Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

changed now, when all the floodgates the side of establishment and authoof innovation were opened, when rity. Not only the former set was reMontrose had become a signal for stored unaltered, but the old magis. every borough, great and small, to trates were authorized to elect their put forth all its efforts for a change successors, in the same manner as if of constitution. In such a violent fer- there had been no interruption of their ment of reform, the establishment of existence. This decision excited in a second precedent would render it the votaries of reform equal emotions next to impossible to make any further of disappointment and indignation. stand;—the time was now come, at They now saw their error, in expectwhatever cost, to mark the determi- ing that the executive would ever take nation of government to proceed no the lead in promoting a popular refurther in this course. The indivi- form. Not only were they baffled in duals who were to decide, could not the present instance, but it became also fail to remark, that the very first evident, that even should they sucuse which Montrose had made of the ceed in the tedious and expensive proboon granted to her by ministry, was cesses by which they sought to reduce to search out the most determined op- the sets of the other burghs, the result position member she could possibly would only be, as in the present infind; and, by her casting vote, to se- stance, to fix the old magistrates more cure for him the northern district of firmly in their seats. The only hope burghs. In defence even of the ma- appeared in endeavouring to set aside, gistrates, it was represented, that the as illegal, this proceeding of the Privy involved state of the city's finances Council. That body, it was alleged, arose, not from any embezzlement or had only power to renew the functions idle extravagance, but from improve- of the burgh, by giving authority for ments highly important and useful to a poll-election, but not to vest this the place, though undertaken perhaps power in a body of men who, as maton too extensive a scale. The pier, in ters stood, had no more concern in particular, whose repeated demolition the burgh than any other individuals. involved them in so much expence, Unfortunately, however, several inwas an object of the highest and most stances occurred in the course of the indispensable utility. The magis- last century, in which this expedient trates themselves, though stunned had been used, to restore the broken with the first blow, bad now changed chain of election. It was observed, their views, and felt themselves per- indeed, that these instances took place fectly competent to undertake anew immediately after the rebellions of the administration of the city's affairs. 1715 and 1745, and without any oppo

Ministers seem to have paused con- sition on the part of the burgesses ; siderably on this occasion. On the but though these considerations might 9th May, a committee of the Privy have weight in reason, it seems quesCouncil

, among whom were Lord tionable how far they could obviate Liverpool, the Lord Chancellor, and the legal precedent. It was, however, Lord Melville, assembled at the Cock- urged also, and seemingly with a good pit, and heard counsel on the subject. deal of reason, that, upon this system, The result did not transpire for a con- the magistrates of every burgh in the siderable time. In August, however, kingdom, by neglecting some of the the order of the Privy Council was legal formalities, might throw their issued, by which it appeared, that the constitution into the hands of the decision had been made entirely on crown, which had only to appoint its own creatures to fill up the new list of portance. This year, however, conmagistrates. Indeed, we have already siderable interest was excited by its stated our opinion, that any intromis meeting, and precedents on both sides sion of the Privy Council with the sets were carefully sought. It then apof burghs, is contrary, if not to the peared that the Convention had repractice, at least to the principles of peatedly, on the agreement of all parrepresentative government. A meet- ties concerned, made alterations to ing of the burgesses of Edinburgh was a certain extent, in the sets of the held on the 5th November, and reso- burghs, which, when disputed, had Jutions entered into, in which dissatis- been sometimes confirmed by the faction was strongly expressed; and a Court of Session, and when not disdetermination stated to assist to the puted, possessed the authority of law. utmost their brethren of Aberdeen. The demand of Dundee was merely At Aberdeen, the old magistrates, ac- for three open members ; two of which cording to the authority given to them, were to be the dean and counsellor hesitated not to elect their successors, of Guild, to be elected by the guildwhose installation, however, gave rise brethren, and a third trades counselto some tumult on the part of the po- lor, to chosen by the incorporated pulace; and an assembly of the bur- trades. Petitions were, however, pregesses afterwards held, while they de- sented from several incorporations, precated such conduct in the people, praying that they should each receive strongly expressed their regret, that power to elect a member, and that a body of men should have acted thus otherwise, no alteration should take contrary to the judgment of their fel. place. The lead in support of the low.citizens, and to their own record- measure was taken by Mr Gibson, ed opinion.

