HC Deb 24 February 1824 vol 10 cc372-437
Mr. J. Williams

said, that in rising to bring forward the motion to which he was about, on this second occasion, to call the attention of parliament, he must observe, that if he thought it could be expected of him that he should produce some plan, on the successful operation of which it became him to pronounce a confident opinion, he could assure the House, with great sincerity, that he would have withdrawn from the undertaking; because, when the extent of the subject was considered, and the period of time during which the evils of the system had been suffered to accumulate, he should look upon that man as rather bold than wise who would attempt to produce a specific remedy applicable to so complex a case. Indeed, the motion which he was about to lay before the House, and the observations he should feel it his duty to submit in support of that motion, rested on a principle directly the reverse. His complaint was, that too much had already been done on the subject of the court of chancery, with too little investigation and inquiry to warrant it. It had been a matter of surprise to him, and a cause of regret to the country, that so far back as eleven years ago, a measure of legislation had passed that House on the subject which he was about to introduce, without any distinct inquiry having been instituted; and he need not remind gentlemen, that now, in another House, a measure was to be found, not in contemplation, but in the actual course of adoption—which measure exposed to the people, in all its nakedness, the harsh and presumptuous proposition, that members of one House, because they were such, were competent to judge of abstract points of law. And it was a question, whether that measure did not nearly affect the constitution of the highest court of this country. If it did, then he said, that the House of Commons ought to exercise a most vigilant superintendance over that measure, instead of remaining tranquil and idle spectators of its effects. Such was not formerly the conduct of that House. Gentlemen must be aware, that in the reign of James the 1st, when there was not such a court of chancery as existed now—far, very far from it—when no measure was introduced into the other House which deserved deep consideration—at that time, accidentally almost, and, as it appeared, from the suggestion of sir Edward Coke, an inquiry into the administration of justice was set on foot. At that period, some dozen of Cornishmen were brought up to plead to a trifling felony; and on voluntary information then given, of an informality, together with a suggestion of the master of the court of wards, who wished that an inquiry, relating to the manner in which judicial duties were performed, should be institued,—on so slight a ground as that appeared to be, on almost a matter of accident, did the House of Commons of that day form itself into a grand committee of justice, and they proceeded with a rigorous and vigilant inquiry into the state of the administration of justice throughout the country, to the no small benefit of the people then, and long afterwards. Gentlemen knew that the chancellor of that day (and he spoke it with grief, when he recollected the splendid endowments of lord Bacon) could not clear himself from the charge of personal corruption—a charge of which, in these times, no human being even dreamed. When the charge was pending against lord Bacon, as it appeared on their Journals, a member reported to the House, that "the chancellor offered willingly to consent that any man might speak freely concerning his court." They did so accordingly, and an inquiry took place, from which few of the legal dignitaries of that time escaped without censure and discomfiture. On such a slender ground was it, that the House of Commons deemed it necessary to form itself into a grand committee of justice—But, at a much earlier period, the House of Commons did not feel it unworthy, of their attention to investigate the cause of the delays which arose in the administration of the justice of this country. In the reign of Edward 3rd, a statute was passed (14 Edward 3rd, c. 5) which set forth, "that because divers mischiefs have happened, for that in divers places, as well in the Chancery, as in the King's-bench, Common-pleas, and in the Exchequer, before the justices assigned, and other justices, to hear and determine deputed, the judgments have been delayed, sometimes by difficulty, and sometimes by diverse opinions of the judges, and sometimes by other cause, it is assented, established, and accorded, that certain persons shall be appointed to hear, by petition, delivered to them, the complaints of all those who will complain to them of such delays. They shall have power to summon the justices to show cause for such delays, and proceed to give relief to the parties aggrieved." This was done at the remote period he had mentioned; because it was felt to be of vast importance to the country, that the administration of justice should be accurately watched ever in all instances.

He might be permitted to remark, that this House had not, in modern times, suffered any measure connected with the jurisprudence of the country to pass without a vigilant and jealous interference. He referred more particularly to what had occurred with respect to a recent enactment, having for its object the formation of a court, in which were to be adjusted the affairs of the most worthless part of the community. He alluded—(according to the scale of morality in the city)—to those who had the least money, [a laugh.] After two distinct reports had been made by committees of that House, and not before a court possessing a certain jurisdiction, certainly ajurisdiction of very trivial comparative interest, was formed for the purpose to which he had just adverted. Nearly at that time a noble friend of his (lord Althorp), not relying on his own personal character—not relying on his well-known talent for business—did not think it proper to introduce a bill, on a matter certainly of importance, but which clearly demanded a distinct revision, without the most solemn and deliberate consideration of a committee of that House, and a report from that committee. It would be for others to decide on the necessity of the proposition he intended to bring forward: but this he would, say, that if this House had not embarked in measures such as he had described, without maturely weighing and, considering every part of the., subject, they could not surely be expected to adopt a different course on a matter infinitely more grave and important. He was not, however, driven to analogies in arguing this question; because it appeared, that inquiry into this subject was the order of the day. He had then before him distinct precedents on the point. It appeared, some time back, to some person or other (no matter whom), that, from the number of appeals which flowed in from a distant part of the kingdom, there must be something defective in the formation of the courts in Scotland, or in the manner in which the laws Were administered. In consequence of this, a northern expedition was fitted out, under the high authority of an act of parliament, and composed of several grave and learned men. This commission was to inquire whether all was sound in the jurisprudence of our northern neighbours; and, by the 4th of George 4., cap. 85, they received the fullest, the most unsparing powers to perform that duty. By that statute "full power is given to persons to be named, to make inquiries into the forms of process in the Court of Session, And the Court of Appeals; and they are directed to report, whether the present forms of process might be improved, by simplifying and shortening the forms of pleading and proceeding, by separating matters of fact from matters of law, &c. and they are also directed to set down in writing such alterations and amendments as shall seem necessary or useful. Power is given to them to call for persons, papers, and records, and their opinions are to be stated, through the secretary of state, to both Houses of parliament." This was a wise and salutary measure, and it was only necessary to be acted on, in our own part of the country, with some little alteration, to produce the most lasting benefit. The alteration to which he adverted was, to substitute other persons in the room of professional men: for, notwithstanding the respect he entertained for the legal profession, he must say, that their love of ancient form was very likely to bias their opinion. He therefore would propose substituting a committee of this House; which was the best tribunal in the country for extended and useful inquiry and investigation, in the place of a body of professional men. The measure, he repeated, was a good and salutary one; and required only this alteration to be perfectly efficient. But it might be said, that what was safe in Scotland was not safe in England; and that although parliament had, on such a subject, legislated as he had described for Scotland, yet the House, in being called on to act thus for England, was placed in I a very different situation. The difference, he contended, was all in favour of the measure he proposed, and pointed out, most imperatively, the necessity of adopt- ing it. Where the evil complained of was not so remote—where it was within their immediate reach—where this great and growing nuisance was rapidly spreading itself over the land—in a case like that, he asked, was the House furnished with such a precedent as to justify it in shutting its doors? Against legislation? No; but even against parliamentary inquiry. It was safe, and prudent, and right, to adopt a measure of this nature on the north of the Tweed; but it was unsafe, and impolitic, and unwise to introduce such a practice south of the Tweed. To such inconsistencies must those be driven, who, if there were any such, meant to oppose his motion. He was not, however, aware that any honourable members meant, that night, to set themselves against inquiry.

He was fully aware of the difficulty of the task which he had undertaken. He needed not to be told, that he was ignorant of the practice and principles of the court of chancery, for he avowed it. Practice in that court, as an advocate, he certainly had had none; experience as a suitor, while he could command the remedy of a pistol, he would never have. [Hear, and a laugh.] But, if the people of England waited until some person came forward, with full experience in the court of chancery, to make the motion which he was now making, he feared that they would have to wait a very tedious time indeed, that they would have to wait until motives of interest should cease to sway the views and conduct of mankind. Judgeships, masterships, commissionerships, attorneyships, solicitorships,—these things danced before the eyes of learned gentlemen, and diverted their attention, and prevented them (he spoke generally) from perceiving those grievances which their clients, nevertheless, were no way prevented from suffering. Now, in spite of all the disadvantages under which he had to come forward, there was one point, at least, as to which no man could stand in a better situation—while he would cautiously avoid stating any thing which he did not fully believe to be true, the facts which did reach him should have utterance as far as he had power.

There was another difficulty which beset the case, as he was to enter upon it, and that was, the manner in which, on a former occasion (and he presumed it was to happen again upon the present)—the manner in which his arguments had been met by the other side. Every succeeding case which he had adduced had been treated as a sort of wonder—as though, for the first time in the hearing of man, he had been stating the fact that there were delays in Chancery as though he bad been broaching some new subject, or producing some startling paradox, to the truth of which no well-constituted mind could possibly give its assent, without the adducement of most multitudinous as well as undeniable evidence. But, was the fact so; or was it fit to act as though it were so? Was every member of that House bound to dismiss his private information, as well as the general notoriety of the grievance under debate? Was it just or right, that he should be met in argument, as though the evil he was deprecating had never been heard of, when complaints of it met us in the courts, in our houses, in our streets; and when there was not, perhaps, a corner of the kingdom, except the House of Commons, in which its grievousness was not felt, and admitted, and lamented?

A third difficulty still he had to struggle with, and he had no hesitation in repeating it, although it had been treated, on his former motion if not as an invention, as an exaggeration, and that was, the difficulty which he found in eliciting facts, and in dragging them to tight. And he declared upon his honour, as a gentleman, standing where he did, in his place in parliament, that this difficulty to which he alluded was most strictly and absolutely true. Practically, as to facts, he had experienced every difficulty; and he would endeavour to put the House into the way of seeing that such was the case. Subsequent to the notice which he had given of bringing on the present question, hearing of a particular case which seemed important to his argument, not as applied specifically to the evil of delay, for this particular case had been brought to a termination rather within a period of twenty years [A. laugh]—but rich in variety of proceedings and expense, and illustrative, besides, of that conclusion—not in chancery uncommon—to wit, that when victory came, it brought ruin along with it. Having heard of this case and its great qualities, he had applied to the solicitor concerned. He had seen him; had stated Ins object; had said, that he meant to use his information in the House of Commons, and that he should feel himself entitled to detail, if not the particulars, yet the result of their then conversation; and the effect of the conference had been, that the solicitor refused papers, and politely declined making any communications upon the subject. In another case, a portion of which he should have to state to the House,—a short time subsequent to the last motion, which he had had the honour of making to the House, he had met with a solicitor—a man of perfect respectability—who said (as he was informed indeed in all quarters) that he had been extremely unfortunate in citing cases, and that he might, without difficulty, have obtained some which were greatly stronger and more striking: and, as a proof, had proceeded to give him the details of a case certainly most signal for the time of its duration, as well as for the number of attendances in it. He had not been able to read the whole case at the time to which he referred; nor even if he had read it, could he be expected now to remember the circumstances; but since he bad given: notice of his present motion, he had applied for the details. Doubts in the mean I time had arisen, either with the solicitor or the client; and the very facts which in the first instance had been offered to him freely, the parties were no longer inclined to supply. He would start; another instance to the same effect; for, on his side the question, single facts were not sufficient. During the last Christmas holydays, he had happened to be in a neighbourhood where there was a single woman who had a small fortune locked up in chancery, and who pending the proceedings, was reduced to great distress. The case was a case pretty generally known. He had heard of it prior to the time to which he now referred; and had Called upon a solicitor, whom he knew formerly to have been engaged in the suit. The gentleman applied to recollected the case and spoke of it; but, "although it is very bad,' said he, "it is nothing at all compared to another that I have;" and then proceeded to detail this new case—all the urgencies of his client—the great distress in which he had been plunged—and the anxiety with which he himself (the solicitor) had in vain endeavoured to get judgment. Now, at the time of the conversation in question, that solicitor had his papers, and was willing to give them. It happened that he (Mr. W.) had been professionally engaged at the moment, and therefore unable to take them. He had recently written to the same party for the papers, and was told, that since their interview, he had taken time to deliberate; and, on consideration, must decline to give any further information. There was another case which he should have to adduce to the House, and imperfectly, from a want of the necessary information. In this last case, the solicitor admitted the grievance. He even was not unwilling to give the particulars; but, though not unwilling, he was afraid. He said—"If I give these papers, I shall become a marked man—I will not say in court, but certainly in the surrounding offices, and my business will be traversed and impeded." He called the attention of the House to these facts; not so much from a desire to vindicate his own character as to the truth of the assertions which he made—though that he might be allowed to wish should stand well with the House and with the country—as from a wish to convince honourable members, that information upon the subject, really was withheld, whenever he had suggested that the information which was denied before the House, he could command before a committee. The respectable body of solicitors put him in mind of an observation which Mr. Burke had applied to another class of individuals—"They are like cats, who will not put out their electric light until they have their backs rubbed." The degree of attention, whatever that was, which it might be necessary to bestow upon these gentlemen, before they would give out their lights, would be best, as well as most pleasantly, he thought, administered to them before a committee.

