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mercy to the landowners. But really, though we have all due tenderness for those unfortunate people who are oppressed by the possession of large estates, we cannot conceive how, even in their desperate circumstances, such a sum as L.10 a-year, scattered over a whole parish, can be talked of as a serious obstacle to a great national improvement like this. These gentlemen ought to recollect, when they complain of paying for the schoolmaster, that it is they, beyond any other class of the community, who reap a direct patrimonial advantage from the orderly habits which are the results of parochial education. They gain, in one year, by the absence of the poor's rates,—from which they are more protected by a respectable schoolmaster than by anything else,-far more than the additional salary would amount to in twenty. But, whoever pays them, the masters ought to be adequately paid; and if the heritors,—on whom this burden has hitherto fallen, and who, in return for it, enjoy the privilege of electing them, and of regulating the schools, cannot or will not contribute more, the public at large, which has a material interest in the education of its youth, ought clearly to be called upon. There is a direct precedent for this, in the recent augmentation of the small stipends of the Scotch clergy out of the public funds. The parochial schoolmasters are a part of our civil and ecclesiastical establishment; and so essential a part, that the clergy have ever been the first to acknowledge that, without them, the labours of the minister would be comparatively vain. The same views, therefore, that operated in favour of the clergyman, ought to operate in favour of the teacher; with this mighty difference, however, that a small sum will go much farther in the latter case than it could have done in the former.
After all, however, there is only one wise course to follow in this matter;—which is to appoint a Commission, consisting of a small number of persons, to investigate and report on the general state of education in Scotland. For, notwithstanding all the returns that have been obtained, and all the hypothetical computations by which they have been attempted to be mended, the full and exact truth has not, even yet, been nearly brought out. It is commonly supposed that it is necessary to be in a hurry, because the Act of 1803 expires in 1828. But this is a mistake. The statute contains a provision for a periodical adjustment of salaries at the end of each twenty-five years; and, therefore, one of these must be made in 1828. But, instead of expiring then, the Act goes on for ever. It may either be allowed to take its course, therefore, or things may be kept as they are for one year or two longer; but in no view is there the slightest apology for legislating rashly, because it is neces
sary to legislate rapidly. And, moreover, without being in a hurry at all, commissioners have ample time to investigate the whole facts, long before the expiration of the first period of twenty-five years, from the 11th of June 1803. There is much more to be done by such a commission, than merely to fix the proper salaries to be paid to the teachers. There is nothing in the internal economy or future prospects of Scotland more interesting than the general state of education, with reference not merely to the parochial schools, but to all the institutions of the country. The very existence of the commission for reforming our colleges, is of itself a reason for appointing another to investigate the condition of inferior seminaries. That commission can make no substantial change in the junior classes of the universities, particularly in the classical departments, without instantly affecting the higher schools, which, in their turn, must affect the lower. It is to be hoped that all of them will be called on to improve themselves. Hence, in every view, our parochial schools are on the verge of a great change, one way or another. If they be left behind the age, they will be ruined. But it is only a full and authoritative inquiry that can ascertain whether, in relation to what is around them, their progress is upwards or downwards. The condition of education in our large towns, to which the system of country parishes has not been as yet applied, is particularly worthy of investigation; especially, considering the increasing growth, and the peculiar composition of their population, and the number of private establishments which have sprung up to satisfy the craving for knowledge which distinguishes the times. The single fact, that while the parish schools were only about 942 in number in 1818, the unendowed private schools amounted to 2222; or, in other words, that upwards of one-half of the whole educated population is in the hands of persons whose qualifications are no otherwise known to the laws than as they are liable to the mere inspection of the presbytery,-is, of itself, enough to show the necessity of a thorough and general inquiry.
Scotland has peculiar claims upon the patronage of the State for her education. Her people have done more, in this respect. for themselves, than has been done by any other portion of the empire; and their merit was the greater, that they began in an age of darkness, and continued perseveringly through many ages of poverty, till at last they made their country an example to all the rest of Europe. It is surely worthy of an enlightened government to attempt to perpetuate this glory; and great will be the disgrace to the existing generation, if it shall allow this honourable peculiarity to become a matter of history, and not of practice. Take charge of it who may, the man who interferes successfully will do more for Scotland than could have been accomplished by any other exertion of patriotism.
Art. V. An Inquiry into the Present State of the Civil Law of
England. By John MILLER, Esq. of Lincoln's Inn, London, John Murray and Charles Hunter. 1825.
