« ZurückWeiter »
example, what a lamentable thing it and which confers the very highest is to see so many Christian men and honour on his · memory. And alwomen strangled on that cursed tree though his works are in the hands of of the gallows, ineomuch as if in a every one, we cannot refrain from large field a man might see all the laying a few sentences of this excelChristians that but in one year, lent Essay before our readers. throughout England, come to that
“ To equal murder to robbery is to reuntimely and ignominious death, if duce robbery to murder, --to confound in there were any spark of grace or cha common minds the gradations of iniquiiy,
it would make his heart and incite the commission of a greater bleed for pity and compassion." This crime to prevent the detection of a less. great julge, whose language and feel- He who knows not how often rigorous ings are so creditable to him, and so laws produce total impunity, and how many refreshing and stimulating to his read- crimes are concealed and forgotten, for ers, then proceeds to recommend pre- fear of hurrying the offender to that state ventive justice,-the good education in which there is no repentance, has conof youth,—the avoiding of idleness versed very little with mankind. All laws in all, the execution of good buws, – against wickedness are ineffectual unless and the rurely granting of pardons, but, till we mitigate the penalty for such
some will inform, and some will prosecute : pointing, in a word, at almost all that violations of property, information will alhas been thought worthy of attention
ways be hated, and prosecution dreaded. in the present times.
The heart of a good man cannot but reTo the authorities already named, coil at the thought of punishing a slight wemay add those of CHILLINGWORTH, injury with death ; especially when he who wrote in 1610, and Samuel remembers that the thief might have proCHUDLEIGH, who wrote in 1651; çured safety by another crime, from which but the public opinion received its he was restrained only by his remaining
virtue." greatest accession of strength in the course of the eighteenth century. In There is a remarkable coincidenco the year 1750, in consequence of an between the opinions of Johnson realarm excited by the increase of crimes, specting capital punishment, an:I those , a Committee was appointed by the of the Marquis of Beccaria, who folHouse of Corrmons to examine in- lowed him in the year 1767, and whose to and consider the state of the law re- little volume macie a great impression lating to felonies, and to report to the on the British public. In the interim, House their opinion as to the defects however, a good deal had been done and amendments of the same law." by Sir WILLIAM BLACKSTONE. His In this Committee are to be found the Commentaries appeared io 1758; and, names of Mr Pelham, then prime in a few words, he accounts for the minister, Mr Pirt, afterwards Earl very imperfect state of the crimin::1 of Chatham, Mr G. Grenville, Mr laws of all the countries in Europe. Lyttleton, Mr C. Townshend, Sir C. This, he remarks, orose Lloyd, and Sir Dudley Rycler, after- want of attention to permanent, uniwards Chief Justice of England. form, and universal principles, and These statesmen agreed upon a reso- adopting in their stead the impetuous lution, “ That it was reasonable to dictates of avarice, ambition, and reerchange the punishment of death for venge ; from retaining the discordant some other adequate punishment," and political regulatious which successive they concurred in thinking, " that the conquerors or factions have establishIncrease of crime was to be attributed ed in the various revolutions of goto negligence in the education of the vernment; from giving a lasting efpoor.” A bill founded on this reso- ficacy to sanctions that were intended lution passed the Commons, but was to be temporary, and made (as Lord lost in the House of Lords, but with- Bacon expresses it) merely on the out being opposed by Lord Hard- spur of the occasion; or froin, lastly, WICK or any of the great luminaries too hastily employing such as are greatof that House. These proceedings in ly les proportionate to their end." He the Houses of Parliament would no then takes notice of some of the sevedoubt stimulate Dr Johnson to the rities of the English law; and rediscussion respecting our criminal code, marks, “ that these outrageous penalwhich heenters into in the 114th Num- ties are seldom inflicted s true; but ber of his Rambler, 28th April 1751; that rather aggravates the mischief,
s6 from a
by laying a snare for the unwary." been pointed out, (capable, perhaps, of Within a few ycars after the publica- much improvement,) and practised with tion of the Commentaries, the severi.
success in other countries? Who does not ty anıl absurdity of many of the Eng. discover the manifesttendency of such in. lish laws were still more completely discriminate destruction to outrage lesser exposed in a publication by Francis criminals, and produce, to the great terror
of society, the excess of violence and cruel. Grose, a gentleman who seems to
ty ? I was once present at the execution of to have opened the tract in which Sir
a man of undaunted firmness, ind (saving SAMUEL ROMULY afterwards so great- this action of robbing a traveller of a few ly distinguished himself. In this pe- shillings, without insult or ill usage, under riod, too, we ought to mention Hume, the seduction of an hardened accomplice Goldsmith, Voltaire, Eden, Miercier, of an unexceptionable cheracter. He died and Pinel, as writers who took liberal without bravado, and without obduracy, and improved views of criminal law; under a due sense of his awful situation, and we should not forget the second with the magnanimity of an hero ; despisattempt at improvement made in the ing that merciless and unequal sentence
which had brought him to this sad condition. House of Commons in the year 1770.
