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Meeknefs and charity are the ftriking traits of the Christian character. The haughty pagan trampled, with exultation, on his proftrate foe: But the humble votary of Christianity is taught to bewail the misfortune of an enemy. The mild precepts of our holy religion are calculated to refine the morals, to improve the understanding, and to better the heart: And perhaps it was owing to their intrinfic value, and fuperior tendency to civilize mankind, that the refinement and polished manners of the moderns have so far exceeded those of the ancient inhabitants of Italy and Greece.
What befits the man of morality, is not furely repugnant to the functions of a Chriftian. Both ought to feel the philanthropic glow; both ought to yield to the sympathetic fenfations of friendship and benevolence. It is the duty of both to heal the differences of mankind: But furely neither can be justly cenfured for aiding the injured in their claims of redrefs of wrongs. That an individual has proftituted his profeffion; that hundreds have fuffered by the chicanery of the terriers of the law, can no more be objected to the liberal profeffor, than the affumed prerogative of the Roman pontiff in the remiffion of fins, can vilify religion, or the petty larceny of a taylor can ftamp a ftigma on the
Having thus premised, I fhall proceed to ftate fome of the advantages which mankind derive from lawfuits: And,
1. Philofophers tell us, that man, in a state of na ture, or in the first stages of civil life, is guided folely by his instincts and paffions; and that the selfish and groffer affections predominate. The defires of the favage are limited to his food, his female, and fleep. If he is difturbed in the enjoyment of these by the intrufion of his neighbour; if the latter feizes the prey or the wives of the former, what is the confequence? the immediate forfeiture of life: The keennefs of appetite. or infatiate revenge prompts the one to butcher the o
After mankind have emerged from this wild ftate, but before the establishment of due fubordination and regular government, if one man fhould make an attack on the poffeffions or perfon of another, where could the latter find redress, but in a fimilar return on the depredator? In the progress of civilization, and on mankind's emancipating themselves from anarchy and confufion, individuals were vefted with judicial powers, and the determination of differences was fubmitted to their wisdom. Unimpaffioned neutrality, introduced the lex talionis, whereby the wrongs of the individual were redreffed according to the immutable principles of natural equity, and alfo determined the punishment of him, who, by his dangerous machinations or actions had forfeited the protection of civil government. Instead of the dagger and the club, was introduced the erudition, the perfuafive reafoning, and the pompous declamation of the lawyer; while the fury of conflicting parties now harmlessly evaporates in a Court of Justice. Thus, law-fuits are beneficial to the community.
2. Self-intereft, under the cloak of patriotism, has divided the British parliament into two illuftrious factions, the ministerial party and the oppofition. Politicians have regarded this difunion, and conflict of sentiments and interests, as the grand bulwark of our liberties. On the one hand, the encroachments of the royal prerogative are reftrained, while, on the other, democratical licentioufnefs is repreffed. A parliamentary dispute attracts and engages the attention of the nation; but a wary minifter effects his purposes with more readiness and facility, by clandeftine, than by open and avowed attempts. By the former, the nation is lulled into fecurity, and their jealousy fleeps in peace; but by the latter, their minds are agitated, their pasfions inflamed, and their fears alarmed. During an exemption from foreign wars or inteftine commotions, the human mind is, in fome degree, enervated by tranquil
lity; but nothing contributes more effectually to keep alive the fpirit of freedom, than a multiplicity of lawfuits. I have, in the preceding article, remarked the effects of diffention in a ftate of nature, and in the origin of civil fociety. The refentment of the illiterate and untutored barbarian is easily excited; and his arm is prompt, and prepared to glut his vengeance. But revenge is fatisfied, when its object is no more; and the tempeft of the paffions foon fubfides into a calm. An action in a Court of Juftice preferves and continues an active spirit of oppofition, whereby mankind are prepared to dispute and maintain their civil rights, and not to fuccumb under the preffure of arbitrary and imperious oppreffion. The injured remembers that he is a Briton, and, with undaunted firmnefs, demands redrefs. Does the grievance originate from the throne? A thoufand arms are elevated to fecond him in his claim. Thus law-fuits are beneficial to the British conftitution.
