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.." Thefe, and fome perfonal fervices to their Kings, were the titles by which the Chiefs held their lands, and comprized the greatest part of their duty of subjection.

"Under these Chiefs the lands were again fubdivided between their own foldiers, and officers of inferior rank, and the natives; but on very different terms.

"The former held them of the Chiefs, by fervices of a fimilar nature to those which the Chiefs paid to the Kings, and were free from every other kind of fubjection to them; the latter, on the contrary, were in a ftate little differing from flavery, tilling the ground for their Mafters, and following them to the wars, for a bare maintenance, which was all that was allowed to themselves, without any right to acquire private property, or poffibility of recovering liberty, but by the exprefs confent, and actual concurrence of their Chiefs, except in fome extraor dinary cafes; and defcending from generation to generation with the lands as part of the inheritance. These Chiefs were called Lords, and the others Villeins.

"In the rude original of the British conftitution, these Lords had an hereditary fhare in the Government, in right of their lands, and made an Estate, which has fince been improved into the prefent Peerage.

"The great influence which fuch unlimited authority over the people gave to the Lords, often produced the most dangerous confequences, by enabling them to refift indifcriminately the authority of their Sovereigns, as views of private intereft or ambition urged them.

“To remedy this, Reason suggested it to the governing Powers, to restore the People to the rights of nature, and give them a fhare in that Government of which they were the ftrength; that they might form a proper balace to the Lords.


"To obviate the inconveniencies which must inevitably attend the people's exercifing this fhare in the Government, in their collective body, it was inftituted, that they should elect a certain number from among themselves, to reprefent the Whole, and whofe determination fhould be conclufive upon them.

"That this reprefentative Body fhould anfwer the intent of its inftitution, it was indifpenfibly neceffary that it should confist only of fuch perfons as were free from the authority of the Lords.

"As the moft effectual provifion to fecure this freedom of the Reprefentatives, it was appointed that they fhould be elected only by thofe who were themfelves free alfo; as it could not



be fuppofed that free men fhould ever entrust their most facred interests to the care of those who were not free, as by this election they evidently did to their Representatives.

"Thefe free men, who at firft confifted almoft folely of the foldiers and inferior officers of the Conquerors, to whom lands had been granted under the Lords, as has been obferved before, were now in a courfe of years confiderably increased in number; many of the natives having recovered their Freedom on various occafions; but ftill this number was greatly inferior to that of those who were not free.

"As property alone could give that Independency which was evidently the reafon for limiting the Right of Election to free men ; and as all property then confifted in lands, that right was annexed to a certain amount of fuch property, as in thofe time's was esteemed fufficient to fupport the Poffeffor in the neceffary degree of Independency; and to certain Qualifications which were efteemed equivalent to fuch property.

"In confequence of these inftitutions, no man was admitted to join in electing a Reprefentative for a County, who did not hold lands in that county, to that amount, by a right, which was not determinable at the will of another, or at any known time; nor for a Burrough, who did not either hold fuch lands within the precincts of that burrough, or was acknowleged to enjoy his Freedom in it, by an authentic record; which latter privilege was given to burroughs (or towns) to encourage peoples living together, for the advancement of industry and trade; and it was not to be fuppofed, that this acknowlegement would be given to any, who had not a visible probability of living in a ftate of independency. The former of thefe were called Free Holders; the latter fimply Free Men.

"These wife precautions had the defired effect; and the Reprefentative of the people foon arofe to that great importance in the State, which their strength naturally entitled them to.

"But as the wisdom of man is not capable of making any provifions which fhall invariably comprehend all the various changes, wrought by time, it cannot be imputed to want of refpect to the conftitution, to enquire whether these precautions were fufficient to produce the fame effects at prefent, when the circumstances, on which they were principally formed, are fo effentially altered.

"The improvements of induftry, in more fettled times, the acquifitions of Commerce, and the difcoveries made in the purfuit of it, have introduced a new kind of property, unknown


to the Modellers of the Conftitution, and which, therefore, they could make no provifion for; at the fame time, that the increase of money has diminished its value, and the luxury infeparable from opulence, multiplied the wants of mankind to fuch a degree, as to make the prefent appointment of Charity calculated for the bare fubfiftence of a Parifh-beggar, amount to many times the fum which was then judged fufficient to establish the independency of an Elector.

"When these circumftances are confidered, can it be unreafonable to fuppofe, that if the fage Legiflators who fixed the value of the property neceflary to fupport that Independency at fuch a sum of money, could have forefeen this change, they would have made fome provifion for enlarging that property, in proportion as the caufes above-mentioned diminished its value, and confequently its effect; and have judged the Poffeffors of this new property fufficiently free and independent, to have shared in the right of electing Reprefentatives, and of fufficient confequence to merit being reprefented?-That 40,000l. for inftance, lent to the Government, fhould make a man as independent of all undue influence, as Forty Shillings a Year, in free-hold eftate; and that a Gentleman who fhould expend an affluent income in hofpitality; or a Merchant, who fhould af ford fupport to the feveral trades in a town, and add to the wealth of the community; fhould be as proper to join in electing the Representatives of that town, as one of thofe Tradefmen, whose utmost induftry could barely earn him a fubfiftence; and, who after a life, worn out in poverty, might poffibly be brought to the place of election from a Work-houfe, where he had been long fupported by public charity?

