Imágenes de páginas


is a sensible relief to the community, number ready to fill the vacancies, for his place is not necessarily filled the law of supply and demand But the class is fortunately of com- would bring them from abroad. parative rarity in this country. Of Hence it is, that while we continued men led to crime by wayward and year by year exporting thousands of peculiar passions, it may be said, too, criminals, crime never decreased; and that, by their removal, a certain item to this principle it must also surely in the criminality of the community in some degree be attributed, that is also removed. But in the ordin- since transportation has virtually ary predatory offences, which are the ceased, and our criminals have been staple of the criminality of this coun- kept at home, crime, instead of intry-a penalty which it pays for its creasing, has diminished. It is not widely diffused wealth-there is a easy to take the exact measure of certain daily business done within the criminality of a country at any those limits which the pressure of the time, either separately or with referadministration of justice leaves avail- ence to other times; and all complex able ; and if one person does not comparison, involving not only the transact it, another will. In every variations in the amount of crime, well-policed country, there is but å but the cause of these variations, must limited extent of depredation capable be accepted with caution. But there of being carried out. It is a sad are statistical features too large in thing to believe, but it is certainly their general outlines to be mistaken, true, that there now is—and until and the facts brought forward during some radical moral change is effected the Parliamentary discussion in 1857, on our population there will con- show that crimes, and especially the tinue to be a large body on the bor- grave class of crimes, had decreased ders of criminality, ready to enter in number, however formidable they on its practical pursuit should they might at times appear from the pecufind an opportunity. If any one liar aspect_which clusters of cases doubted that there is this class- assumed. Let us take, for the sake criminals in heart, though not in of ease and compactness, the outline, deed—who only abstain from offences as it were, of the criminal statistics because others transact so much of of our own country, Scotland. The the business as the momentary ab- daily average number of inmates of sence of the policeman renders prac- the Scottish prisons, from the year tically available—the variations in 1840 downwards, will be found in the number of crimes committed in the usual Parliamentary Reports. different periods—the increase when The highest number was in the year the temptation is aggravated by bad 1849, when it amounted to 3143; times, the decrease in periods of that is to say, taking one day with prosperity—will be sufficient to con- another, there were always throughvince him. If, then, we shall simply out that year 3143 prisoners. Durturn the perpetrators of these com- ing the three ensuing years

the nummon offences out of the country, ber did not quite reach 3000. In without having secured the reforma- 1853 it was 2724; in 1854, 2666 ; tion of those who remain, the labour- in 1855, 2316 ; in 1856, 2210; in market of crime will be deficient in 1857, 2183. workmen, and their places will pre- Thus the number in the prisons sently be supplied from those who during last year was in round numwere standing all day in the market- bers 1000—close on a third-less than place waiting for their opportunity. it had been in 1849, and that while Now, the alarming but necessary re- the population was doubtless increassult of such a view is, that, by this ing. The daily average is taken as simple removal of offenders, crime the most simple and uniform test of may be increased rather than dimin- the number of persons habitually unished; for we send away a convict dergoing punishment. If we take who is still a criminal, and his place the

number of committals, or of conat home is filled by a new member victions, we require to analyse them, of the profession. Even if there otherwise trifling police offences will were not among ourselves a large count as much as highly-punished