66 Have rulers nu discernment that they Mr Fox, Sir W. Meredith, Serjeant are unable to discover the multiplication of Glynn, Sir C. Banbury, and others, capital offences from capital punishments ? were members of a committee who Destruc:ion is not redress.
Öne head may occupied themselves for two Sessions be cut off, but two spring instantly from in an inquiry into riminal code. the wound. On their report, a bill for repealing va Reformation must begin at a much rious penal statutes was introduced higher point; in a moral education ; in the and passed the House of Commons; rectification of crooked habits by patient but, like its predecessor in 1751, was
discipline; in the suppression of ail public also lost in the House of Lords. It incentives to riot and intemperance; in the is to be remarked, however, that nei- scrupulous correction of small offences; and
in allotments of punishment proportionate ther Lord CAMBDEN, nor Lord Mans
to each transgression. But Guilio careth FIELD, stained their character by op- for none of these things.' posing it. It was thrown out (says Sir James Macintosh)“ on the oppo- And here we may observe, without imsition of others whom I will not propriety, that there is less difference name, and whose names will be little between men, in point of originality, known to posterity.”
than what is commonly imagined!. At this point, which connects the The age makes men as much as men dead with the living authorities in fr- make the aye; and it is seldom, if vour of lenity and improvement, it
ever, that any great step is tahen, or woull be unparılonable to pass over
advance macie, without a great deal the learned, benevolent, unfortunate, of preparation. There are not to be and persecuted Gilbert Wakefield.
every day successively, such a
number of scattered lights, as, when “During my abode at Nottingham (says brought together, will constitute a luMr Wakefield) I never failed to attend all minary ; but lights must exist in a the capital punishments that took place scattered state before they can be colthere, courting, at all times, every circum
lected. stance which might read me a wholesome
Romilly had many helps, lecture on mortality, or suggest an addition
so had MALTHUS, and so had Benal motive of gratitude to God for the com
THAM. This is not said with the view forts of my own condition.
of' detracting from the character of " I am cordially persuaded, upon a most consequence of these great men, but serious, most frequent, and most mature for the purpose of founding a remark, contemplation of this subject, that, if a which it is of some consequence to general reformation of the penal code cannot attend to,-that there is more dif. be effected in our nation, this is one of those ference among men as to their power enormous sins for which the Governor of the of perseverance, activity, and benevoUniverse will surely visit us.
No man and no community of men are, in my their views and conceptions. Of all
lence, than as to the originality of judgment, authorized to take away life. And what shadow of excuse can possibly the writers of the present age, howbe alleged for sacrificing such a multitude ever, BENTHAM is perhaps the least of lives, and often for trivial offences, with indebted to his precursors or contemout employing a single effort for their re. poraries. In point of time, we should formation, when plans for this purpose have perhaps have placed him before Wake
field, and, at any rate, it is proper to and in reducing every question, as it place him before Howard ; since Mr were, to its elements. A great proBentham published a “ Fragment on gress may not thus appear to be made; Government,” in 1776, which con- but no man of his time has done neortains the germs of all his subsequently so much to dissipate prejudices, as opinions, and in 1778, on occasion of Mr Bentham. His analysis has not the hard labour bill, he published only shewn us iipon what princi“Observations relative to penal juris- ples almost every question in leprudence in general.” In 1791, the gislation and education hinges, but principles of the PANOPTICON were it has conferred upon us new powers explained in a discourse or memoir of combination.
