صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

riously called for, by the calamitous state of Ireland at the present moment: acts of outrage and of atrocious violence have occurred in various districts; and there is but too much reason to apprehend that a scarcity of provisions and the ravages of disease may be added to the wretchedness of the people during the spring and sum"We wish to engage a portion of the beneficent spirit which abounds in Britain, to direct its attention to the wants of the sister country. There is no where a field which will repay its labour more abundantly, no where one which more needs cultivation. In other cases, efforts are a generous and gratuitous offering-in Ireland there is a debt to be repaid, and injuries to be atoned for*." If we have been correct in our views, remedies exist, and remedies of no difficult application. They appear to us, fully within reach of the legislature, if parliament will, for the first time, undertake the task of extending its inquiries to Ireland. We do not despair of seeing such an inquiry instituted; and if undertaken with intelligence, benevolence, and integrity, we have no doubt but that a new order of things will be created and maintained. We do not think a miracle can be effected, or an instant remedy afforded by virtue of those words of might "Le roi le veut," even when applied to the most philosophical and enlightened code of laws. But we feel certain, that a system may be devised, correcting the most grievous of the existing abuses, and tending gradually, but surely, to the improvement and happiness of the Irish people. An oblivion of religious distinctions; an extinction of factious bigotry; security to property; a commutation of tythes; a criminal code milder in its principles but more strict and unbending in its administration; a police efficient in the prevention of crime; facility in obtaining civil redress, and a cheap and simple mode of legal procedure; reduction of taxes, which, pressing on the poor, leave them without the power of commanding the comforts of life; such additional dignity for the minister of Ireland, as may secure the services of men the highest in political character:-these, with a liberal and comprehensive system of education, are the measures of reform on which our confidence is placed. Such were the remedies which the administration of 1806 had it in contemplation to apply t. Such were the remedies recommended by Mr. Grattan.

If the power of securing the affections of a great though a dependent nation-if the power of conferring happiness and diffusing knowledge-be the noblest prerogatives which Providence can intrust to the most favoured nations, England is called to a high destiny. She possesses the means of becoming the minister of good

Thoughts on the Education of the Poor, page 10. + See Mr. Elliott's Speech, August 4, 1807.


to millions; she possesses the means of securing for ever the confidence of the Irish people. Hers may now be an unsullied triumph-a moral conquest over the principle of evil, for centuries the bane of one country, and the reproach of the other. During the late war, Ireland has taken her full share in the national glories and in the national sacrifices; she has poured out the blood of her bravest children, in the common cause of the empire; no list of the fallen has appeared, in which the losses of Ireland are not recorded; no victory has been won, in which her sons have not been distinguished. In the cause of Spanish independence, they showed themselves worthy of the noble struggle in which they fought, and of the English brethren in arms by whom they were supported. Without the aid of their military spirit, and the exhaustless supply their population afforded, how could the late contest for existence have been maintained, or triumphantly closed? And can the British people now turn round with heartless ingratitude, and refuse to Ireland that fair hearing and immediate redress, which are due to her wrongs, no less than to her services? Will the British public and the legislature tell the Irish people, "True, you have fought and bled for us;-true, your national resources have been profusely expended in our service; but we require your aid no longer; we cast you by as a rusty and an useless weapon; we consider you only as food for powder; and cannot condescend to attend to your complaints, nor to sympathize with your afflictions."

If such should be the language and feelings of the public, or of the legislature, fatal indeed must be the result. Nations, like individuals, cannot neglect their duties, without exposing themselves to a severe retribution. The stream of population, which well directed might have diffused fertility throughout the land, may cut for itself new and unnatural channels, through which its waters may rush like a wasting and irresistible torrent. If the restraints of religion and of law are broken through in Ireland-if the rights of property cease to be respected-if the constitution is overthrown,-security cannot long continue to be enjoyed in this more favoured island. A servile war may be fatal to Ireland, but the consequences of such a warfare must react upon Great Britain. "Never has a great nation been ill treated with impunity *,” was the declaration of a statesman who knows Ireland well, and to whom she may offer her tribute of esteem, affection, and gratitude, as it cannot now be considered the tribute of mean adulation, nor of interested selfishness.

* Mr. Grant's Speech on the Insurrection Act, in 1819.

VOL. I. NO. I.



ART. III.-The Police of London.


