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invites them to brutalize themselves, by taking up the task of the execucutioner, and pelting, stoning, and sometimes murdering a wretch, who has neither the means of flight nor resistance!
jurors, so as to agree upon a verdict. In this country, however, where the trial by jury had existed for many centuries, a man would be supposed to have a very perverted understanding, if he could imagine that, after having advanced all the arguments he could in support of his impressions, he would be perjured in finally acquiescing with the opinions of the majority, and finding a verdict accordingly. He must also observe, that he thought this bill might be a precedent for important amelioration in a part of the English law. In our ecclesiastical courts, the proceedings (which also went on written depositions,) were enormously expensive and dilatory. He hoped that when the attention of the House was called to the advantages of trial by jury in Scotland, they would also see the propriety of a similar mode of trial in many of the cases before our ecclesiastical courts."-The bill was carri¬ ed through parliament with the utmost cordiality and unanimity, and any dif ference of opinion that took place related to subordinate matters of detail. The law, as it now stands, differs from the English law as to jury-trial in several particulars. The Jury Court is not a separate and independent tribunal, but a subsidiary court to the Court of Session, before which all causes must be brought, as formerly. It is only particular questions of fact which are remitted for trial to the Jury Court; and even these questions the judges of the Court of Session have it in their discretion to remit or not to the Jury Court, as they shall think proper. When a question of fact has thus been tried before the Jury Court, the verdict is returned to the Court of Session, who, in the further progress of the cause, proceed upon the fact thus established, in the same manner as if it had been conclusively established by evidence before themselves. Thus the Jury Court is precisely a substitute,
The act of parliament extending the trial by jury in civil causes to Scotland, was passed during the preeent session; a measure which may be considered as by far the most important, and, it is hardly to be doubt ed, the most beneficial alteration on the jurisprudence of Scotland which has taken place for a long course of years. In the discussion on this bill, in the committee of the House of Commons, the following very judicious remarks were made by Sir Samuel Romilly. He said, that " he did not rise to oppose the progress of this bill. He thought, on the contrary, that it was a bill which would confer the most important benefits on Scotland. He could by no means consider it as a mere experiment, but as an immediate remedy for a great practical evil. From his own experience in appeal causes from Scotland, he knew that the greater part of them turned upon mere matters of fact. The mode of trying these questions now in Scotland was enormously expensive as well as dilatory. A case which in England might be disposed of by a jury five or six weeks after the action was brought, was often pending in Scotland for seven or eight years. There was another great advantage, in the trial by jury, that the countenance, the deportment, and tone of voice of the witness, was a sort of living commentary on the value of his testimony. This was an advantage that trials taken upon written depositions could not have. He certainly valued highly the conscientious scruples of those petitioners, who supposed, that after taking the juror's oath, they could not give up their opinion to their fellow
seem to be the case, yet, on a nearer consideration of the matter, the practical effects of the two systems will appear very different. The difference consists in the tendency of the one system, much more than the other, to produce a patient, anxious, and candid investigation of the case before the jury. Where the law expressly declares, that the voice of the majority shall be held to be the verdict of the jury, it may too often be the case that this voice may be collected in a careless and hasty manner. The majority may be swayed by the plausible opinions of one or two individuals who may take a prominent part in the discussion; while others, who may be far from satisfied with the arguments they hear, may content themselves with simply expressing their dissent, holding themselves not responsible for a verdict given by a majority of which they formed no part. It is well known, that many men may form just and sound opinions, and yet have such a disinclination and inaptitude to argue in support of these opinions, that, in ordinary cases, and without some paramount inducement, they will sooner submit to see them overruled than enter into any controversy in vindication of them. Now, it is precisely the legal obligation on juries to give a unanimous verdict which furnishes this paramount inducement on every man who is strongly impressed with the soundness of his own opinion, to communicate this impression to the others. When the verdict must by law be unanimous, every juryman, by his oath, becomes responsible for it to his conscience. But what is the extent of this responsibility? and what is the extent of the obligation thus imposed on him by his oath? Can he expect that eleven other men must inevitably form the same opinion with himself, an expectation which, by the laws of human nature, is plainly chime
and an excellent one, for the old method of taking proofs by commission. Another peculiarity in the new Scotch system is, that, if a jury cannot bring themselves to a state of unanimity in twelve hours, they are dismissed, and a new trial is granted. These modifications of the law of jury trial, as it has been established in England, have been wisely adopted in its first introduction into a country, on whose forms of judicial procedure it has made so great and sudden a change. But, as the inhabitants of Scotland become better acquainted with it, and
ore thoroughly convinced of its many inestimable advantages, it will, in all probability, be gradually more extended in its application, and more completely assimilated to the practice of England.