who sat as commissioner from Culross, As some compensation for this loss, and Mr Henderson, commissioner the friends of reform gained this year from Kirkwall. On the other hand, one point, not of trifling importance. Mr Kirkman Finlay, „from Glasgow, Among the old and regularly consti- and Mr Cook, who sat for Inverury, tuted burghs in Scotland, Dundee and was understood to speak the ranks next to Edinburgh and Aber- sentiments of government, expressed deen, in wealth and importance. Its doubts, both as to the powers of the constitution was still closer than that Convention, and the sufficiency of the of any of the other Scottish burghs, consent obtained. The former doubts being such as not to leave a single were strongly combated by Mr Gibcrevice by which any thing hostile son, who declared that he knew of to the reigning party could enter. So no power of any body so strong and strongly, however, had public opinion clear, as that of the Convention to declared against it, that the council alter and amend the sets of burghs. itself, with Provost Riddoch at their It had exercised it for 250 years, head, professed their readiness to con- and to deny it, would be disclaiming cur in some alteration of the set. As its own privileges, and destroying itthe sanguine hopes derived from the self. In regard to consent, it was Privy Council were now greatly cool. observed, that the corporations which ed, it was determined to have recourse opposed the measure had no vested to the Convention of Burghs, a body right in the magistracy, and that their peculiar to Scotland, and whose fund opposition was therefore of no legal tions were usually confined to mere importance. After a great deal of disformalities or matters of triling im- cussion, the force of these arguments

was at length admitted; the demands to inflame the passions of the moment, of Dundee were granted, and the set, and to bias the minds of juries, who amended as proposed, has ever since were to try the offences. He then continued in operation.

directly alluded to the trial of M‘KinThe Edinburgh reformers continued ley, and first to the denial of access during this year in full activity. They to the prisoner Campbell. The Lord appeared, indeed, to have at one time Advocate said, that he had refused a near prospect of attaining the ob- access to the witness, “ to prevent ject of their wishes. A sentence was tampering.” And yet any man who obtained in the Court of Session, ren- attended to these proceedings, must dering void the last election of the acknowledge, that the whole evidence magistrates of Edinburgh. The ma- of the witness Campbell exhibited gistrates, however, by putting in a re- one continued system of gross and claiming petition, suspended the ope- palpable tampering on the part of ration of the sentence; and as the those very law officers of the Crown, answers could not be answered in the who appeared so jealous and fearful course of this session, the final deci- of all tampering but their own. How sion was necessarily postponed till the learned lord could have prevailed next year. This delay was of infinite upon himself to give that answer, he importance to a fixed and established was at a loss to conjecture, for the body, against a popular movement, learned Lord must have known that which became always fainter, the the whole of the law officers had conlonger it continued without effecting tinued access to Campbell ; and what its purpose.

took place at these interviews, he, for The transactions of the preceding his part, could call by no other name years in Scotland, formed the subject than palpable tampering. His Lordof some warm parliamentary debates. ship then went over the declaration Onthe 10th February, Lord Archibald of 'Campbell, respecting what had Hamilton brought before the Com- passed between himself, Mr Drummons, a motion respecting the pro- mond, and other law officers of the ceedings in the case of M'Kinley, Crown, (as detailed in M‘Kinley's The present case, he observed, had trial, in our last volume.) Such proevery ingredient of gravity and im- . ceedings were in direct opposition to portance. The subject related to the all that they had been accustomed highest concern in this country, the to venerate in the British constitupurity of justice; the parties were the tion. The facts he had disclosed highest officers of the law as well as amounted to subornation of perjury. officers also of the Crown ; the scene He could find no other term adeof the transaction which he was about quately descriptive of the transacto notice, was the highest court of tion; for had 'M'Kinley been concriminal law in Scotland. His Lord- victed on the evidence of Campbell, ship then alluded to the assertions that conviction must have been obmade last session, by the Lord Advo- tained by perjury on Campbell's part, cate, respecting the seditious spirit in swearing that he had received no prevailing in Glasgow, and the out- promise of any reward, nor had any rageous oath pretended to be there ad- private motive in giving his evidence, ministered. Although there certainly and M‘Kinley would have had an might be some degree of discontent, undoubted right to say, that he had no one could now doubt, that these been convicted in consequence of the assertions were highly extravagant, if unfair practices of the law officers not grossly slanderous. They tended of the Crown. Had Campbell, sti

VOL. XI. PART I.

L

was

mulated as he had been, given false tell the House, whether or not he was evidence, he should like to know incorrect in stating, that the distincwhether the law officers of the Crown tion in Scotland between the verdict would not bave been answerable for of “ not proven” and the verdict of the crime. He would beg leave to “not guilty," was this :—that when remind the House of an expression the jury were satisfied that the corpus which he was very happy to hear on delicti charged in the indictment was a recent occasion fall from the Attor- proved, and that the person charged ney-General, namely, that God for- was implicated in the guilt, although bid he, or any one officially connect- the legal evidence was insufficient to ed with him, should have any inter- convict him, they returned a verdict course with a witness in a case of of “ not proven;" but that, they public justice. He trusted that on the were of opinion no corpus delicti had present occasion a sentiment so exalt- been proved, they then returned a ed would not remain in the honourable verdict of " not guilty.” In the case and learned gentleman's breast, but in question, the verdict of the jury that he would repeat it in confirma- “ not proven.” The inference tion of his (Lord A. Hamilton's) opi- was—and he stated it without fear of nions. It was the duty of the law contradiction, that the general fact officers of the Crown to uphold the charged in the indictment, of an illedignity and interest of the laws; and gal oath having been administered to he would ask whether, in the trans- several hundreds of persons in Glasaction under discussion, the law offi- gow and its vicinity, had been adcers of the Crown in Scotland did not mitted by that verdict to be well violate the sanctity and purity of the founded. With regard to the Attorlaws as palpably, and, indeed, more ney-General's declaration of not compalpably than M.Kipley, in the crime municating with witnesses, whatever with which he was charged. He might be the practice in England, it concluded with moving for a copy was impossible, according to the esof the records in the Court of Justi- tablished laws of Scotland, that it ciary, relative to the trial.

