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*A district attorney (public prosecutor), is elected by the qualified poters of each county, and holds office for three years. He must, as a matter of course, be counsellor of the superior court. This officer is the main agent for putting the whole machinery of the criminal law in operation. If he follows up the case of parties accused of crime with vigour and skill, the guilty are convicted and punished. If he is lax or unskilful in his efforts they go free. If he is easy or indifferent, the worst of criminals give straw bail and escape punishment. If he does not carefully gather up the scattered threads of truth, and skilfully weave them into a web of demonstration, juries either acquit or fail to agree. In a word, our criminal system is good or bad, effective in bringing criminals to justice or otherwise, just in proportion as this officer is alert, energetic and faithful, or drowsy, sluggish and negligent.'—p. 134.
“The district attorney is also generally a politician. He has been indebted for his election to the exertions of many individuals who are not enrolled among the saints. He, in most cases, looks forward to fnture political preferment; and hence he naturally desires to remain on good terms with his old friends; which frame of mind is not altogether propitious to the stern and impartial administration of justice.
• We have often heard it asserted, by men of veracity, that candidates for this office have pledged themselves in advance to deal lightly with certain classes of offences, especially those against the excise laws; and their conduct after election has been exactly what it would have been if the charge were true. We have also been assured that active politicians have usually been dealt with far more leniently than those who were friendless and without influence. In fact, it is asserted by many observing men, that a really active and influential politician cannot be convicted, in some counties, of any crime by any amount of proof that can be adduced.'—p. 150.
The latitude given to the police appears to us most extraordinary :
* By the present system it is in the power of police officers to set persons at liberty without the authority or even the knowledge of the justice or the jailer.'-p. 139.
It must, however, be added, that from the character which is drawn elsewhere of many of the jailers, and even of the Justices, little would really be gained if the acts of the police were under their check. Of the Justices the reporters speak as follows :
• Each town has four justices of the peace, which gives between three and four thousand for the whole State. Formerly the office was coveted by men of standing and position, and was supposed to confer dignity and social elevation upon those who held it. This has long since ceased to be the case.
The office is not now Vol. 122.–No. 243.
sought for, but rather repelled, by men of character and standing. The consequence naturally is that justices of the peace as a class, undoubtedly with many honourable exceptions, are inferior in character, ability, and social rank to the men who formerly served the community in this capacity. It is even alleged, in regard to some, that they seek to promote litigation for the profits which it yields; and that a man's cause is just or otherwise in proportion as he treats them with generosity or the reverse.'--p. 151.
So, also, as regards those who usually hold the office of mayor, the reporters, after speaking of the receivers of stolen goods, and pointing out how essential these are to any extensive system of robbery, and at the same time how well they are generally known, and how easy it would be, under a vigorous application of the criminal law, to seize them and put an end, once for all, to their villanous trade, proceed as follows:
The law, from time immemorial, while it has recognised the utility and even the necessity of pawnbroking and junk-dealing, has at the same time been fully aware of the dangers incident to the traffic; and, in order to interpose a safeguard on behalf of the community has required that none but men of integrity and good principles should exercise those callings. To secure this integrity, it has prohibited all persons who are not approved and licensed for the purpose, from carrying them on. In the city of New York the mayor is the officer charged with the duty of examination and approval of such ; and he alone has power to grant licenses and revoke them. But mayors of all cliques and parties have exercised this power with apparently little sense of the responsibility which rests upon them. They have not, ordinarily at least, required clear proof of the integrity of the applicants; but have usually licensed every applicant possessed of political influence. There is scarcely any instance where they have revoked a license thus granted, even when they have been furnished with proofs of the dishonesty of the holders. The reason of this laxity is quite apparent. Mayors of cities are politicians; and as such they desire to multiply the number of their friends, and extend their influence in order to ensure success when they shall desire a re-election or an advancement to a higher sphere of dignity and emolument. They do not, therefore, study how to discharge their duty as licensers in the best manner for the welfare of society. On the contrary it is too often the case that their anxiety is how not to do it; lest they should thereby stir up powerful enemies, who, being organized and wealthy, will be likely to leave no stone unturned to prevent damage to their fraternity.'--p. 165.
Though the amount of crime and the number of criminals in proportion to the population appear to be much greater and under much more formidable organization in the State of New York than with us, it is very satisfactory to believe that there, as
here, the number of habitual criminals, whether receivers of stolen goods or ordinary thieves, is, after all, abstractedly so moderate, and they are generally so well known, that, with a vigilant police, under able and honest direction, and with right and competent courts to deal efficiently with offenders when caught and convicted, crime would in the main be crushed ; so that people might live without fear and anxiety, and be exposed only to the acts of occasional offenders. But how are such police, such direction, such courts to be obtained where thieves have an organization resembling the Indian Thug system, and many of those who should prevent or punish their depredations are corrupt or intimidated ?
Let it be borne in mind that the evidence we have adduced to show the true condition of the State of New York—evidence in unison with that lately afforded of the special condition of its chief city—is not given by Englishmen but by Americans, Americans, we may say, not moved by party feeling nor yielding to the paltry desire of flattering national vanity; men who fearlessly bring the real facts to view as the necessary though painful preliminary of a reform. And surely those who, instead of echoing a base though popular cry, thus expose themselves to obloquy and malice, are their country's true heroes and benefactors, and eventually their services, though for a time decried except by the enlightened few, will be gratefully acknowledged by the whole people.
