Imágenes de páginas

of the suitor were thus sacrificed to a wretched system. The length of the decree caused great delay to take place before it could be completed; and, until complete, it was of no use to the suitor. But the masters' office was in a still worse condition than the registrars'. The cost and delay of the procedings there were intolerable, owing to a rule, that no document could be read before the master, until it had been copied in his office; the charge for such copy being paid to the master. The parties in vain protested against taking copies of what was of no use to them or any one else: the rule was inflexible, and, in the case of poor suitors, very often operated as a total denial of justice. No wonder that the word copy-money is so odious to the suitors of the courts.

A great number of small savings in the minor departments of the Chancery Court have likewise taken place, the general amount of which is by no means inconsiderable; and a number of offices; the incumbents of which had very light duties, but very heavy rewards, were reduced to something like a rational scale by the Lord Chancellor, in whose patronage they are comprehended. The saving in this last instance amounted to no less than nearly 22,0001. The Lord Chancellor has pledged himself to bring in a Bill next session, by which his salary is to be reduced from 14,0001. a year to 8,0001. a year, and the political functions appertaining to the holder of the Great Seal to be separated from those of the judicial, which are now combined. One other bill has been matured most happily into an act, which has created a real and practical Court of Appeal at the Privy Council. Hitherto only one judge attended at this court, where the most abstruse questions of foreign and international law were mooted, and where the technical difficulties bad for a quarter of a century prevented the hearing of from fifty to one hundred appeals from the native courts of India, involving property in dispute to the amount of nearly a million of money, and entailing by this delay and suspense an incalculable mass of misery and injustice. These, the present law has removed; and the natives of India are no longer to suppose that the power of appeal has been bestowed on them in mere mockery!

If such a spirited effect has been had recourse to for the purpose of mending the Appellate jurisdiction of the Privy Council, surely the same jurisdiction of the House of Lords cannot be allowed to push forth its monstrous head alone. In nine cases out of ten, as the author remarks, the appeal in the House of Lords is no more than an appeal to a single judge, assisted by one bishop and one lay lord; nor is it rare for this judge, the only peer present who is capable of considering the matter at all, to be called on to act as the referee to decide on his own previous decision. The system of hearing appeals in the Privy Council is changed, as four judges are now substituted instead of one.

[ocr errors]

The acts for amending the laws which relate to real property, are well worthy of the deepest attention. The statute for limiting actions, as to the time within which they ought to be brought, is a good security for persons in possession of estates. As the law stood on this great question, claims, on some occasions, might be made at almost an indefinite period, when all means of opposing the claims were irrevocably gone, by reason of the deaths of witnesses or the destruction of other instruments of evidence. The length of time allowed, in cases of real property, for prosecuting suits, gave rise to the rule, that no one could be considered as having a good title to land, unless he could shew an undisputed possession of at least sixty years; nay, from particular circumstances, he was often compelled to trace it through the course of a whole century or more. Hence, the expense and difficulty relating to the sale of lands. By the new law, the time for claim is reduced to twenty years, with a saving of ten years more in cases of disability. All the old uncertain and fantastic remedies are at once swept away, and, with it, the profits and pickings of lawyers; the remedy for the recovery of property reduced to one uniform and simple standard, and the Statute Books and the Digests are at once relieved of a mass of rubbish. One of the advantages next in importance to thus shutting out stale claims is, that henceforth, the rule which makes a sixty years' title necessary, must be materially abridged by the courts-say at least one half--and thus, one half of the expense of tracing titles will be removed.

Under this head of real property, we may mention an act of great importance, as it has extirpated a piece of the grossest mummery, immoral in its principle, from the admitted fiction which it considered as a serious truth-long laughed at for its folly, or mourned for on account of its repugnance to all virtuous minds, and long known under the designation of Fines and Recoveries. We should likewise wish to call attention to another improvement in this branch, namely, that which destroys the existence of that strange dogma of the laws of inheritance, which prevented a father or mother from inheriting the lands of a child. As the law stood, the estate of the child went to the remotest collateral relation, nay, even escheated to the king, for want of heirs, rather than ascend to a parent. This absurdity, and some others, such as that law which prevented a brother or sister of the half blood from inheriting, have been removed.

