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These evils will appear still more serious, if we consider that, as the special jury causes are generally placed late, sometimes last in the list, (an arrangement which becomes necessary, because the special jurors are often engaged during the early part of the assizes as grand jurors in the Crown Court,) the causes which are thus put off from one assize to another, are generally the most important as well as the most troublesome and expensive in preparation. Nothing can be more disappointing to the suitor than to be thus refused a hearing, and sent home to suffer, for six months longer, the anxiety of suspense, from which he had expected to be delivered at once; and, though necessity may justify the refusal in each particular instance, no justification can be found for permitting the habitual recurrence of the necessity. An increase in the number of the Judges is the only remedy that appears likely to be effectual; but we feel that, if it should be adopted, there would be considerable doubt as to the proper mode of applying it. It would probably be impracticable to add another Judge to each or any of the existing circuits, so as to have two Nisi Prius courts sitting at once, because of the difficulty of effecting a division of the causes between them. Upon every circuit there are commonly one or two favourite leaders, without whom it is thought impossible for any business to be properly conducted, till death, infirmity, or promotion removes them, when others are soon found to supply their places. But, in the mean time, they are engaged in every suit; so that it would be difficult to find in the whole list even one or two pairs of causes that could be satisfactorily tried at the same time; and to reduce the whole business of an assize to such an arrangement would be quite impracticable, unless the leaders were to run from court to court, leaving their unfinished causes, as soon as they had performed their own more especial duties in them, to the care of their juniors, a practice so detrimental to the interest of their clients, that no scheme could be tolerable which tended to introduce it. Nor would anything be gained in this case, by obliging each counsel to confine himself to one of the two courts. For either all the favourite leaders would go to one court, and then the other would be reduced to a state of inefficiency; or, if the counsel were more equally distributed, parties would frequently find themselves deprived at short notice, either by accident or the maneuvres of a crafty opponent, of the power of trying their causes in that court which was attended by the counsel who had advised them in the previous stages of their business, and was well acquainted with their case,-a privation which would often make it impossible to proceed to trial with any hope of success. It appears to us, therefore, that the enly practicable course is to divide the kingdom into a greater number of circuits; a measure which would probably be attended with some inconvenience, both to barristers and clients, at its first adoption, inasmuch as it must in some instances compel them to break off their old connexions and form new ones. But if the new division was skilfully made, such an opportunity might easily be left open for counsel to select for their new circuit, one which contained the counties with which they were most closely connected on their former one, as to confine this ineonvenience within very narrow bounds. A very short period of time, at any rate, would render the new arrangement familiar to all parties; and it would introduce no perplexing change in the established constitution or practice of the Nisi Prius courts.
A very important question remains,-how the improvement of our system of law can best be effected, if it is thought expedient to attempt it. Our legislative bodies are not so constituted as to be able to settle the details of any delicate or complicated measure. It must be digested before it is submitted to them. But we have no officer in England whose province it is to originate proposals for the amendment of the law. The members of the Government are, for the most part, occupied each with the peculiar business of his own department. The Judges are equally busy; and, besides, though their opinions ought to be asked and received with great deference upon such subjects, it is perhaps not so well that they should be forward in proposing alterations in the law. " There is no other per* son," says Mr Miller, p. 524., “ known to our constitution 66 but the Lord Chancellor, upon whom everything which con6 cerns the jurisprudence of the country practically devolves ;" and our author, accordingly, takes Lord Eldon pretty severely to task for having neglected his duty in the improvement of the law. But howerer clearly it may be the duty of the Chancellor to promote the improvement of the law, and that it is a most imperative duty, there can be no doubt, we do not think he ought to take upon himself the ostensible management of any great change that may be proposed. His labours are too heavy and multifarious to leave him time for more than a very general superintendence of the execution of any proposed alteration. He must commit the details to others; and yet, the public opinion that the whole had his sanction, would often prevent the due canvassing of the measure while in progress; and when it was brought to a conclusion, the blame of all the defects, discovered when too late, would be thrown upon him, and his reputation, and consequently his utility, would be proportionably diminished. It is, therefore, better that such plans should be avowedly, as well as
VOL. XLVI. No. 91.
