7 JANUARY 1843, Page 15


are aware, that in Police-offices there is a depository called the poor-box, to which the charitable few send handsome donations, and into which delicate prosecutors and dilettanti informers drop their perquisites. Now, it is said, this latter source fails ; the fines being generally taken by those who are entitled to them. Whether the change indicates an altered opinion on the strict observance of the law and the reparation of injury, or greater need on the part of the prosecuting class, it equally subtracts from one of the most useful of all public funds. The Police Magistrates, in point of fact, constitute highly useful and necessary auxiliaries to the staff of Poor-law officers : so long as destitution, in its overt act " vagrancy," is an offence at law, so long as misery provokes to unpremeditated crime or subjects to unmerited suspicion, and so long as the court of summary justice is entered by objects for compassion of any kind, so long should Magistrates remain administrators of one branch of poor-relief, the uses for which are commonly more obvious and more pressing than in ordinary cases of pauperism. Such being the facts, the fund ought not to depend on the precarious sources of waived fines and charitable gifts, but it ought to be supplied by some regular means. Perhaps as good a way as any would be to empower the Magistrates to draw on the Poor-law Commissioners, at discretion, for any requisite number of subsidies of stated amounts each, on account of the " poor-box" in their offices : the discretion of the Magistrates being no more fettered than at present in the detail of their administration ; on the strict understanding that the money should only be expended in such cases of emergency as at present obtain temporary aid at the Magistrates' hands. Our system of public administration, in all departments, does not sufficiently con- template the possibility of exceptional cases, and the expediency of substantial equity apart from set rules; but in no instance are they so necessary to be remembered as in the jurisdiction of our Police Courts.