« ForrigeFortsæt »
to which the franchise might con- ceived double the pay of split votes. veniently be transferred.
It was not meant that the proviThe session closed before any sions of the bill should apply to effective proceedings were taken any real and fair agent of a candifor the disfranchisement of either date, but to that spurious collecof these boroughs.
tion which went under the names Lord Althorp obtained the ap- of runners, flagmen, and musicians, pointment of a committee to in- who had never played upon an inquire into the mode of taking the strument in their lives, till they were poll at County elections; and colo- enrolled at an election. This was nel Davies obtained a similar one just another mode of paying them to inquire into the mode of taking for their votes; and therefore it the polls at elections for cities and was right that, in that election at boroughs. The principal object of least, they should have no voice. lord Althorp was, to get rid, if On the suggestion of Mr. Spring possible, of the enormous expense Rice it was farther determined of a county election, which, as with a view of promoting the matters stood, was such that only a purity and diminishing the expense man of very large fortune could of elections to prohibit the distriventure to become a candidate. bution of ribbands and cockades. He stated that the last election for Both parts of the bill were opposYorkshire, though it had never ed, the one as being unjust, the come to a poll, had cost at least other as being frivolous, inefficient £.120,000; if a poll had lasted even in trifles, and utterly beneath fifteen days, it would have cost the dignity of the House. The the parties at least half a mil- law of bribery, as it stood, was lion of money. On that occasion quite sufficient to reach a purchas a gentleman of large fortune, for ed voter, even though he lurked whom the greatest shew of hands under the disguise of a would-be appeared, was compelled to aban- fiddler or drummer. To disfrandon all thoughts of standing a poll, chise every voter who was employin consequence of the ruinous ex- ed as an agent by a candidate, was pense which must have followed to stigmatize the whole profession that determination. Lord Althorp of the law. If the candidate likewise brought in, and carried were prevented from paying his through, a bill for the better pre- agents openly, except at the sacrivention of corrupt practices at fice of their votes, he would be elections, and for diminishing the driven to the necessity of paying expenses of elections. The object them, after the election, more la of it was, to prevent substantial vishly and extravagantly than he bribery from being perpetrated, otherwise would have done. They under the mask of merely giving would be active and zealous friends employment, and therefore to des during the election, and would be prive all persons of the right to paid after it as active and zealous vote, who should be employed by a agents. The candidates, to be sure, candidate in the election. It was might select their agents from notorious, it was said, that, at elece among persons who were not votions, different nominal offices were ters; but what unqualified person created, to be filled by voters who would feel the same interest, or were classed as plumpers, and re« exert the same energies, as a qualified person who had identified “any cockade, ribband, or other his own triumph with the success mark of distinction.” of his favourite candidate? The During the session several atprohibition of music, and ribbands, tempts were unsuccessfully made and cockades, during the election, to introduce some alteration into was, it was contended, absolutely the system of the Game Laws. ridiculous. It was not desirable Lord Wharncliffe, who, before his to put an end to all the spirit and elevation to the peerage, had paid gaiety of an election; and, though much attention to the subject in it were, this measure would be ut- the House of Commons, and had terly inefficient. It was downright carried through that House a bill folly to suppose, that a short bill which failed in the Peers, inlike this would make an English troduced a new bill into the House election as demure and orderly as of Lords. The provisions of the a Methodist love-feast. Every measure went, first of all to rewhere the electors voted for a par- move the absurd and contradictory ticular colour; and “in point of qualifications of the old law, and fact," said Mr. Calcraft," without to substitute in their place the quaflags and ribbands, the electors will lification of property ; every pronot know whose heads they are prietor being permitted to kill game breaking, and may knock down on his own lands, whether his estheir friends under the mistaken tate were large or small. His lordnotion that they are knocking ship next proposed to legalize the down their foes.” Now, as the sale of game, as one great means bill confessedly was not to put