He should now come to those facts, and documents, such as he had been able to collect them, to which he trusted more than to any statements, for support in the measure he proposed; but first, in answer to some observations made at a former time, he wished to ask a single question. If, with his ignorance of the business of the court of chancery—that ignorance which justly was attributed to him—he had been able to bring before the House those facts which were contained in the papers upon the table—if he, with his ignorance, could make out any thing like a case before the House, and (what now began to be material) a case before the country, how crying must the evil really be, and how much more glaring would it have appeared, if the subject had chanced to fall into the hands of persons of real information and experience? The first document to which he desired to refer was, the return upon the table, containing an account of the number of appeals and re-hearings, from the time of the appointment of the vice-chancellor in 1813 to the close of the last year. He saw that the paper embraced the years 1813 and 1823; whether it took in the whole of those two years he was notable to state. Now, what did this return prove? There was a list of causes amounting to 168 or 169. A small number, three or four, had been withdrawn, or struck out by the consent of the parties concerned. The causes before the vice-chancellor, amounting to 84, were to be deducted. This number was nearly one half of the whole, that was to say, 85 was as nearly as might be, the number of efficient causes in ten years; and, supposing that to be the estimate, the appeals had been in the proportion of eight and a fraction in each year. He had stated on a former occasion to the House, that the business of the court was in "admired disorder"—that it was difficult always to say of any business when it would come on—that this was the cause of great expense and waste of time—just, in fact, as any private individual, who had suffered his accounts to run into arrear, found it difficult, if not impossible, to transact business with regularity. If hon. gentlemen would turn to the third page of the return upon the table, they would find, that after making deductions for causes struck out and withdrawn, there were twelve effective causes left upon the whole. Of these, there were three that averaged seven years old, from the date of presenting the petition to the time of the order; three which averaged six years; and three which averaged about two months. Now, on what principle, when there were 104 appeals on the paper of the chancellor—on what principle, except by some disorder in the general arrrangements of the court, did he find a cause of nine years standing by the side of a cause of two months? And yet such was the case, according to the paper which he held in his hand. Indeed, looking through the list, instead of any thing like good order or regularity of arrangement, he found nothing but disorder from the beginning to the end. If the House would take an account, it would find, that in nineteen cases no order appeared to have been drawn up by the suitors, even after it had been pronounced by the court. This was independent of cases settled by the parties between themselves, when they were driven to compromise by the despair of coming to any conclusion. No. 39—third page of the return—was the case of "The Attorney-General v. Brooke." The history of this case was curious, and it was yet one of the least of the examples which would be produced. It was heard before the lord-chancellor after an interval of six years, and his lordship decided it as to the merits, but took time to consider as to the question of costs; and during that time no order could be drawn up. For two entire years constant applications were made, term after term, for judgment; and, at the end of that time, the parties compromised, despairing of obtaining any judgment at all.

He had thought it right, since, without facts, and abundant facts, he could do nothing, to bring before the House an account of the business of the two last terms, with reference to original causes, appeals, and re-hearings, which were precisely the subjects to which the returns on the table would apply. He was happy to say, that as regarded original causes, appeals, and re-hearings, he could state precisely that which had been done. First, there stood the case of "Wienholt and Logan," which had been heard, but upon which no judgment had been pronounced. Next, there was the case of "Nunn v. Agutter," again heard and no judgment pronounced. Then came, "The Attorney-General v. Mansfield," in which, upon hearing, an opinion had been intimated, but the question of costs was reserved, and therefore to the present moment there was no order drawn up, nor could the case be disposed of. "Cox v. Lord Somers," this was a case of re-hearing; it was heard, but no judgment given. "Powell v. Monchett,"—this was a case of appeal; this was heard in part, but no judgment pronounced. So that, except with respect to the case of "the Warden and Fellows of Christ College, Manchester," which did not take up half an hour in argument and opinion together, except in that case, not a single final decision had been given.

But, besides these circumstances, he was able, and he felt pleasure in being able, to state to the House, the number of times exactly in which these causes had appeared in the cause paper; for every time of which the solicitor in the cause was, before hearing, entitled to a fee of 13s. 4d.; and from the hearing, downwards, he and the clerk in court, to a fee of 1l. between them. It would be worth while to listen to the expense which this arrrangement, or this want of it, had led to. The case of "Wienholt and Logan" had been in the paper fifteen days. "The Attorney-General and the Corporation of Bristol" was an appeal lodged in October last; it had been twenty-four days in the paper, and not touched at all. "Campbell and Ward" was an appeal lodged in Easter term last, and had a precedency over other suitors, which he did not understand; the precedency, however, went only as far as the paper, where it had appeared fifteen days, and had not been touched. "Powell and Monchett," heard and not decided, had been twenty days in the paper. And so far for the effect of documents, the statements of which he believed would be found to be authentic, and which, as regarded the mere unnecessary expense which they showed affected the suitors in chancery, would be sufficient, he submitted, to warrant a revision of the arrangements of that court. Not that he meant to rest, however, upon these general expositions; because he knew it might be said, and, what was more, that it would be said, "that there was no delay, no inconvenient delay; no expenditure, no unnecessary expenditure." Indeed, there was nothing at all that he knew of which could not be declared, and with a certain degree of weight and authority, provided the speaker stood in a right position in the House. The assertion became not a matter upon which reason and consideration was to be exercised, its truth or falsehood became a question merely of locality. And, therefore, while he felt that from some quarters, very little indeed would be taken to amount to proof, he himself, standing in the wrong situation, could venture no proof even, which was not well authenticated.

To come, then, to the citing of cases, in doing which he might seem to be somewhat dilatory; but it would be recollected, that he had to contend with both situation and argument to bear him down. The cases which he should produce would, the weakest of them, he believed, produce great effect; upon the whole, they would be imperative for a complete and a speedy change of system. He should begin, then, with the case of "Dudley v. Freeman," and endeavour, as briefly as possible, to state the fact? of it to the House. In the year 1783, a person of the name of Keeling made a will in favour of the children of a gentleman of the name of Freeman (Freeman, the defendant, being the eldest of these), and died. The plaintiff Dudley was heir at law, and trustee to the will; and, in the year 1784 (Keeling having died in 1783), he filed a bill in chancery, to execute the trusts of the will. In the year 1787, a decree confirming the trusts of the will was passed; a receiver was appointed; and the present defendant, Freeman, was allowed for several years, first 100l. a year, and afterwards 200l. out of the proceeds of die estate. In the mean time, a doubt had been expressed, in a certain quarter, as to the validity of the limitation under which the defendant, Freeman, took; and Dudley hearing of that doubt, in the year 1812, filed a petition for the purpose of reviewing the decree of 1787. That petition was put upon the file in 1812. From 1812 to 1818, nothing whatever was done in it. In 1818, the matter, according to a point of form, which he had no doubt was correct—no judgment was given, on the ground that a petition was not the regular mode of proceeding. In 1819, however, a bill of review was filed. In the Lent of 1821, the question was argued in court; and, between that time and the summer of 1823, judgment was called for repeatedly without effect. The defendant's whole expectations depended upon the result. The property consisted of 2,000 acres of land, and an accumulation of 20,000l. in money, which he had reckoned upon from his birth. At this time 1823, he was in a dangerous state of health, in consequence of irritation, uneasiness, and hope deferred. Certificates were sent by physicians stating the urgency of the case. The feeling was so strong, that even magistrates of the county in which he resided—[he, Mr. Williams did not say that this proceeding was correct, but it had been resorted to]—had made remonstrances which were shown to the counsel in the cause; and at last, after an immense number of attendances, time after time, upon appointments to give judgments—he (Mr. W.) had applied to the solicitor in town for the number of these attendances, for the original attorney in the country had been literally worn out in the cause. [Hear, hear.] The thing was so. Men would die, and suits in chancery would survive. The town solicitor had refused to name the precise number of attendances; but he could state with confidence, that there had not been less than forty; a gentleman who was concerned in the cause had told him, that he had himself attended not less than sixteen specific appointments for judg- ment. In the mean time, such was the anxiety of the client in the country, that he had urged his solicitor, over and over again to undertake special journies to London (incurring immense expenses in this way, which would not, on taxation of costs, be allowed by the master) in order to hear the case when these notices of judgment had been given: but the attorney came and waited, and lingered, and, as he had come so he returned again. At length, on the 4th of June last, 1823, a motion was made in the House of Commons, on the subject of delays in the court of chancery. The debate was adjourned; and on the morning of the 5th, an intimation was given at the sitting of the court as to judgment in the case of "Dudley and Freeman." The judgment was given in one sentence—given without reasons stated, and appealed against; but eventually the parties, like wise men, agreed to compromise their difference. This, then, was the extent of the case of "Dudley and Freeman."

The next case with which he would trouble the House was, "Lord Moira and others v. Wyatt and others." This was a bill filed by lord Moira and his trustees against the defendant, as the commissioners under the Charnwood-forest inclosure act, and the question turned on the construction of a clause in that inclosure act, as to the liability of lords of manors to contribute towards the expenses. The bill was filed in 1814, and the question came before the court of chancery in January, 1817. Sir Samuel Romilly and another learned gentleman were counsel for the defendants. The case was very fully argued on both sides, and the court after expressing an opinion in favour of the plaintiffs, at last concluded to take the papers, and consider of judgment. The cause rested until 1819, when, in consequence of a determination of the commissioners to make their award, counsel were instructed to apply to the lord chancellor for judgment; and the answer to this application was, that the papers in the cause were lost. This intimation, that the papers were lost, was actually the answer received from the regular officer. Fresh papers then were furnished, and fresh preparation was made for fresh argument. The lamented sir Samuel Romilly being dead, and the other counsel in the cause having left the court, it was found necessary to appoint fresh learned gentlemen: and the matter was again discussed. In this state things rested until the year 1820, when the solicitor in the cause received the intimation that the lord chancellor would take the act of parliament home with him, and give his judgment on the morrow; but never did the parties that morrow see !" The parties could not move; the motion only respected the construction of the enclosure act, and all that was required was the award of the commissioners; yet, in fear, or rather in utter despair, of ever obtaining the judgment of the counsel, they came among themselves to a compromise. This could not be called justice; and therefore they could not be wrong in terming it the failure of justice. The very ground, the only ground, upon which the parties had any reason, to submit their cause, was neglected by the tribunal; all the expenses were wasted; the proceedings were absolutely null and worthless.

The next case to which he wished to call the attention of the House, was one in which a gentleman, to whom he was perfectly well known, was interested, although, as the case respected domestic concerns, he should decline mentioning the name of the individual. He did not suppose that any one would suspect him of invention; but lest it might be supposed that he was exaggerating the circumstances, he took the opportunity of saying, that the gentleman in question had authorised him to refer any hon. gentleman to him, who wished to be still more extensively and accurately informed with respect to the facts. The gentleman in question married a lady whose misfortune, for it certainly was not her fault, was, that in consequence of some of the provisions in her father's will, a portion of her property was lost to her, unless redeemed by the interference of a court of equity. This gentleman, like all other gentlemen, he believed, who married—but of this subject he (Mr. W.) could not pretend to be so good a judge as his hon. and learned friend opposite—took the lady for better for worse. The lady was certainly the better part of his acquisition in marriage, and the suit in Chancery was the worse, or to use the superlative degree, which it most richly deserved, the worst. A bill was filed for account, an answer was put in, and there was a decree. The proceedings began to move at this juncture with miraculous rapidity. The gentleman was a person of very competent understanding: he had friends in the profession of the law—he had a near relation who was a counsel, and he possessed no inadequate knowledge of the subject himself—he had all the advantages which his friendship and alliance with professional men could give; and although it seemed as if he would have no great time to abide in chancery, yet, with the perspective before him of a report from the Master's office, exceptions to the exceptions, appeal to the chancellor (probably after an appeal from the vice-chancellor, or the master of the rolls), appeal from the lord chancellor to the House of Lords, record remitted back again for another examination in the Master's office, ditto repeated as to appeal; and so on—rather than risk the chance of all this, the gentleman, as well acquainted with the subject, and as intelligent as any gentleman could be, and with the most friendly and powerful advice which any gentleman could command—from the mere dread of delays, did assent to a compromise, by which he deliberately abandoned one half of his claim. It was impossible to name a case which more clearly illustrated the practical merits of the subject upon which he was speaking.

The next case which he should submit to the attention of the House, in further illustration of the difficulties which he had experienced in prevailing on individuals to furnish him with facts respecting cases the general merits, though not the details of which, were known from one corner of the kingdom to the other, related to a case on which, in the answer made to his (Mr. W's) motion on the subject in the last session of parliament, he was asked by an hon. and learned friend for an explanation of some particular circumstances. The party to whom he applied for information respecting it, was in the profession of the law, but not in practice. It was to be supposed, therefore, that he would be exempt from any undue influence. He was applied to for information at his (Mr. W's.) request, but he declined furnishing him with the facts of a case, the general merits of which a learned friend of his had communicated to him long ago. As he was in the profession of the law, he did not wish to name him. Having thus declined to give any information, he (Mr. W.) had called upon him and urged him personally on the subject, but to no purpose; for the individual in question still distinctly declined to make any communication with regard to the facts of the case alluded to. At length, having pressed the matter upon him—having shown him that he (Mr. W.) was in possession of the principal proceedings in the case, and having proved to him that he was not competent to withhold the information which he possessed respecting it, this gentleman very reluctantly mentioned the facts; not, however, until he (Mr. W.) had pledged himself to abstain from using his name, except any hon. gentleman should suppose that those facts were not authentic, in which case he was authorised to refer such hon. member to the gentleman whom he had described, for personal confirmation. The case itself was an action brought on an annuity-bond in the early part of the year 1817. Soon afterwards a bill was filed by the defendant at law, for relief against the bond. A very short time before the summer assizes of 1817, a motion was made by the defendant at law, the plaintiff in equity, to stay the trial; which motion was refused on the ground of the near approach of the assizes; but an injunction was granted to stay execution. The trial came on in the summer assizes of that year. The plaintiff obtained a verdict. Early in the following term the plaintiff at law moved the court to dissolve the injunction. In the course of the term, the merits were discussed at length, and the whole argument distinctly heard—that is to say, the grounds upon which the injunction was granted were argued and finally decided The matter stood for judgment that term, and there it stood for some time after. How long did the House suppose? For three years and a half. Frequent applications were made by the counsel for judgment on the injunction. Meantime the papers were lost and found again. After the expiration of three whole years and a half, judgment was given for the plaintiff at law, on the ground that there was a legal defence, of which the other party might have availed himself at law. His opinion was against them on the point, but he would not send a case for argument. It happened that one party, an obligee in the bond, in the course of those three years and a half, became bankrupt, and so did the other a few months after the injunction was dissolved, and the loss to the plaintiff, giving only a reasonable valuation for the annuity which thus failed him, could not be less than 10,000l. There was one consideration incidental to this case, which deserved more attention than he could at present stay to give it— that consideration went to the constitutional right of interference in the jurisdiction assumed by this court. If it had been stated in 1817, that there was no legal ground for the injunction in equity, and the argument upon that question had been completed, why was the injunction granted at all? Was it forgotten that there was an express statute of Edward 6th, which provided—"that no matters determinable by the laws of the realm, shall be determined by other course than that of the same law in the king's courts having determination of that law." Was it not a necessary and indispensable averment in every bill filed in equity, that the petitioner was without remedy at law? Why should this court assume domination over the courts of common law, against the authority and decree of parliament, and when that common law was declared, in so many ways, to be of sovereign authority in the realm? This, however, was matter of too high import for him to deal with. He would, therefore, conclude his remarks upon it, by saying, that if the delays in chancery which were allowed on all hands to exist, were in any measure owing to this straining exercise of the jurisdiction, the sooner its powers were altered the better, both for the interests of individuals, and the character of the jurisprudence of the country. It was perfectly monstrous for a court to be allowed to interpose its authority, and usurp the power of deciding, to the exclusion of another court, possessed of much better knowledge of all the facts whether legal or circumstantial. He confined his objection to the use of that power in which the court of chancery itself admitted, as it had done in the case last cited, that the party had a legal defence, and dismissed the case, after considerable delay, on that very ground. The gentleman of whose sufferings he had thus spoken was affluent and sensible also, and contrived to avoid the worst effects which might have fallen upon him! but no thanks to the court of chancery.

