Page images
PDF
EPUB

sants at a fixed annual rent, a few only remaining on the common tenure of service. In these free villages, the value of land has risen to such a degree, that the owner of four acres is esteemed wealthy, and the population has increased from fifty families to six hundred. Although still subject to the government duties, and suffering from the effects of two bad seasons, and an inundation of the Drave, these peasants were, in 1814, striving cheerfully with the difficulties of their situation; while their neighbours, on the common footing, although each family possessed thirty acres, were reduced to subsist on the bounty of their lord. These free villages also afford an exception to the general dishonesty of the Hungarian peasantry; their household furniture is often exposed on the outside of the cottages, and does not even require the protection of the large dogs common in the rest of the country. As, however, on hereditary property, no arrangement made by the lord is binding on his successor, this amelioration cannot become general without an act of the Legislature.

Hungary produces great abundance of corn, wine, (of which the tokay is the besi), and fine wool; it contains also extensive forests, mines of gold and silver, and of salt: But much remains to be done, to enable its inhabitants to derive a due profit from these productions. At present, trade is entirely in the hands of Jews, Greeks and Armenians, who travel from fair to fair, and purchase from the peasant at a low rate: their gains are of course immense. The only article manufactured for exportation is leather.

There is a considerable difference in the appearance of the country in the northern and southern extremities of our author's tour. 'In the north, we find an immense extent of unenclosed arable land, over which the eye wanders without interruption, except from a few small forests and thinly scattered villages. In the south, the surface is diversified with small elevations laid out in vineyards interspersed with fruit trees; while in the vicinity of the lake Balaton, are rich pastures, from which rise several insulated basaltic hills. The whole of these districts are bounded, excepting to the eastward, by fine mountains, which limit the waters tributary to the Danube. To the eastward lies an entirely level and open country, comprehending all Eastern Hungary, and extending from where the Theiss issues from amongst the hills, to its junction with the Danube. Between these rivers there is a great extent of marsh, and some peat-moss, while the drier districts are sandy; often indeed covered with moving sands, said to contain marine shells. Here and there are found miserable villages, affording a shelter to the herdsmen, who watch the cattle in the pastures, which appear like caves in this desert. This country, however, contains one city, Debretzin, with a population amourting to forty thousand souls. It is the centre of commerce of Transylvania and Hungary, and its inhabitants, are all occupied in trades more imniediately concerned with the necessaries than the luxuries of life. The houses are all strictly cottages, upon the same plan with those already described; and every month is formed, for a time, an immense suburb of booths and covered wagyons, for the accommodation of the travelling merchants who frequent the fairs.

The only objects of curiosity to the mineralogist afforded by Lower Hungary, are the insulated hills already mentioned, as occurring in the vicinity of the lake of Balaton. Our author has described three of them which he visited. The hill of Csobantz consisted of a porous scoriated lava, partly in loose in:!SSes, partly in situ, covered at the base with a sand containing particles of iron and some other substance glittering like smell fragments of mica: the summit alone was basaltic greenstone. The hill of Badacson consisted of the same porous lava capped with columnar greenstone, but in horizontal bels of about a foot in thickness, and containing clivise. In one place he observed, during the descent, a sandy tufa with scoriated fragments, which resembled closely a mass found on the side of Mount Hecla. The buill of Szigliget was composed entirely of this tufa, seemingly stratified near the summit; but being on cne side quite cut down, it showed a perpendicular vein or dyke of greenstone, in horizontal columnar masses, which had produced considerable hardness and compactress in the sand immediately in contact with it.

As earthquakes are not infrequent in the vicinity, Dr Bright seems inclined to consider these hills as volcanic: but as there is no good evidence of the existence of a crater, and 1!() vestige of a stream of lava connected with them, we think this at the least very doubtful. In the way to Viema through Strria, he visited at Gratz the Joannæum, founded by the Archduke 39??), whe, ai ier an accurate survey of Styria, presenical to thie public the museum and library collected during his inquiries.' Lectures were afterwards instituted on all the branches of natural history and philosophy. This institution has furnishet!, in the person of Professor Mehs, a successer to the celebrated lcrici at of 'revberg.

Those who wish to be become intimately acquainted with the government and rural cconomy of Hungary, will find in the work before us every detail they can desire; the author having not only made the best use of his own opportunities of obscrva

tion, but also consulted the most respectable native writers upon these subjects. From them he has extracted, and thrown into the form of an Appendix, tables which contain the statistics of each county, the produce of the mines, the culture of the vine, and mode of preparing tokay, and the quantity of corn grown in the Austrian dominions. To these he has added a description of the coronation of Joseph the First, and an essay by a friend on the Gypsies or Gitanos of Spain, with a vocabulary of words and phrases common to those people, as found in Spain, Hungary, and England. Many curious facts concerning their origin and customs are contained, both in this essay and in the body of the work.

Art. XI. A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceed

ings for High Treason and other Crimes and Misdemeanours, from the earliest Period to the year 1783; with Noies and other Illustrations. Compiled by T. B. Howell Esq., F. R. S. F. S. A.: with a Continuation to the present tiine by bis Son T. J. Howell Esq. 24 vol. 8vo. London, Baldwin, Long

1809-1818.

man, &c.

