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the poor, and grow fat by sucking their blood ?" He after- | leave the money: wherefore Mr. Wild bade him direct the wards (p. 75) expresses himself as doubtful if there ever be Duchess's chairmen to attend the morning prayers at Linany honest trade between the pawnbroker and the poor. coln's Inn Chapel, and there they should find the chair ;
The trade of a pawnbroker, however, has been since put which the fellows did accordingly, and they found the under regulation by an Act passed in 1775, and other sub-chair with the crimson velvet cushion and damask curtains, sequent statutes; and the consequence has been, as we all safe and unhurt. And it must be observed that whenhave just remarked, a decided improvement in the mode in ever Jonathan obliged the parties to leave the money beforewhich it is generally conducted. But even before the pass- hand, he very punctually complied with the terms of his ing of the first of these Acts, a system had been adopted agreement as to the delivery of the goods; for one of his of sending round notices to the different pawnbrokers, as common sayings was, that honesty was the best policy." soon as it was known that any burglary had been com- The audacity of Wild's proceedings occasioned an amendmitted or property stolen; which seems to have had the ment of the law against the receiving of stolen goods, and effect of deterring them from purchasing articles respecting the taking of a reward for helping any person to their which they had been thus forewarned. This innovation recovery; the former of which offences was, in 1719, made transferred a great part of the trade of receiving, stolen punishable by transportation for fourteen years, and the goods into other hands. Among the witnesses examined by latter by death. These penalties deterred Wild for some the Committee of the House of Commons, which sat in 1772 time from prosecuting his trade; but after a while he got was Fielding's brother, Sir John Fielding, who was also over his fears, and proceeding again, with nearly as much for many years an active police magistrate. Having laid boldness as ever, was at length caught in the fatal meshes before the Committee some statements in proof of the great of the new statute. increase of housebreaking for some years preceding, he was Persons who kept houses for the receipt of stolen goods, asked to what, in his opinion, the increase was to be attri- and who had thieves in regular pay, had however existed in buted ; when he said * that felons formerly carried their this metropolis long before the time of Wild. “At the goods to pawnbrokers; but by the present method of quick sessions, in July, 1585," says Maitland, the historian of notice to pawnbrokers, silversmiths, and others, that plan London, “ this may be worthy to be related, as it was written is defeated; and the housebreakers now go to Jews, who by Fleetwood, the recorder to the lord-treasurer—that he, melt the plate immediately, and destroy other things that and some others that were then upon the bench, spent a might be evidence, which in burglary can be nothing but day about searching out sundry that were receivers of felons; the goods, though in other cases the person may be sworn and a great many were found in London, Westminster, to; that they disguise jewels by knocking them out of the Southwark, and places about the same. And they got the sockets, so that they cannot be sworn to." The new plan, names of forty-five masterless men and cutpurses, whose therefore, we see, although it had corrected one evil, had in practice was to rob gentlemen's chambers and artificers' its stead produced another and a still greater. It had, in shops in and about London, and seven houses of entertaina great measure, put down the malpractices of the pawn- ment for such in London, six more in Westminster, three brokers; but by sharpening the ingenuity of the thieves more in the suburbs, and two in Southwark. Among the to find out a new mode of disposing of their spoil, it had rest they found out one Wotton, a gentleman born, and enabled them to institute a still more effective plan for that sometime a merchant of good credit, but fallen by time into purpose, and hence to carry on their depredations to a decay. This man kept an alehouse at Smart's Key, near greater extent than ever.
