« PreviousContinue »
bere the expence of candles rises Tallinscendency of reason in the
1815.) Norious Processes. -Mr. Mathson.
19 the manufacturer, in loss of the work. To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine. men's time, as that of attending the gas SIR, apparatus.
affairs of a people, to 800l. or 1000l. per annum, the saving their advancement in civilization and will be a full half; because the atten. freedom. It is the unhappy cundition dance is very little increased, and the of nations, still savage or subject to dese first cost, and wear and tear, by no potic sway, to be the dupes of prejumeans in proportion. This considera- dice and passion. On the contrary,. tion should weigh forcibly with the in- vation governed by its own free-will, habitants of London, to adopt large and and by good intelligence, makes laws general apparatus for the shops, rather which inpose no impracticable condi. than small ones for individual establish. tions, and balance the just pretensions ments, as has been done in several si. of every class of the community. tuations in London where the expenices The latter, in a qualified degree, is of attendance is proportionably so much the condition of the people of England. greater : also that they may reasonably The House of Commons may not be expect a greater saving, because the wholly adequate to all its professed conlight used in shops and dwelling houses, stitutional purposes, because so many are more costly than the common lights of its members do not represent their or lamps burned in manufactories or due proportion of the people; yet six streets.
F. hundred and fifty legislators cannot de To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine. liberate two hundred days in every year, SIR,
without passing, even by chance, many HAVE read in your Magazine some salutary laws. In points which do not case to cover the head, to prevent the bad minister, it must be admitted by the effects of the fumes of nuriatic acid on severest patriotism, that they distribute the constitution in some branch of manu- equal justice between their fellow cifactures. It appears to me that great tizens; while, in the four hundred public benefit might be derived by those em- and private acts of every session, many ployed in many unhealthful trades, such of the provisions evince a disposition as painters, scythe-grinders, and others, to ameliorate the condition of society, by using a covering of that nature for the either closely following or often preces face, made with thick cotton or linen, as ding the progress of public intelligence. the injurious effects is known to be pro- It is my present purpose to invite atten. duced by what is taken in at the mouth tion to a law which has recently been and nose.
passed to adjust the relations of debtors
and creditors,..commonly called, “ Lord To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine. Redesdale's Act;" though its principle SIR,
had been urged for twenty years, by the provincial intelligence of your num- vernor General of India. It is one of ber for April last, p. 274, occurs the those laws in which the intelligence of the name of the "Rev. Mr. Mathson, of legislature preceded that of large and ac. Pattesdale." The article was doubtless tive portions of the public, in regard to copied from one of the newspapers, in some of whom its provisions interfered some of which I noticed the insertion of with their profits; while, in relation to his death as having lately happened. It others, it took away powers which they is rather a remarkable circuinstance that had too long been accustomed to exerthe Rev. Mr. Mattison, of Patterdale cise. An interested opposition has in con(for so his name and place of abode ought sequence been organized against this to have been spelt), died in the year 1765, law, which will call for all the firmness as appears from the obituary of the Gen- of parliament to resist. Practising attlenjan's Magazine of that year. The tornies have not occasion to commence account of the singular circumstances the half of their customary number of of his life is inserted in Ilutchinson's suits; sheriff's officers do not make a History of Cumberland, vol, i. p. 432, half of the usual number of captions; where it is said he lived to the age of 96. the spunging-houses are without com. It has often been copied into different pany; the gaolers have fewer inmates on publications, as an amusing instance of whom to prey; the barristers gel but a industry and economy in the clerical cha. tythe of their ordinary fees; Jews and racter.
J.J. discounters meet with fewer cases of · Basingstoke,
urgent distress; and the officers of the the property of the debtor to his cre. courts of law experience a serious de- ditors. For this purpose an assignee, falcation in their perquisites.—How then, or assignees, usually the chief of the say all these people, can so injurious a creditors, are appointed to take possesJaw be suffered to remain in the Statute- sion of the property and make dividends book?
