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of the subject which deserves more consideration than it has received.

The Grenville Act, as it has been usually called, was, in almost every particular, a faulty plan; and it is impossible that Mr. Grenville can have regarded it as a final or complete measure. He, perhaps, as so many others have found themselves obliged to do in our irregular Legislature, contented himself with getting something done to put a stop to pernicious proceedings, and hoped gradually, as opposition died away, to fashion and improve into a more perfect form what he had contrived to introduce as he best might. His death prevented this, and none have fulfilled his purposes. The principle which he said he kept in view was to constitute a jury; and his knowledge of law, and his respect and liking for it may assure us that he did not design to run counter to its principles. Yet, from first to last, the Grenville Act was a series of anomalies, which have not been reduced to order by the 9th Geo. IV. 22. The body from which the jury is to be taken is throughout tainted with favour and affection. The committeemen, or jurors, instead of being taken, as a special jury is in the first instance, from the whole body of those who are liable to serve, are taken from those who choose, or who are urged, to attend. The petition, and other written proceedings which answer to the pleadings in law or equity, afford no sufficient means of separating questions of law from questions of mere fact. Both law and fact, in a confused mass, or mess, go to the jury. The committee elect a chairman, as a jury does a foreman; and he has scarcely more authority. This jury, therefore, which has to determine both law and fact, has no judge to guide or to assist it. Upon every question of law or fact the decision is by the majority of votes. These decisions which, according to God's construction of human beings, must necessarily be various, are also, by a statute of the realm, made final. There is no tribunal of appeal to annul an erroneous deci

sion, or to confirm a correct one. The unavoidable result has taken place, that, upon a great many points, there remain opposite decisions of equal authority. At the close of these satisfactory proceedings before such well-constituted tribunals of justice, the supporter of a candidate, or the candidate himself, may chance to find that he is stigmatised for life with bribery and corruption, or with perjury, or subornation of perjury; and each principal party usually learns that he has several thousand pounds to pay - the member who has been, in the first instance, duly elected, no less than he who has been returned by those who had no right of voting. These costs, in some instances, are said to have exceeded a hundred thousand pounds. For the credit of British gentlemen, let this statement be closed with the observation, that it is impossible such a system could have been endured so long, if there had not been some qualities in those by whom it has been carried on, which, to a great extent, have redeemed it from the consequences of its original and essential faults. A general prevalence of a spirit and feelings of generosity and honour may go far to supply the absence or the defects of law: and it is not of happy omen when the protection of law is more missed, or its imperfections are more noticed, than they were wont to be.

Those who may have it in contemplation to amend the faults of the Grenville Act, would do well to bear in mind

First, the all-important distinction between the deci. sion of questions of fact and questions of law; and that, whilst the determination of questions on the unwritten law of parliament as far as they concern itself, is inseparably connected with the joint tenure, by the House of Commons, of the sovereignty in legislation, the trial of mere facts might well be left, in the first instance, to any sufficiently impartial jury; and, at least, the opinions of the judges as to questions in common law, or upon the construction of statutes, might be useful.

Secondly, that there ought to be the means of separating, in a written form, questions of law from questions of fact; and that, for this object, it would not be necessary in election cases to have recourse to the technical methods of pleading at common law, or in equity.

Thirdly, that a majority of voices taken by ballot, from a body of which the majority has not been prepared, by habit or education, for the consideration of legal propositions, is not a satisfactory mode of deciding legal questions, even in the first instance.

Fourthly, that if there are several tribunals of co-ordinate and equal authority, it is scarcely possible to constitute them so happily as that a court of appeal shall not be necessary to harmonise their decisions on questions of law.

Fifthly, that it is inconsistent with all the principles which it has professed to uphold for the election of its members, that the House of Commons itself should be the means of inflicting upon members, who have been duly elected, a vast expense, for the purpose either of holding or obtaining their seats.

The solution of all these difficulties will be found in the ancient method of nisi prius, and in an adherence to the principle, that, in all questions as to the privileges of the House of Commons, the last resort but one is to the Speaker ; the last is to the House itself; but that, when the House consents to put a privilege into the form of a statute, it ceases to be privilege, and becomes a part of the written law of the land.

LONDON:
PRINTED BY J. MOYES, CASTLE STREET, LEICESTER SQUARE.

THE PREAMBLE.

NO II.

MONDAY, 4th JUNE, 1838.

CONTENTS. I. THE TRIAL OF CONTROVERTED ELECTIONS. P. 37. II. COURTS IN CHINA. P. 42. III. THE QUESTION OF THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN NEW

BRUNSWICK AND THE STATE OF MAINE. P. 47. IV. THE WEST INDIES. P. 53. V. LEGISLATION IN INDIA. P. 57. VI. IRISH AFFAIRS. P. 62.

“A mighty maze, but not without a plan.”

No. III. will be published on the First Monday in July.

LONDON:

PRINTED BY
J. MOYES, CASTLE STREET, LEICESTER SQUARE :

SOLD BY
JEFFERY AND SON, 4 PALL MALL;
JAMES BIGG AND SON, 53 PARLIAMENT STREET;

W. H. DALTON, 23 COCKSPUR STREET;
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AND
JAMES RIDGWAY AND SONS, 169 PICCADILLY.

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