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this account it appears that the total number of persons Upon the whole year, the convictions and outlawries were taken into custody was in 1831, 72,824, and in 1832, 77,543. 1599, and the acquittals 164: there were also three persons The cases, in the two years respectively, were disposed of found to be insane. We have thus 2431 committals, 703 as follows; drunken cases, dismissed when sober by super- acquittals, and 1602 convictions including cases of insanity), intendents, 23,787 and 25,702 ; discharged by magistrates, in a population of probably about 2,100,000. In Scotland, 24,239 and 24,727 ; summarily convicted by ditto, 21,843 therefore, there is only one committal in every 864 of the and 23,458 ; committed for trial, 2955 and 3656. Those population, instead of in every 672 as in England; and one committed for trial form part, of course, of the cases conviction in every 1300, instead of in every 1000. The already enumerated under the head of Committals for whole number of acquittals and liberations bears a consiEngland and Wales; and the drunken cases, and those derably higher ratio to the committals in Scotland than in discharged, cannot be considered as adding to the number England, -being in the former as 1 to 2%, while in the of offences. There remain for 1832 the 23,458 persons who | latter it is nearly as 1 to 24. This arises from the very large were summarily convicted by the magistrates. Of these, numbers who in Scotland are liberated without ever being 16,052 were males, and 7406 females. Of the latter 2505 brought to trial,- being very nearly one-third of the whole were taken up as disorderly prostitutes ; and of the whole committals, instead of about one-seventh as in England. number, 5859 were charged with vagrancy, 3842 with com- We believe, however, it is very well understood in that mon assaults, 3505 with drunkenness, 2177 with being dis- country that by far greater number of these persons are orderly characters, 1511 as suspicious characters, 1009 with so liberated, not because they are believed to be innocent, the commission of acts of wilful damage, 933 with having or even because there would be any difficulty in proving unlawful possession of goods, and 932 with being reputed their guilt, but in the feeling that they have been already thieves.
sufficiently punished by their incarceration. The proportion Of the whole number of persons taken into custody by of acquittals after trial, it will be observed, is much lower in the police in 1832, 49,890 were males, and 27,653 females, Scotland than in England ; being little more than at the being in the proportion of not quite 2 to 1. The smallest rate of one to ten convictions, whereas in England it is as number of males was taken up in January, the smallest one to four convictions. It would be an interesting inquiry, number of females in December; the greatest number of but one which we cannot here afford to pursue, to endeavour males in June, and of females in July. Upon the whole, to ascertain in how far these disagreements result from difhowever, the increase and diminution were not great. Offerences in the situation of the two countries, and in how far the whole number of cases of drunkenness taken before the from peculiarities in the two systems of law. Upon the magistrates, 4893 were cases of males, and 2041 of females; latter head, we may merely observe that in Scotland, in conof those discharged when sober by the superintendents, sequence of the existence of a public prosecutor, the expense 15,411 were males, and 10,291 females *.
of a criminal prosecution is never thrown upon an individual; We have no means of stating the number of charges or that the jury are not required to be unanimous; and that convictions before country magistrates, although that infor- they have it in their power to acquit the prisoner by a vermation would be necessary to enable us to arrive at the whole dict of not proven, as well as by one of not guilty. number of persons annually called to account for offences The House of Commons' Paper, No. 80, contains a return against the law in England and Wales. In the absence of of the number of offences against the law which have been official returns, any rude guess that might be hazarded as committed in Ireland during the years 1831 and 1832. This, to this matter is extremely little to be depended on. We however, is only a statement of offences as reported to governmay state, however, that if we should suppose the number ment, not as ascertained by the conviction of the criminals. of charges made throughout the rest of the kingdom to be It is, therefore, a very imperfect document. The offences only half as great in proportion to the population as in Lon- for 1831 are arranged under thirty heads, and those for don, the result would be that about 250,000 charges in all 1932 under thirty-three heads; but in neither list are the would be made every year, or about one for every fifty-six numbers summed up. The following table presents in one of the population. This amount, being multiplied by the view the general recapitulation for both years :number of years which a generation takes in passing across the scene of life, would leave hardly a chance to one man in Homicide
248 two of not being, some time or other, called at least to meet Robbery
1172 a formal accusation of having infringed the law, were it not Burglary
534 844 that there is a large class of persons, each of whom bears, Burning
571 perhaps, ten or twenty times his own share of such charges. Houghing or maiming cattle
295 And, besides this, it is to be remembered, there are those
Assaults connected with Ribbonism
Riot other risks of coming personally in contact with the officers
196 of the law which arise in attachments for debt, and other
1798 Illegal notice
2086 civil processes.
