Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

ing extreme ; that for the sake of the tendance of a single head, and furnishstatutory 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 actually seduced into guilt by those who which the nature of their office must should, by their office, be the ministers, very frequently expose them. In re. 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 ney; its nominal amount is 401., 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 ne. ticket 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 valuë 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 exertion 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 bric that 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, ac. and in all cases where the thing can be cording to the existing laws of Eng. ascertained, the reward should follow land, produces much and most serious the merit, not the luck of the indivi. inconvenience. The burden of prose

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 fore , discharged by a great public officer, mer appointed by the police magic the conviction of public offenders being strates, and under their orders ; the considered, and i hat justly, as an obe others 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 suka tain the personalinconvenience of being of a separate committee, we shall at his prosecutor. This is a defect' which present be satisfied with this slight no. admits, unlike most of the others, of a' tice. The governor ofthe principal prisimple and easy remedy

dual.

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.

CHAPTER VI.

Committee and Debates on the Purchase of the Elgin Marbles.--Vote of a

Monument in Memory of the Battle of Trafalgar.

[ocr errors]

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 king of Commons from the Earl of Elgin, dom were unanimous in expressing prayigg 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 sculp. lected a large and valuable set of an- ture-an opinion which had already, cient marbles in Greece, which anindeed, become widely diffused, in contiques he was desirous should thus be sequence of the well-known 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 petie the statues in great contempt ; but tion of his lordship before the House, notwithstanding, the acknowledged ad observed very properly, that a eminence of this gentleman as an an. committee ought to be appointed to tiquarian and a virtuoso, the members isrestigate into the nature and true of the committee had no difficulty in rzine of Lord Elgin's collection ; and preferring the decision of practical botwithstanding the outcry raised by sculptors and painters of the first cecertain 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 celor's motion was carried by a large had taken a lead in the investigation, majority.

and whose qualifications for doing 80 Daring the months of the spring, are too well known to require any nofois committee pursued their labours' tice here), proposed to the House i endeavouring to ascertain by exa. that 35,6001. should be offered to mination of proper witnesses, first, the Lord Elgin, and the marbles placed ercumstances 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

TOL. IX. PART 1.

other country, and honourably distin- communication should be immediately guished from that so lately in the made, stating, that Great Britain holda possession of France, by having been these marbles only in trust till they are obtained by the fairest means of demanded by the present, or any fu. peaceful negociation. Mr Curwen ture, possessors of the city of Athens ; opposed this proposal in toto, on the and upon such demand, engages, withscore of its involving an injudicious out question or negociation, to restore expenditure of public funds. Mr them, as far as can be effected, to the Hammersley opposed its adoption ex- places from whence they were taken, actly as it stood, chiefly on account and that they shall be in the mean of the unfavourable opinion at which time carefully preserved in the British he had arrived respecting the mode of Museum.” the acquisition of the marbles on the In reply to this, Mr Croker began part of Lord Elgin. The conclusion with stating, that the honourable of this gentleman's speech is too sin- speaker had arrived at his opinion by gular to be omitted: he moved that a very unfair and unequal examination a resolution should be passed, “ that of the evidence laid before the comthis committee, having taken into mittee. “ He had never,” he said, its consideration the manner in which “ heard a speech filled with so much the Earl of Elgin became possessed of tragic pomp and circumstance, concertain ancient sculptured marbles cluded with so farcical a resolution. from Athens, laments that this am After speaking of the glories of bassador did not keep in remembrance Athens, after haranguing us on the that the high and dignified station of injustice of spoliation, it was rather representing his sovereign should have too much to expect to interest our made him forbear from availing him- feelings for the future conqueror of self of that character in order to ob- those classic regions, and to contem. tain valuable possessions belonging to plate his rights to treasures which we the government to which he was ac- reckoned it flagitious to retain. It credited ; and that such forbearance did seem extraordinary that we should was peculiarly necessary at a moment be required to send back these monu. when that government was expressing ments of art, not for the benefit of high obligations to Great Britain. those by whom they were formerly This committee, however, imputes to possessed, but for the behoof of the the noble earl no venal motive whatever descendants of the Empress Catherine, of pecuniary advantage to himself, but who were viewed by the honourable on the contrary, believes that he was gentleman as the future conquerors of actuated by a desire to benefit his Greece. Spoliation must precede the country, by acquiring for it, at great attainment of them by Russia ; and risk and labour to himself, some of the yet, from a horror at spoliation, we most valuable specimens in existence of were to send them, that they might ancient sculpture. This committee, tempt and reward it! Nay, we were therefore, feels justified, under the to hold them in trust for the future particular circumstances of the case, in invader, and to restore them to the recommending that 25,0001, be offered possession of the conqueror, when his to the Earl of Elgin for the collection, rapacious and bloody work was exe, in order to recover and keep it to- cuted. Our museum, then, was to be gether for that government from which the repository of these monuments for it has been improperly taken, and to Russia, and our money was to purchase which thiscommittee isof opinion that a them, in order that we might hold them

