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Masters in Chancery for very great Sums of Money; which Ossices are in some Degree judicial; the Sale of them therefore must naturally introduce' Corruption in the Officers, according to the Adage, He that buys Justice, must sell Justice. The other Branch is, that to conceal this Sin, (as it commonly happens) he sell into a greater: Large Sums of Money, belonging chiefly to Orphans, had by the Authority of the Court been deposited in the Hands of these Masters; some of them thought it a proper Opportunity to grow rich, nor scrupled to adventure the Fortunes of their Neighbours: They met with woesul Disappointments of their Expectations; there were great Deficiencies; and the Chancellor, to screen them, was guilty of shameful Delays of Justice, by putting off the Hearing of the Causes affected by these Losses.
To the Wonder of the gazing World, and maugre the zealous Endeavours of some most noble Peers, this corrupt Man is to continue a Judge, upon his Honour, of the Lives and Fortunes of ,' Englishmen; he is to continue to make our Laws, and to interpret them. He is condemned in 30,000 /. it is true, but, cut hono? Not to repair the suffering Suitors; but as a Fine to the Crown, (which perhaps may remit it) tho' the People have received the greatest Injury. How then are the Sufferers to be repaired, think ye? Why, truly, it is rumoured, by a Tax to be laid on the Suitors in that Court. The innocent Suitors, who may be esteemed sussiciently unfortunate in having Occasion to resort thither, are to be punished for the Iniquities of the Chancellor.
The House of Lords is not bound by the Forms of the Courts below Stairs, and the Impeachments before them are managed pretty much in the Stile
of the Civil Law; it were to be wished, in the Case of this Earl, they had adopted a Form of that Law which is proper to produce a just and rational Sentence upon Crimes like these they have lately censured. The Criminal Process, among the Civilians, is frequently, if not always, in the Nature of an Action Qui tarn, &c. I have seen a Libel of theirs for Homicide, which amounted to an Appeal, as well as Indictment. In a Cafe, like this, they would, in the first Place,,have given Relief to the Injured out of his Estate, and then have made a reasonable Confiscation to the Prince, as a Punishment of his Crimes. Thus they would have sulfilled the Dictates both of commutative and distributive Justice Restitution, was barely a Debt, and Confiscation was a moderate Punishment.
If a Sentence of Sir George Oxenden's, who opened this Impeachment, had been duly weighed, we should hardly see the Innocent taxed for the Crimes of the solvent Guilty. But we have never been fond of changing our Laws, no not even for the better; the Lords in Parliament, four hundred Years ago, to reject a mischievous.ecclesiastical Proposal, answered, Nolumus leges Anglia mutari. An Answer highly laudable on that Occasion! and ever since we have it trumped up to us, as a Maxim, without the least Attention to the Disference of the Matters in Question. I will mention to you two strong Instances (instead of twenty) of our supine Neglect in amending our Laws. The Landlord from all Antiquity might distrain his Tenant for Rent due, and then the Distress must perish in his Hands, if the Tenant could not pay; for the Lord could not fell it, till enabled by a Statute made in the Days of King D 3 CharttL Charles II. This Piece of Common Law we sent to Ireland, but they found the Remedy one hundred and fifty Years earlier than we did. Another Instance is, that the then Statute of Administrations (which is but a Translation from the one hundred and eighteenth Novel) was made in the latter End of the fame Reign, and no earlier; and we are sure that our Law was a regular and flourishing Profession four hundred Years without it. Perhaps it flourished the more, for differing in many Points from common Sense.
Feb. 7, 1730.
*"p HERE is one of the Wonders of the World -*. to be accomplished this Session; the Salt-Tax will be abolished. It is a new Thing for the Crown to lose Ground in the Revenue. Our History shews very few Instances of the Kind. Tho' the Occasion was most urgent when the Tax was imposed; and tho' the Grant of it was only temporary, and for a very short Time too, yet Pretences have been always found to continue the Burthen, when the Necessity ceased. Our Oracle in the Law and Records of Parliament observes, that Tonnage and Poundage were granted first to King Henry V. to enable him to invade and conquer France; but his unfortunate Son, who lost that Acquisition back again, enjoyed the same Revenue, as did also Queen Mary I. who lost
Calais, the only Fragment of it that remained till her Time. So forcible is a Possession in the Crown, that People are apt to suffer it to turn to a Right. But this Mistake costK. Charlesl. dear; it was the sirst Grievance of his Reign, and disposed a knowing, a resolute Generation of Freeman (whose Spirits were not broken by Taxes and Standing Armies) to examine every Thing with Rigour. Yet not all the Dissiculties and Misfortunes of his Reign could deter his Son, King j^wwll. (tho' he did not want the Money) from levying the fame Revenue before it was given by Parliament. I think we have one Instance in the Englijh History, of the Monarch's taking less than the Subject gave, and that was in the Days of good Queen Elizabeth, who chose to reign in the Hearts of her People,. who depressed Monopolies, and particular Schemes of robbing the Publick, and esteemed the Wealth and Honour of the Nation as her own.
If Farmers in their Tillage and their Diet, . Merchants in victualling their Ships, Potters in their Manufacture, but above all, the Fishery (that Diu multumque desideratum of Great-Britain) require such immense Quantities of Salt, that it is impossible to maintain the Ossicers, and to make any considerable Profit of that Revenue, if We allow Draw-backs for" all those Purposes (not to speak of the frequent Frauds upon Exportation) and as on the other hand, we would not have our Neighbours Till their Land, Navigate their Ships, Cure their Fish, and even be able to sell an earthen Pitcher cheaper than we can; it is really amazing to consider how this Tax came first to be granted in this Nation; but it is much more astonishing that the Experience of its Mischiefs had not long ago awakened the Legislature to redeem it. It is D 4 not
not strange that the People should gladly embrace the Opportunity of Deliverance from this Oppression; the Miracle is, that a sirst Minister should give his Voice for so considerable a Reduction of his Myrmidons, should concur in abolishing a Tax which seems calculated to create Ministerial Dependencies, and to corrupt Voices for Parliamentary Elections. Perhaps, like Sylla, he knows he has so well convinced the World of his transcendant Ability for Mischief, that • he may retire in Sasety with the Spoil of Nations, and deserve the Thanks of Mankind for plaguing them no longer. But if he designs to pursue the Plan which he has hitherto proceeded on, the Trained Bands of the Salt-Duty are an ill-judged Reduction of his Forces: He does not usually commit such Blunders in Domestick Politicks, whatever his Enemies object to his Skill and Address in Foreign Treaties. Taxes, burthensome as This is, make Standing Armies necessary; and great Armies cannot be maintained without burthensome Taxes; they are Bawd and Punk to each other, but the poor Nation is always the Cully.
It is a Proposition as demonstrable as any in Euclid, that heavy Taxes must naturally destroy this or any other trading populous Nation, which depends greatly on its own Manusactures. Yet neither the small Vulgar nor the Great can comprehend this Truth. If France can maintain her Manusacturer, in proper Provinces, at Ten Pounds per Annum, when ours must cost Twenty, and if the Value of 30 /. in Wool will employ at least six Persons, at a Medium, per Annum, the Englijh Account will stand thus, For Wool 30/. for Work 120/. Total, 150/. The French maybe stated thus, For Wool, 40/. for Work, 60/.