Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

. There is one very obvious absurdity in the scheme of this assembly. “ Not only an unanimity of voices is necessary to pass any bill, and constitute a decree of the Diet, but every bill must likewise be assented to unanimously, or none can take effect. Thus, if out of twenty bills, one should happen to be opposed by a single voice, all the rest are thrown out, and the Diet meets, deliberates, and debates for six weeks to no purpose. It is astonishing that a rule so contradictory to common sense, and attended with such fatal consequences, can maintain its place among a people by no means devoid of understanding.”

This unhappy circumstance considered, it may be justly questioned, whether it is, on the whole, an advantage or a misfortune to the nation, that her greatest concerns, and most valuable interests, are left to the decision of this body: such as the declaring war, or concluding peace; the forming alliances; the election or marriage of the King; the imposition of taxes; the framing of laws; levying of forces, &c. For, to add to the other inconveniencies attending the constitution of the Diet, venality and corruption have found their way into that, as well as into some great assemblies elsewhere.

“ Here, as in other countries, say our Authors, the cry of Liberty is kept up for the sake of private interest. Deputies come with a full resolution of profiting by their patriotism, and not lowering their voice without a gratification. Determined to oppose the most falutary measures of the Court, they either withdraw from the assembly, protest against all that shall be transacted in their absence, or else excite such a clamour as renders it necessary for the Court to silence them by some lucrative pension, donation, or employment. Thus not only the business of the assembly is obstructed by its own Members, but frequently by largesses from ncighbouring powers, and sometimes by the liberality of an open enemy; who has the art of distributing his money with discretion."

[ocr errors]

tend the King's perfon, ferve him as a privy-council, and direct that he shall not infringe the constirution. Whatever is ordained by these Deputies, and has the royal sanction, becomes valid, as an act of the whole D'er. It is therefore adopted, as a part of the conititution. that four, at leait, of the number shall constantly reside at Court, as Guardians of the public liberty, and Inspectors of the King's conduct. Penalties are annexed to any remillness in their duty; and they are fincd, for absence, at the rate of two thouland livres for a layman, and fix thousand for an ecclesiastic." Rev. Dec. 1762. [ Ꭰ d

We

Part of an Universal History. We have here some farther particulars relating to the Diet, worth transcribing, for the entertainment as well as the information of our Readers.

“ The amux of people which the Diet occasions, is altogether astonishing. Wherever it happens to fit, thirty or forty thousand people are added to the usual number of inhabitants. Here the Polcs rival each other in pomp and profusion. The Nobility who are not deputed, attend with their families for pleasure: they drink deep of their favourite liquor, Hungarian wine; and feasting and mirth are more pursued than the busineis of the State. In consequence of their festivity, the Deputies come frequently intoxicated into the Diet, affront the King, excite tumults, harangue with the most abufive and factious eloquence, and sometimes occasion the diffoJution of the allembly. From this general view it appears how inadequate the Diet is to the original intention. It was defigned for the supreme Senaie of the nation: it is, in fact, Jittle more than a factious corrupted mass, collected out of form, conducted with indecorum, and diffolved with as little reason as it was allembled ; only because a certain number of wecks have clapied, without regarding whether the business of the meeting hath been transacted. Such is the idea of the Polish Diet we have been able to acquire, from the careful perusal of the best authorities. It would almost be unneceffary to remark upon the absurdity of requiring an unanimity of voices to every bill, by which a power is lodged in every capricious corrupted Member of rendering the meeting of this great assembly of the nation of no effect. This was intended as a barrier to Liberty; but it has unfortunately been the channel of corruption, faction, and confusion. The Poles imagined, that by this regulation they should ever prevent the Crown from gaining too great an ascendant; for though it was possible to obtain a majority, it was not at all probable the royal influence should ever be able to bribe every individual of the Diet to surrender the rights and interests of his country. Thus, to avoid despotism, they in some measure gave a sanction to anarchy. Indeed, so sensible are the Poles of the inconveniencies of their constitution, that some reformations have been frequently attempted; and the most sensible of the nation acknowlege, that in almost all their wars with the Turks and Tartars, their preservation was entirely

owing to the immediate interposition of the Deity, and not · to human prudence or forelight. Yet, after all, it must be confefled, that a politic Prince may mould this turbulent mul

titude agreeable to his inclinations, by foo:hing, cajoling, treating, and making pecuniary presents. Besides, it is seldom that an individual dares venture to exert his privilege of denying his assent to what all the other Members have voted ; the stronger party being sometimes extremely liberal of that most convincing of all proofs-a found drubbing."