66 In such maton HOUSES OF INSPECTION, and ters, (to use his own words,) exWORK-HOUSES, sent to a member of cess seems more eligible than defect. the French Legislative Assembly; The difficulty is to invent; that clone, and it is remarkable, that these prin- it'any thing seems superfluous, it is ciples were so far acted on, without ac- easy to retract." The very errors of knowledgment, in the erection of the this author, therefore, are benefits. Edinburgh Bridewell ; but justice was By exhausting all the parts of his not done in this instance either to Mr subject, he has shewn us what are Bentham or his plan, which points at worth retaining and attending to, anul almost every thing that has since been what not. Even his moral defects ascertained practically by HOWARD, proceed from an excess of virtue. AcNIELD, Fry, Buxton, and GURNEY. customed to dwell on things as they The whole details of this new plan were should be ; convinced of having pointgiven in a work of two volumes 8vo, ed out not only innumerable errors, printed by Mr Bentham in 1781, but but a great variety of practical remenever published. Various other works dies, he cannot avoid expressing himof his are in this situation, so that it self with bitterness against those persometiines happens that his views are sons and prejudices which stand in piltered, as it often happens that the the way of all improvement. public are made acquainted with his Whát Bentham is in reasoning, works in the first instance through the Howard was in action ; and Romilpublications of others. All have Ly, who appeared before the public heard of his raités de Legislation, about the same time, (1784,) united and his Theorie ets Peines et des Re- the science and information of the one, compenses; all have heard also of the with the active practical brabits of the author's eccentricities, but very few other. Howard's first publication, indeed have had industry enough to we believe, was in 1785; Franklin make themselves acquainted with his gave his testimony in favour of a merits. These are infinitely greater softened criminal cole in 1747 ; Pasthan is commonly supposed, -greater TORET produced an excellent work on than what many persons are able to Des Loir Ponales in 1790; and to conceive of humanity. Mr Bentham their names may be added those of is one of the most disinterested of his COWPER, TURNER, CLARKSON,PARR, species. He has employed the whole Roscor, and Montagu, the last of of a long life in devising plans for the whom has not only written ably good of mankind,-for the improve- himself, but brought into one focus ment of law, education, and, in gene- nearly all that has been written on ral, of society. He is one of the most the subject. This gentleman (Basetere, persevering, and intrepid sil Montagu) is also a most active thinkers, that has ever appeared in member of a society established in any country. There is a resoluteness 1808, for the diffusion of knowledge of intellect about him that presses upon the punishment of death and the straight forward in spite of all ob- improvement of prison discipline, from stacles, that spares no labour, that which many useful Tracts have proseeks truth only, with a total disre- ceeded; but what, next to the alarıngard of popularity, or any other col- ing increase of crimes, has tended lateral consideration. He neither most to rouse the public attention, are writes for fame nor favour. His ori- the laborious investigations into the ginality consists chiefly in his pre- actual state of prisons commenced by cision; in his power of stripping his Howard, and prosecuted so ably by subject of every thing adventitious; Nield, Buxton, and Gurney. Mr
Howard disclosed scenes of misery and termination of last year, 1250,-an horror sufficient to make the very enormous increase,” but which he stones cry shame upon the age. Yet states had taken place chiefly " as to so difficult is it to move the legisla- frauds and larcenies, for in burglaries ture of this country, and so para- and robberies the increase was not at mount are those interests which are all commensurate.” From official linked to all abuses, that in 1804, documents presented to the House of when Mr Nield commenced his un- Commons, it appears, that, in 1810, wearied labours, the state of our pri- the number of persons committed to sons generally was very little im- the different jails of England and proved, and still exhibited scenes al-Wales amounted to 5337, of whom most too shocking to be credited. And 404 were sentenced to suffer death. all our readers are aware, that, in the In 1815, the committals amounted to years 1817 and 1818, Mr Buxton 7818, and the capital condemnations first, and then Mr GURNEY, found to 533 ; in 1817, the committals inthe jails in both ends of the island in a creased to no less than 13,932, and one state that is highly disgraceful to the thousand three hundred and two were country. Reason alone was too fee- capitally convicted. Of the committals ble as an excitement. A true and there were about 1200 for offences afull picture of the distress, vice, gainst the game laws. On the 26th and misery, which prevail in our pri- of January 1819, there were in 75 sons, was requisite ; and among those prisons 522 persons in custody for who contributed largely to the com- gume offences, of whom 99 had been pletion of this good work, it would committed under the last game act; be unpardonable to omit the Ho- and to the state of the game laws, nourable H. G. BENNET, and those which is so hostile to the moral feel members of Parliament who assisted ings of the country, there can be no him in examining the jails and in- doubt that much of the increase vestigating the police of the metropo- in crimes is imputable. Still more, lis. Neither should we forget the la- however, is this owing to the artibours of Mr Brougham respecting ficial state of our currency. In proof the poors' laws and education of the of this we have to state, that the poor, subjects which require the most number of forged bank-notes discoserious consideration in all inquiries vered by the Bank amounted in the respecting the causes of crime and year 1814 to 10,312; in 1915 to misery
