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Captain Nisbet's post-commission bears date Dec. 24, 1798. He was promoted to that rank in the Thalia of 36 guns, which frigate he commanded on the Mediterranean station until the month of October, 1800. Previous to his return from thence, he appears to have given offence to his father-in-law, by remonstrating with him on his infatuated attachment to Lady Hamilton, an attachment which afterwards had the unhappy effect of totally weaning his affections from the wife he once loved so dearly. Captain Nisbet, we believe, has held no subsequent appointment.”
Memoirs, Anecdotes, Facts, and Opinions ; collected and preserved by
Lætitia Matilda Hawkins.-Vol. 2. 8vo. Longman and Co. Miss Hawkins is a gossip, and has now produced four volumes of her hearsays and recollections. Some of them are amusing, and the whole are better written than their worth merited. Writers of stories are expected to astonish, therefore they convert “geese into swans," and this feeling has evidently governed the pen of Miss Hawkins. Her filial affection we honour, and have no doubt but Sir John Hawkins was as good a man and public-spirited a magistrate, as he is represented; but we already seemed to know enough of him. The best article in the two new volumes is Sir Joshua Reynolds' Dialogues of Johnson and Garrick; and we have subjoined beneath her recollections of Johnson and Burke, a couple of anecdotes of Goldsmith, which we hope are not untrue, as are most of those about Colonel Brettell, Mrs. Robinson, and Lady Hamilton.
“Dr. Jounson.—When first I remember him, I used to see him sometimes at a little distance from the house, coming to call on my father ; his look directed downwards, or rather in such apparent abstraction as to have no direction. His walk was heavy, but he got on at a great rate, his left arm always fixed across his breast, so as to bring the hand under his chin, and he walked wide, as if to support his weight. Getting out of a hackney-coach, which had set him down in Fleet-street, my brother Henry says, he made his way up Bolt-court in the zigzag direction of a flash of lightning, submitting his course only to the deflections imposed by the impossibility of going further to right or left. His clothes hung loose, and the pocket on the right hand swung violently, the lining of his coat being always visible. * I can now call to mind his brown hand, his metal sleeve-buttons, and my surprise at seeing him with plain wristbands, when all gentlemen wore ruffles: his coat-sleeve being very wide, showed his linen almost to his elbow. His wig in common was cut and bushy; if by chance he had one that had been drest in separate curls, it gave him a disagreeable look, not suited to his years or character. I certainly had no idea that this same Dr. Johnson, whom I thought rather a disgraceful visitor at our house, and who was never mentioned by ladies but with a smile, was to be one day an honour not only to us but to his country.”
“ There was nothing in Johnson's exterior to impress, and I had not been taught to admire what I could not comprehend, and which no grace of manner recommended ; on the contrary, I should soon have been ridiculed out of any affectation of discovering talents. Nor could I at any time catch from my father any of that spirit of adulation which was subsequently excited in the breasts of those who foresaw that it would be creditable to have been of Johnson's acquaintance.”
“In Johnson's visits at my father's, the conversation which I heard had little interest for me ; but I knew by habit, and my ear always expected it, that whatever was brought forward as settled opinion by another, would be met by him with doubt, introduced with 'Why, sir, I see no reason,' or, “Sir, if you mean to say,' which doubt, after the encouragement of a few more words, became stiff denial or contradiction, and exploded in one of those concentrating periods which were certainly the peculiar forte of his powerful mind.— I can give an instance of his manner, and in a case where possibly he was right. My youngest brother being sent to him by my father on some message, in weather extremely severe, and having heard from our French master that some distilled scented waters had frozen, repeated this to him as a proof of the intensity of the frost. Johnson said the waters must have been bad. Henry, in the simplicity of a school-boy, as if to take their part, replied, that it had occurred at Prince Caramanico's. • Then, sir, (said Johnson,) it can't be true,--so your story falls to the ground.'' Crit. Gaz. Vol. 1. No. 4,
“BURKE.—The Burkes,’as the men of that family were called, were not then what they were afterwards considered, nor what the head of them deserved to be considered for his splendid talents; they were, as my father termed them, ‘Irish adventurers,' and came into this country with no good auguries, nor any very decided principles of action. They had to talk their way in the world that was to furnish their means of living ; and it could not be expected that they would lay down their tools to witness the prowess of those who had less stimulating motives.”
