Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

• dissolution of it, none can ever be formed which would last one 6 year. We must have patience and long endurance then with

our brethren while under delusion. Give them time for reflec• tion and experience of consequences; keep ourselves (Virginia

and the Southern States) in a situation to profit by the chap• ter of accidents, and separate from our companions only when

the sole alternatives left, are the dissolution of our union with • them, or submission to a government without limitation of

powers. Between these two evils when we must make choice, THERE 'CAN BE NO HESITATION : but in the mean time, the States

should be careful to note every material usurpation on their • rights, to denounce them as they occur in the most peremptory terms, to protest against them, as wrongs to which our present submission shall be considered, not as acknowledgment or precedent of right, but as temporary yielding to the lesser • evil, until their accumulation shall outweigh that of separation.'

This, if any thing can, ought to make Congress pause in the hazardous and desperate career on which it has entered. Strong indeed must have been the conviction of the impolicy of the • American system,' that could have induced Mr Jefferson to declare that a dissolution of that confederation, in the formation of which he had borne so distinguished a part, would be a preferable alternative to a toleration of the evils that must spring from it. So solemn and impressive a denunciation will not surely be disregarded by Congress; and must, at any rate, have the greatest public influence. It cannot be said of Mr Jefferson that he was actuated by selfish or factious motives. He was one of the founders of his country's constitution, understood her interests, and was anxious only for her welfare. The letter containing this truly important passage was not a public one; it was a confidential communication to an intimate friend, disclosing the undisguised sentiments of the writer on a vitally important question; nor had Mr Jefferson the least idea that it would ever see the light. It is idle, therefore, to consider, as some individuals here have done, the vituperations of the tariff at public meetings in America, and the vehement attacks made upon it by a large part of the public press, as the mere exasperation of the moment. The terms in which Mr Jefferson speaks of it show the deep and profound impression that the policy on which it is founded had made on the soberest and ablest individuals. That the coldness, or rather jealousy, which formerly existed between the Southern and Northern divisions of the Union, v has been vastly increased by the enactment of the present tariff, is a fact of which no one at all conversant with American affairs can be ignorant. It has irritated where conciliation was of

the utmost importance; and has inflamed the violence of parties, already too much incensed against each other. As sincere friends to America, we deeply regret the infatuation that has produced such baleful results. But we trust that the good sense of the people will prevent her rulers, even if they be so disposed, from carrying matters to extremities; and compel them to recede from a system of policy, which, at the same time that it is destructive of the public wealth, threatens to put in peril the very existence of the Union.

It has been asked, what ought England to do in this emergency? The commerce of no other nation will be so much affected as ours by the proceedings of the Americans; and it is contended that we ought either to remonstrate or retaliate. We believe, however, that it will be infinitely better to do neither. The proceedings of the Americans ought rather to excite pity than anger. They cannot injure us without injuring themselves to a tenfold greater extent. But if we were to retaliate, by excluding American produce from our markets, we should not only aggravate, in a very great degree, whatever inconvenience we may already experience from the proceedings of Congress, but would enable them to give effect to their measures. So long as we allow the produce of America to enter our markets, it will not be possible for her to exclude ours. The smuggler, provided we allow him to bring back equivalents, will take care of our interests. Cheap goods will in this, as in all other instances, make their way through every barrier; and British manufactures will be displayed in the halls of Congress, and the drawing-rooms of Washington, in mockery of the impotent legislation that would seek to exclude them. At the \same time, however, it is quite clear, that the less dependence we now place on the trade with America, so much the better. She cannot, indeed, inflict any material injury on us by refusing to >buy our products, but at present she might injure us by refusing to sell ; and after what we have seen of Congress, it could excite no surprise though some attempt of that sort were made. We are not, therefore, sure, that it might not be good policy to endeavour to encourage the importation of cotton from India, Egypt, South America, &c. by reducing or wholly repealing the existing duty on all cotton not imported from the United States. We would not increase the present duties on any commodity brought from America ; but when she is every year making fresh efforts, by means of oppressive duties, to exclude our produce from her markets, she cannot blame us if we begin to look about us for means, and they may easily be had, of making ourselves wholly independent of any intercourse with her.

Art. V.-- Report from the Select Committee on the Police of the

Metropolis, ordered, by the House of Commons, to be Printed Ilth July, 1828.

L\very one remembers the short dialogue between M. de Sar

V tine and the culprit whom he reproached with habitual thieving. The poor man's modest answer :- Il faut que je vive !' was by no means satisfactory to the Lieutenant of Police, who wittily replied, “Je n'en vois pas la necessité !

This controversy, we fear, can never be reconciled. The respective situations of the parties will keep it alive while society endures. The rich will always entertain doubts, whether there is any need for the existence of those who contribute nothing to their comfort and enjoyment: while those who do exist will have their own views of the matter, and help themselves to the means of remaining in the world, as some of their superiors have amassed riches,-honestly if possible, but somehow.

