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to fight in defence of them and their properties; for such wages as they think fit to allow, and punith them if they refuse? Our author tells us that it is s legal.” i have not law enough to dispute his authorities, but I cannot persuade myself that it is equitable. I will, however, own for the prefent, that it may be lawful when necessary ;-batorhen I egntend that it may be ufed to as to produce the fame good effects-the public security, without do ing so much intolerable injustice as attends the imprefling common feamen.--In order to be better understood, I would premise two things; First, that voluntary seamen may be had for the service, if they were sufficiently paid. The proof is, that to sérve in the fame thip, and inour the fame dan. gers, you have no occafion'to imprefs captains, lieutenants, fecond flieutenants, imidlbiponen, purt. ersytur many other officers, Why, but that the profits of their places, or the emoluineats expecta ed, are sufficient inducements The business then iso to find money, by imprefling, sufficient to make the faidoes all volunteers, as well as their officers 3 and this without any fresh burther upon trade: The second of my premises is, that twenty-five tillings a month, with his share of falt beef, pork, and peafer pudding, being found fuificient for the fubfidence of a hard-working seamen, it will certainly be focfor a sedentary, fcholar or gentleman. Lwould then propose to form a treasury, out of which encouragements to seamen thould be paid. To fill this treafury, I would impress a number of civil officers, who at present have great falarjes, oblige them to serve in their respective offices for twenty-five shillingsí a month, with their shares of mess provisions, and throw the rest of their salaries
into the seamen's treasury. If such a press-war. rant were given me to execute, the firit I would press fhould be a Recorder of Bristol, or a Mr. Justice Foster, because I might have need of his edifying example, to show how much imprefling ought to be borne with ; for he would certainly find, that though to be reduced to twenty-five mil. lings a month might be a private mischief, yet that, agreeably to his maxim of law and good policy, it ought to be borne with patience, for preventing a national calamity. Then I would prefs the rest of the Judges ; and, opening the red book, I would press every civil officer of government from 50 1. a year falary, up to 50,000 l. which would ihrow an immense fum into our treasury: and these gentlenien could not complain, since they would receive twenty-five shillings a month, and their rations; and this without being obliged to fight. Lastly, I think I would impress ***
ON THE CRIMINAL LAWS, AND THE PRACTICE OF PRIVATEERING.
LETTER TO BENJAMIN VAUGHAN, ESO.
March 14, 17850
MY DEAR FRIEND,
MONG the pamphlets you lately lent me,
was one, entitled, Thoughts on Executive ustice. In return for that, I send you one on the
fanie subject, Observations concernant l' Exécution de l’ Article II. de la Declaration sur le Vol. They are both addressed to the judges, and written, as you will see, in a very different spirit. The Englis author is for hanging all thieves. The Frenchman is for proportioning punishments to offences.
If we really believe, as we profess to believe, that the law of Moses was the law of God, the dictate of divine wisdom, infinitely superior to human; on what principles do we ordain death as the punill:ment of an offence, whichi, according to that law, was only to be punished by a restitution of fourfold? To put a man to death for an offence which does not deserve death, is it not a murder? And, as the French writer says, Doit-on punir un délit contre la focieté par un crime contre la nature.
Supertuous property is the creature of society. Simple and mild laws were sufficient to guard the property that was merely necessary. The favage's bow, his hatchet, and his coat of skins, were sufficiently secured, without la iv, by the fear of perfonal refentment and retaliation. When, by virtue of the first laws, part of the society accumulated wealth, and grew powerful, they enacted others more severe, and would protect their property at the expence of humanity. This was abusing their power, and commencing a tyranny. It a savage, before he entered into society, had been told“ Your neighbour, by this means, may become
owner of an hundred deer; but if y ur brother, or your son, or yourself, having no deer of
your own, and being hungry, fhould kill ove, an in“ famous death out be the consequence :"-he would probably have preferred his liberty, and his common right of killing any deer, to all the ad
vantages of society that might be proposed to himi
That it is better a hundred guilty persons should escape, than that one innocent person should suffer, is a maxim that has been long and generally apprus ved; never, that I know of, controverted. Even the sanguitrary author of the Thought; agrees to it, adding well, that the very thought of injured in" nocence, and much more that of suffering inno, "cence, niuft awaken all our tenderest and most
compassionate feelings, and at the same time " raise our highest indignation against the instru.. " ments of it. But, i he adds) there is no danger 6 of cither, from a frict adherence to the laws." Really is it then impossible to make an unjusti law ? and if the law itself be unjust, may, it not be the very“ instrumeni” which oughę to raise the “ author's and every body's highest indignation?? I see, in the last neufpapers from London, that a woman is capitally convicted at the Old Bailey, por privately steal ng out of a fhop-forse gauze, vas lue fourteen shillings and three pence: Is there any proportion between the injury done by a theft, value fourteen shillings and three pence, and the punishment of a human creature, by death, on a gibbet? Might not that w man; by her labour, have made the reparation ordained by God, in pay, ing fourfold? Is not all punishment, inflicted be yond the merit of the offence, so much punishment of innocence? In this light, how vast is the annual quantity, cf nct only injured but sufering innocence, in almost all the civilized states of Europe !
But it seems to have been thought ihat this kind of innocence may be punished by way of preventing crimes. I have read, indeed, of a cruel Turk in Barbary, who, whenever he bought a new Chilltian Nave, ordered hiit immediately to be liung up by the legs, and to receive a hundred blows of a cudgel on the foles of his feet, that the severe senfe of the punishment, and fear of incurring it thereafter, might prevent the faults that fhould merit it, Our author himself would bardly approve entirely of this Turk's conduct in the government of Alaves; and yet he appears to recoin mend something like it for the government of English subjects, when he applauds the reply of Judge Burnet to the convict horfe-stealer; who being asked what he had to say why judgment of death should not pass against hiin, and answering, that it was hard to hang a man for only ftealing a horse, was told by the judge, “ Man, thou art not to be hanged only for stealing a horse, but that horses may not be stolen." The man's answer, if candid ly eximined, will, I imagine, appear reasonable; as being founded on the eternal principle of justice and equity, that punishments should be proportion ed to offences, and the judge's reply brutal and unreasonable, though the writer" wińhes all judges to carry it with them whenever they go to the cirouit, and to bear it in their minds, as containing a wise reafon for all the penal statutes which they are called upon to put in exécution. It at once il luftrates, says he, the true grounds and reasons of all capital punishments whatsoever, namely, that every man's property, as well as his life, may be held sacred and in violate." Is there then no difference in value between property and life? If I think it right that the crime of murder should be punished with death, not only as an equal punishment of the crime, but to prevent other murders, does it follow that I must approve of the fame purifhment for a little invafion on my property by theft?