HERE is perhaps no subject of greater importance to society, than that on which we propose to offer a few observations; and certainly there is none which, for its best interests, has been more fatally misunderstood. It has hitherto been the fashion in England, to consider an organized system of Police as the offspring of all that is despicable and odious; the creature of vexatious and arbitrary authority, and inconsistent with a government of liberty and law yet a little reflection might teach us that it is the abuse, and not the use, of this power, which warrants the application of these terms; and, like all other questions of good and evil on which the practical legislator may be called upon to decide, the point at issue is, by what means the good may be raised, and the evil avoided. Ít must at all times, surely, be taken for granted, that no society can exist without a restraint upon evil-doers; protection for the weak against the strong, and for the unwary against the fraudulent. The question then is, how can these necessary securities be obtained? There are but two ways for that purpose: the one, by the infliction of punishment after the crime is committed; the other, by preventing the perpetration of it ;—the first operating, by the rigour of its penalties, in the way of terror, to prevent the commission of crime; the second, by the shield and protection which it gives to all classes of society, the criminally disposed being assured that the eye of the law is ever watchful and vigilant, and that detection and punishment will inevitably be the consequence of crime. The latter system is then the proper object of that branch of executive government which is designated by the word Police; and which means not the execution of penal laws, but the prevention of offences, by vigilance, and a constant scrutiny on the conduct of offenders. Indeed, if we were to plan a mode of governing a people the most conducive to their happiness and prosperity, "assuming that the laws were humane and rational, and the administration of them pure and impartial,' we should enumerate the establishment of a domestic police, or the selection of fit and able persons as conservators of the peace, among the means best calculated to attain that end. In our view of the duties of the governors to the governed, no greater shame can attach to the institutions of a nation, than a necessity for the constant recurrence to punishment, for the waste of life, and for the infliction of pains and penalties, which ought never to be resorted to, until every other means to prevent the commission of offences have been tried and exhausted.

[ocr errors]

True it is, that there exists in foreign countries (in France for example) a rigid police, which mischievously and vexatiously med


dles in all the concerns of domestic life; and by its perpetual "espionage" is ill-suited either to the forms or feelings of a free people. Yet even this, odious and repulsive as it is, has this advantage in its use, that in great cities persons and property are indisputably better secured, than under the strange and anomalous system which prevails in this country.

We are by no means advocates for the adoption of this intricate and disreputable system of police, which sows discord in the bosoms of families, rendering every servant a spy on the actions of his master; but we contend, and are prepared to show, that with the means we legitimately possess-keeping always in view the rights and liberties of a free people-greater security than exists at present can be given to property and life.

First, then, there already exists in these kingdoms a voluntary police, unknown elsewhere; and which, even allowing largely for the errors occasionally committed by it, is of the highest value;we mean the magistracy, which is, in fact, composed of the resident gentry and principal persons in each district, who, by their property, character, abilities, and station, may be considered as the natural leaders of the people, and whose advice and opinion would, on all occasions, have necessarily the greatest weight with them. This institution, with the subordinate agencies of high and petty constables, and with all the authority which the law has placed in the hands of magistrates for the preservation of the peace, constitutes, in our mind, as numerous and as effective a body of domestic police, as the ordinary circumstances of the country demand. In times of emergency, the sheriff has the whole power of the county at his disposal; and should the civil authorities be not sufficiently strong (which is scarcely possible), the military force can be called in, and the army placed in array under the orders of the magistrate.

We have given this general outline, to show the nature and form of our police establishment; and, as far as the country is concerned, we do not think it can be much improved, and it may be considered as working well. The case is, however, different in great towns. In the first place, the class of persons who officiate as magistrates is materially changed; and secondly, the subordinate officers are by no means of the station and character of those who fill similar situations elsewhere. Gentlemen of considerable fortune decline the fatigue of devoting any portion of their time to the painful details of municipal police. The inferior offices are principally executed by deputy, and consequently but too often the duties are carelessly, if not corruptly, performed. It was found, therefore, in the metropolis, about the middle of the last century, that a description of persons had been placed in the commission

of the peace for Surry and Middlesex, who were designated by the name of "trading Justices," and whose administration of law was corrupt and disgraceful. To correct this terrible abuse, the late Lord Melville, in 1793, established seven Police Offices, with three salaried magistrates to officiate in each, and which, with some trifling alteration, exist at the present moment. The principle of a salaried magistracy being once established, the system was extended to Manchester and other large towns. And we now propose to consider whether the experiment has answered, and if any alterations are required.

Independently of the police of the city of London (which is under the orders of the mayor and court of aldermen, and entirely free from the controul of Government), the following offices are esta blished in the metropolis*:

First, that of Bow-street, consisting of three magistrates and eight constables; the horse and foot patrole, the former consisting of a chief, one conductor, five inspectors, and seventy-five rank and file; the latter of one inspector, sixteen conductors, and one hundred rank and file: these are under the direction of the above magistrates, and may be considered as part of an establishment which does not solely confine its duties to London and its vicinity, but which occasionally furnishes assistance, when required, to all parts of the kingdom.

Secondly, the seven police offices, with three magistrates attached to each office, and, divided among the whole, fifty-nine constables.

Thirdly, the Thames police, established to prevent robberies on the river; and which consists of three magistrates, five head constables, twenty-three surveyors, and sixty-five watermen.

Thus, then, the whole police of London, exclusive of the city, salaried by the Government, amounts in numbers to twenty-seven magistrates and three hundred and fifty-one subordinate officers. The expense is for Bow-street, ex

clusive of fees, which amount to The seven police offices, ditto.. Thames police ditto..

s. d.
422 17 6
4,238 11 5
711 29

[ocr errors]

£. S. d.

24,591 10 11 21,002 19 114 8,616 19 1

Total 54,211

9 114

Having thus stated generally the amount of force, and the cost, of that establishment of police which is salaried by the Government, we now proceed to remark on its constitution, or the mode of its appointment. We wish, however, thus early to pay our tribute of thanks to Lord Sidmouth, for the great change he has effected in the mode of selection by which the magistrates were nominated. Soon after the

* Parliamentary Returns, 30th June, 1821.


« السابقةمتابعة »