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among those qualified by law, such as he pleases. The the materials to be collected may be arranged and brought civil courts appear either to have fallen entirely into disuse, under the consideration of Parliament early in the next or to have been but little resorted to. According to the evi- session." dence given before the Committee, the Admiralty's juris- The evidence, as might be expected from the sources diction, belonging to the corporation of Yarmouth, is one whence it is chiefly derived, affords so imperfect an exposiwhich has not been administered advantageously or use- tion of corporation abuses that we shall not at present subfully, and that, and others, if such there be, are very fit mit any extracts from it. We may look for a much more subjects for future inquiry and improvement.
searching and complete investigation of the subject from the "The privileges and exemptions from tolls and dues which commission which is probably about to be appointed. Such are enjoyed by freemen give them, in some cases, very con- an investigation is quite indispensable to enable Parliament siderable advantage, in the conduct of the ordinary affairs of properly to deal with the evil, and to construct the better life, over those who are not freemen. It is stated, that two system that must be substituted for the present. Meanpersons engaged in trade in Hull, and in all other respects while the Report, as far as it goes, is extremely satisfactory being equal, except that the one is, and the other is not, a and gratifying, and may be regarded as a most auspicious freeman, the exemption from port and other dues will give beginning of the work of reform in this important departan advantage to the freeman to the amount of 1001. per ment. annum. It may well be questioned whether such exemptions rest on any public principle sufficiently strong to com
LOCAL COURTS BILL. pensate for, and justify an interference with, that equality In our fourth number we gave an account of the principal of rights which ought to be enjoyed by members of the same provisions of the bill which has been introduced into the community. In most considerable places, private acts of House of Lords by the Lord Chanceller, for establishing parliament have been obtained for the purpose of watching, Courts of Local Jurisdiction, in order, as it is expressed in paving, and lighting the towns. Thus some important the preamble, that the means may be “afforded to the functions of police have been transferred to bodies indepen- people of this realm of having their suits tried as speedily dent of, and unconnected with, the corporations; and as the and as near their own homes as may be, whereby expense, Committee did not consider that, under the reference made vexation, and delay, may be avoided." This bill has now to them, they had power to inquire into the efficiency and been read a second time, and is at present in committee. administration of those acts, as regards the police of the re- The measure is one of the most important ever submitted to spective towns, they have abstained from the inquiry. It the legislature, and we therefore return to it for the purpose may be remarked, however, that it is probable that if the of adding a few observations in further illustration of the corporations had been more popularly constituted, and had great principle which it involves. enjoyed a larger share of public confidence, they might With the exception of the courts of quarter sessions, and have been invested with a greater, if not an exclusive, con- certain ancient district courts, irregularly scattered over the trol over the execution of these acts of parliament."
country, and exhibiting every conceivable diversity of conThey afterwards add the following general expression of stitution and jurisdiction, England, as is well known, does the opinion to which they have come as to the means to be not at present possess any other tribunals for the trial of taken in order to restore the usefulness of these institu- causes except those which sit in Westminster Hall, and tions ;
those which are held twice in the year in other parts of the “ Your Committee are further led to infer, that corpora- kingdom, by the judges on circuit. The principle of the tions, as now constituted, are not adapted to the present state system is, that the dispensation of justice over the whole of society; the corporative officers are not identified with realm shall proceed from, and be governed throughout by, the community, who have rarely any influence in choosing the body of judges sitting in Westminster Hall, who accordthem, and have no control over their proceedings; corporate ingly are appointed, either collectively or individually, to act offices, even the highest in rank, are not always objects of as its sole superintendents. In this way it is conceived that desire, and are likely to be less so now that the political in the surest means are taken to secure the important object fluence of corporations has been so much diminished. To of a uniformity in the administration of the law; and to make corporations instruments of useful and efficient local prevent the many inconveniences and mischiefs that would government, it seems to be essential that the corporate arise from decisions on legal points being given by one indeofficers should be more popularly chosen; that the offices pendent tribunal, contradictory in principle to those proshould be accessible to all that have entitled themselves by ceeding from another. their conduct to the good opinion and confidence of their It would appear that, for the sake of this object, the system fellow-citizens ; that their proceedings should be open and of English judicature has, in the course of ages, been matesubject to the control of public opinion ; and that it should rially changed from its original form.