Billingsgate; and after, for some misdemeanour, put down, The compounding of a felony was not punishable by law he reared up a new trade of life; and in the same house he before 1752: up to which time it was common for persons, procured all the cutpurses about the city to repair to his who had lost property by robberies, openly to advertise a house. There was a school set up to learn young boys to reward to whoever would bring it back, which should be cut purses. Two devices were hung up; one was a pocket, paid without any questions being asked. But in that year and another was a purse: the pocket had in it certain an Act was passed, inflicting a penalty of fifty pounds on counters, and was hung about with hawks'-bells, and over any person, including the printer and publisher, from whom the top did hang a little sacring-bell: the purse had silver such an advertisement should proceed. Yet the practice in it; and he that could take out a counter without any of compounding, as we have seen, has continued to be car- noise was allowed to be a public Foyster ; and he that could ried on, on a large scale, down to the present day. Col- take a piece of silver out of the purse, without noise of any quhoun states that, in his time, the number of receivers, of the bells, was adjudged a judicial Nypper, according to or, as they are called in the cant language, fences, in im- their terms of art. A foyster was a pickpocket, a nypper mediate connexion with thieves, burglars, and highway was a pickpurse or cutpurse. It gave great encouragement robbers, was understood to be about fifty or sixty,“ of to evil-doers about these times, and good men complained whom,” he adds, “ not more than ten (whose names and of it, that thieves and malefactors condemned were so freplaces of abode are well known) can be said to be persons quently and commonly spared; and this evil came from of property, who can raise money to purchase articles of the court, insomuch that the recorder aforesaid, a wise and value." The most notorious case on record, of a person car- honest man, observed to the lord-treasurer, that it was rying on a regular and extensive trade in the receiving of grown a trade in the court to make means for reprieves.” stolen property, is that of Jonathan Wild, who was executed The latter part of this statement introduces us to a very in 1725, and whom Fielding has immortalized as the hero important topic,-the fearful amount of juvenile delinof one of his works. More ample details, however, of his quency in London. At the present day, large multitudes life and actions, than are given in that performance, may of both sexes, some from the utter destitution in which be found in some of the publications which appeared imme- they are thrown upon the world, and others under the diately after he fell into the hands of justice. The following tuition of the bad example of their parents, may be said to extract from one of these, entitled " The Life of Jonathan be reared in crime almost from their cradles. They have Wild, by H. D., late Clerk to Justice R.," while it affords been taught no other way of supporting existence, except a curious sample of his mode of doing business, places in a by the violation of the laws; they practise no other, and striking light the extent and completeness to which he had they have scarcely an idea of any other. The evidence carried his arrangements. In giving an account of the attached to the Report of the Committee of 1828 contains many expert thieves whom he had in his employment, the many statements upon this head. The following passages writer says :-" These people sometimes went disguised from the evidence of Mr. J. S. Thomas (now one of the like chairmen, in great-coats and harness; and a couple of superintendents of police) present a view of a part of the them meeting together, stole the young Duchess of Marl- evil :borough's chair, as her Grace was visiting at Mrs. H-n's “ According to your observation, are there many boys in Piccadilly; her chairmen and footmen being gone to a employed about the theatres in picking pockets ?--Yes; neighbouring alehouse. One of her servants thought imme. I have taken seven or eight at a time: I speak of boys diately of applying to Mr. Wild, who told him that, if he that are bill-deliverers. There is a publication called the would leave ten guineas, he might have the chair the next Theatrical Observer, and those boys deliver the bills, and, day. The man made some difficulty of leaving the money if they possibly can, they pick pockets. There are from beforehand, but Mr. Wild told him he was a man of fifty to sixty immediately round the theatre : I took eight honour, and scorned to wrong him; and, indeed, his cha- of them before Sir Richard Birnie, one night, to try how racter was by this time established as a man that dealt far we could interfere in dispersing them; and Sir Richard honourably in his way; so that the man ventured at last to Birnie spoke to them: one gave one account and one
another; some came from a part of the town called Mutton The most lamentable of all the debasing habits to which Hill, at the end of Hatton Garden, some from St. Giles's, many of the poorer classes in England have surrendered and some from Tothill-fields, Westminster; and they themselves, is that of gin-drinking. This vice is one of place themselves all down Brydges-street, Catharine-street
, comparatively recent introduction. “A new kind of Charles-street, Bow-street, and round the piazzas at Covent drunkenness," says Fielding, writing in 1751, “ unknown Garden, and even as far as St. Martin's court, Leicester-fields. to our ancestors, is lately sprung up amongst us, and