The next case was one to which he had alluded already; the facts had been voluntarily stated to him. He must, of necessity, confine himself to a partial statement of them, unless, his hon. and learned friend on the other side (Mr. Wetherell)—whose appearance in his place, whether his appointment were attributable to general or special grounds of favour, gratified him very much—would condescend to assist him with more details. The case was that of "Cobb. v. lord Mountford." The mo- tion was of an interlocutory nature, one of those modes by which the court continued to please and tease its suitors. The matter got into the paper in the shape of exceptions, though the original was a bill filed for account, in the year 1812. It was heard in 1815. As many applications were made as his hon. and learned friend opposite might choose to admit; but his memory must have suffered a wonderful damage from forgetfulness, if he could not state enough to surprise the House. In the years 1813, 1814, 1815, and 1816, there were not less than forty. Two of the exceptions were at length disposed of; the other remained to this hour undetermined, and in the mean time judgment was deferred. But this did not touch the body of the case, which was hung up on this interlocutory matter down to this year, 1824; and there perhaps it would hang until another and more serious day of judgment should arrive.

The last case to which he would refer, he should have to go into at more length, as it seemed to him to be the most complete illustration of all the questions which he had brought forward. The case was that of "Copis v. Middleton." In 1703, a bill was filed for an account of the estate of Nott, deceased, and praying that certain land, with a windmill, should be included and distributed accordingly, on the ground that it had been fraudulently conveyed by Nott without consideration. In 1796, there was a decree for an account. The matter then went into the Master's office, and there it remained. How long did the house think it remained there? what would they think of nineteen years? [Hear, hear.] In 1815, by great good luck it found its way out again. Not that he would have it understood, and he was anxious to save his hon. and learned friends opposite the trouble of arming themselves with unnecessary objections, that there was any particular urgency used to bring the matter on. He did not impute any part of this delay to the persons—the cause slept merely because it was in chancery, where time was of little or no account, and where the ignorant people would persist in saying and believing that there was a great deal of delay. By the way, if his motion were rejected, and if it should be resolved, that nothing ought to be done, he would make a suggestion which would perhaps be more worthy of the attention of the house; namely, to have a flapper appoint- ed to the court, whose duty it should be to awaken the causes from time to time—say, every three, five, or seven years—or according to any other division of time which should be consistent with the feelings of the court. In 1815, the Master made his report, to which, of course, there were exceptions brought. In 1818> they were heard, and part of the question, as to the body of the cause, namely, as to the conveyance of the land, was decided. The exceptions were handed over to the high court of chancery. But time, which passed so easily in the court of chancery, was performing its usual operations out of doors: the windmill, which was part of the subject in contention, felt its influence. This windmill passed out of existence—it only lived in history—it was to the cause what Troy was to the Iliad—it was for ever gone. Should the diligent traveller seek for it, he might, by zealous assiduity, discover the place where it once stood. But, while the learned brotherhood were waging their wordy warfare about it, in 1818, it was level with the ground, and not worth the paper used in struggling for the right to it by the sagacious combatants. It was not from him that this representation came—though, of course, it could be nothing but the ignorance and folly of poor deluded wretches which could bring them to say that there was delay in chancery—it was a cry from people out of doors, who knew nothing of the beauties and excellencies of the chancery jurisdiction! The ignorant people of Chichester had, however, said as much; and they had framed a caricature, in which they had contrived to throw ridicule upon the court of chancery, through the medium of this very windmill. He had seen the caricature. The right hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Huskisson) had represented the people of Chichester, in 1814,and could say whether or not they were ignorant, very ignorant—or whether they were purely Bœotian. They were certainly, however, not altogether without invention. They had represented the windmill in utter decay, with emblems of the causes appended, which referred to the proceedings in chancery, and underneath was written "Adhuc sub judice lis est" [a laugh]. The right hon. and learned gentleman had produced this very caricature in the court, of chancery, which gave no small elucidation to the arguments for delay and postponement, together with their consequences, which obtained in those courts.

This was, however, only the first act of the tragi-comedy. He begged the house to observe, that he advanced nothing which had not for its basis arithmetic, and the accumulation of stubborn and undeniable facts. He would now proceed to give them a specimen or two from the taxed bill of costs which he held in his hand, and which had been authenticated by a sufficient tribunal; and he would particularly beg the House to pay attention to the circumstance, that the bill of costs related to exceptions, which were merely interlocutory matter upon the fringe, as it were, of the cause; and the items which he proposed to read, for the greater part occurred after the argument, in waiting for the judgment. It commenced in Hilary term, 1817. "July 6,—Attending court, exceptions in the paper, 10s.; July 7, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, the like, with 10s. each time; July 21, the like, when the exceptions were fully argued, and the Chancellor reserved his judgment, 1l.; term-fee and letters, 1l. 1s. 8d." There was a due proportion of fees to counsel, who were equally busy in seeing that nothing at all was done in the cause. Then came "Refresher to counsel to get judgment—attending him; the like to another counsel;" and then, (this was in Michaelmas term, 1818), "To very many attendances in court this term to get judgment, when the lord chancellor frequently promised it but postponed his judgment. Term-fee and letters, 1l. 1s. 8d." "Easter term, 1819: Term-fee and letters, exceptions in the Register's book for judgment. No proceedings in the cause, 1l. 1s. 8d.; attendance in court, 2l.;" and this was all that was done in this term; and so the client got over the other terms, in 1819 and 1820, until Easter term in 1821. ["And very cheap, too" said a voice from the ministerial benches.] Very cheap, indeed; he was surprised to find the patient escape so easily, it seldom happened in that court he believed. "Easter term, 1821.—It being absolutely necessary that the lord-chancellor's judgment should be obtained on the exceptions to the Master's report, which judgment had been standing over from July 1818, drawing brief to counsel to bring his lordship's attention to the matter, two sheets." "Attending court, when the exceptions were mentioned, and the chancellor said he would give his judgment on the 7th, the first seal after term. Attending accordingly, when judgment was postponed to the second seal, 19th instant—19th, the like, when judgment was further postponed." "21st, the like"—"22d, the like." "Letters—Term-fee in the case." "Trinity term—Attending court—judgment mentioned. Many attendances in this term, when judgment mentioned, but deferred." "Michaelmas term, 1821—Attending court, when the chancellor promised judgment, term-fee, and letters." And so it went on through Hilary, Easter, and Trinity term of 1822, and not one step nearer the judgment than before. "Michaelmas term, 1822.—Attending court, when chancellor having said he wished the merits to be fully argued on both sides again, case fully gone into—13s. 4d.;25th. exceptions mentioned, judgment postponed." "Easter term, 1823.—Refresher to counsel to get judgment on the exceptions; many attendances in court to get judgment, when chancellor, on mentioning, postponed the same—term-fee and letters—no other proceedings in the cause." "Trinity term, 1823. Refresher to counsel to get judgment; attending court, when chancellor solemnly promised his judgment on Thursday next." "Attending accordingly, when judgment further postponed to Tuesday, 1st July." "July 1, attending court, when judgment given, and exceptions allowed." [Cheers] Thus, for five entire years, on the exceptions alone, were these parties tied up at an expense of not less than 200l., this being all upon the fringe of the main case,—mere interlocutory proceedings, which left the question as to the principal matter untouched. This was the second act of the piece: the third remained for some time, he would not say how far, distant. Up to this period, no step had been taken to get the fund out of the court. What was the reason? Whose fault was it? Time was the offender. Was it miraculous that people should die, and that others should come after them who would forget all feeling of interest in it? The good people of Chichester must have some notions of this kind, or they must indeed be more Bœotian than the choice of their representative would lead him to believe. They naturally thought, that if the beginning and middle act had taken up thirty years, it would be only dramatic for the next to take up another fifteen years. And thus they reached a proximate probability that the whole fund would be speedily swallowed up in that Charybdis of chancery the Dead Fund. And yet the simple people would talk of delay! Who was it that could be so blind and malignant as to mention delay? Undoubtedly, there could be no delay in chancery! At all events, there was a resting place there for the suitor, from which he could look down and dwell in reflection upon the delightful situation in which he stood. But no, there could be no delay—there were no emanations from that court but those of equity, of persevering and unfailing prudence, of wisdom, and of the most righteous justice!

To touch the question more earnestly, let the House consider well the cases upon which he had dwelt. Let casuistry elude—let bold and sturdy assertion overturn—those statements if they could. For himself, he declined all credit which the House might be disposed to place in his integrity or his judgment, resting all, as it concerned the motion, upon the bare facts. He had been warned, in a most emphatic manner, of his signal ignorance upon the subject. He had acted with becoming circumspection. He had taken extraordinary pains in grounding his observations on sufficient truths. Here he stopped. He would not aggravate the demerits of that ignorance with which he had been justly reproached, by proposing for a remedy any scheme of his own; and, in plain sincerity, he could not undertake to advise any thing, even though he should be asked, without having in the first place heard the arguments and suggestions of all parties, and without the use, afterwards, of the best lights which could be brought to clear the subject. A committee was the measure which, of all others, was most likely to meet with the views of all parties. The first attention of the House undoubtedly should be given to that question which had been touched upon by the hon. member for Midhurst last night (Mr. J. Smith), namely, the stamp duties on law proceedings. Let them but consider what was the amount of the practical evil resulting from that grievous load laid upon the transactions of justice. He would give them one criterion to guide their judgment, taken from the issuing of decrees from the Registrar's office. It was well known to the professional gentlemen about him, that the mandatory part of a decree, as it would also be found in the returns now made to the house, was compromised in a very brief compass, and that, too, in cases which were of extraordinary extent in the pleadings. But, by the practice of the court, the copy taken from the register recited all the previous proceedings. So that he knew of one particular case in which the decree was set forth in ninety-four sides, most of which must have been idle verbiage, as six only were relative to the mandate of the decree. For the whole of the matters in question were stated, in the first instance, in the bill and answer, and were already on the records of the court. Lord Kenyon, when he rebuked a party once for introducing surplusage into an instrument, said that every word cost the suitor a shilling. It was literally true that every folio containing ninety words, cost him a pound. Every one of these sides must be furnished to the victorious party, which, with the whole expense of exemplifications and copies, amounted to a considerable grievance, and was a very common subject of complaint. If the hon. member for Midhurst thought it advisable to introduce a motion for the reduction of stamp duties, on law proceedings let him proceed boldly, nor dread that he would be left in a feeble minority. The complaint of the charges in the Registrar's office had sometimes been met by an assertion, that their high amount was caused by the stamp duties. He had, however, been informed, and he believed his information was correct, that the charges for proceedings in the Registrar's office were in general nine times as much as the stamp duties; for that they were charged at the rate of 3s. per sheet, while the stamp duty was only 4d. per sheet. He had been furnished with the particulars of one case which he would mention here as illustrative of the enormous amount of the proceedings in these offices. It was in the cause of "Chinnery and Chinnery," where the widow of one of the parties was his administratrix, and was admitted by all the parties concerned to be entitled to a sum of 45l. This sum, although the cause, as related to her was entirely at an end, she was advised by her solicitor not to receive it, because the expenses which must attend her pro curing an order for it would far exceed its total amount. And yet, with the knowledge of such facts as these, they, were fearlessly told, that there was no grief, no suffering, no delay in this court. He did not, however, upon this, any more than upon the other topics, pronounce any opinion: he only submitted, that it proved the necessity of an inquiry.

The next subject he should proceed to was what occurred upon a report from the Master's office. When a decree had been pronounced by the court that an account should be taken, the object of it was, that the master should inform the court of the exact state of the property which was the subject of the suit, and particularly when it happened to have belonged to a party deceased. What the court wanted was this accurate account, not a statement of all the proceedings that might be taken in the Master's office. But, instead of such an account, he was credibly informed, that the report contained, not only what was the total amount of the deceased's property, but a voluminous schedule made out by the executor, beginning with the most valuable part of the property, and proceeding with a most absurd minuteness, down even to a pair of slippers. This schedule was frequently of enormous bulk; it was required to be sworn to, and the expense of the report, increased by this means, often amounted to ten, twenty, thirty, and even fifty pounds. The only effect of this multiplication of statements, totally immaterial and irrelevant, was, to vex and delay, and burthen the suitors. He wished not at this moment to express any opinion upon this practice. He had no doubt the masters might find it a convenient mode of discharging the duty imposed upon them by the court, and they would continue to do so until the House or the country should think fit to interfere. To expect any reformation in this and similar practices, they must begin with the court itself. To suppose that it would be effected without any such interference, would be a theory more vain than that notable folly of the hair-brained knight, who fancied that his squire would scourge himself to death as soon as his back was turned. The country must wait till he knew not what time, if they waited until a reform in the practice of the court should be begun by the court of chancery itself. The next inconvenience to which he wished to call the attention of the House, was the time which had been wasted in the Master's office. He did not state this without authority in black and white; because he knew well the disadvantageous consequences which must attend a contradiction here (whatever effect it might have elsewhere), if any such could be given. It seemed that the warrants granted by the masters in chancery were somewhat similar to the judges' summonses at law. It was the practice of the Master's office frequently to issue four of these sum- monses in an hour. It often happened, that there were four or five solicitors concerned for the various parties in the causes in which these warrants were issued; and if they all attended, the jostle and bustle which ensued, and the wordy warfare which sometimes was on the point of assuming a more practical shape, from those who were quarrelling for the pre-audience, rendered the time allotted to the business of the warrant inadequate for disposing of it. Thus, though the attendance, upon these warrants, was often totally unprofitable for the client, it was not so for the solicitors, who never failed to charge, as they were entitled, for their attendances. When he spoke of the profit of the solicitors, he wished, for the sake of that respectable body of men, to be understood, that he did not suppose they had any interest in preventing the correction of the abuses of which he complained. Every man knew that they were called upon to make very heavy advances in the earliest stages of the causes, for office copies of the several proceedings, and fees to counsel. The longer, therefore, the decision of the causes was protracted, the longer they would be kept out of their money. This must be the cause of one of two things, either it must be supposed, that the solicitors were content with the pleasure of working for nothing, or that they made themselves amends for the postponement, by charging to their clients more than the strict rules of the court would permit. If it could be supposed that they were so scrupulously, so romantically honest, beyond all belief—even this was no reason why they should be thought anxious to support this system of delay; and, for his own part, he thought it just and necessary to explain, that it was by no means his intention to impute to the solicitors of the court any sinister inclination to favour that system.

