A serious address to the inhabitants of Granville county, containing a brief narrative of our deplorable situation by the wrongs we suffer. And some necessary hints, with respect to a reformation.
“Well, gentlemen, it is not our form or mode of government, nor yet the body of our laws, that we are quarreling with, but with the malpractice of the officers of our county courts, and the abuses we suffer by those that are empowered to manage our public affairs; this is the grievance, gentlemen, that demands our serious attention. And I shall show you that most notorious and intolerable abuses have crept into the practice of the law in this county, and I doubt not into other counties also; though that does not concern us.
In the first place, there is a law which provides, that every lawyer shall take no more than fifteen shillings for his fee in the County Court. Well, gentlemen, which of you has had his business done for fifteen shillings? they exact thirty for every cause; and three, four and five Pounds for every cause attended with the least difficulty; and, in the Superior Court, they exact as fees, almost as many hundreds and laugh at us for our stupidity and tame submission to these damn'd, &c.
Again, a poor man gives his judgment bond for five Pounds; which bond is by the creditor thrown into court. The clerk of the county has to enter it on the docket, and issue execution, the work of one long minute, for which the poor man has to pay the trifling sum of forty one shillings and five pence. The clerk, in consideration of his being a poor man, takes it out in work, at eighteen pence a day. The poor man works some more than twenty-seven days to pay for this one minute's writing.
Well, the poor man reflects thus: At this rate when shall I get to labor for my family! I have a wife and a parcel of small children suffering at home, and here I have lost a whole month, I don't know for what, for my merchant or creditor, is as far from being paid as ever. However I will go home now and try and do what I can. Stay neighbor, you have not half done yet. There is a damn'd lawyer's mouth to stop yet, for you empowered him to confess that you owed this five Pounds and you have thirty shillings to pay for that or go and work nineteen days more; and then you must go and
I believe there are few of you who have not felt the weight of these iron fists. And I hope there are none of you but will lend a hand towards bringing about this necessary work, (viz: a reformation): And in order to bring it about effectually, we must proceed with circumspection, not fearful, but careful.
First, let us be careful to keep sober—do nothing rashly—act with deliberation.
Secondly, let us do nothing against the known established laws of our land—that we appear not as a faction endeavoring to subvert the laws, and overturn the system of our government. But let us take care to appear what we really are, free subjects by birth, endeavoring to recover our lost native rights, and to bring them down to the standard of law.