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will peruse those portions of the work which, like certain ‘pretty passages' described by Sir Walter Scott, “ lead to nothing;' and many persons who adopt the author's conclusions, will be but unstable converts, their convictions being unfortified by a preliminary knowledge of the full extent of the subject. The same desire to keep the historical part of the subject in the back ground, has operated throughout the volume. Portions of it which the author's knowledge might have rendered very interesting, and which, if otherwise treated, would have made the whole work attractive, are passed over in an incomplete and hurried manner. This is the more to be regretted, as the author has got together some really curious matter, and is beyond all doubt perfectly competent to grapple with the whole subject if he thought proper to do so. Upon the main point we entirely agree with Mr. Tyler. Oaths are too frequent amongst us. The ‘Oath of office' prevails unnecessarily from the Sovereign to the constable; in judicial proceedings no fact, however trifling, or apparent, is regarded as established without an “affidavit.’ In matters of revenue, notwithstanding many Oaths have lately been got rid of, there yet remain ‘enough and to spare.’ Nor is the multitude of Oaths the only objectionable part of our practice. All notions of the solemnity and sacredness of the obligation are banished by the careless, undignified, and irreverent manner in which it is imposed. Men are timid to excess when they dispose of their worldly effects; they look upon the signing and sealing of a will as a transaction of peculiarimportance, requiring an almost religious gravity of deportment; some men evince even great nervous excitement upon the subject. Why is this? Because they mix up with the transaction the idea of their death, which they fear ‘as children fear to go into the dark.” How inconsistent with all this is their conduct as to Oaths Death, and that mystery of mysteries, the day when ‘the secrets of all hearts shall be known,' are more directly connected with the taking of an Oath than the making of a will; and yet we daily hear, not only of wilful perjury, but of false-swearing arising out of mistake and want of caution;–
we daily see multitudes of Oaths taken without any portion of that wariness which is used in the confirmation of a document affecting our modicum of earthly dross. In transactions with our fellow men we are all caution; but when we open a direct account with our Maker and our Judge, which every one does as often as he takes an Oath. we pass through the ceremony as if it were a very trivial matter. Such are the consequences of familiarity. Whilst contemplative men have, from time to time, pondered over the possibility of bringing back the public to a proper feeling of the solemnity of the obligation of an Oath, it is to be feared that the legislature has rather thwarted than assisted their endeavours, and at once increased the evil, and the difficulty of the remedy, by perpetually adding to the number of Oaths. The matter has at length been taken up by the Bishop of London; and, assisted by the great influence of the Chancellor, who has expressed himself favourable to an inquiry upon the subject, it is to be hoped that some inprovement will be effected. In the meantime Mr. Tyler's volume, written in a spirit of attachment to the cause of truth, which is eminently becoming in a member of his sacred profession, and with a solemnity and religiousness of manner well suited to the subject, is calculated to arouse the attention of the public, and secure the co-operation of every good man in a cause of vital importance to the well-being of society. We have before us some papers upon this subject, drawn up about ten years ago, by a person possessed of some little practical acquaintance with the effects of our present system. He contemplated various alterations, but being unable to secure the co-operation of any influential person, never brought his proposals before the public. As Mr. Tyler has left this part of the subject to be considered in detail by practical men, we will shortly poist out what were the alterations at that time desired to be effected. I. The substitution of a verbal pledge, or declaration, instead of an Oath in the following cases; in judicial proceedings, in civil and ecclesiastical causes, where the fact to be deposed was merely formal and extrinsic of the merits of the cause: in all Proceedings before magistrates which did not directly concern the life or liberty of the subject; in all er parte proceedings before civil and ecclesiastical tribunals, where no person was to be called upon to answer the matters deposed; in all cases in verification of written documents, in which, if the testimony were untrue, forgery had been committed, as well as perjury; in all matters relating to the revenue; in lieu of all promissory Oaths, except those of the Sovereign, the Judges, and Jurors impannelled to return a verdict; and, finally, in all cases in which, as the law stands, the witness could not be convicted of perjury although his evidence were untrue. II. The total abolition of voluntary affidavits. Il I. The infliction of a punishment upon persons who made false declarations. IV. Discretionary power for the Judges to direct the administration of an oath, in lieu of making a declaration, in extraordinary cases. The effect of alterations