212 We will now, to complete our survey, glance, in conclusion,
422 at the state of crime in Scotland and in Ireland, The House
Injury of property
729 of Commons' Paper, No. 45, contains a statement of the
387 committals and convictions on criminal charges, in the for- Abduction
30 mer country, for the last year. The offences enumerated in Attacks on houses
2296 1675 this statement, which is very minute and somewhat compli- Serious assaults
161 cated, amount to eighty-eight different descriptions in all, Firing at, with intent to kill
209 ranging from murder down to vagraney. For all these vio
Administration of oaths
170 lations of the law, there appear to have been, in 1832, com
Robbery of arms
116 mitted for trial, 1898 males and 533 females; of which num
30 Appearing in arms
17 ber of 2431, there were liberated, without trial, 539, and
Firing into dwellings brought to trial before the High Court of Justiciary, the
16 Circuit Court, the Sheriff, the Burgh Magistrates, the Jus
79 tices of Peace, or other court, 1758. The remaining 134
Turning up land
20 to have been reserved for trial till the next year. appear
Cutting and maiming
4 * We ought to remark that this return is defective in various Infanticide
5 respects. Although there is a separate statement of persons com. Compulsory drowning mitted for trial by the magistrates for 1831, there is no similar
2981 2790 account for 1832. There is also no recapitulation for 1832, similar Trespass on common to that given for 1831. The consequence of these defects is that Attempt to poison
1 a complete comparison of the accounts for the two years becomes
Resistance to legal process
4 difficult or impracticable. Since this paper was prepared, a return
Resistance to tithe
49 (No. 35+) has been printed by order of the House of Commons, Taking forcible possession
2 containing a statement of the number of persons committed during Breaking church windows
2 1832, from each of the police-offices in Middlesex, Westminster, Surrey, the city of London, and the borough of Southwark, distin. guishing their several offences. It is impossible, however, to give
TURKEY AND EGYPT. within a moderate space any summary of the various lists coutained The conflict between the sultan and his vassal or viceroy, in this return,
the pasha of Egypt, which has terminated so disadvantage
ously to Turkey, obliging her to seek the protection of It
may be well to notice at this point the circumstances Russia, the most feared of all her Christian enemies, ori- of the revolt and suppression of the Wahhabees, as showing ginated in a quarrel between Abdallah Pasha of Acre and some of the more valuable services performed in favour of the Egyptian government.
Sultan Mahmoud by Mehemet Ali. Though nominally professing allegiance to Sultan Mah- The Wahhabees, or sectarian followers of the schismatic Ab. moud, the head of the Ottoman empire and the Mussulman dool Wahhab, were spiritual and political puritans-fanatic faith, both these pashas had been for many years nearly reformers of the Mahometan church and Ottoman state, who independent of his authority. Mehemet-Ali of Egypt, sprang up in the deserts of Arabia, and, aiming at an entire though by far the more powerful of the two (and probably change in the existing state of things, from the beginning it was the consciousness of this power that produced his of the last century defied the
arms of the Turks and a sucmoderation) was moderate, circumspect, and even under cession of eight sultans. They had advanced from the circumstances of strong temptation, persevered in a show remote Arabian district of Ared, had beaten or foiled the of reverence and obedience to the Sublime Porte. Not so troops of the most powerful pashas sent against them by the Abdallah of Acre, a man of hardy presumption and violent Porte, had taken Mecca, the holy city, and had despoiled passions. In 1822, to go no further back in his history, and desecrated the tomb of the prophet Mahomet; for such he boldly threw aside his mask of submission, and at the things were as odious in the sight of those reformers, as head of an army composed of Arabs, Druses from Mount monasteries, and cathedrals, masses and votive offerings, Lebanon, and mercenaries from all parts of the Turkish were in the eyes of the followers of John Knox. Matters empire, he endeavoured to seize on the pashalic of Damascus, were in this condition, and the enthusiastic Wahhabees not as a conqueror. He was foiled, however, in his attempt, only threatened a radical change in many of the dogmas, and speedily obliged to retreat. He shut himself up in his and in all the practices of the Mahometan faith, in the very strong fortress of Acre, where, by command of the Porte, spots where that faith first arose, but gave most serious he was besieged by five neighbouring pashas, foremost grounds for alarm as to the integrity of the Asiatic doamong whom was the adopted son of the viceroy of Egypt, minions of the Turks; when Mehemet Ali, who had conso. Ibrahim Pasha, who afterwards distinguished himself by lidated his power in Egypt, took up arms against them. his campaigns in Greece, and who has lately gained much After an arduous struggle, of which the reader may form a more fame as commander-in-chief of the Égyptian army competent idea by referring to the curious memoirs of against the sultan*.
