Page images

rules for sound signals have been so worded as to leave it uncertain whether the signals are to be used cumulatively or singly. If cumulatively, they would, in certain cases, follow each other in such rapid succession as to lead to great confusion. In any case they should be so worded as to leave no doubt what is intended. In the process of drafting, probably every blast' would be either ' long' or 'short,' and a clause approximately defining the length of each kind of blast would be given, applicable to every sound signal used in the rules.

Special committees were appointed to investigate, and report to the Conference on most of the subjects which had been entered on the programme. These subjects may be divided into two classes those on which it was considered that no common international action could be recommended, and, on the other hand, those which it was advisable to make the subject of international agreement. Among the former were questions relating to the construction, equipment, and inspection of vessels, and to the discipline and sufficiency of their crews. In regard to the proposal for a uniform load-mark, it was decided that 'notwithstanding the advantages which would be connected with the introduction of a uniform system of load-marks, this matter is not ripe for consideration by this Conference, and it ought to be left to the negotiations to be carried on between the governments of the maritime nations.'

Among the subjects recommended by the Conference for international agreement was the saving of life and property from shipwreck. The duty of each vessel, in case of a collision, to stay by the other vessel, and to help her if necessary, and, in all cases, to give her name and port of registry was acknowledged by a unanimous vote of the Conference, and is the subject of one of the fourteen resolutions put in an appendix to the Rules of the Road, The British Board of Trade rules for boats and appliances to be carried on board ship for saving life were generally recommended for adoption by all governments in the case of vessels of 150 tons and upwards, gross tonnage. The use of oil for calming a heavy sea is recommended, although it is admitted that there are conditions under which the action of breaking waves is not thereby much, if at all, modified.' Experiments have shown that in the

. open sea it is efficacious, but not nearly so much so in shallow water.

A uniform system of signals was laid down-lights by night and flags by day—to signal between a ship in distress and men on shore.

As regards colour-blindness, which has been so much discussed in the English Press, an opinion was passed that 'defective visual


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


power and colour-blindness are sources of danger at sea,' and it was recommended that tests should be applied for everyone intending to go to sea, and that ‘no man or boy should be permitted to serve on board any vessel in the capacity of seaman, or where he will have to stand look-out, whose visual power is below one half normal, or who is red and green colour-blind.' The vested interests of captains and mates now holding appointments are safeguarded, and they are not to be obliged to submit to these tests.

A proposal that steamers plying in opposite directions between Europe and North America should be forced to keep to certain specified routes was rejected. But it was hoped that voluntary agreements of this kind would be entered into by the various steamship companies. For night-signalling a system of long and short flashes by white lights was considered as preferable to any system of coloured lights which cannot be seen so far as white lights.

The duties of one of the special sub-committees appointed were of a very multifarious kind. The following subjects were investigated and reported on by them: Warnings of approaching storms; Reporting, marking, and removing dangerous wrecks and obstructions to navigation ; Notices of dangers to navigation ; A uniform system of buoys and beacons.

Several days were spent in the discussion of these subjects, and in drawing up a report which could be unanimously adopted. The importance of uniformity and of simplicity is clear to every one, specially in such a matter as that of buoys and beacons, which sbould form a part of the common language of the Sea to be understood easily and used universally by sailors of every nationality. The difficulties in the way of getting one uniform system adopted by Governments, who have spent large sums in elaborating their own special systems, are very considerable, but, it is to be hoped, not insurmountable; and the Report submitted by the Committee and adopted by the Conference was a genuine attempt to arrive at a conclusion satisfactory to all countries, without imposing on any one too heavy a burden of change.

A large and representative Committee was appointed to examine and report on 'systems and devices' for saving life at sea. The number of inventive geniuses is considerable, and of those who try their hands at invention much larger; and the work of examining and sifting out what was of real practical value was a very heavy one. Their Report states that 'the Government of Chili has made the most liberal provision that the Committee has knowledge of for the safety of life on shipboard.'

The Committee did not however consider that the Chilian appliances could be universally adopted, however admirable they were


in themselves, and they recommend, as a basis for international agreement, the Rules of the British Board of Trade which were issued in March of this year.

