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in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That so much of the said act as is hereinbefore recited shall, from and after the passing of this act, be, and the same is hereby, repealed.
· And be it further enacted, That from and after the passing of this Act, every person who shall feloniously steal any linen, fustian, calico, cotton, cloth, or cloth worked, woven, or made of any cotton, or linen yarn mixed, or any thread linen, or cotton yarn, linen or cotton tape, incle, filletting, laces, or any other linen, fustian, or cotton goods or wares whatever, laid, placed, or exposed to be printed, whitened, bowked, bleached, or dried, in any whitening or bleaching croft, lands, fields, or grounds, bowking houses, drying-house, or printing-house, or other building, ground, or place made use of by any calico-printer, whitster, crofter, bowker, or bleacher, for printing, whitening, bowking, bleaching, or drying of the same, to the value of ten shillings: or who shall aid and assist, or wilfully or maliciously lure or procure any other
person or persons to commit any such offence; or who shall buy or receive any such goods or wares so stolen, knowing the same to be stolen, as aforesaid, being lawfully convicted, shall be liable to be transported beyond the seas for life, or for such term, for not less than seven years, as the judge, before whom any
shall be convicted, shall adjudge, or shall be liable, in case the said judge shall think fit, to be imprisoned and kept to hard labour in the common gaol, house of correction, or penitentiary-house, for any term not exceeding seven years.'
The substance of these two long and clumsy acts, as far as they relate to goods in course of manufacture, Mr. Peel's law condenses into the following succinct clause, which appears to us to provide for every case which could fall within either of the former laws—(7 and 8 Geo. IV. c. 29, s. 16)—
• And be it further enacted, That if any person shall steal to the value of ten shillings, any goods, or articles of silk, woollen, linen, or cotton, or of any one or more of those materials, mixed with each other, or mixed with any other materials, whilst laid, placed, or exposed, during any stage, process, or progress of manufacture, in any building, field, or other place; every such offender, being convicted thereof, shall be liable to any of the punishments which the court may award, as herein beforelast-mentioned,'-(that is, to transportation for life, or for not less than seven years, or imprisonment not exceeding four years.)
The amount of the abridgments and reductions in mere volume, effected by Mr. Peel, may be judged of, from the fact, that his repealing statute (which is made a distinct law, affording an easy knowledge of the acts got rid of) has annihilated the principal part of not less than ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-SEVEN STATUTES. The parts repealed contained 623 sections and about 8472 lines; while the substance of this mass of words, as far as their etfect has still been continued in force at all, is to be found condensed in Mr. Peel's FOUR ACTS: viz., that for further improving the administration of justice, that for consolidating and amending
the laws of larceny, that for consolidating and amending the laws relative to malicious injuries to property, and that for consolidating and amending the laws relative to remedies against the hundred. These new laws put all together contain only 152 sections, instead of the 623 sections repealed, and about 1300 lines, instead of 8472 got rid of; being a reduction (judging by the number of lines, which is the fairest criterion) of more than five-sixths. In the same way, Mr. Peel's first act, of 1826, (7 Geo. IV. c. 64,) for the improvement of the administration of justice in criminal cases, repeals 31 statutes, scattered through the statute book, from the 3d of Edward I. to the 6th of George IV., which contained 98 sections, and about 1490 lines—while the new act is comprised in 32 sections and 447 lines, being a reduction of considerably more than two-thirds; and this, at the same time that the new law contains a variety of provisions entirely novel in effect and not touched upon by the repealed enactments. The Jury Law of 1825, (6th Geo. IV. c. 50,) which is comprised in 64 sections and 1130 lines, repeals and consolidates the provisions of 62 former acts, extending from the 43d of Henry III. to the 5th Geo. IV.-49 of them being passed previous to the reign of Elizabeth—and containing a mass of obscure and obsolete provisions; and these repealed statutes comprise 152 sections and about 2200 lines—so that here we have a reduction in mere bulk of more than one-half. The reductions, therefore, effected by these new laws may be thus stated :
Thus, out of 187 pages, Mr. Peel has got rid of no less than 142; or considerably more than three-fourths. This reduction (though not equal to that effected in the Roman digest, where, according to Ludewig, two thousand treatises were condensed into fifty books, and three millions of lines—or sentences, olixo1,-were reduced to one hundred and fifty thousand) is so considerable, that, supposing it possible to be effected to the same extent in the whole statute law, it would obviously cut down the twenty-nine massive volumes of our statutes to about seven volumes, to the great relief of the purses and brains of lawyers, and of all others who happen to have occasion to buy or peruse them. It is obvious, however, that condensation and repealing could not be applied generally to the same extent; and that as the work proceeded the amount of reduction must necessarily diminish. Still, however,—considering the extreme verbosity of style of the generality of the acts,their perpetual and lengthened tautologies,—the number of laws virtually repealed or grown obsolete, which are still reprinted, the quantity of statutes accumulated on one subject and capable of great condensation if moulded together,—we see no reason to doubt but that, by pursuing Mr. Peel's judicious course through all the branches of the statute law, they might all, by proper industry and care, in no very long period of time, be effectually consolidated into single laws on each subject, so as to effect a reduction of our Statute Book to one-half, or at most one-third, of its present dimensions.
