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They were secretly cherished by multitudes in England, and on the continent, in the time of Elizabeth, though the open expression of them was checked by the heavy pressure of the hand of power. Contrary to the general supposition, the Baptists were numerous before the disturbances at Munster. is clear,” says the writer, “that those have reason for their opinion, who say that the Baptists may trace the history of their sentiments through the old Waldensian churches." These sentiments, he contends, embraced those principles of religious freedom, the assertion of which caused the expulsion of Roger Williams from Massachusetts. “He was only one of a sacred succession." Whether or not Mr. Hague's authorities, which are numerous, fully bear him out in all these statements, is a point we cannot now discuss.
The subsequent portion of the Discourse is occupied chiefly with a notice of the several pastors of the church. Some general reflections follow, and biographical notes are added in an appendix. The whole is written in a clear and unpretending style, without any attempt at eloquence, but in a spirit of good faith and earnestness, which cannot fail of securing for the author a fair hearing from those who may dissent from some of his positions and reasonings.
5. - An Historical Account of Massachusetts Currency. By
Joseph B. FELT. Boston: Perkins & Marvin. 1839. 8vo.
Mr. Felt's book is an accumulation of facts, relative to currency and prices in Massachusetts, from the settlement of the colony to the present time, arranged chronologically, without any continuity of narrative, without any division into chapters and sections, without
table of contents, or index of subjects. It is, accordingly, an exceedingly repulsive work, either to read or to consult, for it requires a very stern and persevering resolution to labor on, page after page, through two hundred and forty or fifty pages on the subjects of wampumpeag, beaver-skins, paper money, public bills of credit, the exhausted state of the treasury, taxes, and other kindred topics. These subjects are detailed with patient fidelity in a fragmentary congeries. And as to consulting the work, the only clew to any matter is the date. If you have that, the margin readily leads you to the year and month sought ; if you have not the date, the only way is to begin the book and read patiently.
It is to be regretted, that Mr. Felt has not given some clew to the subjects treated of, in his book, by a table of contents, or index, or both, and we do not see any thing to prevent his still adding those appendages. And the importance of the subject will justify this additional labor ; for the book is full of instruction from beginning to end, not only as throwing great light upon the history of the country, and the working of its institutions, but also giving practical lessons, applicable to the present state of things.
The work illustrates a striking fact, of which all our new settlements afford similar illustrations ; namely, that a country may be in a condition of rapid growth, in numbers, wealth, and improvements, and, at the same time, in a state of continual embarrassment, with now and then a paroxysm of intense consternation and distress.
Another subject, present to the mind in every part of this economical history, is the vital importance of a good circulating medium, that is, coin, or paper redeemable in specie, or supported by an unquestionable public or private credit ; for it may consist of one or all of these, and the two latter are as important and effectual as the first. In regard to individual credits between man and man, or between banks and their customers, it would be extreme folly for any government to attempt to regulate and control it, otherwise than by providing laws for the enforcement of contracts.
But where credits are the basis of the currency, or the currency itself, as in the case of bank notes, or treasury drafts, the public is bound to maintain the credit in its own case, and, in the case of banks, to inspect the state of the credit, as far as the currency
is liable to be affected, with the most rigid and exact scrutiny. This is now done in Massachusetts and many other States, so that the circulating medium is on as good a footing, as far as paper is concerned, as it can possibly be, with perhaps one deficiency in the regulations. There have been some attempts, but none of them successful, we believe, absolutely to prohibit banks from discounting new paper, when their specie falls below a certain proportion to their notes in circulation. Such a regulation would, by no means, be, of itself, a sufficient guaranty of the soundness of currency, but it would be an essential auxiliary to the others now in operation. The banking companies have, hitherto, successfully resisted such a law. But, without this restriction, the banks, constituted, conducted, and inspected, as they now are, in those States where they are best regulated, are among the most admirable institutions that have sprung from the invention and social improvement of man. Almost every page of Mr. Felt's book is, by contrast, a practical eulogy upon our present banking system.
Another subject, of intense interest, at the present time, and likely to be so in future, is illustrated more distinctly and satisfactorily in Mr. Felt's book, than in any other work before published. The people of this country have, at frequently recurring periods, felt the disastrous and overwhelming effect of an immense foreign debt, following upon excessive importations, and often aggravated by the consequent reduction of the prices of the imported articles, and often, still again, aggravated by a contemporaneous reduction of the prices of our own exports in the foreign markets. We are probably more subject to commercial revulsions, from ihis cause, than any other country in the world, owing to our peculiar relation with England. Mr. Feit's book discloses a series of disasters, from this cause, from the early settlement of the country down to the present time. Every few years this foreign balance has swept the country of specie, and, of course, deranged the currency, on some occasions causing its temporary derangement, only with a partial and transient disturbance of industry and production, but on others, for a time, paralyzing and prostrating business, and bringing ruin upon thousands of enterprising and useful citizens, in all branches of industry. It is worth while to read Mr. Felt's book for the purpose of studying and understanding this class of our commercial phenomena.