The Conference has been described by some of its leading members as being the first of many which may be held hereafter as time goes on. Regarded in this way as the foundation for future work of a similar kind, its purpose and object may be said to have been fairly fulfilled. It suffered from the fate of many conferences. Towards the end, when most deliberation was required, there was a marked increase in the pace; and never was the old proverb more applicable—More haste worse speed. It was brought to a conclusion by a unanimous vote proposed by Sir Charles Hall, chief delegate for Great Britain, expressing the regard felt for the President, Admiral Franklin of the American Navy, by every member of the Conference, all of whom had appreciated his untiring patience and unvarying courtesy.

FREDERICK WILLIAM VERNEY. (Delegate for the Siamese Government.) The Old and the New.


Magic wordes ! ye, I wis, are a touchstone of noses

Mete to discerne between hawk and hernshawe ; a limitless theme, that is more than red roses

To monger of sonnet and rhyming gew-gaw ; Sage Baius, a Mind that defies coinpetition,

Re'er dreamt of that Marim, so soothfast and true : Jf the Land to the Feoffor reverts by Condition,

he's in of the Dide Use and not of the New.


Give ear, D ye Shades of Lycurgus and Moses !

I rede ve a riddle the like ye ne'er saw ; ('Tis a wonder how well your Lawmaker composes

a Code without knowing a fragment of Law: Por Spartan nor Hebrewe had any suspicion

Dr hint of the things I unfold to their view :) No Remainder is limited well on Condition,

Which restores the Dide Use by destroying the New.


Ye Poets! I'm sick of your vain repetition,

Pour Jenny and Jessamy, Sukey and Sue :
Be advised; and for Ballades suggesting vomition,
Give us Sonnets of

Uses, the Dide and the New.

H. W. C.


(Short notices do not necessarily exclude fuller review hereafter.)


A General View of the Criminal Law of England. BY SIR JAMES

FITZJAMES STEPHEN, K.C.S.I., D.C.L. Second Edition. London:

Macmillan & Co. 1890. 8vo. ix and 399 pp. 1863 is the date of the first edition of Sir James Stephen's General View of the Criminal Law of England.' If anyone before that time wished to read an intelligible account of the subject, to what book could he have turned ? Of technical manuals there were many, and some of them good. But they were indices rather than books, and they all assumed that the novice knew just what he most wanted to learn. One and all dealt with the subject as if it resembled heraldry or whist, and were a collection of artificial rules not corresponding to any facts in nature. One and all were uncritical ; what was fanciful and what was rational were treated with the same respect ; decisions were numbered, not weighed; and some scrap of curious learning dredged from the depths of the Modern Reports counted for as much in the living law of the land as a decision in the Court for Crown Cases Reserved not a fortnight old. It is significant that two years after the Consolidation Acts, which changed the face of criminal law, appeared the first text-book, which, so far as I know, any man of good sense could read with pleasure and profit. To lawyers it was not less instructive than to others. I only repeat what I have heard from the lips of men of eminence, that they owe to it incomparably more than to any other book on the subject.

To all intents and purposes this new edition is a new work. Scarcely a page is untouched. Much matter about the laws of evidence has been omitted; it did not exclusively relate to criminal law; and some chapters dealt with questions in which interest has died out. The weak side of the first edition was the historical. In 1863 the influence of Bentham was nearer and greater than it is; people then cared much less than they do now for that element. Of the history of the development of the whole body of criminal law out of a few crude, casual ingredients, most of us will find here all we are curious to know. The supreme value of the book is not in the narrative of the growth of English law, the fullness and lucidity of the exposition, or the acute, terse observations in every page, but in the living knowledge of the subject which it displays. Experience of thirty-six years as a barrister, legislative member of the Indian Council, legal author, a draftsman of important measures affecting criminal law, and as a judge, has gone to the production of this volume ; no less would have sufficed.

In every page the author writes with an enviable sense of proportion, & perception of what is living and what is obsolete, what is growing and what is unimportant. In some excellent text-books the whole law as to challenges is described as if it were a matter of course for counsel to exhaust their challenges; here it receives the limited attention which in practice it merits.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »