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reputation, to the great shame of this land ; (2) and by reason thereof a great quantity of cloths of other strange lands be brought into this realm, and here sold at an high and excessive price, evidently showing the offence, default, and falshood of the making of woolen cloths of this land." The Statute then proceeds to prescribe the length and breadth of different kinds of cloths, and prohibits the use of certain materials in making them. It also enacts, that “every of the said cloths and half cloths shall perfectly and rightly pursue and follow one order of workmanship from one end to the other," and that a seal of lead shall be set on faulty cloths. It also provides that every clothmaker shall pay his carders, spinsters and other laborers in lawful money, and that every such laborer “sball duly perform his duty in his occupation."
Another Statute of the same character was the Statute 7 Edw. IV. Cap. I., “For making of worsteds.” It begins by reciting “For that there be as well within the City of Norwich, as elsewhere within the County of Norfolk, divers persons which do make untrue wares of all manner of worsteds, not being of the assise in length nor in breadth, nor of good stuff and right making as they ought to be, and of old time were accustomed, and the sleyes and yarn pertaining to the same not well made and wrought, in great deceit as well of denizens as of strangers inhabiting or repairing to this realm, which have used and do use to buy such merchandises, trusting that they were within as they seemed without, where indeed it is contrary : (2) And for that the worsteds in times past were lawfully wrought, and merchandise well liked, and greatly desired and esteemed in the parts beyond the sea ; now because they be of no right making, nor good stuff, they be reported and esteemed deceitful and unlawful merchandise, and of little regard, to the great damage of our lord the King, and great prejudice of his loyal subjects.” The Act then proceeds to empower the worsted weavers in the City of Norwich to choose four wardens, who “shall have full power for the year then next following to surney the workmanship of the said artificers, and that they make and work rightfully and well, and of good stuff, and to ordain such rules and ordinances within the said craft as often as it shall seem needful or necessary for the amendment of the said worsteds and craft." The Act then prescribes the length and breadth of Worsteds, and gives the wardens power to seize all defective cloths and stuff, giving them a power of search for the purposes of the execution of the Act.
These statutes are quoted at some length, for two purposes : the one is, to show how thorough and complete was the experience already had under the English law prior to our separation from the mother country, in attempts to control trade and commerce, and especially prices, by statute ; the other is, to show the magnitude and intricacy of the undertaking which lies before legislators of the present day, if they enter on that line of legislation. Utterly hopeless, and utterly fruitless, in anything save annoyance, all such legislation always has been, and, so far as we can form a judgment in the light of history, always will be.
It will appear, too, that the latest attempts in this country to control the so-called “trusts” and “monopolies” of to-day are on the same line with these statutes here set forth.
In addition to all these statutes, intended to fix directly the prices, and quality, of labor and merchandise, by their operation on laborers and producers, we find another wholly different class of legislation, the purpose of which was to prevent any raising of the prices of merchandise, by wholesale dealers and middlemen. These wholesale dealers and middlemen were in the ancient statutes grouped together under the terms “forestallers,''
regrators,” and “engrossers.
Although the assertion has been often made that “ forestalling,” “regrating,'' and "engrossing” were criminal offenses at the common law, a careful examination shows, that these offenses were made crimes by statute from a very early period ; and there is no authentic record, which my efforts have been able to discover, of the existence of either of these offenses prior to those statutes, which are cited by Coke, in the third volume of his Institutes. The earliest statute of this kind after the Norman conquest, which it is necessary to mention, is the Act 25 Edw. III. Stat. 4, A.D. 1350, which reads as follows:
" CAP. III.
“ The penalty of him that doth forestal wares, merchandise, or victual,
“ ITEM, it is accorded and established, That the forestallers of wines, and all other victuals, wares, and merchandises that come to the good towns of England by land or by water, in damage of our lord the King and of his people, if they be thereof attainted at the suit of the King, or of the party, before mayor, bailiff, or justices thereto assigned, or elsewhere in the King's court; and if they be attainted at the King's suit by indictment, or in other manner, the things forestalled shall be forfeited to the King, if the buyer thereof hath made gree to the seller ; (2) and if he have not made gree of
: all, but by earuest, the buyer shall incur the forfeiture of as much as the forestalled goods forfeited do amount to, after the value as he bought them, if he have wher-of ; (3) and if he have not whereof, then he shall have two years' imprisonment, and more, at the King's will, without being let to mainprise, or delivered in other manner ; (4) and if he be attainted at the suit of the party, the party shall have the one half of such things forestalled and forfeit, or the price, of the King's gift, and the King the other half.”
