QUESTIONS CONNECTED WITH
THE RIGHT OF PUBLIC MEETING
Four important questions connected with the right of public meeting require consideration.
These inquiries are: first, whether there exist any general right of meeting in public places? secondly, what is the meaning of the term “an unlawful assembly”? thirdly, what are the rights of the Crown or its servants in dealing with an unlawful assembly? and fourthly, what are the rights possessed by the members of a lawful assembly when the meeting is interfered with or dispersed by force?
For the proper understanding of the matters under discussion, it is necessary to grasp firmly the truth and the bearing of two indisputable but often neglected observations.
The first is that English law does not recognise any special right of public meeting either for a political or for any other purpose.
The right of assembling is nothing more than the result of the view taken by our Courts of individual liberty of person and individual liberty of speech.
Interference therefore with a lawful meeting is not an invasion of a public right, but an attack upon the individual rights of A or B, and must generally resolve itself into a number of assaults upon definite persons, members of the meeting. A wrongdoer who disperses a crowd is not indicted or sued for breaking up a meeting, but is liable (if at all) to a prosecution or an action for assaulting A, a definite member of the crowd. Hence further the answer to the question how far persons present at a lawful meeting may resist any attempt to disperse the assembly, depends at bottom on a determination of the methods prescribed by law to a given citizen A, for punishing or repelling an assault.
The second of these preliminary observations is that the most serious of the obscurities which beset the law of public meetings arise from the difficulty of determining how far a citizen is legally justified in using force for the protection of his person, liberty, or property, or, if we may use the word “self-defence” in its widest sense, from uncertainty as to the true principles which govern the right of self-defence,
The close connection of these introductory remarks with the questions to be considered will become apparent as we proceed.
DOES THERE EXIST ANY GENERAL RIGHT OF
MEETING IN PUBLIC PLACES?
The answer is easy. No such right is known to the law of England.
Englishmen, it is true, meet together for political as well as for other purposes, in parks, on commons, and in other open spaces accessible to all the world. It is also true that in England meetings held in the open air are not subject, as they are in other countries—for instance, Belgium—to special restrictions. A crowd gathered together in a public place, whether they assemble for amusement or discussion, to see an acrobat perform his somersaults or to hear a statesman explain his tergiversations, stand in the same position as a meeting held for the same purpose in a hall or a drawing-room. An assembly convened, in short, for a lawful object, assembled in a place which the meeting has a right to occupy, and acting in a peaceable manner which inspires no sensible person with fear, is a lawful assembly, whether it be held in Exeter Hall, in the Grounds of Hatfield or Blenheim, or in the London parks. With such a meeting no man has a right to interfere, and for attending it no man incurs legal penalites.
But the law which does not prohibit open-air meetings does not, speaking generally, provide that there shall be spaces where the public can meet in the open air, either for political discussion or for amusement. There may of course be, and indeed there are, special localities which by statute, by custom or otherwise, are so dedicated to the use of the public as to be available for the purpose of public meetings. But speaking in general terms, the Courts do not recognise certain spaces as set aside for that end. In this respect, again, a crowd of a thousand people stand in the same position as an individual person. If A wants to deliver a lecture, to make a speech, or to exhibit a show, he must obtain some room or field which he can legally use for his purpose. He must not invade the rights of private property —-i.e. commit a trespass. He must not interfere with the convenience of the public—i.e. create a nuisance.
The notion that there is such a thing as a right of meeting in public places arises from more than one confusion or erroneous assumption. The right of public meeting—that is, the right of all men to come together in a place where they may lawfully assemble for any lawful purpose, and especially for political discussion—is confounded with the totally different and falsely alleged right of every man to use for the purpose of holding a meeting any place which in any sense is open to the public. The two rights, did they both exist, are essentially different, and in many countries are regulated by totally different rules. It is assumed again that squares, streets, or roads, which every man may lawfully use, are necessarily available for the holding of a meeting. The assumption is false. A crowd blocking up a highway will probably be a nuisance in the legal, no less than in the popular, sense of the term, for they interfere with the ordinary citizen's right to use the locality in the way permitted to him by law. Highways, indeed, are dedicated to the public use, but they must be used for passing and going along them, and the legal mode of use negatives the claim of politicians to use a highway as a forum, just as it excludes the claim of actors to turn it into an open-air theatre. The crowd who collect, and the persons who cause a crowd, for whatever purpose, to collect in a street, create a nuisance. The claim on the part of persons so minded to assemble in any numbers and for so long a time as they please, to remain assembled “to the detriment of others having equal rights, is in its nature irreconcilable with the right of free passage, and there is, so far as we have been able to ascertain, no authority whatever in favour of it.” The general public cannot make out a right to hold meetings even on a common. The ground of popular delusions as to the right of public meeting in open places is at bottom the prevalent notion that the law favours meetings held for the sake of political discussion or agitation, combined with the tacit assumption that when the law allows a right it provides the means for its exercise. No ideas can be more unfounded. English law no more favours or provides for the holding of political meetings than for the giving of public concerts. A man has a right to hear an orator as he has a right to hear a band, or to eat a bun. But each right must be exercised subject to the laws against trespass, against the creation of nuisances, against theft.
