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one of the party, the sufferer, by an irresistible impulse, kept applying his hand to the part affected, till most unexpectedly, and precisely after the manner of the toy called Jack-in-thebox, the nose started into its proper place again, and at the same instant despair was converted into extravagant joy. This accident has had the effect of making us rather more careful hitherto, which may contribute to the safety of others, as well as our own. A few days since, in making a sharp turn quick, I was very near riding over the Grand Duke, who was walking with his family. Such things, which might be attended with unpleasant consequences to natives, are overlooked in the English ; partly, I suppose, from consideration of our national character, and partly, no doubt, from motives of interest. I must give you another little anecdote of the hero of the nose. One day, when a party of us had sat at table till after midnight, he sallied forth alone, and “hot with the Tuscan grape.” Apprehensive of the consequences, I followed him, and found him on one of the bridges over the Arno, engaged with a solitary Frenchman, with whom he was insisting upon having a boxing match. The Frenchman, with the instinctive horror of his nation of an English fist, deprecated most earnestly any such proceeding. With much difficulty I induced my friend to go away, and I received for my successful interference a shake by the hand more expressive of gratitude than I ever experienced before.
There is a society here, called the Misericordia Society, of which I have heard the following account, but do not know if it is accurate. It is composed of men of the highest rank, whose business it is, in case of accident or sudden death, to assemble at the sound of a bell, and render what assistance may be necessary. That there may be no personal ostentation, they wear black masks. I met about a dozen of them the other day, bearing a dead body through the streets. They were all dressed in black dominos, and, as it rained, in very broad slouched hats. They never spoke, and relieved one another in carrying with great dexterity and quickness. Their step struck me as unusually majestic, probably from their dress, and the solemnity of their occupation. It was a very imposing sight. I am told that sometimes the Grand Duke himself goes out and assists.
It is very, very cold here—much colder than I ever felt it in England. The air is so thin, and the wind often so strong, that it seems literally to blow through one. The men constantly wear cloaks, ordinarily hanging open, but the moment they come upon the wind, they throw them over the left shoulder, and carefully cover their mouths. The houses are contrived with reference to hot weather, and are very comfortless to English feeling at this season. After dinner we often sit in our travelling cloaks, with napkins put upon our heads like judges' wigs, which is very efficacious. The streets are kept extremely clean, not, I apprehend, so much from a love of cleanliness, as from economy of manure to keep up the very high cultivation of the surrounding country.
Florence abounds with palaces of a severe and prison-like appearance, built for defence by her grandees in turbulent but highly interesting times the very opposite of the peace, , security, and dulness, which reign at present. Then all the faculties of the soul were called into action, and virtues and vices were both prominent. Now every thing is decent in appearance through the watchfulness of the government; but the absence of all political interest necessarily reduces the moral standard to a low level-so that we may almost say here, with Hamlet,
" What is a man,
To rust in us unus'd.” [The Art of Attaining High Health will be continued in the next number.]
BY THOMAS WALKER, M.A.
TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE,
BARRISTER AT LAW, AND ONE OF THE POLICE MAGISTRATES OF THE METROPOLIS.
PUBLISHED EVERY WEDNESDAY AT 12 O'CLOCK, BY H. RENSHAW,
356, STRAND, NEARLY OPPOSITE WELLINGTON STREET.
No. XI.] WEDNESDAY, JULY 29, 1835. [PRICE 3d.
Office of Coroner.
Address to Labourers.
OFFICE OF CORONER.
The longer my experience and contemplation of our ancient political institutions, the greater is my admiration of the wisdom of their original principles, and the more ardent my desire to see their complete adaptation to present circumstances. Amongst the offices derived from the common law, there is none more consonant with English principles, or which is calculated to be more efficient, than that of Coroner. He is elected by the freeholders, and acts only with the assistance of a jury. I think if the office were newly regulated, it would greatly promote the public welfare, and save a great deal of legislation, which can never produce equally beneficial results. The election at present is eminently exposed to the objection alluded to in the article on parochial government in my fourth number, namely, “that the relation between the electors and the elected is too slight to make the
electors sufficiently careful in their choice." The coroner for a part of a county is elected by the freeholders of the whole, and consequently the majority, feeling no public interest in their votes, give them to serve private ends. This has led very much to the practice of making the office a provision for persons unsuccessful in their profession, and whom their friends spare no activity thus to disburden themselves of. I do not say that it is by any means always so; but it certainly happens sufficiently often to degrade the office, and to give it a tone and influence below what its very important duties entitle it to. The number of coroners, within my recollection, of inferior capacity and discretion has always been very great, and I believe solely from the reason above assigned. The inferiority of coroners has naturally led to a corresponding inferiority of juries, except in very particular cases : a defect which the more enlightened must feel it difficult to overcome, on account of the established practice. The frequently enormous and unnecessary expense of elections, too, must have tended to furnish a sort of justification for pecuniary laxity, quite inconsistent with impartial justice, and to which there are peculiarly strong temptations. The remedy for this defect in election is only to be found by confining the right of voting to the district over which the coroner is to preside, as lately contemplated, and by making each district of a reasonable extent. A higher class of coroners would no doubt produce a higher class of jurors, though the coroners do not select; but if that should not be the result, it might easily be accomplished by other means.
One circumstance, which renders the coroner's inquest much less beneficial than it is capable of being, is the practice of imposing nominal or trifling fines, by way of deodands. This practice, I apprehend, has arisen, in a great measure, from the deodand being payable to the King, or to his grantee, generally the lord of the manor. Such application is too remote in the first case, and unsatisfactory in the second; and therefore I think the rights of the crown should be transferred, and those of individuals be purchased for the little they have become worth. If the fines were made payable to some public and local fund of acknowledged utility, the intention of imposing them, which is for the punishment and prevention of neglect, would not be frustrated, as it now is. The intention and the application would both be manifestly for the public benefit.
Notwithstanding the defects which have crept into the administration of the coroner's duties, I think, so far as crime has been concerned, inquests have, for the most part, been tolerably efficient; but that may be said to be almost the least important part, inasmuch as the same investigation may be made, and often is, by justices of the peace. It is with reference to loss of life by accidents, that a new practice is more particularly required, and it is of more importance than perhaps at first sight may appear. The great majority of fatal accidents, I believe, would be found, if strictly investigated, to be the consequences, directly or indirectly, of neglect, or of culpable disregard of the interest of others, from parsimony, or some other selfish motive. If, then, in all cases of accidental death, a searching inquiry were entered into by a coroner of high character and great acuteness, assisted by intelligent and respectable jurors, and fines were imposed in proportion to the degree of blame discovered, a great improvement as to general safety and convenience must be the consequence. For instance, if it were found that the death of a labourer, by falling from a scaffold, might have been prevented by a better construction, and a moderate fine were imposed, with an intimation that any similar case would in future be probably more severely treated, self-interest would soon produce the required improvement in scaffolding. In the same manner, adequate fines for death by the overturning of coaches, or by improper driving, or from accidents in mines, or from any other cause, would ensure those pre