Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

Regere, to'whistle. The word is the arbitrary sign, not the natural and invariable REPRESENTATION, as Mr. Tooke alieges, of any idea; and there is no prejudice with which Mr. Tooke can harshly criminate the amiable Harrismas much his superior in real learning, as in the great virtues of an excellent mind-so groundless, so extensively injurious to the just application of language, as that of words being the representations of ideas.

If the verb Regere, or the participle Rectum, had been in Latin the sign, or, as Mr. Tooke may call it, the representation of a single determinate idea, the etymology would have been more direct and satisfactory, but would not have decided the future meaning of all its derivatives and dependent through all the cross-breedings of twenty dialects. This is demonstratively impracticabie, when the words are transferred in portions and fragments, to serve as signs of ideas formed on various and contradictory systems of religion; policy, and manners.

A right action, under the government of Romulus, and under that of Trajan, like a braye action on Wimbledon Common, and in the Old Bailey, are of a nature directly opposites and yet they were ordered by similar powers, and in the same language.

The right hand (says our author, p. 10,) is that which custom, and those who have brought us up, have ordered and directed us to use in preference, when one hand only is employed; and the left hand is that which is leeved, tear'd, or left.'

His disciple, Burdett, with a docile and convenient sagacity, observes, that he remembers to have read in a voyage of De Gama's to Kalecut, that the people of Melinda, a polished and fourishing people, are all left-handed.'

This is a fact which, like a two-edged sword, would operate two ways on Mr. Tooke's interpretation of Rect-um, and on the doctrine of words as the representations of ideas. But we doubt the fact, as it is solitary in history and a traveller's story, and because in other languages (we may bave occasion to shew Mr. Tooke that the study of the Anglo-Saxon is not a sufficient claim to despotism in language,) Right, as applied to the hand, implies a preference from the construction of the human body. If his friend Mr. Cline would give the author some ideas upon this subject, he would overpay him for all the information he has received on the principles of national reform and national representation, which he now understands as well as his Wimbledon master, i.e. as experience has proved--not at all.

[ocr errors]

In the Celtic-with which Mr. Tooke seems to be wholly unacquainted, and therefore thinks it expedient roundly to affirm that the English hias borrowed nothing from it--the word dezeu, signitying right when applied to the hand, signifies south when applied to the heavens; and in both cases it is understood to imply a preference ordained by pature: the one arising from the construction of the human body; the other, from the useful and beneficial operation of the sun from the southern parts of the heavens. "The same word by analogy is applied to any kind of dexterity, supe. rior aptitude, &c. The opposite word chwith, always means the reverse. Now, no journey to Melinda, no effect of custom on education, could convert DEHEU into CHWITH in the Celtic, any more than in English Light could be put for DARKNESS, or bitter for sweet.

Mr. Tooke, we are aware, may quibble, and say that the words are convertible: but besides that such artifices deserve no notice, words convertible are arbitrary, and not representations of ideas; and to trace a term of importance to a radical word that has no meaning beyond that which is assigned to it by custom, is doing nothing more than has been done by numerous compilers of dictionaries, before the wise Dr. Beddoes had an opportunity of hailing Britain and the present period for having produced this great work of Mr. Horne Tooke.

But the Doctor may allege-we avoid the blessing-the application of it to the darling doctrine of modern reformerş. Behold that application.

F. How now? Was it ordered and communded that you should oppose what was ordered and commanded? Can the same thing be at the same time both right and wrong?”

We desire that all faithful democrats, all believers in the DUTY OF INSURRECTION, and the sacred powers of affiliated clubs directed by scrupulous consciences, may attend to this answer. It is the decided and infallible Wimbledon oracle ! It has been often pronounced and received, with extended ears and open mouths, by the devoted cabal; and it is detailed, like a portion of the Koran by faithful Mussulmans, to all who will afford attention to the mystical epigrams of their master.

Hear the words of the oracle, good people ! not only as they contain the essence of a ponderous work, but the real principle, if it may be called principle, of all democrats, and all political philosophists.

'H. Travel back to Melinda, and you will find the difficulty most easily solved. It may be commanded to be done, and commande not to be done,

I have always been most obedient, when most taxed with disobedience. But my right hand is not the right hand of Melinda. The right i revere, is not the right adored by sycophants; the jus vugum ; the capricious command of princes or ministers. I follow the Law of God (what is laid down by him for the rule of my conduct), when I follow the laws of human nature, which, without any human testimony, we know must proceed from God; and upon these are founded the rights of man, or what is ordered for man.”

This is the principle, or rather this has been the pretence of all the sectaries which have infested the world, under all the forms and establishments of its religion, They have always pleaded the WILL OF GOD, in opposition , to the will and laws of the community.

We hope io avoid the appearance of blasphemy even in chastising blasphemy. But who is the God of these partizans, and where is his will to be found ? Mr. Tooke says, in the laws of human nature : and where is the code of those laws? Is it to be found in the cabals of sectaries, political or religious ? or in the deliberate councils and esta blished laws of societies and nations ?

