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Vol. I. No, VI.-APRIL 1, 1827.
I. LETTER TO THE RIGHT HON. ROBERT PEEL ........ 323 Jl. “God save the King” ......
332 III. A Visit to the Assizes ........
333 IV. The Literature of England, No. V. ...
337 V. A Hint to the London University,
342 VI. To Ada, on her Birthday ....
344 VII. A First Arrival at Calcutta ....
345 VIII. Serenade ........
349 IX. Collectanea, No. V.;.i..
350 X. Woman .......
354 XI. The Tyrant's Funeral ...
358 XII. “ Popping the Question" ..........
359 XIII. Solitude ........
365 XIV. Capillology and Phrenology ............
365 XV. Moonlight .......
368 XVI. Pearls of Poesy, No. III.-S. T. Coleridge ...
369 XVII. . REVIEW :---Narrative of the Burmese War, by Major Snodgrass ; Rough
Notes, by Capt. Head; Lord Mayor's Visit to Oxford, &c. ....... 373 XVIII. Notices OF Music:---Kentish Melodies; Voluntary by Miss Fleet, &c. 379 XIX. Monthly Register---the Drama, No. VI.; Literary and Domestic Intelligence, &c. &c. ........
SOLD BY SHERWOOD AND CO. PATERNOSTER ROW; SIMPKIN AND MARSHALL, STATIONERS' HALL COURT; J. CHAPPELL, AND E. WILSON, ROYAL EXCHANGE; J. CAPES, 111, FLEET STREET ; W. TAYLOR, WHITE HART COURT, LOMBARD STREET; SUSTENANCE AND STRETCH, PERCY STREET, RATHBONE PLACE ; J. ATTFIELD, KINGSTON; J. RUSHER, READING; J. DECK, BURY ST. EDMUND'S; J. WRIGHTSON, BIRMINGHAM ; E. WILLIAMS, BATH; MESSRS. LANCASTERS, BRISTOL ; J. STACEY, NORWICH; T. MILLER, LYNN;
A. GRAHAM, DUBLIN; AND ALL OTHER BOOKSELLERS.
“ Old English Dramatists,” and “ Recollections of London," in our next; also the lines by " Catharine."
“D—-n” is declined.
Letters are left at our publisher's for H. I., J. M. L., Turcoman, Tally Ho! and Q.
S. Si is referred to any Latin Dictionary. We cannot answer such silly questions.
X. Y. Z. twelve o'clock on Monday, 9th April,
T. had better send bis lines to the Pawnbrokers—they may purchase them, we shall not.
The “Song” sent by “ Custos,” is an execrable translation from the French: he has not wit enough to be a successful rogue.
Correspondents upon Capillology are referred to our article upon that Science.
Witness Ourself, . . JON. OLDBUCK, the Younger,
LETTER TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE ROBERT PEEL,
UPON CERTAIN SUGGESTED AMENDMENTS IN THE PRACTICE OF THE LAW,
ESPECIALLY AS REGARDS THE RECOVERY OF SMALL DEBTS. SIR,-In addressing myself to you upon this subject, I am spared the necessity of proving that there are parts of our legal system which require alteration. The acts of parliament which you have procured to be enacted for amendment of the laws relating to juries, and the more effectual administration of criminal justice, sufficiently testify your opinion upon this point. The benefit you have conferred upon your fellow countrymen by these acts of parliament, is not confined to the cases in which their operation is immediately felt; they have effects far wider and more extensive, operating not only upon the general administration of the law, into which they have introduced a new spirit, but upon the people at large, whose notice has been by their means attracted to other branches of our legal system, equally deserving attention, and equally standing in need of alteration.
It appears evident, that in all good governments there ought to be a reciprocal feeling between the law and the subject; and as. changes occur in the manners, customs, state, condition, and opinions of the latter, so ought there to be a proportionable alteration in the former. All history proclaims, that changes in the moral and intellectual condition of mankind have been continually taking place—silently, gradually, but certainly; and the more we know of the constitution of the human mind, the more we become satisfied that such must always be the case. The opinions of the man are built upon the ruins of childhood's fancies; and so also the first rude notions of an uncivilized people are discarded one by one; new institutions supersede ancient policy---new doctrines succeed to exploded opinions.--the desuetude of old laws, makes way for fresh enactments; and the intellectual light, which in the morning of a nation's history can scarcely be seen to glimmer above the horizon, soon shines forth with unanticipated and meridian splendour.
Some of the changes which thus occur, come on gradually; they occasion little inconvenience, and their operation is scarcely perceived. A peculiar custom may become obsolete.--a superstition be derided, or a language fall into disuse, without affecting the interests of the people at large, and, therefore, without exciting much of their attention; but the mighty alterations which a few centuries produce, are not confined within such narrow limits as these. The genius and character of a people may be, and often are, entirely altered and subdued ---causes of great importance cease to operate---policy becomes impolitic---morality, immoral, and institutions, which seemed to form part of the very frame and constitution of society, gradually moulder into decay.