an of diminishing the temptations to end to the breaking of heads, there poach, and as being in itself a was no use in misleading people to just and reasonable thing. It break the wrong heads. The bill, was absurd to say to an alderman, however, passed into a law. By that he might purchase a turkey, its provisions,* any person, who, but not a partridge: experience within six months before an elec- had shewn, that, in defiance of tion, or during an election, or with- the law, game was supplied to in fourteen days after it, shall have the market as regularly as poultry; been employed in the election as and surely it was always imprucounsel, agent, attorney, poll-clerk, dent, to give unnecessarily to acts flag-man, or in any other capacity, which could not be prevented, the and shall have received, in consi- demoralizing accompaniment of an deration of such employment, any habitual feeling of disregard for fee, place, or office, or any promise authority. As it was possible, or security for a fee, place, or office, however, that an open market shall be incapable of voting at such might, for a few years, have a tenelection." A penalty of 101. for dency to increase the illegal de : each offence is inflicted upon every struction of game, it was intended candidate who, after the teste of that the power of sale should be the writ, or, if parliament be site restricted until the market had ting, after the seat has become va- come into a regular state. The cant, shall directly or indirectly privilege of selling would, theregive to any voter or inhabitant, fore, be given, in the first instance,
bill was to mitigate the severity of was allowed to pass through a sethe punishments provided by the cond reading, and was lost, on the existing law, for certain offences motion for the third reading, by a against the game acts-a severity majority of 54 to 38. One principal which did not carry the feelings of objection of the marquis of
Londonthe country along with it, and led derry to the measure was, that it jurors to refuse to convict. The bill would deprive the sportsman of his was allowed to be read a second time; highest gratification--the pleasure but, on the motion that it should of furnishing his friends with be read a third time, it was lost by presents of game: nobody would a majority of one. The objections care for a present which every body stated against it were, that it was could give! Lord Winchelsea delusive to think of checking poach- found fault with it as casting an ing by giving the poacher a market invidious reflection upon the smallwhere he might legally dispose of er proprietors; but surely a rethe game which he had stolen ; striction which prohibited them that the conferring the qualifica- from selling, could not be more ințion on even the smallest proprie- vidious than a qualification which tor, and giving him the power of forbade them to kill even upon warning off and apprehending their own estates. One great alevery intruder, would lead to end- teration, however, was effected, by less law suits ; that it swept away a bill, introduced by lord Suffield, the whole existing system without passing into a law, which abolished putting any thing more efficient in the practice of setting spring guns, its place. In the course of the and other engines of destruction, discussion lord Harrow by stated, for the preservation of game. By that, during the last three years, this statute* it was declared to be a 4,500
persons had been imprisoned misdemeanour in any person to set under the Game-laws, while the a spring-gun, man-trap, or other number in 1810, 1811, and 1812, engine, calculated to kill, or inflict had been only 460. That must be grievous injury, with the intent at once a weak and an oppressive that it should destroy life, or occasystem, which, notwithstanding an sion bodily harm to any trespasser, extravagant expenditure of legal or other person, who might come power, and the infliction of much in contact with it. Persons coming misery in the shape of punishment, into the possession or occupation allows the violators of its provisions of grounds, in which such engines to increase in such a ratio.
had been already set, and allowing Scarcely had this bill been lost, them to remain, were to be held when the marquis of Salisbury in- to have themselves set them., One troduced another, confined to the exception was made in favour of single point of legalizing the sale gins and traps usually set for the of game
under certain restrictions, destruction of vermin; and another He proposed to empower all per- in favour of guns placed in a dwellsons, qualified by law to kill game, ing house, between sun-set and to take out a license, authorizing sun-rise, for the protection of that them to sell game to licensed dwelling house.
Scotland was exdealers. The measure was to be cepted from the operation of the temporary, and to expire at the end of three years. This bill, too, • 7 and 8 Geo. IV. c. 18.
