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are not to be supported, in time of famine, by abatement of price on the part of the farmer, but by the subscription of residentiary canons, archdeacons, and all men rich in public or private property; and to these subscriptions the farmer should contribute according to the amount of his fortune. To insist that he should take a less price when he can obtain a greater, is to insist upon laying on that order of men the whole burden of supporting the poor; a convenient system enough in the eyes of a rich ecclesiastic; and objectionable only, because it is impracticable, pernicious, and unjust.
The question of the corn trade has divided society into two parts -those who have any talents for reasoning, and those who have not. We owe an apology to our readers for taking any notice of errors that have been so fre. quently, and so unanswerably exposed ; but, when they are echoed from the bench and the pulpit, the dignity of the teacher may perhaps communicate some degree of importance to the silliest and most extravagant doctrines.
No reasoning can be more radically erroneous than that upon which the whole of Mr. Nares's sermon is founded. The most benevolent, the most Christian, and the most profitable conduct the farmer can pursue, is, to sell his commodities for the highest price he can possibly obtain. This advice, we think, is not in any great danger of being rejected : we wish we were equally sure of success in counselling the Reverend Mr. Nares to attend, in future, to practical, rather than theoretical questions about provisions. He may be a very hospitable archdeacon ; but nothing short of a positive miracle can make him an acute reasoner.
LEWIS'S ALFONSO. (E. REVIEW, January, 1803.) Alfonso, King of Castile. A Tragedy in Five Acts. By M. G. Lewis. Price 25. 6d. ALFONSO, King of Castile, had, many years previous to the supposed epoch of the play, left his minister and General Orsino to perish in prison, from a false accusation of treason. Cæsario, son to Orsino (who by accident had liberated Amelrosa, daughter of Alfonso, from the Moors, and who is married to her, unknown to the father), becomes a great favourite with the King, and avails himself of the command of the armies with which he is intrusted, to gratify his revenge for his father's misfortunes, to forward his own ambitious views, and to lay a plot by which he may deprive Alfonso of his throne and his life. Marquis Guizman, poisoned by his wife Ottilia, in love with Cæsario, confesses to the King that the papers upon which the suspicion of Orsino's guilt was founded, were forged by him: and the King, learning from his daughter Amelrosa that Orsino is still alive, repairs to his retreat in the forest, is received with the most implacable hauteur and resentment, and in vain implores forgiveness of his injured minister. To the same forest, Cæsario, informed of the existence of his father, repairs, and reveals his intended plot against the King. Orsino, convinced of Alfonso's goodness to his subjects, though incapable of forgiving him for his unintentional injuries to himself, in vain dissuades his son from the conspiracy; and, at last, ignorant of their marriage, acquaints Amelrosa with the plot formed by her husband against her father. Amelrosa, already poisoned by Ottilia, in vain attempts to prevent Cæsario from blowing up a mine laid under the royal palace; information of which she had received from Ottilia, stabbed by Cæsario to avoid her importunity. In the meantime, the King had been removed from the palace by Orsino, to his ancient retreat in the forest; the people rise against the usurper Cæsario; a battle takes place ; Orsino stabs his own son, at the moment the King is in his son's power; falls down from
noteihin congears whosprayers
the wounds he has received in battle; and dies in the usual dramatic style, repeating twenty-two hexameter verses. Mr. Lewis says in his preface:
“To the assertion that my play is stupid, I have nothing to object; if it be found so, even let it be so said ; but if las was most falsely asserted of Adelmorn) any anonymous writer should advance that this Tragedy is immoral, I expect him to prove his assertion by quoting the objectionable passages. This I demand as an act of justice."
We confess ourselves to have been highly delighted with these symptoms of returning, or perhaps nascent purity in the mind of Mr. Lewis; a delight somewhat impaired, to be sure, at the opening of the play, by the following explanation which Ottilia gives of her early rising.
“Act I. SCENE I.-The palace-garden.-Daybreak.
Where passion rules and rages!” Ottilia at last becomes quite furious, from the conviction that Cæsario has been sleeping with a second lady, called Estella ; whereas he has really been sleeping with a third lady, called Amelrosa. Passing across the stage, this gallant gentleman takes an opportunity of mentioning to the audience that he has been passing his time very agreeably, meets Ottilia, quarrels, makes it up : and so end the first two or three scenes.