-the penalty of transportation is inSuch, at least, is the question of the ficted for making false returns-public hungry pettifogger, who calculates his advertisements and circular notices are gains by the number of victims he can given to creditors who are heard in pereinbarrass or immure of the buinbai. son, or by counsel--the debtor is subliff and his follower, whose subsistence jected to public interrogatories and depends on the business of their patron, great rewards are offered for discoveries the attorney-of the gaoler, who calcu- of concealment. These provisions, if lates bis salary on the gratuities paid not effectual, were made as much so as by debtors for indulgence of the bar. is consistent with the spirit of the Bririster who gets a fee for his opinions, his tish Con-titution; and, if on any point pleadings, his declaration, and his brief they appear to be insufficient, the framers on one side or the other--and of the of the law can have no ohjection to officers of our tribunals, who, by a nar. improve or extend them, so that, as row policy, are allowed to derive their far as human inquisition can extend, a salaries from misery, instead of being full disclosure of the debtor's property liberally paid by the public. In the shall be made. Let the reward be in. county of Middlesex, I am told, this bu- creased for the discovery of concealsiness of these several classes bas fallen off ments—let the punishment be the most in the proportion of 1 to 3; and, through terrible known to the law, and let it be the whole kingdom, in the proportion invariably inflicted, rather than innocence of 1 to 4. Can we wonder, then, that should suffer for the frauds of guilt-or every trifling difficulty, in the execution that the just principles of this law should of the hill, has been improperly magni. be abandoned, because they may ocfied—that cases, in which it inay hap- casionally be abused by knavery! Let pen to release unworthy objects, have the guilty be amenable for crimes, but been unduly dwelt upon-and that every then only. Define, as accurately as means have been exerted to aların the you can,' the really culpable acts of cominercial world, and the powerful mem- debtors; and punish offenders as severely bers of the legal profession, into a belief as you please, but do not extend your of alledged dangers from its operation? penalties to the innocent or unfortunate, · Let us, however, dispassionately en- or, what would be worse than any definite quire into its purpose and objects. We legal penalty, leave them to be punished shall find, that its principle is to render in the discretion of any enraged, vengenot only the present, but the future pro- ful, and inexorable creditor. perty of the debtor, liable for his debts. Other provisions of the act deprive a And what more can reason expect or debtor of a second enlargement within desire? Can creditors ask more of five years, so that no man can insult debtors than their property, present and public decency by incurring debts, in future? Ought not the present property the expectation of being speedily libeto have been sufficient-could justice rated again.--An unprincipled career of fairly ask more?-Yet this law coininits a year inust be atoned for by four years all future property, and renders the uppitied imprisonment, a penalty so far debtor virtually a slave, till the creditor beyond any prospect of advantage, that is satisfied ! — With what ground of rea- no better security could exist against the son then can creditors complain of this immoralities of spendothrifts and swinch act? Do they want more than the pre. lers, than this provision of this very sent and future possessions of their statute. debtor?-If they do, their wishes ought It appears that, in the first fifteen not to be gratified-they are Shylocks, months of its operation, the new law has seeking their pound of human flesh, who relieved from personal duress, no less ought to be hunted out of civilized than FoUR THOUSAND debtors; that is, society—and tyrants, who ought not 2,400 in London, and 1,600 in the proto enjoy the protection of laws made vinces; the whole of who e debts, aver. by free-inen in the spirit of reason and aging five hundred pounds, annunted justice !
The dividends they The terms and provisions of the bill have paid have been trifling; but all tend to that object, the transfer of neither this consideration, nor that oi
to TWO MILLIONS.
2815.) Horrors of Imprisonment for Debt.
