« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
tion;- for he cited, with approbation, the example of France and Bavaria, where new codes had been framed: But his object, in the first instance, was to see whether, even according to the existing law, a better administration of justice might not remedy, not all the evils complained of, but that large portion of them which is of very recent growth. In the time of Lord Thurlow and Lord Rosslyn there was no arrear; the immense arrear which now so greatly adds to the delay and expense of Equity litigation, has been accumulating, notwithstanding the creation of a third Judge in Equity. Was it not then but natural and fit to consider whether this arrear was owing to thesystem, or the men who administer it? And how could this point possibly be examined, unless by investigating the Chancellor's judicial conduct? The writer, who so effectually screens the Chancellor, and indeed the system, disposes of this at once, by saying, that
no human power could administer justice under such institu« tions as now exist.' But the true question is, whether or not human power could do it as well now as they did five-and-twenty years ago—those powers being increased by one half since 1813? But why not inquire into the conduct of the individual Judge? Can any man of sense doubt that this is an office which, how thankless soever to any one-how perilous soever to a practising lawyer-is yet of the highest advantage to the community, and from which an honest and upright man would be ashamed of shrinking? Who that regards the freedom of inquiry, or estimates the importance of official responsibility; above all, who that values the controul of public opinion, (the only practical check known in our constitution, according to the oftentimes repeated doctrine of the volume before us), can, for an instant, harbour the design of recommending that inquiry should be henceforth confined to abstract points-to errors in the system-10 abuses for which no one can be made answerablewhile all actual delinquency, or incapacity, or negligence, is suffered to go free, even from comment and examination, for fear of pressing hard upon an individual high in office, and powerfully connected ? From the tendency of the remarks so often made in the work before us against en out of office, the uncharitable construction not unfrequently put upon their motires, the lavish praises of those in place, (some of whom, we are confident, will reject applauses bestowed so unfairly), the manifest disposition to find all that they do right is possible and to suppress any acknowledgment of merit in those who have done all for the cause of liberal opinions that men not in prer could efect-an incense which we are well assured it of fa too bean a kind to find faroor in the quarter it is intended
for) *--we are led to harbour a suspicion that, in the estimation of some few, though we trust a very few liberal minded men, they only deserve the gratitude of their country who will not consent
* For specimens of such unfairness, compare the treatment of a Chancellor for the time being, with that of an Ex-Chancellor, on whom the most un measured abuse is lavished, for saying a few words in favour of the Corn Laws, very erroneously, we admit, but exactly to the effect of all the arguments used on that side of the question. (p. 705.) Profound ignorance and weakness ' - monstrous ground' -- oak and triple brass round his breast '-'babbling anilities,' are the phrases applied to the aberrations of a late Chancellor of • Ireland.' When a present Chancellor goes astray, 'we incline to • hope that his Lordship has been misrepresented.' (p. 726.) When a Prime Minister errs, the remark is, to such inconsis. • tences may even good and able men be reconciled.' (746.) Does Mr Hobhouse use a strong form of expression against the Asses. sed taxes? They who certainly should feel some charity towards hyperbolical figures, inasmuch as they seriously, and not rhetorically, assert the Game-laws produced more human misery, than any a
musement the great have ever pursued, war not excepted,' (p. 759.) at once charge the speaker with either not being in earnest, but 'in• dulging in a piece of unmeaning Parliamentary declamation,' or
with attributing the greatest possible degree of mental imbecility to ( the gentlemen of this kingdom, or to the audience he was ad. • dressing.' (p. 670.) When the errors of a Chancellor of the Exchequer are to be tenderly and respectfully pointed out, the statement is prefaced by a general panegyric-he is one of the ablest • and most upright Ministers this country ever had, one who has al
ready done more good than all his predecessors put together.' (pi 237.) And to go no further than Mr Williams's motion, the grand objection is, that he does not attack the system, by laying the axe to the root ; and for this he is charged with doing more harm than good-desired to quit the premises—warned off the ground of ju. dicial reform--while a Secretary of State is lauded for his mag
nanimity and integrity,' and promised ' a more certain and dur.
able celebrity, than the heaven-born Minister, with all his wars, • and all his prodigality,' (754–5.)-principally for introducing into a bill, originally brought in without it, the application of the ballot to the choosing of Special Juries--a very great improvement, we certainly admit, and which reflects the highest credit on its author. But if Mr Williams had suggested it, and moved for leave to bring in a bill to this effect, we can scarcely doubt that the writers of these Essays would have said he was doing nothing, or worse, and preventing the real evil from being exposed and put down the real evil being a trial of political offences, or indeed any offences by Special Juries at all-to which, all the friends of liberal principles have uniformly objected, both in debates, and in the measures they have propounded. to serve her out of place. With all our disposition to believe in the entire good faith of these writers, we own there meet us ever and anon staggering passages--the vituperation of Mr Williams for attacking the Chancery and the Chancellor, manfully, and with an eloquence and effect seldom surpassed, as his adversaries were fain to allow, is a passage of this description. But who can read the reasons given, or affected to be given, for not mixing the merits of the individual in the discussion of the question, without having his suspicions still further excited ? The argument is, in a word, this. Do nothing against him, if he has never so many faults ; because, the more he has, the more effectually will he thereby expose the system, and because, by attacking him, you make his connections support the system, But unless we give the words of this unparalleled passage, we shall be thought to exaggerate, or to misinterpret it.