“ What are their parents ?—In many instances they are which, if not put a stop to, will infallibiy destroy a great fatherless, and in some instances they have proved to have part of the inferior people. The drunkenness here inneither father nor mother. There was one little fellow, a tend is that acquired by the strongest intoxicating liquors, most intelligent and interesting-looking lad as ever I saw, and particularly by that poison called gin; which, I have who stated that his father was an officer; that he had been great reason to think, is the principal sustenance (if it born in Colchester barracks; he was illegitimate ; and that may be so called) of more than a hundred thousand people his father in the first instance had abandoned him, and in this metropolis. Many of these wretches there are who finally his mother, and that he had no other means of swallow pints of this poison within the twenty-four hours; living, and he paid four pence a night for his lodgings : the dreadful effects of which I have the misfortune every that boy was cautioned, along with the rest, never to be day to see, and to smell too." The habit in question, howseen there any more ; one or two of them went down on ever, appears to have made considerable progress more their knees before Sir Richard Birnie, and made most than a quarter of a century before this date. In the Life solemn assurances that they never would, and within an of Wild, already quoted, which was published in 1725, hour I found them at it again, and they have continued to we find mention made (p. 23) of the “venders of the royal do so ever since.
liquor commonly called gin." And in February, 1729, “Do these boys attend any school ?-None, as I believe. a presentment was made by the grand jury of the county
“ Are there not many boys of that age who sleep in of Middlesex to the following effect:-“We, the grand baskets and on the offal round Covent Garden ?-Yes; I jury of the county of Middlesex, being sensible of the have taken some of them up, and I have saved one or two great mischiefs which arise from the number of shops or from destruction, by taking charge of them in the night houses selling a liquor called Geneva, in and about this and handing them over to their parents. There was an in- city, think it our duty to take notice of them as public stance of a son of a surveyor at Marylebone : I found him nuisances, since we apprehend they may be ranked among in company with some professed thieves at three o'clock the worst of disorderly houses; it being notorious that they one morning; he had a watch and some shirts, and other not only harbour the vilest of both sexes among the things, which were the property of his father, and he was meanest of the people, but, by enuring them to a habit of then only waiting for daylight to get a ship to go off; and laziness and debauchery, bring them to want and misery; I took him to the watch-house for the night, and he was and, when intoxicated with these pernicious liquors, they restored to his anxious father the next day.
are hardened enough to attempt the greatest villanies, “Are there not certain classes of boys that have no re- such as were formerly scarce known to our nation, though gular lodgings, who live in the market, and who sleep in we now, with the greatest concern, observe that they grow the baskets at night ?— Yes, there are, and not only at familiar to us. The incredible prejudice which his manight, but in the day. We can take nearly a hundred of jesty's subjects suffer by frequenting these houses is too them, particularly at the time the oranges are about; they obvious to pass unobserved ; since the constitutions of the come there picking up the bits of oranges, both boys and labouring people are not only thereby weakened, but girls; and there are prostitutes at eleven, twelve, and thir- utterly destroyed: and we do not conceive that even any teen years of age. *** I counted last night, at the king's addition to the revenue can be equivalent to the loss the entrance of the theatre, seventeen individuals, men and public sustains by the ruin of such numbers of poor famiwomen, that were apparently houseless, sleeping there," Îies, which fill both the city and country with beggars and
Mr. Dyer, the police magistrate, states, in his evidence, vagabonds ; of which we at present see the fatal consethat children are frequently brought before him, of “ ten quences, and fear posterity will feel worse, if, by a speedy years of age, and even under.” These juvenile delinquents regulation of these disorderly houses, an effectual stop be are frequently employed by the older thieves to assist them not put to this growing evil." in cases in which the smallness of their persons gives The price of gin, in consequence of an act respecting the them an advantage; as, for instance, in entering a house distilleries, suddenly rose, in the year 1796, to something by a window from which one of the panes has been re- greatly exceeding its previous amount. Referring to this moved. In committing their ordinary depredations, they circumstance, Mr. Colquhoun, writing in the following generally prowl about streets in companies of two or year, states that the sobriety exhibited by the labouring three, of whom each has his particular part to act, one classes was then much greater than it had been before ; å snatching up the plunder, and another receiving it from fact which was evinced by the number of quarrels and him and running off with it.