In addition to those above noticed in detail, we are happy to see that other judicious consolidations of the statutes have been recently effected. The intricate laws respecting the revenue of customs, dispersed in no less than four hundred and forty-three acts, (fifty of which had actually passed since his present Majesty's accession,) have been condensed into three systematic and well-arranged acts, the 6th Geo. IV. cc. 105, 106, and 107; and all the old laws have, of course, been repealed. The numerous laws respecting the prevention of slave traffic have been likewise consolidated in the 5th Geo. IV. c. 113. The bankrupt law, scattered over twenty-one long and wordy statutes, has been simplified by Lord Eldon and Mr. Eden, and reduced to a single act of one hundred and thirty-six sections, 6th Geo. IV. c. 16. This new statute has also introduced most material alterations into this difficult and important branch of our law; and although by no means free from inaccuracies of execution, (which, we believe, will be corrected by a new act in the next session of parliament,) it must be considered, on the whole, as a learned, elaborate, and valuable condensation of a very perplexed law. In addition to the great amendments of the bankrupt laws, the alterations and improvements effected by the county-court bill; the bill respecting principal and factor; the act for the uniformity of
weights and measures; the act requiring bail in all cases of proceedings in error; Sir Nicholas Tindal's act respecting arrests for debt, and various others, not only evince how much the attention of parliament has, within the last few years, been drawn to the improvements of our legal and judicial systems, but, in our humble judgment, afford instances, in the main, of clear, judicious, and concise legislation, worthy of imitation as well as applause.
As the repeals thus effected have strewed the statute book pretty copiously with defunct laws, we trust Mr. Peel intends ere long to quiet this inops inhumataque turba,' with sepulchral honours, in the shape of a clause prohibiting their being reprinted. We beg humbly to echo Lord Bacon's words :— these may remain in the libraries for antiquities, but no reprinting of them.' Until this is prohibited, they will still continue to form a cumbrous and expensive burden on the statute-book-needlessly increasing its bulk, and often misleading the student. Where entire acts are repealed, there can be no difficulty in marking them out, and giving directions to the king's printer not to reprint them after a certain time. If legislative authority is required, an act might be passed for the purpose, specifying all the laws repealed, the printing of which was to cease. Where parts of acts only are repealed, no difficulty can arise in those cases where such parts form entire sections of a law; and it is only in those cases where the repealed portions are vaguely described or referred to; so as not easily to be separable from the remainder of the law, that it may, perhaps, for the present, be necessary to leave them untouched. Of course it would be prudent only to expunge those laws, the repeal of which is express and clear, and not to meddle with any, as to which it may be questionable whether they have been repealed by implication. Owen Ruffhead, in apologising for retaining in his edition of the Statutes the repealed and obsolete laws, observes,
• If all the laws which have been altered or repealed by subsequent acts, or which, being grown cld by the introduction of new habits and customs, do not agree with the present state of the times, were to be left out of the statute-books, how greatly would posterity be at a loss to account for several institutions which are only to be explained by reference to those venerable relics of antiquity.'—Preface to the Statutes, p. 22.
Sergeant Runnington, feeling the force of this observation, and at the same time desirous to reduce the bulk of his edition of the Statutes, has preserved the acts, which are more of curiosity than of use, in an appendix, merely giving the titles in their proper places in the body of the work. Now, though we agree in the truth of Mr. Ruftliead's remarks, we think the existing copies of
the repealed laws would probably be sufficient to preserve them in libraries for all purposes of curiosity and reference, without any reprinting. If considered necessary, a separate publication might be permitted to be made of the defunct statutes ; but it seems to us highly objectionable, that they should be suffered to remain mixed up with the body of laws actually in vigour; which, as Lord Bacon quaintly observes, is to make our laws endure the torment of Mezentius. The body of valid and existing laws to which the public are to look as containing an efficacious rule of life and conduct, is not the place for mere matters of historical interest and antiquarian curiosity. The public, in turning to the authentic volumes of the statutes, desire to know precisely only what is the law, and not to inquire what it may formerly have been. We, therefore, think, that not merely the laws expressly repealed by subsequent acts, but also all those which are now clearly obsolete, or, to speak more properly, superseded by the effect of subsequent enactments (for no law in England can become obsolete from mere disuse,) should also be removed from the collection of the living statutes; such are, for instance, all the laws respecting feudal tenures, and monastic houses, which, though not repealed expressly, are superseded by those laws which have annihilated the subject matters to which they relate; and other considerable classes of the same kind exist.
To guard against the future accumulations of hasty and imperfect acts of legislation, is a task, we fear, much less easy than important. From the causes to which we have before alluded, added to the complicated interests, the extensive trade, the activity and energy peryading the whole body of society in Great Britain, it is obvious that we should hope in vain either to reduce the body of our laws within a small compass, or to prevent them from accumulating, even if they could be so compressed. Montesquieu observes that the multitude of our laws is one of the prices we pay for our freedom; but there certainly is no valid reason why this necessary inconvenience should be needlessly augmented by haste and negligence in the preparation of them. The discussions which take place in the several stages of a bill, especially in the committee, seem to be excellently adapted for canvassing and thoroughly investigating its spirit and merit, for deciding on its policy or impolicy with reference to the general interests of the country. The rationale of the law (to use a familiar phrase) seems, in this process, to be as perfectly sifted and considered as can be desired; but when this is settled, when the house has arrived at a conclusion on all the principles involved in the law, still there is much of mechanical and technical labour to be performed upon it, in adjusting the form and language of the clauses, in adapting it to the existing law, in making references to former laws, and