Admitting all that has been insinuated, rather than proved a. gainst the present Chancellor, to be true,-admitting that he doubts more and decides less than any of his predecessors,-admitting that he aggravates all the evils of the Court over which he presides,- for that very reason we would wish him to preside there a little long. er, not for the benefit of the suitors, but of the community at large. Such a judge, if the insinuations against him be true, is of infinite service in drawing general attention to the inseparable vices of the system. With a view, therefore, to reform the Court of Chancery, we carinot perceive any advantage to be gained by attacking the Chancellor ; and we are sure that such a course is attended with many disadvantages. It diverts the public attention from the great defects of the system, to a mere squabble about the merits or demerits of an individual, and it arms against the cause of improve. ment, the numerous and powerful friends of the Chancellor, includ. ing the ministry for the time being,' p. 752.
Now we hesitate not to affirm, that if such doctrine as this should ever become prevalent; if a considerable portion of the community should act upon this principle, and in the vain hope of disarming the hostility of powerful individuals, and · mi, nisters for the time being, and, obtaining their support to certain speculative improvements, cease to watch official delinquency with a jealous eye, there is an end of all purity in the adminis. tration of public affairs; and the only effective safeguard against arbitrary power is removed. The worst of ministers and of princes may fearlessly run the course of misgovernment, and encroachment towards corruption and despotism itself, and escape all censure, by only gratifying us from time to time with a change or two in some branches of our juridical or commercial policy, which may, to an indefinite extent, be altered for the better, without any sacrifice on the part of the Government, while the grossest misrule is all the time flourishing, undisturbed by the breath of popular condemnation. This is a topic too extensive to be handled here; we have perceived of late, with some alarm, the leaning of a few well meaning and liberal men towards the heresy we have referred to. Their zeal for certain reforms blinds them to the dangers they must encounter on their path towards them, if they quit the high, broad, open, constitutional road to improvement, and consent to seek it in the dark and winding byways of Court favour or official support. To assert, for instance, that the existing system is so bad, and would authorize so many wrongs, that they who administer its powers are to be gratefully thanked for not doing even more mischief than they are accused of What is this but to give every man in power a carte blanche for all manner of abuses, and not only to give him a full license for whatever wrongs he may commit, but praise for whatever he may omit to do? Yet this wholesome recipe for the establishment of despotism, has actually found some propagators amongst us, and not as a mere speculative principle, but in its application to particular instances. Mr Horne Tooke thanked Mr Addington for bringing in the bill which disqualified him for being reelected; • because,' said he to the wondering Minister, if you had moved to have me hung up in the Lobby, it would have been carried by the same majority. What he said in jest, some men have been found willing to act upon in sober earnest; and as the worst possible mischief must always be an imaginary point, no official misconduct or deficiency can ever, in the eyes of such men, be without its excuse, and even eulogy. Strange that such a blunder should be committed by any class of reasoners ! —but passing strange to find it claimed for their own by the men who reject as inefficacious all the checks over the conduct of our rulers which the constitution affords, excepting only the influence of public opinion. Of a truth, such doctrine can lead but to one of two results, if it become prevalent-absolute impunity to all public functionaries, or a speedy overthrow of the whole existing system ;-and, as the latter seems quite out of the question, pray we that the new light may be extinguished, before it marshals the way to the former consummation !
We have purposely abstained from entering into the consideration of Party connexions, which appear to be the object of such hatred
to the authors of this volume. They fall into the ordinary error of forgetting, that whether we please or no, one party always exists, held together by the ties of place, and paid out of the public pursenamely, the Government and its supporters ;-and the whole drift of their arguments is, to give that party the monopoly of all the strength derived from such associations. But it is a singular fact, that by far the most prejudiced and declamatory invectives ever urged against party, and by far the most dangerous doctrines ever broached in fa. vour of uncontrolled power, should proceed from those who assume the character of rigorously philosophizing inquirers. The manner in which Mr Bentham's Fallacies are applied to the favourite purpose of attacking the “ Outs,' (as they are philosophically termed), must, we should think, afford little satisfaction to any unprejudiced person.
Thus, men, not measures,' (p. 26) is said to be a tenet of the Outs, ' who would imply by it that good government can never be attained • by any measures of their opponents ;' and that, therefore, it is not • only allowable, but commendable for a member of the Outs to • speak or vote against a measure of the Ins, although he may deem • the measure itself beneficial ; or to support a measure of the Outs,
although he may deem it pernicious.' And then come scurrilous invectives on the gross improbity' of such conduct, and the ' impu
dent pretensions' of a set of men, who would persuade us that " they alone are exempted from the common incident of humanity, 6 the disposition to prefer self to others.' Suffice it to say, that no men ever did set up such silly pretensions, or act upon such wicked principles : But, that the State would gain by having its affairs in the hands of men whose opinions are sound, and who would go along with, instead of struggling against, the improved intelligence of the age, is a proposition hardly requiring any proof ;-nor did any one ever hear of a party in opposition maintaining, that when they got into power, they might be trusted without the establishment of
those checks, the absence of which enables the Ins to do so much ' mischief.' For the power of providing such checks has been exactly the object which the Outs had in view, when they said that a change of men was wanted. As often as they have obtained power, they have begun to provide them; and been only hindered from effecting their purpose by the alarms of the Court, and their own consequent dismissal. Then we are told, that the Outs opposé every thing; and ' when a measure is so clearly beneficial that specific objections can• not be found, the only hope of depriving the Ins of the credit they are 6 likely to obtain, is by an attempt to reject the measure altogether, ' on pretence of a regard for economy, or by denouncing it as a job; " that is, fraught with advantage to some assignable individual ; or as I likely to increase the influence of the Crown.' (p. 27.)
A great deal more is said to the same purpose ; but as there is no truih in the charge, no instances are given. Yet it seems pretty clear, from what follows towards the end of the volume, that the objections to