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new churches ?-Something of the same kind. The drawings of the construction of the proposed building are sent to the Office of Works, and the proposed construction is examined, so far as it is shown, but that gives no guarantee as to its being effectual, farther than in its general principle. If I see that the roof, or any part, is about to be formed in such a way as may render it insecure, the designs are objected to; but there are many things in which the construction of buildings fails, that are not shown upon the drawings, which describe only a few leading principles of the design; nor have we controul over the execution, nor any means of knowing whether the plan of construction has been adhered to.
Do you not conceive that with regard to the taste of any building to be executed, competition must do good, having the several elevations of different architects ?-I do not think so.
Do you conceive the Architects of the Board of Works not liable to error ? No, not by any means ; I mean to say that an architect of eminence requires no such sort of stimulus for his exertions.
But where there are several plans, is it not more likely there should be a handsome plan, than where there is only one made ?—That which is handsome in these plans may be perfectly inapplicable to the subject.
Do you not conceive that the public are more likely to have a handsome building erected, for whatever purpose it may be, by having a competition of architects, who send in different plans and elevations ?– The best answer to that is by reference to what has been done; it has been tried repeatedly, and I believe has always failed.
Will architects of reputation send in plans where there is to be open competition ?- I have never sent in one.
In point of fact, an architect of the first reputation, and full of business, always declines public competition ?- I believe, always ; I have always declined it.
Would it be left to the young architects, who have more leisure and less employment ?—To those who have little or no practice.
Now really this affected disdain of competition is too much in a person of Mr. Smirke's feeble pretensions to the character of greatness. Put his works by the side of the Louvre, and even of Somerset House,-and what are they? Is the author of such a lumbering piece of heaviness as Covent Garden Theatre, to talk as if he were a Michael Angelo? The truth is, that our eminent architects are greatly overpaid. They are wallowing in wealth, while “ Sir C. Wren was content to be dragged up in a basket, three or four times a week to the top of St. Paul's, and at great hazard, for 2001. a year.” The profession has become a jobbing and a mercenary one, because its members are paid upon a wrong principle; and it is no wonder, therefore, that those who are fattening upon meagre designs and hurried superintendence,-making estimates which are never realised-or gravely admitting, as certain individuals did upon a late inquest, that they did not know the relative strength of iron and wood, weight for weight-it is no wonder that its grandees should hate competition. For ourselves, we are free to admit that competition has its disadvantages, but not when the judges of rival claims are competent and disinterested. And this brings us to the last part of our subject—the change, which the Committee consider essential to be made, in the mode by which the plans for the erection of public buildings are decided.
The Committee recommend the following system :That no public buildings should be hereafter erected, nor any considerable alterations in the structure of any of the existing buildings be adopted, except upon directions given by the Lords of the Treasury, and founded upon Minutes of that Board; and that the plans and estimates for all such new buildings or alterations of existing buildings, should be signed by at least three Lords of the Treasury, and be preserved in the records of that office.
That a commission, consisting of five persons, two of whom at least should be Privy Councillors, and holding some responsible offices, should be appointed by his Majesty to act as a council without salary, to advise the Board of Treasury upon all designs and plans for the erection or considerable alteration of public buildings.
That previously to the decision of the Board of Treasury on any designs, plans or estimates, to be signed and recorded by them as before suggested, the opinions and recommendations of this council for public buildings to be so appointed, should be laid in writing before the Board, and should be annexed to the plans and estimates approved of and recorded at the Treasury.
This erection of a commission would certainly meet the evil of the hurried examination of the Treasury--the evasions of the necessity of written orders from that authority—and the consequent partial or complete want of controul under which the architect acts. In conjunction with this, they further recommend a revision of the existing regulations by which the Office of Works is governed. We cannot think that these proposals are adequate remedies for the manifold abuses which have arisen. It is quite impossible that the public buildings of the country can be erected upon worse principles than they are at present; and we should, therefore, say-attach the Commission permanently as a Council to the Board of Works—discharge the three architects who, at present, nominally form the Council to the Surveyor-General, but who really are the irresponsible monopolists of all the government erections—throw open all public buildings to competition, upon a moderate commission, declining in proportion as the estimate is erroneous--and appoint careful assistant surveyors with salaries adequate to place them above all temptation, but without any per-centage or indirect advantage, to controul the erection of the buildings. Let us then see if architects of reputation will not send in plans. We rather think Mr. Smirke would find his mistake. At any rate, the government and the nation would have the satisfaction of trying whether a better system could be established.