“ Giovanni Finati," an Italian adventurer who served with Ibrahim, and the four pashas his colleagues, with an the Egyptians, the arms of Mehemet Ali, aided by his proarmy of 9000 men, could make no impression on Acre, found and astutious policy, prevailed ; the Wahhabees were and, after a ten months' siege, Mehemet Ali, pasha of driven back to the deserts, to scenes more suiting the austeEgypt, having become mediator with the Porte, the daring rity and simplicity of their doctrines; the prophet's tomb at Abdallah, who could not be beaten, was pardoned by the Mecca was again open to orthodox Mussulmans, and the sultan, and restored to his former honours, on condition of Porte was relieved from a long dreaded enemy. This was paying a heavy sum of money as a fine; which was not done in 1818, and as all was done in the name of the sultan, punishing Abdallah but the unfortunate people over whom he had the glory of it, and the advantage of being, for a he ruled; for in true pasha fashion he wrung all the money time, considered by the orthodox Mahometans in the light that was paid, from the poor Syrians.
of a defender of the insulted faith. Mehemet Ali had the whole of the merit (such as it was) Though thus defeated and expelled from Djedda, Mecca, of effecting this reconciliation, and of removing the scandal Medina and the whole neighbourhood of those important of seeing the emperor of the Ottomans defied by a contu- places, the Wahhabees several times reassumed the offenmacious vassal in a corner of his dominions; and in this sive, and in the commencement of the year 1824, they transaction he conceived he had laid both Sultan Mahmoud occupied the gorges of the chain of mountains that defends and Abdallah Pasha under obligations to himself. From their country, and kept the holy cities in a state of alarm. the latter, it is certain, he thenceforward exacted more defer- In the month of February, only five months before he emence than that proud chieftain was inclined to pay. To the barked Ibrahim Pasha and his army for the Morea, Mehesultan, he continued the same line of respectful submission, met Ali was obliged to despatch a considerable force by in which he had so long persisted. It is stated by those Cosseir, the Desert, and the Red Sea, to make head against who had good opportunities of judging of the pasha of those Arabs. This force checked the Wahhabees and Egypt's conduct and motives, that he withheld himself from saved the holy cities. the fatal war in Greece as long as he could consistently To return to Mehemet Ali's efforts to recover Greece for with the allegiance he professed to the sultan, and that he the sultan, in October 1825 he sent 8000 more disciplined never entered upon that war with national zeal.
troops of the line to Ibrahim Pasha, together with a good In 1824, however, when he was known to have a regular supply of field and battering artillery, and ammunition. army of 24,000 men, well disciplined in the European man- With these reinforcements Ibrahim carried on a successful, ner, besides his irregular forces, he complied with the de- but a barbarous warfare; he retook nearly all the places mands of the Porte, which he could no longer resist without lost by the Turks, and the remnant of the Greek people was incurring the suspicions of his liege, and embarked for the doomed to transportation into Egypt, and their place was to Morea four regiments of infantry, making 16,000 men, four have been supplied by submissive colonies from the banks companies of sappers and miners, and about 700 horse (the of the Nile, when the treaty of the 6th of July, followed up flower of his army) the whole under the command of his by the battle of Navarino, arrested his destructive triumph, adopted son_Ibrahim Pasha. Escorted by the then very and secured to Greece an existence as an independent state. respectable Egyptian fleet, 100 transports with this army Before that crisis, overtures were made to Mehemet Ali on board sailed from Alexandria in the month of July, 1824. in the name of the allied powers, to withdraw his troops and
It was confidently anticipated by the mass of the Mussul- fleet from the Morea, and to detach himself from the sultan, man population of the empire, that this force would vindi- at least inasmuch as related to the Greek war, which cate the cause of Mahomet, preserve the dominions of the those powers had determined should cease. How far besultan from dismemberment, and reduce the Greeks, as a yond this the proposals made went to affect his allegiance former army of the pasha of Egypt's had reduced the rebel- | to the sultan, is known to Colonel Cradock and others who lious Wahhabees. It might, indeed, have done all this but were in the diplomatic secrets. About the time of Colonel for the intervention of England, France, and Russia, in Cradock's arrival (August, 1827) in Egypt, the pasha was favour of the unfortunate Greeks.
