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CURSORY REMARKS ON THE LAWS CONCERNING USURY, AND On some late proceedings, IN CASES OF USURY.

BY W. SHELDON, OF NORWICH, CONNECTICUT.

Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have spoken, mock on. JOB xxi. 3.

NORWICH: PRINTED AND SOLD BY JOHN TRUMBULL. May, 1798.

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INTRODUCTION.

AS the following pages may possibly be read by persons who are unacquainted with the mer­its of the transactions, therein alluded to, which have occurred at Norwich, in the State of Con­necticut, it may not be amiss to give a brief statement of the same. It is generally known that since the commencement of the present war in Europe, the trade of America has been ex­tended beyond any former example. This in­crease of trade has occasioned a great demand [Page iv] for money; and although many Banks have been established, in different parts of the conti­nent, their funds have not been sufficient to an­swer the demands of the Merchants. In con­sequence of this deficiency, recourse has been had to rich individuals, who, thinking their money, like merchandise, should bear a price in proportion to the demand for it, have, I un­derstand, purchased Notes and Bills of Ex­change, at 3, 4 and 5 per cent per month dis­count, in the large towns, such as Philadelphia, New-York and Boston. This practice has, on a smaller scale, extended to some of the more in­considerable places, and, among the rest, to Norwich; where notes have, it seems, been purchased at a discount of 2 per cent per month. This desperate situation of money affairs has alarmed some of the good citizens of Connecti­cut to a very considerable degree; insomuch that at Norwich, and, I am informed, at anoth­er place in Hartford County, (the only places in the United States, or in the world, I believe, that ever possessed such worthy guardians of the publick weal,) societies have been formed to crush this alarming evil, as it is called, by means of the Statute against Usury. The So­ciety [Page v] at Norwich is headed by a Mr. Eli [...] Hyde, an Attorney, whose common Informer is a person of the name of Cyrus Bishop. The Deputy Informers of the Society are a Mr.—Ames, (not the honourable Mr. Ames, Reader,) Mr. Bissel, Mr. Davison, &c. There are several persons belonging to the Society whose names I do not know; but I am told they are people who are not of a description to have much to do with either buying or selling of Notes: This circumstance, however, proves them to be the most proper men in the world for the business they have engaged in; they being perfectly disinterested—for although they laid informations, against different gentlemen, to the amount of about four thousand Dollars, one half of which was to come to them, if they suc­ceeded, they meant to pocket their own two thousand Dollars, merely for the publick good.

ONE of these causes came to a hearing before the City Court in the month of January last. It was then contended by the Counsel for the Defendant, that the action was brought before a wrong Court, the City not having authority to [...]y causes of that nature. The members of [Page vi] the City Court, actuated no doubt by the pur­est motives, decided that they were competent to try this cause: but from their decision the Defendent appealed to the Superior Court. In March last the Superior Court sat at Norwich, and the Judges decided that the City Court had no jurisdiction of the cause, it being the province of the County Court to try it. This determination of the Judges of course annulled all the writs that had been issued by Mr. Hyde, who had to pay costs and begin de novo. But with what muscles shall I relate the catastrophe of this great affair! When Mr. Hyde's new writs arrived, (the morrow after this determi­nation of the Judges,) it was discovered that the Defendants had all been supplied with oth­er writs the evening before! and the worst part of the business is, there is great room to suspect that some of their friends have stepped in be­tween them and the Society, and demanded the 4000 Dollars in question. I hear that on this occasion the surprise and dismay of Mr. Bishop was equal to that of Parson Adams, when he fell from his imaginary throne into a Tub of Water. Nor was that of Mr. Hyde exceeded, when the weighty hand of Mr. Dag­geu fell, like thunder, on the table of the [Page vii] House of Representatives, and he said "Sit down Mr. Hyde."

SUCH is the present state of the business. What will be the final issue of it is more than I can determine. I shall however proceed to enquire what the end of it ought to be.

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CURSORY REMARKS, &c.

THE attention of the people of America, from some of the best to the basest, from the Governor and Legislature of New-York, to the Connecticut Societies, having lately been turned, in a considerable degree, to the subject of Usury, it has been a matter of some surprise to me to observe, that no one has undertaken a thorough investigation of the principles of Usury laws. In order to promote inquiry on the subject, I shall take leave to offer a few cur­sory remarks relative to it, in hopes that some person possessing better information, may be [Page 10] induced to produce a more perfect work. I conceive that the best manner of treating the question will be 1st, To give a brief history of the laws respecting Usury. 2. To consider them in their relation to Religion. 3. To take a view of their Moral tendency. 4. To examine the justice of them. 5. To inquire into the necessity for them. 6. To make a few remarks on their political tendency; And, 7. To compare the proceedings of the Nor­wich Society with the law.

CHAP. I. On the History of Usury Laws.

LAWS against Usury have been made in many countries. Probably that of Moses (Deut. xxiii. 19, 20,) was one of the first. The Interest of Money was fixed at 12 per cent­um per annum, by the Roman Decemvirs, and that law existed till the time of Justinian. The character of Justinian exhibited the paradoxical [Page 11] extremes of avarice and profusion. The dis­order of his finances was such as would hardly admit of being remedied; but in order to im­prove them, he reduced the Interest of money to 4 per cent. per ann. * In some cases indeed he allowed 6 per cent. and merchants and manu­facturers were permitted to pay 8 per cent. be­cause among them the risque was greater; but such persons as were the most likely to lend to himself were not to have more than 4 per cent.