assaults being very considerably diminished, while the It is very obvious that no mere police regulations are at pressure, with respect to the means of living, was also all likely to be effectual in putting down this description apparently less than in the spring of 1795, notwithstandof criminals, so long as the destitution and abandonment ing that no charities had been distributed, and bread was by which they are bred continue to exist. They are the considerably higher. “ It would seem reasonable," he adds, natural produce of that hotbed of vice and misery; and • to attribute this favourable change to the high price of will continue to issue from it while it remains unremoved. gin, which being in a great measure inaccessible, the Any punishments that may be intlicted can, in the nature lower ranks have it now in their power to apply the money of ihings, operate but very imperfectly in restraining formerly spent in this way to the purchase of provisionseither their growth or their delinquencies. To send them perhaps to the extent of some hundred thousand pounds a to jail, as most of our jails are at present conducted, is year in the metropolis alone." Fielding seems inclined to only to send them to the best school of crime. But even reckon upon one cure of this evil--“ the loss of our ginif our system of prison discipline were made ever so per- drinkers." “Should the drinking of this poison," he says, fect, this improvement alone could not be expected to “ be continued in its present height during the next twenty clear our streets of these marauders, for successive detach- years, there will, by that time, be very few of the common ments of whom, indeed, a prison might afford an asylum people left to drink it." This consequence has not followed; for a few months, but it could be for that short period only for, however great the nur ber of the poor which gin-drinkWhen again restored to liberty they would still, as at present, ing may have destroyed on the one hand, it has, on the find themselves again thrown upon their own resources, other, been constantly bringing down as many more to the and compelled to resort to their former practices. Besides, same level of misery, to serve it for new victims. There is no reformation, even were it complete and permanent, of reason, also, to believe that this destructive habit has been the existing race, could prevent the succession of new gradually extending its ravages higher up into society. swarms from the same prolific source. To heal this dis- Fielding speaks of it, in his time, as indulged in only by the ease of our political condition, the general habits of the lowest of the people ; but it is now well known to have most degraded portion of our population must be changed, spread to a wide extent among the classes of servants and and education and all other salutary influences plentifully small tradesmen. A fact, especially to be lamented, is and perseveringly applied to eradicate the vice and the number of females, respectable in their circumstances, wretchedness with which they are overrun.
who, without carrying their predilection for gin to the excess
No. of Siz
No. of of making themselves intoxicated with it, are yet accustomed
Petitions. to indulge in that liquid as a regular or very frequent beve- Complaining of the interference of the military rage. And equally sad is it to reflect on the manner in
and magistrates in the Mayo election
1 which society is poisoned at the root by the gin-drinking of Complaining of the registration in West Stirlingmere children. In the evidence of Sir Richard Birnie before
I the Committee of 1828, it is stated that the consumption of For the House to remove to a more commodious spirits by children begins at ten or twelve; and we fear place of assembly
1 there are many instances in which the pernicious habit has Against nocturnal legislation
7 been acquired at a still earlier age.
Against the property qualification of members 2
1 Having thrown together these illustrations, respecting Complaining of proceedings at the Walsall election certain descriptions of crime and immorality which still From the committee for conducting the election continue to flourish in the metropolis to the same or a
of Sir H. Douglas at Liverpool, denying the
1 greater extent than in former times, we shall, on re- Complaining of the interference of the Marquis of suming the subject, consider another class of offences,
Ailesbury at the Marlborough election
1 which, having in past times largely prevailed there, have Praying for some measure to secure the freedom now been nearly or wholly extirpated.
