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shall chance to obtain the management, the most careful, patient and humane efforts are made for their cure, so long as cure is believed possible, and for their comfort afterwards.

No invention of either ancient or modern times has so sensibly affected the laws as the application of steam as a motive power, and especially for the conveyance of freight and passengers. Railroads have introduced many new questions in the law of eminent domain, of principal and agent, of bailments, and of negotiable securities, which have been solved by the application of old principles of the common law, but under such new circumstances as to make them really innovations, and sometimes of a very remarkable character. To particularize all these cases would fill many pages of this work, and even a complete enumera tion would give but a faint impression of the manner in which business and society have been affected by them, unless we go beyond the law books, and, at the centres of traffic and exchange, consider how large a proportion of all business transactions is connected with steam transportation, and governed by the principles of law which have been laid down and established with special reference to these improved modes of conveyance. Railroad securities now constitute a very large share of the commercial paper of the world, and the law of negotiable paper has been modified and changed so as to embrace them: and they have become for many purposes a substitute for money in the markets of the world, not surpassed in value or convenience by any other securities, except, possibly, the public debt of a few of the leading nations.

Perhaps in no particular has the change in the law of property been so palpable and so beneficial as in its relations to real estate. This species of property has at fast been made liable generally to the payment of the debts of its owner, and the absurd exemption which formerly prevailed has been done away. Estates tail are also brought under more reasonable rules; restraints upon alienation have been limited within narrow bounds; the forms of conveyance have been simplified; fines and recoveries have given way to a simple deed, acknowledged by the party and expressing the real purpose of the conveyance; real actions have been abolished, and the proceedings to try claims to real property have been reduced to the action of ejectment, which, at the same time has been divested of all its cumbrous forms and needless fictions. Limitation laws have also been passed, under which claims to real property must be pursued within a reasonable period; and the law of descent has been considerably improved.

The establishment of penny postage has increased the correspondence of the kingdom to enormous proportions, and has doubtless tended, in a considerable degree, to the spread of intelligence among the people, and to a more general desire that the means of education may be brought within the reach of all, which bids fair, at a period not now remote, to result in a general system of free schools supported by public taxation. Postage to the colonies and to foreign countries is also established at very low rates, and the facilities which are afforded for still more rapid communication by means of the electric telegraph, though now expensive, are made available, by means of a cheap public press, for diffusing among all classes of the people the speedy intelligence of important affairs as they transpire in every quarter of the globe.

When our commentator wrote, the general disposition among the statesmen in England was, to assert and maintain the unlimited power of the British parliament to control and govern the British colonies at its discretion, and to bind them by its enactments as well in respect to local concerns as to those of a more general nature. The attempt to enforce this view by military power lost to the empire the finest portion of her colonies, and the dissevered country has since, by the establishment of free institutions, by the enactment of just laws, and by the cultivation of the arts of peace, attracted to itself a large immigration of industrious, enterprising, and liberty-loving people, and attained a population, a wealth of resources and a financial standing that gives it rank among the first nations of the globe in point of influence, power and importance. The lesson of this loss has not been thrown away upon the British nation, and a more liberal and just spirit now controls the relations between the mother country and its colonies. The right of the colonies to regulate their internal affairs is conceded and protected. At the same time it is perceived that those colonies are but embryo states, whose maturity and independence must at some time be recognized, and the government, instead of seeking to perpetuate their condition of pupilage and dependence, favors and encourages their increase in strength, population and resources, and prepares the way for making the separation, should it take place, result in the mutual benefit of both, and in permanent amity between them. The cruel and exacting government of India by the East India company has been abolished, and though the subject people of that country are not likely soon to be in condition to share the blessings of self-government, the rule of the crown will be found much more mild and just than that which it has superseded, and the change is a long stride in the direction of substantial progress.

