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vately stealing in shops and dwelling- ries, are, he says, desirous of being houses, and in constructive burgla- prosecuted on capital indictments ries.
rather than otherwise. “ The preMr Joseph Harmer, who has prac. sent numerous enactments to take tised for twenty years as a solicitor at away life appear to me wholly inef. the Old Bailey, gave a testimony fectual; but there are punishments which the Committee cannot but ré. which I am convinced a thief would commend to the most serious con- dread, namely, a course of discipline sideration of the House. In the course totally reversing his former babits; of his practice he had confidential idleness is one of the prominent chacommunication with at least 2,000 ca. racteristics of a professed thief--pat pital convicts, and may be presumed him to labour ; debauchery is anoto have as good means of understand- ther quality; abstinence is its oppoing their temptations, their fears, and site---apply it; company they indulge their hopes, as any individual in the in, they ought therefore to experikingdom. He is now much employ- ence solitude: they are accustomed by prosecutors, and from inter.. ed to uncontrolled liberty of action course with them, as well as by for. – I would impose restraint and demer observation of their conduct, has corum. Were these my suggestions the amplest means of knowing the adopted, I have no doubt we should influence which capital punishment find a considerable reduction in the has on their disposition, to aid and number of offenders." He states, enforce the execution of the laws. that “ he has often seen juries reduce The Committee must also add, that the value of things stolen, contrary he appeared to them a man of saga- to clear proof. There is no reluccity, as well as of a conscientious tance to prosecute or convict in his and humane character, whose opi- opinion in murder, arson, burglary nions on this subject are entitled to in its original sense of nocturnal much consideration. Every part of housebreaking, highway robbery, his evidence is so important, that with violence and murderous attacks they find it difficult to select parti- on the person. The thieves observe cular facts as worthy of greater no- the sympathy of the public; it seems tice. He informed the committee, to console them, and they appear less that he knew many instances of per. concerned than those who wilness sons injured by larcenies and forge- their sentence. Certainly the generies, declining to prosecute on ac- ral feeling does not go along with the count of the punishment; that the infliction of death in the case of same consideration strongly disin- crimes unaccompanied by violence; clines many persons to serve as there are very few advocates for the jurors at the Old Bailey, and indu- generality of the present punishces them to bribe the summoning ments ; these punishments rather officer not to summon them; and that tend to excite the public feeling a. he has seen juries influenced, as he gainst the criminal laws.” believes, by the severity of the pu- IV. Much of the above evidence nishment in numerous capital cases, sufficiently establishes the general but especially in forgeries, give ver- disinclination of traders to prosecute dicts of acquittal where the proofs for forgeries on themselves, or to furof the prisoner's guilt were perfectly nish the Bank of England with the clear. Old professed thieves, aware means of conviction, in cases where of the compassionate feelings of ju- forged notes are uttered. There is
no offence in which the infliction of to the large amount of Afteen hundeath seems more repugnant to the dred pounds, where the forger and strong and general and declared sense the uiterer were both in custody, the of the public than forgery; there is prosecution was relinquished merely no other in which there appears to because the offence was capital. Had prevail a greater compassion for the punishment been ever so severe, offender, and more horror at capital short of death, no endeavour would executions.
have been made to save the offenders, In addition to the general evidence in the opinion of Mr E. Forster, above stated, to notorious facts, and more than one half of the private to obvious conclusions of reason, forgeries which are committed, esyour Committee have to state the cape prosecution on account of the testimony of some witnesses of pe- severity of the law : he added an exculiar weight, on the subject of for. ample of the like sentiments, in the gery,
offence of stealing in a dwellingMr John Smith, a member of the house, which the Committee consiHouse, and banker in London, stated, der as remarkable, because it occurthat he knew instances where prose- red in the officers of a public institucutions for private forgeries were re- tion, who usually allow themselves linquished on account of the punish. to be less influenced by their feelings ment, and had no doubt that if the than individuals : a committee of a punishment was less, prosecutions public institution, whose house had would have taken place.
been robbed, would not engage in Mr Barnett, also a member of the the prosecution unless the goods House, and a banker in London, is of were valued under forty shillings. opinion, that capital punishment goes In this committee were persons of extremely to discourage prosecutions respectable condition in almost all in forgery; he knows many instances the occupations which are most liable of this, scarcely a year passed with. to loss by forgeries and thefts. out something of the kind; he is of Mr Fry, a banker in London, menopinion that the majority of private tioned four cases of prosecution for forgeries pass unpunished, on ac- forgery which were prevented by the count of the severity of the punish- capital punishment, in one of which ment. The punishment of death the party injured swallowed the før. tends, in his opinion, to prevent pro- ged note, that he might not be comsecution, and to increase the crime. pelled to prosecute. Mr Fry expli- .
