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the views of the Senate and of the Minister, more likely to have been written by a guilty the question was again, after an unex- than by an innocent man. Yet, as corroplained delay, brought before the Council borative evidence of guilt was it treated by of the Empire. In March 1860, that the Russian council. But, perhaps, the council, not agreeing with the local tri- council's idea as to what might serve to bunal which had acquitted the accused-corroborate the veracity of the accuser nor with the Minister of Justice who Bogdanow, is more singular still. Besides thought that they ought to be acquitted his various tales which I have already nor even with the Senate of Moscow, which mentioned, this man at one time included had held that there was ground for sus in the charge of being one of his accompicion, but not for conviction-proposed on plices in the murders an army surgeon the same evidence to decide that there was named Gubitski; but when last examined clear ground for their absolute condemna- he admitted his accusation against the tion. The draft of this proposed decision surgeon to be wholly unfounded. After was communicated to Mr. Samiatnin, de- referring to this, the decision of the counputy of the Minister of Justice (an office cil actually contends that "this circumwhich is, I believe, analogous to that of stance very strongly brings to light the an Under Secretary of State). Mr. Sa- sincerity of the last statement." That is mintnin made a report, containing an to say, in other words, that if a witness elaborate examination of the evidence, in first makes, and then withdraws, a false which he pointed out several of the con- charge against A., this circumstance does tradictions and absurdities that I have not weaken, but strengthens, the credimentioned, and a number of others with bility of a charge which the same witness which I have not troubled the House, and makes and persists in against B. Such is he concluded that such evidence could pro- the logic of the Russian council. Whether perly lead to no other result than an ac- the council was itself not quite satisfied quital. The Council of the Empire, how- with the arguments of which these are ever, persisted in its first intention, con- specimens, or for what other reason the demned the accused, and sentenced Jush-execution of its sentence was delayed I kevitcher and Schlifferman, and a soldier do not know; but, in fact, it was not until named Jurlow (whom it treated as the May 1861, that the unhappy prisoners three principal criminals) to loss of civil were despatched to the Siberian mines, rights and hard labour in the mines of where they are believed still to linger. Siberia, in two cases for twenty, and in the third for eighteen years. It also sentenced others to minor penalties, whilst it suffered the perjured informers, who stated themselves to have been accomplices in the murders, to escape with almost nominal punishments.
I will not detain the House with any minute examination of the attempts at reasoning by which the Council of the Empire sought to refute the clear and convincing arguments of Mr. Samiatnin; but I can give two examples, which may be very briefly stated. The council treated, not indeed as one of the most convincing proofs, but as corroborative evidence against Jushkevitcher, a note which, after his arrest, he had written to his daughter, and in which he simply requested her to inform the Jewish congregation of his misfortune, in order that they might pray for deliverance from false accusations, adding -"Be firm, my dearest daughter, I beg this of you and your brother.' To many persons this note may seem to have some touch of pathos; but I cannot perceive how any one could suppose that it was
Since the decision of the Council of the Empire was pronounced, and in part since it was executed, changes have taken place in the Russian Government. Mr. Lanskoi is no longer Minister of the Interior. Count Bludow (who as Chancellor is considered to have been peculiarly responsible for the decision of the council, and one of whose last ministerial acts was, I lament to say, to appoint that very Mr. Guirs who presided over the second Saratow commission, to an important office peculiarly connected with the affairs of the Jews) is now travelling for the benefit of his health, and is not, I understand, likely to resume active employment. He has long served his country according to his own conscientious views; and as I certainly wish him no harm, I can only desire that his travels may be productive of as much benefit to himself, as I believe they will be to all, not being members of the Greek Church, who, if he had remained at home, would have been subject to his influence. But changes more important than those of a personal character have also taken place in the Russian Government. They have, as I
believe that the Jews of Russia are quite ready to acknowledge with gratitude, modified and somewhat humanized the laws that had till lately pressed upon and almost crushed that numerous class of the Emperor's subjects. But they have done nothing towards revising the unjust sentence of the Council of the Empire in the Saratow affair, or towards the relief of the sufferers.
we shall also be of opinion, that many as the claims must at this moment be upon the time and attention of the Imperial Government, it is still desirable that they should find leisure to reconsider the decision of the Council of the Empire, and to relieve the persons who are suffering under a sentence obtained by means of such procedure, and founded upon such evidence, as those which I have described.
