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wish to do so, without being encumbered by professional aid on all occasions.

Moreover, Sir Richard Bethell's Bill, without infringing upon the great doctrine of centralization, provided, that where necessity demanded it, the preliminary aids should be local in their nature, so that the operation of the measure should be assisted and facilitated, without impugning its leading principle. The Bill thus combined the old and tested securities with a new form of administration, adequate to the form and pressure of the age. It could not offend the most conservative, for it proposed to make no real change in law, but it would have done what is more practically beneficial,—it would have improved and extended the operation of existing laws, by providing new administrative forms and appliances; and where it would press upon private interests, it proposed to alleviate the sore by the application of a just compensation, bearing imperceptibly upon the public, and not even by a Manchester man to be styled too liberal or extravagant.

Sir Fitzroy Kelly's plan was directly contrary both to the measure of Sir Richard Bethell and to the spirit of the age; and though it started with one probate and one administration, it marred that fair prospect by setting up afterwards a fragmentary and dispersive districtal jurisdiction. This was again to ascend the stream of time; and when we read of such a project, we can scarcely feel ourselves as existing in the nineteenth century. Before such a theory, the accuracy of general registration and uniformity of practice vanish away entirely. Doctors' Commons, even with all its faults, would be better for the public.

The balance of merit of the two Bills is heavily in favour of that of Sir Richard Bethell. It is large, comprehensive, and adapted to the convictions and feelings of the age-of that age which demands a general registry of wills and administrations, and a uniformity of practice in respect of both of them, and knows that they are unattainable save by centralization.

And yet Sir Richard Bethell's Bill, admirable as it was for its unequalled administrative character, miscarried. But it miscarried at the hands of a lukewarm ministry in a trifling

and a factious House of Commons. The bands in the Park, the fireworks for a peace at which no one rejoiced, and a polemical discussion upon the necessity of educating the Irish, whilst the majority of the English candidates for the civil service cannot spell, had greater attractions for the minds of the collected wisdom of the empire, than serious and practical legislation. Under these circumstances, we are entitled to ask, Have we really legislators in the House, or only bavards and railway jobbers ? Are men really fond of reform; or, with her holy name upon their lips, do they in secret hate or fear her? And yet no candidate, whatever be his colour, fails to invoke her favour at the hustings! These gentlemen must be acting like the old French gentleman who would not marry his fiancée, because he should then lose the charm and convenience of visiting her. They will not reform the Ecclesiastical Courts, because they would then lose their best bait at the hustings, and an everlasting pretence to amuse a credulous and expectant public with. That gone, what subject could they with equal fluency and attraction coquet with? Primogeniture and the bishops are too grave, or, perhaps at present, too dangerous, even for mere flirtation.

We have so far commented upon the grand and broad question of the reform of the Testamentary Courts; but there are other questions in which the material interests and the justice of the public are most deeply concerned. The administration of Doctors' Commons is in the hands of a much underpaid working staff, some members of which receive, in return for the skill of years and for overtasked labour, a butler's wages--nay, rather what a flunkey blessed with a character and in the prime of his personal appearance would in the season hesitate to accept. In short, the public has meritorious servants who, for causes which it well understands, are paid for valuable services in a ratio the inverse of their value.

The other question affects the absolute security of the public. The tenement in which the major number of the wills of all

Second Report of Select Committee (House of Commons) on Fees and Courts of Law and Equity, No. 711, 14th August, 1850, pp. 1-15, 42-48, 123-130.

England is kept is an obscure building, as malodorous outside as inside. There appears to be sufficient evidence that this tenement is fireproof—that it also is waterproof; it certainly is air-tight. But it is not freehold; and it has lately been whispered in legal circles, that an event in which the public may be considered to have an interest will shortly take place. The revelation is this :—the lease of the Registry in Doctors' Commons, the greatest registry of the United Kingdom, will expire at Lady-day, in the year 1857. This is the whisper. But as we have never liked to take things on credit, we have pored over the Blue-books until we have found in a Report of 1832 the fullest confirmation of this bruit.

