« ForrigeFortsett »
rable and engaging, or the most miseration ; if calamities be mes. odious and contemptible, denomi- sured by the pombers and the quanations.
lities of men ther involve; and if Iris pleasant to find men, who, erery suffering of a fellow-creatore in their speculations, deny the rea. draws a crowd of attentive fpeétality of moral distinctions, forget tors; if even in the case of those in detail the gen-ral positions they lo whom we do not habitually with maintain, and give loose to ridi. any positive good, we are still a.. cole, indignation; and scorn, as verre to be the inftruments of if any of these sentiments could harm; it should feem, that in these have place, were the actions of various appearances of an amicable men indifferent; and with acri. difpofition, the foundations of a mony pretend to detect the fraud moral apprehenfion are fufficiently by which moral restraints have laid, and the sense of a right which been imposed, as if to censure a we maintain for ourselves, is, by a fraud were not already to take a movement of humanity and can. part on the side of morality. dour, extended to our fellow-crea.
Can we explain the principles tures. . upon which mankind adjudge the What is it that prompts the preference of characters, and upon 'tongue when we cenfore an act which they indulge such vehement of cruelty or oppreffion? What is emotions of admiration or con- it that constitutes oor restraint from tempt! If it be admitted that we offences that tend to distress oor cannot, are the facts less true? or fellow-creatures! It is probably, must we suspend the movements of in both cafes, a particular applicathe heart until they who are em- tion of that principle, which, in ployed in framing systems of scia' prefence of the sorrowful, fends ence have discovered the principle" forth the tear of compaffion; and a from which those movements procombination of all those sentiments, ceed? If a finger burn, we care' which constitute a' benevolent difnot for information on the proper- position, and if not a resolution ties of fire: if the heart be torn; to do good, at least an averfion to or the mind overjoyed, we have be the instrument of harm. not leisure for speculations on the . It may be difficult, however, to subject of moral fenfibility. ' 'enumerate the motives of all the
If it be true, that men are united' cenfures and commendations which by instinct, that they act in fo.! are applied to the actions of men. ciety from 'affections of kindnefs Even while we moralize, every dif. and friendship; if it be true, that position of the human mind may even prior to acquaintance and ha- have its Thare in forming the judg. bitude, men, as such, are com-' ment, and in prompting the tongue. monly to one another objects of. As jealoufy is often the most watch. attention, and some degree of res 'ful guardian of chastity, so malice gard ; that while their profperity is often the quickest to spy the is beheld with indifference, their failings of our neighbour. Envy, ami&tions are considered with com- i affectation, and vanity, may dictate } wunde!
the verdicts we give, and the worst which no complexion of features principles of our nature may be at can equal. From this scource the the bottom of our pretended zeal scenes of human life derive their for morality ; but if we only mean principal felicity; and their imi. to inquire, why they who are well tations in poetry, their principal disposed to mankind, apprehend, ornament. Descriptions of nature, , in every instance, certain rights , even representations of a vigorous pertaining to their fellow-crea, conduct, and a manly courage, do tures, and why they applaud the not engage the heart, if they be consideration that is paid to those not mixed with the exhibirion of: rights, we cannot perhaps aflign a generous sentiments, and the pa. better reason, than that the person thetic, which is found to arise in who applauds, is well disposed to the struggles, the triumphs, or the , the welfare of the parties to whom misfortunes of a tender affection. his applauses refer. .
The death of Polites, in the Æneid, When we consider, that the rea. is not more affecting than that of lity of any amicable propensity in many others who perished in the the human mind has been fre. ruins'of Troy? but the aged Priam quently, contested; when we re. was present when this last of his collect the prevalence of interested fons was lain, and the agonies of .' competitions, with their attendant grief and sorrow force the parent pallions of jealousy, envy, and from his retreat, to fall by the malace; it may seem strange to hand that shed the blood of his alledge, that love and compallion child. The pathetic of Homer. are the most powerful principles in . confifts in exhibiting the force of the human breaft: but they are affe&tions, not in exciting mere, destined, , on many occafions, to terror and pity; passions he has urge with the most irresistible ve- never perhaps, in any instance, at, hemence; and if the desire of self. tempted to raise. . preservation be more conftant, and After all, it muft be confessed, more uniform, these are a more that if a principle of affection to plentiful source of enthusiasm, fa, mankind, be the basis of our moral tisfaction, and joy. With a power, approbation and dilike, we some- . not inferior to that of resentment times proceed in distributing apand rage, they hurry the mind in, plause or censure, without preciseto every sacrifice of interest, and ly attending to the degree in which bear it, undismayed through every our fellow-creatures are hurt or hardship and danger.