THE Institutes, Pandects and Code of Justi­nian have been the Scriptures from which the English Civilians have drawn their legal know­ledge. From them they probably got the idea of laws against Usury. In England there was very little trade before the sixteenth century, and, consequently there was not much money in circulation. Scarcity of money always has a tendency to raise the Interest of it; such at least was the case in England; for from the time of Edward 3d, to that of Henry 7th, and indeed for several centuries, the Jews and Lom­bards, who had money to lend to the Barons, and others, on personal security, could make [Page 12] from 45 to 50 per cent. for if. Henry the 8th was an avaricious man who wanted to borrow money cheap, and as he could oblige the Par­liament to do just what he pleased, he got a law passed* to fix the rate of Interest at 10 per cent. This was the first English Usury law, and this law was repealed by the Parliament of Edward 6th, which declared the law itself to be "unlawful, and most impious." The Statute of Henry, was, however renewed by Elizabeth (13. c. 8.) who had it declared, in the pream­ble to the Act of Parliament, that Usury was forbidden by the law of God, and consequent­ly was unlawful. James 1st, (c. 17) reduced the interests of money to 8 per cent, and the Rump Parliament lowered it to 6 per cent. This rate of interest was fixed in New-England, and, I suppose has continued so ever since; a law of the Rump Parliament, having been considered as of equal authority with both law and gospel, by many of the first settlers of Mass [...]chus [...]s [...]. That act of the Rump Parliament was confirmed by Charles 2d. (c. 13) who wanted large sums of money to support the licentious [...]s and debaucheries of his court, and his foolish wars against the Dutch. He [Page 13] Indeed endeavoured to reduce the rate of Inter­est still lower, and employed Sir Thomas Cul­pepper, and others, to publish pamphlets on the subject; but the parliaments of those times were not so manageable as some which had met before. Anne carried on a very expensive con­tinental war, and in order to raise money on better terms, the parliament passed a law (12 Ann. St. 2. c. 16.) which fixed legal interest at 5 per cent. and enacted that whoever took more should forfeit treble the money borrowed. That statute, although so grossly unjust, is now in force in England, but almost the only purpose it answers is to distress such people as cannot give good security, by putting it out of their power to borrow money. The Usury laws in England have been made sometimes under a pretence of religion, but in reality they have always been made with a view to enable the go­vernment to get as much money as possible from the people, on the cheapest terms. The govern­ment however cannot now borrow money at 5 per cent. or any thing like it. The minister cannot get more than about £ 45 for £ 100 of 3 per cent Annuities, and the Navy, Victualling and Transport Bills, &c. are at such a discount as makes the interest on them equal to about [Page 14] 15 per cent. The mon [...]ed men in England prefer government security to any other, and as much more than legal interest can be got for that security, persons in trade who often want to borrow money, cannot now get any for the paltry consideration [...] 5 per cent; they are therefore obliged to go without money, as a larger interest cannot be taken with safety. This state of things has made the money-bor­rowers clamorous for a repeal of the Usury Laws, and if the government can find resour­ces by forced loans, or any better method than borrowing, those laws will doubtless be repealed.

CHAP. II. On the connexion between Religion & Usury Laws.

SOME Law-makers have pretended, and many religious people believe, that it is contra­ry to the Christian religion to take more than a [Page 15] certain sum for the use or interest of money. This opinion is taken from the law of Moses, (Deut. xxiii. 19, 20.) which says, Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of mo­ney, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury. Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury, but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury. Now, whatever Christian carefully examines this passage, he will find that the law was not intended for any other people than the Jews; it was to bind them in their transactions between each other only, but like the rest of their laws and ceremonies, was not extended to either Heathens or Christians, and even a Jew was allowed to take usury of any person who was not a Jew. Religious men may, however, be disposed to hesitate about be­lieving me on this occasion; I will therefore produce the authority of the learned and Rev­erend Archdeacon Paley, who was as religious as the best of them. He says * ‘There exists no reason in the law of nature why a man should not be paid for the lending of his mo­ney, as well as of any other property into which the money might be converted.’

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THE scruples that have been entertained upon this head, and upon the foundation of which the receiving of Interest or Usury (for they formerly meant the same thing) was once prohibited in almost all Christian coun­tries, arose from a passage of the law of Mo­ses, Deut. xxiii. 19, 20.*

THIS prohibition is now generally under­stood to have been intended for the Jews a­lone, as part of the political or civil law of that nation, and calculated to preserve amongst themselves that distribution of property, to which many of their laws were subservient; as the marriage of an heiress within her own Tribe; of a widow who was left childless to her husbands brother; the year of Jubilee, when alienated estates reverted to the family of the original proprietor—regulations which were never thought to be binding upon any but the commonwealth of Israel.

THIS interpretation is confirmed, I think beyond all controversy, by the distinction made in the law between a Jew and a foreign­er, ‘unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon [Page 17] usury, but unto thy brother thou mayest not send upon Usury’ a distinction which could hardly have been admitted into a law, which the di­vine Author intended to be of moral and ;universal obligation.

BUT left the consciences of Religious men should not be quieted, or their doubts removed by the Divine, I will produce the testimony of a Lawyer, whose opinion is not often controver­ted; I mean that of Judge Blackstone. He says* ‘The enemies to interest in general make no distinction between that and Usury, hold­ing any increase of money to be indefensibly usurious. And this they ground as well on the prohibition by the law of Moses among the Jews, as also upon what is laid down by Aristotle, that money is naturally barren, and to make it breed money is preposterous, and a perversion of the end of its institution, which was only to answer the purposes of ex­change, and not of increase. Hence the school divines have branded the practice of taking Interest, as being contrary to the di­vine law both natural and revealed; and the [Page 18] canon law has proscribed the taking any, the least, increase for the loan of money as a mor­tal sin.

‘BUT in answer to this it may be observed, that the Mosaical precept was clearly a polit­ical, and not a moral precept. It only pro­hibited the Jews from taking usury from their brethren the Jews; but in express words permitted them to take it of a stranger: which proves that the taking of moderate U­sury, or a reward for the use, for so the word signifies, is not malum in se, since it was al­lowed where any but an Israelite was concern­ed. And as to Aristotle's reason, deduced from the natural barrenness of money, the same may with equal force be alledged of houses, which never breed houses; and twenty other things, which nobody doubts it is lawful to make profit of by letting them to hire.’