14,085; in 1816 to 21,860; in 1817 It is extremely doubtful, however, to 24,421 ; in the nine months to 28th whether all that has been written and January 1819, they amounted to done by wisilom and benevolence 23,104, and the number of persons would have commanded the serious prosecuted on account of forgery for attention of the Legislature to our the same limited period amount to one criminal code, had not the unexam- hundred and tuenty.three. We obpled increase of crime within the last serve also, from the Parliamentary retwenty years, and still more within turns, that, for the half year to 1st the last eight years, not excited an a- January 1819, the average number of larm. In the course of a recent de- criminals confined in the Hulks (the bate in the House of Commons, Lord Leviathan, Laurel, Retribution, BelCastlereagh admitted," that it appear- lerophon, and Justitia) amounts daily ed from the returns, that, within the to two thousand four hunured and sixlast three or four years, crime had in- ty-nine. No wonder, indeed, that creased to an alarming extent, almost this should be considered an alarming " in the proportion of two to one ; and, state of society ! Such a rapid increase comparing the commitments of last of crimes is unparalleled, we believe, year with those ten years ago, in some in any age or country. classes of crime, they were in the ratio We have already taken notice of of nearly three to one." “ The pu- two of the causes of such an increase, nishment of death,” said his Lordship, namely, the unnatural and impolitic “ certainly had increased in frequency state of our gaine laws, and the artifiin these kingdoms. At the close of cial state of our paper currency, which the year 1805, the number of capi- is entirely at the mercy of the Bank tal convictions was 360, and at the and the Governinent. It is in their
power at every moment, by an issue of willing to enforce the law. It brings Bank paper or Exchequer bills, to af- the law, in a word, into contempt, befeet the comforts of the poor and the cause it cannot be executed. It makes fortunes of the wealthy; and there legal proceedings a mockery; for all can be no doubt that the amount of parties to a trial a now, that the fate suffering, which leads to crime, has of the criminal will not depend on the thus been greatly increased. Another, offence for which he is tried, but on and no trifling cause, we are persuade other circumstances which are to be ed, is to be found in the state of our gathered at the discretion of the judge, jails, which, instead of being schools or others who may or may not take of reform, are, for the most part, se an interest in the fate of the criminal. minaries of all sorts of vice and crime. It keeps a great number of persons This proceeds from want of classifica- condemned to death in suspense whetion and employment; but less need ther they are to suffer it or not, and be said on this topic, now that the puts the judge to the trouble of republic begin to see the evil, and seem trying the criminals, and pronouncing not unwilling to cure it. Another a new verdict, in what is called a rea cause, closely allied to this last, will port to the Crown, We observe that be found in our system of police. The the RECORDER of London has, withgreatest wisdom is required in the in these few days, justified bimself a-, proper treatment of trivial and youth- gainst a charge of delay respecting 54 ful offences. In sending young men unhappy wretches, by stating, to Bridewell for a first, and, perhaps, these reports (on tried cases) were very no very heavy misdemeanour, you voluminous, and thut it was necessary ruin their character, rob them of all to enter into the particulars of every hope from future good behaviour, and case, for the omission of even a slight put them too often to a school of ini- matter might give the case a different quity. Another, and a prominent, turn, which might be prejudiciul to the cause of the increase of crimes arises prisovers themselves.” What a severe out of the discrepancy, or rather op- censure is this on the present state of position, between the law and the the law ! practice as to capital punishments. It was our intention to point out By the law, death is awarded for all the detects in the law of libel, in sorts of felonies, amounting, as we the mode of returning juries, and have said already, to about 200; but, various other departments, and to for a space of 70 years, executions have given a view of the reasonings of have taken place for only 35 of these Bentham, Romilly, and various other felonies, so that for the greater part writers; but we must postpone all of these offences no conviction has ever this for the piesent. We regret still taken place. The opposition, how, more that we cannot give an account ever, is still more striking between of the experiments made in Flanders, the convictions and the pumshments. in America, in the East Indies, and For the seven years preceding 1810, even at home, of a milder system ; there were 1872 persons charged with but, in all these instances, inild laws the crimes of shop-lifting and stealing and regulations have tended to lessen in dwelling-houses, of which a consi- crime and produce reformation in criderable number were convicted, but minals. In the state of Philadelphia, one only executed. For the twelve we find, that, for the last four years years to 1817, 113 persons were capi. and four months, under the old severe tally convicted for one felony, but not law, the dumber of crimes of a deep one erecuted. For the eight years to dye amounted to 126 ; in the same pe1816, no less than 1097 persons were riod, after the commencement of the tried for another felony, 293 were ca new law, and while the punishment pitally convicted, but not one executed. of death was done away, except for
Such a state of the law is repug- premeditated murder, tie same classes nant to every principle of religion, of crimes dininished to 24. On the morality, or justice. It is a bounty 20th of July 1811, Sir James Macto crime, from the number of chances INTOSH, in a charge to the grand jury of escape which it holds out to the at Bombay, states, “Since my arrival guilty. It makes sufferers unwilling here in May 1804, the punistiment of to prosecute, 'witnesses unwilling to death has not been indicted in this tell the truth, juries unwilling to find court, and the average annual cone according to the fact, and judges una victions, which had formerly been