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serving the accumulated property), not only to enjoy the interest that accrues from it during her life, but the power of distributing more or less of it after her death. If, however, the marriage took place at a late period of the husband's life, and neither an addition, nor any essential improvement in the property has been made in consequence of the marriage, it may be doubted if the wife have a reasonable claim to the enjoyment, either of the whole of the property, or even to the whole of the income arising from it. If a handsome provision be made for her, so that she be enabled to continue a way of living, not wholly unlike to that in which she moved during her husband's life, some are of opinion that she has no just cause to make a o If a testator has neither a wife nor children, the next-persons who have a natural claim upon him are, first, his parents, and then his brothers and sisters. (To be continued.)
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
You have had notice of some copies of the Syriac Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, recently brought from the Indian Christians of Travancore, by the Rev. Dr. Buchanan. , None of these copies have as yet been regularly collated: they have, nevertheless, been partially examined, and compared with the text in the London Polyglot Bible; and the result has been, that those Indian copies are found to agree with the printed text, in all the instances which have come to notice ; and hence I have no scruple to pronounce their general integrity; a circumstance, Sir, that ought to be known, as well for the honour of the sacred writings in general, as for their integrity and pure couservation in the Syriac language. There are five copies of the PenChrist. Obspaw. No. 1 15.
tateuch of prime note, 1. The Hebrew original. 2. The Samaritan. 3. The Chaldee. 4. The Syriac, and 5. The Greek. The Chaldee version, may be dated so early as the captivity, and the Syriac prior to the Greek, from many proofs drawn from its internal evidence. I know, very well, the current tradition respecting the Chaldee version of the Pentateuch; but, being critically acquainted with that text. as well as the Syriac, I am convinced from many observations, that the pretensions of Onkelos are not to be confounded with the original compilation of that text, and also, that the Syriac bears marks of antiquity in preference to the Greek. The Syriac text of the historical and prophetical books is certainly very ancient, as is the same text of the apocryphal books. This uniformity of the copies, as well as their common agreement with those in other languages, fully attest; all conspiring to evince their antiquity and genuineness. The Syriac text of the New Testament is allowed, by the most learned writers, to have been written in the apostolic age, and by some to be the work of apostolical men. The Syrian writers contend for the originality of their text of the New Testament, with all that strenuousness that is common with the Greeks and Latins in regard of the Greek text. But, however this be, certain it is, that the Syriac text of the New Testament is of prime note, and bears testimony to its of. authority and antiquity. The learned Bishop Walton, In Prolegom. Operis Bib. Polyglotti, hath this remark, “Ostendit versio Syriaca Nov. Test. facion nativam textus originalis, ejusque integritatem testimonio suo confirmat.” But the Syrian Christians will not admit their text of the New Testament to be denominated a version, which implies another, or original text. Dr. Buchanan, when in India, and at a conference with the Syrian bishop and his go on this point, strongly 3
contested for the Greek, and found them most averse to such conclusion. Their Scriptures, however, confirm the truth of the Gospel against the Jews and Mohammedans, who do not scruple to charge the Christians with corrupting the word of God. The Mohammedans charge both Jews and Christians with such corruptions; but the Syriac and Greek copies recoil upon them with united force; and as for the Jews, the copies of their own Scriptures, in the languages of divers nations and communions of Christians, confute their objections altogether. It is certainly a point worthy the consideration of the learned, that the Syriac copies of the Scriptures have a sameness and uniformity all over the world—also that the Scriptures in this language have been preserved by means unknown to the Greek text, and by a system of rules similar to the Massorah with the Jews, by which every word and sentence of the text has been registered with an exactness no where paralleled except in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament. Yours, &c. T. Y.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
As we are frequently favoured with ..observations in your valuable miscellany, on political subjects, in which the welfare of the nation is interested; permit me to offer a few remarks on one which is confessedly of great importance—I mean, those projected alterations in the constitution of the House of Commons, which are styled by their authors a REFORM IN PARLIAMENT. * The epithet Reform has something very attractive to a well-disposed mind; but then we ought cautiously to guard against the magic of the term, lest we should be led to suppose that alteration and reformation are synonymous. It is certainly begging the question to insinuate that any proposed alteration will in reality amend the constitu