THESE authorities and arguments will I pre­sume be sufficient to convince any man that there is no connexion at all between Religion and Usury. No wonder however that many men are now puzzled on the subject, as that is [Page 19] no more than has happened before to Aristotle, Cato, Seneca and Plutarch among the heathens; to Cyprian, Lanctantius, Basil, Chrysostom, Gregory, Ambrose, Jerom, Augustin and Shakespeare, and other casuists, with whole councils among the Christians. The Parlia­ment of James I. inserted in his Usury law, which allowed 8 per cent. interest, ‘that this Statute shall not be construed or expounded to allow the practice of Usury in point of re­ligion or conscience. And the learned Bish­op Sanderson determined that ‘to take six in the hundred is sabbath breaking, because the plow goes on Sundays.’ If all these ab­surdities were to be admitted as authorities, eve­ery man who receives interest of any kind should be denominated a Usurer, and it must be believed, that he who receives only 6 per cent breaks the Sabbath by so doing: indeed there are very few absurdities which some of the above named writers have not maintained. Now I not only differ with them all, after the example of Paley and Blackstone, but I go far­ther. I mean plainly and unequivocally to assert, that so far from being conformable to religion, the existing Usury laws are contrary [Page 20] to the spirit of both the Jewish and Christian religions. The utmost extent of the law of Moses goes no farther than an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth—that is make good what you have taken wrongfully; if you have taken Usury of a brother restore it—but the law a­gainst Usury says you shall forfeit both princi­pal and interest: which is at the rate of all your teeth and eyes for one. The gospel directs that Whatsoever ye would that men should do un­to you, do ye even so to them *. Now suppose any one of these religious men should have charged 6, 12, or 18 per cent more than is al­lowed by law, would they wish, for such an o­vercharge, to pay £ 124? Impossible! If then they would not chuse to be subject to this law themselves, how can they desire to subject others to it consistently with this sacred rule; which is the most comprehensive that ever was was laid down, and contains in itself a whole body of morality and practical religion. It is disgusting to hear religious tradesmen—Paper-makers, Carpenters, Coopers, Bakers, &c. declaiming against Usury, and, like the Phari­see in the Gospel, thanking God that they are [Page 21] not as Usurers are—unjust, covetous and extor­tioners—they never charged more than 6 per cent: whereas the true state of the case is, they make a virtue of necessity, and their not hav­ing charged more is solely owing to their not having money to charge upon. They can see the more in the eye of their brother but not the beam which is in their own eye. For what Pa­per-maker is there who does not, or would not if he could, make 100 per cent profit on every [...]ag he grinds? What Carpenter would not make as large a profit on every Chaise or oth­er article he sells? Are there not Coopers who ought to be indicted for extortion on every hoop they sell? Bakers too, who condemn U­sury, have not scrupled to sell twelve ounces of Bread for six-pence, and yet these pious Gen­tlemen take upon them to assert that they nev­er charged more than 6 per cent. Might it not with propriety and justice be said of them Thou that judgest another doest worse things. If the interest of money is to be settled by religi­on, let us have the profits of trade settled by the same rule. Let us have a maximum for the produce of the farmer's lands—and let the pro­fits of the merchant, trader and mechanic be fixed at 6 per cent. How would tradesmen like [Page 22] this? Not at all, although this would be equal­ly just and religious with fixing the interest of money, for the law of Moses says, that Usury is not to be charged to a brother on victuals or any thing else, any more than on money: therefore if the old laws against Usury are to be put in force, let us have the old laws against Extortion enforced also*.

BUT without proceeding farther, enough has been said to warrant the conclusion, that what is mentioned respecting Usury in the law of Moses, is not binding on Christians; and this conclusion will be confirmed beyond all possi­bility of doubt or cavil, when we consider that the subject is no where mentioned in the New Testament. On the contrary an opposite doc­trine is every where inculcated, and the law of retaliation is totally abolished by the gospel. I may therefore safely assert in the words of the Statute of Edward VI. that, so far from being religious, the laws respecting Usury are ‘Un­lawful and most impious.’

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CHAP. III. On the Moral tendency of Usury Laws.

THE next thing I propose to consider is, the moral tendency of Usury Laws. In this point of view, however, I can see nothing but a to­tal departure from, and opposition to, all the rules of morality, notwithstanding the pream­bles to some of those laws make a whining pro­fession of regard to poor debtors. I conceive the morality of trade consists in every man ma­king the best bargain he can, and adhereing with religious exactness to that bargain; wheth­er he be a buyer or seller, borrower or lender. Now if the rule I have here laid down is right, the non-compliance with an agreement, must be a breach of morality. The Usury laws not on­ly sanction this breach, but they authorize the most outrageous opposition to this rule of mor­ality. [Page 24] They encourage a sharper to agree for the payment of more than legal interest, and that possibly with a man who does not know that such laws exist, and afterwards to cheat him out of the whole sum, principal and inter­est. Indeed they do more for they hold out a lure, and, as it were, invite the sharper to com­mit this deliberate piece of villainy; for one half of the money forfeited by the lender, is to go to the informer. Or whole gangs of these sharpers may conspire together for the purpose of ruining men who possess more property than themselves; and though they might not ulti­mately succeed in their wicked designs, the laws put it in their power to disturb the peace of families, and much better members of socie­ty than themselves, for a certain time. If such be morality, then the Robbers of Greece, the Pirates destroyed by Pompey, the plundering Arabs, and the Banditti of Italy were good and moral people. For if the Usury Societies pretend that they are going to get the money of Usurers for the Public Good, the ancient Societies, I have mentioned, did not act with­out some pretence equally plausible. The Greeks robbed because they thought it Hon­orable [Page 25] *—The Pirates pillaged mariners, be­cause they called them Lawful Prey—The A­rabs plunder because they think it the best and most easy mode of living—The Banditti of It­aly robbed and murdered travellers, because they thought their doing so was a proof of courage. The principles however on which these people acted were evidently vicious and immoral; but not more so, I conceive, than is a law which authorises a gang of people to asso­ciate for the purpose of plundering those who perhaps never saw them or had at single transact­ion with them. Would it not be equally mor­al, and more honourable to tolerate by a law the practice of taking a man's property by force and violence? He would then have a chance of defending himself.

ANOTHER kind of immorality attendant on Usury Laws is their rewarding Informers; who, in all European countries, at least, are cons [...]d­ered [Page 26] as the very outcasts, dregs and pests of society; whose hand, like that of Ishmael, is against every man, and every man's hand a­gainst them, and with whom none but men of "like occupation with themselves" will associ­ate. Their word or oath, in a court of justice, in England, is considered as of no consequence or value, nor will it have any weight whatever, with a Jury of men of the very meanest capaci­ty. If then Usury laws have a tendency to reduce men to this degraded and wretched state, no farther proof or argument need be sought after to convince the world of the Immorality of them.

CHAP. IV. On the justice of Usury Laws.

