« AnteriorContinuar »
Judge Best on Prize Fighting. 455 particularly if you are unused to drinking in general, or soon overcome by it. He is no Friend, who tempts you into such places. Remember always, that it is not the quantity a man drinks, but the effect produced, that is to be considered. If “a pint does” one man " as much harm as a gallon,” he who drinks a pint, and he who drinks a gallon, is equally guilty of intemperance, equally injures his own health, runs the risk of injuring his fellow creatures, and transgresses the law of God.
A CONSTANT READER.
In a Church-Yard, in the Isle of Wight.
LORD CHIEF JUSTICE BEST'S OPINION
As we have often declared our opinion pretty freely of the disgraceful practice of prize-fighting which has of late years become so common, we are very sorry that any thing should occur which should seem to favour what we believe to be a savage custom, and
one which is calculated to bring forth the very worst passions, and to encourage the worst sort of men: a practice wholly contrary to the Christian religion, and highly injurious to the morals of the people. Now, unfortunately, an opinion has lately got possession of the people, in many parts of the country, that Lord Chief Justice Best had, in one of his charges, spoken in praise of fights. This, however, is far from being the case. The simple fact is, that, when a case of stabbing with a knife came before his lordship, he took occasion to say, that it would be much better for people to settle their quarrels in the old English way of fighting with their fists, than to harbour schemes of revenge, and seek to destroy the life of a fellow-creature by the horrid method of assassination. His lordship, out of two evils, was desirous that men should choose the least. not defending the speech of the Chief Justice, for we wish he had never made it; but we are anxious that it should not be so misunderstood, as to suppose that it was intended to encourage prize-fighting. If we could really bring men to think as they ought to do, there would be no stabbing, nor any fighting either, for there would be no quarrelling; and the Chief Justice is well aware of this, and he therefore recommends religious education as the means of preventing crimes, by teaching men to subdue those passions which lead to the commission of offences against the law. The charge of Chief Justice Best to the grand Jury at Bridgewater, will shew that he had no intention to encourage prize-fighting—for he calls it a “horrid practice:” he declared that “he could not bear to see any Englishman enjoy the danger of another, whilst he himself was safe;" still less could he bear to see the “base and degrading system of gambling upon the fate of the men who were fighting.” He told the jury plainly, that “ those who stood around to witness brutal fights, ought, whatever was their condition in life, to be Judge Best on Prize-fighting.
457 prosecuted as sharing in the crime of those whose depravity they encouraged. He said that he must repeat, that, not only the principals in the fight, but all who stood around and encouraged them, were as criminal in the eyes of the law as the fighters themselves, and more so in conscience, because they had not the like excuse of passion to plead."
In the same charge his lordship attributed the increase of crime to arise “ from the excessive number of public houses which deformed this land; and he felt it of the utmost importance that the number should be diminished; that the magistrates should exercise the power of granting and renewing licences in the most scrupulous manner, and should take care not to grant this privilege to houses of even doubtful character."
His lordship then pressed the importance of encouraging an increased attention to that religious instruction which was to be gained by regular attendance on a place of worship; that, to whatever class of Christians a man professed to belong, he should be diligent in his attendance on the instruction of his pastor.
The Lord Chief Justice, in sentencing a prisoner at Maidstone, who had been found guilty of manslaughter, by killing a man in a fight, recommended the prisoner to mercy, because it appeared that he would have given over fighting, but was urged on by the deceased, and by the by-standers. But his lordship said, “ if one of the crowd of scandalous by-standers had been brought to tria), he would have taken effectual care to have prevented him for the remainder of his natural life from having the opportunity, in this country at least, of encouraging his fellow-creatures to spill each others blood for his sport and pastime.”
FURIOUS AND CARELESS DRIVING.
It is very melancholy to read of the many accidents which occur from furious and careless driving. The Assize Report from Croydon contains two cases which ought to attract universal attention. Three prisoners have been sentenced to seven years transportation, for having killed two persons by driving over them. It is hoped that this will make an impreso sion;—for such an example seemed to be greatly wanted. The first case was, that John Cato and Frederic Bean, two young men, the sons of Carriers, who were driving their fathers' carts, one from Ham, the other from Wimbledon. When they got on Putney Bridge, they began to race furiously against each other, when Mr. Dunn, who was riding on horseback, met the prisoners. Being unable to get out of the way in time, his horse was struck by the first cart wheel. ' Mr. Dunn was thrown and killed on the spot. The other case was that of Joseph Chaplain, who was indicted for feloniously killing Charles Holford, a child of nine years old, by driving 3 waggon over him, at Dorking. This prisoner was sleeping on a load of dung; he was going over a bridge, and the near wheel of the waggon knocked down the child, and went over his head, and killed him on the spot.-From a London Paper.
Besides the above statements, the Assize Reports from Exeter give an account of William Crispin being indicted for killing and slaying Mary Bickley, by driving over her with his cart, in the public war. The cart was full of people, and drawn by two horses, one before the other, and without reins The woman who was killed, was proceeding leisurely along the road, when the horses of the car: knocked her down : they were galloping at the time. The poor woman had her collar-bone, and three of her ribs broken by the horses of the cart.
Furious and Careless Driving. 459 She died the next day. Mr. Justice Burrough, in charging the Jury, expressed himself very strongly on the extremely blameable conduct of the man in driving without reins. This culpable negligence had caused the death of the poor woman. The prisoner was found guilty.
We frequently tead, too, of dreadful stage-coach accidents, occasioned by furious driving. It is true that travelling by stage-coaches has, of late years, been so much improved, that many more persons are encouraged to travel by them, than was formerly the case ; and this has caused a vast increase in the number of these woaches; so that, when we consider the number of coaches that travel along the road, it is often said that fewer accidents happen than might fairly be expected. There is a great deal of truth in this, and many persons indeed pass the greater part of their time in travelling, without meeting with a single accident. We are by no means desirous of encouraging needless fears, but certainly no accident ought to arise from carelessness or from violence; and the prosecutions which have been instituted against those who have offended in this way, are calculated to produce a most salutary effect.
Whilst we are writing this article, we have received the account of the transactions of the Western circuit, from which we read that a luggagecart driving furiously through the streets of Bath, at night, dreadfully shattered the leg of a young man, who was riding along at a quiet pace. The father of the young man brought an action against the owner of the cart for the loss of his son's services. The jury allotted him a hundred pounds damages. The sufferer himself is likewise bringing an action for redress. It is hoped that the knowledge of these cases may act as a warning to those whose carelessness may be productive of such serious consequences.