In the Saxon times, be felt by the community that the maintenance of order, local courts seem to have existed not only in every county and the equal administration of justice in all things, depend or shire, but even for smaller districts; and their jurisdiction, on the energy and principle of the corporate officers. If in regard at least to civil suits, was probably of unlimited these objects could be obtained, there seems to be no reason extent. Some have even thought that they had a criminal to doubt that the wholesome influence and authority of cor- jurisdiction also. The abolition of these tribunals, whatever porations would be increased, that their powers of usefulness peculiar advantages may have been afterwards discovered in would be extended, that public confidence would be esta- the new system, in all likelihood originated merely in the blished, and that the desire of honourable distinction and despotic policy of the first Norman kings, and their wish to the sense of duty would call into the service of the commu- retain in their own hands so immense a power as that of the nity those who are most capable of discharging the duties interpretation and administration of the law for the whole of the corporate offices with ability and integrity. Such are country. The Court of King's Bench, to which all the other some of the results which your Committee anticipate from a courts in the kingdom were thus subjected, was, in the literal zealous and honest prosecution of this most important in- sense of the words, the king's own court, which for a long quiry."
time followed him wherever he went, and in which he freThe Report concludes as follows :
quently presided in person, while the ordinary judges were “ The proposal to recommend the appointment of a com- always of his appointment, and sat merely as his substitutes. mission has met with the almost general concurrence of the It is true, that as good often arises out of evil, this arrangeCommittee.
ment has eventually turned out to be productive of certain “ If the country is divided into districts, the labour will advantages which were probably but little contemplated be abridged; the commissioners being on the spot, will be when it was first introduced; but this accidental result has accessible to those who have important facts to communicate; perhaps had the effect of making some inconveniences be they will be enabled to command the evidence necessary to too much overlooked with which it has been also attended. decide on the weight of conflicting statements; and they Among these is one at least of serious magnitude-the may, in a short space of time, collect the necessary informa- general withdrawal of justice from the doors of the people, to tion more easily and more accurately than it could be ob- a distance at which it is always of difficult access, and fretained by any other proceeding: Your Committee, there- quently altogether inaceessible. If two of the king's subjects fore, deeply impressed with the importance of the subject, have a difference respecting a matter of which the law of earnestly recommend that no time should be lost in taking the land can take cognizance, they are entitled to have it the necessary measures for appointing commissioners to decided in the speediest and cheapest manner that is conprosecute the inquiry with promptitude and vigour, so that sistent with the dispensation of justice to each. Under the
system according to which the law is now administered in / withdraw their opposition. Lord Lyndhurst, in the comEngland, this principle seems to be almost wholly forgotten mittee, even described a counter-project of his own, by which or disregarded. The making justice speedy and cheap does he proposed to attain the same object with that contemnot appear to have been thought an object worth aiming at. plated by the Lord Chancellor's bill, namely, the providing It cannot be said that the attempt has failed ; it never has of courts to which suitors might resort, and where they been made. It may possibly be that law cannot be lowered | might have their causes tried, in the neighbourhood of their in price without being also deteriorated in quality ; but our own homes. The necessity, therefore, of some such reform present system cannot be deemed even to have recognised of the present system as shall secure this end, may be rethe former result as desirable, although there were nothing garded as a point conceded on all hands. Whether the to prevent its being attained. The spirit of that system may present measure shall pass or not, or whether it may or may almost be asserted to have rather been that cheap law was not be found to answer its purpose, it may be taken as cerin itself an evil—that the more expensive, tedious, and tain that Westminster Hall will not much longer continue vexatious, suits could be made, so much the better-that the to be the place in which nearly all the suits are carried on farther justice could be removed from every man's door, as that arise in every part of England. There is now, however, if it were the case of some nuisance upon which people every prospect that the bill, with some modification, perhaps, wanted to turn their backs, the more perfect did the arrange- of a few of its clauses, will receive the sanction of the legisments of society deserve to be accounted.