crimes; and that which may only in- thousands of the classes of ruffians dicate some new zeal in the suppres- who used to be sent to the antipodes, sion of petty nominal delinquencies, created a morbid irritation in the or the creation of a new offence by public mind. While the classes of statute, may stand as evidence of a prisoners previously known in this sudden increase in crime. A com- country were actually decreasing in mittal for twenty-four hours will number, the formation of convict count as much in such an enumera- establishments, and the sums voted tion as imprisonment for a year; by Parliament for their erection and but in the daily average it will be support, were an ominous daily reonly the three hundred and sixty- cord of the perpetration of great fifth part of a unit. The returns for crimes, and the existence among the year ending in the summer of us of a formidable class of prisoners. 1856 show a slight increase in the Then the public, being sensitive and total number of committals over the eager, their appetite for criminal. previous year; but this is concomitant news' was naturally pampered. If with a decrease, enlarging as we as- fewer crimes were committed, more cend in the scale of punishment. The were noticed in the public press ; continued decrease in the class called and this to the public at large was convicts—those who used to be trans- equivalent to an actual increase ; for ported, and since 1853 have been the conımunity among whom there sentenced either to transportation or are five daily crimes which are all to penal servitude—is very remark- published, will seem far more wicked able. The highest number during than that in which there are ten daily the past ten years was 533 in 1851. crimes, only one of which is published. Next year the number fell to 433, This is the publicity which makes and in the year following to 388. In the stranger, fresh from some Medi1853 it was 314 ; in 1855, 284; in terranean city, in which assassins 1856, 264; in 1857, 251- less than swarm, shudder when he reads the half the number in 1851. If we sup- police column in the Times. It is a pose that, while this decrease was in healthy characteristic, and though progress, the corresponding class of subject to occasional morbid excesses, crimes has been increasing, the ques- even these do good, by concentrating tion would then be, not about the attention on the reform of the crimisuperior efficacy of one kind of pun- nal law, and the best methods of ishment, or one method of prison dis- penal discipline. cipline over another, but about the On the present occasion, the delupreposterous absurdity of awarding sion was aggravated by an incidental any punishment at all, or supporting matter, likely ever to be a warning the whole costly apparatus of the against the adoption of novelties, penal law.

which, however sound they may be And yet we know it to have been of themselves, and however acceptnot only the firm belief of unprotect- able to philosophers, have not been ed females, and rich old gentlemen ventilated through the ordinary pubþurdened with a plethora of plate, lic mind, so as to be ripened into but the solemnly announced opinion practical' maturity by that general of corporate bodies, that this class concurrence which in this country is of crimes has been increasing; and essential to the success of all rethat with strides so long and rapid, forms. Of course we refer to the that the country must soon pass into ticket-of-leave system. Its cause and the possession of the freebooters, and origin admit of being very easily told, sink into a condition which may have and at once explain that its peculiar been known around the strongholds and doubtful characteristics, havof the robber aristocracy of Germany, ing arisen from an incidental emerbut had never before--not even in gency, are not likely to be witnessed the days of Duval, or Turpin, or again. When the transportation sysAbershaw-been endured in Britain. tem was stopped by the repudiation Looking back from a calm distance of the colonies, the Government had on this popular delusion, it is not on their hands a body of persons, difficult to discover its causes. The every day increasing, who were sen. necessity of keeping at home some tenced to this punishment, which could not be carried out. The ques- fensive to the principles and feelings tion was, What to do with them? of the British people; so the police The sentences to which they had were not encouraged to take any been subjected involved a certain special notice of them; and it was period of restraint, followed by years said that the ticket-of-leave men of modified freedom abroad. It was were a privileged body, whom the clear that in good faith the Govern- police were never to interrupt and moment could not take advantage of a lest in the pursuit of their felonious power hidden in any latent clause of avocations. an Act of Parliament, if there were Of course it could not come to pass such a thing, to inflict on them a that a body of men who had been punishment far greater than that to sentenced to transportation should which they had been sentenced. To be the only portion of the community have kept the convicts in prison in among whom there was no criminalthis country during the long periods ity. Several of them did commit of their sentences of transportation, offences; and as the public had made would have been not only to break up their mind to find them at their faith with them, but to kill them by old trade, every offence so committed degrees, or drive them mad. Even was echoed and re-echoed in confirmwith such relaxations as public works ation of the prophecy throughout might afford, it was impossible in the land, until the ears of the public this country to give them the freedom were filled with them, and it seemed which they would have enjoyed by as if there were no offences but those ticket-of-leave or assignment in Aus- committed by ticket-of-leave men, tralia. It was absolutely necessary, and no ticket-of-leave men who were then, that they should be released at not daily depredators. Colonel Jebb, some time before the conclusion of their who had the chief administration of sentences; and the question came to the arrangement, stood on his stabe, How was this to be done? Unfortu- tistics; but the people were no more nately, perhaps, it was suggested that inclined to listen to statistics than instead of a frank release, they should during the climax of a tragedy to be conditionally at large, liable, when- count the audience. He thus mainever their conduct displeased the Se- tained in vain, that out of 6730 male cretary of State, to be brought back convicts released on license or ticketand subjected to the remainder of of-leave in a period of three years and their sentences. This was the new three months, but 842, or 12 per feature in our penal system, which cent, had been convicted of any sort excited a mysterious suspicion in the of offence, and that only 381 of these public mind. Heretofore the execu- had been convicted for offences of a tive had only exercised the power of serious character. Matters always pardon or remission towards crimi- look serious when we come to hunnals, but to the erring ticket-of- dreds or to thousands ; but, to be leave man it professed to exercise honest, we must compare numbers the prerogative of punishment. The with each other, and not be terrified public said that this power virtually by sounds. During the same period was not exercised, however clamant the number of males convicted of might be the demand for it; and offences in England was 235,000. there was some truth in this charge, An estimate of the number of since the authorities at the Home so convicted, made by deducting the Office were loth to inflict a heavy number who were counted twice or punishment on any one, on the ground thrice over on account of re-convicof mere rumour or secret information, tion, showed that there were three and were disposed to wait until the ticket-of-leave men among each thouaccused had proved his relapse into sand persons committed to the English crime, by being judicially subjected prisons. From such general statistics, to punishment. Further, it was felt and the other facts within his knowthat, if the police were encouraged to ledge, Colonel Jebb inferred "that a keep an eye on these men, and testify thousand prisoners discharged from to their conduct, a dangerous power the convict prisons, after being subwould be vested in that body; an ject to a course of corrective disciespionage, in fact, or surveillance, of- pline, would not do so much mischief



