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country was in great disorder by theft and robbery, that men were not secure in their own houses, and that whole villages were often plundered by bands of robbers, though the kingdom was otherwise at peace. Many of the King's own household were found to be robbers; and excused themselves, that having received no wages from the King, they were obliged to rob for subsistence. That perjury was common in the city of London, especially among jurymen, makes a preamble in more than one statute of Henry VII. In the Dance of Death, translated from the French in the said king's reign with additions adapted to English manners, a juryman is introduced, who, influenced by bribes, had frequently given a false verdict. And the Sheriff was often suspected as accessory to the crime, by returning for jurymen persons of a bad character. Carew, in his account of Cornwall, says, that it was an ordinary article in an attorney's bill, to charge pro amicitia vicecomitis*. Perjury in jurors of the city of London is greatly complained of. Stow informs us, that, in the year 1468, many jurors of that city were punished; and papers fixed on their heads declaring their offence of being corrupted by the parties to the suit. He complains of that corruption as flagrant in the reign of Elizabeth, when he wrote his account of London. Fuller, in his English Worthies, mentions it as a proverbial sayP4 ing,
* "For the friendship of the sheriff."
ing, "That London juries hang half, and save "half." Grafton, in his Chronicle, mentions, that the chancellor of the Bishop of London being indicted for murder, the Bishop wrote a letter to Cardinal Wolsey, begging his interposition for having the prosecution stopt, "because London "juries were so corrupted, that they would find "Abel guilty of the murder of Cain." Mr Hume, in the first volume of his History of England, (page 417. edition 1762), cites many instances from Madox of bribes given for perverting justice. In that period, the morals of the low people were in other particulars equally loose. We learn from Strype's Annals*, that in the county of Somerset alone, forty persons were executed in one year for robbery, theft, and other felonies, thirty-five burnt in the hand, thirty-seven whipped, one hundred and eighty-three discharged, though most wicked and desperate persons; and yet that the fifth part of the felonies committed in that county were not brought to trial, either from cunning in the felons, indolence in the magistrate, or foolish lenity in the people; that other counties were in no better condition, and many in a worse; and that commonly there were three or four hundred able-bodied va-` gabonds in every county, who lived by theft and rapine. Harrison computes, that in the reign of Henry VIII. seventy-two thousand thieves and rogues were hanged; and that in Elizabeth's time
there were only hanged yearly between three and four hundred for theft and robbery. At present, there are not forty hanged in a year for these crimes. The same author reports, that in the reign of Elizabeth, there were computed to be in England ten thousand gypsies. In the year 1601, complaints were made in parliament, of the rapine of the justices of peace, and a member said, that this magistrate was an animal, who, for halfa-dozen of chickens, would dispense with a dozen of penal statutes. The low people in England are greatly improved in their morals since the days of Elizabeth. Laying aside London, there are few places in the world where the common people are more orderly and honest. But we must not conclude, that England has gained much in point of morality. It has lost more by the luxury and loose manners of its nobles than it has gained by good discipline among their inferiors. The undisciplined manners of our forefathers in Scotland, made a law necessary, that whoever intermeddled irregularly with the goods of a deceased person, should be subjected to pay all his debts, however extensive. A due submission to legal authority, has in effect abrogated that severe law; and it is now scarce ever heard of.
To control the hoarding-appetite, which when inflamed is the bane of civil society, the God of nature has provided two efficacious principles; the moral sense, and the sense of property. The hoard
ing-appetite, it is true, is more and more inflamed by beautiful productions in the progress of art: but, on the other hand, the senses mentioned, arrived at maturity, have a commanding influence over the actions of men; and, when cherished in a good government, are a sufficient counterbalance to the hoarding-appetite. The ancient Egyptians enjoyed for ages the blessings of good government; and moral principles were among them carried to a greater degree of refinement than at present even in our courts of equity. It was made the duty of every one, to succour those who were unjustly attacked even passengers were not exempted. A regulation among them, that a man could not be imprisoned for debt, was well suited to the tenor of their laws and manners: it could not have taken place but among an honest and industrious people. In old Rome, though remarkable for temperance and austerity of manners, a debtor could be imprisoned, and even sold as a slave, for payment of the debt; but the Patricians were the creditors, and the poor Plebeians were held in woful subjection*. The moderation of
* A bankrupt in England who pays three-fourths of his debt, and obtains a certificate of his good behaviour, is discharged of all the debts contracted by him before his bankruptcy. Such regulation was perhaps not unsuitable to the moderation and frugality of the period when it was made. But luxury and external show, have now become our ruling passions; and to supply our extravagance, money must be procured
the inhabitants of Hamburgh, and their public spirit, kept in vigour by a free government, preserve morality
procured at any rate. Trade in particular has degenerated into a species of gaming; men venturing their all, in hopes of a lucky hit to elevate them above their neighbours. And did they only venture their own, the case would not be deplorable: they venture all they can procure upon credit; and by that means, reduce to beggary many an innocent family: with respect to themselves, they know the worst, which is to be cleared from their debts by a certificate. The morals of our people are indeed at so low an ebb, as to require the most severe laws against bankruptcy. When a man borrows a sum, it is implied in the covenant that all his effects present, and future, shall lie open to the creditor; for which reason, it is contradictory to justice, that the creditor should be forced to discharge the debt, without obtaining complete payment. Many debtors, it is true, deserve favour, but it ought to be left to the humanity of creditors, and not to be forced from them by law. A debtor, at the same time, may be safely left to the humanity of his creditors: for if he have conducted his affairs with strict integrity, and with any degree of prudence, there will scarce be found one man so hard hearted, as to stand out against the laudable and benevolent intentions of his fellow creditors. Nay, if he have any regard to character, he dare not stand out: he would be held as a monster, and abhorred by all the world. To leave a bankrupt thús to the mercy of his creditors, would produce the most salutary effects. It would excite men to be strictly just in their dealings, and put an end to gaming, so destructive to credit; because misbehaviour in any of these particulars would set the whole creditors against the debtor, and leave him no hope of favour. In the late bankrupt statute for Scotland, accordingly, the clause concerning the certificate was wisely left out, as unsuitable to the depraved manners of the present time.