When the Puritans seceded from the English church, though only for external ornaments and kneeling at the sacrament, they pleaded the will of God, and some of them; became martyrs to that pretended will. As their numbers increased, they made new discoveries of what they called the divine will, until they overturned the constitution of their country, and plunged it into military slavery.

That event broke their general phalanx into small, but numerous parties, each having its particular God at its head: sometimes extremely hostile to each other, and all at enmity with the constitution and establishment of their country. Those who retain any religious pretences, as the religious dissenters of all denominations, declare Christ to be their lawgiver; and each sect, or the leader of each sect, to be the interpreter of bis laws. Those laws therefore appear in perpetual contradiction to each other, and instead of bringing peace on earth, they would, if they were to prevail, be the occasions of perpetual warfare.

That the reader may not suppose we write satire, we would refer scholars to a well-written Apology for the Dissenters, by the Rev. J. Pearce of Exeter ; but it should be perused in the original, (Latin). His successor, Mr. Toogood, finding a learned and argumentative book of very limited effect, wrote a pamphlet of much less terit, but of more effect, entitled Letters from a dissenting Gentleman to Mr. White.

These books, although their authors did not always escape the fangs of subdivisions of their sects, are considered as holding out the general and justifiable principle of dissenttha, the will of Christ (their only law giver) interpreted by themselves, is a sufficient reason for disobedience to the law of the land, not only in private opinions and actions, but in the formation and regulation of public societies.

As they gradually lost their veneration for their Christiaa law-giver, and became Socinjans, Deists, and Atheists, they shifted their allegiance, some lo phantoms whom they denominated Gods—some to the laws of human nature, bestowed on it by necessity or by chance.

The principle of disobedience, however,was preferred, and the word of God generally retained; but the idea annexed to it was modified by the tenets and views of every sect, and the God of each apostle was exactly such an one as himnself,

There can be no difficulty in ascertaining the meaning of these men, whether they lead congregations of sectaries, or elubs of jacobinical loungers, taylors, and coblers.

Who are the Gods they acknowledge ? Phantoms formed after their own images, or, in other words, THEMSELVES, Where are the laws of human nature dictated by such Gods? They are the dogmas of their own minds.

The God of Horne Tooke and the God of Thomas Paine are essentially different beings, though both are denomjnated the God of Nature. Paine reads his will in his works, wholly in the modern English dialect. Mr. Tooke pronounces Paine a fool, on a level only with Stephen Duck, and affirins that no man can understand the Divine Will but in the Anglo-Saxon.

Godwin soars above these little pretences, and having no God at all, i. e. having nothing in lois estimation worthy of bearing his likeness in bearen or on earth, he simplifies the origin of right and just by referring thein directly and wholly to the effusions of bis own mind.

But the most consistent of all these advocates of private, in opposition to the public will, are Swedenborg and Brothers. They acknowledge God, and allow him an indefinite superiority to themselves; but they claim a particular and immediate correspondence with him, and they dictate laws and precepts to their disciples, in consequence of bis immediate inspiration.

The real laws of God or the laws of nature, produce their general and sometimes apparently partial effects, in the constitutions of civil and political societies, and in the

3

minds of individuals : these effects become important causes, and operate reciprocally on each other. But the order of nature and the happiness of the world evidently require that the laws of nature which have formed communities, should have the precedence of those laws of nature which have formed any individual human niind.

Here the question is always at issue between reformers and the public will; and it is by the determination of this

question, and not by the derivation of a word from Latin or from Anglo Saxon, that Mr. Tooke's philosophy must be justified or condemned.

No man has declaimed with more asperity than Mr. Tooke on the necessity of submitting to the general will, while he entertained any hope that his own private opinion might be substituted for it. Like all polítical partizans, whether orators or intriguers, he has always attached to his own character exaggerated degrees of importance, and would represent politics as objects of exclusive study, sacred to the initiated, and to be detailed in dogmas to the credulous

populace. But be mistakes for science, the grammar of its language, and substitutes for principle, attachment to a leading partizan.

If he were asked the meaning of the word will, he would turn over his dictionaries and lexicons, until he arrived at some remote jargon that would justify the definition be wished to give. But was it ever imagined by the Tude inventors of early dialects, that future philosophers would be convinced that, speaking accurately, there is nothing spontaneous in our knowledge; and that there cannot exist a real and actual opposition belween the divine will, and the will of a community which is organized, and which inust act, according to some laws founded in nature ?

The public will is produced by the connection of all individuals, variously formed into clans, municipalities, companies, &c. the sources of public ideas, and the instruments of public action. And as facility of what is called voluntary exertion, distinguishes man from brute, and man from man ; so political bodies are also distinguished by their greater or lesser portions of a similar quality, but all constructed according to the laws of nature; and Mr. Tooke might as well reprobate a nettle for not being a sugar-cane, as the governinent of Morocco for not being that of EngJand. Whether his friends Thomas Paine and Dr. Beddoes might, the one by destruction, and the other by analysation, convert the netile into a sugar-cane, or an established despotism into a system of liberty, we leave to the decision of

« ElőzőTovább »