Page images
PDF
EPUB

we found upon trial that it was soluble in nitric acid. Dr Fyfe, to whom I gave a portion of the ashes, found them to be pure lime, and also ascertained that wood acquired the same property by being steeped in solutions of the salts of that earth, or in lime-water. I obtained a similar result by steeping the wood in a solution of sulphate of magnesia ; but no effect was produced when it was steeped in a solution of hydrate of barytes. The calcareous residue was highly phosphorescent, when thrown upon a hot iron, but the magnesian residue exhibited no symptoms of phosphorescence.

“The sight of these experiments naturally suggests the idea, which occurred also to Mr Cameron, that such a brilliant light, capable of being developed by the heat of the flame of a candle, might have some useful application. In order to obtain some information on this point, I prepared three or four pieces of wood terminated with the white masses of absorbed lime, and placed these masses so as to remain near the circumference of the flame of a candle. In this situation they yielded the brilliant light already described, and lasted, without any apparent diminution, for more than two hours. I next prepared a very thin slice of chalk, and having held it in the flame of the candle, I found that it did not give the same brilliant light as the absorbed lime. Upon exposing it, however, to the heat of the blowpipe, it eniitted the same white and dazzling light which has already been described.

“In order to observe if the minute particles of the lime and the magnesia would remain in the pores of tabasheer, and give out their light when laid upon a hot iron, I took two pieces of tabasheer, and having discharged their natural phosphorescence, by exposing them to a high degree of heat, I placed one of them in lime-water, and the other in a solution of sulphate of magnesia. When the pieces of tabasheer were dry, I then put them upon a hot iron, and found that the piece which had been placed in the lime-water was considerably phosphorescent, while that which was immersed in the magnesian solution discharged no light at all.

“As this light seems to be developed by degrees of heat inversely proportional to the minute state of division in which the particles of lime are combined, it is highly probable that denser kinds of wood, in which the pores are very small, might leave, after combustion, a residue in which the lime exists in a much more attenuated state than that which I used, and therefore the same intensity of light might be evolved at a temperature still lower than that which exists at the edge of a common flame. If this should turn out to be the case, the light of the lime and the magnesia might be developed at a temperature lower than that which discharges the phosphorescent light of minerals, and it might have a most extensive and useful application, both in the arts and in domestic economy. Even in the present state of the fact, the subject deserves farther investigation.

D. B.

“EDINBURGH, July 29, 1820."

No. III.

INSTRUCTIONS TO THE CROWN-SOLICITORS IN IRELAND, REFERRED

TO ON PAGE 283, AS HAVING BEEN ISSUED IN 1839 BY THE RIGHT HON. MAZIERE BRADY, THEN ATTORNEY-GENERAL FOR IRELAND.

SIR,—Finding that the instructions given to the CrownSolicitor, by some of my predecessors in office, on the subject of challenging jurors, have been occasionally misunderstood, I have felt it my duty to consider those instructions, as furnished to me in pursuance of my letter of the 10th April last, and, in consequence, to make this communication, with the view of explaining somewhat in detail what I conceive to be the duty, in regard to this branch of the proceedings, of those who conduct the Crown prosecutions.

The main points of those instructions appear to me to be first, that no person should be set aside by the Crown on account of his religious or political opinions; and, secondly, that the Crown-Solicitor should be able, in every case in which the privilege is exercised, to state the grounds on which he thought proper so to exercise it.

In the propriety of those directions I entirely concur. The first appears to me be founded on the most obvious principles of policy and justice, and the second is consistent with all the rules which govern the responsibility of public officers.

But those instructions were not intended to have the effect, and, rightly understood, they cannot be interpreted to mean, that the Crown should altogether abandon the privilege of setting jurors aside, or challenging them on fair and legitimate grounds. The Crown, it is true, has not, as many persons erroneously suppose, the right of peremptorily challenging. This right, though given to the prisoner in certain cases, and to a limited extent, has been expressly prohibited by statute in the case of the Crown; and the Crown, therefore, cannot absolutely and in all events prevent a juror from being sworn on any trial, unless for some especial legal cause stated in court, and admitted by the judge to be sufficient. In practice, however, the privilege of setting jurors aside at the instance of the Crown has been admitted as consistent with the true construction of the statute, which abolished the right of peremptory challenge ; but this setting aside, it is to be recollected, is, or may be, but temporary; for should the pannel of jurors be exhausted by the challenging of the prisoner, or by the setting aside of jurors on the part of the Crown, those so set aside must again be called, and will be sworn on the jury, unless the Crown can then assign a legal cause of challenge.