21 the vast numbers discharged from con. timate advantage to their own estate. finement, afford any just or valid objec- It is notorious, that, under the system of tion to the bill.
indefinite imprisonment, not one creditor If their means had been commensurate in twenty ever obtained a farthing of with their debts, they would not have an imprisoned debtor; while be was often been objects for relief; they were in con. fixed with heavy and ruinous costs, and finement simply because they did not on the wretched debtor and his family a possess the means of paying their debts. load of useless misery was heaped, which It is therefore most absurd to object generally terminated his life, attended to the bill, because the means of those by circumstances that often defied all who have been relieved by it, have borne the powers of the tragic muse !* any inconsiderable proportion to the Are we then to yield to the wishes amount of their debts. Rather would it of harpies of the law, and mistaken crenot bave been as cruel as unreasonable, ditors, and revive a system so pregnant to have persisted in detaining persons with horrors, so indiscriminate in its sewhose means are proved to have been so verity, and so inefficient in its operation? inadequate, than blame the instrument Are we to outrage every feeling of huma. which has relieved them from the preso nity, and abandon every check on the illsure of debts, whose payment could not dulgence of bad passions, that cruelty may have been accelerated by the imprison, stand in place of prudence and discretion ment of the debtors, and by the hopeless among tradesmen? Is law to be the sufferings of their families.
snare in which the unwary or incautious The prodigious numbers relieved, or are to be caught by the speculating and who remain to be relieved, are in like grasping trader, who gives loose and unTaanner no evidence against the justice guarded credit, trusting that he may exact, of the law; but rather seem to prove at by tho torture of imprisonment, from once its necessity as well as justice. tender-hearted parents, kind relatives, or The operatiou of twenty-two years' wars sympathizing friends? Is it not more on the national industry- of taxes to reasonable that trade should be carried support their expences of paper-money on at the proper risk of the trader; and to sustain the taxes--of speculations and that it should be his duty scrupulously to experiments in every branch of indus- ascertain what, as well as whom, he trusts, try, to obtain a living in such times, or cheerfully submit to the penalty of of monopolies of land, which have driven bis credulity, and be satisfied with the starving population into towns and payment in the property of his cre-, of depreciated currency, affecting all an. puitants, and sınall incomes, has cre- * Otten have men been detained in priated a load of private debt and domestic son for debt or costs, of trifling amounts, suffering, which it would have been faith- for twenty or thirty years. I once saw a less not to have relieved, by abating the man in Newgate, who had been detained severity of the laws between debtor and there twenty-seven years; and I have creditor. This mass of insolvents ari- known a family of four brothers, who were sing from the foibles of the state, me.
detained in four several goals for the same rited the attention of those for whose debt above seventeen years, two of whom errors, they have innocently or wilfully victims of their novel condition of liberty,
died prisoners, and the other two became suffered; though it must be confessed, within a few months after the beir of their that under other circumstances it would
deblor had given them a free discharge. have been more just to have given such The man in Newgate told me, that his a law a prospective operation, and not creditor died a few years before, after payto have stept so abruptly between the ing bim ten times the amount of the deht contracts of debtor and creditor. in groats, and he was then able to supersede
It however beboves those creditors who the action; but in twenty years his friends, complain of the early etfects of the new or connections in the world, as he termed law, to state whether they believe that in it, being all dead; and having been so long any instance their condition would have habituated to one mode of lite, in which by been improved if it had continued in their services to new comers he gained a living, power indefinitely to detain their debtor he felt the greatest terror at the idea of in prison. Unless they can make this become natural to him, and which time
being ejected from a habitation which had appear, the retrospective operation of had changed from a prison to an asylum. the bill is no valid objection to it; Persons who wish to inform themselves of and it may be suspected, that the in- all the villanies and extortions to which dulgence of an implacable spirit against the system of arbitrary imprisonment for
helpless debtor, is their true ground, debt is liable, should consult Mr. Pearce's rather than any calculatiou of legii lątc publication on the Abuses of the Lww.
ditor, ditor, as far as it goes, and not expect, in make themselves acquainted with the part of liquidation, the blood, hones, and spirit and the provisions of this law, bemarrow, of the victims of his credulity fore they suffer themselves to be misled or avarice?