smarting under the bad news, that the Wahhabees had
again issued from their mountain gorges and even taken * It may be agreeable to know something of the character and Mecca once more; he was in immediate want of troops, to appearance of this man, who certainly deserves the epithet of extra- defend the countries under his own government; he knew the ordinary. He is thus described by' a French officer, who knew weakness of the sultan, that a war with Russia was immihim well.
nent, that the fleets, not only of Russia, but of England “ Ibrahim's character is hasty and violent, but he easily recovers from his excesses of rage ; his bravery and obstinacy are well in fidelity to his liege, and though, it is said, guarantees
and France were in the Mediterranean; but he still persisted known. His perseverance in danger increases in proportion to the obstacles he meets; he only sees his object, and bounds for
were offered to him for his future security, he would give ward to attain it. His person is far from agreeable, being that of no other answer to the representations made to him on the a rude and robust warrior.”—Planat. De la Régénération de part of the allies, than that he was a subject of the Porte, l'Egypte. Paris, 1830.
and could enter into negociations only on the express order
of the sultan, and in the sense he (the sultan) should de- no enormity, no other attack on the prejudices of the Mustermine. This fidelity cost him his valuable fleet.
sulman people could have done so much to dethrone him in It will be remembered also, that even after the catastrophe their hearts, as this last fatal proceeding. The orthodox of Navarino, Mehemet Ali was slow in withdrawing his troops Mussulmans had, indeed, long considered parts of his confrom Greece, and that he affected to act in everything as the duct as contrary to the laws of the prophet; but on learning sultan's most submissive servant.
that he had summoned the Muscovites to his aid, they held The clearly foreseen war with Russia then took place ;- him as a downright ghiaour or infidel. This feeling was it exhausted the sultan, and the second campaign saw a more particularly declared in Asia Minor, where Ibrahim Russian army almost at the walls of Constantinople. Me- was then encamped as a conqueror, for the Turks there are hemet Ali might have declared his independence and laid much more bigoted than the Turks in Europe. his hands on Syria, in those moments of misfortune and Nor does it appear that the sultan has gained anything weakness; yet he remained quiet and respectful, though by thus debasing himself, and offending the prejudices of backward in paying all the demands made on him for money his people. Even after the arrival of a Russian fleet and by the Porte.
army at his capital, he has had to make peace with Ibrahim The Russian war was soon followed by the dangerous through the medium of a French diplomatist, and to grant revolt of the Albanians, which cost the impoverished sultan to the pasha of Egypt the very terms the pasha would have much money and many men. So deranged, indeed, was accepted at the beginning of the campaign, and neither the state of things produced by this struggle, that when Mr. less nor more than he demanded before the arrival of the D. Urquhart, who has just published an interesting work on sultan's Muscovite allies*. Unless the troops and population Turkey and Greece *, travelled through Albania and Euro- of the place had risen against him, Mahmoud was safe in pean Turkey in 1830, during the sanguinary contest, he Constantinople without the Russian aid. Ibrahim Pasha entertained “ very little hope of seeing the country tran- could not have crossed even the narrow Bosphorus without quillized, or the Turkish rule prolonged." This, too, one something like a fleet, and the introduction of a fleet into would have thought a favourable moment* for Mehemet those seas by the Dardanelles, though once effected by the Ali to develope the ambitious plans he has since acted upon, English, was far too bold a project for the Egyptian marine. yet still he remained quiet ; and it is curious to observe, (a The fact was, Mehemet Ali not only never thought of atfact mentioned by Mr. Urquhart) that out of those very tacking Constantinople, but he never thought his army Albanians, who would then have assisted his attempt, by would go so far as it did into Asia Minor. diverting the arms of the Turks in Europe, the sultan, after The causes that facilitated the extraordinary progress of reducing them to order, mustered 6000 brave soldiers, who Ibrahim Pasha merit attention. One of the greatest diffiwere the nucleus and strength of the grand vizier's army in culties in the opinion of Europeans who had travelled in that Asia Minor, and by far the most formidable foes with whom country, was the obtaining of provisions for his army, the Egyptians have had to contend in their advance on These gentlemen had seen the arrival of only six or eight Kutaiah. At last, in November 1831, the quarrel between individuals occasion an apparent dearth in a village; but Mehemet Ali and Abdallah Pasha of Acre, broke out. they had travelled with an escort of armed Turks, from
Proceeding now without waiting for orders from the whom the timid inhabitants carefully concealed all signs of Porte, an Egyptian army with proper artillery and European wealth and abundance. On Ibrahim's approach, as it was engineer officers in all, very superior in quality to the force found he made no military extortions, and paid for all that that ineffectually besieged the same place in 1822) laid was furnished for his army, the cultivators tlocked to him siege to Acre, and took it on the 27th May, 1832, after a with their hidden stores of grain, and he thus found combold resistance of six months. The fierce Abdallah was parative abundance, where a Turkish army probably would carried as prisoner of war to Mehemet Ali, who treated not have been able to detect a bushel of corn. We have him with great respect.
