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abolition of imprisonment for debt, succession of creditors. This bill on mesne process.
The general authorised the Sheriff to seize question had for some years occu- cash, bank notes, and bills of expied the attention of Parlianient, change; and under the authority and several bills, differing in their of a judge's order, and with certain provisions, had been framed and restrictions, stock in the public discussed from time to time, with. funds would be rendered available out obtaining the final sanction of to the creditor. the Legislature. In the last ses- These, and similar provisions, sion, a bill passed the House of were framed for the purpose of Commons, but at too late a period doing justice to the creditor, by to admit of its discussion in the enabling him, if possible, to obtain Upper House. The Lord Chan- payment out of his debtor's procellor brought the subject before perty. And having effected this that assembly on the 5th of Decem- object, it seemed right to abolish ber, on moving the second reading imprisonment on mesne process of a similar bill. The general entirely. But it then became principle of the measure was not necessary to provide for the event disputed, but so many defects were of the creditor finding no property discovered in its details by Lords within his reach, belonging to the Brougham and Lyndhurst, that it debtor, after obtaining judgment was thought advisable to refer it in an action, though the debtor to the consideration of a select might notwithstanding possess the committee.
means of paying the debt. The It was not until the 12th of latter, for instance, might hold June, that the Chancellor again property in the foreign funds, or presented his bill, as altered and might transfer it to such securities, improved by the committee. In before judgment.
To prevent its original shape, it had embraced fraud, therefore, as well as to imprisonment for debt, in both afford complete justice, it was stages of a suit; namely, execution necessary to secure to the creditor as well as on mesne process. It who had obtained judgment the was, however, the opinion of the right of seizing the debtor's person select committee, that the total in certain cases. The bill, moreabolition of arrest in execution over, authorized a judge on the could not be resorted to without creditor's application, to issue a great danger.
warrant to restrain a fraudulent The Lord Chancellor, in his ex
debtor from leaving the country, position of the measure, stated that before he had surrendered his prothe bill would empower creditors perty. The remaining portion of to get possession of various descrip- the bill was devoted to the retions of property, which were at newal, with amendments, of the present exempt from execution. In Insolvent act, which was on the the first place, it extended the point of expiring. remedy of the writ by elegit to the After
comments from whole of the profits of the estate, Lords Brougham and Abinger, both whereas under the old law, no of whom though commending the inore than a moiety could be taken measure, as far as it went, still under this process, which however thoughtítincomplete, though on difmight be repeated indefinitely by a ferent grounds, the bill was read a third time, and passed. Some altera- and oppressive to the wife. A tions, not affecting its main fea- man who may be drunken, im. tures, were introduced on its pas- moral, vicious, and utterly brusage through the Commons, and it talized, may place his wife in this finally became the law.
dilemma, you shall continue to We may here state that a very live with me, or you shall be deuseful act passed the Legislature, prived of your children. It may in the course of the Session, be admitted that she has just for the purpose of facilitat- grounds for complaint, that it ing 'the recovery of possession would be misery for her to live of tenements after the determin. with her husband, that she posation of the tenancy. It em. sesses her children's affection, and powers any, two justices, at petty that the husband on the other Sessions, in certain cases after hand utterly disregards them; all proof given of the due determin- this may be admitted, but the law ation of the tenancy, and of the sternly refuses to listen to the refusal of the tenant to surrender pleadings of natural sympathies, possession, to issue their warrant and denies to the mother even the to the peace officers of the place, sight of her children.” directing them to enter (by force Certainly it must strike every if needful) upon the premises, one, on a first impression, as an which are unlawfully held over, extremely harsh rule of law, and to give possession of the same which refuses to circumscribe, to the landlord, or his agent. Such under any circumstance of tyranny entry to be made not less than or misconduct on the part of the twenty, and not more than thirty husband the dominion of the days from the date of the warrant. father. But it finds favour with The provisions of the bill, how the lawyers, and Sir Edward Sugever, only embrace premises held den really rose into eloqnence, at will, or for less than a term of when he pleaded against any reseven years, and which are let for laxation of its rigour. This less than 201. a-year, without the learned Gentleman, as well as the reservation of a fine.
