Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 145 ~6 6 &fr. Tait-Elected as you have lately been, by the unanimous voice of the General Commissiouers, to 6ll an important and arduous office, it is with pleasure I, as Chief Magistrate of Edinburgh, perform my official task of inducting you in that chir, as Judge of Police, for this city, and the vicinage. " 'Much legal, as well as local knowledge, just and steady principles, firmness of decision, united with moderation and mildness of manner, ought to characterise the person invested with such extensive powers as the act oonfers. I am happy in believing y m possess them all ; and they are in my mind sure pledges that you will discharge the duties of the situation, to which you have been so honourably chosen (however arduous or unpleasant they may be), with such fidelity and success, as to merit the grateful thanks of your fellow-citizens, and the approbation of the public at large. '' ' On the assistance and cordial co.operation of the Magistrates of Edinburgh, you may always most assuredly rely. Our ardent and united wish being to see this metropolis (long since held deservedly in the highest estimation for its seminaries of learning, and its courts of law) equally distinguished by purity of manners, propriety of conduct, and an uniform veneration for, and undeviating obedience to, the laws, both civil and religious, in every class and individual member of the community.' "The Judge of Police then addressed the Lord Provost and Commissioners in the following speech :- " ' I approach this seat with emotions widely different in their nature ; with extreme diffidence of my own capaoity, but with great confidence is the honourable support which I see around me. ' I am fully aware of the importance of the situation which I am now called to occupy. Much of the virtue of a nation depends upon the ezertions of the Police in preventing crimes, in suppressing them in their infancy, and even in checking them in their advanced progress, especially in the metropolis, which must always greatly influence, and, I may say, even regulate the morals of the country to which it belongs. '' 'To conduct an Establishment of Police is, therefore, an important, and reflection tells us that it must be an arduous, task. But I here declare, that no considerations of personal labour, no considerations of personal safety, shall deter me from performing, so far as my abilities reach, the duties which I conceive to be attached to the situation which I am now to hold. In the performance of these duties, I shall have occasion to punish-I could wish it were otherwise. The powers of this Court are limited, but these powers are a check sufficient to give an essential protection to virtue, in every situation, and to give a check to vice and profligacy in whatever rank of life they may be found. The statute under which I am to act, empowers rqe to punish by fine and compensation for damages, by imprigonment in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, or by commitment to Bridewell, The fines and compensation for damages are but small in amount, nor can the imprisonment in the Tolbooth, or the commitment to Bridewell, be long in duration.- But still there is extent enough to make the punishment, if properly directed, be felt in every rank ; and I consider it to be my duty, sitting here, to pronounce judgments which may be sensibly felt by all those who break through that decency and good order which contribute so essentially to the comforts of society. " ' I shall be sorry indeed to be obliged to sink those in the inferior ranks of life still lower, by inflicting punishments of a degrading nature. .And I shall regret still more to he obliged to apply the punishments which naturally belong to the inferior ranks to those in a higher class. But I am bound by the sacred oath which I have taken, to discharge my duty as my conscience dictates ; and that conscience tells me that I am not to look to p e r m , hut to crirnes. " ' In cases of U deep dye this Court cannot proceed to punishment, but it ha4 however, in such cases, to apprehend and hand over to the superior tribunals ; and there these deeper crimes will meet with the punishment which they merit. '' ' In what I have said I have referred chiefly to that branch of my duty which relates to the prevention and puuishment of offences against peace and good order. There are a variety of other branches, some of a judicial, some of a minist&Z nature. I shall not detain you with an enumeration of them. Among the latter, however, I may mention the billeting of soldiers ; and, in that department, I hope to be able to astablish an uniformity of system, which may add to the comforts of the army, and, at the same time: free the inhabitants liable to be quartered upon, from some inconveniences which The same principle must pervade the whole. VOL. IL U
Volume 9 Page 194
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