The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 37
The certainty of impunity for great political offences is one of the most unhealthy symptoms in the conduct of affairs. Every transgressor is sure, from long experience, that he plays a winning game. However vicious may be his acts, he knows that a temporary unpopularity is the worst he has to dread. A few months' tabooing is the utmost retribution inflicted for even moral depravity; and degradation or severe punishment for the offender is never thought of. But a year and a half has elapsed since a prominent public man was chased from office for conduct the most disingenuous, and for imposture attempted on the parliament and the country.
While we write the journals are calmly discussing his return to office and elevation to the peerage. We nowhere meet with such a remark as that "the mental obliquity of this statesman disqualifies him from being intrusted with the direction of affairs." Exposed as he has been, he is nevertheless to be readmitted to office, the nation recklessly taking the risk of his future misdeeds.
We have found this plan signally fail with offenders against the common law; and the admission of the ticket-of- page 75 leave system into political life will, it may safely be predicted, prove a most unfortunate innovation. With good men it is always expedient to keep alive a belief in the certainty of punishment for offences; but when work is done with such tools as it is the pleasure of this country to employ, the withdrawal of this belief is an invitation to betray us. The only remaining power over them is the dread of chastisement.
(Dobson Collet, 1857.)