THE question respecting the Justice of Usury laws is determined by the laws them­selves. [Page 27] The law of England, on a conviction of usurious practices, enjoins a forfeiture of three times the amount of the capital loaned. The law of the State of Connecticut also en­acts that ‘Every person who shall take, accept and receive by any way or means, more than Six Dollars for the use of One Hundred Dollars, for a year, shall forfeit and lose for such offence, the full value of the money so lent; one moiety thereof to the public Trea­sury of this State, the other half to the Infor­mer who shall sue for and prosecute the same to effect.’ Now it will, at first sight, be evident to every person that no man, although he were more learned than Yelverton, or Lit­tleton, or Coke, or Hales, or Blackstone, or Mansfield, or all of them together, can ever prove that there is any justice in such most hor­rid and barbarous forfeitures. With a Goth, Vandal or Monk, they might indeed be jus­tice, but never can pass for such in any enlight­ened or liberal state of Society. Any thing in the Usury law of Connecticut, which has the least appearance of justice, is that part of it which directs the proceedings to be by a bill in equity*. In that way the lender loses the In­terest [Page 28] only, and certainly that is the utmost ex­tent that any legislature had a right to proceed to: but to take away the principal, to reduce a man to beggary and ruin, for an action which is not either immoral or unjust, certainly has much more of the appearance of violence and robbery, than of justice, in it—and I am most fully convinced that no Law makers had a [...]ight to pass such laws, as they are evidently both immoral and unjust. But admitting there ought to be Usury laws, those which now ex­ist appear to be just the contrary of what they ought to be; for living is at least fifteen times as expensive now, as it was when the Interest of money was 10 or 12 per cent. In the 12th Century a fat ox and a meal of bread for an hundred men could be had for two shillings; and twenty horses might be fed for four pence. In the 13th Century, wheat might be bought for a shilling, and oats for four pence a quarter, a goose for four pence, a lamb for six pence, and fowls at a penny for a couple. Such were generally the prices for several ages afterwards; and I have seen a tavern bill for Queen Eliza­beth, her attendants and servants, for a break­fast [Page 29] on Turkeys, Fowls, Claret, &c. which did not amount to more than 4s. 8d. sterling, a lit­tle more than a breakfast for one man costs now. Is it not strange then that legislators should have been so extremely hard upon mon­ey, as to lessen its value in proportion as the value of [...] other articles of trade increases? Does this look like justice?

ANOTHER species of injustice which the Usu­ry laws sanction, is their tolerating a species of persecution against men of property. Gover­nor Jay, in his last speech to the legislature of New York, complains that ‘men of otherwise irreproachable character are guilty of the practice of Usury.’ Usury is merely a spe­culative point on which men may naturally be expected to differ in opinion. Governor Jay is an enemy to the practice; but he speaks of it in the language of a Gentleman. Very different however is the case with the gen­erality of people, and the Societies, who con­verse on the subject. They represent people who have money to lend as a set of Robbers, Swindlers, Extortioners, and I know not what beside; and they succeed in raising an odium against monied men amongst unthinking peo­ple, [Page 30] who neither understand or examine the matter. It would be prudent in such people to follow the advice of an ancient writer, who says, Understand first, and than rebuke. Let them consider that NO MAN IS OBLIGED TO BORROW MONEY. But if I have money to lend, and another man wishes to borrow it, surely I have a right to consider his ability to repay it, the inconvenience I might be put to by lending, the value of money, and to demand interest accordingly. If he accepts my offer that in itself is a demonstration that he cannot do better elsewhere, and is it just that after I have done better than any other person for him, he should have it in his power to cheat me? ‘If (says Blackstone*) I borrow £100 to em­ploy in a beneficial trade, it is but equitable that the lender should have a proportion of my gains.’ This is certainly agreeable to the nature and spirit of trade; for if a Farmer has corn, or cattle, or any other article to sell, or a Merchant has goods for sale, it will be useless for me to tell them what the price of those articles was ten or an hundred years ago, and demand the articles at that price: they [Page 31] will insist on the present market price, and if I will not give that they will go elsewhere. I have paid 16 Dollars for a barrel of Flour; this I should doubtless have been glad to get at the old price of 5 Dollars, but as I knew it was then worth 16 Dollars to the seller, I was obliged to pay so much;—and in justice the case ought to be the same with money. When money is scarce and much wanted it ought to produce a larger profit, just as all other articles in trade do.

THERE are great numbers of people in the world who are past labour, and who have saved a sum of money sufficient to support them in cheap times; but when the necessaries of life are advanced to three times the amount of their ordinary value, is it just to oblige such people to take common interest for their mo­ney, and thus to cut them off from two thirds of the nourishments, &c. which are necessary to the support and comfort of life?

BUT another glaring inconsistency and in­justice [...]n the Usury law is this—Money that is lent on usurious Interest is generally, if not al­ways, obtained by the pressing and, sometimes repeated solicitations of the [...]orrower; yet the [Page 32] lender is to bear the whole burden of pains are penalties, and the borrower is to be rewarded for his perfidy, if he turns informer, and cheats the lender out of both principal and interest. Certainly these things ought not so to be. If men are to be tempted and bribed to violate every principle of good faith and honour, why are not the penalties of the law to fall equally on the borrower, seeing, if this is a crime, that he is equally culpable. Nay he is probably more so, for no doubt he always borrows wi [...]h a view to his own advantage; and the advan­tages on his side are generally much more con­siderable* than on those of the lender; who, if the borrower happens to fail in his schemes, frequently loses his money without the assis­tance of the Usury law. Upon the whole we may safely conclude that there is no more jus­tice in the law for defining Usury and puni­shing Usurers, than there was in that which condemned women to the flames for having fits, and which reflected equal disgrace on both Old and New-England.

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CHAP. V. On the Necessity for the existence of Usury Laws.

THE next thing to be remarked on, is the Necessity for the existence of Usury laws. This necessity will appear to be very trifling indeed [...] it be once admitted that money, like every other article of exchange and merchandise, if left to its own simple operation, will find its own value. That it will do this is proved by a variety of facts, none of which I think is stronger than that of the variation in the price of gold and silver, according as it is scarce or plenty. In China the proportion between gold and silver is as one to ten, that is, one ounce of gold is worth ten [...]unces of silver*. [Page 34] in other parts of the East-Indies, the propor­tion varies from one to eleven, twelve and thir­teen. In ancient Greece it was as one [...]o thir­teen. In ancient Rome as one to ten, but in the time of Tiberius it rose to thirteen. Dur­ing the reign of the Monks the variations were greater in extent and almost infinite in number; but when Columbus first discovered America, the proportion was one to twelve*. From that time the importations of silver from Mexico and Peru, have been more than a counterpoise to the gold of Brazil, and it now requires near fifteen ounces of silver, both in Europe and America, to purchase an ounce of gold; but at times when silver has been scarce and much demanded, I have known the proportion redu­ced as low as one to twelve, in England. The relative value of gold and silver being thus clearly proved to be governed by circumstan­ces, there can be little doubt, but the value of money, in general, would always be determi­ned by the quantity, as it ought to be, therefore there can be no necessity for fixing it by law.