“Nothing could recommend itself less to the favour of Sir J. Hawkins, than what was said of Mr. Burke, on his coming forward. It was known that Lord Rockingham, however good his intentions, was a weak man, and glad to avail himself, at some expense, of the talents of those who could support his administration. That Mr. Burke stood first among these, all I have heard leads me to suppose ; and my father soon perceived that he meant to offer himself to the highest bidder. He mentioned this opinion to Johnson, who not only concurred in it, but said that he believed Burke meant so to be understood.”
“GOLDSMITII.-Goldsmith happened once to stop at an inn on the road, in a parlour of which was a very good portrait, which he coveted, believing it a Vandyke ; he therefore called in the mistress of the house, asked her if she set any value on that oldfashioned picture, and, finding that she was wholly a stranger to its worth, he told her that it bore a very great resemblance to his aunt Salisbury, and that if she would sell it cheap he would buy it. A bargain was struck ; a price infinitely below the value was paid. Goldsmith took the picture away with him, and had the satisfaction to find, that by this scandalous trick he had indeed procured a genuine and very saleable painting of Vandyke's.
“Soon after Goldsmith had contracted with the booksellers for his History of England, for which he was to be paid five hundred guineas, he went to Cadell, and told him he was in the utmost distress for money, and in imminent danger of being arrested by his butcher or baker. Cadell immediately called a meeting of the proprietors, and prevailed on them to advance him the whole, or a considerable part, of the sum, which by the original agreement he was not entitled to till a twelvemonth after the publication of his work. On a day which Mr. Cadell had named for giving this needy author an answer,
Goldsmith came, and received the money, under pretence of instantly satisfying his creditors. Cadell, to discover the truth of his pretext, watched whither he went, and, after following him to Hyde-Park Corner, saw him get into a post-chaise, in which a woman of the town was waiting for him, and with whom, it afterwards appeared, he went to Bath to dissipate what he had thus fraudulently obtained.”
VOYAGES AND TRAVELS. Excursion through the United States and Canada. By an English
Gentleman.-London, 8vo. pp. 511. 16s. A THOUSAND idle and mischievous prejudices have been propagated and kept up between the people of England and those of the United States; but they are rapidly disappearing before a more perfect appreciation of each other's character. Our author is one of those more discreet and impartial individuals who have contributed their quota towards getting rid of this absurd and unnatural prejudice; and his country and the cause of philanthropy are indebted to him, both for his intention, and for the manner in which, generally, he has effected the desired object. In the following instance, however, he rather overcolours his picture of American advantages:
The good effects of a free government are visible throughout the whole country: There are no tithes, no poor-rates, no excise, no heavy internal taxes, no commercial monopoly: an American can make candles if he have tallow, can distil brandy if he have grapes or peaches, and can make beer if he have malt and hops, without asking leave of any one, and much less with any fear of incurring punishment. How would å farmer's wife, then, be astonished, if told that it was contrary to law for her to make soap out of the potass obtained on the farm, and of the grease she herself had saved ! When an American has made these articles, he may build his little vessel, and take them without hindrance to any part of the world ; for there is no rich company of merchants that can say to him, “You shall not trade to India, and you shall not buy a pound of tea of the Chinese, as, by so doing, you would infringe upon our privileges.' În consequence of this freedom, the seas are covered with their vessels, and the people at home are active and independent. I never saw a beggar in any part of the United States ; nor was I ever asked for charity but once, and that was by an Irishman.”
