ePub 版

that "circumstances have most materially counteracted this tendency of the Poor Laws, and have led to the apparent difference, that at present exists, between the theoretical conclusions as to their operation, and the actual results of that operation." These circumstances are stated with clearness and force, and afford adequate proof of the care and attention bestowed upon their examination. The facts adduced are of a remarkable description, and seem to justify the conclusion to which the Reviewer has come, that persons able and willing to work, but who cannot find employment, have a right, under certain restrictions, to obtain relief from some legally devised system. The measures suggested by him for arresting the progress of pauperism are important, and merit the consideration of the Legislature.

The third article is on the “ Causes and Cure of Disturbances and Pauperism.” It was written soon after the outrages had been perpetrated by the peasantry of the southern counties in England, and immediately subsequent to the accession of Earl Grey's ministry to office. The object of the Reviewer is to show that the distress in the districts of the south cannot be justly ascribed to any general causes, such, for example, as the change in the currency, the effects of heavy taxation, or the alterations in the commercial policy of government. The abuse of the Poor Laws is specified as the main reason for the depressed condition and general discontent of the labouring orders. In order to substantiate this assertion, a lengthened detail is gone into respecting the pernicious effects of the allowance system, which are depicted in a manner peculiarly striking. Two ways are deseribed by which this fertile source of mischief could be effectually done away. These are, “by placing the labourers for whose services there is no real demand on unoccupied and uncultivated lands at home, or by removing them to the colonies.” The first of these modes is condemned, as leading to an increase of the evil; and the second is defended, on the ground of its being beneficial to the emigrants, to the labourers who remained at home, and to all classes,“ by drying up the most copious source of internal commotion, and by extending and multiplying our commercial relations with other countries.”

It was intimated in a previous part of this Essay, that the Edinburghi Review has on several occasions ridiculed the fears of those who would keep the people in ignorance of politics. The writer of the article to which the above observations reser has expressed his opinions on this subject so unreservedly, and there is so much good sense in his observations, that it may not be improper to transcribe the passage. If we would prolong that security which has been the principal foundation of our prosperity, we must show the labourers that they are interested in its support; and that whatever has any tendency to weaken it, is even more injurious to them than lo any other class. For this reason, we are deeply impressed with the conviction that Parliament ought to lose no time in setting about the organisation of a really useful system of public education. The safety of the empire depends wholly on the conduct of the multitude; and, such being the case, can any one doubt the paramount importance of the diffusion of sound instruction ? This is not a subject that ought any longer to be trifled with, or left to individuals or societies. The astounding exhibition of ignorance made at the late trials for rioting shows how wretchedly the agricultural population is educaled. A larger proportion of the manufacturing population can read and write; but a knowledge of these arts is not enough. Besides being instructed in them, and in the duties and obligations enjoined by religion and morality, the poor ought to be made acquainted with those circumstances which principally determine their condition in life. They ought, above all, to be instructed in the elementary doctrines of population and wages; in the advantages derived from the institution of private property, and the introduction and improvement of machinery; and in the causes which give rise to that gradation of ranks, and inequality of fortunes, that are natural to society as heat to fire and cold to ice. The interest of the poor are identified with the support of all those great principles, the maintenance of which is essential to the welfare of the other classes. Were they made fully aware that such is the fact, it would be a contradiction and an absurdity to suppose, that the securities for peace and good order would not be immeasurably increased. Those revolutionary and anti-social doctrines, now so copiously distributed, would be rejected at once by an instructed population. But it is not easy to estimate what may be their influence in a period of political excitement and public distress, when addressed to those whose education has been entirely neglected, and whose judgment is, in consequence, guided by prejudice, and not by principle.” The subject of a free trade in Corn is of such magnitude and importance,

а that it was intended to devote a considerable portion of this work to its discussion. On looking over the numerous articles which the Editor had prepared for selection, it was found that the opinions maintained in all of them are nearly the same. This circumstance superseded the necessity of giving insertion to more than one on that difficult question. Mr. M'Culloch refers to it as his production, in a note to his edition of “ The Wealth of Nations.' Intelligent persons may dissent from some of the views developed in this dissertation, and question the soundness of some of the conclusions. It is presumed, however, there can be no disagreement as to the extent of the information displayed, and the comprehensive notice taken of every branch of the controversy. The topics upon which he touches are so diversified in character, that it would not be easy to bring before the eye of the reader a satisfactory exposition of them, within the narrow limits to which this outline must be confined. Perhaps the substance of his arguments may be gathered from the following statement, in his own language, of the propositions which he produces strong and unexceptionable data to establish. The two most important points first settled, are, that the total quantity of all sorts of grain imported into Great Britain and Ireland, in the event of our ports being thrown open, could hardly, under almost any circumstances, exceed from one twentieth to one twelfth part of our entire consumption, and that the price for which such foreign corn could be obtained could not, in ordinary years, be less than 508. a quarter; and would, most probably, range from 528. to 578. He proceeds, in the next place, to prove, that while the abolition of the Corn Laws would be productive of no material injury to the farmers and landlords, by reducing the average price of raw produce, it would, by giving greater sleadiness to prices, be no less advantageous to them than to the other classes of the community. An estimate is then made of the pecuniary loss entailed on the country, in ordinary years, by the existing restrictions on the corn trade. Various arguments are recapitulated to demonstrate, that the abolition of the Corn Laws would be equally advantageous to the landlords and farmers as to the other classes ; or that, if it could be proved they would really suffer considerable injury,

