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and one copy, when filled, to be delivered to the superintendent registrar, and the other copy of the book kept by the rector, &c., to remain in his keeping. By which we understand that there must be triplicates of the marriage register book; viz., the register book, and two copies; one to be delivered in April, July, October and January, and yet not to be delivered till the book is full, and the others to be kept by the rector, &c.

The confusion about the first of the last certificates, to be given in July, we do not profess to explain.

The section 34 talks of a copy of a part of a book.

Section 35 allows to the rector, vicar, or curate, one shilling for not more than a year's search of each register book, and sixpence for each additional year; and two shillings and sixpence for each certificate; whilst, by section 36, the superintendent is to have five shillings for a general search.

We think that the expense of the general search at the registrar-general's office is excessive. Instead of being twenty shillings, it should be nothing at all; or, if payments are to be made, officers should take the trouble and responsibility on themselves of making those searches. The public is generally ill used at registry offices; with no seat, and scarcely room to move the elbows; and having to perform the work of lifting down huge volumes requiring a porter's knot and a porter's strength; and usually in an atmosphere and with company exceedingly objectionable.

There is the greater hardship as to the expense of the search in London, because it must be attended by expenses of agency and attendances, where a country person wishes a search to be made; and as to the additional charges for a general search, we do not admit the necessity of it being greater than for any other search, for two reasons; first, if the searcher has more trouble, he ought to pay less rather than more money; and secondly, he ought not to have more trouble, and therefore ought not to pay more money, because if the indices be complete, on which every thing depends, it should be as easy to search for twenty years as for three.

The fortieth section empowers clergymen to ask the wedding parties the particulars required to be registered.

For refusal or omission to register a marriage, or for carelessly losing or injuring the register, the 42d clause imposes a penalty of 50%., which part only of that clause appears to be applicable to our clergy.

For destroying, injuring, and falsifying a register, or copy, or giving a false certificate, the offender is declared, by section 43, to be guilty of felony.

The 44th section has confined the correction of accidental errors to a calendar month; in which short time it may be equally accidental that the error may be discovered.

We have already referred to section 49, and (excepting that clause) the clauses subsequent to section 44, are not material for our discussion.

Thus have we waded through these tiresome acts of parliament; and the task of pursuing the subjects to which they relate, through such labyrinths of heterogeneous absurdities, is, we acknowledge, greater than we at first supposed possible. The more we reflect on the amount of mischief which these laws are adapted to accomplish, and the little good which they can effect, the more we are convinced that parliament ought forthwith to demolish the whole structure; for it can never be patched up so as to answer any tolerable purpose. It is more noble to take leave of error, than to persevere in it; but we can scarcely expect that the puffed-up vanity of the new school of legislators will permit them to retrace their steps by abrogating these laws, and beginning de novo in a new session, with another and a better code.

There are many other discrepancies in these acts, than those which we have noticed. We have directed the attention of our readers to the most material and objectionable clauses, and to those which we think most obnoxious to severe censure and animadversion. We believe that the Marriage Act will be destructive of the respect in which marriage has been always held in this country, if it be only on the principle that marriage by civil contract will, as a natural and political consequence, lead the way to divorce by the same means. We have the histories of other countries before us in support of our opinion, and to prove the dangers into which those countries have fallen by setting so light a value on the marriage ceremony, as is set on it by this new code; in regard to which it seems to us unquestionable that it will encourage clandestine marriages on the one hand, and on the other produce concubinage; and induce bribery to secure secrecy for one party, while it will prevent another from entering into an expensive litigation to get married.

The Cromwellian law of marriage, before a justice of the peace, would be preferable to this before the servant of a set of overseers of the poor; and we cannot enough reprobate any laws which invest such a person with such kind of power, as the superintendent is to have under these un-English laws.

As to the Registry Act, like its fellow, it is not framed to last in its present shape; and we are confident that all the information required for a registry, might have been had in a better way from parish officers once a year.

It is astonishing that the root-and-branch legislators make no use of means at hand, but create, or resort to other, and more distant, dilatory, and dissatisfactory (always expensive) means for carrying into effect their "great measures," in all of which

that which is most talked of is least seen: we mean "principle." What a constant gabble there was about the "principle of the Reform Act, which no one could ever discover, but by dissecting the act itself; and then indeed a "principle bad enough appeared in every section.

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It is the same with all the laws brought in by the Whigs and Radicals.

The Reform Act is, confessedly, the worst production that was ever penned. It requires that whole troops of raw barristers should be annually sent over the country, to endeavour to explain its meaning.

The Poor Law Amendment Act has loaded the kingdom with commissioners, who (as Mr. Hume lately observed) it seems are to have the administration of the affairs of the country thrown entirely into their hands; and then we have long stories from the secretary, or somebody or another, every now and then, explanatory of the law, and dictating all sorts of things.

Then we have the Municipal Corporation Act involving the kingdom in needless expense, and setting the whole country together by the ears. That law too is such a heap of incongruity, that the youthful barristers can no more see through it, than they can through millstones: and what does it effect but yearly anarchy and disturbance in every borough, taking manufacturers and plain tradesmen out of their avocations, and making them at enmity with each other, for no other purpose than to keep up a perpetual strife of party, among men who ought to be attending to their occupations, and who, as town councillors, or whatever they fancy themselves, are beginning to get heartily tired of those offices.