3. When mankind have arranged themselves in communities, certain regulations and rules are instituted and promulgated, in order to promote the general good. An individual, by his refidence in a particular fociety, tacitly confents to be governed by its laws. If these ordinances fuit not his notions, his wifhes, or his views, he has or ought to have the toleration of emigrating to another region: But while he is a refident, he is certainly, on every principle of justice, entitled to avail himself of the laws of his country.
When my neighbour folicits my advice in a fuit at law, I give it him as becomes an honest man. Does he request me, notwithstanding my contrary opinion, to try? I do fo, and act as an honest man. Is he caft in cofts? It is perhaps, fortunately for him, a leffon of wifdem; but ftill I was his friend, and not an enemy to a fellow-citizen or the laws.
Does another illegally enjoy your poffeffion and eftate? does he difturb your tranquillity, or murder your peace? does he deprive you of a benefit, or har
rafs you with injuiries? does he impofe on your cre dulity, or cheat you with confidence? does he refufe fulfilment of his cbligations, or unjustly claim the completion of yours? does the imperious fuperior plunder the faithful menial of his wages, of that humble pittance which his induftry had carned, and his frugality faved? does the proud practitioner, entrenched in property, bid defiance to juftice and to law? does he, by the perverfion of fenfe, and the contortion of truth, puzzle the understanding of the judge? or, by fubterfuge and evasion, does he, Proteus-like, elude the vengeance of a juft decifion? Thefe are evils flowing from the corruption of our nature; evils which the moralift, and the man of benevolence, muft deplore; yet, in a court of juftice the unfortunate may find a friend, and the injured may find remeid. The wit hath faid, that among the practitioners of the law, we cannot count the men of generous principles and liberal views; but let him recollect the names of an Erfkine, a Tait, and a Corbet.
Procrastination is the opprobrium of the profeffion; the law's delay may be alleviated; but, from the frailty of humanity, cannot be removed; and, like the abfence of the fun, it is a partial evil refulting from the neceffity of things. Thus law-fuits, as the means of rendering rights effectual, and of remedying wrongs, are beneficial to individuals.
Other arguments may be fuggefted by fuperior understandings, and enforced by more learned pens; fuffice it to add, that the above are fufficient to remove the conscientious doubts of T. R.
Obfervations on Bills of Mortality.
THE following may ferve as a text for another leffon in the art of reasoning. It is extracted from the Giornale Encyclopedica d'Italia.
"With regard to the augmentation or diminution of population in cities and towns, the result of a great many obfervations how much the firft are unprove favourable to the human fpecies. Man, who, by an inftinct of nature, is a fociable being, finds deftruction in fociety itself, or, to fpeak more truly, in the abuse of fociety. In Paris, Vienna, Amfterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin, the lifts of births is always inferior to that of deaths. From thence it happens that in this Jaft city, in a determined time, there were only 3855 births, while the deaths amounted to 5054. On the contrary, in the country, where the air is more pure, where agriculture flourishes, where the manners of the people are more fimple, the propagation augments in a manner still more rapidly."
Thus far the text; and the conclufions seem to be very fairly deducible from the facts; yet it will be no difficult matter to fhew that thefe conclufions are extremely unjust. Not to mention here the difficulty of getting at a fair state of facts, refpecting births or burials in any one place, which has been often remarked, and which greatly invalidates the force of any conclufions, I mean here to fhew, that fuppofing these regifters had been kept with the greateft poffible accuracy, nothing like the conclufions above fpecified could be inferred from the facts here ftated, unless many other particulars had been carefully marked, that have never been adverted to in any of these calculations.
It is, for example, inferred, that fince the deaths in Berlin have regularly exceeded the births in that city