lature. Other views, however, have of late years begun to be expressed. The public have become tired of the blessings
JUVENILE VAGRANCY. of dear and difficult law. The suitor who, having obtained In our two preceding Numbers we have noticed and deplored a judgment in his favour, finds that he is nevertheless out the progressive growth of juvenile delinquency. To arrest of pocket by the result of the action, after having been put this increasing evil, to snatch the youthful vagrant from a thousand times out of temper during its dilatory progress, temptation and misery, ere his mind is tainted with vice, to has shown symptoms of a disposition to grumble at this lead the young criminal from the path of guilt, and to give mode of dispensing justice, by which, although declared to to both habits of virtue and industry, are among the highest be in the right, he is yet treated as if he were in the wrong objects which can engage the attention of the philanthropist. Even the less unfortunate litigant, who has succeeded in To preserve the rising generation from crime is at once to recovering a part of his claim, and has thus come off a strike at the root of the mischief, since the misery in which gainer upon the whole, asks why he should have had so our thieves and malefactors are reared is then destroyed. much trouble, and should have been put to so much ex- The benefit which is thus done to society is infinite, and pense, in obtaining what was his due. Supposing the outlay every member of the community must be personally inteto be all eventually repaid, still its pressure in the first rested in the furtherance of such an object. If crime and instance is severely felt. To the man who is without funds, misery are increasing, is the public sufficiently aware that it is often a complete bar to the assertion of his right, let it the fault is in a great measure our own? The felons of 1832 be ever so strong. Plaintiff and defendant, in every suit, were the neglected children of 1810; and prisons are colexcept where one of the parties is playing a dishonest game, | leges where misguided youth is placed under the tuition of and making use of the heavy charges of the cause to the most expert masters in the arts of fraud and villainy. oppress and overwhelm his adversary, alike suffer and cry In the streets and workhouses, thousands of children are out under this grievance.
under a course of education in crime at the public expense; These complaints have long ago established a general eventually, perhaps, also to be hung or transported at the conviction in the public mind in favour of some such mea- expense of the public." sure as that which is now, we trust, about to be adopted by The above quotation is from the Prospectus of a Society the legislature. The institution of a system of local judi- for the Suppression of Juvenile Vagrancy, formed three catories has been recommended to Parliament by several of years ago by Captain Brenton and some other benevolent the most intluential persons on both sides of politics. Many individuals. It is evident, however, that such a Society years ago, the subject was taken up by the present Chan- should be on a very extensive plan to be productive of any cellor of the Exchequer, Lord Althorp. A bill to effect its permanent efficacy. Ample funds are necessary, as well as accomplishment was afterwards introduced into the House the active support of all persons who are more anxious to of Commons by Mr. (now Sir Robert) Peel, then one of prevent the existence, than to punish the commission of the ministers of the crown. On the 29th of April, crime. The above Society has, at present, an establishment 1830, the present Lord Chancellor (then Mr. Brougham) at Hackney Wick for the education, employment, and mainobtained leave to bring in another bill for the same purpose. tenance of Juvenile Vagrants. Here they are instructed in In the debate which took place on this occasion, a concur- reading and writing for about two or three hours daily, the rence in the general views of the mover was expressed by rest of their time being spent in cultivating the ground. Mr. Secretary Peel, the Solicitor-General (Sir Edward B. The master works with the boys and superintends their Sugden), and other speakers; and no opposition was made general conduct. He reports that, considering the circumto the proposition for bringing in the bill. The measure, stance of their having been taken from so degraded a class, however, after having been read a second time and com- their good behaviour and their industry are astonishing; mitted, was allowed to drop, principally in consequence of they are in general, he adds, attentive to the instruction the prorogation of Parliament in the following July. A few bestowed on them, and are apparently happy. days after the commencement of the next session, namely, The history of some of these unfortunate children shows on the 10th of November, Mr. Brougham again introduced that, notwithstanding the enormous poor-rates levied in nearly the same bill, but was prevented from carrying it far- every parish, there are cases of hopeless poverty into which ther by his removal soon after to the House of Lords. On the even children may fall; and that at the age when they still 2d of December following, however, he brought it forward require the fostering care of a parent to minister to their in that house, when it was read once and ordered to be wants they may be left neglected and alone, either to starve, printed, but was not farther proceeded with. The present to beg, or to steal, as their previous habits may lead them. bill, which differs from the former in some of its details, was The account given of himself by one little boy who is now introduced by his Lordship on the 28th of March in the in this asylum is particularly affecting. He is apparently present year. The public attention, therefore, has been about nine or ten years of age; and for the last twelve repeatedly called to the subject; and ample opportunities months this child has been a houseless wanderer in Hyde have been afforded for its consideration. But, notwith- Park. He does not recollect ever to have been the object of standing this, on none of the occasions on which the mea
a mother's care. His father was a seaman, and when he sure has been brought forward, with the exception of the went on his last voyage, left 308. for the use of bis child, who . last, has any stand been made by any party or individual received it in weekly payments of three shillings at a time. against its principle, or more than some doubts expressed the father died on his passage home, and no farther allowas to the practicability or expediency of some of its provi- ance was made to the boy; on which the woman with whom sions.