Thereafter came the Act 3 & 4 Edw. VI., Cap. XXI., “An act for the buying and selling of butter and cheese,” which provided, “Be it enacted by the authority of this present parliament, That no person or persons after the feast of the Annunciation of our Lady next coming, shall buy to sell again any butter or cheese, unless he or they sell the same again by retail in open shop, fair or market, and not in gross: (2) upon pain of forefeiture of the double value of the same butter and cheese so sold contrary to the tenor of this present act.
Thereafter came the Statute 5 & 6 Edward VI., Cap. XIV., entitled “ An Act against Regrators, Forestallers, and Ingrossers,” which gave a general definition of these offenses, and provided their punishments. Section I provided, “that whatsoever person or persons, that after the first day of May next coming shall buy or cause to be bought, any merchandise, victual, or any other thing whatsoever, coming by land or by water toward any market or fair to be sold in the same, or coming toward any city, port, haven, creek or road of this realm or Wales, from any parts beyond the sea to be sold, (3) or make any bargain, contract or promise, for the having or buying, of the same or any part thereof so coming as aforesaid, before the said merchandise, victuals or other things, shall be in the market, fair, city, port, haven, creek or road, ready to be sold ; (4) or shall make any motion by word, letter, message or otherwise, to any person or persons, for the inhancing of the price or dearer selling of any thing or things above mentioned, (5) or else dissuade, move or stir any person or persons coming to the market or the fair, to abstain or forbear to bring or convey any of the things, above rehearsed, to any market, fair, city, port, haven, creek or road to be sold, as is aforesaid, (6) shall be deemed, taken, and adjudged a forestaller."
Section II. provided, “That whatsoever person or persons, that after the said first day of May shall by any means regrate, obtain, or get into his or their hands or possession, in any fair or market, any corn, wine, fish, butter, cheese, candles, tallow, sheep, lambs, calves, swine, pigs, geese, capons, hens, chickens, , pigeons, conies, or other dead victual whatsoever, that shall be brought to any fair or market within this realm or Wales to be sold, and do sell the same again in any fair or market holden or kept in the same place, or in any other fair or market within four miles thereof,
shall be accepted, reputed and taken for a regrator or regrators." Section III. provided,
« That whatsoever person or persons, that after the said first day of May shall ingross or get into his or their hands by buying, contracting, or promise-taking, other than by demise, grant, or lease of land or tithe, any corn growing in the fields, or any other corn or grain, butter, cheese, fish, or other dead victuals whatsoever, within the realm of England, to the intent to sell the same again, shall be accepted, reputed and taken an unlawful ingrosser or ingrossers.
Section VII. contained certain specific exceptions to the sweeping general provisions of the act, such as the cases of innkeepers buying for the purpose of selling to their guests, fishmongers, butchers, and poulterers buying “ such thing as concern his or their own faculty, craft or mystery (otherwise than by forestalling), which shall sell the same again upon reasonable prices by re
with others which need not here be mentioned. Section IX. prohibited the sale of cattle and sheep by any person within five weeks after his purchase thereof. Section XIII. allowed any person to “buy, engross and keep in his or their granaries or houses, such corn of the kinds aforesaid" as should be bought under prices specified in the act, "at all times hereafter, when wheat shall be commonly at the price of vi. s. viii. d. the quarter or under," and when other grains should be under certain other specified prices.
As to this act and other similar acts, it is to be noted, that no distinction is made between the acts of single indi. viduals, and of combinations of individuals. The crime consisted in “buying to sell again,” in “making any motion by word, letter, message, or otherwise . . . for the inhancing of the price or dearer selling of anything or things above mentioned," in "getting into his or their hands by buying, contracting, or promise-taking ... to the intent to sell again.” It was the attempt to raise
. prices which constituted the crime. The crime was the