But what is to be the cure for the state of things that has been depicted ; a state in which the boasted liberty resolves itself, to a considerable extent, into freedom for thieves and thraldom for honest men; and what moral are we to draw from it on this side of the Atlantic? We honestly believe that the cure can only be found in a retransfer, to those who have property to defend, and who, as a class, have received the best education, entertain the most enlightened views, and have the highest sense of justice, of part of that political power which has been unwisely surrendered; and we maintain that such a course would not only be to the interest of those whom we have just described, but of the whole community. At present the natural order of things in America is, in a large degree, reversed. Instead of the wisest and most virtuous governing the most ignorant and least moral, they are governed by them; and we see the consequence. The small interest in the honest application of Government funds which a poor man possesses as a tax-payer, is, in very many cases, more than counterbalanced, in his eyes at least, by the chance of getting a share of the fund supplied chiefly by those who, comparatively at least, are rich ; or, without dishonest intention, a
man in such circumstances may be swayed by his desire for a war to the cost of which he would have but little to contribute ; or, yet more generally, he becomes the dupe and tool of a designing demagogue who intends to secure for himself the profit to be gained from the poor voter's folly.
In some instances, as in the fearful struggle in Kansas a few years ago, a portion of the people, unable to obtain any approach to justice or even protection from murder, have taken the matter into their own hands, and have inflicted a sharp though illegal remedy. So it was, we believe, at one period at San Francisco; and, in order to guard property from fiscal plunder by the Town Council, a similar proceeding is now said to be threatened at New York. That such things should happen iu newly occupied territories, filled with half savage adventurers, may not perhaps be surprising ; but that they should be possible—even be thought of—at New York, does fill us with amazement.
But whatever course events may take in the United States (and we earnestly desire that it may be happy and successful for the American nation), we may ourselves gather from their experience a lesson which it would be madness to neglect. That lesson is caution in making organic changes : a lesson which, happily for us, falls in with the sedate and practical character of the British people. Would any—the most democratic among us-exchange our regulated freedom for such unchecked license of depredation,-in truth, such a reign of terror as prevails in the rural districts of what may almost be termed the Metropolitan State of the Union ?
ART. V.-1. Relazione intorno alle Condizioni della Provincia di
Palermo, e proposte fatte al Consiglio Provinciale nella tornata del 3 Settembre, 1866, dal Prefetto della Provincia (Luigi
Torelli). Palermo, 1866. 2. I Casi di Palermo. Cenni Storici sugli Avvenimenti di Set
tembre, 1866. Per Giuseppe Ciotti. Palermo, 1866. 3. Official Reports on the Insurrection at Palermo (Sep. 16-22,
1866). By General Cadorna ; the ex-Prefect Torelli ; Marquis Rudini the Sindaco; Pinna the Questor; and other officials, in the “Gazzetta Uffiziale' of Florence, for October
and November, 1866. 4. Anarchia di Palermo e Governo d'Italia. (Unpublished MS.) IN N the middle of September, 1866, the eyes of Italians were
all turned northward, longing for the conclusion of the weary negotiations at Vienna. The irritations and disappointments of the war were gradually subsiding, and, if the old enthusiasm was under the circumstances impossible, still the substantial and immense result was beginning to be appreciated with some quiet satisfaction, and a hope that peace and progress were at length to dawn on Italy free and united. This state of hopeful expectation was startled by an unlooked-for explosion in the rear. On Sunday morning, the 16th of September, the electric wire brought word to Florence that Palermo was in revolt; and shortly afterwards the telegraph ceased to speak.
We propose to sketch this event and its incidents, and then to try to illustrate some of the causes which rendered it possible. In our narrative we can speak with some confidence, having the testimony of those who chanced to be upon the spot, and who were, of course, strongly interested in such a piece of history passing before their eyes. But to trace the causes needs a much more intimate knowledge of Sicilian temper and history, as well as of the recent internal politics of Italy, than foreigners can pretend to; and we shall, therefore, draw largely from the last paper in the heading of this article, which has been placed at our disposal by its author, one whose deepest interests are wrapped up, not only in the prosperity of the kingdom of Italy, but in a most especial degree in the revival and welfare of Sicily, and whose life has been devoted, with no few sacrifices, to these objects.
During the whole summer the power of the local administration to protect life and property in the province of Palermo, at least beyond the walls and immediate suburbs, seemed almost entirely to have ceased ; and this powerlessness was most notable within ten or twelve miles from the city. Gang-robberies in houses and on the highways, murders of police officers and other officials, sequestrations as they are technically called, i. e. the abduction of persons of known means to be held to ransom, attacks upon the mails and other public conveyances, in short, all the indications of that state of endemic outrage which is known by the name of malandrinaggio, a term for which even Ireland, fertile in analogies with Sicily, scarcely affords us an exact equivalent, were of daily occurrence. The enjoyment of a walk or a drive towards the mountains that form the glorious girdle of the city had long ceased to be thought of. Even the welltrodden highway to the Duomo of Monreale, lined by continuous houses for half the distance, was hardly deemed safe ; and the road to the charming Park of the Favorita had been the scene of more than one abduction. It was a curious sight to
seen in those days, a carriage enter one of the northern gates of Palermo preceded and followed by a large