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BEING A DIGEST OF
THE PARLIAMENTARY BLUE BOOKS.
DR. LEONE LEVI, F.S.A, F.S.S.,
OF LINCOLN'S INN, BARRISTER-AT-LAW; PROFESSOR OF THE PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE OF COMMERCE
AT KING'S COLLEGE, LONDON, ETC. ETC.
NEW SERIES-VOL. I.
SMITH, ELDER AND CO., 65, CORNHILL.
The commencement of a new Series of the Annals affords a fitting opportunity for adverting to some improvements introduced in the work, which have been suggested by the experience of the last eight years. The original character of the work has remained unchanged; it being still a compendious summary of the papers and documents issued by both Houses of Parliament in each Session. But in looking over the volumes, it will be found that sometimes the principal documents are given in full, though stripped of all irrelevant matter, and sometimes they are given in abstract, at more or less length, in relation to their importance. The principal part, for instance, of the Reports of Commissioners and Committees is generally printed in full, but the evidence is summarized and reduced. The Returns, on the other hand, are in most cases abstracted, whereby the substance of the information is exhibited in a still more conspicuous manner. The Bills which pass into law will be found in the Abstract of the Statutes; those which do not pass are specially recorded and abstracted. This is the method pursued as to the matter,
As regards the manner of publication : the principal feature of the Annals consisting in the classification of subjects into eight Series, each embracing all the documents of the same character, it was thought that the work would possess additional value if divided into volumes, each belonging to a distinct class of subjects. This necessitated the breaking up of the parts into sections; by which facility was afforded to those who wished to complete their volumes each Session, by supplying a volume and a serial paging. That arrangement, however, created some confusion, and was found inconvenient for binding. It has, therefore, been thought better henceforth to substitute for that mode a Sessional division, but continuing as heretofore the classification of subjects in the table of contents and prefatory remarks. This will be found a practical improvement, and will render the successive parts more convenient for present use.
It will be seen that in the present Series, the Digest of Parliamentary Papers has been contemporaneous with their issue; this important improvement having
been effected by an alteration in the type, by means of which a great increase of matter has been given. At the same time, in commencing the new Series with the Session of 1865, it is intended to supply the link connecting the past with the present Series, by giving a summary of such documents of previous Sessions as have been omitted for want of space.
The documents inserted in the present volume are of great national interest. Under “Finance, Commerce, and Agriculture,” we have, first, the Report of the Commissioners on the working of the law relating to Letters Patent for inventions. The Commissioners did not inquire into the principle of the Patent Law, or into the expediency of granting patents to inventors as a means of remuneration, on which so much difference of opinion exists, but solely into the defects of the existing system, and contented themselves with making certain recommendations for the improvement of the law. Indirectly connected with the Patent Law, is the inquiry instituted by the House of Lords into the circumstances connected with the resignation by Mr. Edmunds of the offices of Clerk of the Patents, and Clerk to the Commissioners of Patents. Two documents illustrative of the general progress of the nation in the last half century are inserted. One shows the quantity of articles of food and drink, such as Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Wine, Spirits, and Malt, consumed at different periods from 1798 to 1860, giving the aggregate consumption and consumption per head, and average revenue and revenue per head, for Great Britain and Ireland respectively. The other institutes a comparison between the years 1831 and 1864, and is a return moved for by Mr. Baines, in order to illustrate the great advance of the people since the passing of the Reform Bill. Other papers connected with this Series relate to the working of the Stock Certificate Act, the number of bushels of Malt charged with duty, and the state of the public income and expenditure.
Connected with “Diplomacy and War,” are a great number of papers and correspondence on different questions resulting from the unhappy civil war in the United States. The war is happily ended, but information of great value relating to Maritime International Law will be derived from a careful consideration of the correspondence on the different questions at issue. The correspondence respecting hostilities in the River Plate, gives the causes of the present war between Brazil, Uruguay, the Argentine Republic, and Paraguay. The papers relating to the imprisonment of British subjects in Abyssinia, the accession of Britain to the treaty for the amelioration of the condition of the wounded in armies on the field, and the treaty of commerce with the Zollverein, are documents of vast and general interest. The correspondence respecting Protestant Missionaries and Converts in Turkey shows the difficulty of securing perfect freedom of action to Christian Missionaries in Turkey, in strict adherence to the provisions of existing treaties. The despatch of M. Drouyn de Lhuys to the Prince de la Tour d'Auvergne with reference to the late Mr. Cobden, indicates in a most gratifying manner the intimacy of the relations now existing between France and England, and especially shews how much that illustrious economist has done to cement international relations, and to promote the wellbeing of the masses of the people in all countries.
Under “ Ecclesiastical Affairs and Education,” the most important document is the Report of Commissioners into the Revenue and Management of certain Schools and Colleges, embracing much historical information on the Eton, Westminster, Charterhouse, Merchant Taylors', Harrow, Rugby, and Shrewsbury Schools, and Winchester College.
An interesting Report of the Committee of the House of Lords on Metropolitan Railway Schemes, belongs to “ Railway, Shipping, and Postal Communication."
The Report of the Committee into the circumstances connected with the resignation of Mr. Henry Sedgwick Wilde, as Registrar of the Court of Bankruptcy at Leeds, forms another painful episode of the Session: it led to considerable discussion and animadversion, and is the only document belonging to “ Justice and Crime."
“ British India, Colonies, and Dependencies,” is an important paper, containing a resolution of the Indian Government on the subject of a Gold Currency for India. The petition of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce and the Minutes of different members of the Government on the subject, are full of valuable information, illustrative of the influence of Gold and Silver Currencies on trade, and the operation of Paper Currency on the Exchange between India and England. The Statistics of the Opium Manufacture and Trade for the last thirty years are also very valuable in connection with the state of our relations with China.
The most important document in the volume is probably the Report of the Census of England and Wales. This decennial survey of the vital statistics of the nation, gives the number of the population, their sexes, ages, and conjugal relations, with accurate information respecting inhabited houses, occupations, and professions ; also important details as to the rate of increase of the population, both as respects the whole country, and separate counties and Parliamentary divisions. This Report well deserves careful study and analysis : in no other document can we better discover the social condition of the people, and nowhere else can we obtain more reliable data as regards its economic progress. What renders the Census especially valuable is the fact that the phenomena there exhibited extend over a long period of time. They indicate the march of the nation for ten consecutive years, and when connected with previous censuses, the same facts may be considered for a period of at least sixty years. The relation of population to territory, illustrative of the rate of mortality as depending on density of popula