he lived refused to keep him, and turned him adrift. He Even now it can hardly be said that the principle of the then went to the place where he was accustomed to be paid bill has been contested. Both Lord Lyndhurst and Lord his weekly allowance, and some compassionate sailors gave Eldon, while objecting to several of its details, have, by im- him money. He afterwards called again at his former plication at least, assumed the possibility of its coming out dwelling, but the woman no longer lived there ; from that of the committee in such a form as might induce them to time he begged in the neighbourhood of Hyde Park, and at
night slept in a hollow tree. In the severe weather he ob- settlement, who immediately on their arrival would draught tained some straw to put into his miserable resting-place; them off among the settlers wishing for such young labut he was often very cold. Many days he was entirely bourers*. To these settlers the children should be bound without food, and once he fasted for forty-eight hours. He apprentices for five or seven years, according to their ages, was sometimes ill, yet with all this suffering he would not and in return for their services, should be maintained steal, because, as he says, “ his father told him it was a entirely during that time, and should likewise receive at the crime to God.” If he attempted to join other boys, they end of their term something to begin the world with, when drove him from them; and thus was this poor little outcast they could either become small farmers themselves, or construggling through life, till he was discovered and received tinue as daily labourers. The committee would not lose into this asylum, where he is very happy and very willing sight of these apprentices, but would continue to watch over to work. It appears that, joined to the excellent moral pre- their welfare, and take care that they were well treated by cepts of his father, he had likewise received some education their masters. Religious and moral education would, it is for six months in a national school at Whitechapel, and can hoped, be provided for them as far as circumstances might now read tolerably well. There is no reason to doubt the render possible. The expense of furnishing with clothes truth of the child's statement; he has been repeatedly ques- and outfit, and of shipping the children already sent, was tioned and cross-examined by different gentlemen of the under 101.
, for each, while the cost of maintaining a child committee, and he has never deviated from his first account. in a work-house is estimated at 101. per annum; therefore,
There are now about twenty-eight boys in this school ; for not more than the cost of supporting them for one year, but it is evident that, with funds however large, the employ- those children, who have no parents or friends to be intement of young vagrants, and the reformation of juvenile rested in their welfare, whose melancholy, isolated situation, offenders cannot be conducted on a sufliciently extensive is emphatically denoted by the term “ parish children" scale at home. There are now on board the Euryalus con- can be sent to a country where they may obtain indevict hulk at Chatham, 407 boys, between the ages of nine pendence by the exercise of honest industry, while by their and sixteen years. “I will only ask," says Captain Bren-labour they will materially benefit the rising colonies. ton, “ if these poor creatures, thus pent up and associated, “ In this society," says the “South African Advertiser are likely to improve in their moral or religious habits; of the 18th October, 1832, we see the germs of much whether the trades of shoemakers and tailors, which they good to the Cape. Our friends in Albany, and other parts of are learning, are likely to be enriched by their labours; or the colony, have often expressed a strong desire for a steady whether, on their release from the hulk, they are not likely supply of free labourers from Europe; and experience has to be out of work themselves, or to displace others in these shown, that such apprentices as the Society are training, crafts, which are already overstocked with labourers would be upon the whole preferable to adult emigrants, Assuming that these questions can only be answered in the whose habits have been formed in a state of society very affirmative, I ask what possible good can accrue to society different from that to be found in our agricultural districts, from such a forced and expensive education, and whether and whose fixed dispositions and tempers render them not the honest and industrious of those trades, who have fairly only averse to a mode of life and a species of labour quite served their time, and paid their premium of apprenticeship, new to them, but in many instances absolutely incapable, have not a just riglit to complain that their earnings have cven if willing, to discharge their duty as apprentices. been shared by superabundance of workmen, who are if the Albany farmers take this plan into consideration, thrust upon them by means of a government capital? For they can open a correspondence with the society upon very if these be good workmen, such must be the effect; and if favourable grounds. In their district the apprentices would bad workmen, then has the money expended on them been neither be associated with slaves, as in some other colonies-
