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table of elections was blundered. In this Home Office circular it is suggested by the Committee that a caution should be given to returning officers as to the use of stamping instruments. Observations are made as to defects of the different kinds of instruments, and the dangers incurred in their use. In considering what is the best stamping instrument to be used, it is natural to consider what instrument is used in the post-office. The officials there should know what is the best stamp to be used, seeing that they stamp millions of letters every year. They use an ink stamp. When that is used no presiding officer can fail to see whether the paper is stamped or not. But when an embossing stamp is used, the stamp may not come properly down, and it is impossible through a long day, with voters in haste to get their papers and be off, to examine minutely each paper to see if it bears the official mark. The use of this instrument may lead to mistakes which may easily avoid an election, and which may cause annoyance to candidates and to those entrusted with the responsible duty of taking the poll
. While writing these comments on the Report, we read in an article in an Edinburgh newspaper the following remarks :—“The weakest part of their Report is that which bears upon mistakes by the poll sheriff in stamping the papers. They talk about defects in the stamping machines, about errors arising from having papers ready stamped in anticipation of a crush, and about other excuses for this failure which have led to the disfranchisement of a good many voters. The thing, however, is inexcusable. If poll sheriffs did their duty it could not happen. Even if, by oversight, they gave out an unstamped paper, they are bound to see the mark on the outside
ere, after having been filled up, it is deposited in the ballot box. A man who lets it be deposited without a stamp simply involves himself in the guilt of neglecting his duty. The way to meet such an evil would be by extending the law which permits an after scrutiny, so as to allow such a paper to be traced to its source—the issuer and receiver of it being made liable to punishment for his unpardonable misconduct.”
See the different notions of critics! To us this seems one of the best parts of the Report. The writer just quoted cannot have had much, or any, experience in taking the poll. It is impossible for a poll sheriff in every case to see the mark on the back of the ballot paper before it is put into the box. It is to be renjembered that he has to give out ballot papers; and that, especially when the "rushes” come, at meal bours, when impatient voters are being rapidly attended to, a paper may be inserted into the box before the violation of the rule can be checked. If the presiding officer made it his first duty to see the mark on the back-if he waited until each clumsy-handed voter undid the sixteen plies into which suspiciousminded voters sometimes twist their ballot papers, he would necessarily have to suspend his other task of attending to voters about to vote; and if, as would certainly happen in populous places, some voters were prevented from voting by the tardy pace of the poll,
there would be a good deal of screeching and howling about the affair. In his evidence Sir John Heron, town clerk of Manchester, says, “From my own observation I can say that the ballot papers as a rule are put into the ballot box without any attempt to show them to the presiding officer, and without any attenipt on the part of the presiding officer to look at them. In fact I do not see how the polling would go on if the presiding officer were to be each time interrupted in the performance of his duties by the voter coming and putting his ballot paper before him; so that practically it is not done with us." The remedy above suggested, viz. to, punish the issuer and receiver of an unstamped ballot paper, is one of a kind which has not hitherto been found very effectual in similar cases. The threat of punishment does not encourage men in the discharge of official duties. Give a man two guineas for a long tiresome day's work, provide him with a bad stamping instrument, threaten him with pains and penalties, and you have a bill of fare which may attract some men, but which will not attract suitable men. No! this is not the way to go to work. Get a good man, provide him with a good stamping instrument, give him good pav, trust to his sense of public duty and his regard for his own reputation, and there is not much danger of any mishap.
The Committee make a number of suggestions with the view either of innovating upon the existing system of voting or of correcting the glaring incongruities of the Act. A proposed form of ballot paper is submitted, printed in black, with white spaces where the cross is to be put. The risk of misplacing the cross we should fancy would be greatly reduced in this form of ballot paper. They further suggest that in the amending Act the number of agents entitled to be present in the polling station and at the counting should be specified; that the counting agents may be allowed to take the declaration of secrecy any time before the counting, and not as at present necessarily before the poll; that the verification of the ballot paper account should be made after the counting of the ballot papers, not after the counting of the votes, as at present required by Rules 34 and 37. It is hardly worth while to make any
amendment to the latter effect, for these two rules are habitually disregarded; for this reason, that it is impossible to check any ballot paper account after all the papers in all the ballot boxes have been jumbled together; and the violation of the rule is one of those violations which come under the protection of the 13th section.
We may add this suggestion, that if the Act is to be amended, it would be worth while to put the provision in section 2, to the effect that the want of the official mark on the back makes the vote bad, in harmony with the provision in rule 34, that the returning officer while counting and recording the ballot papers, and counting the votes, shall keep the ballot papers with their faces upwards, and take all proper precautions for preventing any person from seeing the numbers printed on the back.
