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duced from nine a few years back. The city dues, he states, to be one of six-pence and one of four-pence*—these cannot make the difference;therefore, as the Duke undeniably says, there must be something in the trade besides the duties and dues to account for it. Now, what is that something? Nobody seems to know very accurately; but there are broad hints given that the mischief lies in the city of London ;that the monopoly they possess by all sorts of bye-laws gives rise to jobs, patronage of petty offices, and thence, of course, to the fleecing of the public to the decent extent we have had revealed to us by their Lordships last night. This may be true, or it may be false; but we shall soon know, for a Committee of the Lords is to be appointed forthwith-and the dirty doings, which must exist somewhere, will be brought to light. It is quite clear that the difference cannot arise from a confederation in the retail-trade-for if that were so, some one not in the trade would have started long ago selling coals at a fair profit-and thence have either ruined all the coal-merchants, or brought them down to his prices. The Duke has willingly granted the Committee; but, he says, he will not reduce the duties. We regret this ; for we think coals a very unfit article to be heavily taxed; and a tax (in round numbers) about two-and-twenty per cent. is a heavy one. We think that taxes ought to be laid as lightly upon the absolute necessaries of life, as is financially possible. Let people pay for their luxuries. The Duke, also, rather defends the city-dues (the regular ones) on the score of the necessity of preserving and improving the communications from the water. That is quite true; but there is no reason why coals should pay more than any thing else. If everything pays, very well ; but we still would carry the principle of necessaries and luxuries into operation here. We shall look anxiously to the revelations of the Committee, as we doubt not many others will likewise. There must be something very much awry somewhere.

26th. Mr. Peel brought forward, last night, a bill for consolidating the laws regarding the duties of the magistracy. We confess we'regret that the honourable gentleman has adopted this form of effecting what is manifestly a very desirable object; for there are some new regulations to be framed—and at all events, as this is a codification of the laws regarding justices of the peace, we think it was well worthy, as one honourable member says (Mr. Bright), of being discussed and digested by a Committee. We do not think that even the experience of a Secretary of State for the Home Department—and of that both of Mr. Peel, and of the framer of the bill, the late Under-Secretary, Mr. Hobhouse, we wish to speak with every respect—not even the ex

These dues, which by some strange misnomer, seem to be talked of as the Orphan's Fund,” inasmuch as they are applied to constructing and repairing the communications of the “ city of London,” are, as the law now stands, to expire in the year 1837. Both Lord Londonderry and Lord Durham speak with indignation of an attempt now in progress to smuggle the perpetuity of these rates through Par. liameitt, in a clause of a bill brought in as a private one, on the subject of the approaches to the new London Bridge. Such proceedings are indeed most paltry ;for whose attention would be drawn to rates on coals by the title of a bill about the approaches to London bridge? But such things are done, now and then, without any one but the perpetrators knowing any thing about it.

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perience of these gentlemen is, we think, sufficient to enable them to draw up a satisfactory general code of the laws relating to the magistracy. We are convinced that even they would be startled by some of the facts which would be brought before a Committee in evidence. The most flagrant injustice is committed at the Quarter Sessions every time they are held, not from bad motives of

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kind, but from pure ignorance--ignorance not by any means disgraceful to a country gentleman, for he is set to do that which no one but a man bred a lawyer can do,--decide, namely, on every point of law which arises in the course of trials affecting the liberty, character, property of a man--all but his life. We could fill half a dozen of our pages with instances within our own knowledge of such things, without further enquiry. We have not the remotest shadow of doubt that evidence could, with the utmost ease, be produced before a Committee which would induce them unanimously to recommend the appointment of barristers to act as chairmen of the quarter sessions. And there is not a word of this in the act introduced last night. We only wish Mr. Peel could be present at a few Quarter Sessions, without its being known he was there. We would gladly rest the whole question on his coming round to our opinion.

