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quite as reasonably do so—they must then believe in an England peopled by the noblest of cavaliers and the most refined of women, with here and there an elegant sinner, redeeming his offences by the delicacy of his repentance. Thus much may be admitted ; that the tone of fashionable society, at George III.'s accession and long after, was, generally speaking, both bad and low: worse, in some substantial respects, than that of our own,coarser in almost all. Gaming was, in that class, the great and master evil of the day; and our grandfathers, no doubt, put to shame their degenerate descendants, by the vast portion of life they devoted to that pursuit, the daring of their risks, the tasteful mixture of the Stoic and Epicurean in their demeanour under either fortune. The decline of this vice is unquestionably attributable in a very great degree to court influence. Drunkenness (in the same classes) is another evil which has enormously diminished: this reform, however, belongs to a later date than that we are now considering. What we may call class decorum
for want of a better phrase-has doubtless greatly increased, and especially clerical decorum. We can hardly understand a Sterne expecting to be made a bishop, or realise the clerical Saturday club of Selwyn's friend Dr. Warner ; but it may be doubted how far the sharpness of the social line between clergy. and laity is a real advantage-at least if Tertullian's apophthegm be worth anything
* Vani erimus si putaverimus id quod clericis non licet laicis licere.” In other respects we doubt anything having been achieved beyond some external softening of manners. The middle and lower classes we do not at all believe to have been more corrupt than now, and should be sorry, in the interest of our own day, to institute too close a parallel. In many respects the licence 'which has been banished from fashionable circles, seems to have since penetrated into a substratum of society once comparatively free. Such high-jinks' as were played by men and women of fashion at Mrs. Cornely's, Vauxhall, and in the meetings of the Coterie,' would certainly not be tolerated now: but on the other hand, the London of 1772 neither had nor would have endured the nightly display of cheap public balls, inviting the incomer by their glare of light and attraction, in order to introduce the city youth by wholesale to profligacy absolutely undisguised. The scandalous literature of that age was, no doubt, a disgrace to society ; but it was contained in comparatively highpriced magazines and books, and its influence thus limited to a particular class. It would then have been deemed absolutely incredible that the walls of the metropolis should be placarded,
as they used to be ten years ago, with low-priced libel and ribaldry of every description, wholly uncontrolled by decency. And let us not flatter ourselves that this recent epidemic of evil was suppressed by public opinion.' It was only put down by the tardy interference of the police, and by the straightforward resolution of one public man, regardless alike of the casuistry and ridicule by which he was encountered ; and it is ready to recommence on the slightest relaxation of repression. And-to extend our view to national evils of a far more wide-spreading and destructive character, the nineteenth century—the era of 6 commercial frauds'-can hardly sit at ease in judgment on the sound morality of any of its predecessors. All this, however, is beside our present purpose: enough for us to remark that every inquirer who is engaged in the details of the great living struggle between the good and evil principles, has to recognize the personage and example of George III. as ever prominent on the side of virtue; and discovers that the ranks of that monarch's personal enemies, while often comprehending many of the Toftiest minded and most conscientious of his subjects, always and in all places comprehended also the profligate and the turbulent, and those who sought to thrive by the disorganization of society.
ART. VII.-1. Lord Brougham's Acts and Bills from 1811 to
the Present Time. Now first collected and arranged, with an Analytical Index showing their result upon the Amendment of the Law. By Sir John Eardley Wilmot, Bart., Recorder of Warwick and Judge of the Bristol County Court. London,
1857. 2. On the Reform of the Law of Real Property. In a Letter to
the Right Hon. Lord Lyndhurst. By H. Bellenden Ker, Esq.
London, 1853. 3. The Proceedings of the Law Amendment Society. 4. Reports 1, 2, and 3 of the Statute Law Commission.
WE amendment of the law has now for many years engaged
which has accrued to the community, the public are hardly aware of the extent of the changes which have been effected, or of the immense amount of toil and talent which has been devoted to the subject. Sir Eardley Wilmot, in a large octavo volume, amounting, with the index, to nearly 900 pages, has brought together the Acts and Bills of the most energetic of all the labourers in the cause for the purpose of showing how
largely the country is indebted to Lord Brougham as a law reformer.' It is with the same view that we call attention to the work, and we shall not add one word respecting his achievements as a statesman, a judge, an orator, an advocate, nor make a single reference to his labours in the fields of science or literature.
Henry Brougham was called to the English Bar more than fifty years since, having previously obtained considerable reputation in the Scotch courts. He entered Parliament early in 1810 as member for Camelford, where he succeeded Lord Henry Petty, who had become Marquis of Lansdowne. This distinguished nobleman has himself continued for nearly half a century an ornament to the House of Lords. An eloquent debater, an upright and enlightened statesman, he is a conspicuous member of that remarkable group of venerable statesmen and lawyers which excites the admiration not only of our own countrymen, but of surrounding nations. M. Forcade speaks, in a recent number of the “Revue des Deux Mondes,' of the Nestors of our day when commenting on Lord Brougham's speech on Newton :
Le discours de Lord Brougham a été un tissu extraordinaire d'érudition, d'appréciations scientifiques pleines de profondeur et de haute éloquence. C'est une merveille qu'un homme qui a atteint sa quatrevingtième année puisse encore, après une vie si pleine et si agitée, donner un aussi splendide exemple de vigueur et de jeunesse d'esprit. Où est le secret de ce perpétuel rajeunissement intellectuel qui dompte les défaillances de la nature physique, et permet à un vieillard de quatre-vingt-six ans, comme Lord Isyndhurst, de prendre une part active et influente aux débats de la Chambre des Lords, à un septuagénaire tel
que Lord Palmerston de gouverner le plus puissant empire du monde à travers les longues et orageuses nuits de la Chambre des communes, et à Henry Brougham de se jouer avec une puissante sérénité dans les hauteurs les plus abstraites de la science?" Il y a je ne sais quoi d'héroïque dans cette vitalité persistante du talent, et cette vitalité, où le talent la nourrit-il chez nos voisins, si ce n'est dans les virils laboreurs de la liberté politique ?
