Abbildungen der Seite

24th. Every day adds something new to that collection of facts which proves the unparalleled wisdom of our laws. The escape of Sheen, for the omission, in the indictment, of the second name of the child whom he slew, will not readily be forgotten. Something like an argument for that decision was raised upon the necessity of undeviating preciseness in the description of a person murdered; but what shall we think of the following refinement ?

“ At the Berkshire assizes, a woman was charged with murdering her child by wilfully suffocating it. Before any evidence, counsel submitted that the woman must be acquitted of this murder, because

, at the coroner's inquest, the name of one of the jurors was stated to be Thomas Winter Borne, instead of Thomas Winter Burn. The opposite counsel suggested, in substance, that an orthographic mistake could not prove the woman to be innocent of the murder. Mr. Baron Vaughan: 'I cannot hold that Borne and Burn are the same name, and I am clearly of opinion that this objection puts an end to the case. The prisoner must be discharged.'”

Wise laws! Admirably adapted for the prevention of crime by the most simple and direct administration of justice! Precious legacies of the wisdom of past ages! Gems, of which we cannot more admire the original diamonds (the statutes) than the magnificent settings in which we now behold them (the dicta of the judges:) Far distant be the day when you shall be subjected to the pruning-knife of rash innovators, who would madly render you consistent and intelligible!

25th. A great noise has been made about the influence of the Irish priesthood as displayed in the late Clare election. It certainly has been extreme-far greater than has ever been displayed before: but it is quite extraordinary that not one single one of the thousand and two people who have written on the subject has mentioned the point in which its wonderful power has been displayed. Is it in returning O'Connell? Pugh? O'Connell, one of themselves—a Catholic-the leader of all Catholics—in Ireland! Why, at the general election in 1826, they beat a Beresford in the county of Waterford, by a majority of three, four, to one. Returning O'Connell for Clare is, after that, nothing. But the priesthood had the power to keep the whole population, during an election of above a week, from touching a-drop of whiskey! If they can do that, their power is far more irresistible than that of the parliament of the United Kingdom. That, as has been said, can do all, save make a man a woman, or a woman a man; but what is that as compared with keeping an Irishman from whiskey, when his blood is up? Tut! Trifles!

26th. The charges against O'Connell are becoming very serious. The petition of certain freeholders of Clare affirms that said Daniel is Grand Master of the Order of Liberators; and Mr. Cobbett affirms that said Daniel is running wild, touching the matter of “Franking.”

“ I have received a letter franked by Mr. O'Connell, and dated from Limerick, 12th July, charged 2s. 8d. postage, having on it the post-mark, ‘Above the privileged number;' and, therefore, I have not taken it; for, though I have no objection to Mr. O'Connell's enjoying the glory of franking, I have a great objection to be made to pay for it. I have occasionally, and, indeed, very frequently (more than twice a week), received franked letters, during twenty-eight years: that is to say, I have received more, I am sure, than three thousand franks, and this is the first time that I ever received a frank with this stamp of worthlessness upon it. Long observation has taught me (and taught us all, indeed) how difficult it is for law-givers to bridle the tongue; but, surely, they may restrain the hand from transgressing limits arithmetically prescribed by the law."-Hume himself could not have written more pathetically upon such a sin.

27th. We execrate the memory of Mrs. Brownrigg, who

“ Whipp'd two female prentices to death," but we suffer our wives and daughters to buy their dresses of milliners who compel their girls to work eighteen hours in the twenty-four ; and who, as a natural consequence, die of consumption, or throw themselves upon Fleet-street. An inquest was held the other day upon an unfortunate creature, whose life was sacrificed to such infamous exertions, at some “ Magasin des Modes." With all our hatred of slavery, we really cannot attempt an answer to the sneers of the colonists, while such enormities exist among us. But the miseries of the unhappy milliners arise out of the demands of Fashion," which is the most cruel, capricious, selfish, exclusive, ignorant, and ugly reptile that crawls upon the earth, -and, therefore, they are necessary.


28th. The men who were committed by the verdict of a coroner's inquest, upon a charge of wilful murder, in killing Lord Mountsandford in a street-row at Windsor, have been tried at the Berkshire assizes, and found guilty of manslaughter. The misguided person, by whose culpable violence the unfortunate nobleman was proved to have met his death, has been sentenced to transportation for life. The two others implicated in the affray, to two years' imprisonment. Only one witness proved the identity of these latter persons; and he distinctly swore that neither of them pushed Lord Mountsandford down, or kicked him, but that they were engaged in the general affray without offering any particular violence to the suffering individual. This is a somewhat hard judgment upon these unhappy persons.