The only remedy for this, and most of and in some districts, unhappily, of this colony-nor with the evils now existing, is the application of labour to those convicts, as in New South Wales, or any of our other penal works which can do injury to none, and are ready to receive settlements. They would be soothed and reconciled to a all." Such occupation is to be found in our colonies. To life of peaceable industry by being placed among their own maintain children here in the unprofitable labour of turning country people, speaking the same language, professing the up soil which will yield little or no return, is clearly an im- same religion, and entertaining the same feelings and sentiprovident waste of that industry which might be beneficially ments respecting the many topies of daily thought and conemployed in the more fertile lands of our colonies; and versation with themselves. this society is anxious to extend its sphere of usefulness, by
In Nova Scotia, labour is likewise in great demand, and permanently providing for the myriads of poor children who steps have been taken to establish a branch society there on infest our streets, and sending them to some of our posses- the same plan as that at Graham's Town. The expense of sions abroad. Nor should we wait," says the Report, sending children to this settlement it is supposed would not "until they had disgraced themselves by crime, or plun- be more than 708. each. Some gentlemen who are now dered and destroyed ten times as much as their voyage and exerting themselves for the farther extension of this instituoutfit would cost. If children can be snatched from infamy tion have likewise an interest in the prosperity of the emiat a small expense, and if our colonies will receive them, grants of Nova Scotia, and are fully impressed with the shall we not carry on the good work with vigour and perse- conviction that the free importation of these young Jabourers verance equal to the object ?"
will greatly benefit the colony. They are, therefore, willing The originators of this institution are already in com- to afford every facility which can best forward their emigramunication with a committee of gentlemen of the Society tion and promote their future advancement. Some of the for Promoting Emigration to the District of Albany at the members of the Society are rather desirous that delinquents Cape of Good Hope, who have evidently seconded the views before they are sent abroad should pass through a probationof their correspondents, and are anxious to co-operate with ary state here; but to attempt this would be unadvisable in them in every possible manner. Encouraged by this prof- two points of view. The funds necessary for such a purpose, fer of support, the Society has sent twenty-four boys to the if the emigration be pursued on an extensive scale, would be Cape, and intends to forward another division as soon as its much beyond what the most sanguine could hope to raise ; funds will admit. Government has paid one-half of the while it is doubtful whether the work of reformation could be expenses for the passage and outfit of this first shipment, so successfully carried on among several hundreds of boys but is pledged no farther. "" At the Midsummer sessions already initiated in vice. Rather take the children from at the Old Bailey," to quote again from the Report, “ thirty- their old haunts, separate them at once from their depraved three little boys, between ten and thirteen years of age, were associates, disperse them among respectable settlers where sentenced to various terms of transportation ; and thus the no bad example will be exhibited to them-where no motive gangs of full-grown villains are constantly recruited by the for a continuance in depravity will be given to them, but on operation of the law, and thieves are educated at the ex- the contrary a strong motive for doing right. They are pense of government, at a greater cost than it would re- then placed in a more favourable situation for losing their quire to make them honest and happy."
old liabits, and for becoming useful and virtuous members The settlement to which the children have been sent, is of society, than if they were under the most judicious course Graham's town, a considerable distance inland. Since of education, within the limits of a school, where they must the first communication, “ demands have been pouring in * This is the settlement formed in the year 1820, when about 5000 from the Cape of Good Hope to send children out in almost British emigrants were conveyed to South Africa under the patro. unlimited numbers." It is proposed that these children nage of government ; account of their early adventures should be consigned to a Committee of gentlemen in the appeared in Nos. 51 and 52 of the “ Penny Magagine."
necessarily herd with their old companions, or with some tor becomes involved in certain circumstances entitling equally vicious. Emigration then, as soon as possible after another person to call upon the law to take its course, notthey are received into the asylum here, appears to be the withstanding that it may be passed over when attention is plan most likely to be attended with success.
