« EdellinenJatka »
Commons perused the details of dicially to have been guilty of such unwarrantable cruelty practised on atrocities as were stated in the rethe children in several of the port, dismissal would not be punishCharter-schools of Ireland, con- ment enough ; they ought to be tained in the report presented to prosecuted. In that case they both Houses of Parliament by the should have the benefit of a fair commissioners appointed by his trial: and parliament ought not to Majesty for examination into the interfere, so as to prevent an imstate of the schools of Ireland, and partial decision, which they would praying that his Majesty may be do, if they adopted the words of the pleased to direct the law officers proposed resolution. He therefore of the Crown in that part of the hoped that the right hon. baronet United Kingdom to institute cri- would so far alter the wording of minal prosecutions against the his motion, as not to assume the actors, aiders, and abettors of those existence of the guilty practices, dreadful outrages, as far as they which were to constitute the submay be amenable to law.”
ject of inquiry. Mr. Peel candidly admitted, that, Sir J. Newport, in compliance from the report itself, the inference with Mr. Peels suggestion, withwas inevitable, that the system of drew the original resolution, and the charter-schools was one which the following motion was agreed to did not admit of correction, but unanimously, “Thatan humble Adought to be extinguished altogether, dress be presented to his Majesty, that as soon as possible. He added, he will be graciously pleased to give that the report was not two days directions to the law-officers of the in the possession of government, Crown in Ireland to institute cribefore an order was sent, prohibit- minal proceedings against the pering the admission of any more sons concerned in the cruelties dechildren upon those foundations. tailed in the report of the commisAt the same time, he thought that, sioners on Education, so far as they if the masters could be proved ju- may be amenable to law.”
CHA P. V.
Court of Chancery Complaints on that subject--Debates on the alleged
Abuses in Chancery, and on the Commission for inquiring into the Practice of that Court--Regulation of the Salaries of the JudgesLaws relating to Juries - Bankrupt Law-Law of Factors and Agents --Joint-Stock Companies-Unitarians' Marriage Bill-Usury Laws-Scotch Law Proceedings.
NON (ONE of the great questions common law are most useful and
of constitutional law, on most excellent, within their own which in times of distress the very sphere: but if their doctrines and existence of the country has been forms were not modified by the often represented as depending, equitable jurisdiction, they would were agitated this year. Parlia- cease to be instruments of justice, mentary reform, and the kindred and would become intolerable nuielass of topics were left undisturb- sances, by the oppression and wrong ed: nor did any part of the country which they might be made to work. shew any symptom of dissatisfac- They look only at so much of a tion that such questions were not transaction as falls within their discussed. The attention of the own arbitrary definitions; there legislature was much more bene- may be circumstances, not compreficially directed to the improve- hended in those definitions, which ment of the administration of jus- entirely alter its nature: those, tice by various changes in the however, a court of law cannot laws which affect the civil re- look at; and it deals with the lations of man and man.
affair, as if that little portion of The administration of justice it which is included in a legal dein the court of Chancery was by finition, embraced all the circumfar the most important subject, stances of the case. Even where connected with the judicial in- a court of law is by its principles stitutions of the country, which permitted to look at the whole of could be brought under the consid- a transaction, it is from its forms eration of the legislature: nor could incapable of doing justice, unless any greater benefit be conferred the matter is exceedingly simple on the public, than an improvement or can be reduced to a few facts. in a tribunal far superior to all Matters of account, for instance, others which have ever existed may be determined either at law, in this, or any other kingdom, or in equity; and of all the subjects both in the practical efficacy of discussed in equity, they are perits operations, and in the com- haps the simplest: yet so unequal prehensiveness of its range, and in does a common law tribunal find the enlarged and liberal doctrines itself to grapple with this, the upon which it acts. The courts of easiest subject of equitable juris
diction, that actions, which involve infants and married women are accounts, end for the most part only concerned, surpass probably, in in one way—in the parties being utility, any other branch of the compelled, after going through judicial civil administration. The all the expense of litigation, to greater the amount of the funds refer the matters in dispute be- thus administered, and the longer tween them to arbitration. On the period during which there the contrary, nothing is too com- exists no person entitled to the plex for the court of Chancery. absolute ownership of any given İts duty is, to deal with human fund, the greater, obviously, is transactions as it finds them ; from the utility of the interference of this duty it does not shrink : it the Court: yet, strange to say, such does not substitute for realities is the sagacity of most of those narrow definitions, but examines who have held themselves forth as all their details, looks at every instructors of their brethren on this circumstance connected with them, subject, that the very circumstances and judges of them by the appli- which prove the utility of the cation of a system of principles, court of Chancery, have been made which have been built up by a long use of as topics of reproach against succession of the ablest and wisest it. It has been accused loudly, men that ever adorned any public because the funds which it adminisstation, and in no specific part ters amount to nearly 40 millions : of which has even the wildest and the mere circumstance that a prater ever ventured to suggest suit may exist for half a century has any improvement. The most or- been thought to carry condemnation dinary and simple species of suit along with it :-as if the continuin equity—a suit for the adminis- ance of a suit for 40 or 50 years tration of the estate of a deceased proved any thing more, than that trader—will often do more than during that time there was no could be done by an hundred ac- person who was entitled to the abtions at law.
