracy.
Having paid this tribute, which we deem justly due to the intentions of our author, we will now make fome obfervations on his talents. His former productions have already established his reputation in the literary world, and this pamphlet is written with peculiar force and perfpicuity of language. The ingenuity and fubtlety of his mind have led him to ftrike out a fyftem, which many fenfible perfons will not hesitate to call eccentric; and fuch it certainly is: but its eccentricity is not wild and confufed; it is governed by laws of its own, and, like a comet, though darting through paths unfrequented by others, is confiftent, uniform, and regular in its whole course. The addrefs which he intended to make to the jury, had he been put on his defence, abounds with paffages that will bear us out in this opinion;-an addrefs which, while it dif plays uncommon ingenuity, we would not felect as a proof of found judgment; for it is unqueftionably by much too metaphyfical to be clearly comprehended by fuch men as usually serve on petit juries, in whom we look for little more than plain fense and integrity, and of whom we would not deem it any difparagement to fay that they were not great proficients in metaphyfics, nor deeply verfed in the fubtleties of logic and the refinements of ethics. The doctrines which he lays down appear calculated not more to establish his own innocence, than to prove the fyftem, on which the jurifdiction of the court and jury was founded, to be not merely abfurd but absolutely repugnant to justice. If this reafoning be juft, (fays he, page, 8 of the Defence,) it follows that to attempt to prevent crimes by coercion, is an error of the understanding, or, in other words, is itself alfo a crime.' Now the very business in which the jurors were engaged, when they were impanelled to try him, was to exercise coercion, if they could be authorized by evidence to find him guilty; and, confequently, according to his principle, they were themfelves committing a crime by the very act of fitting in judgment on him. With deference be it faid that, though the manliness of his mind would not stoop to the talk of conciliating his judges, nor to ask for any thing at their hands but ftrict justice, ftill we think that prudence, (a virtue which even the most innocent and the moft magnanimous are allowed, by the general sense of mankind, to practife without the least difparagement,) might make him refrain from ufing irritating language; and furely it must be irritating to tell men that, for attempting to try him or any man, they are becoming criminals themfelves. He fays again (page 9,) had punishment been an effectual means for preventing crime, as foon as punishment had,
been begun, crime muft have been on the decrease. This effect, however, is not produced; for men continue, from the introduction of punishment to the present hour, to be imprisoned, pilloried, whipped, and hanged.' This we conceive to be downright begging the question; for the argument affumes that there is no efficacy in punishment, because crimes are still committed, but it by no means attempts to prove that propofition. We leave it to philofophers to decide whether perfect innocence be compatible with the ftate of man in this world or, in other words, whether human nature be capable of fuch improvement, no matter by what means, as that man fhould be able to live in fociety without violating any rule of right. We fear that they will decide in the negative, and will declare that there must be laws to restrain the human paffions; confequently, that there must be coercion and punishment in the world. The fair way, then, in our opinion, of determining the queftion of the efficacy or inefficacy of punishment, will be by fhewing, not whether punishment has extinguished crime, but whether it has narrowed the fphere of its operations; not whether there are not ftill to be found criminals, but whether there would not have been more; whether punishment has not leffened the number, not merely by cutting off from fociety fuch as had been convicted of a breach of law, but by deterring others from following their example. We are ready to allow that punishment is the worst way of reclaiming men; generous minds would not like to fee fear appointed prime minifter to good: but every mind is not generous: a thirst for knowlege, a love of honour and rectitude, a fenfe of glory, will be to fome fufficient incitements to act well: but there are others, we believe, on whom these noble motives would have no influence, and who would do nothing right, nor refrain from any thing wrong, except through fear of punishment.
