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NOTES., Issue 8036, 12 October 1889
Wuy ia there no public demand in New Zealand for law reform? If 1.01-uI we mistake not, Sir Robert Itttform. st ou t onco talked of simplifying processes and cheapening the whole business of litigation. A noble task for a philanthropic lawyer. Now that our learned fellow-townsman has gone over to the titled aristocracy, and so in a manner shunted himself off the Radical line of politics, he might be induced to carry out this project, which he revolved in his active mind when he was a young and enthusiastic reformer. It is a, task worthy of his powers, and of that profound interest which he has always shown in the welfare of the species. The law's delay is proverbial, though this characteristic is perhaps not so glaring here as it used to be in the Old Country. But the law's coat, or let us say costs, are as formidable in New Zealand oa they ever were at Home. It is, in fact, only too true that the law, as practised towards the end of this glorious nineteenth century, is neither more nor lesß than a relic of barbarism, It is the essence of common sense, say sortie of its defenders; while others tell , us that it is a copy of the divine A rather poor copy, we should say 5 and if it is really the essence of common Bense, then the essence of common sense must be a vary different thing from the everyday common sense of mankind, which everywhere and always cries sliaitlc on the absurdities, the tortuosities, the uncertainties, and the costliness of the law. The kte Sir Arthur Helps, brooding over the cruelty and injustice so often perpetrated, not so much under cover, as in the ordinary course, of an honorable profession, wished that some great lawyer would feign himself mad, like the ..elder Brutus, for the purpose of exposing the whole corrupt system, and so delivering civilised mankind from the horrors of an intolerable incubus. But could not some great lawyer do this in his sober senses? Certainly. Where, pray, is|]the necessity for feigning madness 7 Hero is a chance for you, Sir Robert. You have the advantage of being a distinguished statesman, as w ell as a great lawyer, and you owe it to the colony and the race to give us cheap law, and to make low synonymous with justice.
It is all very well to talk in this way, say the legal rank and file. But The Gallic what an ingenious contrivance Case. the law is for exposing injustice. Look, for instance, at the Gallie case, which, by the way, afforded entertainment to the public for weeks and weeks, and which has just ended in establishing the right, notwithstanding such an enormous amount of conflicting evidence. Think of this, and confess, that the machinery which produces such a result must be a triumph of the human ingenuity of centuries. Here is justice done with infinite care and pains. Yes, and an estate undone. Even granting that the law is an ingenious system of machinery for clearing up the rights and wrongs of a case, what is the great use of this if the litigants are ruined in ths process ? Abstract truth is not such a very precious thing after all in this workaday world. As a mere matter of curiosity, A and B's neighbors may care to know that Ais right and B wrong; but what, we repeat, does it signify either to A and B, or to their neighbors, or, for the matter of that, to the world at large, to know this if A and B are left penniless ? The settling of their trumpery dispute ruins the disputants, but it establishes no principle that is to benefit mankind, or do any particle of good to any human creature. Ingenious machinery, indeed! We should like to know how much of the Gallic estate remains after the cost of putting the machinery in motion has been defrayed. The quintessence of common sense and perfection of justice ! No, no, To your noble task, Sir Robert! The nineteenth century will soon be ended, and it would be really too bad if it were to close before this relic of barbarism is consigned to its appropriate limbo.
In these days of irreverence nud impiety it is refreshing to see such a A Popular welcome as Bishop Moran has 'prolate, just received from his flock. It was so hearty, so full of genuine enthusiasm, that the Right Reverend, or Most Reverend (we are not well up in ecclesiastical titles, but wc dislike to hear "a chief pastor" —a successor of the Galilean fishermenaddressed as " your Lordship " ; an<* as a matter of fact there are no lord bishops in tho colonics, except by courtesy)— the welcome, we say, was so overwhelming that Dr Moran waß compelled to regard it as given to the bishop rather than the man. But the man is evidently as much loved as the bishop; and though we confess our sense of the fitness of things is somewhat offended to hear imperfect human beings lauded as if they were demigods, wc are quite sure that Dr Moran will take no harm from the loving adulation of his faithful people. A man who is so devoted to his calling has no time to think about himself. Bishop Moran deserved a hearty welcome. An old English bishop onoe asked who was the most diligent bishop in all England. Latimer, than whom a better man never "succeeded the apostles," answered his own question. It was the Devil, he said. This unsaintly bishop had, to be sure, a large diocese; and as he had, or was supposed to have, all the other bishops diligently working againßt him, he had need to be busy. But could the good old bishop who asked the question, and who soon went through the flames to Heaven, have been favored with a glimpse into futurity—could he in vision have seen this fair City of Dunedin rising like a dream of beauty, as Dr Macgregor expressed it, and Dr Moran taking his rounds in his diocese—he might, indeed, have been still of opinion that the Devil was the most diligent bishop in Eng land, but he would have seen that he had met with his match in New Zealand. Long may he live—Dr Moran, not the blackamoor gentleman eulogised by Latimer—to receive the affection and affectionate congratulations of his devoted flock.