The want of a so-called forum may, it will be said, prevent ten thousand worthy citizens from making a lawful demonstration of their political wishes. The remark is true, but, from a lawyer's point of view, irrelevant. Every man has a right to see a Punch show, but if Punch is exhibiting in a theatre for money, no man can see him who cannot provide the necessary shilling. Every man has a right to hear a band, but if there be no place where a band can perform without causing a nuisance, then thousands of excellent citizens must forgo their right to hear music. Every man has a right to worship God after his own fashion, but if all the landowners of a parish refuse ground for the building of a Wesleyan chapel, parishioners must forgo attendance at a Methodist place of worship.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE TERM
“AN UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY”?
The expression “unlawful assembly” does not signify any meeting of which the purpose is unlawful. If, for example, five cheats meet in one room to concoct a fraud, to indite a libel, or to forge a bank-note, or to work out a scheme of perjury, they assemble for an unlawful purpose, but they can hardly be said to constitute an “unlawful assembly.” These words are, in English law, a term of art. This term has a more or less limited and definite signification, and has from time to time been defined by different authorities with varying degrees of precision. The definitions vary, for the most part, rather in words than in substance. Such differences as exist have, however, a twofold importance. They show, in the first place, that the circumstances which may render a meeting an unlawful assembly have not been absolutely determined, and that some important questions with regard to the necessary characteristics of such an assembly are open to discussion. They show, in the second place, that the rules defining the right of public meeting are the result of judicial legislation, and that the law which has been created may be further developed by the judges, and hence that any lawyer bent on determining the character of a given meeting must consider carefully the tendency, as well as the words, of reported judgments.
The general and prominent characteristic of an unlawful assembly (however defined) is, to any one who candidly studies the authorities, clear enough. It is a meeting of persons who either intend to commit or do commit, or who lead others to entertain a reasonable fear that the meeting will commit, a breach of the peace. This actual or threatened breach of the peace is, so to speak, the essential characteristic or “property” connoted by the term “unlawful assembly.” A careful examination, however, of received descriptions or definitions and of the authoritative statements contained in Sir James Stephen's Digest and in the Draft Code drawn by the Criminal Code Commissioners, enables an inquirer to frame a more or less accurate definition of an “unlawful assembly.”
It may (it is submitted) be defined as any meeting of three or more persons who
- 1.Assemble to commit, or, when assembled do commit, a breach of the peace; or
- 2.Assemble with intent to commit a crime by open force; or
- 3.Assemble for any common purpose, whether lawful or unlawful, in such a manner as to give firm and courageous persons in the neighbourhood of the assembly reasonable cause to fear a breach of the peace, in consequence of the assembly; or
- 4.Assemble with intent to incite disaffection among the Crown's subjects, to bring the Constitution and Government of the realm, as by law established, into contempt, and generally to carry out, or prepare for carrying out, a public conspiracy.
The following points require notice:
- 1.A meeting is an unlawful assembly which either disturbs the peace, or inspires reasonable persons in its neighbourhood with a fear that it will cause a breach of the peace.Hence the state of public feeling under which a meeting is convened, the class and the number of the persons who come together, the mode in which they meet (whether, for instance, they do or do not carry arms), the place of their meeting (whether, for instance, they assemble on an open common or in the midst of a populous city), and various other circumstances, must all be taken into account in determining whether a given meeting is an unlawful assembly or not.
