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endanger the compact between the sovereign and the people. He implores her Majesty, after declaring that she has been reported to have "confounded the wisdom of the wise by simply saying, 'It is contrary to Magna Charta,'" to "let the judges of the land be called on to confirm that judgment, and the judgments of the great and learned men referred to," and "your Majesty (continues he) can commence your reign by the most resplendent and patriotic act ever reflected from a mortal throne."
Our author does not detain his readers at any considerable length with suggested measures of improvement as to the laws between debtor and creditor. He, however, like most of those who have thought on the subject, does not contemplate the abrogation of imprisonment in cases of convicted fraud. The distinction between these and those of debt is obvious. The former involve and presuppose crime-the latter misfortune, inadvertence, and innocence.
With regard to the Attorney-General's Bill, which has been so long and so much tossed about, nibbled at, and talked of," Runneymede" entertains strong objections, and which, as coming from a person who has manifestly studied the subject deeply and variously, as well as written forcibly and eloquently on it, in the present pamphlet, ought to be candidly weighed. He says
"Of the bill brought in by Sir John Campbell, it may be said, that it is a creditor's bill, and not a debtor and creditor's; that the power over the property is far too absolute; the time allowed to the debtor from and between the stages of the process is too short; that the executive part is placed in the hands of sheriffs' officers, and other grasping and inferior men, which is certain to lead to even more plunder and oppression than the present system. The bill shows astuteness, but is not practical, and is contrary to the genius of the people. That bill has been drawn as if there were no persons in the kingdom but wholesale and retail dealers. In case of bankruptcy, or temporary suspension of payment, or the non-payment of a judgment debt for three weeks, the power given savours too much of despotisın, and moreover the executive part is placed in the hands of a desperate and reckless class of extortioners, the sheriffs' officers, under the secret collateral direction of those pests of England, the low common law attornies.
"Under the present practice of the law, it may be said that the English are as much dictated to and law-ridden as our Catholic forefathers were priest-ridden, even at greater loss of property and independence. Sir John Campbell's bill will add inquisitorial power to that extraordinary influence now possessed by the legal profession, and which, with a slow and silent jesuit-step, gradually winds an inextricable coil around the victim, until he finds that to struggle is only to have the cords more tightly drawn, and he yields at last to smooth dictation and unceasing robbery. In that profession there are many excellent and noble-minded men; but let it be remarked, they never do any common law business. All the expenses incident on the writs issued in Middlesex only are not less than £500,000 per annum; a frightful sum, unlawfully extorted to pander to
the worst vices of a dangerous and reckless class. Upwards of thirty-two thousand writs are issued per annum in Middlesex, the expenses on which, taking one with another, will not amount to less than £200,000 a year, to be divided among the low class attornies and sheriffs' officers; a sum sufficient to produce the mass of corruption, extortion, brutality, and ruin which is known to be the consequence.
"There can be no doubt that the creditor should be protected from loss, and that the wealthy debtor in particular should be made to liquidate his debts, and that the power over him should be of so positive a nature as to restrain his extravagance, and virtually compel him to so regulate his expenditure that it does not exceed his means; but that power should be so devised as to prevent avarice, resentment, and the cupidity of those who execute the law, from inflicting unnecessary injury, or by undue inquisitorial power trenching on the rights of a free born man. To bring in a bill for the 'Abolition of Imprisonment for Debt' WHEN NO LAW EXISTS WHICH CAN ENFORCE IT, unless Magna Charta be trampled under foot, appears to be an absurdity that has no parallel in history!
"But if Sir John Campbell's act should become a law, as its operative part would lead to the seizure of much property, the sacrifice of it, and virtual plunder would ensue if the sale be left to the sheriff or his officers, the only power vested in them should be the seizure; the removal and sale should be by an order from a board of men, uot lawyers, of known respectability; and the sale should be public, by any accredited auctioneer selected by the debtor: otherwise the sacrifice of it will injure the debtor, while it does not benefit the creditor, but enriches that band of depredators who are the salesmen, too often the purchasers, of the property of the unfortunate."