But, “ perhaps, the most respectable department of the Polish government, say our Authors, is the Senate, composed of the Bishops, Palatines, Castellans, and ten Officers of

State, who derive a right from their dignities of fitting in that · assembly; in all amounting to one hundred and forty-four Members, who are stiled Senators of the kingdom, or Counsellors of the State, and have the title of Excellency, a dignity supported by no pension or emoluments necessarily annexed. The Senate presides over the laws, is the Guardian of liberty, the Judge of right, and the Protector of justice. and equity. The Members are nominated by the King, and they take an oath to the Republic before they are permitted to enter upon their functions. Their honours continue for life : at the general Diet they sit on the right and left of the Sovereign, according to their dignity, without regard to seniority. They are the Mediators between the Monarch and the subject, and, in conjunction with the King, ratify all the laws passed by the Nobility. The value they put on their dignities makes them despise all other honours : even the titles offered by the Emperor have been rejected by Polish Senators, who thought their present dignities superior to that of Princes of the Empire. "We are Gentlemen of Poland, said they, “ and have power to treat of peace and war with our Mo“ narch : your Imperial Majesty therefore injures us, by “ imagining that we shall be made greater by the Aimsy title « of Princes of the Empire, than we are as real Senators of " the Republic of Poland.” Such was the answer of the Se. nators who accompanied King Sigismund to the Emperor, when his Polish Majesty visited the Court of Vienna. As a Senator is bound by oath to maintain the liberties of the republic, it is thought no disrespect to Majesty that they remind the Prince of his duty. They are his Counsellors, and this freedom of speech is an inseparable prerogative of their office.”

This abridgment of the Polish History is brought down to the year 1737, when his present Majesty acquired the peaceable poffeffion of the Crown, which had been disputed by the unfortunate, but truly respectable, Stanislaus : who was first

raised

Idear 1737 of the ci respectabla 2

raised to the throne by Charles XII. King of Sweden, when that arbitrary Conqueror deposed Augustus, father to the now reigning Prince.

The thirty-fifth volume of this universal Compendium, contains the History of Ruslia ; beginning with the commencement of the Russian Monarchy, in the ninth century; and concluding with the accession of the late unhappy Czar, Peter the third. We shall give no extract from this volume; having so frequently had occasion to lay before our Readers many particulars relating to this immense Empire..

In the thirty-sixth volume we have part of the modern Hiftory of Italy; that of Florence being the entire subject of this volume. It is a dry and barren compilation ; a meagre abridgment of Aretini, Machiavel, Guicciardini, and other Hifto. rians, who have given us, more at large, the Annals of this part of Europe.

The thirty-seventh volume opens with the History of Bologna ; that of Parma and Placentia follows; and then comes the History of the pious Republic of Geneva: which no consistent Proteftant, no true friend of religious freedom, can peruse without resentment, without horror. For here it was that the fiery Bigot, Calvin, sacrificed the learned Servetus, to the black Fury Fanaticism; that infernal spirit, which here likewise first lighted up the torch of Superftition, that set fire to the pile in which the unhappy Gentil was consumed at Bern; and here it was that the insanity of the wretched Antoine subjeeling him to the more fatal frenzy of persecuting zeal, involved him in the like miserable fate: falling, as thousands more have fallen, a dreadful proof of the intolerating spirit of religious establishments !--Othou meek-eyed dove! the lovely symbol of that first pure faith which descended from heaven to establish peace on earth and good will towards men, how short was thy abode with us! how soon, alas! wert thou changed into that fierce unrelenting onliure, whose cruel beak hath been so often stained in the precious blood of honeit men ! We have seen this merciless harpy, with horrid wings fanning the Smithfield fiics; we have seen her presiding in our Courts of Justice, perched on the crest of the civil Magistrate, like the bird of Athens on Minerva's helmet; but thanks be to God! we have allo seen her driven from our favoured clime. May she never more be permitted to hover near the happy shores of Britain! May LIBERTY ever maintain her unbounded empire over our minds; may TRUTH

eternally

eternally flourish under her auspicious reign ; and, together with FREEDOM of ENQUIRY, prevail over every tyrant power, which shall dare to infringe the sacred rights of Conscience · The History of the Dutchy of Milan follows that of Geneva; after which we have the Histories of Modena and Ferrara, and of Mantua. The volume concludes with that of the House of Savoy, including Piedmont, and the other estates of his Sardinian Majesty.

[ocr errors]

Philosophical Transactions. Vol. LII. Part I. concluded.

See Page 333

MATHEMATICAL PAPERS. Art. 4. A letter from the Rev. Nevil Maskelyne, A. M. Fellow of

Trinity College, Cambridge, and F. R. S. containing a Theorem of the Aberration of the Rays of Light, refrnited through a Lens, on account of the imperfections of the spherical figures

Some years ago the ingenious Mr. John Dolland discovered a method for correcting the aberation of the rays of light, arising from the different refrangibility of the different sorts of rays; this he effected by a combination of different kinds of glass; he also invented a theorem fhewing the quantity of the aberration of the rays, refracted through a lens, on account of the imperfection of the spherical figure; by the application of which he was enabled to make the aberrations of the combined concave and convex object-glasses perfectly equal, and consequently to correct one another. Mr. Maskelyne has, in the paper before us, given a similar theorem for this purpose, and in some respects more easily applicable to practice than that of Mr. Dolland.

Art. II. A letter to the Rev. Dr. Brakenridge, concerning the

Ierm and Period of human Life: in which the inequalities in
constructing, and the false conclusions drawn from Dr. Halley's
Breslau Table, are fully proved; the supposed extraordinary
healthfulness of that place is particularly examined and confuted;
and it's real flate equalled by divers places in England; the im-
perfektion of all the Tables formed upon a thousand lives is mewn;
and a method proposed to obtain one much better. By T. W.
A. M.
Dd 3

The

« ZurückWeiter »