tion, till we have shewn in what manner it will effect an improvement. Though the sentiments of those who are most loud in condemning the present constitution of the House of Commons, do not perfectly agree; yet there is one point in which they seem to concur, that is, in the propriety of extending the privilege of voting for members of parliament. In the sessions of the two last years, it was proposed, as a great improvement, to extend the power of votin; to all persons who pay taxes. t deserves a serious consideration, whether this extension of the elective franchise is likely to diminish the venality so justly condemned; or to procure the election of persons the best qualified to understand the complex interests of the nation, and discharge the duties of a senator with the greatest purity and firmness. It is a well-known fact, as might indeed be expected, that venality abounds the most in those places, where the electors are in the lowest rank of life. To lessen, therefore, the qualification of electors, will be a most certain method of increasing bribery and corruption;– and as taxes are paid by all householders who are not themselves objects of parochial relief, the right of choosing the members of the House of Commons would extend to a prodigious number of persons who are utterly incapable of understanding the real interests -of the nation, or appreciating the qualification of candidates for the *...* office of 'sehators. o he history of civil society, in all periods of the world, shews the ignorance and inconstancy of the multitude in matters relating to the foublic welfare. And since the proportion of the laborious class of mankind, who are not paupers, is very great in this nation, the choice of our senators must be much influenced, and in many cases absolutely determined, by those who are incompetent to make that choice with discretion.
The term Reformation naturally induces the idea of restoring a thing to its former state of purity. We.. are led, therefore, to consider the original conformation of the House of Commons; and in this investigation we shall find no traces of universal suffrage, or such an approach to it as our modern reformers hold out. The choice of our representatives in parliament was committed to those who, by their rank in life, might be supposed capable of forming a right judgment of the qualification of the candidates, and to be above those vulgar prejudices and motives, which too often sway the multitude.
If real reformation is the object, the privilege of voting for members of the House of Commons should be confined to men of that rank which may correspond with the freeholders of forty shillings er annum, in the reign of Henry II. or Edward I.-Such a reformation would demonstrate a pure spirit of patriotism in those who supported the measure. To change the original qualification of the electors, is to innovate, not to reform.
If ever this nation should make the dangerous experiment of extending the privilege of election to all who pay taxes, the ruin of our excellent constitution would not be far distant. The empty professions of specious demagogues would soon dazzle the eyes of the multitude; and the interests of the state would not long be safe in the hands of representatives chosen by popular clamour.
At the last general election, I had an instance of the wisdom of that numerous class of persons who, by useful employment in honest labour, are enabled to pay taxes, yet are not the best judges of the ño. Or interests of the state. Being called upon twice, by my office of a ma; gistrate, to suppress a riot, caused
by the tumultuous support of a popular candidate, I found, upon reasoning with some of the ringleaders, that they were emboldened, in making an assault upon some of the most respectable inhabitants of the place, by the idea, that as there was no parliament existing, the laws had also for a time ceased to exist. The necessity of having a regard to property in those who were to choose our senators, directed the original formation of the House of Commons, and ought now to direct those who would really reform that branch of the legislature. These sentiments are not the result of a party-spirit: they are the dictates of that sound wisdom which existed before this nation was possessed of a regular government. Let us hear what the wise son of Sirach has delivered as the wisdom of his time. “How can he get wisdom that holdeth the plough, that driveth oxen, and is occupied in their labours, and whose talk is of bullocks 2 He giveth his mind to make furrows; and is diligent to give the kine fodder. So every carpenter and work-master, who laboureth night and day; the smith also sitting by the anvil; so doth the potter sitting at his work ; all these trust to their hands; and every one is wise in his work. Without these cannot a city be inhabited”—but “they shall not be sought for in public counsel, nor sit high in the conregation: they shall not sit on the judge's seat, nor understand the sentence of judgment. They cannot declare justice and judgment—But they will maintain the state of the world, and all their desire is in the work of their craft.” Ecclesiasticus, chap. xxxviii. ver. 25, &c. Let the people of England stud this sound wisdom, and they .# then make no fatal experiments. A COUNTRY MAGISTRATE, 3 K2
REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
Fifth Report of the Directors of the African Institution, read to the Subscribers' on the 27th March 1811, with an Appendir and List of Subscribers. London : Hatchard. 1811. price 2s. pp. 143, and viii.
