« PoprzedniaDalej »
of the law, who not seldom mingle in the women of the town in London, it their debaucheries, in order that they is not necessary to say much. It is may know their haunts, and more lamentable, but it is true, that they are casily lay hold of them upon occasion. by far niore offensive in their profiHouses of resort for these desperate gacy, more daringly abandoned in their characters, familiarly known by the external behaviour, than those of any name of Flash-houses, exist in many other capital in Europe. There may, parts of the metropolis ; one of them, no doubt, be other reasons for this ; it would appear, in the immediate vi- but one great reason is certain, that cinity of the chief establishment of the they are more addicted to the vice of police. There thieves and thief-catch- drinking. ers sit together in peaceful fellowship, These, and the more terrible enor. nor does the apprehension of one boon mities resulting from them, can scarcely companion by another, appear to af- be supposed to exist in such excess fect in any way the general festivity of without some fault either in the law it. their assembly.
self, or in its administration, or in both. The vice of drinking, in which so Without attempting at any regular many other vices find their origin, and classification, the chief defects which in which all vices find their support, seem to have been noticed by the perseems indeed to have increased in an sons who gave evidence before the alarming degree, and with the vice, committee, may be comprised under the vicious accommodations have of these heads. i. There is great need necessity kept pace. Houses such as in London of some presiding and diwe have above described, are, although recting board of police. The police with many exceptions, closed in ge- of the metropolis is at present parcelled neral at the legal hours. Their fre. out among several distinct offices, quenters then retreat to other haunts, which have no system of communica-to coffee-houses, a new species, tion with each other. A monthly rewhich are open during the whole turn is indeed made by each office to night ; and to houses which call them. the Secretary of State ; and wlien oc. selves ale-houses, but where little of casion calls for it, information is unany ale is sold ; and gin-houses, which doubtedly asked by the magistrates of are open before the light. Those who one office, and given by those of ancannot find or afford such accommoda. other, and vice versa. But there can tions, repose under open sheds and on be no question, however unwilling bolks ; in Covent Garden, in particu- some of the magistrates themselves lar, where every night men and wo. may bave been, and may now be, to men, and boys and girls, to the num- acknowledge it, that the inquence of ber of many hundreds, sleep together one supreme board of police would in the open air, a scene of vice and tu- not only tend to render the communimult more atrocious than any thing cation both with regard to offences and exbibited even by the Lazzaroni of offenders, more frequent, regular, and Naples. The younger part of this complete, but would make the respon. rabole have, however, houses for them. sibility to be felt more entirely, and selves alone, and meetings known by lend to the whole system of preventathe name of cock-and-hen clubs, the tive, as well as reprobatory measures, a systematic and deliberate inspectors degree of vigour which it does not at and managers of which should be vic present possess. Allusion has fre. sted with
other punishments than the quently been made in parliament to the refusal of a licence. With regard to excellence of the old system of police
in Paris, and the allusion has as often the hands of one company of brewers ; been met by the simple reply, that that that these brewers, to all appearance, system was indeed a very powerful and exercised no small sway in the procu. efficient one, but that it was the sys. ring or preventing of licences for partitem of an arbitrary, not of a free go- cular houses; and that this sway, if it vernment. The reply is excellent in did exist, could only have been ob. so far. The horrors of that espionage tained through some undue and unwhich formed an essential part of the worthy compliance on the part of the French system, are so repugnant to licensing bench. The only persons erery feeling of Englishmen, that no who could possess accurate informaattempt to establish them among us tion on this head, were likely to be could be endured for a moment. But anxious for its concealment, but the even without taking this espionage universal credence of the vicinity must into account, the unity of purpose and not be allowed to go for nothing. The power of the French police was cer- evil consequences to which these spetainly another great cause of its suc- cies of malversation must tend, are so cess; and upon what rational principle obvious, that is needless to explain we should despise, in this instance them. They would, in all likelihood, alone, the old maxim which maintains be rendered quite impossible, were the that it is prudent to be taught even by business of licensing conducted in a an enemy; and scruple to borrow more open way, and under the inspecthe unity of the forcign system, only tion of superiors. because we detest its espionage ; we 2. The manner in which the officers profess ourselves incapable of discover of the police establishments are paid ing.
for their exertions in the detection of One great and obvious improve-' offenders, is extremely hurtful both to ment which would result from the es. the cause of justice and to the interest tablishment of some higher board of of the officers themselves. In the police, would be the check which it course of the investigation instituted would infallibly give to any of those by the committee, it was proved that slight and venial, in general, but in the more respectable officers condemn the end not insignificant errors, into the mode of their payment on both of which the local interests of particular these grounds. When any one appre. magistrates may lead them, with re. hends, or leads to the apprehension of gard to the licensing of public houses. a criminal, upon the conviction of that It appears indeed, from every part of criminal there is a statutory reward, in the evideace before the committee, which he has a share. The evidence that no set of men can, in the general, of the officer is received by the jury be more deserving of honour than the with some tincture of suspicion, be. magistrates of London and its vicinity.. cause the prisoner's council, if he have In one particular district,* however, any, never fails to press upon their nothere seems to be no possibility of tice the personal interest which the doubting that very considerable im- officer has in procuring the conviction. p'oprielies bave occurred in respect to Some unfortunate circumstances have this very important part of the duty of come to light since the period of this magistrates. It is at least certain, that investigation, which prove too well an enormous proportion of the public that the bad eftects of the system are houses in that district were entirely in carried at times to a still more alarm.