Having thus treated some of the details, he should proceed to the leading subjects, and those of a more general nature, which, the further they were investigated, would prove still further, the necessity of an inquiry into and a remedy for them. "Not," to use the words of the late lamented sir Samuel Romilly, "a remedy at the suggestion of official persons, and the friends of the ministers, as in the case of the appointment of the vice-chancellor; but a remedy to be prescribed by the universal opinion of all men, and an inquiry at which the information of all who were able to afford it, in every branch of the profession, should be brought to bear upon the question." He now came to a subject, the very name of which was truly ominous, the Dead Fund. That fund, it seemed, amounted to 1, 200,000l. It was true, that what had hitherto been done with respect to this fund had been done under the sanction of an act of parliament; and although it could not therefore be now undone, there was no reason why it might not be more justly treated in future. He understood the claimants were, in many instances, ready to come forward. It was not like the unclaimed dividends at the Bank, where persons in possession of stock died without having communicated that fact to any of their friends, and it was therefore impossible to find out the persons really entitled to the property. In the case of the Dead Fund, the claimants generally knew very well what they were entitled to; but, as in the case of Chinnery, they were so traversed and thwarted by the delays and expenses of the court of chancery, that they relinquished in despair the attempt of preferring their claims, awed by the difficulty of establishing them. This, then, it would not be denied, was a matter which deserved the most deliberate consideration—whether it would not be expedient to adopt some mode by which relief might be given to these claimants. It was a duty which the government owed almost to common honesty, that a public notice should be given to the claimants that they might know what remained to be divided among them.

Again, on the subject of the proceedings in bankruptcy. Numerous representations had been made with respect to separating his jurisdiction in this respect from the lord chancellor's duty. There was this reason for it among others—that it was of comparatively modern origin. He knew it had been stated by that lamented individual to whom he had before alluded (sir Samuel Romilly), that it had commenced with lord Hardwicke. It was true the statute upon which the interference of the lord chancellor in matters of bankruptcy was founded, passed in the reign of Henry VIII., and its powers extended by a statute of queen Elizabeth; but it appeared, that no chancellor had ever exercised the power given by those statutes, until the time of lord chancellor Nottingham. From the latter period, during the offices of three chancellors, there were not twenty instances of any interference, up to the time when lord Hardwicke became chancellor, The statute of George II. was then passed; from that time the practice began, and had been continued until it had reached its present marvellous extent. If, therefore, it were true, as had been so often stated when complaints were made of the delay of the proceedings in chancery, that the court was too much loaded with business and overdone, how necessary was it that an inquiry should be made, without loss of time, into the expediency of severing this jurisdiction from the other powers of the chancellor?

He now came to the subject of the appeals in chancery. By a fiction of the constitution, every individual of the House of Lords, where these appeals were made, was supposed to possess a sufficient portion of legal knowledge, to make him a competent judge of the matters which the case appealed against contained. That this was a fiction of the coarsest description, could not be denied; and, like every other fiction of this description, the further it departed from the truth, unless the result answered the purpose for which it was invented, the more flagrant was the absurdity which it created. As the lord chancellor was, generally speaking, the most learned law lord in the House of Peers, as well as one of the most ancient and weighty, the appeal was, in truth, to the lord chancellor there, against a decision pronounced by the lord chancellor in some other place. His hon. and learned friend had formerly talked of this system being an appeal from Caesar to Cæsar; but it rather was, if he would allow him to change the expression, an appeal from Philip to Philip. Now, in the appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober, there was some reason; because that monarch, although he was when drunk remarkable for the most brutal cruelty and rage, was, when sober, an example of wisdom and moderation. But, if the appeal had been from Philip sober to Philip sober, it would then have been a most marvellous absurdity. With respect to the operation of the system, it had been by no one more correctly described than by the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Canning), who had said, that it was dragging the patient twice through the same sort of discipline. It appeared that when the vice-chancellor was appointed, there were 141 causes in the paper; in the last year there were 109; and now there were 104 appeals set down before the lord chancellor. So that little good seemed to have been done in the way of despatch, by the exertions of the last mentioned officer. If this, too, was the proportion of causes, it might reasonably be asked, why the intermediate appeal could not be spared, and the causes at once carried to the House of Lords. Upon this point, also, he repeated what he had said before—that he did not wish to express his own opinion, but he urged it upon the House as an additional reason to those which he had before stated, for the deliberation and inquiry which he thought was demanded.

Another material point which he would mention was the expediency of separating the lord chancellor's political from his judicial character. In the first place, it was highly injurious to the public, that when that noble and learned judge for the time being had before him the consideration of all the interest of the community, as a judge, he should be called away at any hour, however inconvenient, to assist at the public councils, and decide upon the interests of the nation in gross. Interrupted thus, as under the existing system every chancellor must be, in the midst of an argument, let his attention and his memory be what they might, forgetfulness must ensue; and not only time and money would be lost, but perhaps the interests of the suitors might be still more seriously injured, whenever the judge should come back again to resume the argument which had been interrupted by the pursuits of avocations, and the consideration of subjects so entirely different. But this objection lay upon the surface, he would go deeper and would ask, if that unmeasured panegyric which had been bestowed upon a certain part of the constitution were deserved, how it could be denied, that the political and judicial character of the lord-chancellor ought to be immediately separated? It had been often said, that the effecting the independence of the judges was the consummation of human wisdom. Now, if this were so, and he did not deny it, for what reason, he asked, was it that a principle which applied to all the other judges, should not be made also to apply to the first judge of the laud? For what reason should not the same careful protection which had been extended to preserve the independence and reputation of other judges, reach also to that judge who, as he thought unfitly, continued to unite with the character of a judge, other duties which were not compatible with it. Let however, wiser men decide upon this point. He only suggested the matters which he thought called for deliberation and inquiry; and that these were absolutely necessary was all that he had undertaken to say.

He was now about to bring to a close the observations with which he had troubled the House. He had endeavoured to avoid, as much as possible, the objections which, on a former occasion, had been urged against him. It was then said, or if not said it was intimated, that he had drawn all his information from the same source—that his facts all came from one single office, or as, in compliment to his hon. and learned friends latinity, he would call it, officina. Now, he could assure the House and his hon. and learned friend, not only that he had none from that office, but that he had no two papers from the same office. When, on a former occasion, he had thought fit to mention the name of that noble and learned lord who, for the last quarter of a century had ruled over the law, and (as his hon. and learned friend, the member for Winchelsea said, and was but feebly contradicted) over the politics of the country too, what he had said met with a very strange reception. On the one hand it was contended, that he need not have gone at such length into detail; on the other it was said, whenever he bore testimony to the talent and learning of that noble and learned lord, that it was with some sinister intention—that his compliments were designed to cover the sting which lay, like the point of an epigram, in the tail. His hon. and learned friend, then the attorney general, now the noble and and learned lord Gifford, had told him not to suppose, that any compliment of his could add to the well-earned fame of the lord-chancellor. He had therefore resolved to be cautious on the present occasion, and not to incur a similar rebuke. From the commencement of his speech until the present moment he had cautiously abstained from paying any such compliments, as well as from mentioning that noble and learned lord, further than was incidentally necessary; nor did he intend to do so in future. If, therefore, the same sort of dexterous tactic should again be played off upon him by some honourable gentlemen, it would not have the merit of novelty, nor the excuse of being founded on fact.

As fat as he had been able to understand the bearings of this question he could not understand what objection could possibly exist, to afford the inquiry which he asked for. In the first place, to take the supposition that this inquiry, which the country was entitled to have, and which it would demand, had been granted; and that upon such inquiry it had been found, that the machinery of the system of the court of chancery was perfect, but that the agency was faulty; then the most satisfactory conclusion would have been arrived at, for it would be much easier to change the men, than to alter the system. But if, on the contrary, it should appear that the machinery alone was imperfect, then another inquiry must be proceeded in, as to the causes of that imperfection; and, these discovered, then all the wisdom of the legislature must be directed to the task of providing a remedy for them. If then, it should be found, that although the imperfections were known to exist, it was impracticable to approach them so nearly as to alter them, every man would have a reasonable and solid cause for patience, and must bear as well as he could, the evils for which no remedy could be prescribed. If, on the other hand, this should be denied, and an attempt should be made to shut out all inquiry, solely for the purpose of screening the court of chancery, that court would gain nothing by such an attempt in the estimation of the country, and the House would lose in it infinitely. But, allowing that the noble and learned lord who presided in that court was well entitled—and for aught he knew, he might be well entitled—to all the encomiums that had been so plentifully bestowed upon him on former occasions, he would beg the House to permit him to put one question to them. If under the management of a man so perfectly wise as the noble and learned lord was represented to be, such bitter proofs of delay and expense had been produced, what must the system be that had given birth to them? Let him ask them also to consider in what a luckless condition would the people of England be, if, without any amelioration, this system should be handed over, at some remote period, to a chancellor of inferior talents and virtue—since all men could not be the best? It would be seen that the more the present agents were extolled the more the system would be depressed; and this consideration furnished the best ground for inquiry—this was the foundation of his motion.

When he had brought forward this motion last year, he had been told, among other things, that it was at too late a period of the session: he had remedied this fault now, by bringing it forward thus early, and that, too, at a time which was more particularly convenient for its discussion, on account of the absence of all pressure of other public affairs. Not that he meant to say that this subject ought, for its importance, to yield to any other, but that, as the chief business of gentlemen since the commencement of the session had been to contemplate each other, there could be no reason why this question ought not now to be entered on. The people of England everywhere thought, and did not fail to express that opinion, that they had a right to call for an inquiry upon this topic. Would any honourable gentleman who had constituents deem it expedient to gainsay this right? The labours of that House, to which the people were entitled, could not be better spent than in such an inquiry. He was not, however, sanguine enough to think, that because so many, and such powerful reasons existed for it, it would therefore be entered upon; but he knew that if this was not the day on which the inquiry would be obtained, that it was not very far distant; and he had no doubt that if the House now refused it, they would be compelled ere long to grant it. He was perfectly aware how inveterate were the habits, how robust the prejudices against which this motion had to contend. He knew too well how often, and by what sort of men, this attempt had been made before, and had failed, to suppose that he should now succeed, to the extent to which it was entitled. He bore in mind that the most powerful and resolute man this country ever produced—he could mean no other than the protector, Oliver Cromwell—had, as it appeared by Whit locke's Memorials, caused a petition to be presented to the parliament, praying "that speedy consideration might be had of the great oppressions, by reason of the multiplicity of unnecessary laws, with their intricacies and delays, which tend to the profit of some particular men, but much to the expence and damage of the whole." And yet this attempt, made by this man. when he was at the zenith of his dominion, and in days when lawyers were fewer, and lord-chancellors not so powerful, was made in vain. He inferred his failure, as he (Mr. W.) was inclined to think, not to any defect in the grounds upon which he proposed it, but to the character and quality of the resistance which was made to it. He might suppose Oliver to have said, "I have met my king in the field, and have conquered him; the church I have new modelled, and cast at my pleasure; the people I have kept down, and still hold in subjection; and yet these—lawyers"—Cromwell did not perhaps use the epithet which he meant to have bestowed on them, because he was too great a hypocrite to swear—"these lawyers can baffle me; against them all my attempts are abortive, and by them alone I find myself defeated." The hon. and learned member then, thanking the House for the patience with which they had heard him, concluded by moving,

"That a Committee be appointed to inquire into the Delays and Expenses in the Court of Chancery, and the causes thereof."

Mr. Secretary Peel

said, that in rising to offer a few observations upon the hon. and learned gentleman's motion, he was fully aware of his total inability to follow him through the various details into which he had gone. He should therefore leave it to his hon. and learned friends near him, if they so thought fit, to enter into the legal points upon which the hon. and learned gentleman had touched; and to account, if they could account, for the delays which had taken place in cases with which they were not acquainted. But, in his view of the case, it was not necessary to enter into all those details in order to form a competent judgment upon the question [hear, hear! from the Opposition]; or if it was necessary to enter into such details, then a due notice ought to have been given, in order that gentlemen might have come prepared to enter fully into an inquiry of the cases quoted. But, as this was a subject which had for some time occupied the attention of the king's government, he thought it right to put the House in possession of the views which his majesty's ministers entertained upon it. And, in doing this, he begged to assure the noble lord, by whom he had been already irregularly interrupted [hear, hear! from the Opposition benches; but we know not to what noble lord the right hon. Secretary alluded], he assured that noble lord, that it was not in his competence to prevent him from doing so. He had already expressed his determination to avoid following the hon. and learned member through all his details, and would therefore come at once to what he conceived to be the main points of the question which the hon. and learned gentleman had advocated with an ability and a moderation which did him the highest credit.

The main points for inquiry were the delays which arose in the process of the causes in chancery; the cause of those delays; and the remedy, or preparatory inquiry to be entered into. The hon. and learned gentleman had told them, that when delays and expenses in the court of chancery had been complained of on former occasions, gentlemen on his (Mr. Peel's) side of the House had risen, and in a tone and manner which the hon. and learned gentleman said he had seldom seen equalled, denied the existence both of the one and the other. Now, for himself, since he had had the honour of a seat in that House, he remembered no such denial. He did not mean to deny that great delay had taken place in the discharge of business, and that great hardship was the consequence. He readily admitted, in answer to the first question put by the hon. and learned gentleman, that the delays that had taken place were attended with many grievances. He admitted the fact, although it would seem that the hon. and learned gentleman expected a different reply. He admitted the fact without hesitation, because, as he contended, it went to prove, that the delay, which was not denied, was not to be imputed to the lord chancellor, or to any individual as matter of crimination. He could adduce for it other causes, which would demonstrate to hon. gentlemen, if they would give him their attention but for a very short time, that the delay was to be attributed to an increase of business in the court of chancery, with which, under present circumstances, no intellectual and no physical strength could entirely cope.