8 2 7 32
For the better observance of the Sabbath
Against the Sabbath observance bill
the Church of Scotland
Of Protestant Dissenters against the Church
Against tithes in England
Against tithes in Ireland
Against the administering of oaths
Against Church in Ireland bill
Against the removal of religious disabilities Abstract of Private Bills in Parliament in the Session For the relief of the Protestant clergy in Ireland of 1833.
For the repeal of all compulsory laws for the sup1. AGRICULTURE.
port of ministers of the gospel .
Against taxes on knowledge 4 Draining.
Against the stamp duties II. COMPANIES.
For a complete abrogation of the corn laws 1 Cheltenham Sewers.
Against the duty on soap i Dublin Steam Packet.
Against the personal estate tax 1 Economic Life Assurance.
Ayainst the soke of Bradford tax 1 Edinburgh Life Assurance.
Complaining of oppression under the house and 1 Exeter Water.
window assessment 1 Leeds Oil Gas.
Against the statute duty I St. George Steam Packet.
Against excise licences 1 Thames Tunnel.
Against receipt stamps III. IMPROVEMENTS OF Towns AND DISTRICTS.
Against the malt duty 6 General Improvement.
Against the tax on carts 12 Churches, Markets, Bridges, Gaols, &c.
Praying for the abolition of tolls and customs at 6 Local Water Works.
fairs and markets in Ireland 4 Local Gas Works.
For a repeal of the tax on almanacs 11 Municipal Regulations, Vestries, &c.
Against the tax on apprentices' Indentures, from IV. Internal COMMUNICATION.
the Burgh of Paisley 78 Roads, of which 15 have passed, and 4 have been with. Against the marine insurance tax drawn.
Against post-horse and stage-coach duty 1 Canal. Enniscorthy in Ireland. 14 Railways.
Ireland. V. NAVIGATION.
For the repeal of the Union 4 Improvement of Harbours, &c.
Against the disturbances in (Ireland) bill 3 Docks.
Against the new system of education in Ireland 1 Pier.
From keepers of prisons praying for superannua. VI. PRIVATE REGULATIONS.
tion allowances, &c. 14 Esta Naturalizations, &c.
In favour of the factories' regulation Bill
Against the factories' regulation Bill
For a repeal or moditication of the retail beer
Act an abstract of the first six Reports of the Committee for the Complaining of abuses in corporations Classification of Petitions. Eleven Reports have now been In favour of Taylor, Hetherington, &c., and published, and we proceed to give an abstract of those issued
complaining of the partial administration
Petitions. Signs. From hand-loom weavers, praying for a legisla-
tive regulation of wages, &c. For vote by ballot
10214 From fishermen in the vicinity of Dublin : For triennial parliaments
2368 Against the monopoly in bibles Against the septennial act
4660 For an alteration in the labourers' employment Reform of parliament (England)
2 1101 act Reform of parliament (Ireland)
2 404 Complaining of distress :
No. of No. of Petitions. Signs.
Petitions. Signs. Against the East India Company monopoly
623 From the rate-payers of Bedworth, Warwick, to Complaining of cases of magisterial oppression 2
1 124 For an alteration in the law of executors, and
Relative to dramatic performances
2 against clergymen being magistrates .
1 i For compensation to colonists
for all property of From the Princess Olive of Cumberland, praying
which the law may dispossess them
1 for an investigation into her case
i From Robert Robison, late a Captain in his For the establishment of poor-laws in Ireland 2 325 Majesty's service, for a further inquiry into Against the punishment of death
1 For regulating the election, &c., of schoolmasters
From the unemployed mariners of Nervcastlein Scotland 2 426 upon-Tyne, complaining of distress
1 516 For a repeal of part of the dramatic performances
The total number of petitions presented and reported upon, up Bill
4 to April 19, has been 2597. Respecting imprisonment for debt
1 205 Praying for relief to the sugar-refiners
6 223 Against sinecures, &c. .
