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From the usual deceitfulness of the human heart, the love of power has already incorporated itself with the real or pretended love of truth. The actual attainment of power may hereafter be insisted upon as a presumptive argument for the actual discovery of truth. But when power begins to be exercised, and truth to be disseminated, by such persons as many of our modern claimants to evangelical knowledge seem to be, disguise will be thrown aside as useless, restraint will be defied as ineffectual, desire will increase with possession, right will grow out of conscious strength, and a new earth," as preparatory to a new heaven," will soon become the favourite object of reformers, who have met with external opportunities, and are guided by internal impulses to make all things new."
Mr. Pitt, if he were living, would not be inattentive to the number of these Evangelical Christians, their activity, their ample funds for the purchase of presentations and advowsons, or their spiritual alliance with two powerful classes of professed, and, so far, honourable sectaries. Mr. Fox, with equal unwillingness to invade their social rights, and equal foresight of the dangers to be expected from their unsocial temper, would have been disgusted with their arrogance and their uncharitableness. Mr. Burke, without having recourse to invidious and rhetorical exaggeration, might have rendered to his country a most important service, by describing their spirit, unravelling their sophistry, and developing their real and their distant views. Mr. Canning, I am sure, has too much good-nature to be tainted with their virulence, too much good sense to be decoyed by their wiles, and too much taste to be captivated by their harangues. He is more conversant, I believe, in Pindar's Odes than Wesley's Hymns; and if one of his colleagues, factus de Rhetore Consul, were to expatiate upon the soothing unction administered by these skilful physicians of the soul, the witty but unregenerate secretary might be tempted to throw the new light of common sense upon the phrase, and apply to it what Cicero said of Carian, Phrygian, and Mysian declaimers : " Quod minime elegantes sunt, adsciscunt aptum suis auribus opimum quoddam et adipatæ dictionis genus."*
* Vid. Orator, vol. i. p. 156. edit. Gruter.
On the evidence of our newspapers, the editors of which upon such topics, rarely err, and yet more rarely have any temptation to misrepresent, I stated in page 777 that a motion bad been made in Parliament for extending to Scotland the capital punishment which in England has long been inflicted upon offenders convicted of infanticide ; and as the account was not afterwards corrected, I thought it my duty to offer some objections to the supposed harshness of the statute. Great, however, was my satisfaction upon finding, as I have done, within these few days, the chief object of the motion is to procure the repeal of an act which passed in the reign of James the First, and which made the concealment of the birth of a child a proof of murder, unless the mother could shew that it was not born alive; that the Bill therefore, is a measure not of rigour, but clemency; that the provisions of it seem to be founded upon some principles for which I have myself contended; that the spirit of it cannot fail to be acceptable to the enlightened people for whose benefit it is designed ; that the mover of it has supplied an additional exception to that general reluctance which has been observed in professional men to mitigate the severity of penal laws, and that for his wisdom and humanity he is eminently entitled to the thanks of his countrymen, and the praise of his contemporaries. I could not without great inconvenience exclude from this volume the sheets which had been printed off before I received the information above-mentioned. But the seeming impropriety of suffering them to remain is in some degree lessened by the probability that several of the observations contained in them bave a tendency to answer other useful ends, besides those to which they were primarily and more immediately directed.
When my subject led me to give a more correct account than Petit has done, of the Athenian practice in exposing children, I took occasion to state my opinion that a similar practice among the Romans was of great antiquity. I shall, therefore, in this place insert a passage, which not only establishes the fact, but contains more direct information upon the origin and provisions of the Roman law, than I have hitherto been able to find upon the author and contents of the Athenian.
« Πρώτον μεν εις ανάγκης ο Ρώμυλος κατέστησε τους οικήτορας της πόλεως άπασαν άρρενα γενεάν εκτρέφειν, και θυγατέρων τάς πρωτογόνους· αποκτιννύναι δε μηδέν των γενομένων νεώτερον τριετούς, πλήν εί τι γένοιτο παιδίον ανάπηρον, ή τέρας ευθύς από γονής ταύτα δ' ουκ έκώλυσεν εκτιθέναι τους γειναμένους επιδείξαντας πρότερον πέντε άνδράσι τοίς έγγιστα οικούσιν, εάν κακείνοις συνδοκή κατά δε των μη πειθομένων τω νόμω ζημίας ώρισεν άλλας τε, και της ουσίας αυτών την ημίσειαν είναι δημοσίαν. *
From the foregoing passage it appears that the regulations of Romulus in some respects resembled those of Lycurgus, and were adapted to a military people, to whom bodily strength in man was a necessary qualification for the defence of the state, and to whom it was also of importance for the number of males to exceed that of females. The right, then, to expose children was at once granted to parents, and subjected to regulations, at Sparta and Rome. But we are quite ignorant what were the restrictions upon the same right, or, indeed, whether there were any, among the Athenians, in the constitution of whose government there are fewer traces of the military character than we find in the law ascribed to Lycurgus and Romulus.
* Dionys. Halicarnass. lib. ii. p. 83. edit. Sylburg.