Much has been done in the interest of humanity by the laws which regulate the working of children in mines, factories, &c., and which give for the benefit of the surviving family an action against the party whose negligence or default has caused the death of another Much also has been done for public morals, and for the equal and just administration of the law in the interest of the people, by the abolition of profitable sinecures, and by modification of official emoluments, to make them correspond in some degree with the services performed and the responsibilities assumed. And, while to those who live under a simpler form of government, and in a society less decidedly aristocratic in organization, habits and sentiment, the emoluments of many English offices must still appear enormous, yet the change in the direction of

economy has been as great, perhaps, as could reasonably have been expected, and the phrase that "all abuses are freeholds," once justly applied to the English official system, may now be dismissed as obsolete.

Of the petty annoyances to which British subjects were liable, and which, in the aggregate, amounted to serious evils, two of the chief were abolished by the statutes so modifying the game laws as to do away with the previous qualifications, and those for abolishing tithes and substituting a rent charge instead. These will be found particularly alluded to, and the extent of the changes indicated in the preceding pages. The abolition of tithes has undoubtedly done something to strengthen and support the national church, or, at least, to render it less odious to those not in communion with it, and the statutory provisions against pluralities have also romoved another source of seriou. complaint, and all together have resulted to the substantial benefit of the cause of religion and public morals.

The poor laws of Great Britain have been wholly revised since the time of our author; and we wish we could say, with entire confidence, that they have been greatly improved. No doubt the changes are for the better; but, with so large a pauper population as that country unfortunately possesses, the inherent difficulties are great, and we must still look to the future for reforms which can benefit their condition to any considerable degree. Upon these, and similar subjects, changes must generally be in the nature of experiment, and it is difficult to determine, many times, until after considerable experience, whether they constitute substantial improve

ments or not.

Upon one particular subject we are glad to have it in our power to say that the English system and English opinions have undergone no change. We refer to the deep settled conviction, that standing armies are inconsistent with liberty, which has prevented the people from being burdened with the support of large military forces, which could only constitute a means of oppression to the people at home, and of menace to other nations. While some of the neighboring nations have been steadily and rapidly enlarging their standing armies, until they constitute a very large proportion of their able-bodied men, and the life and energy of their peo ple are exhausted by their withdrawal from the avocations of industry, and being made a charge upon the public, instead of contributing to the public wealth, Great Britain, secure in her insular position, and trusting to the patriotism of her people to protect her against unexpected assaults, has contented herself with garrisons for her forts and other fortified places, and relied upon the voluntary training of the people to arms to fit them for the wars which may be inevitable, but which the policy, not less than the best sentiment of her Christian people, now inclines her to avoid. In this policy she is followed by the great republic of the western hemisphere, which, in the most important and threatening crisis of its national existence, has demonstrated that, with a free people, standing armies are worse than useless, and that the best dependence of any government is in civil and political liberty, in just laws, justly


Among the minor changes deserving of note are the abolition of the counties palatine, and the bringing of Wales more directly within the jurisdiction of the English courts. Among those of greater importance are the simplification and expediting of proceedings in chancery; the abolition of the office of master in chancery, and the introduction of jury trial in the courts of equity; the taking away, from the ecclesiastical courts, the jurisdiction over probate and matrimonial causes, and conferring it upon courts specially created for its exercise; the simplification of pleadings and proceedings in courts of law; the remodelling of the judicial committee of the privy council, so as greatly to enlarge its powers and give to its constitution and proceedings more of the judicial character and importance; the establishment of a court of criminal appeal, and the almost total abolition of the legal objections to the competency of witnesses. All the new improvements in these and similar matters are noted in the preceding pages, and so given as to enable the reader to compare the existing system with that which it has displaced.

Many of the most useful and beneficial changes in English law could not, with any propriety, be given in notes to the foregoing Commentaries, because they relate to subjects not treated in them, and but distantly, if at all, referred to. Among these are the establishment of a board for the administration of charitable trusts; the statutes establishing or providing for local regulations of police for ensuring cleanliness and good order, and thereby promoting the health and happiness of the people, and those, also, which encourage local libraries and schools, and other means of voluntary instruction of the people. And, while these sheets are passing through the press, the people of Great Britain are discussing earnestly a general system of public secular instruction, to be supported from the public treasury, and brought within the reach of rich and poor alike; and with every prospect of its early establishment. The condition of women has also been improved - indeed, we might justly say, the condition of society-by the more distinct recognition of their right to property, and by lessening the power of control which the common law allowed to the husband over the wife and over her possessions. And we must not omit to mention, in this place, that the system of local self-government, which has always characterized England, has been greatly improved and amplified by the modern municipal corporation acts; and the tendency of late in Great Britain-unlike that in some other countrieshas been towards a strengthening of the local authorities, and an increase of their powers and jurisdiction.

