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proceeding against him as a rebel; and hence excommunication was no longer considered a necessary preliminary, and fell into disuse. The debtor was now charged to pay, and failing to do so, was charged to surrender himself a prisoner to the King, under the pain of rebellion. Latterly, the form of commanding the debtor to surrender his person was dispensed with; and, upon his being denounced a rebel, letters of caption were forthwith issued, commanding his imprisonment. But, besides imprisonment, this constructive rebellion was attended with another disastrous consequence to the debtor. All his personal property became forfeited to the Crown; and it was very customary to make grants of such escheats to royal favourites; and, in order that the officers of the Crown might be duly informed of these windfalls, it was required, that every horning, upon which denunciation followed, should be engrossed in a record before caption was expede upon it. By an Act passed in the reign of George the Second, the barbarous penalty of the forfeiture of a debtor's moveables was abolished; but the old fraudulent and degrading process of dealing with his person has been preserved inviolate till the present day, for the good of those who fatten upon the distresses of others. So much was the interest of that powerful class attended to, that the recording of hornings is still made necessary, though no assignable reason exists for such a proceeding, excepting that the law requires it. It will be perceived, that the entire system of personal diligence is rested upon a fiction, too essentially childish to command the respect of even a bigot. The veriest tyro of the profession regards it with contempt; and, in point of fact, the forms which once gave it the semblance of a reality, have long since been dispensed with. No messenger of the present day really denounces a debtor a rebel at a market-cross, upon letters of horning, although he makes a regular return, certified by himself and a couple of witnesses, that the imposing ceremony was duly performed by him. So radically absurd is the fiction considered to be, that no lawyer would think of ad
vising a debtor to institute a process of suspension, or reduction of diligence, on the ground that the messenger's execution or return, bearing that he had denounced the debtor a rebel, was utterly false; and for this reason, that the Court must regard the whole ceremony to be but the shadow of a shade, and that the attestation by the messenger of a downright falsehood, is sufficient to uphold it. Why, then, should so monstrous and ridiculous a fiction be still maintained? The principle on which it is built is not essentially incorporated with our system of law; on the contrary, it is an unseemly excrescence upon its surface, occasioned by quack practices, and which every friend to the system ought to wish to see completely eradicated. The old Scotch Statute, investing Magistrates of Burghs with the power of civil imprisonment, and the modern British Statute, extending the same power to the Small-Debt Courts, are so many acknowledgments by the Legislature itself of the principle, that the simple refusal of a debtor to implement his obligations, independently of any circumstance of guilt, real or constructive, is of itself a sufficient reason for incarcerating his person. The former act, as we before observed, was passed for the encouragement of commerce, which, at that time, was confined to burgh towns, and distinctly recognizes one principle we contend for-the advantage, in a commercial point of view, of the celerity and cheapness of legal diligence. Our ancestors, though not over-enlightened, were men of plain common sense; and, in legislating, it was seldom that partial interests interposed between them and the discharge of their duty. Their acts are distinguished as much for their solid wisdom as their laconic brevity, and afford a proof that honesty is not one of the least requisites in a legislator. It was not then as now, when every improvement, however palpable and necessary, is combatted by political bigotry, imaginary apprehensions, and sophisti cal reasonings-all inspired by neither more nor less than individual selfishness, to which those at the helm of affairs are too often compelled to sacrifice some national in
terest: but this is a wide digression. We have to observe, that since the date of the Scotch Statute, the whole country has become eminently commercial; and, therefore, the same reasons that induced the passing of that act, now exist for so extending its provisions, that the whole country may participate in the benefit of them. The history of the Small-Debt Act deserves some consideration: the framers of it were deeply impressed with the truth of the homely proverb, that "it is the last straw which breaks the horse's back;" they felt, that a man who could not pay a debt, could ill support a load of expenses heaped upon it; and that the almost certain consequence of such accumulation of expense was the loss of the debt, and the utter ruin of the debtor. This is the history of the Act, and it requires no
cover, under the diligence, the fair expenses of raising and executing it. That this power is subject to abuse we do not deny; but such abuse may be effectually guarded against, by fixing the fees to be chargeable; and, besides entitling the debtor to an action of repetition, conferring upon him a right, as in England, to prosecute criminally for extortion. The verbosity of judicial writs is of itself a grievance: why describe to the officer, in idle and pompous phraseology, the precise manner in which he is to set about executing the duties of his office? It would be quite enough to declare by law, that an exemplification of the judgment of a Court shall be a sufficient warrant to an officer to put it in force, by the ordinary and well-known course of law.
