« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
For FEBRUARY, 1752.
The Second Edition:
Art. xi. Conclusion of the account of Mr Hume's Political Discourses. See our laft, Art. ii.
HE question concerning the populousness of antient and modern times will be readily allowed to be
equally curious and important. This question is treated with great learning and judgment in our author's tenth discourse, where he endeavours to make it appear that there are no just reasons to conclude, that antient times were more populous than the present. The manner in wbich he proceeds is as follows: he first considers whether it be probable, from what we know of the domestic and political situation of society in both periods, that antiquity must have been more populous ; and secondly, whether in reality it was fo.
He observes that the chief difference betwixt the domestic ceconomy
of the ancients and that of the moderns consists in the practice of Navery, which prevailed among the former, and which has been abolished for some centuries throughout the greatest part of Europi. As it is alledged that this practice was the chief cause of that extreme populousness which is supposed in antient times, our author shews, that stavery is in general disadvantageous both to the happiness and populousness of mankind, and that its place is much better supplied by the practice of hired fervants. VOL. VI
After having shewn, that with regard to domestic life and manners, we are, in the main, rather superior to the ancients, fo far as the prefent queftion is concerned; he proceeds to examine the political customs and institutions of antjent and modern times, and weigh their influence in retarding or forwarding the propagation of mankind. He acknowledges that the situation of affairs among the antients, with regard to civil liberty, equality of fortune, and the small divisions of their Atates, was more favourable to propagation than that of the moderns ; but observes that their wars were more bloody and destructive than ours ; their governments more factious and unsettled;
their commerce and manufactures more feeble and languishing; and their general police more loose and irregular. These latter disadvantages, says he, seem to form a sufficient counterballance to the former advantages; and rather favour the opposite opinion to that which commonly prevails with regard to this subject,
Having discussed the first point proposed to be confidered, he now proceeds to the second, and acknowledges that all his preceding reasonings are but small fkirmishes and frivolous rencounters, that decide nothing. < But unluckily,' says he, the main combat, where we compare facts, cannot be rendered much more decisive. The facts delivered by antient authors are either so uncertain or so imperfect as to afford us nothing decisive in this matter. How, indeed, could it be otherwile? The very facts which we must oppose to them, in computing the greatness of modern states, are far from being either certain or compleat. Many grounds of calculation, proceeded on by celebrated writers, are little better than those of the emperor Heliogabulus, who formed an estimate of the immenfe greatness of Rome from ter thousand pound weight of cobwebs, which he had found in that city.
« 'Tis to be remarked, that all kinds of numbers are urtcertain in ancient manuscripts, and have been subject to much greater corruptions than any other part of the text ; and that for a very obvious reason. Any alteration in other places, commonly affects the sense or grammar, and is more readily perceived by the reader and transcriber. Few enumerations of inhabitants have been made of
any tract of country by any ancient author of good authority; so as to afford us a large enough view for comparison.
“'Tis probable, that there was formerly a good foundation for the number of citizens assigned to any free city ; be
Cause they entered for a share of the government, and there were exact registers kept of them. But as the number of Naves is seldom mentioned, this leaves us in as great uncertainty as ever, with regard to the populousness even of single cities.
In the subsequent part of this discourfe, our author examines the numbers afsign’d to particular cities in antiquity; compares the past and present situation of all the countries, that were the scenes of antient and modern History; and shews that there is littře foundation for the com: plaint of the present emptiness and defolation of the world.
Our author, in his eleventh discourse, treats of the proteltant succession; and after considering the advantages and disadvantages of fixing the fucceffion, either in the house of Stuart, or in that of Hanover, he concludes in the following manner. • Thus,' fays he, upon the whole, the advantages of the settlement of the family of Stuart, which frees us from a disputed title, seem to bear some proportion with those of the settlement in the family of Hanover, which frees us from the claims of prerogative: but at the fame time, its disadvantages, by placing on the throne a Roman Catholic, are much greater than those of the other establishment, in settling the crown on a foreign prince. What party an impartial patriot in the reign of king William or queen Anne, would have chosen amidst these oppo. site views, may, perhaps, to some appear hard to determine. For my part, I esteem liberty so invaluable a bleffing to society, that whatever favours its progress and security, can fcarce be too fondly.cherished by every one, who is a lover of human kind.