other advocates of the existing Mr. Sergeant Talfourd, in the system, resist the claims of the course of the Session, renewed his wife upon grounds almost as reendeavours to obtain a mitigation volting to our feelings, as the sysof that severe principle of our
The true question, law, which while it entitles the say they, to be decided is, whether father to the undisputed custody it be for the benefit of society at of his children, from the hour of large, that the rule should be retheir birth, gives him the further laxed. At present you have a power of debarring the mother, if hold upon the wife, who will conhe chooses to do so, from all com- sent to any hardship, and submit munication with her offspring; to almost any outrage, before she and of compelling her to resign takes a step, that may cost her the possession of them, in case she society of her children. But rehas contrived to obtain it.
move this bond, and ill-assorted “As it stands at present," said couples will fly asunder in every the learned Sergeant " the law is direction, and separations be mulentirely in favour of the husband, tiplied, which the policy of our law, and the genius of our social opened a scene of litigation in system alike reprobate. Maternal familier, which Was perfectly affection is the only guarantee frightful. against such an evil; and is so far The bill passed the Commons, a legitimate instrument for the by large majorities, though it was promotion of public policy, and contested, at almost every stage of domestic morality.
its progress. On the third reading On the other hand, it is strongly the numbers were, Ayes 60 ; Noes contended that the present system 14: Majority 46. is an outrage on human nature, and Lord Lyndhurst undertook to that the policy must be detestable, conduct it through the House of which seeks avowedly to assure by Lords, and moved the second such means the subjugation of reading, on the 30th of July. woman. At the same time, Lord Brougham however exerted it must be allowed, that it is himself as the champion of the not easy to devise a palliative,
far existing system, supported by Lord less a remedy, for the evil. The Wynford. And although the details of the learned Sergeant's weight of the Lord Chancellor's bill were such, as would have authority inclined towards the been difficult to carry into effect principle of the bill, the motion with success. It empowered any for the second reading was rejected of the judges, upon the mother's by a majority of eleven to nine. application, to grant her an order Lords Holland, Lyndhurst, and to see her children. The judge the Duke of Sutherland afterin each instance determining upon wards entered a protest against the affidavits made in the case, its rejection. whether or not this mandate should Another favourite measure of be issued. And any one judge Mr. Sergeant Talfourd's is a promight, in his discretion, vary, or posed extension of the period of repeal the order of another. Sir copy-right. At present, the exEdward Sugden exposed a few clusive property in his works is only of the inconveniences, which vested in the author, or his assigns, would ensue, in the following for an absolute term of twenty lively strain. There would said eight years, prolonged during his he be no end to the litigation over life time, if he survive. Mr. which the judge would have to Talfourd, himself eminent in the preside. . Facts would be asserted literature of the day, proposed to and denied. The friends of the enlarge the term to sixty years. parties would only aggravate the The bill which he introduced for discord. The servants would be this purpose, was discussed with brought forward, one half to swear much animation in Parliament, one way, and the other half an- and excited a lively interest out other way. Incontinence would of doors. In general, it met with be charged on one side, adultery resistance on the part of pubon the other ; and all this on affi. lishers, printers, and bookbinders, davit, without personal, or cross and political economists; while examination of the parties; and men of letters, as might be exthe case might go the round of pected, p essed for its adoption. all the judges in law and in Mr. Sergeant Talfourd move equity. Thus he said the billed the second reading of th
bill, on the 25th of April. His employment ? Had the profits of argument set out with an admission the booksellers failed ?
