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ly for suffering, not one who evinces such a fatal disposition for enjoying." Upon such principles as these, many of the Game Laws have been constructed, and are preserved. The interference of a very small property with a very large one; the critical position of one or two fields, is a very serious source of vexation on many other occasions besides those of game. He who possesses a field in the middle of my premises, may build so as to obstruct my view; and may present to me the hinder parts of a barn, instead of one of the finest landscapes in nature. Nay, he may turn his field into tea-gardens, and destroy my privacy by the introduction of every species of vulgar company. The Legislature, in all these instances, has provided no remedy for the inconveniences which a small property, by such intermixture, may inflict upon a large one, but has secured the same rights to unequal proportions. It is very difficult to conceive why these equitable principles are to be violated in the case of game alone.
Our securities against that rabble of sportsmen which the abo lition of qualifications might be supposed to produce, are, the consent of the owner of the soil as an indispensable preliminary, guarded by heavy penalties-and the price of a certificate, rendered perhaps greater than it is at present. It is impossible to conceive why the owner of the soil, if the right of game is secured to him, has not a right to sell, or grant the right of killing it to whom he pleases-just as much as he has the power of appointing whom he pleases to kill his ducks, pigeons, and chickens. The danger of making the poor idle, is a mere pretence. It is monopoly calling in the aid of hypocrisy, and tyranny veiling itself in the garb of philosophical humanity. A poor man goes to wakes, fairs and horse races, without pain and penalty; a little shopkeeper, when his work is over, may go to a bull-bait, or to the cock-pit; but the idea of his pursuing an hare, even with the consent of the land-owner, fills the Bucolic Senator with the most lively apprehensions of relaxed industry, and ruinous dissipation.— The truth is, if a poor man does not offend against morals or religion, and supports himself and his family without assistance, the law has nothing to do with his amusements. The real barriers against increase of sportsmen, (if the proposed alteration were admitted), are, as we have before said, the prohibition of the land-owner; the tax to the state for a certificate; the necessity of labouring for support.-Whoever violates none of these rights, and neglects none of these duties in his sporting, sports without crime;-and to punish him would be gross and scandalous tyranny.
The next alteration which we would propose is, that game
should be made property; that is, that every man should have a right to the game found upon his land-and that the violation of it should be punished as poaching now is, by pecuniary penalties, and summary conviction before magistrates. This change in the Game Laws would be an additional defence of game; for the landed proprietor has now no other remedy against the qualified intruder upon his game, than air action at law for a trespass on the land; and if the trespasser has received no notice, this can hardly be called any remedy at all. It is now no uncommon practice for persons who have the exterior, and perhaps the fortunes of gentlemen, as they are tra velling from place to place, to shoot over manors where they have no property, and from which, as strangers, they cannot have been warned. In such case, (which, we repeat again, is by no means one of rare occurrence), it would, under the reformed system, be no more difficult for the lord of the soil to protect his game, than it would be to protect his geese and ducks. But though game should be considered as property, it should still be considered as the lowest species of property-because it is in its nature more vague and mutable than any other! species of property, and because depredations upon it are carried on at a distance from the dwelling, and without personal alarm to the proprietors. It would be very easy to increase the penalties, in proportion to the number of offences committed by the same individual.
The punishments which country gentlemen expect by making game property, are the punishments affixed to offences of a much higher order: but country gentlemen must not be allow ed to legislate exclusively on this, more than on any other subject. The very mention of hares and partridges in the country, too often puts an end to common humanity and common sense. Game must be protected; but protected without violating those principles of justice, and that adaptation of punishment to crime, which (incredible as it may appear) are of infinitely greater importance than the amusements of country gentlemen.
We come now to the sale of game.-The foundation on which the propriety of allowing this, partly rests, is the impossibility of preventing it. There exists, and has sprung up since the game laws, an enormous mass of wealth, which has nothing to do with land. Do the country gentlemen imagine, that it is in the power of human laws to deprive the three per cents of pheasants? That there is upon earth, air, or sea, a single flavour (cost what crime it may to procure it), that mercantile opulence will not procure? Increase the difficulty, and you enlist vanity on the side of luxury; and make that be sought for as a display of wealth, which was before valued only for the gratification of appetite.
The law may multiply penalties by reams. Squires may fret, and Justices commit, and gamekeepers and poachers continue their nocturnal wars. There must be game on Lord Mayor's day, do what you will. You may multiply the crimes by which it is procured; but nothing can arrest its inevitable progress, from the wood of the esquire to the spit of the citizen. The late law for preventing the sale of game produced some little temporary difficulty in London at the beginning of the season. The. poulterers were alarmed, and came to some resolutions. But the alarm soon began to subside, and the difficulties to vanish. In another season, the law will be entirely nugatory and forgotten. The experiment was tried of increased severity; and a law passed to punish poachers with transportation who were caught poaching in the night time with arms. What has the consequence been?-Not a cessation of poaching, but a succession of village guerillas;—an internecive war between the gamekeepers and marauders of game;-the whole country flung into brawls and convulsions, for the unjust and exorbitant pleasures of country gentlemen. The poacher hardly believes he is doing any wrong in taking partridges aud pheasants. He would admit the justice of being transported for stealing sheep; and his courage in such. a transaction would be impaired by a consciousness he was doing wrong: But he has no such feeling in taking game; and the preposterous punishment of transportation makes him desperate, and not timid. Single poachers are gathered into large companies, for their mutual protection; and go out, not only with the intention of taking game, but of defending what they take with their lives. Such feelings soon produce a rivalry of personal courage, and a thirst of revenge between the villagers and the agents of power. We extract the following passages on this subject from the Three Letters on the Game Laws.
