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them are, from time to time, published under the name of Reports; and these reports reach, by a regular series, so far back as the reign of Edward the Second inclusively.

Besides this collection, which is pretty voluminous, there are also some ancient writers of great authority among lawyers; such as Glanvil, who flourished in the reign of Henry the Second-Bracton, who wrote under Henry the Third-Fleta, and Lyttleton. Among more modern authors, is Sir Edward Coke, lord chief justice of the King's Bench under James the First, who has written four books of Institutes, and is at present the oracle of the common law.

The common law moreover comprehends some particular customs, which are fragments of the ancient Saxon laws, escaped from the disaster of the conquest; such as that called Gavel-kind, in the county of Kent, by which lands are divided equally between or among the sons; and that called Borough English, by which, in some districts, lands descend to the youngest son.

The civil law, in the few instances where it is admitted, is likewise comprehended under the unwritten law, because it is of force only so far as it has been authorized by immemorial

custom. Some of its principles are followed in the ecclesiastical courts, in the courts of admiralty, and in the courts of the two universities ; but it is there nothing more than lex sub lege graviori ; and these different courts must conform to acts of parliament, and to the sense given to them by the courts of common law ; being moreover subjected to the control of the latter.

Lastly, the written law is the collection of the various acts of parliament, the originals of which are carefully preserved, especially since the reign of Edward the Third. Without entering into the distinctions made by lawyers with respect to them—such as public and private acts, declaratory acts, or such as are made to extend or restrain the common law, &c.--it will be sufficient to observe, that being the result of the united wills of the three constituent parts of the legislature, they, in all cases, supersede both the common law and all former statutes, and the judges must take cognizance of them, and decide in conformity to them, even though they had not been alleged by the parties. *

The different courts for the administration of justice, in England, are,

* Unless they be private acts.

I. The Court of Common Pleas. It formerly made a part of the Aula Regis (the king's hall or court); but as the latter was bound by its institution always to follow the person of the king, and private individuals experienced great difficulties in obtaining relief from a court that was ambulatory, and always in motion, it was made one of the articles of the Great Charter, that the Court of Common Pleas should thenceforward be holden in a fixed place ;* and since that time it has been seated at Westminster. It is composed of a lord chief justice, and three other judges ; and appeals from its judgments, usually called writs of error, are brought before the Court of King's Bench.

II. The Court of Exchequer. It was originally established to determine those causes in which the king, or his servants, or accountants, were concerned, and has gradually become open to all persons. The confining the power of this court to the above class of persons is therefore now a mere fiction; only a man must, for form's sake, set forth in his declaration that he is debtor to the king, whether he be so or no. This court is composed of

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* Communia placita non sequantur curiam nostram, sed teneantur in aliquo loco certo. Magna Charta, cap. 17.

the chief baron of the exchequer, and three other judges.

III. The Court of King's Bench forms that part of the Aula Regis which continued to subsist after the dismembering of the Common Pleas. This court enjoys the most extensive authority of all other courts: it has the superintendence over all corporations, and keeps the various jurisdictions in the kingdom within their respective bounds. It takes cognizance, according to the end of its original institution, of all criminal causes, and even of many causes merely civil. It is composed of the lord chief justice and three other judges. Writs of error against the judgments passed in this court in civil matters are brought before the Court of the Exchequer Chamber; or, in most cases, before the House of Peers.

IV. The Court of the Exchequer Chamber. When this court is formed by the four barons, or judges of the exchequer, together with the chancellor and treasurer of the same, it sits as a court of equity. When it is formed by the twelve judges, to whom sometimes the lord chancellor is joined, its office is to deliberate, when properly referred and applied to, and give an opinion on important and difficult causes, before judgments are passed upon

them in those courts where the causes are depending

CHAPTER X.

On the Law that is observed in England, in regard to

Civil Matters.

CONCERNING the manner in which justice is administered in England, in civil matters, and the kind of law that obtains in that respect, the following observations may be made :

The beginning of a civil process in England, or the first step usually taken in bringing an action, is the seizing, by public authority, the person against whom that action is brought. This is done with a view to secure such person's appearance before a judge, or at least make him give sureties for that purpose. In most of the countries of Europe, where the forms, introduced into the Roman civil law in the reigns of the later emperors, have been imitated, a different method has been adopted to procure a man's appearance before a court of justice. The usual practice is, to have the person sued, summoned to ap

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