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it is destined to be realized. During many years, at all events, the new judicial system will be in course of development, and it will be of paramount interest to watch its progress, operation, and results. And for this work the writer ventures to think he may have some special qualification. Thirty years in the profession-during the greater part of that period constantly in the courts-he has been for more than twenty years engaged in the study of our judicial system. It is 21 years ago since he first projected a work on the subject, and since he edited the first of the Common Law Procedure Acts. He also edited, in 1855 and 1860, the second and third of those Acts, and since then he has been continually in the courts, watching their operation, and engaged in preparing his work on the subject.
Another way in which legal journalism may be of use in aiding both the students and practitioners of the profession is in the exposition of new statutes. There used to be an office in our Inns of Court, that of the Reader, which now exists only in name, but which used to be of some practical utility in giving readings of new statutes.
Such were Callis's Readings on the Statutes of Trusts, and Bacon's Readings on the Statute of Uses. These readings were of course carefully prepared, and probably written; and they were originally read, because in ages anterior to the invention of printing, the oral lecture was the only possible mode of instructing students. But when lectures could be printed, it is manifest that they would be far more available and valuable for purposes of study and instruction in a printed form, and then they could be studied at leisure, with far more effect than by being once heard. Hence, probably it is, that the readings became obsolete, and though in our own day they have been revived by Bowyer and Phillimore, yet their learned productions had a permanent value only when printed and published.
Nor is it only to the profession that such publications may be of interest. There is a wide field for them among the general public. Ever since the commence
ment of the present era, forty years ago, there has been a great and growing interest in the public mind on legal topics. This interest has, to a great extent, arisen from the influence of journalism, and, in no small degree, to the Law Magazine and Review. Since its original establishment, the number of persons who take an interest in legal topics has largely increased, and that from various causes; partly through the large share now taken by the great mass of the middle class, in one way or another, in the administration of the law. The summary jurisdiction of the magistracy has been vastly enlarged, and the magistracy alone are a numerous class. Then there are the various systems of Local Government, Public Health and Sanitary Systems, the Poor Lawand now the Education Act, and many similar measures, all being carried out by the middle classes, who are thus daily and hourly brought into practical contact with law, to an extent which, half a century or even forty years ago, was unknown. Legislation is more and more bringing home law, so to speak, to the very doors of the people, and bringing them daily and hourly into contact with law. The Adulteration Act and the law of Conspiracy are recent and remarkable instances of this. Hence, of necessity, the number of persons interested in law has largely increased. But there is another and stronger cause, no doubt, in the greater interest taken by the public in legal subjects generally, since there is a greater and more general sense of their importance to the community. And hence it follows that a legal journal, not confined to topics rather technical and professional, but dealing with the broader aspects of law or of legal systems, and treating legal questions in a more popular manner, so as to bring home to the minds of the public at large a sense of their meaning and importance, would have a very wide field of interest.
Such are the general views and ideas with which the Editorship of this long established legal periodical is undertaken by the writer. It remains only to offer a few words as to the spirit and the manner in which it will be endeavoured to execute the work so undertaken.
Mr. Coleridge, in the prospectus to a journal he was to edit, avowed his motive and explained his object, and announced his subjects. His motive, he avowed, was “honourable ambition," that is, he added, "the strong desire to be useful; decidedly the wish to be acknowledged to have been so."
“ That man,” says Coleridge, “deserves the esteem of his countrymen who devotes the utmost efforts of his intellect to the disclosure and establishment of principles. For by these all opinions must ultimately be tried, and the feelings of men are only worthy of regard so far as they are the representatives of their fixed opinions."
In support of this view Coleridge refers to the writings of Burke, and points out how marvellously they were verified by results, owing to their having been founded on principles. To this also he ascribed the great interest still attached to his writings, and their permanent value as based on principles, which being true, are as true now as ever.
“ Then, as now,” he says, “existed objects to which the wisest attached undue importance; then, as now, judgment was misled by practice; time wasted in controversies, fruitless (except as so far as they quickend the faculties)—then as now, the general taste was capricious, fantastical, or grovelling, and men were subject to delusion. The only remedy for this is the habit of bringing opinions to the test of tried and acknowledged principles.'