All this is very fine, and very alluring, but very hollow; and so is the chapter in which our Englishman assembles, in one point of view, the entire advantages of a republican government. The real fact is, that there is not only no such thing as universal suffrage in America, but the Americans are quite indifferent, and neglect the right of suffrage which they really possess. There is as much corruption in America as in England; as much marketing of service in their elections as in ours. It is true that there are no Game Laws; but who cares about a privilege for sporting in a country where, to find game, it is necessary for the sportsman to banish himself into the wilderness? However small the national debt may be, and however low the taxes, both are as much complained of by the Americans, as are ours by ourselves. If there be no patrician order, there is an aristocracy of wealth, which is quite as formidable, and more intolerable, to a democratic spirit. With respect to the cheapness of the government of America, like other cheapness, it often turns out to be dear. The maintenance of our
“permanent executive” and our “established priesthood,” notwithstanding all the clamour about expense, costs each individual Englishman about seven shillings per annum. The benefits resulting from this trifling cost are practical, tangible, and come home to the feelings and firesides of every true Briton. It is said that the Americans have no standing army: but this is a mistake; they have a standing army,-small, indeed, but, like our own, commensurate to the claims of protection made upon
Besides, the American republican system has yet to endure the trial of combined military violence from without, or civil and anti-federal dissentions from within. It would then be seen whether the government would not be compelled to assume an extreme degree of military and monarchical decision. We are far from desiring to see our transatlantic brethren subjected to such a trial; but, in the meanwhile, we must be permitted to say, that democracy has much to apprehend from the more silent influence exerted by the growth of wealth. Indeed the North American republicans are already demonstrating an inordinate love for aristocratical distinctions, in the profuse manner in which military and civil badges of honour are distributed among the lowest classes; in the marked emphasis laid in the republican journals on such titles as “ His Honour," "« His Worship,” “His Excellency,” and in the extreme cheapness of such distinctions as “ Honourable,” and “Right Honourable.” With respect to emigration to this soil of liberty, the English people have been much abused by extreme opinions both for and against it. Books and reviews, magazines and newspapers, have held up flattering or aspersive pictures respecting the policy of quitting England for a residence in the United States ; but not many, we should imagine, have been influenced by their opposite representations. Besides, in most cases, emigration is not a matter of choice, but of necessity. Generally, it is the last resort of those
who could not subsist at home; or who, having a little property, see it gradually and unavoidably mouldering away. But, under the most favourable circumstances, we apprehend emigration has, in point of fact, seldom improved the happiness of the emigrant. So many ties must be broken, --so many difficulties, so many doubtful chances, must be encountered; there must be such a change of habits, which the emigrant, in the new-born vigour of his enterprise, does not take into consideration ; and there is, besides, something so repulsive to the heart in strange countries and strange manners, that we need not wonder if this adventure, even when undertaken on a rational estimate of the good and evil attending it, should, in most cases, leave the emigrant a prey to vain regrets. These, however, deriving their force principally from the imagination, will, of course, be gradually assuaged by time, if the emigrant
prospers, and has his mind actively employed in the daily routine of his business. But, when emigration is resorted to without a calm estimate of consequences, it is sure to end in disappointment and misery. It is in all cases dangerous to yield to the illusions of the imagination ; but here imagination leads her votaries to certain destruction. He who is about to emigrate, ought to shut his ears to all fanciful descriptions of country, of climate, of aspect, of brilliant vegetation, fine rivers, and precious productions. He ought to have nothing before him but a plain detail of facts. In all countries, wealth is the reward of patient industry. It springs up no where spontaneously or hastily; but is the slow-growing fruit of steady and unintermitted exertion. This is the immutable condition of things, and promises made contrary to this, are but delusions; they are so many false lights hung out to deceive the unwary mariner, to wreck his tempted bark, and ensure his ruin.
England has been called a law-ridden nation, and very justly : òur great law-making legislators appear to have thought that the true policy of a statesman is to multiply laws; and thus secure the property, the honours, and the morals, of the people, by surrounding them, in a manner, with men-traps and spring-guns; and besetting even the sweet sequestered walks of private life with quickset hedges, so that a man can scarcely turn without encountering these thorny and pestiferous protectors. The following account of the state of criminal jurisprudence in America is interesting and important:
• The Americans have greatly mitigated the severity of the Penal Code ; so much so, indeed, that executions are extremely rare; and, besides this, so mild is the system adopted by the executive power, that the President generally remits the punishment, unless the crime committed be of uncommon atrocity. Although one cannot but admire the humanity that prompts the saving a fellow-creature's life, yet I think myself that the law ought to have its course, and that punishment should in all cases follow condemnation ; for when a criminal is led to hope that he may escape by the humanity of the President, the terror of the law has less influence upon evil doers, and crime is thereby to a certain degree encouraged.