Mr. Lewis will excuse us for the liberty we take in commenting on a few passages in his play which appear to us rather exceptionable. The only information which Cæsario, imagining his father to have been dead for many years, receives of his existence, is in the following short speech of Melchior:
“Melch. The Count San Lucar, long thought dead, but saved, It seems, by Amelrosa's care.-Time presses-
I must away: farewell.” To this laconic, but important information, Cæsario makes no reply; but merely desires Melchior to meet him at one o'clock, under the Royal Tower, and for some other purposes.
In the few cases which have fallen under our observation, of fathers re. stored to life after a supposed death of twenty years, the parties concerned have, on the first information, appeared a little surprised, and generally asked a few questions ; though we do not go the length of saying it is natural so to do. This same Cæsario (whose love of his father is a principal cause of his conspiracy against the King) begins criticising the old warrior, upon his first seeing him again, much as a virtuoso would criticise an ancient statue that wanted an arm or a leg.
“Orsino enters from the cave.
A noble ruin." Amelrosa, who imagines her father to have banished her from his presence for ever, in the first transports of joy for pardon, obtained by earnest intere cessions, thus exclaims :
“Lend thy doves, dear Venus,
What judge of human feelings does not recognize in these images of silver wings, doves and honey the genuine language of the passions ?
If Mr. Lewis is really in earnest in pointing out the coincidence between his own dramatic sentiments and the gospel of St. Matthew, such a reference (wide as we know this assertion to be) evinces a want of judgment of which we did not think him capable. If it proceeded from irreligious levity, we pity the man who has bad taste enough not to prefer honest dulness to such paltry celebrity.
We beg leave to submit to Mr. Lewis, if Alfonso, considering the great interest he has in the decision, might not interfere a little in the long argument carried on between Cæsario and Orsino, upon the propriety of putting him to death. To have expressed any decisive opinion upon the subject might perhaps have been incorrect; but a few gentle hints as to that side of the question to which he leaned might be fairly allowed to be no very unnatural incident.
This tragedy delights in explosions. Alfonso's empire is destroyed by a blast of gunpowder, and restored by a clap of thunder. After the death of Cæsario, and a short exhortation to that purpose by Orsino, all the conspirators fall down in a thunder-clap, ask pardon of the king, and are forgiven. This mixture of physical and moral power is beautiful! How interesting a water-spout would appear among Mr. Lewis's Kings and Queens! We anxiously look forward, in his next tragedy, to a fall of snow three or four feet deep; or expect that a plot shall gradually unfold itself by means of a general thaw.
All is not so bad in this play. There is some strong painting, which shows, every now and then, the hand of a master. The agitation which Cæsario exhibits upon his first joining the conspirators in the cave, previous to the blowing up of the mine, and immediately after stabbing Ottilia is very
“CÆSARIO. Ay, shout, shout,
The resistance which Amelrosa opposes to the firing of the mine is well wrought out; and there is some good poetry scattered up and down the play, of which we should very willingly make extracts, if our limits would permit. The ill success which it has justly experienced is owing, we have no doubt, to the want of nature in the characters, and of probability and good arrange. ment in the incidents : objections of some force.
NECKER'S LAST VIEWS. (E. REVIEW, January, 1803.)
Dernières Vues de Politiques et de Finance. Par M. NECKER. An 10. (1802.) If power could be measured by territory or counted by population, the in: veteracy and the disproportion which exists between France and England must occasion to every friend of the latter country the most serious and well. founded apprehensions. Fortunately, however, for us, the question of power is not only what is the amount of population ? but, how is that population governed? How far is a confidence in the stability of political institutions established by an experience of their wisdom? Are the various interests of society adjusted and protected by a system of laws thoroughly tried, gradually ameliorated, and purely administered ? What is the degree of general pros. perity evinced by that most perfect of all criteria, general credit? These are the considerations to which an enlightened politician who speculates on the future destiny of nations will direct his attention, more than to the august and imposing exterior of territorial dominion, or to those brilliant moments when a nation, under the influence of great passions, rises above its neigh. bours, and above itself, in military renown.
