« AnteriorContinuar »
If neither of the above plans appear eligible, it is at least hoped that no plan will be adopted for unnaturally forcing the Market price of Bullion to the Mint price. If the Market price ever descends naturally, by the ordinary course of events, to the Mint price, and there continues, the plans suggested admit the due operation of such a state of the market as of every other. But any forced system will soon break. Let the circulation be limited by real demand, not by legislative violence. A forced restriction of currency is as much against the natural order of things as a forced issue. The latter leads to depreciation and discredit : 'the former to stagnation and non-production.
If there is still a strong predilection for our former system, let us at least give sufficient time for the experiment to be tried, whether the ordinary process of events will bring things round in such a manner as that the system will, as it were, resume itself. But making use of Parliamentary force to bring about any system, against the natural tendency of affairs, savors too much of the obstinacy of prejudice; and when it is considered that all our manufacturing and commercial investments, speculations and transactions have been formed upon the presumption of the continuance of an extensive circulation, and of great pecuniary accommodations, might it not be deemed something like a gratuitons breach of faith, if all the valuable concerns of a most important class of individuals were sacrificed to the support of a sophism, and the best interests of the nation endangered, in order to conjure a commodity into a Coin, and to transform a perpetual fluctuation into an invariable standard.
Perhaps from the variety of opinions and prejudices public and recorded, and from the supposed difficulties on the subject of currencies, by which the ablest men have been sometimes puzzled and perplexed, it may easy to obtain
any early decision, as to what shall be the final system, in which the country
is to repose. It is hoped, however, that the public mind be satisfied upon one point, that the Parliament does not mean to act by arbitrary force ; that it will not cramp circulation, merely to lower the market price of Gold: but let the Bank be desired to act with the same unfettered discretion, as hitherto, so that the merchant
may driven to bankruptcy by a false theory. Let the public mind be
Let it feel assured, that the protecting and fostering hand of Parliament will aid and encourage the genuine speculations of commercial and manufacturing ingenuity, and that the same accommodations will be continued to uphold, as were supplied to induce the investment of capital. Till such an assurance be made, all efforts must be contracted, all exertions paralysed, confidence must shrink, and general prosperity languish.
set at rest.
ADMIRAL SIR ISAAC COFFIN, BART. M.P.
INADEQUACY OF COURTS MARTIAL
IN THEIR PRESENT FORM,
PURPOSES OF JUSTICE.
BY AN OFFICER.
When the mutiny bill for the present year was before parliament, you justly reprobated the practice of delay in promulgating the judgment of courts martial. This practice is doubtless in itself a serious evil : but it is one amongst others of far greater magnitude. It is of little consequence how long sentence is concealed, where few hopes of justice can be indulged. As your attention has evidently been directed to the subject, I shall make no apology for here addressing to you some observations on the constitution of the military tribunals of Great Britain.
I can scarcely suppose that the more glaring defects of the system have escaped your notice, though you chose only to touch upon a minor inconvenience. There are, indeed, few professional men of either service who understand the least of military law, and who do not condemn the administration of it: but the public have not the same opportunities of information, and for them do I chiefly intend an attempt, to expose the total inadequacy of courts martial in their present form, to purposes of justice...
Military law is intended for the cognisance of offences in the service, which are of too much importar.ce to be left to the uncontrolled judgment of individuals, whatever be their rank. It should give redress to the oppressed, as well as punishment to the guilty: and in proportion as the rights of the citizen are laid aside by the necessity of submission to military authority, should the abuse of
that power be watched over with jealousy, and met with severily. Where command is so likely to lead to tyranny, there should be afforded a ready appeal against it. The punishment of frivolous complaints will always be sufficient to prevent their frequency, but unless the court, to which a case of injury is referred, be so composed as to promise redress, oppression will ever be triumphant.
There are occasions too where courts martial are the only guards of reputation and personal honor : where there is placed in their hands something dearer to the soldier than life. The enthusiastic spirit with which a youth enters the service, the high hopes and dreams of preferinent, are soon chilled in the pursuit of a profession fruitful in disappointment; but when these feelings are gore, there is
yet left the same early jealousy of character which a breath may tarnish, and which to question, is almost to destroy. Reputation is the officer's only possession; his existence as a soldier, his happiness as a man are staked upon it. How then should it be guarded ? Should he not be enabled to turn with proud confidence from detraction or suspicion, to the ordeal of a court martial ? Should it not be such a tribunal as will assure him that no power or influence can bias its decision to his ruin? I will prove that wherever oppression is to be defended or character destroyed, wherever the weight of rank and authority is against the accused, the present construction of our military courts renders them a frightful engine for the support and justification of misrule. To do this it will only be necessary to state the composition of a general court martial, and to show how susceptible, by the form of trial, every part of it is, of being turned to the worst of purposes.
A general court martial is composed of a president, not less than twelve members, and a judge advocate, usually, and always in cases of importance, a legal character. As he is, though without a declared voice in their decision, unquestionably the person of most consequence in the court, let me first describe his func. tions and duties. Military men are supposed not to be very deeply versed in questions of jurisprudence: he is therefore to direct the court on all occasions of law, evidence, practice, or precedent, and he has the privilege, if they do not receive his advice, of entering a protest on the minutes against their opinion. When a disputed point of procedure is to be determined, the court is cleared : that is, the prisoner and strangers are removed. The judge advocate, who is prosecutor whenever the charges are brought by authority, is then left, with whatever stock of legal sophistry he may happen to possess, to persuade the court at his leisure. He also himself -pleads against the prisoner, who may not reply, or examine witnesses by counsel: and he is permitted