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very much as to the cases in which they should
exercise certain powers. I can imagine a County
Court Judge to deem it his duty to send a man
to prison twenty times if lie owes sixpence and
will not pay it, and to punish him for his obstinacy
as often as it is brought under his notice.
The Judge may be right or wrong, but the system
is utterly bad which renders such a matter
possible.' That's where it is, sir," said Growler, with
a flourish of the dreadful pamphlet. " It's not so
much the men as the system; not but what the
men may be to blame sometimes. We can't be
accountable for our digestion you know, sir, and
County Court Judges, no doubt, are occasionally
troubled with bile like the rest of us."

"But, Growler," I said, pushing the claret
towards that irritable individual, "'every medal has
its reverse, and although the County Court system
may be open to abuse, we must still allow it to
be possessed of some advantages. Contrast, for
example, the recovery by a county tradesman
of a debt of say twenty pounds by the
cumbrous machinery of the superior courts with the
attainment of the same end by ' County Courting.'
In the one case have we not issue of that
peremptory queenly greeting by London agents
transmission of same for service in the
countrylong waiting for the slowly recurring
assizeslong journey to the assize town
weary detention of paid witnesses in corridors
of the court-housemelancholy attendance of
the desponding suitor in dittoheavy feeing of
the British Barheavy squeezing of reluctant
witnesses by pressure of the British Bar
wrong-headed jurymen, incapable of unanimity;
and last, though, oh Growler, not least, that
awful document, the 'Bill of Costs.' On the
other hand, do we not find that in our County
Courts justice has become a reasonable
domesticated old lady, easy of access; holding her
balance in hand untrammelled by coils of routine;
not insensible to the advocacy of gentlemen
innocent of horsehair, and benignly dispensing her
favours once or twice a month in every town of
any consequence in the country. If the powers
with which she is invested be rather arbitrary,
her decisions at any rate are speedy.

But even admitting the existence of the
evils of which you speak, I think, Growler,
that they may by possibility remedy themselves. I
find, for example, a County Court Judge, who has
had twelve years' experience in the matter, saying:
' I entertain no doubt that, unless the present
arrangements are meddled with, the number of both
judgment summonses and imprisonments will
progressively decline, as debtors will be deterred,
by the new facilities of imprisonment, both from
rashly contracting debts and from vexatiously
resisting payment after judgment recovered.
Debtors,' he continues, ' as a class, are not always
wealthy and designing, nor creditors, as a class,
poor and simple-minded.'"

"Quite true, sir quite true. When I read
upon the cause list ' Solomon Levi versus Blank,'
twenty times repeated, I do not necessarily
infer that Solomon Levi is, upon the whole, a
very poor or very simple-minded Israelite, and,
for the rest, your humble servant, Jonas Growler,
defendant, is not a Croesus yet. But that does
not settle the question. The 'facilities of im-
prisonment,' spoken of by the gentleman you
quote, is capable of being placed in another
light. To go no further, take it, on the question
of expense. ' It would have been cheaper,' says
the Chief Baron (he is alluding to the
commitments), ' in many instances, both for the
Treasury and the county, to have paid the debts,
for the expenses which fell upon the Consolidated
Fund and the charge on the county would have
been sufficient to pay many of them several times
over.' So that the honest county gentlemen
who pay their debts are called upon to liquidate
the little accounts of their dishonest neighbours.
That's what it is, sir; and so far from the evil
' progressively declining,' I am in a position to
state" (Growler always puts himself into a ' position'
when he is severe) " that it has been for
the last four years steadily increasing. I find,
sir, that in the year one thousand eight hundred
arid fifty-five, six thousand four hundred and
eighty persons, throughout England and Wales,
were sent to gaol for debt, by different County
Court Judges, for debts of the most paltry
description. I further discover, sir, from a statement
made by Mr. Blundell, that in 1857, when
the system had been so far modified as to reduce
the fees payable by the creditor, before he could
incarcerate his debtor, to two shillings and threepence,
the number of committals had swollen
from six thousand four hundred and eighty to
ten thousand six hundred and seven; while the
self-same return (a Parliamentary return obtained
by Lord Brougham) proved that the average
amounts of all the debts for which plaints were
issued during 1857 was something under two
pounds twelve shillings and one penny. ' Many,
very many debtors of both sexes,' continues Mr.
Blundell, ' against whom no fraud, no extravagance
was ever alleged, much less proved,
having been thus sent to prison, there kept at
the public expense, and for the most part placed
as criminals in a misdemeanant ward, in respect
of debts ranging downwards from two pounds to
thirty shillings, twentv shillings, ten shillings,
five shillings, two shillings and sixpence, and
even as low (as we have seen) as twenty pence.
Think of that, sir," said Growler, and then tell
me whether Lord Lyndhurst wasn't right when
he said that this was ' not the poor man's law,
but of all others the most oppressive to the poor
man.' I must speak my mind about them,"
continues Growler, " and I must tell you more about
them yet. What course does the law permit me
to pursue, I would ask, with the Honourable
Bellington Turfey, who owes me one hundred
and fifty pounds, and who has as much intention
of paying me one farthing of that amount as he
has of becoming Archbishop of Canterbury?
To send him to prison, and thus cancel my claim
on him for ever. What course does the law
permit me to pursue with Smith the tallow
chandler, who owes me one shilling and eightpence?
To send him to prison, and to commit
and recommit him until he has paid me every