"Or would it have been confiftent with that equity which fo evidently appears to have been the foundation of all their inftitutions, that thofe whofe Independency (the original and fole motive for limiting the right of election) was eftablished on property, in many inftances, many thoufand fold greater than that appointed by this inftitution, fhould be made to depend for the very enjoyment of that property, on the determinations of a Reprefentative, in the electing of which, they were not permitted to fhare?

"And might not their wisdom have apprehended, that this very limitation might, in thefe circumftances, be a means of deftroying that Independency which it was appointed to support; and give an opportunity of gaining an influence, as unconftitutional, and dangerous, as the authority of the Lords, over a few indigent Electors, which could never be attempted with any


profpect of fuccefs, over the opulent and numerous body of the whole people.

"That to preferve this Independency, was the fole motive for limiting the right of Election originally, is inconteftibly proved (if what is intuitively evident to reafon can require proof?) by this, that in the charters granted to several burroughs, where the Lords, at the time of granting them, had no fuch power, as it was defigned to guard againft, the right of election was given to all the inhabitants in general, without any fuch limitation to Free-holders and Free-men.-Why the fame liberty is not extended to the inhabitants of all, (due regard being had to all difqualifications particularly appointed) now that the reafon againft it is univerfally removed, I do not prefume to enquire."


This is really a point of great and ferious concern; for if, as our Author obferves, thefe non-Electors are so confiderable a part of the people, as to amount to a very great majority of the moft fubftantial inhabitants, in every county and in every borough, it then remains to be enquired, whether it be not a grofs defect in the constitution, that they should be excluded from the common advantage of fending Reprefentatives, to speak their fentiments in the great council of the nation? For no one, we believe, will maintain, against our Author, that their legal incapacity of electing, finks them beneath the attention of a Government which they fo largely contribute to support!

A Critical Differtation on the Poems of Offian, the Son of Fingal. 4to. 2s. 6d. Becket.


N an Advertisement prefixed to this performance, we are tures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, in the University of E dinburgh.

The learned and ingenious Author* fets out with fome general obfervations on the ancient poetry of nations, particularly on the Runic and Celtic; after which he proceeds to point out the antiquity of the works of Offian; to give an idea of the fpirit and ftrain of his poetry; and after applying the rules of criticifm to Fingal, as an epic poem, to examine the merit of Offian's compofitions in general, with regard to description, imagery, and fentiment.

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Among the monuments remaining of the ancient state of nations, fays our Author, few are more valuable than their poems The Rev. Dr. Blair, Profeffor of Rhetoric in the University of



or fongs: Hiftory, when it treats of remote and dark ages being feldom very inftructive. But in every period of fociety, human manners are a curious fpectacle; and the moft natural pictures of ancient manners are exhibited in the ancient poems of nations.

"Poetry, continues he, has been faid to be more ancient than profe: and however paradoxical fuch an affertion may feem, yet, in a qualified fenfe, it is true. Men certainly never converfed with one another in regular numbers; but even their ordinary language would in ancient times, for the reafons before affigned, approach to a poetical ftyle; and the first compofitions tranfmitted to pofterity, beyond doubt, were, in a literal fenfe, poems; that is, compofitions in which imagination had the chief hand, formed into fome kind of numbers, and pronounced with a mufical modulation or tone. Mufic or fong has been found coeval with fociety among the moft barbarous nations. The only fubjects which could prompt men, in their first rude ftate, to utter their thoughts in compofitions of any length, were fuch as naturally affumed the tone of poetry; praifes of their gods, or of their ancestors; commemorations of their own warlike exploits; or lamentations over their misfortunes. And before writing was invented, no other compofitions, except fongs or poems, could take fuch hold of the imagination and memory, as to be preferved by oral tradition, and handed down from one race to another.

"Hence we may expect to find poems among the antiquities of all nations. It is probable too, that an extenfive fearch would difcover a certain degree of refemblance among all the moft ancient poetical productions, from whatever country they have proceeded. In a fimilar ftate of manners, fimilar objects and paffions operating upon the imaginations of men, will ftamp their productions with the fame general character. Some diverfity will, no doubt, be occafioned by climate and genius. But mankind never bear fuch resembling features, as they do in the beginnings of fociety. Its fubfequent revolutions give rife to the principal diftinétions among nations; and divert, into channels widely feparated, that current of hunan genius and nanners, which defcends originally from one fpring. What we have been long accustomed to call the oriental vein of poetry, becaufe fome of the earlieft poetical productions have come to us from the Eaft, is probably no more oriental than occidental; it is characteristical of an age rather than a country; and belongs, in fome meafure, to all nations at a certain period."

This fuggeftion is by no means improbable. We do not think it any encomium, however, on that delightful art, to fay,

KEV. Feb. 1763.



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