THE SPECIAL COMMISSIONS.
THE trials under the Special Commissions are so similar in their features that they want even the small recommendation of ordinary crimes—variety of folly. Looking at the whole of them we think we are fully borne out in the opinion which we pronounced several weeks ago, that the notion of extended combinations among a set of brutishly ignorant rustics, and the fear of great or permanent hazard to the property or institutions of the country from their rude and blundering attempts to get rid of a portion of the undisputed misery under which they labour, were unfounded. Wel were not, •however, prepared for the lame and impotent conclusion to which all these Special Commissions seem rapidly hastening. With all the terror and majesty of an extraordinary assize, at this most distressing time of the year, as Sir JAMES PARK justly designates it—with all the coiffed and gowned lawyers which the power of' the Crown and the purse of the people can so readily command—what discoveries have been effected touching those offences, which really alarmed even the resolute ? At the Lewes assizes, one miserable man, at the Maidstone another, have been convicted, and have suffered, on evidence which we will not • say was unsatisfactory, but which, if correctly reported, would not have induced us to find any man guilty. Both these men died de- claring their innocence,—God only knows how sincerely, 'but cer- tainly with no appearance of obdurate falsehood. Two boys at Maidstone also have suffered for the same crime, induced to its perpetration by a villain a hundred -times more guilty than them- selves. We do not say that any of these cases were not properly selected as examples—but what are they to so many ? Where are the numerous incendiaries of Kent, of Hants, of Berks ? In the last two counties, there is not even a charge of arson on the calen- dar! The crimes that have been tried, and those which are yet un- decided, were gross enough, and called for repression ; but it was not the breaking of machines—it was not the rioting—it was not the clamouring for higher wages, or the bullying of women, clergy- men, and country gentlemen out of beer-money, that called for any extra display of the authority of the law : it was the burnings, the terrible burfungs alone ; and of these, for any thing that we have yet seen, we are likely to receive from the Special Commis- sions as little information as we should have done from an ordinary assize.