in deposit till she made her demand. of its greatest ornaments, had been The proposition, he would venture to made the subject of severe and unde. ray, was one of the most absurd ever served censure. No blame had, howa heard in that House. Considerations ever, been shown to attach to it after of economy had been much mixed up the fullest examination. One of the with the question of the purchase ; objects, and the most important object, and the House had been warned in the for which he wished the institution of present circumstances of the country, a committee, was, that the transactions pot to incur a heavy expense merely by which those works of art were ob-' to acquire the possession of works of tained, and imported into this country, ornament. But who was to pay this might stand clear of all suspicion, and expense, and for whose use was the be completely justified in the eyes of purchase intended? The bargain was the world, and that the conduct of the for the benefit of the public, for the noble lord implicated might be fully bonour of the nation, for the promo. investigated. He (Mr C.) was ention of national arts, for the use of the tirely unacquainted with the noble rational artists, and even for the ad. lord before he became a member of Fantage of our manufactures, the ex. the committee, and could, of course, cellence of which depended on the pro. have no partialities to indulge. What gress of the arts in the country. It he said for himself, he believed he was singular that when, 2500 years might say for the other members with ago, Pericles was adorning Athens whom he acted. They were all perwith those very works, some of which fectly unprejudiced before the enquiry we are now about to acquire, the same commenced, and all perfectly satisfied cry of economy was raised against him, before its conclusion. They had come and the same answer that he then gave to an unanimous opinion in favour of might be repeated now, that it was the noble lord's conduct and claims, money spent for the use of the people, and that opinion was unequivocally for the encouragement of arts, the in- expressed in the report which was the crease of manufactures, the prosperity result of their impartial examination. of trades, and the encouragement of With regard to the spoliation, the saindustry ; not merely to please the eye crilegious rapacity, on which the last or the man of taste, but to create, to speaker had descanted so freely, he stimulate, to guide the exertions of the would say a few words in favour of artist, the mechanic, and even the la- the noble lord, in which he would be bourer, and to spread through all the borne out by the evidence in the branches of society a spirit of improve report. The noble lord had shewn ment, and the means of a sober and DO principle of rapacity. He laid ndustrious affluence. But he would go his hand on nothing that could have the length of saying, that the posses- been preserved in any state of repair : ion of these precious remains of ancient he touched nothing that was not pregriesand taste would conduce not only viously in ruins. He went into Greece to the perfection of the arts, but to the with no design to commit ravages on deration of our national character, to her works of art, to carry off her ornaapopulence, to our substantial great. ments, to despoil her temples. His first ks. The conduct of the noble earl, intention was to take drawings of her who, by his meritorious exertions, had celebrated architectural monuments, aren us an opportunity of considering or models of her works of sculpture. whether we should retain in the country This part of his design he had to a what, if retained, would constitute one certain extent executed, and many

« PoprzedniaDalej »