not thus specially directed to it? If this great work is to be carried on to any beneficial If this was really the object of the law, it would have extent, the co-operation of the hearts and heads of many been better to have enacted at once that credit should not benevolent and intelligent persons will be required-all be at all allowed, and that every person detected in so trans acting in unison and with judicious foresight. A few indi- gressing the law should be sent to prison. This would at viduals however zealous, however able, cannot unassisted any rate have been the more open and straight-forward accomplish so great an end. Large funds are essential to
Besides, in that case the power of applying or suscomplete success; the time and thoughts of many intelligent pending the law, which is here the power of deciding whepersons are required to appropriate these funds judiciously, ther or no an individual shall be treated as a criminal, The benevolent may therefore be expected to come forward would not have been left to the caprice of the very party liberally with their aid in support of this most excellent and who is worst situated for its calm and dispassionate exercise. useful charity, the object of which is to promote both the It is not impossible that, in the uncommercial period happiness of the individuals more immediately benefited, when our law of arrest originated, some prejudice against and the good of society at large. By its successful working, the practice of credit, akin to the prejudice against usury, not only crime, but the producing cause of crime, will be may have contributed to its introduction and maintedestroyed, and a wide spreading contagion of vice will be nance. It certainly, at any rate, would be no favourite obexchanged for individual industry, virtue, and happiness. ject of legislation in those days to facilitate credit. But
the motive of the law is no doubt to be principally sought
in the same spirit which has given so tyrannical a character ABOLITION OF IMPRISONMENT FOR DEBT.
to various other laws protective of the rights of property, and AMONG various important measures of law reform which which appears to have constantly regarded the conservation have been this session introduced into the House of Com- of those rights as an object almost paramount to every other. mons by the Solicitor-General, is one entitled “A Bill for In this instance the operation of the spirit in question has facilitating the recovery of Debts, the prevention of Frauds produced a singular result
. In the first place, the right of by Debtors, the relief of Debtors willing to make Cession of the creditor to his property, namely, the money due to him their property for the payment of their debts, and abolishing by his debtor, has been held to be so sacred that it has been Imprisonment for Debt, except in cases of Fraud." The deemed proper to allow it to be exercised at the cost even of last of the objects enumerated is that which the bill may be the personal liberty of the debtor. And in the second place, said to have chiefly in view, and in reference to which all the property of the debtor also has been fenced round with its enactments may be considered to be framed. The pre- nearly the same extreme solicitude ; so that in many cases vious clauses having laid down the modes by which it is it is actually possible to incarcerate his person, when it is proposed that the property of debtors shall for the future in impossible to lay hands upon a shilling of his property. all cases be made available for the satisfaction of the claims Any thing more absurd than this state of the law can of their creditors, the 81st and 82d clauses proceed as hardly be imagined. Of two powers, either of which might follows :-“ And whereas the present power of arrest is un- have been given to him, the creditor has actually been denecessarily extensive and severe, and, provision being made nied the only one which he was likely to find at all serviceto facilitate the remedy of creditors against the property of able in the recovery of his money, and invested with the debtors, may be safely relaxed; be it therefore further other, which in most cases he cannot apply for that purpose enacted, that from and after the passing of this act, no with any effect whatever. person shall be arrested upon any process for debt issuing But the worst characteristic of the present law is its unout of any court, unless the plaintiff shall make oath that necessarily cruel bearing upon the debtor. We have already he believes the debtor is about to abscond to avoid payment observed that it makes no distinction between the honest and of his debt, or on special order made by one of the judges the dishonest debtor-between the scoundrel who has incurof the superior courts.-And be it further enacted, that if red obligations which he never expected and perhaps never any debtor, having been arrested either on mesne or final | intended to discharge, and the merely unfortunate man process, shall bring an action against the person at whose who, without any fault of his own, may have been ren suit he was arrested, it shall be incumbent on such person dered unable to pay what he owes. But we might have to prove that he had probable cause for believing that the gone farther than this: for it actually places the disparty arrested was about to abscond.''
honest debtor in a far better position than the other. It If this bill shall, as there is every reason to expect, be sends both of them, indeed, to prison; but him who repassed into a law, it will put an end to the worst relic of fuses to surrender his property for the benefit of his credibarbarism that still disgraces our legal system. The prin- tors, it permits to live there in the enjoyment often of ciple on which the present law of arrest proceeds is, that to almost any accommodations or luxuries his pecuniary rebe owing money, and to be unable to pay it, is in all cases a sources can procure ; while it leaves him who has honourspecies of crime. Imprisonment, or the deprivation of per- ably despoiled himself of everything, that he may pay sonal liberty, is one of the common punishments of crimi- what he owes, at least as far as he can, to pine in destinals; it is also appointed to be the punishment of debtors. tution and wretchedness on the gaol allowance. It thus To this punishment all descriptions of debtors are sub- offers an immense premium to dishonesty, and does its jected indiscriminately – no distinction being made be- utmost to tempt and encourage the insolvent debtor to retween the worst cases of improvidence or of fraud on the frain from taking that course which is the only just one that one hand, and those of the most unavoidable misfortune on he can adopt, namely, to surrender his property, if required, the other.
