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MELVILLE DAVISSON POST
AUTHOR OF "RANDOLPH MASON: THE STRANGE SCHEMES,"
N this fin-de-siècle time, society has grown. liberal, it is said, and yet he who thrusts a lever under sage customs, or he who points out the vice of institutions long established, may deem himself happy if he be permitted to strip against the duellist rather than the mob. Even if one come new into the courts of the literati with a cloak dyed a different hue from his fellows, he will scarcely have passed the doorway ere the taunting challenge, "Do you fight, my lord?"
The author, in a previous volume entitled The Strange Schemes of Randolph Mason, pointed out certain defects in the criminal law, and demonstrated how the skilful rogue could commit not a few of the higher crimes in such a manner as to render the law powerless to punish him. The suggestion was, it seems,
considered startling, and the volume has provoked large discussion. A few gentlemen of no inconsiderable legal learning, and certain others to be classified as moral reformers, contended that the book must be dangerous because it explained with great detail how one could murder or steal and escape punishment. If the laws were to be improved, they said, "would it not be more wisely done by influencing a few political leaders?"
While such a criticism does not come from any considerable number of authorities, it has been honestly made and is entitled to consideration.
The vice of it lies, it seems to me, in a failure grasp the actual nature of our institutions. It is a maxim of our system that the lawmaking power of the state rests in the first instance with the people of the state. This power, for the purpose of convenience, is delegated to certain selected persons who meet together in order to put into effect the will of the people.
The so-called law-makers are therefore not law-makers at all, in the sense of being origin