6.- Precedents in Pleading, with Copious Notes on Practice,
Pleading, and Evidence. By Joseph Chitty, Jun., Esq.
This work seems to have been demanded by the changes introduced, of late years, in the English law of remedy. The statutes, by which these great legal reforms have been chiefly effected, are, 1st. The Administration of Justice Act, (11 Geo. 4, c. 70.) — 2d. The Speedy Judgment and Execution Act, (1 W. 4. c. 7.) — 3d. The Examination of Witnesses Act, (1 W. 4. c. 22.) – 4th. The Interpleader Act, (1 & 2 W. 4. c. 58.) –
5th. The Uniformity of Process Act, (2 W. 4. c. 39.) – and 6th, The Law Amendment Act, (3 & 4 W. 4. c. 42.) The first of these statutes was directed chiefly to reform in matters of practice ; enabling a single judge to transact much of the interlocutory business, necessary for the advancement of the cause to its final decision ; authorizing the Judges of the Courts of King's Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer, or any eight of them, and no others, to make general rules of practice for all these courts, and opening the practice in them all, to the attornies of either of them. By the Act for the examination of witnesses, facilities were given for the taking of testimony before a master, in all cases pending, to be used in the event of the absence of the witness at the time of trial (similar, in substance, to a practice long familar among us); and a very convenient provision is made, which we might profitably adopt, for the production at chambers or elsewhere, of documentary evidence intended to be used at the trial of the cause, in order that it may be previously known in what cases the subscribing witnesses will be called for, and that both surprise and expense may be avoided. By the Law E. mendment Act, the same judges were authorized to make general rules altering and establishing the mode of pleading ; which, however, were not to take effect till six weeks after they had been laid before both houses of Parliament. In pursuance of the power given by the first of these acts, general rules were made by all the Judges, in Trinity Term, 1831, for the shortening of declarations in certain actions, illustrated by examples, as well as for brevity of proceeding in other stages of the cause ; to which were added, in Hilary Term, 1832, other rules, to assimilate the practice of the different courts, and to render the proceedings more expeditious, and less expensive to the suitors. Under the last of these acts, other general rules were made, in Hilary Term, 1834, restraining the abuse of inserting several counts, and of pleading several pleas, where distinct matters of claim or defence were not intended to be set up under each; shortening the record, by the omission of obsolete and useless formularies; abolishing the general issue in actions on bills of exchange and promissory notes, and narrowing its effect in all other cases ; abolishing the plea of nil debet; and requiring that all matters in confession and avoidance should be specially pleaded.
By these statutes and rules, great and salutary improvements have been wrought in the common law methods of remedy. The claim of the plaintiff is stated with directness, brevity, and precision ; the answer of the defendant is given in terms equally explicit ; and the cause proceeds to trial and judgment with as much rapidity and as little expense, as seems consistent with certainty and impartiality in the administration of justice. Beyond this, there appears little else to be desired. We may be pardoned, however, for the passing remark, that the brief form of declaration, and the consolidation of the common counts, required by these rules, have been used in this country more than twenty years; and it may be retorted, also, that while, in England, increased care has been taken to guard against surprise, by requiring the matter in defence to be specially pleaded, American legislation has more widely opened the door to that mischief, by permitting the defendant to answer, in all cases, by a mere general denial. It is true, we require that a brief statement of the matter of defence should accompany the general plea; but, as this admits all sorts of defence, however multifarious, its utility remains to be tested by longer experi
This great legal reform, as might be expected, rendered all the old books of entries and precedents of little further use. It thus called forth the work of Mr. Chitty, which is a very neat and well-executed revision of the existing forms, adapted to the new rules of practice. The English edition was published in two parts; the first by Mr. Chitty, in the year 1836 ; and the second in the year 1838, after his decease, which took place in April of that year, by Henry Pearson and Tompson Chitty, Esquires. The American edition appears to be well executed ; and though the forms are still rather more redundant than those in general use in this country, the work, we doubt not, will prove a valuable, we had almost said an indispensable, aid to the American lawyer.
7.- Principia Saxonica ; or an Introduction to Anglo-Saxon
Reading. By L. LANGLEY, F. L. S. London : 1839.
12mo. pp. 78. To those who think with Horne Tooke, that the Anglo-Saxon and Gothic ought long ago to have made a part of the education of youth, the publication of this little book will not be unwelcome. It contains the Anglo-Saxon Homily of Archbishop Ælfric, on the Birth-day of Saint Gregory, with a Glossary, and a well-written “Essay on the Importance and Utility of the Anglo-Saxon Language.” The object of the book is thus explained by Mr. Langley in his Preface. “In again present