With the exception of an interval from 1812 to 1816, Mr. Brougham continued to be a member of the House of Commons from 1810 till he took his seat in the House of Lords, and throughout the whole of his Parliamentary career he has never ceased to give his attention to the amelioration of the law.
• A review of the legislation which has taken place from 1807 till the present time,' observes Sir E. Wilmot, 6 scarcely lights on a single topic upon which we do not see impressed the stamp of his vigorous mind. Many of the measures originally proposed by him, meeting at first with no encouragement, but persevered in with a confidence of their utility which no opposition could subdue, met with slow but ultimate success, The value of others was at once so manifest, that they became the law of the land without a dissenting voice. Not unfrequently the most important improvements in our jurisprudence, initiated by his suggestive genius, passed into the hands and contributed to swell or establish the reputation of men of far less capacious intellect, but whom political partisanship or accidental circumstances had rendered for the time more powerful in the senate.'
Many persons who indulge in theoretical views, and frame an imaginary legal Utopia, forget that law reform must be conducted with special reference to the state of our own laws, and the particular means of improving them which are at our command. A want of a due consideration of this point has not seldom led to some errors in the conclusions of many who have undertaken to discuss the question.
Our laws consist in the first place of the common or unwritten law. This is to be found in the books of the great text-writers, and in the decisions of the courts as recorded in the reports from the Year-Books which began in the time of Edward II. up
to the latest Saturday's Law Times,' or Weekly Reporter. In the second place we have our statutes or written law. These are contained in from forty to fifty quarto volumes, though much of this mass is repealed, expired, or has become obsolete. There is enough, however, left of conflicting provisions to make revision and consolidation essential. What is to be said for that state of the law relating to marriage, which makes it necessary to search through various statutes beginning from Henry VIII. up to the present day? The recent enactments again respecting the building new churches are scattered through a number of contrariant provisions contained in at least as many acts. The statutes on the law of landlord and tenant amount to thirty or forty, besides a large body of common law applicable to the subject. The mere account of the rise and progress of our present law of real property would show that the very way in which it was formed must of necessity have rendered it, in some respects, complex, intricate, and circuitous.
• The first division,' observes Mr. Hayes, in his · Historical Sketch of the Law of Real Property,' 'embraces the period of feudal rigour, when the system of tenures flourished severe and pure,
any tincture of equitable doctrines. Some knowledge of its leading principles is not merely desirable as a matter of elegant or curious research, but essential to form the sound practical lawyer.
The second division exhibits the rise and progress of equitable interests, under the naine of uses, which, eluding the strictness of tenure, contravened the law and impoverished the seigniory, but effected on the whole a salutary change, and laid the foundations of greater good.
• Distinct traces of both these æras are visible in the compound character of our law, and the two-fold constitution of our judicature.
• The third division shows by what legislative and judicial steps the materials supplied by the preceding periods were brought into a state adapted to keep pace with the progressive wants of society,-how the law of tenures was tempered by the infusion of uses in a legal form, and a substituted code of equitable interests, under the appellation of trusts,-Law and Equity advancing together, but each within limits of its peculiar jurisdiction, till we reach the maturity of its present system.'
Few, therefore, could doubt that some simplification both of the common and written law became desirable when the whole subject could be viewed calmly with reference to the existing interests of society, apart from the state of things which attended the origin of the different rules and gave them their particular shape and direction. Accordingly the evils have been admitted by almost every text writer, from Coke and Hale down to Blackstone. Yet till recently little has been done in the way of remedy. The inconvenience of change, and experience of the evil of hasty alteration, deter many. And there is always, as Sir James Mackintosh observes, a class who, early attaining eminence, repose on their first creed, and regard the call for the adaptation of the laws to the varying wants of new generations as a transient madness worthy only of pity or derision. What they mistake for the symptoms of the mountain torrent that will pass away with the storm that gave it birth, is the stream of human opinion in omne volubilis ævum, which the accession of every day will swell, and which is destined to sweep into the same oblivion the resistance of learned sophistry and of powerful oppression. When the question came at last to be seriously mooted, Lords Eldon and Ellenborough were at the head of the profession. They resisted the attempts at amendment partly from the prejudices contracted by their legal training and partly because the horrors of the French revolution were fresh in their minds, and all change whatever seemed to them to portend the same misery and anarchy which had desolated France. The wide distinction between constitutional innovations and social improvements had not been sufficiently observed, nor that due attention to the second was the surest means of averting the first. It is far easier to decide that some alteration is
than to settle what is best to be done. The question at the outset lies between a Code, which means an entirely new exposition of the law, and a Digest of the law which at present exists, removing obscurities and supplying obvious defects. The advantages of a Digest are, we think, well set forth in a report, of the Criminal Law Commissioners :