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ART. 1.-RECENT IMPROVEMENTS IN THE CRIMI
NAL LAW OF ENGLAND. The Criminal Statutes of England, analysed and arranged
alphabetically, with Notes. By John COLLYER, Esq. of Lincoln's Inn, Barrister at Law. • Hoc spectant leges, hoc volunt; incolumem esse civium conjunctionem : quam qui dirimunt, eos morte, exilio, vinclis, damno coercent.' London. Printed for S. Sweet, 3, Chancery Lane, Law Bookseller and Publisher; and R. Milliken, Grafton Street, Dublin. 1828. pp. 661. 12mo.
This work professes to bring under one view, and for this purpose to compress within one volume, the statute law of crimes in England. The author has sedulously endeavored to collect and arrange all those statutes, which expressly relate to indictable offences, and to the practice of the criminal courts. It is a collection of the public statutes, following the alphabetical arrangement, interspersed with many valuable notes, the design of each being to point out such alterations in the criminal law, as may have been caused by the statute to which it is annexed. We have looked over it with interest, to learn the changes and meliorations, which have been effected by the perseverance of a few of the distinguished men of the British nation, whose spirit was not subdued, although often discouraged, by repeated defeat and constant opposition, and who finally convinced the Parliament, that it was time their
VOL. IV.NO. VII.
laws should cease to be written in letters of blood. The observers of the protracted struggle must have felt in this instance, as in many others, how slow is the progress
of reason and humanity in subduing errors sanctioned by long use. Stare antiquis has been the maxim of the orthodox politicians of England, both in church and state. But when an individval or a community close their eyes against improvement, they are in a fair way to grow old in error. To make a constitution stable and permanent, it is necessary to recur often to its principles, and to correct every departure from them. We are not friends to revolutions, knowing how much expense they occasion of blood and treasure, and what scenes of moral and domestic ruin follow in their train. But there is great difference between repairing the evils which time produces in every human fabric, and in overthrowing it from its foundations.
We observe that many, if not all the new provisions introduced into these statutes, seem to be the fruit of experience; and when the criminal code of England shall have been perfected by the persevering exertions of the eminent civilians and philanthropists who are engaged in it, the British nation will have just reason to be proud of the work. From the ease, too, with which it is done, and the happy effects which it will probably produce, their Parliament has been already encouraged to attempt to correct the administration of civil justice; and perhaps, in time, it will reform in a peaceable and constitutional manner, the defects which rest upon their political and ecclesiastical systems. In this way, time, the great teacher of truth and revealer of error, will finally establish their constitution, both in church and state, on the most free, just, and equal principles of liberty and right, without the horrors of a revolution.(a)
We propose to speak with reference to the improvement of our own law, of some of the alterations and improvements
(a) The progress of civil and religious liberty in Great Britain is most ably exhibited in Mr. Hallam's 'Constitutional History of England from the accession of Henry VII. to the death of George II.' We cordially join with the writer of the notice of this work in a late number of the North American Review, to recommend it to the diligent study of the law student, and to all who are desirous to obtain a correct view of English history. Mr. Hallam is profoundly acquainted with his subject, and writes with an intelligence and energy, that show him to be a lover of truth and liberty.' It is, we think, the best work on the subject which has yet appeared, and will probably take rank with the classical authors of the English language.