Mr J. F. Forster, a Russia mere citly stated, what is indeed implied chant, and Mr E. Forster, a banker in the evidence of the preceding witin London, gave some remarkable nesses, that, as a banker, he should examples of the repugnance to pro- consider his property as much more secute in forgery. In one, by the secure if the punishment of forgery connivance of the prosecutor, a per- were mitigated to such a degree
that son who was introduced to the magi- the law against that offence would be strate as a friend of the prisoner's generally enforced ; in nine cases desired to see the forged check, out of ten of forgery which he has snatched it away, and threw it into known, there has been an indisposithe fire-a mode of avoiding pro- tion to prosecute. secution, which, from other parts of Dr Lushington declared that he the evidence, does not seem to be knew, that in the minds of many peruncommon. In another, a forgery sons there is a strong indisposition
to prosecute, on account of the se. ther capital felony; and again the verity of the punishment ; and that severity of the law appears to have he had heard from the mouths of been her protection. prosecutors themselves, who have Mr Daniel Gurney, a banker in prosecuted for capital offences, where the county of Norfolk, declared his there was a danger of the persons own reluctance, and had observed being executed, the greatest regret a similar reluctance among many that they had so done ; and many bankers and traders in the country times they have expressed a wish, to prosecute in cases of forgery, in that had they been able to have fore. consequence of the severity of the seen the consequences, they would law. The dread of being instrumennever have resorted to the laws of tal in inflicting death bad, with himtheir country. He also related the self, and to his knowledge with case of a servant who committed a others, operated as a protection to robbery upon him : the man was ap- the criminal. In illustration of his prehended, and his guilt was clear; sentiments, he mentioned the case but Dr Lushington " refused to pro- of a man who was in the habit of secute, for no other reason than that committing forgery, " and was not he could not induce himself to run prosecuted in consequence of the the risk of taking away the life of a capital punishment." Mr Gurney man."
considers that “ his property as a Mr Charles Attwood, a manufac. banker would be more secure, if the turer of window-glass at Newcastle, punishment were not so severe, beand a seller of window-glass in Lon- cause there would be more inclinadon, had observed a very consider- tion to prosecute.” He also sugable indisposition to prosecute in gested, that if in every town of sufcapital cases among the traders officient importance, an agent was inLondon generally : and conceives vested with full authority from the that this reluctance would abate, if Bank of England, to stamp the for. the punishment were mitigated to ged notes that were presented to something less than death.
him, it would be a considerable Mr Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, a bro- check to their circulation. In this ker to the bank, and to merchants, opinion Mr William Birkbeck, a whose experience in the transactions banker in the West Riding of York, of bankers is very extensive, enter. fully concurred; conceiving that if tains no doubt, that the punishment an agent of this kind were authori. of death has a tendency generally sed to put a mark upon such notes, to prevent prosecution, and thinks indicating that they were forged, it that evidence to that effect might be would probably throw them back on discovered in hundreds of instances. the original issuer so early, as to A servant of his own committed a show him the futility of attempting very aggravated forgery upon him. to issue others of a similar descripShe confessed her guilt to the ma. tion. gistrates before whom she was taken; Your Committee cannot but conbut it appearing that if she was pro- sider the suggestion made by these secuted at all, it must be capitally, respectable gentlemen as well meritMr Goldsmid declined all further ing attention. proceeding, and she was liberated. After due consideration of this In the next family in which she be important question, your Committee came a servant, she committed ano. are of opinion, that forgeries are a
class of offences respecting which it notes has been found by experience is expedient to bring together and to be in the highest degree difficult, methodize the laws now in being. your Committee consider the sugThat in the present state of public gestion of the commissioners for infeeling, a reduction of the punish. quiring into the means of preventing ment, in most cases of that crime, is forgeries, of offering an unusually become necessary to the execution large reward for the detection of forof the laws, and consequently to the geries, as worthy of serious considerasecurity of property and the protec- tion: to such rewards in general, the tion of commerce; and that the Committee feel an insuperable objecmeans adopted by the Legislature to tion. In the case of forgery there are return to our ancient standard of va- circumstances which considerably lue render the reformation of the weaken the objection. No jury could criminal laws respecting forgeries a convict in such a case on the mere matter of very considerable ur- evidence of an informer, unsupportgency. Private forgeries will, in ed by the discovery of those materials, the opinion of the Committee, be implements, and establishments nesufficiently and most effectually re- cessary for carrying on the criminal pressed by the punishments of trans. system. The reward would there. portation and imprisonment. As fore have little tendency to endanger long as the smaller notes of the innocent men by false accusation. Bank of England shall continue to The evidence on which the convice constitute the principal part of the tion would rest must be of a sort circulating medium of the kingdom, which can hardly deceive. The init may be reasonable to place them former would only furnish the key, on the same footing with the metallic by which the means of evidence currency; your Committee there would be found ; the reward would fore propose that the forgery of rather be for detection than for conthese notes may for the present re.
