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More equal legislation.
with the natives, and of conciliating their affections to the ruling powers. Of these he ought judiciously to avail himself. “ So many are the advantages which sovereigns gain by clemency: such love, such glory attends it, that it is generally a point of happiness to have an opportunity of exercising it *.”
Yet we conceive there are some important improvements which may be made, either upon the distributions of punishment, or upon the administration of justice.
That partial and invidious distinction, in favour of the upper ranks of their factitious society and particularly of the Bramins, which pervades the whole system, ought, in justice and in equity, to be abolished as soon as the people are prepared to receive the alteration. And, without trenching on the integrity of a venerated code, it may be most expedient to attempt this innovation by a new provisionary regulation, which, avoiding the odium of a direct repeal, might serve as a directory to the proceedings of the courts of justice, and thus, by degrees, insinuate the idea of an equality of rights into the public mind, and introduce the observance of it into authoritative practice.
* Spirit of Laws, vol, i. p. 112.
" In every Pergunnah,” according to Colonel Dow,“ there Courts stais established a cutchery, or court of justice.” Let the go- ambulatory. vernment, by appointing the most learned and deserving of the natives to preside in these provincial judicatures, by adopting and enforcing suitable regulations for their procedure, and, by securing adequate salaries, provide for the dignity and independence of the tribunals, so that justice may be administered in an able, impartial, and enlightened manner. To these, borrowing a part of our judicial policy, may be added the institution of circuit-courts, by directing some of the most respectable of the judges, particularly of that class of the Braminical tribe called Pundits, (with whom the care of the laws, by the original constitution of the empire, is specially entrusted) to make the tour of certain districts at stated seasons. Thus the people, having the majesty of justice often, at least, before their eyes, would be deterred from the commission of crimes ; and, when wrongs were done, the injured would have the privilege of frequent and easy access to the proper courts for redress.
The introduction of the trial by jury, if it was found com- Trial by jury. patible with the safety of the empire and the genius of the natives, would be another great improvement in the admi
nistration of justice. How much does Britain owe to this admirable institution! It is the palladium of her free constitution ; and its glory, as well as its pledge of permanence. Nor can it fail at once to adorn and uphold every system of government, into which it can with propriety be introduced; and with whose spirit, and the temper of the subjects, it may be found to accord. The bread-fruit tree of Britain, it is a noble stock of British growth and culture; and every nation, among whom it may be planted and flourish, rejoicing in its precious fruits, will have cause to bless those who shall convey to them this choice production of our country. In the details of Indian juridical policy, we find a singular approach made to the institution of a trial by jury. It is required that the presiding judge shall be assisted by certain persons skilled in the laws, and retain at least ten Bramins in permanent fee for that purpose*. A slight alteration would make the conformity exact. And this, if accomplished, would contribute to rescue the Hindoos from that abject servility of mind, which is a prominent foible of their temper; and, by training them to a spirit of more manliness, might, by degrees, create those energies of mind, and that force of character, of which independence is the parent, but of which this effeminate people are so extremely destitute. Whether it might not retard and perplex the administration of justice, were the trial by jury extended to civil as well as to criminal causes, it is for an enlightened legislature to examine. Sir William Jones, than whom none could be more competent to investigate or decide the question, lamented the want of such aid in his official character * ; but it is possible that the prevalence of an overweaning modesty, or the partialities of a Briton, may have too much swayed that enlightened patriot in expressing such regrets. Unquestionably India, forming an integral part of the British empire, is entitled to a communication of all the privileges of Britons, as far as may be safe or practicable; and it is the duty of the ruling powers to infuse into the system and administration of their Asiatic government, as much of the spirit and provisions of freedom as circumstances will permit. And, involving much of the dignity and comfort of mankind,
* Account prefixed to Compilation of Indian Laws, by Halhed, p. 111.
'Tis liberty alone that gives the flower Of fleeting life its lustre and perfume,
* Works, vol. iii. p. 4. Vide Note M.
Nevertheless, in politics, (as in some cases of morals when duty is left to be regulated by circumstances) the quicquid oportet depends occasionally upon the quicquid decet ; and, in the above, as in other instances, the tendency of the climate to individual rule, the long oppression of the human mind, and the recent establishment of British authority, may render the immediate introduction of this institution inexpedient. Too sudden a communication of the blessings of freedom, like an instantaneous effulgence of the light of day, would prove hurtful.
But should any doubt be entertained, that the transference of this characteristic glory of the British constitution would be expedient, another measure, it would seem, could not fail to be highly beneficial. I allude to a connected and minute distribution of the powers of the magistrates,