of this description would be, to get rid of many hundreds of thousands of oaths annually administered amongst us. An Oath would be reserved for matters of real importance, and, from its comparative infrequency, might be administered with a solemnity corresponding to the religious nature of its obligation; it would cease to be ventured upon with the present rash and reckless facility; and, in the words of our author, * we have good hope we should find the change one means of advancing the honour of Almighty God, by associating sentiments of awe with the administration of Oaths, whenever those solemn appeals were made to His omniscience,—by cherishing among us habits and feelings of Christian simplicity and truth, which He loves, —by preserving His holy name from profanation,-and by causing it, whenever heard, or uttered, to be held in reverence.’ Some persons may imagine that public morality would be but little advanced by the substitution of declarations for affidavits, inasmuch as there would perhaps be less hold upon the conscience in the substituted form than in the present one, and we should merely get rid of perjury in one shape, in order to make room for falsehood
in another. This is a mistake. The mere formal matters to which the proposed declarations, would principally refer, are cases which hold out no inducement for perjury, and in which consequently perjury is very seldom committed. . . Why, then, it may be asked, should they be interfered with For this reason. The administration of a vast mass of Oaths in trifling matters, and frequently with reference to obsolete and antiquated forms, renders Oaths too common, lessens their value, reduces then to mere things of form, and brings upon them that contempt which arises out of a too intimate acquaintance. All these evil consequences would be lessened, if not entirely eradicated, by confining Oaths to matters of sufficient importance to deserve the sanction of a religious ceremony. The public would thus be gradually brought back to a due consideration of the nature of that obligation which is the last refuge of truth, —the ultimate appeal to which, in this world, she can have access.— “From much swearing, comes false swearing,” is the dictum of Clemens Alexandrinus, quoted by Mr. Tyler, and melancholy is the confirmation which our practice furnishes to its truth. Theory of the Constitution compared with its practice in Ancient and Mo. dern Times, by James B. Bernard, esq., Fellow of King's College, Combridge. 8vo. Lond. 1834. “THE Theory of the Constitution' is a chimera to which every politician has recourse in order to find a sanction for his opinions, and those of his party, if he belong to a party, which in these days of political speculation is no very common occurrence. Every man now seeks to be the sounder of a school, and not a follower in anything. This is the case with Mr. Bernard. Neither the Tory ‘Theory,’ nor that of the Whig, nor that of the Radical, is pleasing to him; he has contrived a Theory of his own, and pants for an opportunity to put it in practice. But, alas ! through what ‘ varieties of untried being' must we pass before we can enjoy the blessings of the Bernardine “Theory.’ A revolution, Mr.
Bernard tells us, is unavoidable. In
its course the whole of our present
old rotten fabric must come down; King, Lords, Commons, and Church; down it must come, for all is wrong.” Some persons may imagine that such a sweeping ‘down-coming' will possibly be attended with some few inconveniences; but these will be mere “unconsidered trifles,” in comparison with the agonies which the author himself anticipates during the second stage of our progress towards the Bernardine heaven. The first effect of a revolution which this oracular teacher, this great light who is to guide our course amidst overturned thrones, helmets, and mitres, anticipates, is that it will, what he prettily terms, “wind up the farmer's affairs,” —a phrase happily descriptive of the deep and unconceivable misery certain to ensue to the agricultural portion of the community, upon any great public convulsion. The next step will be that—
“The cultivation of English land will immediately cease. Food must then be procured from foreign countries. To obtain food, the gold and silver now in circulation would be to be sent abroad in exchange for it. The gold and silver would all speedily vanish. To replace it, it would be found necessary to melt down plate of every kind, and turn it into coin; this, in its turn, would quickly vanish also, along with every other exchangeable article that foreigners were inclined to receive in payment for food. The whole would soon be exhausted ; and then the nation would be driven back upon its resources, though not a single available resource would be left in it for satisfying the commonest cravings of nature. The few remaining bullocks and sheep would be instantly devoured; the horses and dogs would follow ; when at last, all being gone, and there being nothing whatsoever to appease hunger with, people would finish by eating one another. The strong man would begin by eating the weak one; and it is not easy to see how these atrocities could ever be put an end to, except foreigners interfered to root out, by the sword, many millions of a population, which, having lost the artificial system which before supported it, would require to be cut down to the level of a natural system, to enable people in general to obtain bread.”