this information from persons who were in the country at Abdallah had been any thing, rather than a submissive the time. Moreover, ever since the year 1829, whole disor faithful vassal to the sultan; the sultan, however, natu-tricts in the interior of Asia Minor had been in almost a rally averse to see pashas carrying on war on their own continual state of revolt. They longed for a change of account, (though such things have not been rare in the masters, and welcomed an army of the same faith as themTurkish empire,) reprobated the conduct of Mehemet Ali, selves, led on by the guardian of the holy sepulchre of the and espoused the cause of Abdallah.
prophet', as friends and deliverers. And then, that army We cannot determine how far the angry, uncompromising itself was infinitely superior in quality to that which the tone assumed by the Porte may have intluenced the con- sultan had to oppose to it. Mehemet Ali, who had long duct of Mehemet Ali; but it is natural suppose he before annihilated the power of the turbulent Mamelouks, would never have given up Acre, which had belonged to began his military reforms in 1815. Mahmoud did not Egypt at no very remote period, and had long been an dispose of his turbulent janissaries, and commence the forobject of desire in his eyes. "And then Acre, as Bonaparte mation of a disciplined army à l'Européenne, until 1825. felt when he besieged it, was the key to Syria, and having The pasha had thus the incalculable advantage of ten years taken it-having taken the first step, which the one that over the sultan. He had also a set of instructors ; a staff costs most, -Mehemet Ali may not have been able to resist of fifty French and Italian officers, all men of experience, the temptation of so easy a conquest as lay before him, and and some of them men of distinguished talents in their prothe prospect of uniting under his rule, the dominions of the fession, and conversant with all that enters into the organizaFatimite caliphs of Egypt, viz., Egypt, large tracts of Syria, tion and disposing of an army. The sultan had scarcely and the whole of Palestine.
six European officers of any merit, and Calosso, the best of Whatever were his motives, the fact was, he sent for these, was merely a good cavalry officer. Excepting the ward Ibrahim with an Egyptian army, which overran and 6000 Albanians we have mentioned, and who were excellent occupied Syria almost without resistance. He would will troops, the grand vizier, when he met Ibrahim in the field, ingly have stayed his career of conquest on the Syrian had nothing but undisciplined hordes, an ill-armed rabble. frontier, and here, had the sultan properly attended to his The sultan could not spare his tacticoes from Europe. Add own weakness, he would have treated with his emancipated to all this, the Egyptians had a retrospect of victory. They and powerful vassal, permitting him to retain what he could not hope, at present, to wrench from him. But Mahmoud * Mehemet Ali's condition, that Adana should be ceded to him, was obstinate, and the successful Ibrahim penetrated into caused soine delay in the negociations. The prize, hoxever, was Asia Minor, and advanced towards the capital of the Turk-worth contending for. The district of Adana, situated in a corner, ish empire. The sultan, too late, conscious of his want of between Syria and Karamania, though not extensive, is fertile, strength, then called in the aid of the Russians--his ene
salubrious and beautiful. The Pasha of Egypt pretended to covet mies of but the other day—the power that by prophecy and possession of it on account of its fine wood and materials for shiplong belief, the Turks look upon as the sure destroyer of their whence he might avail himself of the advantages presented by the
but it is more than probable he looked to it as a place empire. Nothing that the sultan has done, or left undone, contiguous coast of Karamania. What those natural advantages
are, and what is the present impoverished, distracted state of that * " Turkey and its Resources," &c. &c. London. 1833. country, with many other matters of great interest, the reader may
+ At the same time, in European Turkey, the Servians had as- learn from Captain Beaufort's admirable polume on Karamania. serted and secured their independence, and the Bosnians, who had + This title was bestowed by the sultan on Ibrahim, after he had fornerly furnished brave troops, scorned all intercourse with the recovered Mecca and its treasures from the Wahhabees. Porte.
| The regular troops of the Sultan are so called by the Franks.
