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holders in the island. And there was no hint given that this regulation was not to apply to British subjects. But whether or no it applied to our own countrymen, we should like to know under what “otherwise" the gallant Administrator could shelter his requirement of the production of passports and recommendations of Cypriot householders from any persons, whether British subjects or the subjects of foreign Governments, as a condition precedent for landing in Cyprus. And we should like to know whose passports they were to exhibit, and where the visas were to be obtained. VVe do not, of course, for a moment suppose that His Excellency, in taking what he doubtless believed to be necessary precautions to protect the island of Cyprus from an influx of presumable adventurers, imagined himself to be exceeding his extraordinary, but at that period, very vague powers. VVe only submit that such high-handed action, if it had any constitutional ground at all, must have rested upon an Ottoman not a British basis, since passports are not required from persons landing in any portion of the British dominions. For all we know to the contrary, indeed, this regulation jmay still be in force.* But we imagine that the Legislative Council would now have, or invent, power to advise the High Commissioner whether he would be justified in continuing to exact this requirement. In our eyes it goes far to prove that the Administrator was consciously treating Cyprus as Ottoman soil. Who, then, we may well enquire, are Her Majesty’s subjects in the island, and what is their status there ? VVe believe it will be found, at any rate until some fresh Convention is concluded, or some explanatory rider is added to the existing Convention, that Her Majesty’s subjects in Cyprus are the same persons who weuld be Her Majesty’s subjects in France, Germany, or Italy, or any other European country. That is to say, any natural-born or naturalised British subjects, travelling or commorant in the island, who are, qua British subjects, aliens in Cyprus, which is Ottoman soil ; subject, however, to the very important limitation that if such persons acquire landed property in Cyprus, they become for such property Ottoman subjects in the eyes of the law. And the Law of Cyprus is the Law of the Ottoman Empire. “ There is no God but God, and Mohammed is the Prophet of God.” “ Whosoever followeth any other religion than Islam, it shall not be accepted of him, and in the next life he shall be of those who perish.” \Vhich is a comfortable doctrine provided by the Suras for the British Administrators of the Government of Cyprus.
* Some “ authority ” in Cyprus, though it is not clearly stated which, evidently still assumes to be clothed with very arbitrary powers of imprisonment. If the conduct pursued, according to the Daily News of roth October, towards Sig. Cesnola, brother of the late American Consul, General Count Cesnola di Palma, be generally pursued towards persons landing there, Cyprus and its reputed wealth will be very much at a discount, and our foreign friends, whether in Italy or the United States, will receive quite a new light on our attachment to Constitutional Principles.
III.—THE NE\V CRIMINAL CODE.
Ignorantia jnris non exensat. “ Everyone is presumed to know the law.” These are maxims the expediency of which must be generally conceded, for were it otherwise the administration of justice would be next to impracticable. If ignorance of the law were admitted as a ground of exculpation, it would be set up as a defence in every case, and the Courts would be called upon to decide questions which it were next to impossible to solve. A knowledge therefore, more especially, of that department of jurisprudence which deals with the nature, varieties, and degrees of crime, and assigns to it its appropriate penalty, is primarily essential to every individual in a State. But, it may fairly be asked, how far the presumption that “ everyone is supposed to know the law,” accords with the truth. Does there exist any plain and simple statement of the law which is readily accessible to the masses P Is it contained in any authoritative treatise which is within the reach and comprehension of the humble and the unlearned? Unhappily none but a discouraging answer can be given to these inquiries. The law lies embedded and concealed in a measureless heap of cases and legislative enactments; the one, deciding isolated points as they happened to arise, the other, ill-arranged and unsystematic, passed at different times, written in different styles, intended for different purposes, and finally consolidated into a small number of statutes faithfully preserving the confusion of the materials out of which they were fashioned. To find out the law relating to any given offence, one has frequently to hunt and chase it through a multitude of statutes, law reports,
and unauthorised legal text-books. In consequence of its '
present chaotic state, the inconvenience attending its administration is immense. Owing to this cause our judges apply rules and principles timidly. justices of the Peace, who are not professional lawyers, prove themselves incompetent to perform the delicate process of extracting principles from decided cases. They are unable to grapple with the difiiculties arising from the language, form, multitude, and dispersedness of statutory provisions, and from the obscurity of the rules by which these provisions are construed. The maze of statutes and authorities naturally leads to piece-meal legislation, and alterations are effected in the existing law without having regard to the entire legal system. If, however, the Courts and the Legislature suffer from the legal machinery being out of gear, ci fortiori its diffuseness and intricacy must weigh with greater hardship upon the community at large. There is no disguising the fact that scarce any, save professional lawyers, have a knowledge of the criminal law, although all must of necessity be bound by it.
