H́nh ảnh trang

moment to encourage expectation, which he had determined not to realise. This was unjust to the Catholic deputies; it was unjust towards the Catholic bishops and clergy; it was hard, for instance, upon a man like Dr. Doyle, who had been induced, by the ambiguous conduct of the prime minister, to express his concurrence in measures, to which, but for the prospect so held out, he might not have given his assent. Was this conduct on the part of the noble lord generous? Was it even just? In his opinion, it was ungenerous, unwise, unstatesman-like, and the public had a fair right to arraign it. The conduct of the noble lord was the more to be regretted, when it was considered that this question, at all times one of great importance, had become, since a recent declaration, still more important, and more pressing than at any former period. The charge here made against the minister was frequently repeated by those who differed from him in opinion. And it was most undoubtedly true, that the friends of the Catholic question had very industriously circulated a rumour, that lord Liverpool's opinions on the subject had undergone a change, and that he was inclined to the side of concession. The policy of this course was obvious: by increasing their seeming strength and bettering their apparent chance of success, it might induce some of their opponents to waver in their adherence to their former system, or to desert it altogether. It was a rumour, however, which seems to have been circulated entirely without authority or foundation; and whether it originated from policy or from too sanguine hopes, it is surely a little unreasonable to blame a statesman for disappoint

ing expectations of patronage or support, which he had never given any one reason to entertain, but with which they had gratuitously flattered, or pretended to flatter themselves.

Mr. Hume did, as usual, his best, to familiarize the minds of men to the idea of the spoliation of the Protestant church of Ireland. On the 14th of June, he moved two resolutions:-1st. "That the property now in the possession of the established church in Ireland is public property under the control of the legislature, and applicable to such purposes as in its wisdom it may deem beneficial to the best interests of religion and of the community at large, due regard being had to the rights of every person in the actual enjoyment of any part of that property." And 2nd. "That this House will, early in the next session of parliament, appoint a select committee for the purpose of considering the present state of the Irish church, and the various charges to which ecclesiastical property is liable." They were supported by Mr. Brougham and sir Francis Burdett; and opposed by Mr. Canning and Mr. Peel. The first resolution was negatived without a division: the second, by a majority of 126 to 37.

In consequence of the report of the commissioners on Education, which showed that enormous abuses exist in the administration of the chartered schools of Ireland, sir John Newport called the attention of parliament to that important subject. He stated, that it was in consequence of a petition from the archbishop, the bishops, and many of the dignified clergy, and distinguished laity of Ireland, that the charter-schools of that country were originally founded, and en

dowed with lands for the support and the furtherance of the objects of their establishment. The plan of founding these institutions began in 1734, and carried with it so powerful a recommendation to the patronage of the public, that one individual subscribed 46,000l. three per cents towards their support; another person about 20,000, and several other private individuals very large sums. The rental of these schools now amounted to upwards of 7,000l. per annum; and since the Union, nearly 600,000l. had been bestowed upon them by the public. In 1808, a report was given in to parliament, signed by the archbishop of Dublin and other distinguished personages who had visited these schools previously. In 1817, Mr. Thackery was appointed to examine into their condition; and afterwards Mr Lec. These commissioners stated, that at the period of their visitation the condition of the schools was far from satisfactory, and the system pursued in them most vicious. It appeared that there was a marked superiority of intelligence, vivacity, and apparent contentment, observable in the half-naked children of the neighbouring peasantry, over the children brought up at these schools; that cruel enormities were practised by the masters, in the punishment of the children; such as seizing them by the throat, half strangling them by that means, and at the same time administering severe flogging with a cane; and that they employed them on Sundays in preparing specimens of penmanship to be laid before the visiting committees of fifteen, while on week days some of them compelled the children to weave for the profit of their tyrants. In the chartered school at Stradbally, the VOL. LXVII.

boys were asked by one of the visitors, whether they were well used; and though, in fact, they were cruelly treated, such was their terror of the master that they answered in the affirmative. At that school, one boy was in a single day flogged nine times with a leathern thong, and received about 100 lashes. As to the system of education, some of the boys were unable to tell whether the word "Europe" implied a man, a place or a thing. The master was a farmer; and made the boys work for him in his garden. The late bishop Pocock had left a bequest for the establishment of a weaving school at Newport, and the erection of a building for the purpose of affording the scholars religious instruction. Out of thirty-six scholars in that establishment, there were only thirteen who could read, and only six copy-books among them all; the master could not teach. At the charter-school of Clonmel, there were only two scholars and no books; the master was a cripple, but he had a salary of 50l. per annum, and twenty-four acres of land, at a rental of 25s. per acre, though the adjoining land let commonly, at the time of the report, at eight guineas, and now at six guineas per acre. Not only were the objects of these charities perverted, but all complaints were prevented from reaching the committee. There was an understanding, indeed, between the registrar and the masters of these schools, who constantly made him presents, and advanced him monies without interest. Sir John Newport concluded by moving, "That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, expressing the marked sentiments of regret, and indignation, with which the House of [G]

Commons perused the details of unwarrantable eruelty practised on the children in several of the Charter-schools of Ireland, contained in the report presented to both Houses of Parliament by the commissioners appointed by his Majesty for examination into the state of the schools of Ireland, and praying that his Majesty may be pleased to direct the law officers of the Crown in that part of the United Kingdom to institute criminal prosecutions against the actors, aiders, and abettors of those dreadful outrages, as far as they may be amenable to law."