In many passages of his writings were undoubted truths ; that is, truths which all men on reflection will admit, and must necesarily admit, because verified by common observation and daily experience. These truths are to be found only in the works of master minds, such as, for instance, as the works of Mr. Burke:“ In Burke's writings," observes Coleridge, "the germs of almost all political truths may be found.” Mr. Buckle, though representing questions of the opposite school of thought, thoroughly concurs in this high appreciation of that illustrious man, and said of him that “his insight into the philosophy of jurisprudence has gained the applause of lawyers." And thus Lord Campbell spoke of him as philosophic statesman deeply imbued with the scientific principles of jurisprudence," (Lives of Chief Justices, II,
443.) Mr. Burke, as Coleridge said, “referred habitually to principles.” And Burke pronounced a fine eulogium upon Lord Mansfield for his labours to make law keep pace with his time, because
“He sought to effect the development of the law by making it keep pace with justice; not restraining natural justice withing artificial rules, but conforming the rules to the growth of human affairs."
That great object which Lord Mansfield found it difficult to carry out under the fetters of artificial positive rules, it is now happily easier to achieve, now that the rules of law have been made subordinate to justice, and it is an object in which a legal journalist may be proud to co-operate.
Lord Campbell, the eulogist of Burke, declared emphatically that “the law ought to be adapted to the exigencies of society and the spirit of the times.” And Lord Campbell himself was eminently alive to the importance of legal journalism and open to its influence, as the liberal character of his legislative measures and his judicial expositions of the law abundantly show. We have lately heard an eloquent dissertation on the importance of our studying the spirit of the age. The adaptation of law to the progress of society, and the spirit of the age requires constant study, to deduce the application of old principles to new cases as they arise. This requires what Coleridge called :
“ An honest and enlightened adherence to a code of intelligible principles, previously announced, and faithfully
eferred to, in support of every judgment on men and events.”
Coleridge, writing of his own contributions to journalism, said, with honest pride :
“I derive a gratification from the knowledge that my essays contributed to introduce the practice of placing the questions and events of the day in a moral point of view, in giving a dignity to particular measures by tracing their policy or impolicy to permanent principles and an interest to principles by the application of them to individual measures.
This, it is true, was written of a political journal, but as Lord Brougham observed, jurisprudence is an important
part of Political Science and Law, is nothing unless it can really be made to cohere with a system of jurisprudence which it cannot do, unless at least in accordance with moral justice. The fundamental principles of the Editor will seek to enforce are those of Mr. Burke and Lord Mansfield as to law, and those of Bentham as to procedure and judicature, that law ought to be in accordance with natural justice, and judicial systems in harmony with natural reason. The whole tendency of law, judiciary or legislative, is happily in that direction. The Adulteration Act, for instance, was a piece of legislation based on moral justice. And the new judicial system in an advance towards a rational system.
The Editor's idea is that the proper function of the legal journalist is to enforce principles not so much by way of abstract disquisitions as with reference to their practical application to legal affairs, the judgments or rules of courts, the operation of existing laws, or the measures of legislation proposed—that is to say, by way of comments upon actual affairs and proceedings. Such is the course pursued by his able contemporaries; and no one can read the able articles which from week to week appear in the legal journals of this country, or Ireland, or America, without feeling that they must be of the utmost advantage both to students and practitioners, and helping them to understand the decisions of courts or the Acts of the Legislature. It will be the Editor's object and hope to emulate his learned contemporaries, and he may add, to do ample justice to their labours. The spirit in which he intends to work, in one word, is that of justice.
That justice, which is now become the object of law, should be the pole star and the guide of the legal or political journalist in all the branches or departments of journalism, whether in the discussion of legal questions, the judgments of courts, the acts of judges, or the conduct of public men, the spirit of truth and justice should, and it is believed does, animate the legal journalist, whether in the editor or the writer. The same spirit should and will actuate the criticisms of legal works. Coleridge speaks of good criticism as “ acute, argumentative,