With a view to some change in the general system of diligence, we would observe, that no Judge should be competent to take cognizance of a cause, if not empowered to enforce his sentence by all the compulsitors which the law recognizes. In judging, it is possible he may err; but in carrying his sentence into effect, it is impossible that he can, since the course of proceeding is distinctly marked out to him, both by law and inveterate practice. Therefore we say, that if a Judge may be safely intrusted with the power of deciding, with much greater safety may the power of putting his decisions in force be conferred upon him.
We would beg leave to propose, that the absurd fiction of civil rebellion should be abolished, and with it all the cumbrous and expensive forms which have been erected upon it. Authority, both to poind and to imprison, should, in every case, be contained in the same writ. The power of civil imprisonment, possessed by Burgh Magistrates, should be extended to all inferior Judges, but more particularly to Sheriffs. The form of charging debtors ought to be abolished; and the officers employed be authorized by law, to re
These proposed changes, we are aware, will deeply affect the interests of numerous bodies of individuals, composed, first, of Writers to the Signet, next of messengers, and, lastly, of rapacious pettifoggers. Few of the former honourable body, however, we are assured, would resolve to oppose their own interests to the adoption of legislative measures, obviously calculated to produce a great national good. They have no vested interest in the continuance of abuse, and are too public-spirited to desire it. There are a few public functionaries would lose by the change; and justice would require for them ample indemnities. But let the public reflect upon the many thousands of pounds which are yearly wrung from the poorest and most distressed class of the community, by the mere operation of most absurd forms of diligence, (forms bad in themselves, but yet perverted and made use of by professional extortioners for their own gain,) and consider also the innumerable debts which are lost to creditors, from the circuitous nature of those forms, and the bankruptcies occasioned by their expensiveness; and sure we are, that all petty objections will give way to the desire of seeing the whole system of diligence put upon a better footing,
THE listless apathy with which I have been afflicted ever since January 1822 still continuing, and our good friends Messrs Cooper & Co., of the Medical Board, Gt. Charlotte-street, having recommended slight suppers, of boiled tripe, leek porridge, toasted cheese, and the like, by way of wadding, to keep down their specifics; says I to our Sally, the other night, "Step out to Merchant M'Crone's, and fetch a cut o' his best Cheshire, sizeable enough to mak' a decentish Welsh rabbit." Sally Diggles hath her faults, and where dwelleth the daughter of Eve that is altogether perfect? Such is her litigious disposition, that she usually stands halfan-hour every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, cheek for jowl with the poulterer, a spruce young whiskered dandy, cheapening a pair of buck-hens, as Pat Dunavon calls them, to make cockie-leekie withal; a dish that both Mrs Van and I are remarkably fond of, though a bargain might be struck in one twentieth part of the time; and likewise on our kail days, to-wit, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, the girl will arguefy with Jamie Sproutly the green-grocer, for a stricken hour by Camberwell clock, over three-penny-worth of greens, one ditto of leeks, and a head or two of celery. Saturday being a make-shift-day with the family, her tongue hath a little respite, because Merchant M'Crone is a man with whom she gossipeth not; and a dozen or so of his Banff eggs, together with a few rashers of Wiltshire bacon, suffice to take the wire-edge off our appetites. Thence it appears that James is the only tradesman from whose presence she departs as becometh a dutiful servant. On the night in question, Miss Diggles went to old M'Crone's in less than no time, hyperbolically speaking, and returned with the like celerity, bearing in her hand the most tempting slice of Cheshire cheese that ever was curdled in this or any other country, wrapt in a bit of waste paper, such as dealers in the general line usually purchase at per lb., the which