NEW PATENT BILL. Complaining of private grievances
5 Some weeks ago, a bill “ to explain and amend the laws Against the vestry act, from the church wardens
respecting letters-patent for inventions" was brought into of Lambeth
1 In favour of allowing counsel to prisoners
1 the House of Commons by Mr. Godson, the member for
1 Respecting the currency,
Kidderminster; and the subject has since been submitted
185 Against the jury laws (Ireland)
to the consideration of a select committee. It is one of very
2686 Complaining of the libel law
considerable public importance, and also by no means free For the abolition of the church establishment
from difficulty. From the boatmen of Deal, complaining of the
If there were no law for rewarding useful inventions, inregulations regarding pilots
2 6 genious persons would be deprived of a strong inducement For simplifying conveyancing :
i to apply themselves to the improvement of the arts; and Against the inequality of the poor laws
124 such discoveries as were made would be as far as possible For a less expensive plan for the recovery of
kept from the knowledge of the public, and retained for small debts For an alteration of the pateni law.
608 the exclusive use of their authors. 3
3 Manchester petition for holding separate assizes
The most equitable mode of rewarding inventions apin the Hundred of Salford
to be that which has in modern times been adopted pears
20 Manchester petition for the repeal of the Select
in this and most other countries, namely, the giving to the Vestry's Acts
inventor a monopoly of his invention—that is, an exclusive For removing the Lancaster assizes to Manches
right of using it, for a certain term of years, after which it 2
6014 shall become the property of the public. Praying for the removal of restrictions relative to
In this way of managing the matter, a bargain is, as it
3 135 were, struck between the inventor on the one hand and the For the better regulation of hackney carriages
public on the other, each of the two parties engaging to give in London
1 384 one thing in return for another thing which it is to receive. To prevent the obstruction of footpaths in fields. 1
1 The inventor imparts to the public the knowledge of his From a Catholic priest, complaining of an insult
secret; the public grants to the inventor protection from offered to him on account of his religion, at
the piracy of his discovery by any one else for a certain the Bank of Ireland
1 From the owners of British vessels trading from
period. Liverpool, complaining of burdensome duties
There are here, therefore, two parties, whose separate and unfair monopolies
and opposing interests the law has to look to, and to mainAgainst the use of machinery .
tain. But it is by the claims of a third party that the case From the general commissioners of police of
is principally complicated, namely, the rival inventor, Glasgow, relative to poor-laws for Ireland
1 whose rights must not be infringed upon by the protection On the low rate of wages of labourers in Ireland
1 given to the person taking out the patent. In other words, To prevent the passing of the bill for limiting of
there must be an assurance, before granting the patent, actions.
8 11 not only that the patentee has given such a specification For the establishment of district courts in Scot
or description of his invention as shall suffice truly to land from the burgh of Perth
1 seal. From deltors in Newcastle and Maryborough
put the public in possession of it, but also that it is really
a new discovery, and that it has actually been made by the gaols
85 From surgeons and apothecaries at York and
person who claims to be the author of it. Scarborough, concerning the apothecaries’act 1
These considerations are enough to show, that it would Praying for an alteration of the law relating to
not exactly do to grant a patent as a matter of course, and the assessment for sewers
1 31 without both examination and notice to the public, to any From Wm. Thornsett of Dover, complaining of
person who might apply for it. The necessity of giving puba seizure made by a post-office inspector 1
i lic notice, at least to a certain extent, of every application From the contributors to the Glamorganshire
for a patent, is in particular a source of great embarrasscounty rates
1 243 ment. If such notice were not to be given at all, one man From certain merchants, bankers, &c. of Ply
might obtain a patent for an invention which had really been mouth for facilitating the law of debtor and
made by another, or for something which was already in credit
i 1809 From D'Arcy Mahon, late a commissioner of
common use. But, on the other hand, the very publication of
the claim that has been made has the strongest tendency to stamps in Ireland, for an addition to his superannuating allowance
โ endanger it, although it may be really a fair one, by temptConcerning Trinity Hospital, New Ross
143 ing some other person fraudulently to pretend to have himFrom Drogheda, in Ireland, relative to the game
self made the same discovery, the knowledge of which he
1 110 may sometimes contrive to acquire even from the shortest From the landlord, proprietors, freeholders, of
announcement of its nature and object. The announceNew Ross, Wexford, relative to the grand
ment must always, however brief and reserved as to partijuries (Ireland) bill
1 132 culars, be a correct description, in so far as it goes; and likeFrom the Irish Law Society, relative to the pay
wise so definite and specific, as that its meaning shall be ment of attorney's fees
19 perfectly intelligible: for otherwise, it is obvious it would Against the renewal of the metropolitan police
be no better than no announcement at all.