BUT I will mention another fact, which I [Page 35] think will settle the matter beyond dispute. In peaceable times, when money is plenty in Eu­ro [...]e, it is never worth more than 3, 4 or 5 per cent. In England particularly, so late as the year 1792, £ 100 of Annuities which pay only 3 per cent. Interest, were worth £ 97, and it was difficult to get 4 per cent. on Mortgages: L [...]nd also in general did not produce more than 3 per cent. and in America money was sufficiently plen [...]y to raise the Funds consider­ably above par. It is only in times like these, when the ruinous war carried on in Europe, and the great increase in the trade of this country, has made money scarce there, and much demanded here, that more than a very moderate rate of Interest can be obtained. Where then is the necessity or propr [...]ety of preventing the man who possesses money, from taking advantage of this favourable time, any more than there is for preventing the Farmer or Merchant from availing themselves of a good time for the sale of their produce or Merchan­dise—or the Jobber in Susquehanna or other lands, from selling his speculations at 50, 100, or perhaps 500* per cent profit if he can? In­deed [Page 36] I should think there is a much greater ne­cessity for a restraint on people of this descrip­tion, [Page 37] for it is pretty clear that where one person is injured by the Interest of money, an hundred are ruined by jobbing in lands.

CHAP. VI. On the Policy of Usury Laws.

AMONG the governments of Europe there is apparently some Policy in Usury Laws; for their debts are enormous, and they are almost continually borrowing immense sums of mon­ey. If they were obliged to pay a high interest; they know they could not borrow enough for their schemes. If governments were obliged [Page 38] to pay 20 per cent Interest, they could no more carry on a seven years war, now, than they could in those feudal times when they lev [...]ed their supplies by taking a tenth, fif [...]een [...]h or twentieth part of every man's moveable proper­ty. Hence it appears that though a high in er­est would be bad policy for a government, it would be good pol [...]cy for a people at large, as they could thereby escape many evils, and much expense of blood and treasure.

BUT even this unsound pretence of policy, does not attach to the individual states of Ame­rica; their debts are but trifling, nor does there appear any prospect of their being un [...]er the necessity of increasing them. The interest is fixed, and it is of no consequence to the state [...] how much the capital sells per £ 100. The Usury laws therefore so far from being advan­tageous to America, are on the other hand highly detrimental; for if those laws were re­pealed, it is probable interest migh [...] for a little time be 10 or 12 per cent.—but as soon as the people of Europe understood that so much was legally to be got here, they would make immense remittances to this country; suffici­ent, I have no doubt, to reduce the Interest of [Page 39] money lower than 6 per cent. Plenty of money would occasion a competition among the lenders, and the conduct of the Banks at New-York proves that if one lets out money for less than is now the legal interest, another m [...]st also. An infl [...]x of wealth could not fail to be of the m [...]st essential advantage to a country so extensive and so thinly peopled as is America; for wherever riches are, industry, improvements and population will naturally in­crease: and this country would soon prove to the world that it could do without Usury laws, as well as did those greatly commercial nations the Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Venetians.

THE history and experience of all ages and nations proves, that in order for trade to be successful it must be free; and that the more free money has been from legal shackles, in any country, so much the greater in proportion has been the trade of that country. Thus among the Carthaginians, Phoenicians, Vene­ [...]ians and Dutch, where loans were free, trade flourished most extensively: But ‘in the dark ages of Monkish superstition and civil tyran­ny, when interest was laid under a total inter­dict, commerce was also at its lowest ebb, and [Page 40] fell entirely into the hands of the Jews and Lombards: but when men's minds began to be enlarged, when true religion, and real lib­erty revived, commerce grew again into cre­dit; and again introduced with itself its in­seperable companion, the doctrine of loans upon interest*.’ While interest was prohib­ited in England there was no trade, and the Jews and Lombards, who clandestinely follow­ed the practice of Usury, made 45 or 50 per cent per annum; which demonstrates the absur­dity and bad policy of restraints on money. Henry VIII. El [...]zabeth, and James I. tolerated interest on loans, not for the benefit of trade, but to enable themselves to borrow cheaper than of the Jews and Lombards. However, as money became more free, trade began to flou­rish, and England soon became the rival of Hol­land, which had usurped the dominion of the seas. The freedom of money in Holland redu­ced the interest so low that the Dutch remitted at least Seventy M [...]llions Sterling into England to be invested in the English Funds, although they could not make more than about 3 per cent interest there. It is true that the rate of [Page 41] Interest is fixed by law, in England, but the trade of England was nearly doubled at a time when money would not produce legal Interes [...].—Now that no one but the Bank will lend on legal interest, trade is again rapidly on the de­cline. Hence it appears that the more free money has been in any country, the greater has been the trade and prosperity of t [...]at country; and if the State legislatures of this country should think proper to repeal the Usury laws existing here, although a temporary inconveni­ence might arise from the Interest being more than 6 or 7 per cent, yet I am confident so great an influx of wealth would be occasioned by that rise, as would soon reduce the rate of Interest below the present legal standard. Is not this proved by every other species of mer­chandise? If an article produces a high price in any country, is it not sent to that country from all parts of the world until the price is reduced lower than in any other country? Wheat was a [...] 4 Dollars a bushel in England about two years ago, and that price occasioned so great an importation as reduced the value to such a de­gree as made it most fo [...] the advantage of mer­chants to send flour back to America. Is it not then more than probable that the case would [Page 42] the same with money? A [...] least I should think it would be worthy the attention of legislatures, so far as to induce them to try the experiment.

IT is said by some that Usury laws are neces­sary to restrain the avarice of creditors, who, if their debtors cannot pay them, either advance the interest or demand something for forbear­ance; that they are a restraint upon taking ad­vantage of a man's distressed circumstances, to extort a large interest from him, and therefore they are politic. But if some creditors are apt to be hard on debtors, why do they not borrow of other persons to save the advance of Interest, or forbearance money, if they can do it on bet­ter terms? Their not doing so is a sufficient presumption that they cannot get the money cheaper, or perhaps, on any terms whatever, elsewhere. Again, where a man is in distressed circumstances, who, except a very uncommon friend, would step forward and relieve him from his distress, without a prospect of an advantage which should be equivalent to the risk he runs? In this respect the Usury Law is so far from being politic, that I am convinced many men fall to ruin and decay, because no one for 6 per cent will advance money to relieve him at [Page 43] some critical conjuncture; whereas if a man could legally bargain for a compensation of the risk and danger he exposes himself to, [...]he distressed person might be relieved, he might support his credit, continue his business, and arrive at opulence, inst [...]d of dragging on a life of poverty and [...]chedness. Why is this clamour about the c [...]uelty of creditors? It is a stalking horse to [...] the diabolical designs of certain persons. No one ever had better op­portunities of knowing the nature of Creditors and Debtors, than had the Lord Chancellor Thurlow, and he has constantly and uniformly asserted that ‘Where there is one cruel credi­tor there are ten cruel debtors.’ Such too the general experience of mankind proves to be the case.