The state of corporations has fixed the fullest attention of the present ministry; and we perceive from the daily papers, that the Commissioners of Inquiry appointed by the government is now actively engaged in its rigorous duties.

In Scotland, the Grey ministry has abolished the system of selfelection of the burghs— has sent a commission to inquire into its laws and courts of justice; and the church patronage in that kingdom will, it is said, be taken into the hands of the government.

[ocr errors]

The care bestowed on the regulations respecting the subsistence of the poor by rates, has, for the first time, been efficiently and properly directed by the present ministry, who have determined to examine the state of the poor by personal inspection, a commission being appointed for that purpose. The details of the investigation were carried to a most minute point; but the results are much too numerous, and too destitute of an organized form at present, to be susceptible of furnishing any certain conclusions; but, it is probable that next session a bill founded on these researches will be presented to Parliament. Before quitting a subject so intimately connected with the welfare of the people, it may be proper to add, that a very useful alteration was made in the system established by the saving banks and friendly societies. It is well known, that labouring men who wish to secure a solace for their old age, in a fund at one of these establishments or societies, are often deprived of the fruits of their sacrifices, by losing their deposit, either from want of knowledge or want of means to invest it in such a way as to render it both secure and productive. By a recent act of Parliament, the guardianship of all such hard cases as these is adopted by the government, so that the depositors in saving banks, as well as others, are enabled, by this most humane and considerate act, to purchase government annuities for life or for years, and either immediate or deferred. Experience may enable the government to extend the amount beyond its present limit of 201. a year. Tables of insurance have already been framed, and have been sanctioned by the Treasury. The whole of the money advanced is returnable, in case the contracting party does not live to the age at which the annuity is to become payable, or is unable to continue the monthly or annual instalmenis. This measure will secure the beneficial application of a vast amount of savings, most meritoriously accumulated, and, in innumerable ways, contribute to the comforts and the advancement of the social condition of the great mass of the people.

We come, at last, to contemplate the part taken by the present ministry in the affairs of the nation, in reference to its connection with foreign states. It will be remembered, that the Grey cabinet, on its introduction to power, found this country an integral party to complicated questions relating to three very remote countries from each other, namely, Greece, Belgium, and Portugal. With respect to the first, the new ministry found, on their accession, that this was the state of the question—that treaties had been signed by the Duke of Wellington's government, for the separation of Greece from Turkey; and the only duty which remained for the Duke's successors was to settle finally the limits of the separate state of Greece. The Grey ministry saw at once, that the boundaries agreed to by the Duke of Wellington were so narrow and ill chosen, as respected the Greeks, that the permanent adoption of them would be an endless occasion of collision

VOL. 1V. (1833). 'NO. II.

[ocr errors]

between the latter and the Turks. The new cabinet despatched $ir, Stratford Canning to Constantinople, for the purpose of amending the blunder; and the success of his mission proves at once the judiciousness of the selection of his agency, and the pros priety of the alteration in the limits. L10) 3,13). City 10 bsn 1. The Belgian question was like that of Greece, in this respect, that it was taken up by the newl ministry, in the course of its progress; but, here the acts of their predecessors had been carried too far not to create an obligation on those who succeeded them to fulfil the ends of the policy which had been begun. The Duke, when called on to interfere in his behalf by the King of Holland, refused to comply; which refusal was one of the reasons why this king demanded a conference. The conference was held, and it declared for a divorce between Holland and Belgium. All then that the new ministers had to do, was to settle the terms of the separation-a task which they, with the other cabinets of Europe, have failed, as yet, to fulfil.

