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have confessed the necessity of conceding some measure of modified Reform, which shall satisfy the returning good sense of the people of England, when the present delusion will vanish, and an effectual bar be placed to all present and future innovations. All this is very smooth; but I contend, that by granting a Reform, less extensive than that which the people have been now led to expect, that the seeds of discontent will be sown, and a wide field opened to demagogues and agitators, rendered daring by the countenance they will receive from some few of the many Reformers now in the House, who, most assuredly, will find their way into the next, purified though it be. Thus, then, their dear-bought modified Reform will become the steppingstone for a series of other and more sweeping Reforms; and we shall have a bit-by-bit Reform with a vengeance. This I assert-this they deny-we are at issue: they may be right, and I may be wrong; but they cannot deny that there are grounds for questioning the final dispositions of this child of their old age, a modified Reform Bill. Thus, then, their greatest benefit-that for which they would risk the long odds of another dissolution, comes clogged with fears, and doubts, and suspicions; while, on the other hand, the consequences of a dissolution that should not correspond to their expectation, are clear enough. The spirit of the people would have been inflamed to intensity by a second contest, and a second victory; and then, perhaps, when the error of their calculation was become imminent, and evident even to themselves, they would come forward and talk of adopting the first, the original Bill. The Bill, the whole Bill, would be their cry. I have no doubt it would. And why ?-Because, forsooth, the people would, in the meantime, thanks to an irritating opposition, have risen largely in their demands. So should we have another, and another contest; and thus it is that these coy politicians act in times of excitement, as blisters on the public mind, and with notions the most adverse to revolution, they are, in practice, its most active exciters. Their coyness leads straight to the Penitentiary.'
Number CVIII. will be published in December.
ART. I.-1. The Game Laws, including the new Game Bill, with Notes and Practical Directions. By P. B. LEIGH, Esq. Barrister-at-Law. London: 1881.
2. Abridgement of the new Game Laws, with Observations and Suggestions for their Improvement; being an Appendix to the Sixth Edition of Instructions to Young Sportsmen. By Lieut.Col. P. HAWKER. London: 1831.
THE long debated Game Bill is at length the Law. The absurdity of our former system; the waste of time and breath before moralists and lawyers could obtain a hearing against it, even from the public; the reluctance with which Parliament, long after the public had been made thoroughly sensible of its mischievousness, consented to look for a remedy in the only direction where a remedy was to be found, are now matters of history. We are most desirous that the country should obtain, with the least possible deduction, the whole benefit which the lesson and the measure are both calculated to bestow.
It is indispensable to successful legislation that the principle which is applicable to the subject in hand should be correctly ascertained at setting out; that it should be clearly announced, in case doubts or misconceptions have previously prevailed; and that it should be faithfully pursued throughout by simple and appropriate details. As often as the true principle shall appear to have been the original principle of the law in former times, the readoption of it on any subsequent occasion is a restitution, and not an innovation. This consideration, judiciously enforced,
VOL. LIV, NO. CVIII.
may tend to remove objections from the minds of many, whose co-operation it is, on all accounts, most desirable to obtain. Great obscurity and contrariety of opinions often linger over a subject, in the sort of twilight which the defective or temporary systems of former periods usually leave behind them when they disappear. It is doing something towards clearing the way for truth, to prove that the policy of these systems was, in the first instance, erroneous, or has subsequently become impracticable and obsolete. On the supposition that any particular species or amount of evil can be traced to the prevalence of false principles, the practical connexion between these causes and their effects should be established by date and argument; and it should be shown in what manner the proposed amendments are in their nature adapted to counteract the specific evils.
A contemporaneous commentary of this kind may not be always wanted for the cause of truth; but it must always serve as a valuable auxiliary towards securing conciliation and sucWhen a lawgiver and expounder has in this manner discharged his own peculiar office, he is entitled to suggest that his measures may possibly require a little time before the public can fairly judge of their policy and result. Prejudices and passions, in a question which has been long and thoroughly diseased, cannot be got rid of in a day. It will be as much as (and, for a season, more indeed than) the law can do, to heal the gangrene of former wounds. In the case of game and game laws, considerable difficulty is peculiar to and inherent in the subject. A certain portion of crime necessarily belongs to it. Whatever this may be, men will bear it the better when they can clearly perceive that it is not a malady brought upon themselves by mismanagement, but is the natural penalty of our condition-a degree of suffering which we have done nothing to create, but every thing to cure. Submission, in the one case, would be servile brutishness; in the other, it is the duty of a reasonable being.
The true principle of a legal title in game is that of qualified property, ratione soli. The interest thus created cannot be higher than a local and temporary one; nor ought it to be less. In the fact, that a property in game is derived entirely from the property in the soil on which the game is found, we have at once a natural test, both of its limit and extent. This principle is obscurely expressed in most systems of jurisprudence. Instead of being properly distinguished from them, it is usually mixed up with the other subordinate and excepted titles. Nevertheless, on investigation, it will be found to be the leading title upon the subject in the common law, both of England and of Scot
land. Whatever objects of policy or fashion, at former times or in other countries, may have interfered with a uniform acknowledgment that the qualified property in game depends upon, and is evidenced by its connexion with the soil, no object of the sort exists, or can exist, among ourselves at present. The titles by claim of privilege on one side, or by that of occupancy on the other, are equally unsuited to the actual circumstances of the country and to the state of modern society. In a reform of the English Game Laws, the chief point to look to was a plain recognition of the rational title, ratione soli. This recognition would carry with it necessarily the abandonment of those extravagant statutes, by which the right of killing game was reserved as a privilege to proprietors of land of a certain value, and by which every species of sale of game, under any circumstances, and by any person, was made absolutely unlawful. The complete repeal of these absurd caprices is accordingly a prominent part of the recent statute. Without the removal of this unsound rubbish, it would have been impossible to obtain a firm foundation for any amendment of the law.
The statute is, to a certain extent, a compromise. On examining its several clauses, some little inconsistency may be expected to appear; and is, in truth, apparent in two or three of them.*
The inconsistencies are not so important as some protesters represent. The necessity of licenses has been objected to, it appears to us very superfluously. The object in requiring them is entirely an object of police. The particular interest, by which the precautionary control over public-houses becomes gradually perverted into a monopoly for brewers, does not apply in the present instance. The proper analogy is with pawnbrokers. The mischief anticipated in both these cases being the same-too ready facilities for the reception of stolen goods. On the contrary, we doubt whether experience has not already gone far to show, that, with this view, the amount of the license ought to be raised, or some further restrictive regulation introduced. The clause which gives the owners of land, whereon a sportsman is trespassing, the power of taking from him whatever game recently killed is in his possession, is another, which has been censured, not only as dangerous and impracticable, but as unjust. The prudence of acting upon the letter of the law, must depend upon the special circumstances of every case. Unjust it certainly is not. A smuggler seized in the act of smuggling goods of a particular description, is not entitled to complain of the presumption which he raises against whatever similar goods may be found at the time upon his person. It was time to put an end to the title of occupancy, too absurdly invented for the sake of poachers, who raised a covey in one man's field, and slaughtered it in his neighbour's. We cannot say the same of the