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for the protection of game, under which one third of the commitments (we believe, though we are quoting from memory) were made. On this occasion the honourable baronet, cordially supported by a few of the more independent of his brothermagistrates, so effectually denounced the flagrant injustice of saddling the county with the expense of building and maintaining one-third of the jail, for the purpose of protecting the amusements of a handful of landlords, that the question of the said enlargement was postponed.
In an adjoining county we have the following cases reported, which occurred within a week of the time at which we are now writing.
At the Aylesbury Petty Sessions, Emanuel Priest was convicted of having set a snare in a hare's run, on the preserve of Sir J. D. King, Bart., at Helston. He was committed to prison for seven days, in default of the payment of one shilling fine and nineteen shillings costs. William Jeffkins was committed to prison for ten days in default of the payment of two shillings and sixpence fine and twenty shillings costs, for having trespassed in pursuit of game on the preserve of the above gentleman.
We have before us the report of a still more offensive and equally' recent occurrence; we copy it from the Liverpool Mercury.
On Saturday last, Thomas Edge, of Hoskar Moss, and three other young farm labourers, appeared before the Rev. Joshua Thomas Horton, clerk, in the public-house justice-room, to answer a charge of trespass preferred against him by Lord Skelmersdale, father-in-law to Lord Stanley, one of her Majesty's principal secretaries of state. It appears that the young men had obtained permission of Thomas Morris, Esq. to have a day's ferreting for rabbits, as a sort of Christmas gift on his lands near Hosker Moss in Latham, and in the course of the day they inadvertently walked into a field adjoining the one of Mr. Morris's, belonging to his lordship, erroneously supposing it at the same time to belong to the former gentleman. They were seen by his lordship's gamekeeper, who informed them they were trespassing, when they immediately retired, expressing their regret to the keeper, and telling him that the trespass was not committed knowingly. The damage done to the herbage of the field does not amount to more than half a farthing, rated at the very highest. The gamekeeper appeared to support the information, and the reverend magistrate convicted the parties in damages of forty shillings each and costs, and inflicted an additional fine of eight pounds.
It is impossible to believe that the humane and christian public will longer tolerate such scandalous injustice as this, and
insa nuount the game magistrand cos
we trust that the feeling which the daily publication of such cases excites, will lead not only to the abolition of the existing game-laws, but to such an examination of our present system of magisterial judicature as shall purge the commission of the petty despots who at present disgrace the bench (and especially of the clergy), and rescue the most unprotected classes of society from the multiplied but unnoticed wrongs which they daily suffer from the cruel despotism of the squire and the stolid bitterness of the parson.
The ninth parliamentary report on prison discipline lately published, contains some equally impressive evidence on the mischievous tendencies of the Game-laws.
"At the House of Correction for Norfolk, the Inspector found the youngest offender against the Game Laws' he had seen, a boy of eleven years of age, who was summarily convicted with his brother, aged thirteen, for using a certain engine called a snare, for the purpose of taking game, not having a game certificate.' The experience drawn from witnessing the utter inefficacy of the numerous convictions for offences against the Game-laws, induces Captain Williams, in reporting specially to the Home Secretary, to say, that
however severe in physical restraints, or powerful in moral influence, prison discipline may be, it signally fails in producing any salutary impression upon offenders convicted of infractions of the law enacted for the preservation of Game. These men, when undergoing imprisonment, appear possessed with the idea that these laws are more harshly and inflexibly administered than other cases of a more serious character; and that the punishments awarded are unequal, disproportionate, and unjust.'
I have frequently endeavoured,' says the Chaplain of the House of Correction at Northallerton (for the North Riding of Yorkshire), but quite in vain, to persuade prisoners convicted of poaching, that they offend God in breaking the laws of their country. They answer—the law is oppressive, and they have as much right to the game as others. The man's neighbours, too, second him in this feeling when discharged; they receive him as usual, saying, "Tom, you have been in prison, it is true, but not for stealing, or felony.' A man loses no caste by having committed an offence against the Game-laws, but when discharged, goes into the society of his fellowmen quite as usual.
• The Chaplain of the Beccles House of Correction for the county of Suffolk, says— It is difficult to impress the prisoners with an idea that poaching is a crime; I endeavour, therefore, to impress them with an idea that it is injurious to their temporal welfare, by setting the higher orders against them, as placing obstacles in the way of their getting employment. I have frequently heard them say, 'I shall never follow poaching if I can get employment;' and this has been uttered by men of whom I have had the best opinion, but I could never get one to go farther than in promising
conditionally to give up the pursuit. I have frequently heard them make comparisons between the punishments for game and for felony. They also say it is better to do this than go into the Union. “At Kendal, the Chaplain of the House of Correction for the county of Westmorland, says—“There are frequent commitments here for poaching, or rather illegal fishing, chiefly from Kirby Lonsdale; the Lime being a great fishing river. One reason for taking salmon out of season is, the roe being greatly prized as a bait for trout and char. I cannot, with all my endeavour to do so, persuade them it is a crime; they answer, “It is no crime against God, if it be against man.’ “In like manner the Chaplain at the Carlisle County Gaol remarks, that ‘it is quite hopeless to impress poachers with the feeling that they are guilty of a crime. They say, ‘the birds of the air, and the fishes of the water are everybody's property.' They go out of gaol under the same impressions, only to return. “And in the journal of the Chaplain to the Knutsford House of Correction for Cheshire, the following passage occurs:—‘Admonished, but to little purpose, two poachers on their discharge. The great difficulty with such cases is to persuade them that wild fowl can, or ought to be considered a property.”