to the last farthing to help to discharge his debts. There are few persons, probably, who will contend at the The imposition of imprisonment as a punishment for the present day that such a law as this is consistent either with non-payment of a just debt, might indeed be necessary, equity or with common sense. The only object, indeed, were there no other method of giving the creditor a hold which it can be reasonably regarded as contemplating, is the upon his debtor. The former must of course be enabled interdiction of credit altogether. It has in effect said that in some way or other to recover what is due to him from the person who borrows, or purchases on credit, although a party unwilling to pay it. But so far from there being he will not be called to account if he shall be fortunate no other means available for this purpose, there is a mode enough to be able to meet his obligations, nevertheless does by which it would be answered a thousand times better, so at the risk of being punished as a criminal, if any acci- ready at hand if the law would only adopt it. It consists dent, no matter how unavoidable, should intervene to put it simply in depriving the creditor of his control over the out of his power to discharge his debt when it becomes due. person of his debtor, and giving him in exchange a conOr, to put the thing in another way, it has left every man trol over his property. who may have incurred a debt so far at the mercy of his This amendment of the law it is the object of the present creditor, that the latter, if not otherwise able to recover the bill to effect. We cannot here enter into any explanation amount with which he has entrusted him, may insist that of the various arrangements which it proposes with the view he shall be treated as if he had committed some crime. of placing the property of insolvent debtors more completely at What is this but to declare that to ask credit is really a the disposal of their creditors; but we may probably return to criminal act, which will be punished whenever the perpetra- this part of the subject after the bill has received its last corrections in passing through the two Houses. If it shall With a rapidly increasing market, the two or three hunbecome a law, as we trust it will do, the improvement, we dred plate-printers of London hold that they are equal to repeat, which it will introduce into our legal system, will be supplying all the demand of that market. They begin, one of the greatest ever made. It will destroy a power held therefore, by asserting that no master, whatever be the exby one class of men over another class, which ought not to tent of his capital or connexion, whether he employs two exist in a country calling itself civilized; which is more presses or two hundred, shall take more than two apprentices liable to be abused than any other which it would be pos--in some special cases three have been allowed. If any partsible to name ; and which, in by far the majority of in- ner in a plate-printing firm has not been regularly apprenstances, is only injurious instead of the reverse to the inte- ticed in London, the privilege of taking any apprentice at all rests even of the person exercising it himself. And for is refused. This is tolerably arbitrary, to begin with. But this barbarous, dangerous, and almost useless right of con- the folly and despotism do not end here. Having prevented trol, it will substitute a natural and really effective check, any addition to the number of labourers, with a rapidly inand one which can hardly admit of being in any circum- creasing demand for their labour, the journeymen platestances abused.
printers draw a line of circumvallation round London; and
maintain that no man shall be employed who has not been COMBINATIONS.
apprenticed in London, or within ten miles. Many plate
printers are employed in Birmingham-they cannot come The metropolis, at the present moment, presents one of the to the metropolis ; and yet the metropolis is ready to offer most curious and instructive examples upon record, of the them constant work and high wages. An industrious and ignorance and tyranny which are too often displayed by skilful hand in this branch may earn from 21. to 31. per workmen in the management of their unions. It is the case week; and the extension of the market ensures the contiof the copper-plate printers.