Our readers will find this subject fully discussed in the number of our magazine for last October. They will there see that the Court of Quarter Sessions has a power the most fantastic that can well be conceived; namely, to decide whether they will allow an appeal to be made against themselves or not! Our readers, not conversant with these matters, will scarcely believe that such a power can be granted to any body of men. But the magistrates in Quarter Sessions assembled do possess it—though many of the most eminent judges that ever sat on the Bench have lamented that it should be the law, in the same breath in which they have decided that it was so. Lord Hardwicke expressed a very strong opinion of its evil effects. But when judges do express such opinions, we think it would be as well if they used their influence to get the law, they think a bad one, altered. This law, however, has never been altered, and it now allows appeal to the Court of King's Bench, which is the court to which appeal lies from the Quarter Sessions, only in two cases;—the one where there is an error of form on the face of the order of Sessions for the merits the Court of King's Bench will not enter into-and, the other, where the Court of Quarter Sessions grants a special case to go to the court above for its decision. This case is a statement of facts, drawn up from the chairman's notes, and agreed to by the counsel on both sides ; and on this, after argument, the Court of King's Bench decides. Thus, for any appeal to take place upon the merits of the decision, the deciding parties must consent. We have in no degree exaggerated our statement with reference to this court, as we could undeniably prove had we space to go into the subject fully. It is, therefore, we think, rather remarkable that in Mr. Peel's speech introducing a bill to codify and amend laws regarding the magistrates, the very mention of “ Quarter Sessions" does not occur.

We cannot, we confess, see the necessity of raising the qualification of a justice of the peace from 1001. to 3001, a year. The intelligence of

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the middle ranks has risen in quite as great a proportion as the value of money has decreased: nay, since Mr. Peel's own act, restoring the latter, in a very considerable degree, we should say in a greater. So far from desiring to see the qualification raised, we think an intermixture of the more intelligent portion of the middle classes would be a very great improvement. They would be free from many of the prejudices which spread evil over the adjudicature of the aristocracy; they would have a fellow-feeling, to a moderate extent, with the people, which, we think, the great bulk of the landed gentlemen are still most sadly without. We always regard with the utmost jealousy and dislike any measure founded upon an aristocratical principle,'as we are most conscientiously of opinion that, in comparison with a country under an aristocratical government, one subjected to an absolute despotism would be a paradise.

We confess, we wonder Mr. Peel should be so blind to the advancement of the classes immediately below the higher, as to propose a measure tending to exclude them from the magistracy. We find it impossible to go along with his reasoning ;-he says, “ It is a question whether it would not be advisable to raise the qualification of a justice of the peace. The present qualification I cannot but think is too low; for the possession of 1001. a year is all that is requisite as the pecuniary qualification for a magistrate. When we observe that property has increased so much, and that so many individuals are to be found fully qualified in every respect, and in sufficient numbers, to discharge the duties of this office, I doubt whether it is not expedient to raise the qualification from the present amount to something not greatly above it

. I am unwilling at present to express a positive opinion on this point, until I can ascertain, by local information, how it will affect practically the different parts of the country. The question is, whether it would not be advisable to raise the qualification from 1001. to 3001. a year. I would not propose to disqualify those who may not be qualified to that amount, and who are now in the commission of the peace; but I believe it would be an improvement in the counties at large if a higher sum, at least than 1001. a year, was fixed for the qualification of county magistrates."

We really are unable to see how this can be brought to apply to the question. We cannot consider the question to be whether, from the increase of property, or what not, there may not be plenty of persons qualified to act as magistrates possessing a qualification at the higher rate, but whether those who have no more than the lower are so unfit as to deserve that this privilege should be taken from them. Mr. Peel does not say this ; nay, he allows such of them as are now in the commission of the peace to remain. But we go farther, and say that other things have increased besides property, namely, the intelligence and respectability of the middle classes, and that measures calculated to depress them will every day be regarded as more unjust, and be submitted to with less patience. Mr. Peel does not state or hint, that the magistrates with the smaller qualifications have in any degree proved themselves unworthy of their office. We cannot, indeed, see any reason for the alteration that Mr. Peel gives at all :-he says, he doubts whether it would not be better to raise the qualification, but does not explain to us the causes why; for certainly the extract we have made from his speech, which is all he says on the subject, conveys no such information.