In closing this review of the recent modifications in English law, it may be justly remarked that the changes have not been maʼʻle in haste and unadvisedly, or often under the influence

of passion or excitement, but that they have been introduced with caution, discussed freely, fully and calmly, and only adopted after reasonable deliberation, and after all objections had been considered and weighed. Indeed, the eminent conservatism of the English character has often tended to continue for long periods what have been known and admitted to be abuses in their system. But if this has been a just ground for reproach, we must at the same time admit that the general result has been that, when amendments have finally been made in the law, they have been beneficial, safe, prudent and permanent, and that English legislation has been characterized with more stability than that of some other countries.

The changes in American law have not been so great or so striking as those in the law of England, because, in many particulars, America began at a point which Great Britain has only now reached. In the adoption of the constitution of the United States, the great idea of religious freedom and equality was assumed as fundamental; no state had a church estalishment; there were no tithes to abolish, or religious oppression to be relieved from; and the few traces of discriminations against particular classes of persons, based on religious beliefs or profession, have been allowed to disappear by common consent. The oppressive features of the feudal system, which clung so long to the law of real estate in England, were never transplanted in America; the right of primogeniture in descents was generally discarded; the forms of conveyance were always simple, and real estate was, from the first, made assets for the payment of debts. And many of the most repulsive features in the common law of England were never engrafted in the law of America, which, from the very beginning, gave more full effect to the presumption of innocence on behalf of persons accused of crime, and avoided the severe punishments in the case of small offences, which were deemed necessary in England at the middle of the last century.

The United States exerted its authority to forbid the importation of slaves into the country at the very earliest period permitted by its constitution, and followed this prohibition, in a few years, by making the slave trade piracy. Within the states, however, the government of the nation had no control of the domestic institutions, and the relation of slavery was allowed to exist in some of them, until overthrown in the course of a great civil war. It is now entirely at an end throughout the whole country; but some of the evils, necessarily resulting from so great and sudden a change in society, are still upon the country, and it will require time, patience and wise statesmanship to wholly eradicate them.

The right of married women to the real and personal estate of every name and description possessed by them at the time of their marriage, or in any manner acquired afterwards, and to make contracts in relation thereto, and to sell or otherwise dispose of the same, has gradually come to be recognized in most of the states; and the evils anticipated from this great departure from the common-law principle, that the civil existence of the wife is swallowed up in that of the husband, have been looked for in vain. At the same time, the law has come to pay more regard to the rights of the family in the property acquired by its head, generally through the joint exertions of all; and while facilitating and simplifying the processes for the collection of debts, it has in most states made liberal exemptions for the benefit of the family, and, in case of the homestead, and sometimes of other property also, has forbidden the husband to incumber or dispose of it, except with the wife's assent.

Marriage is generally recognized as a relation by contract, into which parties can enter by such ceremony as they please, or without any ceremony whatever; and the regulations by statute are only such as are deemed essential to prevent irregular and discreditable relations, and to insure a proper record of so important a transaction.

Imprisonment for debt is abolished throughout the country, and ample provision is made everywhere for the support of the helpless poor. Asylums for the insane and for other unfortunate classes are established by state laws, and supported by state taxation; and, it is believed, they are made generally to subserve faithfully the purposes of their creation. The large number of immigrants landing every year upon our shores, renders regulations for their comfort, and to protect them against fraud and dishonesty, important; and provision of the most liberal character has been made for these purposes. The vast public domain is thrown open to actual settlers for the choice of homesteads, which, to a reasonable amount, are donated to them by the government; and if they desire to add to these possessions from the adjacent territory, the price of other public lands is fixed at a rate to make them accessible to any person who. having the ability to labor, joins thereto a disposition to industry, frugality and economy.