to the public as any other thousand mencement of this Act no person shall taken indiscriminately from among be sentenced to transportation." All those who are discharged at the gates convicts are now to be sentenced to of some of our large prisons, from penal servitude. But the penal serf which there issue as many as 8000 or may be sent anywhere, and left any10,000 in the course of a single year. where at the expiry of his sentence;

Contemporary with this English so that in reality transportation may experiment another has been going still be his lot if a place can be found on in Ireland, promising still more to transport him to. Under the Act brilliant results, as Irish results in of 1853, though a penal serf might prospect are wont to be. The con- be sent abroad, he required to be victs in Spike Island hear lectures, brought back to finish his sentence make chemical experiments, and have in Britain ; a conclusion which is advanced so far in political economy generally deemed to neutralise the as to theorise on the ultimate pro- best objects of transportation. But ductiveness of the public works on the present Act, in terms of a circular which they are employed. “They issued to the judges, “ will enable question the utility of fortifications the Government to avail itself to the and such works, but admit the bene- full extent of the facilities which may fits of trade and agriculture, and from time to time exist for removing would therefore pay more attention to a penal settlement abroad, convicts to them.”+ Irish convicts who have sentenced to penal servitude. But earned by their conduct a certain although the sentence of penal serviamount of confidence, are sent on tude will hereafter subject the conmessages, and employed to transact vict to the liability to removal under confidential business, even in Dublin. such sentence to a penal colony, the Mr Matthew Hill, the zealous re- number of convicts who can be thus corder of Birmingham, made a pil- dealt with must depend on the faciligrimage to the Irish convict establish- ties existing at any given period for ments to test the accuracy of these their employment and absorption in statements, and published a pam- a colony, and on the willingness of the phlet attesting his belief in them. colonists to receive them." Let the world give both to them and A prisoner, on hearing his sentence, to all other trials of the kind fair sometimes asks, “What is penal serplay. Should such unexpected results vitude ?”—and naturally : the knowstand the test of time and wear and ledge is of some moment to him, but tear, it is well; but it may be proper, he cannot get it. The jailer cannot before we generalise too widely, even tell him ; nor can the judge who senfrom a long series of facts, to remem- tences him ; nor the Convict Board ber that the Irish convict is in gene- who carry out the sentence; not even ral a different being from the English the Secretary of State, who is supreme thief. Professional theft is not the to dictate what it shall be ; for though leading characteristic of Irish as of he may know his own intentions, he British criminality ; that country is cannot anticipate those of his possible too poor to encourage the trade. successor. Whether the committal of