But the settlement in the houfe of Hanover has actually taken place. The princes of that family, without intrigue, without cabal, without sollicitation on their part, have been called to mount our throne, by the united voice of the whole legislative body. They have, since their acceflion, displayed, in all their actions, the utmost mildness, equity, and regard to the laws and constitution. Our own minifters, our own parliaments, ourselves have governed us ; and if aught ill has befallen us, we can only blame fortune or ourselves. What a reproach must we become amongst nations, if, disgusted with a settlement so deliberately made, and whose conditions have been so religiously observed, we should throw every thing again into confusion; and by our levity and rebellious disposition, prove ourselves totally
unfit for any state but that of absolute slavery and sube jection?
· The greatest inconvenience attending a disputed title is, that it brings in danger of civil wars and rebellions. What wife man, to avoid this inconvenience, would run directly upon a civil war and rebellion ? Not to mention, that so long possession, fecured by fo many laws, must, e'er this time, in the apprehenfion of a great part of the nation, have begot a title in the house of Hanover, independent of their present poffeffion: fo that now we should not, even by a revolution, obtain the end, of avoiding a disputed title.
• No revolution, made by national forces, will ever be able, without some other great necessity, to abolith our debts and incumbrances, in which the interest of fo many persons is concerned. And a revolution, made by foreign forces,' is a conquest: a calamity, with which the precarious balance of power very nearly threatens us, and which our civil dissensions are likely, above all other circumstances, to bring suddenly upon us.
Our author 'introduces his twelfth difcourse with fome general reflections on established governments, and then proceeds to lay before us a new model of a commonwealth ; which is as follows. • Let Great Britain and Ireland, says he, or any territory of equal extent, be divided into a hundred counties, and each county into a hundred parishes, making in all ten thoufand. If the country purposed to be erected into a commonwealth, be of more narrow extent, we may diminish the number of counties, but never bring them below thirty. If it be of greater extent, 'twere better to enlarge the parishes, or throw more parithes into a county, than increase the number of counties.
Let all the freeholders in the county-parishes, and those who pay foot and lot in the town parishes, meet annually in the parish church, and chuse some freeholder of the county for their member, whom we fhall call the county representative.
• Let the hundred county-representatives, two days after their election, meet in the county.town, and chuse by ballot, from their own body, ten county-magistrates, and one jenator. There are, therefore, in the whole commonwealth, a hundred fenators, cleven hundred county-magistrates, and ten thousand county-representatives. For we shall beitow on all senators the authority of county-ma
giftrates, and on all county-magistrates the authority of county-representatives.
Let the fenators meet in the capital, and be endowed with the whole executive power of the commonwealth, the power of peace and war, of giving orders to generals, admirals, and ambassadors; and, in short, all the prerogatives of a British king, except his negative:
Let the county-representatives meet in thrir particular counties, , and possess the whole legislative power of the .commonwealth ; the greatest number of counties deciding the question, and where these are equal, let the senate Baave the casting vote.
Every new law must first be debated in the senate; and though rejected by it, if ten senators infift and protest, it must be sent down to the counties. The senate may join to the copy of the law their reasons for receiving or reject
Because it would be troublesome to assemble the whole county representatives for every trivial law that may be requisite, the senate have their choice of sending down the law either to the county-magistrates or county-representatives.
• The magistrates, tho' the law be referred to them, may, if they please, call the representatives, and submit the affair to their determination.
• Whether the law be referred by the senate to the county magistrates or representative, a copy of it, and of the fenate's reasons must, be sent to every representative eight days
before the day appointed for the assembling in order to de• liberate concerning it. And though the determination be, by the senate, referred to the magiftrates, if five representatives of the county order the magistrates to assemble the whole court of representatives, and subrnit the affair to their determination they muft ebey.
Either the county-magiftrates or representatives may give, to the senator of the county, the copy of a law to be proposed to the fenate; and if five counties concur in the fame order, the law, tho’refused by the senate, must come either to the county-magistrates or representatives, as is contained in the order of the five counties..
• Any twenty counties, by a vote either of their magiitrales or representatives, may throw any man out of all public offices for a year. Thirty counties for thrçe years.