That some change, however, may be devised by the wisdom of experienced men, that will speedily introduce a higher, milder, and more efficient system than that which exists, so as to become an incentive to people to avoid extravagance in their dealings, to cultivate foresight, to resist cvertrading, to be a bit and a bridle to the profligate, and the surest safeguard against the designing and the fraudulent, is a hope, which we, in common with the author, fondly entertain. If this change should be found to be in perfect accordance with that ancient Charter of our freedom, which has ever been the pride and boast of Englishmen, the nation would universally bend to it, and revere it; for, in the words of a celebrated historian, as copied in a letter lately written to Lord Denman, by certain persons in the Queen's Bench Prison on the very subject of imprisonment for debt, and to whose long confinement reference has already been made, the law contained in the sacred Charter is such, that "never were laws more binding amongst men, except those holy laws from the Mount," for it "wanted nothing but thunder and lightning from heaven to make the sentence more ghastly and hideous to the infringers thereof, which should it not hold us, the frame and order of all government must fall asunder."
ART. VI.-The History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. By JAMES SEATON REID, D.D., M.R.I.A., Minister of the Presbyterian Church, Carrickfergus. Vol. I. 1834, II. 1837. 8vo. London : Whittaker & Co.
THE first of these volumes opens with a sketch of the introduction of the reformed religion in Ireland in the sixteenth century, and carries down the history of Presbyterianism to 1642, the period when the Protestants of Ulster adopted the Covenant. The second, in general confining itself to the annals of the province now mentioned, brings the work down to the year 1690; and in a third, which is to follow, we are told, "the narrative will be continued to the present time, and to which will be appended several authentic tables, and other documents, exhibiting the statistics, and existing position and circumstances of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.'
It is quite clear that the special subject of these volumes is not only of itself highly important, and deserving of being treated upon its own individual merits, as a curious and instructive chapter in ecclesiastical history, but, that if handled properly, it cannot but be remarkably illustrative of the progress and vicissitudes of the civil events which for centuries have rendered Ireland a spectacle among nations. We think that Dr. Reid has, by the present volumes, established for himself a title to be considered by all parties, whether of church or state, in the British Empire, a historian of no mean order in the double capacity which his theme suggested and required. His researches have been extensive and careful, his statements in relation to facts are to be praised for their fairness, and his narrative is everywhere not merely plain, interesting, but (excepting where polemics and the merits of religious tenets are discussed,) convincing. What is more, these characteristics of the work are more apparent and decided in the second than in the preceding volume, thus affording proof that the author acquires with his years both a deeper knowledge of the history of human nature and a broader charity. To expect, however, that a leading member of any church should not testify his preference of that particular institution, an admiration of its doctrines, and a belief in its superior efficacy, would be as unreasonable as the exhibition of such lukewarmness, doubt, and latitudinarianism would be unworthy of any professor, and calculated to throw disparagement upon his heart and his head. Our readers will see, we anticipate, from the account we are about to give of the contents of the work, and the specimens to be extracted, that Dr. Reid has preserved an enviable medium between the two extremes of intolerant bigotry and affected moderation. Let it be understood at the same time, that we shall abstain from uttering any opinion of our own concerning the merits of creeds or ceremonies,
and, indeed, as far as possible, from noticing any thing that cannot be considered in the light of historical facts. As regards such facts Dr. Reid has introduced a sufficient quantity, which are either new or explained in a clearer manner than has previously been done, to confer upon his work a historical importance.
Our first extract affords a very fair sample of the author's style of writing, and also a plain account of an interesting revolution in the Irish ecclesiastical establishment. We refer to the change from that of Catholicism, which was professed under Mary, to Protestantism, established under Elizabeth.