obliged ; and that, besides the virThe disposition on which friend. , tues of candour, friendship, geneMhip is grafted, glows with satis- rosity, and public spirit, which faction, in the hours of tranquillity, bear an immediate reference to and is pleasant, not only in its this principle, there are others triumphs, but even in its Torrows. which may seem to derive their It throws a grace on the external commandation from a different air, and, by, its expression on the source, Temperance, prudence, countenance, compensates for the fortitude, are those qualities like. want of beauty, or gives a charm wise admired from a principle of
regard to our fellow-creatures ? lian: with a Commentary attri. Why not, lince they render men buted to Monheur de Velaite; happy in themselves, and useful to translated from the French, One others?" He who is qualified to vol. 8vo, - .
o promote the welfare of mankind, is neither a sot, a fool; nor a THE merit of the effay, be coward. Can it be more clearly 1 fore us is to generally expressed, that temperance, pru. known and allowed, that it may dence, and fortitude, are neceffary scem unneceflasy to inform our to the character we love and ad- readers, that it has gained the at mire? I know well why I should tention of all ranks of people in with for them in myself; and why almost every part of Europe, and likewise I should wish for them in that few books on any subjea hare my friend, and in every person ever been more generally ready or who is an object of my affection, more universally applauded, Tbiş Bat to what purpose seek for rea. work was written in Italian by fons of approbation, where quali- the Marquis Beccaria of Milan, ties are lo necessary to our happi" The tranllator informs us, in his ness, and so great a part in the per preface, that it was read ac dit. fe&tion of our nature? We must ferent times to a society of learned cease to esteem ourselves, and to men in that city, at,whose degreit diftinguish what is excellent, when was published. He also tells us, such qualifications incur our nege that it passed through lix edicions lect.
in the original language, in eigh * À person of an affectionate teen months; that it was translated mind, possessed of a maxim, That into French, and that the tranda he himself, as an individual, is no tion was also le-printed several more than a part of the whole that times. demands his regard, has found, in Though the author Seems 3D that principle, a sufficient founda- have been Audioully careful not to tion for all the virtues ; for a con- give any room for offence in posat tempe of animal pleasures, that of expresion, yet the freedom be would supplant his principal en. has taken with the eftablished joyment ; for an equal contempt forms of government is Italy, of danger or pain, that come to made it prudent pot to put his Itop his pursuits of public good. name to this books from the same - A vehement and steady affec- cause, he has since thought pro« tion magnifies its object, and per to quit his native country, " lesens every difficulty, or dan. and has for a copfiderable time “ ger 'that stands in the way paft made Paris the place of bis * Ask those who have been in abode. The commentary which & fore," says Epictetus," they is joined to this essay is attributed " will know that I speak truth," to Voltaire ; and it seems to bear dinali
in luch evident marks:91 his peouliar Se riigi manner, as leave little s199m 10 "An "Els ay ön Crimes and Punifla doubt his being the author of ib: • ments ; cranflated from the Ita. .. A few specipents of the wider's inisiin ev9:37:55 -9** era piu istiga sargu
arguments, and of his manner of glected throughout Europe, has handling his subject, will be more hardly ever been called in question. pleasing to our readers, than any Errors, accumulated through ma. comment we should make ôn it. ny centuries, have never yet been In his introduction, he makes the exposed by ascending to general following general reflections. principles; nor has the force of Price If we look into históry we acknowledged truths been ever Thall find, that laws, which are, or opposed to the unbounded licenti. ought to be, conventions between ousness ofill-directed power, which men in a state of freedom; have has continually produced so many been, for the molt part, the work authorized examples of the most of the passions of a few, or the con unfeeling barbarity. Surely, the fequences of a fortuitou, or iem- groans of the weak, sacrificed to porary necessity; not dictated by the cruel ignorance and indolence a cool examiner of human nature, of the powerful; the barbarous who knew how to collect, in one torments lavished, and multiplied point, the actions of a multitude, with useless severity, for crimes' and had this only end in view the either not proved, or in their na. greatest happiness of the greatest num ture impollible; the filth and ber. Happy are those few nations, horrors of a prison, increased by who have not