Suffrage in the United States has always been nearly universal; generally only the dependent classes being excluded from participation; and in the states in which a small property qualifica tion was at first established, it has afterward been abolished; and provision has been made by law for the naturalization of the aliens who come to cast their lot in the new world, through a proceeding both simple and inexpensive. Indeed, in some of the new states, even this formality has once been dispensed with, for, in framing their constitutions, they have allowed every boua fide resident to participate, and given to all an equal voice in the government.

One of the most noticeable changes in the law of America has been in the direction of imposing restraints upon the legislative power in the enactment of laws. The American people, from the first, have shown great solicitude, lest fundamental individual rights should be trampled upon, and they have made each of their constitutions a magna carta, by means of which barriers are erected against the encroachments of government. The promise extorted from King John, that no freeman should be taken, or imprisoned, or disseised, or outlawed or banished, or

any way destroyed, except by the judgment of his peers, or the law of the land, is repeated in substance in them all, and, lest this comprehensive declaration should prove insufficient, there is a careful enumeration of rights, which are guarded from the encroachments of power, and of secůrities for the protection of liberty, where government is exercising its acknowledged authority. Religious liberty shall not be invaded; freedom of speech shall be inviolate; soldiers shall not be quartered upon citizens in time of peace; unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be allowed; the press shall be free; and a jury shall pass upon the criminality of any of its alleged excesses. Taxes shall only be levied in accordance with law, and when voted by the people's representatives: the military shall be subordinate to the civil authority; the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall be inviolate; no accused party shall be compelled to give evidence against himself. and none shall be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb for the same offence. But the disposition of late is to go far beyond this specification of individual rights, to inhibit class legislation, as well as the omnibus system of making laws, and to restrain within reasonable bounds the private legislation of which all our law-making bodies are apt to be so prolific. Forms of proceeding are also prescribed in some cases, the purpose of which is to ensure care and deliberation in the enactment of laws, and to prevent the legislature being taken by surprise by designing and unscrupulous men. And a strong inclination has been developed to forbid private and special acts in all cases where public and general laws can reasonably accomplish the end designed.

The proceedings in courts of justice have been greatly simplified within a few years. In this direction, however, there was not the same room for improveinent as in England. Many of the states had no distinct equity system, and those which had established one had, at the same time, established regulations to render its remedies speedy and reasonably inexpensive. At this time equitable and legal remedies are generally administered by the same courts, and under forms which are very simple, and with such ample power in the court to amend the pleadings and proceedings for the advancement of justice, that it is not easy for the forms of law to be employed for the furtherance of unjust and oppressive schemes. In some states statutes have been passed, the purpose of which was to sweep away at a single blow all legal subtleties and technicalities in the forms of pleadings and proceedings; and where changes so radical have been avoided, the old forms have been greatly simplified, and the lawyer may now safely give more attention to the merits of his cause, and less to the forms provided by law, by means of which his client's rights are to be protected or his wrongs redressed.

Many of the modern changes in the English law enumerated in this note have been simultaneously made in America, and with the like good result. Among them may be mentioned the remedy given to the family of any deceased person whose death has been caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of another, and the doing away with objections to the competency of witnesses based upon their interest or connection with the cause. The latter innovation has been followed in some states by statutes permitting accused parties in criminal cases to give their own account of the transaction to the jury; and the result has been generally satisfactory. America preceded England in abolishing imprisonment for debt, and she has also exhibited a greater readiness to modify the law of nations for the protection of the rights and interests of neutrals in time of war. But as, in this respect, the interest of each is identical, and the voice of religion and humanity pleads earnestly for such changes as will so limit and circumscribe the calamities of war as to make them affect the least possible number of persons, we may confidently expect the efforts in this direction to be hereafter made by these two nations conjointly, and with a reasonable degree of success.

