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the parliamentary commissioners have parted with the money, and the Crown and parliament are bound to see that the object is attained for which the cost has been paid. They are held to the performance of this undertaking, nay, goaded to it, by the Dissenters, who pour in their shoals of petitions, and by more than one political leader, who would make use of this tide for a return to power. Yet the conviction of those who best know the West Indies, is, that the complete, or substantial freedom of the negro race, cannot be accomplished within two years; that the planters will have recourse to unjustifiable measures, rather than see the negroes made really independent of them, which they regard as equivalent to an annihilation of the value of their property, or a prevention of their lucrative employments: but that the most likely course for affairs to take is, that the attempts to make the negroes freemen will be baffled, rather than openly opposed; that no contrary laws, or direct opposition of any sort, will be set up against the acts of the imperial legislature, but that those acts will not be carried into execution; that names will change, and things will remain as they were.

In these circumstances a measure has been thought of, which might, perhaps, afford a security for the rights of non-resident proprietors, and at the same time might supply, to the British government, a powerful instrument for regulating and controlling the acts of adverse colonial legislatures, and for providing the means of giving due force and execution, in the West Indian colonies, to the acts of the imperial parliament.

This measure is the formation, in England, of a jointstock company, by the owners of West Indian estates. Of those who should combine, for such a purpose, the interest of each in the soil should be taken at a valuation, as constituting so much of the joint stock of the company; the owner surrendering to the company his separate right of property, and, instead thereof, becoming entitled to a proportionate share of the joint stock. The rents would be applicable, in the first instance, to the payment of a fixed dividend to stock holders, in proportion to their shares. Other persons, not owners of estates, might then be admitted to purchase shares, upon paying money for them. The rents drawn by the company might be put very much on the footing of the land revenue of India; and the company, like the East India Company, might be restricted from trading. Its court of directors, subject to a control on the part of the Crown, whilst they preserved the property and rights of the proprietors, might also be made an effectual instrument for regulating the colonial legislatures, for enforcing, through an appointed magistracy, obedience to the law, and for accomplishing the great object of the freedom of the negro race.


As a subordinate institution to that of the Legislative Council, the Act of the 3 & 4 W. IV. c. 85, provided, in 1833, for the establishment of a Board of Law Commissioners. The fifty-third and fifty-fourth sections of the Act are in these words :

LIII.“ And whereas it is expedient that, subject to “such special arrangements as local circumstances may “ require, a general system of judicial establishments, and “ police, to which all persons whatsoever, as well Europeans as natives, may be subject, should be established “ in the said territories at an early period; and that such “ laws as may be applicable in common to all classes of “ the inhabitants of the said territories, due regard being “ had to the rights, feelings, and peculiar usages of the “ people, should be enacted ; and that all laws and cus“ toms, having the force of law, within the same terri“ tories, should be ascertained and consolidated, and, as “ occasion may require, amended :” Be it therefore enacted, That the said Governor-General of India in Council, shall, as soon as conveniently may be, after the passing of this Act, issue a Commission, and from time to time Commissions, to such persons as the said Court of Directors, with the approbation of the said Board of Commissioners, shall recommend for the purpose ; and to such other persons, if

* See No. I. p. 14.

necessary, as the said Governor-General in Council shall think fit, all such persons, not exceeding in the whole, at any one time, five in number, and to be styled, “ The Indian Law Commissioners;" with all such powers as shall be necessary for the purposes hereinafter mentioned ; and the said Commissioners shall fully inquire into the jurisdiction, powers, and rules of the existing courts of justice and police establishments in the said territories, and all existing forms of judicial procedure, and into the nature and · operation of all laws, whether civil or criminal, written or customary, prevailing and in force in any part of the said territories, and whereto any inhabitants of the said territories, whether Europeans or others, are now subject; and the said Commissioners shall, from time to time, make reports, in which they shall fully set forth the result of their said inquiries, and shall, from time to time, suggest such alterations as may, in their opinion, be beneficially made in the said courts of justice and police establishments, forms of judicial procedure and laws; due regard being had to the distinction of castes, difference of religion, and the manners and opinions prevailing among different races, and in different parts of the said territories.

LIV. And be it enacted, That the said Commissioners shall follow such instructions, with regard to the researches and inquiries to be made, and the places to be visited by them, and all their transactions, with reference to the objects of the Commission, as they shall from time to time receive from the said Governor-General of India in council; and they are hereby required to make, to the said GovernorGeneral in council, such special reports upon any matters as by such instructions may from time to time be required; and the said Governor-General in council shall take into consideration the reports from time to time to be made by the said Indian Law Commissioners; and shall transmit the same, together with the opinions or resolutions of the said Governor-General in council thereon to the said Court of Directors; and which said reports, together with the said opinions or resolutions, shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament, in the same manner as is now by law provided concerning the rules and regulations made by the several governments in India.

It is remarkable that, although five years have elapsed since the passing of this Act, none of the reports of the Indian Law Commissioners, nor of the opinions or resolutions of the Governor-General in council thereon, which, by the fifty-fourth section, are directed to be laid annually before both houses of parliament, have yet been laid before either house, with the exception of a paper for which Sir John Hobhouse moved on the 22d of March, and which is described as “ A Copy of Minutes of the “ Supreme Government of India, on the subject of Act XI. “ of 1836; together with such portions of the Minutes of the Law Commissioners, recorded in October and “ November, 1835, as relate to the grant of Jurisdiction “ over Europeans to the Courts of the Sudder Ameens.” The question which led to the production of these minutes by the President of the Board of Commissioners for the affairs of India, related mainly to Act XI. of 1836, of the Governor-General of India in council, by which the right of a British defendant to appeal, in civil suits, from the decisions of the courts in the interior of the Bengal Presidency, to that supreme court at Calcutta, of which the judges have been barristers, and hold their offices under letters patent, at the pleasure of the Crown, was converted into a right of appealing to the other supreme Court at Calcutta, or Allahabad, of which the judges hold their appointments on the same footing as the other covenanted servants of the East India Company, from amongst whom they are taken. This alteration, which in itself was of no inconsiderable importance, has been made more important by the apprehension which those who have petitioned

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