« VorigeDoorgaan »
to wait for the performance of this promise. If the reader knew hero I have been fettered and shackled in exhibiting the history of a free people, he would think I lived in a barbarous country. We profess it impoffible for us to understand what M. Cerisiek means by these complaints. An unheard of incident obliged him to write on, without waiting for the materials he expected! What can this have been? I could not be pecuniary perplexity; for this is neither new nor unheard of among a certain clafs of writers. Perhaps he may have employed his pen under the iron sceptre of a greedy and despotic bookseller. Whatever was the case, it was undoubtedly hard, to be obliged to write, and nevertheless to be fettered and shackled in writing. He tells us, morcover, that he was under a certain constraint in relating the events of former times, from a desire of managing the delicacy of the de. scendants of those who were actors in them. This the historical muse forbids : for, while her votaries mingle candour and judge ment with veracity, they may boldly follow her essential morto ne quid veri non audeat, particularly in a free country like Holland. In a word, as M. CERISIER calls his work'a Tableau or Picture, he has sometimes assumed the licence granted by Horace to painters; and we cannot look upon his history as an accurate portraiture of men and things in the Belgic provinces.The seventh volume carries this work down to the conclusion of the peace of Nimeguen, in the year 1678, between France and the Republic.
VI. GODOFERDI Ploucquet Commentationes (Philosophicæ, Sele&tiores, &c. i. e. Sele&t and Philosophical Meditations, formerly published in separate Discourses, but now collected, revised, and improved by M. G. Ploucquet, Professor of Logic and Meraphysics in the University of Tubingen, and Correspondente Member of the Royal Academy of Berlin. 4to. 592 Pages. Utrecht. 1781.The hideous jargon by which the ancient schoolmen degraded metaphysical science, and rendered it dilo gusting to many in modern times (who cannot, or will not, see ihrough the dirt chat covers it), has done real detriment to true philosophy. For all science is reduced to a motley mass of unconnected facts, where metaphysics does not come in with her offences, and logic with her rule and compass, axioms and definitions, the guides to evidence and demonftration ; in short, the whole ideal world come within the jurisdiction of metaphysics, and all sciences depend upon this for the foundation and method that must ascertain and direct their progress. Accordingly we may say of metaphysics, what Horace raid of Nature, - Expelles furca tamen ufque recurret; or in, other words,-Turn it out at one door, and it will come in at another. Why, even our common conversation is always metaphysical; for we are perpetually talling of relations, properties, neceffity, contingence, causes,
and effects; and if there were more metaphysics and logic in the eloquence of fenators, and the heads of rulers, but let us not lose sight of our object; which is to say a word or two about M. PLOUCQuet's book, a work certainly adapted rather to deep proficients, than to young beginners in metapbyfical science.
We shall not attempt an analysis of the pieces contained in the present volume ; for this would require a large article for
It will be sufficient to indicate the subjects here treated, and to observe, that they are discussed in a very masterly manaer. The cosmogony of Epicurus, and the philosophical ideas of Pythagoras (which latter it is to difficult to ascertain with precision amidst the confusion of ancient records), are the subjects of the two first pieces. The third relates to the epocha of Pyrrho, or the refusal of his affent to any positive doctrine or proposition; in the fourth, from the hypothesis that something exifts, our author demonstrates the existence of a Supreme Being, the source of all existence; and thews, with great evidence, that the definition which Spinoza has given of fubftance, overturns the whole system of that sophistical Pantheift. In the fifth, M. PLOUCQUET examines the cpinions of Helvetius concerning the nature of the human mind; and afferts, against Locke, the impoffibility of matter's being endowed with the faculty of thinking. The law of continuity, or gradation, maintained by Leibnitz, and an account of the controversy it has occafioned, are to be found in the sixth Dissertation, where there are curious disculions relative to the plenum, which the German philosopher fupposed to exift in the material world. In the following, we find ingenious remarks on a differtation published by the learned Kantz in 1763, and designed to prove, that, from the mere poffibility of any ibing, a demonstration of the exiftence of a Supreme Being may be evidently deduced. The eighth contains a critical and philofophical examination of the ideas of Thales and Anaxagoras concerning the cosmogony or origin of the universe. The ninth is one of the most interesting Dissertations we meet with in this work. The author examines here several things advanced in a feeptical book, published fome years ago by M. Robinet, under the title of Traité de la Nature, or a Treatise concerning Nature *. The opinions, advanced in this book, relative to the quantity of physical and moral evil in the world, the incomprehensibility of a Supreme Being,--the physical theory of spirits,--and the fenfitive, intellectual, and volitive fibres, which this author fupposes to exist in the brain, are judiciously examined and refuted
• The reader muft pot confound this work with the lyfiem of Natere, wbich lacter is an open and avowed, as the former is an indirect and occal Syłem of. Atheism.
by by M. PLOUCQUET, as also the notions of the same author cona cerning the origin of nature, which terminate in the dark and gloomy system of a blind neceffity. Robinet is one of those men, not few in number in our enlightened age, whose genius, soaring beyond the sphere of common sense, carries him into the clouds, where he mutters the most foolish things imaginable in a quaint, and seemingly ingenious jargon, which our author exposes with a very exemplary degree of gravity and patience. We think he: would be more suitably exhibited in one of Stevens's Chapters on Heads.; Intelle&tual and volitive fibres would have been a rare difcovery for Mr. Bayes, who would have imbellished with it the philosophical reigns of the Kings of Brentford. Intellectual fibres are the fiddle-Strings of a certain modern philofophy, and strange sounds do they send forth!