And now comes this Marriage Act to make further irruptions on our established and excellent institutions; and it is accompanied by another act, which had the simplest thing in the world to do, that of effecting a registration; and it could not even accomplish that, without the most clumsy detail, nor without such enactments as literally nullify and stultify themselves.

Then we have newspaper proclamations by the yard, to explain the clauses of these acts, and to prepare the public mind for these "great measures."

We are quite convinced that there are in this country suffi cient means, which can be called into action by more simple measures, for effecting all this business, at little or no expense, and with far less difficulty than these laws create.

Verily, taking both the Marriage Act and the Registry Act together, we do not believe that any legislators, in any age, ever did, or ever can, produce laws less deserving the name: laws for which we have no terms of reprobation sufficiently expressive of our detestation; and if we had, we should prefer, to the strongest epithets, the still small voice of reason upon subjects of such

national importance as these laws, which must sooner or later affect each individual in the community; and make him seriously to condemn their manifold imperfections, so apparent in every clause.

We need not recapitulate our proofs of the unexampled want of skill discernible in the construction of every section not borrowed from a prior statute; and when any section is so borrowed, we cannot help admiring its clumsy application to other persons and purposes, than those for which it was originally intended.

It is altogether a more miserable effort at legislation than we could have anticipated, even from the quarter whence it emanated; and we dismiss these acts of parliament with all possible contempt, and with but one hope-that the first act of the next session will be their total abolition, whatever may be substituted in their stead. Any thing will be better-nothing can be worse.

ART. VIII. 1. Sacred Poetry of the 17th Century, 1836. 2. The Works of Cowper, with a Life. By ROBERT SOUTHEY, 1836. Baldwin and Cradock.

3. The Poems of Young.
4. Lives of Sacred Poets.
College, Cambridge.

Aldine Edition. Pickering.
By R. A. WILLMOTT, Esq. Trinity

THE historian of our sacred poetry would find it a very difficult, if not an impossible task, to separate his particular subject of inquiry from the general stream of our literature. Whatever reason may be assigned for their existence, we certainly discover in our olden poets a sincerity of manner, an enthusiasm of heart, and a solemn earnestness of expression, which we might seek for in vain through the productions of modern times. These qualities have been referred to the state of society in those days, when, as Sir Philip Sidney said, the country was strewed with a faint quietness for poets. The Muse loves to dwell with Solitude; and in the deep monastic stillness of our valleys, far from the hum of men, and the roar of the Great Babel, she rewarded her votaries with strains of beauty and wisdom. The first name of any importance in our poetical history is Robert Langland, the author of the work known under the title of the "Visions of Pierce Plowman." These "Visions" preceded Chaucer twenty years; and the careful analysis of Whittaker has shown the acuteness and activity of the writer's moral sense, by the vehemence of his attacks upon public and private vices. We do not profess to have toiled through this elaborate volume of black letter mystery; but we have read enough to impress us with a very favourable opinion of the didactic and graphic talents of the author. Some of his sketches of common life, by their freedom and truth, recalled Crabbe to the memory of his editor.

He is remarkably rich in scriptural illustration; and his intimate acquaintance with the now forgotten schoolmen, would try the skill of many a literary antiquarian. But although Langland, in point of priority, may be viewed as the father of our poetry, the horizon was hitherto dark and cheerless; the Morning Star rose with Chaucer. Of his works or his genius, however, it would be vain to speak in the present article; but it has been remarked, that we may find religion in the faith of Constance, in the purity and womanly meekness of Grisildis, in the lamentation of Mary Magdalen, and in that most beautiful and affecting legend of the little Christian Martyr, as related by the Prioress. It does not fall within the scope of this survey to illustrate these remarks by quotations; but we cannot refrain from extracting a few lines from the "Clerke's Tale," in which the character of Grisildis is drawn with a simple truth and beauty which can hardly fail to captivate the fancy and awaken sympathy.


Among this poure folk there dwelt a man
Which that was holden pourest of hem all :
But highe God sometime senden can
His grace unto a litel oxes stall;
Janicola, men of that thorpe him call.*
A daughter had he, fair ynough to sight,
And Grisildis this yonge maiden hight.
"But for to speke of vertuous beautee,
Than was she on the fairest under sonne :
Ful pourely yfostered up was she:
No likerous lust was in hire herte yronne;
Ful ofter of the welle than of the tonne
She dranke, and for she wolde vertue plese,
She knew well labour, and none idel ese.
"But though this mayden tendre were of
Yet in the brest of hire virginitee
Ther was enclosed sad and ripe corage,
And in gret reverence and charitee
Her olde poure fader fostred she;


A few sheep, spinning on the feld, she kept,
She wolde not ben idel till she slept.

"And when she homward came, she wolde bring
Wortes and other herbes times oft,

The which she shred and sethe for her living,
And made hire bed ful hard, and nothing soft.
And ay she kept her fadre's lif on loft,

With every obeisance and diligence,

That child may don to fadre's reverence."

The reader will find in the first volume of Mr. Wordsworth's poems, a version of this tale. We might easily have rendered

* Thorpe, Sax. a village.

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