The provision for dismissing a jury, if they cannot agree unanimously in their verdict in twelve hours, was introduced, in consideration of the scruples of a great number of individuals in Scotland, who apprehend, that it must be often impossible for a jury to give a unanimous verdict without some of the members violating their oath : And this provision has been happily imagined, as it obtains all the advantages of the system of unanimous juries, while it secures to the most conscientious juryman the certainty of not being compelled to concur in a verdict contrary to his own opinion, and, at the same time, avoids the inconveniencies of juries making up their verdicts from a mere majority of votes. An opinion has gone abroad, that, as in the case of unanimous juries, the verdict must be agreed on, in many instances, from an understanding that the minority must yield to the majority, this unanimity is merely fictitious; and that, therefore, it would be better to have it declared at once that the verdict shall be determined by the voice of the majority. But though this may, at first sight,
rical? Or is he obliged to insist, that the whole body of his brethren shall remain in confinement, till the greater number of them are starved into a concurrence in his opinion? If the first of these suppositions is obviously impossible, the second is as obviously unjust; for the individual in question would hardly have so much reason to be at peace with his conscience, after having compelled a number of others by a contest of physical strength to adopt his opinion, which he himself must admit to have been presumptively wrong, as if he had yielded to the united conviction of the greater number, and concurred in an opinion which must have been presumptively right. Still, however, every individual of the jury is responsible for the verdict ; but the responsibility must in reason be limited to this, that every individual shall exert his faculties to the uttermost ; first, in an unremitting attention to the proceedings of the trial, and next, in a most patient and careful examination and discussion of the evidence, in order that he may have it in his power, in the case of the general conviction not being in unison with his own, to say
VOL. VIII. PART I.
to his own conscience, that he has used every means in his power, not only to investigate the case, but to place his views in the clearest light before his brethren. This is plainly all that he could do; and it is hardly to be conceived how any conscience should be so scrupulous as to feel it insufficient. If it it be answered to all this, that a juryman is bound by his oath to deliver his verdict according to his own opinion alone, the reply is, that this is not the case. The meaning of the oath must be taken as interpreted by the law of the land; and that this is not the interpretation of the oath, must be inferred from the very circumstance of the law requiring the verdict to be unanimous. The law cannot demand an impossibility; and therefore, in requiring juries to concur in an unani. mous verdict, it requires merely, that each juryman shall make every possi ble exertion to form a sound opinion himself, and to produce it in others; and that he shall, after having done so, concur in the opinion of the greater number, though it should not be the same with his own,
Proceedings in Parliament on the Bill for Restricting the Importation of Corn.
THE subject which received the greatest share of the attention of parliament this year, was the state of the corn laws. The unexampled distress of the agricultural interest, the ruinous effects of which were now felt by every class of the community, rendered it a matter of paramount importance to endeavour to find some remedy for an evil of such fearful magnitude. It will be recollected, that, in the preceding year, a bill was brought into parliament for protecting the agriculturists by additional restrictions on the importation of corn; but that this bill was not passed. Committees, however, were appointed by both Houses, for the purpose of enquiring into the cause of the agricultural distress, and the means of relieving it. These committees entered into long and laborious investigations, in the course of which they examined a great number of individuals, who, from their situation or pursuits, were supposed to be most qualified to afford useful information; and after these enquiries had been completed, and the reports of both committees had been laid before their respective Houses, Mr Robinson, on 17th February, 1815, brought forward, in a committee of the whole House of Commons, the following resolutions :
1. Resolved, "That it is the opi
nion of this committee, that any sort of foreign corn, meal, or flour, which may by law be imported into the united kingdom, shall at all times be allowed to be brought to the united kingdom and to be warehoused there, without payment of any duty whatever.
