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winked by our fears ; and not only endure, but implore, & change, which will entail upon us far worse and more intolerable evils, than any mischiefs which it pretends to cure. The police of London may be corrected in its details: a greater degree of celerity and vigour may be infused into its executive branches; but the man, who talks of the complete prevention of crime, as an object within our reach, either is a fool, or would be the worst of tyrants, if he had the opportunity. The only true preventive police, calculated for the meridian of England, is an improvement in the habits of the people.

Our notion may be unpopular; but it appears to us, that the police of the metropolis is at this moment fully as preventive as it ought to be. It is the tritest of axioms that power is above all things susceptible of abuse; and, that the lower the rank of the persons who are intrusted with power, the greater is the chance of its being abused. The love of power is natural to man; and, unlike another kind of love, it grows and strengthens with the possession of the object. It really requires some portion of education and philosophy and strength of mind, to bear the being invested with authority without imbibing the insolence of office. Any thing in the shape of sway or control usually spoils, corrupts, and intoxicates the lower orders of the community. Their heads are turned by the feeling of their importance; they are always overstepping the limits of their duty ; they are too fond of their authority, and too proud of it, not to exert it on every possible occasion without discretion and without mercy. By way of illustration, we would merely specify the beadles and watchmen of a parish, whose occupation, according to Mr. Mainwaring, has long been “ the pis aller of society." They have already some preventive power; and they are in the common habit of using it indiscriminately, harshly, and oppressively. Allow them more, and the inferior officers of the police would be nuisances less to be endured than the same number of pickpockets.

A thousand ludicrous but vexatious instances have occurred within our personal experience. For, unfortunately we have some of us been young men upon the town. But we shall only mention the particular circumstance which has induced us to put pen to påper upon

this subject. It is stated in the public journals that twentyfive women and two men were apprehended a few nights ago by the Bow-street patrol for walking in the streets. Now, if one thing can be clearer than another, it is the right of every individual in the British dominions to walk in the streets at any hour of the day or night. But the Bow-street patrol wished, as we will charitably suppose, to prevent a breach of the peace; they could not swear that the unfortunate women were disorderly, but thought that they might be disorderly if they walked about much longer. The magistrate, it is true, discharged the prisoners, reprimanded the officers who had apprehended them, and strongly advised them to be more cautious for the future. In a word, the magistrate did his duty. But is this enough? Is it any recompense to the persons apprehended? Is it nothing to be seized in the public streets, and dragged before a magistrate for enjoying the first privilege of nature, and making use of one's own limbs ? One of the women was a mother waiting for her son. Here is a slight specimen of what might be expected from the complete establishment of a preventive system of police. Any man or any woman might be apprehended on suspicion, if the officer imagined that he could extort money from his victiin, or fraudulently obtain it from the magistrates of the district. We fearlessly assert then, as the general principle, that in a free country nothing is a fit subject for the interference of the police but an actual breach of the peace, an actual offence against the law of the land. We must either consent to resign our superiority in freedom, or run the risk of a few more broils and affrays, and sallies of riotous intemperance, and even a little more unrepressed disorder, and unprevented crime.

But we mention this circumstance on another account. It appears that by the late police act a reward of five shillings is given to the patrol upon the conviction of every disorderly person whom they apprehend. The enactment, we confess, has occasioned us both pain and surprise. We had frequently hoped that the whole system was abolished ; that no remnant, no vestige of it would be allowed to disgrace the police of the metropolis and the legislature of the country ; that the monster was dead, and would not be suffered to revive in any shape whatever, -not even with diminished size, and dwindled powers of doing mischief. We had hoped that there would be no recurrence to a savage, unjust, and unconstitutional principle; no inducement held out to the most atrocious conspiracies and the blackest perjuries. Who can forget the forty pounds which went emphatically by the name of “ blood-money," or the dreadful crimes which the practice of allowing it to the officers engendered? or the sensation which was made, and the outcry which was raised, from one end of the kingdom to the other? Who can forget that the agents of the police first inveigled some unhappy and half-starved Irishmen into the involuntary commission of a forgery, and then with a frightful daringness of iniquity attempted to swear away their lives, that they might revel in “ the price of blood.” These things have passed away; but they must not, cannot, be forgotten. It is no longer the interest of the Bow-street officer to connive at petty offences, rather than to detect them; to watch over the incipient felon ; to assist him in every stage of his progress to the gallows ; to laugh at his first essays in crime; to foster his profligate propensities ; at once to accelerate and expect the full maturity of his villany; to treat the vicious mind of the juvenile depredator as a hot-house fruit ; to force it forward by heating and inflaming it; to nurse it with a devilish care: to add every artificial stimulus suggested by a terrible experience; to wait till its iniquities are ripe, and worth the trouble of being gathered ;-and Heaven forbid that the land should again be darkened by the shadow of such horrors! Yet this foolish allowance of five shillings is an imp of the same brood. The patrol are to have the money for the apprehension of every person whom they choose to call dissolute, and to consider as walking about at an improper time or in an improper manner. The evil, to be sure, is not of its former magnitude ; but the principle is the

