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worms of the Empire. For he also had his notions of reform : from political reformers he turned away in disgust, considering them both conspirators and, as Napoleon called them, ideologists ; but in the cause of social reform, as he understood it, he was not inactive. The confessions of the conspirators against his brother, and the very existence of the conspiracy, convinced him that there must be much that was wrong in the working of the statemachine ;- he looked, and he found every wheel out of order. There was corruption, injustice, rottenness, everywhere: the rule was, that every man in office should use his power to oppress those below him, and to cheat the government above him ; the excep
; tion was, to cease this oppression and this cheating during the few moments that the eye of the Emperor could rest upon him. Two memorable internal improvements will mark his reign. We have heard it estimated that whereas when Nicholas became Emperor there were but ten millions of free men in his empire, these ten millions have now become twenty,- partly, doubtless, by natural increase of population, partly by conquest, but in great part from the emancipating efforts of the imperial government. Another work he has performed which may hand bis name down to the reverence of Russians of after ages, despite the burdens and disgrace which his obstinacy and his ambition have entailed upon them. Before his time, Russia had no code of laws,-only a collection of conflicting ukases, soine of them not even written. After years of energetic labour, he obtained for her a code; but though he succeeded in giving the laws, he failed in causing them to be kept. He also, like his brother, discovered how mighty is the power of an autocrat for evil, how little for good. When he gave way to a gust of passion, his fault entailed misery on Europe for years. When he strove to
. perform an act of beneficence, it often became a deception or a fraud. * If he spoke a few words of sympathy to some serfs,
* On the occasion of one of his last visits to Berlin, the Emperor wished to present a painter, who was in the employment of the Royal family, with a watch. A watch was offered to the artist by His Majesty's Chamberlain, but it corresponded so ill with the lofty reputation of the Imperial donor, that the painter ventured to remark to a friend that it was not a very Imperial gift. The observation was repeated to the Czar, and it was perceived that the officer charged with the execution of His Majesty's intention had received the value of a high-priced watch from the Treasurer to his Household, sent a worthless watch to the painter, and kept the difference for himself. The Czar frowned when this story came to his knowledge : then with a look in which sadness and disgust were more visible than anger, he took his own watch from his pocket, and said, 'Give this one to the
they replied by massacring their masters; he decreed a levy of these same serfs, and they went like sheep to the slaughter. If he made a mistake, millions suffered ; if he devised a wise plan, almost any rogue in his service might mar it. In the few parting sentences said to have been addressed by the late Czar from his death-bed to the nation he had governed so long, we read the mournful confession of the weakness of absolutism :-I • regret that the condition of all classes of my subjects has not 'been more effectually improved; but I had not the power to do more.'
It would seem, indeed, as if nature avenged herself upon this monstrous attempt of one man to gather into himself the wills of so many millions of his fellow-men, by making it fearfully easy for him to magnify million-fold his vices and his follies, while he is less able to make his virtues or his wisdom felt throughout his country, than the private citizen of a free commonwealth. Nay more, his virtues become his vices ; that endurance, and courage and perseverance, which enabled him to do more at home than any Czar had done before, also induced him to adhere to enterprises of aggression in spite of opposition and defeat, to the dishonour of his name, - to the death or misery of millions who were given to him to care for, — to the incalculable injury of his country and of the world.
Under circumstances of unexampled interest to Russia and to Europe a new reign commences, and this mighty power of the Autocrat of the North passes into the hands of another and a younger man. Of the personal character of Alexander II. little is known with certainty even by his own subjects, for the test of a capacity for empire is only to be found in the exercise of power. In earlier life, his father has been heard to say that the Cesarewitch was not fit to govern Russians from the mildness of his disposition and the moderation of his views; and the character of the present Grand Duke Constantine is more congenial to that of the Emperor Nicholas. But mildness and moderation do not always mean weakness, even in Russia; and the part which the Cesarewitch had taken in public affairs during his father's lifetime had already deservedly raised his reputation. He has succeeded to the throne without the slightest impediment, and no Czar ever assumed the reins of government with a more undisputed and absolute power. Even the perils which surround his dominions, and the sacrifices im
painter, and for the rest – say nothing about it, if you please.' The offender was one of the most confidential attendants on his own person!
posed upon his subjects by the war, tend to strengthen the adherence of the nation to the sovereign, and to place in his hands whatever power Russia possesses to prolong or to terminate this contest. The greater the confidence of the nation in its ruler may be, the more imperative is his duty to rescue it from the effects of evil councils, of angry passions, of immoderate ambition, and of excessive pride. The autocratic authority of the Czars is strongest and most honourable when it is exerted to rescue the empire from great calamities; and the traditions of this extraordinary and uncontrolled power, from the earliest ages to the present day, now place it in the hands of Alexander II. to restore peace to the world.