Now, we are ready to make all due allowances for the difficulties besetting the Government of a country where society is half dissolved, and is seeking to reconstitute itself. Hon. Members may call to mind those two lines of the old Roman poet, where he refers to the pleasure which a man, looking from the shore on a tempestuous sea, derives from contrasting his own ease and security with the toils and perils of the storm-tossed mariner. It is with no such cold or selfish feeling that, from the harbour of long-established constitutional freedom and well-administered laws, we look upon the struggles of those nations that are still painfully striving to attain the same haven of safety. On the contrary, we warmly spmpathize with their efforts, and we desire that they may as easily and speedily as possible secure to themselves the blessings which we enjoy. It is in accordance with this sympathy and with our consciousness of those difficulties, to bear in mind that the Russian Government cannot be expected at once to remedy all the evils resulting from past misrule. But I think that hon. Members who have favoured me with their attention will be of opinion, that no more important steps can be taken towards bestowing on the Russian people the inestimable advantage of confidence in the administration of justice, than by getting rid of three of the greatest abuses revealed to us in this Saratow affair. Difficult as it may be to free from the influence of religious prejudice the proceedings arising out of the criminal law, the public prosecutor at least should not set the example of yielding to such preju dice. The use of the stick and similar instruments as auxiliaries in the interrogation of prisoners should be at once and for ever abolished. And the practice should also be abolished of following accused persons from a court which acquits them, to a court which declares them liable to suspicion, and so on from tribunal to tribunal, till a condemnation (in the justice of which, under such circumstances, no reliance can be placed) is at length obtained. I think Sir Francis Goldsmid
It now only remains for me to thank the House for having listened to my statement, and to put to the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) a short and simple quesiton. I am aware, that as the persons concerned are not British subjects, the British Government can have no right to make any official representation respecting them. But I wish to inquire, whether Her Majesty's Government is inclined to offer, with regard to the transactions I have referred to, any unofficial and friendly suggestions to the Government of his Imperial Majesty.
MR. BLAKE said, he trusted that the concluding request of the hon. Baronet would be complied with by Her Majesty's Government. They had interfered on behalf of Spaniards who, as was alleged, had been persecuted on religious grounds, though, in fact, political questions were mixed up in the matter; while, no doubt in the case of the Jews, the persons who had been ill-used had been persecuted from the senseless aversion of the Russians to the Hebrew people. He visited the Russian empire about ten years ago, and could testify to the existence of the persecuting spirit which had been referred to by the hon. Baronet. Upon the slightest pretence prosecutions were instituted against Jews, and he had seen many of them sent to Siberia on suspicion of having committed offences, some of which were of a very trifling character. On one occasion he saw fifty Jewish youths sent in chains to the Russian navy, because some people in the village in which they resided were suspected of having been engaged in some smuggling transactions. Great hopes had been entertained that on the accession of the present Emperor changes favourable to the Jews would be made, and he much regretted that those hopes had not been realized. He hoped that a remonstrance from Her Majesty's Government would produce some effect, or at any rate that the strong expression of feeling of that House might have some
SPIRIT LICENCES.-OBSERVATIONS. MR. LAWSON said, he rose to call attention to the general dissatisfaction existing throughout the country regarding the Laws for licensing Houses for the sale of spirituous and fermented Liquors, and to the necessity for the immediate revision thereof; also to the expediency and justice of permitting the Inhabitants of any parish or place to decide whether the common sale of such liquors shall be carried on within the locality. The question on which he wished to address the House was one of considerable importance. It was generally felt that the existing licensing system required considerable alteration, and during the present Session an immense number of people had petitioned the House, stating the grievance under which they lay, and suggesting the remedies which they desired to see adopted. What he desired to do was to explain that grievance, and to point out the remedies referred to. The licensing system, in its present state, could hardly be defended by any one. Almost all the hon. Gentlemen who might be considered authorities in the House had spoken strongly against it, and their opinions would carry more weight than anything he could say. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, two years ago, that his opinion was very unfavourable to the present system under which the drinking-houses were licensed and managed in this country, and he went on to say that the present system imposed upon magistrates duties which it was impossible for them to discharge. The Secretary of State said, alluding to the evidence given before the Committee in 1834, that a more efficient control ought to be given over the licences of both classes of houses, meaning public-houses and beer-houses. The Chairman of the Poor Law Board (Mr. Villiers), who was the Chairman of that Committee, said that the magistrates themselves admitted that they had no proper evidence to guide their opinion as to whether they should grant licences. Mr. W. Brown, who was at the time Member for South Lancashire, said that magistrates, magistrates' clerks, licensed victuallers, and brewers, werealling the sale of liquors in any district would demoralized by the licensing system. be effectual; and, secondly, that it was Thirty years ago, when the Beer Act was just. With regard to the first point, they introduced, it was said that that measure found that crime and pauperism and lunacy would give working men good beer, and existed in any district almost in proporthat it would take them from dens of in- tion to the facility of obtaining intoxicatfamy to places where they would enjoying liquors. But they had illustrations of