2. "That such corn, meal, and flour, so warehoused, may at all times be taken out of the warehouse, and be exported without payment of any duty whatever.
3. "That such corn, meal, or flour, so warehoused, may be taken out of the warehouse, and be entered for home consumption in the united kingdom, without payment of any duty whatever, whenever foreign corn, meal, or flour, of the same sort, shall by law be admissible into the united kingdom for home consumption.
4. "That such foreign corn, meal, or flour, shall be permitted to be imported into the united kingdom, for home consumption, without payment of any duty, whenever the average prices of the several sorts of British corn, made up and published in the manner now by law required, shall be at or above the prices hereafter specified, viz. Per Qr. 80s.
But that, whenever the average prices of British corn shall respectively be below the prices above stated, no foreign corn, or meal, or flour, made from any of the respective sorts of foreign corn above enumerated, shall be allowed to be imported or taken out of warehouse for home consumption, nor shall any foreign flour be at any time importable into Ireland.
5. "That the average prices of the several sorts of British corn, by which the importation of foreign corn, meal, or flour, into the united kingdom is to be regulated and governed, shall continue to be made up and published in the manner now required by law; but that, if it shall hereafter at any time appear that the average prices of British corn, in the six weeks immediately succeeding the 15th February, 15th May, 15th August, and 15th November in each year, shall have fallen below the prices at which foreign corn, meal, or flour, are by law allowed to be imported for home consumption, no such foreign corn, meal, or flour, shall be allowed to be imported into the united kingdom for home consumption, from any place between the rivers Eyder and Garonne, both inclu sive, until a new average shall be made up and published in the London Gazette, for regulating the importation into the united kingdom for the succeeding quarter.
6. "That such corn, meal, or flour, being the produce of any British colony or plantation in North America, as may now by law be imported into the united kingdom, may hereafter be imported for home consumption, without payment of any duty, whenever the average prices of British corn, made up and published as by law required, shall be at or above the prices hereafter specified, viz.
Wheat.......................................................... ......... 67s. Rye, Pease, and Beans...... 44s. Barley, Beer, or Bigg....... 338. Oats......... 22s.
But that, whenever the prices of British corn respectively shall be below the prices above specified, corn, or meal, or flour, made from any of the respective sorts of corn above enumerated, the produce of any British colony or plantation in North America, shall no longer be allowed to be im ported into the united kingdom for home consumption.
7. "That such corn, meal, or flour, the produce of any British colony or plantation in North America, as may now by law be imported into the united kingdom, shall at all times be permitted to be brought there and warehoused, without payment of any duty whatever.
9. "That such corn, meal, or flour, so warehoused, may be taken out of warehouse, and entered for home consumption in the united kingdom, whenever corn, meal, or four, of the like description, imported direct from any such colony or plantation, shall be admissible for home consumption, but not otherwise."
These resolutions were discussed at great length in the committee on the 17th, 22d, and 23d February, when they were agreed to. On the 27th a long debate took place on the question, whether the report of the committee should be brought up, which was carried in the affirmative. On 28th February the resolutions of the committee were agreed to by the House, and leave given to bring in a bill upon these resolutions. On 1st March the bill was accordingly presented by Mr Robinson, and read a first time; and every stage of its progress, till it was passed on the 10th of March, was accompanied by long and animated debates. On the 13th March the bill was brought into the House of Lords, and read a first time. At the same time a motion was made by Earl Grey for a further enquiry into the state of the corn laws, which, after a long discussion, was negatived by a