Various are the remedies that have been suggested to remove this standing reproach, but up to the present moment no effectual means have been adopted to wrest the
law from its hiding places. There seems to be on the whole a preponderance of opinion in favour of a Code which shall embody in abstract, adequate, and unambiguous phraseology the practical results of all the learning contained in the statutes and judicial decisions. This conception of a Code is a creature of modern civilization, for, although in ancient times every collection of laws promulgated by the Legislature was thus designated, instances of a Code in the modern acceptation of the term cannot be traced back further than the middle of the last century. Of all the ancient systems of law the sole example which may be regarded as an approach to the idea of a Code as we understand it is that of Justinian. In recent times, however, the demand for a complete and systematic reexpression of existing law has manifested itself in all the principal European countries save phlegmatic England. To comply with this requirement Prussia provided herself with a Code in 1747, Austria and France simultaneously in 1753, Russia in 1767, and subsequently even our Colonies have set us an example in this respect. Our statesmen have hitherto treated the question of Codification with stolid indifference, if not with stubborn opposition, but a change has now come o’er the spirit of their counsels, and, as if to make amends for former apathy, it has been reserved for a Conservative Attorney-General during the past Session to bring in a Bill, which, besides covering the whole field of Indictable Offences,* imports a series of reforms which will be deemed nothing short of revolutionary.
Q This measure we are informed is but a first instalment—an experiment. Hence offences punishable on summary conviction have been omitted, likewise those created as sanctions for the infringement of special provisions of certain Acts, which, in order to render them intelligible, would have necessitated the re-enactment in extanro of the statutes themselves, thereby increasing the bulk of the Bill to an enormous extent. For this reason, and to prevent confusion, those Acts which constitute the repetition of an offence punishable on summary conviction an indictable offence, have been excluded. With
these exceptions, every indictable offence of practical importance is to be found within its pages.
The construction of a Code is a task of considerable magnitude. No one save a consummate lawyer is capable of reducing the bulk of the law and of simplifying its mechanism ; nor will a mere acquaintance with the actual details of the system, however extensive and accurate, suffice. He who would attempt the enterprise with any chance of success must possess no ordinary powers of synthesis and analysis. He must be able to retain within his mental grasp the entire system in all its ramifications. Not only is an intimate knowledge of the law viewed as an organic whole requisite, but an aptitude for co-ordination and correlation is equally essential. He must also be endowed with discrimination and sound
judgment to make a prudent selection between conflicting .
statutory provisions or judicial statements, and after the labour of sifting the gold from the dross has been accomplished he must bring to the undertaking a rare combination of talents in order to fuse as in a crucible, recast in a new mould, and reproduce the substance of the law in language at once concise and intelligible.
It is no mere idle form of words to say that the Government has discovered in Sir James Fitzjames Stephen an intellect possessing all these qualifications. As part projector of the Indian Code, the working of which has been attended with the most satisfactory results, and as author of a Digest of the Criminal Law, not to mention several other important contributions to this branch of jurisprudence, Sir Fitzjames Stephen has proved his skill in simplifying, condensing, and amending the Criminal Law. He has laid the foundations and erected the scaffolding whereon the reconstruction of our law can safely rest, and it was in recognition of these distinguished services that the Law Officers of the Crown were induced to entrust to him the preparation of the measure presented to Parlia