sound policy would even then justify a complete change in the present system, in order to relieve the commercial and manufacturing classes from the burden which it imposes on them. One argument of the agriculturists is answered in a manner that can scarcely fail to produce conviction; namely, that all the principal branches of manufacturing and commercial industry are protected, by means of prohibitory duties, from foreign competition, and that it is only fair and reasonable that agriculture, which is the most important branch, should enjoy the same protection and favour as the rest—the Reviewer avowing it as his decided opinion, that it will be found impossible to maintain the Corn Laws without deeply endangering the public tranquillity and the security of property. Upon the whole, this article may be regarded the most comprehensive survey of the whole question to be found in the Edinburgh Review, or in any other periodical journal; and it touches on a variety of considerations which will materially assist the reader in arriving at a just and impartial decision on its merits.

In the dissertation on the Game Laws, to which the Review has been always opposed, there is a statement of the grounds on which they are principally objectionable, of the manner in which they have been executed, and of the various legislative enactments that have been passed on the subjeet. The remedy proposed is, that the “right of game should be reunited to that of the other interests in land, by putting an end to disqualifying laws; and that its sale should be legalised, by means of licensed dealers, deriving title through a proprietor or occupier of lands. This article is written with ability, and contains a great deal of information.

The concluding Essay, which properly belongs to the department of political economy, relates to the affairs of the East India Company. To the commercial monopoly of that body the Edinburgh Review has always been a determined opponent. Discrepancies in its opinions on malters of subordinate importance may, perhaps, be observed in some of its articles; but it has grappled with the evils of a system which India and Great Britain have reason to deplore. The anti-monopoly doctrines, of which it has been the champion, the valuable information it has communicated respecting our relations with the East, and the appeals it has often made to the feelings, as well as to the interests, of the nation, have roused a spirit of enquiry, and given a power and union to public opinion, that will become irresistible. On referring to the early numbers of that journal, it will be seen that, twenty years ago, it called the attention of government and the people to the vicious principles upon which our vast Eastern territories were governed. When scarcely a voice was raised, or a pen employed, by the political writers of Great Britain, to denounce the exclusive privileges granted to the East India Company, it protested against the extension of the charter, and showed the advantages which would accrue from a more extensive commercial intercourse between Great Britain and the East, and from opening the trade to China. That the reign of British misrule in that quarter of the world is drawing rapidly to an end, cannot be questioned by those who koow any thing of the progress of opinion. Whenever that happy period shall arrive, it should not be forgotten that the Edinburgh Review distinguished itself, at an early period, by its hostility to exclusive rights, and laboured zealously to promote a system of liberal policy towards that oppressed and neglected portion of the globe. It was perfectly in accordance with the character of the men who have so ardently pleaded for the cause of liberty in our West India colonies, that they should be equally desirous

VOL. 1.



of extending to our immense dominions in the East the blessings of commerce, wealth, and freedom.