The gentlemen commenced the fighting, and because one of their number is unhappily killed, those not of the quality of gentlemen must participate in the penalties of the crime. Mr. Baron Vaughan very legally informed the jury in his charge, that " the insulting language of the mob towards the gentlemen was not to be borne!" We trust that the fatal issue of this affair will have a natural tendency to render street-rows and larks a little less fashionable.

Somewhat in connexion with this matter, is a proceeding at the Windsor Quarter-Sessions, held on Friday last, which may elucidate the state of that favoured abode of royalty, and, consequently, that home of all the virtues and decencies of life, during the carnival of the Ascot races. The streets, no doubt, as one of the witnesses upon the above trial said, “ are shamefully lighted—and as to being

watched, the few old men who parade the town appear more fit to be in their beds or an hospital.” This is the condition of most country towns, and Windsor has no special advantages for immorality in this particular. It appears, however, that the town, on the occasion of the races, is given up, in the most notorious manner, to all the profligacies which are incident upon gambling. At these Quarter-Sessions, Mr. Maurice Swabey officiated (in the absence of Sir Giffin Wilson) as recorder; and he thus delivered himself to the grand jury:

“There is one subject to which it may be fitting that I should advert- -a subject which seems to have given rise to general complaint on the part of the inhabitants of the borough, and respecting which a public meeting has been already held in this Hall, -I allude to the practice of gambling, which, it is said, has now increased to a very pernicious extent during the week of Ascot, races. This allegation may or may not be true; for the present purpose, however, I will assume, that it is founded in act. I allude more particularly to the meeting held on this occasion, for the purpose of noticing some observations—as unjust and unjustifiable as uncalled for—which were made by an individual present, with regard to the chief magistrate of the borough. As these remarks, impugning the conduct of the chief magistrate, were evidently made by one wholly ignorant of the duties of the important office which he ventured to attack, and as they may probably derive some sort of credit and importance if suffered to pass wholly uncontradicted, I will now take leave to mention what are the duties pertaining to the office of chief magistrate. It seems to have been an impression on the mind of this individual, that these duties are somewhat analogous to those of constable. It is hardly necessary for me to state, however, that they widely differ; and that by attempting to confound them, and by performing duties which belong to the inferior officer, his worship would have forgot what was due to himself, and at the same time have compromised the dignity of his commission. I have understood that a late magistrate of this borough did so interfere, and I do not hesitate to say, that if so, he interfered most improperly. His worship, in fact, does not possess the power of abating the nuisance in question. It is quite 'a mistake to suppose that by his fiat the chief magistrate can put down either gambling houses or houses of ill fame. This is a power which, by the 25th of Geo. III. c. 26, is vested in any two inhabitants. It is in their power to give notice, in writing, to the constable, complaining of such gambling house or house of ill fame being kept within the precincts of the borough. It is then the duty of the constable to take such persons before the chief magistrate, who, upon their making oath as to the truth of the charge, and entering into the usual recognizances to appear at the Sessions, will also bind over the constable in the sum of 301. to prosecute the offenders. It then becomes the duty of his worship to issue his warrant, but you will perceive that in the first instance it is the duty of the inhabitants to originate the complaint and set all this complex machinery into motion. The aggrieved parties first make a formal complaint to the constable, the constable takes the complaining parties before the mayor, and, lastly, his worship issues his warrant and holds the constable to bail. By adopting the course which has been previously insisted on, not only would the chief magistrate over

[ocr errors]

step his duty, but he would be beginning at the wrong end. If the chief magistrate had been so unfortunate as to commit the mistake which was so urgently pressed upon him, he would in all probability long before this have had cause to repent of his interference, by having a mandamus moved for against him in the King's Bench, for it so happens that persons are not generally apt to attribute the purest motives to those who, in their magisterial capacity, overstep the strict line of their duty."