It not unfrequently has occurred, also, that although the original reason or cause of an institution has ceased to exist---although the state of society which rendered the adoption of a certain line of conduct necessary or politic, has passed away, yet the institution itself, with all its privileges, is allowed to survive-the same conduct continues to be pursued, and that even when it is attended with conse. quences not merely harmless, but actually harsh and oppressive. All the ancient governments of Europe would furnish illustrations of the truth of this remark, but it is not necessary to go beyond our own country, nor would I enter into so wide a field of consideration, as the full extent of this subject opens to view. My object at present is to point outtertain anomalies in the practice of our civil courts, so far as affects the recovery of small debts--instances in which the form still remains, although the necessity-the reason for its adoption has long since become obsolete.
Before, however, I enter upon this subject, allow me to abjure all participation in that spirit of enmity to every thing ancient and established, the existence of which cannot be too much deplored--that spirit whose very breath is pestilential, and under the influence of which, constitutions, privileges and religions would at once wither and decay. My wish is but to prune some few of those wide-spreading and useless branches, into which the vigour of the law is too often diverted.
I shall for the present confine myself to the consideration of the proceedings which are termed " by Bill,” that is, proceedings in the King's Bench, in which the complaining party is supposed to exhibit to the court his “ bill” of complaint. Previous, however, to the exhibition of this bill, there are certain writs to be issued for the purpose of bringing the defendant into court, to answer to the complaint about to be made against him. In order, however, to shew more clearly the nature of these writs, as well as of the other proceedings, I shall trace the progress of a common suit for the recovery of a trifling debt, say Ł5 for goods sold, from its commencement, introducing nothing that is not strictly conformable to the ordinary course of practice, and it will then be clearly seen how much of that practice has fallen into disuse, although the ancient forms are still retained, and held necessary to be adopted.
The first proceeding which is taken, is to issue the following writ against the defendant, and it will be noticed, that ALL THOSE PASSAGES WHICH ARE PRINTED IN ITALICS, ARE AT PRESENT USELess---UN FOUNDED IN FACT, AND ENTIRELY FICTITIOUS.
“George the Fourth by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith. To the Sheriff of Kent Greeting, Whereas, we Lately commanded our Sheriff of Middleser, that he should take Charles Hodgson and John Doe, if they should be found in his bailiwick, and them safely keep, so that he might have their bodies before us at Westminster, at a certain day now past, to answer James Thomson of a plea of trespass ; and our said Sheriff of Middlesex, at that day returned to us that the said Charles and John were not found in his bailiwick, whereupon on the behalf of the said James it is sufficiently testified in our Court before us, that the said Charles and John do run up and down, and secrete themselves in your county. Therefore, we command you that you take them, if they shall be found in your bailiwick, and them safely keep, so that you may have their bodies before its at Westminster, on Monday next after eight days of Saint Hilary, to answer to the said James of the plea aforesaid, and have there then this writ. Witness, Sir Charles Abbott, Knight, at Westminster, the 28th day of November, in the seventh year of our reign.
Ellenborough and Markham. Mr. Charles Hodgson, you are served with this process to the intent that you may by your attorney appear in his Majesty's Court of King's Bench, at the return thereof, being the 23rd day of January, 1827, in order to your defence in this action. (Indorsed )---P. Tomkins,
29th December, 1826." Now, sir, what possible reason can be assigned for the retention of that part of the writ which is printed in italics? The writ is directed to the sheriff; but he never hears of it. A copy of it is served upon the defendant by the plaintiff's attorney, without the intervention of the sheriff or his power. The recital of the writ into Middlesex, is wholly fictitious, as is also the statement, that the defendants “ run up and down and secrete themselves."---Anciently, all defendants were put under arrest by the sheriff, and then the form might be correct; but since that practice has been limited to certain debts, and certain causes of action, the writ is entirely absurd, The “ John Doe,” who is introduced, is known by all the world to be fictitious ; that or any other name is inserted to make the nonsense grammatical, the writs being printed in the plural form---" their bodies".--" they run up and down," &c. The witnessing part at the conclusion is equally nonsensical; it is not issued by the Chief Justice, or with his privity, nor is it issued on the day inserted there. That must always be a day in term, although the cause of action may not have accrued until after the end of the term. The only part of the parchment that is useful is the concluding notice, which contains every thing in it that is true.
The defendant having been served with this process, puts in what is termed common bail, that is, he signifies his appointment of an attorney, and that he is prepared to enter upon his defence. The following is the form of this proceeding; the useless and fictitious parts being printed as before.
Hilary Term, in the seventh year of the reign of King George the Fourth. Kent to wit-Charles Hodgson having been served with process, is delivered to bail to
John Doe, of London, Yeoman, and Richard Roe, of the same place,
Yeoman, at the suit of James Thomson. 22nd Jan. 1827.
Benjamin Spriggs, Attorney. The delivery to bail here recited, and which formerly was the case, is now entirely fictitious; and John Doe ard Richard Roe, those friends to the attornies, again come forward to support the farce. How much more reasonable would it be to omit the absurd form, and state the fact, that the defendant appears by such an attorney!
The defendant now being what is termed “in Court,” the plaintiff proceeds to prefer his complaint against him, and in the case of a demand for goods sold and delivered, it is usually in the following form, which is termed—the declaration. “ IN THE KING'S BENCH- Hilary Term, in the seventh year of the reign of
King George the Fourth.