had been victorious in Arabia against the Wahhabees, in to rest. Early in the present session, a bill was brought Dongola, Sennaar and Cordofan, in the Morea, and before into the House of Cominons by Sir Francis Vincent, one of Acre; whereas the Turks had scarcely anything to look the members for St. Alban's, to alter and amend the laws back upon, except a lengthened series of defeats. We trust respecting libels, which at present stands for a second these few words will render intelligible, the success of reading on Wednesday the 3rd of July. It is not proIbrahim Pasha against the Sultan.
bable that the bill will now pass this session; but there is In an article in Blackwood's Magazine' for June last, all little doubt that this or some other measure of a similar the misfortunes that have befallen the sultan, are attributed character will very soon receive the sanction of the legisto his having disturbed the old order of things, and med- lature. dled with the elements of reform! Does the author of that The principle upon which Sir Francis Vincent's bill proarticle know what was the execrable old order of things in ceeds is that which we have mentioned as the second of the Turkey ? or does he fancy that the despised, unwarlike janis- two propositions that have been suggested for the improvesaries, who, for so many years, had ceased to be formidable to ment of the present law. One of its enactments is, “ that any others than their own sovereign, their peaceable country- in every proceeding for a libel, whether the same be by men, and the Christian and Jewish rajahs, would have action or indictment, it shall be lawful for the defendant to been more successful against the Russians, than the sultan's give in evidence the truth of the matter or imputation condisciplined troops ? The reverses of the Ottoman Porte are tained in, or conveyed by, the publication charged as a libel." not attributable to any such cause. Constant defeat had The evidence of the truth of the libel, in other words, is to heaped dirt on the national banner; the empire, before be tendered, not as its absolute justification, but as an reform, was hurrying on to the last stage of dissolution, and essential part of the case on which the jury are to pronounce reform might have saved it, had it not been attacked by the their verdict. Russians before reform was matured, or had time to deve- Public opinion may be said to be made up as to the lope its benefits. It was, then, not reform, but the interrup- absurdity and oppressive character of the principle that a tion of reform, that laid Turkey prostrate. And was not libel is, in all cases, as deserving of punishment when it is this writer, who goes to the flagitious old Ottoman govern- true, as when it is false. The law has never yet distinctly ment for arguments in support of Tory principles, struck defined what a libel is; and by Mr. Fox's celebrated act, with the brilliant successes of Mehemet Ali ? and can he passed in the 32nd year of George III, the determination deny that the whole and sole source of the means by which of the question, whether the publication charged be a libel those successes have been achieved, sprang from the matured or no, is left with the jury. It has been commonly said, that in reform the pasha of Egypt had effected in his own do- this case, we have a singular instance of juries being called minions ?
upon to decide a question of law as well as a question of fact;
but if such a duty were really imposed upon juries by Mr. Fox's PROPOSED CHANGE IN THE LAW OF LIBEL.
bill, it would, in our opinion, be but little deserving of the
commendation which it has generally received. Juries are ACCORDING to the present practice of the English law, obviously incompetent to pronounce upon questions of law; when a person who conceives himself to have been injured to do this is the province of the judge. But it is, in truth, by a libel brings an action for damages against the author because the question of whether any publication be or be not or publisher, he will fail to obtain a verdict if it shall be a libel is not a mere question of law, but, to a great extent, proved that the statements of the libel are true. Satisfac- if not mainly, a question of fact, that Mr. Fox's bill has tory evidence to that effect is held to be an answer to the most properly left its decision with the jury. It is as much charge. The admission of this principle has no doubt been a question of fact as is the question whether any particular forced upon the courts by the obvious consideration, that act or thing which is complained of be or be not a nuisance; otherwise a man without shame might make a trading or the question whether the killing of a man, in any given stock of his bad character and immoral conduct, committing circumstances, be a murder or a homicide ; or many of the disgraceful acts for the mere purpose of afterwards filling other questions, the determination of which is equally left his pocket at the expense of whosoever should expose or with the jury. In the instance of a libel, precisely as in all notice them.
those other instances, the jury are, especially since the When the author or publisher of what is asserted to be a passing of Mr. Fox's act, called upon to deliver their verdict libel, however, is called upon to answer for it on an indict- upon a consideration of the whole case, and with all the cirment, that is to say on a demand, not that he shall be cumstances before them. They are called upon to say guilty made to pay damages to the prosecutor, but that he shall or not guilty, of having published a libel, not of having pubbe punished as one who has committed an offence, it is lished the libel. not allowed to be any justification of the libel that its state- It is true th while confiding all this discretion to the ments are true. The question of its truth or falsehood is jury, the law may still consistently say, that the truth or not permitted to be brought forward.
