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to a surveyor as will secure the services of a person educated in the principles of road management, and otherwise qualified for the office of surveyor.
Another great error in the system of parish management consists in the regulation by which a surveyor is appointed to act only for one year. This practice is founded on the vulgar notion, that for the management of roads no education is required; that it is not an art to be directed by skill and science. It is a practice which may be set down as having its origin in very rude times, and made familiar by long usage; but it certainly is one which ought to be abolished in the present enlightened state of society.
To legislate, therefore, on sound principles, the old custom of seeking to amend what is wrong, by laws containing a multitude of new regulations, must be abandoned: the country gentlemen who, as members of parliament, undertake the task of legislating on the subject, must look more to general principles; and, in order to succeed, they should no longer allow parish vestries to be the governing authority, or surveyors to be appointed to act only for one year.
The principal alterations introduced into the law affecting highways by the last highway act are as follows :—
The surveyor under the old law was virtually selected by the magistrates; under the new law he is chosen by the inhabitants in vestry assembled, afidrin- places where there is no vestry, at a public meeting of the rate payers. The time of election is altered from the autumn to the spring, when the other parochial officers are chosen.
Statute labour and all compositions in lieu thereof are abolished; and the expense attending the repair of all highways is to be defrayed by a rate levied in the same manner as the poor rate.
Provision is made for the appointment of a board of managers in populous districts, to discharge the duties of surveyors.
Parishes may unite for the purpose of forming unions or districts for the management of the roads, and district surveyors may be appointed with salaries.
The law with reference to widening highways remains unaltered.
The mode of diverting and stopping up highways is entirely different from that under the old law, where two magistrates could in the first instance make the order, subject to an appeal to the bench of magistrates at Quarter Sessions. Now, after certain notices have been given, and certain prescribed forms observed, which must be certified by two magistrates, the order is taken to the Quarter Sessions, to be made in the first instance; and in cases of appeal the magistrates present are directed to empannel a jury to try the merits of the case.
Presentment of roads by magistrates and constables is abolished. The power of indictment is reserved for extreme cases, and a more summary process before two magistrates prescribed in ordinary cases where roads are out of repair.
The remaining provisions of the act, which refer to what may be called the police of the road, are assimilated as much as possible to the provisions of the general turnpike act.
As the expense of maintaining a road in good order depends in some degree upon the sort of carriages which are made use of, a few remarks on different kinds of carriages may be introduced with propriety into this work.
When a road has been made with very hard materials, and it has a very smooth surface, a wheel in rolling over it, even bearing a great weight, does very little injury; but when it has been made with weak materials, a wheel cuts and injures the surface in proportion to the weight it carries. The general ignorance of road-making on right principles led all those who first undertook to improve the roads to attempt to make bad materials do as well as good ones, by regulating the breadth of the tires of wheels, and by limiting the weight to be carried on them. The consequence was, a great quantity of absurd legislation, and no improvement in the roads; and this, simply because it was impossible to make a good road with bad materials. If roads were made sufficiently strong and hard, of a proper form, and kept well drained and scraped, the only case in which the legislature need interfere, is to prevent the injury that wheels do which have nails projecting above the tires of them. With such roads, the interests of carriers of all kinds would lead them to make use of no other than one horse carts, as in Scotland and Ireland, and then the loads would never be so great as to produce any injury to a perfectly good road.
The experience of the use of one horse carts in Scotland and Ireland shows, that a much greater weight can be drawn by horses when working single than when they are joined together. The reason of this is, that it is impossible to make two or more horses exert their strength so that each horse shall regularly and steadily draw its proper share of a load. The common load of a one horse cart in Scotland and Ireland is 30 cwt, exclusive of the cart, while the average load that a horse draws in an English waggon is no more than 15 cwt., exclusive of the waggon.
The most simple and effectual way of getting rid of the injury which very heavily laden waggons do to roads would be, to increase the rate of toll on any additional horse; for instance, if the toll was 4>d. on one horse, it should be lOd. on two, ljd. on three, and so on.
With respect to carriages used for carrying passengers, it would appear that the business of building carriages not having been interfered with by the legislature has been carried on very much to the advantage of the public. In other countries, France for instance, it is otherwise, for the shape and slow rate of moving of a French diligence is