In other words, while the increase of population outstrips that of employment, the number of offences against property cannot well be stationary. But the public authority cannot connive at these irregular proceedings: they must be punished and prevented. And how is this effected? The offender is brought before the Police, convicted, and sent to gaol. But bere he is clothed and fed better than he was at home; and the gaol, under the name of a place of correction, becomes in truth a workhouse, where he is relieved out of public rates. If young, he receives there, in addition, such an education as his parents never could have given him, or, perhaps, he is apprenticed to some honest trade, and respectably settled in life. The attempt, then, to deter from crime by such inflictions seems much more likely to promote it; for the costly and circuitous machinery designed to discourage, has ended in securing great advantages to the individual; and yet his ticket of admission to them was an act of felony !

The operations of the preventive Police are shorter, and for the moment more effectual. Former Committees recommended the establishment of various descriptions of patrol, which, we believe, have fully answered the purpose. Yet the evil is supposed to have been increasing; and many defects in the system might account for such a result. The watch is appointed by the different parishes, which hold no correspondence together : they are assigned to separate beats, and scrupulously adhere to their limits. They may report to their respective Police Offices; but these have no necessary intercourse with them, or with each VOL. XLVIII, No. 96.

2 E

other. Persons, too, are selected as watchmen, who will bring the lowest expense on the parish--the labourer, who has worked all day, and must sleep in his box at night, or the aged pauper, whose infirmities would make him an object of relief. The partial exceptions, which prove the efficacy of wiser measures, do not diminish the mass of evil, perhaps they augment it. St George's becomes a kind of preserve for the night-brawlers, who are driven out of St James's: Acton and Kensington are well guarded, at the expense of Ealing and Brentford; and the Association that protects Edgware, drives depredation into the adjoining district.

The Committee, besides proposing specific remedies for a variety of particular defects, strongly recommend the adoption of one general system-a central and responsible police under the control of Government, to which every parochial authority should be directly amenable. The recommendation is supported by cogent, and, to us, convincing arguments; and we fully agree in the opinion, that such a system would be a great and decided improvement, and that it might be adopted probably at a less expense, and with no new restraint on the liberty of the subject.

We would farther suggest the propriety of dividing the powers now vested in metropolitan justices. The common name of Police is given to duties essentially different, and frequently clashing. The detection of criminals should be entrusted to different hands from those engaged in putting down minor annoyances. The investigation of some enormous offence should not be suspended for hours, while the magistrate's clerk is drawing up a conviction against an apple-woman for placing a wheelbarrow on the flags, or against a hackney coachman for ill-breeding. Such powers ought to be kept distinct, and perhaps the latter class ought to be still considerably extended.

The curious and important subject of Compromising crimes by money paid through the medium of thief-takers, occupied a large portion of the Committee's labours. The evidence is • for obvious reasons not annexed. We beg leave to doubt the propriety of this reserve; being of opinion that the public have a right to full information as to the conduct of all official persons, and knowing too that forbearance towards the guilty bas often thrown suspicion on the innocent. The result is highly disgraceful to the inferior agents of the London Police.

A great majority of these cases have taken place where large depredations have been committed upon country bankers. Two banks, that had separately been robbed of notes to the amount of L.4000, recovered them on payment of L.1000 each. In another case, L.2200 was restored, out of L.3200 stolen, for L.230 or L.240. This bank håving called in their old circulation, and issued fresh notes immediately after the robbery, the difficulty thus occasioned was the cause of not much above L.10 per cent being demanded. In another case, Spanish bonds, nominally worth L.2000, were given back on payment of L.100. A sum not quite amounting to L.20,000 was in one case restored for L.1000. In another, where bills had been stolen of L.16,000 or L.17,000 value, but which were not easily negotiable by the thieves, restitution of L.6000 was offered for L.300. The bank in this case applied to the Home Office for a free pardon for an informer, but de. clined advertising a reward of L.1000, and giving a bond not to com. pound, as the conditions of such grant. In another case, L.3000 seems to have been restored for L.19 per cent. In another case, where the robbery was to the amount of L 7000, and the supposed robbers (most notorious “ putters up," and “ fences,") had been apprehended, and remanded by the magistrates for examination, the prosecution was suddenly desisted from, and the property subsequently restored for a sum not ascertained by your committee. In the case of another bank, the sum stolen, being not less than L.20,000, is stated to have been bought of the thieves by a receiver for L.200, and L.2800 taken of the legal owners, as the price of restitution.'

The Committee add, it is evident they have not been informed of any thing like all the transactions that must have oc"curred under so general a system; yet they have proof of moro than sixteen banks having thus sought indemnity against their losses-tau dulu.. pour

800.00, has been the subject of such negotiation,--anaalin has been paid by bankers only, accompanied by a clearance from

every risk, and perfect impunity.' No Government can receive proof of so intolerable an abuse, which identifies the protectors of property with its plunderers, and not resolve upon its immediate extirpation.

Besides the diligence and sagacity shown by the Committee in their projects for detecting crime when perpetrated, or preventing it when planned, they have displayed a praiseworthy desire to annihilate it, by removing all its predisposing causes. A main object of their inquiry has therefore been, whether

crime has prevailed to a greater extent of late than formerly, 6 and why?' On the first point, the opinion of the witnesses examined was by no means uniform; many of the best informed doubting, from their own observations, whether crime can be truly said to have increased in a higher ratio than population. But the Committee, taking advantage of the numerous returns laid before them, have brought this fact to an apparently decisive test: For, the yearly increase of population in London being estimated on fair grounds at 19 per cent, and the criminal calen

« AnteriorContinuar »