There can be no good policy in a law which countenances a combination of knaves to con­spire the ruin of their more wealthy neighbours and creditors. Their being enabled to attempt this will put a stop to all confidence and credit. When that is gone there must be a great falling oft in trade; for as the commerce of this country is in a considerable degree, carried on by the capital and credit of the more wealthy [Page 44] men, who assist the less wealthy, that capita [...] and credit may be withdrawn for want of confi­dence. Then the trade which was supported that way will be at an end; Money will daily become more scarce; the Farmers will want a market for their produce, and this proceeding, instead of making money plenty at 6 per cent, may be productive of incalculable evils. Ma­ny of these effects of the conspiracy, are alrea­dy actually felt at Norwich. But beside these natural evils, the depriving monied men of their natural liberty of action might be productive of great artificial evils. Those that are called monied men are few* in comparison with the [Page 45] g [...]eat body of the people, and if they are to [...] hardly used it would be no difficult matter for them in their turn to enter into such a combi­nation and conspiracy as would ruin the gov­ernment and country. Suppose the practices of these Societies were successfully and exten­sively put into effect, and many men ruined by the same, would it be strange if a principle of revenge should stimulate the monied interest to withdraw their property from the Government, from the Banks, from the Merchants, &c. and to lodge it in their own coffers until they ob­tained a redress of this grievance? It is easy to foresee what would be the consequences of such a proceeding. Now as monied men have the power of doing so much mischief, and do not use that power, I think they ought to be treat­ed with some indulgence, and not be expossed to be harrassed and made uneasy by the dregs of so­ciety, and persons with whom they never had a transaction. It appears to me that this re­straint upon their acting according to the rules of nature, of trade, and of common policy, ought to be taken out of the way.

[Page 46] FROM what has been said before, it evidently appears that prohibiting the lending of money is altogether impolitic. The present Usury laws are equal to a prohibition, therefore they must be impolitic also. For what man will now lend to an individual on personal security at Six per cent? The Funds of the Government, the Banks, Turnpike Roads, &c. pay more, where the money can at any time be command­ed, which is not the case with individuals. Sup­pose a man lends another man 100 Dollars on a note, he will think himself well off if he gets the money in calling for it three times. If the note should be at two months, he will get a Dollar discount (at 6 per cent) and if he has to hire a chaise to go two or three miles, three times, that will cost him nine shillings, so that the buyer of such a note stands a chance of be­ing half a dollar out of pocket besides being kept out of his money two or three months, and taking as much trouble as would cost him a dollar or two more if he was to hire a person to do the business. As payments are now made it is worth about 2 per cent to collect money, so that it cannot be expected any man in his sen­ses should enter into the system of lending at 6 per cent. It will therefore be politic for the [Page 47] legislatures either totally to abolish Usury laws, or increase the rate of interest, if they wish there should be any trade; for (I say it on the au­thority of Blackstone) ‘Unless money can be borrowed, trade cannot be carried on.’

ANOTHER circumstance which indicates the good policy of repealing the Usury laws, is their being particularly injurious to certain classes of individuals. Among these are some of the English nobility and gentry who possess entail­ed Estates, which they cannot either sell or mortgage without an act of Parliament. Per­sons of this description might get money for little more than legal interest if their friends could give legal security for them; but as that cannot be done they are obliged to raise mon­ey in a very disadvantageous way, by Post-obit bonds, or Life Annuities. In the latter case a gentleman borrows a certain sum of money for life, and mortgages the rent of his Estate for the payment of the Interest, or Life Annui­ty, as it is called. He also has his life Insur­ed to the amount of the sum borrowed, at one of the offices, established in London for such purposes, and the policy remains with the len­der; who is thereby enabled to recover from [Page 48] the office the original sum loaned, at the death of the borrower. For money borrowed in this way the Interest and premium of Insurance can­not amount to less than 15 or 18 per cent. per [...]nn. when money is plenty; yet a transaction of this kind is not adjudged to come within the Statute against Usury.

BUT there it another and more numerous class of men who are much more materially injured by the Usury laws, I mean the poorer fort of tradesmen. Persons or Societies who Insure property at sea charge a premium in proportion to the risk; for example the Premium of In­surance to the West Indies may now be 20 per cent; but in time of peace would be only two per cent. So if a poor tradesman, who is thought in a hazardous situation, attempts to borrow money he must pay 24 per cent.—whereas if he could legally give the security of two or three of his friends, it is probable the lender would rather let him have the money at 8 or 10 per cent, than at 24 or even 30 per cent, and run the risk of his single security and the Usury laws. Such is the difficulty this description of men often experience in raising money, that they are frequently obliged to send [Page 49] their goods into auctions and sell them for hal [...] what they cost. I could produce the example of a man in Norwich who bought a hogshead of sugar for 9 Dollars per Cwt. at three months credit, and sold the same for 7 Dollars ready money, in order to raise a little current cash. Now supposing there was no more than 10 Cwt. of sugar in the hogshead, he lost 20 Dollars by the speculation, whereas if he had borrowed the money, he raised, at 2 per cent a month, it would have cost him only 4 Dollars and a frac­tion; and had there been no Usury law so that he could have given legal security, no doubt he could have borrowed the sum for two Dol­lars.—Probably similar instances occur daily in larger Towns.

THUS in whatever way I view the Usury Laws, I can find in them neither Religion, Morality, Justice, Necessity or Policy, but they contain abundance of the directly contrary qualities. As men become enlightened, legis­lators will see the necessity for repealing these laws, as they have already repealed others which were made by the Monkish and gloomy professors of religion, in earlier times. I could wish, for the honour of Connecticut, that its [Page 50] leg [...]slators at their next meeting would try the experiment of either repealing this law or at least taking away all the unjust penalties it de­mands. It those mischievous and gloomy ef­fects which some pretend to foresee should [...]e­sult from the repeal, it is an easy matter to re­establish the law at any time; but this cannot be ascertained without a trial. For my own [...] am convinced that the repeal will always [...] on those legislators by whom it is effected.