Having laboured to fhew that punishment cannot extirpate crime, Mr. Holcroft fays that it is only by the communication of knowlege' that fo defirable an object can be accomplished. It will certainly be allowed that, in theory at least, ignorance is the parent of vice, and the fertile fource of crimes; and that the more men are enlightened, the more they will be likely to discharge their duties in fociety: but let us look to hiftory, and fee whether theory and practice have agreed. We generally find that the nearer a nation was to a state of nature, the more it was remarkable for purity of manners: that with knowlege came on refinements and luxury, and with them difsipation, corruption, and profligacy, which knowlege enabled men to fyftematize, if we may ufe fuch a term. We believe that the annals of the world prove, beyond contradiction, that the most enlightened periods have been diftinguifhed by the greatest and
most numerous departures from the rules of right; and this it is that has made it a queftion among fome able philofophers, whether knowlege, or at least learning, had been a bleffing or a curfe to mankind. We, for our own part, are decidedly of opinion that it is a bleffing: but it does not follow that we muft agree with our author that communication of knowlege will extirpate crime; for fome of the greatest criminals that the world has ever known were at the fame time poffeffed of an uncommon share of knowlege. The measure which he rejects, and the measure which he recommends, might, united, do what neither of them separately could effect. We agree with him that to inftruct is to increase the happiness of mankind: but we cannot make fuch a facrifice of our understanding as to admit with him that to punish is to increase the mifery of society.' Who is the man, in the present state of things, fo ignorant or uninformed as not to know that deliberately to kill another, for the purpose of feizing his property, is a heinous crime? Yet the commiffion of murder but too frequently occurs. Would it increase the mifery of fociety to punish such a murderer? On the contrary, to fuffer him to escape unpunished would strike at the very existence of fociety. Had our author argued only against capital punishment, we fhould confider his fyftem in a very different point of view: but punishment in any shape, or in any degree, is coercion, and confequently equally against his doctrine.
While we thus combat his principal and fundamental opinions, let us confefs that, if they be erroneous, the grounds on which he maintains them do honour to his heart, and ought to have fhielded him from a profecution for a crime fo foreign to his feelings and his principles. That man cannot be a dangerous fubject to any form of government, who fays,
It is a moft facred duty to proclaim the folly; but it is a duty ftill more facred, if poffible, not to perfecute the fool. . . . For my own part I cannot respect abfurdity; but I fhould be a vicious and a dangerous man could I attempt to offer it violence.....I feel no more reverence for the trappings of antiquity, than I do for a fool's cap and bells, I think them equally ridiculous and derogatory. Yet while I would gladly prevail on every wearer of them to rip himself of fuch infignia of vice and folly, I would not move a finger in the way of force, to wrest them from the characters whom I think they difgrace.'
On the whole, we think that Mr. H. has treated his fubject with fingular ingenuity; that he has placed the neceffity of a parliamentary reform in a very ftrong light; that he has difplayed the character of a peacable, not of a feditious or rebellious, citizen; and that, though his long confinement and confequent loffes and inconveniences might very naturally have provoked
him to use warm and angry expreffions, he has written with a temper which would do honour to a philofopher who had grown old in the habit of fubduing his paffions, and of being governed only by the voice of reafon.
We have felt ourselves urged to dwell chiefly on the principal of the peculiar doctrines of this work. To the fubordinate parts, as mentioned in the title, we have not room to attend; and therefore we leave them to the confideration and judgment of the public.
Art. 20. An Efay on the Nature and Operation of Fines and Recoveries. By William Cruife, Efq. of Lincoln's Inn. The third Edition revifed, corrected, and enlarged. 8vo. 2 Vols. pp. 830. 125. Boards. Butterworth. 1794.
HE first edition of this valuable work was published in the year 1783, and we noticed it in our 69th vol. p. 83, and in our 70th vol. p. 309.-In the year 1786 a fecond appeared with confiderable additions. The author has improved the prefent opportunity of correcting and enlarging his work, and of rendering it still more worthy of the public acceptance.
Art. 21. The New Inftructor Clericalis, ftating the Authority, Jurif diction, and modern Practice of the Court of Common Pleas ; with Directions for commencing and defending Actions, entering up Judgments, fuing out Executions, and proceeding in Error. To which are added the Rules of the Court, modern Precedents, and feveral other Matters neceffary to be known by Attornies and their Clerks in Town and Country. Illuftrated by Notes, Obfervations, and a copious Index. By John Impey, Inner Temple. The fourth Edition corrected; with confiderable Additions from all the printed Cafes, and several not in print, down to the present Time. 8vo. pp. 870. 10s. 6d. bound. Butterworth. 1794.
The author has introduced into this edition the cafes in points of practice which have been determined in the court of Common Pleas fince the appearance of his laft impreffion. He has inferted the new rules of court, and has prefented the reader with fome decifions never before in print, and has also marked the distinctions fubfifting between the practice of this court, and that of the court of King's Bench.-Mr. Impey appears to have taken very considerable pains to render his work useful.
Art. 22. Reports of Cafes argued and determined in the High Court of Chancery, in the Time of Lord Chancellor Hardwicke. By John Tracy Atkyns of Lincoln's Inn, Efq. Curfitor Baron of the Exchequer. The third Edition revised and corrected; with Notes and References to former and modern Determinations, and to the Re