SOME Abuses of the Law Detected, In a Seasonable DISCOURSE Thereupon: Between a Parliament-Man and a Lawyer, Now Recomended to the Consideration of the PARLIAMENT.


Lawyer, I Am glad I have met with you, for I long to have some serious discourse with you: I under­stand that some hot-headed people, that never think themselves well but when they are Reform­ing forsooth, have a Months mind to be Re­forming the Law too.

Member, Why truly Sir, since the dis­course has been on foot, I have taken some Pains to inspect the Law, and I find a great many things in it that serve only to perplex Causes, and are of no other use in the World: Now truly I am for paring off all this; and many other things there are, that need abundance of Re­dress.

Law. Pray Sir let's know what these things are, for I think we have nothing that is su­perfluous.

Mem. Why, I my self had an occasion to Outlaw a Fugitive fellow, t'other day, and before I could get one Writ to the purpose, I was fain to have three or four, that are wholy useless; I think you call them Capias, Alias and Plures, and there must be fifteen days between the Date and Return of every one of these useless Writs, be­sides the danger of having any error in them: Another thing that is as imperti­nent is, notwithstanding the use of al­most all Original Writs is laid aside, for now you do not Summon the Defendant, but proceed to Capias, and take Bail thereon: Yet, forsooth, those Originals must be continued, and the want of them or the disagreeing of them, with the rest of the proceedings, shall vitiate the whole Cause. An industrious Tenant of mine t'other day, that had got a fair Judgment by Confession for a Hundred Pounds, had his Judgment Reversed, and he is without remedy, because a careless or a knavish At­turney filed no Original; and yet these Originals are of no use in the World: [Page 2]And I can tell you another thing that's as strange, not long since a Neighbour of mine, and one of the Freeholders whom I represent, had an occasion to bring two Actions, the one of Trespass, and the o­ther of Debt, and notwithstanding the merits of the Causes were fairly tryed, and he had Verdicts in both, and it cost him a great deal of Money and pains too; for he neglected his other business, and came to Town to attend it: Yet for all this, because in the Action of Trespass on the Record, 'twas Quod Cum in the Declara­tion, the Judgment was set aside because the word (Cum) was too much (and 'tis as dangerous to omit it in other Actions) And in the Action of Debt, tho his Coun­sel tells him there's not the least error in the Judgment, the Defendant (who has the longest purse) has brought a Writ of Error, which is granted of course, which will stave it off three Terms more, and truly I fear before that time is out, the poor Fellow must run away; I told these Stories t'other day to an Ingeniout Dutch-Man, who was curious to be in­formed of our Laws, and he was amazed to hear them; he told me that in Hol­land, in many Cases they could Arrest, have a Tryal and Execution in two or three days time, without any of these Incumbrances; and I hope to see it so here too; for what need is there I pray of your common useless imparlances, as you call them? only to protract Time, en­rich the Lawyer, and begger the Cly­ent.

Law. Sir, It has been thus these many Years, and why should we think our selves wi­ser then our Ancestours; besides Sir, I per­ceive you are perfectly for destroying the Gran­dure and Dignity of the Law; which I hope the Lawyers in the House (and in spite of your Teeth we shall always have some there) will be careful to preserve. As to Originals, they are a great Revenue to the Chancellour, and the taking them away would Ruin the Cursi­ters almost, that have all bought their places (tho of right I confess they ought not) and be­sides Originals were of great use formerly; and I don't see why they should be laid aside.

Mem. Formerly all Men were obliged to keep Bows and Arrows, but now they are useless, and Guns are in request, it would be Nonsence still to enjoyn people to have them, least the Bow and Arrow Trade should be spoyl'd: Now the new great Lights are in fashion, there's no need of Candles at the same doors too; and as to your Antiquity, if that were sufficient to justifie Error; Popery with all its fopperies must have continued; and the Heathen will never be converted at that rate; and as to its being a Digni­ty to the Law, I take it to be the greatest Indignity, and 'tis much like a Story I have heard of an old Dotard, that would leave his Sword off, but would wear his Scabbard for the Dignity of the thing.

Law. But I hope these are all your Ob­jections.

Mem. No Sir, I could cram a Volume with them, had I time to recount them, I have been seriously considering of Fines and Recoveries, and truly I think, that either no Entails or Remainders ought to be defeated by any way whatever, or that all such Entails and Remainders, as may be defeated by Fines or Recoveries, should be wholy void and of none effect, without such troublesome, chargeable, impertinent, and dangerous Ceremonies; for if you'l allow them to be defeated, why not without this charge and danger to the Clyent. Not long since a Kinsman of mine that had purchased an Estate en­tailed, had a Fine and Recovery passed for his security; and he's now like to loose it, the Fine its fear'd will be Rever­sed, because there are not fifteen days be­tween [Page 3]the Teste and Return of the Writ of Covenant; as to the Recovery either the Writ of Entry or [...] is lost, all which Writs are wholy useless in themselves; and further, as to the Recovery; in a feign'd Judgment between the Demandant Tenant, and John Wheeler, there is a fa­tal mistake in the sham Story forsooth; now is it not a deplorable thing that a Man should loose an Estate on these Ac­counts, that he has honestly paid for? Not but that I am for publick Registers (in their room) for all Deeds whatever, that affect Inheritance, to prevent fraud:

Law. Surely you think your self wiser then all that went before you; you are for turning the World upside down, this would impoverish one quarter of the Families that are supported by the Law, and pray remember you are breeding your own Son up to it too; the King would loose part of his Revenue, if the Alienations by Fines and Recoveries should be destroyed, and a Thousand other mischiefs would happen; What would you have the Law as plain that every Cobler should understand it; you talk thus Sir, because you don't apprehend the Nature of these things.