I laid hold of sans ceremonie, and desired Sal to roast the Cambrian rabbit in our Dutch oven. The fragment I took possession of, Mr Editor, is part of an epistle bearing the Westminster post-mark, evidently written by a foreigner, but in such an oddish manner, that all my sagacity was barely sufficient to decipher it, a circumstance that vexed me not a little. Indeed I was within an ace of transferring the hapless remnant to our general-purpose department, because of the outlandish style in which it is written; but on perceiving how queerly the fellow knaps his nails on the head, I thought it would be just as well to know your will and pleasure, before passing sentence. Here goes for a fair transcript :
"So mouch ove de marvels will make all der eyes strare. O how dem will howld up der hands when I do tells how de Inglismans elect de Member. Andrew, how him do?" dem will say; cock dems one lug, and listens like de wild pig. Den I will say just so. Well, I be de freehowlder, de househowlder, and have de vote. So I do tidy mineself, broush de coat, de shoes, de leetle cloas, and away I go to de Housting. One mans meet me, and him say, Where you go, Andrew?' 'Oh, I go to de Housting, to vote for Sir Murray, and hear de speech.' He up with him fist, and knock me down. More mans cry, Hurrah, hurrah, give it him, Spencer him, kennel de mangy dogs'; but all dis be very good sprees. No mans care for de crack head, and de black eye, and de frac ture bone, at election. So I do shakes mineself, and hobble to de Housting. Very much peoples be dere. All busy in dems way, some insisting, and some persisting, some preaching de politic, some cursing de parson, oders swearing for swearing's sake, and den de butcher lads do make souch clatter. O de clangour ove man and woman tongues, de howls ove poor trampled dog, de lug-rending clank ove bone and cleaver. Mine God! dem do make one concerts dat would melt de stone heart ove
all young friends at Birmingham, do strain de nerve to be clever craftmans, and dat poor Poland one day will be proud ove her good childrens. Dis you know is mine heart's wish. Tell Jonas to send de pistol dat I wrots for two posts ago, and also one flask for de poudres. Dem must be in toun one day soon, at furdest, because Captain Von Helterskeldt do sail for Dantzic by-and-by, and you well knows dat him be de fidgety mans. So, no more at present, from, Dear Paul,
owld Clovenfoot. But all de prime Babylonians haul dem winds until one good candidate mans go to de Housting rail, hat in hand, with hims best face on. Den dem shout with der might and main <* for ever, hurrah!' Den de mans, and de womans, and de dogs, howld dem tongues, de Housting peoples cry hush, hush!'-de candidate mans make speech, and him do say, 'Britons, fellow countrymans! Dis be one proud days ove mine life. Look at de powls, de state ove de powls. One hundreds and odd a-head ove de ministerialist. Dis look well. Dis be one death-blows to all de state jugglers. Dis do tells dem dat Inglismans see through der hocuspocus, and dat der cause be de hopless cause. But, countrymans, let not de state ove de powls lull mine good friends into one fatal securitys. Remember dat our owld enemys de tax-gatherer be abroad, prowling for de vote, and seeking whom he may devours. Verily, him do chace de poor mans from de snug warm cottage, into de cowld damp cellars, and even dere him not be safe. All hims leetle remaining comforts, de snouffs, de gins, de tobacs, must contribute dems mite to pamper dat rogue in grain, de boroughmonger. O, him be one sad dogs. Britons, Inglismans, now for de long pulls, de long pulls. We must attack dis Hydra in hims strong-howld, we must drag him forth to de noon days, we must bore hims jau, we must bruize hims, and den owld Ingland will be owld Ingland.' All de peoples do clap dem hands at dis good speech, and cheer de candidate mans with three grand hurrahs. Den Sir Murray do put forward him best foot, and bou to all de hubbabus so politely; but good gracious me! how dem yells and howls, and calls him de outlandish fellor, treasury dogs, owld Junk, and every oder rum names dat dem know, because free-born Inglismans love not de interloper. So Mr Bailiffs cast up de vote, close de powl books, pocket him's spectacle, and declare who shall be de Member. O, Paul, Paul, how de Warsaw lads will stare with dem eyes when I do tells all dis! Der broder, I do hopes dat you and Jonas Dowlawitz, and
Your kind loving broder, ANDREW JAVORSKI."
