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Arr. XV. An Ejay on Crimes and Punishments. By M. Dawes, of the Inner Temple, Esq. 8vo. 5 s. bound. Dilly. 1782. R. Dawes is a man of paradox. His theology is para
doxical. His morality is paradoxical. His politics are paradoxical: nor is his method of treating his multifarious subjects less paradoxical than the subjects themselves. But, peradventure, he will plead the privilege of genius, when he Starts with brave disorder from vulgar rules. Great wits' are a law to themselves! and it seems a piece of presumption for any, but themselves, to be their judges. Avaunt critics Mr. Dawes shall be his own riviewer.
* That nothing sanguine should disgrace the criminal code of a free country, a question is here attempted to be discussed on philofophical, moral and political grounds; opening in an enquiry into the cause of all things, whether good or bad, and afterwards drawing from their effects conclusions that leave. it beyond a doubt a certainty, that whatever happens is right, becaufe it cannot be otherwise ; and that whatever is to happen cannot be otherwise than that contingently it will be. If good, it is and will be the effect of a good cause. If bad, the reverse : which being alike conftituted in the conventions of men, depend in a degree on the good or bad administration of thofe ordinances to which they consent for a general benefit. But if failing in the acquisition, the cenfure is not due to themTelves. Their fallibility is their defence against it, and nature, pleading their universal cause, acquits them throughout the habitable world of those charges and judgments which the paflions of some, and the interests of others, wisely think Thould be pronounced, and says, they are foolishly and rebellioufly made. However, not to appear positive or certain on a fubject which may even set certainty at defiance'--How is this ? we thought conclusions were to be drawn that would leave the matter • beyond a doubt a certainty,' or in other words, make it certain beyond a doubt. Doth the Author's courage for sake him so foon? Is it all assurance in one paragraph, and all diffidence in another ? —We can only account for this apparent inconsistency on the supposition of genius-Genius !—as afore. said, introduced for the charitable purpose of reconciling cons tradiaions. We have fomething proverbial about the memories of great wits: and as we have a partiality for them-and we ourfelves, it seems, are likewise apt to forgetwe wish to be their apologists, and if we cannot plead their cause on the fooiing of argument, we may give it fome colour by the help of a proverb.
But whatever inconsistencies a cool-headed, or a mere come mon-Jense critic may discover in Mr. Dawes's theologico-philo8
fophicofophico-political WORKS, yet, as it is our duty, and moreover the desire and the delight of our hearts, to set an author off to the best advantage, we would rather point out his beauties than bis blemishes; and, instead of dwelling on his inconsistencies, would most joyfully exhibit the writer's consistent part, and show rather where he hath the happiness to agree, than where he is so unfortunate as to be at variance with himself.
Our Author's notions of two crimes, which the more sober and modest part of mankind have shuddered at, are fo gentle and placid, and so perfectly in ascord with his general syftem of the reltitude of all things, that we have no doubt but that (to use his own expression) they will meet the sympathy of many of his readers, and do infinite credit to his own feelings
- when breathing an affe&ting ligh, throughout these sheets, he studied to affift in the cause of humanity' -- Bring us our bandkerchief ! 'tis so affecting! It must go off in tears, and not in fighs! - Suicide (lays this humane casuist) being an act subject to those general and immutable laws by which all bodies are governed, can in no fenfe be a tranfgreflion of a man's duty towards God who governs the natural world : and as every event is the act of the omnipotent, suicide is the necessary result of the faculties with which man is endowed. They are not less the work of God than matter and 'motion; and the employment of them, to the end of self-destruction, cannoc' be blamed, without arraigning the wisdom of Providence, which dire&ts all things right, and constitutes suicide as much the act of the Deity, as if the self-destroyed had died by a fever. It is irreproachable, becaufe providential'; and man being led to it by the faculties of nature, it must be proper in respect to the Almighty, and committed by his creature to ercape misfortune, independent of his peculiar will to dispose of his creature's life, the determination whereof, like every other event, is subordinate to those laws by which the universe is, and hath been, governed from the beginning of time. . Suicide is less injurious to society than a man's retiring while he lives, which he has a right to do if he chose it. If he receive no benefit from fociety, it has no right to any thing from him. Shall he then be deemed criminal for retiring. from life when it was impollible for him to be serviceable to himself or others ? ... He is justified by nature in feeking a voluntary death or a retired life; in either of which he cannoe be reasonably said to offend his Maker or civil society'
On Mr. Dawes's commodious plan of rectitude, a man may, not only take what hath been deemed by feverer moralifts an unjuftifiable liberty with himself, but with others too, without incurring any great degree of guilt, or deserving any harsh epithets of reproach. He who could contemplate on suicides
with approbation, was surely prepared to look on a rape with indifference.--Here honest nature' is again confiftent', and • ends as it begins.'