by false statements and interested reaIt is impertinent in the opposers of sonings. They will then, I persuade this law to speak of the relief which they myself, hail it as a signal triumph of reasay it affords to swindlers. No swindler son and benevolence over the prejudice is or can be enlarged by it. All frau- of custom, and the tyranny of avarice. dulent transactions are excluded from Among our laws on the suliject of prorelief by an express clause. Swindlers periy, they will find it a ray of sun-shine continue also as much as ever obnoxious breaking into a cavern of darkness. To to the criminal law, and the civil law as the weak and helpless, they will discover it stood, effected as little relief in the re. that it serves as a guardian against the covery of property from swindlers, as is caprice of the strong and wealthy, and pretended in regard to this new bill. places those under the protection of disNor does it appear by past experience that passionate authority who, without such swindlers, or any class of swindliog cre- aid, were liable to become the victims of ditors, enjoy an immunity from this bill. hatred, revenge, and insatiable avarice. Among the 2400 liberated in London, a And, on whichever side they view it, large majority were unfortunate and un. they will find that its tendency is to happy persons, who but for this statute break the galling chains of hopeless and would have been borne down to their pennyless prisoners, serving to restore graves by the oppression of dents, which thousands to the bosoms of their afflicted they could never pay, or they must have families, affording them an opportunity sutiered imprisonments without any pros- of paying their creditors, giving them a pect of relief. Old and young, industri- chance of retrieving the errors of inous and idle, wise and foolish, male and experience or credulity, and enabling female, virtuous and vicious, have all them to become useful and respectable stood at the bar of the court created by meinbers of society. this statute; and, after surmounting the Ouglit more need more-be urged in opposition and cross-examinations of favour of any buman law? Considered their creditors, have happily been libe- merely as an alternative in a choice of rated.. say happily liberated, even ditficulties—its only errors are those of thou some score of themn might have charity and beneficence. But, estimated merited perpetual imprisonment; for was as one of those contrivances of wisdom, it not better that the whole should be by which man endeavours to confer perliberated, however culpable some might fection on his establishments, its faults, have been, than that many hundreds of though magnified by the prejudices of inunfortunates should have been doomed ordinate self-love, can never be made to interinioable miseries! Are we on more evident or conspicuous, than the this subject to reverse all che axioms, spots in the all-GLORIOUS SUN. even of criminal jurisprudence; and are
COMMON SENSE. we to punish ninety-nine who are inno. P.S. A petition having been presented cent lest one guilly should escape?*
against the Act in toto, from the Common 1.1 a word, then, I conjure the humane Council of London, and Mr. Serjeant Best and intelligent part of my countrymen to having denounced it in the House of Coin
mons, it seems likely that some alter* I should diminish the utility of these ations will be proposed in the present sesremarks, if I forbore to state, as general bill cannot be amended, but in the follow
sion of parliament. The principle of the conclusions, founded on the disclosures before this busy tribunal, chat, in nine cases
ing particulars, its practice may doubtless ont of ten, the original cause of insolvency
be greatly improved :arose from negociating accommodation
1. The court should consist of three bills
. These led the parties into labyrinths, Judges instead of one. No human being from which they never could extricate themselves. That legislature therefore jurisprudence, there exists no check, in would honour itse!', which should, by some civil cases, like that of grand juries in cri. special enactments, such as those which I minal ones. The enormous costs of a civil formerly pointed out, (see Monthly Mag. snit, are an evil against which the inoffenfor September, 1810,) prevent inexperi- sive ought to be tenderly guarded by speenced persons from rushing into ibis golph cial enactments; and it appears that a full of destruction, just as a moth rushes into a third of the insolvent cases which have candle. Another great cause of ruin ap- come before the court, have been created pears in the costs of attorpies in vexatious by the costs and extortions of inexorable suits, against which, to the disgrace.of our attornies.
1815.] Improvements of the Insolvent Act.
