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regard to our fellow-creatures ?
lian; within a Commentarz, autriWhy not, since they render men buted to Monsieur de Voltaire; happy in themselves, and' useful to translated from the French, On others?' He who is qualified to
vol. 8vo. promote the welfare of mankind, toward. Can it be more clearls THE merit of the estay be
fore us is for generally expressed, that temperance, pru. known and allowed, that it may denee, and fortitude, are necesary scem unacceflary to inform our to the character we love and ad- readers, that it has gained the at mire? I know well why I mould tention of all ranks of people in with for them in myself and why almost every part of Europe and likewise I should with for them in that few books an any fubjca hare my friend, and in every person ever been more generally read, or who is an object of my affection, more universally applauded, Tbiş Bar 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 happiThe translator informs us, in his ness, and so great a part in the per preface, that it was read at diffection of our nature ? We must ferent times to a society of learned ce ale to esteem ourselves, and to
men in that city, at whose deGreat diftinguish what is excellent, when was published. He also tells us, such qualifications incur our reg- that it passed through fix editions lect,
in the original language, in eigh A person of an affectionate teen months; that it was translated mind, possessed of a maxim, That into French, and that the tranfla he himlelf,
as an individual, is no tion was, allo re-printed fereral more than a part of the whole that times. demands his regard, has found, in Though, the author seems to that principle, a sufficient founda- have been studioully careful not to tion for all the virtues ; for a con- give any room for offence in point tempe of animal pleasures, that of expresion, yet the freedom be would supplant his principal en. has taken with the established joyment; 1or an equat contempt forms of government in Italy, of danger or pain, that come to made it prudent not to put his ftop his pursuits of public good. name to this books from the Game « A vehement and steady affec. cause, he has since thought pro" tion magnifies its object, and per 10 quit bis native country, "leffens every difficulty, or dan- and has foç a confiderable time
ger that stands in the way past made Paris the place of bis * Ask those who have been in abode, The commentary, which * fore, says Epicterus," they is joined 10 shis effay is attributed will know that 'I speak truth. to Voltaire ; and it seems to bear
such evident marks of his peculiar
manner, as Icave little 190m to * An "Elay on Crimes and Punish- doubt his being the author of it - ments, anflated from the Ita. A few specipents of the writer's maar oo
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 macomment we should make on 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 Pa If we look into history wę acknowledged truths been ever Tá all find, that laws, which are, or opposed to the unbounded licenti. onght to be, conventions between ousness of ill-directed power, which men in a fate of freedom, have has continually produced so many been, for the moft part, the work authorized examples of the most of the paffions of a few, or the con unfeeling barbarity. Surely, the fequences of a fortuitou, or rem- 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. greateff happinefs of the greatest nam cure 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 vicillitudes, miserable, uncertainty, ought to Thould, from the extremity of evil, have roused the attention of those, produce' a tranfition to good ; but whose business is to direct the opiby 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. Topher, who, from the obfcurity of “Every punishment, which does his closet, had the courage to scat. not arise from absolute necessity, fer amongst the multitude the says the great Montesquieu, is ty. feeds of aleful truths, so long un- rannical. A propofition which fruitful! ;19;. ve
may be made more general, thus : The art of printing has diffused 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 tyraotions between fovereigns and their nical. It is upon this, then, that fubjects, and between nations, are the sovereign's right to punish discovered By this knowledge, crimes is founded ; that is, upor commerce is antimated, and there the neceflity of defending the pubhas förung up a spirit of emula. lic liberty, entrusted to his care, tion and industry, worthy of ra from the usurpation of indivitional 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 sacred the i tregolarity of proccedings in and valuable. criminal cases, so principal a part · Let ús consult the human heart, of the legislation, and so much ne. and there we shall find the foundation 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 unjuk. founded on the indelible sentiments We thould be caurious how we af. of the heart of man. Whatever fociate with the word juffice, an law deviates from this principle idea of any thing real, fuch as' a will always meet with a refiftance, physical power, or a being that which will deftroy it in the end; actually exists.... I do noty by any for the smallest force, continually means, fpeak of the joftice of God, applied, will overcome the most which is of another kind, and re. violent motion communicated to 'fers immediately to rewards vand bodies.
punishments in a life to come. No man ever gave up his liber. 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, ly in romances. Every individual that the ideas of virtue and viet, 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.
in proportion to the alteration of The multiplication of mankind, circumstances, 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 paffions natural ftate, offered to satisfy né- and errors by which the different ceffities, which every day became law-givers were succeflively info. more numerous, obliged men to enced.se He will frequently ebfeparate again, and form new fo- serve, that the passions and vices 'cieties. These 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 palion, the offspring of fations. :
naticism and enthafalm, being Thus it was necessity, that weakened by time, which redaces 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 chufe become;' by degrees; the prodence
to put into the public stock the 'of the age, and an ofeful inltru · fmalleft portion poffible ; 'as much ment in the hands of the powerful only as was sufficient to engage or artful politician. ) Hence the others to defend it. The aggregate 1 uncertainty of our notions of ho. of these, the smallest portions pof- ' nour and virtue';', an uncertainty lible, forms the right of punish- which will ever remain, because ing all that extends beyond this they change with the revolutions is abuse, not justice.
