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fragments in a score of statutes and a hundred reported cases.' Mr. Coode contributes a philosophical system of legal classification, starting from the two ideas of “interest ” and “ force.”
In the Third Report of the Commissioners the following classification of the statutes is suggested :
I. Armed Forces.
V. Great Britain,
X. Local and special.
(a) Crown lands.
It is obvious, however, that the arrangement is not guided by the only logical principle upon which a satisfactory classification can be made—that of “excluded iniddle." A scientific distribution of the statutes has yet to be made. The same report states that of the public general Acts passed in the present reign, more than one-fourth are not now in force, while the Acts which affect England (iv., V., vi. and vï. in the above classification) form little more than one-third of the residue. The proportionable bulk of repealed Acts is, of course, much larger in the earlier reigns.
The statutes passed during the present century occupy several more volumes than all the previous statutes from Magna Charta downwards. Those affecting England passed between 1800 and 1858 amount to 1,836.
The Commission presented its fourth report in 1859, and Lord Chancellor Campbell declined further to prolong its existence. It had accumulated a considerable store of materials, but the Criminal Law Consolidation Acts were the only immediate result of its labours. From this point Lord Westbury becomes the prominent figure in law reform.
In 1860, as Attorney-General, he announced that, with the approbation of the Government, he had engaged two gentlemen to index the obsolete Acts. He intended to expurgate the Statute Book of all Acts which, though not expressly repealed, were not actually in force
, and proposed to work backwards from the present time. When the expurgation was accomplished an edition of the actually living law would be published, arranged under appropriate heads. The gentlemen thus employed, Mr. Reily and Mr. Wood, have been ever since carrying on the work of their predecessors before and under the Commission; and with such activity did they enter upon their duties that in the following session a Bill became law (24 & 25
Vic. c. 101), which relieved the statute book of 900 obsolete Acts, passed between the eleventh year of George III. and the sixteenth and seventeenth of Victoria, and scattered up and down through twenty-nine quarto volumes.
In 1863 Lord Chancellor Westbury introduced a second expurgatory Bill, in a great speech in which he reviewed the whole subject. He proposed not only to revise the statute book, but also to make a digest of the rules of the common law which are now buried in 1,200 volumes of reports. The first step is to expurgate the statutes of dead law, the next to classify them under appropriate heads, next to add under each head the corresponding head of the digested reports, so forming a digest of the whole English law. The time for a code will not arrive, said the Lord Chancellor, till the distinction between common law and equity has vanished, and till we have trained up a generation of jurists competent to do the work. He intended some day to ask for a “Department of Justice.” The Bill thus introduced became law (26 & 27 Vic., c. 125), and expurgated the Statute Book from 20 Hen. III. to 1 Jac. II.
A Bill carrying the same process through the period between 1 Jac. II. and 11 George III., which was introduced during the present session, will complete the preliminary work of expurgation. All Acts virtually repealed, from Magna Charta to the seventeenth year of the present reign, will thus stand repealed in express terms, and all Acts heretofore repealed in express terms have been already registered and indexed by Messrs. Wood and Reily and their predecessors. What should be the next step? In our opinion the residuum of living general statutes affecting England should be at once authoritatively published, arranged in the order of their enactment. The Government plan, so far as it can be gathered, seems rather to be to defer publication till the statutes have been digested under their appropriate heads. But this would surely be a mistake. Unless the Government officials have gone much further than there is any reason to believe in the preparation of a philosophical scheme for the arrangement of the statutes, and unless such schemes as they may have prepared are much more philosophical than that which was proposed by the late Commission in their third report, it will be some years before the process of digesting can be satisfactorily accomplished. Let us have in the meantime an authentic collection of the living law of England in five or six manageable volumes. Such a collection would be the result of the processes which we have called sifting, which gets rid of all statutes
(1) Hansard, vol. 171, p. 776.
(2) This Bill, with many others, has been withdrawn, in consequence of the prolonged discussions upon topics of another nature which have engrossed the attention of Parliament. Lord Cranworth, however, has informed the House of Lords that it will be re-introduced by Lord Westbury, who has consented to resume his labours as a reformer of the law.
which are not properly speaking “public general statutes of the realm,” and expurgation, which gets rid of obsolete laws by express repeal, and then omits from the statute book every Act which has been expressly repealed.
These are, it is true, but two out of the five stages which must eventually be travelled, but it is nevertheless convenient to break the journey at this point. The remaining stages, digesting, consolidation, codification, demand a different and a less mechanical sort of labour. To exhibit in print every syllable of law which has not been repealed will be now, thanks to the indices and registers which have been constructed under the direction of Government, a purely mechanical task. It is, therefore, one which, if a sufficient number of hands are employed upon it, might well be accomplished within a few months from the passing of the third and last expurgatory Bill. How great a boon such a publication would be, both to the profession and to suitors, it is hardly necessary to say. With these volumes upon our shelves we could well afford to wait, say till the end of the year 1870, for a complete statute code.