Reader, attende paulisper. This is no laughing matter; it concerns you and your posterity seriously and deeply, though legally you have no interest whatever in the affair. Ponder this pregnant fact, though it may be impertinence to do so,Will the lease be renewed ? Have we any security that the lessors will not prefer bustling warehousemen to a calm church dignitary ? Suppose, then, that the lease should not be renewed—will the wills and other records—the title-deeds of millions of Englishmen-be carted by instalments, to find a resting-place for their mouldering remains at Lambeth? If so, what is the public to do in the interim, while the deportation is going on, and until the assortment is made ? The Government cannot help Mr. Moore, because in law and in fact the wills are that gentleman's peculium, as registrar and actuary of the Primate; they are his private and absolute property, which he will permit you, reader, or ourselves, to see for a sufficient fee. But neither you nor we have a legal interest in effects to which the nation itself collectively has no right.

These are facts which we recommend the Government and the Legislature to ponder well. As regards the practitioners, we must say we cannot help commiserating the condition of gentlemen who are continually being put on the fire, and continually being taken off again—who are always attacked, and never reformed; for though a measure disappears with the session which has produced it, still “le feu couve sous la cendre."



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T the close of the last session of Parliament, a debate

arose in the House of Commons as to the state and conduct of public business, and as to the merits of the Ministers as parliamentary managers, which led to the expression of regret, on the part of one who has been a distinguished minister, that party did not exist for a good purpose, if for any purpose.

The daily and weekly press took up the subject, and pursued it with unwonted pertinacity for a long time after the expiration of the session, insomuch that it threatened to rival the sports of the season, and to become the autumnal amusement of the nation.

The subject is almost trite in its present manner of treatment. The evil lies deeper than the conduct of the business of the session, and is one for which, in fact, everybody is to blame.

Since the character of our law and the institutions for the administration of justice depend so much on the question, we propose to deal with it less summarily and less cursorily than it has yet been considered.

The main cause is the distraction of objects that beset everybody, from the advance made in the means of enjoyment, the crowd of subjects it brings to our attention, our dispersion by means of travel, and the want of concentration of purpose that springs up in the case of every individual as his relations become imperial rather than local or domestic.

The whole nation—the whole people—collectively and indi. vidually, is becoming unhinged and to hang loose upon its obligations. It has relied so long on its freedom and its volun. tariness, that it has come to disregard the value of institutions, and their service in continuing the habit of exertion after the first impulse has subsided.

The lazy maxim, “ laissez-nous faire,has been found by governments to be a convenient rule; and, not less so, that governments should not only do nothing, but that Public Authority and Public Freedom should be left to the natural action of the inclinations of everybody. Statesmanship has come to be disregarded-in fact, despised; and had not the Crimean difficulties arisen, to teach us the External Responsibilities of a State, and the impossibility of assuming an attitude of entire isolation, we should have gone on drifting to the imperial state still more rapidly than it would seem we are tending.

The truth is, that we want not merely consolidation of our law, but the consolidation of the State;—not centralization, but consolidation, which is consistent with the consolidation of the parish, of the district, of the county, of each province and nation of the empire,—some among the very means, indeed, by which the consolidation of the State is to be effected.

The consolidation of classes, too, should be pursued with like objects.

Nor is it a necessary consequence that consolidation should involve the destruction of individuality; indeed, by relieving each individual from a crowd of distracting duties for which he has no adequate or even appropriate agency, he might devote himself to the objects of his special capacity.

These objects, it seems to us, are to be pursued not merely by party, but by a general Organization of our Forces, of whatever kind. Party has served its purpose; the obtaining the due recognition of the popular principle, together with the Conservative principle, moderated by the Whig principle of adjustment, according to the state of circumstances at the time, to our means and opportunities.

Everybody, let him call himself what he will, recognizes this policy in the main; inclining more or less to the different phases of it, as birth, education, habits, temperament, and party connections have dictated.

What is now wanted by most people, though not as yet shaped in express dogma, is to make the parliamentary organ do the business of the nation without fret or agitation; to enable it to act as well as to discuss; to



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