Rights of Counsel for Defence in France. -A recent issue of the Gazette des Tribunaux records an incident which rather strikingly illustrates the difference between the view taken in France of the duties and rights of an advocate, and that which, happily, prevails here. At the sitting of the Assize Court of La Sarthe on the 8th ult., M. Leporché was counsel for a prisoner accused of an indecent assault. He had finished his address, and the jury were about to retire to consider their verdict, when the president put the question which it seems is required by law to be put to the prisoner“Have you anything to add to the defence which has been made on your behalf ?” The prisoner began to say something, but M. Leporché whispered to him to be quiet, and he then replied that he had nothing to say. He was convicted, and M. Pavie, ihe substitut, or, as we should say, counsel for the Crown, applied to the court to inflict a disciplinary penalty on M. Leporché for his intervention at the time when the president addressed his question to the prisoner. At this moment M. Hémon, a brother advocate, came into court, and M. Leporché told him of the accusation made against him, and asked him to undertake his defence. The conversation was conducted in a whisper, but it reached the sharpeared Pavie, who, again addressing the court, said he felt it his duty to mention that he overheard M. Hémon say to M. Leporché, “ You have done right." The court does not seem to have thought it necessary to take any steps as to this little piece of eavesdropping; but with reference to M. Leporché's offence, a procès-verbal was forth with drawn up, and M. Hémon addressed the court on behalf of his brother advocate, urging that the advocate was always placed near his client in court in order that he might be able readily to communicate with him; that the interposition of which M. Leporché was accused was a perfectly natural and usual act on the part of an advocate engaged in defending a prisoner, and that to prohibit it would unduly restrict the liberty of defence. The court, after a long deliberation, reprimanded M. Leporché, and ordered him to pay the costs of the proceedings. We observe that by the article of the law under which the court proceeded no appeal can be brought from the decision. In future, therefore, the advocates who practise at the La Sarthe Assizes will learn that it is not safe to interfere with the propensity of clients to commit themselves, or, at all events, that it is desirable to keep out of earshot of M. Pavie.
The Practice of the Sheriff Courts of Scotland in Civil Causes. By
John DOVE WILSON, Advocate. Second Edition. Edinburgh:
Bell and Bradfute, 1875. The circumstance that the work before us has reached a second edition is an assurance that the author has found an audience; and
although this circumstance certainly does not give a complete guarantee, yet it at least affords an approximate confidence that the author's work has been well done. The handsome volume now before us is in many respects an improvement upon the first edition. This new edition commences with an historical account of the Sheriff Courts, which, as our readers will recollect, first appeared in this Journal. As regards the practical part of the work, so far as we have dipped into it (and we do not profess to have read this book of practice through, any more than we would pretend to have read a dictionary through), we have found Mr. Wilson's book useful, careful, and accurate. There is, however, one little defect which we cannot help noticing. What is the use of saying, as is said (page 152), “in taking precognitions the agent must take care that he does not examine the witnesses in presence of each other. If he does, the value of the evidence will be so much destroyed that in delicate cases it will be held to turn the balance against him ?” Would it not be much better to give a general direction once for all, that the practitioners in Sheriff Courts ought to have common sense, and ought to exercise it? In reading a paragraph of this kind in a useful work, the result of much thought and consideration, one would almost fancy for the moment that he was reading instructions by a town clerk for the guidance of presiding officers.
Acts of Parliament relating to Sheriff Court Practice, with Illustra
tions from Decisions of the Supreme Courts and occasional notes. By W. PATERSON SMITH, Solicitor, Wick. Edinburgh:
Bell & Bradfute. 1876. In the first sentence of the preface to this book it is stated as a reason for its publication that, “In the use by the profession of the various statutes relating to Sheriff Court practice, passages frequently occur which give rise to serious doubts as to the proper construction to be put on them.” This volume is dedicated to Sheriff Thoms, in token of respect, and in acknowledgment of valuable suggestions given in its preparation. We cannot help thinking that the learned Sheriff might have given a suggestion as to the use by the profession of the English language in the composition of prefaces; because the first sentence in this volume is a “ passage” which might give rise to serious doubts as to the proper construction to be put upon
The book contains a collection of Acts of Parliament from 1853 downwards, with copious illustrative notes, embodying the decisions of the Courts. These notes display a great deal of careful research, and afford a good deal of information, which must be useful to the practitioner, and which would be more useful, and would assume a more elegant form if they were a little more boiled down.
Principles of Contract at Law and in Equity. By FREDERICK
POLLOCK, Barrister-at-Law. London: Stevens & Son. OF making many law books there is no end, and much study of them is a weariness of the sh. Books on the law of contract form no exception to this enormous manufacture, probably because the subject is a popular and an interesting one, and because it is that which affords most of the material for actual litigation. The author of the present elaborate treatise gives a special reason for adding to the formidable list of works on the law of contracts. This is (he says)
“a treatise on the general principles which determine the validity and effect of contracts in their inception.
“The development of these principles in English procedure has been in great measure a concurrent one in the courts of law and of equity, and at the same time has led to apparent conflicts on many points, and real conflicts on some points, between the two systems. The lamentable division of jurisdiction, as Lord Westbury called it, which has now come to an end, led unavoidably to a no less lamentable division of exposition in text-books. Writers on the law of contract have confined themselves (save for very brief passing notices or allusions) to the common law parts of the subject, leaving the rest to be sought in books on equity jurisprudence, where in the press of other matter there was no room for its adequate treatment, apart from the disadvantages of dealing with it chiefly or wholly with a view to equity procedure, whereby the more general and permanent elements and the broader principles of law on which the rules were in truth founded, were in danger of falling out of sight.
"I have therefore attempted to give in this book, so far as possible, an equal and concurrent view of the doctrines of common law and of equity, and to fix scope
my subject so that matters of doubt and difficulty might be considered with some fulness."
Another and a less temporary reason seems to be that it is necessary from time to time to bring out new books, or new editions of old books, in order to bring the new cases and the new Acts up to date. Whatever the reason for publication may have been, the author has succeeded in writing a very readable work. The author mentions that he has not attempted to collect the American authorities, the ever-growing bulk of English reports alone being sufficiently formidable to deal with ; but he has given an account of a certain number of the decisions of the Supreme Court. He has referred to the French law, but we trace no reference to the Scottish law. Thus he points out the distinction of the French Code Civil on the subject of consideration. He mentions that in England a contract for life is valid while it is invalid in France. Might it not have been useful to English readers to have the Scottish rule of law stated also. The differences between the English and the Scottish law are of much greater practical importance than those between the English and the French. For one contract between French and English people there are a score between English and Scotch. Mr. Pollock describes the general plan of his work thus