Four years, if not wasted, would give ample time for consulting jurists and logicians—for all jurists are not logicians'
are not logicians'—upon the distribution of the various heads under which the laws should be digested, consolidated, and codified. The best plan would probably be to invite all persons interested in the subject to send in their respective plans to a commission which should be appointed specially to consider the question, and which, in addition to its legal members, should contain a few such men as Mr. Mill and Mr. Mansell. The work to be ultimately published we have called a “Statute Code.” And we conceive the term to be strictly applicable. The Roman “ Code” consisted, in fact, exclusively of what we should have called statute law, while the common law was embodied in the “Digest.” That
. the time has not yet arrived for a final code, in the French or modern sense, in which the distinction between common law and statute law, with many other distinctions, would no longer exist, we are, with Lord Westbury, quite prepared to admit. That the common law can for many years assume any other form than a digest of cases, we very much doubt. It is most gratifying to see that Government seems inclined to undertake the Herculean task of reducing the 1,200 volumes of reports to such a digest; but this work ought not for a moment to interfere with the far easier and equally pressing task of moulding the statute law into what, as far as it goes, ought to be a real code. This is quite within the power of the Government, and this we have a right to demand.
(1) This remark is painfully true even of the writers of the best text books in practice: and, in the domain of theory, even the great work of Mr. Austin is deformed by countless cross-divisions.
Under the present system there are sixteen or seventeen Acts which tell one how to get married :' a few years ago an Act of Parliament was solemnly passed (21 & 22 Vic., c. 26), to repeal the 6 Anne, c. 5, 33 G. II., c. 20, and part of 39 & 40 G. III., all of which had been repealed by 1 & 2 Vic., c. 48; and in 1842 the Court of Queen's Bench considered minutely the 2 & 3 Ed. VI., c. 24, which had been repealed fourteen years previously. And yet every Englishman is presumed to know the laws of his country.
Leaving, therefore, out of consideration the question of a digest of the common law, itself a subject of vast magnitude; leaving also out of consideration the question of the ultimate unification of statute law and common law in a symmetrical code, a subject of still wider magnitude ; we would insist on the importance and practicability of producing a perfect and elastic code of the statutes. This is to be accomplished by six processes. To the first two of these, “sifting and “expurgation,” the statutes have been already subjected, and we are of opinion that the result should be immediately given to the public in the shape of half a dozen volumes, containing all the living statute law which affects the realm of England. Such a collection must undergo the three further processes of “digesting,” “ consoli
, dation," and "codification," before it will be a real code. These processes might well be accomplished, and the final result published, by the end of the year 1870.
One more process remains by which the Statute Code is to be modified to meet the wants of the age; this we have called " Revision," by which we mean the method by which each year's legislation is to be fitted to its place in the code, and by which the code thus modified is every ten years to be republished by authority. We have also explained that “ Revision ” could not properly be carried out without a regularly constituted Government Department of Justice.
THOMAS ERSKINE HOLLAND.
(1) So said Vice-Chancellor Wood at the Social Science Congress, 1859.
THE VALLE LANDS OF VENETIA.
Our aim in the present paper will not be to describe the city of Venice, her architectural display, and her fascinating historical reminiscences. We intend to discourse with our readers of scenes less familiar to the sojourner in “ fair and fruitful Italy” than are the stones and palaces of her now ruined cities; but we will note the probable fate in store for Venice. The very uniqueness of her site and geographical position has been in itself a principal cause of her former greatness, and still is the distinctive charm which fascinates the great mass of unartistic tourists more even than the crumbling grandeur of her chiselled palaces. The waters of the lagoons surrounding Venice are gradually contracting themselves within evernarrowing channels, and at no very distant period the Island City will doubtless lose the charm arising from her peculiar isolation, and will be united to the mainland ; her silent and watery pathways will ultimately become highways and byways for the horse and his rider, and the stately swan-like gondola will be known only as a thing of
The whole of Eastern Venetia owes the wonderful fertility of her soil to the comparatively recent alluvial deposit left by the slowlyreceding waters of the Adriatic. Not more than three thousand years before the Christian era, the waters which now scarce lave Venice's marble palaces, washed up to the very foot of the lower Alps. The Euganean hills; the volcanic mole-hills, near Este; the picturesque rocky elevation near Cacavalli (the seat of the once proud house of Papafava); and the beautiful rock round which sweet Monselice nestles, were then but islands cropping out of a vast expanse of
Padua (after Adria, the most ancient city of Venetia) is supposed to have been built upon or near the then Adriatic sea-line, and, like her more ancient rival Adria, she doubtless lost her maritime position by the gradual contraction of the sea. Even so recently as the commencement of the Christian era she lay in the midst of a salt lagoon, resembling the lagoon which now separates Venice from the mainland, which existed until native industry embanked the rivers Brenta and Baccalione, and then artificially drained the land on either side.
The Adriatic and the Gulf of Genoa (now a hundred miles apart) probably at or about the date we have given, B.c. 3000, rolled an undivided ocean from the Dalmatian shore to the eastward, laving the northern Apennine and southern Alpine ranges; and washed to