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same. There is only the one hundred and sixtieth part of the temptation ;-but there will be far less than the one hundred and sixtieth part of the scruple. There are many more officers who would swear that a man was disorderly for the sake of five shillings, than that he was guilty of a capital offence for the consideration of forty pounds. They who would recoil from the thought of having an innocent fellow-creature executed upon their evidence, might only smile at his being committed to Bridewell for a month. The act must be altered. Englishmen must not allow a premium to be given for false swearing and petty despotism.

The excuse will be, that without such a practice the officers have not a sufficient inducement to do their duty. Then they ought to have. They are inadequately paid. Then let their stipend be enlarged; let a more liberal salary be allowed. If they deserve it, they should be wel. come to it. It is better for the community to pay with their purse than suffer in their persons. The finishing blow must be struck. Every statute must be repealed which offers a specific reward on the conviction of a criminal. Let the regular allowance of the agents of the police be sufficient for their regular services :-sufficient for the fatigue and trouble and hazard of their employment, sufficient to ensure in the occupation men of spirit, activity, intelligence and honesty. For extraordinary services, let there be an extraordinary remuneration. Let it continue to be in the power of the Secretary of State to assign a proper and handsome recompense for any particularly meritorious conduct, any particularly successful exertion of the civil officer. On the other hand, let any neglect or transgression of duty be visited with immediate punishment. Let the patrol be removeable at the pleasure of the superior magistrates. These regulations are very simple and very easy ; their utility is very generally acknowledged ; they are now partly in force ; and with them there can be no earthly necessity, no colourable pretence for a donation of either forty pounds or five shillings upon the apprehension or conviction of an offender.

But we have promised our readers to abstain from en

tering upon the wide field of observations, which is opened to us by the various departments and general organization of the police. We rather refer them at this moment to Reports, Reviews, and Pamphlets, and to a sensible article in a late publication, called “ The Inquirer,” which concludes with the following citation from the Police Report of 1818. “The police of a free country is to be found in rational and humane laws; in an effective and enlightened magistracy; and in the judicious and proper selection of those officers of justice, in whose hands, as conservators of the peace, executive duties are legally placed ; but, above all, in the moral habits and opinions of the people. And in proportion as these approximate towards a state of perfection, so that people may rest in security ; and though their property may be occasionally invaded, or their lives endangered by the hands of wicked and desperate individuals, yet the institutions of the country being sound, its laws well administered, and justice executed towards offenders, no greater safeguard can be obtained without sacrificing all those rights which society was intended to preserve." This is good sense, and constitutional doctrine, though somewhat encumbered and obscured by the verbiage of the style in which it is clothed. What we have written, is written in conformity with its spirit. We wish to caution our countrymen against a disguised inroad upon their first, and dearest, and most inherent privileges. We would not hear well-disposed, but timid, people cry out for a preventive police without understanding what they mean. The system, although it may not be wrong, is preventive enough in all conscience, when poor, shelterless persons may be apprehended for sleeping and even walking in the streets.

Our motives for making these remarks may be easily misreprsented; but they, who will read them with attention, and observe their general tenor, must perceive that we are no enemies of reformation ; 'no advocates of license and disorder ; but simply anxious to prevent the enthusiastic, the misguided and the fearful, from indulging in golden visions of unattainable security, and to preserve sound English constitutional views upon a question of vital importance to our personal freedom.

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