The system of Democritus, as it has been transmitted to us by the ancients, is treated in the tenth Dissertation, where we find a view of all the arguments for and against the eternity of the world, and the eternity of motion. The author resumes this subject in another Differtation, whose title is De rerum ortu, duratione, alteratione et interitu, in which he shews, that the porfibility of successive motion, without a final term, furnishes a proof of the imposibility of its existing without an initial term, or without a beginning.
In the five following Differtations, our author treats of the origin of language (which, he thinks, preponderating reasons evince to be divine, though he does not deny the poflibility of forming a language, slowly and laboriously, by human effort), -concerning the nature and measure of quantities, --concerning an. cient and modern hylozoism, or the doctrine of those philosophers who consider matter as endowed with life,--concerning the principal symptomata, or characteristical qualities of the human mind, --concerning primitive powers or forces,-concerning the question, Whether good and evil are absolute or relative? which he. determines in favour of the former, upon this principle, that God is not the free and efficient cause of the effences of things,
(a knotty point, and of momentous consequence in metaphyfical theology!) M. PLOUCQUET treats the interesting subject of good and evil in another Differtation, and resumes it in a third, where he points out the influence of speculative philosophy on practice -(De momentis philosophia contemplative in practicis)." There are curious things in this piece, relative to the famous argument of Descartes in favour of the existence of God, drawn from the idea of infinite,-an argument which was elucidated by Mallebranche, combated by Leibnitz, Huet, and others, and is here stated by our author in a manner which is designed to free it from the objections of the two last mentioned philosophers. This is followed by a Dissertation, in which M. PLOUCQUET examines
the various arguments which may be employed to support or to invalidate the doctrine of the soul's immortality. The last piece in this important collection is, a Disquisition concerning the famous ars characteristica universalis (IMAGINED by Leibtnitz); to which is fubjoined, a Method of Logical Calculation, invented by our aus thor, who is undoubtedly a learned man, and a deep thinker.
VI. Frederici Wilhelmi Peftel Commentarii de Republica Betava. i. e. A Treatise concerning the Republic of the United Provinces. By FREDERICK WILLIAM PESTEL. 8vo. Leyden. 1782. It appears, from this work, that its learned Author is Profeffor of the Law of Nature and Nations in the University of Leyden; and the capacity and industry discovered in its composition Thew, that he was well qualified for the very difficult talk he has undertaken. His meris, as a Latin writer, is rather inconfiderable. We even apprehend, that his file will be found defective in perspicuity and fimplicity, -qualities which are highly desirable in a work of this kind. As to the materials that enter into this treatise, they have been fought with laborious investigation, chosen with judgment, and they certainly exhibit an extensive view of the Belgic Republic; but too compendious, perhaps, in the description of the parts, to inftruct those who are totally ftrangers to the subject. We cannot appreciate the merit of the accounts which Dutch writers may have given of their country and government, in their own language, but we have met with no author, in a language intellible to us, that treats more judicioully than M. Pestel this ample and complicated subject ; in which the unavoidable precipitation of the first founders of the Belgic conftitution (who huddled it up in a hurry), and the timid prudence of their descendants (who let it ftand as they found it), have occafioned much obfcurity and confufion. A fecond edition (which we have reason to expect from the merit of the work, and from our author's candid declaration of his difire to correct the errors, or supply the omilions with which competent judges may find it chargeable) will undoubtedly render this work ftill more accu. rate, clear, and complece. In the mean time we shall lay befoie our readers a sketch of the Treatise, such as it now appears.
k is divided into four parts. In the first, our Author treats of the couniry and its inhabitants. Here he confiders the origin of the Republic, - the steps by which it has proceeded to its present Race,-the extent of territory that is subject to its jurisdiction, includig its colonies in the East and West Indies, the nature of its foil and productions,-the character, manners, liberties, and privileges of its inhabitants,-its religious eftablith ments, academies, police, commerce, manufactures, filheries, and navia gation. In the second part we have an account of the form of go Lernment, and its administration, in each province (hic labor, hic opus ef?), and more especially in the Province of Holland (the most respectable, by far, and the most extensive of them all), of the different departments or colleges to which the different branches of the sovereign power are assigned, -of the puplic taxes, and the manner of raising and collecting them. — In the third part our author considers the rights which the confederated provinces reserved for themselves by the union of Utrecht, and the obligations which they incurred with respect to the confederacy. Here we have a description of the functions and authority of the States General, of the Council of State, of the Chamter of Accounts which regards the union, of the offices of Stadtholder, Captain-General and High Admiral, that are united in the person of the Prince of Orange, of the naval force of the Republic, of the functions of the admiralties, and of the government of that part of the territory of the Republic over which the States General exercise a sovereign power. The conneEtions of the Republic with foreign nations are treated by our author in the fourth, and, certainly, the most imperfect part of this work. Of this M. Pestel seems himself to be sensible, as appears from a passage in his preface, in which he tells us, that the nature of the times, and his anxious apprehension of tiring the patience of his ftudents and his bookseller, by delaying longer the publication of his work, had engaged him to enlarge less than he at first intended on this part of the subject. These reason's would not have been in any weight with us, who should defire ardently to see this most important object more amply treated by such an able pen, had he not given us the hopes of seeing it resumed by him in a future publication, with respect to which we shall suppress the suggestions of impatience, by the desire of full and satisfactory initruction. The press-errors in this work are so numerous, that they embarrass the reader in almost every page.
For JANUARY, 1783.
POLITICA L. Art, 17. A Dialogue on the Azual State of Parliament. 8vo.
Stockdale. N this dialogue between an intelligent foreigner, and a well-in
formed Englishman, we have a very judicious representation of ine component members of the British government; calculated to fhew, that our present conftitution was not formed upon fpeculation, but grew, and received its improvement from events springiog from the alteration of national circumstances : Consequently, that being fo nicely suited to our circumstances, we should beware of the danger of 3