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be considered as having refined on all previous refinements in this department of human knavery. Solicitous to reconcile in themselves and their adherents the literal ob. servance of morality, with a liberal use of every vice that could gratify their desires or advance their interests, they were at once bold and ingenious in their contrivances for this purpose. In order to secure the benefits, and at the same time avoid the sin of falsehood, they taught that it was lawful to use ambiguous terms in transactions, so as to understand them ourselves in a different sense from what they led others to adopt. If, however, at any time it was difficult to find equivocal words to serve the purpose, they had another expedient which could always be easily practised. This was the doctrine of mental reservations, according to which, as Sanchez delivers it, it is lawful to deny that you have done any thing which you have actually done, provided you accompany your asseveration with an understanding in your own mind, that you say you did not do it on a particular day, or before you were born, or with any similar mental qualification that may save from the perpetration of actual falsehood, although no indication of these additions be given to the party addressed. Thus it was allowable, either in giving testimony as a witness, or in taking a promissory oath, to deny or abjure any particular fact in the most explicit terms, and then to save yourselves from perjury by whispering in your sleeve," I mean that I did not see it occur on the 31st of February," or "that I will not do it until I feel inclined," &c.
It is certainly, sir, a remarkable feature in the human conscience, that, with a full conviction of the turpitude of falsehood, it should thus lull itself asleep by the most fallacious opiates, and should think it innocent to deceive wilfully by a treacherous equivocation, while it believes it criminal to produce the same effect by an unequivocal lie. In whose sight it may consider itself to be justified by such means, it is difficult to tell: but the prevalence of the self-deception is undoubted, and shows how much most men, whether lawyers or not, are addicted, even in matters of moral sensibility, to look to the form rather than to the substance of things.
Many illustrations of this truth are to be found in more ordinary scenes than those I have hitherto noticed, and such as show that all flesh are subject to the frailty. The narration of such Jesuitical escapes and evasions, is found to be the most popular food both for the great vulgar and the small. You well remember, I dare say, the literal manner in which George Buchanan, the jester, is said to have obeyed the royal injunction never again to show his face at court; and the current fictions of Leper the Tailor, Lothian Tom, and others, which I see on your stalls in this country, are full of the same admirable trickery. Even the simplicity of the juvenile mind does not escape the contagion. I remember the case of a little schoolboy, who, having been convicted of some offence, and sentenced to the usual punishment, requested, as a favour, that its execution should be postponed until he had got his evening meal of bread and milk. This indulgence appearing reasonable, with the view of supporting him against the coming calamity, was formally granted to him, when the young delinquent declared that he did not mean to eat any bread and milk that evening, and contended consequently, that the promise made to him amounted to a reprieve sine die. I am sorry to add that the trap thus laid was not successful, and had no other effect than to bring down upon his head, or other portion of his body, an additional visitation of magisterial vengeance.
The poets themselves are not free from the vice I am condemning. "At lovers' perjuries they say Jove laughs," which it seems he was not in the habit of doing at other perjuries. But to make matters surer, we generally find that even lovers seldom venture to forswear themselves without some pretext or excuse, however flimsy -some loophole of retreat, however slender. Of this kind is the apology for inconstancy in those verses of which the musicians have made so pretty a canon :—
"I loved thee beautiful and kind,
And plighted an eternal vow;
Nothing can be more frivolous than this plea, which in Doctors' Commons would be treated with very little cere
mony. There is a similar excuse assigned in Love's Labour Lost for a change of mind of a different description:
"A woman I foreswore: but I will prove, Thou being a goddess, I foreswore not thee."