viction. main a capital offence; that the ut- There are several points on which tering of forged bank notes shall, your Committee are desirous of offor the first offence, be transporta. fering some observation to the house: tion or imprisonment; but that, on two of these are of great importance : the second conviction, the offender the first relates to the best means of shall be deemed to be a common ut- enabling judges to pronounce senterer of forged notes, and shall, if tence of death only in those cases the prosecutor shall so desire, be in. where they think it probable that dicted as such, which will render death will be inflicted; the second, him liable to capital punishment whether the establishment of unex. Respecting the offence of knowingly pensive and accessible jurisdictions, possessing forged notes, your Com- for the trial of small offences, with mittee have no alteration to suggest, the help of juries, but with simple but what they conceive would be fit forms of proceeding and corrective to all transportable offences, that a punishments, might not be a means discretion should be vested in the of checking the first steps towards Judges to substitute imprisonment criminality. These and other parts with hard labour for transportation, of this great subject, the Committee where such a substitution shall seem hope that the house will allow them to them expedient. As the disco- another opportunity to consider, by very of the actual forgers of bank permitting them, in the next session,
VOL. XII. PART II.
to resume, and, if possible, to com- whole course of the investigation. plete their inquiries.
Your Committee will conclude by inThe Committee consider them- forming the house, that in pursuance selves as bound to express their gra- of the various opinions and recomtitude to Mr Evans, the learned and mendations which they have stated most meritorious Vice-Chancellor of above, they have instructed their the County Palatine of Lancaster ; chairman, early in the next session to Mr Long, a respectable barrister; of Parliament, to move for leave to and to Mr Jameson, a young gentle. bring in bills, for the objects and man employed in the study of the purposes of which this report is inlaw, for the liberal and useful aid tended to explain the nature, and to which they have afforded during the prove the fitness.
OF THE COMMISSIONERS APPOINTED FOR INQUIRING INTO THE MODE OF PRE
VENTING THE FORGERY OF BANK•NOTES,
To bis Royal Highness George, larly classed and arranged; together Prince of Wales, Regent of the Uni. with the correspondence respecting ted Kingdom of Great Britain and them, a statement of the trials to Ireland.
which they had been subjected, and In obedience to the directions specimens of the proposed originals, contained in his Majesty's Commis- and of the imitations executed by sion, we proceeded, in the latter end order of the Bank. They also laid of the month of July last, to consider before us about seventy varieties of the important subject referred to us. paper made at their manufactory in
Our attention was first directed to experiments for its improvement, in the proposals for improvement in which almost every alteration recomthe form of the notes issued by the mended for adoption had been tried, Bank of England; and it being and, in some instances, anticipated known that many plans had been sub. by their own manufacturer. mitted to that body which they had We have also received and answer not thought it expedient to adopt, ed communications from about sewe felt it proper, in the first instance, venty individuals, which have been to obtain correct information upon arranged and considered; and in this point ; and we, therefore, re- some cases, a personal interview has quested the Court of Directors to been requested and held. Several furnish us with an account of such of these persons had been previously plans. They did accordingly fur- in communication with the Bank'; nish us, without delay, with a de- and we find, that in the instance of tailed account of 108 projects, regu- some projects of superior promise,