should prevail in that country. Some The Lord Advocate denied that communication with the witnesses was there was any thing overcharged in indispensable for the furtherance of his former statements, either of the public justice. The duties of the Atseditious spirit prevailing in Glasgow, iorney-General of England and the or of the oath which had been admi. Lord Advocate of Scotland were in nistered. There was nothing to prove many respects different. The Lord this, either in the course of events, Advocate was not only the public or in the trial of M-Kinley. The in- prosecutor as the Attorney-General dictment charged the prisoner with was, but he was likewise a police mahaving been guilty of administering gistrate. This arose from the circuman unlawful oath to a great many stance of Scotland being a separate hundreds of persons in Glasgow and government without having a resident its neighbourhood, the names of many administration. He would

ask, if any of whom were particularized. The man could doubt, from what even issue of his trial was a verdict by the Campbell himself had stated, that he jury of “ Not proven.” He spoke in had an interest in disqualifying himthe hearing of gentlemen opposite, self from giving evidence? He had who were intimately acquainted with a palpable interest in not giving his the forms of law, and the distinction evidence. As to the complaint of the of verdicts in Scotland. They would counsel for the prisoner, that do access was allowed them to Campbell, promise to him, that what he requestit appeared evident from Mr Jeffrey's ed should be done. On the same oco statements at the trial, that there had casion Mr Drummond communicated been a communication between him to him, that the prisoner was under and that witness. He would oppose the greatest apprehensions on acto the evidence of Campbell, a state- count of his wife-that he was desiment made to him by Mr Drummond. rous of having her brought to EdinThe statement made to him by Mr burgh, to be near a sister, and that Drummond was this--that on going he had applied to him for money for to the Castle to visit this person, he that purpose. Mr Drummond said he had stated to him, that he was in the had told him that he could do nothing greatest terror of his life if he gave on this subject without his (the Lord information ; that at that time the Advocate's) authority. A letter from only object that Campbell seemed to Campbell was afterwards brought to have in view was, the obtaining a pro- him. He stated positively, that as mise from him of some measures to to giving any money to induce him insure his safety after giving his evi- to give evidence, that he could not dence. After this, Mr Drummond do, and it ought not to be done ; but did not go to the Castle of his own he trusted that gentlemen on the accord, but was sent for by Campbell. other side of the House would not The person who came to him was the think that in the situation in which gaoler, who said that Campbell was the witness stood he had done any anxious to see Mr Drummond. He thing unbecoming and improper in went accordingly, when Campbell told endeavouring to alleviate his case by him, that as a condition of his giving bringing the woman to Edinburgh. esidence, he wished to have a pass- On being informed of this request of port, and means to go abroad, that Campbell respecting his wife, he gave in such a case he was not only pre- directions that a place should be taken pared to give evidence, but informa- for her in a public conveyance by the tion ; but that otherwise he could magistrates of Glasgow; although he neither give evidence nor information. really did not know whether she ever Mr Drummond then stated, that with- came to Edinburgh. There was one out consulting him (the Lord Advo- part of the deposition of Campbell cate,) and having his authority, he which the noble Lord had read in could not take that course. Accord- rather a lower tone of voice than the ingly, Mr Drummond communicated rest,-the concluding part of what he the proposition of Campbell to him, had stated respecting his conversation and after consultation with the other with Mr Drummond. He had there law officers of the Crown, and after stated that no attempt was made to considering the question of law in instruct him as to what he was to say. the best manner they were able, they The same was stated by Sir William came to this conclusion, that they Rae. And from the beginning to the were not only entitled to make the end of the deposition, he never alwitness the promise of a passport and leged that one question was put to the means of conveying him to a fo- him by Mr Home Drummond, or any reign country, but that they were other person, as to the practice in even bound to do so-that they were which he was engaged. if they had bound to afford him protection in a had any sinister purposes in view, way which he himself conceived was would they not have endeavoured to the only available way. He directed effect it by putting such leading quesMr Drummond, therefore, to make a tions to him? But they had acted with

« AnteriorContinuar »