rays of the sun threw the shadow of In that place, he dug up the earth at the head of the statue on the ground. a private opportunity, and found an immense treasure of gold. The epitaph mentioned by Le Sage, “Here lies the soul of the licentiate Garcia," attended with equally beneficial rewas a quibble of a similar kind, and
of the words, went the length of piercing the head of the statue on the day appointed, when its structure was found to be of as thick and as worthless materials as the operator's own. One man, however, was led, after much meditation, to suspect a more Half of the epigrams that have ever hidden meaning under the announcebeen written, and a pretty good pro-clared time, observed where the first ment, and, upon the return of the deportion of poetical effusions that aspire to a higher character, owe their points and prettinesses to verbal equivocations. The pun or paronomasia is a strong instance of the same thing; and Addison, a good judge of human nature, has told us that the seeds of punning are in the minds of all men; and, though they may be subdued by reason, reficction, and good sense, they will be very apt to shoot up in the greatest genius that is not broken and cultivated by the rules of art." When we ask a sportsman if that is "his own hare or a wig?" or say, that "a door is not a door when it is a-jar;" or that "a nose is not a nose when it is a little red-dish," we push the system of verbal equivocation to its extreme limit, and, by outdoing the vilest quibbles of Old Bailey practice, confirm the old adage, that "He who makes a pun will pick a pocket."
Enigmas and riddles of all kinds have a strong flavour of the same ingredient. The old enquiry of the Sphynx, "What animal that was which in the morning went on four feet, at mid-day on two, and in the evening on three," was founded on an unusual and deceptive application of the words employed, so as to lead people away from the obvious characteristics of human life in its progressive stages. Of the same character is the point in the old story which Petrarch tells in his Book of Memorable Things, and which, if we remember right, was adopted by Mr Newberry, or his author, into the Nursery Adventures of Tommy Twoshoes. Petrarch's narrative is to this effect. "There was," he says, "in Sicily, a huge statue, on which this incription was engraved in very ancient letters: On May-day I shall wear a golden head.' Some persons considered this statement as a jest; while others, following the mere letter
sults to the discoverer.
The jest-books are full of many flagrant verbal sophisms, said to have been perpetrated by logicians, and more particularly by university students newly initiated into the study of that necessary art. It cannot be denied that the fallacia æquivocationis, or amphibolic, as the logicians have called them, are very extensively resorted to by all sophistical reasoners, whether orators or philosophers; and Dr. Whateley, in his Logic, has given us a copious discussion upon the subject, with an appendix of ambiguous terms for the use of beginners. But these deceptions are no more the creation of logic than they are of law. They are congenital with us all: they accompany us from the cradle to the grave, growing with our growth and strengthening with our strength; and no apter illustration can be furnished of the established maxim, that language was given us not to express but to conceal our sentiments.
I trust, sir, that after this exposition, the legal profession will in future be held exempt from at least one of the imputations to which it has hitherto been undeservedly subjected, and which, at the utmost, it can only be said to share with the whole of the human species.-I have the honour to be, my dear sir, your faithful and obliged servant,
LEGULEIUS LECTOR. Mound Place, Edinburgh, 12th Nov. 1839.
COLONIAL NEGLECT AND FOREIGN PROPITIATION.
AMONG the various and pressing interests, the consideration of which is now brought home to the British Empire, there is none which is of such paramount and growing importance as the extension of our Colonial Empire, and the securing of our connexion with it. The more minutely and anxiously that our social condition at home is considered, the more it will be found that the maintenance, not only of our domestic prosperity but of our national independence, is entirely dependent upon promoting the growth and maintaining the connexion with our colonies; and that our trade with other countries, so far from being a source of strength, may at once be converted into the greatest cause of weakness on the next occasion in which this country is engaged in a maritime contest. The facts on this subject which are to be found in our Parliamentary Reports are of the very highest importance, and perfectly decisive of the vast superiority of colonial to foreign commerce. Nevertheless, that they are very little known, even by those whose whole fortune and interests are wound up with the subject, appears in the most striking manner from the astonishment which the facts connected with this subject never fail to excite when stated to an intelligent and respectable assembly; and, unless these facts are constantly brought home to the public mind, and come at length to influence the measures of Government by the accumulated force of public thought, it may confidently be predicted that a catastrophe, at some future and possibly not distant period, awaits the British empire, greater, perhaps, than has ever yet befallen any civilized nation.