These will indeed be fearful times,— nothing worse has been foretold even in Moore's Almanac. When they approach, when the dogs and the horses
are diminishing, and reviewers and reviewed begin to glare upon each other with 'wolfish eyes,” our only hope will be in Mr. Bernard, and devoutly do we wish that we and all our readers may be found amongst the unsabred and uneaten few who will be reserved to enjoy the blessings of his “Constitution.” It is not only as the clear-sighted foreteller of all this “woe to th’ inhabitants on earth’ that Mr. Bernard is distinguished; equally keen is the penetrating glance which he casts upon the present and the future; and things very far beyond the ordinary limits of ‘mortal ken,” are palpable enough, when viewed by the light of Mr. Bernard's Theory of the Constitution. Little do the inhabitants of our metropolis know whom they have amongst them,-little do those who pass a life of sight-seeing, know what is really to be found amongst our “Lions.” Mr. Bernard shall tell them.
“Man has to encounter a power in opposition to him, far superior to any he has had to encounter before. It is that of the DEvil himself, who, in these latter days, having pitched upon England for his residence, and made his head-quarters London, must now be attacked in his principal hold. The foul fiend indeed is moving in such a multitude of directions, his horns, his hoofs, and his fail, are so palpably visible in every quarter around us, that his future sovereignty and dominion over mankind seem to be almost confirmed; and nothing short of the combined and concentrated energies of the whole English working people, brought to bear directly upon him, will now suffice for overthrowing his power, and reducing him effectually to subjection.
In this alarming state of things it may be asked, what is to be done : If ‘the English working people' have so mighty a task to achieve, why do they not set about it? Mr. Bernard is ready with his reply. ‘To enable the working people, even to make a beginning, they require a leader, possessed of powers sufficient to enforce his decrees.” But who is to be their leader? Cannot the omnipotence of Parliament—our pet-Parliament—our Reformed Parliament—do any thing to save us?’ ‘’A Reformed House of Commons,’ says Mr. Bernard, ‘will be so far from
improving any thing, that it will be sure to make matters worse, if possible, than they were before. If the nation leave the mighty and complicated business to Parliament, to 658 architects instead of one, no human ower can save it from destruction.’ ell, then, who is to be that “one!” Shall it be the acknowledged head of the State—our Sovereign It is impossible. Mr. Bernard says the King is a cypher in the State—almost wholly inefficient for purposes of good, but more potent than ever for evil;-in fact, the chief reason for having a King at all, in Mr. Bernard’s estimation, is to please “the ladies and the dandies.” Where then are we to look for help ? Can the Church assist us * Mr. Bernard, Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, thinks the Church is all wrong, —wrong in its belief and in its practice,—that it has exercised “a very pernicious influence over national morals,” —and that it forms one part of that ‘old rotten fabric,” which, if not taken down, will come down with a crash that will tear the moral universe to atoms.’ Who then is to be our guide? Mr. Bernard is too modest a man to answer the question directly. We will do it for him. The object of this volume is to teach the people that the time has arrived when our national difficulties are to be overcome only by an Oliver Cromwell, or a Napoleon Buonaparte, who must place himself at the head of the working classes, that is, of the Trades’ Unions, and make root-and-branch-work with all our institutions. That by way of teaching the people morality, he must erect infidelity in ‘the holy place,’ and regenerate mankind by a new discovery of the origin of moral evil. That Mr. Bernard, Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, offers his services to carry these objects into effect, and that if the public approve of him and his plan, he will publish 500 pages more, as full of contradiction, absurdity, and misstatement, as the 500 now before us.
A practical Summary of the Stamp Duties. By John H. Brady. 12mo. THIS little volume enables us to form some notion of the cumbrousness of our fiscal regulations. There appear to be about 180 different descriptions of documents liable to the
Stamp Duty. Upon some of them the duty is proportioned to the value of the property to which they refer; and in these cases there are many subdivisions of the duty. Thus, under the head of ‘Conveyance,’ we find thirty-one different amounts of Stam Duty ranging between 10s. and 1000l.; and under ‘Letters of Administration,” there are fifty subdivisions from 10s. up to 22,500l. A promissory note is chargeable with duty in five different ways, according to the form of words made use of. There are 25 different descriptions of stamped Licenses to carry on various businesses, or to do certain acts, such as to assume arms, to demise copyholds, and such like. There are 18 different ways in which a Bond may be charged with duty, besides many minute subdivisions ad valorem. But the strangest portion of the Stamp Acts is the 52 Geo. III. c. 150, which presents a list of such patent and quack medicines as are liable to duty; this list contains more than five hundred and fifty different preparations, which in the simple language of our legislature, are described as ‘pills, powders, lozenges, tinctures, potions, cordials, electuaries, plaisters, unguents, salves, ointments, drops, lotions, oils, spirits, medicated herbs and waters, chemical and officinal preparations, to be used, or applied externally or internally as medicines, or medicaments, for the prevention, cure, or relief of any disorder or complaint incident to, or in any wise affecting the human body l’ Such minute and trifling legislation is as ridiculous as the language it makes use of. It increases the possibilities of evasion, multiplies the expense of collection, creates doubts, difficulties, and quibbles; and adds to litigation.