The conwhich was hardly calculated to trary was notorious. But then it help his case. He said he per
was boldly asserted that authors fectly agreed with the publishers themselves were indifferent to the in the evidence given in 1818,
True it was that the that the extension of time would greatest living writers had not be a benefit to only one author thought it befitting the dignity of in five hundred, and that they their cause to appear as petitioners were then about to legislate for that at the bar. But there were few five hundredth case. Why not? who did not feel the honour of he asked; it was the great literature embarked in the cause. prize which, out of the five hun. Mr. Wordsworth, emerging for a dred risks, Genius and Goodness moment, from his retirement, had win. Granted that only one publicly declared his conviction of author in five hundred attain this its justice. And Mr. Lockhart end ; does it not invite many to had stated his belief, that the total attempt it, and impress on liter- emancipation of Sir Walter Scott's ature itself a visible mark of per- estate from its encumbrances demanence? What was the sug- pended upon the success of this bill. gested injury to the public? That The measure was opposed by the price of books would be en- Mr. Hume, who stated the simple hanced to the great prejudice of question to be, whether a copyright the community. But even sup. of twenty-eight years duration was posing that to be the consequence, a sufficient privilege to induce an if justice required the sacrifice, it author to devote his talents to the ought to be made. The community instruction or amusement of the have no right to be enriched at public ? Every man of talent the expense of individuals. But ought to derive a fair advantage he denied that there was ground from the exercise of his ability for this apprehension. The ex- the inventor of a machine, as well istence of the copy-right would as the author of a poem. And not increase the price of the work, men who made steam engines because whoever engaged the mo- ought to be placed on a footing nopoly would be enabled to supply with those whom it was the object the article at a cheaper rate, when a of this bill to protect. single press was employed to print But, it may be remarked, that all the copies, instead of the presses the analogy here asserted between and establishments of competing literary works and mechanical inpublishers.
vention is evidently false. The But continued the Sergeant, distinction was well put by the similar apprehensions were enter- Chancellor of the Exchequer, who tained in 1813, when the pub- spoke in favour of the bill. By lishers themselves claimed and ob- conferring upon a patentee an imtained an extension of copy-right mortality of his patent, you would to twenty-eight years. Had then be giving him what was useless. the number of books diminished One invention supersedes another since that time? Had the prices with the greatest rapidity, and increased ? Had the printers and what was valuable in 1830, became bookbinders suffered from want of obsolete in 1837. The learned sergeant himself also bad previ- the property of mankind—to acously disposed of this objection, cept, to state, to reason on; and all with some ingenuity of reasoning, that remains in the author is the however florid the garb in which style in which it is expressed. No he dressed his argument. “ In one ever dreamed that to assume a cases of patent, the merits of the position which another had discoinvention are palpable, the demand vered, to reject what another had is usually immediate, and the re- proved to be fallacious, to stand on compense of the inventor in pro- the tableland of recognized truth, portion to the utility of his work, and start from it anew, was an speedy and certain. In cases of invasion of the author's right. patent, the subject is generally one How earnest has been the thought, to which many minds are at once how severe the intellectual toil, by applied ; the invention is often no which the noblest speculations in more than a step in a series of the human mind and its destiny processes, the first of which being have been conducted! They are given, the consequence will almost the beatings of the soul against certainly present itself, sooner or the bars of its clay tenement, later, to some of these inquirers; which, if baffled in the collision, and if it were not discovered this attest at once, by their strength year by one, would probably be and their failure, that it is destined discovered the next by another. to move in a wider sphere. And But who would suggest, that yet the products of divine philosoif Shakspearehad not written phy melt away into the intellecLear, or Richardson Clarissa, tual atmosphere which they enrich other poets or novelists would have and become the dreams and the invented them. In practical sci- assurances of others! So that the ence every discovery is a step to law of literary property of necessomething more perfect; and to sity accommodates itself to the give to the inventor of each a pro- nature of its subject, when the tracted monopoly, would be to shut work is properly a creation, leavout all improvement by others. ing it preserved in its entirety; But who can improve the master- when it is mere discovery, renderpieces of genius? They stand per- ing the essence of truth to manfect, apart from all things else, kind, and preserving nothing to its self-sustained, the models for imi- author but the form in which it is tation, the sources whence rules of enshrined.” art take their origin. And if we Sir Robert Inglis, Mr. D'Israeli, apply the analogy of mechanical Mr. Milnes, Mr. Williams Wynn, invention to literature, we shall and Lord Mahon expressed their find, that in so far as it extends concurrence in the object of the there is really in the latter no bill; contending, that the present monopoly at all, however brief. system did not provide a sufficient For example, historical or critical remuneration for authors. It was research bears a strong analogy to said, indeed, that the necessary the process of mechanical discovery, consequence of extending the peand how does the law of copyright riod of copyright would be a rise apply to the treasures it may re- in the price of books. That, said veal? The fact discovered, the Mr. D’Israeli was an objection to truth ascertained, becomes at once be decided by an appeal to facts.