CHAP. VII. On the Legality of the proceedings of the Nor­wich Society.

I UNDERSTAND the Norwich, or rather the L [...]sb [...]n Society consists of about eight per­sons, who have entered into regular articles of agreement to prosecute all cases of Usury [Page 51] may come to their knowledge. Mr. H [...]de, it seems, has not degraded himself so far as to sign those [...]. Mr. Cy [...]us B [...]shop [...] con­stituted the Informer General of the [...], but he frequently descends lo the mea [...] office of a pimp*, going from house to house to know if the inhabitants cannot give him "a little in­formation [Page 52] about Usury." The di [...]al or nocturnal meetings of the Society, are kept in some degree secret; but as some of the mem­bers have been unfaithful, their secrets get di­vulged. Hence it appears that their consulta­tions (to use the language of prosaic poetry) in point of principle, were not excelled by the con­sultations held at the palace of Pandaemoni­um, and for eloquence their debates might be compared to the bella inter intestina, which has, if I mistake not, been celebrated by a Roman poet. On these occasions it is determined a­gainst whom Mr. Hyde, as the Pope of Socie­ty, shall issue his mandates, or Bulls, command­ing the persons fixed on to do homage to the Society, and to pay to Mr. Bishop 2600 or 600 Dollars, as the nature of the case may be. This Summons is issued in the manner and form fol­lowing.

‘To the Sheriff of the County of New Lon­don, his Deputy, or to either the constables of the town of Norwich, or to either the Sheriffs of the city of Norwich within the County aforesaid.’

GREETING.

BY Authority of the State of Connecticut, you are hereby commanded to summon — of said city, [Page 53] to appear before the city Court to be holden [...] the city of Norwich, within and for said city, on the second Tuesday of January next, then and there to answer unto Cyrus Bishop of Lis­bon in the County aforesaid, in a plea that to the plaintiff the defendant render the sum of Twenty-Six Hundred Dollars, which to the plaintiff (be the defendant owes,) and to the treasurer of the State of Connecticut, and unjust­ly detains; whereupon the plaintiff declares and says, that on the eleventh day of November, A. D. 1796, in the city aforesaid, Benjamin Ames and Jonathan Lawrence, both of said city, applied to the defendant and wanted the loan of Twenty-Six Hundred Dollars for the term of six months;—the defendant then propo­sed to let them the said Ames and Lawrence have said sum on the following terms,—that they the said Ames and Lawrence must give their note for the Sum of Twenty-Six Hundred Dollars, payable in six months from the date, and must allow at the rate of two per cent per month, or at the rate of twenty four per cent per annum, and likewise procure Simeon Hub­bard and Company's, then of said City, indorse­ment on said note, assuring the repayment of the money at the expiration of six months from the [Page 54] date, to which proposal the said Ames and Law­rence by the agency of said Ame [...] agreed to, and then it was on said Eleventh day of November, corruptly agreed by and between the said Ames and Lawrence, on the one part, and the defen­dant on the other part in said city, and the de­fendant paid over to said Ames and Lawrence, said sum of Twenty-Six Hundred Dollars, de­ducting and retaining therefrom said Usurious Interest Three Hundred and Twelve Dollars, and then received said Note of hand from said Ames and Lawrence, signed Benjamin Ames & Company, payable to the defendant in six months from the eleventh day of November, A. D. 1796, on this express and corrupt agreement—that the said Ames and Lawrence was to al­low more than at the rate of Six per Cent per annum, viz. at the rate of Twenty-four per Cent per annum on said note of Twenty six Hun­dred Dollars, which was included in said note, and the Plaintiff further says, that said note become due on the eleventh day of May last past, and on or about said 11th day, the defendant and said Ames and Lawrence did in said city, in pursuance of said corrupt agreement, and in order to carry into effect said usurious, wicked, unlawful and corrupt agreement, the said Law­rence [Page 55] and Ames paid over to the defendant, and the defendant did then receive [...] not more than at the ra [...]e of Six per Cent per an­num, or Six pounds upon the Hundred, by force of a wicked and corrupt bargain made as afore­said, and the defendant received the full con­tents of said note, which contained more than the lawful Interest, and at the rate of Twenty-four per Cent per annum from the sum actually received, all by the corrupt, usurious and un­lawful agreement made with said Ames and Lawrence, thereby the defendant in said city, on said 11th day of May, did, against law by a corrupt agreement receive on the said note of Twenty six Hundred Dollars, more than legal Interest, by the hands of said Ames and Law­rence, and thereby the defendant by his wicked and corrupt conduct as aforesaid, has forfeited said sum of Twenty six Hundred Dollars, the one half to him that will prosecute the same to effect, the other half to the Treasurer of the State,—and thereby an action has accrued to the plaintiff to recover of the defendant said sum of Twenty-six Hundred Dollars, the one half to the Treasurer of the State and the oth­er half to himself, which sum of Twenty-six Hundred Dollars the defendant has never paid [Page 56] in any way or manner, or any part thereof, though often requested and demanded, which it to the damage of the plaintiff the sum of Twen­ty six Hundred Dollars, and to recover the same by f [...]rce of the Statute law to be disposed of as the Statute law directs, and costs, this suit is brought. Hereof fail not, but of this writ make due service and return as the law directs.

ELISHA HYDE, Justice of Peace.
Thirty-four Cents duty is paid. Certified, per Elisha Hyde, Justice of Peace.
A true Copy of the original writ, Test. Benjamin Tracy, City Sheriff.