falsehood of the statement shall not be taken into consideraThe apology which is made for this mode of proceeding tion as one of the ingredients affecting its libellous chain the law is, that every uttering of a libel is in itself a racter. But to lay down such a principle as this, seems, at crime, and as such, obnoxious to punishment. It is an act any rate, to be neutralizing nearly all the benefit of the which, for certain reasons, good or bad, has been inter-power allowed to be exercised by the jury, and making the dicted; and, therefore, merely to plead that the libel is true, iransference to them of the duty of deciding whether the without proving that it has not been uttered, can be no subject of the charge be a libel or no, appear to be without answer to the charge.
either propriety or meaning. If there be one consideration Those, consequently, who contend for the admission of which more than any other is likely, in certain cases at least evidence as to the truth or falsehood of the libel, on the -we should indeed say in most cases—to sway the opinion trial of an indictment respecting it, must be understood to of a jury as to whether a particular writing, or other utterdemand the abandonment of the principle or rule of law ance, deserved to be declared criminal, it is precisely that of which declares the utterance of a libel to be in itself always its truth or falsehood. Let the law say what it may, therea penal act, and the adoption of the entirely different fore, we may be quite certain that this consideration will principle, that a libel shall only be held to be a crime in seldom be really overlooked by the jury. Evidence distinctly certain circumstances. What these circumstances ought to bearing upon the point may be prevented from being brought be, is the next point to be determined.
forward on the trial; but it is impossible to prevent an imIn regard to this matter, there are only two propositions pression being made as to how the fact really stands; and which have been made-the first, that the utterance of what upon that impression the jury will act. They will not be the law now calls a libel should only be held to be a crime disposed, in a multitude of cases at least, to pass the same when the person so charged shall fail to prove the state condemnation upon the author of a statement which they ments of the libel to be true ;-the second, that proof of the have reason to think is perfectly true, however libellous, as truth of the libellous statement shall not be admitted as an they would do upon the author of a similar libel, every senabsolute justification of the utterance, but shall nevertheless tence of which they believe to be a falsehood, uttered in the be allowed to be brought forward, for the jury to give what knowledge that it was false. weight to it they may think fit.
This, then, is the state of the case. The fundamental and This short account will put the reader in possession of guiding principle of the law may be considered as having the various conflicting views to which the subject has given been laid down in the express statute which gives the right rise, and of the general grounds upon which each professes of deciding the question of libel or no libel to the jury. If
the law is to be consistent with itself, and not to fight by one cases in which the truth of an injurious imputation ought of its provisions against the object which it affects to promote certainly not to be received as a justification of its utterance. by another, all its arrangements ought to be brought into Some particular passage in a man's history, in which he has accordance with the spirit of this its leading regulation. But, deserved blame, is not to be allowed be constantly held for the reasons alluded to above, juries, entrusted with the up to his annoyance, by any one who chooses, out of pure power granted to them by Mr. Fox's act, will not, in judging malignity, or from some other base or private motive to do of the criminality of a libel, overlook the circumstances of so. Proof of something more than the truth of the statement its truth or falsehood. If they are not allowed to obtain a ought surely to be required in such a case to justify the knowledge of that circumstance from the direct evidence libeller. He ought to be called upon to show, in addition, brought forward on the trial, they will still found their ver- that his object was a good one. dict upon what they may merely believe or suspect regarding The bill before us contains a variety of other new regulait. Nothing therefore is gained by preventing the point in tions; but these we do not at present notice, as they can question from being made the subject of evidence. The hardly be said to involve any important principle, and may law, in laying down this prohibition, merely attempts what also be, some of them, altered before the proposition shall it cannot compass. It may exclude the evidence from the pass into a law. The point to which we have confined our court, but it cannot exclude the consideration of the matter attention forms the essential enactment of the bill. from the minds of the jury. The only effect is to leave them to come to their determination on a vague, and it may be
CORPORATION REFORM. erroneous guess, instead of on correct and clear information as to the fact.