Before concluding, let us say a word 'this great and peculiar power, even on the peculiar position in which late to an officer so high and responsible, legislation places the country in rela- is quite constitutional, is a question tion to the convict. To correct the which we have not time at present to difficulties caused by the colonial discuss. But certainly it cannot be repudiation, the Act of 1853 was doubted, that the sooner there is an passed, substituting, in a large pro- end of ambiguities and dubieties, and portion of cases, a shorter sentence of the precise nature of every punish* penal servitude” for the sentence of ment is known to all—the judge, the transportation. A cry arose for the re- culprit, and the bystanding publicstoration of transportation. The Go- the better will it be for the securing vernment met it by the Act of 1857, of public confidence in the fair adwhich provides that, “after the com- ministration of criminal justice.

* Report on the Discipline of Convict Prisons, 25.

+ Third Report of Diroctors.


Few of the byways of history lead late Sir Henry Elliot, being an apto more picturesque, and even pathe- pendix to the third' volume of his tic scenes, than those which belong Historians in India ;-and from a to the great Mohammedan conquests. translation, by Captain Malet, pubThe fiery character of the Arabs, the lished as a Selection from the Restern ideas which they entertained, cords of the Bombay Government, of and the magnificence of the old-world a History of Sind, by Mohammed systems with which they rudely came Masoom, who wrote that his sonin contact, all combined to produce “the cooler of my eyes, the flower of events so singular and so tragic that my heart, Meer Boorzoorg”—might we may well linger over them with learn what the good men of old did, more than ordinary interest and and who damps the effect of his wonder.

finest stories by quaintly adding, Especially in the history of the But as to the truth of this, God Mohammedan conquest of Sind we only knows !” Some valuable inforfind events touching in themselves, mation has also been derived from and suggesting a brief general view the extracts presented in a curious of the condition of Brahminism, wor published at London in 1665, Buddhism, Mohammedanism, and copies of which are to be found in Christianity, at one of those disturb- the British Museum, and the Royal ed epochs which condition the pro- Asiatic Society's Library, entitled gress of the world, or of large por- ΠΑΛΛΑΔΙΟΝ περι των της Ινδιας εθνων tions of it, for many centuries. Over και της βραγμαυων ; from the writings all the three conquests of that country of the Chinese travellers Fa Hian and much obscurity rests. Alexander's Hiuan Thsang, which have been invasion is related in Greek by translated into French ; and from Greeks; the history of the Moham- accounts, published in local papers, medan conquest is preserved in Per- of excavations made at Bahmana-josian by followers of Islam, eager to daru, or Brahminabad. ascribe glory to God and His Prophet; of early Sindian history so little and any one who has compared Sir is known that, at almost any point William Napier's works with the we may select in it, there remains petitions of the Ameers and the only a confused and indefinite backpamphlets of Outram and Jacob, ground. All the conquests of Sind will agree with us in thinking that it stand in confused historical light, is a little difficult to determine even though their incidents have been the facts of the recent English an- minutely recorded ; and but little or nexation. Some are of opinion that nothing is known of the events which old Arab manuscripts, relating to the produced the first two. The country Mohammedan conquest of Sind, still itself has not afforded much material exist in that country; but if that be aid to the written records, by means the case, they are sacredly preserved of ruins and inscriptions; and these from the eyes of every“ dog-Chris- records have been almost entirely tian.” Only Persian compilations devoted to the circumstances attendfrom them are available ; and our ing the advent and progress of inknowledge of these compilations has vaders. In order to determine the been drawn from a variety of sources; general condition of Sind prior to the - from conversations with learned Mohammedan invasion, it is necesEasterns;—from a carefully prepared sary to have recourse to the testiabstract by a friend, an accomplished mony of foreign writers, and carefully Persian scholar, of the Tohfut-ul- to note facts which are incidentally Kiram, a work which was composed, mentioned, and scattered far apart about ninety years ago, by Ali Sher from each other. Many of the reKanai of Thătta, who professed to markable deeds of Gotama Buddha compile from ancient chronicles ;- are described as having been perfrom an unpublished volume, by the formed on the banks of the Indus.


« AnteriorContinuar »