Imágenes de páginas

There is the source of a power, which flows forth to the ends of the earth. That power is acknowledged from the presidencies of Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta, to the banks of the Indus, by Mahommedan and Hindoo races and princedoms of the east. It rules over the liberated negroes of Africa and the West Indies, and the free settlers of the fine provinces of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, in the American continent. It has military and commercial stations, and colonial settlements, at Gibraltar, Malta, and the Ionian islands, in the Mediterranean and the Levant, at St. Helena, at the Falkland isles, near remote Cape Horn, at Halifax and Bermuda, on both extremities of the North American coast, on the shores of New Holland, Van Dieman's Land, New Zealand, at Ceylon, Penang, Singapore, Malacca, and on the coasts and rivers of the formerly inaccessible Chinese empire.

In manufacturing industry Great Britain is unequalled; on her prosperity depends that of the commercial world; her reverses are felt, as when the sun withdraws its beams, and the clouds withhold their moisture. For what harbour is unvisited by her feets, what mart is not supplied by her merchandise ? In her wide dominions there is not a slave; and it is her noble and beneficent policy to give liberty to the captive, and a refuge to the oppressed.

In the loftiest and most useful discoveries of art and science, in sound learning and elegant literature, in refinement of manners, in all that enlightens and humanizes mankind, our country is eminently and happily distinguished. She has been the honoured instrument of circulating the holy scriptures, that the nations may read in their own tongues the wonderful works of God; and on savage shores, before unvisited by the enterprising merchant, the more enterprising missionary of the gospel has prepared his way.

When was such extensive authority so tempered with justice and mercy ? when was so great power in the ruler, combined with so much liberty in the subject ?

From this island throne, Britons can look forth to the far limits of an empire, greater than that which the eastern monarch surveyed from the palace of his Babylon. Let us not be unmindful of its humbled origin, and its gradual advancement, through many a doubtful struggle and arduous conflict; let us not forget our national transgressions and unnumbered mercies; nor behold our country's present grandeur and exaltation with presumptuous pride, lest the sentence should go forth against her, “The kingdom is departed from thee !" "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches : but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness and righteousness in the earth.”

If pride, luxury, vice, irreligion—if rebellious discontent and insubordination prey upon the vitals of a state, its dismemberment will speedily follow. Thus other nations have fallen from the summit of their power and glory; and the mightiest kingdom must avoid their errors, in order to escape their doom. Conqueror—Civilizer - Liberator — Evangelist — our Country! may the King of kings defend thee!



Judicial institutions of England adopted by the Americans

Juries—Independence of judges—The supreme court of the United States — Can the religious instruction of a country be adequately provided for without an established church ?-Illustrations from England and America.

In the two former lectures, the legislative assemblies and the executive power of England and of America have come under review; and we have next to consider the administration of justice in both countries. But as the admirable judicial institutions and the laws of England have been adopted by the Americans, with little alteration, this part of the subject will not detain us long.

The most striking and essential feature of the administration of justice in England, is its entire separation from the legislative and executive powers of the state. The combination of the judicial power with either of them is fatal to liberty, and constitutes those forms of tyranny which, in various degrees, exist elsewhere. We hear and we read of secret accusations, dropped into the lion's mouth at Venice, by some hidden blood-thirsty foe; of the dungeons of that city; of the inquisition and the bastile; of the revolutionary guillotine, the Russian knout, the Turkish bowstring, and the slave driver's lash, as things horrible, most strange, and inconceivable to ourselves. For in these happy islands, stealthy deliberation on the doom of untried innocence is unknown, the oppressor's wrong seldom goes unpunished, and justice is glorious in her purity, open as the day, and unconfined as the air of heaven. It has been observed that the grand object of the whole machinery of our constitution is to uphold, in their integrity and independence, the courts of law at Westminster; and conversely it may be said, that the constitution owes its preservation to the perfection of our judicial system. It is sufficient to advert to the well known safeguards, by which every man guiltless of crimes is enabled to walk abroad in conscious freedom and security, and not only to view the court of justice and the gaol without dismay, but to hail them as bulwarks of his own and his country's liberty,—a terror only to evil doers, the protection of those that do well. In England a man may not be arrested and imprisoned without the warrant of a magistrate, and if wrongfully imprisoned he will obtain complete redress. If honest and respectable, he may always procure bail. The Habeas Corpus act prevents long and oppressive detention in prison. The grand jury must find a true bill against the accused party, before he can be tried ; and trial by jury and the independence of the judges secure the acquittal of the innocent. All our judicial institutions and proceedings incline in favour of the accused; and although for this reason not a few of the guilty may escape merited punishment, we gladly tolerate an inevitable imperfection, which proves how carefully the laws protect all those that honestly obey them.

Trial by jury affords us the same kind of protection in questions affecting property, that it does regarding

liberty and life, with this important and valuable difference, that whereas the acquittal of a jury absolves a man for ever from the same criminal charge; in civil cases, the judge may refuse to receive an erroneous verdict, and may order a new trial, when the substantial ends of justice require it.

One of the finest spectacles which our country affords is an intelligent jury, chosen by the regular forms of law, that are necessary to secure strict impartiality, and taking their seats, bound by the sacred solemnity of an oath, to judge in their neighbours' cause as they would themselves be judged. No other institution is better calculated not only to maintain order, equity, freedom, and right, but also to diffuse the knowledge and to inspire the love of these great principles.

So deservedly dear, to Englishmen, are these admirable institutions, that, wheresoever their descendants have settled in foreign lands, they have been carefully established and preserved. We have only, therefore, to note a few points in comparing the administration of justice in England and the United States.

“In America,” says M. De Tocqueville, “ all the citizens, who exercise the elective franchise, have the right of serving upon a jury. The great state of New York, however, has made a slight difference between the two privileges, but in a spirit quite contrary to that of the laws of France, for, in the state of New York, there are fewer persons eligible as jurymen than there are electors. It may be said in general, that the right of forming part of a jury, like the right of electing representatives, is open to all the citizens; the exercise of this right, however, is not put indiscriminately into any hands. Every year a body of municipal or county magistrates,-called select men, in New England; supervisors, in New York; trustees, in Ohio; and sheriffs of the parish, in Louisiana,-choose for each

« AnteriorContinuar »