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their opinions, for he supposed it would come into the King's Bench judicially, and then they would do that which was right; and the king accepted of it; and the prisoner was brought up to the King's Bench, and insisted on the sanctuary and letters patent, and all the judges afterwards met to consider the matter.”
Fortescue, who wrote in the reign of Henry VI., in his chapter on the judges, has given them a much better character than they deserved. The passage, too, is curious, as showing the quantity of time devoted at that period to the administration of justice at Westminster. “ You are to know farther, that the judges of England do not sit in the King's courts above three hours in the day; that is, from eight in the morning till eleven. The courts are not open in the afternoon. The suitors of the court betake themselves to the Pervise,* and other places, to advise with the serjeants-at-law and other their counsel about their affairs. The judges, when they have taken their refreshments, spend the rest of the day in the study of the laws, reading of the Holy Scriptures, and other innocent amusements at their pleasure. It seems rather a life of contemplation than of much action. Their time is spent in this manner, free from care and worldly avocations. Nor was it ever found that any of them had been corrupted with gifts or bribes." +
That bribery was not uncommon in our courts of justice during the reign of Henry VIII., may be gathered from the accusations against Sir Thomas More. Having made a decree against one Parnell
, the latter complained to the king that the chancellor had, by the hands of his wife, taken from him “ a great gilt cup" as a bribe. Sir Thomas being summoned before the council to answer this accusation, “where the matter," says his biographer, Roper, “ was most heinously laid to his charge, he forthwith confessed that forasmuch as that cup was long after the foresaid decree, he, upon his importunate pressing upon him thereof, of courtesy refused not to receive it." Lord Wiltshire, who disliked More, and who does not appear to have been aware of his jocular vein, immediately exclaimed, “Lo, my lords ! Did I not tell you, my lords, that you would find this matter true?” Sir Thomas now desired their lordships, “ that as they had heard him courteously tell the one part of his tale, so that they would vouchsafe of their honors indifferently to hear the other." After which obtained, he further declared to them, “that albeit he had, indeed, with much work, received that cup, yet immediately thereupon
St. Paul's Cathedral. + " This,” says the annotator of Fortescue, “ is not to be understood in strictness of speech; our author well knew the cafeslof the four-and-forty judges, hanged in one year in England, as murderers, for their corrupt judgments.”
caused he his butler to fill it with wine, and of that cup drank to her; and that when he had so done, and she pledged him, then, as freely as her husband had given it to him, even so freely gave he the same to her to give unto her husband for her new year's gift, which, at his instant request, though much against her will, at length she was fain to receive, as herself and certain others then present before them deposed.” “ Thus,” adds Roper, the great mountain turned scant to a little molehill."
Under the government of the Tudors the services of the judges, as political agents, were seldom required. The hand of government was sufficiently strong for the accomplishment of its own objects, without the assistance of the arm of justice. The importance of having a subservient bench was not fully felt until the time of the Stuarts, when the increasing intelligence of the people, and their consequently increasing power, rendered it necessary for the court to avail itself of every means of influencing public opinion. This circumstance has been remarked by Clarendon. “It is very observable,” says he," that in times when the prerogative went highest, never any court of law, very seldom any judge or lawyer of reputation, was called upon to assist in any act of power. During the reign of Elizabeth, the judges, so far from being resorted to by the government, in order to enforce its arbitrary courses, in some instances very boldly and worthily opposed themselves to the court. A person of the name of Cavendish, having suggested to the queen that she had power to appoint a new officer in the Court of Common Pleas, obtained a patent, with a direction to the judges to admit him. The duties of the new office being performed by the prothonotaries and the filacers, the judges did not obey the queen's commands, which were presently repeated in a more peremptory style, and the judges were required forthwith to displace those who stood in Cavendish's way. The answer well became the ministers of public justice,--that the queen had taken an oath to protect the laws and the judges; and that if they obeyed her commands, they must necessarily act contrary to the laws, and to the oath which they had themselves vowed to God, to her majesty, and to the land in which they were born and lived. That if the fear of God were not sufficient, yet the examples of others, and the punishment of those who had offended against the laws, were a sufficient warning to them. This representation had the desired effect, and the judges were not further troubled with the claim of Mr. Cavendish.*
Another opportunity was presented to the judges, during the same reign, of vindicating their characters as the conservators of public
See Anderson's Rep. p. 152, and 3 Howel's State Trials, 1281.
justice. An abuse which, during the earlier periods of our history, was never unfrequent,--the arbitrary imprisonment of obnoxious individuals by the Privy Council, became so grievous under the dominion of Elizabeth, that the judges were induced to present a remonstrance on the subject; which, although in many respects it failed in defining the full limits of the liberty of the subject, is of extraordinary merit, when considered with reference to the times in which it was penned: “We, her majesty's justices of both benches, and barons of the exchequer, do desire your lordships that, by your good means, such order may be taken that her highness's subjects may not be committed or detained in prison, by commandment of any nobleman or counsellor, against the laws of this realm, to the grievous charges and oppression of her majesty's said subjects: or else help us to have access to her majesty, to be suitors unto her highness for the same ; for divers have been imprisoned for suing ordinary actions and suits at the common law, until they will leave the same, or against their wills put their matter to order, although some time it be after judgment and accusation."*
(To be continued.)
