« PreviousContinue »
political science, it appeared that we possessed no direct test of political intelligence. But here we have a test comparatively direct. Life in a society which is self-governing, forces political knowledge not merely into the memory, but into the very nature of the citizen. The education of circumstances is, in a practical knowledge like politics, better than the education of books. Moreover, fast governments are bad governments: all true political progress is slow progress. Experience, therefore, not energy, is the primary requisite in the citizen. A man at thirty years is probably a much better politician, in the right sense of that word, than a man at twenty or twenty-one. If the unit of political power in the case of this particular test were fixed as at the twentieth year, and if each decade up to the fiftieth year brought to the citizen an additional vote, it would bring also to the State additional political knowledge. The advantages of this test are,—
1. That it is a true test.
2. That it is a definite one.
3. That it includes all citizens justly.
While all the other tests have a certain character of invidiousness, the test of age would be highly grateful to those who are at the bottom of the social scale. Among millions, a few may reach the House of Lords; not many, compared with the mass of society, are engaged in high professions; but all, without exception, whom death does not overtake, must reach the years which, with political experience, bring political power. The young voter who, in his heat, desired, with the aid of others of like influence and years, to alter the whole political frame, would more contentedly await the season of increased political power, which would bring a change of opinions as well as of influence.
It will not be out of place in an article which advocates a suffrage almost universal, to refer to a scheme of representation, which, with such a suffrage, would secure in the legislature the most perfect representation of the body politic, but which, with the present distribution of political power, would be
simply a plan to facilitate bribery. We refer to Mr. Hare's proposal to represent numbers rather than local constituencies. Large constituencies of, say, ten thousand voters with, say, forty thousand votes, would be created by universal suffrage, and the decrease in the number of the legislature of which Mr. Hare's plan would afford an opportunity. Bribery, therefore, which would find willing objects, principally among single voters, would become a moral impossibility. And the harmless result of the representation of a few crotchets in the House of Commons would signalise the perfection of the representation. The advantages of Mr. Hare's plan are, among others
1. That the representation is perfect; an advantage which includes most of the others.
2. That not only minorities, but individual citizens are represented: no vote is lost.
3. That advanced opinions are represented.
4. That a greater responsibility would rest on citizens who voted, not in herds, but as individuals.
5. That all but the most apathetic citizens would take part in national affairs, when not restricted to local candidates to whom they are indifferent.
6. That men of the highest intellect and the most elevated moral character would present themselves as candidates.
But whatever be the details of the plan which is to perfect the political constitution, two general conclusions may be drawn from the consideration of the whole subject.
1. That the franchise must be extended to every man of full age who is beyond the sphere of government assistance.
2. That the suffrage must be graduated according to the political intelligence of the citizen.
ART. VIII. THE TRIAL OF ARMAND.
MR. STEPHEN, in his recent work on English Criminal Law, concludes his sketch of the French system with the just observation that its peculiarities can only be understood by following the course of a French criminal trial. The trial which has lately taken place at Aix, in the south of France, offers an excellent opportunity for making such an examination. The unusual circumstances under which it occurred; the strange conduct of the presiding judge; the exercise by the prosecuting official of his powers in a most arbitrary manner; the presence of two distinguished Paris counsel to protest against the course pursued by the prosecution; bring out in strong relief the defects of the procedure, and have naturally drawn upon the whole system a good deal of adverse criticism. It appears to us, however, that this criticism has failed to be just, because it has not carefully made the distinction between defects of principle and defects arising from the excessive or improper application of a principle. It does not follow that because undue discretion has been assumed by, or even given to, the French prosecutor, the principle of Crown prosecution is essentially vicious; or that the principle of making the accused an instrument for proving his own innocence or guilt is unjust, because in France it has been exclusively extended in one direction, until it has issued in a secret inquisitorial instrument for ensuring conviction. No study of this singular example of French criminal procedure can be of any use, unless it serve to distinguish the defects in those principles on which the system is based from such defects in the procedure as may be traced to independent causes or influences, such as the social or political condition of the country. It is with a view to establish this distinction that we draw attention to the trial of Armand.
At this trial, the accused, Mons. Armand, a wealthy merchant and old inhabitant of Montpellier, was charged with
VOL. XVII.-NO. XXXIII.
having attempted to murder a man, named Roux, who had been for some time in his service as a coachman. The character of Armand, as deposed to by witnesses of position and respectability, was that of a highly honourable and estimable man. The character of Roux, as deposed to by many witnesses at the trial, was most unfavourable. He was stated to have led a dissolute life; and his demeanour on his examination at the trial tended strongly to confirm the evidence against him. The bare facts on which the prosecution rested were these. On the 7th of July last, Roux was found by a fellow-servant lying in the cellar of his master's house, with his hands bound behind his back, and a cord loosely tied about his neck. His feet were fastened together with a handkerchief, marked with the prisoner's initials. To all appearance he was senseless. He could not answer any of the questions put to him; and, when taken to the hospital, his state seemed so serious that the last sacraments were administered to him. Suddenly, however, he rallied and regained speech and consciousness. Whereupon he at once charged his master with having followed him to the cellar, struck him down, bound him hand and foot, and left him there to die. He renewed, at the time of taking the sacrament, his declaration that the outrage had been committed by his master. No sooner, however, had extreme unction been afforded to him, than he grew well with marvellous rapidity. The reason alleged for the assault, namely, that he had once called his master's house "a poor hovel," was quite inadequate to supply a motive for such a crime. Mons. Armand was, however, arrested. After having been examined by the Juge d'Instruction, he reported on the subject to the "Chambre de Conseil." The Chambre de Conseil is a court composed of not less than three judges of the correctional tribunal for each arrondissement. Of these judges the Juge d'Instruction is always one. Its functions are to sit, at least once a week, for the purpose of deciding all criminal matters which have been brought under the notice of the Juge d'Instruction. This court is always attended by the
"Procureur du Roi," or the official Crown prosecutor, who is attached to each correctional tribunal, and whose special function it is to search out and pursue all offenders in the arrondissement to which he belongs.
As soon as it was known that Mons. Armand, the wealthy merchant, had been arrested, after examination by the Juge d'Instruction, on a charge of great gravity, the town of Montpellier was in a ferment. The accuser was in a humble, the accused in a conspicuous position, a fact quite sufficient to account for the strong feeling which at once arose amongst a populace whose ancestors burnt and tortured the Camisards, and refused Christian burial to the adopted daughter of the poet Young, because she was a Protestant. Reports of all kinds were put in circulation, imputing every evil to the master, and making him out to be a monster of wickedness. It was said that a skeleton had been found in his cellar; that this was the last of a long series of crimes and outrages which the accused had only been able to conceal through the overpowering influence of his great wealth. That this report was quite groundless, did not of course affect its credence with the vulgar. In the midst of the excitement, which would seem to have been artfully inflamed by Roux, the accuser, the Juge d'Instruction brought the affair before the Chambre de Conseil. We shall see in a subsequent stage of the trial that this officer had been influenced by the general rumour when he was making his private examination (interrogation) of the accused. It was plain that he came to meet his colleagues strongly impressed with the belief that the accused was guilty. The result of the discussion was that the procés verbal, or statement of the accusation, and a statement of the matters tending to a conviction, were forwarded to the Procureur-General of the Cour Imperiale, to which the department of Herault belonged, for reference to the Chambre des Mises en Accusation. The Chambre des Mises en Accusation is a special department in each of the twenty-seven cours imperiales, which sit as courts of appeal in civil cases from the tribunals of première