From the conflict of opinions and interests
that manifested themselves at Son Procct Thurßda y night's conference sloii. * between the Ceremonial Committee's delegation and the representatives of friendly societies and other organisations, there is a danger of the "externals" connected with the ceremony of November 26 being muddled, unless some definite course of action is promptly decided on. Whilst it is quite true, as was stated by Dr Belcher, that the demonstration in connection with the laying of the foundation stone was organised in less than a week, it goes without saying that this affair, if it is to be attempted on the scale projected by the Exhibition Executive, will take considerably longer to elaborate and bring to a successful issue. Mr P. Miller unquestionably voiced the public mind when he declared that there was a strong feeling, seeing that the Exhibition was essentially an industrial one, that " the trades" should be prominently and effectively represented in any demonstration that might be undertaken. We have not here any Trades Council, such as exists in the Australian capitals, to take complete charge of arrangements affecting the organisations affiliated to those bodies; but, as was remarked by one of the speakers at Thursday's meeting, if the various trades in and around Dunedin were interviewed by a responsible official, there is every reasonable prospect that they would cheerfully comply with the call of the Exhibition authorities. The effectiveness of the displays made in 1865 and at the opening of the Industrial Exhibition at the Garrison Hall a few years ago have not been forgotten, and we feel sure that if " the trades " take up the thing with their wonted enthusiasm they will be able next month to far excel all previous efforts at displays. What we believe to be the feeling of the majority of those present on Thursday night waß that if "the trades" are disposed to undertake the business, thoburdcu of it should bo entrusted to them, but otherwise tho friendly societies and similar organisations will turn out in their full strength. Apropos of the idea to reward the organisation making the most effective display, we have received several suggestions, all pointing to the desirability, if the idea is adopted, of giving money prizes—say Ll2, L 5, and L3—instead of the proposed banner, which is neither wanted nor appreciated. Some of the details of the sketch programme, notably the proposal to keep the members of tba procession "on sentry go" within the building
while the opening ceremonial is being performed, are not viewed with favor; but we would point out to our correspondent* who are connected with any of the organisations that hare been consulted that these details should be discussed at the adjourned (inference, The Ceremonial Committee will be only too glad to adopt any reasonable suggestion for the improvement of the official programme in these respects.
Should women be hanged? We do not
mean as a rule, but only when* Capital they are convicted of a capital Punishment, offencir, This is s delicate question. Charles Lamb resolved it into a matter of gallantry. He said he would believe there was such a thing as modern gallantry when murderessesno longer swung from the gallows. He did not, by the way, say murderesses, for in his* day women were still executed for much smaller crimes. He objected to women being hanged in any case. It was unmanly, tmgallant. Men were the rulers, and law makers, and public prosecutors, and judges, and jurors, and gaolers, and executioners, and all that. They could do as they pleaded. Women had no say in the matter. Something like this, we suppose, ran in Elia's head when he declared in one of his most characteristic essays that he would believe in the existence of modern gaN lantry when women were no longer occasionally hanged. What about ancient gallantry? the objector might aaS, Women were much more frequently hanged, and for the very pettiest offences, in the olddays, when Lamb, presumably, believed gallantry to have existed. But it is not necessary for a humorous sentimentalist to be quite logical. Modern gallantry, besides, ho would probably have said, must be suited to the times. The old chivalrous romantic ages were a little rough. We live in an age of comparative refinement; and though men are quite at liberty to hang one another if they please, they should cease hanging women. So, perhaps, would EUa have reasoned the matter. The question, which was only a fancy one in his day, has become a> practical one in ours. Would Mrs Maybrick hare been hanged had there been nopossible doubt as to her guilt ? We doub* it Very much. Whether it be right or wrong to hang murderesses, " modern gallantry : ' is lifting up its voice against the practice. It objects, at least, to banging good-looking women who hove moved in what is called society. We doubt if Madeline Smith would have been hanged bad the jury taken their cue from the Lord Justice Clerk's summing-up, and brought in a verdict of guilty. She was not beautiful, but she was a dashing, fascinating girl; and, though she was decidedly fast, we doubt if even the "modern gallantry "of Scotch Presbyterians could have endured the spectacle of such an interesting oreature swinging from the gallows. It may be taken for granted that Mrs Maybrick would not have been hanged, though if anything could have brought her to the scaffold it would have been the brutal manner in which the Liverpool people expressed their "gallantry." If, however, the public sentiment can no longer tolerate the hanging of well-bred, interesting murderesses, it must try and be quite impartial. It would never do to hang poor women who kill their husbands or lovers if the Madeline Sn?Hhs and Mrs May. bricks are to escape.
NOTES., Issue 8036, 12 October 1889
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