Mr. Brady's book is a cheap and useful one, but not entitled to any thing like the credit challenged for it in the preface.
Gleanings in Natural History. By Ed. ward Jesse, Esq. 2 vols.
THE first volume of Mr. Jesse's work received a very full approbation from the public; it was a work of much curious observation, of patient attention, and of kind benevolent feeling. The tone of cheerfulness and good nature that pervaded it, seemed in unison with the subject. There was the sunshine of nature spread over the volume; the outpourings both of an observant mind, and benevolent heart. Mr. Jesse has been naturally induced by the success he met with, to follow it up with a new series of chservations; and though his second labour of love may not equal his first in variety of entertainment or novelty of remark, yet it is not the less valuable, as affording many supplemental facts and arguments to strengthen and support what had previously been advanced. We own that we are not professed naturalists, though much delighting in the study of nature, as far as our occupations and knowledge will permit; nor is our Magazine so much appropriated to such objects, as those of some of our contemporaries; still Mr. Jesse will, we are sure, not disdain our labours, or spurn our company, if we walk beside him in his rural and suburban excursions, and endeavour to corroborate, for we seldom have need to dispute, his interesting observations. Let the magic Horn
, then be blown, that is to summon before us the tribes of forest and of field, from the stag that climbs the mountain to the mole who loveth darkness; from the eagle to the wren, from the salmon to the minnow; let us command their presence, while our author
discourses to us of their instincts and their habits, their hatreds and their loves, their wild indomitable ferocity, or their mild and willing subserviency to the gentle and permitted dominion of man.
The two volumes are so closely connected in subject, and lead so much into each other, that we make no scruple in making a few remarks on the former, as we proceed. Vol. i. p. 621. Mr. Jesse has made in this, and in the second volume, p. 32, some interesting observations on the food and habits of the rook (corvus frugilegus), and he has repeated one, too often made, which reflects on the farmers for their destruction of this bird. We do hope to set this question at rest, and to assure our friends the naturalists, that a farmer may be pretty well trusted as to knowing his own interest. The rook is a bird of what is called an intermediate *tomach, and feeds both on grain and
grubs. In pasture counties the rook's utility may be without a drawback, unless he does harm by tearing up the roots of the grass; but in corn districts he would devour the infant harvest before it came to life. Rooks will follow a range of drilled beans from one end of the field to another, scarcely missing one. When not disturbed, or badly watched, they have been known to destroy a third of a whole field of barley. We had one shot the other day; its stomach was full of barley, without the admixture of any other food. The farmers are perfectly aware of their use, and do not so much attempt to destroy them, as to drive them from the fields, while the grain of the corn is in the ground: as soon as it vegetates, the little tyrant of the hamlet, the juvenile crow-keeper, is removed. A farmer has often said to the writer, that at such and such times, every rook was worth a penny a-day to him; that is, before the corn was sown. With regard to their following the ploughman, in preference to the sourer, the fact probably is, that they were disturbed in their attendance on the latter, and of course not on the former; and if the plough turned up a quantity of the chafer-larvae, they would leave a precarious gleaning, gathered in fear and haste, to enjoy a rich melting repast, that even an alderman might envy. It is impossible to strike an exact balance of good and evil; but if fields are carefully guarded till the corn is in the blade, the damage done by a rookery need never disturb a farmer's sleep; if, however, he leaves his surrows unprotected, he will find a prodigious number of gen
tiemen in black coats, taking their
tithes in kind from morn to eve, and he must look elsewhere for means to his rent. At p. 64, we do not know whether Mr. Jesse is alluding to the rook or crow, as he seems to use their names promiscuously. The bird (vide p. 66) that built on the Plane-tree in Woodstreet, was the rook, and not the cror. The Royston crow (rook), though it feeds in flocks like the common rook, yet is always scattered at wider distances each from the other over the field. P. 92. An anecdote is told of the