- 2.A meeting need not be the less an unlawful assembly because it meets for a legal object.A crowd collected to petition for the release of a prisoner or to see an acrobatic performance, though meeting for a lawful object, may easily be, or turn into, an unlawful assembly. The lawfulness of the aim with which a hundred thousand people assemble may affect the reasonableness of fearing that a breach of the peace will ensue. But the lawfulness of their object does not of itself make the meeting lawful.
- 3.A meeting for an unlawful purpose is not, as already pointed out, necessarily an unlawful assembly.The test of the character of the assembly is whether the meeting does or does not contemplate the use of unlawful force, or does or does not inspire others with reasonable fear that unlawful force will be used—i.e. that the King's peace will be broken.
- 4.There is some authority for the suggestion that a meeting for the purpose of spreading sedition, of exciting class against class, or of bringing the constitution of the country into contempt, is ipso facto an unlawful assembly. and that a meeting to promote an unlawful conspiracy of a public character, even though it does not directly menace a breach of the peace, is also an unlawful assembly.This is a matter on which it is prudent to speak with reserve and hesitation, and to maintain a suspended judgment until the point suggested has come fairly before the English Courts. The true rule (possibly) may be, that a meeting assembled for the promotion of a purpose which is not only criminal, but also if carried out will promote a breach of the peace, is itself an unlawful assembly.
- 5.Two questions certainly remain open for decision.Is a meeting an unlawful assembly because, though the meeting itself is peaceable enough, it excites reasonable dread of future disturbance to the peace of the realm; as where political leaders address a meeting in terms which it is reasonably supposed may, after the meeting has broken up, excite insurrection?
The answer to this inquiry is doubtful.
Need again the breach of the peace, or fear thereof, which gives a meeting the character of illegality, be a breach caused by the members of the meeting?
To this inquiry an answer has already been given in the body of this treatise.
The reply is, in general terms, that, on the one hand, a meeting which, as regards its object and the conduct of the members of it, is perfectly lawful, does not become an unlawful assembly from the mere fact that possibly or probably it may cause wrongdoers who dislike the meeting to break the peace, but, on the other hand, a meeting which, though perhaps not in strictness an unlawful assembly, does from some illegality in its object, or in the conduct of its members, cause a breach of the peace by persons opposed to the meeting, may thereby become an unlawful assembly, and a meeting which, though in every way perfectly lawful, if it in fact causes a breach of the peace on the part of wrongdoers who dislike the meeting may, if the peace can be restored by no other means, be required by the magistrates or other persons in authority to break up, and on the members of the meeting refusing to disperse, becomes an unlawful assembly,
WHAT ARE THE RIGHTS OF THE CROWN OR ITS SERVANTS
IN DEALING WITH AN UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY?
1. Every person who takes part in an unlawful assembly is guilty of a misdemeanour, and the Crown may therefore prosecute every such person for his offence.
Whether a given man A, who is present at a particular meeting, does thereby incur the guilt of “taking part” in an unlawful assembly, is in each case a question of fact.
A, though present, may not be a member of the meeting; he may be there accidentally; he may know nothing of its character; the crowd may originally have assembled for a lawful purpose; the circumstances, e.g. the production of arms, or the outbreak of a riot, which render the meeting unlawful, may have taken place after it began, and in these transactions A may have taken no part. Hence the importance of an official notice, e.g. by a Secretary of State, or by a magistrate, that a meeting is convened for a criminal object. A citizen after reading the notice or proclamation, goes to the meeting at his peril. If it turns out in fact an unlawful assembly, he cannot plead ignorance of its character as a defence against the charge of taking part in the meeting.
2. Magistrates, policemen, and all loyal citizens not only are entitled, but indeed are bound to disperse an unlawful assembly, and, if necessary, to do so by the use of force; and it is a gross error to suppose that they are bound to wait until a riot has occurred, or until the Riot Act has been read. The prevalence of this delusion was the cause, during the Gordon Riots, of London being for days in the hands of the mob. The mode of dispersing a crowd when unlawfully assembled, and the extent of force which it is reasonable to use, differ according to the circumstances of each case.
3. If any assembly becomes a riot—i.e. has begun to act in a tumultuous manner to the disturbance of the peace—a magistrate on being informed that twelve or more persons are unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously assembled together to the disturbance of the public peace, is bound to make the short statutable proclamation which is popularly known as “reading the Riot Act.
