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spirit of this free constitution, but absolutely

against the letter of the law; however, a practice * immemorial, and the selfish disposition of a great

part of mankind, have given a fanction, which “ it will be difficult to prevail against by the most “ solid arguments. Should you nevertheless be “ inclined to attempt the subject, you may de

pend on any support in my power to assist you “ with, as I feel it an object of great national


« I am,

« SIR,

• Your most obedient,

« humble servant, JOHN SAWBRIDGE.

Mr. Edward Farley."

I can now only assure the public, that my humble endeavors shall be exerted to lay down the principles of our constitution; to shew how far the practice is repugnant to those principles; to point out the detriment that accrues to both Creditor and Debtor from the present mode of Impri


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sonment for Debt; and explain the most easy and beneficial law for recovery of Debts, with the least injury to the Debtor, agreeable to the spirit of the common law of the land.





THE Constitution of England is allowed by the greatest law-writers to be the noblest institution of law and justice in the known world.

The common law is the absolute perfection of reason, for nothing that is contrary to reafon is consonant to law.

Common law is common right.
The law is the subject's best birthright.
The law respects the order of nature.
It always intendeth the best.

The law forceth no man to that which is impossible or vain.

The law provides a remedy for every wrong.

Where one hath several remedies, he may use which he will.


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The law hath a delight in giving a remedy.

The law favoreth life, liberty, and dower.

Things of necessity are to be excepted out of a general law.

The ignorance of law cannot excuse.
The act of law never doth wrong.

Where the construction of any act is left to the law, the law will never construe it to work a wrong

The agreement of parties cannot make that good which the law makes void.

No law can be abrogated but by act of parliament; but no act of parliament can repeal Magna Charta, or alter the fundamental principles of the British constitution.

The exposition of acts of parliament belongs to the Judges of the common law.

Statutes must be interpreted by reasonable conitruction, according to the meaning of the legislators.

They may be construed according to equity, especially when they give remedy for wrong, or are for expedition of justice, or to prevent


delays, for law-makers cannot comprehend all cases.

The construction of a statute must be suppression of the mischief, and an advancement of the remedy.

It must be construed, that no innocent man may, by a literal construction, receive damage.

Acts of parliament that are against reason, or impossible to be performed, shall be judged void.

As the life of every man is under the protection of the law, and all wrongs against it are punished, so the members of every subject are under the protection of the King, that he may serve him and his country: therefore a rogue, for causing his companion to strike off his left hand, thereby to have a pretence to beg, was indicted and fined with his companion; and it is a grand maxim at common law, that the body of the Debtor shall always be free, that he may serve the King in his


The reputation also of a person is under the protection of the law; for persons in their


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