When such legal cause exists it will be your duty to act upon it. The ordinary books of practice on the subject point out the various grounds, whether arising from affinity or connexion with the prisoner, personal infirmity, legal incompetence, supposed bias, actual partiality, undue influence, or other causes on which such challenges can be sustained; and in any case of doubt or difficulty you can have the assistance and advice of the Crown counsel in attendance at the trial. I do not mean that, in cases where such challenge for causes can properly be taken, this should be formally put forward in the first instance. The persons to whom such objections apply may be set aside according to the usual practice, reserving, of

course, the assignment of the legal cause of challenge in case it shall be found necessary, from the exhaustion of the pannel, again to call the jurors who may have been at first set aside. In cases, however, where the cause of objection is apparent, it may generally be convenient, and prevent misconstruction, that it should be openly stated, at the time of asking that the juror should be ordered to stand aside.

In regard, therefore, to cases in which you may, if necessary, be thus able to assign a just and legally sufficient cause of challenge, I do not apprehend that much difficulty can arise in the practical performance of your duty, which is, as to this subject, to prevent any person so liable to objection from being sworn on the jury.

Cases, however, may not unfrequently occur in which it will, I admit, be expedient, for the security of the due administration of justice, that persons should be put aside on being first called, against whom such legally sufficient cause of challenge could not eventually be sustained. And it is with reference to this class of cases that the instructions of preceding Law officers have been conveyed to you, and which I entirely concur in and adopt—that no person should be thus set aside in any case merely by reason of his professing particular religious or political opinions.—I do not feel at liberty to say, as an officer of the Crown, that such profession can disqualify any individual, otherwise legally competent to serve on a jury, from doing justice between the Crown and the subject; and, speaking as a private member of society, I do not believe that any grounds exist which would justify the making such a distinction the basis of an opposite rule of conduct.

But, with this limitation, I wish it to be understood that the setting aside of jurors by the Crown is not to be confined to cases in which an actual legal cause of challenge could ultimately be established, and I will mention some instances in which it appears to me that the privilege may be exercised with justice and propriety.

I consider that members of secret and exclusive religious or political societies, to whatever sect or party they may belong, or whatever be the objects of such societies, are objectionable

1

as jurors, more especially in cases where it is known or supposed that the individual on trial is himself a member of such a society. When the indictment is directly for belonging to such a society as being an illegal body, or participating in some act or demonstration connected with it, the objection, I apprehend, might, if necessary, be put forward as a legal cause of challenge; but even in other cases, I think it will be a proper exercise of the discretion vested in you to put aside any juror who is liable to such objection. I wish it, however, distinctly to be understood that I confine this observation expressly to societies whose proceedings, so far as is known of them, are both secret and exclusive. In cases, too, arising out of or connected with trade combinations or other confederations of a like character, it will obviously be improper to have on the jury any person who may be known to be himself engaged in the same or a similar association, or to have given countenance or encouragement to it.

There is a description of individuals not, generally speaking, in themselves personally objectionable, but whose vocations render them peculiarly liable to be influenced by apprehension of injury or hope of benefit, in their business, from those classes to which the prisoners, their friends, and associates more commonly belong. I allude to the ordinary publicans, especially those residing in the country in remote or unprotected situations, or those whose houses of business in the towns are the common resort of such classes; and in any case of moment, especially in capital cases, I am prepared to say that you should on the part of the Crown have such individuals put aside when called upon the jury.

I think persons, if any such should be summoned, who are not acquainted with the English language, may very properly be put aside. I, of course, exclude from this observation cases of foreigners summoned on juries de medietate linguee.

Cases may occur attended with such peculiar local excitement in a particular town or district, as to render it very desirable that the jury should not comprise any persons from that locality, and in such cases I think the privilege of the Crown may be properly exercised in putting aside such persons.

« PreviousContinue »