The consequences are as follows: first, that any twelve rioters who do not disperse within an hour thereafter, are guilty of felony; and, secondly, that the magistrate and those acting with him may, after such hour, arrest the rioters and disperse the meeting by the employment of any amount of force necessary for the purpose, and are protected from liability for hurt inflicted or death caused in dispersing the meeting. The magistrates are, in short, empowered by the Riot Act to read the proclamation before referred to, and thereupon, after waiting for an hour, to order troops and constables to fire upon the rioters, or charge them sword in hand. It is particularly to be noticed that the powers given to magistrates for dealing with riots under the Riot Act in no way lessen the common law right of a magistrate, and indeed of every citizen, to put an end to a breach of the peace, and hence to disperse an unlawful assembly.
WHAT ARE THE RIGHTS POSSESSED BY
THE MEMBERS OF A LAWFUL ASSEMBLY WHEN
THE MEETING IS INTERFERED WITH
OR DISPERSED BY FORCE?
The Salvation Army assemble in a place where they have a right to meet, say an open piece of land placed at their disposal by the owner, and for a lawful purpose, namely, to hear a sermon. Certain persons who think the meeting either objectionable or illegal attempt to break it up, or do break it up, by force. What, under these circumstances, are the rights of the Salvationists who have come to listen to a preacher? This in a concrete form is the problem for consideration.
An attempt, whether successful or not, to disperse a lawful assembly involves assaults of more or less violence upon the persons A, B, and C who have met together. The wrong thus done by the assailants is, as already pointed out, a wrong done, not to the meeting—a body which has legally no collective rights—but to A, B, or C, an individual pushed, hustled, struck, or otherwise assaulted.
Our problem is, then, in substance—What are the rights of A, the member of a meeting, when unlawfully assaulted? And this inquiry, in its turn, embraces two different questions, which, for clearness sake, ought to be carefully kept apart from each other.
First, what are the remedies of A for the wrong done to him by the assault?
The answer is easy. A has the right to take civil, or (subject to one reservation) criminal proceedings against any person, be he an officer, a soldier, a commissioner of police, a magistrate, a policeman, or a private ruffian, who is responsible for the assault upon A. If, moreover, A be killed, the person or persons by whom his death has been caused may be indicted, according to circumstances, for manslaughter or murder.
This statement as to A's rights or (what is, however, the same thing from another point of view) as to the liabilities of A's assailants, is made subject to one reservation. There exists considerable doubt as to the degree and kind of liability of soldiers (or possibly of policemen) who, under the orders of a superior, do some act (e.g. arrest A or fire at A) which is not on the face of it unlawful, but which turns out to be unlawful because of some circumstance of which the subordinate was not in a position to judge, as, for example, because the meeting was not technically an unlawful assembly, or because the officer giving the order had in some way exceeded his authority.
I hope [says Willes, J.] I may never have to determine that difficult question, how far the orders of a superior officer are a justification. Were I compelled to determine that question, I should probably hold that the orders are an absolute justification in time of actual war—at all events, as regards enemies or foreigners—and, I should think, even with regard to English-born subjects of the Crown, unless the orders were such as could not legally be given. I believe that the better opinion is, that an officer or soldier, acting under the orders of his superior—not being necessarily or manifestly illegal—would be justified by his orders.
A critic were rash who questioned the suggestion of a jurist whose dicta are more weighty than most considered judgments. The words, moreover, of Mr. Justice Willes enounce a principle which is in itself pre-eminently reasonable. If its validity be not admitted, results follow as absurd as they are unjust: every soldier is called upon to determine on the spur of the moment legal subtleties which, after a lengthy consultation, might still perplex experienced lawyers, and the private ordered by his commanding officer to take part in the suppression of a riot runs the risk, if he disobeys, of being shot by order of a court-martial, and, if he obeys, of being hanged under the sentence of a judge. Let it further be carefully noted that the doctrine of Mr. Justice Willes, which is approved of by the Criminal Code Commissioners, applies, it would seem, to criminal liability only. The soldier or policeman who, without full legal justification, assaults or arrests A incurs (it is submitted), even though acting under orders, full civil liability.
Secondly, how far is A entitled to maintain by force against all assailants his right to take part in a lawful public meeting, or, in other words, his right to stand in a place where he lawfully may stand —-e.g. ground opened to A by the owner, for a purpose which is in itself lawful—e.g. the hearing of an address from a captain of the Salvation Army?