7th. In our Diary for the month of May, we noticed the fact of a bill being brought into thc House of Commons for the purpose of allowing counsel to prisoners accused of felony. This bill has since been withdrawn for the present—but its being brought into Parliament has caused the production of a pamphlet entitled, "A Vindication of the practice of not allowing the Counsel for Prisoners accused of Felony to make Speeches for them; by Barron Field, Esq., of the Inner Temple, Barrister at Law.” This performance it was, at one time, our intention regularly to review-but we found it would be really to break, not a butterfly, but a spider, upon a wheel. A page or so of our diary will be quite enough for it.
With the wretched writing of this pamphlet we shall find no fault;for, in matters of this kind, it is the argument, and not the composition which is of importance. The tone, however, throughout is very offerisively egotistical, pert, snappish, and unfeeling. And, as for argument, – luckily the bad cause has an equally bad advocate. We can scarcely, indeed, understand how a gentleman, who has practised the legal profession, can talk in so outrageously silly and illogical a
This gentleman begins his case by stating that no real evil is done, inasmuch as the counsel for the prosecution use “ the greatest brevity and moderation" in their opening statements. He then goes on
“ In truth, and this is the first fact which, when known, will silence the plausible clamour in favour of counsel for the prisoner, there is no counsel against the prisoner. The counsel for the prosecution, where such an one is employed (as there is not always), and where he speaks (which he does not always), is not counsel against the prisoner, but a mere ministerial assistant of justice, performing one duty further than the clerk who reads the indictment,
-an ease to the Judge, who would otherwise have to examine the witnesses himself, and being allowed his fee by the magistrates, in such counties as do allow it, in the light of such assistant and in no other,--and perfectly indifferent, when he has performed his simple duty, which way the verdict goes."
Now, the whole of this is totally unfounded, both in principle and practice. If the counsel for the prosecution were, in fact, only a “ministerial assistant of justice,” he would examine the witnesses for, as well as against, the prisoner. He would strive to bring forth all the facts of the case, instead of those only which are in support of the accusation. And does Mr. Field pretend that this is what they do? Does he pretend that a counsel retained for the prosecution does only what the judge would do in case there were no counsel?-If he does not mean this, he means nothing; and that he does mean this, we cannot believe of a gentleman who has, at some time, as he hints to
us, attended the sessions at the Old Bailey. We do not, in the least, mean to assert, that the counsel for the prosecution makes a violent or inflammatory speech : but he very often does do more than merely state the facts. He constantly comments upon the increasing prevalence of the particular crime under consideration, and upon the necessity of checking it by conspicuous punishment. At all events, he does make his statement, lucidly, consecutively ;-and the prisoner is not allowed to retain any one to tell his story for him in the same manner. Is this even-handed justice? Mr. Field then proceeds :
Having shown that there is upon this subject no cause of complaint, and, in fact, no real complaint, I shall next proceed to prove that the practice is best as it stands. It will be admitted by all persons who are in the habit of attending criminal courts of justice, that, in almost every case, the prisoner, when he is asked what he has gotten to say for himself, had better say nothing, and that the humane buzz about him is not one of pain to see the absorption of the prisoner's faculties by surprise at being told that his Counsel cannot address the Jury for him, as the Old Bailey Jurors have canted, but Hold your tongue! Well then, we will suppose that, by Mr. Lamb's Act of Parliament, the mouth of his counsel is opened for him ; what, in the nineteen cases out of twenty, in which the thief is sworn to, and the stolen property found upon him, is he to say? Is he to march up to the cannon's mouth of the evidence, and call it a lie; and thus shock all sense of demonstration, and bring down a reply from the Judge, and an indignant verdict, with no recommendation to mercy from the Jury; or is he to extenuate the crime, thereby admitting it, and, as it were, advising the jury to find his client guilty, and provoking an answer perhaps to that extenuation from the judge, instead of procuring a mitigation of sentence? Would this practice be better for the prisoner than the present? Or, would the third course be best, namely, that the prisoner's counsel, in such a case as we have put, though permitted to speak, should, in his discretion, say nothing? The jury would then imply from such silence an admission of guilt. Surely it is better as it is, now that the jury can presume nothing from the silence of the prisoner's counsel, which is imposed upon him in all cases ; for in cases of palpable guilt, silence would certainly be a better refuge than impudent denial, or cunning evasion. And by the present practice, if the prisoner's counsel has really a serviceable remark to make, he may do it to the judge, as amicus curie, or impress it briefly upon the jury, in the latitude of cross-examination with which he is always indulged.”