Having admitted the delay, and being, indeed, quite unable to deny it, his next object, would be to prove that the cause to which it was to be traced was the enormous increase of business, of which he spoke. If any body would compare the amount of business in the court of chancery at this period with its amount of business sixty or seventy years ago, he would find (without any very minute information upon the matter) that, à priori, the presumption must be, that the business of the court had immoderately increased. In truth, it was impossible that the population of the kingdom should have increased in the ratio it had done, that it should have about doubled since the year 1750, without causing a vast addition to the business of chancery. Could any body deny that that addition was mainly owing to the increase of population? Let the House look also at the increase which had taken place in the same interval of time in funded property, for example (a species of property that, he was informed, peculiarly induced an augmentation of the business of chancery), and they would find it to be in proportion to the increased population. Now, from the peculiar nature of suits relative to personalty, funded property originated many more suits than property that was real. Undoubtedly, then, the fair presumption was, that since the time of lord Hardwicke, sixty or seventy years since, the population of the empire had so increased, as of necessity to increase the business of the court of chancery. Let the House observe how that presumption was fortified and confirmed by some details that he would very briefly submit to them; and, seeing that the hon. and learned gentleman had dwelt so much and so forcibly on the importance of figures and facts, when he called the attention of the House to those details into which he had so largely entered, and by which he had excited so much merriment in the House, he hoped the House would show so much fairness to him, in his turn, as to listen attentively to a few facts, by which he proposed to establish the position he had assumed.

And, first, he would take "an account of the orders made upon hearing lunatic petitions," during three separate periods. It should be observed, that he proposed to take his data from documents that were already laid before the House. They were appended to the reports made by a committee, appointed by their own House, for the purpose of inquiring into these matters. It was very well known, that a highly important part of the business of chancery arose upon discussions on lunatic petitions. During the chancellorship of lord Hardwicke, from 1737 to 1746, the total number of orders made upon lunatic petitions was 484. During a similar interval of ten years, the number of similar orders made by lord Eldon, from the year 1801 to 1810, was 1,139, being an increase of more than double, as contrasted with the first of these periods; for it was in the proportion of nearly 1,200 to 500. But, in the ten years elapsing between 1814 and 1823 the number of orders upon lunatic petitions made by lord Eldon was no less than 2,531; so that the present lord chancellor had made five times the number of orders that lord Hardwicke had made in a corresponding term of years. Now, it was to be remarked, that he was not so much instancing this as a proof of the quantity of business to be transacted in the court of chancery, as in the way of accounting for the delay that had been imputed. When the hon. and learned gentleman imputed delay to the proceedings of chancery, he had said, indeed, that he meant no attack upon personal character. But he was very sure that the hon. and learned member would not deny, that his object in calling the attention of the House to the various papers and statements that he had read was, that the House might draw this inference; namely, that the delay in question was actually attributable to his noble and learned friend at the head of that court. [Hear, hear, and expressions of assent from Mr. Williams.] The hon. and learned gentleman said, "to be sure;" if "to be sure" was his answer, he (Mr. P.) could only say he felt the more gratified in his position, that the business of the court had increased to an enormous extent. "Appeals to the House of Lords" had created another very important duty, which had devolved upon the lord chancellor. In the ten years, from 1750 to 1760, the number of these appeals was 170; in the ten years from 1760 to 1770, their number was 272. In the ten years from 1801 to 1810, they actually amounted to 492; so that the number of appeals from 1801 to 1810, a period of ten years, was equal to the number of appeals heard in the whole twenty years, that elapsed between 1750 and 1770.

Now, another very heavy branch of duty was produced by the number of commissions of bankrupt, upon the issue of which it was for the lord chancellor to determine. From 1770 to 1779, the average number of these commissions of bankrupt was 709 in each year; from 1790 to 1800, they increased to the number of 1,000 annually; but, during the last twelve years they had augmented to 2,000 per annum; that was to say, that comparing the two periods, 1790 to 1800, and 1810 to 1822, they had doubled during the latter: and thus another proof was furnished of the enormous increase of business in the court of chancery, and especially of that which was to be performed by the lord chancellor. But he now turned to another head of business, and this was connected with "the number of bills filed, concerning orders made, &c" and it appeared that there were filed, in the year 1800, 1,445 bills; in 1820, 2,071; in 1823, 2.27; thus showing, again, an increase in 1823, as compared with the number in 1800, of nearly double, in the number of bills filed in chancery.

Another most important thing to be observed in this part of his statement, and a matter to which he craved the most serious attention of the House, was the amount of property belonging to suitors lodged in the office of the accountant-general. In the year 1740, the total amount of balances, in money, in stock, and securities, in the hands of the accountant-general of the court of chancery, was 1,290,000l. In the year 1820 these deposits amounted to 34,000,000l.. Now, in respect to the extraordinary increase in these sums of money, he well knew it might possibly be argued, that the very amount of monies in the hands of the accountant-general was one effect of the delays of chancery. He was aware that this argument might be used by the gentlemen opposite, though it might be very difficult to ascertain what portion of' such monies was accumulated by delay, and what was attributable to the growing wealth of the country. With a view to elucidate this subject, he would select different periods of 20 years each, and he should prove, that it had been the tendency of events to double these sums in eachsuccessive period. Beginning, then, with the year 1740; it seemed that in that year the amount in the accountant-general's hands was 1,290,000l. In the 20 years ending 1760, it had increased to 3,000,000l. In the next 20 years, ending 1780, it had doubled, and more than doubled, what it was in 1760, for it was 7,000,000l. Now, for the increase of these sums during these periods, the present lord chancellor was certainly not responsible. But, between 1780 and 1800, they were augmented from 7,000,000l. to 17,000,000l. From 1800 to 1820, they had increased to 34,000,000l.

Now, surely he had brought conclusive proof of the proposition that he had been endeavouring to establish; namely, that, from whatever cause, the increase of business in the court of chancery, of late years, was too great for human strength to cope with. Taking the five criteria which he had assumed, lunatic petitions, orders, bills filed, appeals, and bankrupt commissions, he thought it impossible to deny, that during the present chancellorship the business of chancery had increased four or five fold. When delay, therefore, was imputed to the noble and learned lord who presided over it, the House was bound injustice to him, and on every principle of common justice, to compare the quantity of business which had devolved upon that noble and learned lord, with the quantity transacted by his predecessors. When he considered what were the claims upon the attention and time of that noble and learned lord, and what was the severe nature of the manifold business that he had to perform, he did hope that it would not be attributed to the feelings of private friendship and respect, that he entertained for that noble and learned lord, but that the House would give him credit for a sincere and dispassionate declaration, when he protested, that he was astonished, not at the quantity of business that was left undone by his noble and learned friend, but that human ability and strength could effect so much. Let them only consider this fact—that in the course of ten years there had been presented to that noble and learned lord 2,000 bankruptcy petitions annually, and it was really annoying to reflect upon the thousands of commissions that he had to issue. When a man considered the amount, extent, and importance of the different matters that had been enumerated, let him ask himself, how it was possible for any one individual to get through such a multiplicity of business? But, let honourable gentlemen look at the attendance of the lord chancellor in the House of Lords. On this point he would cite two cases only, the Berkeley and the Roxburgh peerages. What was the nature of the noble and learned lord's attendance in the Berkeley case? The committee of privileges in the House of Lords sat, in one year, upon the Berkeley case for sometime, from 10 o'clock till four every day. The number of days upon which, in that single case, the noble and learned lord was called on to attend was 34. The Roxburgh case required of the same noble individual 36 days' attendance for the hearing; the appeal lasting 44 days altogether: so that two cases alone called for the lord chancellor's attendance on no less than 70 days. What was his noble and learned friend to do? How was he to conduct himself on such occasions? Was he to refuse his attendance in the committee of privileges, and to withdraw himself? And if he duly attended his duty in the House.

Lords, was it matter of surprise that delays should arise in the proceedings before him in the court of chancery; or was it to be imputed to him that lamentable and injurious consequences sometimes ensued to suitors on that account? He had been informed upon good authority, and indeed by Mr. Cowper (a gentleman well known, for his intelligence and experience, to all who were in the habit of attending in the House of Lords), that in the Roxburgh case one counsel alone had occupied the Lords—how many hours did hon. gentlemen suppose? When they blamed the noble and learned lord for delay, they were bound to inquire whether it was not just possible, that counsel might have some share in producing that delay. [Hear.] He observed those cheers, and well knew that he was at present placed in something like the situation of Oliver Cromwell, who confessed that he had found quarelling with lawyers a somewhat dangerous engagement. But, when delay was charged elsewhere, be it known that a counsel, whose name he really did not know, had occupied the committee of privileges in the House of Lords—not eighteen minutes, as some might suppose,—nor for eighteen hours, as others would anticipate,—but for eighteen days. Incredible as the fact might seem, it not only appeared upon the minutes of evidence taken before the House of Lords, but it rested upon the information, also, of their officer, Mr. Cowper. If there was any mistake in the statement, not only Mr. Cowper but the Minutes were in error.

What he had now stated, appeared to him to amount to a complete vindication of the lord chancellor, as far as related to the question of delay on his part, and to demonstrate that such was the present state of business in the court of chancery that it was impossible for abilities, however great, or a constitution, however strong, to bear the fatigues which the country imposed upon the individual who presided over it [hear]. He was pro- ceeding step by step, and was always glad in the course of an argument, to hear how far those to whom he might happen to be opposed concurred with him; and he therefore hailed the cheers that proceeded from the other side with pleasure. If gentlemen on the opposite side would admit, that what he had stated was a complete vindication of the hon. and learned judge, he would admit to them, that they had made out a case of complete justification for inquiry and consideration, in respect to his court. It was quite impossible for him to deny, upon a review of all that had been said as to the constitution, the proceedings, and the delays of the court of chancery, that the time was now come when the whole of these matters should be thoroughly inquired into. In the course of the last session, the attention of the House of Lord had been drawn to the state of the Appellate Jurisdiction; and in the result of their inquiries, the Lords had come to the same conclusion at which he had arrived. The words of their committee were, "There is now a manifest impossibility that any person holding the great seal can find the time that is requisite for the execution of the offices of Lord High Chancellor and of Speaker of the House of Lords, and for the transaction of all the other business incidental to those high offices." With a view of remedying the evils that were occasioned by the state of the Appellate Jurisdiction, the committee in question recommended, "that a committee be instituted for the purpose of inquiring into the forms of proceeding observed in the Scottish courts of justice." That committee was formed; and he would only say of it, that it had terminated its labours with great success, and had given great satisfaction to that part of the country to which those labours were more immediately addressed. In the concluding part of their report the commissioners entered into an explanation of the state of business in chancery. Many important alterations, upon this important subject, were then noticed as having been suggested; but they concluded their report by declaring, that they could form no decided opinion upon these matters; acknowledging, however, that many recommended especially, the removal, from the business of the lord chancellor, of lunatic and bankrupt petitions. They stated further, that all these were points of such great importance, that they would recommend their being maturely consi- dered. Since the time when this report was prepared, the attention of the lord chancellor himself, he was authorised to say, had been directed to the same subjects. It was stated in the report, that the orders made by former chancellors, as to the practice of the court, were then under consideration. It was, indeed, then intended to ascertain which of these were most conformable to the present practice, and when these should be submitted, the Lords would determine upon such alterations as it might be deemed most expedient to propose.

Now, having stated thus much, he was further prepared to say, that his noble and learned friend had himself recommended the adoption of some alterations. That noble and learned lord had advised, that a commission from the Crown under the great seal should issue, for the purpose of considering and inquiring into the present condition of many important matters connected with the court of chancery: that it should examine into the state of its jurisdiction, and into many of the points to which the proposed committee of the hon. and learned gentleman was to address itself. Indeed, into all of those with one exception only. That was, the political powers and the political character of the lord chancellor—a point which he (Mr. P.) considered to be a great one, and such as neither the hon. and learned gentleman's committee, nor the commission that had been just adverted to, was properly competent to discuss. Sure he was, however, that the hon. and learned member would agree with him, that to divest the lord chancellor of the political duties of his office, would be to do an act that ought not to be determined upon, except upon the gravest and most careful deliberation. He was equally sure that the hon. and learned gentleman would bear in mind, that this objection to the investment of the lord chancellor with political and judicial powers, had not always been felt, even by those who thought and acted with that hon. and learned gentleman. This extreme objection to the union of political and judicial functions, in the case of a late noble and learned lord who once presided over the criminal jurisdiction of this country (lord Ellenborough), had undoubtedly not been felt even by the hon. and learned gentleman himself. Without meaning to apply any thing like the argumentum ad hominem to that hon. and learned gentleman, he would only say, that in the case he alluded to, the objection really did not appear to have operated with some members who might now maintain a different principle.

But the hon. and learned gentleman proposed that a committee should inquire into the expenses of the court of chancery, and into its delays and the causes thereof. He had no hesitation in saying, that he believed very great benefit might be derived from such inquiry. The hon. and learned gentleman had entered into the details of a case of great hardship; but it was possible that very objectionable forms might have been once used that were not now in practice. The hon. and learned gentleman had found a case in which a bill in chancery consisted of 90 folios, six only of which, he said, were relevant, and the other 84, he observed, might well be dispensed with. Now, he had no difficulty in stating his belief, that the reduction of those 84 folios might be an important matter, not only in point of justice, but also in point of economy. Upon the subject of that fund which was called the "dead money" fund, the hon. and learned member had asked, why should not the accountant-general of the court of chancery give, from time to time, an account of the monies in his hands, under these circumstances, on the same principle that the Bank of England published at stated intervals an account of unclaimed dividends remaining in their coffers? Really, without understanding any thing about such matters, practically, and speaking only as an unenlightened man without experience, he should say, that the hon. and learned gentleman's suggestion was a proper one; and, indeed, he only claimed to reserve his opinion upon it, upon a ground which the hon. and learned gentleman would not dispute, namely, lest any thing should arise that might induce him to think differently upon the expediency of such a proposition. He had as little difficulty in declaring, that he thought the whole proceedings of every suit in chancery, from its institution to its termination, ought to be narrowly watched and exactly traced; and that every stage (of course he was speaking prospectively) ought to be accurately considered, in order to see how far the business might be expedited and the expenses retrenched. Great benefit undoubtedly might result to the public from such a course of observation. As to the bankruptcy petitions, they formed a part of the lord chancellor's duty which was not constitutionally inherent in his office, but had devolved upon him by act of parliament. On this topic, he admitted that the lord chancellor had too much business imposed upon him, and that the object of the commission which he had alluded to ought to be to inquire what part of that business could properly be abstracted from him. Upon this subject, it was of importance to notice that a great difference of opinion had prevailed among legal men. The late sir Samuel Romilly had differed from the hon. and learned mover, as to the propriety of continuing to the noble and learned lord the jurisdiction in bankruptcy cases.

