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Of this new system of laws, contracted as it is, a full account cannot be expected in these memoirs; but, that curiosity may not be dismissed without some gratification, it has been thought proper to epitomise the king's plan for the reformation of his courts.
“ The differences which arise between members of the same society may be terminated by a voluntary agreement between the parties, by arbitration, or by a judicial process.
“The two first methods produce more frequently a temporary suspension of disputes than a final termination. Courts of justice are therefore necessary, with a settled method of procedure, of which the most simple is to cite the parties, to hear their pleas, and dismiss them with immediate decision.
“ This however is in many cases impracticable, and in others, is so seldom practised, that it is frequent rather to incur loss than to seek for legal reparation, by entering a labyrinth of which there is no end.
“ This tediousness of suits keeps the parties in disquiet and perturbation, rouses and perpetuates animosities, exhausts the litigants by expense, retards the progress of their fortune, and discourages strangers from settling.
“ These inconveniences, with which the best regulated polities of Europe are embarrassed, must be removed, not by the total prohibition of suits, which is impossible, but by contraction of processes; by opening an easy way for the appearance of truth, and removing all obstructions by which it is concealed.
“ The ordonnance of 1667, by which Louis the Fourteenth established an uniformity of procedure through all his courts, has been considered as one of the greatest benefits of his reign.
“ The king of Prussia, observing that each of his provinces had a different method of judicial procedure, proposed to reduce them all to one form ; which being tried with success in Pomerania, a province remarkable for contention, he afterwards extended to all his dominions, ordering the judges to inform him of any difficulties which arose from it.
- Some settled method is necessary in judicial procedures. Small and simple causes might be decided upon the oral pleas of the two parties appearing before the judge: but many cases are so entangled and perplexed as to require all the skill and abilities of those who devote their lives to the study of the law.
“ Advocates, or men who can understand and explain the question to be discussed, are therefore necessary. But these men, instead of endeavouring to promote justice and discover truth, have exerted their wits in the defence of bad causes, by forgeries of facts, and fallacies of argument.
“ To remedy this evil, the king has ordered an inquiry into the qualifications of the advocates, All those who practise without a regular admission, or who can be convicted of disingenuous practice, are discarded. And the judges are commanded to examine which of the causes now depending have been protracted by the crimes and ignorance of the advocates, and to dismiss those who shall appear culpable.
" When advocates are too numerous to live by honest practice, they busy themselves in exciting disputes, and disturbing the community: the number of these to be employed in each court is therefore fixed.
" The reward of the advocates is fixed with due regard to the nature of the cause, and the labour required; but not a penny is received by them till the suit is ended, that it may be their interest, as well as that of the clients, to shorten the process.
“ No advocate is admitted in petty courts, small towns, or villages; where the poverty of the people, and for the most part the low value of the matter contested, make despatch absolutely necessary. In those places the parties shall appear
person, and the judge make a summary decision.
“ There must likewise be allowed a subordination of tribunals, and a power of appeal. No judge is so skilful and attentive as not sometimes to err. Few are so honest as not sometimes to be partial. Petty judges would become insupportably tyrannical if they were not restrained by the fear of a superior judicature; and their decision would be negligent or arbitrary if they were not in danger of seeing them examined and cancelled.
“ The right of appeal must be restrained, that causes may not be transferred without end from court to court; and a peremptory decision must at last be made.
“ When an appeal is made to a higher court, the appellant is allowed only four weeks to frame his bill, the judge of the lower court being to transmit to the higher all the evidences and informations. If upon the first view of the cause thus opened,
it shall appear that the appeal was made without just cause, the first sentence shall be confirmed without citation of the defendant. If any new evidence shall appear, or any doubts arise, both the parties shall be heard.
« In the discussion of causes altercation must be allowed; yet to altercation some limits must be put. There are therefore allowed a bill, an answer, a reply, and a rejoinder, to be delivered in writing.
“No cause is allowed to be heard in more than three different courts. To further the first deci. sion, every advocate is enjoined, under severe penalties, not to begin a suit till he has collected all the necessary evidence. If the first court has decided in an unsatisfactory manner, an appeal may be made to the second, and from the second to the third. The process in each appeal is limited to six months. The third court may indeed pass an erroneous judgment; and then the injury is without redress. But this objection is without end, and therefore without force. No method can be found of preserving humanity from error; but of contest there must some time be an end ; and he, who thinks himself injured for want of an appeal to a fourth court, must consider himself as suffering for the publick.
“ There is a special advocate appointed for the poor.
“ The attorneys, who had formerly the care of collecting evidence, and of adjusting all the preliminaries of a suit, are now totally dismissed ; the whole affair is put into the hands of the advocates, and the office of an attorney is annulled for
“ If any man is hindered by some lawful impediment from attending his suit, time will be granted him upon the representation of his case.”
Such is the order according to which civil justice is administered through the extensive dominions of the king of Prussia; which, if it exhibits nothing very subtle or profound, affords one proof more that the right is easily discovered, and that men do not so often want ability to find, as willingness to practise it.
We now return to the war.
The time at which the queen of Hungary was willing to purchase peace by the resignation of Silesia, though it came at last, was not come yet. She had all the spirit, though not all the power of her ancestors, and could not bear the thought of losing any part of her patrimonial dominions to the enemies, which the opinion of her weakness raised
every where against her. In the beginning of the year 1742, the elector of Bavaria was invested with the imperial dignity, supported by the arms of France, master of the kingdom of Bohemia; and confederated with the elector Palatine, and the elector of Saxony, who claimed Moravia ; and with the king of Prussia, who was in possession of Silesia.
Such was the state of the queen of Hungary, pressed on every side, and on every side preparing for resistance : she yet refused all offers of accommodation, for every prince set peace at a price which she was not yet so far humbled as to pay.