23 ought ever to be trusted with unrestricted tain his discharge under this bill, who powers; and, above all men, no English has obtained goods from any creditor, for lawyer, a class of the comminunity whose which he had no probable means of paying, professional subtleties lead thein, in spite or who re-sold or pawned such goods, or of good moral dispositions, into as many the major part thereof, not being a dealer labyrinths and erroneous conclusions, as in the same, for less thau they cost him, or the school men in the dark ages fell into, who assigned them in preference to anfrom an equal use and abuse of logic. other creditor, within 12 months after
2. On all points in which the three he obtained the same, if for not less than Judges do not agree, the parties slould be 501. and more than 1001. ; or 13 montlas at liberty to appeal to a court, composed if between 1001. and 300l.; or 24 months if of one Judge and of a Jury, drawn in above 3001. equal proportions from Middlesex, Surry, 11. For the purpose of satisfying the and Wesiminster; this court to sit one creditors, in regard to the disposition week in every month.
of the property, the debtor applying for 3. Written notices should be sent one discharge should give an exact account of all mouth before the application for dis- his receipts and disbursements, within three charge to every creditor, which notices months previously to his being in custody; should also eshibit au abstract of the to. also a list of all bills, notes, bonds, assigntals of the debts and effects.
ments, or securities which he has granted, 4. The assignees should appoint a meet. or negotiated, within the same period; ing of the creditors within twenty-one and likewise an account of the sales of all days after their appoiotment, by circular real property which may have been in his letters, and send an abstract of the debts possession, within two years. and effects, as sworn before the court. 12. Cases of uncertiticated bankrupts
5. An allowance to the debtor, as a should be heard and decided in the same guard against the necessity and motive for manner as that of other debtors; and, if no fraud, should be made of one-fifth of the fraud or reservation of property is sub. effects, provided it do not exceed 150l.; stantiated, they shonld be discharged like the same to be selected and estimated other debtors, under the act. by three persons, one named by the conrt, one by the creditors, and one by the debtor.
6. A special reward of one hundred To the Editor of the Monthly Alagazine. pounds to be paid for discoveries of conceal- SIR, ments over and above the proportion of the
N Monday, September 7, 1812, property now allowed.
about 12 o'clock at noon, as I was 7. Once a year, on reqnest from the assignees, or three of the chief credie travelling along the turnpike road, I obtors, the discharged debtor, on one month's served, about two hundred yards before notice, to be required to state the nature me, something rising from the middle of and salne of his property, a dividend being to
the road, which appeared like a quall. be made on such amounts as exceed treble tity of steam, or smoke, issuing rapidly the fifth allowed as above.
from a narrow aperture (perlaps six or 8. In all cases of debtors and credi- eight inches in diameter,) in the surface; tors, the decision and agreement of three- but, on my nearer approach, I perceived foarths of the creditors in pumber and it to be dust. It immediately ascended, amount, the proposal having been submit- in a compact column, to the beight of ted to the whole, shall be binding on the fifty or sixty feet, where it expanded, other fourth, so as to preclude the necessity and was soon lost in the surrounding atof seeking relief under the bankrupt laws, or this bill, whenever three-fourths are sa
mosphere. tisfied with any proposed arrangement.
I would further observe, that the air 9. Debts of the crown to be concluded was unusually calm at the time; and, alby the agreements of other creditors, and though I particularly examined the by the provisions of the laws in regard to ground, I could not discover any traces debtors generally, the same general prin- to roark the precise spot whence it ciples of equity applying to crown debts issued. as to all others, and the crown being more The time from its first rising from the able to bear its proportion of losses than earth, till its dispersion, could not be private creditors; whereas, at present, more than half a minute. without the plea of necessity, and therefore
Would not the same cause, acting.' of justice, the claims of the crown usually involve debtors and creditors in one com
upon a body of water, have produced mon loss, and often in ii retrievable ruin. what is commonly cermed å water.
C. S. 10. Nó person shall be allowed to ob spout?