Art. III.-CHANGES IN FRENCH LAW. Some Account of the Changes which have taken place in France,
in the Electoral Laws, the Municipal Institutions, the Organization of the National Guard, and, generally, in the Legislative, Administrative, and Judicial Branches of the Government, since the Revolution of July, 1830.
The changes in legislation, and in the principles and organization of the government and courts of justice, which have taken place in France, in consequence of the revolution of 1830, have not been so important and so radical as might have been expected.
The modifications introduced into the charter of 1814 are well known. It is indeed true that the 70th article of the amended
- all laws and ordinances, in so far as they are contrary to the principles adopted in the reform of the charter, are, from henceforth, and shall remain, abrogated and annulled.” And the Article 59, (formerly Art. 68,) adds, “The civil code, and the laws now existing, which are not contrary to the present charter,
hall (alone) remain in force, until they have been legally repealed. These two enactments have, however, been so extended in practice, that all laws, decrees, ordinances, and other acts of the re
* Hallan's Const. Ilist. vol. i. p. 318. Anderson's Rep. 237
public, of the empire, and of the restoration, are considered as remaining in force until formally. repealed by succeeding legislatures. Such being the interpretation and the practice adopted by the government and the courts of law, the principles laid down by several articles of the new charter must be considered, at present, as entirely a dead letter, with the exception of those which have been subsequently recognized and adopted in some new law. The French are, therefore, in a general sense, living under the regime preceding the revolution of 1830. The object of this observation is not to criticise the adoption, and certainly too rigorous application, of this principle, but it is merely made in order to serve as an introduction to the following account of the principal Acts which have been passed since the revolution of July.
The 69th Article of the amended charter contains the promise of nine laws or important measures. It runs thus, Separate laws shall be successively enacted, and with the least possible delay, for the following objects :
1st. Trial by jury in case of offences of the press and political offences.
2d. The responsibility of ministers and other agents of go3d. The re-election of deputies appointed to public offices of profit.
Ath. The annual vote of the army.
5th. The organization of the national guard, with a voice in the choice of their officers.
6th. Regulations for securing by law the rights of officers of every rank, both in the army and navy.
7th, Departmental aud municipal'institutions founded on an elective system.
8th. Public instruction and liberty of teaching,
9th. The abolition of the double vote, and the fixing of the qualification of the electors and the eligible."
Of these promises, six have been fulfilled, or are on the eve of fulfilment, as we shall proceed to show. These are, the appointment of a jury for the trial of political offences and offences of the press; the re-election of deputies who have taken office; the annual vote of the army; the organization of the national guard; the departmental and municipal institutions (Paris excepted); the abolicion of the double vote, and the fixing the qualification of the electors and of the eligible.
Of these, the last measure, and the regulations which relate to the re-election of deputies, are the most important, because they influence the formation of the legislative body. These alone constitute a real reform, and if they have caused less sensation in France than Reform has done in England, it arises from their hav
ing been so long considered as a debt, a sort of restitution due to the country. The origin and nature of the double vote introduced into the electoral system by the law of the 29th of June, 1820, are well known. This law was passed in order to procure a ministerial majority opposed to the people, who would naturally have had a majority against government, if the chamber had been annually renewed by fifths, conformably to the 37th Art. of the charter, and the law of the 5th of Feb. 1817. By the law of 1820, one-fourth of the whole number of electors, who pay the highest amount of taxation, after having voted in the colleges of the arrondissements, have the right to meet in the college of the department for the purpose of nominating amongst themselves 172 new deputies. By means of this aristocratic privilege, the manifestation of the wishes and opinion of the country was prevented. This was the origin of M. de Villèle's three hundred.But this result was only temporary; the force of constitutional opinion soon triumphed over every obstacle, and the abolition of the law of 1820 would certainly have been one of the first measures of the session of 1830, a measure destined to consolidate the victory of the national party. This was one of the objects which Charles X. endeavoured to prevent by his coup d'état ; and it may easily be imagined that, after the revolution of July, the promise of abolishing the double vote was not regarded by the people as any very great concession.
The laws relating to elections and to electoral qualifications still remained to be settled. This was the principal object of the law of the 19th of April, 1831. The Chamber of Deputies of 1830, in iis revision of the constitutional charter, had only determined the age necessary for being an elector or a deputy. The age of electors was reduced from 30 to 29, and that of deputies from 40 to 30; but the other regulations remained to be fixed by law. Public opinion demanded the reduction of the electoral qualification to a hundred and fifty or two hundred francs, and the absence of any qualification for the candidate. With respect to this last regulation, it was alleged that it is only a restraint imposed on the electors, and an unnecessary one, since a sufficient guarantee is otherwise exacted.
The feeling of the public was likewise in favour of the admission into the electoral colleges of all persons liable to serve on juries, and entered, by virtue of the law of the 2d of May, 1827, in the second part of the jury lists.
The amplification and extension of this list of persons were also demanded, so as to include persons whose intellectual capacity could not be doubted—such as retired officers of the army or navy, beginning at least from the rank of captain; doctors and licentiates of one or more of the faculties of law, of science, or of letters (which includes all advocates and attornies, and the greater number of