Nor is this feeling confined to game-law culprits. It prevails universally throughout the country, and obtains more or less the sympathy of all who have not a direct interest in the perpetuation of the injustice. Most truly does a recent and very sensible writer on this subject observe that—
“If a farmer, pestered with hares, were to shoot one in his fields, and carry it home for dinner, though the law might punish that farmer, his character would not suffer, except with game-preserving landlords. But let a farmer shoot a neighbour's sheep which may chance to have strayed into his fields, and carry home the mutton for domestic use, and such farmer will at once be set down as a thief—a sheep-stealer. In the one case, he is looked upon as a sufferer—in the other, as a dishonest, dishonoured, and irretrievablydegraded man.
“It would probably be found, on an appeal to the public, that there is no indisposition to recognise a property in game, in a modified sense; and that a strong aversion would in fact be entertained to having the breed of wild animals exterminated—as they would be were hordes of idle and dissolute characters allowed to roam unchecked over the country. But the preservation of pheasants and partridges may be bought too dear. And such has been the case. Blood has been shed like water; hundreds of men have been transported—thousands have been imprisoned—in upholding the Game-laws; and, independent of all that, there has been more of insolent and vindictive cruelty, and mean, petty oppression exercised in carrying them out, than in carrying out all our other laws put together. The details of some of the cases connected with the
Game-laws are enough to make the blood of the most temperate boil with indignation.'
Such then is as much of our case against the game-laws, as we deem it necessary to bring forward. We will now proceed to examine the Honourable Grantley Berkeley's vindication of their humanity, their justice, and their essential bearing on the social, moral, and religious interests of the poor. It is generally admitted to be the best defence of the game-laws with which the public have been favoured. It is the production of an Honourable and an M.P.; of the younger brother of a peer-the ennobled possessor of Berkeley Castle—which has the historic notoriety of having been stained with nobler blood than that of pheasants, or even of poachers;—of the hero of twenty-six personal encounters in defence of game, who has the distinction of having got himself sworn as a special constable for the capture of a party of marauders, and of having succeeded in the glorious enterprise; whose extensive experience has taught him the grand secret of protecting the sanctuary of the cover, namely, 'a well directed punch of the head,' and 'showing them their own blood! When, in addition to all this, we assure our readers, that the work before us is written with that fine enthu. siasm which the subject would naturally inspire, we have surely said enough to enlist their deepest interest, and to vindicate for it a place, (it will need, by the way, the editorship of Colonel Gurwood), beside the dispatches of the Duke of Wellington.
Its title page, which, if rhetorical laws were as rigid as game laws, would probably have subjected the author to some awkward consequences, runs as follows. 'A pamphlet in defence of the Game-laws
In Keply to the Assailants; and on their effects upon the morals of the poor.' It may occur to some that the clause in old English might have been omitted, as defensive pamphlets are so much more commonly written in reply to assailants than to those who fully concur in the views of the writer. But perhaps it may be fairly allowed to peers and honourables, who intrude themselves so seldom upon the literature of their country, to use, when they do write, as many words as they please. Mr. Berkeley's pamphlet is so utterly defective in connection and arrangement, that it is impossible to adopt with respect to it any ordinary method of criticism. We must confine our attempt to the somewhat difficult task of seizing the most prominent points of his argument. The very commencement of his pamphlet may be taken as a fair specimen of that total disregard to known facts which distinguishes the whole production.
This advocate of the exclusive right of the aristocracy to the amusements secured by the game-laws, has the effrontery to boast that he has always 'advocated the interests of the poor, and endeavoured, not unsuccessfully, to uphold them in their rights, their sports, and their recreations ;' and designates his opponents as 'self-sufficient Quixotes, who seek to trample on those rights, whether they be those of amusement, of food, or healthful locomotion.' It may safely be conceded to Mr. Berkeley, that as a controversialist he makes it very difficult for any one to reply to him. What can be said to a man who, in advocating the most rigid protection of game, pretends to be ruled by an interest in the rights, sports, recreations, and healthful locomotion of the poor!
Had he pretended a regard for the morals or the industrious habits of the poor, there might have been some plausibility in his assumption, but the audacity of such a boast as this can only be met with the gaze of blank astonishment-its only consistency is with the honourable writer's constabulary tactics. It is giving the whole thinking public a well directed punch on the head. In the next page Mr. Berkeley has the boldness to affirm that the crime of poaching has not at all increased beyond the ratio of population, and that it has not increased in any greater extent than other crimes, and not nearly so much as many others. It is impossible to reason with a man who thus sets all the most notorious facts at defiance. We need not refer to statistics, inasmuch as the reports of every daily paper, the incessant complaints of magistrates, and the solemn remonstrances of juries, stamp this assertion as not only false, but ridiculous. If Mr. Berkeley does not wish to be classed in reputation with Busfield Ferrand, we would recommend him to suppress his pamphlet on the game laws. We are not surprised to see the above outrageous assertion immediately succeeded by the following sentence :—I am also prepared to show that, so far from having a demoralising tendency, or of being injurious to the welfare of the lower classes, the game laws are founded on sound and rational principles, and have a beneficial effect in regard to the proprietor, the tenant, the yeoman, and the poor.'
As the Honourable Mr. Berkeley, according to his own account, has been engaged in six-and-twenty personal encount. ers with poachers, he does not affect to deny that some offences, however few, are committed against that sacred palladium of British morals and prosperity, the game-law; and for the development of his theory on the causes and the remedy of these irregularities, we must endeavour to disentangle the confused mass of paragraphs which lies before us. As, however, any attempt to condense his notions into an intelligible abstract