• A ravilher is not that horrible creature as is a murderer. He neither killed, nor intended to kill. His crime proceeded not from hatred or revenge, but the agonies of lust and concupiscence. In one, nature is distorted; in the other, the is only animated : tortured in the will, and thirst of blood by the one; fired and excited by the object who is supposed to be offended, in the other. Both are inevitable ; but that seeks enjoyment in death; this in the vigour of life. Dcfire, kindled in each the will to slay or enjoy, will be obeyed. It is above terror, and nothing but fetters or superior force can repel its being fulfilled. Is death, then, necessary for wbat nature enforces in her important operations? Can man consent to the loss of life as a punishment for his preservation, where it is not concerned ? Shall death be arbitrarily imposed for actions, whose only guilt is their being natural ? or thall men lose their lives for the licentiousness of passions they cannot controul, but whose indulgence nature commands as a plealure, while reason, unlike the forbearance of other acts, vainly echoes a retreat and parley as a pain ?"- This affecting Author, pleading with highs the cause of humanity,, reprobates the horrid thought' of a woman's pursuing a fellow.creature to deftru&tion' for a violence which her own endearments only excited.' She should generoully forgive, and tenderly lament over him! His destruction neither cleanses him of his imputed guilt trays our benevolent casuift), repairs the imagined injury, or terrifies · others from following his example, under the same circum-. ftances, and committing a rape : particularly when, as in him, desire is whetted, importunity fails, paffion encreases, opportunity is favourable, and natural force is employed to procure the certain effects of a certain cause in an ardent and outrageous. mind. His purpose gratified, compunction is filent. No hor-, rors tormene him, because he is sensible of no crime. Passion abated, reajon steps in, but laments, and not condemns, that he obtained by force, what would have rendered his joy poignant in proportion to a mutual acquiescence.- Death Thould cease to be a punishment for little more than a phantom : and fine, labour and imprisonment super fede it, as more conducive to the purpose of preventing what nature on all sides promotes, in despite of the violence done her by human laws.'
Mr. Dawes, though generally a man by himself, yet sometimes condescends to quote from the writings of others. His authorisies (if such they may be cailed) are various-from Voltaire, down to 1)**** W******* ! In one respect there is a great gulph between,' though in ansther their • HONOUR was
united to the same assembly.' But, oh! BLACKSTONE, thy name should have been facred. This reflection escaped us more particularly and pathetically, for we sometimes breathe a sich! when we read the concluding paragraph of this affecting Work.
• This is what the Author has attempted to thew.' “ What is it?"-Spare us-oh! spare us, gentle reader,- for our fakes, -for thy orun sake, spare us !- We will, for thy edification; and if we cannot instruct thee, we will endeavour to amuse thee. Then spare u. here; for instruction, we have none: and, as for amusement,-it is hard, very hard upon us, to make it out of nothing !--to spin every thread out of our own bowels ! Look at our lean carcases, and pity and spare us!
