« AnteriorContinuar »
lawyers, as well as the theologians, have erected another reason besides natural reason; and the result has been another justice besides natural justice. They have so be vildered the world and them, selves in unmeaning forms and ceremonies, and 80 perplexed the plainest matters with metaphy, sical jargon, that it carries the bighest danger to a man out of that profession, to make the least step without their advice and assistance. Thus by confining to themselves the knowledge of the foundation of all men's lives and properties, they have reduced all mankind to the most abject and servile dependence. We are tenants at the will of these gentlemen for every thing; and a metaphysical quibble is to decide whether the greatest svillain breathing shall meet his deserts, or escape with impunity; or whether the best man in the society shall not be reduced to the lowest and most despicable condition it affords. In a word, the injustice, delay, puerility, false refinement, and affected mystery of the law, are such, that many
who live under it come to admire and envy the expedition, simplicity, and equality of arbitrary sjudgments. 115
Vindication of Natural Society, p. 80-89. I ĦAD informed (my master that some of our crew left their country on account of their being ruined by law. I had already explained the meaning of the word: but he was at a loss, how -it should come to pass, that the law, which was intended for every man's preservation, should be
any man's ruin. Therefore he desired to be far-
The first is, to gain over my adversary's lawyer with a double fee; who will then betray his client by in
sinuating, that he hath justice on his side. The second way is, for my lawyer to make my cause appear as unjust as he can, by allowing the cow to belong to my adversary; and this, if it be skilfully done, will certainly bespeak the favour of the bench. Now your honour is to know, that these judges are persons appointed to decide all controversies of property, as well as for the trial of criminals, and picked out from the most dexterous lawyers who are grown old or lazy ; and having been biassed all their lives against truth and equity, lie under such a fatal necessity of favouring fraud, perjury, and oppression, that I have known some of them refuse a large bribe from the side where justice lay, rather than injure the faculty by doing any thing unbecoming their nature or their office.
It is a maxim among these lawyers, that whatever hath been done before, may legally be done again : and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice, and the general reason of mankind. These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions, and the judges never fail of directing accordingly.
In pleading they studiously avoid entering into the merits of the cause ; but are loud, violent, and tedious in dwelling upon all circumstances which are not to the purpose. For instance, in the case already mentioned : they never desire to know what claim or title my adversary hath to my
cow; but whether the said cow were red or black her horns long or short ; whether the field I graze her in be round or square ; whether she was milked at home or abroad; what diseases she is subject to, and the like ; after which they consult precedents, adjourn the cause from time to tine, and in ten, twenty, or thirty years come to an issue.
It is likewise to be observed, that this society hath a peculiar cant and jargon of their own, that no other mortal can 'understand, and wherein all their laws are written, which they take special care to multiply; whereby they have wholly confounded the very essence of truth and falsehood, of right and wrong ; so that it will take thirty years to decide, whether the field left me by my ancestors for six generations belongs to me or to a stranger three hundred miles off.
In the trial of persons accused for crimes against the state, the method is much more short and commendable : the judge first sends to sound the disposition of those in power, after which he can easily hang or save a criminal, striąly preserving al due forms of law.*
Swirr. Gulliver's Travels, part iv. cb.v.
* Swift, as appears from this passage, did not foresee the spirit and independence that would be displayed by British Juries in the year 1794. It is not necessary to refer to other trials and their juries, to show the accuracy of his estimate with respect to the issue of state prosecutions in general.
My cause came on in one of the courts of
parliament, and it was unanimously given against me. My counsellor told me, that in another court I should as unanimously have gained it. “Very sin“ gular,” said 1, "then so many courts so many “ laws.” “ Yes,” said he, “there are no less “ than twenty-five commentaries on the common “ law at Paris; that is, the Paris common law “ has been twenty-five times proved to be ambi
guous, and were there twenty-five courts, there “ would be twenty-five different bodies of laws. " We have,” continued he, “a province called “ Normandy, about fifteen leagues from Paris, and " there your cause would have been decided quite “ otherwise than here.” This made me desirous of seeing Normandy, and I went thither with one of my
brothers. At the first inn we came to was a young man storming most furiously. I asked him what was the matter? “ Matter enough,” answered he; “ I have an elder brother, "-" Where " is the mighty misfortune of having a brother?” said I to him," my brother is my elder, and yet
very easy together.”—“ But here, sir, said he, “ the damned law gives every thing to
r the elder, and the younger may shift for them“selves."*". If that be the case," said I, you
may well be angry; with us things are equally “ divided; yet sometimes brothers do not love se one another the better for it.”
These litele adventures led me to some very profound reflections on laws, and I found them to be like our garments. At Constantinople it is proper