Well, he did not suppose that the history of legislation contained a more lamentable failure than the Beer Act. The Committee of 1834 described the evils of intoxication in the strongest language; they described drunkenness as the cause of the immense majority of the crimes committed in this country and one of the great causes of the misery of the poor, and they recommended the introduction by the Government of some general and comprehensive law for the suppression of the existing facilities for intemperance. That was in fact a recommendation of the Maine law in all its integrity. Still stronger evidence was given before a Committee of the House of Lords in 1850, but nothing was done. Then there was the Committee of 1853, presided over by the President of the Poor Law Board; but still no legislation took place. In 1860 the Chancellor of the Exchequer, not satisfied with the trial of free trade in beer established in 1830, suggested that an additional supply of wine would make people sober; the wine duties were reduced, and refreshment houses with wine licences were established; but he had not heard that the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman had done anything towards checking drunkenness. In fact, in the following year the quarter sessions in Lancashire presided over by the noble Lord the Member for Lynn (Lord Stanley), agreed to a petition stating that the greater portion of the offences punished at petty sessions were attributable to intoxication, and that the facility of obtaining licences to sell intoxicating liquors increased the immorality of the people. That position was carried by forty-six votes to one. In apite, however, of all the recommendations and petitions on the subject, nothing had been done to apply a remedy to this terrrible disease. Seeing that the Legislature did not take any steps to prevent this great evil, a plan had been suggested which had taken a great hold on the public mind. It was to have a permissive law enabling any town or district, by a majority of two-thirds, to prevent the sale of intoxicating liquors. Now, he held two things, first, that the plan he had suggested of entirely prohibit
the opposite state of things. Mr. James | assume, but he thought it ought, at all Gray, chairman of the Edinburgh pa- events, to embody the principle for which rochial board, said at the Town Council, he contended, which was supported by on the 23rd of October, 1849200,000 people. He entreated the Home Secretary to consider during the recess whether he could not embody this principle in a Bill, to be introduced next Session, and he was convinced that by so doing the right hon. Baronet would promote the peace and prosperity and ensure the gratitude of thousands of his poorer fellow-countrymen.
"There are thirty-four parishes in Scotland without a public-house, and the effect upon the parishioners is that they have not a penny of poor rates in one of them."
He said that he once lived eight years in a parish where there was no public-house, and during all that period he never saw a person the worse for drink. There were no poor rates in the parish then; but now there were five public-houses and a poor rate of 1s. 8d. in the pound. Then the report of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland by their committee for the suppression of intemperance, dated 31st May, 1849, stated that
MR. KER SEYMER said, he should be prepared to discuss the question more fully when the hon. Gentleman moved the second reading of the Permissive Bill. It had long been prepared. It had been accepted at public meetings; and if the feeling in favour of the measure was as strong as the hon. Gentleman represented, the House of Commons, unreformed though it was, would not be deaf to the voice of public opinion. The gentlemen out of doors who advocated the Maine Law were not satisfied with the position which He thought it was just because he could they held. The organ of the Alliance see no injustice in permitting the inhabit- attempted last week to mislead its readers. ants of a parish to decide whether the He observed a paragraph in it, headed common sale of liquors should be carried" Mr. Lawson's Motion," in which Memon within their several localities. A hun-bers of Parliament were urged to be in dred years ago, he might add, great dis- their places to support the Motion, and tress prevailed, and a law had been passed ladies, it said, would do noble service, too, imposing a check upon distillation, the re- by writing to M.P.'s. The gentleman sult being that, notwithstanding the dear were well versed in the arts of agitation, ness of provisions, the people were abso- but, unfortunately, there was no Motion lutely better off than in more prosperous before the House. The hon. Member on periods. These facts clearly showed the Friday night—the omnium gatherum night advantages of a prohibitory policy. It-called attention to the licensing system. might be said that such a law would be The words of the Motion were ingenious an inconvenience to many people. Why, and mixed up very distinct things. It reof course, if it were not so, they would ferred to the general dissatisfaction at the not want a law; but the inconvenience of laws which regulated the sale of spirituous a few ought not to be allowed to weigh liquors. The dissatisfaction arose from against the wishes of the many. All the the facts that the views of the Public-house people asked, and all he asked for them, Committee, of which he was a member, was the power to protect themselves from had not been adopted. Those views were evils of the sale of intoxicating liquors. It very distinct from the views of the hon, might be said that this was a crotchet, but Member. He still adhered to the opinion it was a crochet shared in by 200,000 of that Committee. He was for free trade, people. From Glasgow there had been a as he understood it. He was for abolishing petition signed by 27,000 persons in its the present magisterial discretion, which favour, and from Lancashire one signed the magistrates could not satisfactorily by 20,000. The right hon. Gentleman exercise. Under the present law, the the Secretary for the Home Department beershop-keepers were kept in an inferior had, he believed, as good as promised that position, and that was the reason that the he would not allow another Session to pass beershop system was a complete failure. away without taking some steps to alter The licensed victuallers, quite unconthe licensing system. He did not wish to sciously, had often played the game of the suggest to the right hon. Gentleman what aw men. When a new man apshape a measure for that purpose should plied for a licence, they got up a memoMr. Lawson
"The returns made to your Committee's inquiries clearly prove that the intemperance of any neighbourhood is clearly proportioned to the number of its spirit licences, so that where there are no public-houses nor any shops for selling spirits there ceases to be any intoxication."