The first and most palpable effect has naturally been, an exaltation of all the savage and desperate features in the poacher's character. The war between him and the gamekeeper has necessarily be-. come a "bellum internecivum. A marauder may hesitate perhaps at killing his fellow man, when the alternative is only six months' imprisonment in the county gaol; but when the alternative is to overcome the keeper, or to be torn from his family and connexions, and sent to hard labour at the Antipodes, we cannot be much surprised that murders and midnight combats have considerably increased this season; or that information, such as the following, has frequently enriched the columns of the country newspapers.
"POACHING.-Richard Barnett was on Tuesday convicted before T. Clutterbuck Esq., of keeping and using engines or wires for the destruction of game in the parish of Dunkerton, and fined 51. He was taken into custody by C. Coates, keeper to Sir Charles Bamfylde, Bart., who found upon him 17 wire-snares. The new act that
has just passed against these illegal practices, seems only to have irritated the offenders, and made them more daring and desperate. The following is a copy of an anonymous circular letter, which has been received by several magistrates, and other eminent characters in this neighbourhood.
"TAKE NOTICE.-We have lately heard and seen that there is an act passed, and whatever poacher is caught destroying the game, is to be transported for seven years.-This is English liberty!
"Now, we do swear to each other, that the first of our company that this law is inflicted on, that there shall not one gentleman's seat in our country escape the rage of fire. We are nine in number, and we will burn every gentleman's house of note. The first that impeaches shall be shot. We have sworn not to impeach. You may think it a threat, but they will find it reality. The Game Laws were too severe before. The Lord of all men sent these animals for the peasants as well as for the prince. God will not let his people be oppressed. He will assist us in our undertaking, and we will execute it with caution. "'-Bath Paper.
"DEATH OF A POACHER.-On the evening of Saturday se’ennight, about eight or nine o'clock, a body of poachers, seven in number, assembled by mutual agreement on the estate of the Hon. John Dutton at Sherborne, Gloucestershire, for the purpose of taking hares and other game. With the assistance of two dogs, and some nets and snares which they brought with them, they had succeeded in catching nine hares, and were carrying them away, when they were discovered by the gamekeeper, and seven others who were engaged with him in patroling the different covers, in order to protect the game from nightly depredators. Immediately on perceiving the poachers, the keeper summoned them in a civil and peaceable manner to give up their names, the dogs, implements, &c. they had with them, and the game they had taken at the same time assuring them, that his party had fire arms (which were produced for the purpose of convincing and alarming them), and representing to them the folly of resistance, as, in the event of an affray, they must inevitably be overpowered by superior numbers, even without fire-arms, which they were determined not to resort to, unless compelled in self-defence. Notwithstanding this remonstrance of the keeper, the men unanimously refused to give up on any terms, declaring, that if they were followed, they would give them a "brush," and would repel force by force. The poachers then directly took off their great coats, threw them down with the game, &c. behind them, and approached the keepers in an attitude of attack. A smart contest instantly ensued, both parties using only the sticks or bludgeons they carried: and such was the confusion during the battle, that some of the keepers were occasionally struck by their own comrades in mistake for their opponents. After they had fought in this manner about eight or ten minutes, one of the poachers, named Robert Simmons, received a VOL. XXXI. No. 62. U
violent blow upon his left temple, which felled him to the ground, where he lay, crying out murder, and asking for mercy. The keepers very humanely desired that all violence might cease on both sides: apon which three of the poachers took to flight and escaped, and the remaining three, together with Simmons, were secured by the keepers. Simmons, by the assistance of the other men, walked to the keeper's house, where he was placed in a chair: but he soon after died. His death was no doubt caused by the pressure of blood upon the brain, occasioned by the rupture of a vessel from the blow he had received. The three poachers who had been taken were committed to Northleach prison. The inquest upon the body of Simmons was taken on Monday, before W. Trigge, Gent., Coroner; and the above account is extracted from the evidence given upon that occasion. poachers were all armed with bludgeons, except the deceased, who had provided himself with the thick part of a flail, made of firm knotted crab-tree, and pointed at the extremity, in order to thrust with, if occasion required. The deceased was an athletic muscular man, very active, and about twenty-eight years of age. He resided at Bowle, in Oxfordshire, and has left a wife, but no child. The three prisoners were heard in evidence; and all concurred in stating that the keepers were in no way blameable, and attributed their disaster to their own indiscretion and imprudence. Several of the keeper's party were so much beat as to be now confined to their beds. The two parties are said to be total strangers to each other, consequently no malice prepense could have existed between them; and as it appeared to the Jury, after a most minute and deliberate investigation, that the confusion during the affray was so great, that the deceased was as likely to be struck by one of his own party as by the keeper's, they returned a verdict of-Manslaughter against some person or persons unknown."'
Wretched as the first of these productions is, I think it can scarcely be denied, that both its spirit and its probable consequences are wholly to be ascribed to the exasperation naturally consequent upon the severe enactment just alluded to. And the last case is at least a strong proof that severity of enactment is quite inadequate to correct the evil. p. 356-359.
Poaching will exist in some degree, let the laws be what they may; but the most certain method of checking the poacher seems to be by underselling him. If game can be lawfully sold, the quantity sent to market will be increased, the price lowered, and, with that, the profits and temptations of the poacher. Not only would the prices of the poacher be lowered, but we much doubt if he would find any sale at all. Licenses to sell game might be confined to real poulterers, and real occupiers of a a certain portion of land. It might be rendered penal to purchase it from any but licensed persons; and in this way the faility of the lawful, and the danger of the unlawful trade, would