Mem. Truly there is a mystery of Ini­quity in it, for my part, I think, the Law that concerns every body, ought to be as easie as possible; as to my Son, I had rather he got a little honestly, then a great deal by oppression, which never wears well; the King you see by his Re­nouncing Chimney-Money, is not fond of Taxes that oppress the People; and I am sure Chimney-Money has not ruined more Families then this hath done and may do; and as to your other Argument, I have hear'd a Soldier use the same against Disbanding an Army, when all trouble was over, and there was no further occa­sion of them, Why say's he, several Officers and Soldiers have no other Live­ly-hood, and if you Disband us we must either Beg, Rob, or Starve, and yet I think 'twould be a madness for any Na­tion to continue them to the oppression of all, for fear they should reduce some par­ticular Men to their Shifts. Another horrid oppression is this, I have known a Countrey-Man bring an Action but for Ten Pounds, and I have seen an Attur­nies Bill of Fifteen Pounds for the get­ting it; and if he endeavours any redress against this Knave, the Remedy is worse than the Desease.

Law. Truly I have thought of that with shame, and I can think but of this one remedy for't, that is, if any Atturney should make an oppressive Bill, and it shall be found and declared to be so before a Judg, that such At­turnies shall forfeit all that is due to him on that Bill, and such Bill certified by a Judge or Prothonotor to be extortive, shall be an ab­solute acquittance and discharge of the sum total, Volenti non fit injuria, this will be a speedy way of redress, and after this t'will be a hard matter to perswade an Atturney to make a Roguish Bill.

Mem. Truly I believe you have hit the Mark; set a Thief to catch a Thief, as the saying is; but another great oppres­sion I have seen in the Law, is the dan­gerous and useless Niceties in Pleadings; and I think the late Parliaments have done very well in most of their Acts a­bout penalties, to order the general Issue to be Pleaded, and that the special matter be given in evidence, as you generally do in feigned Issues directed out of Chance­ry; and in all Ejectments, which [...] of as great moment as any Action whatsoe­ver; and why may not this be as well done in all Cases, I'le warrant Thousands of Judgments (after fair Tryal and Ver­dicts) have been set aside meerly on this account; and I don't see the advantage of the nice Pleadings to any but the Law­yers.

Law. Why; if you should strip us at this rate, you would leave us nothing,

Mem. Nothing, that's dangerous, charg­able, and impertinent, but all that's real­ly requisite: Another thing is this, I think it a very hard case that all Law (like the Ladies Cloaths) must come from London, forsooth, all the Records must be made up, and kept here, and Writs must be sent from hence only; even for us that live at the remotest Parts, why may not we make up and keep our Re­cords in the Countrey that they relate to, and have our process upon the spot, without all this trouble for't.

Law. Pray Sir no more on't, you have di­stracted me already?

Mem. There is but one thing more; and then I have done with you for the present, and that's this; the Law of late is Swel'd to that bulk, and there are so many Books on't, and such variety of o­pinions in them, that there is not one disputable point, but a crafty Lawyer will Cite five or six Cases to justifie the affirmative and negative too; now 'tis impossible we should be at any certainty in our properties, till this be remedied: And therefore I intend to move the House that five or six of the ablest and most publick spirited Lawyers (if there are so many) may be appointed (and paid well for their pains) to determine what Books are of Authority, and what not; and e­ven of those Books that are of Authority to geld out all the opinions that are not Law; and when they have thus deter­min'd what is Law and what is not, we'll put a sacred stamp on't by Act of Parliament, that this only shall be taken for Law for the future; and then, and not till then, the Student will find some plea­sure in his now perplex'd Studies, and we shall find some certainty in the Law, which is now a meer Lottery, and the Judges themselves often can not tell what rule to go by; and Ile undertake, Men had better turn Cross and Pile between them­selves, which way the Cause shall go, than imbark in a Suite as uncertain.

Law. But I hope the Parliament will be Dissolved before this comes to pass; in the mean time i'll set all the Lawyers in Town to expose you, and ridicule the Project, and you know that's their Master-Piece, so Fare­well for this bout.

Licensed, James Fraser.

London, Printed by Andrew Sowle at the Sign of the Crooked-Bil­let in Holloway-Lane in Shoreditch: And at the Three Kyes in Nags-Head-Court in Grace-Church-Street.

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