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criminal be not thoroughly killed, but revives, the sheriff must hang him again.1
We have now reviewed the whole system of the administration of justice, both civil and criminal, in the English constitution. The nature and authority of certain magistrates and officers, mostly of a subordinate description, some of whom are invested with both judicial and executive, and others with only executive or ministerial, functions, remain to be considered; and this will be the subject of the ensuing chapter.
1 Blackst. Com. b. iv. c. uxii. 2 Hale, P. C. 412. 2 Hawk. P. C. 46S.
OF SHERIFFS, CORONERS, JUSTICES OF THE PEACE, CONSTABLES, SURVEYORS OF HIGHWAYS, OVERSEERS OF THE POOR, AND OF MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS.
We have now chalked out the chief features of the administration of the judicial branch of the sovereign power. The various tribunals provided by the English constitution for the dispensation of justice have been described, their respective provinces pointed out, and the mode in which the stream of justice is made to flow throughout the kingdom from the courts at Westminster Hall has been shewn: but our survey of this, as well as the executive branch of the government, would be incomplete without an account of certain magistrates and officers who have a jurisdiction and authority dispersedly throughout the kingdom, and by means of whom the local government of the counties, hundreds, and parishes of the realm is conducted. These are principally sheriffs, coroners, justices of the peace, constables, surveyors of highways, and overseers of the poor. It is a remarkable feature in the constitution of England, that the provinces whereof the kingdom is composed are not (as in most other countries) governed by prefects, governors, or» other salaried officers of the crown, sent from the seat of government, and under the direct control of the executive. A system of that description has the recommendations of great regularity, vigour, and uniformity of action, and is, perhaps, the best in countries where the people are unruly, semibarbarous, or fond of constant changes; and also where the natural means of government, arising from social subordination, do not exist, or have been materially weakened by some convulsion. Our English civil polity is constructed on perfectly different principles. Its main principle is to engraft legal power upon social power, and thus make use of the means naturally produced by the social state of the people to govern them by law. Now, there are two species of government into which men living in a social state fall by a species of instinct. The first is government by patriarchal superiors or ehiefs, who are respectable for their personal qualities or their rank, or powerful from their wealth, especially that which consists in land; and the second is government by magistrates elected by those who are to obey them. These are the two forms of government upon which the whole system of our local and provincial polity is constructed. They are both productive of peace and harmony, because they are agreeable to nature; and they are also (under due regulation) highly favourable to liberty.
We shall accordingly see that our constitution desires that the people may govern themselves in those things which appertain to their local interests; not looking upon them in one light only, as members of the nation, but also considering the smaller aggregations or communities which the wauts and interests of men naturally lead them to form within the kingdom, on analogous grounds to those on which the general body or family of mankind have fallen into the grand divisions and communities called nations or kingdoms. Thus, some ancient local magistrates and officers are elected by the people; and as for the others, the authority of the crown is (or ought to be) entrusted to those persons in each county whom the mass of the people there consider as their natural superiors and rulers by a kind of tacit consent . But to prevent this local government from falling into irregularities, or degenerating into oligarchy, the law extends its sceptre over the whole, to keep both magistrates and people within those bounds which the constitution has set for them.
By these means divers important benefits are secured to the realm. The administration of the provinces being conducted by persons who have the greatest stake in their good and orderly government, and who highly estimate the duty, the honour, and the advantage, of exercising authority over those among whom all their chief interests and possessions lie, it is placed in the hands of persons who receive no remuneration for their services. Thus the public treasury is greatly spared; the independence of parliament, to which nothing can be more dangerous than a great number of salaried placemen, is preserved; and the people are induced cheerfully to obey magistrates, who are not strangers sent among them to perform duties for the sake of official emoluments, but their neighbours, to whom they are well accustomed, and of whose motives and independence they can entertain no suspicion.
These peculiarities of our English system of internal polity, perhaps, in some degree explain that remarkable willingness to obey and even assist the law, which has sometimes excited the admiration of foreigners in this country; for the people naturally feel no distrust of, or dislike to, the authority of the laws, when it is wielded either by great magistrates, whose dignity and character forbid the supposition of misconduct, or by persons well known to, and living among, them in a private capacity, and who by their social position and weight are obviously the natural depositories of power, unless degraded by some personal vice or other disqualification. Thus we have seen, in the preceding chapter, that the common law requires hue and cry to be made for the pursuit of offenders (which is a species of popular police), and expects not only peace-officers, but all subjects of the crown, to arrest a felon; a duty which every Englishman is ready to perform according to his power, though considered in many other countries as exclusively the business of certain public servants, and highly derogatory to a man of condition or respectability.1
These important advantages must be ultimately attributed to the mixture of the monarchical, aristocratic, and democratic principles in this part of our civil polity: the first maintaining the unity and vigour of the system; the second furnishing those elements of subordination and social government whereon it is founded; and the third preventing the two former from degenerating into despotism or oligarchy, and infusing new health and nerve into the whole. These reflections also serve to explain why it is that in England political power, and the management of public affairs, are not exclusively concentrated in the capital, but remain in the hands of the whole nation. It would, indeed, obviously be otherwise, if the provinces were governed by paid servants of the crown; a constitution which would not only deprive them of their independence and spirit, but draw persons of great estate and condition to the seat of government, patronage, and power, from their native counties, where their presence might appear useless, and their authority impertinent: and additional restraints on liberty would then become necessary; for when the people are no longer governed by influence, they must be ruled by power. If those institutions whereby the people are governed in detail by the most influential
1 Sir Thomas Smith says, " Every Englishman is a sergeant to take the thief; and who sheweth negligence therein do not only incur evil opinion therefore, but hardly shall escape punishment."