waited, till the flow the most cruel tormentor of the fucceffion of human vicissitudes, miserable, uncertainty, ought to should, from the extremity of evil, have roused the attention of those, produce a transition to good ; but whose business is to direct the opi. by prudent laws, have facilitated nions of mankind. the progress from one to the other ! In the second chapter, " of the and how greas are the obligation's right to punish,”, he proceeds as due from mankind to that philo. follows. sopher, who, from the obfcurity of "Every punishment, which does his closet, had the courage to (cat. not arise from absolute neceffity, fer amongst the multitude the says the great Montesquieu, is ty. feeds of uleful truths; so long un- rannical." A proposition which fruitful! ; 19;. von
may be made more general, thus : The art of printing has diffufed Every act of authority of one man the knowledge of those philoso. over another, for which there is phical truths, by which the rela not an absolute neceffity, is tyrao-tibns between fovereigns and their nical. It is upon this, then, that fubjects, and between nations, are the sovereign's right to punith discovered. By this knowledge, crimes is founded ; that is, upon commerce is antimated, and there the neceflity of defending the pub. has förung up a spirit of emula. lic liberty, entrusted to his care, tion and induftry, worthy of ra from the usurpation of indivi. tional beings. These are the pro. duals; and panishments are just, duce of this enlightened age ; but in proportion as the liberty, prethe cruelty of punishments, and served by the sovereign, is facred the i tregolarity of proccedings in and valuable.. criminal cases, so principal à partLet us consult the human heart, of the legislation, and so much ne. and there we shall find the foun.
dation of the sovereign's right to All punishments, which exceed punish ; for no advantage in moral the necessity of preserving "this policy can be lafting, which is not bond, are in their nature unjuft. founded on the indelible sentiments We thould be caurious how we af. of the heart of man. Whatever fociate with the word justice, Jan law deviates from this principle idea of any thing real, such as a will always meet with a refiftance, physical powerproria being that which will destroy it in the end ; actually exifts. »I do not, by any for the smallest force, continually means, fpeak of the justice of God, applied, will overcome the most which is of another kind, and re. violent motion communicated to fers immediately to rewards and bodies. :*, *. ...in . punishments in a life to eome.us * No man ever gave up his liber- vi Whoever reads, with a philofo. ty, merely for the good of the phic eye, the history of nations, public. Such a chimera exifts on. and their laws, will generally find, jy in romances. Every individual that the ideas of virtue and wice, wishes, if possible, to be exempt of a good or a bad citizen,"change from the compacts that bind the with the revolution of ages not reft of mankind. . .iii in proportions to the alteration of
The multiplication of mankind, circumftances, and consequently though flow, being too great for conformable to the common good; the means, which the earth, in its but in proportion to the paflions natural state, offered to satisfy né. and errors by which the different cessities, which every day became law-givers were successively info. more numerous, obliged men to enced. He will frequently ob
separate again, and form new fo- ferre, that the passions and vices *cieties.' Thefe naturally opposed of one age, are the foundation of the first, and a state of war was the morality of the following that transferred from individuals to na. violent paffion, the offspring of fa. tionis. 1 . vier wirid munaticism and enthusiasm, being - Thus it : was necessity, that weakened by time, which redeces forced, men to give up a part of all the phenomena of the natural their liberty; it is certain then, and moral world to an equality, that every individual would chuse become, by degrees, the predence to put into the public stock the of the agey and an afeful inftru. smalléft portion poffible ; as much ment in the hands of the powerful only as was fufficient to engage or artful-politiciano) Hence the others to defend it. The aggregate i uncertainty of our notions of ho. of these, the fmallest portions pof- nour and virtuel an uncertainty lible, iforms the right of punith. which will ever remain, because ing: all that extends beyond this they change with the revolufions is abuse, not justice.ai ertio of time, and names furvive the
Observe, that by justice I un. things they originally fignified; derstand nothing more than that they change with the boundaries bond, which is necessary to keep of itates, which are often the same the interest of individuals united; both in phyfical and moral geowithout which, men would return graphyvie L : suit *: to their original Atard of barbaricy. Pleafare and pain are the only