As to the inquiry proposed by the hon. and learned gentleman he had no objection to its being instituted, if it were in-trusted to the most competent authorities. As to the constitution of such a commission, he well knew how difficult it was for a man to divest himself of his own particular prejudices; and therefore, perhaps, the hon. and learned gentleman, would suppose, that his (Mr. P's) only object was, to defeat his motion for a committee. He meant, however, to declare his own conviction, that a commission might be issued to inquire into the subject, and that it would answer the purposes of the public much better than a committee of that House. That commission might be directed to persons who, from the habit of their lives, were peculiarly fitted to execute its objects—to the judges, to the high practitioners of the law, and to those who had retired from the judicial seat—to lord Redesdale, and sir William Grant. [A laugh.] He did not see why his mentioning the names of lord Redesdale and of sir W. Grant should have excited a laugh. He observed the dissent expressed by the hon. and learned gentleman; but that hon. and learned member was not in a situation to see the sneers that had been occasioned by the mention of those names. After retiring from their high situations with the universal approbation of their fellow countrymen, if these enlightened individuals could be induced to form part of such a commission, much benefit might the country expect from the experience of those who had retired with such honour from the judgment seat. If to these were added some of the senior masters in chancery, could it be doubted that such a commission would be better qualified to consider such grave matters, than any committee of that House which the hon. and learned gentleman could propose? Now it was precisely such a commission that the lord chancellor had advised the Crown to appoint; and he (Mr. P.) should support it, because he believed that it would be more effectual than any other. Dealing in perfect candour with the hon. and, learned gentleman, he would tell him that such a commission as he (Mr. W.) had now proposed, and had last year proposed, would have the semblance of a crimination of the lord chancellor; and he for one would oppose any motion that should seem to criminate a judge who had presided for two-and-twenty years in the court of chancery, with so much honour to himself and benefit to the country, as the present lord chancellor had done.

Having said thus much, he would abstain from observing on the political character, and the great abilities of lord Eldon. He knew that he would not be entitled to much attention, were he to speak of him in a political sense. The House would remember that they had nothing to do, upon the present occasion, with the political character of the noble and learned lord. His judicial character alone was under their consideration: and in that capacity the noble and learned lord was, according to his judgment, entitled to the gratitude of the country. No man had ever been more exposed to the most base and unmerited obloquy than the lord chancellor had been. He (Mr. P) well knew, that the spirit and the principles of men of honour would prevent that nobleman's warmest opponents in that house from giving their protection to such calumnies; but misrepresentations of the most unjustifiable nature had been made in quarters which the lord chancellor could not possibly notice. He had been described as a man realizing enormous emoluments, and resisting every attempt at a reform in the court over which he presided, by which those emoluments might be in the most distant manner affected. Never was a charge more unfounded than this brought forward. As to the profits of the chancellorship, they might be large, but, would any man in the country say, not upon views of a private nature merely, but upon the highest reasons of state, that such an officer ought not to be splendidly paid? The fact was, however, that, during the last three years, the average produce of the lord chancellor's whole emoluments had not amounted to more than 12,000l. a year. Surely none of the hon. gentlemen opposite would grudge to the laborious discharge of such various and heavy duties such a remuneration to the lord chancellor of England! Let them only think of what vast importance to the state it was, that a man should be tempted to remain in such an Office, and relinquish that private and more extensive emolument which in another situation, he might realize. The economy which would seek for a diminution of the lord chancellor's income, would be a miserable economy. When any proposition had been made to relieve the present lord chancellor from any part of the duties of his office, he had always proposed that the person selected to discharge it should be paid by himself, individually. What charge, then, could be more unjust than the one which had been made; seeing that the lord chancellor had directed, that the salary of these deputies should be deducted from his own income? Contrary to his lordship's wish, parliament had determined that only one half of the vice-chancellor's income should be provided by the chancellor; but this half, a sum of 2,500l., was annually taken from his lordship's purse. When such base insinuations were thrown out against such an individual, the public had an interest in becoming acquainted with facts of this nature. Not long ago the office of the Secretary of Bankrupts was newly regulated, and, like the Bank of England, it had been previously allowed a certain number of holy-days; but the lord chancellor, with a view to the dispatch of public business, and for the benefit of suitors, had insisted that the office clerks should attend every day. It became, therefore, necessary, that they should be endowed with additional emoluments; and, from what funds did the lord chancellor of England provide them With a disinterestedness never known before under such circumstances, he had furnished them from his income;—a sacrifice which, in three years, amounted to 13,000l. paid to public individuals for the discharge of their public duty. It had been stated, moreover, upon authority which if now alive would give the statement the widest contradiction, that the lord chancellor invariably despatched lunatic and bankrupt petitions, because he derived emolument from their despatch. Now, the fact was, that though the nature of these cases at all times required the utmost expedition, he received not a sin- gle sixpence for despatching them. He was now occupied in hearing a bankrupt petition. He knew not how many days the hearing had lasted; but this he knew, that the lord chancellor's fee upon it, was 12s. 6d. and, was 12s. 6d. a fee that was to induce the lord chancellor of England, to commit a manifest injustice, by taking a bankrupt petition out of its course! The calumnies which he had noticed, he knew were not sanctioned by the hon. and learned gentleman who brought forward the present motion, nor by those who supported him. The hon. and learned gentleman admitted the integrity of the noble and learned lord; but the charge from the hon. and learned gentleman was, that the decisions of the court of chancery were attended with delay, to the prejudice of the suitors of that court. To that he would reply, that if there could be found an individual highly gifted, who had filled that high, arduous, and responsible situation for more than twenty years; who, to unrivalled talents, to profound and varied knowledge, had united unspotted integrity and honourable fame; if such an individual could be found, to the honour of his profession and of his rank, he should think, that in the eyes of the House, the recollection of his virtues, and of his honourable labours, would obliterate all minor faults—if any such could be brought home to his door. His faults, if he had any, proceeded from an anxious and conscientious desire to promote the best purposes of justice. In whatever way the question was viewed, it must be acknowledged that— E'en his failings leaned to virtue's side; and the unwillingness of the lord chancellor to pronounce judgment, not unfrequently, perhaps, arose from a knowledge, that the effect of it would be, to raise one family to prosperity, and to inflict ruin upon another. Allowances ought, in mere charity, to be made for human infirmity, even if the delay arose in a few cases from constitutional defect; and, into the opposite scale should also be thrown the ready admission of all parties, that the individual in question possessed as many high talents and as much spotless integrity, as had ever adorned the legal profession. Not only did these delays arise from the enormous mass of business, to which he had already referred, but they were produced sometimes by other causes. It was true, as the hon. and learned gentleman had said, that the lord chancellor was sometimes called away from his court, and that a promised decision had sometimes not been pronounced. He could state instances in which the noble and learned lord had been called away from the consideration of causes in the court of chancery to attend to business of a different description. He (Mr. Peel) himself had frequently been the occasion of withdrawing the lord chancellor from the court over which he presided, to attend to the Recorder's report; on which it was the duty of the lord chancellor to give his advice to his majesty. The noble and learned lord was in this manner very frequently prevented from the contemplation of equity causes to the consideration of those cases in which were involved the question of life or death. It had fallen to his lot to send to the lord chancellor at the rising of his court, to inform him, that on the ensuing morning his majesty would receive the Recorder's report, containing, probably, forty or fifty cases. On proceeding from the court of chancery, the noble and learned lord would, as was his uniform practice on such occasions, apply himself to the reading of every individual case, and abstract notes from all of them; and he (Mr. Peel) had known more than one instance, in which he had commenced this labour in the evening, and had been found pursuing it at the rising of the next sun. Thus, after having spent eight hours in the court of chancery, the noble and learned lord often employed twelve or fourteen more in the consideration of cases which involved the life or death of the unhappy culprits. If, in consequence of the various duties which the lord chancellor was called upon to execute, some delay should arise in the proceedings in chancery, could it be imputed as blame to the individual, when it was known that his whole time was devoted to the service of his country? If, indeed, it were the disposition of the lord chancellor to indulge in pleasures and idle amusements, he might justly be blamed for the delays which occurred in his court; but when, as was really the case, that individual had for a period of two-and-twenty years, denied himself every indulgence, shunned every pleasure, and secluded himself from the society of the world, in order to devote his whole time to the performance of his public duties, it would be the most unjust thing possible to make it matter of crimination against him, that he was not able to compass the whole of them. He would admit, that no considerations of personal feeling ought to prevent the House from doing what it considered proper to be done, with regard to the question which had been brought before it; but, on the other hand, when he recollected the speeches which were made last year, he could not, notwithstanding the moderation of the hon. and learned mover on the present occasion, get rid of the impression, that the motion before the House was a continuation of that of last year, and that such would be the inference which it would draw from the proceeding, and he therefore called upon the House to reject it. He was perfectly satisfied that if the House did so, the country would confirm its decision. The people of England were not ungrateful to those who had served them. When the House recollected, that the individual whose conduct had been made the subject of discussion, had for two and twenty years, administered justice in the highest court of the country; when they recollected, that he bore the honoured name of Scott, which, notwithstanding the temporary obloquy which had been cast upon it, illustrated as it was, b}' the services of an Eldon and a Stowell, would shine conspicuously in the judicial annals of the country, he trusted that they would testify their confidence in his talent and integrity, by rejecting the motion, which had been brought forward; and he was convinced, that the people of this country, would be generous, and just enough, to acquiesce in the decision of their representatives. [Hear].