• This is what the Author hach attempted to thew. If he should be expected, by the reader, to make the experiment, which is undoubtedly well worthy of the trial, and to devise the particular mode of punishment, for crimes of human institution, otherwise than he has generally done, he answers, “ No, verily. Ochers have highed before him on the subject of this essay. The late amiable and learned Sir William Blackstone planned one bill to the end of national humanity, honour, and advantage. The public begin to feel for the feelings and misfortunes of those who fall a prey to the laws; and as the Author himself has followed their example:-HIS MISSION IS AT AN END !'-Amen! even so be it !
GERMANY and the NORTH.
ART. XVI. 1.
Nep. Parthalotti, Caf. Reg. Commissionis Cenfure Librorum Afelore, &c. Exercitatio Politico-Theologica, in qua de LIBERTATE CONSCIENTIÆ, et de Receptarum in Imperio Romano-Theutonico Religionum TOLERANTIA, cum Theologica tum Politica disputatur, nec non de Difunitorum Statu Græcorum tractatur. i. e. A Politico-Theological Treatise concern. ing Liberty of Conscience, and also concerning the Civil and Thcological Toleration of the different Religions which are profefled in the German Empire: to which is fubjoined an Account of the State of the Greek Separatists. By John Nep. BARTHALOTTI, Professor of Divinity in the University of Vienna, Alessor in the Imperial Commillion for the Examination of Books, &c. &c. Vienna. 8vo. 1782.
While destruction is going on in one part of Europe, a salutary spirit of national improvement is sowing the feeds of public felicity in another. Religious liberty is sending forth her beams from the Imperial throne, and the reign of JOSEPH II. will form
an immortal æra in the annals of Europe. It is certainly a noble spectacle to see a Prince, whose numerous and formidable legions enable him to surpass all the unprovoked royal warriors, wno are gathering bloody laurels at the expence of humanity, cultivating the mild and beneficent arts of peace with unremitting efforts, quenching the flames of religious discord, disarming the infernal hand of persecution, and inviting his partycoloured subjects to love one another. The Work, now before us, is one of the amiable first fruits of his beneficent reign, and it promises a rich harvest of true glory to him, and of folid happiness to his subjects. This Work breathes the mild, humane, and benevolent spirit of genuine Christianity; and the equally Jiberal and learned ecclefiaftic, to whom we are indebted for it, has treated the subject of religious liberty and toleration with a mafterly hand.-There is nothing new (to us in the British Iles) in the principles laid down by this very judicious and able writer: we have both enjoyed and abused the privileges he points out as the inalienable rights of rational beings; but the manner in which the subject is discusled deserves attention. The work seems designed, principally, for students of theology in the Roman Catholic universities; and therefore the subject is treated scientifically. The author recurs to first principles, with a truly philosophical spirit; he defines with perspicuity and precision his terms, and deduces, from his principles well defined, the conclusions to which they lead, in the best method, and with the foundest logic. The notes, subjoined to the text -in each section, exbibit answers to objections, and historical and juridical illustrations of the matters treated ; and they are enriched with solid and well digested erudition.
The work is divided into FOUR CHAPTERS (containing each several sections), preceded by an Introduction, which opens the subject, the purpose, and the occasion of this treatise. In the first chapter the author lays down just definitions and elucidations of the terms liberty of conscience, religion, heresy, and toleration. He thews the signal advantages which muft attend a Spirit of toleration in civil rulers and sovereigns ; points out the different kinds and branches of toleration, and gives a fhort summary of the history of persecution. In the second, he defcribes the nature of liberty of conscience in general,- shews its conformity with the dictates of reason, and the express declarations of holy scripture,-confirms its expediency and advantages by the conduct and proceedings of the wiseft ftatesmen and fovereigns, -answers the objections that have been alleged againft it, - and points out the limits by which it oughe to be circumfcribed. In the third chapter, he treats of theological toleration in particular, unfolds its true notion, exhibits examples of it trom the Old and New Testaments, and from the doctrines and