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not the exception in private bills. Lord Brougham's proposition, to establish an independent tribunal in substitution for a select committee, and to which every private bill should be referred, was made in the House of Lords in 1846. Lord Belper submitted to the committee sitting on the subject in 1858, to appoint a permanent commission on all railway bills, which should encourage the office of advising on the bill. But parliament, despite the acknowledged mischief occasioned by the present system, is too jealous to adopt either of the courses thus suggested, and Mr. Pulling now offers a plan of his own, with the object of improving, both in respect of augmenting the accurate investigation of the merits of private bills, and diminishing its cost. He suggests, that a certain number of Examiners should be appointed, whose office it should be to inquire in the case of each bill, as to the compliance with the standing orders, and into the facts alleged and the evidence to be adduced in each case. The examiner should then make a Report upon the scheme, its advantages, its objectionable features, and how far its proposed provisions affect the general law of the land. This report, Mr. Pulling thinks, would guide the discretion of the legislation in the various stages which the bill would pass through, while it would not interfere with the constitutional privileges of the House, which would still appoint a committee, whose judgment should be aided, but not superseded by the examiner's report. afraid that the jealousy of the privileges of the House being invaded, would not be assuaged by this modification of the propositions of Lord Broughain and Lord Belper. The examiners would either do too much or too little to please the House. If they founded their Report on the entire consideration of the project before them, the committee who received it would themselves have to survey and weigh the evidence in a disputed case, to repeat the processes already gone through, and constitute themselves into a court of error, unless they simply adopted the official statement and countersigned the judgment therein expressed. This would probably be held as giving the examiners too great power; but they would do too little if they merely abstracted the evidence, and performed the unsatisfactory part now played by examiners in Chancery. Whatever design is carried out, care must be taken that two investigations are not made requisite, and doubled expense encountered.
Another suggestion made by Mr. Pulling is, that Parliament should sanction the insertion in private bills of certain general provisions, as in the case of inclosure of waste lands, the incorporation of joint-stock companies, the regulation of railways, &c. It would doubtless produce much more harmony in our legislation if there were effected a consolidation of the various sets of clauses requisite in personal and private acts, and usually there found.
During the late session there has been a great abuse on the private bill legislation. Thus, “the Red Sea Telegraph Bill” was introduced last season as a private bill, and it passed the lower House. This “private bill" contains among other things a government guarantee of
4} per cent. on £800,000 for fifty years. It was slipped through the House unobserved, and on its reintroduction the principle was challenged; but it was urged that already had public good faith been pledged, and the government stood committed to the company. We do not here refer to the intrinsic merits of this company's design ; but it is clear that thus by private bills it is open to government, by subsidies and corruption, clandestinely to carry out projects both unconstitutional and mischievous. The debate on this subject (July 11), in the House of Commons, is very instructive; both as to how the general busipess of the country is carried on, and especially that relating to private bill legislation.
Events of the Quarter.
THE LATE JUDICIAL APPOINTMENT IN THE QUEEN'S
BENCH. It would be affectation in us not to advert to the recent appointment of Mr. Blackburn to the Bench. That which has been a common topic in the whole profession—which has startled the public and been commented on by the press, openly and in distinct language—is not a subject from the discussion of which we shall shrink.
It is true, as has been stated, that among the members of the Bar Mr. Blackburn was comparatively but little known to the public, not at all—to Lord Campbell, as he has in the House of Peers asserted (if he be correctly reported), only as a learned counsel to whose arguments he has occasionally listened, he does not say how often, with pleasure. Mr. Blackburn, however, has been known since 1853, conjoined with Mr. Ellis, as a reporter in the Queen's Bench.