In order to obtain a correct answer to this inquiry we should bear in mind the principles which regulate the right of self-defence, and should further consider what may be the different circumstances under which an attempt may be made without legal warrant to disperse a meeting of the Salvation Army. The attack upon the meeting, or in other words upon A, may be made either by mere wrongdoers, or by persons who believe, however mistakenly, that they are acting in exercise of a legal right or in discharge of a legal duty. Let each of these cases be examined separately.
Let us suppose, in the first place, that the Salvationists, and A among them, are attacked by the so-called Skeleton Army or other roughs, and let it further be supposed that the object of the assault is simply to break up the meeting, and that therefore, if A and others disperse, they are in no peril of damage to life or limb.
A and his friends may legally, it would seem, stand their ground, and use such moderate force as amounts to simple assertion of the right to remain where they are. A and his companions may further give individual members of the Skeleton Army in charge for a breach of the peace. It may, however, happen that the roughs are in large numbers, and press upon the Salvationists so that they cannot keep their ground without the use of firearms or other weapons. The use of such force is in one sense necessary, for the Salvationists cannot hold their meeting without employing it. Is the use of such force legal? The strongest way of putting the case in favour of A and his friends is that, in firing upon their opponents, they are using force to put down a breach of the peace. On the whole, however, there can, it is submitted, be no doubt that the use of firearms or other deadly weapons, to maintain their right of meeting, is under the circumstances not legally justifiable. The principle on which extreme acts of self-defence against a lawless assailant cannot be justified until the person assaulted has retreated as far as he can, is applicable to A, B, C, etc., just as it would be to A singly. Each of the Salvationists defending, under the supposed circumstances, not his life, but his right to stand on a given plot of ground.
Next, suppose that the attempt to disperse the Salvationists is made, not by the Skeleton Army, but by the police, who act under the order of magistrates who hold bonâ fide, though mistakenly, that a notice from the Home Secretary forbidding the Army to meet, makes its meeting an unlawful assembly.
Under these circumstances, the police are dearly in the wrong. A policeman who assaults A, B, or C, does an act not admitting of legal justification. Nor is it easy to maintain that the mere fact of the police acting as servants of the Crown in supposed discharge of their duty makes it of itself incumbent upon A to leave the meeting.
The position, however, of the police differs in two important respects from that of mere wrongdoers. Policeman X, when he tells A to move on, and compels him to do so, does not put A in peril of life or limb, for A knows for certain that, if he leaves the meeting, he will not be further molested, or that if he allows himself to be peaceably arrested, he has nothing to dread but temporary imprisonment and appearance before a magistrate who will deal with his rights in accordance with law. Policeman X, further, asserts bonâ fide a supposed legal right to make A withdraw from a place where X believes A has no right to stand; there is a dispute between A and X as to a matter of law. This being the state of affairs, it is at any rate fairly arguable that A, B, and C have a right to stand simply on the defensive, and remain where they are as long as they can do so without inflicting grievous bodily harm upon X and other policemen. Suppose, however, as is likely to be the fact, that, under the pressure of a large body of constables, the Salvationists cannot maintain their meeting without making use of arms—e.g., using bludgeons, swords, pistols, or the like. They have clearly no right to make use of this kind of force. A and his friends are not in peril of their lives, and to kill a policeman in order to secure A the right of standing in a particular place is to inflict a mischief out of all proportion to the importance of the mischief to A which he wishes to avert.A, therefore, if he stabs or stuns X, can on no theory plead the right of self-defence. A and X further are, as already pointed out, at variance on a question of legal rights. This is a matter to be determined not by arms, but by an action at law.
Let it further be noted that the supposed case is the most unfavourable for the police which can be imagined. They may well, though engaged in hindering what turns out to be a lawful meeting, stand in a much better situation than that of assailants. The police may, under orders, have fully occupied and filled up the ground which the Salvationists intend to use. When the Salvationists begin arriving, they find there is no place where they can meet. Nothing but the use of force, and indeed of extreme force, can drive the police away. This force the Salvation Army cannot use; if they did, they would be using violence not on any show of self-defence, but to obtain possession of a particular piece of land. Their only proper course is the vindication of their rights by proceedings in Court.