Great as have been the changes in the law here chronicled, we may still look forward, with reasonable confidence, to others, of the like gratifying character, to be introduced by the AngloSaxon nations, upon the basis of the common law of England, by the like gradual but sure and safe steps, and as speedily as the public sentiment may be prepared to receive and perpetuate





Warwickshire, to wit,


Commission of

BE IT REMEMBERED, that at the general session of the lord the session of oper king of oyer and terminer holden at Warwick, in and for the and termine said county of Warwick, on Friday, the twelfth day of March, in the second year of the reign of the lord George the Third, now king of Great Britain, before Sir Michael Foster, knight, one of the justices of the said lord the king assigned to hold pleas before the king himself, Sir Edward Clive, knight, one of the justices of the said lord the king, of his court of common bench, and others their fellows, justices of the said lord the king, assigned by letters patent of the said lord the king, under his great seal of Great Britain, made to them the aforesaid justices and others, and any two or more of them, (whereof one of them the said Sir Michael Foster and Sir Edward Clive, the said lord the king would have to be one) to inquire (by the oath of good and lawful men of the county aforesaid, by whom the truth of the matter might be the better known, and by other ways, methods, and means, whereby they could or might the better know, as well within liberties as without) more fully the truth of the treasons, misprisions of treasons, insurrections, rebellions, counterfeitings, clippings, washings, false coinings, and other falsities of the moneys of Great Britain, and of other kingdoms or dominions whatsoever; and of all murders, felonies, manslaughters, killings, burglaries, rapes of women, unlawful meetings and conventicles, unlawful uttering of words, unlawful assemblies, misprisions, confederacies, false allegations, trespasses, riots, routs, retentions, escapes, contempts, falsities, negligencies, concealiments, maintenances, oppressions, champerties, deceits, and all other misdeeds, offences, and injuries whatsoever, and also the accessories of the same, within the county aforesaid, as well within liberties as without, by whomsoever and howsoever done, had, perpetrated, and committed, and by whom, to whom, when, how and in what manner; and of all other articles and circumstances in the said letters patent of the said lord the king specified; the premises, and every or any of them howsoever concerning; and for this time to hear and cyer and ter determine the said treasons and other the premises, according to the law and miner, custom of the realm of England; and also keepers of the peace, and justices of and the the said lord the king assigned to hear and determine diverse felonies, trespasses, Bodo. and other misdemeanors committed within the county aforesaid, by the oath of Sir James Thomson, baronet, Charles Roper, Henry Dawes, Peter Wilson, Grand jury Samuel Rogers, John Dawson, James Phillips, John Mayo, Richard Savage, William Bell, James Morris, Lawrence Hall, and Charles Carter, esquires, good and lawful men of the county aforesaid, then and there impaneled, sworn, and charged to inquire for the said lord the king and for the body of the said county, it is presented; That Peter Hunt, late of the parish of Lighthorn in the said Indictment. county, gentleman, not having the fear of God before his eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil, on the 5th day of March, in the said second year of the reign of the said lord the king, at the parish of Lighthorne aforesaid, with force and arms, in and upon one Samuel Collins, in the peace of God and of the said lord the king, then and there being, feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, did make an assault; and that the said Peter Hunt, with a certain drawn sword, made of iron and steel, of the value of five shillings, which he the said Peter Hunt in his right hand then and there had and held, him the said Samuel Collins, in and upon the left side of the belly of him the said Samuel Collins, then and there feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, did strike, thrust, stab, and penetrate; giving unto the said Samuel Collins, then and there, with the sword drawn as aforesaid, in and upon the left side of the belly of him, the said Samuel Collins, one mortal wound of the breadth of one inch, and the depth of nine inches; of which said mortal wound he the said Samuel Collins, at the parish of Lighthorne aforesaid, in the said county of Warwick, from the said fifth day of March, in the year aforesaid, until the seventh day of the same month in the same year, did languish, and languishing did life; on which said seventh day of March, in the year aforesaid, the said Samuel Collins, at the parish of Lighthorne aforesaid, in the county aforesaid of the

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