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various kinds which comes upon them from every part of the country, and the multiplicity of forms useful on the whole, but frequently inconvenient and injurious in particular cases, with which they are now encumbered, occasion great dilatoriness and heavy charges in the progress of many of the suits which are brought before them. But these evils are far more than compensated to the public by the benefits resulting from the insti. tution. Perhaps however it might be found, were the investigation committed to competent and disinterested enquirers, that much time and money might be saved to the contending parties, without any risk of substantial justice, by the abolition or alteration of certain forms now become useless, and by fimplifying proceedings unnecessarily complicated and prolix.
10. The freedom of the press Mould be checked by no laws which are not indispenfably necessary for the restraint of malevolence and vice seeking to subvert the public tranquillity or the happiness of private life.
That Government which dares not allow its
own laws and proceedings, and the conduct of the courts of justice, to be fairly discussed by the public, betrays its weakness or its guilt. In Great Britain the freedom of the press is become as it were a part of the Constitution. And with respect to the precautions indicated by the rule as expedient for the purpose of curbing its licentiousness, Englishmen have reason to rejoice that the case of every person charged with a libel, whether of a public or of a private nature, is submitted to the decision of a jury, fully empowered to take into the account, in this as in any other criminal charge, the intention of the party accused.
11. Finally, every Constitution of Government is radically and dangerously defective, which does not contain within itself the means of remedying without tumult and national disorder the imperfections in its frame which experience may bring to light; and of correcting the abuses which time and accidents may introduce into the administration of public affairs.
Whoever confiders the power, which
every member of either House of Parliament pos
sesfes, of proposing in his place such meafures as he deems advisable, and the power of the Legislature as to adopting the measures proposed, will not impute this defect to the British Conftitution. And the imputation, were it brought forward, would be repelled by a reference to the many great improvements which have been (7) peaceably
(9) The improvements made in the British Constitution by Magna Charta and Charta de Foresta (Blackstone, vol. iv. p. 423), and by several other charters and public acts, in the earlier period of our history, do not fall within this defcription, having been obtained, principally or entirely, by means of successful infurrections. But among the happy changes quietly effected in the manner pointed out by the Constitution itself, we may particularly mention the enacting of the Petition of Right in the reign of Charles I. " by which," Sir William Blackstone observes (vol. iv. p. 437), “ the English Constitution received great alteration “and improvement;" the Habeas Corpus Act, and the abo. lition of military tenures, in the reign of Charles II. ; the Bill of Rights and the Toleration Act about the time of the Revolution. And to speak of the reign of his present Majesty, the completion of the independency of the Judges, the extension of the rights of citizens to Roman Catholics, the recent bill respecting libels, and the decision of Parliament that its dissolution does not abate a pending impeachment, may be regarded as acquisitions of the most falutary nature, and highly beneficial to the Constitution of the realm.
made in the Constitution at different periods reaching even to the present times. No human work can attain perfection; nor is any
human work carried nearly to that degree of excellence which it is capable of attaining, but by the exertions of growing wisdom continued through the lapse of ages. In proportion as we survey the governments and the internal condition of the greater part of the civilised world, we shall fee additional reason to be thankful to Providence for having cast our lot under the Britila Constitution. And we have cause still further to rejoice, that a regular method of removing any remaining defects in the Constitution and the Laws (and every good man should be anxious for the quiet removal of all of which he is conscious) is provided and indicated by the Constitution itself. The humblest and the poorest subject may carry his complaints to the British Parliament. And if once the sense of the nation be decidedly formed, and permanently expressed, concerning the injustice or impolicy of any particular law; the public voice will reach every branch of the legislature, and obtain that change in the system which moral duty and the general welfare demand. It is