* That of Whitechapel.
ing extreme ; that for the sake of the tendance of a single head, and furnish. statutory reward, not only rash and ed with some inducements sufficient to overstrained evidence has been given, make them more readily encounter the but dark plots have been laid, and men dangers, and resist the temptations to actuallyseduced into guilt bythose who which the nature of their office must should, by their office, be the ministers very frequently expose them. In rc. of justice. This statutory reward goes gard to the police constables, it is eviby the expressive name of blood-mo- dent, that the paltry pittance which rey; its nominal amount is 40l., but they receive must leave them, unless only part of it ever actually comes into endued with a very high sense of ho. the pocket of the officer. To it, in nour, at the mercy of any criminal who cases of burglary, there is added the can, at the moment of his danger, farther reward of an exemption from command a sufficient bribe. It was parochial duties in the parish where also suggested, that as great delays the offender has been seized. The often occur in consequence of the neticket which confers this privilege is cessity which compels a constable to sold by the officer to some inhabitant have a new warrant when he passes his of the parish, and it goes by the name bounds, there might be great propriety of a Tyburn ticket. Its value varies, in appointing a certain number of offof course, according to the situation cers constables for England of the particular parish. The officers 4. The character of the night watch. themselves are agreed that the whole men in the metropolis is another point of this system is wrong ; that it would which calls loudly for correction. be much better for them to receive the These men are, in most parts of the reward of erertion for exertion alone, metropolis, persons ill qualified for the from the magistrates, their own supe duties which they should perform ; riors, who have no concern with the and, in all cases, their pay is so inconconviction or non-conviction of the of- siderable, that they are grievously exfender. It is, besides, very possible, posed to the temptation of being brithat an officer may exhibit more praise. bed by those who have an interest in worthy diligence and activity in an un. their silence. successful than in a successful pursuit ; 5. The mode of prosecution, acand in all cases where the thing can be cording to the existing laws of Engascertained, the reward should follow land, procluces much and most serious the merit, not the luck of the indivi- inconvenience. The burden of prosedual.
cution (which, including the time and 3. Great inconvenience arises from trouble it involves, is no slight burden) the mode in which constables are ap- falls upon the person whose informa. pointed and directed in the metropolis. tion induces the magistrate to commit There are two distinct classes of this the accused for trial. In many coundescription of officers,-police con- tries, as here in Scotland, this duty is stables and parish constables ; the for- discharged by a great public officer, mer appointed by the police magi- the conviction of public offenders being strates, and under their orders; the considered, and ihat justly, as an obothers quite independent of them, and ject of public interest. in England, in general very unwilling to exert and more particularly in London, many themselves in 'furtherance of their a criminal escapes, because the person wishes. It appears that an obvious who has it in his power to deliver him improvement would be to have all the up to justice, would rather throw an constables placed under the superin. offender loose upon society than sus. tain the personal inconvenience of being of a separate committee, we shall at his prosecutor. This is a defect which present be satisfied with this slight doadmits, unlike most of the others, of a tice. The governor ofthe principal prisimple and easy remedy,
son in London, sensible to the defects 6. The prisons of the metropolis, of his own establishment, and accus. crowded indiscriminately with young tomed to observe, in every shape, the and old, accused and convicted of. progress of depravity, suggested to the fenders, operate as hot-beds of vice, committee certain remedies, which, in rather than schools of solitary reflec. his opinion, might with advantage be tion and repentance. The obvious ex. adopted. Some of these proposals have pediency of providing more abundant already been carried into effect. The and more distinct accommodations for first and most important of the whole, the vicious and heterogeneous inmates however, is not among the number, of these places of confinement, has long viz." An establishment for the safe been felt, and improvements of very and separate custody of persons before considerable importance have actually trial, who are committed on suspicion, been commenced in many instances. 80 that they may not be injured by As the state of prisons, however, has associating with experienced offend. since become the subject of the labours ers.'
* See Mr Henry Newman's evidence.
Committee and Debates on the Purchase of the Elgin Marbles.-Vote of a
Monument in Memory of the Battle of Trafalgar.
Ar an early period of this session, a With regard to the latter point, all petition was presented to the House the distinguished artists of the kingof Commous from the Earl of Elgin, dom were unanimous in expressing praying that a sum of money might their opinion, that the Elgin marbles be granted to him to remunerate him formed in reality the finest of all for the expense at which he had col- existing collections of ancient sculplected a large and valuable set of an. ture-an opinion which had already, cient marbles in Greece, which an. indeed, become widely diffused, in contiques he was desirous should thus be sequence of the wellknown judgment transferred from his own possession to pronounced by Canova and published that of the nation. The Chancellor by West. Mr Payne Knight held of the Exchequer brought this peti- the statues in great contempt; but tion of his lordship before the House, notwithstanding the acknowledged and observed very properly, that a eminence of this gentleman as an an. committee ought to be appointed to tiquarian and a virtuoso, the members investigate into the nature and true of the committee had no difficulty in value of Lord Elgin's collection ; and preferring the decision of practical notwithstanding the outcry raised by sculptors and painters of the first ce. certain members against at all entering lebrity to his. On the termination of upon such a subject in the then condi. their enquiries the committee brought tion of the public finances, the Chan. up their report, and Mr Bankes (who cellor's motion was carried by a large had taken a lead in the investigation, majority
and whose qualifications for doing so During the months of the spring, are too well known to require any no. this committee pursued their labours tice here), proposed to the House in endeavouring to ascertain by exa- that 35,0001. should be offered to mination of proper witnesses, first, the Lord Elgin, and the marbles placed circumstances under which Lord Elgin in the British Museum, as a great and had obtained his marbles, and secondly, national treasure, equal in value to the value of them as specimens of art. any similar treasure possessed by any
VOL. IX. PANT I.