If it be visionary to suppose the grandeur and safety of the two nations as compatible and co-existent, we have the important though the cruel con. solation of reflecting that the French have yet to put together the very ele. ments of a civil and political constitution : that they have to experience all the danger and all the inconvenience which result from the rashness and the imperfect views of legislators who have everything to conjecture and everything to create ; that they must submit to the confusion of repeated change, or the greater evil of obstinate perseverance in error ; that they must live for a century in that state of perilous uncertainty in which every revolutionised nation remains, before rational liberty becomes feeling and habit, as well as law, and is written in the hearts of men as plainly as in the letter of the statute; and that the opportunity of beginning this immense edifice of human happiness is so far from being presented to them at present that it is extremely problematical whether or not they are to be bandied from one vulgar usurper to another, and remain for a century subjugated to the rigour of a military government, at once the scorn and the scourge of Europe.
To the more pleasing supposition, that the First Consul will make use of his power to give his country a free constitution, we are indebted for the work of M. Necker now before us, a work of which good temper is the characteristic excellence : it everywhere preserves that cool impartiality which it is so difficult to retain in the discussion of subjects connected with recent and important events : modestly proposes the results of reflections; and, neither deceived nor wearied by theories, examines the best of all that man. kind have said or done for the attainment of rational liberty.
The principal object of M. Necker's book is to examine this question : “An opportunity of election supposed, and her present circumstances con. sidered-what is the best form of government which France is capable of receiving?” and he answers his own query by giving the preference to a Republic, One and Indivisible,
The work is divided into four parts.
From the misfortune which has hitherto attended all discussions of present constitutions in France M. Necker has not escaped. The subject has proved too rapid for the author ; and its existence has ceased, before its properties were examined. This part of the work, therefore, we shall entirely pass over : because, to discuss a mere name is an idle waste of time ; and no man pretends that the present constitution of France can, with propriety, be considered as anything more. We shall proceed to a description of that
form of a republican government which appears to M. Necker best calculated to promote the happiness of that country.
Every department is to be divided into five parts, each of which is to send one member. Upon the eve of an election, all persons paying 200 livres of government taxes in direct contribution, are to assemble together, and choose 100 members from their own number, who form what M. Necker calls a Chamber of Indication. This Chamber of Indication is to present five candidates, of whom the people are to elect one : and the right of voting in this latter election is given to everybody engaged in a wholesale or retail business; to all superintendents of manufactures and trades; to all commissioned and non-commissioned officers and soldiers who have received their discharge; and to all citizens paying, in direct contribution, to the amount of twelve livres. Votes are not to be given in one spot, but before the chief magistrate of each commune where the voter resides, and there inserted in registers ; from a comparison of which, the successful candidate is to be determined. The municipal officers are to enjoy the right of recommending one of these candidates to the people, who are free to adopt their recommendation or not, as they may think proper. The right of voting is confined to qualified single men of twenty-five years of age ; married men of the same description may vote at any age.
To this plan of election we cannot help thinking there are many great and insuperable objections. The first and infallible consequence of it would be, a devolution of the whole elective franchise upon the Chamber of Indica. tion, and a complete exclusion of the people from any share in the privilege; for the Chamber, bound to return five candidates, would take care to return four out of the five so thoroughly objectionable that the people would be compelled to choose the fifth. Such has been the constant effect of all elections so constituted in Great Britain, where the power of conferring the office has always been found to be vested in those who named the candidates, not in those who selected an individual from the candidates named.
But if such were not the consequences of a double election; and if it were so well constituted as to retain that character which the Legislature meant to impress upon it, there are other reasons which would induce us to pronounce it a very pernicious institution. The only foundation of political liberty is the spirit of the people: and the only circumstance which makes a lively impression upon their senses, and powerfully reminds them of their importance, their power, and their rights, is the periodical choice of their representatives. How easily that spirit may be totally extinguished, and of the degree of abject fear and slavery to which the human race may be reduced for ages, every man of reflection is sufficiently aware ; and he knows that the preservation of that feeling is, of all other objects of political science, the most delicate and the most difficult. It appears to us that a people who did not choose their representatives, but only those who chose their repre. sentatives, would very soon become indifferent to their elections altogether. To deprive them of their power of nominating their own candidate would be still worse. The eagerness of the people to vote is kept alive by their occasional expulsion of a candidate who has rendered himself objectionable, or the adoption of one who knows how to render himself agreeable, to them. They are proud of being solicited personally by a man of family or wealth. Even the uproar, and the confusion and the clamour of a popular election in England have their use : they give a stamp to the names, Liberty, Constitution and People: they infuse sentiments which nothing but violent pas. sions and gross objects of sense could infuse; and which would never exist, perhaps, if the sober constituents were to sneak, one by one, into a notary's