rial, and employed a solicitor to show the magistrates, that although 100 licensed houses were good for a district, 101 or 102 would be very injurious to the morals of the community. The advocates for the Maine Law might well say, if 101 are injurious, why not 100, or why not 99, and so on until it ended in complete prohibition. That was not his view. He did not care how many public-houses there were, provided they were well regulated and conducted by persons of good character. There had, no doubt, been many petitions in favour of a Permissive Bill; but an organized body, with funds at command, could get up petitions with ease, and once a petition signed by hundreds of thousands had been presented in favour of the Charter, but it did no good, and they heard very little about the Charter now. It was said that the meetings were unanimous. Persons did not care about opposing views advocated by worthy people from religious and laudable motives, and they did not like to put their heads into a hornets' nest; for if teetotallers abstained from strong liquors, they certainly made up for it by indulging in very strong language. He was glad to see that the hon. Gentleman was an exception. The speech of the hon. Gentleman on a recent occasion, at a public meeting over which he presided, was marked with great good taste, and he gave him credit for it, knowing how difficult it was in addressing a one-sided audience, who cheered everything that was said, to speak with moderation. They ought not to overlook the lessons of experience. Some years ago there was a strong agitation for closing the Post-office on Sundays. Meetings and petitions were unanimous; the Government of the day acceded to the proposal; but the inconvenience was found to be intolerable, and the regulation was at once rescinded. He was inclined to believe, that if people thought there was the slightest chance of the Maine Law passing, the meetings would not be so unanimous as they were at present. The hon. Gentleman said there was no injustice or tyranny in the majority acting for the minority. Unlikely as it was that in any district there would be a majority for the Maine Law, he contended that the majority had no right to dictate to the minority. The only country in which it had been tried upon a large scale was the Northern States of America, and they must draw a distinction between a demoVOL. CLXVII. [THIRD SERIES.]
cratic country and a free country. democratic country the majority ruled the minority with a rod of iron. In a free country the majority determined the general policy, but respected the rights of the minority; and nothing more excited the admiration of foreigners than the manner in which we avoided pushing matters to extremes. We might not be strict logicians, but we were excellent politicians. We tolerated anomalies, but we escaped revolutions. How absurd it would be to see a cosy town councillor, with his bins full of crusted port, voting that the poor labouring man should not go and buy a glass of beer. The poor man could not lay in a store; he must depend upon getting his beer as he wanted it: and to prohibit him from getting it in the only way open to him would be an act of tyranny and the grossest class legisla tion. Supposing there was any chance of such an enactment, the most formidable agitation would be the result. The publicans had shown themselves strong enough already to maintain an exceptional position, for they were the only protected trade in the country. The beershop-keepers would, for the first time, unite with them; the apple growers, the barley growers, the maltsters, the brewers; and not only the drunkards, who were few, but the great mass of the temperate men, would be against such a Bill. The case was not so extreme as to justify such legislation. The Maine Law men thought that a person who drank a glass of beer was on the high road to drunkenness. Alcohol in every shape they called poison, although it must be very slow poison. The great majority of men who drank beer, wine, or spirits, were temperate. The teetotallers were possessed with a kind of odium theologicum. He believed that they hated temperate men more than drunkards, because they knew a drunkard might take the pledge, and be very wise in doing so, but temperate men never would. The hon. Member in his notice had used the word "inhabitants,' whereas the Maine Liquor Bill said "ratepayers." But this was more than a ratepayers' question, and therefore he liked the word in the notice much better than that in the Bill. Nothing less than universal suffrage would do upon such a question. Manhood suffrage would not be enough, because you had no right to say to a young man of twenty, "You shall not drink a glass of beer." To show the tyrannical spirit of the Bill, he would read the mar