Of the older cases, which deal with the question how far it is justifiable to resist by violence an arrest made by an officer of justice without due authority, it is difficult to make much use for the elucidation of the question under consideration, for in these cases the matter discussed seems often to have been not whether A's resistance was justifiable, but whether it amounted to murder or only to manslaughter. There are, however, one or two more or less recent decisions which have a real bearing on the right of the members of a public meeting to resist by force attempts to disperse it. And these cases are, on the whole, when properly understood, not inconsistent with the inferences already drawn from general principles. The doctrine laid down in Reg. v. Hewlett, that A ought not to inflict grievous bodily harm even upon X a wrongdoer unless in the strictest self-defence, is of the highest importance. Rex v. Fursey, a decision of 1833, has direct reference to the right of meeting. At a public meeting held that year in London, A carried an American flag which was snatched from him by X, a policeman, whereupon A stabbed X. He was subsequently indicted under 9 Geo. I. c. 31, s. 12, and it appears to have been laid down by the judge that though, if the meeting was a legal one, X had no right to snatch away A's flag, still that even on the supposition that the meeting was a lawful assembly, A, if X had died of his wound, would have been guilty either of manslaughter, or very possibly of murder. Quite in keeping with Rex v. Fursey is the recent case of Reg. v. Harrison. Some of the expressions attributed, in a very compressed newspaper report, to the learned judge who tried the case, may be open to criticism, but the principle involved in the defendant's conviction, namely, that a ruffian cannot assert his alleged right to walk down a particular street by stunning or braining a policeman, or a good citizen who is helping the policeman, is good law no less than good sense.
Nor does the claim to assert legal rights by recourse to pistols or bludgeons receive countenance from two decisions occasionally adduced in its support.
The one is Beatty v. Gillbanks. This case merely shows that a lawful meeting is not rendered an unlawful assembly simply because ruffians try to break it up, and, in short, that the breach of the peace which renders a meeting unlawful must, in general, be a breach caused by the members of the meeting, and not by wrongdoers who wish to prevent its being held.
The second is M'Clenaghan v. Waters. The case may certainly be so explained as to lay down the doctrine that the police when engaged under orders in dispersing a lawful meeting are not engaged in the “execution of their duty,” and that therefore the members of the meeting may persist in holding it in spite of the opposition of the police. Whether this doctrine be absolutely sound is open to debate. It does not necessarily, however, mean more than that a man may exercise a right, even though he has to use a moderate amount of force, against a person who attempts to hinder the exercise of the right. But M'Clenaghan v. Waters certainly does not decide that the member of a lawful assembly may exercise whatever amount of force is necessary to prevent its being dispersed, and falls far short of justifying the proceedings of a Salvationist who brains a policeman rather than surrender the so-called right of public meeting. It is, however, doubtful whether M'Clenaghan v. Waters really supports even the doctrine that moderate resistance to the police is justifiable in order to prevent the dispersing of a lawful assembly. The case purports to follow Beatty v. Gillbanks, and therefore the Court cannot be taken as intentionally going beyond the principle laid down in that case. The question for the opinion of the Court, moreover, in M'Clanaghan v. Waters was, “whether upon the facts stated the police at the time of their being assaulted by the appellants (Salvationists) were legally justified in interfering to prevent the procession from taking place”; or, in other words, whether the meeting of the Salvationists was a lawful assembly? To this question, in the face of Beatty v. Gillbanks, but one reply was possible. This answer the Court gave: they determined “that in taking part in a procession the appellants were doing only an act strictly lawful, and the fact that that act was believed likely to cause others to commit such as were unlawful, was no justification for interfering with them.” Whether the Court determined anything more is at least open to doubt, and if they did determine, as alleged, that the amount of the resistance offered to the police was lawful, this determination is, to say the least, not inconsistent with the stern punishment of acts like that committed by the prisoner Harrison.
No one, however, can dispute that the line between the forcible exercise of a right in the face of opposition, and an unjustifiable assault on those who oppose its exercise, is a fine one, and that many nice problems concerning the degree of resistance which the members of a lawful meeting may offer to persons who wish to break it up are at present unsolved. The next patriot or ruffian who kills or maims a policeman rather than compromise the right of public meeting will try what, from a speculative point of view, may be considered a valuable legal experiment which promises results most interesting to jurists. The experiment will, however, almost certainly be tried at the cost, according to the vigour of his proceedings, of either his freedom or his life.