We have now been so long in the enjoyment of profound peace, and in the possession of an export commerce to every quarter of the globe, that the older part of the present generation have forgotten, the younger never have experienced, what it was to have the export trade of England to nearly all but its own colonies closed by foreign hostility. Fortunately, however, the experiment has been tried, and a durable monument remains of
the consequences which result to all classes in this country from such a stoppage in the vent for our produce. In the year 1811, the hostility of Napoleon had closed all the harbours in Europe against our commerce, while the Americans, by a new Intercourse Act, shut us out from every harbour in the United States. The consequence was, that the exports of Great Britain, which, in the year 1810, amounted to forty-three millions, sank in the next year to twenty-seven; and the fall in the exports and imports taken together for the one year, amounted to no less than thirty-six millions. Mr Brougham, in terms no less just than eloquent, in the debate upon the Repeal of the Orders in Council in 1812, thus described the state to which the manufacturing districts in England were reduced by this calamity :—" Take, for example, one of our great staples, the hardware, and look to Warwickshire, where it used to flourish. Birmingham and its neighbourhood, a district of thirteen miles round that centre, was formerly but one village, I may say one continued workshop, peopled with about 400,000 of the most industrious and skilful of mankind. In what state do you now find that once busy hive of men? Silent, still, and desolate during half the week; during the rest of it miserably toiling at reduced wages, for a pittance scarcely sufficient to maintain animal life in the lowest state of comfort, and at all times swarming with unhappy persons, willing, anxious to work for their lives, but unable to find employment. He must have a stout heart within him, who can view such a scene and not shudder. But even this is not all matters are getting worse and worse; the manufacturers are waiting for your decision, and if that be against them they will instantly yield to their fate, and turn adrift the people whom they still, though inadequately, support with employment."" In the West Riding of Yorkshire, the applications to the parish officers have so alarmingly increased, that they have given repeated warnings to the master manufacturers, and I believe to the higher authorities,
of their utter inability to relieve the increasing distress, or to answer for its consequences. Among other circumstances which marked this part of the case, there was one peculiarly affecting to every one who heard it. It had been proved that at Kidderminster, where the great carpet manufacture is almost entirely destroyed, the wants of the poor became so pressing, that they were forced to part with their little stock of furniture, which used to make their cottages in some degree comfortable, and even the clothes off their backs, to raise food, until the pawnbrokers, having already loaded themselves with such deposits, refused to issue any more tickets. But at Sheffield the same feature recurred in a heightened and still more striking form. The workmen in the cutlery trade, unable to obtain any longer their usual market from the master dealers and merchants, or brokers refusing to purchase any more, were compelled to pawn their articles at a very low valuation for money, and even for food and clothes; so that this extraordinary state of things arose the pawnbrokers came into the London market with the goods, and there met with the regular dealers, whom they were able greatly to undersell, in such wise as to supply to a considerable degree the London and other markets, to the extreme augmentation of the distresses already so severely pressing upon this branch of trade."*
Now, in order to appreciate the misery that would ensue to this country from a similar stoppage in its export trade at the present time, we have only to reflect upon the vast increase of exports, imports, and population, which have since taken place; we have only to recollect that our exports, which in 1810 were forty-three millions, had, in 1838, risen to one hundred and five millions; and that our imports, which in 1809 were thirty-one millions, had risen in 1838 to sixty-one millions; and that our population, which at the former period was seventeen millions, is now twenty-five. Now, if such wide-spread and heart-rending misery was produced then, what would be its effects now, when the manufacturing establishments of the country have nearly
tripled, and our manufacturing population has advanced in a proportion unheard of in any other age or country? It may confidently be affirmed, that the misery, devastation, and social convulsions that would ensue, would be greater than ever yet were experienced in the world.
