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examine himself, are, his motives for undertaking the office, and his competency to discharge its duties. If his purpose originates from a desire to promote the good of the community, and particularly of his own neighbourhood, by a vigorous, impartial, and temperate administration of the laws; by rescuing, if the danger exists, a trust so important from falling into improper hands; and by preventing the many evils and inconveniences which would arise from a large tract of country being destitute of the presence of an upright and active Magistrate; and if with these laudable intentions he unites such a share of legal information, and such a degree of steadiness and self-command, as will enable him in practice to carry them into effect, let him without doubt or fcruple persevere. But let him totally abandon his design, or suspend the execution of it until he has reformed his heart and dispositions, if he discovers that he is impelled by sinister views of interest and emolument, by a wish to obtain power for the purposes of oppression, or by a solicitude for personal preeminence and political weight in the circle of his connections ; or if he is conscious that



he is deficient in the requisite knowledge, and has not both the industry to acquire it with sufficient promptitude, and, when acquired, the patience to apply it with sufficient deliberation.

The qualifications indispensably necessary to a Justice of the Peace in the actual difcharge of the duties of his office, are calm attention and unwearied diligence in investigating the cases brought before him, and perfect integrity in deciding them. Let him be assiduous in examining and sifting the witnesses on both sides of the question, and beware of assigning too great or too little weight to their testimony on grounds inconsiderately adopted ; or through private regard or dislike towards the persons by whom it is delivered, or the culprit whom it affects. Let not the character of the latter be allowed to determine a charge, which ought to be determined by the evidence adduced. The general bad character of an individual is a valid reason for apprehending him for examination, on slighter presumptions than would have been sufficient in the case of a man of good repute, because E e 2


it is in itself a very suspicious circumstance; and perhaps for punishing him, when fairly convicted, with somewhat more than common severity, in cases where the Magistrate is empowered to vary the degree of chastisement as he shall think expedient. But it is by no means a valid reason, not even if he is known to have committed in former instances the very crime of which he is now accused, for convicting him on weaker proofs than would have been deemed satisfactory had his integrity been unsullied. The two points which the Magistrate is to investigate are these: Whether the witnesses speak truth; and whether what they allege legally substantiates the charge. Now with respect to the former point, the witnesses seem particularly liable in the case in question to deviate from the accuracy of real fact ; unintentionally, from seeing every thing through the medium of prejudice on account of the culprit’s character; or intentionally, if they are maliciously disposed towards him, from an expectation that whatever they affirm against such a man will readily be credited. As to the latter point, the Magistrate is bound by the statutes 6



applicable to the occasion, and by the received rules of evidence which statutes do not define, universally to require those proofs which the law and established usage render necessary to convi&ion. In every instance let him give sentence not merely with upright intentions, but according to the strict sense of the exifting law. This limitation is subjoined as a caution against that propensity which is sometimes discernible in Magistrates ; and arises on some occasions perhaps from carelessness, and a desire to avoid the trouble of consulting books and collating statutes, but frequently from benevolent views improperly indulged ; to adjudge the cause before them partly or entirely by their own unauthorised ideas of equity. Let the Justice always remember, that his province is not to make or alter the laws of the land, but to pronounce what they have previously enacted ; and that in no instance whatever is he to extend his discretion beyond the limits prescribed to it by the Legislature. Within those bounds let him accommodate his decision, as far as may be practicable, to the peculiar features and merits of the business at issue ; and give to his benevo



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lence the largest possible scope which is confiftent with the public welfare.

Benevolence ought to be in fact so powerful a motive of his conduct, as to be subordinate only to strict and impartial uprightness. If it was the cause of his entering upon his office, it will appear, unlels his views and dispositions shall have undergone a change much to be deplored, in the whole course of his prac

: tice as a Magistrate. It will manifest itself in various thapes and forms, suited to the several circumstances in which he has opportunities of exerting it. It will dissuade him, on the one hand, from preferring his personal ease to the interest and convenience of the parties who apply to him for redress; and from sending them back on slender grounds until another day, or keeping them for a long time lingering at his door before he grants them a hearing, And on the other, it will prompt him, when he is fully occupied already, to make known his situation at once to any fresh applicants who may arrive, and not to suffer them to be detained in fruitless expectation. It will teach him uniform composure and mildness of manners ; and incline him ftudiously to practise every



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