ART. IX. - Lord Brougham's Speech on Criminal Law Pro
cedure. House of Lords, 23rd March, 1855. AMONGST the penalties the nation is condemned to pay in the
prosecution of a great European war, none are more injurious to the public interest than the consumption and absorption of time, energy, and intelligence on that all-devouring topic of political interest. It is impossible for those who, like ourselves, watch with undiminished anxiety and hope the progress of the great work of social improvement, not to look with some feelings of regret on the suspended projects and the unfinished labours which in peace still formed the objects of continual effort. Lord John Russell is summoned from his Reform Bills, his Education Bills, and the administration of the Colonies, to the Conference of Vienna. The House of Commons spends its days in Sebastopol Committees, and its nights in endless discussions on the military establishments of the country. Even the Speech from the Throne which opened the present Session prudently abstained from any promise or allusion referring to matters not within the range of the dominant passion of the hour. In our own humbler sphere we are aware of the difficulty of obtaining a hearing on many subjects which might in more tranquil times have won the public attention, and we shall confine ourselves to a very brief notice of the persevering efforts made by Lord Brougham to promote that reform of our criminal procedure to which he has already so materially contributed. Be the condition of the country what it may, richer or poorer, agitated or calm, in peace or in war, the same duties remain to be performed towards the poor, the ignorant, and the criminal classes of society; and of all the institutions of the
country, those which ought least to be affected by the blasts that sweep over the political horizon, are the institutions dedicated to the administration of justice.
Yet, in an age that has witnessed so many useful reforms, and so many ingenious experiments in the name of reform, defects still subsist in our Criminal Jurisprudence which are, in
, truth, the relics of the most unenlightened ages connected with abrogated laws and obsolete customs, and hardly to be found in the criminal procedure of any other nation in Europe. To use the powerful language of Lord Brougham, —
• If in this age of enterprise some traveller should fare forth in quest of information rather than adventures, should traverse the sea, penetrate into unexplored continents, and, discovering new regions and strange races, should return to make us partake of the gratification his curiosity had received; were he to tell of a people not barbarous but highly refined, and living under a system of well-elaborated Criminal Law, yet wholly without the means of effectually executing it-having no regular plan for tracing offences, or tracking offenders — no security for their ever being brought to justiceleaving the law sometimes to execute itself, or at haphazard placing its enforcement in the hands of those most likely to abuse the office, or peradventure, not to perform it at all — that crime was so capriciously dealt with, that some acts of the greatest atrocity were not deemed fit objects of any punishment, while others of a light and trivial kind were severely visited — that the love of liberty being a distinguishing characteristic of this singular people, and a horror of the bare possibility of suffering by the innocent, reconciling all to the constant escape of the guilty, there was yet exhibited at all times and in every place the spectacle of loss of liberty before guilt was proved — that imprisonment for months was inflicted upon the guiltless-that the sufferings of the accused depended not upon the nature of the charge against them, but upon the part of the country in which they happened to live, or indeed to be arrested, and that the whole arrangements for detention and for trial were local and capricious, both as regarded the treatment of the offender and the description of persons who should accuse, and of those who should judge that in all the most important particulars everything was left to mere blind hazard and ever-varying caprice, — surely, surely, this tale would at once be rejected with incredulous scorn, and the traveller ranked with Ferdinand Mendez Pinto as recounting things not only untrue but impossible, because no such nation as he had described could exist. Yet he had only given an account, and not an exaggerated account, of this country at this time. But this country cannot submit to continue in this state for any longer time. It is now just a quarter of a century since I related in the other House of Parliament the voyage of the same traveller, and his narrative was not without a useful result ; it was the foundation and the origin of Local Judicature. On the close of the relation I preVOL. CI. NO, CCVI.
sented the County Courts Bill
, which, after some unfortunate delays, became the law of the land, and gave to England the inestimable benefits of cheap and speedy justice, but in civil suits alone. Let me indulge the hope that this new journey of the same traveller may be attended with the yet more valuable result of Local Criminal Judicature, the effectual execution of the Criminal Law, and the rescue of the community on the one hand from the escape of the guilty, and on the other from the suffering of the innocent.'
To deal with these gross deficiencies in our social system, Lord Brougham divides the whole subject of Criminal Procedure into the four heads of Police, Prosecution, Trial, and Conviction, including under this last head the subject of Prison Discipline.
The first suggestions offered by the Resolutions moved in the House of Lords, and annexed to this speech, refer to the apprehension and commitment of offenders by local police establishments, under the direct superintendence and control of the Government, as far as possible in connexion with the local authorities, and acting under uniform rules as far as local circumstances permit. For this purpose Lord Brougham proposes that the appointment of a regular constabulary force should be obligatory upon the local authorities. He further recommends that stipendiary magistrates, like those now appointed in London and Middlesex, should be extended to other towns of considerable size, with the same powers of examination and commitment as those exercised by the magistrates of the Metropolitan district.
The next step in which our system is still deficient, is the appointment of an officer for the prosecution of offenders; and it would be easy to multiply examples of the frequent failure of justice by this cause alone, both by the vexation of the innocent and the impunity of the guilty.
“I believe with the exception of America, if our kinsmen have carried over with them this fault in the English law, but certainly in no other country, is the criminal procedure left to shift for itself, its execution being everybody's business in theory, and so nobody's in fact. Rather than argue upon the evils that must inevitably ensue from the want of a Public Prosecutor, I will give some instances, and these by no means of rare occurrence, though those which I shall specify are more than ordinarily startling ; I will give two of the guilty escaping; as many of the innocent being harassed in consequence, and altogether in consequence of this defect. In the first class, let me mention that a wealthy tradesman at Plymouth, under the pressure of a temporary difficulty forged a bill for a large sum, expecting, as such culprits generally do, that before it became due he should be able to retire it; he was disappointed, and arrested.