Mr. Abercromby

said, that he would not have presented himself to the notice of the House, but for some observations which had fallen from the right hon. gentleman who had just sat down. He begged to offer his sincere congratulations to his hon. and learned friend upon the success I which had attended his efforts; but the congratulations which he wished to offer to the public must, in consequence of what had fallen from the right hon. secretary, be subject to some qualifications. The right hon. gentleman had said, that it was the intention of his majesty's ministers to have proposed the appointment of a commission, whether the present motion had been brought forward or not. That declaration having been made, he was bound to give credit to it; but he was sure that the public would attribute the institution of any inquiry into the proceedings, of the court of chancery, with a view to their amelioration, to the un- daunted zeal and to the distinguished ability of his hon. and learned friend. The determination to which his majesty's ministers had come would be regarded by the country, in no other light than as a capitulation at the opening of the second campaign. He was desirous of making a few observations with respect to the commission which was about to be established, because the right hon. gentleman had assumed a proposition the correctness of which, though he did not deny, he very much doubted; namely, the inability of the lord chancellor to perform all the functions of his office, as they had been performed heretofore by his predecessors. The right hon. gentleman had stated a variety of facts with respect to the increase of business in the court of chancery, and From those facts he had drawn the conclusion to which he had just alluded, and which must either have been suggested to him by others, or have presented itself to his own mind. The first point upon which the right hon. gentleman had dwelt was, the increase of business in the lunacy department. On that head, he would now repeat what he had stated last session, and which had remained uncontradicted because it was incapable of receiving contradiction; namely, that there was no kind of business which devolved upon the lord chancellor which, with few exceptions, occupied so little of his time, as matters of lunacy. The most important point to which a commission of inquiry could direct its attention, would be, to ascertain what had been the effects of the institution of the vice-chancellor's court. It was highly desirable to know what had been the operation of that measure. He called upon ministers to consider the whole business of chancery in detail, to see how much was done in the court of chancery, how much in the vice-chancellor's court, and how much by the master of the rolls; and then to declare, whether there was any ground for saying, that the lord chancellor was unable to perform the duties of as office as they had been performed heretofore. He had always considered, that the vice-chancellor's court would form a most important object of inquiry, and he had taken the pains to ascertain the present state of business in that court. He wished the House to bear in mind, that no original cause was set down for hearing before the lord chancellor, he heard only cases of appeal. In considering the state of the business before the lord chancellor, the number of bills was a circumstance of little importance, because the causes had originally been disposed of by the vice-chancellor and the master of the rolls. With respect to the master of the rolls, however he was compelled to say (whatever was the cause), that that judge had not done much; indeed, he might call on his hon. and learned friends opposite to state, whether they had ever known in modern times a master of the rolls who had given so little assistance to the business of the court of chancery as the present master had done? The fact of the vice-chancellor hearing all the original causes was an unanswerable argument against the conclusion to which the right hon. gentleman had come, with respect to the inability of the lord chancellor to execute the duties of his office, as those duties had been performed by former lord chancellors. He would now inform the House what was the present state of business in the vice-chancellor's court, which he had ascertained from personal inquiries. The demurrers had been heard up to last Hilary term. The original causes set down in last Easter term were now in a course of hearing. Further exceptions and directions had been disposed of up to the long vacation. The bankrupt petitions had been heard up to the same period; and, according to the average rate of proceeding, it was likely that, before the end of the present sittings, the whole of the causes filed in Easter term, and probably those filed in Trinity term, would be disposed of.—The right hon. gentleman had stated, that there was a great increase of bankrupt cases; but he had omitted to add, that a large proportion of them were heard by the vice-chancellor; and further, that the hearing bankrupt petitions did, in a small degree, impede the ordinary business of the court, because they were heard at the end of the sittings, and only protracted the labours of the judge for a few days. Hence it appeared, that the vice-chancellor was how doing all the business which the lord chancellor used to do. When the vice-chancellor's court bill was before the House, one of the great objections to it was, that after the establishment of that court, every cause would be heard twice by way of appeal, and that a great additional expense and hardship would thereby be incurred by the suitors. That was an obvious argument, and one which it was. difficult to answer. It would therefore reasonably be supposed, that every difficulty consistent with the due administration of justice would have been thrown in the way of persons wishing to enter appeals from the decisions of the vice-chancellor. The contrary, however, was the fact. It was true, that when a decree was pronounced by the vice-chancellor in a cause, it was required, before an appeal from his decision could be heard, that an opinion in favour of such a proceeding should be signed by two counsel. The object of that proceeding was, to guard suitors against entering appeals which were not likely to be attended with success, and could only cause additional and unnecessary expense. But, in an important part of the business in chancery, namely, motions, the lord chancellor had dispensed with any security against unnecessary appeals; and parties who had been defeated in a motion in the vice-chancellor's court, were permitted to hurry into the court of chancery, and re-debate the question before his lordship.—There was another circumstance of extreme importance with respect to appeals, to which he could not help adverting. It would have been supposed, that if any principle of equity should be held more sacred than another, it ought to be this, that no appeal should be heard before a superior tribunal, except on the same documents and grounds on which it had been argued before the inferior tribunal. But how did the case stand? Parties who had been unsuccessful in their motions upon affidavit before the vice-chancellor, finding the weak parts of their case, were in the habit of preparing fresh affidavits, and, going before the lord chancellor with an amended case, they frequently obtained from him a contrary decision to that which had been given in the inferior court. The effect of such proceedings was extremely injurious to the reputation of the vice-chancellor, whose judgment was supposed to be in opposition to that of the lord chancellor; whereas, the two judges had decided upon different cases.—The same want of security against unnecessary appeals which was so justly complained of in cases of motions, also existed with regard to bankrupt petitions. The increased facility which was given to appeals operated to the injury of suitors, the delay of business, and to the prejudice of the inferior judge. The right hon. gentleman had said, that the propriety of an inquiry into the delays in the court of chancery had frequently been the subject of discussion in the House of Commons, and that the establishment of the vice-chancellor's court was one of the expedients which had been adopted for the purpose of remedying the delays complained of. The right hon. gentleman was quite wrong on that point. The vice-chancellor's court was not established with any view to the state of business in the court of chancery, but only with a view to the state of business in the House of Lords: and that was distinctly stated in the preamble of the vice-chancellor's court bill.—With respect to the propriety of an inquiry taking place into the proceedings of the court of chancery, he thought that no man could entertain a doubt after reading the bill of costs which had been produced by his hon. and learned friend. He would be content to rest the question upon that document alone. The test by which he would propose to try the conduct of the lord chancellor in his judicial capacity would be, by having a statement drawn up of the time when the different appeals were made; when they were put into his lordship's paper; how many times they had appeared there; when judgment was obtained upon them; and what costs had been incurred. The bill of costs which his hon. and learned friend had produced spoke volumes. Nothing could more clearly demonstrate the imperfections of the present system than that bill, every item of which had been allowed by the master.—He would now only trouble the House with a few observations with respect to the commission which it seemed was to be appointed. The whole merit of that commission would depend on its composition, and on the intent and object of those who appointed it. It might, perhaps, be the effect of those habits which were acquired by every person who took a part in the debates in that House, but he must confess, that he did not place much confidence in the proposed commission. There was not a single fact which his hon. and learned friend had stated, which could be considered as a discovery. Every thing which he had stated had long been perfectly notorious to every person who practised in the court of chancery; and if it were known to those who practised in the court, how much better must it have been known to the individual who presided there. The present lord chancellor had been in office during two-and-twenty years, and it was now, in 1824, in the second year of the motion for inquiry, that a commission was to be appointed for that purpose. These were circumstances which he could not dismiss from his mind. All the hon. gentlemen opposite, who had taken a part in the debate on his hon. and learned friend's motion last session, had treated the question as if it were a personal attack upon lord Eldon. He could not help thinking that a feeling of that kind would be an ingredient in the composition of the commission. It was consistent with human nature that it should be so. It was impossible that the lord chancellor could divest himself of such a feeling; and he did not find fault with him for not being able to do so. But, it should be recollected, that it was by his lordship's advice that the commission was to be appointed, and it would, in all probability, be by him that the members would be named. He (Mr. A.) would not trust his dearest friend with such a power, if he stood in the lord chancellor's situation. He would say to him, "You are the last man who ought to have any share in the appointment of those persons." It was impossible to place any confidence in a commission, which should be so appointed. It was absurd to suppose that a person connected so deeply as the lord chancellor was with the question, could be a person qualified to nominate the members of the commission. The public would not believe that the object of a commission so appointed was to promote their benefit, so much as to defend the lord chancellor against any case that had been, or was likely to be, made out against him.—[Hear, hear.]

Mr. Lockhart

suggested to the hon. and learned member for Lincoln, that it would be advisable to withdraw the motion for the appointment of a committee, as such a proceeding would not preclude the House from again considering the question at a future period, if it should be thought proper so to do. He however, thought it would be improper to let the lord chancellor have the nomination of the commission.

Mr. Brougham

said, he wished to state the reasons why he was disposed to approve of the withdrawing of the motion. If he thought by that step the House would part, with that most constitutional mode of inquiry into abuses of the description of those which had been brought under its notice—he meant the exercise of the inquisitorial functions of that House—he would not only express his disapprobation of the withdrawing of the motion, but would feel it his duty to divide the House on the question. But that would not be the case; the House would not lose its control over the subject which had been brought before it, by meeting the question in the way which had been suggested. He not only congratulated his hon. and learned friend, the member for Lincoln, on account of the distinguished talent which he had that night displayed, surpassing, if possible, those which he had exhibited on the same occasion last year, but he also congratulated the country, on the great practical benefits which had already resulted from his hon. and learned friend's exertions in the great cause which he had undertaken. That the project of a commission had been suggested to him by others, he was bound to believe, because it had been asserted. That it would have suggested itself to the noble and learned lord's mind, but for the exertions of his hon. and learned friend, was another proposition, the affirmative of which he had not heard asserted, and the negative of which he most entirely and firmly believed. That the idea never would have entered entirely into the noble and learned lord's contemplation, but for his hon. and learned friend's motion last year, he believed every man in the House must be satisfied of. Nay more; he believed it never would have entered into the noble and learned lord's contemplation, had it not been for the notice of the present motion.—With respect to the mode of inquiry which was to be adopted, he, personally, had no cause to complain, because it was the same which he had proposed last year, with respect to the Scotch courts. Every thing, however, would depend on the constitution of the commission. That the commission should be recommended by the lord chancellor, was one thing; but that the noble and learned lord should take upon himself the responsibility of naming the individuals who were to be charged with the functions of inquiring into his conduct, really appeared to be a circumstance all but incredible. That the lord chancellor—who hesitated about all other matters; who, on all other occasions, exhibited so much of that indecision which his friends charged him with, in extenuation of other charges of a graver nature—should, without any doubtings, falterings, or indecision whatever, make up his mind at once to take on himself the task of nominating the judges who were to inquire into his judicial conduct, was one of the most remarkable anomalies, one of the most extaordinary inconsistencies that had ever came within his knowledge. He must say, for his part, that if the commission was to be nominated in the manner in which he supposed it would be, from what had fallen from the right hon. secretary opposite, his hopes of a beneficial result from their labours would be extremely moderate. He would wish the plan which was adopted with respect to the appointment of the commission to inquire into the abuses of the Scotch courts, to be followed upon the present occasion. In that commission, together with persons in office in Scotland, were appointed individuals who had no connexion with the courts at all, who, because it was known that they were nominated by a noble lord who possessed the highest influence in his majesty's councils, were morally certain of acquiring great weight and influence in the commission. Now, he firmly believed, that if the Scotch commission had been framed without an infusion of members from this country, it never would have produced a report of the slightest consequence to the House or the country. No body acquainted with Scotland would dispute that the Scotch commission would have been worse than useless, had it not comprised amongst its members persons who were unconnected with the courts which were the object of inquiry. He understood that the present commission was to be composed entirely of persons connected with the court of chancery. Undoubtedly, there ought to be some persons connected with the court of chancery in the commission; but, if it were to be composed wholly, or for the greater part, of persons who held offices or who practised in that court, it would be the merest mockery ever attempted to be imposed on the country. It would be useless to appoint persons to act in the commission who, he would not say partook of the profits of the present system, but having been born and bred in the midst of it, had grown probably callous to its effects, and would be inclined to look on some matters which he or the right hon. gentleman opposite, would be inclined to consider a monstrous abuse, as a very trivial affair. The only remedy which the House could have, if the committee was to be appointed in the manner which he had described, was, to provide that there should not be a report merely of, the re- sult of the inquiry, but that all the evidence which might be taken should be published, with the names of the witnesses ["Hear," from Mr. Peel]. That certainly would be one check; but that was not sufficient; much depended On the manner in which the inquiry would be carried on. If two persons were appointed whose objects were to shelter abuses and stifle inquiry, and two others were appointed who really desired to elicit truth, those two parties, although they would examine the same witnesses, would come to conclusions directly opposite to each other. Before therefore he could entertain any sanguine expectation of good accruing from the proposed commission, he must know something of its nature; and he was here speaking rather of the individuals who were to compose it than of the instructions they were to receive, which every body knew might be so worded as to meet, with apparent effect, the grievance complained of, and yet, when carried into practice, might be totally nugatory. Before he could look forward to any advantageous practical results from their inquiry, he must know whether the individuals selected to conduct it were qualified by their talents, knowledge, and experience, for such a task; and whether they were likely to have grown callous to the abuses they were appointed to investigate, from being long accustomed to witness them. If they were persons of that description—if their lives had been passed amidst legal forms and technical subtilties,—then he must say, that he should look upon the proposed commission as nothing less than a mockery and a deception, and a fraudulent device to shelter from destruction abuses which were, too flagrant to admit any longer of palliation or defence. However, as the court of equity was not the only court in which abuses existed at present,—as there were delays in the courts of common law, extremely distressing in themselves, but far less mischievous than those in the courts of chancery,—as there was another evil in all our courts still more pernicious than the delays in any of them namely the enormous expense of law proceedings—an expense which was so notoriously overwhelming, as to induce individuals frequently to submit to unjust demands rather than obtain a ruinous triumph by contesting them—he trusted that all these grievances would become the objects of future inquiry, and, if the commission were properly constituted, even of their investigation. If they were not submitted to its examination, he hoped that some honourable member would come forward with a motion, to submit them to the examination of a distinct commission; for the abuses in question were so inimical to the due administration of justice, as to require instant suppression. For his own part, he could not help asking, would it not be better to begin with them immediately, than leave them for subsequent inquiry? Would it not be better at the very outset of the inquiry, in the first step of its progress, to add to the powers of this commission the power of investigating the abuses of the courts of common law, and thus to give the country the prospect of having the lesser evils under which it laboured, put in the same course of remedy that was going to be applied to those which were more severe and inveterate? An hon. and learned friend suggested to him, that the equity side of the court of exchequer, as it was nearly the same, in practice, as the court of chancery, should at any rate form part of the subject into which the commission should be ordered to inquire. He was certain that it would richly repay any attention the commission might bestow upon it; and trusted that if it were ordered to inquire into the courts of common law, it would not fail to include in its labours both sides of the court of exchequer. Before he sat down, he could not help saying a word or two upon the defence which had been set up for the delays of the court of chancery by the right hon. secretary for the home department. Those delays, it was said, were occasioned by the great increase of judicial business that had taken place in that court, especially in cases of lunacy and bankruptcy. Now, the increase of business in the courts of common law, far exceeded the increase in the courts of equity, but had not been attended by anything like a proportionate increase in the time of transacting it. When lord Mansfield was alive, he was thought to have performed a great thing when he tried 60 causes in one sittings. The late lord Ellenborough had not tried, but had seen set down for trial at one of his sittings, no less than 588 causes. He allowed such a number to be rather extraordinary: but he could not refrain from stating to the House, and stating most positively, that the average number at present was from 300 to 400 for each sitting—an increase of business which, he again repeated, far exceeded any that had taken place in lunacy and bankruptcy business in the court of chancery. He knew that the House had sanctioned, and, as he thought, very unwisely, a measure to get rid of the arrear of business in the courts of common law; but that arrear was very small, when compared with the arrear of lunacy in the courts of equity. The delay, too, in the courts of common law was very inferior to that in the court of equity. Indeed, in some cases, the courts of common law acted with great rapidity and despatch. His hon. and learned friend on the other side would recollect, that a case had been tried at the last sittings on the 20th of December, in which the cause of action had not accrued on the 20th of the preceding November. He knew that the decision to which the court then came, was not final upon every point in dispute, but when was any preliminary decision ever obtained in so short a time in the court of chancery? He did not mean to say that there were no delays in the courts of common law; by no means. He knew that there were too many, and was anxious to remove them; all he meant to say was this, that the delays of the courts of common law vanished into perfect insignificance, whenever they were compared with those of the court of chancery. In conclusion, he expressed his gratitude to his hon. and learned friend the member for Lincoln, for the unwearied attention which he had bestowed upon this question, and congratulated him upon the great advantages which he had already obtained for the public, in obtaining from the ministers of the Crown an admission, that there were abuses in the court of chancery which demanded reform. Reflecting, however, that the ministers had undertaken to appoint a commission to take the subject into consideration—recollecting that the House had full power to superintend and control the proceedings of that commission—considering that the original question remained uncompromised by any thing which had taken place that evening.—being left at full liberty to form his opinion of that commission, according to the manner in which it might be constituted and perform its duties, he could not help counselling his hon. and learned friend, not to take the sense of the House on the motion which he had just made, but to wait patiently till he saw the result of the labours of the proposed commission.

