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only in the great mass of statutes to be digested,
but also in the number *" of cross and cuffing * See the speech of
statutes” which are to be found upon various James I. to the parlia. topics of the law, so that it is often difficult to say
how far one may not have been superseded by another; and even when they were not inconsistent, yet to incorporate the amendments, which I have in many instances done, was a task which required minute and laborious attention. To separate those acts which were in force from those which were expired, or were superseded or repealed, was attended also with considerable trouble; and I have, in many instances, lost much time in tracing an act through several continuing statutes to the one which had finally perpetuated it. And here I beg leave to submit it, whether it would not be more adviseable, in cases where the policy or expediency of any acts are doubtful, to leave their duration undefined, (which will not preclude their being repealed when it shall so seem proper,) than to be continuing them from time to time, which requires the constant vigilance of parliament, and produces considerable embarassment, from the multitude of acts and clauses continuing and reviving others. I beg leave also to observe, that sufficient attention has not been paid to the framing the titles to acts of parliament; as instancès might be produced of clauses of a general nature being contained in acts purporting to be merely local, and provisions of permanent force and authority in statutes which profess by their titles to be merely temporary. The titles are frequently defective also, in not embracing or leading to the variety of subjects about which they are conversant : but here I should submit that there ought to be a distinctness and an unity in every act of parliament, to avoid the confusion arising from a mixture of discordant natter, which has frequently occurred.
The 22 Geo. 2. c. 46. Eng. was called a “Hodgepodge Act," from the number of unconnected subjects to which it related, but there are many such to be found amongst the English and Irish statutes. Some perplexity has also arisen from the want of attention to a just arrangement of the several clauses of statutes : This has in many instances, I believe, arisen from the alterations that bills undergo in their progress through parliament, but in many also from a defect in their original formation. I have given to the statutes, and to their several clauses, that arrangement which appeared to me to be most proper : A few alterations have, however, since suggested themselves to me, which I should be glad to have made. With respect to the imperial statutes in particular, I have, in several instances, been at a loss to know to what parts of the united kingdom they were meant to extend, or be confined. I should submit, therefore, that either the title or preamble of each act should be so framed as to remove all uncertainty of this kind; or else that a distinct proviso should be introduced for the purpose. Such were the difficulties I had to encounter, and the perplexities which embarrassed me in my progress.
In framing this digest I availed myself of the compilations of other authors, not as directions for the mode of abridging the statutes, but as leading me to the statutes themselves. From Mr; Williams's digest in particular I derived some assistance, but to. Mr. Ball's index my acknowledgments are more especially due. I was otherwise unassisted in the execution of this work : If, therefore, any merit it possesses, it is entirely my own, and I am alone responsible for its errors.
it is now above three years since I announced this work as nearly ready for the press : I felt it to be my duty at that time to submit to the judges and bar of Ireland a prospectus or outline of the plan : The sanction which I then re
ceired for its publication, and in particular from the noble and learned lord * who presides over the department of the law in this country, served to reanimate a spirit which had almost sunk under the weight of the undertaking. For the last three years I have applied myself, almost exclusively, to the revision of the work, and the correction of the press. But it little concerns the public to know the time that it has employed, or the other sacrifices I have made for its accomplishment. Suffice it to say that I have devoted many and the best years of my life to the undertaking, and, without private assistance or public aid, have arrived at its conclusion, by a slow and silent progress through a course of solitary abstraction and irksome labour. Yet “its hardships may be without honour, and its labours without reward.” But I am not without hope, that it may be deemed by the public to be a meritorious service, and that those high authorities who have already approved of it as a “ good desire,” may think that it has been “ brought to a good effect.” I shall not however be unrewarded, if this effort to redeem time, and to do something useful, shall recommend me to the esteem of the Irish bar, and of “ that little platoon in society” in which I live. I have this further hope, that this incorporate union of the English and Irish statutes may tend to the amendment and amelioration of our laws, and serve to cement the alliance, and promote the harmony between Great Britain and Ireland, so that these
countries “ may grow into one nation, whereby Vide 11, 12, & 13 Jac. 1. there may be an utter oblivion and extinguishment c. 5. Ir.
of all former differences and discord betwixt them."
Thomas Lord Baron Manners, Lord Chancellor.
Of the Absolute Rights
The Great Charter made in the 9th year of the reign Book I. of king Henry III. having incorporated the previous char- §. 1. ters of liberties, may not only be regarded as the most an- The primary cient statute on record, but also as the first whichi con-nal security per
rights of persotains provisions asserting the absolute rights of indivi-sonal liberty, and duals, by protecting every person living under the British asserter! by the constitution, in the free enjoyment of bis life, his liberty, 9 Hen. 3. c. 29. and his property. The 29th chapter* of this capitulary E. & 1, declares or enacts, that no freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his freehold, or liberties, or free customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or otherwise destroyed.. [nor shall any man be condemned at the king's suit, either before the king in his bench, or before any other commissioner or judge,] but by lawful judgment of bis peers, or by the law of the land; and further in the name of the king declares, that to no man shall right or justice be sold, denied, or delayed. This statute contained also a confirmation of the liberties of the church, and of the privileges of the city of London, and other cor*VOL. 1.
* As this chapter of Magna Charta is so often referred to as the basis of the British constitution, it seems to be proper to state it in the very words : Nullus liber homo capiutur vel imprisonetur, aut disseisiutur de libero tenemento suos vel libertatibus, vel liberis consuetudinibus suis, aut utlagetur, aut exutét, aut aliquo modo destrualur, nec super eum ibimus, nec super eum mittemus, nisi per legale judicium parium surum, vel per legem terræ : Nulli vendemus, nulli negalimus aut differemus rectum vel justitiam. The charter granted to the people of Ireland in the first year of this reign, as also that granted to the people of England in the year following, contained alsu a similar clause.
f This translation is according to Sir Edw. Coke's exposition of the words “ nec super eum ibimus, nec super eum miltemus,” ? Inst, 46.
c. 11. E & I.
porałe towns, redressed many grievances then incident
found in the subsequent pages of this work. This char*2 Inst. Proem. ter hath been confirmed above 30 times,* but the fol5 Co.Rep. 64.a.
lowing statutes are its principal confirmations. By the 25 Edw.l.st.1. 25 Edw. 1. st. 1. c. 11. E. & I. it is directed to be sent
under the king's seal, to ali sheriff's of shires, and to all Confirmation of other the king's officers, and to all cities throughout the
realm, together with writs commanding the said charter
bury and York shall compel them to the execution of 5 Edv. 3. c.9. their duties. The 5 Edw. 3. c. 9. E. & I. further enacts,
that no man shall be attached by any accusation, nor fore-
of the Great Charter, and the law of the land, And by the 25 Edw. 3.st.5. 25 Edw. 3. st. 5. c. 4. E. & I. none shall be taken by
petition or suggestion made to the king or his council,
E. & I.
C. 4. E. & 1.