"So soon as circumstances permitted, which was not until the beginning of the year 1560, a parliament was held in Dublin, for the purpose of again transferring the sanctions of the law from the Romish to the Protestant faith. With the exception of the opposition given by the nobles, which, however, was so alarming as to induce the deputy to prorogue the parlia ment in a few weeks, this important change was speedily effected. Of nineteen prelates who had conformed to popery under Mary, only two now adhered with stedfastness to their profession, thus exhibiting another degrading instance of clerical tergiversation. The Commons, consisting of representatives from ten counties out of thirty-two, and from about twenty towns, principally under the influence of the crown, acquiesced more readily, though not without evident reluctance, in the proposed measures, so that the whole ecclesiastical fabric was again overthrown as promptly as it had been constructed at the accession of Mary. By this parliament, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction was restored to the crown, and a new oath of supremacy appointed; the use of the Common Prayer was enforced; and all subjects obliged to attend the public service of the Church. A most absurd enactment was passed, respecting the use of the Common Prayer Book by those who might be ignorant of the English language. It was one of the essential principles of the Reformation, that divine service should be conducted in the language of the worshippers. As English was not a spoken language, except in the metropolis and some of the principal towns, one of the most obvious measures of the court ought to have been to have the Liturgy translated into Irish, and ministers speaking this tongue provided for that vast majority of the population who knew no other language. Accordingly, one of the instructious given to Sir James Croft in a preceding reign, had been to procure such a translation; but no efforts had been made for that purpose. Instead, however, of reviving this wise and salutary measure, and giving it the sanction of legislative authority, it was inconsistently enacted, that where the minister, and, by implication, the people, did not understand English, the public service should be performed, not in the Irish tongue known to both parties, but in the Latin language unknown to either. The reasons assigned for this singular order
were as insufficient, as the measure itself was absurd and ridiculous. They were founded on the pleas, that the Irish language was difficult to be printed; and that, if printed, few even of the native reformed clergy could be found competent to read it. And thus, for the sake of these temporary obstacles, which prudent and zealous rulers would soon have found means of removing, the dissemination of the truth through the country was
effectually impeded, and the most ignorant, as well as the most numerous, class of the community were cut off from the benefits of divine worship, and attached more strongly to their ancient errors."
Here, if any one has a mind to indulge in moral reflections, are abundant topics of striking import for the exercise. But our inclination and duty is to proceed, of course rapidly, through Dr. Reid's elaborate work-alighting only upon some of the more marked and arresting events and epochs which it lays before us. Accordingly, coming down to the reign of James I., who colonized Ulster with Scotch settlers, we find that the King's government confiscated the larger portion of the province, on account of the alleged treason of certain of the chiefs. Whatever might be the state of the facts or of the law with regard to the treason, the Scotch were naturally looked upon with an unfavourable countenance by the expelled inhabitants (none or few of those who were cultivators of the soil having been guilty of any offence against the state)-and exposed to great danger and formidable hostility. It was therefore the policy of government to encourage new settlers to strengthen such an exposed colony, and this was done, in a great measure, by showing them there was a close resemblance between the doctrines of the Irish establishment at the time, and the Puritanism which the Scotch ardently and tenaciously adhered to. At any rate it concerns such a history as the present to show, and this Dr. Reid has clearly and fully accomplished, that that part of the Irish Protestant clergy, who entertained sentiments most akin to those of the Puritans, were in point of industry, morals, piety, and learning, by far the most distinguished. The same, we believe, may be asserted of the party, from the period indicated, to much later times.
It was, in fact, the prevalence of Puritanism in Laud's time, in the sister island, that induced him to supply the ill-fated Strafford with a chaplain, whom Cromwell afterwards satirically nicknamed "the Canterbury of Ireland." This was Bramhall, one of the Archbishop's most obsequious creatures, who, nevertheless, communicated to his patron the following deplorable account of the Irish church
Right reverend father, my most honoured lord, presuming partly upon your licence, but especially directed by my lord deputy's command, I am to give your Fatherhood a brief account of the present state of the poor church of Ireland, such as our short intelligence here, and your lordship's weighty employments there, will permit. First, for the fabrics; it is hard to say whether the churches be more ruinous and sordid, or the people irreverent. Even in Dublin, the metropolis of this kingdom, and seat of justice, to begin the inquisition where the reformation will begin, we find our [one?] parochial church converted to the lord deputy's stable; a second to a nobleman's dwelling-house; the choir of a third to a tennis-court, and the vicar acts the keeper. In Christ's church, the principal church in Ireland, whither the lord-deputy and council repair every Sunday, the