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Continuation of Examination on the 16th of June, before the Recorder, the Mayor, and all the Aldermen, as to the Subpœnas.
RECORDER. Do you remember, on the 11th of June, my asking you whether any of the notices mentioned in the new book of items had issued, or were to be found; and that I had sent Bappoo for them some hours before, and he had not returned?
Mr. ERSKINE. I do not recollect. I do not think it likely I could have given you a distinct, or a precise answer to it.
RECORDER.-Then, can you tell me how that note came to be sent, (a note shown to Mr. Erskine, dated 11th of June,) which was signed by Mr. Erskine, and contained these words: Mr. Erskine has looked over the papers in No. 50, 54, 59, and 60, and does not find in any of them notice to witnesses?
Mr. ERSKINE. When I called upon your Lordship, in consequence of Bappoo's not having returned with some papers for which you had sent him, you desired that I would bring, if I could find them, the notices in the four first causes in the new book of items.
RECORDER. Did not I ask you at the time, if you could find the notices (mentioned) in the new book of items?
Mr. ERSKINE.-I do not recollect that you did, but I remember being sent to look for them.
RECORDER. Did you go and look for them?
Mr. ERSKINE.—I did.
RECORDER. You did not tell me before you went to look for them that they were not to be found.
Mr. ERSKINE.—No, I did not.
RECORDER.-How is this reconcileable with the account which you have given, that, when you directed the new book of items to be made up about the 20th of May, you directed notices to be charged instead of subpœnas, because you could find neither notices nor subpoenas, and notices were the lowest charge. According to this account, you had then (i. e. 20th of May) ascertained that notices were not to be found; and yet, three weeks afterwards, you think it necessary to go to your office to look for them?
Mr. ERSKINE.-I did not recollect the number of causes: it was not in my recollection that they were wanting in every case.
RECORDER. Did not you look in every case to see if there was a subpoena before you directed a notice to be put down?
Mr. ERSKINE.-I think I made up two or three of the bills myself, and directed that, in the others, where there were no subpoenas, notices should be inserted, where the service to witnesses had really taken place.
RECORDER.-Then, having given those directions that notices should be inserted only where subpoenas were not to be found, did you not immediately know, on seeing notice entered in that book, (meaning the new book of items,) that no subpoena had issued in that case?
Mr. ERSKINE. I thought it possible that there might be notices to witnesses in some of the cases. Since the examination on Friday last, I have looked through a greater number of cases, and do not find any notices to call witnesses into Court; from which I am apprehensive that the issuing of subpoena-tickets, without subpoenas, may have existed to a considerable extent; in two or three cases I find subpoena-tickets not served.
RECORDER. Am I to understand you, that you have not found a single notice to call witnesses into Court?
Mr. ERSKINE.-Not as far as I have searched.
The same facts then again appear in this case as in the last,-namely, that a fraud to a considerable extent has been committed, and that it has been committed also for Mr. Erskine's benefit; for it again appears that the fraudulent charge for subpoenas has been brought to account in Mr. Erskine's book, and the money actually received by him. In addition to these facts, there is, I am sorry to say, no small degree of evasion and contradiction in the accounts which Mr. Erskine gives of the transaction. His account of what he calls the mistake about the subpœna in Court, differs from the account he gives in his examination on the former occasion; when asked why he signed the subpoena-ticket not having the subpoena before him, he said it was by mistake, (and that he directed the subpoena not to be served. On the former occasion he says, that he was not aware of the subpœna not having been sued out till the cause was called on in Court,) and that it was his practice to sign subpoena-tickets before any subpoena was sued out. Again, he endeavours to justify the entries of notices to witnesses in the new book of items, and to account for the fewness of the subpoenas, by saying that it was the ordinary practice to issue notices instead of subpoenas in undefended cases; and that Sir William Evans had directed them to be served even in defended cases. Yet, on further examination, he admits that he has no recollection of a single instance of a notice to witnesses having issued, nor can he, after search, find such a thing as a notice among the records of the Court. The result of these cases is, that Mr. Erskine himself gives an opportunity to his clerks, by signing the subpoena-ticket before the subpoenas are sued out, to commit the fraud; the fraud is actually committed, and Mr. Erskine receives the profit of it.
These are the facts upon which the Court is to decide as to their proceedings against Mr. Erskine. The Court might certainly, in this case, proceed summarily to punish Mr. Erskine for his misconduct as an officer of the Court, by fine or imprisonment. The issuing subpoenatickets without subpoenas, is alone such a contempt of Court as would justify such proceedings.
The Court, however, will not punish Mr. Erskine otherwise than by dismissal from his offices; nor will the Court say whether Mr. Erskine be guilty or not of a voluntary participation in the profits of these frauds and extortions, as the case may possibly yet come before a Jury, and it would not be proper to anticipate what the verdict of a Jury might be. Without, however, pronouncing upon this, it is clear there is more than amply sufficient to call upon the Court to dismiss Mr. Erskine from all the offices he holds under it. There is abundant evidence of a carelessness about the interests of the public, as far as they are connected with his offices, and of the grossest and most criminal negligence, which, in the head of a department, always most culpable in this country, becomes criminal, as it is well known that the least relaxation on the part of the head of any department, where Native clerks are employed, opens the door to extortion, peculation, and all the train of fraud and corruption.