If we look at the jealousy with which we are regarded by foreign powers, and the general aspect of the political world at this time, we shall see no reason to believe that the elements of strife are awanting in the political at mosphere, or that the time is far distant when war, even on as great a scale as it was waged with Napoleon, must be undertaken by the British empire. With Russia, it is universally admitted, we are in a state closely bordering on hostility; it is only a question of time when that gigantic contest is to arrive. The menacing aspect of the Baltic, of the thirty ships of the line lying ready, and thirty thousand land troops ready at a moment's warning to embark in themof the Dardanelles, where fifteen British ships of the line are constantly stationed at the back-door of the Russian empire-of Affghanistan, where twenty thousand British troops are permanently stationed in the very heart of Asia,-all demonstrate that both parties are preparing for this great contest, and that it will be carried on on a scale which will render the world itself the field of battle. And on whom are we to rely for maritime support in such a contest? Is it on the Austrians, who could not furnish a ship of the line or two frigates to save England from destruction? or on the French, who, what between dread of Nicholas, and separate interests at Algiers, have drawn off from the British alliance at the very first outbreak of hostilities in the Archipelago? or the Americans, whose government is so weak, and their hostility to this country so inveterate, that thousands of armed pirates have for two years back kept up an almost incessant warfare upon the Canadian frontier? Every thing indicates that a great maritime contest is not far distant, and that, when it does arrive, we will have to depend almost entirely upon our own resources for our defence.
*Parliamentary Debates, xxiii. 548.
And are these resources, then, particularly our maritime strength, in such a state as to warrant us in any reasonable expectations that we shall be able to maintain our maritime superiority in the contest, and avert the evils of actual blockade from the British harbours? The preparations of the enemy are well known: they have thirty ships of the line and eighteen frigates constantly in commission in the Baltic, and fifteen ships of the line and twelve frigates constantly in readiness in the Euxine. In considering the force which England has at her command to resist aggression from such an enemy, we shall not go back to the higher palmy days of British exertion during the war; we shall not go back to the year 1809, when the British navy
Line in Frigates in Line, ordinary
consisted of two hundred and forty-two ships of the line, and a thousand and sixty-one armed vessels of all sizes. We shall content ourselves with reverting to a humbler and more parallel period, viz. the state of the British navy in 1838 compared with 1792, before the revolutionary war commenced, and when the naval and military establishments of the country were on the scale to which Joseph Hume always refers as the ne plus ultra point of economic perfection. Now, upon turning to authentic documents, viz. the returns of the navy in 1792, given by Mr James in his Naval History,* we shall find that the defensive naval establishments of the country at the two periods stood as follows:
Frigates, ordi- Total Total nary and build. Liue. Frigates.
Exports. Cfficial Value. £24,904,850 105,170,549
Thus it appears that since 1792 the population of the British islands has more than doubled, the imports more than tripled, the exports more than quadrupled, and the commercial navy increased about seventy per cent., while the ships of war, in all branches, have sunk to nearly a half of their standard in 1792. This, too, has taken place during a time when the colonial empire of Great Britain has been multiplied above five-fold, and the chances of hostility with which we are brought in contact at different points over the globe, have been increased in a similar proportion. We invite the WhigRadical writers to examine and contradict these facts if they can, and submit them to the deliberate consider
Grand Total of all Vessels.
ation of all the sober reasoners, and of all the intemperate admirers of democratic wisdom throughout the realm.
It is impossible for any one who is a friend to his country to contemplate such a state of things without the most serious alarm-an alarm which is only rendered the greater from the experienced difficulty of getting such future and contingent events to arrest the attention either of Government or the nation in this unthinking age. But, above all, if the matter is seriously considered, and if we reflect upon the imminent hazards of a maritime war, the miserable state of preparation in which the British navy is to meet it, and the awful effects which will ensue by the stoppage of trade, and the
* James's Naval History, II. 404; Barrow's Anson, App. 424. Porter's Parliamentary Tables and Finance Accounts for 1838,