T HOUGH Jurisprudence is the most important of all the

sciences, yet, unhappily, it seems to advance the most slowly towards perfection. If we compare the real improvements which the lapse of a century produces in legislation, with the progress of any branch of physical knowledge during a very few years, we shall presently be struck with the different rates at which men advance in the discovery of truths chiefly interesting as matters of speculation, and in the establishment of principles the most intimately connected with human virtue and happiness. But if the lawgiver and his commentators, literary and judicial, be slow of motion, they certainly cannot be accused of inactivity. They make little way, but abundance of stir. Compared with the effect produced, the exertion is indeci extraordinary. At all times, the makers and expounders of the law seem to have enjoyed a special privilege in the matter of prolixity and voluminoustiess. When Justinian compiled his Institute, the writings on the Civil law were said to be multorum camelorum onus :' and the consequence was, that the science was so little known, and its professors so little respected, that if, in any society at Rome, a great jurisconsult was mentioned, the odds were, that nobody knew who it was, while the more polite part of the auditors took it for the namo of some foreign fish.

In our own ccuntry, the mass of law and commentary is even more overwhelming; and the oracles of one age become neglected and forgotten in the next. Of the multiplicity and voluminousness' of the statutes, complaints were urged near a century ago by learned men; and, for some years past, the average of new law-books published in a year, and which the practitioner must more or less frequently resort to, amounts to eight or ten volumes. To avoid giving invidious examples from recent times, of the changes effected in the estimation of those works, we shall cite an anecdote of Stathom, the author of the first Abridgement of Cases, --which is applicable to far shorter periods of time than the distance between Henry VI. and Charles I. Of him Fuller (in his Worthies) quaintly observes, that his book is much esteemed for the antiquity thereof; for, • otl:erwise, lawyers behold him as soldiers do bows and ar* rows since the invention of guns, rather for sight than service.' • Yea,' (adds he) “ a grandee in that profession bath informed « me, that little of Stathom, if any at all, is law at this day; so

much is the practice thereof altered, -- whereof the learned in • that faculty will give a satisfactory account; though otherwise • it may seem strange, that reason continuing always the same, • law grounded thereon should be capable of so great alter«ation.'

Although the greatly increased volume of the State Trials, ' from one generation to another, furnishes no exception to this rule, yet unquestionably it forms by far the most important part of the juridical library. The subjects are almost all of general and

permanent interest. The discussions were solemn, and the decisions well considered. Prejudice, violence, or corruption, may often have misled; but at least every thing was fully investigated, and the error or the fault committed may be traced and corrected in the history of the proceeding which it disfigures. They contain much of the origines juris. Beside the principal cases themselves, a variety of points are incidentally discussed with great care, from the interest attached to everything connected with such high affairs. They throw great light upon the progress of the Constitution; indeed they form an essential branch of Parliamentary History, where alone the Constitution can be either traced through its changes, or accurately learnt by its principles. Nothing can well be figured more opposite to the Reports of Cases which abound in the present day-intolerably augmenting the labour of the student-tormenting the practitioner-overlaying what is sound and useful--discouraging the acquirement of scientific knowledge-substituting, for the study of principle, the empirical recollection of facts-perpetuating whatever mistakes may accidentally be committed—and rendering their extirpation both difficult, violent and hurtful, by saving them from the natural death which awaited them.

A valuable service was, therefore, rendered to the student of law for practical purposes; and still more to him who would examine its principles with the eye of a philosopher and an historian, by the original editors of the great work which we now have before us in its last and nearly perfect state. It was first undertaken a century ago, under the superintendence of Mr Salmon, and consisted of four volumes folio. This edition was followed immediately by an additional volume, and soon after by an octavo in cight volumes, which we have never seen, but understand to be an abridgement; and in 1738, Mr Salmon published, in folio, his Critical Review of the State Trials, an abridgement of considerable utility and merit; although Mr Hargrave justly censures the strong Tory prejudices with which it is tinged. In 1730 was published the edition, commonly called the second, in six volumes folio, by the learned, ingenious, and enlightened Mr Emlyn; a man who enjoys considerable reputation in the profession for his edition of Sir M. Hale, but whose merits seem to have far exceeded the fame with which his modest ambition rested satisfied. Beside the addition of a sixth volume, bringing the work down from the reign of Queen Anne to the end of Gcorge I., and an Appendix of Records, which made the work a book of Entries as well as Reports, Mr Emlyn enriched the whole with references to the law-books and works of undoubted authority; and, above all, with a Preface, which abounds in learning, and is distinguished by peculiarly sound and liberal opinions. He there points oui, with a masterly hand, some of the most remarkable peculiarities in the system of English jurisprudence; praising its exceliences, and freely exposing its defects. We shall extract a few

passages from this admirable piece, because they bear very powerful testimony to the doctrines which some are called ignorant, and others criminal, for broaching, however soberly, in the present day. But first it may be observed, that several additions of importance, and some lesser alterations, were made in the last edition; and it is remarkable, that these changes should have escaped so diligent and learned a person as Mr Hargrave, who speaks of the Preface to the edition in 1742 as a mere reprint of the Preface of 1730.-(1. Harg. St. T. Pref. iii.)

One of these uciditions is attended with somewhat singular circumstances. Mr Emlyn, in 1730, exposes most justly the absurd practice of engrossing all pleadings, criminal as well as civil, in Latin and a Court land, so as to render them at once illegible and unintelligible to the parties most interested in them, In the republication of 1712, we find the same pa- uge not only

« PreviousContinue »