Reference has been made in a note, in another part of this work, to several useful articles on the monopoly enjoyed by the East India Company. The paper under consideration refers particularly to the trade with China, and other countries to the east of Malacca. Its object is to show the expediency of throwing the trade completely open; and this is done by showing that the Company have not conducted their commercial intercourse on fair and liberal principles, and that it would be carried on to an equal extent, and with greater advantage to the nation at large, by individual enterprise and exertion. The points established by the writer will be more clearly, understood, by giving a specific enumeration of them in his own words. First, That the East India Company have raised the price of their teas lo so exorbitant a pitch, that they cost the people of Britain 1,800,0001. a year more than they would do were the trade open. Secondly, That the teas so overcharged are in no respect superior, in point of quality, to those used in the United States and on the Continent. Thirdly, The Company have defeated the regulalions in the act of 1784, intended to oblige them to pul up their lea al ils cost price, and to sell it at a small advance ; the former, by including in its cost several heavy items that ought not to be included, and by improperly increasing others; and the latter, by understocking the market, and securing a large advance on the upset price. Fourthly, That the following arguments of the Company's advocates are fallacious; namely, that the existence of the monopoly is indispensable to the existence of the trade; that the Chinese are a peculiar people, whose habits and modes of thinking and acting are quite different from those of other lations; that the East India company have luckily found out the secret of managing them, but that private traders would infallibly get embroiled; and that, were the experiment of opening the trade once made, the inevitable consequence would be, that we should, in a very short time, be driven from the Chinese markets, losing at one and the same time our supplies of tea, and the revenue of about 3,200,0001. derived from it. Fifthly, That the trade carried on by the Company has not been of the same extent that it would have been had private adventurers been permitted to engage in it: and lastly, that every vestige of the existing monopoly of the trade with China should not only be abolished, but that the Company should be interdicted from having any thing whatever to do with commercial affairs. These important positions are defended at great length; and the evidence adduced in their support is peculiarly worthy of examination at the present crisis, when Parliament has to legislale upon the East India question.

In concluding this outline of the contents of the work, the Editor has yet to notice the articles inserted under the head of “ Law and Jurisprudence.” These are six in number, and equally attractive and useful with those allotted to other divisions. It is matter of general notoriety that the Edinburgh Review is enriched with a large mass of contributions of this class, written by some of the most distinguished members of the legal profession. It has been a favourite object with its principal writers to impress upon government the necessity of reforming, speedily and effectually, the whole system of our laws, in all ils multifarious departments, and of rendering them intelligible, accessible, and cheap. In pursuing this laudable end, they have shared largely in the opprobrium and misrepresentation which are the neyer-failing reward of those who have supported the efforts of Romilly, Mackintosh, and Brougham, in cutting away the most noxious parts of British jurisprudence,-the delay, expense, and vexation of justice. Without expatiating

on the particular measures of law reform to which the Review has given its cordial support, it may suffice to indicate generally the principal subjects treated of connected with that department :- The Scottish Judicial System ; Criminal Code ; Abuses in Chancery; Conveyancing; Codification; Prison Discipline; Laws relating to Literary Property; Law of Evidence; Criminal Procedure and Publicity; Alien Laws; Law of Entails and Primogeniture; Benefit of allowing Counsel to Prisoners; Police of the Metropolis; Public Registry in England; Irish Courts of Quarter Sessions; Courts of Local Jurisdiction; besides elaborate discussions on the political and philosophical theories of the late Mr. Bentham, and on various questions of minor importance.

From the foregoing articles a few have been selected, principally relating to those reforms in our judicial system, which are the topics of existing controversy, and are likely to occupy the attention of the Legislature. The exertions of the Edinburgh Review have been eminently beneficial in impressing upon the minds of the people a strong feeling of repugnance to the injustice and severity of the criminal law of England. The necessity of ameliorating its character, and of adapting it to the opinions and feelings of an enlightened era of society, has been enforced in several argumentative Essays. In the Essay on this subject transferred to these pages, the question of capital punishments is very ably discussed; the inconsistencies and anomalies of the English criminal code exposed in a forcible manner, and the evils of its operation depicted, as they affect the culprit, the proseculors, the jury, and the community.

Sir James Mackintosh has stated, in his “Dissertation on the Progress of Ethical Philosophy," prefixed to the new edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, that the Review of " Bentham's Treatise on Codification” was contributed by Sir Samuel Romilly. Independently of its undoubted merit as a specimen of acute and sound reasoning on a topic of great public interest, the pleasure of the reader will be increased by his knowledge of the fact, that it was the production of a man equally distinguished as a lawyer, a legislator, a patriot, and a philanthropist.

The functions of the Lord Advocate of Scotland form the subject of an interesting dissertation. The objections to the office are investigated, and various remedies are propounded which the Reviewer conceives would be etiectual in removing the abuses inseparable from a situation of such extensive discretionary authority. The propriety of introducing Grand Juries into the Scottish judicial system has been frequently doubted. The grounds upon which the writer thinks they would be beneficial, under certain regulations, are given in detail. He refutes the arguments of those who affect to dread so large an innovation. The subject, considered in every point of view, is one of much importance; and it is ably elucidated.

The article on Entails and the Law of Primogeniture has been ascribed to Mr. M'Culloch. With regard to the former, he gives a sketch of the laws affecting the division of property in the earlier stages of society, and then proceeds to investigate the reasons urged in favour of Entails. Considered in a political point of view, he is favourable to the right conferred by that law, under particular restrictions, and in countries where there are hereditary legislators. But he admits that “ a system of inviolable and perpetual Patail is highly injurious to the best interests of society; and though the con

« 上一頁繼續 »