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no offence in which the infliction of to the large amount of fifteen 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 consi. House, 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 fortends, 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 mer- 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 magic 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 ámong 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 had, 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 forthe 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 authoriof 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 in. feeling, 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 thereportation 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 convicconstitute 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 of. for 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 unexRespecting 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 his 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 answernot 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, the Directors had furnished to the feel it also proper to add our opinion, proposers the pecuniary means of formed after an examination of all carrying their ideas into effect. We the projects which have been forhave likewise sought and obtained merly submitted to the Bank for a information as to the state of paper change in the form of their notes, currency in other countries; but this that no one of these could have been has proved of very little importance, adopted with such a prospect of with reference to the object of our solid advantage to the public, as present inquiry. From America, would compensate the evils neces. which affords the closest parallel to sarily attendant upon a change. the state of England in this particu- The invention to which we refer lar, no official return has yet been in the latter part of this report, and received; but we have reason to on which our attention is now printhink, that in several parts of the cipally engaged, was laid before the United States, the crime of forgery Directors a short time previous to is prevalent, and that great efforts the issuing of his Majesty's commisare now making to give to the notession, and so far entertained by them, such a character as may baffle the that they advanced a large sum of skill of the American forger. Spe money to the author. The chief cimens of these improved notes have inerit of this invention consisting in been communicated to us by the the extreme accuracy of the machiagent of the American patentee, and nery requisite, time and application have received our particular atten. are necessary to bring it to such a tion with regard to the practicability state of perfection as appears likely of adopting the invention, in whole to answer the purpose desired. or in part, so as to present a barrier Upon the latter of the two points to the art and skill of the forger in above referred to, we have received this country
from the chief inspector and chief Upon the general subject of the investigator at the Bank, and also extent of forgery, we do not think from the solicitor, accounts of the it necessary to recapitulate state. course pursued in their respective ments which are already before Par. departments.
For which purpose, liament and the public. It appear. we requested the personal attendance ed to us, however, proper to obtain of each of those officers, and entermore particular information as to ed into such an examination of them the course which has been hitherto
as appeared to us to be calculated to pursued by the Bank, both with re- produce the necessary information. spect to the prevention, and with We have also been furnished by the respect to the detection and punish- Bank with the means of judging of ment of the crime. Upon the for- the actual state of forgery, and of mer of these points, we have receiv. the degree of skill which appears sufed from the Directors, in addition to ficient to deceive the public, by the the account before alluded to, clear examination of forged notes of vaand circumstantial details; and it is rious kinds; and even of the tools but common justice to those gentle and instruments used by one forger, men to state, that in every instance which were taken upon him. our inquiries have been met by them Whilst it is painful to observe the in the most prompt and satisfactory degree of talent thus perverted, it is manner, and every sort of useful in. at the same time to be remarked, formation readily furnished. We that in many instances the public