368 For amending the laws relating to lunatics
Such are some, but by no means the whole, of what may
3 From certain tradesmen of Frome Selwood, for
be called the preliminary difficulties of the subject, or those facilitating the recovery of small debts
which attend the mere granting of the patent. There are For amending an act relative to the employment
others that attach to the questions of the degree and manof labourers, passed in the preceding session 4 124 ner in which it should be protected after it has been For appointing a day of general thanksgiving for
granted. the cessation of Cholera
25 Although, however, it might not be easy, by any law, to
meet all the difficulties of the subject, there can be no a patent could be obtained for a shorter period, provided the doubt as to the many defects and objectionable provisions expense were less, it would in many instances be preferred. of the present law; and some of the principal of these we The choice of taking out a patent either for fourteen or for will now enumerate, with a reference to the provisions of only seven years, the fees being different in the two cases, is Mr. Godson's bill, by which they are proposed to be met. accordingly given in the new Bill. And whereas, at pre
We will begin with those as to the proper mode of deal- sent, the extension of a patent beyond the original term, ing with which there can be little or no controversy. which is in some cases no more than a fair indulgence, can
In the first place, the expense of taking out a patent, only be obtained by an application to parliament, it is prounder the present law, has long been complained of. The posed, that in such cases his Majesty shall be empowered to fees alone, laying aside the cost of agency, come to about grant a new patent, after the matter has been submitted to 1071. for England, about 80l. for Scotland, and about 128l. an examination of the same nature with that on which the for Ireland. There are some reasons for holding, that it original patent was obtained. would not be expedient to abolish these taxes entirely, and So far there will probably be little difference of opinion in to make a patent cost no more than the price of the parch. regard to the suggested alterations of the law. There are, ment upon which it is written; but whatever difference of however, some other points, as to which, although there may opinion there may be as to the propriety of still continuing be a general agreement that the present practice is attended to check the taking out of patents, in a certain degree, by with injustice or inconvenience, the proper mode of correctmaking it a thing which cannot be done but at some cost, ing it may not be quite so clear. there can be no doubt that the present cost is needlessly At present any person who wishes, for whatever purpose, and oppressively high. It is proposed, in Mr. Godson's honest or the reverse, to know for what new inventions pabill, that the expense shall be reduced to a certain portion tents are applied for, may, at an expense of 158., lodge what of its present amount, to be settled in the committee. is called a caveat, which will entitle him to a notice of all
As the law now stands, although a patent may be taken patents applied for during the following six months. Great out by the first introducer of an invention from another abuses are alleged to have sprung up from this practice; country, provided he swears the secret has been communi- and in particular it is stated to have often happened that the cated to him by a foreigner, the protection in question can- secret of inventions has thereby escaped before the lettersnot be granted to him if the person from whom he received patent were sealed. The entering of caveats it is therefore the invention was an Englishman residing abroad. Ac- proposed to place for the future under great restrictions. Of cording to the new bill, “ letters-patent may be granted to these the chief is, that each person shall, at the time of enany person in Great Britain and Ireland, who may have tering the same, lodge an ou ne or description of that inreceived from any person being abroad, or from any person vention of his own which he professes to think is about to be being resident within the kingdom, information of any new made the subject of letters-patent to be granted to another manufacture whatever,"
person. It may seem at first sight that this is an unfair At present, the assignees of an inventor while he is him- restriction of the rights of the public, who are entitled to self alive, cannot take out a patent for his discovery. By ascertain by means of these caveats what patents are apthe proposed measure, a patentee is to be at liberty to assign plied for, whether they relate to subjects on which the party or transfer his interest in his patent, or grant licences to lodging the caveat has matured any invention of his own or make or use the same, in any manner, or to any number of no. But the force of this objection is perhaps abated by the persons, he may think fit
. Of course, by this enactment, consideration, that the mere taking out of a patent does not also, the present prohibition against more than five indivi- protect a patentee against all disturbance in the enjoyment duals having an interest in the same patent, is done away of his monopoly; but that if the same proof which would with.