Now it is really matter to us of extreme surprise, how any man, professing to conduct an argument, could write such ineffable trash as this. If the case is conclusive against the prisoner, we admit his counsel can do nothing for him ; nay, perhaps he may be more certainly convicted, for the reason Mr. Field states ;-so much the betterit is another reason for the change. All that Mr. Field says here is with reference to prisoners manifestly guilty ;-who wants to save them ?—who has ever proposed this alteration with a view to “ get oft” guilty persons ? It is only of innocent persons that the advocates of this change have spoken. They do not wish to save the guilty
there are, in many instances, undue means of escape held out to them —but this improvement would be doubly such, inasmuch as it would scarcely assist the guilty at all, while it would afford the means of preservation to the innocent. That there are not very many innocent persons brought to the bar is quite true—but that there are some is beyond question ; and, if that proportion were ten times as small as it is, their interests should be provided for with the most jealous care. Mr. Field expresses his surprise, that “such a man as Sir James Scarlett" should have said, in the House of Commons, that “he had often seen persons he thought innocent, convicted, for want of some connsel to shew the bearings of the different circumstances on the conduct and situation of the prisoner.”—Mr. Field answers this by saying, that he has seen no such thing. He!-Sir James Scarlett is perhaps, with due submission to the distinguished eminence of Mr. Field, of all persons in the profession the one whose evidence on this subject should be received, as regards the fact, with conviction. For, he is a cool, steady man, by no means likely to have his judgment warped by any rash love of innovation, or any of that quality which has, by persons without feeling themselves, been designated "maudlin philanthrophy.” For a long series of years, he attended the Manchester Sessions-than which the Old Bailey itself could scarcely afford a greater store of facts in matters of criminal jurisprudence. It may, perhaps, seem presuming to add anonymous testimony to this —but eminent persons at the bar have over and over again mentioned to us cases of conviction, in which they themselves were concerned, where, as they have stated, if they had been allowed to address the jury for five minutes, they would have been bound to prove the prisoner's innocence, under the penalty of suffering his punishment.
We are not arguing this question generally. We have merely wished to shew what sort of arguments they are which are brought forward in support of the existing system. If it is to continue to exist, it must get very different advocates from Mr. Barron Field.
15th. There are few things more interesting than to keep one's attention upon what occurs at our Police Offices, as they tend to develope what may be termed the statistical metaphysics of the metropolis. We do not mean that we have the slightest taste for the filthy lampoons of which the Morning Herald set the fashion some years ago. Those, in fact, were not accounts of what occurred, but very vulgar and nauseous caricatures. But the real representations of the business which is daily transacted at Bow Street, and Marlborough Street, “ and the rest,” do, undoubtedly, present some most characteristic, and some most singular displays of London nature.
But the individual case which has led us into these reflections is completely sui generis-none but itself can be its parallel.
"MARLBOROUGH STREET.-Earl Ferrers on Monday appeared at this office, to prefer a charge against three boys, named Pierce, Whittel, and Millett, for having picked his pocket of his snuff-box, in Berkeley Square, on Thursday afternoon.
“Earl Ferrers, after giving his evidence, said it would be highly