Mr. Secretary Canning

observed, that after the recommendation with which the hon. and learned gentleman who had just sat down, had concluded his speech, it was not his intention to trespass long upon the time and patience of the House. But, as the speeches of two of the hon. and learned members who had followed his right hon. colleague, the secretary for the home department, appeared to turn almost entirely upon the effectiveness and sincerity of the proposed commission, he thought that it would be satisfactory not only to the House, but also to the country at large, to have an assurance, not only on the part of the noble lord who was thought to be most interested in this question, but also on the part of others of his majesty's ministers,—an assurance which, for his own part, he most willingly gave,—that the inquiry into which that commission was to enter should be as sincere, as impartial, and as effectual as it was possible for man to make it. Even if any disposition existed to trifle with so important a subject, hon. gentlemen must be aware, that no government, in the present enlightened state of the age, could, after consenting to institute an inquiry conduct it in such a manner as to prevent it from arriving at a salutary and beneficial result. He, therefore, was of opinion, that to anticipate a satisfactory and auspicious conclusion to the labours of the commission, would be more consistent with candour and good feeling, than to augur nothing but disappointment, mockery, and deception. The points into which the commission would be more particularly instructed to inquire would be; first, whether it was possible to lessen the time consumed; and secondly, whether it would be possible to lessen the expense incurred, by suits in equity. The third point, which was, perhaps, the most important of all, would be, whether any portion of the business now discharged by the lord chancellor of England, could, without detriment to the public, be turned over to any other; and if to any other, to what public officer? These points would form the principal subjects into which the commission would have to examine; and he now stated them, not with any view of giving an opinion as to the results at which it was probable that the commission might arrive, but with a view of assuring the House, that into each and all of them, examination would be instituted in a spirit of most perfect sincerity, and with the most anxious desire on the part of government, to give full effect to any recommendations which it might conceive necessary to make. With regard to the constitution of the commission, upon which, after what had fallen from the hon. and learned gentleman who had spoken last, he might be expected to offer a few remarks, he would simply observe, that though it might not be difficult for him to describe the elements, still it would be difficult for him to name the exact individuals of which it was to be composed, because some of those persons on whom government might be inclined to impose this duty, might, for various reasons, be not altogether disposed to undertake it. This, however, he could state, that it was the desire of government to place in this commission individuals who were best qualified by their age, knowledge, and long experience in legal matters, to discharge Its functions ably and effectually—who, from their rank in life, would be enabled to declare their opinions without fear, favour, or partiality, and who, from their past services to the state, would have authority sufficient to recommend their decisions to the favourable consideration of the House and the country. The hon. and learned gentleman who had spoken last, after hinting his dislike to this commission, and his doubts as to its efficacy, had cursorily observed, that he should like the scheme of it better, were it to comprehend within its range the various abuses in the courts of Common law. He asked the House whether, if his right hon. colleague's proposition had gone that length, it would not have been asserted, that the object of it was, to divide blame by diffusing it over a larger surface, and to incumber inquiry by multiplying the subjects to which it was to be directed? His right hon. colleague had confined the inquiry within the limits he had mentioned, in order to render it more effectual: not precluding the like inquiry into any other part of the system that was incumbered with the same defects, but directing it to certain defined and positive evils, in the hope of being better enabled thereby to remedy and remove them. In doing so, his right hon. friend was but fulfilling the intentions of the different members of his majesty's government; and the House might therefore rely, not only on the proper formation of the commission, but also on the proper execution of its duties, especially when it recollected, that over both it could exercise a most speedy and efficient control.—As he had said thus much upon the formation of the commission, he conceived that it would be most unfair to the noble and learned lord who was at the head of the court of chancery, to let it be supposed that the project of this commission had originated from any wish on his part to elude the present motion. It was not always prudent to examine too deeply into the springs of human action. In most cases it would be seen that the noblest deeds had sprung out of motives of a mixed nature. He would not, therefore, say that this commission would have been formed had the subject of it never excited parliamentary discussion; but this he would say, that it had not been devised to meet the peril of the present day, or to get rid of the present motion; on the contrary, the date of its being first thought of was as old as the report of the House of Lords last year, in which the very elements of the present inquiry were distinctly pointed out; in which this very scheme was almost expressly mentioned, and with which, as the object of it more particularly fell under his department, his right hon. friend and colleague had been occupied during the greater part of last summer. Had the formation of this commission been announced to the House at the time that the hon. and learned member for Lincoln gave notice of his present motion, his Majesty's Ministers would have been exposed to the same imputations that were now thrown out against them, and also to the additional imputation, that it had been announced because they were afraid to meet the motion on its intrinsic merits. It was only due to the hon. and learned member to state, that the tone of his attack had greatly facilitated the object which he had in view, with one exception, to which he should hereafter have occasion to recur—namely, the plan of the hon. and learned member for separating the legal and political character of the chancellor there was scarcely any topic in his speech to which he should object; indeed, no speech, that was necessarily of an accusatory kind, could have been more successful in leading to the issue to which the House seemed inclined to come, than the speech which the hon. and learned member had that evening delivered. He was himself sure, that even those who had come prepared to attack the lord chancellor with all the artillery of eloquence, would be rejoiced to find that at present it was unnecessary. Every man, who was really anxious to shorten the delay, and to simplify the practice of the court of chancery, would feel satisfied in gaining his object, without assailing the character of the judge who presided in it, and would see, that to pursue his object further at present would be inconsistent with the conduct of a public-spirited man, and would savour too strongly of individual persecution. The House would on that account be more and more satisfied, on reflection, with its decision of the present evening; and would even now feel no slight pleasure in recollecting, that the character of the individual who had so long filled the high office of lord chancellor, would stand as unimpeached and unblemished at the close of his long and valuable career, as it had done at its commencement: and that, whatever might be the result of the inquiry, no matter whether lord Eldon was to be the last chancellor of England, who was to unite in his own person all the different functions which now belonged to that high office, or whether any means should be devised of collecting them into one effective whole, and bestowing them on a single individual—a consummation which he would much rather witness, than a separation of them held by different officers—he would stand before posterity with unsullied fame, and with the enviable reputation of having discharged his arduous duties in such a manner, as to entitle him to the applause and admiration of all his contemporaries.—He could not quit this subject without again remarking, that there was one point in the speech of the hon. and learned member for Lincoln, from which he differed most widely. He could never wish to see the legal and political character of the lord chancellor of England made distinct and separate, considering, as he did, that in the appointment to that high office, one of the proudest distinctions of the British monarchy had long existed. On a former occasion, when the creation of an auxiliary tribunal to the court of chancery was under discussion in that House, from which he acknowledged that he had predicted that much evil and inconvenience would ensue, but regarding which he could not say whether his predictions had or had not been verified, from want of information on the subject—on a former occasion, he asserted, that he had declared his opinions to be inimical to the separation of the two characters of the lord chancellor. He thought that it was one of the noblest and most valuable prerogatives of the Crown of England, that it could take from the walks of Westminster-hall the meanest individual—and when he used the word meanest, he used it not with reference to talents and intellectual endowments, but to birth and original station in society—and place him at once in the head and front of the peerage of England; and he never wished to see the day when the Crown was deprived of that beautiful prerogative which, though it formed the very essence of the monarchy, was, at the same time, the surest support and bulwark of the democratic part of our constitution. It was not, therefore, for the sake of lord Eldon, much and highly as he respected that venerable nobleman, that he objected to the separation of the legal political functions of the chancellor; but it was with a view of preserving to the monarchy, one of its most ancient and invaluable prerogatives, of keeping open the passage from the court of pie poudre to the woolsack; and of leaving to the gentlemen of the bar the opportunity of giving to the Crown their best services, and to the Crown the opportunity of finding for them an adequate and suitable reward. For his own part, he could not see any objection to the union of the two characters in the same individual, especially as they were far, very far from being inconsistent with each other. When the advocates for their separation told him, that they saw a great objection to the making a political character a judge, he was inclined to ask them, what the situation of the country would be, supposing that there were placed at the head of the hereditary magistracy of the land an individual unacquainted with its laws and institutions. Would not such an occurrence lower the respect in which they were now universally held throughout the country? And, if it did lower the standard of the magistracy and the dignity of the peerage, would it not be inflicting a severe and permanent injury on the constitution, instead of correcting one that was comparatively trivial and temporary? It had not occurred twice in the history of our country, that the cold impartiality of the judge had given way to the warmth of his political passions; and if in the long night of ignorance in which so much of our annals were involved, not more than two instances of this judicial profligacy could be disco- vered, he thought that he was not too bold in saying, that at an æra so intelligent as the present, such instances were not likely to occur again. To avoid, however, a contingency which he contended was remote and improbable, it was now proposed to convert the lord chancellor into a mere lawyer; to destroy all the ancient grandeur and dignity of his office; and to degrade, as much as possible, the race of men from which it had hitherto been usual to select that ancient and distinguished officer. To such a proposition he had formerly felt, and he still continued to feel, the strongest aversion. Differing, therefore, as he did upon this important point, from the hon. and learned member for Lincoln, he could not consent to allow the commission to direct its inquiries to the propriety of separating the legal and the judicial functions of the lord chancellor. As he agreed in almost every other point with the hon. and learned member for Lincoln, he had thought it necessary to speak rather more fully on the only point upon which he differed from him. As to the object of the commission, the hon. and learned member arid himself fully concurred—it was to shorten the delays, simplify the proceedings, and diminish the expense of the court of chancery. The right hon. gentleman then concluded, amidst general cheering, by again rejoicing that the personal character of lord Eldon, of which he spoke in terms of the highest eulogy, had been treated with the respect due to it by every member who had taken a part in the debate.

Mr. Brougham

explained, that the right honourable gentleman had misunderstood him, in supposing that he had suggested that the courts of common law should be included in the investigation of the commission about to be appointed. On the contrary, he had suggested, that a simultaneous inquiry, by another commission, should take place into the state of those courts.

Mr. Williams

rose to reply. He observed, that he should have executed his duty in a very improper manner, if he had attributed pre-eminence to any plan of his own for improving the condition of the suitors in chancery. What he had wished to impress upon the House, and still more, upon the country was, that the state of the court of chancery, from whatever cause it had arisen, was such as to call for the most serious attention and considera- tion of Parliament. After what had just fallen from the right hon. secretary, it would not be civil, candid, or decorous in him now to express the most remote apprehensions as to the intentions of those who had proposed the commission, and it would be perfectly idle in him at present to press any plan or object of his Own, in opposition to the proposal that had been made; for he had declined any other object, than to call the attention of the House and the country to the grievance under which the suitors in chancery laboured. But the House would permit him to say—and he did it without intending to give offence that it might be composed of certain elements (to use the right hon. gentleman's own words) which could not fail to create—he would not say a suspicion,—but a strong apprehension, that the inquiry would be productive of no beneficial consequences. He founded that opinion upon a presentiment which he had, that the commission might be composed of members of his own profession. Now, it was his opinion, that a worse composed commission could not be formed; especially if the members of it were to be selected by lord Eldon, or by the members of his majesty's government. In saying this, he was strongly supported by former precedents. In the reign of James 1st, when the House had determined to form a grand committee to inquire into the abuses of courts of justice, the king sent down a message to it, stating that he would institute the inquiry himself. Sir. E. Coke, however, and the independent members who had promoted the inquiry, sent back their acknowledgments to king James for his gracious intentions, told him that they were very deeply obliged to him for his kindness, but that they preferred inquiring for themselves, having previously agreed in private, that the king's offer of inquiry would only tend to stifle all inquiry whatever. For his own part, he must say, that he knew no set of men who were so enamoured of existing abuses, and so accustomed to mistake forms for substance, as the members of that profession to which he belonged. Could he forget the manner in which two commissions had acted, in which they had formed the principal part? Could he forget what the commissioners appointed to examine into the fees taken in the courts of justice had Gone, or rather what they had not done? Could he forget that, when sir Samuel Romilly denounced certain laws as absurd to reason, and frightful to humanity,—when there was scarcely a man in the country that was not anxious to obliterate from the Statute-book certain obsolete enactments, which rendered an act committed one yard in the water a capital offence, whilst they treated it as a trivial misdemeanour when committed one yard from the same place on dry ground-could he forget, that no man in the empire was found to controvert the propriety of repealing those sanguinary and inconsistent statutes, except those who had devoted themselves to the profession of the law? He regretted to state, that the learned judges of the land had opposed themselves with great pertinacity to the alteration; and he could find no other reason for their opposition than this—that as they had spent the whole of their lives in learning the knowledge of those laws which change would render valueless, they could not afford to lose the little stock of treasure which their plodding industry had at last acquired. And therefore it was, that he predicted, that if the commission were selected from those who had been accustomed to walk in the trammels of the law, the country would find that it was nothing else than mockery and deception. He had, however, no objection to letting the commission have a fair trial, under the eye of the House and under the eye of the country. If it should prove beneficial in its results, all would be well, he should be satisfied, and, what was more important, the country would be content. If, however, at the end of a reasonable time, it should be found to be a commission for screening abuses from inquiry, and not for inquiry into abuses, then he ventured to predict, that with tenfold force of argument, and with a hundredfold force of remonstrance, public opinion would revert to this important subject. He was happy that he had at length obtained an admission, that inquiry was necessary He recollected, that during the discussion which they had on this same question last session, pompous eulogiums were made, not, indeed, on the individual who supported the system, but on the system itself. Ministers, however, had now found out, that it was in vain to shut their eyes any longer, and that, whether they liked it or not, they must consent to some investigation of the abuses complained of. With regard to the speech of the right hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Peel) he could not help observing, that he had not replied to the arguments which he (Mr. Williams) had urged, but had replied to the arguments which he had not urged. The right hon. gentleman had entered into a laboured eulogium of the lord chancellor, which he trusted would be as satisfactory to the person on whom it was made, as it appeared to be to the person who made it; but what it had to do with any topics which he (Mr. W.) had introduced, he could not discover; nor had the right hon. gentleman had the kindness to inform him. He begged leave also to acquaint the right hon. gentleman, that he had never pronounced any opinion on the propriety of dividing the legal and political functions of the lord chancellor; all he had stated was, that, in times of less emergency than the present, different opinions had been entertained on the point, and therefore it was, that he thought there might perhaps be a necessity for inquiring into it. In stating that question, he had only stated what he felt, when he said, that if it were wise that the other judges of the land should keep themselves aloof from political intrigues, it could not be a recommendation for the lord chancellor, the first judge in the land, to be identified as the head and front of the great predominant faction in the state. It was an exception to the general rule, and an exception which, he conceived, created in the people an unfavourable opinion regarding the administration of justice. All that he had meant to say, and all that he believed he had said, on this point was, that it was fit matter for inquiry: he repeated that opinion, notwithstanding the beauties of the present practice which the right hon. secretary had so elaborately detailed to the House. The hon. and learned member, in conclusion, observed, that if the present promises of ministers should prove insincere, and if their commission should appear to have screened abuse instead of detecting it, he should revert with increased strength of argument to the necessity of instituting an inquiry in the Commons House of Parliament, to which at that very moment he must own that he should give the preference.

The motion was then withdrawn.