We refer our readers to an article in the first number of the Nor does there appear to be any sufficient reason for laying Companion for a general view of the origin and present it down as a general principle, that the truth or falsehood state of our municipal corporations, and of the principal of the libel is really unimportant in reference to its criminal points in their constitution, or at least in the condition into character. It is commonly said that an injurious imputation which they have fallen, that require alteration and reform. directed by one person against another, even although true, The Report of the Select Committee of the House of Comhas still a tendency to interrupt the peace and order of so- mons appointed to inquire into the state of these bodies in ciety; and, on that account, ought to be punished. But if England and Ireland, has now been printed, along with the every act were to be prohibited to which that tendency might Evidence taken by the Committee in twenty-seven sittings, be ascribed, the business of the world could not be carried from the 25th of February to the 3d of May in the present on. Protligacy and insolence would have it all their own year inclusive. The whole forms a volume of nearly 400 way. It would be to surrender the rule of human affairs, pages. without resistance or question, to mere might and wrong. The Report itself, however, is very short and general. But this notion is really, we believe, nothing more than a The Committee, conceiving, as they state, that they would popular misconception arising from the charge in an indict- best discharge their duty by inquiring how far Corporament for libel, as in all other indictments, that the act of the tions, as at present constituted, were useful and efficient, defendant was done against the peace of our lord the king rather than by seeking to detect past abuses with a view to —which means, simply, that it was done in violation of the their exposure or punishment, confined their examinalaw.
tions principally to corporate officers, from whom, of course, The true ground on which the present law of libel stands, they could expect to ascertain little more than what they would rather seem to be that, if an individual has committed might have derived from an inspection of the charters of the an act deserving of blame, it is not fair to call him to account several boroughs. Yet even upon the information thus for it in any court, except upon the trial of a charge regularly collected, they have come to a conclusion strongly unfavourmade against him. On a trial, for example, with regard to able to the existing order of things in almost all our corpothe criminal character of a particular publication, it is not rations. The following passage in the Report enumerates fair that the person, whose conduct the publication attacks, and explains the principal points which they conceive to call should be called upon to defend or explain that conduct. for attention in the contemplated revision of the system :This, it is said, would be in fact to try two distinct questions, "The jurisdiction of corporations is defective in some cases affecting two different parties, at one and the same time. in consequence of the town having been extended beyond
But there is not niuch, after all, in this plausible reasoning the limits of the ancient borough; and, in other cases, it is In many other cases, as well as in that under consideration, objectionable, from extending to places that are distant, and the same legal investigation may be regarded as having for more properly falling within the jurisdiction of county maits object the examination and decision of two several ques- gistrates. tions at the same time. Whenever the fact of one party “The principle which prevails of a small portion of corbeing in the right depends upon and involves the fact of the porators choosing those who are to be associated with them opposite party being in the wrong, there are two questions in power, and generally for life, is felt to be a great grievance. examined and decided by the same trial. Now this is pre- The tendency of this principle is to maintain an exclusive cisely what would happen on a trial for libel under the pro- system, to uphold local, political, and religious party feelings, posed new law. Whenever evidence of the truth of the libel and is destructive of that confidence which ought always to was accepted by the jury as its justification, their verdict, be reposed in those who are entrusted with control, judicial acquitting the defendant, would indeed in so far condemn or otherwise, over their fellow-citizens. the plaintiff. But, on the other hand, it would not condemn “One of the consequences of this system of close election him to any punishment, even if the charge made against has been, that publicity has been rarely given to the amount him in the libel should have been a penal one. It would and application of the funds belonging to the different coronly assert that he was not placed in circumstances entitling porations. It is probable that, if in this respect the corpohim to demand the punishment of the defendant.
rations had acted under the intiuence and control of public But the shortest, and at the same time the best, answer opinion, their debts would have been less in amount, and to these and all other objections which may be urged against more benefit would have been conferred on the community. the proposed amendment of the law, is found in the fact It is desirable, therefore, that the management and expenalready noticed, that in an action for damages on account of diture of corporate funds should be subjected to a systematic a libel, evidence that the libel is true has long been allowed and efficient control. to be brought forward on the side of the defence. It cannot “The powers vested in corporations for the administration therefore be pretended that any actual inconvenience would of justice, both criminal and civil, are various and extensive, follow from the introduction of the same rule into the trial and are among the most important objects of inquiry. In of indictments. The innovation might, indeed, injure a little some cases, the choice of recorders has been, both in practice the technical symmetry of our legal system ; but that, we and in principle, highly creditable to the corporations; in believe, would be the whole amount of its injurious effect. other cases, recorders have been chosen of unexceptionable
We have said nothing in illustration of the desirableness character, but selected rather on account of their rank and of having the publication of the truth, in general, secured station, than from a regard to their fitness to discharge the from punishment; that being, we conceive, too obvious to duties of the office. The way in which the juries are sumbe disputed. At the same time we hold that the present moned seems to be left too much to the discretion of the bill takes the proper line, when it proposes to admit evidence parties whose duty it is to summon them. There are no of the truth of the libel, not as its absolute justification, but regular lists of those liable to serve on juries, and there is no only as matter for the consideration of the jury. There are control over the discretion of the officer, who selects, from