We are not making any improper professional reflection upon Mr. Blackburn, when we say his practice was of a very limited character, although he has been now for twenty years called to the bar. He attended at the Liverpool sessions, and the local civil court at that city, but took no leading part there. At the assizes he appeared annually in a few cases in the same city. At the same time, he was undoubtedly known by those with whom he was brought into connection, as an industrious man, a diligent and sound lawyer, whose learning and abilities, from various causes, had too little scope in the profession to be fairly tested in a practical form. Apart from any skill as a Nisi Prius advocate (which he never had sufficient opportunity of maturing), he was such à man, that if attorneys had the means or ability of selecting the best men for their work, instead of being compelled by interest, or attracted by notoriety to the comparatively few who are overworked, they would have been found consulting Mr. Blackburn, and employing his talents for their clients' causes, more that in fact was the case. Far be it from us to allege that, as a rule, the best men have the most clients. We should as soon lay down the rule, that the most honourable and intelligent merchants were the richest, or the most virtuous and estimable woman had the most numerous body of suitors. Nevertheless, we do commonly find a certain measure of success attending marked capacity, and a certain degree of credit attached to proved ability, and the habits whieh this success brings with it, is, especially in the practice of the law, an important preparation for any commanding position to which it may ultimately lead. Of two men, equal in talent and learning, the one who adds to his other acquirements large practice, and thus demonstrates his power to apply his
knowledge usefully, is undoubtedly to be preferred to perform the high functions of his profession, such as belong to the judicial office. Nor can it be for one moment said, that there were not, in respect of reputed learning, men at least equal to Mr. Blackburn, and of longer standing, and of whose practised powers both branches of the profession were better assured. A Lord Chancellor, like any trustee, is bound to be able to justify an appointment of this character, not by his hopes, but by the knowledge of fitness, which he in common with the profession possesses of the person promoted. The principle is altogether vicious which admits of a chancellor acting on his own private impressions, and being indifferent as to public opinion, on such a matter as this. If this non-responsibility be a'lmitted the door is at once opened to favouritism, nepotism, and that offensive use of patronage from which hitherto judicial appointments have been free. Any thing approaching a job in these appointments, is indeed a crime of the gravest character; none the less heinous, because no especial penalty is attached to it, or because in the hurried course of events, it seems soun to pass into oblivion, or because there is no recognised power of compelling retractation. When Lord Chelmsford made an appointment (which, in the opinion of many, was at least as appropriate as that he was subsequently obliged to substitute for it), the rancorous attacks of his political opponents, and the greediness and disappointment of his own party, were brought to bear upon his kindly nature, and he yielded his own judgment—we will not now inquire whether rightly or no-to what he supposed to be a general expression of opinion. Lord Campbell was more (or shall we say less) fortunate. He thrusts an almost unknown man into one of the highest judicial offices, and though throughout English society the act has excited dismay and disgust, and throughout Scotch society has raised astonishment, while it has induced prudent silence—there is no possibility of appeal, or this appointment assuredly, like the former, would hardly have been confirmed.
Shall we therefore, out of delicacy to the new judge, hesitate to tell Lord Campbell in print, what, with one exception, we have heard spoken both in and out of the profession? Shall we refuse here to record that such an appointment (and it was Lord Campbell's first) is a disgrace to the Lord Chancellor of England; and this whether or no Mr. C. Blackburn turn out eventually an average good judge ?
But it will be said, “ Read the testimony of certain noble peers in the House of Lords.” Exactly so. And we would observe this is the only occasion that we know of when a Lord Chancellor has been obliged to explain and defend an appointment of the kind in the House. May it be the last! The discussion in question, however, cannot be considered very satisfactory to Lord Campbell, though certain law lords do think it amiable to apply the whitewash in redundance. Lord Lyndhurst remarked, “It is of great importance that the public should not entertain any doubt or jealousy with respect to appointments to the judicial bench.” The noble lord, indeed, who admitted that every one was asking, “Who is Mr. Blackburn ?" voluc
teered the statement that he “ was an admirable
of a law case.” Without doubting the statement, we may say that we much doubt if Lord Lynhurst ever heard Mr. Blackburn argue any case. In fact, the whole of Lord Lyndhurst's remarks(and they were more than what meets the
eye in the Report) seem very much like “chaffing,” if we may be allowed to use the phrase. This is more especially seen in his ironical congratulations of Lord Campbell on his appointment to the chancellorship. In making a quotation from Macbeth, he just stopped short in time. The conclusion of the quotation we furnish in italics
“Thou hast it now, King, Cawdor, Glamis, all,
Thou play dst most foully for't.” How the noble speaker must have chuckled at the close approach of the compliment to an unpleasant reflection.
But Lord Campbell, thus called on to explain the appointment,
“I know nothing of Mr. Blackburn except what I know from having seen him practise in the court over which I presided. I have no private intimacy, and I declare on my word of honour I don't know of what side he is in politics.” It is not alleged that the appointment was made on the ground of politics. Lord Campbell's “word of honour' is here, therefore, quite unnecessarily pledged. But we miss this solemn asseveration in his disavowal of“ private intimacy;" we must presume, however, that he meant to declare with equal force that he was not privately acquainted with Mr. Blackburn : neither hospitably entertaining him, for example, on divers occasions, or in other ways giving him the privilege of his countenance and conversation.
It is idle, we may observe, to compare the appointment of such a stuff gownsman as Mr. Blackburn with that of Mr. Justice Crompton or Mr. Justice Willes, both of whom had practice and experience on a large scale for a long period, and the highest renown in the profession for many years.
CONSOLIDATION OF THE LAW—THE LATE (2) STATUTE Law ComMISSION. - The practice of the legislature with regard to the consolidation of the statute law would be ludicrous if it were not melancholy. We have just now too many political pretenders appearing before the public in this matter. There is too much futile, because misdirected labour exhibited ; too many uncongenial, disunited, and, we may add, incapable minds, busy in begetting cripples, delivering abortions, or boldly pledging themselves to produce, on a future occasion, vigorous and healthy offspring, which, however, never see the light. In respect to those who delight in such promises, we would observe that they being themselves neither able nor willing to execute their engagements, the only chance left to them is to endeavour to effect their purpose by deputy. But no one will give credit to unknown and irresponsible delegates. Then what is the result? Nothing but illusion and distrust-waste of labour, and eventually despair.