of time, and names furvive the Obferve, that by justice 1 un. things they originally signified ; derstand nothing more than that they change with the boundaries bond, which is necesary to keep of itates, which are often the Tame the interest of individuals united; both in physical and moral geowithout which, men would return graphy:
1' " to their original state of barbarity. Pleafore and pain are the only
(prings of action in beings en- to be punished with infinitely more dowed with sensibility. Even severity, than the assassination of a amongh, the motives which incite monarch. men to acts of religion, che iovi. In short, others have imagined, lible legislator has ordaine.I re- that the greatness of the fin should wards and punishments. From a aggravate the crime. But the fal. partial diftçibution of these, will lacy of this opinion will appear on arise that contradiction, fo little the lightest confideration of the obferved, because so common; I relations between man and man, mean, that of punishing by the and between God and man. :. The laws, the crimes which the laws relations between man and man, have occasioned. If an equal pu- are relations of equality. Necessity oishment be ordained for two alone hath produced, from the opcrimes that injure fociety in dif- position of private paffions and in. fereot degrees, there is nothing to terefts, the idea of public utility, deter men from committing the which is the foundation of human greater, as often as it is attended justice. The other are relations of with greater advantage.-
dependance, between an imperfect The foregoing reflections autho. creature and his creator, the most rise me to affert, that crimes are perfect of beings, who has reserved only to be measured by the injury to himself the sole right of being done to society..
both law giver, and judge ; for he They err, therefore, who ima. alone can, without injuftice, be, gine that a crime is greater or at the same time, both one and che dessy according to the intention of other. If he hath decreed eternal the perfon by whom it is commit. punishments for those who disobey ted; for chis will depend on the his will, shall an infect dare to put actual impreffion of objects on the himself in the place of divine juffenses, and on the previous difpofi. tice, or pretend to punish for the sion of the mind; both which will Almighty, who is himself all-fat
vary in different persons, and even ficient; who cannot receive im. 1 in the same perfon at, different pressions of pleasure, or pain, and times, according to the fucceflion, who alone, of all other beings, of ideas, passions, and circumstan- acts without being acted upon ? BCS. Upon that system, it would The degree of fur depends on the be necesary to form, not only a malignity of the heart; which is imparticular code for every indivi. penetrable to finite beings. How dual, but a new penal law for then can the degree of fio serve as
very crime. Men; often with the a standard to determine the degree beft intention, do the greatest in. of crimes?: If that were admitted, jury to fociety, and with the worst, men may punish when God para do it the most effential services, dons, and pardon when God'con. 2. Dihers have estimated crimes demns ; and thus act in opposition xather by the dignity of the person to the Supreme Being.--offended, than by their confe.
We have proved, then, that quences to fociety. If this were crimes are to be estimated by the the true standard, the smallest ir- injury, done to fociety, . This is one Ieverence to the divine Being ought of those palpable truths, which,
though evident to the meanest ca. trary magiftrates, be necessary in pacity, yet, by a combination of any government, it proceeds from ,
fault in the constitution. The a few thinking men in every na. uncertainty of crimes hath facri. tion, and in every age, but opi. ficed more vi&ims to secret tynions, worthy only of the desporanny, than have ever suffered by tism of Asia, and paffions, armed public and folemn cruelty. with power and authority, have, What are, in general, the progenerally, by insensible, and some- per panishment for crimes ? Is the times by violent impressions on the punishment of death really wefil, timid credulity of men, effaced or necessary for the safety, or good those simple ideas, which perhaps order of focicty? Are tortures constituted the first philosophy of and torments confiftent with juf infant society. Happily the phi. tice, or do they answer the end prolosophy of the present enlightened posed by the laws ? Which is the age seems again to conduct us to best method of preventing crime? the same principles, and with that. Are the fame punishments equally degree of certainty, which is ob- useful at all times? What inflatained by a rational examination, ence have they on manners? These and repeated experience.
problems thould be solved with The opinion, that every mem that geometrical precision, which ber of society has a right to do any the mift of sophistry, the seduction : thing, that is not contrary to the of eloquence, and the timidity of laws, without fearing any other doubt are unable to refift, inconveniences, than those which If I have no other merit than are the natural consequences of that of having first presented to my the action itself, is a political country, with a greater degree of dogma, which should be defended evidence, what other nations have by the laws, inculcated by the ma. written, and are beginning to giftrates, and believed by the peo. practise, I shall account myfel for : ple;, a sacred dogma, without tunate; but if, by supporting the which there can be no lawful foci- rights of mankind, and of invincie ety; a just recompence for our sacri- ble truth, I shall contribute to fave. fice of that universal liberty of aca from the agonies of death one un. tion, common to all sensible beings, fortunate viâim of tyranny, or ot. and only limited by our natural pow- ignorance, equally fatal; his bleffa ers. By this principle, our minds ing and tears of transport, will be become free, active, and vigorous; a lufficient consolacion to me for: by this alone we are inspired with the contempt of all mankind." that virtue which knows no fear, We wish that the extent of our so different from that pliant pru. plan could admit of our giving dence, worthy of those only who more extracts from this favourite can bear a precarious existence.- writer ; his unbounded philanc
I do not know of any exception thropy, and the eloquence and to this general axiom, that Every tenderness which which he picades member of fociety should know when the cause of humanity, muft als be is criminal, and when innocent. ways procure him the most favoare; If censors, and, in general, arbi. able reception.