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The most elaborate, and one of the ablest of these Essays, is that upon Joint-Stock Companies, the utility of which is fully illustrated by a variety of observations upon the restraints under which capitalists are placed, by the law of partnership and the usury laws operating in conjunction ; the latter restraining the profits, unless accompanied with the risks, of trade; the former preventing all limitation of the liability to those risks. The French plan of sleeping partners, with a limited liability, called partners en commandite, all the ostensible partners being liable to the full extent of their property, is de. scribed with the approbation which it merits, but with a statement of the inconveniences to which all extensive partnerships are liable, which are quite sufficient to prevent their formation, unless where the nature of the business either enables the partners to conduct it with very moderate profits, or requires more capital than a few individuals can furnish; and in either case the public gains by the speculation.
The Dissertation on the Quarantine Laws possesses very great merit indeed. The question of Contagion is discussed in a most masterly style; and the demonstration is so complete as to set at rest, we should think for ever, the doctrines which have been so idly ventilated upon this momentous subject. It seems hardly credible that men should have been found to recommend a remission of the quarantine regulations, upon the ground of their belief in the new theory, which affirms typhus and plague to be entirely epidemic, and not capable of communication by approach, or even by actual contact. Their advice was grounded upon the expense and inconvenience occasioned to commerce by those regulations. They never seem to have reflected on the possibility that this theory might prove un, founded, and that its overthrow would be effected by the infliction of a wide-spreading pestilence. But beside that, all the facts triumphantly demonstrate its fallacy; commerce, it should seem, has already suffered no little enibarrassment, from the bare promulgation of the doctrine. The concluding remarks of this admirable discourse are well deserving of attention.
recantation was received is among the most striking marks of the im
proving spirit of the age.' We enter not here into the great argument respecting party ; but this statement is not founded in fact ; it is not true that any one avowing a change of opinion, such as Mr Brownlow's, was ever reckoned infamous, or in any way whatever blamed by party men. The change which they reckon always suspicious, oftentimes infamous, is the very reverse of Mr Brownlow's ; it is a change from the losing to the winning side-a change not attended, like his, with risk, but rewarded by gain.
· The positive proofs which exist of the contagiousness of typhus, of scarlatina, and of plague, in certain circumstances, render it absolutely imperative on us to act, in all cases where these diseases are concerned, on the presumption that contagion may be operating. It has been abundantly proved, by a multitude of facts. well known to medical men, that these contagions are often exceedingly subtile and insidious, and our vigilance should therefore be unceasing to close every avenue to their introduction, and to destroy every germ that can be discovered to exist. That England might again be visited by the plague, is undeniable. The recent example of Malta is sufficient evidence, that the exemption of nearly a century and a half, is no proof of absolute security against tlie possible introduction of so terrible a scourge. The devastation which a pestilence woald produce in a populous country like this, where the constant intercourse be. tween all ranks of society, and between the most distant parts of the kingdom, would conspire to spread the contagion far and wide, with unexampled celerity, bids defiance to all calculation. The quarantine regulations are our only safeguard against so tremendous a calamity. The alarm excited on the Continent, by the discussions that have taken place in this country, however unfounded, had begun to produce very serious inconvenience to our commerce ; and shows us, that whatever evils may result from the shackles which the quarantine laws impose on trade, they are not to be compared with the impediments it would have to encounter, from the precautionary measures that the Continental powers would deem it necessary to resort to, if any material relaxation of those laws were to take place here. Already, at Marseilles, and at Genoa, as we are informed by Mr Canning, has a much longer quarantine been imposed on British shipping, than on that of any other nation. At Naples, in addition to the usual term of quarantine, a term of three weeks has been imposed upon British vessels that had quitted England, since the noncontagionists have been so busily promulgating their opinions. We cannot therefore but agree with him in the wish, that if experiments on the question of the contagiousness of the plague are to be carried on, they should be tried and exhibited, as such experiments anciently were, in corpore vili, rather than upon the interests and commer. cial pursuits of a great nation, or upon the safety and the lives of millions of our population.' pp. 803, 804.
The length of the dissertations in general bears no proportion to the space which these subjects occupied in the Debates of the Session. Thus, while the subjects of Joint-Stock Companies, Cruelty to Animals, and the Quarantine Laws, occupied a most inconsiderable portion of the Session—the whole debates upon these three questions being comprised in 22 pages of the Reports—they are the subjects of three very long Essays, the only three indeed of great length, except that on Irish Affairs and Negro Slavery :--for they occupy not less than 60 pages. That on Irish Affairs fills 23-the debates extending through 252. But the grants to the Royal Family—the Building of Palacesthe Increase of the Army Pay-the Treatment of Sir R. Wilson-the question of Flogging, the debates on which extend over a greater space than Joint-Stock Companies, Quarantine Laws, and Cruelty to Animals, and are surely not less important in a general view, or less interesting in themselves, are passed over in the dissertations without a single word of observation or comment. We mention this, rather to complain of the omissions, than to blame the length of the dissertations which are inserted. Two of these we have already spoken off; that on Cruelty to Animals possesses also very great merits—especially the latter and more learned part of it. The first part is liable to the remark which we have already made, and which seems peculiarly applicable to all the discussions upon questions of jurisprudence—the authors have a disposition somewhat akin to Jealousy of all who tread on the same ground. Every thing is ignorance and error which drops from every other quarter; in short, the ground must not be trodden by any but themselves; and then, if the Legislature leaves it untouched, straightway comes the charge of doing nothing to better the condition of the people, of leaving all real evils out of sight, and only making sham fights about empty trifles, with sounding names. This soreness and jealousy breaks out, in a somewhat ridiculous way, in what is said on Cruelty to Ani. mals, and in a more reprehensible shape, upon a far more important question, the Abuses in Chancery. We should ill disa charge our duty, if we did not express very plainly what occurs to us on both these points; and in rendering justice to those unfairly charged, we shall at the same time bring to the knowledge of those who have planned and patronized this important and well meant work, the worst defect in its execution.