The Court are unanimously of opinion, that Mr. Erskine should be dismissed from the two offices which he holds under the Court, of Master in Equity and Clerk of the Small Cause Court. It is ordered, therefore, that Mr. Erskine be dismissed, and he is hereby dismissed, from these offices.
(A true Copy.)
AL. FERRIER, Recorder.
A MEETING of the Literary Society of Bombay was held at their rooms on Wednesday last, and was attended by the following Gentlemen.
President, the Honourable M. Elphinstone;
Lieut.-Col. Hunter Blair,
Major Kennedy, Secretary
After the usual business of the Meeting had been gone through, the Honourable the President adverted to the very important benefits which the Society had derived from the well-known qualifications and abilities of Mr. Erskine, one of the Vice-Presidents lately returned to England, and from his unwearied attention to promote its prosperity, and proposed that the following letter of thanks should in consequence be addressed to Mr. Erskine. The motion having been seconded by the Venerable the Archdeacon, in a short but impressive speech, it was unanimously resolved, that the proposed letter shall be transmitted by the Secretary to Mr. Erskine.
To W. Erskine, Esq., Vice-President of the Bombay Literary Society.
SIR,-Your unexpected return to your native country has prevented the Literary Society of Bombay from expressing to you, previous to your departure, the high sense that it entertains of the important benefits which you have conferred on it. One of the original Members by whom it was instituted in 1804, you became the Secretary, and it is to your unremitting and judicious exertions in that situation to which the formation and prosperity of the Society must be principally ascribed. By the kindness, also, with which you have assisted in preparing its Transactions for the press, and in contributing to them papers so distinguished by their learning, research, and elegance of style, you have given to that work an interest and a value which it would not otherwise have possessed. But not in these respects alone has your influence proved beneficial to literature. For your intimate acquaintance with classical, modern, and oriental literature, your sound judgment, and your correct and cultivated taste, have enabled you to afford to others that information which is so often requisite in this country, and to point out to them the studies and pursuits to which their attention might be most advantageously directed. At the same time, the readiness and indulgence with which such assistance has always been given, can only be equalled by the unassuming manner and the urbanity with which opinions the most instructive were invariably communicated.
That the loss of a person distinguished by such eminent qualifications and abilities can ever be replaced, is scarcely to be expected. But the regret which the Society experiences on this occasion is diminished by
the hope that the interests of literature will be materially promoted by your now being relieved from the interruptions of official business. That, then, your constitution may be re-invigorated by your return to your native country, and that you may enjoy undisturbed happiness for many years in the bosom of your family and in the solace of literary pursuits, are the sincere wishes of a Society, by whom you will ever be remembered with sentiments of the truest respect and esteem.-I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient Servant,
VANS KENNEDY, Sec. to the Bombay Lit. Soc. Bombay Literary Society's Rooms, July 30th, 1823.
It was further unanimously Resolved, on the Motion of the Venerable the Archdeacon, seconded by Mr. J. R. Steuart, that Mr. Erskine shall be requested to sit for his picture on his arrival in England, at the expense of the Society, for the purpose of its being placed in the Rooms of the Society.
List of Bills of Costs of the late Clerk of the Small Causes, taken indiscriminately, and taxed by W. Fenwick, Esq., Master in Equity, pursuant to Order of Court.
657 Dewjee, K., v. Tanoo, S. K.
660 Nathoo, J., v. Shamjee, M.
43 Esmall, C., &c., v. Hassum, S. O. 87 Dewa, D., v. Bellajee, K., &c. 171 Fatmabae, Widow, v. Sumal, M. M. 457 Ameed, H., v. Mahomed, S., &c. 572 Dewalibae, Widow, v. Madow, B. S. 101 Khooshaldass, R., v. Dewsunker, M. 116 Bhaskerjee, B., &c., v. Kesow, W. 392 Ruttonbae, A. J., v. Rustomjee, M., &c.
1832 00 00 930 100 901 300
NOTE. The highest number being 660, from among so many, at the least, the above twenty-one causes must have been selected; and, as it may safely be assumed that the series of numbers was for one year only, (the annual number of causes is at present much greater,) we have thus the fairest criterion of the rate of extortion, and may form a tolerably correct estimate of its amount.
ADVERTISEMENT FOR A Wife.
[The following appears in a Madras paper, and has sufficient merit to bear transplanting.]
Spinsters, attend!!! I want a wife,
To be contented with her lot,
And not be much expense.
Must keep my house both neat and snug,
And, can she make a glass of Mug,
But have an unengaged heart,
Always enjoy good health, thank Jove,
I never yet have been in love,
My constitution's whole and sound,