statute; for, while the bill was the canvass, as it were, on which pending in parliament, the question the new legislative forms were to of the legality of setting such in- be delineated. The first of the five struments was raised in that coun- acts (7 and 8 Geo. IV. c. 27) re-try, in a court of law, and the de- pealed about an hundred and thirtycision of the question established, seven different statutes, and parts that the common law of Scotland of statutes, commencing with the was much more hostile to the use charter de foresta of Henry III, of them than was this new enact- and ending with the parliamentary ment in England. A man had session of 1826. The second been killed by a spring-gun set in statute (cap. 28), consisted of the preserves of a nobleman in the somewhat heterogeneous enactsouth of Scotland. The game- ments, removing doctrines which keeper by whom it had been set had hitherto incumbered, or laying was brought to trial upon an in- down general rules which were dictment charging him with mur- henceforth to be applicable to, the der. His counsel raised the point, whole body of the criminal law. that the occasioning of death in It abolished in toto the benefit of the manner set forth in the indict- clergy in cases of felony, a benefit, ment, by instruments placed with the very name of which, always in a person's own property, for keeping alive the remembrance of the protection of that property, its rude origin, excites our wonder was not an indictable offence at that it should still have survived, all; much less could it be a even in the forms of law, in the capital homicide ; and, therefore, nineteenth century. One punishthere was no relevant charge to be ment, viz., transportation for seven sent to a jury. The question was years, or imprisonment for two solemnly argued ; and the six years, with public or private whipjudges of the High Court of Jus- ping, in the case of males, was ticiary, pronounced an unanimous appointed for all offences to which decision, that such killing, by the no special statute affixed any parlaw of Scotland, is murder.* 'Our ticular penalty. The expenses of statute has made it only a misde- official forms, which tended to renmeanour.
der a pardon useless, by exacting Out of office, as in office, Mr. from the pardoned prisoner what Peel proceeded with his unosten- his
very situation in general suffitatious improvements of the crimi- ciently proved him to be unable to nal law. Five acts were passed, pay, were in a great measure got rid which consolidated into one body of by enacting, that so soon as a free the whole of the law regarding or conditional pardon should have offences against property, purified passed the sign manual, the disfrom an immense quantity of charge of the offender out of prison ancient rubbish, and most bene- in the former case, and the perficially simplified in all its arrange- formance of the condition in the ments. His first step was, to re- latter, should have the same effect duce the Statute-book, in so far as as if the pardon had passed the this subject was concerned, to the great seal. The phraseology of state of a tabula rasa ; to prepare English statutes had long been a
reproach to the legislature; cum• Vide Chronicle, p. 116, June 24. brous and confused; ambiguous
from an unnatural straining after plain description and precise punish distinctness; where even the law- ment; and, by laying down positive yer, panting under an accumula- rules, removed distinctions which tion of nouns and pronouns, of had often given rise to subtle and numbers and genders, toiled in embarrassing doubts. It abolished vain through the windings of end- the distinction between grand and less repetitions and parentheses, petty larceny, declaring that every after something which had seemed larceny, without regard to the an idea when he set out in the value of the thing stolen, should paragraph, but which, at the end be held to be of the same nature, of it, brought him to confess, with and subject to the same incidents, Hamlet, that his reading was as grand larceny had been before “ words, words, words." All ex- the passing of the act. It defined cuse for thus perpetuating obscu- clearly what should be held to be rity in what ought, more than any part of the dwelling house, in thing else, to be plain to every questions of burglary and of capicitizen, was removed by a simple tal theft from a house-a subject provision that, in future, whenever which, more than once, had puzzled a statute, in describing the subject or employed the ingenuity of crimatter of an offence, or the party minal lawyers. Similar subtleties committing it, or the party against as to “possession," and "the conwhom it is committed, shall make version of possession," in the law use of the singular number or mas- of embezzlement, and in the wireculine gender only, it shall never- drawn distinctions between larceny theless be understood “to include and fraud, were avoided, by simply several matters as well as one declaring, that, if a person in the matter, several persons as well as employment of another should reone person, females as well as ceive possession of any property by males, and bodies corporate as well virtue of that employment, and as individuals," unless it be other then embezzle it, he should be wise provided in the statute itself, held to have stolen it, although it or there be something in the sub- should never have come into the ject or context - repugnant to such possession of the master, otherwise a construction.
than by being in the possession of The third of Mr. Peel's acts the person so employed ; and by (7 and 8 Geo. IV. c. 29), contain- providing that, if on a trial for ed the law of offences against pro- obtaining money under false preperty in its new and simplified tences, the offence should turn out form. It is not necessary to enter to amount to larceny, that should into the details of this long statute, be no ground of acquittal, but the and it would scarcely be possible culprit should not be liable to be to present them in any useful ab- afterwards tried for larceny upon stract. It by no means affected the same facts. In regard to any vain precision of systematic punishment, the rigour of the penui arrangement; it thwarted no con- law was mitigated, not aggravated. firmed habits of thinking; it The statute recognized four classes trenched very little even upon of punishments, and the offences received definitions. It brought were distinctly set forth, to which the various species of crime into each was to be applicable. The one view; assigned to each its first was death ; then transporta