15 FEBRUARY 1935, Page 30


By Sir Charles Fawcett

The title of this book (Oxford Univprsity Press, 15s.) perhaps not the best that could have been chosen, for there was British justice before 1660, at which its record begins. In Madras, for example, the East India Company had exercised capital jurisdiction from the beginning ; and in Surat Metnwold in 1636 hanged a seaman for sodomy:- , Sir Charles Fawcett, taking the Restoration as starting-paint, has gathered together interesting information Which ". shows the effective contribution made by the Company's Courts to the development Of a high standard of justice in India." What is even inore striking is his 'evidence of how very much milder the Company's laws (under direct instruc- tions from headquarters) were than the laws of England, from which they derived. The one exception is the appalling instance of a mizard " (plainly a lunatic) burnt alive in Bombay in 1671; in England he would have been hanged ; and this severity seems to have been unique.

"He died very obstinate, never showing the least Sigh of fear. To the last we intended to have hanged him, only it was generally advised that burning would be far the greater terror. . . . There happened one thing very observable, that when he lay in the midst of so great a fire one of his arms quite burnt off, yet notwithstanding his great knot of hair on his head, and his Clout betwixt his legs was entire, though they perfectly flamed above an hour together."