in fact, digested by a select body of persons of sufficient leisure for the task, and not so distinguished by official dignity as to exalt their labours above criticism. To such persons, all the sages of the law, and, more especially, the Chancellor, might safely lend the valuable support of their countenance and advice, without giving to any proposed measures the undue weight of their official sanction, and without compromising themselves, by engaging to carry them into effect, if, upon more extended investigation, they should appear to be inexpedient. A commission of this sort, if well filled, might unite the benefits of theoretical and practical knowledge, in a degree far exceeding what could be expected from the efforts of any official character on the one hand, or of any recluse student on the other. The suggestions of this body should be promptly attended to, but not hastily adopted. The evil of frequent changes should be provided against, and the permanence of the new system secured as far as possible, by allowing sufficient time minutely to consider, and thoroughly to mature it, before it is brought into action. Upon this point we cannot better express ourselves than in the words of the following extract, with which we shall close this article:
“ It is to avoid that precipitation to which dilatoriness invariably leads, that amendments in the law should be projected long before the adoption of them becomes indispensably necessary. No new system of law, or alteration in one already established, ought to be sanctioned without full and fair examination. It is owing to the haste of Tribonian to do that in three years which he was allowed ten to accomplish, that the digest exhibits such a mass of incoherence and confusion. To press the adoption of any legislative measure, when insufficiently known or imperfectly comprehended, is neither wise nor honest. It is to the hurry and confusion in which the laws of England are made, that the greater part of their blunders and miscarriages are owing. Scarcely any permanent and important measure can be figured, which ought not, after it has been put into the shape of a bill, to be submitted to the judgment of the public for one year at least ; and if it were to undergo a probation of several, it would usually be so much the better. Whenever the government is persuaded that any matter connected with the dispensation of justice requires revision, the examination to which the proposed alteration is subjected, can hardly either be too general, severe, or protracted. Above all, it ought to be submitted to the inspection of those who are supposed to be most suspicious of its expedience, or hostile to its introduction. Let such persons report upc on it, not in any kind of collective body, but what is invariably muck better, in their own words, according to their own plan, and upon their own responsibility. If any objections have been offered, let them be canvassed with candour, temper, and patience, and let the fate of the proposals depend upon the result of the ordeal to which they have been subjected. If, upon a full investigation, it appears that they are not sufficiently calculated to attain the ends proposed, or if they would be accompanied with inconveniences which were overlooked or undervalued, let them be rejected; but if they have endured this test, whatever be their magnitude or importance, I believe that, in general, the public interest suffers, when either timidity, or local, or individual interest, prevents them from being effectually and resolutely adopted. -pp. 528, 529.
Art. VI. Letters from his late Majesty to the late Lord Kenyon,
on the Coronation-Oath, with his Lordship's Answers; and Letters of the Right Hon. William Pitt to his late Majesty, with his Majesty's Answers, previous to the Dissolution of the Ministry,
in 1801. 4to, pp. 45. Murray. London, 1827. The editor of this little collection is Dr Phillpotts; and by
I means of it, he has rendered, we think, a very signal service to the great cause of Catholic Emancipation. Whatever may have been his intention, we cannot but feel that he has advanced that question far more by this publication, than he ever retarded it by his elaborate and zealous, not to say angry pamphlets against it. So that, whether he may have earned with his patrons of the Protestant Ascendancy, any new title to their favour, or relaxed their anxiety for his advancement in the church,
-and whether he may increase or diminish bis share of that bright reversion in the hierarchy, to which all good intolerants look forward when the present hateful reign of liberal opinions shall be at an end, and exclusion be restored to its full swing, we at least, and all liberal men, are bound duly to acknowledge the obligation he has imposed upon us, by advancing our doctrines.
We presume that the most bigoted Tory—the most devoted worshipper of kings, that is bred in Courts, or even in Cathedrals -never dreamt of maintaining that the mere authority of a monarch, simply as such, should have more weight than that of another man, after, in the course of destiny, he has ceased to fill the throne. If it were possible to contend for such a position, it would of necessity follow, that the opinions, the bare dicta of all deceased monarchs must be of equal authority, and equally entitled to implicit and submissive acceptation by their subjects, and the descendants of their subjects, throughout all generations. Thus, the authority of Alfred, and of King John, of Richard III. and Edward I., of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, nay, of good Queen Ann, the especial nursery mother of the Church, would be exactly equal; and George III. would have no better title to challenge our respect for his sentiments after his decease,
cemed of onice, neko
se principled driveller like Henry VI., a blood-thirsty
the Richard III., or a crafty and despicable tyrant like eines Each of these princes, while alive, in office, and clothed
in regal powers, is, no doubt, esteemed of equal authority by the right believers of the true Tory breed; but after death, they must, in common sense, be regarded merely as human beings, and weighed in the scales of impartial justice. Their authority, therefore, must, to succeeding generations, be that due to their personal merits only, in which they differ-not to their kingly prerogative, in which they are equal. Weighed in such scales, what is the kind of merit to be chiefly regarded ? Not certainly virtue; for, though this is of inestimable price, as regards the fame of a prince, it is of no avail in support of his opinions, inasmuch as the silliest of mankind, whose opinion no one in his sober senses would ever think of following, or even of asking about, may be the most candid, honest, and upright of his species. But it is to wisdom, sagacity, experience, soundness of judgment, that respect is due, when we are estimating the value of any one's opinion, whether king or subject, peer or peasant.
There is a most extraordinary want of reflection, then, in the reverend editor of these letters, when he confounds the respect paid to the late King's scruples on the Catholic question, with the estimate that should be formed of his authority on that subject. He was reigning monarch, invested with all the prerogatives of the Crown, and backed by much personal popularity, when all men, more or less, some a great deal too much, agreed to respect his conscientious prejudices against Emancipation. But the Reverend Doctor, with a temporary suspension of his usual acuteness, takes this to be equivalent to a general deference to the late King's opinion, and produces some letters of his Majesty, which only show, what we knew full well before, that he held such sentiments, and also, what was not known before, how very ill he could express them-how little he had profited by the diffusion of education in acquiring a tolerably correct mode of writing, and how royal a contempt of grammatical restrictions may set the head of a limited monarchy above the checks of the constitution of grammar, and the statutes of Priscian and Lilly. The Doctor, whose habitual sense of grammar seems to have survived the suspension of his other powers, apologizes for these inaccuracies, or rather, courtier-like, he turns them to praise of his late Majesty. “They are, indeed, only a gratifying proof 6 of the earnestness of the writer, who was more intent on the “ solemn importance of his subject, than on the niceties of dic“ tion,”—(p. 11.) This certainly exceeds the old excuse for bad spelling, (whereof Lord Kenyon seems to stand in need,) which