To Mr Paul Javorski,
at de Comb-manufacture,
This curious morsel of fugitive literature being written in a comical hand, and scarcely legible, in many places, bothered me for two striken hours and more, though assisted by Mrs Vandervrow's best endeavours, and her late husband's spectacles to boot; but, thank God, we mastered it at last; so up got I, and rang for the rabbit. Miss Diggles not answering the bell, I tinkled again and again, stamped on the parlour floor, until joist, roo rigging, tree, and pantile, shook and chattered, then called her by name, "Sal, Sally, Sarah, Miss Diggles," but all to no purpose. "Step down stairs," quoth Mrs Van, "and see what the girl's about." I did so, Mr Editor, and beheld Madam, to my great confusion, fast asleep by the kitchen fire, with Constable's Magazine in her lap, wide open at Anonymous Literature, No. VI.," one of the sprightliest literary bantlings, in my estimation, that ever was born of a fond brain. So I called her a dull, stupid, something or other, not worthy of being held in remembrance, and proceeded to curse all maids, mistresses, and masters, without exception, who presume to doze over such happy_stuff. The discovery of itself was sufficient to ruffle any fellow's temper, but greater cause had I to wail, on perceiving my hapless rabbit roasted to a cinder in the oven. "Plague on it,” said I, "what's to be done now? I wonder if auld M'Crone's asteer." To satisfy myself in this particular, I left Miss Diggles to finish her nap,
hastened to Sunket Terrace, and came upon James in the very act of putting up his shutters. The old boy hotched and leugh at my disaster, and only abstained from complimenting me with a few dry rubs, because of the late hour, for which I was truly thankful, not being in tune to abide much banter. So he served me with a cut of his very best Double Glos'ter, and we parted. On crossing the street, I perceived a slenderish gentleman scratching his head, and staring about him in all directions, like unto a bewildered fellow: "Sir," said I, "you seem at a loss which way to steer. Pray, what nook of Millennium may you be seeking?" "Nook of Pandemonium!" exclaimed the stranger, in a pettish kind of tone; "mention not Millennium to me; I've been hunting about ever since four o'clock, in quest of a place that I verily do believe is enchanted. Every body knows where it is, every body speaks of its charming crescents and pleasant terraces, every body directed me thereto, and here stand I, at eleven o'clock at night, on the crown of His Majesty's highway, with a slimy ditch on one side, and a quick-set hedge on the other." "Hedge and ditch!" said I, with abundance of surprise; "good God! Sir, you astonish me. Nothing of the kind is to be seen. Look again, and, for Heaven's sake, pay some respect to the evidence of your own senses. This well-paved street, so brilliantly lighted with patent gas lamps, is not a turnpike road, neither are the broad flagged foot-ways, on either side thereof, sleughs and quickset hedges. All the brass doorplates, you can perceive, are engraven with names well known at Margate, Brighton, Cheltenham, and other respectable watering-places, and every house you can espy is the habitation of a substantial retired tradesman. Here comes old Tanner M'Murrain, with half-a-dozen of claret under his girdle, and there stands his lady at the street-door, whetting her nails to receive him. Conscience, he'll catch it for wetting his whistle so effectually at the Bull and Bagpipes. But Mrs Jiggumbob, the fiddler's wife,
takes it much more philosophically. Only see how the good old creature lights her husband home, lanthorn in hand, from his Free and Easy; and mark how carefully she kicks aside every bit of orange-peel, lest, peradventure, the inspired minstrel should slip a foot, and injure the much-admired curve of his rubied nose. As for Cooper Bungs, honest man, he fills his cask at the Bull regularly every night, and Mrs B. fetches him honte, after partaking of Landlady Vatbotham's far-famed cholic cordial, the best and pleasantest remedy for that cruel complaint that ever was patronized by the gentle sisterhood. Here they come, arm in arm. Steady, old lass-gently, Cooper. Never did I see two persons humour each other's failings more discreetly. He swags to the right, she to the left, and the loving zig-zag tenor of their way is never dishonoured by a single downfal. Well staggered, Derby-wisely reeled, Joan; another tack will do the business. There they are, safe at their ain door. Bless me, what divine sounds! Lady Emma touches the keys of her piano with fairy fingers, sure enough. Hark how delightfully she sings the Waukriffe Mammy!" "Waukrife devil!" exclaimed the slenderish gentleman; "what may be your motive, Sir, for talking to me in such a rigmarole style?' He advanced a few paces, put himself in a reconnoitring attitude, and one moment thereafter accosted me thus, "Good life, friend Killigrew, what a wildgoose-chace I have had in quest of a knotless thread! 'Pon honour, you are a strange fellow, sure enough, standing like a man possessed, listening to inaudible melody, and seeing visionary topers in a place that affordeth not one morsel of delight to either eye or ear. But that's none of my business. Every man to his humour, as the saying is. I've brought you a continuation of Mr Doby's narrative, and the sequel will be forthcoming in a few days." "Mr Pouncer," quoth I, "it grieves me much to see a gentleman of your obliging turn so mainly kaidled on my account; but had you only attended to
Mainly kaidled i. e. sorely jaded; a Wiltshire phrase, used by way of compliment to Mr Pouncer, he being a native of that county.