solute possession of the fund which The court of Chancery exercises, was the subject of it. A testator, likewise, functions very different perhaps, leaves 20,0001. to be enfrom the mere determination of joyed by his infant daughter during litigated rights. From the mode her life in a specified manner; and,
а in which property comes to be after her death, to be divided among limited in a refined state of so- such of her children as shall ciety, partial interests come suc- attain twenty-one years
age. cessively into existence throughout The parties choose to place this a long period; and forty, or fifty, fund out of the risk of accident or sixty years may elapse, before from the mistakes, misfortunes, or there exists an absolute owner. misconduct of any trustee, or ex· During all this interval the court ecutor. For this purpose a bill is of Chancery administers the pro- filed in Chancery : the money is perty, and secures it for the person invested in 3 per cent stock in the ultimately entitled to it: and the name of the Accountant-general : functions which this jurisdiction the daughter lives perhaps 50 silently and without noise exer- years, receiving the dividends cises in thus administering and regularly, and dies, leaving several preserving funds, especially where children, of whom some are under
age: at length the youngest attains city, in comprehensiveness of legal 21,and the 20,000l. is then paid out views, in patient investigation, in of Court to the individuals entitled impartial equanimity, he was adto receive it. From the commence- mitted to be the greatest of that ment to the end of such a suit, splendid race of sages, who have sixty years or more will elapse: held the great seals of England : and during the whole of that time nor was there any one who could the 20,0001. will stand in the venture to deny, that lord Eldon name of the Accountant-general. was the judge, before whom every
Looking at the vast variety, and suitor, who believed himself to be the very complicated nature, of the in the right, was anxious to have transactions with which the court his cause heard. But that which of Chancery deals, and at the en- could not be done directly, might larged principles on which it pro- be accomplished indirectly. They ceeds, it would be wonderful in- might wound the feelings of the deed, if, in so vast a system, there Chancellor by degrading the Court was not muchwhich might be capable in which he had spent his life and of improvement; and if any set of earned so pure a fame: and gradmen, from pure motives, and with ually the degradation of the Court adequate knowledge of the subject, in public opinion would tend to had devoted themselves to the task lower the personal reputation of of ascertaining what alterations the Judge. On this system they might be advantageously and pru- had acted during several sessions of dently made in the mode of admin- parliament; and it was not abanistering the equitable jurisdiction, doned in the present. The comthey would have merited thanks as mission which had been appointed public benefactors. Unfortunately, in 1824, and which had not yet however, the subject fell into the made its report, did not produce hands of some rash nisi prius law, even a suspension of hostilities : yers who were profoundly ignorant on the contrary, it became in its of it, and of every thing connected turn a theme of abuse. with it, and who seemed to be Two discussions of the subject actuated merely by personal hos- took place in the present session. tility to the lord chancellor, for The first was introduced on the not having conferred on them 31st of May by Mr. J. Williams, certain professional honours to who, in presenting some petiwhich they deemed themselves tions complaining of particular proentitled—not by professional emi- ceedings in Chancery, delivered a nence-but in their political ca- very long and very smart speech. pacities. That great and venerable His oration had however this pejudge was to be assailed. In him- culiarity—that it was an attack, self, however, he was unassailable; not upon the court of Chancery, for his judicial failings (if such he but upon the whole law of Enghad) arose from his very virtues ; land. The law of real property from his apprehension of wrong; (of which however he declared himfrom his distrust of a judgment self completely ignorant) was the of which he alone was diffident; subject of his peculiar animadverfrom his anxious and painful sion; and the most important part scrutiny of every matter that came of his speech, if it meant any before him. In learning, in saga, thing, went to prove, that courts of
common law should cease to be object to the mode in which an so, and that the equitable and individual was attacked, night after the legal jurisdiction should be night. - He was persuaded such confounded. If Mr. Williams attacks did no good; for lord Eluttered in parliament what the don stood very high in the estimareports have ascribed to him, it is tion of the people of England.” matter of no small regret that Mr. Brougham, however, paid little such charlatanism should be list- attention to the lesson ; and in a ened to by the House.* A pro debate, which till then had been fessional man, speaking on a pro- conducted in a spirit of moderation fessional subject, should be “accu- suited to the subject, broke forth rate, for it is his business to be so." into an uncalled-for and indelicate
On the 7th of June Sir Francis attack upon lord Gifford, not less Burdett brought the subject again unworthy of the speaker than under discussion, by moving, that unjust to the virtues and talents the evidence taken by the com- of him against whom it was dimissioners for inquiring into the rected. The motion was rejected practice of the court of Chancery by a majority of 154 to 73. should be printed. Mr. Peel opposed A remarkable circumstance in the motion; because to print theevi- all the debates on the court of dence without an accompanying re- Chancery was, that none of its asport, was contrary to the practice of sailants ventured beyond general the House; and even if it were print- declamation. No one specified the ed, the session was so far advanced, part of the system in which the that no measure with respect to it alleged evil lay, nor ventured to could be brought forward. He propound any remedy. Such diswas supported by Mr. Courtenay, cussions, therefore, could lead to no Mr. Canning, and Mr. Tindal. good. They might, indeed, render Dr. Lushington supported the the court itself the subject of motion, because he thought that popular odium: but one consebenefit would result from the quence of assailing the highest of discussion which the printing of the ordinary tribunals with unthe evidence would excite. Mr. ceasing abuse, was, that the Denman and Mr. Abercromby general administration of justice concurred in the same view of the would be in some degree lowered question, but expressed themselves in general estimation : an ctfect as with great moderation. In the mischievous as can well be concourse of the discussion, sir M. W. ceived. If on any subject declaRidley made a remark to which mation is odious, and accurate his own party would have donė practical knowledge should be well to attend. “ He wished” he required from all who call for said “as much as any man to see alteration, it is where the admithe system altered; but he must nistration of justice is concerned.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer For instance, can Mr. Williams make sense out of what he is reporteil brought forward a measure for to have said both at the beginning and augmenting the salaries of the the end of his speech about injunctions? judges, and at the same time for What did he mean by a court of law probibiting the sale of those being the best judge of any equitable circumstances belonging to a case." &c. ministerial offices, which the chiefs &c.
of the respective courts had pre