have at first prevented the patent being granted shall be The present patent law being founded upon an old statute afterwards adduced in a court of law, the patent will be (the 21 James 1. cap. 3), in which the only expression used thereby overturned. This risk, it may be argued, is quite to describe the person to whom a patent may be granted, is enough to protect the interests of the public. the inventor of a new manufacture, considerable difficulty One of the objections which have been most strongly has been experienced in the attempt to stretch the mean- urged against the present system is derived from the incoming of these words, so as to comprehend all sorts of disco- petency of the persons on whose decision letters-patent are verers and introducers of inventions. To obviate the granted. The officers charged with this duty are the Attordoubts which have been thus occasioned, and which have ney and Solicitor-General ; personages, certainly, whose been strengthened by conflicting decisions of the judges, it knowledge of arts and manufactures is not usually very prois proposed to enact, “ that all new substances or things found. Under the new Bill the dignitary of the law is to be made, that all new machines, that all new combinations or allowed in disputed cases to call in any two men practically arrangements of machinery or things, either already known skilled in the arts and sciences, to assist him in coming to or newly discovered ; that all principles newly discovered, his determination, the costs to be paid by the parties in the and all new applications, which, when reduced into prac- proportions that he shall direct. tice, produce some article fit for sale ; that all chemical Some important innovations are also proposed in the law discoveries, methods, or processes, which result in or pro- which has hitherto regulated the grounds on which patents duce an article of commerce, shall be the subjects for which may be set aside, or declared void; although the Bill does letters-patent shall be granted ; whether they be discovered not go the length, as suggested by some, of taking the conwithin the United Kingdom or be obtained by communi- sideration of such questions out of the hands of a common cation or sale." This is perhaps as comprehensive a de-judge and jury, and making them over to a peculiar tribuscription as could well be framed, and will probably be nal. But whereas at present there is no limit to the period found to embrace every case fairly entitled to protection. during which it is competent to allege that an invention has
At present, if it shall be discovered that any one part of a been formerly used, in order to defeat a patent obtained for complicated contrivance, all the parts of which a patentee it, it is proposed now to enact that the patent shall not behas claimed as his own inventions, had been previously in come void, unless the invention shall be proved to have been use, the whole patent is vitiated by that single mistake. The practically used in a public manner within the last ten years hardship and absurdity of this rule have been often com- preceding the date of the patent. Another important proplained of; and it is now proposed to substitute the enact- vision is that if in an action at law upon the infringement ment, “That if a patent and specification be bad in law as of a patent, the patentee obtain a verdict, the court may to part thereof, they shall not be bad in law as to the re- grant a certificate that the validity of the letters-patent has mainder thereof respectively:" the patentee will only be been fully tried on the merits thereof, and that in all future required to lodge an amended specification.
actions brought upon the same patent, the patentee shall, If a patentee at present shall make any improvement on upon the production of the said certificate, be required only his invention, after he has taken out his patent, he can only to prove the infringement of the party sued, and the damages protect that improvement by taking out a new patent, at suffered, and nothing more. This rule will put an end the same expense as the former. The Bill proposes to allow to one of the most oppressive grievances of the present syshim to secure the monopoly of such improvements, to any tem, namely, the liability which a patentee is under to have number, merely by enrolling so many new, or, as they are his rights called in question by repeated trials at law, nottermed, secondary specifications.
withstanding any number of verdicts that may have been The only term for which a patent can be granted under given in his favour. the existing law is fourteen years; but it is probable that if These are not all. the enactments of Mr. Godson's Bill,