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both in their provision and administration, calculated for the gain of the lawyers, instead of the good of the people; in which legal nonsense and lies have very much usurped the place of common sense and common honesty; and it appearing, after a trial of many centuries, that the evils remain unmended in principle and increasing in fact; so that the civil law is still oppressive and injurious, and the criminal law must needs be deficient in a country presenting the following facts :
That few persons think of going to bed without barricading the house like a castle.
That there are thousands of thieves, and thousands of receivers of stolen goods, in the metropolis alone, known as such to the police officers, who are suffered to carry on their abominable practices without the interference of those who pretend to enforce the laws.
That legal documents contain much sophistry, lies, nonsensical legal technicalities, and foolish repetitions ; affording loop-holes for criminals to escape, in which they are aided by the judges with astonishing vigilance, where there is not the slightest tendency to reduce the certainty of guilt; and which must tend greatly to the encouragement of those desperate characters thus let loose on society, as well as the encouragement of their comrades.
That whatever may be the morbid or interested professions of lawyers, the people of these kingdoms have now acquired, from habits and education, the capacity to discover that common sense and common honesty would be more effectual to the attainment of honest objects, than all the legal nonsense that ever was uttered.
That a simple code of laws, judiciously, assiduously, and promptly applied, in all their stages, would do more good, in three months, than the present mongrel and ridiculous code could in as many years; and that the oppression of the innocent, the screen of the guilty, and the wages of the iniquitous, would thus be exploded; leaving the honest people delighted at their deliverance, and astonished, that, with an enlightened and honourable government, they should have submitted to it so long
They are becoming too enlightened to stand it much longer; and, with a government like ours, a model of sincerity, containing such a fund of wisdom, and still more with such a Prince at the head of it, what may not be looked for in the career of honour ? Not that, falsely so called, the honour of the ruffian, who offers to repair one mischief by tendering another still more abominable, but that of the most honest, sensible, and kindly feelings of our nature.
That fraud on one side, and resentment on the other, operating through a morbid state of law, and its administration, together with the long uncertainty and expense of lawsuits, must be continually undermining the constitutions, as well
as pockets of its victims; and, as those passions are indulged, tend to place the aggressors at least (if not sometimes the sufferers also) further from the only Source of Good; the chief sweetener of this life, and the only HOPE of the next.
That if these be the circumstances of the case, and that they are, England cries
aloud,) it is surely time to look for a substantial remedy.
That were legislation conducted on principles of common sense and justice, and with no view but to the good of society, there need not be any law immoral in its tendency, or generally difficult in its application.
Were laws thus framed, and steadily applied, there is reason to hope that the receivers of stolen goods, and those who have no obvious means of support, would be reduced to a very small proportion of their present number, and that the traps to ensnare neglected infancy and youth might be nearly swept from our land.
That if it be asked why, if the laws of England are ill adapted to promote their professed objects, as the abatement of crime, the protection of persons and property, the discountenance of vice, the respectability of the nation; how is it that such laws should have been framed ? and still more, how is it that they have been endured by the legislature for so many centuries, with scarcely any practical improvement in them, though
thousands of acts, on the same spirit and principle, have been passed, chiefly as amendments and explanations ? It may be replied, as among the reasons, that the body of many of the laws, and the garb of almost every one, have been the productions of a class of persons, whose apparent interest lay in their uncertainty and obscurity; the civil code chiefly, and the criminal as connected therewith, and administered through the same medium ; added to which, revenge and cruel policy have sometimes been excitements. For instance, a member of either house may have recently had some sheep stolen, or the bank of a fish-pond cut, or some young trees destroyed; all which is very wicked no doubt, and the perpetrators should be found if possible, and severely punished : but so angry has the injured party been, that he has defeated his own purpose by carrying a revengeful, instead of a salutary punishment: and juries, either more honest or sensible, or not having themselves suffered, and so having no vindictive feelings to gratify, have often outraged their oaths by declaring