Mr. Peel candidly admitted, that, from the report itself, the inference was inevitable, that the system of the charter-schools was one which did not admit of correction, but ought to be extinguished altogether, as soon as possible. He added, that the report was not two days in the possession of government, before an order was sent, prohibiting the admission of any more children upon those foundations. At the same time, he thought that, if the masters could be proved ju

dicially to have been guilty of such atrocities as were stated in the report, dismissal would not be punishment enough; they ought to be prosecuted. In that case they should have the benefit of a fair trial: and parliament ought not to interfere, so as to prevent an impartial decision, which they would do, if they adopted the words of the proposed resolution. He therefore hoped that the right hon. baronet would so far alter the wording of his motion, as not to assume the existence of the guilty practices, which were to constitute the subject of inquiry.

Sir J. Newport, in compliance with Mr. Peel's suggestion, withdrew the original resolution, and the following motion was agreed to unanimously, "That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, that he will be graciously pleased to give directions to the law-officers of the Crown in Ireland to institute criminal proceedings against the persons concerned in the cruelties detailed in the report of the commissioners on Education, so far as they may be amenable to law."


Court of Chancery-Complaints on that subject-Debates on the alleged Abuses in Chancery, and on the Commission for inquiring into the Practice of that Court-Regulation of the Salaries of the JudgesLaws relating to Juries-Bankrupt Law-Law of Factors and Agents-Joint-Stock Companies-Unitarians' Marriage Bill-Usury Lars-Scotch Law Proceedings.


TONE of the great questions of constitutional law, on which in times of distress the very existence of the country has been often represented as depending, were agitated this year. Parliamentary reform, and the kindred class of topics were left undisturbed: nor did any part of the country shew any symptom of dissatisfaction that such questions were not discussed. The attention of the legislature was much more beneficially directed to the improvement of the administration of justice by various changes in the laws which affect the civil relations of man and man.

The administration of justice in the court of Chancery was by far the most important subject, connected with the judicial institutions of the country, which could be brought under the consideration of the legislature: nor could any greater benefit be conferred on the public, than an improvement in a tribunal far superior to all others which have ever existed in this, or any other kingdom, both in the practical efficacy of its operations, and in the comprehensiveness of its range, and in the enlarged and liberal doctrines upon which it acts. The courts of

common law are most useful and most excellent, within their own sphere: but if their doctrines and forms were not modified by the equitable jurisdiction, they would cease to be instruments of justice, and would become intolerable nuisances, by the oppression and wrong which they might be made to work. They look only at so much of a transaction as falls within their own arbitrary definitions; there may be circumstances, not comprehended in those definitions, which entirely alter its nature: those, however, a court of law cannot look at; and it deals with the affair, as if that little portion of it which is included in a legal definition, embraced all the circumstances of the case. Even where a court of law is by its principles permitted to look at the whole of a transaction, it is from its forms incapable of doing justice, unless the matter is exceedingly simple or can be reduced to a few facts. Matters of account, for instance, may be determined either at law, or in equity; and of all the subjects discussed in equity, they are perhaps the simplest: yet so unequal does a common law tribunal find itself to grapple with this, the easiest subject of equitable juris

diction, that actions, which involve accounts, end for the most part only in one way-in the parties being compelled, after going through all the expense of litigation, to refer the matters in dispute between them to arbitration. On the contrary, nothing is too complex for the court of Chancery. Its duty is, to deal with human transactions as it finds them; from this duty it does not shrink: it does not substitute for realities narrow definitions, but examines all their details, looks at every circumstance connected with them, and judges of them by the application of a system of principles, which have been built up by a long succession of the ablest and wisest men that ever adorned any public station, and in no specific part of which has even the wildest prater ever ventured to suggest any improvement. The most ordinary and simple species of suit in equity-a suit for the administration of the estate of a deceased trader-will often do more than could be done by an hundred actions at law.

The court of Chancery exercises, likewise, functions very different from the mere determination of litigated rights. From the mode in which property comes to be limited in a refined state of society, partial interests come successively into existence throughout a long period; and forty, or fifty, or sixty years may elapse, before there exists an absolute owner. During all this interval the court of Chancery administers the property, and secures it for the person ultimately entitled to it: and the functions which this jurisdiction silently and without noise exercises in thus administering and preserving funds, especially where

infants and married women are concerned, surpass probably, in utility, any other branch of the judicial civil administration. The greater the amount of the funds thus administered, and the longer the period during which there exists no person entitled to the absolute ownership of any given fund, the greater, obviously, is the utility of the interference of the Court: yet, strange to say, such is the sagacity of most of those who have held themselves forth as instructors of their brethren on this subject, that the very circumstances which prove the utility of the court of Chancery, have been made use of as topics of reproach against it. It has been accused loudly, because the funds which it administers amount to nearly 40 millions: and the mere circumstance that a suit may exist for half a century has been thought to carry condemnation along with it as if the continuance of a suit for 40 or 50 years proved any thing more, than that during that time there was no person who was entitled to the absolute possession of the fund which was the subject of it. A testator, perhaps, leaves 20,000l. to be enjoyed by his infant daughter during her life in a specified manner; and, after her death, to be divided among such of her children as shall attain twenty-one years of age. The parties choose to place this fund out of the risk of accident from the mistakes, misfortunes, or misconduct of any trustee, or executor. For this purpose a bill is filed in Chancery: the money is invested in 3 per cent stock in the name of the Accountant-general: the daughter lives perhaps 50 years, receiving the dividends regularly, and dies, leaving several children, of whom some are under

« TrướcTiếp tục »