We have been in the habit of briefly noticing the Reports of the African Institution as they have appeared. We are induced to give to the present Reporta more extended consideration, with the view of bringing before our readers several important questions, connected, more or less, with the interesting subject of the Abolition of the Slave Trade.
In our last volume (p. 779), we
took occasion to state, that the acts already passed for the purpose of prohibiting this traffic, were found ineffectual to their object. The trade, however, having been declared illegal, it was incumbent on the legislature, on proof of the inefficiency of their former measures, to adopt such farther provisions as might ensure the due fulfilment of their intentions. This proof having been adduced, it was accordingly resolved, that early in the next session, Parliament would take into consideration the means necessary for repressing the daring violations of the law, which had been brought to light. The framers of the act of 1807, by which the Slave Trade had been totally prohibited to British subjects, were aware, even at the time of its enactment, that it fell far short of the exigency of the case. The course most consonant ito their feelings, and to their views of equity, would have been at once to have placed this murderous traf. fic on the same footing with piracy; at least to have pronounced any participation in it to be a felonious act. It was on this principle, that the act of 1807 was originally framed by lord Grenville. He was induced afterwards to new-model it, and to
admit of the substitution of pecu-
mishment of transportation to the crime of trading in slaves, was lately brought forward in parliament, not a voice was raised against it in either house.—We have thought it due to the leaders in this cause thus briefly to explain the reasons, as stated by lord Grenville himself, of their having, in the first instance, stopped short of those measures of just severity to which they have since resorted, and which indeed they foresaw would be necessary for the accomplishment of their object. Some evils may appear to have been incurred by this more lenient course: it has been insufficient to prevent a considerable contraband slave trade: but how much greater would those
evils have been, if... through their
precipitancy, the bill had at that time been lost. Our readers will also recollect how critical was the moment of its passing. In an hour after it had received the Royal assent in the House of Lords, the ministers who had framed and proposed and supported this most beneficent measure laid at his Majesty's feet the seals of their resPective offices. And although the bill had received the active support of Mr. Perceval and Mr. Canning, and also of lord Harrowby, and other friends of the succeeding administration in both houses, yet it was impossible not to feel great anxiety, until it had passed into a law, lest something should have occurred, in that moment of political change and party violence, to frustrate the hopes that had been raised of seeing an irreversible sentence of condemnation pronounced on this cruel and disgraceful traffic.
The present parliamentary year had no sooner opened, than the Directors of the African Institution appear to have employed themselves in preparing a bill which might strengthen the too feeble provisions of the former acts. That bill has received the Royal assent, and is now in operation. Its main object is to inflict the punishment of transportation, not exceeding fourteen years, or of confinement and
hard labour for a term not exceeding five years, nor less than three years, on all persons, subjects of Great Britain, or residing in any part of the British dominions, who shall be convicted either of reducing any person to slavery, or of carrying away, buying, selling, or using such person as a slave, or of detaining, confining, or embarking on board of any vessel, any such person for the purpose of being sold or dealt with as a slave, or of fitting out, or navigating, or of being in any way concerned in fitting out or navigating any vessel, either employed or intended to be employed in the Slave Trade: in short, of being engaged, either directly or indirectly, by themselves or their agents, in this trade. This punishment admits of a mitigation in the case of persons acting as petty officers, servants, or seamen; who are to be punished, as guilty of a misdemeanour, only with imprisonment, not exceeding two years; and to such persons a promise of complete impunity is held out, in case they shall, within three months after their arrival at a British port, give information on oath against the principals in the crime to which they have been accessaries, so that such principals may be prosecuted to conviction. Offences under this act are very appropriately directed to be tried according to the provisions made for the suppression of piracy in an act of the 28th of Henry VIII. and of the 11th and 12th of William III.-The present act is not to be construed as repealing any of the former acts for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, in respect of forfeitures and pecuniary penalties; and a power is conveyed by it, to all governors of forts and settlements on the coast of Africa, and to all persons deputed by them, of making seizures and prosecuting offences under those acts. We are sanguine in hoping that this new law will very materially abridge, if not wholly abolish, that contraband Slave Trade which British subjects and British capital, dur