The paper upon Cruelty to Animals, begins with stating the importance of ascertaining the true principles of legislation upon this subject, and professes to lay down certain fundamental positions, to show that these afford the only sure guide to the lawgiver—to try by them the various measures proposedand to examine, by the same test, what has been said in Parliament. The cases in which interference can be desired, are somewhat ostentatiously classified, being those in which animals are used for food or clothing--those in which they suffer for our amusement—those in which they suffer through our wantonnesss and passion-and those in which they suffer for the advancement of knowledge. To these cases the fundamental principle is applied; no little paVOL. XLIV. NO. 88.
rade being used in announcing it, and some feeling of superiority betrayed, over all, or almost all, the rest of mankind, who are ignorant of it, and though compassion might have been more becoming towards their hapless lot. What then is this great and important truth? It is merely, that brutes have no rights, and that, in restraining the exercise of man's power over them, we should only act with a view to the rights and the interests of man-the only subject of human legislation. This seems really as near a truism as may be. Yet only hear what a noise of self-gratulation the statement (and somewhat prolix and superfluous demonstration of it) occasions.
• Here and here only, the legislator is on solid ground: yet • this principle has not hitherto been recognised; and it is sin*gular that every attempt at legislation on this subject which
has hitherto been made, has proceeded on the very opposite • assumption. Every positive enactment, every one of Mr Mar
tin's bills, almost every thing which has been said upon the subject in Parliament, proceeds upon the principle that the le'gislator is quite within his province, and is performing a func. tion which strictly belongs to him, when he legislates for the
protection of brute animals, and when he contemplates their good alone. We maintain that all legislation on this princi
ple is absurd and vicious ; that the constitution, or the protec• tion of the rights of human beings, ought to be the sole object of human legislation ; that no reason can be assigned for the
interference of the legislator in the protection of animals, un• less their protection be connected, either directly or remotely, * with some advantage to man; and that, therefore, that ado vantage constitutes the real and the only ground for the legislator's interposition.'
But this is not all. The tendency of cruelty towards animals being the encouragement of cruel propensities, and therefore detrimental to society, is stated as the only ground of protecting animals; and we will venture to say, no other ground has been taken by the advocates for the prohibition. Yet see how exultingly their ignorance of this fundamental principle of legis• lation' is spoken of. It is singular' (we are told, p. 761), • that among all the members who took part in the debates on o this subject throughout the last year, two only perceived this o principle.' And a quotation is given from one speech, prefaced by these words, -expressive of some surprise that any one in the House of Commons should really have had so much knowledge of the principle.'- In the debate, March 11th, • Mr W. Smith appears to understand it clearly; and seizes, as 6 an illustration of his argument, the very fact to which we have o adverted' (the Spanish bull-fights). No doubt he does,—and
no doubt we took the very fact' from his speech! Sir F. Burdett has, it seems, a still more distinct' perception of the great truth, and even states it as a principle. We are then told, after a quotation from his speech (which is far clearer, and goes more directly to the matter than any thing in the long disser-' tation before us), • In these few words, the true principle which • ought to have guided the Legislature, is stated in a clear and 6 scientific manner, and, with the exception of that part of Mr o W. Smith's speech which we have quoted, they constitute
the only good sense relative to this part of the subject which o was delivered in the House, in all the discussions that took 6 place upon it, from the beginning to the end of the Session.' (p. 762.) And after accusing one speaker of confusion of ideas, and of ignorance of the distinction between different kinds of sport, and stating another ground for restraining certain practises (bull-fights, &c.), viz. that they collect dissolute characters, and are a nuisance, it is said, “We have searched through
all the reports of the debates on the subject, from the begins • ning to the end of the Session, with the special purpose of as' certaining what was said in answer to these statements ;' and no answer being found, the inference is, that they are una answerable; which is thus courteously stated, after naming four members who took that side-and yet said nothing, “They have • nothing to say; and in this instance, as if by a miracle, they are conscious of it.' .
Now, we believe no one who reads these passages, without at the same time referring to the Debates themselves, could fail to suppose, first, that the subject had been often debated through• out the Session, and that many members had borne a part in the discussions ; secondly, that all who supported Mr Martin's bill, with the exception of Sir F. Burdett and Mr W. Smith, had supported it through “ignorance of the principle,' upon the ground of brutes having some rights, and of the Legislature being called to protect them for their own sakes, and not with a view to the interests of human society. Both these things are not so much implied, as stated; they are obviously the grounds of a charge, more than insinuated, of general ignorance and stupidity, and all manner of intellectual inferiority, in the bulk of those who compose the two Houses. Both the statements are, however, the very reverse of the truth; and have their existence only in the selfcomplacency and assumed superiority of the gifted few who pretend to have discovered the great fundamental principle, after one Member had stated it as a principle,' and who illustrated its application by the very fact' which another had previously seized