nuance of this state of things. But no: the workman from Before we proceed to detail such of the facts of this parti- Birmingham is not to set foot in Middlesex ; the workmen in cular case as have come to our knowledge, we must premise, Middlesex are resolved that no addition shall be made to that we thoroughly admit the right of workmen to join toge- their numbers; the extension of the market is of course to ther for the protection of their own interests. The old com- be limited by their authority. To prevent this extension bination laws were, with great propriety and justice, repealed, they resolve to keep up prices ;—and they set about this in because they were destructive of the freedom of industry. a most injurious way. The object which we have in view in pointing out some of The hours of work in this trade are from eight in the the absurdities which united workmen commit, is to show that morning till eight at night, with two hours deducted for meals. the greater number of their laws and regulations are, in the There are no fines for not being at work early enough; but same way, destructive of the freedom of industry ; that they if a man presumes to stay a moment beyond eight in the could not be tolerated if they emanated from any government evening without charging for night-work, he is fined a or corporate authority ; and that, in truth, they are without guinea. Night-work is paid one-half more than day-work; any parallel in the extent of their folly, except the instances at night the work is worse done, and there is a waste of capital which are furnished by the anti-commercial decrees of various in artificial light. But the journeymen like night-work, states in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
and night-work accordingly enters largely into the price of The copper-plate printers of London, for the most part, all engravings. form a society or union. The number of workmen, alto- We had intended to have offered a few parallel examples of gether, does not reach 300. For the last fortnight the busi- the modes in which the freedom of industry was kept down ness has been nearly altogether suspended; and the progress by the ordinances of guilds and states in the infancy of comof the periodical works of art, the great branch of the busi- merce, but our space will not permit us, although we may ness, is either interrupted or altogether stopped. Several return to the subject. These evils have been destroyed, as publications which had furnished employment for many hands, far as governments and municipal corporations have been from month to month, will not appear on the regular day. The concerned, by the growing intelligence of society, but chiefly dispute between the masters and the journeymen originated by the competition of country with country. The nation in a question of price, not very important in its amount; which permitted such clogs upon industry to exist, found but the masters, finding that the regulations of the union, as out that poverty and decrepitude followed in their train ; they ought to have discovered long ago, were calculated to and that whilst the interests of particular classes were sought embarrass the natural operations of their manufacture at to be protected, the common welfare of all was destroyed. It every step, have resolved to resist many of the conditions will be the same with all combinations of workmen which which the men require to be observed before they will con- are founded upon such gross injustice as that of the platesent to exchange their labour for wages.
printers. They will be destroyed by competition. France, The business of plate-printing has very considerably in- and the Netherlands, and Italy, have many skilful platecreased within the last seven years, and it is daily increasing. printers, who will soon find their way to London if such This is the natural consequence of the introduction of en- ignorant resolutions as those we have described are persisted in. graving upon steel ;. by which the finest works of art may The journeymen of this trade are fortunately situated, if they be so multiplied from a single plate, that they are placed could appreciate their own position. The wages of their within the capacity of purchase of the middle classes, instead labour must have a natural tendency to rise, if they will of being the exclusive luxury of the rich. Now it is perfectly leave the balance of demand and supply in the labourclear that, with an extending market, derived from an ex- market to regulate itself. tension of the taste which creates a demand, the supply of Combinations of workmen are becoming so general, that labour which was adequate seven years ago is not sufficient it is of the utmost importance that some steps should be now. In point of fact, the business of plate-printing in taken to inform them as to their own real interests. We London has increased six-fold. The regulations of the work- shall endeavour to contribute to this work whenever we see men have not had the effect of proportioning the supply of occasion. We may properly conclude this notice by an exlabour to the demand: they have kept the supply below the tract from The Information received by his Majesty's Comdemand, and consequently production has been impeded to missioners as to the Administration and Operation of the a considerable extent. The labourer, the capitalist, and the Poor-Laws.” It exhibits, in a very striking manner, the consumer, are each injured by such regulations.
self-abasement and real misery which a workman encounThe principal points in which the combination of plate- ters when he relies, not upon his own honest exertions, but printers exhibits a lamentable ignorance of the principles of upon union funds and parish funds—both, in their misapcommercial freedom are, Ist. in their regulations for the plication, intolerable evils :taking apprentices; 2d. in their proscription of all other “ A leather-dresser has, for some years past, preferred workmen but those of London ; and 3d. in their enforcement parish and casual relief to the honest gains of his employof enormous wages for night-work. For the assertion of inent. The erseer stated eighteen years as the period of their opinions upon these subjects nearly two hundred men his present mode of life. The pauper seems to think it is are now out of employ; living, indeed, upon a common not quite so long; he talks of thirteen : however, he does fund, but, in so living, exhausting the provision which might not violently impeach the overseer's statement, which may have supported them in sickness or old age. Unfortunately, therefore be assumed to be tolerably correct. they do not look to these casualties of life; the parish is “ He belongs to an incorporated or combined trade; the seen at the end of a long vista of high wages and improvi- directors of this combination issue tickets to the members. dent expenditure.
These tickets are renewed from time to time. The holder