Observations Upon the Statutes
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Excerpt from Observations Upon the Statutes: Chiefly the More Ancient, From the Magna Charta to the Twenty-First of James the First, Ch, XXVII, With an Appendix, Being a Proposal for New Modelling the Statutes
It is believed that few lawyers, or historians, have perused the Statute Book in a regular course of reading: if a particular act of parliament hath been necessarily examined into, either by the one or the other, the research hath probably gone no further than to that particular statute, or, at most, to those only which relate to the same subject matter. It must be admitted, that this would not be the best method of illustrating, or explaining, any other author (for the successive parliaments must be considered in this light): and it hath always been allowed, that the best comment upon any literary work is other parts of the same work.
I must own, that I did not read the Statute-Book with attention, from the motive I have above alluded to; my only object was to take notice of such acts of parliament, from which no good effects could be expected; and which, on the contrary, might contribute to the vexation and oppression of the subject, as well as to the unnecessary swelling the collection of statutes.
If it be asked what purpose this could answer, besides the satisfaction of my own private curiosity, I must admit, that I had a view of laying a proposal before the publick, that such unnecessary and prejudicial statutes might (with proper precautions) be entirely repealed, as well as that acts, which related to the same subject, might be reduced to one uniform and consistent law.
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