There are several minor regulations in this Bill of a beneficial tendency, especially the regular establishment of Petty Sessions. It is to be printed, and time for considering it is given to the extent of either a fortnight or three weeks; for from the expression being Wednesday fortnight, and yesterday having been Wednesday, it is impossible to know whether the newspaper speaks in the past or present tense, which makes all the difference. We hope, however, that it may be the longer period, that the measure may be as thoroughly looked into as is consistent with the present mode of bringing it forward. We shall devote a separate article to the consideration of its provisions next month, for there can scarcely be a question in which the interests of the community in general are more involved.

any

30th. " Eh? How's this?” exclaims a reader, turning over the leaf-"

no Editor's Room ?"_“No; we have been prevented giving

this month.'' “ Prevented ?--what by ?"_" By the Catholic Question.” “ The Catholic Question! What can that have to do with the Editor's Room?"-" Every thing. That article is a review of books; and as nobody will read anything now unless it be on the Question, no new books are published. Every house in the Row says the demands from the country have almost wholly ceased. They, in turn, cease to demand from Messrs. Murray and Colburn, who in consequence cease to supply. Ergo, there is no Editor's Room for the London Magazine of March 1829.”

Here would be another fact for our friend Mr. Peregrine Courtenay; the writer of Toujours Perdrix—but we beg leave to add an exception. Our readers may, perhaps, be surprised to hear that it is in our own person. We chanced, last week, to dance a quadrille with a young lady whom we met for the first time. She proved to be very conversible, and we chatted a good deal. At the end, she made a very low curtsey, and said " Sir, I am exceedingly obliged to you.” We were rather startled, and exclaimed “ For what?”— Why you have gone through this whole quadrille with me, and have not once mentioned the Catholic Question ;-—such a thing has not happened to me for the last month.”

THE

LONDON

MAGAZINE.

No. XIV.-May, 1829.

REFORMS IN THE LAW.

NO, IV.-THE MAGISTRACY BILL.

April 15. We have obtained a copy of this bill, which is yet in progress through the House of Commons, and have given it very minute attention; for we consider more of the happinesss and misery of the people of England to depend on the magistracy than on any other of our institutions.

We must say we are thoroughly dissatisfied with the measure, in the mass.

Even those parts of it which we think, in their principle, wholesome, are disfigured and injured by some of the provisions in detail. Considered as a codification and amendment of the laws relating to the justices of the peace, we cannot but regard it to be so utterly insufficient and jejune, that it is to us a matter of extreme wonder that it should be the result of so much experience as Mr. Hobhouse undoubtedly must possess on this subject, to say nothing of its being sanctioned and brought forward by Mr. Peel.

In considering this subject we must be permitted to state that we are not led by any vague theories,—we judge from a knowledge of facts acquired by experience, and we have applied them to those broad principles of polity, which, and not party spirit, have ever guided us in the public matters we have discussed. It is, certainly, not the present moment that we should choose to impugn a measure of Mr. Peel's, unless we felt that our duty, as public writers, imperatively called upon us to expose so insufficient, and, as we believe, so injurious, a piece of legislation as that of which we are treating.

We shall now proceed to notice the main provisions of the bill, making our comments on them as we go along. After repealing a multiplicity of Acts now in force, and abolishing the distinction of the quorum, a sensible amendment as far as it goes, the first positive enactment is to raise the qualification of magistrates from 1001. a year to 3001. It is with the greatest pain that we see a proposition of this nature brought forward by the Government at this time of day. If there be one general evil which corrodes the social arrangements of this country, it is the prevalence of aristocratical power and influence. We repeat what we hinted last month, that an absolute May, 18:29.

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