“A great improvement is just about to be made in American jurisprudence, viz. the abolition of imprisonment for debt. Even at present, in most of the states imprisonment for debt exists more in name than in reality. By the insolvent laws, which are perhaps too much in favour of the debtor, his person in ten, or at most in thirty, days, is for ever released, on a surrender of his property to a trustee appointed by the court. In the mean time, on giving sufficient security, he is entitled to perfect freedom within the prison bounds, which frequently comprise half the town or county in which he resides. There are not perhaps during the year, in any one state, more than ten instances of actual incarceration.
"The forms of English practice are strictly observed, as relates to the distinction of actions ;
but the severity of pleading has been mitigated in every state by statutes of amendment. Still, however, sufficient of the antiquated jargon remains to justify the reproach, that the improvements in the administration of justice have not been in any way proportionate to those in government and politics. As an instance of this I may mention, that in the nineteenth century John Doe and Richard Roe are still retainers in court, to the disgrace of a nation which professes to have shaken off the prejudices of the mother country. Yet it must be acknowledged that important advantages have been made in the principles, if not in the practice, of the law. Entails have been abolished in every state. A man may indeed make any will that he pleases ; but, if he die intestate, his property is equally divided amongst his children, without distinction of age or sex. Many persons therefore make no wills; they say, “The state has made one for us, and will see it executed. Now it is the opinion of David Hume, that to the division of property occasioned by the Reformation, and to the prevalence of democratical opinions under the Commonwealth, Great Britain owes that vigour of natural character by which she has ever since been so eminently distinguished. It is clear, therefore, that as the subdivision of property prevails to a greater extent in the United States, the happiness of the Americans is proportionably secure.
"In both civil and criminal prosecutions for libel or slander, the truth of the allegation is admitted as a reason for acquittal.
“In every state but that of Virginia, real estate is not liable for debt. "There are of course no game laws.
“The judges generally hold their office during good behaviour; and, in a few states, until they attain the age of sixty. To secure the exercise of their independence and impartiality, their salaries, which are too inadequate in most instances, cannot be diminished during the continuance in office.
"The United States are indebted to England for the principal part of their lawbooks; the decisions of the superior courts of that country being considered authority.
“In some states the common law and chancery jurisdiction are given to the same court, but in most of them to separate courts. The principles of law, marking the difference between the two jurisdictions are strictly observed.
“It is nearly useless to mention, that, since there is no exclusive national church, ecclesiastical courts are unknown.”
If there be one subject more than another, the knowledge of which ought to be diffused, and which ought to be treated as a science, it is that of criminal jurisprudence. Yet how wide of this is the fact ! Every man in England is supposed, in law, to have a knowledge of all the laws which govern his conduct; a fiction which common sense rejects as an impossibility. The laws of England form such an enormous chaos of wisdom and error, foresight, contradiction, and verbosity, that the longest life, the clearest memory, and the acutest judgment, would be insufficient to collect, arrange, and retain, the undigested and undigestible accumulation. There are now between seven and eight hundred Acts of Parliament applicable to criminal law; besides four hundred and upwards which relate to proceedings before justices of peace. The Code Napoleon, on the contrary, awards the punishment of death to six cases only; the English criminal law to two hundred. The consequence is, that the first is executed; but ours is rendered inoperative by its inconsistent and Draconian severity. It has been calculated that, out of these two hundred capital offences, not more than twenty offenders are prosecuted, and not one in ten executed. The fact is, they cannot be executed. Public opinion prescribes laws to the sanguinary intentions of the law-giver; exclaiming “Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther':” a denunciation of excessive severity, so far from deterring offenders, stimulates to crime. Its effect is to render the purposes of law abortive, and justice impossible. It moreover aggravates offences; in cases of robbery, frequently