Inne impossibility of distributing perfect justice under any
1 code of human laws, furnishes no excuse for refusing to inquire into the defects of the system under which we live,-and still less for declining to correct them when discovered. Labours of this kind are always laudable; there are times when they become necessary. When dissatisfaction either with the doctrines or administration of the law, prevails to any considerable extent among the people, it is the imperative duty of the Legislature to give such serious attention to their complaints as may either remove the evil, or at least convince the sufferers that its continuance can neither be attributed to the inclination nor the indifference of their governors. The present is certainly such an occasion: Not that we believe that the great body of the people have laid aside their veneration for the grounds and principles of the Law of England, or are desirous of changing the great outlines of its practice: But that all classes, high as well as low, feel the necessity of some reform in its details, must be manifest to the most unwilling observer. In this nation too, such popular complaints have a peculiar claim to attention; for we believe, there is scarcely any country whose inhabitants are so well acquainted as the English with their own laws. Even the common people acquire some partial notion of them, while they gratify their curiosity in attending on the public administration of justice, and still more while they assist in it as jurymen. But the consciousness long felt and cherished by every Englishman, whose fortune and education place him even in a middle rank of society, that his opinion is of some weight in either maintaining or improving a system which, with all its real or supposed defects, he is proud to consider the best in the world, naturally leads him to desire a more general view of its nature; and the attainment of such knowledge has now, for a long time, been rendered easy and delightful, by the Commentaries in which this interesting and important subject has been adorned with every appropriate grace by the pen of Blackstone. Few books have ever deserved, and few have obtained, a higher degree of popularity than his elegant work: although some critics have severely censured its illustrious author for standing forth as the undistinguishing apologist of existing institutions. How far such censure is deserved, those who think this article worth reading, will probably have qualified themselves to judge; at present we shall only observe, that there is nothing in Blackstone's work from which it can be inferred that he considered improvement in the law as either undesirable, or unattainable. He felt, indeed, that the next blessing to that of possessing a law so perfect as to command unqualified approbation, is that of being well pleased with the law under which it is our lot to live; and, therefore, he endeavoured to palliate those defects, of the existence of which he shows himself sufficiently sensible, lest the disgust occasioned by these partial blemishes, should induce his readers to withhold from the entire system that reverence to which, as a whole, he felt that it was entitled. Mr Miller has discussed the subject with a different view. His object is to show the necessity of amending the law; and he has accordingly placed in the strongest light both the multitude and magnitude of its defects. He has, indeed, sometimes rather overcharged them. Thus, at page 433, speaking of the vexatious number of appeals to which the suitor in our courts may be subjected, he makes a cause travel by the following road, which we really have not been able to find in the most accurate legal itineraries :
- At common law, a cause may be brought by appeal from the Quarter Sessions to the Courts of King's Bench or Common Pleas, each of which Courts may desire it to be again spoken to, after it has been once regularly debated. If brought to the Common Pleas, it may be carried, as has been already mentioned, to the King's Bench, and if to the King's Bench, from that to the Exchequer Chamber ; and either from the King's Bench or Exchequer Chamber, to the House of Lords."
But though we think it necessary to caution our readers against adopting Mr Miller's authority as decisive of what the law actually is, we are far from insinuating that his inaccuracies are such as to render the book in which they occurundeserving of attention. Sound views of what the law ought to be, are perfectly compatible with erroneous notions of what it is in some scattered particulars; and though a lawyer may often perceive that the examples alleged by our author, are not such as will justify his strictures, yet farther consideration will sometimes show that they might have been supported by instances to which no just exception could have been taken.
Mr Miller's book is divided into three chapters ;-1. On the Constitution, Procedure, and Doctrines of the Supreme Courts of Common Law and Equity in England. 2. On some important Special Amendments, of which the Law of England seems susceptible. 3. On the Means by which the General Improvement, in the Administration of Justice, may most effectually be facilitated.
The first chapter is prefaced by a brief notice of the difference of opinion which has existed as to the expediency of the separation of courts of Law and Equity, which question the author is inclined, upon the whole, to decide in favour of the separation. He then proceeds to consider the constitution of the Supreme Courts of common law. He disapproves, as many other writers have done, of the number of four Judges, as leading to an unsatisfactory result, in case of an equal division; and he thinks five, or three, particularly the latter, would be preferable. On the other hand, many eminent persons (Paley is among them) have declared themselves in favour of four. Non nostrum tantas componere lites. But we agree with our author that, if four is the proper number, it is certainly not fit that it should, in the King's Bench, be almost always reduced to three, by the banishment of one of the Judges to the bail court in the morning, and to chambers in the afternoon. The separation (by the stat. 1 and 2, Geo. IV. c. 16.) of the Chief Justice of the King's Bench from his brethren, when he sits at nisi prius while they despatch without him the important business formerly transacted by the whole court in bank, is still more objectionable. On the same principle, we disapprove of the modern constitution of the Court of Exchequer. Thinking, as we do, that one Judge in equity is better than many, we see no objection to the Chief Baron administering the equitable jurisdiction alone; but the maimed condition of the court in his absence, would prevent its obtaining any degree of credit as a common law tribunal, even if its more ancient imperfections were removed. As a means of increasing the efficiency of the Courts of Common Pleas and Exchequer, Mr Miller proposes that the former should be thrown open to all the bar, and the latter be relieved from the dead weight of the clerksin court. We have never heard any reasonable objection to either of these propositions, or to that which follows them, namely, to abolish sinecure offices in all the courts, and to place on a new footing those of which the remuneration is disproportionate to the duties; a reformation which has already been well begun, and we trust will be effectually completed by the Legislature.
Our author is little inclined to admire the system of the common law in general ; but the technicality of its terms and forms of procedure, is an unfailing subject of reprobation with him,
In most of these respects,” says he, “ equity being of much later