THIS writ, with the exception of the name of the Defendant; is copied ad literam, and it will appear that, however legal it may be, it is not very logical. I have seen another writ signed by Mr. Hyde which has the following passage in it.—‘To the Plaintiff the Defen­dant owes, and unjustly detains, whereupon the plaintiff Declares, and says that within the city aforesaid, the Defendant Loaned and Lent Six Hundred Dollars to Eliphalet Bulk­ley and William Lee, both then of Colchester [Page 57] in said County, which money was lent and delivered to said Bulkley & Lee in said City on or about the 10th day of June, A. D. 1797,—which money was returned and paid to the Defendant by said Bulkley & Lee, on or about the 30th day of August last past and for the loan and forbearance of said Six Hun­dred Dollars, less than sixty days from the de­livery thereof it was corrup [...]y agreed by and between the Defendant and said Bulkley & Lee for the Defendant to receive of said Bulk­ley & Lee more than the lawful interest ari­sing thereon,’ &c. From the 10th of June to the 30th of August, I conceive, there are eighty-one days: how the Society made it "less than sixty days" I am at a loss to imagine. If they calculate no better on general principles than on dates, I suspect they will find them­selves on the wrong side of the question. In­deed at all events I have no scruple about be­lieving that the Society will ultimately find that it has been mistaken. For when these ca­ses come to a full hearing in a court of justice, it will appear that they are acting on an entire­ly new system; such as was never heard of, or thought of, before, in any age or country. It will be discovered that in order to a convict­ion [Page 58] the law requires "full evidence." I will not attempt to deny that in some cases the per­son who borrowed money at usurious interest might be admitted as a competent witness by a court of justice; but it is far from being evident that this practice was contemplated by the fra­mers of the Connecticut Usury law. On the contrary there is strong presumptive evidence of an opposite disposition.—1st. In the clause (called obsolete by Mr. Swift) which directs Grand-jurors to present such persons as are of "Evil name for taking excessive interest." Now if the law-makers thought that the evi­dence of a person who had transacted business with the Usurer was sufficient, what necessity was there for this clause? 2. If a borrower has made a [...]s [...]r [...]ous contract with a lender, there is a proviso in the Statute, in case the borrow­er is prosecuted for amount of the loan, which enables him, the defendant, to file a bill in equi­ty, whereby the plaintiff is obliged to be exam­ined on oath touching the real sum he lent; and he is to receive that sum only, without in­terest: Now if the makers of this law had been of opinion that the evidence of the defendant alone, would be sufficient proof of usurious practices, is it to be supposed that they would [Page 59] have enacted a [...] of this nature? 3. These parts of the law (the presentment and bill in equity) are to be carried into effect on the evi­dence of "one credible witness;" but p. 12, it is Always provided, That nothing in this act be construed to prevent any persons from pro­ceeding upon full Evidence in the common course of law against excessive Usury, and usurious contracts.’ Thus there is a clear distinction made between ‘one credible wit­ness,’ and "full evidence." This consider­ation alone I should think sufficient to prove that the compilers of the Usury Statute had it not in contemplation to admit the evidence of one man, and he a party in the transaction, as full evidence. The legislators of those times must have known that a law so construed would occasion many frauds, there being in all countries men who, for the sake of a reward, would invent or forge a case in usury, and swear that there was usury in transactions were none existed. They knew very well that there is no method to prevent a man from giving a premium privately on money, because every man has a natural right to do so if he chuses it; but it appears to me that the law was only in­tended to prevent the receiving more than le­gal [Page 60] interest by course of law. I know very lit­tle of the practice of the courts in this country. But in England I believe I can safely assert, that there never was a conviction on the Usury State on the evidence of an Informer: A man of that description would not dare to shew his face on any exchange in that country. No doubt usurious practices are carried on to a considerable extent in England, but prosecutions for Usury seldom occur, unless in cases of Bankruptcy, or Death; and they do not then occur unless it can be proved by the clear in­disputable evidence of Deeds, Books, and dis­interested living witnesses; which is there cal­led full evidence *. If the Norwich (Lisbon) Society was in England their witnesses would not only be thought ineligible, but the mem­bers of the Society themselves would be indict­ed for a conspiracy: for such their associating, actually is. When a man voluntarily comes forward with an information on a case of Usury, [Page 61] he it certain of making himself infamous for the remainder of his life; and few men will run this risk without a prospect of considerable ad­vantage. I understand the witnesses of the So­ciety are to swear that they are totally disinter­ested; but will any Jury ever believe some of of them? And even if a credible witness should be examined the evidence of one man does not appear to be full evidence, and therefore will not warrant the giving of a verdict for the plaintiff. And when it is considered that the Usury Statute is almost obsolete; that it is so highly injurious to society as it has been proved to be; that Juries ought to do strict justice be­tween all parties; and that they are judges of Law as well as of Fact, a Jury ought to be ex­tremely cautious about going into the practice of convictions under this Statute.

SUCH indeed the conduct of Juries generally is in regard to old and barbarous laws. In the cale where a man is killed in a duel the law calls it murder; but if the duel is fought by mutual agreement, and nothing dishonourable appears on the part of the survivor, a Jury al­ways brings it in Manslaughter only. Juries in England are generally very scrupulous in [Page 62] such cases, insomuch that I have known a ver­dict of Manslaughter brought in when the Judges charged the Jury to find the prisoner guilty of Murder. Two instances of this come within my own immediate knowledge, namely, on the trials of Mr. Patterson and R. England for killing Gen. Adair, and Mr. Rowles. Lycurgus the Spartan Law-giver, in his code of laws, directed that every child born with any natural defect should be put to death. Draco decreed that every crime should be punished with death. It was the law, of custom, at least, among the Poles, so late as the 13th century, to put every old man, who was past labour, and every imperfect child to death. And by the laws of France, England and Massachusetts Bay, every poor old woman who happened to be troubled with convulsions, St. V [...]tus's dance, &c. was condemned to be burnt for a witch. In the barbarous times when those laws were made, they were carried into execution: but if they existed now, and a Jury was impanelled to try a child for being crook­ed, a man for being old, a boy for stealing an apple, or an old woman for having fits, would the Jury condemn these several persons to death on such accounts? No Jury could be [Page 63] found to do this, whatever the law might say, in any civilized country; in England such Laws as are barbarous and unjust are always got rid of by what is called Fictions in law. When the cases in Usury come to be heard, a Jury will no doubt be puzzled to know how persons who never had a transaction with Cyrus Bishop, can be made to owe him 4000 Dol­lars by law. If the law could be made to ap­ply to the case, a Jury would see the necessity for evading it by a fiction; but the Jurors be­fore whom these causes are brought will per­ceive that it never was the intention of the law to do more than put it in the power of the per­son aggrieved, or his heirs to injure the Usurer; they will learn that very few convictions have ever been had under this Statute; that prosecu­tions like these of the Society have never been carried on, or even thought of; and that they cannot either on the principles of Law, Justice or Honour, give a verdict for Cyrus Bishop and Company.

ERRATA.

First line of the Note, p. 22. for vanity read va­riety.

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