Umph! Mr. Maurice Swabey !—This power of the magistracy is the most irregular engine in the world. It sometimes drags along like the Court of Chancery ;-and at others is as prompt as a provostmarshal in a campaign. Do you remember the committal of a respectable tradesman to the tread-mill, for an alleged offence against the vagrant act ? That was sharp work. We have no doubt that the Grand Jury of Windsor were most effectually blinded by this “ learned dust" which you so kindly threw into their eyes; but they are not to be quite put off their scent. Mr. Maurice Swabey, you have read “ the vagrant act." Every body knows how diligently you have read it. Why, then, did you not inform these jurors that it contained the following words:

Every person playing or betting in any street, road, highway, or other open and public place, at or with any table or instrument of gaming, at any game, or pretended game or chance," "shall be deemed a rogue and vagabond, within the true intent and meaning of this act; and it shall be lawful for any justice of the peace to commit such offender (being thereof convicted before him by the confession of such offender, or by the evidence on oath of one or more credible witness or witnesses) to the house of correction." · Now, Mr. Swabey, will you contend that the open booths on Ascot course, and the ground floors in the town of Windsor, with every attraction of lights, and placards, and unclosed shutters, and this display at an early hour of the evening, are not open and public places; and are you not sure in your conscience that the mayor of Windsor might have sent his constables, and arrested every one of the offenders against decency? Shame on such quibbling. But the public have memories, Mr. Swabey. _Till within these three years, proclamation was annually made that no E. O. tables, or other gambling, would be permitted on the race-course ; and the same notice was issued for the town of Windsor. The new master of the buck-hounds—not very squeamish upon matters of public morals (a Wellesley!)-perceived that the race-fund would be materially improved by the receipt of the enormous sums which the proprietors of London hells, and other sharpers, would be willing to pay for the privilege to fleece their dupes upon the course, to say nothing of the great attraction which the races would then present to the sprigs of nobility, who are not yet members of club-houses, and their mistresses—and to the clerks and shopmen who would then ride twenty miles to see Rouge et Noir," without molestation, and rob their masters' tills for ever after. The proclamation of the magistrates was, therefore, got rid of. At Windsor, the same official balance of good and evil took place; and the sharpers were admitted, to light up half the houses there, during the race-week, and bear off the rich harvest of this their immunity from all police interference. Now it does sin

gularly enough happen in the very year in which this profligacy is carried to such an extent of outrage against decency, that the inhabitants hold a public meeting to remonstrate against it, that the mayor of Windsor is clerk of the course to Ascot races, and the town clerk of Windsor the treasurer to Ascot races. What situation Mr. Maurice Swabey is to hold in that royal establishment we have not heard. Seriously, this attempt to whitewash such official recklessness is a little disgusting. This learned magistrate of Union-Hall knows perfectly well, that if the mayor and town-clerk had been inclined to put down the open gambling of which the decent inhabitants complain, an information from a constable might have procured a warrant, which would have swept away the tables, and their keepers, without any“ complex machinery,” in one half-hour, and sent all the offending parties to the treadmill. But then the mayor must have been a free agent; his hands were tied, and his eyes were blinded by the higher responsibilities of clerk of the course to Ascot. The town-clerk was in th same predicament. And thus a London magistrate is brought down to expound the law relating to itinerant gamblers, after this edifying fashion. Who can fathom the depths of sycophancy?

29th. The King's Speech is, as usual, a production most ingeniously contrived to throw the least possible light upon subjects upon which we are not fully informed, and to talk about those we know of in as bald and uninteresting a style as any effort of stupidity could devise. We wonder people have not long since ceased to attach any sort of interest to these documents. With regard to the speech before us, it is well observed by the Times, that "the repeal of the Test Act—that measure by which both its friends and enemies will agree to distinguish exclusively the Session just expired-has not received the slightest notice from his Majesty's Ministers; as if any accession to liberty, civil or religious, was a subject proscribed by those in whose names King's speeches are wont to be delivered."

THE DREAMINGS OF AN IDEALIST. I AM one of those who take a pleasure in losing themselves in the intricacies of speculation. My greatest delight is to make an eternity of my thoughts, and gather up all I have ever possessed or desired into a changeless individual consciousness. My heart feels freer when I am thus employed; sorrow and disappointment lose their earthly gross ness, and leave only a tender sensation like a reflex gladness. The world is then within the sphere of my own soul, and is ruled and moulded by my will. External objects, as they pass before me, are looked at as a fair pageantry, whose glorious original is imperishably mine; and the profound wonders of nature, though inexplicable when I contemplate them with material organs, seein, by a strange and mysterious power within me, an easy lecture for the spirit. That this disposition of mind has not been without its influence on my life, may easily be imagined; and there have been some incidents in it which have left an awe upon my heart, that is bowed, as it were, by the untimely birth of futurity.

« ZurückWeiter »