sve prilici VoRojo! With respect to the Portuguese question, the part taken by England in the fraternal struggle is well described by this author, as consisting of her keeping the ring, and taking care that the "" jewel, fair

play," was properly respected by both parties. In reference to Russia, the present writer breaks forth against that power with a feeling which does him some credit, but with a cautious judgment, also, which does him much more. '* Jolie **To name Russia, is to think of Poland; but, alas, what have we to say about that ill-fated and devoted country! It lies prostrate at the feet of its conqueror, enduring all the miseries which exulting revenge can inflict upon a subdued, and no longer resisting antagonist. Are the statements which have been made on this matter exaggerated? for the honour of humanity we wish they may prové so; but if they are, why have they not been refuted! But, indeed, the published acts of the Russian government speak for themselves. Have not those acts been calculated to crush national spirit and extinguish national feeling ; to wound the hearts of india viduals, and to add private affliction to public calamity? Could England have prevented all this? That is the question which present inquiry. We fear we must answer in the

Date believe that if England and France had attempted to throw their shield over Poland, the certain and immediate consequence would have been, a general war in Europe, while Polish deliverance would have been a doubtful result.

* The kingdom of Poland has no sea-port with which England can communicate, and it is separated from France by the interposition of half of Germany. Austria and Prussia were ready to have supported Russia, and each had an army of 100,000 men on the Polish frontier, ready to. march at a moment's notice. If we had declared war against Russia, on behalf of Poland, we should have had to wage that war against Austria and Prussia also. But what would those three powers have done? They would all have united to crush the Poles, wbich, as their armies were placed, would have been but the work of a fortnight; and then we should


Have had to wage a general wat in Europe, not to'save'the Polés, bat only to avenge their fall. The war, too, would necessarily have been a war of political principle, at a moment when the teeent events in France and Belgium had excited, to the highest pitch, the passions of mankind, and had brought into active conflict the most extreme opinions. We believe our government judged wisely. 1 But the Polish nation sleeps, and is not dead. - Some day or other it may still awake; we trust that the brighter day which must await it, will be prepared first by a milder and juster, and therefore wiser policy on the part of Russia, and will not be preceded by a extinguish a great people, and no physical force can permanently keep renewal of violence and bloodshed. But no add mom ative ingenuity can such a people down in misery and bondage.'-pp. 97-99.

We shall now conclude our account of this pamphlet, being satisfied that we have convinced the reader that it is one of the most valuable and curious collections of facts which has ever been presented to the public in that popular form. The style, destined to convey information on complicated and difficult subjects; in a familiar manner, may; to fastidious minds, appear loose and inexact; but, attaining, as it does, the qualities of clearness and em ergy, every other reputed excellence may well be dispensed withar

m'n list you wel

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ART III.2 A Narrative of Four Voyages to the South Sea, North

and South Pacific Ocean, Chinese Sea, Ethiopic and Southern Atlantic Ocean, Indian and Antarctic Ocean. From the year 1822 to 1831. Comprising Critical Surveys of Coasts and Islands, with Sailing Directions ; and an Account of some new and valuable Discoveries, including the Massacre Islands, wherein thirteen of the Author's crew were massaered and eaten - by Cannibals, To which is prefixed a brief Sketch of the

Author's early life. By CAPTAIN BENJAMIN MORRELL, Jung

8vo. one thick vol. New York: J. & J. Harper, 1832. tjeda It is much to be lamented that between two such countries as Eng. land and the United States of America, nothing like a community of feeling or purpose exists, upon questions which equally deserve the interest of both. By the present volume, for instance, we are minded of the strong resemblance which the Americans have borne, and still continue to bear, to their English ancestors in that predominant love for the sea, and for the adventurous life associated with it, which has immemorially characterized the latter. We cannot contemplate for a moment the matter which forms the contents of the present composition, without feeling that its author belongs to a country which sympathises most deeply with our own; and that a prospect is created by this circumstance, of seeing a closer intimacy subsisting between them. England has been long celebrated for the exertions which she has made by her navigators in exploring those parts of the world which are least known, because most difficult of access."As a member of the great civilized family of the


« AnteriorContinuar »